Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday's Fave Five, 11/28/14

Link to Friday's Fave Five host blog

1. Nice Thanksgiving brunch with my folks and sister yesterday morning.  We were able to talk a little with Andrew in China via WeChat and missed him.  Hard to believe this is the second set of holidays since he has been home.

2. Nice Thanksgiving dinner with Mike's family yesterday evening at his sister's house.  Always a houseful with seven of his siblings and families present.  Everybody brings food, so it is a huge spread.  Nobody touched my cake or pumpkin pies, so I have sweets to spare. . . The cake will go in the freezer to use for some future event.  (There were lots of desserts, and my pecan pies got devoured.  In the future I will skip the pumpkin and just bring the pecan.)

3. Mike got home safely Wednesday night from his trip to Alberta.  His luggage went to Houston, but he got back okay!  Supposed to be delivered today.

4. I got ALL my grading done before leaving school on Tuesday, and have a guilt-free holiday for these five days (at least as far as academics go). :-)

5. My sister and I got to go out to eat at our local lakefront restaurant on Wednesday night.  We don't get to do something like that very often.  I enjoyed being with her!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

It's A Wonderful Life

This week was our school play, and this year we did It's A Wonderful Life.  Once again we were able to use a community theater downtown.  Several years ago, I was more than happy to turn the reins of directing the play over to our (then) new speech teacher, and each year he has improved the production more and more.  He absolutely loves producing a play; I may have some of the "juices" of being a director, but do not have nearly as much drive and ability as he has.  He is an outstanding director/producer.

However, this year he asked me to help him, which meant a fairly big commitment of time.  We were at the theater all day Monday and Tuesday; then the performances were Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights this week, and each of those evenings required about five hours.  I stayed backstage; we used walkie talkies to communicate and he could let me know things that needed attention from an out-front perspective.  During the rehearsals, I watched from the audience and was able to make comments from the perspective of someone who was seeing it new--not having worked with it for the past three months as he had.

We have a good group of students who worked well together.  They are also very talented.  The young man who played George Bailey was especially good, and close behind him were the students who played Uncle Billy, Mr. Potter, and Mary Hatch.  And the others did well also--especially the younger ones who were performing in their first OCS play.

We had a near fiasco tonight.  After a certain scene, a Christmas tree had to be rolled out on the stage.  A cast member girl and I were moving it out, and had it about three-quarters of the way to the right place - when it broke in two.  Then the gold and red balls began falling off, making a pop-pop-popping noise as they rolled across the floor.  We're trying to get the tree put back together, in the dark, and retrieve the balls, without laughing or making any more noise.  We definitely made a memory!

Sometimes I wonder why I'm still doing such things.  It would seem like only younger teachers should be putting Christmas trees together on Saturday nights with a group of teenagers.  But I'll hang on until I know it's time to quit.  And, it's a joy to assist with such fine young people who put on such a great show.

Friday, November 21, 2014


I have been thinking today of a young man whom I met a couple of months ago, and his wife whom I have never met.

He had been a teacher in China and had left a study Bible there which he needed, and since there was room in my suitcase, I brought it back to him.  We met him at the missions weekend we attended in September.

While in college, he met and married a girl from New Zealand who had come here for her education; they spent an additional year in another part of China.  I'm not sure of all the exact details, but when they flew back to the States from China, there was something wrong, a minor error in one line, on her visa or her visa application.  It was not discovered until they arrived in California.

She was not allowed to enter the country, so they had to fly to New Zealand.  He then had to return to the States because of a job obligation.  At this time she remains in New Zealand, awaiting approval from the INS about this minor point on her visa.

She was here with a good record for several years on a student visa; she is married to an American citizen, and yet she is not allowed to enter the United States.

I thought of this in reference to the blanket amnesty just given to millions of people who have illegally come into the country.  The situation is patently unfair and is simply not right.

Maybe she should get a ticket to Mexico and just cross the border.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Create Your Own Visited States Map

Create Your Own Visited States Map

These are the states I've been to in my lifetime.  Wisconsin is from childhood; the southwestern states are mostly from a long trip my family took when we went out west when I was 14.  But all the rest are more recent.  I'm gunning for all 50! (or at least the 48 contiguous ones).

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday's Fave Five, 11/14/14

 LINK to Friday's Fave Five host blog

1. A good week at school.  I am preparing to help with the play next week.  Any time I moan and groan about being gone a lot next week, helping with the play (my title is "backstage coordinator"), Mike reminds me, with very little sympathy, "You volunteered!!"  But it will be a good week.  And this week has gone well with preparation for it.

2. A great Veterans' Day assembly with a great speaker.  I already blogged about it here so will not say any more about it.

3. A new Christmas tablecloth, of which I have not yet taken a picture.  It came in the mail this week with a Christmas top ordered also.  I've lately become a bit of a sucker for mail order catalogs.

4. A good roast which we have been eating on all week.  So nice to have something I really like, that lasts most of the week for lunches and quick suppers.

5. Well, I lost a bet this morning.  So I have to take my good friend to Outback.  I told her she has to get the $9.99 special, but she says she's getting the most expensive thing on the menu.  Since she's already told the whole school that I lost a bet and am taking her to Outback, I might as well spread the news to the whole world as well.  Believe it or not, I am deeply thankful for my dear friend!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Veterans' Celebration

Today was our Veterans' Day celebration at school.  It was a big program and a big breakfast afterward for the visiting vets.  This is a great opportunity to show our students what patriotism is and to thank the people who have fought so that they can be free.

This year was especially good in that our speaker was a former POW in Korea - for almost three years. He had much to tell the young people, and they were listening closely.

Here are some of the displays in the lobby.  Anyone connected with our school or church could bring a picture of themselves or any family members who were involved in the military.  We always have a big assortment.

Dear friends, Allison and Carrie, daughters of other dear friends.  They brought the speaker, and Allison, on the left, introduced him during the program.  Always so good to be with them and anyone in their family.

"Attention, Salute, Pledge."  The high school choir is in the background and the speaker and introducer are in the foreground.  Our two administrators are on the right.  The little boy holding the American flag has active-duty parents.

And finally - my eighth grade choric speakers.  They did a great job!!  Very proud of them!!  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Cross and the Flag?

At the Frontline Experience in September, part of one of the sessions gave some history of the missions movement around the world in the past three centuries, and helped explain some of the reasons why some countries, particularly in Africa and Asia, resent missionaries so much.  One of the main reasons:  The cross was intertwined with the flag.  Missionaries tended to go to places where the flags of colonizing countries went.  Since the native people resented being colonized by European nations--they also resented the God of the missionaries who followed those flags.

With that in mind, I have thought about the practice that many churches, not just ours, follow of having special services for Veterans' Day, Memorial Day, and the Fourth of July.  (This thought does not include schools - there is a place for emphasizing and teaching patriotism in all schools, private Christian ones included.)  Yes, we should honor veterans and our country - but is the church the place in which to do this?  I thought of this at a church patriotic service when some Indian people, complete with saris, were visiting.  What did they think of a service where Christ was being preached, but where America was being honored?

Suppose you were in a foreign country, were searching for something to fill the hole in your heart, and had been invited to a local religious service of some type with which you were not familiar.  Inside the meeting place you found the flag of that country being given prominence.  Would you be drawn to the message of the church?  Or would the flag be an obstacle?

One of the reasons that many Asians find it difficult to become Christians is because their religion is so bound up with their patriotism.  Loyalty to their country's religion IS loyalty to their country.  It is a huge difficulty for them to overcome.

Those of us born and reared in America don't think twice about the appropriateness of patriotic services.  But we serve a God who transcends patriotism, and we preach that same God in our churches.  If we say that God is for all - maybe we ought to rethink the emphasis that we place on honoring our individual countries in our churches.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Twenty-Six Years Ago

Twenty-six years ago today was Andrew's due date.  I remember waking up that morning and feeling kinda odd.  No real pain, just a strange feeling.  I thought about not going in to school, but Mike reminded me that, if this were not the real thing, I would feel really strange having to go back to school for more days if this baby didn't come.

I went to school and taught, sitting on a stool, for two periods--then, at chapel time, told the secretary I was going to the hospital, one block away, to get checked just to make sure everything was OK.  Turns out my blood pressure was high and they kept me to lie on one side and then walk, walk, walk, to try to get things going.

The doctor came in later and decided to really get things going.  (This is being written with the "TMI" principle in mind.)  Anyway, at 7:30 that night, after a difficult breech birth - Andrew Hamilton had arrived.  Our lives have never been the same - Children (both him and his sister) profoundly changed us.  They always do and they always will.

It's hard to believe that Andrew is on the other side of the world for his second straight birthday.  But, no matter where he is physically, I will forever remember the events of this day, in 1988, and remember the day that I became a mom.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Friday's Fave Five 11/7/14

Link to Friday's Fave Five host blog

1. Very thankful for the outcome of Tuesday's elections.  God is in control of our country, and we can never stop asking Him for direction and protection; however, it was SO nice to see that the people of this great nation see the same problems that need to be corrected in Washington.

2. My eighth graders are coming along great in their choric speaking presentation for our Veterans' Day chapel.  I got the powerpoint completed a couple of days ago.  I had to make two corrections:  Had used a slide of Ben Franklin for what I thought was Patrick Henry.  The students quickly noticed that and pointed it out.  They also noticed something else:  One slide, for a generic slide needed of a stadium, was of Yankee Stadium.  That will not do.  This morning I replaced it with one of Fenway Park in Boston.

The slides along the left of this post are all taken from the powerpoint presentation.

3. Last Friday night we had a wonderful evening with dear friends for over 30 years - always good to be in contact with them!

4. And last Saturday night we had a wonderful evening with dear friends here in town, to watch the football game.  Our team handed away a two-touchdown lead in the last two minutes of the game (that is the third time that they've done it this season, so that was pathetic - but at least the fellowship was nice.

5. Just got a text from Mike.  The repair man came today and the gas line for our extra heater has been repaired, and he's fixed the broken eye on the stove.  (Last Sunday I tried to turn on one of the burners, and the switch completely broke off.  Fortunately it was off when that happened.)  Mike is so good about fixing things as quickly as possible.  I am very appreciative!!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Smart-Aleck Sophomore

Me, trying to find makeup tests and get a study hall settled down at the same time:  "I hear voices!"
Student: "You'd better get that checked out."

Saturday, November 1, 2014

My Experiences with School Leadership

Leadership is a topic that is often on my mind.  I've seen so much.  I've seen how everything rises and falls on leadership.  I've seen how good leadership can make a school or break a school (or a church or any organization).

After 35 years of teaching, in two different schools, with multiple layers of leadership, I've seen many leaders and leadership styles.  For better or for worse.  My first school was part of a much larger university structure, so on top of the school principal, we had upper-level administration.  My second school is part of a church structure, so on top of the school administrator, we have the pastor/school president as well as other administrative personnel.

I've seen it all.  Or most all.  I've worked directly under seven principal/administrators or assistants, and multiple upper-level management authorities.  Sometimes it seems like the rank and file are the ones who stick around - the leadership is always changing.

The following will be written in plural form, and will not be in any chronological or reverse chronological order, so that no one person is incriminated.  I'm also going to mix up the good and the bad, as well as give different aspects of the same leaders in different sentences.  I've seen:

--Leaders who had absolutely no aptitude for running the day-to-day workings of a school.  They were great at being upfront and PR people, but did not "get" the workings.  The teachers, in meetings, were always far ahead in solving problems than the leadership.

--Leaders who managed people beautifully.  Parents could come in to the office, furious about whatever had happened or was going on, and would come out with a smile on their face.  There was one administrator who, even many years later, when in a difficulty I always think "How would ___ handle this?"

--Leaders who were clueless as to what was going on around them.  The building could be in complete disrepair, and the staff getting more and more resentful about the detachment of the leadership, but the top brass would be in denial - either unwittingly or knowingly.

--Leaders who were quietly but consistently on top of everything that was going on.  This is the kind of leadership that is not fully appreciated - until it is gone.

--Leaders who were quite visionary, having many things going on at once and many ideas for new ways of doing things and new ways of change.

--Leaders who did not fully recognize the need for supervision on a daily basis.

--Leaders who were dominators and who ruled with a mighty hand, who insisted that their vision was the only one that mattered and all others were to kowtow to them and their program.

--Leaders who examined every side of an issue, making sure that all bases were covered and possible problems examined before even considering whether to implement any new ideas.

--Leaders who never changed the schedule or calendar.

--Leaders who changed the schedule or the calendar at a moment's notice.

--Leaders who never called a snow day.

--Leaders who called a snow day at a moment's (or snowflake's) notice.

--Leaders who showed a refreshing spirit of new ideas and ways to complement the program.

--Leaders who showed a refreshing spirit of continuity without constantly injecting new ideas and ways to complement the program.

--Leaders who had no respect for their employees' time and personal life.

--Leaders who had utmost respect for their employees' time and personal life.

--Leaders who thought that just saying "I am the (boss, administrator, president of the school)" was all they had to do.

--Leaders who were rarely seen.

--Leaders who were everywhere, pitching in, a part of things, doing whatever needed to be done.

--Leaders whose work ethic was perceived to be weak by the staff.

--Leaders whose hard work ethic was a stellar example to the employees who worked for them.

And finally,

--Leaders who have much to answer for when they meet the Lord; as well as

--Leaders who will receive a "Well done, thou good and faithful servant" when they meet the Lord.