Not Everyone can be a Teacher

Today is Teacher Appreciation Day, and teachers need to be appreciated.

There used to be a saying, “Those who can–do. Those who can’t–teach.” Whoever came up with that saying obviously never taught. I challenge anyone to spend a week (or even just a day) teaching in a classroom. The job is more challenging than you think. Today is Teacher Appreciation Day, and teachers need to be appreciated.

There have recently been teacher strikes and walk-outs in many states. I understand the frustrations these teachers have, and if that is the only way to get the attention of legislators then so be it. I saw pictures of books falling apart. I saw videos of ill-mannered legislators chiding the teachers, with one saying he wouldn’t support teachers any more if that was how they were going to act. I’ll just comment that if he had really supported teachers the way he needed to support them, then they wouldn’t have had to walk out of their classrooms. The legislature had only thrown them a bone and not a full meal.

I taught for 28 years before the stress of the job drove me to retirement. I had planned to teach for at least 30 years before retirement, but the stress of high-stakes testing and endless meetings to talk about the testing and how to improve was slowly killing me. In addition, the behavior of the students kept getting worse every year. I spent more and more time on the struggling and undisciplined students. There wasn’t enough of me to go around. I couldn’t deal with it any more. I worked most days from 7:15 AM to at least 5:00 PM and then take work home with me. Many days, I ate lunch at my desk so I could get more work done. My planning time was spent in meetings, making phone calls to parents, dealing with ugly emails, talking with team members, and planning and preparing for the next week. My “summers off” were filled with workshops. Most of the workshops were mandated with some thrown in because I thought they would benefit me. I also spent time preparing and planning for the next school year. I was usually back to work on my own time at least two weeks before I was required to report back. It takes time to prepare a classroom for a new group of students. May was the roughest month of the school year. We would get test scores back, recommend students for summer school, fill out endless paperwork, prepare final report cards (I always liked to include a personal positive note to all my students in that final report card), and deal with students who have completely shut down. I, too, would spend quite a bit of money out of my own pocket so I would have materials I wanted to have to teach my students. My husband finally quit asking me how much I was spending.

God bless those few “bright lights” I had in my classroom every year. Those sweet students and their supportive parents. I had many parents complain to me about the amount of time we spent preparing for state testing. I told these parents that the best way to change this would be to gather together and go to the legislature and tell them. The legislators don’t listen to teachers most of the time. I guess they felt that if they had spent time in a classroom when they were kids, then they were experts on education and how it should be done. Imagine the billions and billions of dollars that could be put directly into classrooms if most of the state testing was cut. There isn’t a teacher I know of who wouldn’t support less testing. I kept a calendar my last year of teaching in which I recorded all of the state and local district testing we did that year. We lost a lot of teaching time just to testing. And students aren’t learning anything while they are being tested. A lot of the district testing wasn’t even valid because it didn’t cover the curriculum being taught. We sat in meetings anyway to discuss it.

Most teachers don’t enter teaching because of the salary. They teach because they care deeply about kids and want to make a difference. It would just be easier to make that difference if they got more support. They need parents to support them and raise disciplined and respectful children. They need the state to support them and fund them. I saw many mandates come down from the state that were not funded. The funding had to come from the local district.

Both of my daughters are teachers. They didn’t start out that way. Neither one got a teaching degree in college. Teaching came later after getting alternative certifications. One teaches 3 and 4 year olds in the Head Start program in a very poor school district. The other taught high school math in an alternative high school (a high school for credit recovery and disciplinary issues) and is now a social/emotional learning teacher at that same school. She’s working on her master’s in counseling.

May God bless those brave souls who teach. We need to appreciate them, applaud them, and support them.

 

Fraud Likely

In an age where they have invented self-driving cars, it amazes me that we still have to deal with scammers, fraudsters, and other undesirable people via the telephone.

In an age where they have invented self-driving cars, it amazes me that we still have to deal with scammers, fraudsters, and other undesirable people via the telephone. Caller ID helps but not all of the time.

I’ve received those calls from the “IRS” telling me that I owe money. They are free to come get me. I guess there are still those who fall for that ruse because the criminals are still making those calls around tax time. Other scams include the jury duty scam claiming that you missed jury duty, the grandparent scam claiming that a grandchild is in jail, and scams involving a “help” desk.

There was one particular scammer who called me claiming to be from Microsoft and saying that my computer had been infected with a virus. I told him that my computer was fine, and that I would not turn on my computer. A few minutes after I hung up, there was another call from a different number. The very same guy was on the phone and claiming to be from Microsoft again. I laughed and told him that I was not going to fall for his scam. Then I asked him if that scam really worked. Click! He hung up.

I also get calls from so-called police and sheriff organizations asking for donations. I tell them that I never donate to phone solicitations and if they really do represent a sheriff or police organization they should support that policy.

One time I got a call asking for donations for breast cancer victims. The lady who called was very belligerent and was insistent that I donate. Excuse me? I decide who gets my donations. This particular call came during a rough time for me as I had just had surgery for breast cancer. I finally told her that I had breast cancer myself and hung up.

I also don’t like getting calls from various candidates during election time. Television ads are bad enough, but I can always turn off the TV. They don’t need to be ringing my phone.

AT&T has a very helpful application called Call Protect. It does block some of the fraudulent calls, but not all. It is amusing to get calls that actually say they are from telemarketers. If only they would say they are from criminals.

Scammers have also been able to get area codes to use in your area to make you believe that the call is from someone you might know or want to talk to. It has gotten so bad that I don’t answer the phone unless I recognize the number. I figure that if the call is legitimate the caller will leave a message.

I also have to watch out for official looking e-mails. That can be tricky at times. I have learned to not click on those e-mails and go directly to the website to log in and see what is going on. Most of the time my on-line account is just fine. I still get e-mails occasionally from people who have obviously been hacked. I don’t click on those links. Just hit delete.

In addition, I sometimes get strange text messages. Those get deleted, too.

The funniest phone call I have ever received was this morning. The Caller ID said, “Fraud Likely.” I didn’t answer, but I got a good laugh. Wouldn’t it be nice if all of our calls were identified with labels that identified who was calling instead of just saying “Anonymous,” “Unavailable,” “Invalid Number,” “Private Caller,” etc? Oh, well. Maybe some day.

 

Intense Despair and Euphoric Joy

It is so fitting that Easter takes place in the spring.

The weather was absolutely beautiful yesterday and today. It was perfect for getting out in the flower beds and pulling weeds. The sun was shining. There was a nice breeze, and the temperature was in the low seventies. As I was pulling weeds, I delighted in seeing the fresh new blooms on my plants. It is so fitting that Easter takes place in the spring. As the earth comes alive again with leaves budding on the trees, newly greened grass, and fresh colorful blooms, it reminds me of the new life we have in Christ.

I cannot even imagine the despair the disciples must have felt when Jesus was arrested and died upon a cross. They had left their lives and followed Jesus. Now everything that they had hoped for seemed to be destroyed and unattainable. Jesus, their teacher, was dead. I’m sure that they did not have a clue about what to do. They were hiding and fearful. They were in deepest mourning.

When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. Mark 16:9-10 (NIV)

At first the disciples did not believe. Peter and John ran to the tomb. They saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. Even though the tomb had no body in it, they still didn’t quite understand what was going on.

That evening, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked in fear. Suddenly Jesus was standing among them. Their joy knew no bounds. It took a while but they slowly began to understand.

When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God. Luke 24: 50-53 (NIV)

Their mourning had turned to exuberant joy.

I don’t focus on finding happiness in life. Happiness is fleeting and shallow. For example: a piece of chocolate cake makes me happy, but it is soon gone.

The best gift is joy. I yearn for joy, the kind of joy that only God can provide. Joy goes deep and is lasting. I find my greatest joy in my salvation. Easter is a wonderful reminder of how Jesus died for us and provided a way for us to gain salvation. All we have to do is repent of our sins, and accept Jesus’ sacrifice as our atonement.

I have a feeling that many people who think they are going to heaven will be in for a surprise. Their names will not be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. They think that if they live a good life and/or believe in God that they will go to heaven. The verse found in John 14:6 is very clear.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14: 6 (NIV)

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7: 13-14 (NIV)

Confession is not the same as repentance. Repentance is a deep remorse for one’s action that leads to a change. If we are truly saved, I believe that we have repented and become a new person.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5: 17 (NIV)

I have put my trust in Jesus.

My health may fail and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. Psalm 73:26 (NLT)

I love this verse. It doesn’t matter what happens to my earthly body. My soul is safe in the hands of God. I shall never be taken out of His protection.

So I shall go nurse my sore muscles. My wish for you is that your soul, also, is safe in the hands of God. Jesus is alive and the savior of my soul. Praise God! Happy Easter!

Why Racism, Bullying, and Hatred?

We have two options–love or hate. We can’t choose both. Which one will you choose today?

The news is so full of stories about shootings, bombings, and many other crimes. Why would anyone want to be a teacher or police officer in these times? May God bless and protect those who teach and who try to protect us from danger. I think so much of the anarchy we see today comes from a lack of teaching in homes. Hatred is running rampant.

If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.  1 John 4: 20-21 (NIV)

Have you noticed that many people who profess to be Christians promote racism? For me, these verses are clear. You cannot claim to be a Christian and hate other people. And there is no doubt that racism comes from hatred.

I saw a post containing two pictures. One picture showed a white egg and a brown egg. The next picture showed that the eggs had been cracked into a skillet. There was no way to tell which egg in the skillet had come from the white shell and which had come from the brown. Racism is completely ridiculous. What does the amount of pigment in your skin have to do with anything? The person you are is found on the inside–not in how dark or light your skin. You should not have to indicate race on any forms. The only place I can see where it might be helpful is in a doctor’s office where your background may make you more susceptible to certain conditions. Skin color does not determine intelligence or what you can achieve. If it does, then maybe you are allowing racism to control you.

I enjoy researching my ancestry. I took the Ancestry DNA test to determine my roots. I am proud of where my family came from, and I celebrate my roots. However, that doesn’t change the fact that I am and always have been an American. When we categorize ourselves into different subgroups such as African-American or Mexican-American, we continue to foster racism. We are Americans.

Bullying is another form of hatred. It is a hatred of people who are different.

The movie, “Wonder”, really spoke to me. A young boy with facial differences entering school and having to face bullying. More understanding and less bullying can make a big difference. I believe that many people deal with differences on the inside which are not necessarily visible on the outside. So few get the understanding and support they need. We all need to know that bullying is not okay. We all need to love, support, and care about each other.

Jesus said:

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13: 34-35 (NIV)

 

I remember a time when I was driving home in a snow storm (which doesn’t happen here very often). A normally 30-minute drive home from the doctor’s office took an hour and a half that day. The traffic was moving very slowly on the highway, and I passed 4 fender benders on the way. I was driving very cautiously. When the car in front of me tapped on its brakes, I tapped on mine. Then a truck pulled out and went around me very fast with the driver giving me the finger. I couldn’t believe it! I have no idea what I did to set that driver off. That poor driver must have been harboring a great deal of hatred.

So let’s love one another and care about one another. Caring for each other should also not be limited to those times when disaster strikes, like floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, bombings, shootings, etc. Caring should be every day–even in the little things.

We have two options–love or hate. We can’t choose both. Which one will you choose today?

 

God’s Provision

I have seen God provide in so many ways I can not even count them all.

There are times when it seems that the world around me has gone crazy. God seems far away, and difficulties threaten to overwhelm me. There are some verses which give me comfort and peace.

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength, he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.”  Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NIV)

I can’t even imagine the disaster described in Habakkuk’s prayer above. Imagine having no way to provide sustenance for yourself, or nothing to sell to meet your needs.

I have seen God provide in so many ways I can not even count them all. When we were young, I was teaching in a very small school district making only the minimum salary mandated by the state, and my husband was working for a brick yard. We lived paycheck-to-paycheck. We never went hungry and our children never went without the necessities. (Grandma provided a lot of extras for the girls.) When I had a week off of school and didn’t have to pay for childcare, the car would break down. It was a blessing to have the money to pay for car repairs. I have also seen unexpected checks come in the mail.

When I retired from teaching, I was concerned because my income would be greatly reduced. I felt God whispering to me that all would be fine. We have done well even with my lesser income. We’ve even had money available for some special things, like going to Walt Disney World with my older daughter, her husband, and her children. We also took a cruise to Alaska which was on my bucket list. We hope to go to Disney World next year with our youngest daughter and her family.

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6: 31-34. (NIV)

God provides for His children, and I’m humbly grateful. There is no peace like the peace you receive when you stop worrying and allow God to provide for you out of His abundance of grace and mercy.

Out of the Mouths of Grandkids–Part 3

He is passionate about three things: chocolate milk, tractors, and TRAINS!

Grandson #2 is just 4 years old. He is the cousin to my other two grandchildren. This sweet boy has had us laughing since the time he could talk. He is also an expert on trains. He is passionate about three things: chocolate milk, tractors, and TRAINS!

Age 1:

As his mom was getting ready for the day, she heard her son jabbering and then say, “Boo!” She decided to watch him. He stood next to a mirror and said in his baby talk, “Where’s _____?” Then he stepped in front of the mirror and said, “Boo!”

Age 2:

He had just turned two when his mother told him, “I love you.” He answered, “I love me, too.” Mom asked, “You love who?” He said, “Me!”

There were times when he had trouble with phrases such as corn nugget. Grandson #2 said, “Neen nunent.” Mom said, “Say corn.” Her son said, “Corn.” Mom said, “Nugget.” Son said, “Nugget.” Mom said, “Now say it together. Corn nugget.” Son said, “Neen nunent.” He tried.

He was staying with us for a week. He had bacon and an unfinished fruit cup on the table. He ran to the cabinet and opened it, hollering, “Snack. Snack.” I told him he needed to finish the food on the table first. He said he was just looking.

One day his mother said to him, “I love you. Do you know how much I love you?” He answered, “Too much!”

The boy is also very observant of things around him when riding in the car. He is very quick to point out trains and train tracks. One day when riding home with his mom, he was jabbering on about trains. His mother will sometimes tune him out. She tuned him out this day until she heard him say, “There’s a track under the train.” She asked, “Why is there a track under the train?” He answered, “The train move under the track.” That’s really good for a 2 year-old.

He also likes to be a back seat driver. One day he told his mom, “Green means stop!!!” She said, “Green means go. Red means stop.” Then she stopped at a left turn yield on green. Her son hollered at her from the back seat, “Go, Mama! Green means go!”

He also told his preschool teacher one day, “I want two banilla ice cream cones. One for me, and one for you!”

At preschool, each child brings his or her own lunch. One day his teacher was sitting next to him at lunch. She had a chicken sandwich. Grandson #2 looked at the sandwich and then looked up at his teacher. He said, “I like chicken.” I don’t know if he was angling for a bite of her sandwich or just making conversation.

Age 3:

He cried one day because he didn’t find any candy in the Candy Land game box. He cried for over 10 minutes. That was very tragic.

When Grandson #2 brought Curious George home from preschool for a visit for the weekend, his mom asked him if Curious George was going to ride with him on his tractor. He said, “No, because his feet can’t reach the pedals.”

During one of his visits, he asked me for a fruit cup–undrained–so he could drink it. Now, whenever I see the commercial for Dole’s fruit cups, I think of my grandson.

One day his mom heard him gasp from the back seat of the car. He said, “I think I saw something.” She asked, “What did you think you saw?” He answered, “A John Deere tractor, and a John Deere truck!” They had just driven past a dealership, It’s easy to tell he lives on a farm. He loves John Deere.

He also has an amazing imagination! During the first week of his second year of preschool he said he had a catfish in his pocket. He also told everyone he was going to have a sister. (This was a surprise to his mother.) He also tells people he is 16, even though he knows he’s three. He also told everyone that he’s moving to the castle in Walt Disney World.

One of his favorite things to do is hide. One night, his mom got him to hide in his own bed.

When his dad asked him why he was so weird, he said, “God made me that way!” Can’t argue with that.

He also came home from preschool one day and announced that he had a new last name. Turns out it was the last name of one of the girls in his class. It’s a little early for that, I think.

One night he was in the tub and his parents were talking in the living room. Suddenly, the boy comes in the living room saying, “I’m a water monster, and I’m making foot prints.”

His daddy usually puts him to bed. He has been telling his parents that he’s afraid of the dark, so they got him some glow sticks. One night his daddy got him a glow stick and asked, “Are you sure this is the color you want?” The son said, “Yes!” Daddy said, “This is the only one you’re getting.” The son agreed, “Yes, sir!” Daddy asked again, “Are you sure?” The boy said, “Yes, Daddy!” As his daddy cracked it to make it glow, the son said, “I don’t want that one, Get me another one.” I think my son-in-law has finally figured out why his parents are crazy. He now has a couple of flashlights in bed with him. Of course, he also likes to sleep in the recliner in the living room or the beanbag chair.

Age 4:

Grandpa and I were shopping with our grandson #2 and his parents recently. When Grandpa went to put his grandson in the car seat, the grandson looked up and said, “Grandpa! Someone stole your hair!”

Grandchildren are such blessings and give me so much joy! No one can make me smile like my grandkids.

Out of the Mouths of Grandkids–Part 2

This boy is quick-witted and very intelligent.

My granddaughter has a brother two years younger than her. I will call him grandson #1. This boy is quick-witted and very intelligent. He’s also very sweet and loves to cuddle.

At age 2:

His mother called to him and asked him where he was. He ran around the corner, pointed to himself, and said, “I’m right here!”

When asked about what he was thankful for, he said, “Playing with Woody.” He also knew his sister would take care of him. He told his mom that sissy would put his dinner dishes in the sink for him.

When he argued with his sister over who gets to pick the movie, his sister reminded him that he needed to take turns. His reply, “I take turns by myself.” I thought that would make a great t-shirt slogan.

One morning he was with his mom in the bathroom while she was getting ready for work. He picked up one of her necklaces and asked, “What’s this? What does it do?” His mom replied, “It’s a necklace. It looks pretty.” He said, “But what does it do?” He was very logical even then.

At age 3:

He wanted a dragonsaurus costume for Halloween so he can fly and stomp. His mom told him that Grandma had already ordered a costume for him. He said he would just ask Grandma for a costume with wings. He got it.

Grandson #1 was visiting and playing with his bath toys while taking a bath. When I told him that he needed to get out because his water was getting cold, he said, “I need to give Rex (a toy dinosaur) a bath.” I said, “No. It’s time to get out.” He replied (even at age 3 he was a master negotiator), “Let me give him 10 squirts of water (another toy squirts water).” I agreed and then heard him start counting, “One. Two. Three. Three. Three….” This boy could already count to 20 and beyond. Grandma wasn’t fooled, but I did get a laugh out of that one.

He told his mom, “At Grandma’s we don’t have time outs.” His mother replied, “Oh, well. I’ll talk to her and you can start having them.” He said, “Well, I’ll just let her know if I need one, and I’ll take it then.”

He used to like to sit next to me when we would go out to eat. He would sneak some of my fries thinking I wouldn’t see him.

At age 4:

About four years ago, when my granddaughter and grandson #1 were ages 4 and 6, I stayed with them for several nights while their parents went out of town. I don’t like it when the kids fight, but I must admit that it is a little flattering when they fight over me. This time, they were fighting  over who Grandma was going to sleep with first. The plan was for me to switch every night–sleeping with one of them the first night and then sleeping with the other the next night, and so on. (It was a lucky thing they went to school and day care so I could get a nap in during the day.) That was finally settled, but the good feeling of being fought over didn’t last long. The discussion then turned to who would get to use the iPad first and for how long. During the negotiations I heard one of them say, “I’ll let you have Grandma…”

This boy loves to play video games like his Daddy. One day, his daddy said, “I think video game developers need to add another difficulty level beyond the highest level and call it, ‘Playing with a 4 year old.’ In this level your teammates randomly push you off ledges inflict damage to you, etc. Believe me, it’s much more difficult to play at that level.” My daughter sympathized with him by saying, “So true. You just thought you were playing at a high level before.”

His services are quite valuable. When his sister helped out with the laundry, her parents told her she could start helping every week for some allowance. She said, “Every time I help I could get a dollar!” Little brother piped in from the living room, “I can help, too, but for ten dollars!”

At age 5:

When he was in kindergarten, he and his sister asked if they could take their drinks in the car. Their mom told them no because they already leave enough trash in the car. They were silent so she said, “True or false?” He replied, “Mom, that’s nonfiction.”

He told his parents he wanted to be a “ninja-ear” like his daddy. (His daddy is a civil engineer.)

At age 6:

When he was 6, we all went to San Antonio for a fun weekend. When we went to go shopping at Market Square, his mother asked him if he had brought his money. He replied, “I brought Grandpa.” That’s better than bringing your own money any day.

At age 7:

When he was on his way to church one morning, he asked his mom, “Is that guy going to talk for a long time again today? I don’t really get anything from that.” I told my daughter that she should suggest to the pastor that he illustrate his sermons with video games. Thankfully, the boy enjoys church much more now.

He also decided that he wanted a Dominos Pizza truck as his first car because it had pizza ovens in it and he can have hot pizza any time.

Then when lice hit the household, he announced, “Well, since I have hair on my arms I took a really hot shower to kill any lice, It felt like I was inside the sun.”

One day while snuggling with his mom, he said, “Don’t tell Hannah, but you’re my favorite girl in the whole entire world.” Mom replied, “Is Hannah your second favorite?” My sweet grandson answered, “Yes. And grandma is my third,” I’m so honored to have made his list. I’m sure I’ll move down the list eventually, but I’ll enjoy it while I can.

At age 8:

He asked if he could keep a bobby pin because it can unlock doors. We’re not sure what doors he wants to unlock.

One day he was sitting with his dad at Whataburger. His dad was walking his fingers across the table like a bug. My grandson smashed the “bug” with his hand and said, “Smash the spider!” His dad replied, “It’s not a spider, it only has 5 legs.” Grandson replied, “Smash the insect missing a leg!” Quick thinking!

This is  just a sampling of the many crazy stories about Grandson #1. He keeps us laughing.