Saturday, December 31, 2005


For now, we're still in the 12 days of Christmas, but we also celebrate another beginning. Christmas was a time to celebrate the beginning of Christ's life and all that He did to save us, and this new year is a time when most people will make resolutions to make their lives better.

A lot of resolutions are just ideal situations that people would like to see become reality. The problem with most resolutions, though, is that a lot of people don't do what it takes in order to make good on those resolutions, so they end up collecting dust along with unwanted Christmas gifts. In order to make the most out of personal resolutions, certain objectives must be met, goals set and plans made in order to achieve those resolutions.

For instance, one of my resolutions is a very common one among adults: lose weight. Now, that's a pretty general resolution. In order to make good on it, I have established an achievable goal weight, determined what I'm going to do in order to achieve that goal, and will have to make room in my schedule to allow for the exercise it will take in order to meet my ideal weight, along with a date by which I mean to have that goal met.

My second resolution will take a bit of grace from God in order to become reality: find and maintain a good job that I will be happy with and can earn a decent income. I recently realized that one of my problems may be my resume, so I have to make some adjustments. I also was told that maybe I'm not utilizing as many resources as I could, something I thought I had been doing well at, but there's always room for improvement.

Those are the only resolutions I'm going to set for myself. If I set too many, there's a greater chance of not following through. It's also going to take changing myself, something that is difficult no matter what habit you're trying to break or establish. But it's necessary in order to make a real change.

For Christmas, my hubby and I went to my parents' house. We had dinner, some drinks and exchanged a few gifts. (The rest of our celebration will be next weekend at my grandma's house in western Kansas.) My sister and I got a bunch of silicone bakeware and a new cookbook from our mom. We've already put some of it to use! Great gift! My husband and my brother-in-law got "flying saucers" made of styrofoam that are controlled by remotes. My brother-in-law smashed his up within about 10 minutes, taped it up, glued it up, and went back at it! I can't believe it still flies!

My grandma (the one whose house we're going to this next weekend) gave my sister, my brother-in-law, my hubby and me each a gift card worth $50 for Kohl's department store! My husband told me I could take his and use it with mine to get whatever I thought we needed. Fortunately, they were having their After-Christmas sale, so most things in the store were 50-60% off! I saved a bundle!

I got new rugs for the bathroom, a flannel sheet set and a comforter set, all for just under $100 before tax. Wow! And, wouldn't you know it, the sheets I got don't have flowers or animals or anything like that on them: they've got phrases on them like "love and laughter," "all bundled up," "cozy fires," etc. It's just like a journalist to get sheets with words on them, right! :D I made sure to call my grandma and thank her. She said she was really proud of me for getting all that I did at the prices I got them for. I can't wait to see her.

Anyway, I feel bad that we can't really get much for anyone else, but maybe when my hubby and I get better jobs, we can do that more easily.

My prayer for 2006 is that it's better for everyone than this year was. May we live our lives in prayer, depending on God instead of trying to accomplish everything on our own without asking for His help.

God bless us, everyone!

Monday, December 26, 2005

The TRUE Meaning of the 12 Days of Christmas

So you know the words to "The 12 Days of Christmas," right? But what do you suppose all those nonsensical phrases mean? I've found a site that tells all about the symbols mentioned in that song and what each means. It also tells about the reasons why that song was invented in the first place. Of course, the explanation is about the urban legend of how the song began, so take it with a grain of salt. It is a good reflection tool, if nothing else, though.

Here, in this post, I'll share with you the symbols and their meanings, but I also encourage you to check out this site which tells about the reasons for those meanings and why those phrases were put to rhythm and rhyme.

1 Partridge in a pear tree = The One true God revealed in the person of Jesus Christ
2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch" which contain the law condemning us of our sins.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments of the Catholic faith
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

I would appreciate commentary on these symbols and their meanings from clergy and laypeople alike. These symbols were used to remind children of their catechism lessons when the teaching and learning of these things were unlawful. At least that's what the urban legend says. If anyone has a better explanation or source as to how the song was developed and what the words meant when it was written, I would love to see that in my comments stream, too.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Rules for Holiday Guests

As all of us get ready to celebrate Christmas with family, whether we're the hosts or the guests, it's important to keep some things in mind so the hosts and the guests don't end up killing each other! I've come up with a list of tips for houseguests and those who host them.

1. When visiting another person's home, don't go snooping through drawers, cabinets and rooms in which you have not been invited. It's rude, an invasion of privacy, and will really make those who live there very upset.

2. Don't overstay your welcome. Hosts, set a time limit for your guests. Before they arrive, discuss when they will arrive and when they will depart, and then stick to it. Guests, pay attention to the verbal and nonverbal cues from the hosts. If you get the feeling it's time to leave, it probably is.

3. Guests should help with dishes and meals whenever possible, and should offer to help pay for meals spent outside the home. Assuming the hosts will take care of all of the housework and pay for everything you do together is treading into dangerous territory, and will only lead to resentment.

4. Don't bring up controversial issues that you know will cause great disagreement. Unless everyone in the house enjoys arguments (including little children and elderly adults), you don't want to discuss things that will cause distress. If you do, you probably won't be invited back.

5. If you're planning a stay of more than just a day or two, make sure to allow time for everyone to break out and spend time by themselves or with their immediate family (those living in their own household). This will create the little bit of space that everyone needs in order to keep relations on the up-and-up.

6. Include everyone in all of the activities that are enjoyed by the whole group. Leaving one or two people out of family activities is just wrong, no matter how different they may be.

7. Make sure you do things together that make you and everyone else happy and laugh.

8. Girls need girl time and guys need guy time. Deal with it. You may not understand it, but that's the way things are. And we girls are probably going to talk about you guys at one point or another. Don't ask, though, because we won't say.

9. Make sure you have things to occupy your time in case things get boring or the rest of the clan decides to take a nap and you're not tired. Bring a book or a quiet game or both.

10. Remember the reason for the holiday you're celebrating. Christmas is about remembering the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and that He was given so He could become sin for us and bring us salvation and everlasting life.

Most of all, enjoy the time you have together, because no matter the age of anyone who's there, it could be their last Christmas. Make sure they know how much you care about them. Don't ever take for granted the time you spend with those you care about. Keep them in your prayers and ask for theirs.

Love and Peace

Monday, December 19, 2005

Christmas Carolling

"Tidbit" about Martin Luther from

"When Luther was in school, he and his classmates roamed the streets in the children's choir. The children weren't doing this for fun, however. This was the accepted way for students to acquire food in those days. Thus originated the modern practice of singing Christmas carols. "

Last night, about 15 people from my church, including myself, went Christmas carolling. Our pastor had a list of the shut-in members he visits. He divided the list up into east and west, and two car-loads went in either direction.

I was with the group that went east. (I went west last year.) We visited a few nursing homes, an independent living facility and a couple houses. At one of the nursing homes, we sang in the cafeteria on a mocked stage area. The residents applauded after each song, with smiles on their faces. One of the residents had been a music teacher for nearly 30 years. He complimented us on a job well done.

One of the families we visited was at the house of a lady who just turned 102 years old. She and her family were gathering for a funeral which is to be held this afternoon. They are all very emotional right now, as could be expected. I think they really needed to hear those carols last night.

One of the songs we sang was "O How a Rose," which is in the blue hymnal. I'm not sure where because I can't find our copy. There is another version of the same song in old English that our church choir has sung before, too, that I think is just gorgeous. Because several people who went with our group are members of the choir, myself included, we were able to harmonize and sing parts. It was beautiful!

Seeing the smiles and hearing those we sang to sing with us made it worth it to go out in the snow, braving icy streets. Well... that and going over to the choir director's house for supper and dessert, that is!

If you get the chance to carol to others, please do. It's worth it just to see how happy it makes people. Some people don't get many visitors at all, and to have you at their home singing to them and wishing them a Merry Christmas is a wonderful gift.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Interview Update

Sorry I haven't given an update before now, but I've been busy with other things. Mostly Christmas related.

Anyway, I think my interview went fairly well. I did a lot of praying before and after my interview, so I hope that I appeared more calm than I otherwise would have. I know I felt more calm than in previous interviews. The bad thing, I'm afraid, is that I think they're looking for someone with more management experience than what I have, which is pretty much none.

My question is this: How can you get management experience if no one gives you a job that involves managing anything or anyone? And if everyone wants all their applicants to have previous experience, where is the initial experience supposed to come from? There has to be someone out there who's willing to take a chance with a new employee who doesn't have the previous experience, but is willing to learn!

One of the questions I was asked was if I'd ever done script writing for a film or television commercial. With a degree in print journalism, what do you think? I just told the guy that since I got my degree in print journalism, I never really got the chance to work with broadcast-style media.

I know that I could do this job, given the chance to do so. The gentleman who interviewed me said that those they think are best fit for the job will be asked back for a second interview before they make their final decision. Seems that I was right about them not starting anyone before the beginning of the year. In the meantime, I was given a writing exercise to complete and e-mail back so they can see if my style of writing is what they're looking for. I have to send it back by Monday, so I guess I have my work cut out for me tomorrow.

I still need your prayers, people. The competition for this job has not ended yet, but I think that if this guy wasn't truly interested in me, he wouldn't have given me a first interview. That's assuring. I just pray that I get the second interview. Please continue your prayers for me. Thank you, again!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Please pray for me today and tomorrow!

I got a call a little over an hour ago from someone at the United Way of the Plains who wants to interview me for a Marketing Manager position. He asked me to come in at 8:15 tomorrow morning, and to bring my whole portfolio so he can see everything I've done! I already turned in several (about 6 or 7) writing and layout samples for him, along with my resume, and he apparently liked what he saw!

So, please, please pray for me. May God's will be done, whether that means He wants me to have this job or not. I am honestly praying, though, that it is His will that I do get this job.

Thank you, in advance, for your prayers!

Finals Finally Finished!

In case you were wondering (oh, come on, I know you were!), I finished my finals on Monday and Tuesday, and Ron is supposed to have his last one today.

Monday was my Interpreting I final. It was difficult because I had to interpret for a deaf man who uses strictly ASL. Now, you have to understand that pure ASL is completely different from spoken English. For example, if you wanted to say, "I've already baked the cookies," you would have to sign something to the effect of, "I cook cookies finish." If you wanted to say, "If you do that, you'll be fired," you would have to sign "Happen you do, you fired." Or something like that. I still have to try to learn more of the ASL sentence structure and how to form pure ASL sentences correctly.

Right now, my signing is more like Pidgin Signed English, which means I use ASL signs in English word order. That is completely different from Signing Exact English, which is not really a language. SEE is a form of signing in which you sign every single word that is spoken or would be spoken, adding the appropriate prefixes, suffixes and tenses to each word. For example, if you wanted to say, "I graduated with a degree in management," you would have to sign, "I graduate+(past tense) with a degree in (literally "in") manage+ment," wheras in ASL, you would sign, "I finish graduate with degree management."

Anyway, moving on... I know I probably got an A in that class, and I know for a fact that I got an A in my Deaf Communication Studies class. My teacher let me see my score, pre-final (which was an open-book joke, really), and I had a 99 percent in the class.

Next semester, I'm taking Deaf Culture, and am supposed to audit ASL 2 to try to improve my understanding of ASL sentence structure. I already have the credit from my undergraduate years at Wichita State University, so I don't need the credit again. However, the ASL 2 class is supposed to meet from 4-6:45 p.m., and when (if) I find a job, I won't be able to do that. Good thing I don't need the credit, huh!

Job searching is getting more difficult. I don't think anyone wants to start someone new before the first of the year. Also, I'm not finding too many positions that require degrees, let alone a print journalism one. I've applied for a few management-type communication positions; I'm just waiting on calls for interviews, which I know I'll be able to get. I just hope they're impressed enough to make me an offer I can't refuse. (HT "The Godfather") If they decide they don't want me, I'll fart in their general direction! (HT "Monty Python" series)

Friday, December 09, 2005

5 Facts

My husband and I have been tagged by Pastor Aardvark. I'm supposed to list five random facts about myself, and then tag five other people at the end. Here I go!

  1. I'm only five feet tall. I can literally stand on a 60-inch measuring tape where the "0" mark is, and the other end will stop at the top of my head.
  2. In person, I look really young. I usually get carded if I try to buy movie tickets for a rated R movie standing by myself. (FYI, you have to be 17 to buy tickets to a rated R movie, and I'm 25.) I kind of like that! My younger sister doesn't get carded!
  3. I'm anal when it comes to proper spelling, punctuation and grammar. If I get an e-mail that I'm supposed to forward to other people, I can't send it on unless I edit it first.
  4. I love to sing. I sing to songs on the radio, I sing in our church choir, and I sang in choir three out of four years in high school. Every once in a while, I sing a solo at church. I'm not the best in our choir, but I'm pretty good for never having had voice lessons.
  5. I graduated from high school and college with about the same GPA each, both times with high honors. Not bad for a natural blonde female, huh! That doesn't mean I don't do and say crazy, mixed up things once in a while. Just ask my husband!

Okay. Now it's time for me to tag some other people. And since my husband isn't home from work yet and hasn't had a chance to tag them first, I'm going to tag Dan the Geologist, his girlfriend Intolerant Elle, TK, Minister 2 B, and Bunnie.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Higher Things

As of last night and today, I have been given the amazing opportunity to be a volunteer copy editor for Higher Things Reflections, which provides devotional material to Lutheran teens, youth leaders and pastors to help the growth and understanding of the confessional Lutheran faith.

What an honor it is to be given this chance to be involved in the growing of the Lutheran faith, of young Christian minds, and to do all of this to His glory!

A big thanks goes out to Pastor Borghardt for this opportunity, as he is responsible for reviewing the content of these reflections before they go out to the editors.

While on Tabletalk last night (chat room for a conglomeration of Lutherans, not just LCMS), it came up again that Higher Things needed copy editors, and my wonderful husband happened to mention that I was still interested. He gave Pr. Borghardt my e-mail address, and Pr. Borghardt e-mailed me with the invitation to edit for them! So, thank you to my husband, the Terrible Swede, as well.

Pr. Borghardt told me a couple of hours ago that I should be receiving the first of the reflections for editing in the next few days. All of you should sign up to receive these devotions, if you haven't done so already! What are you waiting for? Go to the website I linked to above, and sign up!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Lutheran Carnival XII

The newest installment of the Lutheran Carnival has been posted at Full Throttle and an Empty Gas Tank. It's a shorter carnival than most have been, but I still got a submission in. Please visit, poke around for a bit, and read some of the interesting posts that have been submitted. Then, tease my husband's best friend Dan, Dan's girlfriend, and my husband for not having submitted posts of their own. Dan and his girlfriend are the ones who administer the carnival, in case you didn't know. :D

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Private Confession in the LCMS: A Very Good Thing

From Old Lutheran dot com-
What is private confession? Private confession has two parts. First, we make a personal confession of sins to the pastor, and then we receive absolution, which means forgiveness as from God himself. This absolution we should not doubt, but firmly believe that thereby our sins are forgiven before God in heaven. . .

What sins should we confess? Before God we should confess that we are guilty of all sins, even those which are not known to us, as we do in the Lord's Prayer. But in private confession, as before the pastor, we should confess only those sins which trouble us in heart and mind.
A lot of people have never heard of private confession being offered in the Lutheran Church, and that's because a lot of pastors don't offer it. Some think that such an offering will bring up emotional and psychological baggage from those who left the Roman Catholic Church. But confession is a necessary part of our spiritual journey. Even if we just confess the sins we've committed one against the other, it's important that we admit our wrongs, ask for forgiveness, and receive absolution. In the Lutheran Church, moreover, it is not a requirement, but rather a suggestion.

This is something that is also outlined in Luther's Small Catechism. Take a look at it, see what it says. Here is a brief exposition of what begins on p. 24 of the 1986 publication of the Small Catechism:
What is Confession?
Confession has two parts. First, that we confess our sins, and second, that we receive absolution, that is, forgiveness, from the pastor as from God Himself, not doubting, but firmly believing that by it our sins are forgiven by God in heaven. . .
My husband published the Beichtspiegel on his blog. This provides a list of questions expounding on the Ten Commandments so that we might be able to recognize some of the sins we've committed and repent of them before the pastor in private confession.

Because a lot of pastors don't offer private confession, most people in the LCMS don't know that it exists except as a Roman Catholic thing. I know I didn't until my husband and I joined our present church, and our pastor wrote in the Church calendar and in our bulletin when he would be offering private confession. (He offers it about once a month, always on a Saturday afternoon.)

We know that we are grievous sinners, all of us. But how many times do we sin against someone else or against ourselves, not pray about it, and go along our daily lives unrepentant and unforgiven for those thoughts, words and deeds? When we confess our sins and receive absolution in private confession, it gives us a chance to reflect upon our sins, talk about why they were wrong or what we can do to avoid them in the future, and receive absolution for them.

Because our pastors are called and ordained servants of the Word, we have assurance that the forgiveness our pastors give us can be accepted as if God, Himself, is speaking to us through the pastors' words. (See the bottom of p. 26 of the aforementioned Small Catechism.) God gives pastors the ability to absolve us of our sins because He speaks to us through them. Furthermore, our pastors can supply us with Scripture passages to comfort us and strengthen our faith.

This was one practice of the Roman Catholic Church that Martin Luther believed was an important part of the faith life of Christians. It was something he believed should continue. Unfortunately, as many churches in the LCMS stray toward more liberal and contemporary methods of services and ministry to congregants, these practices are left by the wayside as "too Catholic" or "too rigid" or "too personal," etc. The last of these is sealed by vows of confidentiality. As for being "too Catholic," it is a catholic (small c) practice, meant to provide comfort and strength, as well as reflection.

It may not be something you're used to or particularly like the sound of when you first hear about it, especially if you come from a Catholic background. I was a little unsure of it when my husband and I started going to private confession about two years ago, but it has since become a comfort to me. I'm sure it would be a comfort for any of you, too.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Just what my husband needed to hear...

My husband and his best friend have always been able to talk about anything, especially when they have a beer glass in front of them that seems to be bottomless. So, is it any wonder that my husband would find research that makes him want to drink even more beer?

He recently posted this link on his multi-bloggered beer blog which goes to a site that suggests that a certain ingredient in the hops from which beer is produced may have certain cancer-fighting qualities. This is not going to help his beer gut.

Wintery Blast Finally Hits Kansas

Wind: NW at 34 mph
Humidity: 92%

Winter weather hasn't really hit here in Kansas until just yesterday. Before that, we were experiencing high temperatures in the 70s, short-sleeved weather! Sure, there were a few days where the highs were only in the 50s or 60s, but today, our high is supposed to be in the mid- to upper-30s with light precipitation possible.

See that wind speed? Yep. That's Kansas for you. The humidity isn't usually much higher than about 20 percent, so that combined with the wind is going to make it seem a lot colder.

Some of you might remember that in the first week of January, Mr. Swede and I had to leave our apartment for a number of days because power was knocked out to more than half the city, and we ended up staying in my parents' brand new house. Hopefully that won't happen again, but if it does, we'll be prepared. (I pray we are, anyway.)

Also, I'm preparing a new poll or two. One is going to have somewhat of a theological basis and the other more of a Christmas gift-giving basis. In the meantime, share your winter blues with me and keep yourself warm! :D

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Grocery Shopping

One of the things I sometimes enjoy doing is grocery shopping, although I always find things at the store that I want and can't afford to buy (or know I shouldn't because it's not good for me or my husband). But one thing I'm trying to do more of is use coupons when I shop. I can actually save about 1/3 on my final bill at the register by doing so, and maybe even more with practice.

My main purpose in asking about who or how many of you use coupons was because I don't usually see too many people using them, and I wanted to know how much in the minority I am.

Here is what I found out from the 11 votes I got (even though it's not really all that representative a poll):

Four votes were from those who said there is nothing wrong with using coupons to be thrifty. That's where I would most likely fall had I voted, myself.

One person said they use coupons sometimes when they're really thinking about it.

Three people each said they either shop at off-brand stores or that they're men and real men don't use coupons. (HA!)

Really. How does using coupons make you less of a man? It shows that you care about where your money goes and you don't want to waste anymore than you have to. I think that's an admirable quality.

However, if those men out there who voted are married, it's likely that they don't do the grocery shopping anyway, which would make this poll irrelevant to them. Oh well. Such is life.

I know I can't send my husband to the grocery store without him bringing home a lot of stuff that wasn't on the list to begin with. I, on the other hand, seem to have a better grasp of how to stick to a list.

Is it discipline? I don't know. My husband lived on his own for 12 years before we got married, whereas I (who am several years younger) never did. I sometimes regret that, but it wasn't really something I could help very well. We got married at a time when a lot of people were losing their jobs, and I couldn't find anyone to hire me because the economy was so depressed.

When my husband lost his job due to a lay-off, I had to learn rather quickly how to stick to a budget, try to use coupons, etc. That wasn't easy because most of my life, I never had to worry about where my next meal was going to come from, how much money I was spending on this or that... I was like a grown-up kid who had to do a lot of self-teaching and learning from my much more experienced husband.

Now, I appreciate the hard work that goes into planning a budget, making grocery lists, and finding coupons to use with those items on my list, or bypassing the coupons because I found a better deal without them.

Anyway, I'm just rambling now. It's 11:15 p.m. and I need to wind down and get some sleep. I'll be back later in the week to post something less dull. I promise.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

"The Ice Harvest": A Bone to Pick

Today, a new movie called "The Ice Harvest" is supposed to open in theatres. The long and short of the movie, from the synopsis given on this site to the review given on the radio, is that a mob boss has settled in Wichita after a heist in Kansas City, where he is from.

Here is what you need to know before watching this movie, if you choose to go at all: NO part of this movie was filmed anywhere near Kansas, let alone Wichita. It was filmed in Illinois, near or in Chicago. Also, there are no mobs in Kansas. None in Kansas City, none in Wichita, the state's largest city. (KC is only bigger than Wichita on the Missouri side.) I should know: I've lived my entire life in Kansas, most exclusively in Wichita, and the only gang-like activity is just that, not mob-like, and there certainly aren't any mobs anywhere near here.

Apparently, this movie is very unflattering in its view and portrayal of Wichita. This is the last kind of coverage our fair state needs. We just sent accused BTK serial killer Dennis Rader sent to the "big house" and had a made-for-TV movie show recently on television, Kansas schools are trying to play down the proponents of evolution in favor of making sure children know that it's only a theory and that a higher being must have created us and the universe (which, for some reason is making Kansans look like a bunch of hick nuts – supposedly the position of a "Kansas science teacher" is rated as one of the nation's worst possible jobs), and "In Cold Blood," a movie based on the slaying of the Clutter family that happened a couple of decades ago has been rebroadcast... From the media coverage, those who believe all this crap that has been shown on TV might wonder what kind of people really do live here!

I'm not saying that this movie won't have redeeming qualities. Some of the movie ratings are looking very positive for this film. The reviewer from this morning's radio show, though, gave this movie a rating of -1 on a scale of 1-4, with 4 being the highest possible rating.

Maybe it will prove to be a good movie afterall, but please don't think that this story has anything at all to do with the real-life Wichita, Kansas. If you do see it, let me know what you think of it. Maybe eventually, my husband and I will watch it just to see what it's all about.

Monday, November 21, 2005

(Pre-)Thanksgiving Meal Tips from the Mrs.

If you're getting ready to fix that wonderful tradition of a Thanksgiving meal, complete with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc., you probably have your own recipe and strategy you like to follow. But if you've never fixed your own Thanksgiving turkey and side dishes, I've got tips for you that I've learned and improved on, myself.

For your benefit, I've posted my own procedure for preparing a thanksgiving meal on The Swede Smell of Lutefisk, the cooking blog I share with my husband.

If you have anything to add to my meal tips that you think would make it better, please feel free to share! I and other readers would love to see them!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Lutheran Carnival XI is Up!

To check out the posts submitted for this edition of the carnival, visit Dan at Necessary Roughness.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Meet Trixie!

Trixie is a lovable little puppy who has decided to keep you company while visiting my blog! I named her Trixie because she'll jump to get her treats. Click on the box of treats, hold the bone up above her head, and click again, and she'll jump to get it! Almost as good as the real thing. No pooping, no shedding. Hmmm... Maybe better.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


My younger sister, Tonya, will be graduating from college on December 11, earning her BA in Communicative Disorders and Sciences! Wahoo!! Way to go, sis!

A Move Toward Greater Anonymity

If you've visited this blog in the past, you know my real name. You may even have the e-mail address that I share with my husband. This is very important: From now on, I ask this of all of you: If you have me listed on your blogroll by anything other than my blog's title, please change it so that my real name is not revealed. If you refer to me in any of your blog posts, please refer to me by my blog's title or Mrs. T. Swede.

Not all that long ago, TK, the author of the blog Katie's Beer, told us that she was being harassed by a "troll." There are other people I know of (Bunnie from World Magazine, for instance) who use pseudonyms to keep people from knowing their true identities and to protect themselves from being stalked or harassed in person, over the phone, etc.

I should have done this from the very beginning, as my husband should have. Fortunately, we've been blessed to not be harassed by anyone that we couldn't prevent from commenting. Code identification in the comments window stopped that. But the danger was far from over. Now, hopefully, with the concealing of my identity, I'll be completely in the clear. But this can only be truly successful with your cooperation.

I've started a new e-mail address, which I listed at the end of my blogroll. Of course, if you choose to e-mail me, you'll have to replace the words in caps with their symbolic counterparts. Anyone who wants to is welcome to e-mail me, unless your intent is to harass or threaten me. Those actions do have consequences, especially if my husband gets to you!

If you have questions or would like to leave a comment about this, feel free to do so. Also, please consider doing this on your own blogs. It's a safety issue. If you don't want to, that's your choice, and I won't fault you for it. As you can see, it's taken me over a year to do this.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

God's Good Stewards

The Parable of the Talents
Matthew 25: 14-30

14"Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15To one he gave five talents[a] of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. 17So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. 18But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.

19"After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.'

21"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

22"The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.'

23"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

24"Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'

26"His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28" 'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'


  1. Matthew 25:15 A talent was worth more than a thousand dollars.

Our pastor reminded us this morning that "talents" were not necessarily what we refer to as those things that we can do that others cannot. But to give an equivalent, gifts (our version of "talents") that we have been given by God are kind of what I'm going to refer to here.

We are all given gifts by God, and we often don't do with them what we ought. Some of us have gifts of caring for others, and yet we choose careers that either have nothing to do with helping and caring for others, or worse yet, hurt others.

That's one of the reasons I chose to get out of newspaper work altogether (that and I pretty much have no other papers in the area to go to). I was part of a business that, rather than help people all the time, had a reputation for simply informing, entertaining or causing pain. (Not the particular company, but the newspaper business as a whole.) I'm someone who likes to help people, and I didn't feel that I was using the gifts that God had given me as I should.

Although I'm looking for work again and trying to find something that I can use my degree with, I do plan on continuing toward my certification as an interpreter, and want to use that certification for church work. This is a gift that God has given me that I can't ignore and do nothing with anymore. I have finally realized that I was selfishly hiding my gift in the ground rather than investing it as I should.

What gift has God given you that you have hidden rather than investing?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Last Poll = Lame. New Poll = Intriguing.

All right. I've decided to do something different. I've wiped the last poll off of my blog because I thought (and apparently so did most of you) that it was kind of boring. So, I came up with a new one that might get some laughs and that I can and will exploit to my heart's desire because no one, including myself, will know who said what.

A few months ago, I heard a conversation on my favorite radio station about how likely people were to clip and use coupons for their grocery shopping excursions. (BTW, they're streaming online, so you can listen, too!)

One of the male DJs on the show was getting all upset and uncomfortable with the idea of men using coupons. Some of the ladies who called in said they didn't like to use them either, because of the time it takes to scan and approve them, and the looks they think they're getting because they're using them. Other people who called in said, "What's wrong with taking a little extra time to save money at the cash register?"

It's true that using coupons can save you major bucks, especially if you've got an extensive grocery list. It's also true that it takes time to find, clip and put those puppies to use!

So, in which court are you? Are you one who uses coupons or doesn't? There's no shame in either answer, and your name will never be revealed unless you choose to do so in the comments section.

Have fun!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

All right. I gave in.

HT to Devona and Elle for the idea. (Google your name followed by the word "needs" and see what you find.) This is what I found.
  1. Erica needs surgical help. Her breasts are drooping and there is a lot of droopiness in the face.
  2. Erica needs all the help and all the heroes she can get.
  3. Erica's needs can only be met in a special class in which all the children have developmental delays and disabilities.
  4. Erica needs therapy soooo bad. I've never seen such damaged goods.
  5. Erica needs to read her books a little more closely.
  6. Erica needs to be cared for and treated with respect.
  7. Erica needs time to digest all these.
I especially think the first one is funny! Next!

Time to share poll results!

Okay, I know you've all been wondering what the results of my poll are and when I'm going to finally change it. Well, today is the day (providing my hubby doesn't hog the computer tonight, that is)!

  • There were 33 votes counted for the men's poll, and 26 for the women's poll.
  • Six men said they like to buy flowers for the women in their lives, while only two said they like to receive them.
  • Two men said they like to buy their ladies jewelry, but none of the ladies voted for this.
  • It was a little closer for "sex." A total of 18 men and 14 women voted for this special "gift."
  • As for an expensive dinner, two men and three women voted in favor.
  • Five men compared to seven women voted for something that she's been hinting at that he was too dense to notice before.
  • None of the other options received votes.

My conclusion: Men, you're on the right track, but some of you really need to pay more attention to the clues your women are giving you. Flowers are nice and pretty, but unless they still have roots, they wither really quickly. Women don't enjoy getting jewelry as much as they do the other options mentioned above.

So, if there is a special occasion in your future, particularly if it's something to celebrate with or for the woman in your life, I hope this has helped narrow your search of what to do or get for her.

As soon as I have another poll made up, I'll post it, so be on the lookout! Thanks to all who participated in the most recent one!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Deaf Ministry Workshop went really well!

The pastor in my photo to the left is the son of two deaf parents who, until recently, lived in Wichita. His name is Pr. Jerold Munz, and he lives in Indiana. He came to Kansas specifically for the Deaf Ministry Workshop this past Saturday.

The sign he's using right now is the sign for "story." He was explaining the message on the screen behind him.

There were probably about 30 Deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals at the workshop, some whom I consider old friends, and some I'd never met before but quickly warmed up to and who warmed up to me.

If you're wondering about this "story" business, the theme for Deaf ministry in Kansas is "I Love to Tell the Story," and it's about hearing people telling the Deaf and the Deaf telling other Deaf about God and Jesus, and spreading His Word. Apparently, those in the Deaf community pay more attention to other Deaf when discussing religion than to hearing people. It makes sense because other Deaf people are just like them: they have a common bond that is immediately recognizable.

We listened and watched as Pr. Munz and others shared Bible stories with us, and related it to our task of evangelizing to the world, especially that part of the world that is forgotten because they are silent: the Deaf.

When the workshop was over Saturday evening, I went home with and stayed the night with some old friends of mine: Pr. David Schemm and his wife Jan. Jan's son, Kyle, and I dated when I was in 8th and 9th grades. He is profoundly deaf, and he and his family were responsible for my initial interest and learning of sign language!

Before you get bent out of shape about me staying the night with my ex-boyfriend's parents, no, he was not there. He's living in Norman, Oklahoma, going to OU right now. I did, however, have a marvelous time with his mom, step-dad and younger sister Julie. They were incredibly accommodating, providing me with a large bedroom and queen-sized bed, three bathroom towels and a washrag, and two bars of soap! Julie gave me an old pair of shoes she can't wear anymore that I just thought were darling, Mrs. Schemm took me out for breakfast Sunday morning at the coffee shop that Julie works for, and Pr. and Mrs. Schemm took me out for lunch after church!

I had a really good time in Topeka both at the workshop and with Schemms. I hope that future workshops and conferences are close enough that I and they get to go, although Pr. Schemm might have a more difficult time because he'd have to find someone to preach for him.

Anyway, here is a picture of the two of them:

If either of them is looking at this, thank you once again! You are very special people and I will always consider you friends!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Experimenting in the Kitchen: Stuffed Tacos

Yesterday, just before I left to go to my Deaf Communication Studies class, I decided to try to bake something that I saw on a quick television commercial for Pillsbury biscuits. I wanted to get some whole wheat ones, but try as I might, I couldn't find any, so I used buttermilk biscuits.

Anyway, I browned a pound of ground beef and flattened out the biscuits on a cookie sheet, then put some gound beef in the center and topped it with sliced stewed tomatoes and cheese, and folded the biscuit dough around it and baked these "stuffed tacos" in the oven for about ten minutes (I should have added some onion slivers, too). When I pulled them out, I immediately put them on plates and topped them with a little more cheese and some salsa. Maybe next time I should think about getting some sour cream, too.

Ron loved them. He said he was going to take some for lunch today so he could make some of the students in the lab jealous. Unfortunately, he said, no one was around when he heated them up to eat. I guess when I make something special, like my famous meatloaf or a casserole or something, people get jealous because no one cooks for them like that. Awwwww... Makes me feel good that I can make people jealous of what I've figured out how to cook on my own! I never really got any instruction in cooking before Ron and I got married; I've had to teach myself a lot.

What do you think about this recipe? Maybe Ron and I should make "Cooking with the Swede" a collaborative effort... He started a blog like that, but I don't think he's made too many contributions to it, himself. Would any of you be interested in reading or contributing to a blog like that? It would be kind of a blogcook book... Thoughts?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

For my Interpreting Class: The Lord's Prayer

Last night, in my Interpreting I class, I interpreted The Lord's Prayer, as was suggested by not only three of my faithful readers, but also by others. It was also the option that I was most comfortable with.

Interestingly enough, all but three people in my class interpreted something of a Christian nature. Most did songs by Christian music artists (some with a country twang *gag*), and others did Christian poetry. One of the JWs interpreted "Beautiful Boy" from the movie "Mr. Holland's Opus," and the other interpreted a child's book related to "Thomas the Train."

While I was practicing before last night's class, I realized that one of the signs I was using in the prayer was incorrect. Not that it had any other meanings of which I was aware, but it was incorrect, nonetheless, and had to be changed. When I finished my interpreting in class, it seemed that everyone was pleased with it, and that made me feel better about interpreting a prayer.

Thank you to all who left your recommendations in my comments stream. I appreciate you more than you know.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

I Need Your Opinions, Please! And Fast!

"I do not have a psychiatrist and I do not want one, for the simple reason that if he listened to me long enough, he might become disturbed."
- James Thurber

Just recently: I have my Interpreting I class tomorrow night, and I have to present a project called "My Voice." For this project, I have to find a poem, song or story that I can relate to and either interpret or transliterate it (use straight ASL or use Pidgin Signed English, which is using ASL signs in English word order).

Of course, I put this off until recently, because I thought I knew what I wanted to do. But the more I thought about it, the poem I wrote in high school that I wanted to interpret is a little difficult to interpret, and using PSE would just make it confusing to anyone who was deaf or didn't understand personification (which, I'm guessing, would be most of my class). So, I decided I wanted to interpret the song "I Love to Tell the Story (of Jesus and His Love)," which is the theme for Deaf Ministry in Kansas. The only problem was that I didn't have the music for the song, and I don't want to sing it in class while I'm trying to sign it. But I found a CD that has the music on it, so if I had to do that, I could.

The other option that I came up with was to do The Lord's Prayer, which is something that I had to learn to interpret to help my pastor friend with his home visits with a Deaf couple. But that presents another roadblock because it's a prayer, and I would be interpreting it in a public college setting, which could potentially be a bad thing. Especially since at least two of my classmates are Jehovah's Witnesses. Should I do it anyway?

You have until 6:30 p.m. Central Time tomorrow night to let me know what you think.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Okay. The last poll has been replaced with a new one.

If you were wondering how the numbers for Tyra's talk show were growing, it was because my husband, loving as he is, was voting for her show twice a day during the week: once at home and once at work. I was surprised to see that the next highest votes were for Jerry Springer! If you don't mind sharing, those of you who voted for Jerry, I'd like to know why you would want to be on his show.

Do you think those shows are real, or do you (like me) think that they are scripted? Do you just like the drama? Why do you like Jerry Springer?

In the meantime, I've replaced that poll with a new one. Make sure you vote in the right box: Ladies, your box is pink, and Men, your box is blue. You can choose multiple answers, just like before. As you might be able to surmise already, I'm going to compare the results of these polls to see how well you men read the women in your lives! Enjoy!

UPDATE: OOPS! I forgot to mention that you can select multiple answers. Have fun!

Radio Station's Cash Contest Uses Bad Numbers

Last week, the radio station I listen to in the mornings started a contest in which callers must guess a 4-digit "pin" that will open a "cash vault." Until this morning, only the first number had been guessed. That first number was "6." This morning, a lady called in and guessed both the second and the third numbers: both 6's! So, the first three numbers of the 4-digit "pin" are 666! I missed the lady's guess for the fourth number, but I heard a guess from a man that called in later. His guess was "7." I'm not sure, but I think that the lady who called in was guessing all 6's.

By the way, whoever guesses the correct "pin" will win $1,000! Wouldn't that be nice!

Monday, October 24, 2005

This isn't working like I thought it would...

Last night, I got maybe two or three hours of sleep after getting in bed around 11 p.m. Ron didn't sleep well, either, but I know he slept more than me because I watched him sleep and listened to him snore for most of the night. My sinuses are still bothering me, and I got up drowsy this morning at 6:00, but not enough to sleep. My muscles were sore, too.

Anyway, since I wasn't tired enough to sleep (for some reason), I decided this morning that I was going to do as much housework as I could to try to exhaust myself enough to be able to take a nap before my class tonight. It hasn't worked yet.

So far, I've vacuumed the whole apartment, made the bed, cleaned the bathroom and the kitchen, done three loads of laundry (all of which I folded and put away), done some ironing and dishes. After all that, I'm not tired; I'm more awake now than ever! I just hope I don't crash and burn in class tonight!

Update and Reflection

"The only thing that sustains one through life is the consciousness of the immense inferiority of everybody else, and this is a feeling that I have always cultivated."
Oscar Wilde

If I were to apply that quote to the interpretation of the musical "OLIVER!" I would be misevaluating the situation. Almost everyone who participated as an interpreter Saturday did a fantastic job. Fortunately, I was not the worst interpreter, which was what I was fearing because I've had less interpreter training than everyone else in my class. But, alas, I was not the best because of the aforementioned reason.

Including myself, there were 11 of us who took turns interpreting. One of those was our instructor, who is the daughter of two deaf parents. One of my classmates (who also interpreted) is also a CODA (child of deaf adults).

Although I probably signed conversations and songs more English than I should have, I was told that I was very expressive and easy to understand, so I guess that made up for it. I did have a card up my sleeve, though: I took drama in high school and acted in a couple of plays, so I know how to be expressive in my signing, too.

I have a lot of chores to do today, so I will conclude as follows with a rephrasing of the quote above that more appropriately applies to myself:

"The only thing that sustains me through life is the consciousness of the immense inferiority of myself to everybody else, and this keeps me determined to improve upon my own successes."

Friday, October 21, 2005

OLIVER! Interpreted

Tomorrow evening, I will be participating in the interpretation of the musical "OLIVER!" with my Interpreting I class. I will be interpreting Act 2 Scene 2, where "Oliver" is brought to live with "Mr. Brownlow," sees a doctor, and is later kidnapped back from the band of pickpockets that he had been rescued from.

My class attended most of the dress rehearsal Tuesday night. The actors and actresses are really good, for the most part. The little boy who plays Oliver is really talented. He's a great actor, and sings pretty well for no older than he is, too.

I had to get a long-sleeved black shirt tonight for the play tomorrow. I'm supposed to wear something that will contrast a lot with my skin color, and I'm pasty pale white. The reason is simple: the lights are going to be off with the exception of the stage lights and a dim spotlight where my classmates and I are going to be interpreting. Our signing must be visible to those Deaf and hard-of-hearing who attend.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Strong possibility for a better future

My husband had a job interview yesterday for the position of a nondestructive engineer at a rather large aircraft company in town, the same one that laid him off six months after we married.

His interview went really well. He told me that he is one of three candidates to fill two open positions! That's a 66 percent chance of employment! And if he gets this job, we will move out of this crappy apartment!

The only down-side is that if he is chosen, he'll have to wait until December to start. On the up-side, if he's able to finish this semester where he is currently working, we won't have to worry about paying back the tuition assistance they provided for him.

Please pray that he is chosen for this position. It's what he really wants to do at a company he really wants to work for.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Extreme Makeover-Home Edition Comes to Kansas

This is from our local ABC news station, KAKE-TV:

The hit ABC show Extreme Makeover-Home Edition has converged on Southern Kansas.

The Nutsch family lost their home this summer in a big explosion.

Ty Pennington and his crew, complete with bullhorn, surprised the family Sunday.

Construction work begins Tuesday. The public is invited to watch the project from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The construction site is 14487 SW 220th Street near Douglass.

Stay tuned to KAKE News this week for the behind the scenes stories as tragedy turns into a dream come true.

The family had been on vacation and came back to find that their propane tank had exploded and they had lost everything they owned, including a family pet. Most of the family has been living in their grandfather's basement, while the father has been living in a school bus to protect what belongings they have left.

The house is supposed to be presented to the family, who's on vacation in Disney World right now, on Sunday! Watch the show and be on the lookout for this family from Rose Hill, KS!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Oh, such unglamourous work.

I just got back from the pre-employment orientation at the new Remote Encoding Center. This is a rundown of what I can expect:

  • Overtime will be paid only after the accumulation of 40 hours, which could happen as early as the fourth day in. I could be mandated to work as many as 12 hours on an 8-hour schedule. Of course, I should have at least a couple of days notice.
  • I could be mandated to work Saturdays, Sundays, or both during any given week.
  • I will be unable to call in sick or otherwise miss a day of work for the first 90 days, which is a probabtionary period.
  • I will be given two (2) personal days (which I could use for sick days) that I can use until the end of this year.
  • No benefits, including insurance or others, will be given until after one year of employment has passed. The only benefit I will be elligible for is one hour of vacation for every 20 hours worked.
  • I will go through 52 hours of paid training, which I have to pass, including a two-day orientation after hiring, one day in a classroom, and computer training on the fourth day.
  • I will be allowed a five minute break every hour, alternating each hour with a ten minute break, during which I will be able to drink from a water fountain and use the restroom, if needed.
  • The use of cell phones on or near the facility is prohibited.
  • Those who write down the addresses of celebrities, local or otherwise, and take them (or attempt to) out of the facility will be terminated.
  • After my training is complete, and I am able to work independently, I will be able to bring music or books on tape to listen to as long as I use headphones and keep the volume low.
  • No food, drinks or gum are allowed on the work floor.
  • On the plus side, pay starts at $12.43 per hour, with $1.02 being added for every hour worked after 6 p.m.
  • I will be allowed and expected to take a 30-minute lunch break if I work eight or more hours per day, which is more than my previous employer allowed.
  • It will be full-time work of between 35 and 40 hours per week, and more than likely more, especially with Christmas coming up.
  • Since the REC is open 365 days per year, I will be expected to be flexible enough to work weekends and holidays at any hour of the night or early morning. Failure to be able to do so, especially in the first 90 days, will not be tolerated and could lead to permanent dismissal.

So, after learning all of that, and knowing that I am going to take the job, any suggestions of how to keep myself from going completely insane or hating myself for accepting the job after Tuesday's interview?

UPDATE: After consulting with my husband, he told me not to take it. We don't need the money so badly that I have to compromise myself, our family time, church and school.

So, I guess I'm on the job hunt again.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

New Poll

All right. This one should be more fun. You can vote once a day, and choose as many answers as you want.

Poll results are in!

While a couple of the choices in my poll got zero, one, two or three votes, 11 votes (58%) were in favor of me posting whatever I want, not necessarily Deaf Ministry, news-related topics, or even controversial topics, but anything I want to post. They indicated that they'd read my posts no matter what they were.

Now, I'm coming up with a new poll with a completely different topic. Be on the lookout for it, and tell me via votes what you think.

Poll results are almost ready

Stay tuned for the results of my informal poll. I'm waiting until I get the desired number of votes before I publish the results, but I must say that so far, I'm pleased.

I'll also be publishing a new poll, just because I can and I think it would be fun.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

I've got some research to do . . .

Last night, instead of having a regular class on Deaf Communication Studies, those from my Monday night Interpreting I class joined those from my Tuesday night class to listen to a presentation by people from the Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (KCDHH).

They presented a lot of really beneficial information for those of us who are working toward certification as interpreters, including the fact that even with new regulations that will be going into effect in the next couple of years, those who volunteer to interpret in the Church are not subject to the regulation of being certified. However, those who are paid to interpret are required to be certified.

My question: "If my church decides to pay me to interpret, do I have to have a certification?" (BTW, the issue of payment has not come up at my church yet because there is currently no one for me to interpret for.) All I was told was that this was a good question and that they didn't know the answer. They said I'll have to research that question to find the answer. Whoopie.

So, now, I have some research to do. I'm only a first-year student, so it's not like I don't have time to acquire the skills I would need to be certified, but if certification is a requirement that I have to meet, I'll need to know what level I need to be certified at.

Certification levels are given a rating of 1 through 5. Currently, all levels are allowed to interpret, but a level 2 or above is preferred. Under the new guidelines, those with a level 1 or 2 would be given a "transitional permit" to work, but must attain at least a level 3 in order to have a full working certification. Most graduates of Interpreter Training Programs in Kansas attain a level 2, because it's only a two-year program. KCDHH is trying to turn it into a four-year bachelor's degree program, which would, potentially, raise the average graduate's certification level to at least a 3.

As it is, I don't think I'm certifiable yet. If I am, I'm only at a level 1, at best, because I haven't gone through as much training as I need to, and my skills need a lot of refining. I can, however, carry on a good, lengthy conversation with the Deaf and hard-of-hearing, but at this time (compared to working interpreters), my sign language vocabulary is very limited, and my receptive skills and voicing skills need a lot of work.

If, for some reason I don't need to even think about what level I can certify at in order to be a (paid/unpaid) church interpreter, that's fine, but I still would like to try to attain at least a level 3, eventually. That way, I know that I'd be in good shape to interpret elsewhere, too, if the opportunity presented itself.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Round 2 for the Post Office job

So, those of you who read my blog on a regular basis might remember this post about me taking the civil service test for a post office position. Well, in about half an hour, I'll be taking a typing test for the same position.

Come to find out, there's a new Remote Encoding Center in Wichita, and they're hiring for about 1,000 new positions. They only require a typing speed of 45 words per minute, but I can type about 65 or better when I get in a groove, about 62-65 when I'm not.

After the results from the typing test are read, they're going to take those who passed and will begin scheduling interviews. Now, because of my regular typing speed, I'm sure I'll get to the interview phase of the pre-employment menu. After that, we'll see if they hire me!

Okay! Keep me in your prayers! Here I go! I'll give you an update afterward, if I can.

UPDATE: So the typing test only took about 15 minutes. I was given a packet of pre-employment paperwork to fill out, and was told to report back to the REC on Saturday, Oct. 15 at 1 p.m. for a pre-employment orientation. At that time, I will be scheduled for an interview.

Turns out that this is for part-time, temporary work of at least 30 hours per week. They're looking for people to work evening and early morning hours to begin with. This is not at all what I was hoping for.

What I need is a full-time position that utilizes my degree or other skills, and that I can work at during the daytime. Maybe (and I'm reaching here) this is just a position that they give people to see how well they do, and then maybe they'll offer me a better full-time position during the day.

Had I known from the beginning that this was a part-time, temporary position that I would have to work at night or during the early morning hours, I might not have even tried to test for it. I pray that something more comes of it. Please pray for me.

Ron is really growing unhappy with his job, and is trying to find something else, maybe in Wichita, maybe not. If I am able to secure this or another job in the near future, it will free Ron up to look for something else. He continually comes home upset, grouchy and irritated with the people he works with and for. He just needs to find a job somewhere where he can be appreciated for his skills and knowledge, and where he is given the opportunity to express those and achieve goals based on merit, not on the "buddy system".

Please pray for both of us. We're growing more miserable in our circumstances all the time, and are desperately crowded in a tiny apartment while we look for rewarding work.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Lutheran Carnival VIII is up and running!

To see some of the greatest posts ever provided by the Lutheran blog community, visit the Lutheran Carnival, hosted this time by Full Throttle & an Empty Gas Tank. (I'm not just saying they're "the greatest" because I submitted a post, either. Hee, hee!)

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The story of BTK is now a "made-for-tv" movie

It had to happen sooner or later: the story about how Dennis Rader killed 10 people and eluded law enforcement for more than 30 years has been made into a television movie that is supposed to air tonight on CBS (8 p.m. Central time).

Gregg Henry, the man chosen to portray Rader, has an extensive history of acting in made-for-tv dramas based on real events. His resume includes such titles as "Victim of Love: The Story of Shannon Mohr," "When Love Kills: The Seduction of John Hearn," and "The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom." (I guess I must have missed that last story.)

A note to viewers, as told by the Wichita Eagle: Chief Detective Jason Magida and Detective Ellen Bains are not real names of anyone involved in the investigation, although they "are composites of all the law enforcement officers who worked on the case over the decades." (Courtesy The Wichita Eagle, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2005, p. 4E, from p. 1E)

I like one of the paraphrases that was made of something Henry said about his real-life counterpart, Dennis Rader: "Some actors playing bad buys say villains don't think of themselves as villains, so the actors look inside the role for some likable or relatable personality element to build upon. Henry said that wasn't possible with Rader because he couldn't find anything redeemable."

Also, if you watch, keep in mind that none of the call letters for Wichita television stations are accurate: they were all made up for the sake of the movie, which, by the way, was filmed not in Wichita, but in Canada. For the record, our NBC station is KSNW, ABC is KAKE, CBS is KWCH, and Fox is KSAS. I'm not sure if that will help or not because, obviously, I'm posting prior to the program.

The true appearance of Henry is of a blonde-haired, blue-eyed man with thick eyebrows and sideburns, which make his face appear less full than in the television movie. He resides in Los Angeles, a place that also noted correspondences after BTK's reappearance in Wichita. He told the Wichita Eagle that he "became well aware of BTK."

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Please vote in my poll!

So far, only three votes have been counted on my poll, and I know for a fact that two of those votes came from my husband. I'm starting to wonder if anyone is actually visiting my blog to read it, or if it's just coming up as a link on web searches.

Am I so boring that you don't even think I'm worth the time it takes to vote? Should I even continue to post on this blog? Or is it a fruitless endeavor?

I'm giving you an opportunity to tell me what you would like to read. More on Deaf Ministry, more controversial topics, more theologically-based subjects... whatever would bring you and others to my site.

I'm giving you the opportunity to tell me what you like to read. What have I posted about in the past that you liked? What would you like to see? Tell me!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Stop worrying! Start praying!

Almost every day, I get a call from my mom who wants nothing more than to talk and visit with me over the phone. These are usually very good, smiley-faced conversations, and I look forward to them. But there's one thing that always bugs me about what she says: "I'm just worried about..." or "I'm worried that..." And I'm sure you know someone like that: someone who worries about everything all the time.

But the thing about worry is that it accomplishes nothing. Absolutely nothing. It does you no good, doesn't help you figure out solutions to problems, doesn't reach out to anyone for assistance, doesn't do squat. So why do we do it? We do it because we are at a loss for what to do about situations we can't control. The only thing we think to do is come up with "what ifs" and "what abouts". But there is something better we can do: pray.

Let's think about prayer for a minute. What can prayer accomplish that worrying doesn't? Let's look at what our faith in God teaches us.

When we pray to God, we leave at His feet all those sins we have committed, even the ones of which we are unaware, and He forgives us and washes us clean. When we pray to God, we tell Him about our fears and about situations that are beyond our control, and He takes our fear away and takes control of the situations for us. Not that He wasn't in control from the beginning, mind you, but He wants us to come to Him for help.

What I remind my mom about whenever she tells me how worried she is about something is this: "When we start getting worried about something, we need to stop worrying and start praying. Prayer is the only thing that accomplishes what we cannot, because God has everything under control."

If I let myself, I would have a multitude of things to worry about. But I do my best to "let go and let God" handle them because I know that He is the only One who can. I won't say I'm always successful at doing that, but it helps when I remind myself to pray, not worry. Then, I can calm down, knowing that everything is under His control, and whatever happens, happens because He had a reason for it. We may not know in this lifetime what that reason is, but we can take comfort in knowing that He is in charge.

My instructor's kit has arrived!

Sunday, after church, our church secretary told me that my teaching materials for my ASL classes had arrived. I immediately broke it out of the plastic wrapping and put my notebook together, looking over various parts of it in the process. Here are some of the contents:

  • The book itself in loosleaf format for placement in the binder
  • An instructor's guide, showing the suggested way to teach each session of the class
  • Student handouts, including course information, questionaires about stereotypes about the Deaf community and sign language
  • Lists of objectives that will try to be achieved in each unit (semester)
  • Information about Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD/TTY) and the Telephone Relay Service
That's just in the first unit! There is so much more that I will be able to teach and learn, myself, as I go through this book with my students! I also have a practice videotape that will reinforce the teaching that I do, and give more information than I can about signing and interpreting, the Deaf and hard-of-hearing.

My fourth Wednesday class meets tonight. I'm going to go through some of the items in my kit that have been suggested for the class up to this point. I'm really getting excited!

By the way, I'd kind of like to know what you think of these series of posts, so please vote in my new poll, even if this is the first time you've visited my blog and are considering whether to return. And if you link to me on your blog, please mention this poll so I can get a wide variety of respondents. Thank you, in advance.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Deaf missions and ASL classes going well

So far, I've had three Wednesday night beginning American Sign Language classes, and they've all gone really well. I've had about the same number of students (give or take two or three) in every class! I consider this a success. The same people have come back three times, and seem to be enjoying it.

Most have purchased the text book that the Board of Evangelism bought, so I've turned that money back over to the board to reimburse those who spent the money in the first place. For most people, it seems, $20 is reasonable enough for a book that teaches beginning ASL. I certainly agree, especially since some of my textbooks for school have cost at least $75!

I'm starting my Saturday class tomorrow afternoon. I'm expecting a smaller turnout, but with some people who have not been able to come to the Wednesday night class for some reason or another. So far, I know for a fact that my sister, my mom, and Jeff (the one my husband refers to as "the virgin of fireworks") have all said that they're going to the Saturday class, plus four others whose names I won't mention since I don't have their permission. That's seven people for Saturdays, and about 12-15 for Wednesday nights! Cool, huh!

Now that I've been teaching the class for a few weeks, and I've been drilling them on the alphabet and am teaching them more numbers during every class, I'm teaching them the lessons that are in the book, which consist of complete sentences with sign illustrations. There are some signs that I know to be different in the actual Deaf community, so when I come across them in the book, I teach the class the way the signs are done in this part of the country. Since I'm the instructor, I have ultimate authority to do with the lessons as I please.

Also, and I have yet to announce this to my students because I don't want to scare them off, there is a Deaf Ministry workshop coming up on Nov. 5 in our state's capitol, Topeka. There will be at least 20 Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals there who use sign language to communicate, and they're all members of the LCMS. In addition, there will be at least two LCMS pastors there who know sign language!

As you have probably already surmised by the previous paragraph, I'm planning to attend this workshop, and I'm going to invite my students to attend, too. There's nothing for them to fear, even if they feel a bit intimidated to talk with the Deaf and hard-of-hearing, because there will be plenty of people there who don't know much sign language, and they get along just fine because there are so many people there who do. Plus, it's the perfect environment for my students to use what they've learned and learn even more. Once they see that what they're learning is useful and readable, I'm sure their confidence will be boosted, too. I just hope they can make the 2 1/2 to 3 hour drive up to Topeka for the workshop.

Something interesting about this workshop is that the pastor of the church where it's being held is the step-dad of the profoundly deaf boyfriend I had when I was in eighth grade! In fact, it was his family who taught me how to sign, although it was Signing Exact English, which is not accepted in the Deaf community.

SEE is used in the school systems for the sole reason that teachers don't think Deaf children can read or write proper English unless they're taught to use a sign system that is exact English. In other words, it's a bastardized version of ASL in which prefixes and suffixes, as well as tenses, have been added to make it more English-like. Also, the same sign is used for the same word regardless of the context in which it's used.

Example: My nose is running. Ryan decided to go running. The water is running.

Obviously, the word running is used in three different contexts here. In ASL, it has three different signs, but in SEE, the same sign is used for every context. ASL is conceptual, while SEE is not. Conceptual meaning that the signs generally look like whatever they represent.

Hey! Now you know more about the difference between the two sign systems! Aren't you glad you decided to read this today?

Anyway (I'm really good at digressing, huh!), I'm looking forward to seeing how my sign students will react to the possibility of going to a workshop where they can learn more sign language and more about Deaf Missions, too! Have to wait until November 5, though.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

What a reputation to try to uphold.

My instructor for my Interpreting I and Deaf Communication Studies classes refers to me as "the walking dictionary and thesarus." If there's a word she doesn't know how to pronouce, doesn't know the meaning of or a word or phrase that is similar, she looks at me. Consequently, the others in my classes have started doing the same thing.

It's a blessing and a curse. When I give an answer, they're simultaneously pleased and satisfied. If I can't give an answer, they're disappointed. If I'm found to be incorrect, they laugh.

Because of my post-graduate education and my journalistic background, my vocabulary exceeds that of my instructor and all of my classmates. My instructor might have a four-year college education, but I highly doubt it.

She's a CODA, which means she's a child of deaf adults. Her parents did not receive the education that most deaf do nowadays. Worse yet, they grew up in Missouri (sorry if you're from Missouri), where education in some (hick) parts of the state is like being educated by the illiterate. Trust me, I went to school in a small Missouri town for three years. By the time I finished third grade, I had just as much education as my dad's boss.

I digress.

One of the books that was required for my Interpreting I class is a book for building vocabulary. Needless to say, most of the words in the book that I've encountered thus far are words that I use in everyday conversation. Some of the definitions it gives are crappy, though, so I sometimes use other resources to give a more accurate representation of the word or phrase.

Geesh! I'm a reliable geek! I am a walking dictionary! Just don't pit me against a true genius. I run like a girl. Wait. I am a girl. Wait. I can't run: doctor's orders. Darn!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Breast Cancer Awareness for Women ... And Men!

It's true. If you thought you were in the clear from getting breast cancer just because you are a male, you're very mistaken! Nearly 17,000 men in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer last year. Although mamograms are recommended very highly for women, there are also some men who get them (although it may be more difficult for them to get mamograms since most have flat chests).

My godmother died of breast cancer. It spread from her breasts (which she had removed by mastectomy) to her lymph nodes, and ended up killing her when it spread to the brain stem. I was about eight years old at the time.

She wasn't related to me, but cancer doesn't have to be hereditary in order for one to have it. If you want more information, I suggest you visit The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation website. This link will provide you with an endless number of resources on the matter.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Second Sign Class Tonight

Since my class met last Wednesday, I've had several people tell me how much they enjoyed it, and others who have told me they want to join, although they didn't sign up. This is great news!

Part of my class tonight will focus on alphabet review, another part on learning numbers, and the rest on study and discussion about deaf culture. There are many sign classes out there, but not many that discuss or delve very deeply into the culture of the Deaf community. Since at least one of my students is very nearly deaf, herself, I think this is an important area to touch on.

I don't want to go into too much, because I haven't started my Saturday classes yet, and I won't be able to hold one this Saturday because I'm going to an interpreter conference/workshop. It's going to be really cool, partially because it's a two-day conference/workshop here in Wichita, I'll get more than 10 CDs or DVDs meant to help interpreters succeed, and supper is included on Friday, all for $30! Nevermind that it's being held at a Nazarene church. I just hope they don't try to talk theology.

Anyway, seeing how many people return, and how many new people are in my class tonight, will tell me for sure how many people got hooked at my first class meeting last week! There were 16 in class last Wednesday. I'll give an update (hopefully tonight) and tell you about the actual turnout.

And my books came in! Yea! I'll be handing them out tonight, encouraging everyone to purchase one per family/household because it will be so beneficial to them, especially if they plan to continue their education in sign language. Each book is only $20! How cheap is that?! And instead of learning individual signs all the time, it teaches them how to form actual sentences, so they can communicate their thoughts right away! (If you want to know where you can get the same book, send me an e-mail at ron DOT erica DOT olson AT gmail DOT com.)

I appreciate your continued prayers!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Some clarification

I just want everyone to know (because it was brought up as being ambiguous) that Ron and I are fine living off his income alone right now. One of the reasons I'm pursuing employment is because we can achieve more in a shorter length of time if we're both employed. Another reason is that I hate staying home with nothing to do except housework. I like to be able to get out of the apartment and feel useful to other people besides just my husband and myself.

Also, the test for the U.S. Postal Service was just as dumb as I thought it would be. I was probably one of the first 20 people to finish out of about 300-400 people. Many of them couldn't follow the simple directions and bring two sharpened number-two pencils, separate the first page of their information packet from the rest, and show up on time. IMHO, if you can't follow directions as simple as those, don't even bother showing up.

One more thing: I went to a career expo at Century II this morning, and a lady from Snelling Personnel told me she wants me to call and set up an interview. I think (and the other lady I talked to while attempting to schedule an interview does, too) that the lady from the career expo has a position in mind for me! Oooh, how I hope it's a temp-to-hire or permanent placement with people who are intelligent!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Arrr Mateys! I be...

My pirate name is:

Dirty Grace Rackham

You're the pirate everyone else wants to throw in the ocean -- not to get rid of you, you understand; just to get rid of the smell. You have the good fortune of having a good name, since Rackham (pronounced RACKem, not rack-ham) is one of the coolest sounding surnames for a pirate. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from

Not my idea of "perfect"

Tonight, instead of going to my Interpreting I class, I will be taking a pre-employment test for the U.S. Postal Service along with probably 300-400 other people. There are three types of positions they're hiring for, and my hope is to bypass the data conversion operator positions and get in as a clerk-stenographer, if I get a job there at all.

After the test, I'll have to wait probably two weeks for my results. At that time, I will probably be asked if I wish to be considered for a position, and I'll have to go through a number of screenings, a personal interview and a medical assessment. For the stenographer position, they only require a typing speed of 45 wpm. While at the Wichita Eagle, I'll bet my typing speed got up to about 65 or 70. I could type about 60 wpm before.

The benefits that the U.S. Postal Service offers are really good. I mean, it's the federal government! Maybe if I get in, eventually they can help me become an interpreter with the federal government. I know. I'm reaching. I've got to a little bit. I don't want to be unemployed for another two years, even if that's how long it might take me to finish my interpreter training.

The reason I titled this post "Not my idea of 'perfect'" is because I've never wanted to work for the Postal Service. I've always, until recently, considered myself a journalist. I've got a bachelor's degree, nine credit hours toward a master's, and am going through interpreter training to receive an associate's degree. I want a job where the people around me are educated beyond high school not just because they want to be, but because they have to be in order to have the job they do.

I've had jobs before where I was the only one with a college education. I was educated beyond the level of my bosses. That was not pleasant. I don't like to have more education than my boss, because then my boss is jealous of me and doesn't treat me the same as everyone else, and my co-workers are jealous of me, so they don't like me. They think I'm there to show them up or something, when all I want is a way to make money until I can get a job somewhere that I really want to be.

All the benefits in the world can't make you want to go to work if the environment is unpleasant all the time. I've been there. In fact, I blame one of those experiences for my problems with acid reflux. It was either I quit or end up in the hospital with stress-related stomach issues, maybe even an ulcer. I just hope that if I get a job as a result of this test that it's something I can live with for as long as I have to.

Plus, if I get a job, Ron and I can move out of this puny 400-square-foot apartment that we've been living in the whole three years we've been married. I'll just have to do everything I can to remain employed, even if it means shutting up about unfair treatment, I'm afraid. That's what got me fired from the Eagle: complaining about unfair treatment.

Anyway, I've got lots to do before my test tonight. One of my action items: trying to get my lazy landlord to replace the compressor in our air conditioning unit. It broke down last night, and now it's 81 degrees in here, and it's not even 7 a.m. Should have slept outside. Would have been cooler.

Pray for me that I get a job, and that it's one I can live with. I don't need luck for the test. It's going to be a dummy's test. It's composed of simple math, filing skills, spelling, enumeration, that sort of thing. I'll let you know whatever comes of this test.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Vicar Chaz Lehman, Host of Lutheran Carnival VI

For all those interested, our friend Vicar Chaz Lehman is hosting the Lutheran Carnival VI, which is up and running right now!!! Go visit. I command it! Ha!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

What a turnout!

So, it turns out that two of the people who signed up for my class thought it was a sign-up for the midweek dinners, but there were still 16 people who came to my class! There were even two people there who hadn't signed up! A few of those who didn't come are people for whom Saturdays would work best, so I wasn't that surprised to see them not there.

Ron took a few pictures of me and my class at the very beginning, so there are a few people who aren't in the pictures, but it was still a good turnout! Here are some of them:

I started out the class with the typical "who are you and why are you here" icebreaker, and then I told the class a little about myself and my experiences with the Deaf and sign language. Then we moved on to the manual alphabet, which they caught onto very easily. I taught them the whole alphabet so they could practice spelling their names and other words.

To end the class, I had them play a game my interpreting instructor suggested: "sign language baseball." In this game, I divided up the class into two teams. They chose people one by one to take turns at the dry-erase board. Whomever wrote down the letter I signed first correctly won a point for their team. Everyone got a chance to play, and they all had a good time! It was great!

Just before I dismissed them, I asked who might be willing to take the class on Saturdays. Most who said they could said that Saturday afternoons would work best for them, so I'm going to ask permission from my pastor to have a class from 2 to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. I don't think it's going to be a problem.

The funny thing about tonight's class is that I was teaching a sign language class in a choir room! I think I'm going to move the class to a room where we can all face each other next time.

Thank you to everyone who has been praying for me. Please continue sending your prayers and support. I plan to continue this class for a long time and begin new ones like it every year.

My class begins today!

In honor of the start of the beginning American Sign Language (ASL) class that I'm teaching, I thought I would share a bit of information from a Religious Signing book a friend of mine loaned me until mine comes in. This book was published in 1986, so much of it is dated, but it's interesting anyway.

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LC-MS) was the third denomination to take an active interest in the spiritual needs of deaf people. Its work began quite by accident when deaf children came for religious instruction to what was intended to be a new orphanage in Detroit. Instead the institution opened in 1874 as a school for the deaf. It was by special request of one of the graduates of this school that church services for deaf people were begun in 1894 at what is now Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Chicago.

August P. Reinke was the first pastor to that congregation, and as his reputation regarding his ability to conduct church services in sign language spread, he was called upon to establish a regular circuit of preaching in midwestern cities. Soon thereafter LC-MS officially recognized the mission work among the deaf and established a Deaf Mission Commission [I'm sure has since been dissolved]. Within the next five years the number of pastors serving deaf people grew to seven, and by the time LC-MS celebrated its fiftieth anniversary of working with the deaf, there were twenty pastors conducting church services in approximately two hundred seventy-five cities across the United States.

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod has developed the most extensive work of the three Lutheran Synods [remember that at the time of this printing, the ELCA had not yet been established], with special training programs in both of its seminaries for students wishing to study for the deaf ministry. [I think Fort Wayne is the only one that offers training now.] At the present time there are approximately fifty full-time LC-MS pastors working with deaf people, a few of them whom are deaf themselves. The pastors are orgainized for the purpose of mutual support and continued education into the Ephphatha Conference, which was founded in 1903 and continues to meet annually. [Not sure if this is still true.] The International Lutheran Deaf Association was orgainized to assist the LC-MS deaf ministry throughout the world. LC-MS supports two schools for the deaf, the original one in Detroit and another in Long Island, New York, which was opened in 1951. [Not sure if this is still true, either.]

So much of the funding from LCMS headquarters has been reduced, and in many places even eliminated. What happened? Did the deaf population shrink? No, in fact, it has grown. Has the need for funding gone away because so many people have given to Deaf Ministry? No. If anything, there has been less money given to this ministry.

That's why I am so thrilled that 23 people signed up for my sign language class at church! Maybe I've opened people's eyes to the fact that the Deaf need to "hear" God's Word, too. When I presented my idea for beginning a Deaf Ministry program at my church, I told board members that "the deaf have been in silence for long enough." Maybe people were actually listening to me! I'm not exactly used to that yet.

Pray for me! My class begins at 7 p.m. (Central Time, of course) I'll let you know how it went.