Archive for May 2011

Facebook: It's not going away

Monday, May 30, 2011

A couple years ago, after months of resisting, I gave in and became a "Facebooker" I loved reconnecting with old high school and college friends whom I'd lost touch with. I enjoyed seeing my 500 friends' daily status updates and pictures of their families. I was hooked. When "friend requests" came in I felt like a high school girl tallying her votes for homecoming queen. But like everything else that comes on the scene with great gusto, I figured this too would be a fad that would be fade into oblivion in a matter of years. Boy, was I wrong. Facebook is now on track to replace Google as a search engine, to be your prime source for checking email and an app to get to their page is pretty much standard on every phone.

I have a handful of friends (including my own husband) who eschew the social networking sensation for various reasons. They regularly let others know that they "hate Facebook" or "I don't text." To each his own. However, I recently had an experience which reminded me that, like it or not, social networking and technology is not going away. And if you are in a position of influence or wish to have relationship with today's young people, then you'll want to know all the ins and outs of this craze. As much as you wish they would "pick up the phone and call you" they won't. Even if you're convinced that they can't handle the amount of information relayed via a computer screen or phone, they're not going to suddenly start "talking face to face." Believe me I've preached this in my own house with no success. I put limits on the texting, computer usage and screen time in general. When the minutes are up, neither of my adolescents change their behavior. They would rather do without than be forced to behave in such an outdated way as calling someone's home on a landline. It's worse than having me kiss and hug them in front of their friends!

All my ranting and raving wasn't getting me anywhere so I took more of the approach of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." As much as I hate to admit it, we have had actual instant message conversations while we're both in the same house. I find they are willing to be a lot more open with me than when we're sitting next to one another at the kitchen table. I can see how it makes them feel like we're on more of a level playing field--even though they know I'm not their friend. A willingness to meet them where they're at shows them I'm not going to dig in my stubborn heels and refuse to accept the rapid changes of their culture. It's a delicate balance and I know I'm not getting it perfect all the time but I have found the arguments between us are fewer than before.

Now on to my middle son and his friends were putting their index fingers under their noses and saying "I'm Hitler." One girl took pictures of some of them with her phone and my son and another girl said "We should tag her" about one of the girls in the picture. They meant "tag" as in identify her on their Facebook page in the picture once it's posted. Unfortunately one of the girls they were referring to was Jewish and she thought the kids were speaking of imitating Hitler's horrific acts during the Holocaust. The teacher got wind of this and came unglued. He assumed my son was being Anti-Semitic and let him have it. I got a phone call letting me know of the situation--from his perspective. When my son got home, I asked him about it and he told me what I just relayed at the beginning of this paragraph. My child (and likely the other children with him at lunch) was unaware of the history behind Nazi Germany and had no idea how his actions were being construed. It was a great teachable moment for both of us. However, if his teacher, who spends his entire day with 11 & 12 year olds, had spent some time familiarizing himself with Facebook terms and how his students spend their time socially, it would have made for a lot less drama and a little more understanding. And perhaps a "teachable moment" for everyone.

I'm not saying I agree with everything about our current culture. Nor do I think kids should be joking about anything to do with Adolf Hitler. I do think though, that a little bit of acceptance and knowledge of today's adolescents, whether you like it or not, would go a long way.


I'm in like Flynn

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Have you ever know deep in your heart that you were meant to do something but

every step along the way has been a battle? Not a monumental fight but an obvious one. Discouragement sets in and you begin to wonder if you're on the right road. When it gets hard, you start to question "maybe this isn't really what I want to do." I believe that when we are truly seeking God and He clearly doesn't want us to continue--or even begin--down a certain path, he will repeatedly close the doors. In fact, He doesn't just close them, He SLAMS them shut. After a while our stubborn skulls finally figure out that we might want to proceed in a different direction. However, I also believe that when He calls us to a place or position that is really, truly living in our glory, the enemy will make sure to put every obstacle in our path. They're never big obstacles just annoying, time consuming, distracting, frustrating ones. This has been my journey to pursuing a teaching certificate.

Just over a year ago I set out on this unknown path only knowing that I was supposed to put one foot in front of the other--in 48 hours. After pulling an all-nighter writing four essays, begging colleagues to write letters of recommendation with less than 24 hours notice and pleading for my 20 year old undergrad transcripts from a stubborn Registrar's office, I dropped off my application packet with minutes to spare before the posted deadline. Four weeks later the rejection letter arrived. Among the words of denial were also words of advice and some suggestions. They "powers that be" wanted me to take two full quarters of English classes, obtain a letter of recommendation from a current professor and reapply. No problem. Wrong. Problem #1: It's kind of difficult to take upper level college courses when the said college won't let you in. Solved: After a month of getting the run around I was allowed to take the classes at the local community college with the promise of counting them as transfer credits. And I was able to get the ball rolling by taking a summer course as formal admission is not required to attend during the months of June and July. Done.

Problem # 2: The community college doesn't recognize that I've taken the pre-requisite of English 101 and I must sit in the Registration office to prove this with my 20 year old transcript. Oh, and in the meantime, the classes I wanted, filled up. Solved: I was able to take an online course for the fall quarter, my advisor allowed another literature class to count and I "blue-slipped" into the elusive Creative Writing class for spring.

Problem #3: My application is ready to go for Fall quarter 2011 with the exception of an English professor's letter. I email a request two weeks before the deadline. "No problem." A week later, "Oops, I forgot. Is it too late?" A week later the Office of Admission calls to say they still had not received it. Solved: Another desperate email request and the letter magically appears.

At the end of last month I pulled out my file with the rejection letter from last year. Dated: April 29, 2010. For two straight weeks I checked the mailbox daily and my inbox every time I passed the computer. Nothing. Zip. Nada. Then on Wednesday afternoon I see the email. With one eye closed I nervously scanned the letter until I saw the words "Congratulations" staring back at me. I scream, jump up and down and ponder who to call first. Before I pick up the phone I see an email from the same address with the subject line : "Recall." A short message follows simply stating that they wish to retract their previous email announcing my admission into the Secondary Education department. What? OUCH! A quick phone call later I discover that the university has not yet given their approval as the state only allows a certain number of post baccalaureate students per quarter. Deflated I wait once more. Friday afternoon the email arrives in my inbox. The subject line: CONFIRMED. Yay!!!

So, you see, doors closed, locked and bolted shut are one thing. False starts and temporary disqualifications are another. Don't let discouragement win if you've been on a similar journey. I'm here to tell you to not give up.

I have no doubt there will be numerous more detours and "fender benders" like these along the way but I'd say God makes it pretty clear when we're driving down the right road.

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