Friday, March 23, 2007

What a Smart Brother!

Tomorrow morning my brother, Isaac, will be leaving for Chicago to attend the annual American Chemical Society conference. At the conference he will be presenting his Senior Assignment. I was able to visit him on Tuesday while he presented his assignment to the Chemistry faculty at SIUE. Here are a few pictures of him and the project he's worked so hard on for the last two semesters...
Here he is giving a short presentation about his research to a group of freshman Chemistry students. The title of his research is: "Semi-Quantitative Powder X-ray Diffraction in an Instrumental Analysis Laboratory." Got that? Maybe if you read the abstract you might understand a little better:

"Although powder X-ray diffraction (PXRD) is widely used for qualitative analysis, quantitative analysis of powders is problematic due to many factors that affect line intensities. In an upper level instrumental analysis laboratory, students have successfully obtained semi-quantitative results using the MDI Jade with Easy-quant software package. Easy-quant is based on the technique of Reference-Intensity-Ratios (R-I-R) and peak profiling. In this hands-on experiment, students grind the powders to ensure adequate mixing and small particle size, pack the powders into sample holders, collect PXRD patterns on a Rigaku/MSC MiniFlex+ powder X-ray diffractometer, and analyze the data using Easy-quant. A first unknown is used as an introduction to the technique, and a second unknown challenges students to use deductive and scientific reasoning to identify the compounds and determine the weight percent of each phase. This experiment demonstrates the ease at which non-destructive methods can be used to quantify solid mixtures."

Easy as pie, right? Yeah.

Isaac is discussing his research with one of his Chemistry advisors, Dr. Shaw (who seems slightly bothered by the fact that I'm taking pictures of him).

Isaac is explaining his research to a classmate of mine, Andrew (in the blue), and a friend from Bible study, Natalie (in the pink). Meanwhile, Erica (another friend from Bible study) is anxiously waiting for her next opportunity to discuss her research with an advisor.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Spring Is Here

Young Lambs - John Clare

The spring is coming by a many signs;
The trays are up, the hedges broken down
That fenced the haystack, and the remnant shines
Like some old antique fragment weathered brown.
And where suns peep, in every sheltered place,
The little early buttercups unfold
A glittering star or two - till many trace
The edges of the blackthorn clumps in gold.
And then a little lamb bolts up behind
The hill, and wags his tail to meet the yoe;
And then another, sheltered from the wind,
Lies all his length as dead - and lets me go
Close by, and never stirs, but basking lies,
With legs stretched out as though he could not rise.

It's Time for Spring
Bobbi Katz

My sweater's tight and itchy.
My snow pants are too small.
Last week I lost a mitten.
I can't find my scarf at all!

My woolen socks have lost their toes.
My boots have lost their tread.
And I have lost the love I had
For words like "skis" and "sled"!

But . . . my fishing rod still fits.
And . . . my baseball bat still hits.
I have a kite that wants to fly.
So . . . winter, call it quits!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Ambassadors for Jesus Christ

I'm horrible at this blogging thing! Just when I promise myself that school isn't so busy and I will start posting more, I decide to wait nearly three weeks in between posts. I have a good excuse... I want to give everyone an ample amount of time to read the posts without feeling overwhelmed! How's that!?!?!

Anyway, on to the real reason for this post...

Last Thursday I was having somewhat of a "rough" day. After looking back, it really wasn't that bad. I have a tendency to be slightly dramatic at times. Regardless, I had a HUGE midterm Thursday night that I was moderately worried about. So I was in the middle of having a pity party for myself when the Lord completely stepped in and took control. As I was walking across campus I spotted a dear friend whom I hadn't seen in several weeks. I got very excited and rushed right over to say 'hello.' We sat and chatted together for a good long while. It was great! We were able to catch up on things and have an encouraging conversation.

Feeling much better about the day, I still had to get some studying done. Finally, at 8:30 p.m. my group entered the room for our midterm. Praise the Lord it wasn't as bad as I feared. All the time I spent worried and in a bad mood was in vain. You think I would have figured that out by now, right? I mean, are things ever as bad as we conjure them up to be? (Php 4:6-7 "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.") Anyway, when the midterm was over, I felt a great desire to go to Baptist Student Ministries here on campus. Since living at home, I haven't been going to the bible studies that I was involved in while living on campus. I do miss them and miss my brothers and sisters in Christ that I've met through the groups. It was great to sing praises to the God that had once again mercifully gotten me through the day. It was great to hear the Truth spoken in the same lecture hall that holds secular lessons on a daily basis. It was great to fellowship with some dear friends.

The message on Thursday night was about being an ambassador for Jesus Christ. Isn't it amazing how the Lord works sometimes? Earlier that very same week I had been meditating on the Word and thinking about how poorly I represent Christ in my daily life. I mean, I read my Bible every morning and night, I pray before meals, I don't curse when someone cuts me off on the interstate. Isn't that enough?
Let me handle this answer...NO! As I was sitting in that lecture hall Thursday night, the Lord spoke to my heart and it was clear to me. I need to be representing Christ in EVERYTHING I do! That means, well, EVERYTHING!!! The way I drive my car, the music I listen to, the way I treat the cashier at Walmart, the way I talk to my classmates, the way I approach my schoolwork, the way I speak to my friends...I need to be showing the fruits of the Spirit in ALL of these things. (Mt 7:16 "Ye shall know them by their fruits.")

Apparently hearing this once wasn't enough... Fast-forward to Saturday afternoon: I'm visiting Pleasant Grove PBC in Independence, MO. In the afternoon, one of the elders preaches on the subject of....(Can you guess!?!?!)...yep, being ambassadors for Christ! Hello, Lydia, can you get this through your head!? This is for real. The Lord is serious about teaching me this lesson and making me take heed to His Word.

As ambassadors, we are serving a higher authority in a foreign country. Just as we expect the United States Ambassadors to France, England, or Japan to uphold and represent the values we treasure in our country, the Lord expects even more from us. Are we upholding and representing the values Christ treasures? Are we representing love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance? I'm not going to answer for you, but I can adequately evaluate my own performance. And I know that I fall so incredibly short of this expectation. Praise God for His grace and mercy that I am so undeserving of!

I pray that with each new day I might become better at this job. I don't need to put on a badge everyday to let everyone know that I'm an ambassador for the Lord Jesus Christ. More importantly, I need to put on the armor of God every morning when I wake up. I don't need Mr. Bodyguard to escort me around in this foreign country. I have the greatest Bodyguard by my side, protecting me and guiding my every step.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Praise You In This Storm

As I just finished explaining in my post about returning to the blogging world (which you will probably read after this one....), the past month has been filled with many challenges, battles, emotional highs, emotional lows, but most importantly....many blessings.

I was driving to school this afternoon in the midst of terrible winds. I started to reflect on what seemed like a constant storm through the past few weeks. The hard winds tried with all their might to blow me off my path. The rain tried to drench me in doubt and limit my visibility. The thunder was loud, but couldn't cover the voice of God. Do you know what one of the most beautiful parts of a storm is? Seeing the rays of sun gleaming from behind ominous clouds. Praise God for the light when times seem dark and stormy. Just as when He rebuked the winds and calmed the seas, Jesus whispers "peace, be still" in the midst of our storms.

During my time of reflection, I came up with a few things I want to share with you about what I've learned in the past few weeks. I know you aren't interested in the papers I've written or the tests I've studied for, so I'll spare you that information. Instead, I'll share the more important lessons the Lord has taught me or reminded me of these past few weeks:

1) Nothing is too big for God to handle. Pretty self-explanatory, right?

2) God has incredible ways of speaking to my heart. Sermons, conversations, messages on the radio, songs, the Word...God uses them to teach lessons and make His presence known.

3) Friends are amazing. Friends who pray for you are even more amazing and such a blessing!

And finally...

4) "It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:22-23)

I praise God for the mercy and grace He sheds upon us each day. This week alone I have come to a greater understanding of my incredible need for Him each and every second of my life. I know for a fact that I could not have gotten through this week without the constant presence of the Lord by my side. I am humbled and so very thankful for my Merciful, Graceful, Wonderful and Precious Friend.

I'll leave you tonight with a few words from a good song...

Praise You In This Storm
By Casting Crowns

I was sure by now, that You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away,
stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen
and it's still raining
as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away.

And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to You
and raised me up again
my strength is almost gone
how can I carry on if I can't find You
and as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands
and praise the God who gives and takes away

I lift my eyes unto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the maker of heaven and earth

And Now Back to the Show...

I'm back!

Sorry for the long delay, folks. I've spent the last month drowned in homework, tests, papers, sewing projects, you name it. But now it's Spring Break, so the chaos is due to subside for a season. (I might be wrong on this one, but last time I checked Spring doesn't start until around March 20th!?!?! Regardless, I'm ever-so-thankful for the break!)