Archive for January, 2011

Ellen and I talked yesterday on our way back from lunch about hearing yourself say things to your own kids that your parents said to you.  We further discussed the difference between just continuing the family “lingo” and actually parenting as your parents parented you.

Today, I watched Gabe and Ellen interact with a three-year-old and a four-year-old in a short version of a game of “Battleship”.  Totally fascinating to watch their patience and their teaching styles kick in as they made the complex simple enough for a little child to comprehend and take delight in.  Even though I think they each have their own special gifts when it comes to that, I also harbor a little hope that maybe a tiny bit of what I see in such moments is something that rubbed off in what they saw in the parenting styles of their own mom and dad.

Savoring the memory of those sunny afternoon minutes , I’m thinking tonight how my Heavenly Father must delight in seeing His traits in me.  And I also ponder, more soberly, whether He ever shakes His head and wonders, “Where did I go wrong with that one?”



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The Line

Today I had conversations with students who’ve been “pink slipped” in my classes.  No, they weren’t fired (their pink slips clearly stated that).  But, with a bright pink note clipped to graded, returned assignments, they were reminded that they’d used up their two excused tardies for the semester and of the implications of that.  In the classes I teach, if you are late, your work is late.  I don’t accept late work.  However, recognizing that life happens and valuing grace, each student is allowed up to two excused tardies in the semester–no questions asked, homework accepted as usual.  Needing to come up with a way to remind students when they’ve used up their excused tardies, I’ve moved to the “pink slip” practice this semester.  So far, it seems to be working.  It always gets some kind of response, usually that being, “I’ll be here on time from now on,” with students generally making good on their commitments.

In today’s conversations, though, one comment stands out.  A student was genuinely shocked that I would count him late on a date that he was, as he put it, “only a minute late.”  (Granted, there was snow on the ground that day, but on snowy days, one must allow a little extra time.) I’ve been pondering our verbal exchange today.  If one minute late is not late, at what point after the 9:30 hour when class is supposed to start does one become truly late?

This has led me this evening to think about other lines.  And I wonder how often I have the same attitude about them.

“I’m only a little bit ______________________.”  (Fill in the negative attitude or action that is on the list of that which displeases the One who gives me breath.)

“I’ve only neglected ________________________ for a little while.” (Fill in the personal discipline or service to another that I’ve let slip.)

“________________________ was only a little bit excessive.”  (Fill in the poor response to another or the overindulgence in a number of areas of life that is not exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit known as gentleness or patience or kindness or goodness or self-control.)

Missing the mark is less like a target–when one misses the bullseye there are still other circles of points to gain–and more like a clay duck; either you hit it or you don’t.

I need to pay attention to being on the mark–every time–in this life of mine.  Failure to do so may result in it being too late to count.


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What We Do in the Pauses

A student asked me today about learning better to punctuate what she writes.  I found myself talking about commas–those little bits of ink that mark pauses as we think, write, and speak.

That got me thinking about what we do in the pauses of life.  About what I do in the pauses of my life.

I remember reading something years ago–can’t remember if it was by Elisabeth Elliot or something someone else had written that she was sharing.  Either way, the point was that, in music, the pauses–the rests–are just as integral to the music as the notes.  Without the rests, there are compositions that would lose their drama.  The rests are part of the music.

The rests are part of the music…

When there is a pause, my first impulse is too often to jump right in and speak.  (In fact, I have to force myself to wait for the pause–have to work at not interrupting.)  How much better if I would listen in the pauses.  Would I hear more of another’s heart?  Would I hear another’s idea that would turn mine to an entirely different, perhaps more productive or more creative, vein?

When there is a pause, do I look around in silent wonder?  There is much to be seen.  People are endlessly fascinating, and I don’t ever have to look far to notice. Would I be better at really seeing–really seeing–people if I silently observed in the pauses?

When there is a pause, do I savor the silence, the stillness?  Or do I hurry to fill it with noise, with activity?  That rush to fill every empty space can become an addiction.

I think I need to nurture a greater regard for commas.

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Stirring Words

Something must be waking up inside of me.  I have actually felt like blogging a few times in recent weeks, after a long, long absence from this place.

Tonight I have an image of stirring in my head–of literal stirring.  Last week I made dozens and dozens of cut out cookies for Gabe and Rachel’s wedding–two connected hearts, frosted, decorated, and topped off with “G” and “R” monograms.

There was lots of stirring that went into those cookies.  First, blend the Crisco and the powdered sugar.  They come together quite easily when I use my big wooden spoon.  Then, the hard part:  stirring in the eggs and vanilla.  For awhile, it seems that I am just swishing the shortening/sugar mixture around in a sea of beaten egg.  Then, slowly, little by little, transformation comes as the eggs lose their separateness and become one with the already combined ingredients. Eventually, add some dry ingredients, and all those little bits become one good thing to share, embellished with some frosting and a few sprinkles.

The writing process is like that sometimes.  Blending words, some coming together more smoothly, more easily than others.  Finally, there is that point that the blending of the parts creates a single whole, creating one good thing to share, embellished with some frosting and a few sprinkles.

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