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Yes,  I am on vacation with my family in Mexico. We have lots of fun, soak up some sun and eat way too much food. But this is so much more than your typical “tropical drink with the fruit and umbrella” vacation.

Every two years, my home church Tri-County Church of Christ in Cushing, OK, sends several people to visit the Iglesia de Christo in Cancun. We, along with several other churches in Oklahoma, provide financial support to this congregation throughout the year. The best part about this arrangement is that every other summer we get to come spend time with our brothers and sisters in Cancun. We provide support, encouragement and lesson ideas but mostly just enjoy spending time with one another.

We buy food to take to smaller congregations in surrounding villages, teach classes and help invite people to services. That all seems really simple, but words just don’t do justice to what we do while we are here.

We just have so much fun and pictures are worth a thousand words, so I plan on posting pictures and letting you know what we are doing each day right here. Here’s just a few to start with!

Handing out invitations in the morning for evening church services.

"Abbie singing "I'm all wrapped up, tied up and tangled up in Jesus."

Assembly line to bag food to take to the village churches.

Jordy and I with our friend Weendii!

Daddy and Santi making friends, but Santi still seems reluctant.

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9780800732516Would I say that God has been working in my life lately? Yes, definitely. I feel like he has just been waiting for me to open the door, and now that he’s got his foot in he’s not leaving any time soon.

It has been a lot of little things like small epiphanies I have throughout the day, and little remarks that stick on my heart more than normal.

The most clear cut sign has most definietely been the impulse to purchase the book Glimpses of Heaven. I would never have picked up this book by chance, and I’m still not sure where the impulse to read it before all the other books I currently have on hand came from.

This wonderful little book was written by a former hospice nurse who wrote down the stories of her terminally ill patients. In each story, God helps the patient find peace before they pass on. It’s a wonderful book that really gave me hope and perspective on the life here and the life after.

I would also say it is not coincidence a good friend of mines father passed away after a tw0 year battle with cancer while I was in the middle of this book. The story of his passing could have come straight from the pages of this book, and it was a beautiful story.

Does any of this really mean anything? I don’t know. I do know that Glimpses of Heaven was a good, quick read,one that will be added to my permanent collection and one I can’t seem to get off my mind.

Will the blogosphere adhere to the same standards of objectivity, fairness and truth as traditional journalists?

Just one of the 25 big questions for the future of journalism; according to Scott Hepburn.

Personally I think this is one of the more important concerns facing the future of journalism. Anyone who has the most basic computer and Internet navigation skills can create their own blog. Journalists, or at least good ones, go through years of training.

Speaking as someone who has received training in both Journalism and the “blogosphere” I think I’m probably in a minority.  As a student of OSU’s School of Journalism and Broadcasting, I’ve received training in writing, classes in law and ethics of Journalism. I have also been fortunate enough to have professors who are interested and aware of the way journalism is changing today and therefore have been educated in the ways of blogging.

How do those bloggers who aren’t as fortunate as I am, get their lessons concerning the ethics of posting information? I realise that in today’s world of sharing information we have to have some level of trust in one another’s information, but how far do we go in trusting the honor’s system?

I don’t think that I will ever be able to trust just another user’s information as much as I can trust someones information who is backed by a long-standing organization. It’s just not the same level of professionalism. Professional journalists have to be trustworthy because they are held accountable by their employers and reputation. What holds bloggers accountable? I realise that most people’s own reputation as a trustworthy person is enough to hold them accountable, but what about for those who don’t care?

I think that if we are going to one day move to solely relying on bloggers over journalists, that there will be need to be some type of rating system that ranks more credible blogs over others. I’m not sure who would be in charge of doing so, maybe AP. In any case, there needs to be some system for separating the news and the noise.

It all began with MTV taping 7 people from all different walks of life who were thrown into living in the same house for a period of about 4 months. Now reality televison can be found on almost every network at some point in the day.

My question is are the relationships that we see on reality television real relationships or are they completely staged? Personally I don’t see why anyone would subject themselves to the reprecussions of having the entire country witness what they would normally do in just their private lives.

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I really began considering this as I watching one of my guilty pleasure shows, MTV’s  The City. This show consists of camara crews that follow around, announced of course, the shows main characters. This past week star Whitney Port’s boyfriend of a few short months JayLyon has had to move in with her due to a recent roommate crisis. But when Lyon’s ex-girlfriend is in town, camaras show him at a bar with her and them leaving together. We later find out that he was out with her all night, until 6 a.m. Now it isn’t the situation that really blows my mind, because this kind of thing happens every day. What does blow my mind is that Lyon knew he was being filmed and knew that at least after the season was over that Port would see the footage. So why on earth would you do something like this on camara, when you know that it is just convicting you? This is what causes me to think that there is no way that all of these reality tv shows that claim to show only the truth can be all that real. But I guess we’ll just have to take their word for it. You can watch the full espisode here for free.

As the social media and Internet presence continues to grow, it continues to change the way our world is working. First the Internet changed the way we searched for and collected information. It has changed the way we shop, the way we manage our money and funds, the way we receive our entertainment and the way we communicate with one another.

Initially the Internet was used more for communicating with friends and family in a social context. Users were still, for the most part, spectators in the realm of information on the Internet. With the growing use of cell phones, wi-fi, satellites and the combination of all of the above, everyone has the capability and access to be connected to everyone around the world all the time. Obviously this kind of connectivity is going to change trends, especially those relating to how we receive our information.

Mike Koehler, Multimedia Editor at OPUBCO, spoke to our social media class today about how the media is using these innovative social media tools in their coverage. The biggest discussion of the day was the use of twitter during the recent ice storm and tornadoes in the Oklahoma area. In both of the cases, people using twitter were able to give and receive information about the storms through the use of “hash tags” (#okice #OKstorms). Using these tools you can see what other people are posting about the storms, answer questions, follow different sources of media to get the information they are broadcasting, etc.. Koehler said that as they were following the storms people were able ask questions about specific areas, and they would go to that specific area to see how the weather was in that area. NewsOk has recieved national recognition because of its use of social media and interaction with the public in these instances. PRSA called it citizen journalism at its finest.

The lingering question is how will everyone make money using all these free tools? I’m sure someone will figure something out soon, so I’ll leave that one up to the “gurus”. Overall, Koehler thinks that these changing trends are positive. I think that the trends are changing so frequently there is no possible way anyone can predict what will happen in even the near future. I’m just trying to not get left behind, which I already feel because I don’t have a smart phone. (I think I may be the only person at OSU.)

You can follow Mike Koehler at www.twitter.com/mkokc

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If you know anything about what is currently popular to read, I’m sure you’ve heard of W.M. Paul Young’s “The Shack”.  The tagline is “Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity.” Descriptions and reviews said “It wrestles with the timeless question: Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?”

I was skeptical and hesitated to pick it up. I am not a fan of religious fiction, I think it is usually far fetched and often authors totally miss the point they were aiming for. But, who hasn’t wondered why there is tragedy and sadness if God has the power to stop it.  It was recommended to me by so many, that I figured I should read it.

I absolutlely think Young got it. This book tells a story that I believe readers can relate to. Young describes God and his intentions in such a way that you are forced to at least consider it to be truth. I can only have faith and hope God is the way Young interprets.

Even though it is a little far-fetched, just as most religious fiction is, it is worth the time it takes to read it. You’ll probably be surprised but I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Recently, I had to deactivate my facebook account because of a Recruitment Counseling position that requires me to be disaffiliate from my chapter and remain anonymous. Because facebook is my main tool of procrastination when doing homework or at work or basically anything else on-line, I’ve had to find other means of procrastinating. There is a great Web site that just has pictures of cats doing funny things with funny captions. While I can’t spend as much time looking at cat pictures as I can “creepin” people on facebook, it is still a great tool. Check it out. So funny. http://icanhascheezburger.com/

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