Sunday, August 21, 2005

Have I been following the wrong career path?

It has occurred to me from time to time that I may be following in the wrong career path, that I may not be as well suited to be a journalist as I have always thought. I've always been a calm, non-controversial person, someone who avoids conflict, and I have never been very good about standing up to people that surprised me with their infidelity when I was so faithful to them.

This may be a bunch of babble to you, but let me attempt to clear it up a bit.

When I was in my senior year of high school, I joined my school's newspaper. My success was instant, going from a mere contributer to News Page Editor in the course of two months. I found I had a flair for writing, editing, and interviewing. As time went on, I established my college major in Print Journalism, never changing it once. I graduated cum laude in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with an emphasis in Print Journalism. I went further, taking nine hours of graduate coursework in the same field.

From the time I graduated from high school, I had numerous opportunities to build on my education by substantiating it with work in the "real world." Over time, I have found the "real world" as it relates to journalism to prove itself as something that I increasingly do not want to be a part of. Most people in the media are very liberal, as will not come as a shock to most of you. I, however, am very conservative. I do not agree with the majority of beliefs held by other journalists. Those in the media are also very fond of stabbing each other in the back – something I've never been good at or fond of. Maybe that's why I've not been able to survive in the mainstream media fields.

You may be able to surmise from the previous paragraph that I am no longer working for The Wichita Eagle, a company that I had been dreaming of working for (literally) since I was sitting in my high school's journalism class working on the school newspaper. The reasons surrounding my termination are fishy, so I will not go into detail here. Those who would like further explanation are welcome to e-mail me personally. My suspicions are that I somehow ticked off my boss by asking for lunch breaks and assistance with paperwork.

Since my dismissal, I've given more serious thought to a career field that has revealed itself more and more as a God-given gift, one that cannot be taken away from me, an area that will allow me to choose my own work hours and flexibility, will allow me to help and socialize with people, and an area in which I will always be able to find work: as an interpreter for the Deaf and hard-of-hearing. Of course, I can also work this in with my Mary Kay business, another field that I can work as I please with the hours as flexible as I want, and is something that will never go unneeded.

Toward this end, I have enrolled in a couple of classes in an Interpreter Training Program (ITP) at Cowley County Community College. The completion of the courses outlined in the ITP will result in the accumulation of an Associates of Applied Science in Interpreting. From there, I will have to take a test to be certified by the State of Kansas, and will be elligible to be listed on a national registry of interpreters of the Deaf. My classes (two for this semester) start tomorrow evening.

As I have stated before, interpreters are very much in need, especially within the LCMS, and especially here in Wichita. That is why I am pursuing this as an avenue toward becoming a church interpreter. My church, Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, is supporting me, also, by allowing me to teach a beginning American Sign Language class during the Midweek program. The Board of Evangelism will be paying for my teaching materials, and may be able to send me to the Church Interpreter Training Institute, a two-week intensive interpreter training program hosted by Concordia Seminary Fort Wayne, Indiana, in the summer. So far, 12 people have signed up to take my class at church. I'm thinking about offering a Saturday class for those who can't make it to the Wednesday classes.

What's more: when I went to Cowley College to enroll, I informed the advisor of my intentions to teach ASL at my church, and he gathered my and my church's information so that he could direct people toward my class! Apparently, the program at Cowley is strictly for those interested in becoming interpreters, not just for those wanting to learn sign language. The advisor said that he tries to direct those wanting to learn sign language toward churches that offer the classes. As a result, our church may experience a slight growth in membership! Wouldn't that be nice?

From the classes I took as an undergrad at Wichita State University, I already have five of 12 classes completed, and may be able to test out of another one. I should be able to complete the program rather quickly, provided Ron and I can find ways to pay for the classes. If it's God's will, it will happen. I have a feeling that this is a huge, open bay window that God showed me after the door on journalism slammed shut in my face. (*OUCH*)

Maybe this is what I'm supposed to do. I've been learning sign language since sixth grade, and have been in semi-frequent contact with the Deaf community and those who assist them, and also the friends and family of those in the Deaf community. I have learned a great deal, and have found it increasingly easy and comforting to be able to communicate with these people and to interpret for them. Not everyone is able to do this effectively, and I'll admit that I have a distance to travel before I could be considered proficient, but I'm making the journey. God willing, I will be able to serve Him and His unhearing sheep with my hands.

The Lutheran Carnival II

These posts are worth viewing. Make your way to Dan's blog and check out all the intriguing posts that he's linked to!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Dennis Rader, a.k.a. BTK, Sentenced to Maximum Terms

Wednesday, August 17 marked the first of two days in the sentencing of Dennis Rader, a.k.a. BTK (which stands for Bind, Torture and Kill: the method he used to murder his victims). One by one, those who worked as part of the BTK Task Force for the last 30 years took the stand to testify as to the heinous crimes they investigated because of the serial killer. As they testified, pictures were shown in court, many so graphic they couldn't be shown on television. As the pictures were displayed, District Attorney Nola Foulston said she notice that Rader was very obviously sexually aroused, reliving the crimes he committed. I can't even come up with the words to describe how incredibly sick that is!

In many instances, he would strangle his victims long enough for them to lose consciousness and then would let them come back enough to tell them that he was BTK and he was going to kill them.

The first of the 10 murders were a father, mother and two of their children: the Otero family. He forced the family into a small bedroom at gunpoint, tied them up, covered their heads with plastic and cloth so they couldn't tear the plastic or breathe through the cloth, tied the head coverings around their necks with rope, and sat to watch them die. He did this with all members of the Otero family except the 11-year-old girl, Josephine (Josie), whom he strangled until she lost consciousness, allowed to come back, and then led to the basement to hang her.

Rader strung a noose over a pipe in the basement and allowed the little girl to touch the floor only with her tiptoes. When her strength ran out, she would die from the hanging. Rader watched her as this happened, and masturbated at the same time. Afterall, his primary target in the house was little 11-year-old Josie. She was the subject of his sexual fantasy.

The next victim was Kathryn Bright, a young lady who lived alone. On the day Rader decided to strike, Kathryn's brother Kevin was visiting her. That didn't stop Rader. He tied Kevin up, went to kill his sister, and when Kevin tried to escape, Rader shot him twice in the head to keep him from getting away. He survived, ran from the house bleeding profusely from the head. His sister wasn't as fortunate. Kevin was the only person to survive Rader's attack.

After Kathryn was Shirley Vian Relford. Shirley had three small children at the time: two boys and a girl. Vian, herself, was very ill at the time of Rader's attack. She vomited once, and Rader gave her some water "to calm her down," and then she vomited again. Since the children were trying to intervene (Vian didn't want them witnessing anything, and they weren't Rader's primary targets), Vian and Rader put the children in a bathroom right next to the bedroom. Rader put a few toys and a blanket in the bathroom "to comfort them," and then blocked the door to the bathroom with Vian's bed.

Rader tied Vian to the bed, strangled her with a pair of pantyhose and her nightgown, and had plans to rape her, but apparently didn't. The kids said someone was supposed to be arriving at their house any moment, so Rader left. He told the investigators that had someone not been coming over, he probably would have killed the boys and done something similar to the little girl, Stephanie, as he had to Josie Otero.

Next were Nancy Fox and Marine Hedge, the latter of which was an older lady. Both, I believe, lived in the same general area as Rader and his family. If I remember correctly, he took the body of Marine Hedge to HIS OWN CHURCH, took her inside and took pictures of her dead body in bondage positions, and even LAID HER DEAD BODY ON THE ALTER! And he professed to be a Christian! No wonder his congregation turned its back on him!

I find it difficult to understand how his pastor could even look at him, let alone counsel him and offer opportunities for confession to him! In fact, his pastor was a frequent visitor. That pastor truly should be praised for his willingness to speak God's Word to someone who showed no regard for God's law or creations when he was out as part of society.

After those was Vicki Wegerle, a mother of two young children. She had dropped off her daughter Stephanie at school that morning and was taking care of her two-year-old son at home when Rader came to her door pretending to be a telephone repair man. He had already cut the phone lines at this time. She let him in, and he attacked. Rader said she, like Kathryn Bright, "fought like a hellcat." He said Wegerle had scratched him in the face before he strangled her, and he asked investigators if they could see a scar from it. He told them he knew they probably found skin under her fingernails, a detail that was never released to the public.

His last victim was Delores "Dee" Davis, whom he killed in 1991 (about six months after my family moved to Wichita). Her children were older and had children of their own. They were all very important to her. Rader broke into her house, strangled and killed her, and then dumped her body in a ditch some distance from her home. After he left her body, he came back a few times to visit it, at one point putting a mask on her face.

All this he did to fulfill his sexual fantasies. As a child, he had tortured animals, even hanging them to death. He said it wasn't until he was in the Air Force in the 1960s that he learned much about sex, and when he did, he started incorporating sex into his torture fantasies.

When he wasn't killing people, he would look at magazine and catalog advertisements of women in lingerie or in bondage positions. He had cut out hundreds of them and affixed them to note cards. He would pick one out everyday, put it in his pocket, and pull it out to look at and fantasize over during the day. He would make notes on the back of the note card about what he would do to that model given the chance. That would satisfy his sexual fantasies for a while.

At one point, he even left his son at a Boy Scout overnight (for which he was a scout leader) so he could commit a murder, and then he returned to the camp!

Had law enforcement not caught Rader, he would have killed at least once more: he already had an 11th victim picked out in northern Kansas. He even had a grave dug for her. He told investigators that she would have been his "grand finale." In other words, he viewed his life as a serial killer as his career, and he was planning to retire, going out with a bang.

He said that this woman who would have been his last victim had a routine that he could time perfectly within about five minutes. People with a routine, he said, didn't fair too well with him. That attack, he said, would have been just perfect. Fortunately, the woman's life was spared.

At the conclusion of the sentencing, the family members of those Rader had killed stood to give statements or speeches either directed to the court or to Rader, himself. One of the most memorable and honest speeches came from Jeff Davis, the son of Delores Davis, Rader's last victim. Here's a portion of what he said:

"If I were spiteful, I would remind you that it is only fitting that a twisted, narcissistic psychopath, obsessed with public attention, will soon have his world reduced to an isolated solitary existence in an 80-square-foot cell doomed to languish away the rest of your miserable life, alone.
"If I had your devil nature, I would delight in the fact that your congregation has turned its back on you, that your friends have deserted you, that your wife has divorced you, that your own children have disowned you. And then I would remind you that you will never have any warm, loving human contact again for the remainder of your twisted existence.
"If I were cynical, I would remind this court that you would return to your murderous ways in a heartbeat if given the opportunity, so for the safety of society, you must remain caged forever like any other vicious predatory animal."

It really summed up what everyone was thinking and feeling at the moment. Rader pretended to get teary-eyed during the speech. It didn't fool anyone.

In the testimony Rader gave to those who captured him, he described his view of "heaven," where the women he had killed would be his sex slaves, and Josie Otero would be his "mistress." The men he had killed would be his servants. This was all described in notebooks that Rader had kept over the years, and yet at the end, he tried to say "it was all smoke." That didn't fool anyone, either.

Then Rader was allowed to speak. He rambled for about 25 minutes, making no real sense in relation to the charges of murder. He thanked the prosecution, his own lawyers, the judge, the jailers... as if he were receiving an Academy Award! Then he told the victims' families that there was "no way I could ever repay you," as if to say thank you for the lives he was able to take and make a part of his "career" as a serial killer!

What surprised me in the beginning, and then at the reminding of it at the end, was that Rader was given a psychological evaluation to try to determine if he was insane, and was deemed completely sane. He knew exactly what he was doing.

Now, he's been transferred to the El Dorado Correctional Facility (high-security prison), where he will spend 23 of 24 hours every day locked in a cell. He has been sentenced to 10 consecutive life terms with no possibility of parole for 40 years. He's 60 years old now. The door to his cell is solid metal, with a small opening in the door where they deliver his meals and medication, if he needs any.

He will not be allowed to socialize with the prison population because he is considered a "high-risk" inmate. Not high-risk because he's a serial killer, but high-risk because the other inmates, even those who have also committed multiple murders, have no respect for anyone who harms children. Rader not only killed children, but had actually masturbated after killing at least one. Because of that, he is considered a pedophile. Pedophiles don't fair well in prison.

For that one hour each day that he is allowed outside his cell, he will be accompanied by a few guards to keep other inmates from killing him.

Personally, I think he deserves whatever may be coming to him from the other prisoners.

Maybe that's unChristian-like, but he seems to be very much controlled by Satan. I don't know how he was ever able to enter the doors of a church, especially with the body of a woman he had murdered, without bursting into flames!

May God bless the families who remain, and also the memories of their loved ones who were taken from them far too soon. May He also protect the rest of us from the evils in this world, especially those like Dennis Rader.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

What once was lost has now been found!

When Ron and I were courting, he gave me a very special pair of earrings that he had bought when he was serving in Saudi Arabia. This was long before he met me. He bought the earrings with the intention of giving them to the woman he intended to marry. So when he gave them to me, I was touched beyond belief.

But joy turned to sorrow when I lost them somewhere at my parents' house. I was devastated! Mortified! How could I lose something that had so much meaning?

After Ron and I got married, and I moved into the apartment he had been renting, I found them again! Oh! what a happy, joyous day that was! I wore them to a Mary Kay unit meeting, and when I put them away, I promised myself that I would put them somewhere that I would remember them and not lose them again. But I forgot where I had put them that day.

Now, more than a year after losing them for the second time, I have found them again! It is once again time to rejoice! When I found them, I screamed it out to Ron. I was so happy! It was as if I had been given some kind of beautiful, magnificent gift, as if it were Christmas!

It's like the parable of the lost coin. Come! Rejoice with me! For I have found my lost... earrings! "10In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (Luke 15)

Monday, August 08, 2005

Peter Jennings: 1938-2005

Today, we in the media industry mourn the loss of one of our own. Peter Jennings, a well-known news anchor for more than the last 20 years, died today from lung cancer. May he rest in peace, and let us all pray for his family and friends.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

A New Lutheran Blog!

All you confessional Lutherans out there need to check out this awesome new Lutheran blog called Lutheran Carnival. Check it out!

New color, new cut (front view)

This is the way the hairstylist did my hair. I'm not as crazy about this style as I am the way I do it, but this gives you a true-light view of my new color.

New color, new cut, my style (front view)

This is the new color I had put in my hair. It's a "cinnamon" weave. What do you think? (I know the lighting is a little different in this photo than in the other one.)

Previous haircut and style

E's haircut my style
Originally uploaded by Edited Copy.
This is the way I had my hair cut before. It's similar to the new style, but is my original hair color, the color I was born with. It seems to be the most-viewed picture in my photo stream!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

It Pays to Wear a Collar

I went with a pastor friend of mine (one with whom I rode to the Deaf conference in Olathe in June) to the home of a deaf couple yesterday so he could do a home visit. Both people are deaf and nearing 90 years old. I went along so I could help interpret because the pastor doesn't know much sign language. (Thankfully, he's planning on taking my beginning ASL class that I'm teaching at my church starting in September.)

When we got ready to leave, he realized he had left his headlights on, and the battery wouldn't allow the car to start! We went back inside the house, back to the air conditioning (it got up to 100 degrees yesterday), and the pastor called AAA to come out to help.

The AAA guy who came said at first that the posts on the battery were corroded, and that's why it wouldn't start. But on further inspection, he discovered that the battery was about to die and might not make it much farther. He said that he had a battery on his truck that he could install for $109, and then he stopped and told the pastor that he could get the same battery at Wal-Mart for about $58.

We headed back to my apartment so he could drop me off before going to Wal-Mart, and we started talking about that battery sale that got turned around. I asked, "Why do you suppose he suggested going to Wal-Mart instead of buying the battery from him?"

He said, "I don't know. I think they make most of their money by selling things like that. Maybe he saw my collar" and decided to be honest.

I said, "I guess recognizing a minister with his collar can make people reconsider doing something they shouldn't do."

He laughed and agreed.

I really suggest that all the ministers reading this seriously consider wearing their collars more. Not only could it keep you from being swindled, but it really helps when people who need to speak to a minister in place of their own can recognize you for the divine position you have! Isn't it better, in situations like those, to stick out rather than to blend in?