When I Teach, I Learn. . .

On Valentine’s Day I wrapped up a promised Christmas gift, one that my goddaughter requested. Since I had been a middle school teacher and because they were studying Southeast Asia, Miss Lain invited me to share about my trip to Cambodia in 2013.

I began cramming for my presentation by reviewing facts about Cambodia and designing a worksheet for students to fill in the blanks as I talked. To my surprise, I didn’t need to use PowerPoint but instead loaded the pictures into Google Photos where she could remotely access them.

Arriving at 7:45am, I reported to the office, signed in, and then waited in the classroom for her to return from a meeting with parents. That brought back my memories from the 1990’s of early morning meetings.

Most of the classes were well-behaved, but it was Valentine’s Day and a few teachers were handing out candy with Skittles, as always, the favorite. In contrast, Miss Lain’s surprise for her students was a 65-year-old, white-haired guest speaker.

Here’s what I learned or remembered from teaching 7 forty-seven-minute classes:

  • Thirteen-year-old student behavior hasn’t changed much since the 1990’s.
  • Approximately 5 students in each class were not born in the U.S.
  • Silence works well in regaining their attention.
  • They loved the photos and accompanying stories.
  • Today’s seventh graders ask good and sometimes difficult-to-answer questions.
  • Teachers must find ways to involve students to make a point, such as asking them to stand if they wore glasses and then explaining how they would have been arrested for that in Cambodia during the late 1970’s.
  • Six hours of constant talking and standing in front of teenagers is still exhausting!

God bless those of you who teach. Its rewards are priceless. In today’s mail, notes from each of Miss Lain’s classes thanked me for the presentation.

Gratitude is still alive and well in the hearts of our children even if it takes a special teacher to extract it! Perhaps that’s one of the more important things teachers teach.

A Big Deal

Last week I did something while golfing I’ve never done before and probably will never do again. I shot a hole in one. But it wasn’t scored that way. Fetching my go-to club, a seven iron, I took a slow swing that ended with my favorite Volvik ball bouncing into the pond in front of Otte Golf Course’s sixth hole. I hadn’t done that for awhile. Tragically I lost a distinctive, but used ball.

Against PGA rules and protocol, I quickly called a mulligan and hit another ball, a light pink Lady Hagan with the breast cancer ribbon, which is now encased on my desk. This season all of my pink golf balls are salvaged, patiently waiting in tall grass for my husband and his golf buddies when playing longer courses to retrieve for me.

Determined to be better the second time around, I hit it solidly, saw it land near the flag, and then watched as it disappeared. “Did what I think happen, Mary Lou?” She nodded. “I’ve never ridden with anyone who has done that!”

Waltzing over to the other cart with longtime friends and golf buddies Janey and Mary, I began to jump up and down. “Joyce, its score is 3,” Janey said. Still it was worth a photo.

After my heart quit racing and a few hours passed, I began to think about this mountaintop moment. In the big scheme of life, hitting a small ball into a hole 70 yards out isn’t that big a deal. What is a big deal is that we keep trying to become better.

Even though He may not be checking our golf score, God expects us to be people who persevere.

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1:4, NIV

A River Runs Through It

True or False? I have never lived farther than 10 miles from White River. At the risk of your thinking I don’t get out much, my answer is True.

While growing up in Bloomfield, Indiana, our family crossed White River frequently as it edged the town’s western perimeter. My sister and I could bike to one of its creeks where we learned to skip stones and torment frogs with stray branches.

Later I followed the river north. Although I didn’t choose Ball State University based upon its five-mile proximity to White River, I enjoyed knowing it was nearby. The only Muncie river interaction I remember involved an earth science class field trip to study how the city purified its water.

The farthest I’ve ever lived from White River came after Al and I were married and rented our first apartment near Eagle Creek Reservoir. At that location, I was approximately 10 miles from the river. Ironically that was the closest I’ve ever lived to a body of water.

When we built our first home in Decatur Township two years later, we lived five miles west of the river. In 1987, we moved to our current location in Center Grove, five miles east of the river.  When it flooded in 2008, White River and our area erupted into a news flash as homes were damaged beyond repair.

This spring White River became relevant when Al and I were introduced to its scenic four-mile round trip asphalt trail, the White River Greenway Trail, which starts at Waverly’s Old Town Park. There’s no better way to spend a sunny afternoon.

Thank you, White River, for being a continuum this side of Heaven!

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. . .” Revelation 22:1

Best Yet

Last week my husband Al decided it was time to talk about my upcoming birthday. Thinking this meeting was going to be all about me, I was thrilled.

As we sat together at the kitchen table, a new reality trampled my expectations as he pulled out spreadsheets—never a good sign. Groaning, I immediately thought, “Oh no!  Budget adjustments for 2019.” Welcome to retirement world!

Instead my birthday tête-à-tête with my beloved delved into the amazing world of Medicare, where part and plan are not interchangeable. Supplements are not advantages and donut holes are not edible.

My first question: “Am I really going to be 65 this year?” Surely not!  I remember thinking my folks were old when they were in their mid-sixties. Father Time could not have thrown me into that future so quickly, could he?

In my mind, I’m mid-forties at the most. But I will admit that sometimes my body and mind don’t concur with that calculation—such as when I get out of bed in the morning and wonder how long it will take to straighten up and walk a straight line. Or when I walk into a room, look around, and wonder why I’m there. Or when I spend way too much time chasing down my phone. That little techie rascal plays hide-n-seek.

But wait a minute. I’m not complaining! I praise God that He has given me 65 years of a good life, a blessed life, in fact.  Born into a great family, being married to an amazing man, having healthy children and grandchildren. and a multitude of loving friends—I have no reason to complain. Ever!

The best part is that God sees my being 65 years old as just a blip in time. He made us to live forever.  All we need is to trust in Jesus Christ. After all, the Son of God conquered death on our behalf. Life everlasting is ours through Christ alone.

The best is yet to come.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self] is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18, ESV