Wednesday, March 30, 2016

If you Don't Think God is in the Public Schools

I hear and read complaints by Christians about how “God isn’t allowed in the public schools.” I beg to differ. If you don’t see God in the schools then you aren’t looking hard enough. Sure, we aren’t allowed to pray (out loud) or read the Bible to kids, but He definitely is in the schools. Here are just a few examples.

On the Monday before spring break, my friend and colleague posted this on Facebook:

As a teacher, this week is hard. It's hard to get homework ready for students who are leaving early, or will be returning late. It's hard to keep students interested when their minds are elsewhere. But the hardest, most heart-wrenching thing for me are the students who know that they don't have a fun-filled spring break to look forward to, and their worry is if they will get any food next week because they aren't at school where we make sure they get breakfast and lunch. So when I get a text from a friend saying, "hey- are you making food bags for some of your students like you did at Christmas? If so, I will help you," it literally brings me to tears. So thankful! So blessed!

The results were overwhelming. By the time they left for spring break, 70 children had bags loaded full of food (heavier than the average kindergartener) to take home thanks to Sara, and the community members who showed up with food and bags.
I saw God there.

Last fall as it got colder more and more children came to school without what they needed. Children arrived without socks, clean clothes, or with worn out shoes that no longer fit. Stephanie and Theresa came up with an idea for a “kids closet,” spread the word, and it began to take shape. What we have now is a fully stocked room with underwear, socks, clothes (sizes 2T to mens and womens large), shoes, boots, and winter snowclothes. If children have accidents or forget their boots they simply go with an adult to get what they need, returns not necessary.
God was there too.

God was in school when a teacher took 3 special needs children home with her for the weekend so their dad could stay with their mother in the hospital when she had major surgery.

He was there when we collected food and gas cards for the family who took weekly trips to Grand Rapids to take their son for his chemo treatments. He was also there with the children who sold ribbons and had bake sales for that same family.

I saw God in the public school when the teachers spent their own money on school supplies and paid field trip fees for kids who didn’t have them. I saw Him with the teacher who tutored a girl after school for free because she knew it would be a financial burden on the parents.

If you think that God isn’t allowed in the public schools you aren’t looking hard enough. He doesn’t need to be invited. He just shows up. And if you don’t believe that you are grossly underestimating the power of God himself. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

No, Your Generation Did Not Invent Tight Pants

My new favorite author is Jen Hatmaker. I recently read her book For the Love  and enjoyed every minute of it. My favorite chapter was the one about LAP (leggings as pants) and TAP (tights as pants). She’s a girl after my own heart on the subject, especially when she says:

Leggings-As-Pants (LAP) is permissible if the following rule is obeyed: Your privates are covered by a shirt, sweater, or dress. Privates heretofore are understood as areas north of upper thigh and south of muffintop. I don’t want to see your hinterlands…I am just shopping at Target and feel like I’ve gotten to second base with you.

Jen is about 8 years younger than me so this might be a new phenomenon for her, but if you went to high school in the mid 80’s like I did, leggings as pants are not. We just didn’t call them leggings. We called them “stretch pants” or “stirrup pants” (for which I am anxiously awaiting a comeback).  We wore our beloved stretch pants under cute swishy skirts in capri length (except we didn’t call them capris either), or ankle length, with either Tintables pumps or flats. If we wore leggings as pants they were always under a long, oversized sweater, sweatshirt, or tshirt. Never were our “hinterlands” on display for the general public (unless you were writhing around on the hood of a car in a Whitesnake video). In those days we thought that leaving something to the imagination was a good thing when it came to stretch pants. And we never wore tights as pants. We just didn’t. It’s weird.

 And while I’m on the subject, tight jeans aren’t new either. These days I find the banter about skin tight “jeggings” to be quite comical. If you are my age, you undoubtedly jumped up and down, swiveling your hips to and fro to pull up those Jordache jeans that you saved up your babysitting money for, and then laid on your bed like a mannequin, in order to get them zipped. There was no stretch in those jeans. It took a few deep squats and a prayer in order to get them to the point of walking in a somewhat normal manner without blowing out the zipper you worked so hard to pull up (maybe with pliers). When you could bend over, you pegged the ankles, slipped on your flats or pumps and off you went. But before you left you tossed on that oversized sweater or sweatshirt to cover up the unsightly muffin top, because again, we understood the importance of leaving something to the imagination.

I loved the 80’s. I loved the hair, the clothes, the “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” music, big, oversized shirts, and the stretch pants. I love the return of those fashions and colors. I’m glad it’s back in style and I’m happy that women my age can enjoy the trends without scorn. But I tend to agree with Jen when it comes to covering up. Wear what is comfortable ladies, just please remember to leave a little something to the imagination.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Search for the Perfect Cup of Coffee

My husband Tom has been on a quest for the perfect cup of coffee since we got married, and I’m not entirely sure why. When we met he was drinking instant coffee from a dirty mug with powered creamer. When we would visit his family at their family business he’d drink day old coffee from the coffee machine in their garage. “It’s not any good unless your tongue goes numb!” he’d say. We got one of those Mr. Coffee automatic drip coffee makers as a wedding gift, which provided me with my one cup in the morning and filled his thermos for the rest of the day. Then somewhere along the way he said “This coffee doesn’t taste very good.” Suddenly we were on the hunt for a different type of coffee maker because his friend, who is a chef, said that the water has to be brought up to a certain temperature in order to properly brew and that the only way to do that is with an old fashioned percolator. So we got a percolator. It took a little longer in the morning but I got my one cup and he put the rest in the thermos and took it to work. About 10 years ago he decided he was drinking too much coffee and it was getting to him. We talked to some friends who had a “Toddy” cold brew system. It was a little labor-intensive but you ended up with coffee that was supposedly more smooth with less caffeine (unless you drank the concentrate without diluting it). We did that for a while until Tom gave up coffee altogether. I continued on with that system for my one cup of coffee (until it got to be a chore for just me) then a I tried series of other quick ways to make just one cup in the morning until the invention of Keurig, which only brews one cup at a time. The Keurig was perfect because I was the only one who drank coffee. Then Tom decided he missed it and was ready to come back. Around that time Sammy and Robby started drinking coffee so my little one-cupper wasn’t enough and we switched to a better model that kept the water hot. But Tom wasn’t happy. “It doesn’t get the water to the right temperature. The coffee from the gas station tastes better than this does!”

“Then get your coffee from the gas station because it tastes fine to me.” Nevertheless, we found ourselves in Bed Bath & Beyond, replacing my Keurig with a Bunn automatic drip coffee maker. So we’ve come just about full circle.  An the funny thing is, it has all, always tasted the same to me. Will Tom ever get his perfect cup of coffee? I’ll let you know when his tongue goes numb.

Honestly, I'm Not Ignoring You

A friend and I took our dogs for a walk in the woods so I decided to leave my phone in the car where it would be safe from my accidentally dropping it in the snow, never to be found again. Plus, I just wanted to enjoy the company of my friend and our dogs, uninterrupted. When I got back to the car from our hour walk, I checked my phone. There were 7 missed calls from my son. In addition to those calls were the following texts:
Is there something wrong with your phone?
Call me back, right now
You suck at answering phones mom, seriously
Do you want me to tell you there’s an emergency? Because I’ll play that card
I’m gonna throw your phone into a porta potty
What was so important? He wanted to know where the dog was (she was with me).  My response to the missed calls and messages was this:
            You only need to leave one message or call only once. If I am available I will call you back.
 I have had told that to both of my sons at one time or another. Usually I have to remind them that I am not tied to my phone 24/7 like they are so if I don’t respond, then I will when I can. Both boys have left message after message with the same
            Answer your phone!
            Where are you?
            Why won’t you answer?
            Seriously, why even have a phone if you aren’t going to answer it?
messages as if I am sitting there looking at the screen saying “Muahahaha! They will never know I’m here refusing to answer!” The most missed calls I have received from one son was 9. 9 missed calls! No emergency. Nobody has lost a limb. It’s usually for something dumb like, “Did you order that shirt yet?”

I guess I am going to have to blame this on the generation gap. I just don’t feel the need to have my phone on me every waking second of every day. I don’t carry it around with me at work. I leave it on the counter at home and most of the time the ringer is off. I’m not innocent here. I can find myself in a panic if one of my kids doesn’t respond to my messages. But usually, I can surmise that if they aren’t responding, they are probably busy at the moment. Both of my sons carry their phones everywhere, even in the bathroom. I can hear the shower running and a phone buzzing with incoming texts. I have to wonder if the extra towel in the bathroom is for drying off wet hands to respond within seconds. I guess I can understand why they can’t understand why I’m OK with walking away from it sometimes. I like my phone and how it allows me to stay connected, but if I don’t respond right away, please understand that I’m probably busy at the moment, or I just want to unplug and enjoy the quiet, like a walk in the woods with a friend and our dogs.


Do Whatever you Want, but Don't Take My Spot!

I’m one of those early people. I’d rather be to work early than stay late. When the day is over, I want to get home. I make it a point to get in to work early (most days ½ hour early) to get myself ready for the day without a fluster of running around doing last-minute things in a panic. In coming to work early, I have had the good fortune to land one of the prime parking spots. It’s one of those ‘closest to the door you can get without parking right next to the door’ spots. Every day for the last 5 years or so I have quite literally parked in the same spot, although my friend Deb might disagree. She claims it’s only my spot because I stole her spot. The only time I have changed that is when I either have been late due to unforeseen circumstances (and when I say late, I mean closer to contract time than I usually arrive) or if I have an appointment and need to scoot out before the buses leave. One morning I arrived at my usual time only to see someone leaving her car and walking towards the building. Fine, except for the fact that this car was parked in my spot. I thought “That must be a substitute teacher. Everyone knows this is my spot! But why would a sub be here so early?” I didn’t recognize the car or the back of the person walking in. I half wanted to chase her in and say “Um, excuse me, but you have parked in my spot. Could you please move?” But could I do that? Afterall, there is no assigned parking. She is free to park wherever she wants, as I am. But it’s the principal of the thing. If I have to park somewhere else, so does Sara, and Deb, and Dana, and so on. It’s like the domino effect. If I was so rattled by someone “moving my cheese” wouldn’t everyone else be? I took my plea to Facebook. The response was overwhelming. I got a mixture of sympathy and ribbing. Those who understood what it’s like wholeheartedly supported my stand.  In fact, I found out that the culprit found her way to my spot because two people before me had informed her that she was parking in their spots! But since I’m not one for confrontation and because it really is just a silly parking spot, I’ve decided to suck it up and park wherever there’s a free spot, which will still be my spot because I’ll just make sure I’m there earlier.