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I am a teacher, and tonight – the night before school starts back – the honest to goodness truth is that right now I could not care less about how much English literature my students learn from me this year. After an encounter today with someone who just wasn’t very nice, it occurred to me that I would rather every student fail the End of Course exam if, in exchange, they could learn to be good people who do everything in their power to make this world better. I know far too many well-educated people who only make this world more difficult for others and leave hurt in their wake. What good is it to know lots of information if you don’t know how to love? Tonight, my lessons are planned and tomorrow I will teach English, but I will fail as a person and disciple of Jesus if I forget what really matters. So students, this is what I reallywant you to know.I want you to know that what you do and say to others really matters. I can remember something unkind said to me over 20 years ago, and I still have a scar from the wounds of his words....


I glanced in the rearview mirror today, and her shining eyes in the very back seat brought a lump into my throat.She is six now, heading to 1st grade, and I don’t know where the time went. I swear it was just yesterday that I brought her home in a preemie outfit that swallowed her whole. In the seat in front of her, big brother sits, his face losing baby fat as fast as he’s losing baby teeth. They are both big kids now, riding big kid bikes and reading chapter books, leaving me to shake my head and ask the age-old question, “Where did the time go?”It’s just one of the things no one can make you understand about being a parent.They can’t explain to you that seeing your wrinkly, red newborn for the first time will make your heart feel as if it will explode from the love that suddenly appears. They don’t tell you that the second time is just like the first.They can’t tell you that you will panic the first time they sleep through the night, though you begged for it for weeks (or months – they don’t tell you that either).No one tells you...


It’s almost here, fellow teachers.    Like it or not, we will wake up Monday morning much earlier than our summer sleep schedules are accustomed to, and we will walk back into the buildings we simultaneously love and fear. The newly waxed floors will look foreign without any tossed away papers and all used-up pencils, and the bare bulletin boards will mock us as we remember the cute ideas we saw on Pinterest.   We will make multiple trips from the car to our rooms, carrying bags filled with the magic we are convinced will make this year the best. We will stand surveying our rooms, hands on hips, as we envision a space that inspires and welcomes.   The plans will have to wait, though, as we sit through multiple meetings where we team-build and common-core learn and technology policy question… And don’t forget lunch-plans make, as this is the week – the only week – where we are allowed to leave for the sacred lunch.   Our non-teacher friends will roll eyes as we mention ‘heading back to work,’ and they will make snide comments about us having the whole summer off. We will roll eyes back as we mutter, “You just don’t get it.”...


Pastor José’s eyes were rimmed with red as we gathered at the front of his church. We had just finished painting his house, transforming a drab concrete building into a vibrant standout in his barrio. “My family – we gather every morning to pray, and we have prayed for a year to have our house painted,” he explained softly as the translator relayed his words. I dropped my eyes to the dirt floor of the “Jesus is the Way to Heaven” Church. I have just repainted my entire house, and prayer was not part of the process. The money was in the bank, the desire was in my heart, and that’s all there was to it. I wanted to, so I did.The humble pastor went on to tell us how his family has prayed for paint, but God did not allow for it until now. “Many people in my country think pastors are becoming wealthy,” he said. I wondered what they would think of American celebrity pastors as wealthy as our athletes. He told us of how just that morning God revealed to him a lesson about protection. He said that God kept them from having the money to paint...