Thursday, August 30, 2012

We Don't Care About That City Violence...

We're studying Objectionable Elements in Literature - we do that at the first of every year in my junior and senior classes. One of the students just wrote on a quiz that Christians want to censor "rural violence." Yep - we don't care about the city violence!!! (BTW the answer was supposed to be "lurid violence.") :-)

Monday, August 27, 2012


My daughter texted me tonight to let me know that she got her placement for her practicum, or whatever they call it, for her education major class.  She is pleased with her assignment.

I told her that she is a natural - she's smart, she likes working with children, and she is very, very creative.  That's a great combination for going into education.

Plus, genetically, she doesn't have a chance.  :-)  Her mother, both her grandmothers, and two aunts on each side of the family - four total - were all teachers!

There is something very enjoyable in watching one's daughter start to meet her educational goals and do well.

Things I Am Realizing Are True, More And More Every Day

  • My motives are not always as pure as I'd like to think they are.
  • I don't always have to put my two cents' worth in.
  • I don't always have to get my way.
  • Many, if not most, people are struggling a lot more than they are letting others know about.
  • I sin a lot more than I want to admit.
  • Learning to say "I'm sorry" is the best way to strengthen relationships.
  • The Bible is right when it says that a soft answer turns away wrath.
  • Once you've heard really good expository preaching, any other kind pales in comparison.

"The Silent Second-Term Agenda" - Link

Outstanding link by Kimberley A. Strassel of the Wall Street Journal.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

My Son Having Some Fun--

Who would have ever thought that this shy little boy. . .
 would get to the point where he would love singing like this?  

Friday, August 24, 2012

"Mama! Mama!"

A mother whose daughter is new in our school told me yesterday that she thinks her daughter's unhappy reaction is much more intense when she is around, as once the girl gets with her class she appears to be fine.

Which reminded me of the first time I observed this phenomenon.  I was teaching at BJJH, and Andrew was a toddler.  He and I had to ride 45 minutes together every morning, since we had moved away by then, but I had to finish out my contract.  I'd put him in the car straight from his crib each morning in the hopes that he'd sleep.  Never happened.  Once there, we'd go to the nursery, where I'd dress him, and then, when the workers got there, leave him so I could get to work by 7:30.

On those mornings he put on a show worthy of an Academy Award.  Each morning I would leave feeling like the anti-Mother of the Year, the wicked witch who abandons her child, in a cold and lonely place, to sob the morning away.

One morning, leaving with a heavy heart to the sound of his cries of "Mama! Mama!" I walked outside and around to his room, stepped through the shrubbery, and looked through the window.

He was on on one of the hobby horses, with his best buddy on the one next to him, and the two of them were furiously racing as fast as they could go, grinning and laughing, having a wonderful time.  It was abundantly apparent that thoughts of his mom were nowhere in his little brain.

And I had been gone from his room maybe thirty seconds.

I had been duped.  Therein lay my first introduction to the true nature of mothers and children.  And it in no way resembled the lovely portraits of the beautiful and trusting Madonna and child!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wednesday Misc.

--I'm sitting here looking at a group of 7th graders in study hall.  I have several study halls this year and it really makes a difference in lowering stress levels for me - More time to get my own work done.  However, this being 7th grade primarily, I do have to move around and check on them from time to time.

--I'm also really enjoying the new desk chair my sister gave me.  It's extremely comfortable and supportive of my lower back.  Thank you Rhoda!

--AND, I'm thankful that my friend Matt was willing to come to school yesterday and fix my printer.  He's a computer man who used to do some work for our church and who has a daughter in our school - on open house night he said he would stop by and take a look at it, but he didn't think about it, so he actually left work early and came by here to help me with it.  It hasn't worked since I disconnected it last spring.  It was wonderful this morning to send something to it and hear it printing this morning.  So much more convenient than having to print to our copier in the library.

--Today in senior English I had mentioned purchasing a fruit and yogurt parfait at McDonalds the other day, and that it was very good as well as a reasonable price.  ($1.00!)  A student who works there said they don't really sell many, "just a few to older ladies."  Between her comment and the look on my face, there was laughter in the room.  Two senior girls came to my defense and said they order them all the time.  I was relieved.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

An Experience At A Gym

About ten days ago I joined a gym and have been going regularly ever since.  I do have to build up slowly to prevent aggravating back and knee issues that could very quickly sideline this attempt if I am not careful.  But so far so good.

A man named Charles was at the desk the morning I joined and he showed me where to go to sign up.  On Saturday he was also there and we chatted for about five minutes about how to build up slowly with cardio exercises.  On the way out I spoke briefly with him and thanked him for his help.

On Thursday's visit, there was a note at the check-in desk about a funeral to be held that afternoon.  For Charles.  He died early this week; I don't know anything about it, just that it was not a natural death.

Tennyson said "I am a part of all that I have met." We all affect - and are affected by - all we meet, even casual contacts.  My interactions with Charles were extremely limited and brief.  But his death is to me another wake-up call that we never know if those we come in contact with might be in great crisis - or may not have long to live.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Good Model For Sending Teens On Mission Trips

Last Sunday night our church mission team that had just returned from El Salvador gave their report in the service.  About fourteen people went, mostly adults but a few teens.

In my opinion this is the way that mission teams are best handled for teens.  Those who went, went with their parents.  It was a great bonding experience, as several parents have told me, and the young people worked right alongside their parents and the other adults.  There were enough of their own age so that they could feel like they weren't alone; however, there were not so many teens that they were able to join in cliques, have their own private jokes, and depend on each other instead of reaching out to the people and learning about the culture.

When a large youth group goes on a mission team, just the young people with their sponsors, I believe that for the majority of the teens it is really just a glorified youth group trip - at a huge financial cost.

A group of teens went on a trip to a European country (most not with parents).  There were a lot of adults on the trip, but a very large group of teens.  When they returned I was concerned about the stories that they had to tell, because they had lots and lots of free time which they spent just sitting in the plaza of the main town.  The next school year when I had some of those young men come to talk about that country to my geography class, and asked them what they most got out of the trip, they responded "Watching girls."  I was greatly dismayed by that, and that is when I started thinking through the matter of teen missions trips.

Several years ago my school sent several groups to China.   I think that about 10% of those who went really got the benefit and the burden that such a trip should entail.  One young man came back and said that the best part of the trip was "the sauna in the hotel."  I believe that most who went (they ranged from 8th to 10th graders) were not mature enough to really recognize the huge privilege and opportunity that was afforded them by being able to take a trip of that magnitude.

I went to Haiti at age 21 with a group of college-age students.  I was profoundly affected by that trip - to the point that it opened my eyes to missions for life.  College-age students are different - they have the maturity to see the needs and to have their hearts affected.   But I really think that high school teens who go on trips do much better in the scenario at the start of this post.

If we had it to do over again - that's the way we'd send our children on missions trips.  We'd go with them, in smaller settings, and we'd all get the benefit together. Not to mention the wonderful bonding experience of being on a mission trip with our teens.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

To Make You Groan. . .

From a FB friend:

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Gifts From the Past

Changing classrooms this year has become a great opportunity to clean some things out of my bookcases and cabinets.  Late Thursday afternoon, during a torrential rainstorm that delayed my going home, I was working on one shelf and discovered this old, worn copy of a Shakespeare anthology.  Since it didn't appear to be anything unusual, and there are plenty of better copies around, I started to throw it away, but looked in the front cover and discovered . . .

this name.  I have no idea how my mother-in-law's college Shakespeare textbook made it to my classroom, nor any idea how long it has been there.  Perhaps I ended up with it after Mike's dad passed away, but even if that is the case, I can't imagine how it got taken to school. 

There were about a dozen sheets of her class notes scattered throughout the book, written in fountain pen in her neat handwriting.

And even a note from what appeared to be a dorm supervisor, telling her to stop by the office for a message!

I never knew my mother-in-law, so finding a book like this is like receiving a gift from the past.  I gave it to Mike tonight, and he was pleased to see it as well--especially because he likes Shakespeare and will appreciate having this copy of his mother's.  It will not be returning to my classroom!

And this is a picture that ML found recently on someone's Facebook.  Along with some others, she had prints made, and we framed them.  I had never seen this picture of Mike's mom.  She looks like maybe about college-age here - maybe a little older.  It's been a touch to the heart to receive both connections to her in the same week.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Great Night in Lincoln, IL

I'm a little jealous - Andrew's group sang in Lincoln, IL, last night; eleven family members went, and I am here in the southeast wishing I could have been there!  Those who went said it went very well and they have posted several pictures and video links on our family blog. (I've copied the photos here.)   It means a great deal that they would go to the time and trouble to hear Andrew sing.  Just wish he would have had more time to visit with them afterward, but apparently they had to get on the road right away. Thank you to all the family who went!!


Yesterday's post was about the song "It Is Not Death To Die" as sung by Sovereign Grace; today's is about the book, It Is Not Death To Die, by Jim Cromarty.  Same name; two different things.
My friend Barbara had reviewed this book here on her blog, and had mentioned her friend Debbie's review sometime earlier, which is when I decided to purchase a copy of it--but did not look back at either of their reviews until after completing the book.  Mike and I have both been reading it, but I got way ahead when he went on night shift, and finished it last night.

A good missionary biography is worth the time, and is usually an inspiring read.  This biography is good to a point.  It is a very thorough treatise of Hudson Taylor's life, and a very thorough exposition of the difficulties encountered in the early days of the China Inland Mission.

It does disintegrate, particularly in the second half of the book, into somewhat of a list of "Then Hudson went back to China; then he returned to England; then he . . ."  I noticed that Barbara independently agreed with that analysis.  The author could have left out the details of some of the back and forth trips without losing the theme of the outstanding dedication and sacrifice displayed by Hudson Taylor as he opened up the interior of China for the sake of the gospel.

The following is not a fault with the book itself, but rather a disagreement with what may have been prevailing philosophy at the time: it was troubling to observe when reading that the future of the children of the missionaries did not seem to be of concern to Taylor or to the others in the mission.  They seemed to think nothing of sending the children back to England for others to rear.  They also did not appear to think that spouses being together was important.  Taylor left his second wife in England for long periods of time, partly so she could rear the children (with others), while he spent time in China or took trips to America and Australia promoting the mission.  I think that today's priorities would be different.  They probably see what they did as sacrifice for the sake of spreading the gospel.  We would see it as a wrong emphasis, that fathers should look out for their own families first, before being concerned about the salvation of others.  Maybe both are extremes.

The other thing that this English teacher reader did not care for was an apparent change in editors, or something happening, so that in the last fifth of the book the spelling of his second wife's name was oddly changed from "Jennie" to "Jenny."  Weak editing IMO, as well as in another place where the name was misspelled "Jennir." There were a few other minor errors as well, which suggests that the editing was done less carefully and more quickly than it should have been.

I was reinspired as to the difficulty of pioneer missions, the deprivations they experienced, the courage they showed in the face of huge danger, and the way their faith was their only lifeline at times.  It was a reminder of the cushy life that we American Christians experience in comparison.  If you don't mind a lot of details in a biography, this is a good read.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

"It Is Not Death to Die"

Last spring I got a copy of a new biography of Hudson Taylor, It Is Not Death to Die, by Jim Cromarty.  I had not yet read it when Mike's sister passed away, but both Mike and I were touched at that time by the title of the book.  I remembered that there was a song of the same name, which was then sung at the funeral by our talented elementary music teacher here at school.

The song has been running through my mind all summer.  It is a beautiful and thoughtful comfort to a Christian.

Apparently the phrase "It is not death to die" originated in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress (according to the end of the book) and did not actually have anything to do with Hudson Taylor's life.  The original verses are in this poem from the 1800s, which was later modified for the song which is produced by Sovereign Grace (link with more information to follow).

It Is Not Death to Die
by H. A. Cesar Malan, 1787-1864
translated by George W. Bethune, 1805-1862
It is not death to die,
To leave this weary road,
And midst the brotherhood on high
To be at home with God.
It is not death to close
The eye long dimmed by tears
And wake in glorious repose
To spend eternal years.
It is not death to bear
The wrench that sets us free
From dungeon chain, to breathe the air
Of boundless liberty.
It is not death to fling
Aside this sinful dust
And rise, on strong, exulting wing,
To live among the just.
Jesus, Thou Prince of Life,
Thy chosen cannot die;
Like Thee, they conquer in the strife
To reign with Thee on high.
Here is a link to more information about this poem/song, including the old words posted above, as well as the revised lyrics which make up the beautiful song, and audio of the song.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

This quotation is from Peggy Noonan's column (titled on RealClearPolitics as "The Most Famous Words of the Obama Presidency"):
"From a friend watching the Olympics: 'How about that Michael Phelps? But let's remember he didn't win all those medals, someone else did. After all, he and I swam in public pools, built by state employees using tax dollars. He got training from the USOC, and ate food grown by the Department of Agriculture. He should play fair and share his medals with people like me, who can barely keep my head above water, let alone swim.'
"The note was merry and ironic. And as the games progress, we'll be hearing a lot more of this kind of thing, because President Obama's comment—"You didn't build that"—is the political gift that keeps on giving.
"They are now the most famous words he has said in his presidency. And oh, how he wishes they weren't."

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The School Year Is Coming!

The school mode is starting.  Inservice starts a week from today.  I have already paid off my daughter to decorate my room (hey, we both win that way) so most of that is already done.  It's a new room for me - had been in the other one for 21 years--and I am teaching all English this year.  No science!  So this is a new start, and that makes the beginning of the school year much more invigorating than past years.

This is the photo for one of the bulletin boards ML made for me.  And, she made it look wonderful on the board.  She is very, very artistically talented, and I am proud of her.

The fact that I am psyched to go back, and have already started getting ready - have been editing vocabulary quizzes, planning things, and just gearing up - states the obvious:  Teaching is in my blood.