Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Random thoughts...

  1. Why do large churches have such a difficult time getting people to volunteer? Our Wednesday night youth program needed 45 volunteers, and they only got 15 without begging. Even with begging, we are understaffed. So I volunteered to teach 4th grade boys, and dragged my hubby along with me, as well as a great woman from the choir. She and I will switch off at half-time so I can go to band practice. Frankly, I don't care if the church has to sing with no piano for nine months so long as the kids are taken care of.
  2. There is nothing like flea-bathing a Golden Retriever puppy who loves you to take care of the blues. Adopting out kittens is fun, too. And the cats we got at the Humane Society from the hurricane are really cute.
  3. Butterfly bushes really do attract butterflies. The monarchs are cool!
  4. It's great to go to a Christian music concert where the performers stand up and sing without confessing all their personal failings. We went to a GLAD concert last weekend, and they kept the focus on Christ, not on themselves. Good music, spectacularly performed, and worship was had by all.
  5. Never try to hold a Bible Bowl practice for teenagers after they have been bouncing on inflatable rides. If you do, get help--big, brawny help.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

Sometimes the Beatles said it best. The last couple of weeks I've learned how real friends act. They bring you food, they hug you, and they send flowers and cards, even if they know that you know they love you. The outpouring of support has been truly humbling.

Mom's funeral was just what we wanted it to be: some tears, but a lot of laughter and hope. I know that she would have been pleased, except for the bicycle pictures we put on the big screen. She is probably waiting next to St. Peter at the pearly gates, saying, "Don't you let those children in here!"

Seriously, I think we have received every sympathy card Hallmark makes, and enough flowers to clean out several florists. One friend sent a vase of flowers today, after all the other fresh flowers had wilted, just because she wanted to brighten my day.

In the future, I hope I will remember to send cards to people on the prayer list, and I won't worry anymore whether or not I knew the person well enough to attend the funeral. Every person who came reminded us of how loved Mom was and how much we are loved. Maybe this will be Mom's last lesson: to make us all a little less selfish and a little more giving.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Things I Learned From Mom

My mom died of Alzheimer's disease on Friday. This will be read at her funeral tomorrow. She was a great lady, and I miss her. With Alzheimer's, I have missed her for a long time already...

Love God.
Obey Dad.
Practice. You may not like it, but you have to do it. You’ll thank me later.
If you say you will do something, do it—even if you don’t want to or think you don’t have time.
Regardless of what medicine tells us, children are made of soup. Mom threatened to knock the soup out of us at least once a week.
If your children aren’t getting along in the back seat of the car, it’s sometimes OK to let them work it out themselves. Make sure you have plenty of Kleenexes on hand for them to mop up any blood.
Don’t be afraid to have fun.
Memorize the hymnbook. You never know when you’ll need to know all 5 verses of “Just As I Am”.
Cooking is not rocket science. Sometimes recipe substitutions are successful.
Buy birthday cakes from the bakery if you don’t want your children laughing at you for the next half-century.
Love your husband.
Be hospitable. Entertain often.
Don’t be afraid to use the good dishes.
Enjoy all God’s creations, especially birds and dogs.
Be thankful that God gave us color.
Always look your best.
Wear a smile, even if your feet hurt.
Remember always that you are a LADY!
Treat your parents and your in-laws well.
Study hard, and do your best.
Check all place settings carefully before you serve your guests. Ice cream is best eaten with a spoon, not a butter knife.
When you work, give it your all.
Take lots of pictures. It helps if you label them.
Try new experiences. Eat new foods, climb mountains, raft down a river.
Cheer loudly for the Cardinals.
Play Christmas music all year round, so you can hear your entire collection.
Read lots of magazines. Always have at least two with you at all times. And you can always learn something from National Geographic.
The library is better than a bookstore, and cheaper, too.
Never miss a sale. Those green shoes have to match something. If you find something that fits and looks good, buy two.
Keep your old friends. Make new ones.
A big purse is a necessity, especially when taking popcorn to the Cardinals game. If it will hold the thermos of iced tea also, so much the better.
Memorize scripture.
Take your grandchildren places.
Doing some things cheaply is better than not doing them at all, and sometimes better than the expensive way.
Collect stuff. It gives you an excuse to go shopping.
If you collect stuff, make sure you have a big basement.
Encourage others. Send LOTS of cards.
Make things yourself. Food and clothes are both better homemade.
Remind your children that the important things are people, not things.
Prepare for eternity, because it lasts longer than life on earth.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

And Through That Window We Go!

My new college is great! I am now teaching only adults, and they are ready and eager to learn. It's a very nice change to see people take notes without being prompted, and NO ONE seems hung over. These people are in class because they want to learn, not because it's necessary in order to stay on a parent's insurance. In fact, most of them are sacrificing a lot of money to go to school, as well as tying up every Monday night for the next 3 years.

I'm taking my time adjusting to the new situation. Things that had been done by a secretary are now being done by me. I have no clue where my mailbox is yet, or how to access my campus email, but all in good time. I had to take the library tour with the students; policies are a little different, as are the hours. I have to remember to pray at the beginning of class--that would have been a firing offense at my last job. But my coworkers are very nice, and I have a long history with many of them--longer than with most of my previous coworkers.

God is good. The pain of leaving the community college is easing. I know that God is in control, and that he always has good in mind for those who follow him.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Close a Door, Open a Window

So I have now left the community college where I have been for the last 11 years. I had vowed not to teach again unless someone called me up and threw the job in my lap--which they did. So I will begin teaching English at a small Christian college next month. This proves:

1. God will take you at your word. I had prayed that his will would be done in my job situation, and if that meant leaving the community college, then that would be fine. I did my best job there, and I don't have any regrets.

2. There is always another challenge right around the corner. This time I will be teaching adult students who should be much more motivated to learn. Smaller classes, too, but I will have to shift my focus from teaching reading to teaching writing.

3. All wounds heal with time. I am not happy that I won't be teaching 18-year-olds anymore, but I'll get over it.

4. If you say you're not in it for the money, it helps to believe it. I will now be making approximately half what the community college paid, so it's time to look at teaching as one of the gifts God gave me to use as he wills. God has always been faithful in the finance area, and I don't expect him to stop blessing us now.

5. No matter what happens with jobs, Christian friends still support you, your husband still loves you, and the pug thinks you hung the moon. 'Nuff said.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Lessons to Be Learned

Lesson 1: If your teacher assigns a book report and you don't intend to read the book, don't pick a book the teacher read and enjoyed.

Lesson 2: If you are a developmental student, don't write a perfect paper.

Lesson 3: Even if your paper is perfect, don't use words you can't pronounce and can't define.

Lesson 4: Don't cheat off the internet. Google is an amazing tool for finding plagiarism.

Lesson 5: Don't whine when you are caught.

Lesson 6: If you get caught, pray that your teacher takes pity on you and just flunks you instead of giving you the grade for academic dishonesty.

Doing a hard task is its own reward--self-esteem is not given; it is earned.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Valentine's Day, a Little Late

It's been a rainy, gloomy week here in mid-America, with lots of pre-finals stress. But on Tuesday there were young women walking around on campus carrying long-stemmed roses. One young lady said there was a young man in the cafeteria who had bought an armload of roses, and he was giving them out to every girl he saw. The girl who talked to me didn't even know the fellow's name.

For a few minutes, the last-minute gotta-get-it-done stress eased, and there were smiles, wondering what kind of young man would take the time to bring joy into his anonymous classmates' days. I hope he realized that he gave a smile to everybody, not just the lucky young women he gifted with flowers.

Take time to do something unexpected, and good.

Monday, April 18, 2005

The Kids Are Going to Be OK

We had Karaoke for the students last week during Spring Fling. Most of the performances were not remarkable, and Simon from American Idol would have been most unkind. Still, it takes some self-confidence to sing into a mike in front of one's peers, and I didn't hear anyone jeering even the most awful performances. One fellow, though, was notable.

Our campus has some developmentally delayed high school students who come in and help in the library from time to time. The college students mostly take no notice of them, since there is nothing unusual about seeing them. However, one of these young men who happened to have Down's Syndrome decided to take the microphone and sing that 'NSync hit, "Bye, Bye, Bye." He was too shy to stand up on the stage, and so sang sitting down, so that you had to look closely to see who was performing. As the introduction began, I heard rhythmic clapping that began and grew, until I looked around to see what was going on. The young man was singing, and the conversation in the cafeteria had almost stopped. Students were looking at him, and rooting for him to do well. Honestly, he was one of the best performances of the day, but the encouragement in the room was almost palpable. When he finished, there was applause, which was missing for most of the "normal" college students' numbers.

I was very proud that the students took the time to cheer for a young man who has more challenges to face than most people. His instructor told me that he was very shy, and that this karaoke performance was a really big step for him.

Sometimes young people do the right thing all by themselves.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

And this is the thanks I get

I went to school yesterday after rushing around here trying to get some things done before I got to work. As I was walking into the cafeteria, I looked down and noticed that I was wearing 1 each of 2 different kinds of tennis shoes. (Both white and blue, at least) This was a precursor of bad things to come.

It was Spring Fling, and all clubs are expected to have a table manned, with give-aways, or at least things to sell. My table, Campus Crusade for Christ, had some books, CDs, baseball cards, and general information to hand out to anyone who was interested. I had been there maybe 15 minutes when a man walked up, and looked at our Campus Crusade sign (8 1/2x 11, green, with the name of the club) and said, "Campus Crusade...isn't that an oxymoron?" Being an English professor, I know an oxymoron when I see it, and it sure wasn't the sign. This fellow proceeded, for the next hour or so, to accuse us, as Christians of everything from child abuse, threatening Terri Schiavo judges, abortion clinic bombings, the war in Iraq, cutting Medicaid, teaching creationism in schools, global warming, and the election of George Bush. (No wonder I'm so tired--in only 50 years, that's a lot to accomplish.) Mostly, I let the campus minister deal with him, while I continued to deal with various students and their problems, chat with the Gay/Lesbian club, and greet other professors.

This fellow, a music professor, went on to say that he would know a real Christian by what he saw them do. Finally, I had had all my little Irish heart could take. I lit into him, and told him that for the last hour I had listened to him accuse Christians, and me personally, of all sorts of crimes, and that wasn't reasonable, seeing as how he had never met me. I then went on to ask him how many students had come to him and even greeted him in the past hour (none), and where he was when I was counseling at least 2 students with various problems, and if he realized that there was one student graduating this semester who wouldn't have even attended college had I not enrolled him, got him grants and a job and provided transportation! I told him that he didn't know me, or that I had worked food pantries and homes for battered women, and even volunteered one day a week at the Humane Society. Having no rebuttal to that, he then accused me of voting for George Bush (obviously, the most evil thing one can do in his world). I retorted that who I voted for was none of his business, and I wasn't going to tell him. Again, I reiterated that he didn't know me, and that by using his own logic, I could accuse him of being guilty of encouraging rapes, school shootings, suicides, and the murder of policemen, since he was a musician and some rap songs have those themes. He began wagging his pointer finger at me and going on about the Evils of Republican Christians. I said, "Do NOT point at me" and gave him THE LOOK. He retreated somewhat, and then decided that, since I was a Christian, I must certainly be against evolution, in favor of going back to the scientific middle ages, and stated that no scientist believed that God created the world.

And there I had him. I said, "Well, my son holds a Ph.D. in nanotechnology from the UMinn, ran their electron microscopy lab, and now researches alloys to go into the defibrillator that will resuscitate you when your blood pressure climbs too high. And he not only believes in creation, he can probably name you a dozen other scientists who aren't evolutionists, either." I helpfully spelled my son's name and suggested that he "google" him so that he could see that my son is, indeed a multiply-published scientist.Then he accused me of not believing in global warming. This was the coldest day we had had in a couple of weeks, so I told him that wasn't really a good time to make that accusation, and then I decided that it was time to invoke the Holy Grail of Academia--I told him that I was personally offended by his comments, especially since he hadn't made my acquaintance until the hour before. He said that he wouldn't apologize, and believed that a college was where we should be able to discuss any matters. I told him that I agreed with him, but I was still offended by his accusations. (And since he doesn't know me, he also doesn't know that I have lunch with his own department head once a week.) I encouraged him to hurry off to his class, and secretly prayed that he would have to spend the next hour explaining why Bach wrote "to God's glory" on all his compositions.

So today, I sent him a lovely card (handmade, with my stamps) and thanked him for the discussion and said I hoped he hadn't taken offense, and that I was looking forward to working with him.

You catch more flies with honey than vinegar...