boon-dog-gle: (noun) work of little or no value done merely to keep or look busy.
free: (adjective) provided without, or not subject to, a charge or payment.



My computer is so dang slow that yesterday I finally decided to reinstall all the software--from the "Toshiba Recovery and Applications/Drivers CD" on up to "DD Tournament Poker" and so forth. A friend said this might help with the problem. Maybe some of you who know something about computers are cringing at the futility of such a move, or maybe you're bobbing your head up and down in affirmation of the widom of the gambit. In any case, I'm in the process of reinstalling "Windows XP Service Pack 2", which the Microsoft Update page tells me will take 11 hours 11 minutes at my connection speed. So, I have some time to update you on what is going on in my world.

I know it's a bit lame that most of my recent posts have been the random links, but life gets in the way of good intentions sometimes. So, the best I can offer is my hope that I'll be making more "real" posts in the near future. "What have I been so busy with?" you ask. (I imagine.) Well, working backwards...

My mom was in town visiting over the holiday weekend. We had a good time. She treated Suzanne and me to several meals and a movie, and treated me to two rounds of golf. I haven't been able to play much since I moved to St. Louis, and I miss it. I used to be pretty good--not real good, but better than your average weekend hacker. Now, I'm your average weekend hacker. I don't play because my source of funding for golf lives 8 hours away by car. My mom is always ready and willing to play golf, and for her favorite son she's also willing to pick up the tab.

I've been working a lot. I still work the dreadful night job at UPS. I used to be a training supervisor, training new employees how to do the job. But, a few months ago they made me an area supervisor, so now I'm responsible for overseeing the loading of several trailers to different destinations. It's much more stressful, and for a while I contemplated throwing in the towel, even without having alternative employment. I was in charge of an area that was wracked with interminable problems that could not be overcome despite my best efforts. I don't claim to be the best supervisor in the world, but the area had problems before I started, while I was there, and it has problems now that I've been moved to another area. There is an easy way to fix it, but I didn't have the authority to make it happen and the company wasn't interested (apparently) in making it happen either. Anyway, I'm in charge of a different area now. The job still sucks--but at least now it sucks with the force of a Shop-Vac instead of a black hole. I'm also working as a transcription editor during the day. I finished a big project a couple of weeks ago that I was putting a lot of time, and little sleep, into. And I'm gearing up to start another one tomorrow. That gig's not so bad. Actually, since I'm editing transcriptions of seminary classes for Covenant Worldwide, I'm even learning a thing or two.

Last week I was also working for/with my friend Jim and his family who are starting a ministry in one of the poorest urban neighborhoods in St. Louis. More than Carpentry Christian Minsitry is going to be a really amazing outreach to people who are often considered unemployable for one (or multiple) reason(s) or another. Jim is a carpenter by trade, and he is going to share his knowledge with folks in that urban neighborhood. There are a number of good ideas wrapped up in this ministry. First, the people who benefit from it will have jobs, doing carpentry, for which they will be paid. That is a big improvement from many "job training" programs that merely teach people how to be punctual or dress appropriately for work or whatever. Those are fine things, even important, but they don't put food on the table in the mean time. Second, they will be learning a skill, not just how to pull a lever or push a button on a machine, and they will be learning how to be craftsmen. As image-bearers of God, people are meant to make things--whether objects or ideas--that are fine and quality and beautiful. Third, they will be mentored and discipled along with learning their skills. Fourth, Jim and his family are moving into the community in which they are going to minister, so they will be part of the people and community they are serving. They will not be (at least not for long) viewed as outsiders who are coming one day with a handout and may not be back the next day. Well, like I said, I was working for/with Jim and I was helping him prepare the building and property he bought in Welleston, which needs a lot of work. He finally moved his actual carpentry shop into the building about a month ago. But, the plans are to turn part of the 2nd floor of the building (which has 10,000 sq. ft. on each floor + the basement) into a loft apartment for him and his family to live in. So last week was spent mainly in clearing out that space. It was four days of hard, dirty work (on top of--or underneath, I don't know which--four nights of hard, dirty work at my regular job), but it was satisfying and even fun. Jim's saying is, "Fun is an attitude, not an activity." I don't know if I'd want to hear that every day, but it worked last week.

Before that, we got the good news that we are totally licensed and able to become foster parents. Our new house was deemed safe and liveable, and we said we were ready to move forward. At this point, they could call us at any time with a potential child for our home. It sounds like it will likely be around the middle of this month or later. We are very excited, and anxious. Sometimes it seems like such a real, concrete possibility, and sometimes it seems very fantastic, like something you read about or see on t.v. but you know doesn't really happen in the world. But, it's going to happen. I know that. And I'm glad. I haven't written a whole lot about foster parenting, but I'll probably start doing so fairly frequently. Here's something I wrote earlier about it, if you're interested.

A few of you know about this final update, but many of you don't. For the time being I am not going to pursue a Ph.D. at Saint Louis University, or anywhere else for that matter. I was denied an assistantship for the second straight year. Yes, there are other possible sources of funding, but after discussing various options with Suzanne, I've decided to take another path. Suzanne has been great, a real "help-mate". I was pretty well emotionally crushed when I found out the news, and though she was pretty well crushed for/with me, she was a comfort. I know I have a great wife, and that puts any disappointments that come my way in perspective. Anyway, the new plan is for me to follow in Suzanne's footsteps and become a librarian. I can get a Master of Library and Information Science degree in two years. The benefits of such a move are: 1)I can stay in academia, 2)those two years will cost about half as much as one year of student loans for the Ph.D., 3)I will be in the workforce 3-4 years sooner, 4)we'll be able to start making headway on our debts sooner, 5)I'll feel more free to start growing our family sooner (which, I admit, is not the same thing as being more free, but feelings are real nonetheless). The main reason I wanted to get a Ph.D. (besides legitimizing the demand for you to call me "Doctor") was so that I could teach. There is some opportunity for that with the MLS degree, though, I admit, much less. But, there is nothing that says I cannot pursue a Ph.D. in theology or library science or whatever in the future. Who knows? Honestly, yes, I still have feelings of disappointment. But, I also have a lot of positive anticipation for this new pursuit. Plus, with all the papers I proofread for Suzanne while she was in grad school, I've got a leg up on some of the homework.


Val said...

Nick...found your site through your comment on Corrin's. Glad to get an update (and continue to do so) of your life. Will be praying, now, about your change in career paths. God sure does give us surprises, eh?

nickg said...

Val, (I assume Mrs. Martin?)

Good to hear from you.

Val said...

One and the same...I'm anxious for you all to (finally) get a foster child. Brian works here at a home for boys aged 8-17 that are waiting to get placed in homes and sees daily how much better a family-life would be for them than the group home setting. How much better, then, to start out there as a baby in the arms of a Gleason!

G.K. Chesterton...

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people."