Every decade or so, I fish through the file cabinet for the original manuscript of my first novel—The Scott Twins in the Jewelry Mystery. Sound familiar? Especially for you Baby Boomers?
Yes, my first printed story. Literally, because I hadn’t learned cursive writing yet. In 1961, I’d copied Laura Lee Hope’s Bobbsey Twins children’s mystery format by simply changing names. In second grade, I had no idea what plagiarizing meant. Nor did I know anything about intellectual property.
This rookie story had seven chapters starting with Snappy’s Find and ending with chapter seven’s A Reward. Can you guess the plot? My seven-year-old mind thought it sparkled, even on the dingy wide-spaced paper whose penciled words and erasures can still be seen.
At the time, my mother worked at Crane Naval Depot in southern Indiana as a clerk typist. Maybe my work of fiction impressed her or maybe not, but she lent her typing skills and onion skin paper to publish her firstborn’s premiere piece.
Mom let me cut out photos from our Sears Catalog to paste on a thick brown folder. I still remember the power of using those scissors to find two sets of perfect twins. That my mother trusted me with scissors was even more astonishing.
Somehow, I instinctively knew each set of twins needed names that started with the same letter. Alliteration, if you can recall 8th grade English. Meet Bonnie and Bobbie, Nancy and Ned. Ms. Hope had paved the way with her plot and characters.
Why is any of this relevant? A few months ago, I finished writing the first full draft of a historical novel that features my mother as a child and a young adult. My prayer is that our granddaughters will advance past the The Scott Twins and the Jewelry Mystery and someday enjoy reading about their great-grandmother.
Even still, Mom’s encouragement continues to motivate me to reach beyond what I think is possible.
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
- 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.
I blink! Another year passes. And another. In my seventh
decade, time has shifted into warp speed. When I realized 2019 closed out a
decade, I couldn’t help but reflect on the last ten years.
On January 1, 2010, I would not have known my parents would
pass into eternity within the decade’s first three years. Neither would I’ve
comprehended that our children would marry the loves of their lives and then
grace Al and me with the most beautiful granddaughters in the universe. Too
often I said they would never marry. “Al and I will never be grandparents!”
Thankfully I was wrong!
I’m not going to make
any New Year’s predictions for 2020 or for any decade to come. I truly don’t
want to know the future this side of Heaven. If I’ve learned one thing in 65
years, it’s this: I don’t know what tomorrow brings so I will live in real
time, praising a real Savior.
Jesus cradles my time and circumstances in his hands. How do
I know that? From the past. He’s been faithful and I know He cares for me now
If you don’t have Jesus in your life, consider the fact that
He died to give you eternal life. While time in this finite world matters, it’s
not the end of your story. Nor is it the end of mine.
Look back but also look ahead. Your final destination is at