Friday, July 29, 2005

Learning Obedience

Hebrews 5.8 says, "So even though Jesus was God's son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered" (NLT).

Why did Jesus have to learn obedience? I have heard many people say that Jesus could not have sinned because God is incapable of sin, and Jesus and his father are one. So if he couldn't sin, why did he have to learn obedience?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

One size does not fit all.

Spent a girls' day at the mall yesterday with Mom, Sister-in-law, and her four girls, and boy was I tired by the end of the day. Sister-in-law (from now on abbreviated SIL) wanted me to pick out school clothes for the 2nd grader. Last year in 1st grade, her little girl was picked on a lot, and apparently some of it stemmed from her clothes, so SIL wanted to make sure that 2nd grader has cool clothes this year. SIL thinks I am more fashion savvy than she is; I don't know about that, but I'll take the compliment.

I guess since I've been around college students for so long, I had forgotten that little kids can be so mean to each other.

Anyway, the shopping trip was pretty successful except for one area--pants. 2nd grader is a little bit chunky around the middle--not fat, but not a skinny kid. It seems, though, that little girls' pants are made for miniature super models. If the pants fit around the waist, they are much too long. We did find some really cute pants that had drawstrings around the hem that could be gathered up so that they don't drag the ground, and they looked great on 2nd grader, but they cost over $30. Why on earth do little girl pants cost so much? I cannot fathom paying that much for clothes for kids, especially when they will only be able to wear them for one year or less before growing out of them. It's ridiculous. Makes me very glad that I don't have kids of my own that I have to shop for.

Have any of you experienced this type of problem when shopping for little kids? Is there a company that makes reasonably priced, fashionable clothes that fit girls of different shapes and sizes? SIL and I would be greatful for such a place.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Hot Mushrooms

I just returned from Kroger where I experienced a dillema. As I was putting my groceries in the truck, I noticed a bag with one item in it. When I looked inside, I found a package of mushrooms. My first thought was, "The guy in front of me didn't get his mushrooms." I hate it when that kind of thing happens to me.

Then I thought, "Hey, I needed some mushrooms." I'm fixing kabobs tonight and had forgotten all about the mushrooms. I don't eat them, but Husband likes them.

Then I thought, "But those aren't my mushrooms; they belong to somebody else." But that person was already gone, I reasoned, so there really was no harm in keeping them. I also reasoned that the mushrooms weren't technically stolen because they had been paid for.

I continued to dialogue in my head about whether or not to keep the mushrooms. Anyone passing by would never have known that I was having a terrible crisis of conscience going on as I was loading my grocery sacks. The sweat on my forehead wasn't attributable only to the heat.

I placed the last sack in the truck, pushed my cart to the cart corral (I hate it when people don't put their carts back where they belong--I have a story about that too!), opened the driver's door, and started to get in, anticipating the cool of the air conditioning and my Mavericks CD starting as soon as I turned the key. I barely got one foot up onto the running board.

"Dang it, why do you do this to me?" I exclaimed as I got back out of the truck, opened the rear door, grabbed the bag and headed back into the store. I took the bag to the customer service counter and told the girl working there that someone would probably be calling saying that he didn't get his mushrooms. She thanked me. I headed around to the produce section, picked up a package of mushrooms, went back through the checkout and paid for them. Then I got back into my truck and didn't think about it any more until I got home and started telling you about it.

This is the sort of thing I go through. I have gone back into stores to pay for a 50 cent item that I have accidently "stolen." Usually the customer service people think I'm crazy.

I sincerely hope that this is a test and that I'm about to get a big reward for it. But I rather suspect that God just likes to have a little fun with me every now and then.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

TV Disappointments

Previews for the new fall TV shows have begun, and let me say that I am unimpressed. Now, I don't watch a lot of TV, but there are a few shows that I like. CSI is not one of them. Or three of them, or however many incarnations that show has now. I notice that CBS will be bringing in at least one new crime show--thankfully, not another CSI. But how many more crime shows do we really need?

CBS has cancelled my very favorite show, Joan of Arcadia. Joan was a good, clean, family-oriented program in which a teenager talked to God and tried to do what God wanted. I guess viewers couldn't handle that. Now, instead of Joan talking to God, Jennifer Love Hewitt will talk to dead people.

I guess I'll be watching more Andy Griffith and Leave it to Beaver on TVLand.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Beware: Don't look like a suspicious character!

If it rains today, don't risk being mistaken for a terrorist and shot to death. Wear this raincoat:

And when you carry a bag, carry this one:

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Good Stewards?

Lakewood Church in Houston moved into its new facilities this past weekend, the old Compaq Center where the Houston Rockets used to play. To convert it to a church--complete with giant video screens, waterfalls, and a giant globe--cost around $90 million. (For pictures go to and click on "See images.")

I wonder how much the waterfalls cost and how many hungry people could have been fed instead?

Monday, July 18, 2005

Your suggestions, please.

In my freshman writing course, I usually teach an evaluation essay. This requires students to make a judgement statement about something (a book, movie, etc.) and back up the judgement with reasons and evidence. (You'd be surprised at how difficult the reasons and evidence part is for some students!) In the past, we have watched a movie in class, and they have written a review of the movie. I'm thinking of doing that again this semester, and I'd like some suggestions for movies that would be appropriate for 18-20-year-olds with a variety of interests. The movie needs to have a story that is more complex than just the basic "boy meets girl and they get together after some conflicts" or the "good guy goes after the bad guy and lots of things get blown up" stories. In the past we have watched The Count of Monte Cristo, The Shawshank Redemption, Open Range, and Ladder 49 (which actually wasn't that good of a choice for this assignment). In other words, the story needs to be one that has some meaning and will make the students think a little bit, but I also don't want it to be too "artsy."

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

PS. I'm feeling much better although I am still a little congested. Thanks for your prayers!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Work to live, or live to work?

You might want to put your toes under your chair for this one. I had to.

A survey released earlier this year of 7,718 American workers found that:

“[. . .] only 45 percent of workers say they are satisfied (33 percent) or extremely satisfied (12 percent) with their jobs. At the same time, a much lower number actually feel very "engaged" by their jobs. Only 20 percent feel very passionate about their jobs; less than 15 percent agree that they feel strongly energized by their work; and only 31 percent (strongly or moderately) believe that their employer inspires the best in them.”

“Increasing numbers of employees are coping with burnout (42 percent), while one-third (33 percent) believe they have reached a dead end in their jobs, and 21 percent are eager to change their jobs.”

“Nearly all workers were seeking more time off -- and a better balance between work and leisure” ("New Employer/Employee Equation Survey,” conducted by Harris Interactive, Inc.).

If this survey is accurate, this means that most American workers
are unhappy with their work and feel that what they are doing is
not worthwhile. How sad that we spend at least 40 hours per
week doing something that we’d rather not be doing, feeling
that we aren’t doing our best work, and wishing we were somewhere else.
I wonder, though, how much of the fault lies with the workers
themselves? Why do workers stay in careers they don’t really like?
(I’m not talking here about unskilled, minimum wage earners
who don’t really have much choice in their careers, but
college-educated or other skilled workers.) Why do so many
people not do what they really want to do?
I assert that most people do not have the career that they really want because they feel they must take the job that will pay the bills. They are not willing to sacrifice lifestyle in order to take a job that they will really enjoy. Lots of middle class Americans stretch themselves to the limit in order to live in a house that is probably too high-priced for their budget so that they will be in a “better” neighborhood. They buy or lease a new car every two to three years. They make sure that their kids wear the most fashionable clothes and participate in plenty of extracurricular activities (to keep up their self-esteem). They use up their savings to take a vacation to the beach every summer. Rather than scale back their lifestyle, most people would rather work in a career that they don’t really care for in order to live what society claims is the “American Dream.”

The sad thing is that a lot of Christians fall into this category. Although we know that Jesus called us to a life of sacrifice and servanthood, many of us believe that sacrifice means eating out only once or twice in a week in order to put more money in the offering plate on Sunday. I know that a lot of Christian parents will say that they work they way they do so that their children will have better lives and good opportunities, and I certainly understand that. We want to ensure that our children have good futures. However, if we really believe that God is in charge of the future, why aren’t we modeling the ethic of self sacrifice so that we can help others in the now? Why not work at a career that is more fulfilling or allows more family time and do without some of the perks that we have come to believe we are entitled to?

Perhaps the work we’d really rather be doing is what God intended us to do in the first place. He knows us better than we know ourselves, so he knows what is going to make us happy. He wouldn’t call us to a life of sacrifice if he weren’t going to make sure that all of our needs are met. He wouldn’t ask us to be servants if he weren’t going to make sure that we feel fulfilled in our work.

The other day, I heard a news story that gave me pause. I’m not sure about the exact details, but what is important is the essence of what the lady said. Some ladies make pies at church every Saturday and sell them in order to give the money to charity. One of the ladies, commenting on their endeavor, said something to the effect that while Christians aren’t supposed to feel good about their work for the Lord, she does feel good about what she’s doing. I guess the notion is that when we work for the Lord it should be a sacrifice, and sacrifice necessitates negative feelings. I think some people think that all pleasure comes from the devil.

Why would God call us to do something that we would hate doing? Psalm 37.3-4 says, “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” He wants us to be happy and fulfilled, and when we seek to please him by being a true disciple, he will see to it that we are happy.

Sacrifice and servanthood are not ideas that society values as particularly appetizing, but is what society is serving up really satisfying our hunger for fulfillment? No matter how hard we try, we cannot bring our own fulfillment; true and lasting fulfillment comes from God.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Pass the Salt

This week I have been suffering from a sinus infection brought on by an allergy attack, and I have been unable to breathe. A bad side effect to this is that my taste buds are off and nothing has tasted good for the last few days. We have gone out to eat a couple of times, and nothing I ate had any flavor. I had to pour the salt on to get anything to taste halfway good. The first thing I’ve eaten this week that has tasted good was some pasta sauce I made last night that I socked with salt and spices.

Ironically, this ties in with the bible passage I made note of in my last post. As I was reading the passage in Luke about counting the cost of being a disciple of Jesus, I noticed that the passage ended with Jesus saying something about salt that loses its flavor and becomes worthless (Luke 14. 25-35). Jesus also told his disciples that they are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5.13). Now, I have never really given this passage a lot of thought, but now that I think about it, I’m curious, and I wonder how the saltiness idea connects with the counting the cost of being his disciple idea.

I looked up salt in some of my resources and here are some interesting things I found out about it:

Salt brings out flavor in otherwise bland foods—of course, we knew this already. Anybody who has ever made real pancakes or biscuits (not Bisquick) and left out the salt can attest to this fact.

Salt is used as a preservative. Meat cured in salt doesn’t have to be refrigerated—think country ham. (By the way, how does anybody eat that stuff? Yuck!)

Salty ground is infertile; no vegetation grows around the Dead Sea (hence the name). In the bible, salt was sown on people’s land to render it infertile.

Salt was rubbed on newborn babies. I imagine this acts as a cleansing agent and kills germs. Some cultures still do this.

Salt was always offered with sacrifices. I’m guessing this was symbolic of purity and lack of decay (the preservative quality), but I’ll bet on days when there were a lot of offerings to “process,” the salt kept the sacrifices fresh.

Salt was symbolic of covenants.

Salt was a valuable commodity. Roman soldiers were often paid in salt—hence the saying “not worth his salt.”

Some of the salt that was found near the Dead Sea was like rock salt but it was sometimes impure because it was subject to the elements and the outer layer of it was flavorless.

Now what do we do with this information? If we are disciples of Jesus, we are called to be the salt of the earth. How do the qualities of salt come into play in our lives? If salt is a preservative, we must be a preservative of sorts. Our world is in a state of moral decay, so we are the part of the world that is not decaying, the part that is staying pure. Salt brings out flavor, so we should bring “flavor” to the world. The lives of Jesus’ disciples should be a different flavor from the lives of other people—we should live differently. And I think we should also bring flavor to bland situations—I’m thinking of those types of Christians who are afraid to have any fun.

Now I’m wondering about the salty, infertile ground part. Is there such a thing as being a too salty disciple? Maybe we can become so fanatical that we turn people off instead of attracting them. I don’t know.

Being sick with this sinus infection gave me another thought about it. Just like I can’t taste anything that isn’t good and salty while I’m sick, people who are spiritually sick need a good salty person to help them along their journey of getting better.

OK, my brain is hurting now, and I’m not sure that I’m making any sense here. Perhaps you can add some thoughts about how to be a good, salty disciple.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Two Masters

Disclaimer: Writing this one made me just a little bit uncomfortable.

Jesus taught that people can’t have two masters and that we cannot serve both God and money. Most Christians would probably not say that they are serving money rather than God, but how accurate are we when we say that? I believe that most of us have our hearts in the right place—we aren’t actively out chasing the almighty dollar trying to get rich just for the sake of having more and more money, and we likely aren’t spending every dollar on frivolous material items that we don’t really need. We contribute to church and charity and help others who are in need whenever we can. But even though we do all this, are we fully serving God, or are we, in actuality, serving money?

Proverbs 22.7 tells us that just as the rich rule over the poor, so is the borrower servant to the lender. When we borrow money, for whatever reason, we become beholden to the person or institution who loaned us that money. As good Christians, we know that we are obligated to pay back that money, so we order our lives in such a way as to make sure that we can earn enough to pay a little each month on that loan. Some of us even take out insurance policies that will pay off the loan in the event that something happens and we can’t earn money. We are very prudent to not place our means of income in jeopardy.

I assert that because we are in debt, we are unable to fully serve God even if our hearts want to. Every time we make a big decision, we take into consideration how much money we owe and how much we are earning. Our debt level often makes it very difficult to follow where God’s spirit is leading us to serve. How many of us can immediately drop what we are doing to follow Jesus in the same way that we see his disciples do in the bible? Peter and Andrew and James and John left their fishing nets and followed Jesus at once when he called to them. Matthew immediately left his desk at the tax office to follow Jesus. How many of us can just get up and go wherever he leads on only a moment’s notice? How many of us can take a lower paying job that frees up time to serve him? How many times have we seen stories about people in need and wished we could go across the country and help, if only we didn’t have to take time off our job that pays the mortgage? I am not saying it is bad to be a homeowner, but if God calls us to physically relocate, most of us will have to ask him to wait a month so that we can sell the house and pack up the possessions. As much as we hate to admit it, our debt has caused many of us to serve money more than we serve God.

Jesus said that the cost of being his disciple is high and that we should make sure we know what that cost is before we begin the journey. Are we willing to pay that high price? Which is more costly—totally being his disciple or trying to serve two masters?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

What if we really lived like Jesus?

Thanks to Tony, I am reading Mere Discipleship by Lee C. Camp. After having read the first two chapters, I am intrigued by the question that Camp raises: What if everyone really lived the way that Jesus and his disciples lived; what if we made Jesus’ life an example and model for our own? The popular opinion, Camp asserts, is that

“the way of Christ is simply not a relevant social ethic, lest injustice reign and the violent vanquish the righteous. Christians cannot take the way of Christ seriously, or society will fall apart, will sink into a spiral of unmitigated violence. Justice is at stake. Civilization itself is at stake. Jesus could not have meant that we take him seriously in the realm of social and political realities—after all, what would happen if everybody did that?! Consequently, “Jesus,” “Christianity,” and even “discipleship” are reduced to a mere “spirituality,” a realm that has little if anything to do with the concrete realities of culture, civilization, and politics.” (page 34)

Christ’s teachings, says Camp, “inform our attitudes, but not our actions” (36). His teachings are something that we internalize for the sake of our spirituality but don’t necessarily live out because it isn’t practical in our society.

I have to wonder, what would happen if all Christians started to live the kind of life that Jesus and the apostles did? What would that entail?

Jesus had a completely self-sacrificing attitude, not just in his death on the cross, but in his life as well. His own personal comfort was secondary to the needs of others. He did not own a house full of stuff. He spent his time taking care of the needs of others rather than working at a job to pay for a house and all the materials to fill it.

What if Christians suddenly decided to live on less money than we earn, buying only what is necessary for life, and using the rest to help others? What if we downsized our houses, got rid of cars with payments and drove—gasp!—paid for cars, stopped eating out so much, bought fewer new clothes, did without the latest gadgets, etc. I think if we did that, we could work less because we wouldn’t have so much to pay for, and we could spend more time with our families, and we could spend more time just being nice to people. We would be healthier because of the reduced stress. Of course, we probably wouldn’t have computers and be here blogging about it.

However, there would be some repercussions on the national economy if Christians suddenly lived like Christ. If we downsized and paid off all our debt, the economy would suffer without our paying all that interest on houses, cars, and credit card purchases. Stores would lose money because we wouldn’t be buying so much. Stocks would plummet. It could cause chaos. We would be blamed for the downfall of the American way of life—and then talk about persecution!

So I guess we’d better stay the way we are. We don’t want to rock the boat or have people look at us like we’re crazy. Living too much like Jesus would be a burden and a cross that we don’t want to shoulder—no matter what Jesus said.

Saturday, July 09, 2005


I just gave away a coffee maker that I no longer use. Instead of it sitting in my closet taking up space, it will now serve someone who can use it.

I have been asking God for help in simplifying, and I think this is a good way to start. Freecycle is a network of groups that allows people to post items to give away. I posted my coffee maker as sort of a test to see how well this works, and within just a few hours I had four people wanting it. A lady just left my house--she drove all the way from town to pick it up.

If you don't want to fool with trying to sell stuff, and you don't care who gets your stuff or for what reason they get it, you might want to try this.

You clean out your closet, and somebody comes and gets the stuff! What a concept!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Making Change

Today I have been looking for ways to cut spending in order to increase giving. This morning I have dropped the unlimited text and picture messaging from my cell phone service. This has freed up $9.99 (and probably some tax as well). Honestly, why in the world do I need to text message someone? And why do I need to send photos over the phone? I carry a digital camera in my backpack--if people want to see a picture that I take, they can wait until I get home. Also, there's really no need to surf the Internet from my phone.

I have also dropped our alarm monitoring service. This will save $25.95 a month. Of course, the lady tried to get me to keep the service, reminding me that I also have smoke alarm monitoring. She offered to cut the fee to $15.00, which I politely declined. I figure that it's all just stuff--why should I pay someone to watch it? No one broke in, nor did we have a fire before we had the service; I think we'll be fine without it. Besides, it just doesn't sit well with me to pay someone to "watch" my earthly treasures.

I now have $35.94 to use for other purposes, and I plan to use part of it for giving and the rest for debt reduction. $35.94 isn't much, but it's a start. It feels good to have done this today. I don't feel any more righteous, but I feel like I have accomplished something. I have probably lost my blessing for telling you this, but that's OK. I've been blessed pretty well already.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Another story about trees

A couple of years ago, I decided that we needed some trees in our yard, and being too cheap to go to a nursery and buy some, I went into the woods and dug up some tiny little oak trees about a foot tall and planted these in places in my yard. That same year, we had trouble with our lawnmower, and when we finally got it fixed, the grass was taller than my little trees. Husband just wanted to hurry and get the grass cut before the mower broke again, so he paid no attention to where my trees were planted and mowed them all down.

However, one tree came back, so whenever I got the chance to mow (I don’t mow much—he thinks I am too hard on his equipment), I would carefully go around the little tree, and it grew to about two feet tall. Then the mower broke again, and we had a neighbor come and cut the yard. Of course, he cut my tree down again. But a few weeks later, there it was, peeking out of the ground again, so I threatened Husband with bodily harm if he cut that tree down again, and we have left it alone, and it is now about two feet tall again.

This spring we decided to finally shell out some money and buy some decent sized trees, and we planted them in a straight row down both sides of the driveway. The problem is that while the little oak tree falls into the straight line, it sits about two feet from one of the newly planted dogwoods which are evenly spaced in a very uniform row (Husband is all about symmetry.). So it throws everything off. We decided that the little oak has to go in order to preserve the perfect lines, but neither of us has mowed it down. I told Husband a few days ago that maybe we should just leave it there; it won’t hurt anything, and trees grow close together in the woods and do fine. He just kind of grunted, but the last time he mowed, he didn’t cut it down.

That little oak tree must have a good root system developed in order to keep coming back the way it does. As I’ve said before, I think people are like trees. If we establish a good root system, we can be cut down, knocked around, and trampled on, but we’ll still bounce back. We might not be the prettiest, and we might not fall into that straight line where everyone wants us to be, but we will be strong and sturdy and will eventually provide lots more shade than the rest of the trees.

I love that persistent little oak tree more than the pretty dogwoods—which, by the way, are struggling to survive in this dry summer weather—and I’m going to protect it from being cut down again. I suspect that God feels the same way about his out-of-line, but persistent, children.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

God and Country

Tomorrow is July the 4th, and I will admit that I most likely will not spend time in quiet contemplation of the country we call the United States, the freedoms we enjoy as Americans and how we gained them, or what it means to be an American. I probably won't spend time thinking about our troops who are serving abroad or those people in other countries who are less fortunate than we are. I'm going to take a day off from all that and go to the lake.

Lately I've thought a lot about our country, and while I know that I am very fortunate to live here and enjoy a fine house, a good job, and all the food I care to eat, I can't help but think that I might be better off spiritually if I lived in a poor nation where I had to struggle to find enough food to keep me alive and had to sleep out in the heat or the cold. Of course, I am thankful that I don't live that way; however, I think that because of my circumstances, I have become complacent to the point that I think I am entitled to have a fine house, a good job, and more food than I can eat.

When I am truly honest, I know that the only reason I am blessed with so much is not because our government has created great opportunities for its citizens or because I took advantage of the educational opportunities we have to better myself. The only reason I am blessed with material comforts is because of God's mercy and kindness. I have done nothing to earn any of this, nor do I somehow deserve it. The more I think about it, the more humiliated I feel. I have not made God's kingdom my primary concern; I have not shared my goods with the poor; I have not sought to bring justice to the oppressed--yet God has blessed me anyway! What will I do now to show my gratitude to him?

Saturday, July 02, 2005

a weird thing about me and Capital Letters

One of my weaknesses that makes it hard for me to be a writing teacher (other than spelling--we've already talked about that) is that I am a slow reader. When I read, I "say" each word in my head--I actually need to "hear" the sound of the word to fully comprehend what is being said. I don't understand how some people "speed read" by glancing at a group of words and understanding the meaning. But my reading speed has picked up out of necessity, as I usually grade about 550 essays in one 13 week semester.

One of the things that hinders the speed of my reading certain items is the use of capital letters where they don't usually belong. I'm talking about the use of Him and He in the middle of a sentence when referring to Jesus or God. Usually it's pretty easy to pick out a proper name in the middle of a sentence and not have that interfere with my reading, but I'm having a lot of trouble training myself to recognize He and Him as proper names. When I see one of those words coming up, I have already geared myself that it will be the first word of a new sentence, so I read it that way, and then when I discover that wasn't the case, I have to go back and re-read. It takes me forever to read my BSF notes because of this. And you would think that since I've been a Christian all of my life since at least the time I was learning to read that I would have gotten used to this, but I haven't.

Sometimes a student of mine will want to write about a Christian topic and will want to know if "he" and "him" are supposed to be capitalized, and I say that that was a convention invented a very long time ago that we really don't have to do. But I also tell the student that if he or she feels bad about not using a capital letter, then by all means please do so--but God isn't going to get mad at us if we don't use the capital H.

So if you ever are reading my blog and see that I don't use the capital H, it isn't meant to be disrespectful. Also, I have noticed that I usually don't use the capital B when referring to the bible, but I don't know why that is. Again, it isn't meant to be disrespectful.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Are you a teacher?

James said, "Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged by God with greater strictness" (3.1 NLT).

Are those of us who blog about Christian ideas and who cite bible verses actually teaching? Or are we simply offering opinions? Or is there any difference? Someone who reads what we write is going to be impacted in some way be what he or she reads.

Does the phrase "in the church" qualify this statement--we aren't technically "in" the church. Or is this talking about the church body as a whole and pertaining to all Christians any time, any place? The NIV text of this verse doesn't even use the phrase "in the church": "Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." (This brings to mind the topic of accuracy in bible translations, but that's another blog.) So does this mean that anyone who teaches anything will be held to a higher standard?

I always am very careful about what I say here. I spend a considerable amount of time finding the best way to express my ideas, sometimes rewriting a single sentence again and again until I'm sure that the words I use and the possible tone they convey are expressing the exact meaning that I want to get across. I'm always thinking about my audience and how they might interpret--or misinterpret--what I say. So far I haven't been called on the carpet for anything, but I'm sure the time will come.

So I guess I'm going to continue to err on the side of caution and be very careful of what I say here.