Saturday, January 26, 2013

Wonky Kids, Chocolate Teachers

Well, I don't know if anyone noticed or not, but I think I was doing pretty good at January-blog-a-day'ing until Day 21. Two lame excuses:
  1. The topic for the day ("Create a mood board") really threw me. I think this was a Pinterest reference? I'm not sure. But I confess I have no idea what a mood board is, or how to create one. I was stumped for days.
  2. This week really kicked my butt ... extremely busy, big projects at work, I was on point to lead a major Bible study for Pulse, and to top it all off I had major computer issues. Today's the first day I've had any real time to think.
I thought about just giving up. But rather than do that, I think I'll just take my lumps ... address days 21 through 24 here, in a single post, and then do the remaining three days tomorrow ... then pick up on Monday as if nothing happened. (Perhaps no one will notice? :) ) So, here goes ...

Day 21 - Create a Mood Board

Well, as stated above, I have no idea how to do a mood board. But, I have something almost as good (at work), and that's a mood calendar. Each day when I arrive at my desk, I thumb through it's pages and try to pick a mood that is closest to my true mood. Perhaps as a warning to those who might come lurking around my desk.

And, the one that I seem to pick most frequently is "copascetic." I'm not entirely sure what it means, but I think it's sort of a cross between "just chillin'" and "no complaints, at peace with the world, but can't wait until it's quitting time."

Most of the time my moods are fairly industrious in nature. I'm pretty type A and like to move fast while I can. (Which is why a malfunctioning computer is so frustrating!)

There's one that I will probably use sometime but I haven't used yet: "Wonky." Seems to mean a little askew, off-kilter, twisted, perhaps goofy. I have days like that, I just haven't been able to admit them yet. Soon.

Day 22 - Kids

Psalm 127:3-5a says:

3 Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.

I used to wonder in what twisted alternate reality that verse could possibly be true. But, while teaching a class in the Psalms with a friend at church a few years back, I think the way in which that verse is God's truth suddenly came to me: Because having children is most adults' cue to stop thinking just about themselves. When you have a child, suddenly, it's no longer about you. You start to learn how to really love. And that means, you become just a little bit more like God is (unselfish!).

The fact is, having kids is both the greatest joy and reward, and also the greatest pain and humiliation, sometimes simultaneously. I have two awesome kids: My son Nathan just turned 30, and my daughter Mandy is now a mom herself and approaching 28. I love them both dearly (and equally). I fret and worry about them a lot, and pray for them a lot, probably more than I fret, worry, or pray for anyone. The greatest fear and pain I've known is being helpless while watching Nathan (as a one-year-old) get a spinal tap because the doctors didn't know why he was so sick and wondered if he might have meningitis. (Thankfully, he did not. They never found out what it was ... God just healed him up, as He so often does.)

And, we had lots of similar scares with Amanda (as all parents inevitably do), though none quite that serious.

There are also the "spiritual scares" ... when your kids make a bad choice, get in trouble, push God away. You wish you could help them avoid the pain of the lessons you yourself learned the hard way.

And now, thank God, I'm a grandpa. My sweet little granddaughter Annabelle just turned two. So I'll probably go through a lot of this all over again, though now I think (I hope) I trust in God just a little more profoundly, having been through it all already with my own two kids. Plus, the grandkids have their parents to be there at night and clean vomit out of their ears with a Q-tip. As a grandparent I can stay home, pray, and sleep.

But I am truly thankful for my kids. I can clearly see how they have driven me closer to the heart of God. And I am praying that they too will someday experience all that God has to bless them with, through their own children.

Day 23 - Dessert

Well, yeah, this one's super easy. Almost anything made out of chocolate will do.

And I'm talking about REAL chocolate ... heavy on the cacao ... not sickly "white chocolate" (which doesn't deserve the name at all), or "German chocolate" (which is waxy and has weird bits of coconut in it to try and distract you from its waxiness). Milk chocolate will do in a pinch.

But Real Chocolate is dark, and semisweet, and pairs well with all kinds of things (especially nuts and fruit, and coffee!). If you really want to impress me with dessert, make me a "Death by Chocolate" cake!

Day 24 - Teachers

We all have our favorite teachers. In elementary school, it was Mrs. Chapman, my third grade teacher. She was one of those who, even while being strict, really knew how to communicate that she loved and cared about each student. My most vivid memory in her class was the day when some evil fellow students put a bag of maggots in her desk. I think she had a weak stomach. She discovered it, took it out, held it high and to the light. Then suddenly, with a look of horror on her face, she fled the classroom. We heard her puking out in the bushes in front.

I looked at those students whom I knew did the dastardly deed. They look incredibly ashamed of themselves at that moment.

Then Mrs. Chapman came back into the classroom, the bag gone, dabbing at her mouth with a hanky. Somehow she managed to pick back up again like nothing ever happened. She never said a word about the incident to anyone ... and didn't need to. It never happened again.

In high school my favorite teacher was an English teacher in the 11th grade. For the life of me, I can't remember her name at the moment ... but the reason I liked her was because, as I mentioned in an earlier post, behind my back she was reading my poetry to the other classes. And that's what first reached out and caught a grip on the heart of the beautiful young woman who later became my wife. I think we might have gotten together anyway ... but that initial push in my direction certainly didn't hurt.

Then in college, at Biola University, I can't pick between three favorite professors. One was Dr. Gordon Kirk, who taught theology classes and was the most authentic, dynamic, amazing communicator I ever sat under. No one doubted that Dr. Kirk was utterly and deeply in love with the Word of God, and the God of the Word.

The second was the professor who was in charge of my major (print media communication), Dr. Lowell Saunders. He wasn't the most dynamic communicator in the world, but he was a very hands-on mentor and I learned so much from him. One class I'll never forget was his amazing "Writing for Personal Enrichment" class. The principles I learned there I still use to this day.

And last but not least, Dr. Clyde Cook. You may be aware that Dr. Cook became president of Biola, but this wasn't until the year after I graduated. During my tenure he was the head of the missions department. I considered him a close personal friend and advocate. He calmly defended me when (as editor of the student newspaper) the school's board of directors, deans, and president were all calling for my scalp. Dr. Cook knew how to invest in a young man's life. After he became president, and I visited the campus, he invited me up to his office for lunch. It was an amazing moment, not least of which because I had never before been in the president's office when I wasn't in trouble!

After a very noteworthy tenure as Biola's president, Dr. Cook passed away in April 2008. I miss him and will always be grateful for his contribution to so many lives, including mine.

Tomorrow: el-oh-vee-ee, winter/summer, and regret!


Leslie said...

First of all, milk chocolate will NOT do in a pinch. I'm just sayin'. Don't compromise. Go dark or go home.
Kids... yes indeedie, they're a huge blessing... and the ultimate cause of gray hair. Can't have one without the other, I suppose. My son has grown up to be a good man. It was the growing up that darn near killed me though. Heh. The blessings of child rearing are sometimes easy to spot. And then sometimes it's all vomit in the ears (though I must confess that I never had that joy -- it was usually vomit on the hallway carpet at 3 a.m.).
I love my son, especially now that he's grown and not crawling out the window at 1 a.m. to clandestinely meet up with his buddies. May he and his wife have many wonderful years waiting up for their daughters to get home from dates.
Teachers -- I had some truly great ones. Some really lame ones too, and those who should have left teaching years ago. Also a few who never should have entered the profession. Overall, I think that good teachers should be awarded medals. I think that if I were closed in a classroom full of seventh graders every day, I would gnaw off my own arm out of sheer frustration. However, having said that, Note to Mrs. Coughlin, my seventh grade homeroom teacher: If you are going to show a National Geographic film of bare-breasted natives, do not be so shocked when you have a room full of boys screaming, "Boobs! Boobs!"
After 30 years of teaching, you would think an adult would have figured out a thing or two, right? Apparently not. Ah, well...
Good Teachers: I had an English teacher my junior year of high school who instilled in me a love for American Literature. Mr. Weeks was the best teacher ever, and he seemed to actually enjoy being there with us every day, which is an amazing thing in itself. I shall forever associate him with Thoreau and those lovely days on Walden Pond.
Life is fantastic, eh, Larry? It truly is. An adventure, for sure.

Kristin Mahoney said...

Yay, you're getting back on track! Jim and I have been having fun reading your posts, so I couldn't let you think noone noticed. ; P
I do have to say that I am glad the post wansn't actually about chocolate teachers. Unless it would've been about people teaching you to cook with chocolate.

Larry Short said...

Yes, sorry for the totally irrelevant headline. Hard to think about how to title these compound posts!

One more coming (in just a few minutes) ... then I should be almost caught up!