Saturday, April 29, 2006

Broken Toys

I've been thinking about something that happened when I was a very little girl.
I had a dolly that I loved. I took my dolly with me everywhere. We played together, slept together, even went to church together. One day my dolly's arm came off. I was crying as I took my dolly to Daddy. In my mind, my daddy, who was a carpenter, coud make anything, and fix anything.
I clutched my dolly in my arms as I sobbed. "Dolly's broke. Daddy, fix."
Daddy took me in his arms and sat me on his knee, then tried to take my dolly from my arms. I clutched tightly, unwilling to let dolly go. Daddy certainly could have taken my dolly from me by force, but he didn't struggle with me. He sat for a while holding me, stroking my hair, patting my back, but still I clung to dolly, unwilling to let him take her from me.
Finally. Daddy said, "Peanut, I can't fix your dolly unless you give her to me."

Sometimes, I see myself as that little girl, crying about the brokenness in my life, begging God to fix it, but unwilling to let go. I know I'm not the only one who does this. Alcoholics Anonymous (how I know about AA is a whole other story) has a bumper sticker that says, "Let Go, and Let God."

The first time I saw this sticker, I was puzzled. But after I thought about it, I realized that I'm not the only one who brings my troubles to Him, and then won't let go so that He can have control.

I heard Mercyme singing this morning a song I had never heard, about "so long, self."

Whether it is my self, or someone else in my life who is troubled, I need to give it to God, and let Him make of it what he will. He can't fix it, until I let go.

Friday, April 28, 2006


Rain is in the forecast today.
I love rainy days.
I love rainy nights.
I especially love the sound of rain on our "tin" roof--we live in our RV, so the sound of the rain is more amplified than in a house, I think.
I love to curl up in granny b's quilt and read when it is cool and rainy.
I love taking a nap on a rainy afternoon.
I love walking in the rain on a warm summer afternoon.
I love the squish of mud between my toes when I am barefoot.
but not when I am wearing my favorite sandals.
I love to sit in the boat in its covered slip and watch the rain come down.
My husband likes to drive in the rain, especially when it is stormy, with thunder and lightening. Our pom Frankie loves to ride in the car when it is raining. Of course, he loves to ride in the car any time. Just rattle your car keys and he is sooo ready.
Our grandchildren like playing in the rain, splashing in puddles, making mud pies and mud roadways and mud forts and....mud anything.
I love watching the rain fall on the lake. Sometimes it's like a silvery curtain moving across the water.That makes me think about Genesis, when the Holy Spirit moved upon the face of the water...wonder if that is what it looked like.
I love sitting under our canopy, drinking coffee, watching the rain fall, holding hands with Wick, and listening to him hum a song under his breath.
We both love rain.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

1. Tomorrow is blue jean Friday.

2. The chicken nuggets we had for supper were delicious, so we brought the leftovers for lunch today.

3. Twenty-one days of school left.

4. It's spring, and the kids are going crazy. It seems as if I am spending half my day writing disciplinary reports.

5. Wick is going to a job fair next week, so we are praying hard that he gets offered a contract.

6. I want to to the "I'm from" thing, but just haven't gotten my thoughts in order yet. Of course, that is sort of a chronic condition, because I keep drifting off on rabbit trails, but maybe one of these what was it I was talking about?

7. The roof of my mouth is sore. Well, not exactly the roof--not the smooth part--it's that sort of corrugated part right behind my front teeth, and every time I bite down, it is tender and it hurts because I guess it is swollen, and my bottom front teeth dig in, whereas they don't normally, but they are right now, and it is bugging me.

8. I use purple paper for all my assignments. Wick doesn't. He knows that I use purple, and that I make copies first thing every morning, as soon as we get to school, before anyone else gets here, but he comes in and takes off the stuff I was copying, and sticks his stuff in the copier, and then gets provoked because his stuff starts coming out on purple paper, but does he look in the paper drawer to see if purple paper is still there? He does not. He just punches the copy button, and expects it to shoot out copies on white paper.

9. We are making copies of an announcement to remind the students that we do have school Monday. It was supposed to be a day off, but we had that icy spell way back at the beginning of winter, and the buses didn't run (this is a rural area, and we hardly ever have ice, so we are not equipped for it), and we had a day off, so we have to make it up Monday, but they (the students) don't even remember having an icy day and not coming to school, so all day we have been listening to them argue about whether they come to school Monday or not, and if not, why not.

10. I just concluded that I don't actually have 13 things to say right now, so I am going to stop for the moment, and if I think of anything else, I'll add it later.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Wednesday Wanderings

1. We have four weeks and three days until summer.

2. It was cooler today. There is something just not right about temps. in the 90s in April.

3. I am almost finished with the blanket bunny I am crocheting for the newest baby in the family, Hunter Cade.

4. I found "fun fur" crochet yarn on clearance at Wal-mart for a dollar a ball--I paid nearly $5. last time I bought some to dress up flipflops for the granddaughters.

5. Someone has asked me for advice, and I don't quite feel that I know what to, me speechless? Nah, can't be true. I'll have to think of *something*.

6. Next week is the 3rd week of the 6 weeks, so I need to get my e-gradebook set up for the last reporting period.

7. Wick is making chicken nuggets for supper.

8. I've been discovering new blogs, by clicking on blogs listed by people whose blogs I already read. What a variety of styles and subjects and personalities!

9. One of the tunes played at Aidan's violin guild Sunday is still stuck in my head. What do people say now that we no longer play records, and the expression "like a broken record" doesn't really mean anything to a generation who only knows CDs and music downloads?

10. As Katie has been playing with her "English" accent, and using bits of vocabulary from Pride & Prejudice, I am hearing expressions my grandmother used to say. For example, she would say, "I'm fixing to go to the store directly, if you want to go." The "fixin to" part is very southern, of course, but "directly" meaning immediately or very soon is so English. Wonder how many other expressions we think of as southern or American idioms are really a vestige of our English heritage?

No real point to all this, just meandering and thinking--I started to say thinking out loud, but actually it's on blog ;)

TAKS testing

For those of you who do not live in Texas, TAKS stands for Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. Before the kids take TAKS, we are supposed to teach TEKS--Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. The operating assumption on the part of those who designed the tests is that all students will be proficient in all academic areas. Whoa.
Suppose we had a school for animals, and wanted them all to be equally proficient? The duck would get A+ in swimming and diving, but fail tree climbing. The squirrel would get A+ in tree climbing but refuse to take swimming class, which would result in a disciplinary action. The horse would ace running, but fail honey gathering; the bear would pass honey gathering, but only get a C in running.
My point....and I do have one... is that we do not all have the same gifts, nor do we all have the same intelligences or learning styles. Whereas I excell in vocabulary, grammar and writing skills, I am woefully inadequate in math--I'm not sure I could even get a diploma, let alone a college degree, if I were in high school these days.
So why are we as a society holding all students to the same standard? Why are we assuming, as an educational institution, that all students are going to college, and therefore should all be taking the college prep courses? We may be slowing running out of ditch digging jobs, but we will always, I think, need plumbers, electricians, mechanics, people who work with their hands as much as with their minds, who don't excel at distinguishing good poetry from rubbish, but who can keep the sewers operating, the lights burning, and our cars running.
Okay, there's my rant for today.
But relative to the subject is this conversation I had with a new teacher, about 10 days before TAKS testing was scheduled:
New Teacher: What does TAKS stand for?
Me: Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills.
NT: Oh. So what does TEKS stand for?
Me: Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills.
NT: Hmm. I gues that I should teach the TEKS before the kids take the TAKS then?
Me: (suppressing laughter) Yes, that would probably be a good idea.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Conversation with Dawson

Yesterday afternoon Aidan asked me to tell a story about my childhood. I told him, Libby, and Dawson about when I was about 8 years old, playing with my dog, a black spaniel named Lady. Lady ran out into the street, and I went after her. A lady hit me with her car, and knocked me down.
At this point, Dawson said, "Ohhhh MiMi, did you die?"

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

This is my first attempt at Thursday 13, so bear with me. I'm not sure I can come up with 13 things.

1. TAKS week, TAKS testing, standardized testing in general--I could do a *lengthy* blog on this issue.

2. end of the six weeks, averaging grades, messaging parents--another lengthy blog topic.

3. Rain! Blessed rain!! rain to grow the grass, rain to refill our lake, rain to freshen the wildflowers!!!

4. The metal "crane" I got Wick for his birthday actually lights up at night, just like the picture shows in the catalog, and looks great standing next to the end of the dock.

5. A former student introduced me to his friend as "the most awesome teacher ever."

6. Chicken salad in the school cafeteria, one of the best things they have *ever* served.

7. Blue jeans Friday--yayyyyy!!

8. The new capris and tops I ordered fit beautifully, and look even better than in the catalog (remember, I hate to shop in person).

9. Frankie ate all his kibble on the tile tonight, instead of hiding bits of it under the furniture and under the bath mats.

10. Spending the weekend at Jeana's.

11. Seeing Aidan at his violin guild awards this Sunday afternoon.

12. Shopping for granddaughter Sydney's "True Love Waits" ring, which she requested for her 14th birthday in two weeks.

13. It is still raining! I love rainy nights.

Quitting our jobs

Last May Wick was finishing his first year with a school district fairly close to our lake place. I had been teaching in the Dallas area for several years, and looking for something closer to where Wick was teaching. On Memorial weekend, his principal called me in for an interview and hired me. We were elated. We would be working together, in the same program, and could live at the lake full-time.
The first eight weeks were great, driving to and from work together, having lunch together, enjoying our work, and happy to be working for our principal, a strong Christian.
Then....eight weeks into the year, our principal told us he was going to leave. He had been having major health problems, and his doctor had advised that he take a less stressful job. We got a new principal.
On the one hand, we were sad to see our principal leave. On the other hand, we had a commitment to the program, and to the kids, and wanted the new principal to be successful. As the days and weeks went by, we both found certain events unsettling, uncomfortable, unpleasant, even. But we reminded each other how much we were enjoying working together, and living at our lake place.
Then, one day, we sat down to eat lunch together as usual. We looked at each other, and almost in chorus said, "I think we need to leave here. There is somewhere else we need to be."
We wrote our letters of resignation.
We feel that we acted on faith in God and in each other. Both of us having the same thought at the same time seemed to confirm the rightness of our decision.
So here we are, looking for different jobs. Some days, I feel a bit stressed about all the effort that goes into looking for a job: writing resumes, asking for letters of recommendation, getting copies made, etc.
But underneath the "busyness", in my heart, I feel a great sense of peace about our decision, and excitement about what God has planned for us in the future. Are we crazy? I don't know. don't think so. We both feel that God has given us a spiritual gift for teaching and working with students in disciplinary programs. He will not allow that gift to go to waste. Perhaps we will find and use other gifts; perhaps this particular gift will not be the focus for the immediate future; we don't know where we are going, but we look forward to finding out.

Monday, April 17, 2006

6 Weird Things About Me

Lauren tagged me for this one. Hmmmm......six weird things.....okay, here goes:
1. I have absolutely no sense of direction. But then you already knew that, if you have been reading my blogs.
2. I like to sleep in a very dark, very cold room, with two quilts, and all-cotton sheets (percale, because they are so soft and smooth).
3. I don't even notice when Frankie (our pomeranian) licks me--which drives Jeana insane with horror.
4. I don't really like to shop.
5. I hate to sweat. That's why I hate to exercise.
6. I read obsessively. Labels. Instructions. The backs of cereal boxes.

Who's next to admit to 6 weird things? Geekwif? Kelsey? Jenna? Jenny? Diane? Mary?

Ten Simple Pleasures

Carol tagged me for this, and after reading hers, I had to think a while, since I didn't want to duplicate hers. (Carol, I too love pedicures--feels so luxurious!)
1. Getting to sleep late on Saturdays.
2. Having a husband who makes coffee *and* breakfast before waking me up.
3. Having time for a third cup of coffee before we leave for work.
4. Having grandbabies who still sit in my lap, even the ones who are taller than me.
5. Early morning talk while drinking coffee with Jeana's Scott, while she gets to sleep late after staying up until 4:30 Sat. morning with her brother, working on her new blog site.
6. Sitting on the dock watching Wick fish, and applauding when he catches one.
7. Six adult children who talk to me as friends as well as family.
8. Getting to be with my husband virtually 24 hours a day, driving, working, having lunch, living on the lake.
9. Reading other people's blogs.
10. Eating good chocolate--especially dark chocolate.

Family Stuff

Wick and I spent the weekend at Jeana's, starting Thursday night. Our son Ron and wife Nikky came from near Houston,and son Scott and family came Sat. along with some cousins. There were 29 of us, I think, and it was great.

Jeana's Scott came in from work Friday and saw wonton wrappers in the refrigerator. He said, "Are you making Chinese for tomorrow?" I said yes, and he began to dance me around the kitchen, he was so excited. He is so easily pleased, and I enjoy cooking for him.

Jeana and I shopped for food Friday, while Nikky entertained the little ones in the toy department. While we were checking out, we saw a magazine cover about Gwenyth Paltrow's new baby. She named the first Apple, and this second one Moses. Jeana said she thought that Adam would have gone better with Apple; I said I thought she should have named him MacIntosh (see Jeana's entry about Adam and Eve getting involved with the apple).

On our way to Jeana's Thursday, we stopped at Flying J truck stop to get deisel and fill the propane tank. The propane guy always makes us get out of the RV, because he says it could blow up while he is filling the tank. (!) So I was standing between the propane tank and the deisel pumps, holding Frankie and hoping the RV wouldn't blow up, when a big burly truck driver climbed down out of his 18 wheeler and approached me.
"Is that a Pomeranian?" he asked.
I said yes.
He said," My wife has one of those. Every time she goes out to take a ____, her ___ gets all ______ and I have to scrub her ___ before she can get back into the truck."
It took me a few seconds to realize that he was talking about the Pomeranian, and not his wife.

Jeana's oven caught on fire Friday while we were cooking a brisket for supper. The heating element made a loud strange electrical noise, and smoke started coming out into the kitchen. Her daddy put the fire out with a water pistol, and managed to save the brisket without any damage. Jeana stood by with a fire extinguisher while he shut off the breaker. Dawson was just worried about whether or not we had damaged his gun while putting out the fire.

There were about 35 of us at my mother's Easter Sunday. The guys hid eggs for the smallest ones, then did a more difficult hiding of the eggs for the older kids. My mother puts candy inside those plastic eggs, about a bushel basket of them, and usually about 3-4 pieces in each egg. So while the babies were hunting their eggs, "someone" sneaked the chocolate malted eggs out of the remaining plastic eggs, on the theory that no one would ever know there had been 3 pieces instead of two in each egg. Well, at least she was willing to share with me ;)

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Living in the sunshine of God's love

Do you get the blues in the winter? Some people call it SAD--seasonal affective disorder. I love the cold weather, love sitting by a fire drinking coffee or hot cocoa, love snuggling under a quilt with my darlin', but those short days, especially the cloudy ones, wear on me. I feel as if my mind is in hibernation mode. No new ideas, no creative energy. Then the days start to get longer, we have some bright sunshiny days, and I am renewed.
I've been sitting in the sunshine, soaking up the warmth, watching the birds, listening to the breeze, and looking up into that gloriously blue, cloudless Texas sky, thinking about sunshine and warmth and God.
For some reason, it just struck me how God knows us *wholely*. He knew me, as the Psalmist says, "before I was knit together in my mother's womb." Before my parents or grandparents were even conceived, He knew me. He knew my heart, my mind, my very DNA. He knew the mistakes I would make, the contrary spirit I sometimes indulge, the angry words I would one day say. He knew too the love He would kindle in me for the husband I had not met, the babies yet to be born, for the family to come, whether through birth or marriage, adoption formal or informal, all of us bound together through blood and through love--just as He binds us to Himself through the blood of Jesus, and the eternal love through which we find salvation and become His children.
For today, for this moment, I feel His *knowing* of me. Not just the past or the present, but entirely, and for eternity, He knows me, and He loves me anyway.

Then the student said...

I teach in a disciplinary program. My husband and I both teach there. We've been doing it for years, and feel that it is our calling--our gift--to work with these students. Our gift, in more than one sense. A gift from God who calls us to do this work. A gift for dealing with difficult students, students who often have never had any parental guidance, who may not even know one or both of their parents, or who have had to assume the adult role in the household because the "adults" behave like immature children. But these kids also are a gift to us. They often give us insights into issues we have struggled with for a long time. Sometimes they gift us with their love, the gift of their trust, and their progress toward adulthood. Sometimes they just give us a good laugh.
Thursday I had to redirect a student several times, because he was not working on his assignments. Each time, he argued that he had nothing to do, but as I went through the stacks of books and papers in his cubicle, we found that he did indeed have a great deal of work to do; he just didn't want to do any of it.
Mid-afternoon I saw that he was drawing. I took the drawing from him, and redirected him. His response?
"If you hadn't of seen that, you wouldn't have come back her and taken it away from me!!"
What could I say? He was right; if I hadn't seen it, I wouldn't have taken it.
Here is where you are supposed to laugh :)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

At the boat dock

This evening we went down to the dock after supper (fried fish caught last night from this very dock). Wick fished, and I sat and rocked and watched the ducks, geese, and one lone swan swimming around our cove. He bent over to pick up a pair of pliers, and I was reminded of another evening spent at the dock.
Wick has been fishing. He stood up, heard a plop in the water, and thought it was a fish. Then he realized his cell phone was no longer on his belt; it must have fallen into the water. He walked up to the storage barn and brought back a leaf rake to fish around for the cell phone with.
Being the foresighted person he is, and having learned his lesson, he took his reading glasses out of his shirt pocket and put them on a chair. Then he lay down on the dock to fish out his phone. He accidentally kicked out with his foot and knocked the chair, and his glasses, off into the water with the cell phone. He finally decided he would have to get into the water to find the phone and his glasses. He forgot to take his tennis shoes off.
I was not there to witness this series of events. I found out about it when I came home, walked into the door, and found a cell phone hanging from a bungee cord attached to an air conditioning vent in the ceiling, and my blow dryer nearby.
Next day we took the phone to the phone store. Did he tell the nice lady behind the counter what had happened? No. She said what seems to be the problem?
He said I don't know. Yesterday it was working fine, and today it lights up but won't ring or make a call.

He still had to pay th fee for a replacement phone.
But he is a little more careful with his belongings when he fishes from the dock. Last night he carefully put his glasses on the dock so they wouldn't fall out of his pocket. Then he stepped on them.

In my classrom today...

A student walked out of the classroom this afternoon during class, got his hat from the hook, and went out the front door. Staff members went after him and brought him back to the office to explain to the principal why he left.
A few minutes later, the principal called another student out of the room.
A few minutes after that, she called a third student out of the room.
We got the explanation later: It seems that student #1 had been sleeping. Students 2 and 3 woke him up, saying that he had missed his bus. So he jumped up and ran out of the building, hat in hand, down the bus?
We are still laughing.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Yielding to my husband's authority, trusting In God

I responded briefly to Jeana’s post, but after we talked, she said it is okay with her for me to tell my story relating to husband as head of household. (Before I write anything extremely personal, I clear it with her first and with Wick—I don’t want to embarrass them)
Like Jeana, I had some pregnancy related health problems, but still wanted more children—I thought three was the least, and four would be even better, maybe even five. My husband felt otherwise, and decided to have a vasectomy a few months after Jeana was born. I was and am amazed at the peace I felt from God regarding his decision, even though I wanted to get pregnant again. I accepted my husband’s authority, and respected his wishes in this matter.
Of course, I had no idea how thing were going to develop. I continued to have health problems, which got so bad that my doctor sent me to a specialist. After tests and examinations, he asked Wick and me to come to his office for a conference. He said I needed to have a hysterectomy. I was devastated. I was in my mid-twenties, I still in my heart of hearts wanted another baby, and I believed that God could make it possible, if it were His will. The specialist was very kind, but also very honest with us. He said that even if I were somehow to become pregnant again, the odds of carrying the baby to term and delivering a living child were practically zero, and the odds of my surviving were less than 20%. How good God is! He knows our needs before we ask, before we even know that we have a need.
At that period of our lives, my husband was not actively involved with our church, and we shared little of our faith experiences. I suppose I could have said that I shouldn’t have to abide by his wishes, or yield to his authority, because of that situation. But it never occurred to me to question his leadership in our home.
I know that people have widely varying opinions about birth control, as well as many other issues. I would never tell anyone else that our choice is the choice for them. Bearing children is a very private matter between a husband and wife, and should be a subject of many prayers. I know that God created animals with instincts, instead of reasoning power; a dog doesn’t wonder whether to have another litter of puppies; a bird doesn’t choose whether to build a nest in spring. But God created us in His image, with the power to think and reason, and why would He give us these powers if He didn’t expect us to use them? As Jeana said, a person who needs a job probably needs to fill out some applications. Very few people would passively wait at home for someone to knock on the door with a job offer. How much more involved we should be in any decision that involves bringing a new life into the world. We can not be saved by works alone, but faith without work is dead. Involve God in every choice, in every aspect of your life and your marriage; allow God to work through the man to whom He has bound you in marriage, and God will honor that trust.
I believe that it is at least partly due to this choice we made as a couple that God has blessed us so abundantly, so far beyond anything we could have ever asked for, in regard to the mates our children chose. Each of them is a precious addition to our family, and a blessing every day. So instead of three children, now we have six—how generous God is, and how lovingly he answers our prayers in ways we can’t imagine. I am blessed to be mother to six, and didn’t even have to get pregnant again!
God is so good.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

"Educational" Conversations

Student: Dr. E, am I passing your class?
Me (I'm the teacher): No, you are not
Student: How come?
Me: Out of ten assignments, you have three zeros, because you never finished the work.
Student: Yeah, but I passed everything else.
Me: Yes, you did, but with three zeros, you would have to make one hundred on the other seven to pass.
Student: Yeah, miss, but on the other seven, I had an average of 70, and that's passing.
Me: (Sigh) Who taught you math?

Student's Parent: I just want to know why you told my boy he is goin to flunk English.
Me: Mrs. Smith, the highest grade Johnny has for any of the 5 six week periods so far is 50.
Parent: But that don't mean he is goin to fail *this* six weeks.
Me: That's true. Anything is possible. He might pass this six weeks (saying to myself, when pigs fly).
Parent: I jes don't thank you ought to discourage him like that.
Me: I didn't mean to discourage him. He asked me if he was passing, and I told him no.
Parent: You got no right to put him down like that. He has jus as much chance of passin as anybody else.
Me: But, Mrs. Smith, even if he passed for the last six weeks, he still couldn't pass for the year. He has 5 grades of 50 or lower.
Parent: How do you know?
Me: I have his report card records.
Parent: No, how do you know he is going to fail.
Me: Well, with 5 grades of 50, it is not possible to make a high enough grade in the sixth six weeks to pass for the year.
Parent: How do you know?
Me: (long explanation of how grades are averaged, what he would have to make to pass for the year, blah blah blah, which is all the parent heard)
Parent: But how do you know he can't pass?

This conversation was repeated with slight variations for over 15 minutes.
I finally took her to see the principal, to see if *he* could explain it, since obviously I couldn't.

I may not be a math whiz (understatement) but even I can conprehend that this kid's English class performance is better than the parent's math skills.