Tag Archives: love

Blueberry Muffin Rant

I was going to write a post that just ranted about life.  About student apathy. About the cruelty of social media. About drivers that run red lights. About how parents abuse their children. I was going to rant about everything. As I made muffins this morning, I was in a sour mood for a number of reasons.

But as the timer went off on the oven and I pulled the muffin tins out, I had to smile as the warm aroma of blueberries and chocolate chip muffins filled the kitchen. I returned to cooking the scrambled eggs wishing everyone could have a Sunday morning breakfast like ours.  My youngest daughter came bouncing into the room, “Is it muffin day?”

“Yes, little one. It is muffin day.”

She curled up on the couch in a blanket, then started to ask me 5 year-old questions.

To be honest, I still want to rant. But I realize that my rant won’t change the unfairness in this world. Or stop somebody from writing a hurtful comment on social media. My rant would not save a child’s life today.

 

Sadly, I know that this post won’t do that either.  But instead of ranting, I choose….

I choose to believe that education is about growing as a person, not a grade.

I choose to read more books instead of looking at a screen.

I choose to listen instead of talk.

I choose to believe in sunsets and sunrises because you can see them from anywhere.

I choose to write poetry, blogs, and stories so that someone reads a message that they need.

I choose to post crazy photos on Instagram.

I choose to tell dad jokes to everyone.

I choose longer hugs and holding hands with my wife.

But most important, I choose to love, no matter how much the world keeps trying to hurt me.

I choose to love.

I choose LOVE.

 

 

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Little Treasures

My morning routine is different this year. My wife heads to school with our two middle daughters. My oldest son usually heads to school soon after. I wait another 40 minutes to take my youngest daughter to preschool.

This week my daughter and I have been playing a game she created, “Treasure.”

We start at the front door.

Our river.

Which is really a river. We cross the river by rope, or bridge, or however she decides we can cross. Next, we find a treasure hiding in the jungle (living room).

Our treasure chest.

On the drive to preschool she retells of our adventure with joy in her voice.

But what I have discovered this week is that little treasures are everywhere. Most of them are right in front of us.

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Let’s be Honest

It is January 22, 2019. Even though almost all the schools around us are closed, we didn’t get a snow day. (It is cold, but the roads are clear and the snow just hasn’t started falling). I have tons of grading to do, some are late assignments because students won’t hand in their work. I just introduced a poetry unit for four sections. This is how I feel today.

This post isn’t exactly about my day though. This post is about the work it takes to stay focused on your goals. Especially when you know negativity is coming your way.

Let’s be honest, it is difficult to stay the course. It takes more than will power. It takes more than hard work. It takes courage. It takes faith. And sometimes it takes a wall to protect yourself.

OK, let’s go back to my day.

Poetry

I am going to guess that many of you reading that word had a negative response… just like my students. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I am a poet. So, the next couple of weeks are going to be fun for me, to a degree. I will have to fight through the negative reaction almost all of my students will have. But, I think I can use this example to discuss how to withstand those moments in life when you face negative pushback as you reach for your goals.

The first aspect is to have faith. I know that when the poetry unit is over, most of my students will at least appreciate poetry. Even though, right now, they complain, I know what the outcome will be. (In fact even by the end of the period a few students said they enjoyed watching a performance of some of the poems).

Have faith in the end result.

Now the honest part is that sometimes we don’t succeed. We don’t achieve a specific goal. But that doesn’t mean you lose faith. Faith gives you a focus and builds strength to continue to strive toward your goals. That strength feeds your courage. It is going to take courage to face the hurdles while pursuing your dreams. And the toughest hurdle is negativity from the outside world.

That negativity takes on many different forms. Each negative hurdle has to be conquered in different ways. But you have to have the courage to do what it takes to overcome the negativity. Let’s be honest, sometimes we get knocked to the ground by difficult situations. It takes courage to get back up. And faith to get us moving in the right direction.

My final aspect for today is protecting yourself. And the best way to protect yourself is with Love. There are two parts to this idea.

First, love what you do. Sounds simple, but I see too many people, too many students, pursue goals that they don’t love. Love feeds into faith. What you love defines who you are to a degree. If you are pursuing goals that align with what you love, you build faith in the end result. Which then gives you courage to fight for it.  What we fight for keeps fuels our love for that goal and life. Yes, it is all connected.

The second part of Love is a little different. Surround yourself with people who love and care for you. Life is a team sport. For whatever reason, this world is filled with people who would rather see you fail than succeed. People who love you want to see you shine. Their protection is an important part of achieving your goals. Bring them in to your life.

Faith

Courage

Love

And of course,

Poetry.

 

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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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