Salt Preserves, Balances and Seasons

Recently, I attended a “thank you” luncheon at my church. They just wanted to honor the educators and pray over us for the coming school year. What!? Yep! Pretty darn cool.
They gave us a small bottle of salt as a reminder to what we can be in others’ lives. Salt has many functions, and moreover it is a necessity in all of our lives.

First, it is a PRESERVATIVE


As an educator, I can pour into my students’ lives positive messages. However, I exist for one reason only; to preserve the grace and faithfulness of God.


Next, I want to be used to SEASON my classroom with God’s love and His grace. Being an example, as Christ was for me, is what my walk on this earth signifies.


However, salt has to be used in proper BALANCE. Too much, it causes piety. Too little, it may be thought as weakness. I see SALT as a BALANCE of grace and truth.


So, being salt and working with ONE LIFE AT A TIME; this is what Jesus did. He didn’t try to change people. He just loved one at a time; one life at a time.


He was interruptible. Isn’t it so true that being available is what makes one so attractive? I take time and I don’t rush through tasks… Relationships over task.


Maybe I can create inspiration; I can create WONDER in a child. He/she may be better because I loved on him/her. A prayer for the year.

Old Commandment Never Old

Reading today in 1John, it is assumed that we know the “old” commandment. “Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard.” (1John 2:7). Before I can even move on to the next statement, I am distressed that I take this so lightly. If this is something that we have heard from the beginning, to love God and others, shouldn’t it be something we have mastered?

There is no cause for any “stumbling” or issue if I love my “brother.” Sure…no problem; Just love others and it will be a lighted path.


I pray for the ease of this commandment. No others are needed if I love God and others. That supersedes and abolishes the LAW because if this is the case, then the other commandments are satisfied.


Simple? Yes. Easy? No.


Renew Your Mind

Transform; Renew

I finished my drawing! “Renew Your Mind”







Apparently when talking to a friend, I used these words most often.

I’m seeing a theme!

This summer, it’s time to “settle my brain” and get back to the basics. This means, my bible, my journal, and THE BIG GUY. (Well, and my little guy, Coti)


She recommended I draw through my journal. I found this image and it struck me as symbolic of how I’d like my mind to be; full of seeds, buds, blossoms, and fully bloomed flowers. This all takes TIME and germination.

Here are the verses I’m focusing on:


Proverbs 29:11

A fool utters all his mind: but a wise man keeps it in till afterwards

Proverbs 16:3

Commit your works unto the Lord and your thoughts will be established.

Isaiah 26:3

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you.

Mark 12:30

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength:  this is the first commandment.

Romans 12:2

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Romans 12:16

Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

II Corinthians 10:5

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

Philippians 2:4-6 

4Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

Philippians 4:6-8

Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God

And the peace of God which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and mind through Christ Jesus.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

I Peter 1:13

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

II Peter 3:1b-2

1b Stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:

2. That you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour.

James 1:8

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.


Marrying the Narrative with the Formal Essay


Marrying the Narrative with the Formal Essay

I should be a music teacher. In one second flat, I can get EVERY single student in my class to make a harmonious “AAAH” sound with perfect pitch and tone. As an ELA middle school teacher, and understanding the stress of teaching students to write, I always get the whining when I introduce the formal “essays.” What is it about a prescribed writing piece that has students running for the cozy comfort of a story? Students’ desires have waned when they arrive to my classroom. The structured writing models coupled with the robotic sounding paragraph has creativity going out the window. By 7th grade, students seem to put aside their imaginative hats, bury their interests and sadly have less desire to read and and writing.

The Core Standards have non-fiction writing and structured essays outnumbering the experiential narratives by 8th grade and are almost non-existent by 12th. Does this have to be the case?


Grade To Persuade To Explain To Convey Experience
4 30% 35% 35%
8 35% 35% 30%
12 40% 40% 20%

Source: Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects


Perhaps the “experience” needs to be included in each genre of writing. If “70% of what we learn is through stories” and that “storytelling is essential for innovation“ (according to Professor Fels from One Thousand & One; Organizational storytelling in Australia), then we need to re-think HOW we are teaching the informational formal writing piece. We think in pictures; we don’t process things as well when they are theoretical. Marrying the narrative experience with expository or nonfiction writing captures the data and allows for better retention.

When thinking about my favorite books, they tend to be non-fiction. Authors like Malcolm Gladwell or Daniel Pink are creative research writers who dispel information disguised in narrative form. One can argue teaching the expository text with an introduction, body, and conclusion CAN be taught using stories as their main support. Make a point: Tell a story; Make a point: Tell more story. Students can get this.

One of the first “essays” I introduce to my 7th graders is a persuasive “essay” letter for which they write to a potential investor. This integrated invention project’s purpose is to improve students’ research and persuasive writing skills, as well as prepare them to be critical, innovative thinkers. First of all, they create a product which would be financially or ecologically sustainable. For example, one student created a virtual organizer whereas another made a rooftop water collection device to help with the water supply in countries where a steady water supply is scarce. One student also created a table for easy access for people in wheelchairs. Next, they research a company who may be a potential investor in their product. With the use of their persuasive writing skills and their knowledge of propaganda techniques, they write a letter seeking funding while persuading the company about their worthwhile product. Finally, they present their product and read their letter at a “Celebration of Innovation” gathering. Each audience member is given a ballot, and they rate each student on passion, persuasion, poise, and product sustainability. They start the process in Science, and by the time they come to me, they find out they’ll now be writing.

When they discover they’ll be writing a structured paragraph persuasive letter, their brains turn off and they become inanimate objects. Yes, the extinction of the 5-paragraph essay may be looming, but I’m old school in them still knowing the structure of making their point and then support it with reason. Students NEED to have this formal training to help them clarify their thinking and form cogent arguments. The “structure” of 5 paragraphs lays a foundation as does knowing the alphabet helps one learn how to read. They will have a thesis and make points, but how will their data be humanized? How will they bring it to life? This is where the narrative piece comes in. The body of this paper will be filled with paragraphs, but each paragraph needs support. What kind of support could there be? How can they capture stories in their data? The best stories are rooted in the heart of the research, from beginning to end.

I have to debunk the myths in their heads about starting at the beginning of this “essay.” I provide the students with a graphic organizer called an OREO (see Figure 1), and we fill out the THESIS first. I change the name of this to the OPINION statement. (or the “O” in OREO) (This will transform into a paragraph or their introduction, but I tell them we’ll do that at the end.) The opinion statement must be visual because this is how our brains process since we never read for raw information. There has to be a direction and purpose. We call it a thesis, but maybe when teaching the thesis statement, we need to humanize the “problem or situation” which needs  examination….something that matters….something that calls for writing.

Which thesis statement allows for ease of reading and seeing?:

“Sing-Can is a powerful garbage can that is happy when things get thrown in it.”

“Sing-Can belts out melodic tunes when one tosses his/her trash.”

The second statement has a human component and an object. It’s the classic, Subject-Action Verb-Direct Object statement, and this structure seems more comfortable for our brains to comprehend.

Next, the students fill out their “R’s” or three reasons why this is the best product. These could be called their topic sentences, but I change the name so as to not make them feel like this is a formal piece. After they do this, they focus on ONE reason. This one reason needs Explanation and Examples (The “E’s) Finally, the story part! A lawyer cannot stand in front of a jury and make a statement letting it hang. He needs to elicit emotion from the reader or audience. How can this be done? Tell a story!? Make the reason have legs. Propaganda techniques like statistics, testimonies, and bandwagon have to have a subplot undergirding the reason. So, then can now have a character and a small story to support their reason. This topic sentence of reason can be: “Sing-Can rids the earth of 30% more trash than regular trash cans. The examples and explanation needs to be a story to humanize this number. Students can spend time on this paragraph in turn enjoying the “essay” process. Once the backbone of the OREO is set up, it is up to them to spruce it up with stories to support.

Finally, the students repeat their “O” in the last paragraph and sum it up. Now they can add the bells and whistles like the Grabber (or first sentence of their Introduction) to sit on top of the Thesis or Opinion statement.

The paper writes itself, and the students stand in awe of the size of their “5 paragraph” essay which is filled with story.

Students never run out of stories. This is why I have students journal through the year with all their slices of life; they capture bits of life which can be used later for information or research. This is true support for a “research” or expository they shall write. We are marrying the two together providing us a thesis and three main points but a subplot undergirding the whole paper including characters and a directional theme.

The “experience” needs to be in each genre of writing. If our brain thinks in pictures we need to teach to the students in stories having them write in kind. Marrying the narrative with expository or nonfiction writing allows the students the resurrect their creativity and provide data which makes the reader not only retain the piece but enjoy it as well.

Works Cited:

One Thousand and One Organisational Storytelling. July 2012.



Dad’s Instruction Book

Dad’s Little Instruction Book on Life (AKA Golf)

As I have been chatting with women in golf as of late, I have found that Dads are full of it….wisdom that is. I also realized they all encouraged their daughters to get out there and play life’s hardest sport. These women shared some of the other wonderful pieces of advice they learned from their fathers. The following are 10 Life Instructions from Dads. Best of all, these little “instructions” can be learned on the golf course. Thanks, Dad!

If it were easy, everybody would do it. Think about it. A hundred and forty-four people play in the tournament, and a hundred and forty-three of them are not going to win. Ouch. The game chews you up, spits you out, and tramples all over you. There are only a few who can get back up over and over again after being pummeled by that little white ball. It’s those “Weebley” people who continually get knocked down and pop back up who are the winners.

Watch a sunrise at least once a year.

What idiot gets up at the crack of 0’dark thirty and tees it up? A golfer does.
And they get the beauty of seeing every beautiful sunrise. Who’s the idiot now?

Treat everyone you meet as you want to be treated.

Have you ever realized that the etiquette golfers show to one another on the course is one
of the things that distinguishes golf from all other sports? Golf etiquette
is an extremely important part of the game. Your manners and character (or the lack thereof) that you display on the course will say more about you as a golfer and a person than anything you ever do with your clubs. Proper etiquette applies to everyone and does not discriminate.

Make new friends but cherish the old ones.

Golf is truly a game unlike any other, from the diverse and unique people that you meet, to the memo- rable moments that you have out on the course. Sue Wieger, a local golf pro, says that, “Golf has given me so many gifts in my lifetime; travel, great friends on and off the golf course and a sense of connecting with my authentic self while playing.”

Don’t waste time learning the “tricks of the trade.” Instead, learn the trade.

Are you one of those people who try to find the secret to playing better golf? Good news, you can stop looking. Bad news, you just have to play. That’s the secret.

Be brave and keep your cool.

Even if you’re not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference. Even the best PGA Tour players lose their cool, but losing your cool can cost you big-time. One of the most difficult aspects of life…I mean the game of golf…. is main- taining a calm, steady and persistent demeanor. For those who really know the dynamics of a powerful swing, maintaining a relaxed body and mind is what good golf is really all about.

Never cheat.

Right now you are thinking…. of course, I would NEVER cheat. I have one word for you: Mulligan. Now, there is a difference between cheating and bending the rules. In golf, there are RULES and then there are rules to be bent. So you take a first-tee mulligan…big deal. Maybe on one hole you don’t feel like trudging back to the tee to hit another. Instead, you take a stroke and drop a ball as if you were in some kind of water hazard. Again, no big deal. And perhaps you lip-out and pick-up, rather than tapping your last putt in – I wouldn’t mind; this isn’t the pros! So, if you ARE one of those rulebook holy rollers, then A: You are a professional or B: You need a life. Have some fun, but know the difference be- tween cheating and bending the rules.

Never take action when you’re angry.

Be angry, yet do not play golf. OR, sign up for anger management by taking solo golf lessons. Golfing will reveal IF you even have any anger issues; trust me! No one is able to avoid poor shots, BUT, you can control the reaction. Is this not true for life also? Make an effort to take in the scenery, converse with your playing partners, enjoy the outdoors, anything that enables you to not take your score so seriously. Maybe this will be the antidote for dealing with your issues altogether!

Stay humble.

To say “golf is hard” is like saying “the sky is blue” or “the world is round.” It’s self-evident. My dad would always say this about life as well, and he would never let me forget the point. But he wanted me to under- stand golf (like life) is something that NEVER gets perfected. The moment you think you have golf/life whipped, the game/life slaps you down and humbles you. Be secure and confident in yourself, stay grateful, and when you least expect it, you’ll shoot farther and straighter then you ever have.


Laugh…..A LOT.

Golf really is hilarious. It is guaranteed that you will feel something when you play golf. Follow me here: Logically, the majority of your emotions (which golf WILL produce) are processed by the hypothalamus, the region in your brain that handles a range of functions from breathing and to hunger and emotional response. After hitting that not so perfect shot, you can either cry or laugh, right? Try to find the humor in your situation. In golf, if you can laugh the shot off you will immediately release the tension and start to feel better.