Above and Beyond Degree Equality (part one)

Above and Beyond Degree Equality (part one)

 

Welcome to the fight for degree equality.  See, the majority of students will attend regular universities with classrooms and hallways and fire drills, and they will never have to prove or justify their degree.  The majority of students will attend a university familiar to them and the people around them, earn a degree, put it on their resume, get a job, and happily begin life in the workforce.  But if you choose to think outside the box, be a little uncommon, and have an adventure while in school, you may find yourself having to explain your degree to everyone you meet.

“So where did you go to school?”

(inwardly cringing and wishing I felt like lying) “Um, Thomas Edison State University.”

“Oh, I don’t think I have heard of that one.”

“Haha, probably not!  It is up in Trenton, New Jersey.”

“Oh, you’re from New Jersey?”

“Um, no… I just graduated from Thomas Edison.  I’m an online, distance student.”

“Oh.”

Cringe, sigh.  Over and over again.  Wishing I could lie – just once!  And claim I went somewhere that people knew and respected.

But here’s the deal.  No I don’t.  Sure for a moment it might be uncomfortable and awkward to explain why you chose the path you did, and it might take a little more explaining than normal, but the truth of the matter is – I wouldn’t trade my education for any other option.

The experience of putting myself through school, working full-time while I earned my degree, having to do the research myself, and having to be my own academic advisor has given me so many practical life skills that I never would have gotten on a traditional four year “college campus experience.”

I’ve learned how to manage my time, study effectively, and how to be purposeful in my work.  Working full-time as a substitute teacher and office manager gave me practical skills that future employers are looking for.  And believe me, nothing teaches you how to conduct research like trying to figure out which credits will transfer correctly.

My distance degree is not worth “just as much” as a traditional campus degree – it is worth more.  It is worth years of work, life experience, and personal growth.  Let’s go above degree equality, let’s go above and beyond the status-quo.  If you are going to be different, stand out.  Go big or go home!

So I encourage you and challenge you to own your degree this year.  Use 2018 as the year you pursue doing more than just getting by, just passing the test, just getting the credit.  How do you do that?  I’m glad you asked!  Look for Part Two this week!  🙂

Because let’s be real… its just me

Because let’s be real… its just me

I do not like looking up how-to articles on blogging and writing book reviews.  Google it, look it up on Pinterest – use whatever your social media you prefer – but however you look up information about blogging, you will find the same suggestions: post regularly, fill your post with pictures, and pick topics based on search engine optimization.

All scientifically proven suggestions that I recklessly do not heed.

I want to write a post when I have something to write about – which is sometimes every day and sometimes once a week.  I do not schedule my posts, I do not use a lot of pictures, and I certainly do not pick my post topics based on what will collect hits or visits (I’m not even sure I know what the difference is).

But there are reasons behind this, and perhaps that is why I feel like this blog really is the truest form of my writing – at least the writing I allow to be public.  Because I write posts that are in my head and on my heart.  These are the words that are pounding around inside me.  They might be emotional words that are weighing on me or a book that I read and really wanted to share or maybe just a informational post to help people who are curious.

There are few pictures because I do not like to post pictures I did not take.  It feels cheep, like a thief or a fraud to be using someone else’s work.  I want to post words I wrote and pictures I took – or at least asked someone to take for that moment.  I have used stock pictures before, but it never sits right.  There is no emotional attachment to these pixels.  I want something I saw, touched, smelled, witnessed.

So come sit down and stay awhile.  Read and comment, read and ghost away – I empathize with both reactions.  And enjoy!

Monday Ponderings: Glimpses Into Heaven

Monday Ponderings: Glimpses Into Heaven

The sky is always fascinating to me; the height, length, and depth of it.  The sky has as many moods as some men might claim a woman has: the simple, quiet beauty of a sunrise, the peaceful finality of a sunset, the tumultuous power of a storm, or the magic grayness of a snowfall.  But all of the changing moods of the sky, the one that most intrigues me is the sunny transition into rain: when the clouds roll in and begin to cover the sun, but not completely, and the wind begins to pick up.

We were headed eastward towards school and my focus was solely on the craziness of traffic here in the earthly realm.  But the childlike faith, embodied and safety harnessed into the backseat, was focused on something more beautiful, something more heavenly.  “Look, Miss Jessica!  We can see into heaven!”  As traffic crawled along and I lifted my eyes from the busyness of day to day hecticness I saw what we had all been missing, in the gloriousness of the painted sky.

Somehow as the clouds begin to thicken, they had left cracks that we could see through into the light beyond, and it felt like a peek into heaven.

And maybe it was.  For a moment, when my concentration was no longer on the earth and the momentary frustration of being delayed was forgotten, I was taken aback at the beauty of a eternal, heavenly perspective.  And for a moment that day, I felt like I really did get a peek into heaven.

What are the moments of your life that give you a pause?  What things give you a moment of peace?  What cracks into the clouds and gives you a glimpse into heaven?

Taken by Dee Henderson

Taken by Dee Henderson

Taken by Dee Henderson

In a Nutshell:

Age Appropriateness: 16 and above

Genre(s): Fiction, Suspense, Romance

Suspense/Violence: Moderate suspense

Romance: Light romance

Language: None

Would I Recommend It?  Yes

The Nitty-Gritty

Suspense/Violence: 

This book deals centers around the recovering victim of a kidnapping.  She was kidnapped and held by individuals who were thieves, kidnappers for hire, and, ultimately, murderers.  Although the events that take place in this book are not for young readers, there are no gruesome or graphic details, making it enjoyable for young adult readers and above.*

Romance:

Several of the characters are involved in relationships (married or dating).  One couple kisses, and discusses dating in the future, but nothing else occurs.*

Additional Comments

Matthew Dane steps off the elevator of his hotel and finds an unexpected guest in the hallway.  Shannon Bliss has reappeared after her kidnapping many years ago.  She has escaped and is ready to begin helping take down the criminal dynasty who have held her for many years.  But this must be done carefully, exactly, and on her terms.  One hidden diary at a time.

This book took a turn from the shorter, more romantic books that Ms. Henderson has previously written.  Taken begins a turn into a deeper, longer, complex plot-line that unravels a crime dynasty with many layers.  Longtime readers of Ms. Henderson’s other series will recognize several characters who appear in other books.  However this book is not crucially tied to a series, and can be read as a stand-alone.

Recommended For:

Female, who enjoys Christian suspense.  Male readers might also enjoy the intricacy of the plot-line, but it was written with a female audience in mind.

*Reader discretion is always advised.

Tribute to a Faithful Friend

Tribute to a Faithful Friend

I still step out the back door and head for the chicken house, expecting her to follow me.  I still walk across the back yard, expecting her to match me step for step.  Someone kicked a soccer ball across the yard today, and I waited for her to chase it.  But she’s not here anymore.

It has been said, time and time again, that a dog is man’s best friend, and perhaps, in a mysterious meeting of mere animal to eternal soul, that is true.  There is a understanding that dogs have with their human companions, inexplicable and, yet, understood by both sides.  In the hustle and bustle of daily routine, it is inexpressibly peaceful and wonderful to find a creature who’s greatest joy is to sit and stare at nothing, make no remarks about anything, and simply rest in your companionship.  They expect nothing, and happily give everything.

She and I had many conversations over the years, Most notably the times when I was broken and confused.  She never said anything, never tried to fix it.  She was just herself, and that is all I could ask for.  I came to depend on her, to take for her granted, and to assume that she would always be there.  She and I had a binding, verbal agreement – that she would go with me when I got married.  That she would live out the remainder of her life enjoying the solitude of being an only dog.  She gave me her all, down to the last moment.

She had her brushes with death before, but I had always whispered, “you can’t leave me, yet,” and she always rallied.  Perhaps I came to assume that I could merely will her existence indefinitely.  After all, I wasn’t married yet – we had an agreement.  And perhaps that was why she didn’t quit when she could have. Even deaf, mostly blind, unable to walk, and unable to eat, she would sleep outside our back door.  Faithful to the end.  The selfish tendencies of cats are perhaps most noticeable when they slip away in their latter years.  They many times save us the trouble of medical bills and difficult decisions, but all my cats have so far deprived me of the chance to say goodbye, around the lump in my throat, and to have closure.  Dogs are quite different.

But age is a terrible master, who always wins out.  Even against the most steadfast of faithful hearts.  And the day came when I knew I couldn’t ask her to hold out any longer.  Her eyes seemed to be begging for the end.  She wanted to know she was done, that she had obeyed and would be rewarded.  I knelt down and whispered, barely speaking through the tears.  “Good girl.  I’ll miss you so much.”  And I let her go.  My sweet dad took her and brought her back, burying her before I could see her.  My last memory would be her standing and looking at me, nothing else would mar that.

Life went on, but I still tear up sometimes.  When I expect to see her and I don’t.  Some parts of me feel like I failed my part of the agreement, part of me knows Kate loved me no matter where we were.  All I know for sure is, God gave us  gift when he made dogs.  And getting to have a faithful, loving dog is an amazing experience.

To Be Where You Are by Jan Karon

To Be Where You Are by Jan Karon

To Be Where You Are

In a Nutshell:

Age Appropriateness: 16 and above

Genre(s): Literary Fiction

Suspense/Violence: None

Romance: Light romance

Language: None

Would I Recommend It?  Yes

The Nitty-Gritty

Suspense/Violence: 

No mystery or suspense.*

*Reader discretion is always advised.

Romance:

Several of the characters are involved in relationships (married or dating).  Some kissing, hugging, and affection occurs.  No inappropriate relationships or graphic details. *

Additional Comments

Warning!  You will cry sweet tears as you read this book.  I never cry while reading, but I had tears rolling down my cheeks as I finished To Be Where You Are.  Ms. Karen has written another brilliant, beautiful wonderful addition to The Mitford Series.  Readers will be delighted to further follow the stories of Father Tim, Cynthia, Dooley, Lace, Jack, and the other residents of Mitford and Meadowgate Farm.  I can not recommend this book enough!

It is a clean, wholesome story about life in a small town – and the beautiful beginning of the next generation of Mitford.

Now excuse me while I reread it, I’m pretty sure I am now living vicariously through Dooley and Lace on Meadowgate Farm.

Recommended For:

Anyone who enjoys a beautiful piece of modern literary fiction.

*Reader discretion is always advised.

Top 10 Books of 2017

Top 10 Books of 2017

I industriously resolved to read 52 books last year.  I also set had a resolution to graduate from Thomas Edison State University, which I did accomplish, and which seemed to be in direct opposition to my original resolution.  But I did manage to read 52 books last year.

Originally shooting to read a book a week, I quickly changed that to reading when I could.

Out of every great list of books, there are always a few that stand out from the rest.  Here are my Top 10 Books of 2017.

1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  A book I attempted with very low expectations, and was completely blown away by the plot-line and characters.  It is unique, but everyone should read it.

2. Death by Living by N. D. Wilson.  This was not the first time I read this book.  I try to read it once a year, because I am always convicted and encouraged by reading this bookshelf addition.

3. PSmith, Journalist by P. G. Wodehouse.  Can you ever go wrong with Wodehouse or his hilarious, bumbling PSmith?  The witty writing of Wodehouse is something every booklist needs.

4. The Witnesses by Robert Whitlow.  My first Whitlow novel, which was a little slow at first, but turned into an intriguing and enjoyable read.

5. A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War by Joseph Loconte.  Such an amazing book!!!  Gave me new appreciation for the world around C. S. Lewis and the war that changed the world.

6. Notes from the Tilt a Whirl by N. D. Wilson.  This author is the only one to appear twice on my Top 10 List. Yet another read that gives us new perspective to our role as redeemed creations.

7. Without Warning by Joel Rosenberg. I waited for months for the exciting, emotional conclusion to this Rosenberg series.  He did not disappoint, and I highly recommend this book.

8. Come Rain or Come Shine by Jan Karon.  I’m pretty sure that I am living vicariously through Dooley and Lace Barlow in the newest additions to the Mitford series.  Can not get enough of these.

9. The Weight of Glory by C. S. Lewis.  Really, can you go wrong with a C. S. Lewis?  This is a collection of his writings and all of them were incredible.  Each one was my favorite.

 

10. Margin by Richard Swenson. Ah, yes.  Everyone needs a little margin in their bookshelf, and in their life.

Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey

Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey

Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey

Book Three in Chesapeake Valor Series

In a Nutshell:

Age Appropriateness: 16 and above

Genre(s): Fiction, Suspense, Romance

Suspense/Violence: Moderate suspense

Romance: Moderate romance

Language: None

Would I Recommend It?  Yes

The Nitty-Gritty

Suspense/Violence: 

This book is suspenseful.  The characters in this book are all employed by the FBI, and (as part of the job description) are dealing with intense situations.  However, there is nothing overtly graphic or disturbing in the book.  Everything is well written and tastefully handled.  The storyline does contain terrorists, people are shot and killed, and one character is caught and tortured (no gruesome details are given).

As mentioned above, one character is tortured.  Ms Pettrey does provide some details on this, but nothing graphic or disturbing.  She provides details that relevant to adequately understanding the gravity of the situation.*

Romance:

Several of the characters are involved in relationships (married or dating).  Some kissing, hugging, and affection occurs.  This PDA may be more than some readers are comfortable with, but I did not find it to be out of Ms. Pettrey’s typical style.  No inappropriate relationships or graphic details. *

Additional Comments

This book is the third in a series.  It could, however, be read as a stand-alone, although it is best appreciated with the other books in the series.  I found it to be an enjoyable, suspenseful read.

Recommended For:

Female, who enjoys Christian suspense.

 

*Reader discretion is always advised.

Year End Bucket List

Year End Bucket List

The year is coming to an end.  Slipping slowly down behind the mountain, vanishing from sight.  I like to take this time to look back and think about what all happened this year.  Look back over my shoulder and all that God has done.

People like to create bucket lists.  Lists of things to check off in their lifetime.  Places to visit, people to meet, and things to do and see.  But what if we reverse that?  Rather than making a list for our life, what if we make a list as we live?  It is a change in perspective that can fill your heart with thankfulness.

Don’t look at your list to see what hasn’t happened yet.   Look back and see what He has done.

The nights everyone was home around the table, the amazing sunsets I got to watch, the sunrises as I headed to work in the dawn, the violin music I got to learn, the Hardy Boy books I got to read with my little brother, singing at the top of my lungs, getting to perfect favorite recipes, laughing until tears came, leaving the country and meeting new people, sunrises from an airplane, and long walks down the road.

There is so much to be thankful for.  Here at year’s end.

Handicapped by Dyslexia Ignorance

Handicapped by Dyslexia Ignorance

They are everywhere we look.  They fill our homes, our schools, and our workplaces.  Their ability to compensate and to memorize helps them stay hidden.  They are the children that grow into adults, struggling every day to read and write.  They are told that dyslexia isn’t real, they are called lazy, they are pushed through the system.  And they grow up handicapped, not by their disability, but by the ignorance about it.