20 August 2014

Continuing the Journey

This school semester, I am continuing on my journey once again towards my Bachelor's degree. A journey that started back in 2003. Yes, over a decade ago.

What started out as a journey to be a meteorologist, and then changed to nursing, has now pretty much been cemented as a degree in General Studies. Basically this means that I have a lot of credits in a lot of different schools of the college, but not enough in any one to get a degree in it. For example, I have over 21 hours of biological science - but not the requirements for a Biology degree. I was in nursing school for a year and a half (part time), but am not a nurse. I've also got a lot of hours in psychology and English. What does this mean? I will have a very varied degree when I'm done. I'm know a little bit about a  moderate amount of subjects.

Even though I have not reached any of the destinations that I planned for, I have really enjoyed my journey as a college student. I would have preferred to go to school right out of high school and live at college and do the whole dorm experience and on campus experience, but when you make bad decisions when you're young, you live with the consequences. For me, that means night classes and on line classes spread out over a decade, with a big gap in the middle when I had my kids. Lord willing, I will graduate in the spring of 2015.

Two classes this fall. Two classes this spring. I'm really praying that I can finish.

So what am I taking this fall?

Well, one of the beautiful, wonderful things about a degree in General Studies is that you pretty much get to take whatever class you want, as long as you can get into it, and for me, as long it is an upper level course. So, I am taking Creative Writing I and the Literary Works of C. S. Lewis. I get to read The Chronicles of Narnia for college credit? How great is that!

I'm two days into classes and I've had quite the spectrum of feelings already about my classes, ranging from excitement to anxiety (I have to do a video presentation - I really abhor video presentations, I'd much rather do it in person) to enthusiasm (I get to read academic articles and research - yay!) to fear (both classes, for whom I have the same professor, have student-critiquing sections in which we all read each others' papers and critique them - what if what I write is awful?!?).

One of the things I love about college, is that it forces me to write. No matter how many goals I set for myself in regards to blogging, or working on my novel, I seem to fall short. I need accountability. I love to write, but it is a discipline (we're talking about that in class). So I am really hoping to start writing on my blog more often, just for the sake of writing. I realize that I will need to sacrifice to do this - this probably equates to less time on Facebook, which isn't a bad thing - and I need to follow through.

Even though I have started writing a novel, and I do want to have in it published one day, I have to come to realize that I still haven't figured out what I want to be when I grow up. I realize I'm in my 30's and that life is just zooming by, but I'm still working out how to do this thing called life and there are things that I want to do. Even though I said I gave up on being a nurse, I think I would still like to pursue that one day. There are other things that I want to do too. Maybe I'll be a "full time writer" one day, whatever that looks like, and maybe not. I don't think I'll ever stop writing, but will I do it as a profession one day? I don't know. I'm still figuring that out.

For now, I have taken a small step towards completing my college journey, and who knows, perhaps I've taken a small step towards something bigger. :)

18 August 2014

Created for Influence by William L. Ford

The world today is a place of uncertainty, fear and change. Sometimes it seems like the Church is powerless to shape and influence culture and community the way it once did. This is far from the truth though - Christians today have the tools to influence the world around them, in their local community and globally. Created for Influence: Transforming Culture from Where You Are by William L. Ford III shows Christians how they can be a positive influence right where they are, through prayer. If you are ready to join in the fight to change the world for the better, than this book is for you.

Ford's book was eye opening and enlightening. Often times one can feel quite helpless about the horrors that occur in our world - far away or even right down the street. Created for Influence is a powerful reminder that as a Christian, we have the ability to change the circumstances around us through prayer. With numerous Biblical insights and explanations, poignant and at times heart wrenching testimonies and Godly counsel, Ford provides example after example of how Christians can alter the course of destiny the way the Church once did.

I really enjoyed reading Ford's book. There were a few parts of the book that I felt were a little far-reaching, but overall I found Created for Influence to be a great guide for practicality in prayer in daily life. It was refreshing to know that there are prayer warriors on the front lines praying for the leaders in our nation and for the devastating problems that plague our people. I found this book to be very encouraging and a great reminder of what it really means to be a Christian.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Chosen, a division of Baker Publishing Group book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

19 July 2014

Wyoming Governor's Mansion

Back to blogging about our road adventure back in May!

One of the places that Maiden and Rick took us was the Wyoming Governor's Mansion and I absolutely loved it!

This beautiful and elegant house was home for the Governor's and their families that governed from 1904 to 1976; many dignitaries from around the country visited and were entertained here. The historical house has been open to the public for tours since 1977 and many of the furnishings dated back to the original 1904 style, although the kitchen, basement laundry and fall out shelter were done in 1950's style.

I could have spent All. Day. Long. Exploring this beautiful historic treasure, examining furnishings and wondering about who did what and sat where and thought about what in each room. But when you have five kiddos with you (four five years and under) and you're doing your best to keep them from touching things and running under the scarlet rope that cordons off some of the rooms (you can look, but can't go in), well, you just can't ponder things in a philosophical way. There was also an audio tour that you could do, but those really aren't possible if you also want to keep an eye and an ear on your small children.

Instead, it was a quick run through, sometimes literally, clicking pictures while holding hands and constantly reminding little ones not to touch and don't go in there! Even still, we were able to see every room and marvel at times gone by and the way people used to live in frontier Wyoming.

The Governor's Mansion: built in Colonial Revival style, with Corinthian columns added later.
The foyer - stairs are to the immediate right, formal dining room straight ahead.
The nursery, redone in the 1904 style. The first First family had five small children. The children chose this corner room because the windows looked down on the small yard and carriage house, and they could thereby talk to their pet pony through the windows.

One of the bedrooms, done in early 1900's style

The maid's room (one of two), on the "third" floor (the house is technically 2 1/2 stories).

The kitchen, done in 1950's style, big enough to cook for large gatherings of dignitaries.

My favorite room - the breakfast room, with windows over looking the yard and carriage house, where polling often took place for local elections. The other room that was my favorite was the main living room (where the books are), but I didn't get very good pictures of it. It was towards the end of the tour and the kids were quite restless by that time.

The laundry room in the basement - I may never look at laundry the same way again (this is only half of what it took to do laundry)

The Fallout Shelter, complete with bedding, food and games for the long winters below ground in case of nuclear fall out.

The office, done in Wyoming theme, complete with lots of bucking bronchos.

The Formal Dining Room
If you are ever in Cheyenne, I highly recommend checking out this piece of history - it was just lovely and it's very close to down town Cheyenne.

A last picture of four of the five happy tourists.

16 July 2014

The waiting and guessing game

We have been at Kirtland for four years. Four years and twenty-five days, to be exact.

One does not usually stay at a base for such a long time. However, there were a lot of things up in the air recently. Also, Mike wanted to re-enlist for six years, and to do that there was a very small time frame (one week actually) and so we had to wait for that week. If he was re-enlisting for four years, he could have re-enlisted months earlier. We can't get orders if the guys who decide that don't know you're staying in the Air Force.

Anyway, we are up for orders. We don't have orders yet and we knew that we might be hearing something soon, but up until this week it was only rumors and speculation, on our part.

Mike took leave the last two weeks and returned to work this week where he learned two things. 1) We are most definitely hot for orders. 2) His position is being eliminated. This means that we will most definitely be getting orders soon. They told him at least 45-60 days, but with the Air Force you don't really know.

I doubt, and there's always room for error in the Air Force, that we'll be getting orders back to Kirtland (meaning we would stay here). And we don't want to stay at Kirtland. Albuquerque is nice, but we are ready to move on and take our little adventure elsewhere.

I did the math today and this means that we could be moving over Christmas or in winter. Blah. I mean, I have thought in the past what it would be like to move over the holiday season, and how we would prepare for that, so it's not a new thought or anything. Moving in a warmer season would be preferable for me. Who knows though, maybe moving in winter is tons of fun and I don't know that because I haven't experienced it before.

So eventually, I'll be writing about which new base we're going to move too. We really don't have much idea of where we're going, so we'll just continue to hope we don't get the few bases we really don't want to move to (I'm talking to you arctic climate bases as well as other bases in New Mexico) and dream about where we want to go for now. And then when we get a RIP, I'll be planning like mad. [insert evil cackle here]. :)

15 July 2014

Musings on change

I've been going through my blog posts list over the last few months, or maybe it's been a year?, and have been adding labels to old blog posts.

You may or may not have noticed the increasing size of my labels link up posts on the side bar. They have expanded quite a bit lately . . . .

Since doing this requires opening each post, and since I title my posts so oddly and randomly at times, I sometimes I have to do a bit of skimming to see what the label(s) should be.

This past weekend I came to the realization that I don't blog like I used to. My blog posts used to be much more of a diary/thoughts/put-it-all-out-there kind of thing, no matter the subject and I don't do that anymore.

My blog also used to be private, and was private for the first four years that I wrote it. Although even after I made my blog public, I continued to write my thoughts freely.

Now I censor. I don't think this censoring business started as intentionally. I don't know if it's because of lack of courage for fear of judgmental thoughts or what, but my blog isn't really the same.

Part of me has been trying out different styles of writing, part of me has become more stoic and I keep my thoughts to myself: even in my daily activities very rarely do I freely open up with anyone anymore. Maybe that's a trust issue.

In the past few years I have been burned by people that I thought were friends. There are very few people that I come in contact with on a regular basis that I would consider to be friends now. People that I could turn to and trust and have a good time with. And even then, I am constantly second-guessing levels of commitment, on both ends. Unfortunately, this also smacks of insecurity, but I'm being transparent in this post.

And these feelings, in turn, come out in my writing. I feel I have to guard myself, unfortunately, and I lack the courage to put my real thoughts out there. I mean, the thoughts I write on my blog are real, but they are superficial. I don't write about the deep things that I ponder; the issues that are close to my heart or how I really live my life.

Just as my blog has changed over the past few years, so have I. I am working on becoming the person that I used to be, especially in regards to my relationship with Christ, but I am not there. Yet. I hope to get there, but honestly, I don't know if I'll ever arrive. I guess we shall see.

I do hope though, that I can start writing like I used to write. If you're wondering, take a hop back to 2007 and 08 and read a few posts. I think you'll see a difference.

09 July 2014

In for another six!

There has been quite a bit of uncertainty in the past few months about Mike's career in the Air Force. The Air Force, among other branches, are currently going through manpower cuts, and there have been Force Reduction Boards that have been put in place to select airman to mandatory out process from the military.

As I have written about, Mike was on just such a board. Since February (in the midst of deployment training), Mike has been preparing to go before the Board (or preparing his file, really). He has made sure that everything is in order, no metal or ribbon forgotten and that he is looking his best, all in the hopes of getting to keep his job. 

His Commander even wrote a letter on Mike's behalf, explaining why Mike was an excellent airman and deserves to stay in the Air Force. His Commander also had Mike write a letter explaining why he saw himself as a good airman. Nonetheless, it's been a bit of an intense time around here. Nothing is guaranteed.

In the last few weeks, some of our friends were notified that they were to be forced out of the military. The reasons were either not given or ridiculous ("he has too many years in" (9 years)). It really has been heart breaking to stand by and watch lives being broken up and see our friends forced into unemployment and homelessness (until they find jobs and places to live). We still hadn't heard anything. 

I was trying to trust in the Lord, whatever the outcome of the decision, but the waiting to hear was pretty hard. Very tense. Mike was applying for jobs and looking at his options and preparing to be forced out. 

Finally, we found out. Mike is being allowed to stay in. Praise God! It was a huge release to just know, one way or the other, and a huge relief to know that Mike will be able to stay in. Mike is very grateful. 77% of the airman on the Force Reduction Boards received notification that they would not be able to stay in the Air Force and were given six months to out process. We are very lucky.

Two days after we learned the news, Mike re-enlisted for six years. 

We don't know that the Force Reduction Boards won't happen again in that six years, but Mike wants to commit to a career in the Air Force. Six years will put him at fifteen, which will make him eligible for early retirement if we have to go through all this again at that time. 

The re-enlistment ceremony was very nice. My Dad was in town visiting and was able to attend. Flower sang "Happy Birthday" through Mike's speech (she learned there was to be cake afterwards) and it was well attended. I am very proud of Mike and how hard he works. 

We're excited about what the next six years has to bring us! :)

08 July 2014

35 in 365 Update

It's time for an update on 35 in 365 list! I'm going to try to update on this list once a month, as a sort of motivation, if you will.

This past month, I got three things checked off the list! Yay!

  • Ride the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad - one scenic train ride through the San Juan Mountains, including over Cumbres Pass and through Chama Valley completed on 30 June 2014
  • Visit Roswell, New Mexico - home of all things alien folklore and fun
  • Visit Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico - a spectacular national park that meanders down seven hundred feet to an immense lime stone cavern - so incredible!
I will be posting separate blog posts on each of these soon. :)