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Am I Reading or Meditating?

I am three days shy of finishing a reading plan in the YouVersion Bible app I have on my phone.

I only recently discovered the plethora of plans available!

The one I’m working my way through is The Battlefield of the Mind devotional.

It sounds like powerful stuff, doesn’t it?

The truths, while basic, do pack a punch, let me tell you.

Yesterday’s reading was especially convicting. It had to do with meditating on God’s Word rather than merely reading it.

I’m not good at this kind of stuff.

I am a product-oriented girl who thrills at the sight of each task completed. Only lately, as I’ve aged matured have I begun to see the value of the process.

That is what meditation is about.

It is not simply reading for reading’s sake.

Meditation involves really thinking about the message that exists between the lines.

I’ve been a Christian since I was eighteen years old. How often I’ve heard the mandate to “meditate on God’s Word.” Yet somehow, that directive hasn’t always pierced my heart.

I wonder if this recent awareness is due to the profession I’m in.

As a reading teacher, I model how to pause and reflect. I teach my students how to ask questions and seek out answers that go beyond what lies on the surface.

I poke and I prod, lovingly of course, to help my students stretch themselves beyond what they think they are capable of.

The satisfaction lies in watching them experience “aha” moments of illumination.

I wonder if this is what it’s like for my Heavenly Father.

However, as I’ve also learned from teaching, a person cannot be taught unless he/she is willing to do the hard work necessary to grow. A student won’t bother going the extra mile if a relationship hasn’t been firmly established upon a solid foundation of trust.

Do I trust the Lord to mold me into the person He knows I’m capable of becoming?

Much like becoming a good reader, this involves methodical study and reflection.

As I tell my students, reading isn’t something that happens to you. It requires action on their part.

Such is the case with growing closer to God.

A Dog With 9 Lives

I don’t know how she does it…probably only by God’s grace…but Aubie always manages to rebound after several bad days…

This afternoon, I left her to her own devices for awhile.

Lo and behold, I turned and looked out the window only to find her making her way to the back of the yard, doing her “business” a couple of times along the way.

TMI?

Maybe just a bit, but she’s been having some problems in this department, so we make a big deal every time she goes.

Every time the Mr. and I think that it’s time to start thinking about a trip to the vet…

I hear God’s voice, spoken through His Word, telling me to trust Him.

And so we wait…

And are rewarded to afternoons like the one we experienced today…

Enjoying the Weather

The weather here in Florida has simply been GORGEOUS of late.

It’s warm enough to sit outside for long periods of time but cool enough that you don’t have to run back in after ten minutes.

I spent a couple of hours outside with Aubie yesterday.

As you can see from the photos, she was in her element!

She’s still not doing very well.  In fact, she has gotten so frail lately that we have begun to give serious thought to the step in her care.  We’ve cried a lot this past week.  But then she rallied.  It must have been the weather.

Pele came out while Aubie was eating.

He pulled the “I’m cute…gimme her leftovers” trick.

As you can see, it was very effective…

Reading Up a Storm

What is up with me?  I feed badly for letting my blog go lately!

But I’ve been busy.

Sort of.

Actually, I’m ahead on lesson planning…by two weeks…so I’ve been coming home in the afternoons and chilling…something I rarely get to do.

One thing I’ve been doing during my down time is reading…

A lot.

Because I teach intensive reading…to high school students…I feel as though part of my job involves keeping up with relevant reading material so i can honestly and enthusiastically recommend books to my students.

This week, I finished two books.

The Maze Runner, by James Dashner, was recommended to me by a young lady in my first period class.

I was immediately drawn into this book by the opening lines and intrigued by the concept of having to find a way out of a maze to survive.  However, the further I read, the more it sounded like The Hunger Games series.  I believe that Dashner wrote this book first though.

One other thing that bothered me was the constant references to memories just beyond the main character’s (Thomas) consciousness.  This repetition grew old at times.

Still, it was a good read, and I will continue with the other books in this series.

The second book I finished was Al Capone Does My Shirts, by Gennifer Choldenko.

Two of my students from my sixth period class recommended this book to me.

The setting is Alcatraz in 1935.  The story is about a family who moves to Alcatraz, where the father works as an electrician and guard.  The son, “Moose,” is tasked with taking care of his sister, Natalie, who is mentally challenged.

When you read this book, you get a sense of how society thought about the mentally challenged as well as the personal obstacles that families faced as they tried to come to terms with the less-than-perfect circumstances involved with taking care of such loved ones.

At first, I did not really like this book.  It truly read like an early middle school book.

My feelings changed, though, the further along I got in the book.  As I watched characters evolve, my heart melted.  By the end, I was in awe of Moose and his compassion for his sister.

I’m looking forward to reading Al Capone Shines My Shoes, which I ordered at the same time as the other book.

A Rosy Hodgepodge

Spring has sprung!  Woo hoo!  Joyce’s questions have us thinking about all things springy as well…flowers…romance…lots of this and that.  Joyce, thanks for the fun questions!  I so appreciate what you do each week!

1.  April showers bring May flowers…what have you been showered with this month?

April has been a time of catching up and, dare I say, getting ahead.  I started off the month rested after a late-March Spring Break.  I’ve worked really hard to finish some big projects and am finally beginning to see light at the end of this school year.  I’m beginning to find balance for the first time in three years, and I am filled with joy.

2.  What is the nature of compassion?  Is it learned or innate?  Can compassion be learned?  If you’re a parent is this something you’ve purposely sought to instill in your children, and if so how?

Hmmm…according to the Free Dictionary Online, compassion can be defined as the deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled (my italics) with the wish to relieve it.

I believe that compassion is both learned and innate.  I think that compassion comes very naturally for some people.  These are always the people I am drawn to because of the gentle nature and kindness they exude.  However, my teaching experience has taught me that compassion can also be learned.

I’ve got a class that has some very emotional kids in it.  We struggled…at first.  Personalities can be big in that class, and intolerance was, at first, high.

Now, I see kids who previously could not stand sitting together working patiently with one another at the same table.  I see them sharing their food and even money with one another.

I have tried to model this for both my own children and my students, but I have to give them props for purposely deciding to lead lives that think of others first.

3.  Do you prefer to watch romantic comedy or romantic drama…or are you rolling your eyes saying bring on the action flicks?

I really don’t like romance anything.  I hate watching the inevitable hurting that couples do to one another, and the sweet stuff isn’t very believable either.  Yeah.  Bah humbug, eh?  I like who-done-it types of movies much better.  There’s less of an emotional commitment in these movies.

4.  It’s April which means baseball season is officially upon us here in the US of A. Humphrey Bogart is quoted as saying “A hot dog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz.” Agree or Disagree?

Neither?  I’m a vegan.  How about a veggie burger beats everything!

5.  What’s something in your community or city that needs fixing or improving?

I live very close to the beach, and in the last twenty years, many condos have been built seaside, which blocks the view we used to have when driving.  Although the condos are good for the economy because of the tourists who flock to the beach, it’s a shame to be unable to see God’s beautiful creation.

6.  Share a song you enjoy that mentions flowers or a specific flower in its title.

I had to Google for this one because my mind drew a blank!

My song of choice is Bette Midler’s The Rose.  I actually shared this song with my classes because we are still working on figurative language.  The song is full of metaphors and is, in fact, a metaphor itself.

7.  April 22nd is Earth Day…do you believe there’s life on other planets?

I don’t believe there is life on other planets.  In this regard, I take the Bible very literally.  I happen to believe that God set things up so that all of the conditions were perfect for Earth to sustain life.  Every other planet is missing something vital for life.

8.  My Random Thought

My children are coming home in less than two weeks…for the ENTIRE summer.

I think we should all do the Happy Dance now.

Boys in Crisis

Yesterday, I finished reading the book Hear Our Cry:  Boys in Crisis, written by Paul Slocumb.

I read this book as part of a professional development class I’ve been taking the last few weeks.

This is a must-read, regardless of your profession.  If you’re a parent or work with youth of any age, you simply MUST read this book.

As a second-year reading teacher whose clientele is comprised primarily of at-risk students…namely boys…I saw myself and my students on the pages of this book.

Mr. Slocumb describes the factors that affect a boy’s ability to learn.

Low income, little parental involvement, and the “boy code” all contribute to lackluster academic performance.

Mr. Slocumb then delves into three different voices that a student hears as well as three types of parenting/teaching styles.

Oh word.

My heart broke as I heard myself in the dialogue he presented for each.

I immediately sent a text message to my chicklets, apologizing for being a brick wall parent.

I think they were a little confused.  I’ll fill in the blanks later.

As I read the book, I learned about a strategy that I used soon after.

I’ve been looking at my students differently since I began reading the book.

I’d like to think that I’ve been listening more closely.

These are lessons that anyone can apply at any time, for most human beings tend to be in some sort of crisis.

We all have things in our lives that have hurt us and affect our ability to function in a non-dysfunctional way.

The lessons in this book are especially important for teachers, however, as we come into contact on a daily basis with young minds that need strong, adult voices in their lives.

40-Minute Phone Calls

Yesterday afternoon, my phone rang.

I was delighted to see that it was my Rooster boy, calling to chat with his Mama.

Rooster’s first words were, “We haven’t talked in a while, so I thought I would call.”

Be still my beating heart.

He proceeded to tell me about the A-Day game he had attended.  A-Day is Auburn’s annual Spring Training game.

If you don’t watch sports, you might have missed the update on the news.  Attendance was at its highest ever for this event…over 80,000!  This was something, let me tell you, given Auburn’s horrible 2012-2013 season.  We have a new coach, and everyone is pumped!

In addition to the game was a somber reminder of how cruel people can be.  Toomer’s Corner has two beautiful oak trees that were poisoned a couple of years ago.  Despite all attempts to save them, it’s time to take them down.  These trees got rolled with toilet paper after every football victory, so seeing them come down will be difficult.

After the A-Day game, fans gave the trees one grand sendoff, let me tell you, and Rooster was right in the middle of it.

After he shared about the game, the conversation veered to other topics…classes…fraternity stuff…summer plans.

Ahhh…summer…when my baby will be coming home to work and just…well…relax.

As we talked, I could tell that he was happy about coming home.

He talked about a friend who is going through some family problems and is trying to grow wings to become an independent flyer, so to speak.

We talked about how much things had changed for us, as a family. 

I told him how much joy I had as I listened to him tell me that he wants to come home.  I shared that one of my greatest fears when he and Chicky went off to college was that they would not want to come back home.

He told me, “You’ve surprised me, Mama.  Although you and Daddy were super strict while we were in high school, you’ve allowed me to go away to school, take classes, and have fun.  I really like coming home too.”

Ahhh.

I had been worried that my over-protectiveness while my babies were living 24-7 under my roof had created hurdles that we would not be able to get over.

Rooster’s kind words set my worries at ease.

How I love my children.

How I treasure every moment I get to spend with them.

Do I regret holding tightly to them when they were younger?

Not really.

I did what I thought was best, and God worked even within my mistakes.

How I treasure such conversations as these.

I look forward to having my babies home in a couple of weeks when these conversations can occur face-to-face rather than over the phone.

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