Sunday, February 28, 2010

Leadership and Loyalty

We had a pastoral candidate at church today. Which of course puts my mind on the topic of leadership, where it has been often over the past few years.

Leadership is a much more elusive thing than I used to think. The person who says "I am the leader" usually is not. He may be the person in charge, but that does not make him the leader. The person at the head of a group who says "You will be loyal to me" does not inspire loyalty. I want to be under the kind of person who inspires me to be loyal, not who informs me that I will be loyal. Authority carries great responsibility.

The last three administrators I have worked for have all been great leaders. All three have had very different styles, but they inspired their staff to work hard and they inspired loyalty. The first of these three I always mentally refer to when involved in difficult situations with people - "How would X handle this?" The second I always think of when a new idea comes along - "What questions would Y ask before implementing this idea?" And the third is still developing his style as he is relatively new at the job, but he has already brought forth confidence from me and from others.

Pastors - I think of Dr. Russell Rice, a godly man in heaven now. Not a hands-on management kind of man, but how he inspired loyalty from his people.  The spirit of the pastor is vitally important in how a church functions.  And that is why, in the face of selecting a new pastor, the issues of leadership and loyalty are foremost in my mind.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Editing and Grading

I graded 29 short research reports today, designed to force seniors to use proper MLA format before writing their rough draft literary research papers. They each picked a country, then researched a book, an encyclopedia, and a website, wrote the reports on the Macs in the classroom, then emailed the reports as attachments to me. I opened the emails, graded the reports, and sent their grades back via email. Technology is a great thing.

Tomorrow their rough drafts for their literary papers come in. They have the option of using email or printing out this part of their paper. The final literary research paper, at the end of next week, will have to be printed. I think they need to know both ways.

Tonight I proofed a brief for a former student now in law school.

Both choric speaking groups practiced today and we made good changes in both pieces.

At this point, everywhere I look I see things that need editing, proofing, or grading.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Responsibility and Spending

The more years that go by, the more I see that many times "poor people have poor ways." That's not always the case, but often it is. It's not even a matter of becoming wealthy, just a matter of being able to stay on top of bills and pay one's own way in the world. I am so thankful to have parents who set a good example in spending and who taught their children the same.

I read the following article in the Dave Ramsey column in today's newspaper, then found this link on his website. And, according to this disclaimer on his website, it would appear that it is OK for me to post it on this blog.
Use RestrictionThe material on is meant to be shared for informational, non-commercial use only. Site visitors are allowed to download and distribute banner graphics and promotional materials for the express purpose of promoting
Responsibility leads to wealth
Dear Dave,
Why is it that some people have enough money for pizza, lottery tickets, cable television and cigarettes, but they don't buy something as inexpensive as renter's insurance, and then they expect someone else to bail them out when a fire destroys their home?Keith

Dear Keith,This kind of behavior falls into the Stupid Tax category. It's an aggravating thing, but at the same time there's something about fire that elicits sympathy from me. Even if there's stupidity involved in what happened, it's such an emotionally devastating event. But I think it's important to talk about what you've brought up.

Let's put it another way. Why are there people who get mad at others for building wealth, or expect other people to bail them out after they've behaved irresponsibly? Ninety percent of America's millionaires are first-generation rich. They started with nothing, and instead of buying lottery tickets and smokes, they saved money and bought things like renter's insurance. They kept things like car insurance and health insurance in place, so that if they totaled their car or had to have an operation, they could pay for it instead of filing bankruptcy!

In other words, they were responsible. They stayed out of debt because they were mature enough and responsible enough to delay pleasure, and then after years of living this way, they looked up and discovered they were millionaires. That's how it happens. You delay bits and pieces of fleeting pleasure for a quality life in the future. Now, you don't trade away all momentary pleasures. You don't have to completely give up fun to win with money, but you trade impulsive, immature decisions and purchases for the reward of a better life later.

Most poor people delay none of the pleasures. They live only in the moment, and that's why they stay poor. If they want a better washer and dryer, they'll rent-to-own instead of saving up for a little while and buying a decent, used combo in the classifieds. I understand that bad things sometimes happen to good people, and you can end up broke that way, too. But I firmly believe that in most cases, it's not that they don't have the money, it's more a case of they don't have a vision for the future. . .Dave

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Old Friend, Sick Daughter, and Olympics

Where has the time gone? All of a sudden three days are gone and I haven't posted anything.

So often I have thoughts that would make good posts, but am nowhere near a computer or am in the middle of something more pressing - then the idea escapes me. A sign of middle age, old age, too many things on my mind, or something worse?!

Sunday night, Andrew got to spend the night at the home of a very dear post-college friend. She and her husband hosted the entire team for the night and didn't realize until having committed to keep the team that one of the members was my son. They all had such a good time; Andrew called that night and I had a good talk with both him and my friend. It's interesting how much two old friends can pack into a ten-minute phone talk, especially when our children are at the same stage in life. She is a Godly woman with great insight and is a wise speaker and writer. She's an inspiration.

ML has been sick at school with a bad cold. I sent her a box with Bryon - started to just send her a bag with cold medicine, then ended up adding a bottle of pineapple juice, a box of kleenex, some snacks - and it turned into a full box of stuff. Got to keep those care packages going over there. I remember how hard it can be to get everything done for classes when you don't feel well - and she's got three art classes, so is especially busy. She's a very diligent student.

Mike and I have been enjoying the Olympics, watching at least some every evening. We think that the blue lines painted on the snow look amateurishly done, and that Bob Costas has a bad dye job. Other than that we give our approval!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Prince Charming

I forgot to put up this picture. Apparently Cinderella looked at Andrew and said "I've found my Prince Charming!" Two decades of learning to schmooze women have finally paid off.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Life of Ease Continues

As you can see, the rough life of a drama team member continues. Of course, they did miss out on our lovely snow! I think they're probably happy with the option that they did have.

Same Song, Second Verse

Same scene, twelve hours later. Not as pretty as the nighttime, perhaps, but still beautiful. The snow stopped sometime between when I went to bed at 10:30 and got up at 4:00 a.m. to look outside. It is melting quickly - temps are to go up to 44 degrees today. We will enjoy it while we can.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Nighttime Snow

My Illinois relatives probably think this is crazy, to get so excited about snow - but it is so beautiful. And two years in a row!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ups and Downs

UP - We're supposed to get SNOW tomorrow night! When snow is predicted coming from the northwest, we don't usually get it. But when it's predicted coming up from the Gulf of Mexico - we're much more likely to get it, and it's usually that good, wet, fun-to-see snow.

UP - All my grading is currently done, and has been since yesterday afternoon. I do not know what to do with myself when there is NO grading to be done.

UP - Showed clips from PRIDE AND PREJUDICE in class this morning because the unit in British Lit. is on Romantic Literature, and P&P is a classic "novel of manners" from that period. So tonight I watched the entire second DVD in the five-hour version. It is a great movie.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Little Nostalgia

Was perusing some old pictures and found these. Top: First birthday. Got kicked out of the nest six days later!

Is there any question who that little girl's dad is? Not if you know them both. . .

Saturday, February 6, 2010


We just tootled down to Hartwell (the town) to see something new and go somewhere different for a change, especially since Mike will be working a lot in the week to come. We crossed the huge dam and into the town. We ate at a little restaurant called "Siblings" (run by a brother and a sister) that had good food for reasonable prices. We drove past the town water tower that looks just like the one from old Gridley days - any family reading this will know what I mean. As dusk was falling, we circled the square, which is is typical of a small town. And one of the stores on that square bears our last name - because it was started by Mike's grandfather back in the 1930s or 40s. A little piece of Hartwell's history is our history too.

Friday, February 5, 2010


My daughter made the college newspaper! (I've whited out all the last names.) The question was "Which Olympic sport are you looking forward to watching?" and it's from a feature in the weekly paper called "Talkback."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Not Right

There's something just not right about a group of college kids getting to live like this in early February, while the rest of us slog through daily jobs, cold rains, and the typical winter routine. I know they are thrilled that they had an extra day off in the middle of their schedule.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Little Boy's Pain

Somehow I got started looking at a CaringBridge site of a little boy out in Montana who is one of those unusual children with health issues that can't be diagnosed. He has serious vision difficulties - not only is his sight deteriorating, but he also has great pain in his eyes. Waking up is the hardest time - he spends the first hour of every day with his head buried on his mom or dad's chest because of the pain. Bright lights cause pain also, so he can't play outside like other children. He also can't swallow well or eat solid food, and he has hearing issues too.

So I think about how my left eye has been hurting again lately, for which the eye doctor could find no reason last spring, and realize how ridiculously minimal my mild eye pain is. And I think of my two healthy children, and how getting irritated over minor things is really foolish in the overall scheme of things.

And I think of how helpless little children affect those who know or even just hear about them, and how their pain softens the hearts of people to recognize the many things that they should be grateful for. Their plight shows people why all who live must throw themselves on the mercy of God with gratitude for anything He has done for any of us. And I think that, for these reasons and others, a child like this has a huge purpose in this life, whether the world thinks that he does or not.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Birds and Beavers

We saw several interesting things on our trip to Alabama. On the way to church Sunday morning Mike spotted a beaver dam, and later, in a ditch along the side of the road, several of us saw a night-crowned heron. You have to look fast!

While leaving that evening, crossing the Tennessee River, there was a huge flock of white birds circling above. I just assumed that they were seagulls since we have so many of those here in town (up the Savannah system and roost on Lake Hartwell in the winter). Mike said no, they weren't seagulls, and if there's one thing I've learned over the years it's to trust his instincts with wildlife observation. Sure enough, they did not act like seagulls. I looked at some pictures when we got back, and they were snow geese.

There were a lot of ducks along the backwaters all the way to Chattanooga. Just wish we could have stopped to identify some of them - there were many different kinds. It's been a long time since I've gotten a good look at ducks. Also saw a kingfisher on a wire; it's been a long time since I've seen one of those also.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Back to School

I took my personal day today. Perhaps it's a sign of age, but any more it's difficult to work all week, be gone all weekend, and then work another week. So, for the first time in several years, I took the one day a year available for personal reasons.

Called my friend Nancy after school. Turns out she was sick and missed today also. The sub who was supposed to fill in for me couldn't do so for some reason. The other two possible subs were unavailable today. The kindergarten aide and the principal's wife had to fill in. I feel guilty for taking my personal day!

Dad's Birthday

Mike and I just got home from Dad's 80th birthday party in AL. My brother opened the party with a welcome, and made the comment, "Dad has preached hundreds - probably thousands - of sermons in his life, but the best sermon he preached has been his life." And everyone applauded, because everyone knows it's true.