Monday, March 29, 2010

Wal-Mart

So just let me apologize up front for offending all the WalMart shoppers of the world. Sunday afternoon I went to WalMart. The last time I was there was Christmas, when we couldn't find the right lego kit for our grandson. We didn't find it at WalMart either.

Anyway, this is standardized testing week and I always bring a lot of candy (hence the trip to the cheaper store). Today I started with the tootsie roll pops, talking to the kids about stress and that I had invested in stress relievers for them and brought these out. They laughed like crazy - stress gone! Always works. Most of the kids don't even eat the candy until much later in the day but it always makes them laugh and that helps them with the whole test thing. Wait until tomorrow... math and bubblegum! Opens the nerves to the brain and helps them do computations, well, that's what I tell them. Yeah, they'll laugh again but they will chew the gum too! Math is scary!

Anyway, I rarely shop at WalMart. They do have a ton of stuff; it is cheaper, but I don't like the place! Every time I go to that store, I run into at least one couple where he is yelling at her and she's cringing and trying to defend herself while the kids stand by, silent, waiting to see how it ends. It's so obvious that this type of interaction goes on regularly at their home. I always see people who speak like they have never been to school. And they delight in it! The nasty talk, the rudeness to the checkers, it's just not my kind of place. I must be a snob or something because I really don't like it.

I suppose Jesus would be hip deep in this store, talking to people, encouraging the little kids. The best I could do was say 'excuse me' to the man being mean to his wife and reach between them for a can of whatever it was... I don't remember, didn't even buy it, left it on another shelf somewhere. But he stopped, for the moment. And the kids could breathe again.

How do we have a salt and light effect on people who act like that, in public, not caring who sees them? I kind of wanted to hit that mean man with the can of whatever I took from the shelf... bring some light into his thick skull! Yeah, I know, not a very loving attitude. I need to think on this for a while, imagine what I could have said or done. I guess it's too easy to become comfortable at 'my' Trader Joe's. There's a lot more people in WalMart.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Literary Witness

I am not a follower of Chuck Colson but my principal is. Rick came to school last week, excited to tell me about Colson's latest discussion on his radio program. He told me to look it up because he knows I am such a fan of teaching language arts through literature. So I did. And I was pleasantly surprised that Colson seems to understand that the big pictures of life can be taught through the classics. Here's the commentary that refers to the general subject; you'll have to copy and paste because it won't let me install a live link. It appears that Colson is going to keep going on this subject. I'm may have to check in once in a while. It will give me ammo for my discussions with some of the more fundamentalist folks I confront occasionally.

http://thepoint.breakpoint.org/commentaries/14792-literary-witness

Saturday, March 27, 2010

There is no one like my mother!

I have the most amazing mother! She is nearly 82 years old and still takes care of her yard. She mows the lawn, weeds her garden -- with a shovel, moves furniture in her house so often that I never know where anything is located! She's a wonder! But just in the last week or two, she has had to slow down. She hurt her back (is it a surprise to anyone?) or her leg and now she's in pain. She walks holding onto my arm. That is so strange. She is the most independent person I've ever known but she now needs to hold my arm, especially when stepping off a curb. It makes me so sad; she hates, hates, hates having other people do things for her. Today I pruned all her hydrangeas. She has seven of them, or eight... not sure. I'm sure I saw her holding her breath, and her tongue, while I whacked away at her shrubbery. My brother happened to come over at just the right moment and I roped him into digging up things she wanted out. She is going to put more of her garden into lawn. She just can't handle all the weeding, bending, and hauling anymore. She promised her doctor (seven years ago) that she would stay off the ladders. I'm not sure she does but since I pruned the taller shrubs as well, she won't have to get on a ladder for that! It makes me feel good to help her but there is a deep sadness as I face the reality of her age and future lifespan. I keep telling her she has to live to 100 and she keeps saying she doesn't want to; I hope I win. Losing my dad eight years ago was really hard. I held him in my arms for 25 minutes as he died from a heart attack. Losing my mother? Unthinkable! I am counting on at least 18 more years!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

It makes sense in Washington!

Okay, this one's light-hearted.

I've been saying it and saying it and saying it! Every year we build DAYS into our school calendar to accommodate the possibility of snow and ice. Every year we have used at least two of those snow days. This year - not even one! So, I began throwing out the idea of a SUN day. It makes sense, right? We live in Washington, the state, not the one on the East coast. We can go for days, weeks, sometimes months with gray, drippy skies. Why not have a sun day, at least one, to enjoy one of the EXTRA days we are working and kids are in school. Well, someone has done it! I find that to be amazing and wonderful and... well... just the "brightest" idea! Here it is:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36021301/ns/us_news-education/

I just wish it was my school!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ugliness!

President Obama's health care plan passed congress last night. I am perfectly willing to give it a try, see what happens. I know only too well how the insurance companies can abuse paying customers who get sick. I've seen how it works: people pay every month, faithfully, for insurance, but if someone has the audacity to get sick- well... drop him right now! Get rid of that person who demands the money that we the insurance companies are entitled to consume for our personal profit! But that's not what's really troubling me right now. It's the Christians. The Jesus followers. People who share my faith and find no problem calling the president a Nazi or Hitler or some other ridiculous epithet. It's the frenzied frothing at the mouth at the very idea that this bill might cost something. One dear believer lividly shouted that he had no responsibility for the health care of others! It really makes me ill. I do know this, Jesus would want people to have health care. I do too. There is nothing worse than a sick child whose parents cannot pay to have healed... Unless it's someone who claims to live a life of love while screaming abuses at those who disagree with him. I don't care if others have done this; if we say we love the Lord, we should act like it. Anything else is simply self-righteousness. The behavior we witness on television, the things we have heard nearly all day long are just silly, unbecoming, embarrassing, and even pretty disgusting. Matthew 25 my friends, Matthew 25.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Reality Check

An evening with grandchildren changes my life. I am less angry about all the things that generally make me furious. I am more aware of how fast the days are flying by as I look at my little ones grow. My jaws hurt from smiling so much and I find muscles that haven't been used since the last time I saw them. Tonight we scrambled farm-fresh eggs, fried a pound and a half of bacon, and had such a good time together. We talked about school and the multiplication tables with Kayla. We talked about the letters and sounds Colton knows and which ones he will learn soon. (So silly since he knows them all!) We saw Sierra's big girl bed in what once was Kayla's room. The girls are now sharing a bedroom and Sierra's bedroom has become a playroom. They are growing so fast, something Terry felt up close and personal as he wrestled with the two older ones and they did their best to take him down! He can still overpower them; I wonder how much longer that will last! I feel better about the world in general even though it is just as ridiculous as ever. I'm just so grateful for my little ones. They make my life so rich, so full, so much more enjoyable.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I'm so sad, I'm furious!

I am so sick and tired of the good leaders in Haiti disappearing from society due to stupid, random violence! Friday night, the Rev. Dr. Doris Jean Louis, leader of the Lutheran Church in Haiti, was killed. Some young men, teenagers probably, wanted money but they didn't get any so they killed him. Then they entered his home and harassed his wife. Dr. Louis also leaves three sons, Wesley, Lennie, and Lu. These are great guys, really fine young men. They should not have been deprived of their father; they weren't ready for that. I know that my sons benefit from their father's counsel on a regular basis. I'm quite sure that the Louis boys did too. Lu posted a photo of the two of them, father and son, with the caption: my hero! These guys are in their late 20s and early 30s and they needed their father to be in their lives, share experiences, give guidance, pray for them, love them. I'm so angry with the young men who killed this good man. They didn't know who they were murdering; they had no idea. But they not only robbed Wesley, Lennie, and Lu of their father, they took a great leader out of a country that is rabidly desperate for reliable, righteous leaders! They took someone who had been the target of violence many times before, someone who didn't let that violence intimidate him, someone who stayed in Haiti when he could have taken his wife and retired to Florida. But he didn't. He stayed and worked and prayed and preached and helped and healed and now he's in heaven. Dr. Louis is at peace; he's better off. We're the ones left behind who are not only bereft and bereaved but absolutely furious at the injustice that seems to thrive all over Haiti. It really needs to stop... now... even though it's too late to help Dr. Louis.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Luxurious? That depends.

I get a little tired every time I read an article about Haiti and there is mention of the luxurious Hotel Montana. Sometimes it is mentioned in such a condescending manner, as though everything about it was just so.... rich amid the extreme poverty! I lived in Haiti for twelve years, traveled there regularly for an additional six... so eighteen years of Haitian life. I can tell you that I have stayed in far more luxurious hotels in Indiana or Texas or Florida or Wyoming for that matter! The Montana was a very nice Caribbean hotel but it really wasn't "over the top" in luxury. It was the hilltop location with the incredible views that made it so desirable. And yes, if you compared the hotel to the life of most Haitian people, it would have to be considered extremely luxurious, as would my home in Haiti - a simple, 1960s, American-built, cement block rambler on a Bible College campus in P├ętion-ville. It's okay... I do understand why journalists have a need to refer to it in this way. It is a way of saying that this quake spared no one, not the rich and certainly not the poor. But the people who stayed there were not wasting the budget money of their organization. They weren't being excessive. They were staying in a place where they could probably be assured of having filtered, potable water, good food, and a decent night's sleep. That is, until dinner time on January 12th. Some of the people who lost their lives in the Montana collapse were rich, no doubt. But many were not; they were just - unfortunate.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Randomness

Today is weird. I left school early yesterday with tummy troubles, slept all afternoon and woke up feeling so much better. I planned for a sub today, Friday, so although I was feeling better, I stayed with the plan. A very long weekend (we have Monday off) is sometimes good for the soul. I really wanted to sleep in this morning but the City of Lacey has decided that some of us who live in the county need new water lines. Last year they tore up the west end of our lakeside development, now it's our turn. The house literally started shaking about 7:45. With all my Haitian EQ sympathy in over-drive, I was out of bed and looking for my bathrobe very quickly. Once I realized it wasn't an earthquake, I thought the construction crew must be right in front of my house but this is not the case. They are a full block away from us! I hope the house will still stand once they start tearing up the road in front of us.

Coffee... Biblegateway.com... Facebook... coffee... plus my funky music. I like channel 934 on cable. It's a new-agey, eastern-music-type channel and suits my moodiness today. While roaming through the Olympian online, I discovered my high school English teacher's obituary. That made me even more moody and rather sad. Mrs. Campbell was tall, wore long gauzy skirts and big funky earrings. She loved books and plays and was the first English teacher who didn't just pound grammar into my head but brought out one book after another, quietly, mysteriously, as though she was sharing secrets about buried treasure that she found in her backyard. I have always been a reader. Every Saturday of my childhood, rain or shine, my mother took my brother and me to the library. We always checked out a dozen books each. We were "required" to read for an hour every night. We read for hours and hours, with flashlights under the covers or hiding in the bathroom, pretending we needed to be there. All that to say, I've always loved to read. But Mrs. Campbell taught me the nuances of literature. She taught me about themes and symbolism, helped me see inside the heart of the protagonist and hate the antagonist. She was a lovely person. Her obit suggests that memorials be made to the "Friends of the Library" which seems so appropriate. She was 80 years old! Really? I have always thought of her as much younger.

Still feeling moody, I went outside and pulled weeds. The sun is shining. I want to go to Lowe's and get mulch but I'm not at school today because I was sick so my conscience won't let me leave until 3 o'clock. After two hours of yard work, I came in and started laundry, turned on the fire in my fabulous fireplace and read blogs. So many people have really interesting, desperate lives. I read all the Haiti blogs I can find and that intensifies my moodiness! Some of those blogs lead me to others where moms are dealing with challenging children, kids with serious, mind-numbing, energy-draining issues. I'm lying on my couch in my living room with my fabulously warm fireplace burning brightly, feeling a bit guilty and so very grateful for my ordinary life. The truth is that I lived 25+ years of drama and I found out that I actually prefer life without drama. I didn't think that could happen but I really enjoy life without drama. I have all I can handle with my junior high school students' drama; I don't need any of my own.

So my big plan for the day is to eat some soup, buy mulch (after 3 o'clock), and thank God all day, all night, for my ordinary, unexciting, rather peaceful life. I'll also thank Him because Mrs. Campbell taught my high school English class, because my tummy feels better, and because the sun is shining.