Tag Archives: love

I Love School

This morning my youngest daughter informed that she loved school.

“Dad, I love school!” my daughter randomly exclaimed from the backseat.

“That’s cool,” I replied.

“Dad… Do you want to know why I love school?”

“Yes, little one. Why do you love school?”

“Because I get to do jobs.”

Now, we had been discussing the fact that this week she was music helper. Next week she gets to be “fish helper.”  Other jobs that I am aware of are line leader, lunch helper, and some job that is connected with the activity areas in the classroom.

My daughter is five years old. School is pretty awesome.

What happens?

Where does the joy go for students?

This post is not going to answer that question. It is too big for a simple blog post. But my daughter reminded me that for most students, the start of their school experience is filled with joy. With a love for helping. Filled with anticipation to feed a fish, pass out music sheets, and to enter the doors of their school every morning.

I can’t change the whole landscape of education with a blog… but for grammar today we are using Grammar Rock… at least the students will be humming in the hallways.

Hopefully you will, too.

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Off to Grandma’s house we go, talking all the way

Life can teach you powerful lessons, if you listen…

The last couple of days life has revealed how important talking and listening is to our relationships. Here are the dots I’ve been given to connect.

  1. Taking my youngest daughter to grandma’s house in the morning.
  2. An assignment in class
  3. Focus on the Family program

Dot 1

For the last two days I have driven my youngest daughter to grandma’s house because her preschool doesn’t start until next week. Grandma’s house is 35 minutes away. For the last two days I have answered questions like:

“Why does the moon move?”

“What is your favorite place to go?”

“What is your favorite stuffed animal?”

It has been a joy talking with my daughter. When she liked an answer, she would say, “Oooooh, I like that, too!”

With six children, we have a busy schedule. It is not often that we get specific time to just talk with a single child.  We do have family time at dinner, or traveling to an event, that allows us to talk. But the specific one-on-one time is rare. Answering questions on the way to grandma’s house has reinforced the importance of finding time for each of my kids.

Dot 2

To start the year I have a small unit for the seniors that focuses on being successful next year at college. They write an email to a professor, they create a resume, stuff like that. The first assignment is to answer some questions about their college and life next year. Questions like:

Where is the Registrar’s office? Who is a contact person?

Who do you contact for safety issues?

Where is your favorite restaurant from campus?

This lead to a lot of conversations, as a class and with a single student as we tried to navigate a college’s website. Through the class period we would also talk about break and Christmas gifts. One moment in class got me thinking about the importance of talking… one student asked me about my New Year’s resolutions. Then another student asked about what Christmas gifts I got.  This was the only class that that type of conversation happened, but it made me feel like someone else cared enough to know something about me. Isn’t that the heart of our life? To know that someone else in this great big world, which at times is so harsh, cares enough to listen to us.

Dot 3

After dropping my daughter off this morning, I listened to Focus on the Family. Jim Daly  interviewed Ron and Deb DeArmond about their book, I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last. One of the focal points was about communication in marriage. During an answer Deb said that you hear with your ears, but listen with your heart. True communication is not just talking, but listening, processing, and showing you care.

It is a simple picture when you connect the dots: real conversations matter. Real conversations are an act of love.

I think the world needs more talking and listening…

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Not Under the Tree

Yesterday at church Father started his sermon talking about which experience was better: Attending a Husker game in person or watching it on TV. He expanded on the idea to discuss how important it is to be present in our faith, to be present in our lives.

Then my youngest daughter noticed that time moves. I let her wear my watch during church. At first she was fascinated by the backlight button. She would push the button, then cup her hand over the face to see the numbers light up. Toward the end of the service, she noticed that the numbers changed. My daughter updated me every minute through the last song.

“Dad, it’s 10:28 now!” she announced.

She was fascinated with this new knowledge… that time moves on… no matter what we do.

We can spend it on a phone. We can spend it on a computer. We can spend it learning. We can spend it with friends and family. Are we present as time moves forward?

Being present means that we have to deal with both the positive and negative of our lives. This is the biggest hurdle for us. It is easy to be present in our life when things are good. But to be present in life when things are tough, when you have to face the truth of your life, to face your fears and doubts; that takes strength.

The other hurdle is the simple task of being present in the routine of life. We work, we clean, we post on social media, we eat a snack, we live everyday. Being present in the routine is hard. It is easy to just let time move forward. “It’s 10:17! Time for bed.” And another day goes by without us really living it.

To be present everyday. To embrace the complexity of this existence. To face our fears. To love with an open heart. To find joy in this world. That means living our life. That is opening a present that can’t be found under the tree.

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#Life

Even for me, sometimes too many things happen at once that challenge us. Too many dots show up and it is hard to connect them in a clear meaningful way. Right now I am in that situation. I am hoping that writing this blog post will help me find the connections, while bringing something toward your life to think about.

So here are the dots that have happened over the last few days:

Dot One: Reading poetry by Shakespeare, Wordsworth, and Blake (to name a few) in English class. Poems like “Sonnet 60,” “To an Athlete Dying Young,” and “The world is too much with us.”

Dot Two: Attending the funeral of a family member on my wife’s side that battled cancer for four years. She was only a year older than I am.

Dot Three: Returning to Centura for a basketball game to connect with past colleagues. I also saw the school’s new academic display that had a section for the Teacher of the Year award, which I received in 2010.

Dot Four: Going through a “first year.” Dealing with all the positive and negative components of that.

Dot Five: Getting a chapbook of poetry ready for submission… actually, dot five is writing in general.

So let’s connect some dots with a quote from Macklemore:

Every dot is connected to this quote in some way. This life is fleeting. We all die. We don’t face that reality. We don’t live like our death is a truth. We have songs, we have graduation speeches, we have posters reminding us of the fact. Expressing the idea that our lives should be lived for something more deep and meaningful… but we watch another YouTube video, or retweet a meme, or spend time talking bad about someone. We simply waste time, waste our days on things that don’t make our life incredible.

See, the second part of the Macklemore’s lyric takes all the dots to a deeper level. What we do with our lives dictates how long it takes to die a second time… Think about that for a second…

Dot One: Reading poetry from the 1800’s.

Dot Two: Family. The love we create by being family.

Dot Three: Being involved in people’s lives.

Dot Four: Being involved in people’s lives. Even when it is tough.

Dot Five: Writing so that my words can be a part of somebody’s life.

When will Shakespeare’s name finally be said for the last time? When will yours? When will my name no longer be said?

I don’t know the answers, but I do know that what we do while we are here determines how long we will be remembered.

This isn’t about being famous. This is about facing the truth that we will die. At some point we will no longer see a sunset. We will no longer have a great cup of coffee. Be able to hold hands with the person we love. If we truly lived with the truth of death, our lives would be different. It doesn’t mean we wouldn’t work, or that we wouldn’t watch a YouTube video. It means we wouldn’t waste our time and energy on hurting people. We would chase our goals. We would cherish the opportunities we have to learn, to read poetry, to drink a good cup of coffee.

But most importantly, we would love with an open heart. We would love our life and the people we get to share it with. I may never truly make it as a writer or poet (but I will keep trying), but I am a father, a husband, a teacher and a friend. How I live my life in those roles will determine how long it takes to die a second time…

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Enough of…

Christmas tree with title

It was about 2 o’clock this morning.  I was stroking my little girl’s hair, trying to help her fall back to sleep after giving her some medicine. She came home with a fever and scratchy throat. She was sleeping on the couch, so I was sleeping on the floor. She wouldn’t fall asleep alone, even with the Christmas tree lights still on. I was staring at the Christmas tree with two presents underneath when I thought about what it would be like if that was all the presents we placed under the tree.

I thought about how the girls would react on Christmas morning. Their shocked expressions. I thought about what they might say. What would we say? I was tired, alright…  But, as you, faithful readers know, I started to think about something deeper.

The scene in my head faded as I knew that there would be more presents under the tree. I smiled as my daughter shifted and began to breathe deeply, finally falling back to sleep. I also smiled because I was thinking about how my children would smile as they opened their presents. As a family we do reinforce that gifts are one way that people share their love with each other. That no matter what the gift is, it was given in love.

But then my thoughts turned. I gingerly lifted my hand from my daughter’s hair. Waiting to see if she would wake back up. She didn’t. I turned fully to face the Christmas tree. And I reflected on an idea I had been think about for a while now, that the world has enough of…

The world has enough hate.

The world has enough pain.

The world has enough ignorance.

The world has enough broken hearts and broken dreams.

The world has enough apathy.

The world has enough phoniness.

 

What the world needs, and not just for Christmas, is Love.

The world needs more books, more poetry.

The world needs respect.

The world needs more people striving for their dreams, having their heart on fire because they are pursuing their goals.

The world needs more people supporting each other, instead of dragging others down.

The world needs more children to smile, every morning.

 

Maybe it was the tiredness, or the way the lights promised a beautiful moment if only for a while, but I started to cry. I felt overwhelmed by everything. The classroom, a sick child, being a father, of the fear I have every time my children walk out the front door into this world.

But there was already two presents under the tree, there would be more. There would be smiles and joy because every present is a symbol of someone’s love for the recipient.

And then there is this post, these words… they are my gift to you, every time.

 

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20 Years of Marriage

Tile of blog with two rings

20 years of marriage today.

I was going to write a deep “what I’ve learned” type of blog… but I’ll save that for later. This post may still be deep, but it will be light-hearted and dedicated to celebrating 20 years of love.

First, a song from one of my wife’s favorite artist…

This use to be my ringtone for my wife on my first phone, back in 2004. The phone had that hidden keyboard you slid down when you turned the phone on its side. It was blue. But anyway, this ringtone got me a free coffee one day.

I was at the Blue Moon in Hastings when my wife called. And from my pocket Celion started to sing, “Because I am your lady, and you are my man.” There was an awkward few seconds before I said, “That’s my wife calling.”

The barista handed me the coffee and said, “No charge. Any husband who will have that ringtone for his wife deserves a coffee.”

Time for another music break…

This is my favorite Josh Groban song. My wife and I got to see him play this song in concert, plus, he played the song on a secondary stage that happen to be right in front of us. Yes, I teared up during the song (come on, who wouldn’t). That night is one our favorite date nights. But we saw Tim McGraw and Faith Hill last year. We have seen the musical of Beauty and the Beast. We have also been to Brian Regan and Phantom of the Opera with our children. We don’t get to do big events like that often, but they are awesome moments in our life.

Another music break…

At the moment, my wife and I are watching the whole series of Miami Vice (I got the series as a Christmas gift). Almost every summer we choose something to watch. One summer we watched every Star Trek movie, yes even the new ones. It was interesting to watch the progression of special effects. We have watched every episode of Friends. We have seen all the Hobbit and Lord of the Ring movies, to name a few of our summer series.

I have one more music break, but before I share that, who says we don’t have a soundtrack to our lives?

This last song is from the final movie in the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn – Part 2. It was the only one we saw in a theater (yes, we watched all the other films on DVD, together). I think there was only three guys, including me, in the theater. And I kind of embarrassed my wife. I was enjoying the final fight scene, to be honest. That scene was pretty epic, but when the movie cuts back to reveal that the whole scene was Alice Cullen showing Aro what would happen if he continued with his choice to fight, I said something like, “no way” or “what?”, loudly. There was a loud “shhh” response…

As the credits started to role, this song played…

It has been 20 years of marriage for Lynette and I today. I was up early to get ready for work. I kissed her before I headed out the door. There have been some really tough times, moments of joy that have broken my heart, but we have stuck together. As I pulled my car out of the garage (radio on Yacht Rock) I smiled… I can’t wait to hear the next song in our life.

Love always, me.

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Your Story. My Story. Our Story.

Your Story.

On Saturday, I attended the wedding of a former student, Jason. The wedding was centered on the couple’s Love Story. The program shared important dates for them; first road trip, first date, the day he proposed. The ceremony, also, intertwined their Love Story. It was a beautiful moment… in their Life Story.

The wedding party had seven former students; the officiant, the groom, an usher, and four of the groomsmen. Not to mention all the other former students I visited with during the reception. It had been over 10 years since I had seen many of them. Many of the conversations centered on how life had changed for all of us. Trying to tell our Life Stories in 10 minutes. In one way it saddened me. To know, that at one time, our stories were being written together. Now… the stories are separate. In fact, even though Jason and I have kept in touch (mostly through Facebook), the wedding was the first time I met his bride.

Isn’t that Life.

You have your story. I have my story.

But, even in small moments, it is our story. And that is the greatest aspect of life I know. Each of us plays the role of protagonist in our lives. We forget that we are characters in other people’s stories. I was the English teacher, the coach, and for some of my students, something more. Jason and I spent hours playing basketball and talking about life. For each of my former students there was a unique aspect to our relationship. For example, I gave one student a quote every month for a year. I will admit to feeling a sense of pride knowing that those memories were part of their stories. To remember the good times and the rough times because we wrote that part together, just in different perspectives.

Even though our stories are now being written separately, it doesn’t mean that we didn’t play an important part in the past. Because isn’t that what makes a great story? Moments that are worth remembering. Stories that are retold. Being remembered by someone. Yes, you have your story. I have my story. But really this life is our story.

(A little trip back to eighth grade…)

 

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