Times Change

The more things change, the more they stay the same. I’ve been writing in my paper and leather journal quite a bit more recently, and over the last few years. I haven’t even written everything there that I could have because life has been flowing by, full of experiences. Also, I don’t think that a personal blog is a good genre for me. What is the use or beauty of a personal, journal-style job in which I will never be frank in an uncensored way? Personal, censored ramblings are boring and one-in-a-million to those who don’t know me. Nothing unique. Hardly more interesting to those who know me. The truth is, I am now a public figure in a very small way since I am a teacher. My private life does not need to be on display for students, parents, administration, acquaintances, and random strangers. There is nothing wrong with my private life other than the sin that plagues the human race in general and all of us in particular. But now I am a professional, and there are boundaries in professional life and behavior that are best obeyed.

This entry explains for my readers (you might stumble on this in a few years or never) why I’m no longer writing a blog (no one asked). Also, I didn’t want the last entry I wrote to be my last.

So, I have choices.

  1. Change the blog title and make it focused on something personal but not private. Books. Reading.
  2. Start a new blog. Focus on teaching and post about what I do in the classroom. Why should I bother? My favorite teacher bloggers have it covered.
  3. Forget about blogging and recognize it for the fun time period it was. Focus on other things that I’d rather do more.

Rudy Acosta


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I didn’t know Rudy Acosta and just learned of his existence on Saturday. Since he died in Afghanistan on March 19th, and the school has been grieving, I have heard nothing but wonderful things about him. From all accounts, he was a young man who deeply loved Jesus, was witnessing to his fellow soldiers, and had big plans for his life.  He was in the class of ’09 at the school where I teach. For such a young person, his circle of influence appears to extend to hundreds of people who are sincerely mourning his loss as a brother, son, classmate, and American hero. Everyone in Rudy’s life is making big plans to support his family and show honor to this young man, who died serving his country. This includes everything from elementary students drawing pictures for the family to the USA awarding the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. It is amazing to see the school, church, and military rallying around the Acosta family.

Another death. Maybe losing someone important to me two years ago makes me notice deaths more. Last year seemed especially full of the deaths of people who I am acquainted with or connected to. What a reminder to get right with God and remember your Creator while life lies before you. You don’t know how much life lies before you.

Contrasted Views


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I’m reading Moby-Dick again. It’s been the book I’ve loved to hate since high school. It was mostly because I felt betrayed by the letdown of whales after the deceptive excitement of Queequeg in the beginning. By the time I got to the middle of the book and happened on seemingly endless descriptions in exhausting detail of fifty kinds of whales, I was miffed.”Where is the STORY?!”

So far, I’m really liking it on my second go round. Of course, I’m only on page 57. Still firmly with Queequeg. I might change my opinion when I get to Chapter LXXIV The Sperm Whale’s Head– Contrasted View, and the next, Chapter LXXV The Right Whale’s Head– Contrasted View. Although… I LIKE whales, so why didn’t I like reading about them?? I guess it was because I felt that fiction should be strictly  fiction and not interrupted by non-fiction.

If I end up loving Moby-Dick, then that means I just have Goethe’s Faust to swallow someday. I chickened out recently, postponing the evil day.

Assuming I finish Moby-Dick in a month and read nothing else, I will have read two books in three months. It’s like an identity crisis. I’ve always been the type of person who reads a lot without trying, and loves it. Now I don’t even have a reading log started for 2011. It’s so weird. I guess there are other things that I am besides being just a reader but it was always one of the main things. Now I’m a reader who doesn’t read for fun. I read about half of the assigned book for book club every month and everything else has to do with things I must do. It used to be one of my main ways to relax. I always used to read before going to sleep. And now I can almost sympathize with people who say they honestly do not have time to read when before I didn’t understand how that could be possible. Seriously, this is major.

Is it just me?


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Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus

James McAvoy

A few weeks ago, one of my pastors was explaining something about Roman culture. He showed us several pictures of various Caesars, and as soon as I saw this Germanicus guy, I thought he looked like the actor who played Tumnus the Faun in the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Tom in Becoming Jane. I’ve had Nero’s name in my Bible ever since, and have finally gotten around to blogging about it. Is it just me, or do these dudes look like they could be brothers?

BBC’s 100 Book List


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I’ve seen this before but it popped up on Facebook recently and it looked like fun!

BBC 100 Book List:


Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.

Instructions: Copy this into your NOTES.


• Bold those books you’ve read in their entirety.

• Italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish or read only an excerpt.


My Tally: 57


1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible

7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11 Little Women – Louisa Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carrol

30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34 Emma -Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving

45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50 Atonement – Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel

52 Dune – Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72 Dracula – Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses – James Joyce

76 The Inferno – Dante

77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal – Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession – AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

94 Watership Down – Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

We Groan



Between family, friends, and co-workers, I know the stories of 10 deaths or serious injuries within the last two months. Every couple days, there is a new story of pain from somebody choking on the sting of salt tears. There’s the mom with two girls, 6th and 7th grade who didn’t feel well, and was dead only a matter of days after being diagnosed with brain cancer. The 5th grader who lost a grandma. The motorcycle accident. The softball cracking a skull.

Death is unexpected and sudden, even though we wait our whole lives for it. It leaves people broken, families reeling with shock, widows poor, fathers with no one to take care of the kids…

Divorce reminds me of death, because it’s something ending unnaturally and horribly awry. Like death, divorce is a result of sin. Also, like death, divorce wreaks havoc that doesn’t resolve itself without divine intervention. It leaves many kids with open wounds that will chafe for years. I see those wounds in my students when tears slide over their cheeks and they try to hide it from the other kids in the class. I’ve got four kids going through this right now.

“For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes fro what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” ~Romans 8:18-25

I don’t think about going to Japan anymore.


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This is probably because I’m engrossed in teaching. Someday I hope to make it to Japan for a visit but I’m not the type to live by myself in a foreign country and I suspect the idea was an escapist dream at a time when I didn’t like my life very much.

Teaching takes most of me these days and the last five weeks feel like six months. It’s also crazy to think that it’s been a whole five weeks already.

It’s a gift to be able to talk about Jesus to my students. It’s not true education to leave out what is most important to these kids’ souls and I’m so thankful that my mouth if free to proclaim God’s goodness to them. I’m starting to feel more settled in at the school, in my classroom, and with co-workers. So many neat things have happened and so many challenges, too. My first days of teaching have been a crazy tilt-a-whirl experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Some days I’m sure I should probably just quit and stop messing around with kids’ heads. Other days, like today, I feel like I’m gonna make it. You know, His grace is enough every day.

The Vote is Cast Into the Ballot Box…


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Today, U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker has disregarded my “Yes” vote on Prop 8, along with all the other “Yes” votes given by a majority of the people in California. We’re encouraged by intellectuals and politicians to make a difference by letting the government hear our voices through emails, phone calls, protests, votes, and many other methods. I’ve participated in government through most of the choices, and a few others.

On days like today, I wonder if participation, especially voting,  makes much of a difference. I suppose it means something that history will show (perhaps) that Californians voted “Yes” on Prop 8 and that it was a judge who defied the will of the people and claimed that our country’s founding documents say its okay.

It certainly seems that my vote did not matter practically. But I know that God saw my vote and I think it mattered to Him. I think it also matters to Him that I remember now that He sets up and takes down rulers and authorities and gives power to whom He chooses for His own perfect purposes. I don’t need to understand His ways to trust in them. “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” ~Proverbs 16:33

Me and Cain


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I finished reading “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck today. It’s the first time I’ve read the book and it was a deeply moving experience. Isn’t it C.S. Lewis who said that it’s a bad book if it doesn’t have bad characters in it? “East of Eden” has nothing but bad characters. It has characters who are aware of the snaking and living roots of good and evil and the consequences of living with our physical and spiritual heritage.

It’s no secret that the book is based on the history of Cain and Abel from the Bible. I wondered if there would be a murder and if I’d feel sorry for Cain. It seems plain in the Bible that Cain, Esau, and the prodigal son’s brother are not meant to gain our sympathies but I confess that I was used to pity those three. After studying the parable of the prodigal son, I no longer feel sorry for the son that stayed home and didn’t seem to be loved by his father. And I get why Cain and Esau were punished and did not have reconciled relationships with God. But, Esau’s cry of “Bless me, even me also, O my father!” is, nonetheless,terrible to read.

Cain/Cal Trask was a thorough mix of good and evil, and just about the only character that Steinbeck allowed to struggle with active awareness against his sin nature. He was one of only two characters that I truly liked. Cal Trask has no excuse, although his reasons are understandable. However, that only partly explains why I pitied the destructive Cal Trask. It’s hard to help it when you have some Cain in you.

It’s flying by…

14 days of student teaching
3 days to write the last TPA

Those are the bald chronological facts.

By this time next month, I’ll have been finished with the credential year for nearly a week. Between now and then, there are a myriad of details to take care of. I’m not worried. It will all come together, as it always does. I’m looking for jobs and dreaming of teaching overseas for a year in Japan as I do when I want some adventure…because I’m not the biggest homebody you’ll ever meet or the type of person who is happy to curl up and read a book all day! 🙂

After this is all over in three weeks and I’ve “recovered” for a few weeks, I know that I’ll miss seeing my credential peeps in class and will miss my little 1st graders as much as I miss my 6th graders. But that will all be in three-plus weeks. For now, I am trying not to strain through the present because I can taste summer and am ready to feel the thrill of success and realized dreams.

There haven’t been any new blog posts for so long because I’ve been too caught up in work and other activities. It’s also because so many little and big things have happened that it was hard to know how to distill the information and to share the essence of all the experiences of the last couple of months. Today seemed a little simpler. Three more colloquium meetings. Three more weeks of teaching. Then it’s over. It’s so close to the end.