Students 2014-5

At age four she wanted to teach. God planted her home next door to Mrs. Goldsmith, the woman who would become her 4th grade teacher. So when the call came to invite the high school English teacher out of retirement and back into the classroom after a 7-year hiatus, she agreed.  With a love of books, writing, discussion, and teens, she considered her year at a Christian school in light of Psalm 78:4. “We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his powers and the wonders he has done.” 

The door invited her to walk into student lives — post the tsunami of technological advancements. Hmm. Sports still framed student life for some.  A few others devoted hours to fine arts they pursued outside of class.  But the pleasures of mindless hours of playing video games and watching movies on iPhones, iPads, and laptops, changed the classes. Her. Classes. Her. Students.

Motivating tired students made her wonder why parents let theirs kids stay up all hours. Then she realized that many of the parents worked nights or fell into bed too exhausted to consider options. Still others took the Laissez-faire approach, sometimes not even knowing their kids were at game stores “trying out” new games released from 10 until midnight for free play before going on sale. Resourceful teens told their parents that they were at another home; sneaking into one house or the other, they could sleep in and arrive at school late, sometimes very tardy.

Today’s parents need to talk to each other and assemble working strategies for this age of technology. How about collecting  the devices and charging them all in  the parents’ bedroom? How about talking about social media or checking teens’ phones? Invasion of privacy, you say? There’s a reason scripture talks about growing, and trees planted that bring forth their fruit. 

Ever think about a family tree? The growth intended requires the branches be connected, watered, pruned, grafted, even transplanted. Parents have the call expressed in Psalm 78. They may entrust parts of the training to others, but ultimately, parents need to teach the next generation God’s deeds, power, and wonders. Individuals on various electronics in separate rooms at home yield dying, exposed roots or plants that do not thrive, but slump as a blighted crop. Parents as gardeners could turn the soil, fertilize and prune. What a difference it would make at home, in school, and in the kingdom.


Getting Around

Have scooter, will teach!  In the back of the Jeep, the battery-powered scooter breaks down into component pieces. Each Monday and Friday either her husband or son assembled or disassembled this scooter. Thus the teacher could navigate the halls and elevator to the second floor where Upper School English classes met.


On Wednesday evenings, because the church used the school building for a full mid-week program, the scooter’s usual parking spot in the lobby was abandoned for her son’s office. Said son, the headmaster, had the red scooter parked in his office each Wednesday. The highlight of his week was to drive mom’s scooter back into his office once she got into his car. (Note: picture not available!)
Moment of truth for the teacher? Somewhere between “For when I am weak, then I am strong,” and “Someone is always being inconvenienced because of me.” The struggle to get into and around the school took energy from her as well as her family. Some days she dealt with her immobility graciously, mainly because of the two cute hitchhikers she motored to class with a wave of the scooter key.

  Other days she lamented the extra work she caused those she loves most. Yet they never complained, thus seasoning their service with grace. And that brought the teacher a dose of humility and gratitude.

Grandchildren and Grades

Torn between wanting to cuddle grandchildren and having to get her teaching work done, The new teacher sought equilibrium! Kelsey turned four during teacher orientation week. Olaf, rather than the sisters, stole her heart.

Party by day and write lesson plans by night! Praying for regular infusions of godly direction and physical strength kept grandma awake at all hours of the night. Dave worked hard to keep her from running away, and the Psalms calmed with familiar passages.

“May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace.” Psalm 29:11

And she should mention that He used these smiling children to inject life and humor into this grandma.

After dropping the two passengers off, grandma kept the scooter keys to get her upstairs, via the elevator, to her classroom. Did she mention the scooter? Next time.


DCF 1.0

Dave emptied the hot tub and rolled it into the basement. Buttoned up, the cabin faded in our read view mirror as we aimed the Jeep for Winston-Salem and the year’s adventure: Dave to play Grandpa Extraordinaire and I to teach high school English after a 12-year hiatus.  We left Maryland on August 9, the day before our 46th anniversary.


At 9 AM on Monday I sat in the first faculty meeting  of the year, somewhat ready to tackle the task at hand.


The student contracts and each syllabus for grades 9-12 lay neatly on my  own desk.



My son, the headmaster, opened with a meaningful devotional based on Ephesians 2:8-10.


“For by grace you have been saved– through faith.And this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are Christ’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”


The students in grades 7-12 headed to Lions’ Camp for a week while I began to draft lesson plans.

Put me in a cannon and launch!














When Life Changes

About a year ago she sat on her retirement perch of purple, calmly taking in the four acres she and cabinman called home. Then came the call from North Carolina. Tragedy? Not at all. Life altering? Absolutely.


Son number two called, asking if Mom would consider coming out of retirement and teaching four high school English classes for the 2014-15 year. Prayers, questions, discussions… all swilled together for a week or so before she and cabinman decided to grab the adventure,  and head south.


The blog stopped, the books and red pens returned, and she, this out-of-the-classroom-for-12-years pedagogue, returned to teaching. After all, she felt as called to teach — since age 4 — as any pastor knows he’s called to preach. Graduation for the seniors occurred on May 28, so perhaps it’s time to relive the story of a year, the story of a lifetime. If teaching calls your name, please come along — for the laughs, the frustrations, the changes that have happened to education, and the insights from a teaching Phoenix who rose to fly one more year.

You Held My Hand



Calls from both our sons came on Mother’s Day, as well as chats with our delightful daughters-in-love. I also spent part of the afternoon thinking back over the years I had to invest in two wispy-haired strawberry blonde boys.

I found myself looking at various photos of their hands…pudgy, dimpled hands that once grabbed mine. The backs of those hands exploded with freckles and often, smeared with peanut butter, jam, and other substances I’d rather not even consider,  grasped onto mine! What trust children exhibit when they reach out a hand, without even looking up to check who is above them on the other end!


Fast forward, as life truly telescopes time when children grow, and I see grown sons married to extraordinary women,  raising their own offspring. Patches of blue sky — but also laden with some clouds —  mark their years of marriage and family. As tree branches ramify toward the heavens in various directions, so their children’s interests now begin to branch outward. But I, through photos, was watching hands this Mother’s Day.


Look at the hands, at the journey that bonds generations and tells amazing stories of trust, leading, exploring.

Soft, tiny fingers clutch and hold the veined hand of experience, spanning generations and connecting them.

Fathers and daughters eat and talk with their hands…sometimes instruction; sometimes just savoring the moment of a new experience…



like fingernail polish in honor of your fourth birthday!

Bryan & Kelsey

I still treasure this photo because it helps me remember our younger son making a very early connection with his firstborn. She had her Daddy’s hand — and he had her heart —  just that fast!

Yes, those two little boys held my hand, but even more precious to me is the fact that one day in their childhood, they held another hand, one that reached for them through all eternity and called them to Himself.

A mother can easily, thankfully let go and say, “Hold His hand.” Getty Music’s, “A Mother’s Prayer,”  expresses my heart well:

This world is not as it should be
But the Savior opens eyes to see
All that’s beautiful and true
Oh may His light fill all you are
And the jewel of wisdom crown your heart
This is my prayer for you

Hold my hand, I’ll teach you the way to go
Through the joys, through the tears
The journey of these years
He is with us till the end
He is faithful till the end

You’ll travel where my arms won’t reach
As the road will rise and lead your feet
On a journey of your own
May my mistakes not hinder you
But His grace remain and guide you through

This is my prayer for you.


A Heart Full of Love


 Early in the lives of little girls, Dads really can set the bar for their daughters’ future expectations from guys. The look on Taylor Faith’s face tells how delighted she was to receive birthday flowers from her Daddy last Friday. In keeping with the Frozen theme of her fourth birthday party, Dad even got the appropriate colors!


Mommy baked the birthday cake and then Daddy did the decorating to create Elsa’s Ice Castle, personalizing it for Taylor Faith. How important for the future man in her life to personalize things for her and to add creativity and fun to life.

DSCN0373 Dad’s making sacrifices, like a late-night trip to his office to give Olaf a bubble of words, will hopefully set the standard for Taylor Faith’s future. We hope she will learn to seek out those men who will make sacrifices for others, even when it is not convenient.

photo (2)

When 14 children prepared to have a “soft” snowball fight, southern Georgia style, Daddy set some ground rules and kept order,  not an easy task with excited party-goers.  May an involved Daddy be the measure for the kind of leadership this four-year-old will grow up looking for in her life.


 All life is not a fairy tale, but we hope Taylor Faith will grow up looking for a Kristoff rather than a Hans! Daddy is surely showing her the right traits to consider.