Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

With just five minutes left in 2010, I would like to take a moment to wish all of our friends and family a very happy new year. We wish you all the best in 2011.

God speed as the new year is upon us.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Just what is the real meaning of Christmas?

So, here we are, six days away from the big day. It seems that this year, I have heard more and more people complain that they can't wait for Christmas to be over. I know that this season has become very hectic with all of the parties and shopping and doings and goings, but is it really that different from any number of other weekends throughout the year?

Honestly, I don't think that it is. I think that it has just become fashionable to dis Christmas.

But beyond that, I think there are deeper issues. Even the most adamant shopper among us would be hard pressed to say that presents are the meaning of Christmas. There are those who would claim the holiday as a time to focus on family and friends, but then, we should change the name to Friendsmas or Kinsmas. No, as the name implies, Christmas is about the Christ. We have all seen the motto knit on a Christmas sweater, "Jesus is the reason for the season".

But as I think about it, I wonder if even then, We are not getting the whole meaning of Christmas. Is it really all about the birth of Jesus, or is there something more? I think that there is.

The baby Jesus came to earth for a reason. Even as a baby there was a purpose to His coming. Unlike you or me, Jesus' never had to ask what He wanted to do with His life. Thousands of years before he was born, circumstances were set in motion that would determine His life on earth. He came as the savior, not a mentor, a teacher or a good example. He did not even come as a savior, he came as THE savior. The only one, ever. He came to die on the cross and redeem all of humanity. I think that is the meaning of Christmas, that God Himself came to earth in the form of a helpless baby, with the intent purpose of saving you and I from the mess we have made of our lives.

When you look at Christmas in that light, it is a pretty amazing holiday with a rather impressive meaning. I hope that maybe, this Christmas, as you hustle through the maze of shopping centers and sweat through the cooking of your holiday meals, that you will stop and contemplate what Christmas is all about. Is it about friends, family, a the birth of a little baby, or is it the beginning of the most amazing plan ever, designed by the Maker of Heaven and Earth Himself, to restore you and I to an amazing relationship with Him.

Well, regardless as the rest of you fly through the season, stressing over what to get Uncle Herbert or trying to arange the table so the Aunt Merfurd doesn't have to sit next to Uncle Boobert's twenty year old girlfriend, I am going to do my best to show my world what the real reason the season is.

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 17, 2010

Tenure... Or sixure, actually sevenure. But who's counting

Me, that's who.

Do you remember what you were doing in August of 2005? Personally, I had just given notice at work that I would be leaving within a week. I put our house on the market and it sold in under 24 hours. Kerri and the kids had left town a week ahead of me, and I was supposed to clear out the house and close up shop in El Paso, Texas.

For some time I had been seeking a job with a little more meaning than I had found in the commercial real estate industry. It seems I had found out about one such possibility located in a little pecan tree covered town on the high desert of Southeastern New Mexico. Here, nestled along the Pecos river, at a branch campus of New Mexico State University they were starting up a new film and animation program and they needed an instructor. I had interviewed and they liked me, so now in the period of just under two weeks, I was going to be standing in front of 25 big scary college students, armed with nothing more than a syllabus and something called a rubric. (No, I was not the most attentive college student, I don't remember syllabi and rubrics were definitely foreign to me)

That was six years ago. Six... Academic years ago. New years day for me is now August 13 or 14 when school starts each fall. Every job has it's important dates. For college faculty, its the three and six year mark. At three years you apply for promotion from instructor to assistant professor and then three years later you apply for associate professor and at the same time, you are eligible for tenure. That is where I am today, or at least that is where I was until 11:58AM MST, when I finished the three binders each three inches thick and filled to the brim with the totality of my activity over the last six years. As I set it on the VP's desk, I had hoped to hear a chorus of hallelujahs or something spectacular, but I heard nothing but the dull thud of my binders as they plunked onto the desk. Afterwards, I turned and walked back to my office, where I spent the remainder of the day filling out reports on student performance and assessment (and playing a game or two of Deer Hunter 3D on the iPad). Now here it is at ten o'clock at night and it still hasn't really sunk in that I have just completed what is probably the most important document of a faculty members career. I guess knowing that I will have to wait until Spring to find out the results of the committee, dampens things a bit, but I had kind of hoped for the chorus thing to happen.

It is a relief to have that turned in, to be sure. I will not know if tenure has been granted until May at the earliest. The packets need to be reviewed by our local Promotion and Tenure committee and then sent to Las Cruces to be reviewed again by the main campus. Then they will tell our president, who I imagine will in turn, tell me. I hope.

Tenure is not a sure thing, and the denial of it means that I receive a one year terminal contract and then am out of a job. While the kind of job security found as a faculty member is unheard of in the corporate world, it is still a bit unnerving to think that I could be forced to look for work if they don't like this one document. It would mean uprooting my family, pulling the kids from school and selling the little house that inspired the name of this blog.

So, this Christmas, if you are wondering what to get me, if you are seeking that perfect gift and money is no object*, what I really want more than anything else in the whole wide world, would be a prayer or maybe two for favor in the eyes of the Promotion and Tenure committee and powers that be, both here and in Las Cruces.

(* in our house money really is no object. It is more of a concept, an idea, an abstract sort of thing that we can almost feel as it swooshes into our account on payday and then, just as fast it is gone.)