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 “Beautiful” Day in the Neighborhood

When we moved to Hunter’s Pointe in June 1987, I was thrilled. At that time Center Grove was just beginning to grow, and it felt like we had shifted from urban to country. But most of all, I loved having an extra room downstairs to contain all the kids’ toys. No more tripping over Lego structures or baby dolls on the way to the kitchen!

Fast-forward 32 years and voila! That’s the same room our kids now fight over when they visit.

Most days in Hunter’s Pointe are typical suburbia—cyclists, folks walking their dogs, runners, mothers pushing strollers, and a constant to-work, come-home traffic flow.

This past Wednesday our neighborhood flooded (literally) confusion. While West Crooked Lane is getting a much-needed facelift, a broken water main created a river. Personnel from both the paving company and Bargersville Water Company literally met in the middle.

Our typical neighborhood now felt like a disaster zone. Orange cones and hardhat construction workers redirected traffic. Water surged into the ripped apart concrete streets. The crushed stone base sank swamp-like.

Upheavals like this precipitate instant life-changes—boil water, stay home, etc.

Such is life this side of Heaven! We’re often cast into chaos. We can be walking on level ground one moment when troubles surge. Then who saves us? It’s simple.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Isaiah 43:2-3

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

Winter Weary?

My writing place, a roll top maple desk inherited from my father, sits by the window in our front room. There I sit on a bright blue 55cm performance ball whose goal is to strengthen my core. The reality is that it’s great for bouncing. Many days that’s all I do there, bounce, check email and stare out the window.

The past few days the sun’s been out, hinting that spring may actually happen. However, the outdoor thermometer reader on my desk indicates, “Not today.” Our temperature? 16.1

In Central Indiana we’re still waiting for spring, aren’t we?

Actually we spend much of our time waiting, whether it’s for a sunny day, a check in the mail, the next available customer service representative, or for a red light to change. 

Yesterday I stood at a local pharmacy waiting while four behind-the-counter folks ignored me. All I needed was to pick up a z-pack of antibiotics that their text had indicated was ready. Being the godly woman that I am, I said nothing snarky while there, but when I walked into our kitchen a few minutes later, my husband Al was privileged to hear my ranting.

Waiting wears us out, doesn’t it? Have you ever considered God understands this and maybe even feels this same way at times? He would have every right to tire of waiting for us to get our act together.  Or for us to repent, acknowledge, and trust Him to carry our burdens.

God is good at waiting. Let’s join Him.

He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless.
Youths may faint and grow weary, and young men stumble and fall,
but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength;
they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary;
they will walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:29-31, HCSB

Impatiently Yours

Dear God,

One of your Midwest daughters, who happens to enjoy golf and gardening and considers herself a four-season-kind-of-girl, reporting in! I’m writing to request that you remove the snow and sub-par temperatures from our spring, soon to be a month old.

On behalf of my fellow Hoosiers, I am boldly requesting that the gray days, chilly mornings, and snow flurries disappear until Thanksgiving. Even though You’ve resurrected my perennials, these plants would appreciate more sunshine. I could use some, too. I like winter, but it has its place. Now is the time for April showers, rainbows, and sunshine. Especially sunshine!

While I’m mature enough in my faith to understand this world is not my forever home, I’m still here. Looking out my front window, I see gray clouds and asphalt patches filling caved-in concrete—a poor substitute for streets of gold and Your glorious light!

Now I don’t like to compare myself with others because that gets me into trouble, but my children, one family who calls Houston home and the other one residing in San Diego, occasionally taunt their father and me with reports of sunshine and temperate weather. Please make them more sensitive to their parents’ frame of reference. While they’ve invited us to visit, the minute we leave, our grass will grow a foot tall and the 13-year-old kitties will decide it’s time for a hairball contest.

No, for the moment, we’re staying home—indoors—in Indiana. But I know this can’t last forever, so I’m simply asking for a quicker turnaround than what perhaps You’ve planned for our state and state of mind.

Impatiently yours,

Joyce