Wednesday, April 29, 2009

in God i trust

My sister sent me an email today asking all the recipients to go vote plus forward on the email. I don't like forwarding mass emails, but posting it here on my blog might be even better. That's if you, the reader of this post, votes and forward on the information, however you feel fit.

MSNBC has given us an opportunity to vote on whether we think the motto "in God we trust" should be removed from U.S. currency. Follow the link below and cast your vote.

The email my sister sent made some kind of comment saying, "won't NBC be surprised?" I don't know if they will be or not, but I kinda was. When I cast my vote, with over 14 million voting already, the numbers were 13% for removing the motto and 87% to keep the motto on the currency. I don't know what I was expecting exactly, but I was pleasantly surprised by these numbers. If you get a chance, voice your opinion by voting.

and on another note....

The Denver Nuggets beat the New Orleans Hornets tonight which advances them to the second round of the basketball playoffs. Yippee!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


1. I woke up to 4" of snow yesterday (Monday). It took a lot of us Denverites by surprise. What didn't surprise us was that it had all melted by the afternoon.

2. In class today, I had the opportunity to read with many 6th graders. I'm happy to say that they read much better than I expected after knowing how poor some of my 8th graders read (remember this post). I don't know why there would be such a difference and of course, it could have just been the randomness of the two groups (6th graders and 8th graders). It just made me happy and restored a little of my faith in the system.

3. I can't believe we're at the end of April. Jake informed me last weekend that he'll be moving out of his dorm and back home NEXT week! What!! It was just yesterday that we moved him into his dorm.

4. May is going to be a very busy month. May is always a busy month. And then I had to go and stick a pleasure trip into the middle of it. What was I thinking? .... that there was no other time to do it.

5. Is the swine flu epidemic worrying anyone? I'm not a worrier by nature, but this thing is kinda scary. I'm praying that it will be kept under control. I'm also trying not to get swept up in all the media coverage. It gets to be overwhelming.

6. A young friend of ours lost her mother this past weekend in a car accident. When something like that happens, I can't help but reflect on how fragile life is and how we need to treat each day as a gift. Give a hug today to those you love. And don't forget to stop and smell the roses.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

sitting in the dark

I saw two great movies this past weekend and wanted to share my thoughts on them.

The Soloist. I had been waiting many months to see this movie as it was originally supposed to come out last November, and started showing previews last summer. It's based on a true story of an L.A. newspaper columnist who befriends a homeless man suffering from schizophrenia. The tragedy of the story is that this man is a talented musician, having to drop out of Julliard because of his condition.

Both Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. do excellent jobs at portraying their characters. The movie not only addresses the illness of schizophrenia, but the homeless culture, at it's worst in Los Angeles. My only complaint is I wish they would have focused more on this man's musical genius. It was a little heavier than I thought it would be, but I still really liked it and thought it was well done. This movie is rated PG-13.

earth. Here was another movie that I had really looked forward to and I wasn't disappointed. earth is the Disney movie showcasing our incredible planet, from the animals to the landscapes. This documentary is marketed as following three animal families - the polar bears, humpback whales, and African elephants. But it is so much more, and the footage is incredible and awe-inspiring. This movie is rated G and I highly recommend it for everybody.

Friday, April 24, 2009

i need your help


I am planning a trip to Washington DC for my daughter, Dani, and myself. I know there's plenty to do in the area but I don't want to miss anything that I "should" see. So my Aloha Friday question is:

If you've been to Washington DC....
What should I make sure to see?

If you haven't been to Washington DC....
What would you want to see?

Looks like we're going to be there mid May for 4-5 days. The one place we know we'll be visiting is the Holocaust museum as it is what the whole trip is planned around. I also want to visit some of the monuments, but I don't know how many there are and if we can get to them all in one day. Would we need more than one day for that or is there some not worth seeing. See... I need help. I'd appreciate any input you might have.

Thank you.

Aloha Friday HQ

Thursday, April 23, 2009

which wich

We have a sandwich shop here where I live called Which Wich. Actually, there's a few around the city so I know they're part of a chain. Maybe you have them where you live. Anyways, I really like the sandwiches from Which Wich and I go frequently.

Instead of ordering your sandwich from a person, at Which Wich you mark a brown paper sack with the provided red sharpie markers to customize your sandwich. You take it to the cashier and once the sandwich is made, it is returned to you in the same brown paper sack - perfectly made to your specifications.

But what's really fun about Which Wich is the art gallery on the side wall. The shop has put up three or four wires running the length of the wall with clips all along the wires. Customers draw or leave messages on the back side of the brown bags and clip them up for display. They're all on the brown bags and done with the red pens. There are some really talented artists and it's always fun to browse what has been posted.

A few weeks ago, when Dani and I shared an evening meal together before she headed back to school, I created my second piece of artwork to be hung on the wall. The first piece was a Merry Christmas wish and I don't know what happened to it. I don't know if the shopkeepers take down some of the art after a certain period of time, or if other customers do - but I didn't see it again.

But this second piece was still there a couple of days ago when I stopped in for a yummy sandwich. Now, it's not really art. It's a maze. It's the one that looks like someone's large intestines. But if you look closely, you'll see it's a maze. I may not be an artist, but I can draw one complicated maze, as you can see. I actually thought maybe a kid would take it down and solve it. Maybe someone still will.

Monday, April 20, 2009

we are columbine

Back on September 29, 2007, I wrote a post about a visit I made to the Columbine memorial. It is a special place; not just for me, but for many in this community.

Today marked the 10 year anniversary of the tragic day when two boys shot dead 12 students and one teacher, and wounded 23 others, before turning the guns on themselves. That day changed so many lives, as well as policies and procedures within schools across the country.

There were so many sad stories, but good has come from that day, too. I watched a news report today highlighting three survivors of Columbine who have gone on to be school teachers. Where? ... at Columbine High School. They explained that life has come full circle for them, wanting to offer their students now what wasn't thought of 10 years ago. That day obviously had a profound impact on them and I'm sure they are making a difference.

It also had an impact on me. Back in April of 2008 I answered reader posed questions, in which one was, "what inspired you to do youth ministry?" You can read my answer here, but I shared that it was partly from the tragedy of Columbine.

As this day rolls around each year, I do take time to reflect on that terrible event; to remember those who lost their lives, as well as to think about the rest of us, who have been impacted in varying degrees by a day that will forever be etched in our memories.

Out of the sadness and chaos of April 20, 1999 came the slogan, WE ARE COLUMBINE. I believe in those three simple words. It's not just for those of us who live here and experienced it because of our proximity. I believe school shootings affect us all in one way or another, or at least they should. We are ALL Columbine.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

rain, snow, pictures, and haiku

snow, rain, snow again
sounds of thunder, and wet snow
hitting my windows

woke up to deep snow
silent wonderland of white
even more snow fell

the sun shines brightly
running water everywhere
inches of snow... gone!

Friday, April 17, 2009

take a trip to the library


Did you know that this last week was National Library Week? I didn't, until today. So, my Aloha Friday question is in honor of this.

Do you use your local library? How often?

I hardly go to the library at all any more. Of course, we went quite a bit when the kids were younger. When they were really young, we'd make it a weekly trip and check out all kinds of books. As they got older, their books were either bought for them or taken from the school library. And by the time they hit high school, we (or they along) only went in when they needed to do research. The last time I visited the library down the street was to vote, back in November.

All that said, I do love the library. I have fond memories of visits to the library with my siblings. The musky smell of countless pages, the excitement of searching out that one or two perfect books, and the thrill of taking a new read home and transporting myself to another place.

This post makes me think about what I wrote in my previous post about teens and their reading habits. My brother, a principal in a small Christian school in California, wrote a wonderful comment that gives us insight into the problem with this generation and their reading habits. Thank you Steve. If you get a chance, go read it.

Aloha Friday found each and every Friday at An Island Life.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

there's a problem here

Working with middle school students in a school for the past six months has taught me a few things. It's funny, I've worked with middle school (and some high school) kids for nearly 10 years and felt like I knew just about everything there was to know about this age group. I knew something about how the pressures of school, and the social environment within, affected the student, but working in a school has given me even more knowledge and a better understanding of the average American teen.

There are a few things that bother me, but due to the projected length of the post, I'll only post on one at a time. The first one is the fact that a majority of students do not read.

A recent classroom period was spent helping students with their book reports, which were to be visual in some form. After hearing remarks about reading and about books over the previous months, I decided to do an informal survey. After assuring them I wouldn't say anything to the teacher, I simply asked them if they had actually read the entire book they were doing their report on.

My informal results showed that 75 to 80 percent of the class did not. Of those who did not read all of their book, some claimed to have read most, some said they only skimmed the book, and even more said they read the back of the book and a few pages here and there (mostly at the end).

When I asked how they then could write a report, their answers were just as varied. Many had looked up notes online, while a few had either read their book before or even seen the movie. And many had said in so many words, "the teacher doesn't expect much."

This bothers me on more than one level. I can't help but wonder what the teachers know and what they really expect from their students. I think it sends a pretty clear message that a student doesn't need to work very hard on these kinds of assignments. And the biggest; most students don't like to read, and thus, read at a lower level than where they should be.

I have listened to students read from their text books or from an article that we're all working on, and I am flabbergasted at how poorly some students read. I'm talking about eighth graders here. Students that are about to embark on high school. And they can't read the most basic text without sounding out each word or stumbling over simple words or just skipping over words claiming they don't know them. My thoughts... shocking!

Of course, this is not every student. There are a minority of kids who read very well, or at least, proficiently. And it's no coincidence that those who read well are the ones who read their entire books as assigned.

So, I have a secret wish; I want to help kids become readers. I don't think I alone will solve the problem I have stated here, but maybe one day this experience will allow me to be part of the solution. I just don't know how to do that at this point. But maybe some day I will.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

no... no more snow

It should be obvious... I did not take this photo. I just think it's a great photo and when I hear we're in for another storm by the end of the week - with chance of snow - I thought it was appropriate. Where are those spring flowers?

Wordless Wednesday HQ

Monday, April 13, 2009

i missed it...

I wasn't paying attention and completely missed my blogaversary. April 5th marked two years that I've been here putting my thoughts into words and sharing my life with faithful friends and the occasional passerby. As of April 5th, 2009, I have written 564 posts.

I'll have to admit, posts don't come as easy as they used to. There are so many days that I just don't have anything to share and the brain seems pretty empty. But I will continue on and treasure the days that I come up with something to say.

Let me take this moment to once again state why I have a blog and try to write on a regular basis. I started it as a place where I could express the thoughts that constantly rattle around in my head. This still holds true. I also want it to be a record or who I am and what my life was like for my future generations. Wouldn't it be cool to have a journal with numerous entries from one of your grandparents or great-grandparents? Hopefully, my words will one day be read by my grandchildren and they will find some interest in who I was and what life was like during my time here on earth.

I also want to take this time to thank all those who come by here regularly (even those who aren't so regular) to read my attempts in articulating what's in my heart and head. I appreciate that and each and every comment that you leave me.

Through these comments and what you write on your blog, I have been blessed in getting to know many of you here in blogland. When I started this blog, I would never have been able to guess that I'd meet so many special people and be blessed by your cyber friendship. Thank you to all.

Friday, April 10, 2009

good for me, good for you

Jesus died,
He died on the Cross
A death that must be
So we will live
Though He didn’t deserve
He accepted the cup
Out of His love
For you and for me
His blood that flows
Cleanses our soul
He lightens our load
By carrying our cross
And in response
We crowned Him with thorns
While up in the cross
He asked Our Father to forgive us
Cause we still don’t realize
What He has done for us
Being brought down from the cross
We could just silently watch
Looking at His helpless body
Did it touch our heart?

Jesus is dead
He is laid on the ground
But Jesus will live again
If we open our hearts
And let Him live in us.

Angeles City

I hope you will be able to take some time today, Good Friday, to reflect on how much God loves you.

Monday, April 6, 2009

link of the day

I used to add a link of the day to my earlier posts. I came across so many fun or interesting sites and wanted to share them with others. At some point it became more work than I wanted to put into it. But there are still sites I want to share, and this is one...

We've had a week and a half of off and on again snow storms and as nice as they've been (we've needed the moisture), I'm ready - more than ready - for true spring time to arrive; warmer weather, flowers blooming, green grass, birds, butterflies, and even thunderstorms.

How about you? Are you tired of the snow? Ready for spring? Well, click on the snowman and enjoy the beauty of spring flowers. Enjoy clicking once, and then again, anywhere on the screen. Or better yet, click and move your mouse through the darkness for an abundance of beauty.

(thanks mom for the email)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

this is how...

I spent my snowy Saturday...

We had planned to be snowed in today with the forecast saying we could expect anywhere from 5 to 15 inches of snow. Well... we got less than an inch. Instead, we got a lot of freezing rain with a lot of strong winds. We still stayed inside all day.

After breakfast, I crawled back in bed and read the new book I started a couple of days ago. After a bit, Danielle joined me and we enjoyed some quality mother-daughter pillow talk.

A little later I made some chocolate chip muffin tops.

This was after Don and Danielle made fried rice, after I put a roast and potatoes in the crockpot, and during the time Dani made fun-fetti cookies. It was a cooking and baking kind of day.

In case you're wondering what Jake was doing, he and his band were jamming in the basement.

I played a few games on POGO, read and commented a couple of blog posts, checked my email, and then... read some more of my book.

After Dani's birthday dinner, which was scrumptious, Hollee came over and we played cards. This is how we enjoy many Saturday nights. Don wanted me to mention that he won the game this night - which is a rare occurrence. Way to go Don.

I am now writing this post while the kids are playing Super Mario Bros. on the Wii. And now that I'm done, I'm going to go read my book. Good night all.

Friday, April 3, 2009

i can see the wood

Aloha Friday is hosted by Kailani over at An Island Life.

My question this week...

What major (or not so major) project do you need to tackle?

I ask this question because I tackled the project of cleaning my room yesterday. I thought about taking before pictures but decided I didn't want to embarrass myself by showing exactly how messy it truly was.

Not only did I put clothes away that had been laundered over two weeks ago, but I cleaned off my desk that had been loaded down with all kinds of junk for over a year. That desk has ended up being the place where everything that doesn't have an immediate home gets dumped. [please tell me I'm not the only one that has such a place.] I can now see the wood.

After a day's worth of work, the room looked great. What made it look even better was new bedding that I purchased earlier in the week. New bedding was long overdue and it was the crowning glory of my newly cleaned room.

My next project... my closet. ugh!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

my firstborn

My darling girl,

I know I've joked about this, but it is really hard for me to believe that my baby is 21 years old today. Where... OH WHERE!... did the time go? Every moment has been a blessing for me and your dad.

You have grown into such a beautiful woman, both inside and out. I couldn't be prouder of the hardships you've overcome in your life and watching you turn those hardships around for good in some way. You have so much love in your heart and knowing how much you want to share that with others brings such joy to me. You do, and will continue to, have such an impact on those you come in contact with.

I hope you are as proud of yourself as your dad and I are of you. You are amazing. You make me laugh. You make me smile. You (and your brother) make my life complete. I could never express how much I love you. Just know that I do more than these words can say.

Happy Birthday, Dani
Sorry I couldn't spend the day with you but I hope you're having a wonderful birthday.