Tag Archives: Poems

Wow Wednesday 13- teaching English to Christians

“Wow Wednesdays” is a discipline for me.  Not like a “soap in the mouth” kind of discipline, but like a “read the Bible each day” kind of discipline.  It forces me to write and it forces me to acknowledge the times my jaw has dropped during the week.  I say “wow” for lots of reasons.  Often it’s because humans are so stinkin weird or my nephews are so stinkin cute, but the greatest instigator of “wows” has always been our great God.  Wednesdays are when I chronicle some of the odd crap I’ve witnessed but mainly the cool crap God has taught me.  However, since I’m a procrastinator to the core, I typically post these on Thursdays. “Wow Thursdays” just doesn’t have the same ring to it, though.


Ten years ago I made an impulsive decision.  I had planned on majoring in English but after one day in my first upper division English class, I got a  mean case of writer’s block and instead of powering through it, I waltzed into my advisor’s office and announced, “I’d like to change my major to History.  Can I do that?”

He said I could and the next day I had a new schedule, a new major, and a new plan for my future.  God must have giggled.

Actually, I don’t picture God as the giggling type.  But perhaps He chuckled.  Chuckled because He knew that in a few years I would end up teaching English- teaching English at a private Christian school no less.  Having been raised in the public schools, I was absolutely certain that was where God wanted me to teach.  Private schools weren’t even an option for me.

“Those schools are for the Christian teachers who collect PRECIOUS MOMENTS FIGURINES and wear “What Would Jesus Do?”  bracelets; for the wimpy Christians who are afraid of the hooligans in public schools and don’t have their teaching credentials.”

So, fresh out of college, I followed my plan and taught history in a public school.  I was there for three years and absolutely loved it.  And I have no doubt that those years were part of the “grand plan” for my life.  However, in my head, that was the end of the plan.  I would be a history teacher in the public schools until I retired or died. But God had other plans.

Today whenever I read Proverbs 16, I laugh at the ways I’ve seen this truth pan out in my own life.  Verse 1- ” The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.”  Or again in verse 9- ” The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.”  Solomon seems to be saying, “Go ahead and make your plans but hold onto them loosely, folks.  You’ve got no idea what God’s got up His sleeve.”

My plans and my way seemed so wonderful;  my career path was so certain and my future seemed so bright.  But now I can see how my plans and my way were just that: MY plans and MY way.  I had no idea that God was planning something else, something better.

Last week I had a smattering of “wow moments” that all arrived because I’m teaching English at a Christian school.  They were simple moments, moments that made me smile and by themselves, aren’t a big deal.  But added together, all these little moments pointed to a big God who has much better plans and much better ways than I do.  They pointed to a God who’s got everything under control, even my uncertain future.

First, I got an e-mail from a kid telling me about a band I should check out because their lyrics include the word “maelstrom” which was a new vocab word that week.  The fact that my students see how excited I get about vocabulary and start to share in my excitement makes me giddy inside.

Next, I assigned a project to my freshmen where they have to choose a fictional story to read outside of class.  I gave a bunch of recommendations of my personal favorites and was quickly reminded that I have the same taste in books as 14 year old boys.  As the class walked to the library, I led a pack of 6 boys, all of us giggling and talking excitedly about how the 4th book in the Eragon series is coming out soon.  Yeah, Eragon as in the dragon-rider.  Don’t knock it till you try it. Continue reading

Reality Bites- Things I Don’t Like

Doing chores, loud snores, unjust wars, cold sores, expensive stores, talks of Gore’s, dropped s’mores, huge pores, and rocky shores;
getting scabies or rabies or ridiculously large food babies;
seatbelts, when icecream melts;
men in Speedos, all mosquitos;
gas-inducing burritos, fingers covered in Doritos or Cheetos;
cockroaches, tacky broaches;
stuck behind a semi-truck, hit in the head when I should duck;
trying to talk while crying, planes bouncing around while flying;
discovering lice, trying to make rice or just be nice to has-beens like Bo Bice;
shopping at Sears, the smell of beers, struggling with fears, and unfriendly jeers that bring me to tears;
burning food, acts that are lewd;
a rock in my shoe, stepping in poo, I pity the foo who can’t go do do.
Swarming bees, losing keys, stupid fees, stinky cheese, and a mean brain freeze;
road rage, growing age;
a sore throat, a torn coat, Murder She Wrote, a lost remote, and getting sick on a boat;
mini-vans, failed plans;
unexpected cat scratches, burning my finger on matches;
feeling stressed or depressed or possessed or overdressed;
getting flipped the bird, or hit by a turd, being called nerd, or just plain absurd;
fluffy bangs, frightening gangs;
a song that’s too long, being called wrong or a ding dong;
the high cost of rent, waking cold in a tent;
stepping on snails, insensitive males;
waking up sore, a brown apple core;
stubbing my toe, being told “no”,
ponytails with bumps, faulty gas pumps, cancerous lumps, the term “my humps”, hair of Donald Trump’s, jiggly rumps, and scary old grumps;
numbers that are restricted, kind people getting evicted;
belly flops, hidden cops, blue tootsie pops, old pork chops, designer shops, and tie-dyed tops;
apples that are mushy, seats that aren’t cushy, brothers slapping my tushy;
telling unfunny jokes, trying butterfly strokes, meeting unkind blokes or selfish folks, when anyone chokes or an old pet croaks;
kids rolling their eyes, those with DUIs;
being denied or rudely called wide;
cereal that’s healthy, guilt for being wealthy;
an unsightly mole, a road with a toll, balls that won’t go in the hole, and games with no goal;
invading ants, incompetent rants, running on slants, hearing “no’s” “can’ts” and “shant’s”,
kitty litter, being bitter, pointless twitter and a mean babysitter;
feeling nauseous, driving too cautious, ruining shirts with too many washes;
painful foot blisters, terrifying twisters;
traffic jams, internet scams;
shampoo in my eyes, pointy ends of fries, mean rumors and lies;
the sound of the vacuum cleaner, the words moist, milky and wiener;
acne scars, crashing cars;
kicked in the shin, struggling with sin, losing when you should win, long hairs on my chin and not hitting one pin;
radio ads, diaper-size pads;
milk that’s gone rotten, feeling forgotten;
parking tickets, maddening crickets;
stepping in tar, the crayon smell in my car;
tall, mean horses, tough race courses;
pitting out, lost in route, people who pout or tend to shout;
hiccups that are painful, strangers that are disdainful;
calves getting slapped, lips that are chapped;
chaperoning dances, missing great chances;
birds flying close, the smell of burnt toast;
flying bugs, lost Uggs, cracked mugs, ugly pugs, frightening thugs, car side hugs;
horror flicks, getting ticks, shaving nics, shooting bricks, New York Knicks, a dog that licks, cold fishsticks, and Michael Vicks;
reading maps, waking from naps;
a broken shopping cart, thinking it’s a fart when it’s truly a shart;
earthquakes, Christian fakes, slamming on brakes, going to wakes;
movies that are scary like that bloody scene in Carrie;
hair snarls, food from Carl’s;
awkward blind dates, high airline rates;
hair in my food, people who are rude, or nude, or crude, or have attitude;
smoggy days, airballed treys, LA haze, no pay raise;
honky tonk songs, realizing my wrongs, wearing cheap thongs;
cottage cheese, warts on my knees, dogs with fleas;
cold fingers and toes, caught picking my nose;
dirty looks, Christy Miller books;
pencils that are dull, convos with an awkward lull, pushing a door when it says pull, and eating past the point of full.
Vicious baboons, scavenging raccoons, irksome jazz tunes, and eating gross prunes;
mouth full of soap, burns from a rope, having no hope, worship of the Pope, hearing the word grope, being called a dope, spelling the word taupe, and licking an envelope.
Charlie horses, evil forces;
fixing a flat tire, lint from the dryer;
unnecessary brakers, vexing soccer fakers;
jamming my thumb, when my tongue goes numb, or I’m followed by a bum or have to eat ABC gum and say something dumb.
Water up the nose, the Passion scene with crows, getting kinks in the hose and shrinking new clothes;
sports ending in a tie, getting caught in a lie;
Know-it-alls, refs’ poor calls, getting hit with balls, frightening dolls, embarrassing falls, getting blocked calls, the taste of Halls, overwhelming malls, guilt like Saul’s, and running into walls.
A bounced check or kink in the neck;
getting shots, my hair in knots;
finding blood clots, breaking down in Watts;
pumping gas, stepping in glass;
odor from a skunk, student being a punk;
when people eat off my plate, the feeling when I’m about to be late;
bullies at school, acting “too cool”, trying to soften stool, a dog’s nasty drool, debating a fool or an idiot tool who’ll pee in your pool.
At the doctor’s getting weighed, hot days without shade, the sick scent of Raid, shaving with a dull razor blade;
the smell of Ben-Gay, an awful toupee, discovering my zipper’s been down the whole day;
hypocrits, smelly pits, giant zits, and called a ditz;
reprimands, my man hands;
shoes that hurt my feet, slow walkers crossing the street;
side hugs in cars, melted candy bars;
burning a meal, the face of Seal;
being tailgated or feeling sedated or getting berated;
an SBD, stung by a bee;
small bladders, unstable ladders;
realizing you’re fatter, wasted cake batter;
itchy bug bites, loud cat fights, long sleepless nights, falling from heights, short yellow lights,…gosh, reality bites.

Pennies I Like

Pb n jelly, meat from the deli;
crunching a leaf, snorkeling a reef;
having hope, using Scope;

big dogs, funny blogs, dropping logs, warthogs, going for jogs, and my mom’s clogs which were so bright red the hospital made it a new rule that nurses can’t wear such “flashy” shoes.

Lucky Charms, dairy farms;
chocolate bars, seeing stars;
green lights, colorful kites;

the show Hey Dude, any food that’s barbecued;
The Wonder Years, laughing till tears, the theme song of Cheers, and carnival mirrors;
Jason Bourne, candy corn, my car’s horn, and jeans slightly torn and often worn so they aren’t too tight when I eat too much a get a food baby and then have to unbutton them.

Fresh powder, clam chowder;
being right, the book Night;
drinking from hoses, awkward solo poses, stopping to smell roses, and people with funny-shaped noses;

old cartoons, hot air balloons, country tunes, cool sand dunes, ancient ruins, and National Lampoon’s because all those movies with Chevy Chase are solid gold.

Finding cash in my pockets, shooting snot rockets;
body surfing waves, exploring bear caves;
tootsie rolls, grassy knolls, styling trolls, deep cereal bowels, pleasant strolls, and Shia Labeouf in Holes although my favorite work of his has to be Even Stevens- loved that kid Beans.

Face dimples, popping pimples;

a wagging tail, a storm with hail;
being in airports, candy of all sorts, building cool forts, and not being preggo but wearing maternity shorts because Nordstroms sells them in the juniors department so it is okay but it was not okay all those times I accidentally browsed the maternity section and was a tiny bit mortified when I realized it.

Cartwheels, kids’ squeals;

Jack Bauer, a hot shower, a tall sunflower;

chicken curry, not having to worry or be in a hurry, boots that are furry;
synchronized dances, hypnotized trances, getting second chances and second glances;
Gilmore Girls, wearing pearls, carmel swirls, and flying squirrels- not the animals though, I hear those are quite frightening- but rather the type of pool dive where you grab your ankles mid-air and pray your nose doesn’t scrape the bottom of the pool like mine did years ago leaving me with a huge nose scab.

Yodeled songs, zingers and ding dongs;

Jacob Black, the Outback;
the Sandlot, my cat Dot;
Crest whitening strips, crunching Pringles chips;
Thanksgiving turkey, smelly beef jerkey;
muddy runs, witty puns, fresh baked buns, squirt guns, and Sister Act nuns;

jumping on trampolines, teaching awkward teens, eating pork n beans and classic movie scenes like when Lloyd and Harry meet Sea Bass or when Elle shows up at Harvard, “What? Like it’s hard?”

Warmth of the sun, nutella on a bun;
a good cry, a book that’s Sci-fi;
when people run into screen doors, eating delicious s’mores;
life-long friends, picking split ends;

Honey Smacks, clearance racks, using Macs, peeling backs of others or myself because it is so oddly satisfying to peel off a huge strip of skin burnt by the sun.

Mr. Deeds, sunflower seeds;
watching Glee, having clear pee, the book Little Bee, AFV, an aqua sea, and calling a boy baby “she”- no wait, I actually HATE when that happens- I did it in India once and still cringe thinking about it- who dresses their baby boy in pink?
Corny jokes, ice cold cokes;
cracking my neck, sunning on a deck;
scuba-diving, go-cart driving;

rolling down grassy hills, watching people take spills, awkward moments of Phil’s from Modern Family- if you haven’t seen this show yet because you’re turned off by Al Bundy since you weren’t allowed to watch Married with Children, don’t worry- he is hilarious.

An African chorus, jokes about Chuck Norris;
buzzer beaters, busting cheaters;
late night snacking, going back packing;

skipping super high, rolling lucky die;
silly faces, running races;
getting fun mail, exploring a new trail, reading a fun tale, being tan and not pale, going to Unique Nail and seeing a breaching whale which I did when my college team went whale watching but the only image I remember is of a lady leaning over the ship, puking her guts out on the school of dolphins swimming next to our boat.

Playing ro sham bo, eating raw cookie dough;
forgiving police, the actress Reese;
a zebra’s stripes, the smell of pipes;

When Harry Met Sally, teaching at Valley, seeing underdogs rally, living in Cali and the host Mike O’Malley who hosted the show GUTS and was the inspiration behind the cheer my team used to say before we’d play, “Do do do do you have it? GUTS!”
The Potter books, getting strange looks;
Bass lake, funfetti cake, a thick shake, a juicy steak, and the teacher’s lounge at break- mainly on Friday’s when someone brings treat- I look forward to this moment all week.
Silent laughs, gangly giraffes;
slurpees, white tees, a cool breeze, no fees, snap peas, climbing trees, making threes, birds in v’s, mac n cheese, catching z’s, and candy from Sees like the butterscotch lollipops- but all other flavors are borderline nasty.

The Cucumber Larry, Little House on the Prairie, eating Pink Berry and skits with Cheri Oteri;
Pixar flicks, magic tricks, pogosticks, jumping pics, and Blossom and Six among other characters from that era like Screech, Urkle and the Fresh Prince.

Seeing God’s hand, watching planes land;
sweatpants, monks’ chants;
toe-headed kids, low e-Bay bids;

cartwheels, good deals;
Care Bear stares, funny dares, cheap concert fares, and Gummi Bears- both the candy and show. I caught myself singing “Magic and mystery is part of their history and so is the secret of Gummi Beary juice” a little too loudly while I pumped gas and got a very strange look.

A child’s joy, the old slang term “doy”;
long eyelashes, surprise birthday bashes;
skipping rocks, automatic locks, nature walks, thick, warm socks, transforming talks, Nike Shocks, Bass Lake docks, and comfy Crocs although I do not like the purple pair my brother wears all the time.

NBC on Thursday nights, looking at bright Christmas lights;

playing the infamous MASH, the song about a diaper rash, the game of Steve Nash, songs of Johnny Cash, and when old ladies talk trash at basketball games- the Westmont coach’s mother is infamous for chanting “bad call” till she was blue in the face.

Tyrone Wells, bike cruisers with baskets and bells;
four hour naps, Eminem’s raps, huge wall maps, playing the game craps and taking satisfying ones that leave you feeling 10 pounds lighter.
Ray ban sunglass, Globe Trotter trick passes;
Pottery barn dishes, dandelion wishes;
Jimmy Fallon’s show, Edgar Allen Poe, The Hills star Lo, beating a foe, hearing Joey say “Whoa”, the Simpson character Mo, teeth so white they glow, and Trav’s joke about Joe- who? Jo Mama.

Watching college ball, the writings of Paul, crisp air in the fall and heels to make me tall;
the laughter of a kid, eating fried squid;
freshly cut grass, friends with some sass;
eating ham, my amazing fam, teaching at CAM, and the joke about the dam- “What did the fish say when it ran into the wall?”

Bebo Norman, a friendly doorman, and laying on the shore- man, life is pretty sweet and full of “free surprises” and pennies that I will attempt to acknowledge, enjoy and praise God for.