Tuesday, June 12, 2018

More Things You Can Do With a Muffin

I'm beginning to realize that muffins have a surprising range of uses. My regular readers may recall that I recently tried to use them to win a man's affection. (For the record, I don't think it worked. Time will tell.) This past Sunday, I found a revolutionary new use for my beloved muffins.

Allyson, her friend Gabby, and I were attending the Harvest America event at the massive AT&T stadium, where the Dallas Cowboys play. I recalled two things from our first experience with this Christian rally at the same venue:

  • The food at the stadium is VERY pricey. Think $12 for a hamburger, $6 for a bottle of water. I may be exaggerating, but not by much. 
  • Security is tight. You can't even bring a purse, let alone a cooler. 
So I studied the rules on both the stadium's website and Harvest America's. I learned that we could bring transparent plastic totes no larger 12" x 12", and we could bring water in the original manufacturer's bottle with the cap's seal unbroken. 

I filled three plastic makeup totes with sandwiches, mini chip bags, grapes, and some homemade blueberry muffins I'd made around bedtime the night before in response to a wild craving. I found three water bottles leftover from last week's camping trip and threw those, along with everything else, into a cooler.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Sometimes You Just Need to Give Up... But Don't Give In

This past Friday, I administered final exams to my last three classes and headed out around 1:30 to pick up Allyson and her friend Kambry for our long awaited annual camping trip. Yes, I realize it's a little crazy to plan a camping trip for June 1 in Texas, but I knew I could enjoy it much better while unencumbered by teaching responsibilities. Besides, we'd gone a week later the previous year, and the temperature was fine.

This time, my niece Hillary was the first to arrive at Lake Ray Roberts, and she'd staked out a site right on the water's edge. For the third year in a row, I'd reserved a primitive campsite with neither water nor electricity, and we had to carry our gear down a dirt and gravel path. As the four of us carried in the first load, Allyson and I reminisced about our first visit to this same state park two years earlier.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Choose Love

Don't you love the way God works in such mysterious ways? I especially love it when He answers prayers in ways that I could never have dreamed up. 

On a Thursday about six weeks ago, I hosted our monthly student prayer meeting. Only two kids showed up, plus one more who was actually there for a behavior issue but took me up on the offer to stay for prayer rather than coming back the next day for a conference. All three boys were from the same class, my second hardest class at that moment.

I took advantage of the opportunity to talk and pray about the issues we were struggling with: mainly just the rude, obnoxious behavior--and constant projectile throwing--that you might expect from a class of 12 seventh-grade boys and 6 seventh-grade girls.

I prayed that God would amaze us with the way He would turn around our class. "Has God ever amazed you?" I asked my fellow prayer warriors. They all shrugged shyly, and then one shared a story of surviving a near drowning.

I shared one of my favorite stories, the time when God astounded me by delivering the same message through a phone call and an anonymous gift that came in the mail that same day:
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
"Wow, miss!" they said when I'd finished my story.

"You just wait!" I said. "Just wait and watch what God will do. He's going to amaze us."

Friday, March 16, 2018

Love and Muffins

Disclaimer: I hesitated to write this entry, but the whole experience made me laugh so hard that I just couldn't keep it to myself. Before you read on, you have to promise that you won't get excited over the possibility of a little romance in my life. I promise you, there's virtually zero chance of anything coming out of this.... 

It's been five years since my divorce, and many of the people I love--including Allyson--often ask me if there's any possibility that I will marry again, or at least go on a date. I always say that I don't know. At this point, if God brings a godly man into my life, I'm not opposed. In the meantime, I've had a few crushes, which are always great fun.

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Old Job Was Never This Fun

It's been a good week, our second one reading The Hunger Games. The last three days were a little chaotic, but I was proud of myself for trying something new that I had read about in an article. I divided my classes into six groups and put them through rotations of reading, blogging, and small group discussion. A lot of the time, the reading groups take so long to settle down and start their audio that they can't finish an 18-minute chapter in 22 minutes. And the bloggers have been writing mostly one-sentence posts so far, or even sentence fragments. But some of the discussions have helped me remember why I dreamed of being an English teacher--in those magical moments when the "self-directed" groups are actually self directing, and I'm able supervise the discussion groups as per my lesson plan.

It's so fun to hear their thoughts, and to help them connect a really dramatic story to their own lives. It's also fun to ask them about the shocking parts that many of them somehow missed. For example, when I ask them why Katniss isn't embarrassed to be naked in front of the prep team, several pairs of eyes open wide. "What?? When was she naked?" [For the record, it's not an obscene book. I promise.]

"It doesn't pay to get off task," I answer. "You might miss the really good parts."

The best part of my day is when some of my lowest performers step up as discussion leaders, sharing some perceptive views, or when a painfully shy student finds her voice. If I ever get to meet Suzanne Collins, I just might give her a kiss.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Not So Bad After All

Okay, so I ought to be grading papers, or at least doing the dishes. But I just have to tell you about my day yesterday....

It all started when my eyes fluttered open in the early light of morning, instead of the darkness before dawn. With a gasp, I rolled out of bed and squinted at the clock. 7:23. Not too bad. If you're going to oversleep, 23 minutes is the way to go.

I rushed to Allyson's room, where she was lying sound asleep under the glow of the overhead light. Her alarm had gone off, but she'd been seduced back to sleep. "Get up, Allyson!" I shouted. "I overslept. It's 7:23."

She popped out of bed almost as quickly as I had. "I'm going to be late for school," she said.

"Not necessarily. Just pull on your clothes and brush your teeth. We gotta go!"

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Like Pieces of a Puzzle

Ten days ago, in the middle of my workday, I received a text that made my heart sink. My 33-year-old cousin Adam had passed away unexpectedly. My first reaction was sharp pain as I thought of my Aunt Sue and Uncle Jeff. Ever since I've been a mother, hearing about the loss of anyone's child tears at my own heart because I can't help putting myself in their shoes.

My second reaction was regret. I had been out of contact with Adam for a couple of years, and he'd been on my mind that very week. I wondered how he was doing and thought that I should send him a letter to catch him up on all of my teaching adventures. I'd had similar thoughts off and on for a long time, and now I was kicking myself for not taking the time when I had the chance. 

Although Adam was 14 years younger than me and lived 1100 miles away in Indiana, I was probably closer to him than to any of my other 25 first cousins. Our friendship began in 2011 when Aunt Sue asked several family members to write Adam while he was in prison. Through the influence of a chaplain, he had grown closer to Christ in prison and had a strong faith, but he was lonely and sometimes discouraged by the poor conditions he encountered there. 

A recent picture. Don't his eyes draw you in?

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