Defending our faith

Yesterday I was enjoying a book and the late summer sunshine on campus when two girls approached me. The conversation went like this….

“Hi! We have a Bible study here on campus and we were going around asking people to see what they know about the Bible. Do you believe the Bible is true?”

“Yes, I do!” In my life, the Bible is 100% truth, infallible, and the guide for living our lives and a way in which God speaks to us. The Holy Spirit brings the God-inspired words to life.

“What if we told you that in the Bible it says….”

For an hour we went through the Bible together (it was the New International Version; I asked) and these girls tried to convince me of things not accepted by mainstream Protestant doctrine by using Scripture out of context. I asked them if they had looked up certain things in the Greek or Hebrew, and they told me that “Well, no, but it’s pretty much the exact same thing in English.” While I agree that we have some amazing translations of the Bible in English, in order to get the absolute entire picture, we need to cross-reference these verses with the original languages in which they were written. Even comparing other English translations can shed light onto tough passages of Scripture.

I’m by no means a Bible expert. However, just in the past few years, I really started studying more and learning how to debate (thanks Petr and Gabi for your Christ-centered debate group!!). By God’s grace, I stumped these girls on the issues they were trying to convince me of. They were like robots; they had many verses highlighted with Post-It strips indicating where to go next if the person being interviewed posed a certain question.

My purpose for writing this is not to nit-pick every issue we talked about, nor is it to bash other people or denominations. It’s to illustrate how important it is for us to know what we believe, why we believe it, and where to find it in the Bible.

If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything. Even a Christian who attends church and reads the Bible can be swayed by tactics such as these. Do you know where you stand on issues such as creation? Sin? Salvation? Heaven? Hell? The divinity of Jesus? The oneness of the Trinity?

Debating these issues can get heated and sometimes offensive, but I thank God for the grace He gave me and I hope these girls could see what I was showing them out of love. Above all, this is what is important:

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you

to give the reason for the hope that you have.

But do this with gentleness and respect..” I Peter 3:15

and

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed,

but of those who believe and are saved.” Hebrews 10:39

A whirlwind week

Yay, it’s Friday! Although I’ve been going since 7ish this morning, it’s been a good day. In fact, all the days this week were good despite getting home late Tuesday (I have a night class) and Aaron’s crazy work schedule. One night he even had to go back in to work. Blech.

I’m loving my classes and my job. Because of this assistantship I’m super busy, but I. Am. Loving. It. I haven’t been so happy with my life since I taught Spanish at Midland. At the time, I didn’t think much of it, but later after I’d quit I missed it so much! Thankfully I’ve been able to tutor several students this week from all over the world and teach a couple conversation classes. In my two weeks I’ve already met people from Turkey, Ukraine, Mexico (of course), and Palestine.

The coursework is challenging but not impossible. The finer points of linguistics like semantics and phonology are actually very similar to math in some aspects, and I love math. I love having a problem to figure out. Unlike my undergrad, I’m not constantly obsessed with every single assignment and the grade. Carrying a 4.0 over the next two years is my goal (duh!) but actually learning and discovering new things about linguistics are my priorities.

I can really see myself teaching ESOL classes in the future, whether it’s at a college here in the US or in a school overseas somewhere. Teaching just makes me so happy. Like swooning over lesson plans and rosters happy. Kind of. UTEP seems to have an amazing ESOL program and I will take advantage of every second to gain more experience. Living on the border definitely has its advantages!

Soon I’ll be starting on a research project with one of the languages/linguistics professors. I’m excited to get research experience. I have an option to do either a thesis or an extended paper (the latter requires more coursework) at the end of my program. I know a thesis involves a LOT of individual research, so if I do that I’ll need experience. Then there’s the ever-present question… to PhD or not to PhD?

Honestly, I can’t answer that for sure right now. I mean, it’d be pretty sweet to be Dr. W., but how does that fit in with moving, husband getting out of the Army (or staying in???), and starting a family? And not to mention the expense, unless I’m lucky enough to get an associateship or scholarship or whatever they call them up there in the rafters of higher ed. Anyway. We can cross that bridge later.

When I’m working towards a goal, my mind becomes a single track and sometimes it’s hard for me to see (or care) about other things that are going on. However, so far I’ve been able to balance life at home and life on campus. Because this type of busyness isn’t usually emotionally draining or downright frustrating, I still have energy to work out (occasionally) and keep the house clean. My husband would tell you that I’m much more fun to live with that when I was working at, say, Sylvan. I’ve just felt so blessed and thankful and joyful.

Nothing beats a good run

And it felt great. After sitting and reading at Starbucks this afternoon, we came home and I just felt like running. (Think Forrest Gump.) I hadn’t run in three weeks! That’s the longest I’ve gone since probably Bataan in March. I ran a neighborhood loop of 3.27 miles.

First mile: 11:32. I dodged water puddles the size of Lake Michigan, because here in El Paso they don’t believe in storm drains. I didn’t know what to expect, but I felt pretty good…

Second mile: 11:34. Still felt good. Kept a steady pace. Honestly I didn’t care what it was since I needed any cardio exercise. ANY. I came around a corner and had the mountains and clouds in panoramic view.

Third mile: 10:17. THIS. FELT. AWESOME. I was totally enjoying Coldplay on my Google Play app, the breeze, the 70* weather (!!!!!) and not having to slather on sunscreen and don my sunglasses.

Last .27 of a mile: 2:38. Not bad! I controlled my form and my breathing and brought it home. Literally.

After three weeks of almost no exercise, my body was craving this. Lord knows I’ve “carbed up” quite enough….

 

 

First impressions

I’ve been a grad student for all of three days, and I’m five days behind everyone else since I was gone for a week. This week has felt so looooong! I’ve been to all my classes and met all my professors (all two of them, I have one for two classes) and so far I’m happy. I’m taking a full course load: Principles of Linguistic Analysis, Semantics, and Second Language Teaching. Even though I complained pretty much 100% of the time about that silly English Syntax class this summer, I am so glad I took it. I’m also glad I took an intro to linguistics class at Bradley because they both prepared me for this semester. I’m jumping on the flash cards right away to review the basics.

The Second Language Teaching class is one I should have had at Bradley but didn’t. Looking back, the foreign language ed program was lacking… a LOT. I took education classes, and Spanish classes (mostly literature), but only one class bridged the gap. Barely. I learned next to nothing about second language acquisition or pedagogical theories. I’m not exaggerating. Everything I learned about how to teach Spanish I learned in student teaching.

UTEP itself is HUGE, although I know not as big as other state universities, and I have to park out in the boondocks. I got a parking ticket already, whoops! I knew better… At least I get my exercise walking around! Most of the people in my classes, one of my professors, and my fellow tutor/TA speak English as their second language. Already this week I’ve met people from Turkey, Ukraine and Mexico.

Speaking of other countries, it’s been confirmed to me that this degree will open up so many doors. In some countries, I can be a college professor with just an MA, and if I take the right classes within my degree I can get a TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages) certificate. I may or may not have already been browsing a linguist job database and there are positions open on pretty much every continent. Obviously I can’t take a job wherever I want until Aaron gets out of the Army, but I do believe God’s put a desire in our hearts to live in a foreign country someday, working or doing missions. I just hope that day isn’t farther away than I’d like it to be…

You have not because you ask not

For the past week and a half, I haven’t been able to get this little bit of biblical wisdom out of my head. I didn’t even know what book it was in, but I knew it’d been planted in my heart for a reason. (Now I know it’s James 4:2.)

It’s simple. We’re too afraid to ask God for something big because you know, HE MIGHT SAY NO. Gasp! No way! That’s the worst that could happen???

I want to be bold and ask of the Lord in confidence and faith. I want my life to be more than what it is. A week in the mountains of Honduras was just what I needed… to detox from Facebook, worrying what other people think, being glued to the scale and the television and the bank account. I needed to see things from a different perspective, that there’s a peaceful and bold way to live life that encompasses much more than my living room (which by the way is perfect the way it is; we can’t take fancy furnishings to heaven anyway!).

You have not because you ask not.

Wow. I complain about not having a heart for the nations… when I haven’t even asked. I complain about my laziness and complacency, when I haven’t even asked for it to be taken from me. I complain about silly, dumb, TRITE things that people say on Facebook, when I haven’t even spent time in prayer and Bible study for the day, when those things that people say don’t even matter.

It’s time to live life dramatically, purposefully, peacefully, with no worries or fears. It may sound like a tall order, but I will have because I will ask.