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The written word has always been a joy for me.  I can not remember a time in my life when I did not have books. Before I was able to read them, my mother read books to me. As soon as I could read independently I was never without a book in my hands or very nearby.  As years passed, writing developed into a passion for me as well. I tried novel writing while home with my two children during their early years and was challenged to focus on the craft.  I never gave up the love even when I had to give up the pursuit.  Now, with grown children and the fact I am sitting on the other side of fifty I can pursue my dream of writing.  I have continued the reading quest but now the writing is attainable as well.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Chamberlain Key

I'm a skeptic.  I will lay it right out there.  When it comes to theological writings, ones that purport to open up the mysteries of the bible, old or new testament, I tend to tread with caution.  Perhaps this is because I was raised and have always been Lutheran.  We believe that the bible is the inspired word of God, written by men, through the guide of the Holy Spirit.  That said, I did find, The Chamberlain Key, written by Timothy P. Smith an interesting read.
Smith writes a real life story about his discovery of a key that is hidden within the old testament, "the Masoretic tradition of textual transmission...(with its)...seemingly fanatical insistence that both the letter count and sequence of specific biblical manuscripts not be altered so much as one letter (Smith). It is through this precise translation with exact spacing that Smith discovers the Chamberlain Key through the use of the Leningrad Codex.  He, with other academics and professionals discover messages that point to and confirm the Christian gospel.
When I first picked up this book, I was afraid it would be much like the Bible Code written by Rips, Witzum and Rosenburg.  Thankfully it is not.  Smith even refers to this book as he also found the book "appalling for many reasons"(Smith).
I do not pretend to know or understand all the the bible offers for both Christians and Jews.  I do believe it is God's word for mankind.  I feel that Smith's book is an unique story, of a man with a strong faith.  My skeptical nature can not condone the book as a new faith text.  I can recommend the text as a good read of a man, who worked hard to share his faith story and journey to delve deeper into God's word.

FTC disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Truly Inspiring

St. Patricks Day, I walk into the junior English classroom, and on the board is the statement "what in life makes you feel lucky?" students wrote on the board a reason they feel lucky...I wrote one too..
"What in life makes me feel lucky? My job.
Today in junior English, the students presented "Identity Boxes" as a project for the novel study that the class is beginning, Night by Ellie Wiesel.
Being among the amazing students in our school is just one reason that I love my job. Being with amazing teachers is definitely another.  Amber Neighbor is one of the most sincere, intuitive, and inspirational teachers that I have had the  privilege to interact with and been blessed to be in her classroom.

Her love of teaching, and inspiring learning is tangible each and every day.  Today she had her students present "Identity boxes" as a prelude to reading the novel Night.  Each student shared quotes, memories, belief systems, fears, and memorable personal objects that they identified with as aspects of their personalities.  Because she has created a classroom atmosphere where her students feel safe to share parts of their lives with their peers, the experience was one of the most memorable of my career.

  Students that I work with everyday shared snippets of their lives that gave me great understanding into their families and educational experiences.  Each student as an audience member was silent, listening to their peers, and I could see compassion, understanding, and tolerance being fostered by the sharing of thoughts and memories. I am hard pressed to find another educational experience in my career that was as poignant as today.

Thank you for teachers like Amber Neighbor who make learning relevant and tangible, not only for their students, but also for the others they inspire in their lives.  That is what makes my life lucky, working with professionals like Amber, who make me love my job!

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Struggle is Real

There is an internet story that is being shared concerning a boy and a butterfly. I was thinking about the story today because this story seems to exemplify so many things I see in my own life but also those lives around me.

 In the story, the boy has  a collection of butterfly cocoons, most of the cocoons are empty and the butterflies well away on their journey. One is left, it is struggling to exit the confines of the cocoon.  The boy wants to help the butterfly by opening the cocoon and easing its way when an old man comes by and stops him.  He tells the boy to let the butterfly struggle, because this process helps the butterfly gain the strength needed for its long journey ahead in life.

This story exemplifies how I feel about so many things in the world. Struggle is real.  Sometimes struggle involves concrete things like money, food, jobs.  More often, though, struggle involves internal conflicts, such as self-esteem, anxiety, depression, or lack of confidence.  Everyday, many fight the emotions and turmoil, and struggle to keep going, to work their way out of the strife whether it is physical or internal.  Those who make it through are stronger for the process, even if it is exhausting to complete.

I myself have struggled with self-esteem and feelings of confidence.  As a child I was painfully shy, and I have pushed myself to be outgoing, but there are times when  I resort to past feelings and behaviors.  I believe it is my own struggles that have helped me to empathize with others, particularly my students.  "I get it."  I know how it feels to get the details of a project and want to bury my head because the process seems so vast.  That there are moments where I hope that whatever the process is, it will just go away. This can be completely overpowering and I feel frozen in time and must push myself to continue a commitment I have made.  I also understand all types of avoidance behaviors.  I want my students, friends and family to know, I get it, the struggle is real.

But, as much as we want to save ourselves from suffering and experiencing the hurt of the world, both internal and external, it is more important to face the obstacles,  to struggle, because this is how character is built and perseverance is achieved. If we allow ourselves to escape our problems, through denial or other avenues, we are cheating ourself from the growth that comes with the process.

 The same is so for our children, or our students. If we save them from the struggle, expect less, allow them to hide from responsibility, to escape when the internal or worldly problems arise, they will not become the strong adults our world needs.  If we intercede on their behalf when they face a problem, be it homework, relationships, sports, or jobs to make their lives easier, to save them from the pain, to save ourselves from the agony of watching them try and fail, or worse yet watching them not try; then sadly they will not find the internal strength needed to deal with the difficulties that come from living.

Inherently humans want to help each other. Teachers want to help their students find success.  Parents want to help their children grow and mature.  However, let us remember that helping does not mean ending the struggle needed to improve and thrive.  Like the butterfly,  all need to feel the frustration of trying and enduring when things are not easy.  To feel a bit trapped but learning that with perseverance the goal can be achieved. Ultimately to find pride in embracing the struggle, no matter what it happens to be and know that strength comes from the trial.