Thursday, January 29, 2009

Taking Some Time Off

I will be taking some much needed time off from blogging.

I've thought and prayed about these for the past few days and I've finally decided that it's best to take some time off.

I really enjoying blogging. I love reading other ladies' blogs and writing on my own blog. I do not write on my blog nearly as much as I read your blogs. Therefore, you may not miss me being at my blog, but you may not see my comments on yours for a little bit.

I really dislike feeling disconnected from you, but it is a must. Last night I had my final breakdown, emotional moment of "I've going in circles and have no time for anything!" My poor husband, he does not yet know how to handle these intense crying episodes. I generally don't cry...as I try to hold it all in, but when I do...WATCH OUT! lol

Here is the short list of things I need to get done before I will begin blogging (reading and writing on Blogger) again:

1) Finish writing the 130 thank-you notes that remain from my "new town" shower.
2) Catch up on all of the laundry and ironing that has been piling up.
3) Finish creating jewelry for salon #1 inventory.
4) Clean and organize our home office.
5) Establish a workout plan and make a habit to follow it.
6) Be in bed by 10:30 (this will come by force turned habit :D )
7) Continue my weekday streak of getting up by 6 and have time with God before starting
my day.
8) Catch up with family and friends via telephone.
9) Strive to "make my house a home" that my husband feels stress-free and cozy in.
10) Spend quality time with my favorite person in the world, my sweet husband, Jonathan.

I will miss you all. Please remember, if I haven't been commenting on your blog for while....it's not you.....it's me :D I will be back before you know it with some interesting posts and a GIVEAWAY! I'm so excited!

May the Lord be honored in this time.

Speaking of my sweet husband......

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Homeschooling Essay: Part 2

Part 2 of "Home Schooling Benefits and Stereotyping"

Although an anti-homeschooler might come to light on what the benefits of home schooling are, there is still much stereotyping that people cannot seem to get past in order to accept home schooling as being a successful means for education. Dr. Ray put it wonderfully in his article “Homeschoolers on to College: What Research Shows Us.” He states, “Recognize that you may hold biases and prejudices you do not recognize. After all, about five American generations have been attending age-segregated, institutional places of learning for 12 years of our lives…” Ray concludes that the very persons reading his article probably have spent 16 years in public institutions (Ray 2004). He is right on target because, in general, people do not like things they are unfamiliar with. If it is different, then the people who practice it must be different, leading to negative stereotypes.

One common stereotype is that children who are home schooled are unsocialized. If being socialized means that one must spend seven hours a day with twenty-five other students at his or her same maturity level, then I would say, yes, home schooled children are unsocialized, but that’s not what that “unsocialized” means. In fact, what age group one socializes with is irrelevant in determining if one is socialized or not. Home schooling children tend to spend more time with people of all different ages. Patricia Lines states that most participate in church groups, clubs, and associations. Many volunteer within their communities. Lines also includes that parents who home school their children are very involved in politics, volunteering, and attending public meetings and events (Lines 2001). Linda Montgomery (1989) adds in Ray’s article that home schoolers are also involved in music lessons, sports, jobs, and other activities. She feels that home schooling nurtures leadership just as well, if not better, than the conventional system, that being public schooling (Ray 2004).

Home schoolers not only face the stereotype of being unsocialized, but also face the question “are you really educated?” Many people believe that a student not taught by a college graduate cannot be successful academically. Researches show that children in home school families with low income and with parents with little education, on average score higher than state-school averages (Ray 2000, 2004). Keeping in mind that state-schools are being taught by professionals, and home school students are often not taught by professionals, the results from this study go against the belief that students educated by their low-educated parents are set up for failure.

Not only did these researchers find results defying the stereotype, but ACT and SAT scores also illustrated these same results defying the stereotype. A study done by researchers Galloway (1998), Gray (1998), and Jenkins (1998) found that the average first-year GPAs, credits earned in the first year, ACT Composite test scores, and ACT English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science and Reasoning test scores were all higher than traditional high school graduates (Jones and Gloeckner, 2004). The three studies also found that those educated at home performed as well or better than institutional-school graduates at college level. As it turns out, studies actually prove those who oppose home schooling based on academic concerns are wrong.

Now that we have established that home schooled students perform just as well as traditionally schooled students academically, what about the stereotype that home schoolers are emotionally unsound. Numerous studies show that home schooled students are developing very well emotionally and psychologically. The idea that home schooled students are weird is often wrongly prejudging a home schooled student. If one is said to be weird, who is he or she being compared to that makes them weird? After all, what one person thinks is normal, another thinks is weird and vise versa. In our country, we encourage children to be themselves, yet when it comes to home schooling we automatically want to isolate them and say, “Oh that’s right, you were home schooled.”

Meredith, a 14-year old in Susannah Sheffer’s (1995) study, as reported by Ray (2004) said:

I was worried that I would become a typical teenager if I went to school,” and “I think
that people would have seen school as an opportunity for me to ‘be like everyone else.’
But I didn’t want to be like everybody else. (p. 7)


For the most part, home schooling students do have self-confidence and the desire to strive to develop and grow as a person. J. Gary Knowles found that adults that were home-educated tended to be involved in entrepreneurial and professional businesses. The home schooling students he studied were very independent and strongly emphasized the importance of family life (Ray 2004). There is so much concern with whether or not students who are home schooled can actually take on the real world. Responsibility often comes from being around the home and taking on personal responsibilities that are necessary in keeping a home functioning properly.

To say that all home schoolers will fall short academically, socially, emotionally and psychologically, is quite arbitrary. With the growing number of students being home-educated, it is very important for people to stop prejudging home schooled students and look at the facts. Fighting the stereotypes of home schoolers should constantly be on the minds of parents who home school. Parents need to nurture and grow their children into self-confident individuals with values that are important to them. To home school a child means that one gets to work closely with his or her child and watch them grow, learn, and develop into a wonderful contribution to this world. Home schooling a child also means being set apart and often ridiculed. However, to see the “ah-ha” effect on your child’s face, and to see that they “get” something and they will grow from that, is very rewarding. The benefits are numerous, but to see those benefits, the stereotypes must be eliminated.



Bibliography*
Ensigh, Jacque (April 1998). Defying the Stereotypes of Special Education: Homeschool
Students. Southern Connecticut University: American Educational Research Association, 4-8

Jones, Dr. Paul and Gloeckener, Dr. Gene (Spring 2004). First-Year College Performance: A
Study of Home School Graduates and Traditional School Graduates. The Journal of College
and Admission, 17-19.

Lines, Patricia M. (2001). Homeschooling. Eric Development Team, 1-7. Eugene, OR: Eric
Clearinghouse on Educational Management.

Ray, Dr. Brian D. (Fall 2004). Homeschoolers Onto College: What Research Shows Us. The
Journal of College Admission, 5-10.

Please excuse my Bibliography formatting, it's hard to fix in Blogger :D

Friday, January 23, 2009

Homeschooling Essay: Part 1

For one of my Education courses at the state university I attended, I wrote an essay defending "Homeschooling." I'd like to share this essay with you. I'm going to divide it into a couple of parts, since it is pretty long. Feel free to leave comments for discussion!
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Home Schooling: The Benefits and Fighting the Stereotypes

Mention the word “home schooling” and one will get a lot of eye-rolling and under-breath laughs. “Home schooling” is a dirty word. Do not say it, do not even think about it, and everyone gets along wonderfully. What is so wrong with the word “home schooling?” An average middle-school child can mouth every “cuss” word at length and merely get a shoulder shrug from a nearby adult. However, mention the idea of home schooling and people get nervous. If a pro-home schooler can get a word in edgewise, perhaps one who opposes it can be enlightened to its benefits while being persuaded away from the stereotypes that haunt the home schooling organization as a whole.

In an educational society that emphasizes multiculturalism and accepting others without prejudice, we are overtly against parents educating their children in their homes, even well organized parents with successful home schooling students. Even as this paper was being discussed verbally between myself and classmates, many of my classmates assumed that my position would be anti-home school. Upon stating my topic for my paper, my statement was met by “oh, yeahs,” as if saying, slam it (the idea of home schooling)! To their dismay, my confident smile was met with their dropped-faces to suggest, “you’ve got to be kidding me? You’re in favor?”

The average student in the education department would be quick to admit that the proper choice for education is public or private schooling. Professors in the education department will be honest and admit that the public education system in the United States is in serious trouble, not for closing, but in trouble with properly succeeding to educate. In fact, due to this concern of students succeeding, the No Child Left Behind Act has been put into play as a way of boosting the education system. If there is not an increase in student productively, the NCLB Act will see to it that money given to the school is stopped. Suddenly administrators are seeing dollar signs and scramble to make the best possible decisions in effort to stretch their budgets.

One has to question where the money is going and how we have lost sight of educating students without the main concern being money. Meanwhile, students in the public education system are being cheated out of learning some amazing things. This brings me to the first benefit of home schooling, if parents do not have $10,000 per child, per year, they can still afford to educate their children. As public education educates more and more children the tax payers pay more and more money to go to an unknown source. Parents who home school know exactly how much money goes into their children’s education to provide them with the best resources possible.

A study was done by Brian D. Ray in 2004 which concluded that the total annual household income for home schooling families was eighteen percent, making under $25,000; forty-four percent making $25,000 to $49,000; twenty-five percent making $50,000 to $74,000 , and thirteen percent making $75,000 or more (Ray, 2004). If the average home schooling household makes an annual $25,000 to $49,000, the parents are going to be aware of how their educational dollars are spent. This should help enforce the need for every resource possible to be used to better educate the children. It does not work that way though.

Let us put this into perspective: If the government gives $10,000 per student, per year, then a family with three children should get an extra $30,000 per year. What could a family of three making under $49,000 do with an extra $30,000 a year? A lot! Even though parents who home school never see the kind of money public schools are rewarded, their resources far exceed the public school system. The home schooling student gets immediate benefits when money is put into the educational resources, as opposed the public educated students who rarely sees the thousands of dollars the school receives on their behalf. Even parents who fit into the lower percentage, making under $25,000, take advantage of the resources available including libraries, museums, colleges, parks, churches, local businesses, and free literature materials (Lines, 2001).

Another benefit of home schooling is curriculum enrichment. Imagine the things a teacher can do with her class if only she had more time with the students without a set of rules on what to test; notably, the standardized test. A teacher with time to take her students outside for science, or to a museum for history would help stop boredom in its tracks while engaging the students in discussion and deep interest; that is what home schooling parents get to do. Without a set schedule, parents can involve children’s touch and sights into the lessons. For example, taking children outside when discussing the seasons and involves children in the change of nature helping them accept change as it takes place. As a child, I never liked Autumn; this season meant things were dying, which was very depressing. A parent could take their child outside and explain to them why Autumn exists. Sure leaves change color due to the absence of chlorophyll, but why? Children will always be asking, “why?” Parents can go beyond what a teacher takes time to teach and explain to their children about ideas and concepts not normally taken into depth. Leaves die so trees can rest in Winter due to less water and sunlight, helping them to be ready for Spring time again.

Teaching children at home offers flexibility not allowed in the schools so children can grow and learn at their own pace with far less limitations. Suppose a child is very advanced academically and strives for more information; or what about the child that is further behind academically and needs more time for understanding concepts? Parents can tailor to each of their children’s needs, unlike a teacher would be able to. Teachers have many limitations that they simply cannot avoid. Parents of publicly educated children are expected to make up for those limitations at home, or the child misses out completely. Often the latter most likely takes place. Parents are better able to use the proper learning styles that suit their children, rather the one-style-fits all method of teaching. Understanding a child’s learning style is important in insuring they get the most out of their education.

When it comes to children with disabilities, many public school teachers find themselves out of their comfort zones as schools move to all inclusive classrooms. My professor recently proposed the question, how many classes does an education graduate leave with that will prepare him or her to work in a classroom with a student with a learning disability? One is the answer. Suddenly a teacher goes from having “normal” students to having one with a learning disability: what happens then? The teacher will most likely have a hard time including the student and be more likely to fail to educate the student properly.

Unfortunately, a teacher might unknowingly present underachievement to a child in order to avoid challenge without even realizing he or she is doing so. However, when the parent is home schooling her child with a learning disability, it goes beyond statistics and learning on a conceived one-size-fits-all time table. However, the parent recognizes that her child is special and that for the child to make achievements at her own timing, that itself is rewarding and demonstrates success. Jacque Ensign wrote, “Defying the Stereotypes of Special Education: Home School Students.”

Ensign gives great examples in her work that wonderfully illustrates the benefits of a child with learning disabilities being home schooled. She contends (1998):

The hallmarks of the educational philosophies and pedagogies of the homeschoolers are: 1)focus on the whole child rather than primarily on the child’s disability or extreme ability, 2)Individualized attention, and 3)care, patience, and respect for the child to lead the teacher in both the timing and the content of what the child is ready to be taught. (p. 7-8)

This simply cannot take place within the public school system.

One of the biggest reasons parents choose to home school is for religious purposes. Parents who want a certain religion instilled into their child’s life should consider how public education plays a part in his or her religious experience. The negative implications would be more apparent given that approximately seven hours a day is spent with peers and authority with different religious backgrounds. While there is nothing wrong with working along side someone with a different religious background, if a parent is working to foster their child’s spiritually, time spent outside of that religion can be crucial. For example, I want my children to be brought up under strong Christian values. To teach my children about living a Christian life, that lifestyle would need to be nurtured under my close supervision, most would call this “sheltering”. This is another “dirty word”.


The next post will contain the "Sterotypes of Homeschooling" and the references.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A New President: Finding True Victory

Today our country has come a long way since the civil rights movement. I'm sure that many people never would have thought that a black man would become President in their lifetime. Today it has happened. Congratulations, President Obama.

Although today is a proud day for many, I am nervous about what the future of our country holds. "Change" is about to take a place. Still I cannot get out of my head the issues that mean the most to me....sanctity of HUMAN life and sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman.

I pray that the Lord would save President Obama. I pray today and every day that President Obama will find his true victory in Jesus Christ.

For the Christians that are reading this, if support President Obama or not....pray for his salvation. Don't be as concerned with the promises he has made to "change" things, than you are his salvation. President Obama needs the Lord....as we all do.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I Feel Old: My time to vent

Next month I will celebrate my 24th birthday. I know, I'm still a babe. However, I certainly don't feel young, I feel old, very old. I don't know exactly what it is. I just know that something needs to change.

All of my life I couldn't even mention "exercise" or "eating right" without someone piping up, "You're skinny enough, you don't need to exercise" or "You need to put some meat on those bones!"

Sigh. Did you know that it's hard being "skinny" sometimes? Please let me speak honestly here, I let you....now please let me.

I get tired of people looking at my plate and saying, "Is that all you're going to eat?" I like to get a little now and return later if I still feel hungry and get more. I don't look at other people's plates and say, "Oh my word, are you going to eat ALL of that?!?!"

I get tired of people (especially women) assuming I don't need to exercise because I am "skinny". Or that I don't need to eat right because I'm "thin" and can "eat whatever I want and not gain an ounce."

It's hard being "skinny" because others think that your life is just easier. I'm sure that overweight people get made fun of and are talked about much more. But please be aware, I've had my share of being talked about and poked at, especially in the ribs (which hurts).

I think the most common misconception is that people who are "skinny", men and women alike, are healthy. Did you know that even "skinny" people can drop dead of a heart attack?

The reason why I am writing all of this is to say that I'm going to change my unhealthy lifestyle, today.

I am tired of waking up feeling like I've been hit by a truck. I hate (strong word, but I think I can use it here) that I can't stretch without pulling something. Seriously, I have pulled muscles several times just by reaching in the back seat of my car, washing my back in the shower, or stretching my legs when I wake up in the morning. I have a constant pain in my rotator cuff that just won't go away......and I have.no.energy. Everyday I feel like I have run a marathon.

This is about to change. Onto the fun stuff!

Every Tuesday, I've going to have "Think Healthy Tuesday." A lot of people are jumping into "Think Thin Thursdays," I need my own version of this since I can hear it now.......

So anyways, every Tuesday I'm going to report back to you how I'm improved towards a healthy lifestyle.

My first plans are to:

Go to bed by 10, so I can get up easily at 7 (I'd eventually like to join the 6 o'clock club)
Eat breakfast every morning (a healthy one)
Drink water all day, limit to one "sweet" drink a day. I can drink milk anytime (Fat free).
Exercise three days a week for at least ten minutes each (I'm starting small so I'll stay with it).

Thank you for letting me vent. I need to tell my friends how I feel, I know you will understand AND help keep me accountable. I hope I didn't hurt anyone's feelings. E-mail me if I did, and we'll work it out :D I just really need some support right now :D

Let me know if you're interesting in joining in with me every Tuesday!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Honeymoon pictures Part 2!

Husband and Wife!
(By the way, I was determined that all throughout our honeymoon, we would take our own pictures of us together. Thank you, Camera Timer!)
The back of the beautiful historic hotel where we stayed our first night together!

Enjoying the hotel grounds before we left for Daytona.

What we woke up to every morning.

The condo consisted of three walls made up of windows. Beautiful!

Jonathan brought up my flowers from the car like this. The one of the left was my wedding bouquet. The one of the right was waiting on me at our honeymoon suite.

We thought we would spend a great deal of money here. We actually didn't :(
Our first day there was Election Day. I had knots in my stomach all day, especially when I saw signs like this. There are so many random/interesting things about this photo. I wasn't able to get the McCain campaigner in the picture. He and the Obama campaigner had been chatting. Isn't that sweet?
In 2005, when Jonathan and I met, we went to the mall and I took a crazy picture of him wearing a funny hat....it was customary that we do it again. :D
Being the "submissive" wife I am, :D, I had to have my crazy picture taken too :D
I expected this in Kentucky....but I guess anywhere in the South is fair game.
What I longed for in Daytona....time with my new husband and SLURPEES
(only available at 711's)!



More honeymoon photos to come!




Friday, January 09, 2009

Honeymoon pictures Part 1!

The beautiful trees at Fort Mantanza, St. Augustine. I loved these trees. This picture really does not capture the true beauty of these trees.

Me with the trees. (By the way, this is Jonathan's favorite shirt...he gave it to me, so I just had to wear it during our honeymoon :D)

Fort Mantanza....BEAUTIFUL!

The St. Augustine Lighthouse, in all her glory!


The VERY high spiral staircase. Look closely and you can follow it near the top!


The lighthouse "home". This is where the families who managed the lighthouse lived.

View from the top.
The beautiful bay from the top of the lighthouse. Notice the shadow of the lighthouse in the trees.

I wasn't so sure about being up there......

kinda frightened me....

....a little.

I discovered this gem in the museum....I loved it!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Like a Mutt....

Across from my office lives a dog. I don't know the dog's name, I just know he's a Mutt dog. You know, the kind of dog that has funny looking fur (the kind of dog that reminds you that brown and black STILL don't go good together)...and black all the way up his nose?

The dog lives at the feed and seed store across the street. I often wonder if he was dropped off and the store owners took him in, or if he belonged to them from the start.

I like to think that he "found" them, and they saw he could benefit them as a security dog. So, he wears a collar and runs up to greet customers. He stops sometimes and sniffs the chickens, and often makes sure the ponies are where they are suppose to be.

Often, VERY often, I look out my office window across the street to find Mutt dog, and see what he's into. This morning he did something that really made me think.

This morning, Mutt dog took off running towards the nearby gas station's garbage dumpster. He sniffed around the dumpster very happily, stuck his nose in some boxes.

It made me think, that dog probably lives a very happy life. He is good with people. He probably gets food when he wants it, and he gets a place to live at night. Why would he return to the garbage...maybe where he once got his meals.

But we are like Mutt dog. Mutt dog was saved from starvation and possibly death. So were we, as Christians.

Just like Mutt dog, we sometimes return to our past. If we are not careful, we find ourselves wanting, desiring, our past.

We are like the dog, we have security now....hope....food (God's word)...yet, we go back to that old sin....that garbage........

Why?

"As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly" Proverbs 26:11

Monday, January 05, 2009

5 Things I REALLY Enjoy!

Jennifer, from Her Southern Charm, tagged me....isn't that sweet?

Here are five of my "addictions" (or shall I say, things I REALLY enjoy):

1)Hot tea in the morning and at night
2)Checking my blog and Facebook for comments :D
3)Won Ton soup (hold the "won ton") from New China in town
4)Reading on the couch curled up in my favorite throw
5)Making jewelry

Friday, January 02, 2009

Yesterday was my birthday....I'm 9!

Actually, nine years ago yesterday, my life was set up for eternity with Jesus Christ...Hallelujah!

It was New Years 1999, I was ringing in the New Year in Atlanta, Georgia. This was the year of the Y2K fear. I was there with my friend's youth group for Youthlink 2000. A big New Years Conference featuring Christian bands, comedians and speakers. To me it was really the perfect way to ring in the New Year...celebrating with thousands of other youth my age.

Two days into the three day conference my friend, who had bought me along, confessed that she didn't have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I...was...shocked. I thought for sure she was a Christian. After all, she and I were both very involved in our youth groups, and we were really good little teenagers. I even went forward in church when I was nine.
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I remember my Sunday School teacher had prayed for me, and I thought she had made me "saved". So when I went forward the pastor of the church said aloud, "Who saved you?"

I started, "My Sunday...."

"That's right," he said, "Jesus saved you!"

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Walking through the parking lot of the hotel on the way to the nightly meeting in Atlanta everyone was embracing my friend and acting all giddy, but I held back...just taking it all in. She and I were the same....good girls....I thought.

I had arrived back in Kentucky (praise the Lord Y2K was hoax(?)) and had gotten to work cleaning my closet (my favorite pastime...no...really). It was a quite New Years evening and from inside my closet I felt the Holy Spirit speak to me. The Holy Spirit dealt with my heart and showed me that I had never committed my life to Christ...I was just being "good". I needed Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. I stopped what I was doing and stood in silence, I knew what I had to do, I had to answer His call.

I prayed to the Lord and confessed that I needed Him and that I was so lost without Him and that I had just been going through the motions. I begged God on my knees to forgive me and to change my life. I fell to the floor as a lost soul bound for Hell, and I stood to my feet as a new Creation....I was HIS! Praise the Lord, He saved me!
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In Summer 2005, I went to Daytona Beach with Campus Outreach and the Lord really dealt with my heart there. I was in my second year of college and had just broken up with my boyfriend back in Kentucky (praise the Lord for that, it was a bad relationship to be in). Although I was a Christian, I had really gotten away from the Lord. Once at Beach Project in Daytona, the Lord really started working on humbling me on how much I needed to depend on Him every day. He showed me that part of being a Christian was living my life to honor Him in all things, relationships, school, work....EVERYTHING. He showed me discernment and what the world around me was really like.

Once I got back from there, things took off. My pastor's wife and I became great friends and she began to mentor me. She showed me what a godly homemaker looked like. The Lord really used her to teach me many things, including things about myself, as we are so much alike.

Since 2000, God really has done amazing things in my life. I am so blessed, far more than I deserve, because HE saved me. I didn't save myself, I was lost, beaten and tormented by sin. But He choose me and gave me Life. Praise God.

Have you been living your life, calling yourself a Christian, but having never really made that commitment to Him? Do you think back on the days when you went "forward" at the church, but don't remember why? Maybe you remember someone tugging you, are urging you to go forward...it happens a lot. Do you REALLY know if you were to die right now, where you would spend eternity? Please know, you've done nothing on your own to get to Heaven. Going to church everyday of your life is not getting you there. If you're thinking, "I haven't drank, done drugs, or had sex....I'm good" is going to get you to Heaven...you need to confess to the Lord.

You must admit that you need Jesus Christ in your life. You need to believe that Jesus Christ is God's Son and that He died on the cross for you. Many people "love" God, but do you love His Son? You need to confess that you are a sinner and that only through Christ can you find, peace, joy, and forgiveness.

Please know, you may have it all, family, friends, money....but until you have Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior...you will not truly feel a purpose, ultimate security, or fulfillment in your life. I know that I really didn't. When I look back.....even though I was a "good" girl...there was no purpose, but making others happy, while I was left feeling empty.

I am so thankful that the Lord saved me. I don't deserve it. My heart is ugly at times. My attitude is nasty. But Christ gives me hope. I am new every morning because of Him.

Many times when I think upon my salvation through Christ Jesus, I think as Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, I am FREE at last!" Thank you Lord, for saving a wretch like me!