Monday, November 30, 2009

He Is by Mark Schultz

Father let the world just fade away
Let me feel your presence in this place
Lord I've never been so weary
How I need to know you're near me
Father let the world just fade away
'Til I'm on my knees
'Til my heart can sing

He is, He was, He always will be
He lives, He loves, He's always with me
Even when it feels like there is no one holding me
Be still my soul
He is

Father let your holy spirit sing
Let it calm the storms inside of me
As I stand amazed
Lift my hands and say

He is, He was, He always will be
He lives, He loves, He's always with me
Even when it feels like there is no one holding me
Be still my soul

Through every fear
And every doubt
In every tear I shed
Down every road
I'm not alone
No Matter where I am

He is, He was, He always will be
He lives, He loves, He always will be
Even when it feels like there is no one holding me
Be still my soul
Be still and know
Be still my soul
He is

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

This Thanksgiving I am most thankful for the dear sweet family God has given us! Jack and I were blessed to have everyone at home with us on Thanksgiving Day and then we traveled to Teague for a family reunion with the Comers on Saturday. This huge tree stood outside the Family Life Center of the First Baptist Church of Teague. His aunt told us the tree was a source of heated discussion when the building was constructed because some wanted to cut it down. It was decided to preserve the tree and the building was built a little further back. She told us that everyone likes to take pictures by the tree, which is also something we could not resist. We took lots and lots of family pictures there yesterday. It seems like the tree, so big and old, stands as a symbol of stability and strength, a quality all families should strive to have.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Effects of Technology on Non-traditional Students

Today I read an article from the Journal of Research on Technology in Education entitled "Technology-enriched Classrooms: Effects on students of low socioeconomic status." I ran across a statement which read "Although a clear justification for including technology in American classrooms is at least arguable, a stronger case might be made for inclusion among learners with special needs. Computers appear to be especially productive with children designated as nontraditional."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Devotion by Newsboys

All my world
All I've lost
The wrecks I've made here
The lives it cost
Your hand restores
Your words make whole
With all my soul
I thank You
I owe You

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Teaching With Technology Web Conference

I just started a new course this week for my master's degree program at Lamar. I am already enjoying it immensely and haven't even submitted my first assignment yet. This week, in preparation for our study, we were given two opportunities to attend online web conferences. A co-worker and I stayed after work for the first one because it was scheduled for 5 o'clock. The one today, Saturday, started at 11 a.m. and each lasts for about an hour. The one today had the best attendance of any I have attended with about 21 students participating.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Here With Me by Mercy Me

To hear this video be sure to turn off the playlist located at the bottom of this blog.

Here With Me Lyrics
I long for your embrace
Every single day
To meet you in this place
And see you face to face

Will you show me?
Reveal yourself to me
Because of your mercy
I fall down on my knees

And I can feel your presence here with me
Suddenly I'm lost within your beauty
Caught up in the wonder of your touch
Here in this moment I surrender to your love

You're everywhere I go
I am not alone
You call me as your own
To know you and be known

You are holy
And I fall down on my knees

I can feel your presence here with me
Suddenly I'm lost within your beauty
Caught up in the wonder of your touch
Here in this moment I surrender to your love

I surrender to your grace
I surrender to the one who took my place

I can feel your presence here with me
Suddenly I'm lost within your beauty
Caught up in the wonder of your touch
Here in this moment I surrender:

I can feel your presence here with me
Suddenly I'm lost within your beauty
Caught up in the wonder of your touch
Here in this moment I surrender to your love

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Look at Life in Orange County Texas

Vicissitudes of Life in Small Texas Town Are More Than Just Good Column Fodder By John Kelly Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I spent last week at Texas A&M University , mentoring 22 journalism students in the basics of my job. Their assignment: to write a column. As an incentive, I told them I'd publish my favorite in The Post. Many of their columns exhibited similar preoccupations: relationships, technology, anxiety over their futures (most don't have jobs yet). One column stood out. Krista Smith is a 22-year-old graduating senior from a southeast Texas town that, as you'll see, has had its share of woe. Speaking of woe: A lot of us worry about the future of journalism. Students such as Krista make me worry a little bit less. * * *

That's the number of times that Annette Bonnin -- my Aunt Nette -- has rebuilt her home in the last three years. That's the number of times she's sorted through her belongings, salvaging what she can before tossing the rest into the front yard for the disaster cleanup crews and scavengers to collect.
It's the number of times she's haggled with her insurance company, fighting for a few extra dollars that still won't be enough to return her home to the way it remains in her memories. It's the number of times she's applied for federal aid, either asking for a temporary home or requesting funds to finance her displacement costs.

Life goes on elsewhere, but for Aunt Nette and other residents of Orange , Texas , it is frozen in a cycle of waiting and frustration. The quirky city on the Texas-Louisiana border (the first taste of Texas or the last, depending on which way you're headed) claims to have 18,000 residents, though the population has undoubtedly shrunk since the last census.

Under normal circumstances, Orange would be yet another small Texas community that survived for decades amid the booms and busts of the lumber, shipping and, most recently, chemical industries. But these aren't normal circumstances. After all, there aren't too many communities that have endured the wrath of two major hurricanes in the past three years and bounced back quite like Orange . Sure, with the city situated near the Gulf coast, the threat of a hurricane is always present.

Hurricanes and preparing for them are a part of life on the coast. Residents know the drill: Stockpile bottled water, canned goods, flashlights, batteries, a generator (if you're lucky enough to have one) and the hurricane tracking chart that shows up in the grocery stores during the summer. And the preparation is not done in vain, as Orange has weathered countless tropical storms and depressions over the years. But even though the threat exists and even though they're on alert, residents never expected the landscape of their coastal community to turn against them. Because Orange is home. It is my home, my parents' home, my Aunt Nette's home, my grandparents and great-grandparents' homes. Mother Nature may terrorize us, but still we stay.

In September of 2005 it was the trees. The oaks, pines and sweet gums that shaded the city's streets were no match for Hurricane Rita's winds. They came crashing down in the living rooms, kitchens and garages of hundreds of homes. Rita, who rode in on the coattails of Hurricane Katrina, was the first major hurricane that directly impacted Orange in nearly 50 years. For the first time, the hurricane waiting game began: waiting, in shelters and hotel rooms, for the all-clear signal to return home. Waiting in a distribution line for ice and bottled water. Waiting on housing and financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. And later, waiting for the visits from the insurance adjusters, FEMA inspectors and building contractors.

In September 2008, the weathermen warned again: Hurricane Ike was streaking across the Gulf of Mexico . Orange battened the hatches; Ike wasn't our first rodeo, and he won't be the last. But no two storms are alike, and Ike didn't let us off easy. The trees, for the most part, stood tall this go around. It was the Sabine River and the bayou tributaries that weave through the city that struck this time, rising higher than we had ever seen. When the brackish, contaminated waters receded, downtown homes and businesses were full of marsh grasses, debris and -- perhaps worst of all -- dead fish.

You wouldn't think it, but Orange is thriving. Despite recent layoffs at the local chemical plants, workers are in high demand. Dozens and dozens of homes still need to be rebuilt. New businesses, including several hotels, are going up along the interstate. The city's cultural attractions are blossoming, too.

But not all is well in Orange . Hurricanes, like most natural disasters, catch the eye of the media for a day or two, maybe more if it's a slow news day. Then the news moves on. The hurricane aftermath doesn't. It lies in piles and rots in the streets, waiting to be cleared. More than seven months after Ike, my Aunt Nette is still living in her FEMA-issued travel trailer, a trailer she waited on for three months. Hundreds of Orange residents are in similar predicaments, living out of boxes. Still waiting on someone, something, anything. But we are proud -- proud of our city, our home and everything it has to offer. That's why we rebuild, why we come back. Our patience is a virtue, one that has made Orange , Texas , that much sweeter.

Monday, November 16, 2009

View from the Bridge

Every morning on my way to work, around 7:30 a.m. I travel over the Rainbow Bridge that extends from Bridge City to Pt. Arthur. Every afternoon, I return the same way and travel over the Veteran's Memorial Bridge which extends from Pt. Arthur to Bridge City. People driving around me are usually either on their way to work or on their way home as well. As you can imagine, they drive fast and furious to get home or wherever they are going. Sometimes I wonder as we travel over the same bridge if they see the same view I see or if they miss it altogether.

Every morning there is a gorgeous view of the sunrise and every afternoon a beautiful sunset that greets me as I travel over the bridge. The sun shining and reflecting its rays across the water makes it even more wonderful to see. Many times the view is so spectacular that I thank God for painting the sky in the way that he does. It is never the same. It makes me want to stop, get out of my car, and pause to take a picture, which of course is quite impossible. If I stopped on the bridge someone would think I was getting ready to jump off the bridge and traffic would be backed up for miles. Yes, it happens on rare occasions, I am sad to say.

This morning as I was driving in to work, I thought about my view from the bridge. It's a constant daily reminder to me of God's presence in my life. He greets me each morning with the sunrise and he welcomes me home at night with the sunset. Even when there are clouds, the sun breaking through with that silver lining effect is a glorious reminder of what is waiting for me one day when I leave this earth.

I think the view from the bridge is wonderful because of the height of the bridge itself. The bridges are the largest and highest bridges in our area which helps me to get a different perspective on the world I live in. This reminds me of the importance of seeing life from God's point of view. Seeing my life and circumstances from His point of view changes my perspective and gives me renewed hope at just the time I need it.

When I am traveling across the bridge, it is only for a short piece, it's a temporary state of being. In the same way, my travels through this life are also temporary, just a short while and I will reach my final destination.

I love my view from the bridge. Knowing that I have something to look forward to makes the long drive to and from work every day a little easier. The view from the bridge gives me peace in the knowledge that God is still in control as he daily continues to paint the sky with wondrous beauty as only he can do. Thanks God for my view from the bridge.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Social Networking Changes the Way We Work Together

Last night I read an article for my Teaching with Technology class by Dallas McPheeters entitled Social Networking Technologies in Education. He stated that "Social networking sites offer the tools to level the playing field from the old hierarchal, top-down structure of the corporate era to the new, horizontal, and collaborative structure taking form on the world wide web."

The article as a whole had some very exciting an interesting concepts, but I agree with the author and can see the changes he was speaking of occuring in the workplace and on the college campus. There is a much greater need today for employees and students to be skilled and capable of working in teams than ever before.

I see college students who struggle with working in groups or simply maintaining good open communication with their instructors. Those who are able to navigate well using email, or social networking sites, are more engaged and connected and are better able to utilize the resources provided to them.

Being cognizant of and having the ability to implement new ideas for networking with team members to accomplish the task at hand, gives employees an added advantage in the workplace, which in today's economy is critical.

I also think that the collaborative structure that McPheeters talks about is also a good example of the constructivism theory of learning, because it enables one person to build on the knowledge of another.

McPheeters also states that "social networks are a defining characteristic used to describe the advent of Web 2.0 as the transition from the web as a static tool of document storage to an interactive network inviting collaboration on all levels." This says to me that Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace have a much greater purpose than the social and entertainment value they provide, they have actually changed the way people interact and work together.

We recently started using facebook in our program in working with adult college students. We started by using a group page to announce workshops, events, and links of interest to students. I have gradually moved toward inviting students to be my "friends" on my personal page. Some advisors have a professional page versus allowing students access to their private page.

Personally, I feel that students need good role models to set a positive example in order to effectively use social networking tools. Since befriending my students in this way, it allows me to see not only what their interests are, but also areas in which they may be struggling. We also use a blog site, email of course, and we have done mass text messages to a group of students to send them notifications about an upcoming event or deadline.

Recently, we were receiving progress reports from professors and I did an IM chat with a student and asked how she thought she was doing in math. She said it was getting harder. When I informed her that the professor reported she had a 73 average, she said she thought her grade was much higher and agreed that she might benefit from some extra tutoring help. She was in my office the next day to sign up for tutorials. The non-intimidating nature of our initial conversation allowed me to provide some necessary intervention to get the student moving in the right direction. Since using these online tools, I have experienced an increase in communication with students as opposed to the traditional methods of using only the phone and emails to contact them.

The discussion board posts above generated the most replies I have ever received (17) since starting my coursework! Below is my Final Word.

Thank you all for your comments and replies. I enjoyed reading each one. Here is my final summary to wrap up this discussion which seems to have generated a great deal of interest.

1. Social networking technology has changed the web and the way people interact and work together.
2. For the most part, school districts and teachers either do not see the value of using social networking tools or are very limited in what they can use.
3. Teachers are using alternative methods to network and collaborate such as wikis, blogs, and class websites.
4. Students need to be educated to be responsible users of social networking technology.
5. Students who effectively use social networking tools appear to be better communicators with the world they live in.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My first experiences in Second Life

As a part of my class assignment for my Graphic Design course, I had to create and avatar and learn to write a script in Second Life, an online 3D animated virtual world. The following is the reflection I wrote on my initial experiences in the new world.