Memorial Day is a day to say thank you to those who died serving our nation in the U.S. armed forces. My two grandpas, both pictured above, fought in World War II. My grandpa Chuck (on the left) served in the Army Air Corp and my grandpa Jim (on the right) was in the Army and served in the Pacific Theater. Neither of them died while fighting, but the sacrificed non-the-less.
My grandpa Jim died ten years ago. When he died I was too young to realize all that he gave up to protect my freedoms. I didn’t even know my grandpa Chuck, who died before I was born. I can’t go and tell them thank you for their sacrifice, which allows me to live freely in the United States. I am very grateful that I even got to meet my grandpa Jim. I know there are thousands of Americans who never got to meet their fathers, as they died while serving.
To all the men and women who died while serving my country, I thank you. I am blessed to live in the United States of America. I hope as we celebrate Memorial Day we remember who served us.
I’ve been doing yard work again. I don’t have much of a green thumb, more like a brown thumb. I tend to pull more weeds than plant bushes. Despite my lack of talent in the field of botany something really cool happened this last week.
To explain what happened I need to back up my story a little bit.
For the last couple of years a nasty weed has been growing near the mailbox. Oh, you guys know what a mailbox is, you know the box at the end of your driveway that magically receives junk and the occasional birthday card from your grandma that always has the two dollar bill tucked inside.
Anyway, this “weed” never really looked like a weed. Last summer it bloomed a beautiful white flower, but it also took over wherever it grew. (It also made it hard to back out of our driveway) So I decided to transplant this “weed,” still thinking it was a normal plant, to a more advantageous location. But when I started to dig it up I realized the job wouldn’t be worth it. What I thought was one plant was five or six different weeds. This monster was growing crazy and choking out everything around it.
After talking to my dad, we decided to rip this weed out. We dug and dug, for about ten minutes, making no progress. Then my dad had a brilliant idea. “Why don’t we rip the roots out with my truck,” he said. “Heck yes!” I replied. Two hours later, after a lot of grunting and other man stuff, we’d pulled the monster out. The roots looked more like alien tentacles.
That’s the kind of weeding I like to do. Honestly I didn’t expect anything good to come from it. But then yesterday I went over to the mailbox for the first time in a couple weeks, really I only check my mail on my computer, and was shocked at what I saw. The bush, which had been growing resolutely between the monster weed, had always been deprived of its nutrients because of the weed. But now everything had changed. A perfect yellow rose had bloomed.
Because I took out the weed the rose bush is now blossoming amazingly!
It made me think about how God works in our lives. Sometimes he takes things away from us. Sometimes those things are bad like weeds. Sometimes those weeds even look good, but in fact they are choking out something that God wants to nurture in our lives.
So I have a question, what do you think God wants you to give up or get rid of so that you can experience an amazing blossom?
As we live spiritually we need to trust God. He has a plan for us, even if that means letting go of things we think we need. Let God help you produce roses, let him work in your life.
In honor of Mother’s Day I thought I’d tell you why my mom is better than your mom. Now I could easily name more than five reasons why she is the best, but I don’t want you to get all upset. I mean if I listed seven reasons why my mom is better than yours, you’d feel seven times worse about your mom.
I really can’t help it that my mom is the best. I mean she brought me into this world, toilet trained me, and even put her foot down and said no to me a couple of times. Mother knows best! But those are things every mom has done, or should do.
Here are the five reasons why my mom is better than your mom:
1. She Will Not Steal Even If It Is Free.
How many of you take those free sugar packets from Quicktrip or 7-11? Not my mom. One day, after my older sister, Katie, and my Grandma came back from the gas-station, they were talking about their free sugar packets. “You take extra packets too, Grandma,” said my sister. “All the time,” replied my Grandma. My mom, who was standing right next to the two thieves, cut in, “That’s stealing. Taking one is okay, but to take more is wrong.” For the next thirty minutes she let my sister and her mother-in-law have it. So much so, that they swore off gas-station sugar packets.
My mom has morals. That’s why when I went to print out a picture for her Mother’s Day gift at Wal-Mart I made sure to pay for it. The machine printed out my picture and never charged me. I could have just walked right out of the store, but I knew my mom would never accept a stolen gift. So I found the nearest employee and asked to pay for the picture. My mom has taught me well.
2. My Mom Would Jump.
The crystal clear lake lay forty feet below. One, two, three . . . jump! This was Guatemala 2009, Lago Atitlan to be exact. We were all standing at the edge of the lake urging each other to jump. I jumped, made a big splash. My dad said no (Chicken). Emmy, my little sister, jumped on her first try (She’s awesome).
My mom is not a chicken, nor is she just awesome. She is a mom who jumped off of the highest cliff on Lago Atitlan. When my dad wouldn’t do it, my mom faced the big drop and showed her family how cool she is. My mom jumped off of a 40 foot cliff into the lake. As beautiful as Lago Atitlan is, with it’s stunning blue waters and the three volcanoes dominating the view, I will always remember that lake for my mom’s death defying jump.
3. My Mom Kicked Me Out Of The House
Okay, she didn’t litterally kick me out of the house. Five years ago, I was working at a job I hated. This lame job scheduled me to work on Mother’s Day. Three months later I found my self living in Guatemala. And my mom had everything to do with my move. No, it wasn’t because I wasn’t able to celebrate her on Mother’s Day. She told me to go to Guatemala because she saw my passion for missions and wanted me to have a chance to serve.
My mom is better than all the other mom’s out there because she has faith. She knew that she had to let me go so that God could work in my life. I would never have lived in Guatemala if it wasn’t for her.
4. My Mom Teaches Kindergarten
I know, I know. You are thinking that Kindergarten is easy. Those kids take naps. But in reality teaching Kindergarten is more like this video.
My mom pours her life into those kids, which means they are lucky. She is a fantastic teacher, who works super hard to make sure all of her students are socialized, and know their A, B, C’s, and know not to stab one another with scissors, and how to read, and how to deal with bullies, and how to do calculous, and how to write responses to their favorite Dr Seuss book, and when is the right time to go potty and where is the right place, and how to have fun all while staying in the lines. My mom doesn’t back down from any challenge. She teaches Kindergarten.
5. My Mom Would Impersonate You
My mom is immensely tallented at doing voices. Not a day paces by without her coming home from work with a story (remember she teaches Kindergarten) and those stories are always accompanied by a creative impression of her student. She always keeps her impressions tasteful and never stops surprising me with her versatility. She can pass as an old man, little girl, British nanny, and even my dad. Sadly I don’t have any video of my mom impersonating anyone, but she’ll do a voice for you if you ask her.
You might not be able to see my mom impersonating you, but that shouldn’t stop you from impersonating her. You should love kids like she loves kids. You should love your family like she loves her family. You should love and follow God they way she loves and follows God.
My mom is better than your’s because she showed me how to love and be loved.
You know you’ve been in this class. We’ve all struggled to stay awake as the professor drooned on and on, our eyes taped open in a futile attempt to remain conscious. Sadly, once I started teaching I realized it’s not just the student’s who struggle through boring classes.
As a teacher, a teacher who was teaching said boring class, even I struggled at times to stay awake.
During my first year of teaching, quite a few of my classes were boring. Can’t believe I just admitted that. The worst was my current events class. (I know a couple of students who would argue, not to say it was an exciting class, filled with the days most exciting news, but to say one of my other classes was worse.) I didn’t even enjoy listening to my students report on whatever big news story they’d found while scouring the web five minutes before class.
You know why it was boring? It bored me and my students to tears because I didn’t put much effort into it.
I was a new teacher, I didn’t know any better.
Teaching Takes Trying
That next semester I decided to try something different. If teaching something I found boring made for a boring class, then why not teach something I enjoyed. (I know not everyone has this ability, Math teachers have to teach Math) I chose outdoor education. I had grand plans for this class. I wanted to take my students on hikes. I wanted them to love hiking, like I love hiking.
But how can that be taught?
First I bought a book. Had them sit in a classroom. Gave them the information from the book. And then I ran into the same problem I’d had before, boredom.
I was teaching the class wrong. Not that there isn’t a time and place for books and the classroom, but I found out that if I was going to pass on a love for the outdoors I had to take the kids outside.
I showed them how to set up a tent. We identified the clouds. We even talked about going camping. The class improved, but it still wasn’t that good. We still weren’t hiking. And camping was a no go.
Three years later the kids who were in that class still complain that we never did any of the things I promised them we’d do. But what they don’t know is, inside the classroom I couldn’t show them my love for hiking.
A Good Teacher Tackle’s His Students
Teaching doesn’t always happen at school or inside the classroom. Most of the time teaching doesn’t even require books or tests.
Hands down my favorite class to teach was my middle school gym class because I loved the subject matter and most of the time I got to participate. The boys loved it for many reasons, but they especially enjoyed our unit on American football (remember I was in Guatemala) they got to tackle me. I loved it because they loved it, and I got to tackle them. (This would never work in the states, but playing football with your students is a great way to get out your frustration.)
We built connections by playing a game together. Anytime they tackled me I would congratulate them and they would ask my why I was crying. (I wasn’t) Playing football with the boys allowed me to be personal with them.
They learned by watching my actions and following my lead. Now, none of those boys will make it to the NFL, but all of them know more about football than any of their Guatemalan Neighbors.
They learned through experiencing.
Teaching isn’t about how boring or how exciting a class is. No, it’s about growing and changing.
I finally put that to practice with hiking. I knew that if the boys loved playing football when I played with them, they would love hiking if I took them.
A Good Teacher Takes A Hike
During my last year in Guatemala I took the majority of my students on hikes up La Muela, my favorite hike in Xela.
On our hikes up the dead volcano I would ask them what they wanted to do with their lives. I would challenge them to try harder in their classes. I spent most of the time on the hikes listening to what was going on in their lives. I think they needed to know someone cared for them. Kids need someone in their lives that let’s them know that they’re important. Parents can do that, but at a point in every teenager’s life they stop listening to their parents.
I also shared bits of my life story, they listened and let me know they cared. While hiking built healthy relationships.
I miss hiking with them more than almost anything in Xela. I know that they love the hike too, because, since I moved back to the states, they’ve continued to hike.
And sure enough, when I was in Guatemala last March I took a group of kids up La Muela. They wanted to go. They took me to places on the dead volcano I’d never been. As we stood at the summit, looking down on Xela, one of the boys, who’d grown up in Xela, right next to La Muela, looked at me and said, “I love hiking. I can see why you love Xela too.” Pleased, I felt like a success.
My teaching methods might not be conventional, but I believe the best way to pass on information, especially the type I am passionate about, is to form relationships and go hiking.