December it what I always call the end of the semester rush. It’s literally the most wonderful and stressful time of the year. At the time being, I find myself tying up all loose ends and finishing all of my submissions. Not new updates to really update here other than I am working on my thesis proposal, and my final self-assessment narrative. I look forward to the one-on-one counseling next week to conclude any final thoughts and questions I have. I look forward to closing out this Fall Semester as I anticipate my final semester as a graduate student (eeeekkkkk!) Lots of look forward to, and lots to come. Stay tuned :p
This week, taking a break from my literature review I drafted up my methodology section for my proposal. Using the guidelines I put together what I have below, hopefully it is okay. Looking forward to feedback on Tuesday’s night class:
For my thesis project, Dr. Zamora recommended employing the autoethnography methodology, a qualitative research approach favored by scholars interested in vividly describing and evoking the intricate tapestry of lived experiences. Autoethnography aims to weave compelling narratives that illuminate specific phenomena encountered in the research setting. When applied to a memoir study, this methodology facilitates a nuanced understanding of the author’s experiences, emotions, and the cultural influences shaping the narrative. Incorporating insights from literature reviews, encompassing works ranging from Emily Ratajkowski’s writings to Sylvia Plath, my scholarly and writer influences play a pivotal role in shaping my own work. These influences guide me as I curate and compose vignettes that collectively narrate my women’s experiences. In alignment with the autoethnography methodology, my reflections on personal experiences and motivations associated with exploring the theme of womanhood form a crucial foundation for my thesis. By infusing emotions linked to pivotal events and considering their intersection with the narrative and my personal identity, I establish a meaningful connection between this research methodology and my thesis. Autoethnography enables a harmonious integration of my personal experiences with relevant literature and theories. Delving into how scholars, writers, and researchers have approached similar themes related to my topic has proven invaluable. This exploration serves to position my memoir within the broader context of existing academic discourse, fostering a more profound engagement with the subject matter.
I think as of now, I’ve made a lot of progress. I do think my lit review is done (for now) since the semester is coming to a close and I do now have to work on putting my proposal together. For the lit review I followed the same format that I used in Dr. Nelson’s class last semester. I assume that is the same format I will use when it comes to submitting the entire proposal?
I did take a small break on writing the vignettes/essays. I plan on utilizing my winter break time to kind of get back in touch, focus, and write some more again. If I write anything right now, I feel like it will come off forced and therefore it won’t be as organic or as good as I want it to be. I wouldn’t say it’s a writers block, but I do have a block as of right now because of the end of the semester rush, and of course because of work. But I will get back to it, just need to find that right time again. I am constantly utilizing my notes app to write down ideas or writing that comes to my mind late at night or after driving. Can’t wait to get back to that part again.
Last week I took the time to finalize my outline. It’s still in a rough phase but this is my second time reviewing it. I feel it is good enough for me to start working on the Literature review now and figuring out how to piece this all together. Last semester in 5002 we worked on a Literature for our research proposal and I will be takin that approach as I am comfortable and familiar.
This week I am going to start working on my introduction section and really get a good strong thesis statement solidified. My main focuses with is thesis will be the integration of technology into early childhood education and the improvement of tech tools being used as well. this gives my research so clarity, but still keeps my main topics open to many sources I can choose from.
I have confirmed 5 solid sources that I can put into my annotated bibliography to start the process on that piece of the literature review. I have about 25 sources all together to sort through, and see what I would still need to to gather. I want to do that this week along with my introduction and the start of the annotated bibliography an keep me in a rhythm if I can do about 3-4 sources a week.
Overall I am very confident in the work I plan to present in this literature review and feel I just need to now start. the writing to allow my self enough time to thoroughly edit my work and really get the key details fully expressed. This process has been a but easier than I thought it would be as I have really taken time to get into my work and have used the 5 hour a week method of working on my thesis work. The biggest issue I am noticing is organization of the sources but I feel I will eliminate this as I start the annotated bibliography and I can have my sources in one place to refer to and access. I am excited to see my final result and how this work all comes together.
This might be a bit of a repeat, but I wanted to dive a little bit deeper into some of the topics I wrote about back in August on future seasons. With that post, I touched more on how the future and the dreams and fulfillment of desires God’s planted in us all start where we are right now. But what about the things we don’t see happening? Can we trust our own intuition and foresight to determine whether or not something is worth investing in right now?
I’d say that sometimes intuition like this makes sense– God gave it to us for a reason, after all. But here’s the catch: He also tells us explicitly not to lean on our own understanding.
I recently rewatched Hacksaw Ridge with my parents. The thought hardly occurred to me because of the sheer faith Andrew Garfield portrayed Desmond Doss to have— that I’m sure the real Desmond Doss did have,— but it occurs to me now in hindsight: did Doss really believe the whole time, with His whole heart, that he could survive World War II without a single weapon? Though the movie is little more than an adapted reenactment, Garfield (as Doss) still seemed to demonstrate a tinge of fear in his eyes– the doubt that he might not make it because he couldn’t see a way out with his own mind or two eyes. He was pressed with this very human understanding of how a soldier should operate when at war. He was given little else to remind him of why he chose to contribute to the war efforts other than his wife’s bible with a photo of her tucked inside. He was surrounded by human understanding while likely already wrestling his own. But his heart saw that way out, and that way through the atrocities of war unarmed was The Way.
See, I think we often get stuck in places God is trying to call us out of because we focus too much on our own foresight. I’ve been— I am— quite guilty of that. I can’t even tell you how many ideas for businesses, paintings, prints, sculptures, poems, essays, etc. swirl around my mind on a daily basis. I can tell you that the myriad of ideas narrows incredibly when considering the ones that come to any sort of fruition. Why? Because I doubt the idea. Because I doubt myself and my abilities. Because I doubt my resources. Because I doubt that the people around me actually want to help me out, or I doubt my worth to them. My foresight is clouded with doubt.
And ultimately all this doubt is rooted in the doubts I wrestle with almost daily about God— whether regarding His provision, sovereignty, or His very existence depends on the day, the season, etc. The point is that even I, as a believer in Jesus Christ, doubt my God. I would tend to say that any believer that claims to never doubt Him in any capacity is a liar. There are fearsome things in the world, and fear is doubt that things will not work out (in whatever capacity is irrelevant to this point). In the case of Israel right now, there are countless Israelis being held captive by Hamas right now in fear of never making it back to their families— doubting they will see their loved ones again. In the much less tragic case that I brought up in a previous post about my fear of becoming a mother (Lord willing), I’m most afraid of it because I doubt myself most in my ability to be that gentle and understand my child’s needs before they can communicate it all for themselves (in part because I have trouble truly expressing things myself, often times).
And it’s hard to express doubt when it feels like everyone around you is so knowledgeable and strong in their faith. I get it, I’m there all the time. I will straight up be in my Wednesday Bible study listening to someone pour out some insane wisdom and there will be a voice screaming from a cage in the back of my head something along the lines of “you do not really believe these fairy tales, do you?” Even as someone who writes and ponders and posts all about my faith, I still have my doubts— but I have a stronger desire to believe than the enemy clearly has to take me down.
What we don’t believe will or could happen may be exactly what God has in store for us. Did Job really expect to go through all he did? I’m willing to bet not! Through the process of all Job goes through, he doubts God’s goodness. Job doubts his worth, wishing he’d never been born. Job falls into misery and despair in the midst of all the loss and afflictions he endures. Job is confused and angry wondering why God would allow this or what he did to deserve it. Yet he was taken through day by day, and what I think is interesting is something Tim Keller once pointed out:
So when things don’t seem to be going the way you might hope, or whatever God’s spoken over your life just doesn’t seem possible… wrestle with that doubt. Wrestle with God as Jacob did with one of His angels and then named the descendants of Jacob accordingly– the Israelites. That wrestling process is going to look different for everyone. Personally it most often comes in my racing and intrusive thoughts that I’m constantly having to examine and/or replace with the Word and its hermeneutical contexts. I’m still reading Faith: A Journey for All by President Jimmy Carter, and just came up to a part where Carter expresses some of the doubts he faced after leaving the navy and even more so after losing Georgia’s gubernatorial election in 1966. While Carter was third in the governor’s race, the man that topped him and another opponent, Lester Maddox, was “an avowed segregationist” who “proudly displayed [the] political symbol… a pick handle that he used to drive potential black customers from the door of his restaurant in Atlanta.” But the thought that Jimmy mentions that I think we’ve all had at a time or two in our lives is this: how could God let that person get what I would’ve been better for?
See, it would make sense that God would want to heal racial tensions (as demonstrated by Jesus going to the Samaritan woman at the well as Jews and Samaritans of the time were two races at odds with one another). In fact, I’d argue that He does want that– He wants His children to be one Church, and one body, meaning every member works cohesively no matter how different… that’s how we were designed to work anyway. But because the world and our flesh is corrupted, that isn’t always the case.
But let’s go back to the question that we so often seem to ask ourselves when we don’t get the position or the relationship or the anything we strived so hard for:
How could God let that person get what I would’ve been better for? What I would’ve used more wisely? What I worked so hard for?…
And before I elaborate at all, let me just drop this gem here that does most of the elaboration for me:
But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.Romans 3:21-24
I think Paul makes the point here pretty clear: you may think you’re better for the job, but you’re not. God’s plan is the best plan, because He’s after more than just solving the problem. He’s after more than just the surface-level healing we’re so often after. He’s after more than the quick fix. God is more than a band-aid on a bullet hole. He is the God of redemption, and redemption is not something that can only be done in part. He is the God of salvation, and being saved is not something that can only be done in part. He is pure and righteous, and as James points out in his epistle, “whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.”
So while it grieves Him to see us all at odds with one another or it may not be His favorite thing to allow such people as Maddox to hold power over arguably “better” people as President Carter (even though I don’t agree with many of his actions in office), it would grieve Him more that we weren’t given the opportunity to seek and find Him as many are driven to do when things are not ideal. It would grieve Him more for us to be eternally separated from Him at the end of time. It would grieve Him more that He did not try to love us, to make Himself known to us, or to save us from ourselves. In fact, if He didn’t allow many of these hard things as a means to seek and to save more people, I’d argue it would go directly against His very nature because God is love. And while love is indeed patient and kind, it is also [from a broken, human perspective] a difficult thing to live out. Love is a lifestyle, and at the core of that is God Himself doing a sanctifying work within us Christians so that we might live with Him forever in heaven. It’s too easy to lose sight of that bigger picture– that He is looking to bring all to salvation and make peace within each of us that allow Him to because He sees the deeper root of all our issues better than we ever could.
And I think that’s why, although I struggle deeply with having the faith to do this, we need to step out into things that don’t make sense just a little more often. I like the practical. Though I’m not great at it, math is in many ways something I appreciate because it doesn’t change. I could have remained with my former interest in STEM but I didn’t. In part this is because I simply realized I was a bit better with artistic endeavors such as writing, but in part I think I appreciated the mildly abstract that could form from such concrete experiences in my life. Among those concrete experiences now is my walk with Christ. He is solid and reliable and does not change, and yet there is this beautifully abstract element to Him. Perhaps this abstract quality is merely the limitations of my human understanding in trying to comprehend such a great God, but regardless it’s beautiful and something I love to explore in my study, worship, and prayer here with you.
And I encourage you to pray and seek Him in some of those things that might not make sense to you. Not everything will come to fruition the way you imagine it will, and I think that’s one of the most beautiful things about God’s plan. Though it seems our sin leaves us with no way of redemption, though the disciples had gone into hiding knowing the Messiah was dead, He rose again and in doing so brought us redemption. Now that’s an ending I don’t think anyone would have expected– hardly anyone did it seems, even with all the scriptures prophesying how Christ would die, and that He would not stay dead. And this is Truth spoken over you. God’s word is as good as done so even when it seems that things aren’t going great to you, don’t lean on your own understanding of the situation, the human point of view is not only limited but (on this side of eternity) largely tainted by sin. God’s point of view is greater; it accounts for even the smallest details we wouldn’t think matter and ties it all together perfectly for the good of those who love Him and respond to His call. Trust that. Trust Him. He won’t fail you, even if what He’s asking you to do doesn’t make sense to you or anyone else. God’s been at this for a long time (like, literal eternity kinda long time). He knows what He’s doing. Trust Him, and lean into that– into Him.
Spent this week starting to organize my literature review, and looking closely at my strategy of achieving my thesis goal. Picked up more information during this week from different articles, but I am seeing how intense it can get with organizing the work you find and the places you want to be able to go back for reference. Really seeing how detailed this work will be is helping me to extra organized in my work.
I have began writing blog post in my words document on my computer so I’m rushing to have content once I pick the platform I want to use to show my work. I want that to be decided by the end of this semester so over the winter break I am Abel to start posting and creating content more consistently, with any media form I choose. A lot will be writing and just expressing the important aspects of technology in early childhood education and parenting. The coming of the education and parenting communities is what my blog will focus on with a specific focus on technology and different aspects in their realm.
Overall feeling very confident in the work that I am producing and I do see how I am able to find so much information on my topic and I am starting to find new things that spark interest to me, or I have heard nothing about. Deciding which information to keep and focus on is very relaxed due to the idea I am presenting. There are so many sub categories to touch upon and I want to chose those that most interest me. I am narrowing those down which will be how I will be presenting my literature review.
I don’t have much to talk about this week, because there isn’t much static now. From last weeks post I’ve been centering around my thesis around those themes. I am working on my literature review now and just siting down, collecting, and writing. I present next Tuesday (11/14). So I will also be working on that over this week and weekend. I am excited to share what I have, read a bit, and just really give a glimpse of what my thesis will be about.
This week I was a busy one personally so all I was able to do was some more organization and started the actual writing of my blogs and ideas/topics fro writing. I have not solidified what platform I plan to use as of yet and I am making that a part of my research by looking at different platforms and what would be best for my work. I have updated my Thesis Google Doc to explain In more of my plan, but in short I will be creating a website where I will be using the perspective I have had as a parent, an early childhood education teacher, and as a grad student who has now spent the last year and half engaging with multiple forms of digital media platforms, for education purposes, and sees the importance of creating digital literacy patterns as early as the ages from birth to 8 years old.
I have approximately 15 solid sources so far, as I am preparing my literature review. I have not had a hard time finding information, it has more so been a challenge is going through the information and actually finding pieces I can use that don’t all sound similar or are stating the same things, I have not as of yet gone in depth with actual research on tech products for children of this age and what applications or programs work best. I noticed this as I was sorting through the information I have so my goal is to take this week to explore more of the actual tools children can use. As this relates to my blogging/ vlogging( because I am thinking of adding some vlogs/ pictures and other imagery examples to my website)
Overall this thesis will consist of two parts which will be the actual information I will be giving based on the research I do in the fields pertaining to early childhood education and teaching digital literacy. These ideas will be expressed in the second part of my project which is the actual creation of the website, the content ( which will be my ideas, scholars evidence surrounding the field, vlogs, other forms of of literature or digital art forms). I will be doing some interviews as well with other parents that I am familiar with, b ut have never had these conversations with them. I feel these will be posted on the website it will make for great content.
To the day, it’s been a year.
In twelve days, it will be twelve years.
Even with all the other things I’ve been through, I’d say that these two days are among the hardest each year. I read back all that I wrote about the weeks leading up to this day last year, October 30th, 2022. I read through my 30-page senior thesis I wrote this past spring as a means of processing the sharp dip in my Grandma’s health that lead to her passing. I can’t read it all the way through; I have to put it down and keep coming back to it a couple hours later because I cry every time. I can’t quite relive having her here without acknowledging I can’t hold her hand, hear her voice, or watch her stay busy and learn all about different flowers and other plants and caring for them like I used to.
Often times I go back to the things that happened after November 11, 2011. I was bullied for how I coped (I always carried this light-up journal and would write in it as I struggled, typically being a bit extra about keeping it private when others were sitting near me). My journal was ripped from my hands one day on the bus as someone mockingly said “Look! It’s that journal about your dead grandma!” The same kid read some of what I wrote aloud and then tore some of the pages out before handing it back to me– at that point I was balled up tightly and shoved myself as far into the corner of my seat by the window as I could be, trying to cover up the streams of tears that welled up as a result of the humiliation.
I think the difference between how I handled these two situations– the passing of Abuelita (maternal grandma) twelve years ago now and the passing of Grandma (paternal grandma) last year– is one of the greatest character developments that the Lord has put me through to date. Will there be others? Certainly. Have there already been others? Of course there have! (I was talking about one of those other major character arcs of mine with a friend the other day, but I’ll be saving that one for a post I’m planning for April).
Let me paint a quick picture of eleven-year-old Bianca:
If you know me in person now, you know I have at least some lean muscle on me not a lot, but enough to see the muscle here an there even if not clearly aesthetically defined. Eleven-year-old me did not have that. Eleven-year-old me was as close to a human twig as it gets. She didn’t think much of her looks, but just wanted to be and feel stronger (something that still holds true today, come to think of it). She didn’t know how to be strong though. She, like I still am, was sensitive and probably held a habit of taking herself a little too seriously because it never felt like anyone else ever did. She was the one brushed off when trying to plan things with friends, or that they would flake out on last minute with excuses that were not true about 80% of the time. She was the one that refused to sing even though she loved to because she was incessantly bullied for her tapping the desk with a pencil and humming a song in the back of a classroom. She was the one that hadn’t really dealt with a lot of externally hard things. She was used to the battle within her own mind. Eleven-year-old me was starting to give up on knocking on her older brother’s locked bedroom door when she wanted to play or just needed a friend. She was alone, in large part because she hadn’t found herself yet.
So when little B heard that Abuelita wasn’t doing so well, her first instinct was to pray. Now, like I said, little me hadn’t found herself which– at least the way I see it now– is synonymous with turning towards and finding Christ. Even though I know now that God heard me then, little me didn’t understand that God sometimes has to give us some really difficult pills to swallow. He answered with what I thought was a hard “no” at the time… I realize now that He actually said “not yet.”
My prayer was as simple as this: “God, please let me see her alive one more time if this is really it for her. Just once.” I prayed it every day once my parents said we were road tripping to Florida from Jersey to see her– that is, until the call.
I would have been much better off bringing Him that weight and allowing Him to carry it– allowing Him to carry me.
We were probably somewhere near the Florida boarder if we hadn’t already crossed it, but I remember being zoned out staring at the car’s clock (before cars had screens) and noticing the time was 11:11am as my mom’s phone rang. Granted it wasn’t much, there are very few times I’ve ever seen tears fall from my mom’s eyes. This was one of those few.
I knew what the call was for in the back of my mind, but I coped with denial of the reality of what was happening. I had faith even then that God would answer my prayer as I’d imagined He would. So, even though Abuelita knew next to no English, I tried to start a normal conversation, my peppy tone shaking only slightly. “¡Hola, Abuelita! How are you?… Well, uh, maybe that wasn’t the right question but I’ll see you soon!” And that’s about all I got out before having to hand off the phone to my brother.
The weight of what I didn’t say always weighs the heaviest on me though– how could I forget to say I love you?
And I decided to not only carry that weight, but blame God for putting that weight on me. In my mind, all I could think was how dare He!? when I would have been much better off bringing Him that weight and allowing Him to carry it– allowing Him to carry me.
But the reality is that I didn’t. When I got back to school, I always had this tacky light-up journal that I never seemed to let go of while I was there– nearly all of what I wrote in there was from my grieving and grasping at straws trying to make sense of it all. I couldn’t. And eventually there was a kid on the bus that snatched this journal from me, taunting with the words “hey look! It’s that journal about your dead grandma!” before proceeding to read some of my grief aloud for the whole bus and then throwing it at the ground. That was when I decided to believe there was no God.
Despite that decision, I can look back and find the countless disparities between what I refused to believe and what I actually acted upon. I think back to Romans 1, namely verses eighteen and following.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.Romans 1:18-23 (ESV)
Paul goes on after this about how God gives us up to the things we chase– the impurity, dishonor and abuse of our bodies, lies and deception, manipulation…
God gave me up to this “genie image” of Him that I had so that I could find that it was not him. He let me be hurt by the lie so that my blind eyes could see that it was not the Truth that He is. No matter how hard I tried to be wise, to attain knowledge, to look better or to sound smarter, that pain only reminded me of what a fool I was to deny the comfort and help and (most importantly) salvation that Jesus has always been ready to provide.
So I thought back less to myself and my mistakes when the time came for Grandma to go, too. As I held open my Bible to Psalms 22 and 23 each day I was at her bedside, I looked back at all the ways I saw her hold the Light on the candle over the table rather than beneath a basket.
But I also want to leave you with what’s been the hardest to read through, let alone share, because (although it still needs some editing and proofing done) it’s among my most honest and vulnerable pieces I’ve ever written, because it’s about a couple of the most formative people in my life aside from my parents.
I barely even got through writing this piece in its entirety. See, I take a view similar to that of Madeline L’Engle on creating art in any form (such as writing)– it’s not about trying to create something, but about listening to the art as it comes and crafting it accordingly. That’s not always an easy task. Many times, when I as a writer am being faithful to the work I am creating, I find myself convicted of something. Many times, I find Truth nestled between the crevices of fiction, or divine fingerprints stamped within the letters of the imagery of poetry. That’s what makes real art, real art: it boastfully reflects it’s ultimate Source, even if it does not mention His name.
And much of this 30-page braided essay reflects on seeing that creative process in Grandma and her business. It reflects a lot on that change in my perspective since Abuelita passed, as Grandma was passing, and after it all as I wrote this whole essay. And frankly, I don’t know of any better way to honor them both than to testify about their faith and how (though it took some time and a lot of trials) they both have consequently been imperative role models in my faith journey– how Jesus has used them in my life, and others.
I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience,as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.2 Timothy 1:3-5 (NIV)
This week will pretty short with my blog post, as I plan to take our class time, and the rest of this week to starting bringing forth new ideas to my thesis. Doing more research last week I found 7 more articles that relate and I am in the process of going through them to find what I need and don’t need. I have done a good job so far of keeping the information I find organized. I can see how later I mat possibly end up not knowing where a specific piece of literature is as I start complying for my literature review. I am attempting to find specific quotes and cite them now so I know exactly where to look. The issue is not yet knowing -exactly what I might say or it where it will fit is the issue. I can see that as I now have about 15 solid sources ( I know should be more by now probably, but these are the ones I feel very strongly about as of now) , I may just want to find some way to track my work through the chapters or specific passages from he works I am reading.
Our discussion last week was very helpful as it truly helps me know I am heading int he right direction when someone says exactly what I am thinking. Creating a platforms for moms (or parents) was starting to cross my mind as I wanted to find a way to incorporate that parenting is so vast as each child is unique and it is important to hear the different aspects. With this thinking I have solifided that I have to look at eh realm of early childhood instead being so specific and looking at preschool, because this was to specific in the study, and I felt I was making my information search to narrow. Hearing the prerspectives of different parents from the early childhood age group can depth to my research.
I feel that I want to create a space where I can incorporate the use of technology with early childhood education by having a place where information not he latest tools are available, parents have a forum for questions, and of course showcasing how technology in this part of development can be helpful in the Childs development process. As I stated last week, taking this to a school perspective left too many gaps for question, but presenting this from a mom perspective leaves room for others to contribute their ideas. My suggestions and research are not the end all be all, but will give great insight into how this can help teachers with curriculum learning, parents keep up with curriculum learning at home, and how to gage a Childs development through the use of technology when it comes to education.
The rest of this week I will spend some time finding a few more sources for my literature review. Aside from that I will explore some platforms where I where I can bring my ideas to life. I want to see what my options are when presenting this work. I want to refine the information I am gathering and have a second look at my rough outline and add and take away what I don’t need based not he change I have made int he way I am presenting my work. I want to looking some education technology tools that are used in schools, and even some early childhood schools ( in or outside of the United States) where they are using tech tools to teach.