From the field: missions is realistic

By Jessa Chadwick, Arts Editor

OBU alum Dillon and Rachael Sain discuss what missions is and how it looks in a realistic, daily routine.

The Sains are working towards leaving for the field in Japan; until then, they are working in their church, workplaces and hosting international students in their home.

“I never really stopped to think what realistically it would look like,” Rachael said. “What would my everyday look like; what’s the practice is going to look like; what am I going to miss? What am I going to miss out on? When I came to the realization that mission is definitely not the celebrity status that people think it is, that really helped me.”

It is common to think that missionaries are strange beings who are special because they are specifically called to leave their homes and go away for God. However, the Bible calls all of us.

“The church has a tendency to pull away from missions because we think that it’s not us,” Rachael said. “People ignore it and don’t think about the fact that the BGCO that has the disaster relief team, that’s built up of Oklahomans, will go to help hurricane relief, they don’t think that’s missions, not just a good Samaritan. Giving a homeless person food or giving someone a ride. Building a relationship. It’s all missions.”

Along with the belief that missionaries are certain people and not all Christians, comes the belief that missions is a superpower only given to those who are “called.” Not only is everyone called, but every Christian is equipped to love those around them.

“Be open to conversation with people,” Rachael said. “We have a lot of friends who aren’t Christian or of a different religion. We’re very open with them about what we want to do and say, ‘if you want to talk about it, let’s talk about it, if you don’t want to talk about it, then be open to the fact that we’re probably going to talk about it.’”

These ideas are not the only obstacle in the way of a Christian’s work on the field. It is easy to find a reason, that may seem valid but is in reality, an excuse not to begin the work.

“You’re never too young,” Dillon said. “We got comments all the time when we signed up to be a host family that we were twenty years too young to be doing it. The people that we signed up with were like, that’s awesome. The people that saw us were like, you’re a host family? They were happy, but they were like, that’s odd.”

As to how people are called, there are multiple ways that God calls individuals.

Different characters in the Bible were called differently. God often considers our personalities and our hearts when He speaks with us.

“I relate my call to Nehemiah because I saw a need in Japan,” Dillon said. “He saw a need and he went to go take care of it. It wasn’t a Samuel calling, where he hears a voice in the night. Nehemiah may be the called one because he went. You’re called when you’re willing to do something about it.”

Just as God takes into account how individuals process information, He also places desires and interests in our hearts and lives as a way of leading them.

It is important to follow the holy, godlike desires God has put in the heart.

“I help in my workplace,” Rachael said. “I wouldn’t work with the population I work with if I didn’t care and I didn’t feel called to be there. Honestly, I don’t know how people could work in social services or mental health and things like that and not believe in something. I think it all plays in together.”

Another aspect of the field to take into account is family and home. Ministry often necessitates sacrifice; sometimes in the form of leaving family who want to be with those leaving.

“My family has always been, why overseas, we think you’re called to home missions,” Rachael said. “They’re not doing it to be mean, they’re doing it because they love you. They don’t want you to go so they’re discouraging.”

God uses family to show us love

By Jessa Chadwick, Arts Editor

Family is meant to show people what true love, God’s love, looks like.

For professor of communication arts and chair of division of communication arts Dr. Vickie Ellis’s half-sister Barbara Ann Johnson, reconnecting with her biological father’s family deepened their understanding of God’s love and care for them. Johnson and her husband Lynn came to campus Sept. 26 to share their story in Dr. Ellis’s family communication class. Although Ellis and Johnson share the same mother, they have different biological fathers; Johnson never knew hers.

“We felt like it might complicate things,” Johnson said. “You never know what you’re going open yourself up to. Fear holds us back sometimes.”

Even though Johnson was separated from Randy after her parents divorced, and was never able to know him because he had passed away, she found a connection to him through her other relatives. Her story of reconnection is a testament of God’s love.

“If we had tried to find [Barbara’s father] Randy at some other point maybe we would’ve never found him because it was a rather difficult task,” Lynn said.

They started by searching the Social Security Index, which didn’t help much, so the Johnsons left it alone.

“When my mother passed away was when I really got involved with [finding] Randy,” Barbara Ann said.

There is an ache deep in the heart of everyone which asks for community, for fellowship and for family.

Every person needs a place where they feel free to be vulnerable and to be known. Johnson found this place in her long-lost cousin, Diana.

“’Hi Diana my name is Lynn and my wife is on the speaker with us,’” Lynn said, relaying the first conversation the couple had on the phone with Diana. “’We have been trying to contact someone who is a relative of Randolph Smith’s… you may know him as Randy.’ Diana’s response was ‘Yes Randolph was my uncle.’ Then I explained, ‘Well Randolph is my wife’s dad.’ Barbara spoke up, ‘Hi I’m Barbara’ and no sooner had she said, ‘I’m Barbara,’ we heard Diana say, ‘Barbara Ann.’”

Although Randy had passed away, Johnson, at 65 years old, was still able to reconnect with his side of the family.

She was also able to honor him by marking his grave.

“On June 28th, we went to Colonial Monument in Denison and ordered a head stone for Randy’s grave,” Lynn said. “Barbara Ann already knew that the inscription should read, ‘CHRIST MAKES ALL THINGS NEW.’ We had now kept a promise that we made when we found there was not a marker on Randy’s grave. We believe God kept that opportunity open for Barbara Ann and me, so that we could give him a marker.”

When death occurs, family’s look back on the life of the deceased and evaluate how they affected those around them. Some may not have a history and are afraid to look back; yet finding the courage to do so provides context for the seeker, in this case, Johnson.

“I really didn’t understand exactly all Randy had been through in his life,” Johnson said. “When you’re young, you accept things for what is going on at the time. I had a different father [than my sisters], and I really didn’t have any memories [of Randy] because I was so young.”

Despite this, God uses stories, like Johnson’s, to carry His love to people.

“God loves you,” Johnson said. “And He knows everything. It’s not like He’s just catching up. He knows you. That’s a special feeling when you know that God is doing this for you.”

God lays a desire on a person’s heart in order to reach other people. Barbara Ann’s desire to find her father blessed her, she said.

“When God blesses you,” Barbara said, “you feel like you need to give back. I am not the kind of person who has gotten up in front of groups. I’m not going do that but when you’ve been given a gift like this and you’ve felt God’s joy, you just have to say, ‘thank you.’”

Due to the fallen nature of humanity, God is not with everyone physically. However, He uses people to show His love for each one of humanity. It is this love that brings people together and provides a community; such as with Diana and the Johnsons.

“I’m really amazed at the fact that God somehow made it possible for us to make the first contact with Diana,” Lynn said. “She has a strong faith. Her and her husband both do. It made it easier for the connection to be that stronger.”

Family does not only provide a community and a place to be vulnerable, family also provides a history.

If love is to know and be known, then family is the avenue by which that knowledge travels.

Reconnecting with Diana was the vehicle on which the Johnson’s traveled this avenue.

“Every time we get to really sit and visit with Diana we learn more about Randy,” Lynn said. “That association with her brings Barbara closer and closer to Randy. There was a direct connection with Randy and she was fairly close to him and her husband, Bobby, knew Randy.”

Reconnecting with lost family members provides people with the ability to know more about themselves. While a loved one is no longer on earth, their story continues to affect those who knew them.

“God continues the story beyond death,” Ellis said. “God knows no bounds in time and space. And you never know what’s going to happen 65 years from now.”

Editorial: OBU student reflects on the meaning and importance of home

By Jessa Chadwick, Faith Editor

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As college students, we are away from home. Some of us may be farther away from home than others.

Recently one of my friends talked about how she needed to go home. She said she wanted to sleep in her old bed and feel the safety and comfort of being under her parent’s roof.

It was hard for me to listen to her because I am far away from my home in Colorado, and my parents are currently in-between houses.

It’s easy to think that I am alone or for me to become jealous and sad when my roommates and friends leave for the weekend to visit their parents who are only two hours away. (This, really, is very close – count your blessings if you are near to family).

Multiple times this jealousy and discomfort has caused me to start my quiet time crying and asking God to comfort me as I continue my life away from home, even without a home. It was during one of these quiet times that God showed me that He understands what it means to be homeless.

My Bible reading was in 2 Samuel 7:1-17. The Lord speaks through Na-than to tell David to build a temple for the Lord.

“’See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells within tent curtains. . .’ But in the same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying, ‘go and say to My servant David, ‘thus says the Lord, “are you the one who should build Me a house to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house since the day I brought up the sons of Israel from Egypt, even to this day; but I have been moving about in a tent, even in a tabernacle.’” (NASB).

This is a very, very long time to go without a proper home. God did not have a physical home during the forty years that Israel wandered in the wilderness.

He had no home during the time of the judges, which was at least a couple hundred years. He had no home during Saul’s reign (which was forty-two years, give or take some) and part of David’s reign.

That’s approximately two hundred and eighty years. I’ve been away from home for three and a half years but God did not have a temple for a much longer time than me. He was a nomad, like me.

Even after talking about a physical home, God tells David of the spiritual home we will all have in heaven with and through His Son Jesus.

“When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-13 NASB).

Just as God was without a physical home for a considerable amount of the Torah, so Jesus was without a home during the time of his ministry. As it turns out, Jesus points this out to a potential follower.

“Then a scribe came up and said to Him, ‘teacher, I will follow You wherever you go.’ Je-sus said to him, ‘the foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head,’” (Matthew 8:19-20 NASB).

Jesus doesn’t say this to trick the scribe into a somehow holier life without material wealth (of any amount, it seems).

His point is not that we should not follow Him, or that He does not want to us to follow Him. Rather, Jesus wants us to know what we are getting into. He wants us to know that we may live without a home; but with that knowledge, He asks us to trust Him.

This brings up the old song, “Big House” by Audio Adrenaline. It says, “Come and go with me, to my Father’s house. It’s a big, big house with lots and lots of room.”

This song serves as a reminder that we have a home right now in Jesus. We can come to Him when we need comfort and to feel protected.

The song also reminds us that we have our first real, wholesome home later when we enter into heaven.

I haven’t had a home since coming to college. But I have never gone one night or day without a roof over my head.

And I know without a doubt that God has put me in these circumstances not only to deepen my trust in Him, but to use my experiences to help others not feel alone.

So, as you wave goodbye to your roommate as she drives off for a homemade meal and free WiFi, remember to take your jealousy to God.

Ask Him to deepen your trust in Him. And ask Him to comfort you. Remember that He is your home and ultimately, nothing can compare to the home we will have in heaven with Him.

From the field: OBU students encourage Kimbroughs in Zambia

By Jessa Chadwick, Faith Editor

It is common in OBU culture for students to go on GO trips. Blake and Dawnya Kimbrough worked on the field in Zambia for the past eleven years.

They planted multiple churches and brought many nationals to Christ. Through short-term GO trips, students have encouraged and helped on the family.

“Each time OBU came to us, it encouraged us,” Dawnya said. “It was multi-purpose. We can encourage the students. Nationals were encouraged by them too. Just all around, encouraged.”

Multiple articles and church leaders have argued that short-term missions do not make a difference.

“Besides the typical, pray, give, go, I would hang out on the go part,” Blake said. “Especially a church that would be committed to the missionary again and again.

“One of the things that we’ve seen typically is if you come once, it’s really for you, and the nationals will call you a tourist. You don’t really get in at that level. If you go back a second time, you really encourage the missionary. You’ve said, ‘We agree with what you’re doing, we pray for you, we support you.’ The third time, the nationals say, ‘you came back for me.’

“That go aspect, to repetitively go, makes a big difference on the field.”

Some students have been to Zambia multiple times.

“To watch national brothers and sisters in Christ interact with them, they were able to go freely and not be bound up by issues because they knew so much more, they’d done it before, they knew what we were doing and the nationals knew how to work with them,” Blake said. “They see people come and go all the time and never come back again. The ones that keep coming back really make the difference. Some churches have a bucket list, but if you just really get grounded and get in and get ministry started, get entrenched, it makes a difference.”

OBU was not the only source of encouragement, however. The Kimbrough’s received support from those around them both stateside and in Zambia.

“The nationals that we led to the Lord and discipled, they became our support group,” Blake said. “If there was any need whatsoever we could work through that. The other is, our membership to a church down the street from my mom’s house.”

It is easy to feel alone or forgotten on the field, and while the Kimbrough’s experienced that occasionally on the field, they did have a good support in their church family stateside.

“Knowing that they were praying for us every Wednesday and Sunday helped,” Dawnya said. “They remembered us in prayer. They would send care packages. The pastor and his wife adopted us into their family. Messages as well, from the pastor, from the people there. Even though they had never sent anyone to us, we knew they didn’t forget about us. They were faithful to pray about us.”

Through this support, the Kimbrough’s were able to make slow but sufficient progress in their calling. Each of them had different ways of working on the field.

“We were in a place where there hadn’t been any work before,” Blake said. “We met with chiefs, and I’d share the gospel with them and get permission to work in their lands and their kingdoms.”

Once a relationship was established, Blake said they would take years for people to begin trusting them.

“People started actually trusting us and Christ,” Blake said. “Once we had that one person, we led them through leadership development and teaching them how to teach Scripture clearly. Churches were planted and it went from there. It was a slow process.”

Work on the field was not solely Blake’s responsibility; Dawnya also had an important role in Zambia.

“My role was to be the wife and be the mom of our little ones, to homeschool them,” Dawnya said. “Trying to visit with ladies in the market and share with them. Just through daily living, modeling what a Christian woman looks like, what a Christian mother looks like. Those types of things, being a part of a church. Not in the day-to-day going out as much with little ones and then homeschooling but on Sundays going and being part of it.”

Before the Kimbrough’s left the states for Zambia, they were called. Their story shows the need for individual calling.

“I was pastoring in Texas and through a long process I was convicted I needed to preach on work in the field at our church,” Blake said. “I preached a sermon series about work in the field and the kingdom of heaven. About a third of the way through that sermon series, God convicted me that we needed to go. I argued with the Lord a lot in that time period and finally I said, I surrender but You’re going have to call Dawnya. And I’m not going say anything.”

Dawnya’s story is a little bit different. Instead of being called through teaching at the same time as her husband, Dawnya was called months after God called Blake.

“For me it was the Fall of 2004,” Dawnya said. “I started to be aware that there was life beyond where we were pastoring. Over the course of that season I was feeling a discontentment and realized, God has something else, or something different. Then there were some songs that I was listening to that happened to be all about working on the field and God was speaking to me a lot through the Psalms about going to the nations.”

While some couples talk through their callings with each other, each Kimbrough did not want to cause the other to do what God was not calling both of them into.

“I knew we were going be rural,” Blake said, “and it was going be hard and so because of that, I didn’t have any doubt that she needed to be called as well. Especially on those tough days when it’s really, really hard.”

“That’s what kept us there when it would’ve been so much easier to say, we’re done,” Dawnya said.

From the field: the church is called to pray

By Jessa Chadwick, Faith Editor

“A big part of it is when you leave. You’re out there wondering if anybody remembers who you are,” Director of Global Outreach Doctor Joy Turner said about being a Christian worker overseas.

There is often a gap between Christian workers on the field and the church in America. This series will share the stories of workers and encourage fellow Christians here to reach out in support to those on the field. To start off the series, there needs to be a definition of what a worker on the field is and how their call differs from other Christians.

“Going to the field is just doing your laundry somewhere else,” Turner said. “It’s all about obedience, and the rest is geography. Where does God want us to be obedient?

“I do distinguish between ministry and the field,” she said. “There’s a lot of ministry we can take part in and that can be woven onto the work on the field. But when I’m thinking about that work, then I’m thinking about the gospel and having a message to take to people who don’t know Christ. How we do that, ministry and going to the field, can look different for a lot of people; relating to giftings and passions and careers.”

While on the field, many workers experience what Dr. Turner called “consequences” to following God’s call to another country. As a body of Christ, the church at home should encourage and support those on the field, whether that’s down the street from the physical church or overseas.

“It’s getting to know them and then praying for them,” Turner said. “We need to study those on the field. We shouldn’t just put them on a pedestal. Understanding what they’re doing, not just have a blanket, ‘God bless all the workers,’ but choose a few. I have a few that I pray for their work. A lot of time it’s the children that do all the encouraging, the letter writing. We need to do it as adults. We’ve got to get it beyond the children and the women.”

As fellow believers, the church is called to pray for one another.

Prayer heals and encourages those all around the world as they go out to share the Word of God. With prayer comes the need for communication. Support is not only prayer, but communicating with those on the fi eld and those in the church at home. Like Turner said, even with family and new friends on the fi eld, a new worker can become lonely.

“When a worker is struggling with something, they need to be able to talk to someone without fear of losing their job,” Professor of Cross-Cultural Ministry and WMU Professor of Missions Dr. Bruce Carlton said. “That’s where member care comes in. Someone can come and just listen to the troubles. At times that support system is good, at times it isn’t. It’s constantly needing to be looked at and improved. Be someone who can care for the worker, especially when they’re stateside.”

This care may look like taking a worker on sabbatical out to coffee or bringing them a meal or sending a letter.

As for those who are called, they must remember that everyone is called.

No Christian is better than another because they are on the field or on staff at a church.

“There are specific callings and some of that is the way God’s made us,” Turner said.
“He’s given some of us the ability to transition between cultures and not everybody has that ability; and that’s where the call comes. It doesn’t diminish the person who says, ‘I’m going be a business woman or a teacher in my neighborhood.’ You can learn a lot of that but there’s something within us. An ability to live life somewhere else and not do everything that you would normally do, that comes with the calling.”


Faculty discusses the significance of practicing rest in daily devotion

By Jessa Chadwick, Faith Editor

It is too easy to become worn out. Between school, work, friends, extracurricular activities and church, all of which expect full participation and excellence, young adults quickly become exhausted.
“Rest clears you mentally,” assistant professor of nursing and MSN RN Jennifer Sharma said. “It helps increase your mental capacity. It allows your body’s systems to come back to a state of balance, a state of norm. When you think of blood pressure and heart rate, those things all come to their baseline when our bodies are in a state of rest. The biggest illustration is the mental picture of how it calms our brains and our thoughts and allows a time for refreshment and a time for regeneration during that time of rest.”
Assistant vice president for spiritual life and dean of the chapel M. Dale Griffin explained the spiritual principle of rest.
“In God’s economy for creation there is rest,” Griffin said. “He dreamed up this whole idea of rest. We didn’t. He created time but we can keep track of it, we can manage it. Like money, we have to be a steward of our time. In that creation of time, He emphasized rest. The earth is spinning in such a way that we have a night and we have a day.”
However, in Christian circles hard work, not rest is greatly encouraged and preached on. Involvement in church activities is important but not to the point of exhaustion for the member.
“We like to preach this, ‘be awake, be aware of your time,’” Griffin said. “In Proverbs, it talks about folding of the hands leads to poverty. On the other hand, Psalm 46:10 says to, ‘be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in all the earth.’ We don’t have a full picture of that verse if we stop halfway through. If we quote Psalm 46:10a and we don’t quote Psalm 46:10b, then we don’t understand what He’s talking about. We’re proof-texting even within the verse.
“We still can’t cause God to be glorified in all the earth,” Griffin said. “He’s God. He will be glorified in all the earth. No one’s going to stop that. We can be still and know that He is God. What I’m suggesting is that Scripture teaches that you can rest even when you’re working because it’s not all on your shoulders. So, yes, we’re to steward our time but we’re to work as believers from a position of rest.”
So, how can young adults be aware of this need for rest? How can they be sure to stop and rest in God?
“When I feel uneasy and I’m anxious and uptight, then that’s a red flag for me,” Griffin said. “That’s a marker that I’m not trusting the Lord, I’m actually trusting myself. What I have to do is stop. Philippians 4:4-7, ‘Be anxious for nothing but in everything with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let the peace of God which surpasses understanding will keep your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.’ Again, it’s this picture of rest. He’s keeping, He’s holding you, He’s sustaining you. Brennan Manning suggests to inhale the name of the father by saying ‘Abba’ and then exhale by saying ‘I belong to you.’”
When God’s people feel anxious, they should stop and rest. It is when they rest that they can find strength in God. Isaiah 40:31 says, “those who wait for the Lord will renew their strength.”
“There’s a principle of rest that’s in the Bible,” Griffin said. “And it’s written into general revelation; your doctors tell you, you need seven to eight hours of sleep every night. You need to go to bed at the same time, get up at the same time because you’re going to perform better when you sleep.
Specific revelation is where God commands us to rest every week. So not only do we sleep every night but we are to rest every week. And then there are to be little seasons of rest every year where we focus on Him. That’s where we get our Judeo-Christian holidays from. That’s why in the western world we have those.”
Another important aspect of rest is physical rest.
“Rest is when we’re not doing,” said Sharma. “When we’re stilling ourselves long enough to not be busy doing studying, visiting, out and about doing things, when we have a moment to still ourselves, re-center and refresh ourselves.”
While it may be hard to find or make time to rest, lack of rest has consequences. When a young adult finds themselves exhausted, stressed, defensive or burnt out, it is a sign that they need to stop and spend time refocusing.
“With lack of rest there’s usually a lack of focus,” Sharma said. “Anxiety goes up. Depression goes up. The ability to handle normal situations goes to it’s all-time craziness. Normal things that happen when you haven’t had rest would cause you to react very out of the norm to those, very over the top to those. First thing that comes to mind is finals week, when we should be resting and studying but a lot of times we do everything but rest and we’re studying and we’re cramming and everything. And then our performance on the test is going to be really out of sync because we haven’t had a chance to come back to a base, back to a norm and regenerate and allow our brains time to think normally instead of in a stressed, anxiety-filled manner.”
It is important to realize how rest plays a role in day-to-day life but finding time to rest may cause more stress. Sharma encourages young adults to find the time anyway.
“Sometimes we have to put rest on our schedule,” Sharma said.
“Making time for rest, when we’re not committed to doing anything but just letting our bodies have a time to bounce back. Especially in college when there are so many activities and so many things that we’re committed to. Allow yourself even 15 minutes a day to refresh, renew, regenerate. It does amazing things for your health and it does amazing things for your mental health and clarity, and the ability to make the other commitments that you have.”


Snapshot of community, local art: Japanese garden mirrors sister city across the globe

By Jessa Chadwick, Assistant Arts Editor  (Photos by Jonathan Soder/The Bison)

“To promote peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation—one individual, one community at a time.”

This is the mission statement of the program Sister Cities.

As many know, the Japanese garden by the airport track is in honor of Shawnee, Okla.’s Sister City, Nikaho Japan.

Delegates from Shawnee schools have been chosen to go to Nikaho and represent Shawnee while students from Nikaho will spend a week in Shawnee as representatives of Nikaho.

The chairman for Shawnee is Michael Canaday who will be traveling with the students to Japan.

Taren Taylor, the delegation chair, is helping to prepare the students for their travels.

The concept of Sister Cities is for locals to experience other cultures while bringing their own culture overseas.

The official website,, goes into more detail.

“Sister Cities International was created at President Eisenhower’s 1956 White House summit on citizen diplomacy,” according to the website, “where he envisioned a network that would be a champion for peace and prosperity by fostering bonds between people from different communities around the world. President Eisenhower reasoned that people from different cultures could understand, appreciate, and celebrate their differences while building partnerships that would lessen the chance of new conflicts.”

For more information, check out the Sister Cities Facebook page or website.

Creative blocks impact more than just artists: How to take a break, push through, find hope to create

By Jessa Chadwick, Assistant Arts Editor

You do not have to be an artist to experience a creative block; it could be writer’s block when it comes to composing a paper for school or a professional block for a project for work.

Wherever it may be, everyone has experienced a creative block at some point or another.

As dead week approaches, it would seems like an appealing idea to take a break and allow another side of the brain to work while the creative side recharges; however, that may not be possible as deadlines and finals approach.

That academic pressure can cause stress, but there is a payoff—and that is in the creative process itself.

Senior fine arts and English double major Glen Simpson III encourages fellow students to keep going.

“Don’t give up on yourself,” Simpson said. “Push through the pain and the struggle. It is most important to have, as a writer or an artist, hope. Put your heart into whatever you’re doing,” he said.

“Give it [your] all, because you’re the only person who can create. You create your own special. So if you don’t create it, the world will never have it. The world will be less because you’re not in it. Just have hope.”

However, having hope can be a challenge if you have a perfectionist nature. Crouch-Mathis professor of literature and English, Dr. Benjamin Myers, helped to identify the issue and encouraged creators to keep going.

“There’s a poet-teacher named Richard Hugo who talks about writing towards the goal,” Myers said.

“He says you have to be willing to write badly every day because that’s how you work toward the good work. So a lot of times writer’s block happens when we’re afraid to go ahead and write badly until something good happens.

“I would say that writer’s block is unwillingness to write badly,” Myers said.

“You can always write but writers get blocked when they think that their first draft has to be great. It’s not really a thing that happens to you; it’s a state of mind. There’s procrastination and then there’s paralyzing block. They’re both degrees of the same thing. Sometimes we want to hold on to the potentiality rather than the reality that we may have to revise and revise. That’s what I think writer’s block is really about.”

Most students know when they need a change in environment but it can be hard for them to be willing to take that needed break.

It may help to switch tasks so that the creative side of the brain has a chance to rest; this allows the little brain cells to do their work better.

“Sometimes it helps me to go to a different place than where I usually write,” Myers said. “Sit down with a notebook and go, ‘okay I’m just going to sit here and write, good or bad, I’m just going to write for now. Just pushing on through.’ So often [a break comes] just while I’m doing something else,” he said.

“I’ve got a problem in something I’m working on, can’t figure it out and I go for a run and then three miles from home it’ll click. And then you have to run home repeating it to yourself not to forget it. Or it can be driving or taking a shower. It’s switching from the mundane routine of writing to some other mundane routine.”

While it can be hard to hold onto the hope for a creative end, it can be even harder to push through and follow the process.

Creating often makes students tense and stressed because they tend to focus on how the outcome reflects on them as an individual, on their own self-worth.

People pride themselves on what they can do and by how well and how quickly they can do it.

“If it’s a certain kind of slump, you push straight through it and work through it,” Simpson said. “Eventually you get it done. That one’s a harder [way] to do it and probably not as healthy but sometimes has to be done. Being an artist and a writer, I get really agitated if I can’t write or draw well. So if I keep pushing and pushing and pushing, I get more stressed, more agitated but after a while, if I just chill for a second and get back into it, I usually can push through. Sometimes it takes a little bit long than a couple minutes; an hour or two, a day, maybe a week.”

Although simply “pushing through” is sometimes the best or only option, it may help to simply steep in other artistic creations.

Students should ask themselves why they want to create or how they want their work to affect others.

It is also important for the student to look back on who or what has inspired them.

“Immerse yourself in art and be inspired by that,” Simpson said. “That really helps. Being in it, seeing other people doing it, you’re like, ‘okay I can do it too.’ For art especially, I get on Pinterest and I just look at a lot of things.”

A strange aspect of creating is how everything affects other decisions or issues the artist may be dealing with.

While a student is trying to write a paper, for example, he or she may also be trying to figure out what kind of job to apply for, what to eat for dinner or other projects that need completing.

Some of these dilemmas then impact the creative process; it becomes cyclical.

“The more stressed out you are, the bigger the block,” Simpson said. “Especially if you have a lot of family issues going on or things akin to that nature, such as school. The more stressed you are, the worse the block can be. But also, for me, working on art takes away stress so it works against itself,” he said.

“It just depends on how bad the block is. Sometimes I won’t even know and then it’ll just go away. And I’m like, ‘I was in a block but I’m okay now.’ Like, last night I had a block when I was working on something. I just couldn’t figure it out and then I [thought] ‘I have to have a different mindset.’ And so I did and it worked.”

So then what should a student do once he or she has pushed through their block?

Part of holding on to hope is believing that no matter how rough a newly created piece is, it can always be made better.

“To write a page of good material usually you have to write pages and pages of bad material and then pick through and find what’s good and work with that,” Myers said.

“So usually when I’m just pushing through blocking myself, I usually say, ‘I’m going to put my pen on the paper and I’m going keep going and then I’ll go back and keep what’s worth saving and then start again from there.’”

Art therapy has historical roots, modern benefits: Certified counselors focus on art today to aid patients

By Jessa Chadwick, Assistant Arts Editor  (Courtesy photo/The Bison)

Art is more than a trip to the localmuseum.

However, art also gives individuals the ability to process through traumatic experiences. It can bring healing and beauty to a broken life, a broken world or a broken person.

Specifically, art therapy is the use of art mediums in a therapy session with a trained professional.

It is a medium that transcends social and economic circles to inspire universal healing.

“Art can be a great way to self-care for people,” assistant professor of psychology and marriage and family therapy Dr. Jonathan Wilson said.

“Art can be a way to escape from the world a little bit. It can also be a tool for expression. Art can be a way to express things that maybe we could not express in words. When I think of art therapy, I think it can be a way to help people that maybe are having a difficult time communicating [and it can] give them another way to do that.”

Everyone has had a day when he or she needed to contemplate and take time to create in order to gain perspective.

Wilson explained that art can be used to help individuals in their everyday lives as well as work through mental and emotional issues.

“As far as self-care is concerned, art can be a great way to express feelings that are being held on the inside,” Wilson said.

“So, if I’m feeling a lot of anger or stress or depression or anxiety then I can express those in art. It can be therapeutic to get those things out in a way that’s healthy as opposed to bottling them up or expressing them in a way that’s less healthy.”

Art therapy may seem to some like a glorified ‘doodle session.’

However, art allows not only an expression of emotion, but it also creates a sense of distance between an experience and an individual in order for the client to process and then evaluate said experience. Sessions involve more than doodling; they can involve a wide variety of technique and exercises.

According to an article about artistic methodology in therapy in ‘Psychology Today,” “Art therapy involves the use of creative techniques such as drawing, painting, collage, coloring or sculpting to help people express themselves artistically and examine the psychological and emotional undertones in their art. With the guidance of a credentialed art therapist, clients can ‘decode’ the nonverbal messages, symbols and metaphors often found in these art forms, which should lead to a better understanding of their feelings and behavior so they can move on to resolve deeper issues.”

For some, this type of therapy is ideal as it allows the client to be quiet while expressing and processing through an experience or experiences. After the art has be created, the client and therapist can discuss the implications of a certain art piece.

“Once you begin creating, the therapist may, at times, simply observe your process as you work, without interference or judgment,” Wilson said.

“When you have finished a piece of artwork—and sometimes while you are still working on it—the therapist will ask you questions along the lines of how you feel about the artistic process, what was easy or difficult about creating your artwork, and what thoughts or memories you may have had while you were working.”

Although this is still a relatively new treatment plan, the benefits have been documented for years. covers some of the history behind this treatment in the article “Art Therapy.”

According to the article, “the term ‘art therapy’ was coined in 1942 by British artist Adrian Hill, who discovered the healthful benefits of painting and drawing while recovering from tuberculosis. In the 1940’s, several writers in the mental health field began to describe their work with people in treatment as ‘art therapy.’ As there were no formal art therapy courses or training programs available at that time, these care providers were often educated in other disciplines and supervised by psychiatrists,
psychologists or other mental healthcare professionals.”

In fact, the benefits of using art in therapy were mentioned much earlier in 1915 by Margaret Naumberg. Even then, she argued art calms the soul and allows individuals to reflect back on their experiences and bring beauty to them.

According to the same article, “[it was] a means of unearthing repressed, unconscious thoughts and emotions. [Naumberg] believed once the symbolic expression of a person’s state of mind was combined with the cognitive and verbal aspects of experience, healing could take place. Both this expression and healing were believed to be able to occur in an art therapy session.”

This type of therapy then began to gain more notice under another leader in the art therapy movement, Hanna Kwiatkowska. She said she believed while some individuals create (through mediums such as knitting, quilting, painting, etc.), art can also be used to help reveal deeper issues. Creating is not only cathartic but brings a deeper meaning to humanity.

“She also saw the significant therapeutic benefits of the drawing process,” according to

“Although she had originally hoped to use her art therapy to help treat individuals facing intellectual challenges, Kwiatkowska discovered her technique also provided relief to families and individuals who faced moderate psychological issues and dysfunctions.”

Today, art therapy is a specialized form of therapy. Therapists who use art as a treatment plan for their clients usually have a master’s degree and follow the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB) codes.

Now, the practice is a recognized therapeutic practice and involves specialized certification.

“There are two paths to doing art therapy or becoming an art therapist,”Dr. Canaan Crane, the marriage andfamily therapy program director said. “One way would be to pursue advanced training in art therapy specifically.

There are a few programs that teach a graduate student to [practice this kind of therapy and] can include training in therapy but also include a prominent focus on the art skills. The other option would be to pursue a degree in counseling/therapy which would enable graduates to practice in a wide variety of organizations and with a wide variety of populations,” he said. “Students would then pursue additional training or certification in using Art as a modality for working with many clients. It really comes down to how specialized of training a person wants.”

OBU students to attend writing festival

By Jessa Chadwick, Assistant Arts Editor

Every now and then, it’s important to come out of the shell and discover
what’s going on in the real world. Batteries need to re-charge, and tribulations or successes need to be shared with other like-minded creative souls. There’s no better place for this than at a writing festival,” writer Louis Mango said in, “The Benefits of Literary Festivals.”

Creating is a hard, long, and sometimes even an excruciating process. Yet having a community of fellow creators helps to relieve the lonely writer; this enables them to continue to create. A community also provides experiences that inspire writers to create.
For many local writers, Scissortail Creative Writing Festival is one of these communities.

“The Scissortail Creative Writing Festival is an event held every spring at East Central University,” Dr. Newsom, assistant professor of English said.

“There are writers from lots of different places who come to read their poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction and to hear other writers read their work. It’s a really unique event among creative writing festivals because it tends to mingle writers in different
genres on the same panel and they all have equal time. Generally, there is a key note, or two, speaker in the evening who may be a bigger name writer that they’ve brought in. But among the other readers it’s a very egalitarian sort of conference.”

What makes this festival so different from others is that focus on community. Writers need others writers input to know when to keep revising and when a piece is finally good; sometimes, even to know when to trash a piece or to let it simmer for a while before coming back to it. This festival creates a space where that can happen.

“I would commend Ken Hada who is the founder and director of the festival,”
Newsom said. “He does such a good job orchestrating the event. I’ve been to lots
of other writing events as well and sometimes they’re a little less friendly, and more competitive. And Scissortail is not like that at all and that’s largely because Ken sets the tone for this event; [it’s] about the writing, it’s about sharing the writing and our love
of writing, not about comparing our stats or whatever. He deserves a lot of credit for putting together a great event.”

However, this space is not just for experienced poets and fiction/nonfiction writers. Many budding writers need the mentorship and comradery of others to continue the task of sitting down to put words on the page or to get back up after a disheartening
editing session.

“It’s a really beneficial educational experience for students for a couple of reasons,” Newsom said. “One, our young writers can see what it’s like to be a part of the creative writing community and what sharing your work within that context could look like, one form that takes. Secondly, the Scissortail Festival has an undergraduate competition that’s associated with it and we’ve had students submit their work to that and that is another good early experience of sharing your best work and putting it out there for someone to read and judge and respond to. While the act of creating is hard, sharing the created work can be even harder. Writers will ask themselves constantly if their piece is good or worth reading. Ultimately, criticism, even rejection, can help the writer grow to create even better work.

“Part of being a writer is doing that, sending your work out again and again. Often having it rejected, but learning to accept the rejection and move on. Send it out again. Revise it again. Keep trying. That’s how you become a published writer. You’re already a writer if you’re writing but to become a published writer just takes a lot of persistence; of sharing that work and finding the right place, the right audience.”

The festival creates a space for writers to share work and gain feedback from others who get the process of creating. Newsom expands on some hopes he has for the students that attend the festival this year and in the future.

“For one thing, I hope [the students] enjoy it,” Newsom said. “To commit yourself to writing poetry or fiction, typically is a very solitary endeavor. We write alone. We’re in our own world, our own thoughts, or with the page, and a festival like this gives us a chance to interact with others and to socialize with other people who care about words and care about poetry or fiction and have been brave enough to commit themselves to the task as well. So, I hope that students enjoy that kind of interaction and see that there is a sort of balance to that part of writing, a social aspect to it that’s beneficial.”

Most writers have a goal to write a book which is usually broken down into shorter goals; writing so many words in a week or in a month, then editing those.

Other writers may not know yet what goals they have other than to create. A community such as Scissortail will help exhibit the different goals available to writers.

“Outside of that,” Newsom said, “I hope they would come away from an experience like Scissortail with a clearer vision of what kind of future they want to have as a writer. So maybe they’ll see this and go, yes that’s what I want to be doing ten years from now. Students don’t often know yet what they can do with writing so this is one way of giving them a picture, not of the only way they can use writing or do writing, succeed as a writer, but one model. And they can move towards or away from that as they would like to.”

Visit the Scissortail Creative Writing website at for more information.