Thursday, May 31, 2012

An Ice Cream Sundae...

So Mike got a hankering tonight for ice cream, enough to go over to the Fruit Punch and order a treat.  He must really have wanted it badly because he even encouraged me to get something more than just a scoop.  So I got a hot fudge sundae, which I haven't had in a long, long time.  I took one bite - and was instantly transported more than forty years back in my life, to '60s and early '70s summers, and Aunt Louise's trips to The Whip ice cream stand in Princeville, IL.  Something like that required a double cajoling - first just  to get Aunt Louise to take us to The Whip, and secondly to get a hot fudge sundae instead of just a cone.  Sometimes she was an easy target and other times she could stand firm.  But the taste of one of those sundaes is something that stayed in my memory for. . . over forty years.

Sometime this summer I'll try to post more about Aunt Louise, Aunt Hulda, and Grandma Hemmer.  All were very special women in my life as well as  to my siblings and cousins.  I'll also post something about Grandma K., who was equally as memorable on the other side of the family.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"Thou Art the Lord Who Slept Upon the Pillow"

So many trials for so many people, it seems like, lately.  I just heard that a former student died in a car accident last night.  A good internet friend - wife of a Christian camp program director - was diagnosed with cancer a few days ago.  Former students with a son who has a degenerative mitochondrial disease. A dear older friend who is in heart failure.  People struggling with depression.  The loss of Mike's sister.

The Christian has a source of strength that others do not have.  I just read Lamentations 3 this morning and it blessed my heart as to the hope of the believer.

This Amy Carmichael poem was published on this blog several years ago but it is worth repeating.

Thou art the Lord who slept upon the pillow;
Thou art the Lord who soothed the furious sea.
What matter beating wind and tossing billow
If only we are in the boat with Thee?
Hold us in quiet through the age-long minute

While Thou art silent, and the wind is shrill:
Can the boat sink while Thou, dear Lord, art in it? 
Can the heart faint that waiteth on Thy will?

--Amy Carmichael

Saturday, May 26, 2012

"In Just a Moment"

I have a number of blog posts ideas ready to go, but somehow putting pictures of the process of putting in our new pool liner, or the other ideas, seem very "surface" after the passing of Mike's sister last weekend. A death brings a sober and serious response, which it should.  It is a good thing to pause after a death for awhile, to realize again that our life on earth is but a vapor, and that we must be serious about our time here.

I do, however, have an essay that was given to me just this week by my friend Karen, mother of my former student Matt.  He won a major extemporaneous essay contest at his college with this entry, writing it in under an hour.  It is a tremendous piece of work and it expands on the thinking above.  With their permission I am reproducing it on this blog.

IN JUST A MOMENT by Matt Sullivan

"In just a moment, the performance will begin."  "The doctor will see you in just a moment."  "In just a moment, I will forward your call to the next available clerk."  Life is full of events that may happen in just a moment.  That moment may be full of happiness, tragedy, surprise, or enjoyment; but whatever it is, it is just a moment away.  Many consider a normal day monotonous, but with these "in just a moments" waiting to happen, life becomes full of unexpected happenings.

Consider a single man, mid-20's, on his way to work.  In just a moment, he will meet the love of his life after he spills his double-shot expresso all over her new blouse.  However, this recent college graduate is too busy catching up on the current events in The New York Times to even notice the beautiful blonde standing right next to him.  With a quick shift in position, his morning pick-me-up turns a new pink J-Crew blouse a sort of yellow-brown.  In the midst of the resounding burning of the hot coffee and the repeated apologies of the young law graduate, in just a moment two sets of eyes that have been searching twenty-three years for each other finally meet.  In just a moment, the young man has himself a date that night.

A scenario like this may seem a little far-fetched, but "in just a moments" affect people in serious ways every day.  In just a moment, a seasoned officer in the Marines on his second tour of duty will experience the quick sensation of a sniper's shell lodging into his heart.  However, right now his mind is back on his twenty-acre ranch in Texas with his wife of eighteen years and their nine- and seven-year-old girls.  He walks through the fields of grain with one hand feeling his crops and the other holding ithe hand of his love.  He smells the approaching summer rains and closes his eyes to partake of God's glory all around.  In just a moment, the officer's mind will return to Iraq and the end of his life.  In just a moment, Texas will have one less farmer.

It is frightening to think that in just a moment, life may end.  Only God's hand holds the blood vessels around your brain in place so that you do not suffer a stroke.  Only His power keeps every cell functioning as it should in our bodies.  No man holds a monopoly on time, and in just a moment, life can vanish like a vapor.

In just a moment, Joseph Shank will run into the arms of God.  He has no idea, and neither do any of us.  I'm too busy reading British literature on a Wednesday night.  His parents are arriving home from church.  His brother is shadowing a doctor in town.  In just a moment, all of our lives will change forever.  He is running around the high school track around 10:00 at night.  In the cool October night, he sits down to rest because his heart is giving him pain.  As he stands up, he runs a few more feet and leaves this life forever.  He is eighteen years old.

In just a moment, I will see the face of a friend I knew all my life, now lying in a casket.  As I walk down the aisle of the church I have grown up in, I realize Joseph will never walk that aisle with me again.  As I pass his body, and the tears flow on October 22, 2010, I realize that in just a moment, everything could be over.

I experienced firsthand that "in just a moment" event, and my life was changed forever.  The shock of that day still resonates in me, and forces me to evaluate my life.  I realize that as I write this essay, in just a moment I could be in heaven.  This thought forces me to live every moment as if, in just a moment, I could say goodbye to this earth.

Because none of us know what lies in the next few seconds of our lives, we must live every moment as if it were our last, for the glory of God.  Life is too short to be lived for ourselves, and there is great reward in living every day for Jesus Christ.  In just a moment, I will set my pencil down and finish this essay.  What happens after that remains to be seen, for who am I to say that I will even leave the room I am seated in.  In just a moment, I will discover what the next second holds.

Friday, May 25, 2012


I have a lot of catch-up to do on this blog, but simply haven't had the wherewithal to do much of that right now. However, last night was graduation and I wanted to at least get this posted.  Did not take a lot of pictures, but wanted to show this one of my pretty senior girls getting ready to get on with the ceremony.
Dad spoke.  This all got started in October, when Dad came to school one morning to measure for some shelves he was putting in the cabinets in the lab.  He stopped by my room to say goodbye, and on the spur of the moment I told him to come in and say a few words to the seniors.  He, like any good preacher, had some thoughts he could share on the spot.  They loved it and asked if he could come back.  So about every other week or so (with permission from the principal), he would come to my class and just talk with them for about fifteen minutes, sharing wisdom and Bible truths from someone who is further down the road of life.  They liked him and what he had to say, so that's why they brought his name up when asked if they had a preference for their graduation speaker. 

My poor camera just doesn't do zoom or distance very well any more (maybe being dropped on the cement floor of our garage has something to do with that?), so I made this picture small, but there he is speaking.  He had a good message and the seniors really liked it. There's something about having a speaker that they know and appreciate, that is better than having someone come in that they don't know and won't remember after that night.

And finally, as the group was leaving the high school building to go to the auditorium - look what was resting on the outside ledge right by the door where they exited.  Someone said they hoped it wasn't an omen. . . It apparently wasn't as everything went very well.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Mike and his siblings.

This was taken last night after the funeral for his sister.  Some are still dressed from the funeral and some have changed clothes after a long day.  A good family friend is a photographer and took this for them.  

Mike and his brother conducted the service and did a great job.  One sister told some family stories that really added, as did the stories told by a friend of the family.  Another sister read scripture.  Steve gave the message and Mike gave concluding remarks.  I was so proud of him and what he said.  The chapel was packed, standing room only; the lobby was full of people; the parking lot could take no more cars, and people were parked along the road.  And we've heard of people who tried to come and just left because there was no parking and no seating left.  With so many family members, and many various people coming to support all of them, the place was filled to overflowing.

It seems like it's been months since last Friday morning.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Long Day Today

Today we say goodbye to Mike's sister. It is going to be a long and emotional day.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Tone is Everything. Tact is Everything.

Recently someone sent a family member a scathing message about an issue about which the two disagree.  The writer holds very strong opinions, a right that we all have, and I have no argument with that.  However, the message was all but lost because of the unkind and tactless way in which it was expressed.  The writer's influence on the family member was not enhanced, but rather negated.  That's what happens when we don't think about the tone, as well as the meaning, of our words.

It is unfortunate that the blunt and unkind words this writer chose to use got so far in the way of the message.

I learned early in teaching that tone and tact are everything when dealing with both students, parents, and even other teachers.  It is far better to say "Your child was untruthful to me today" rather than to say "I caught your child lying today."  That's just one example.

I still have much to learn about this subject.  But it's critical for all of us to continue on the curve.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I Won Something!!!

I never win anything, but today I did!!!  Barbara, an acquaintance from college (we lived on the same hall) who has become a much better internet friend than we were in school, had a contest on her blog, Stray Thoughts, for the e-book That Works For Me.  And my number came up!  Thank you, Barbara, and I will enjoy the book!