Sunday, September 21, 2008

Empty Nest, Full Hearts


You have earned this journey and deserve this joy. We are so proud of you, Sweetie. It is only right that our sadness is vast because, for ever nineteen years, you have been our gold light, our compass, and our greatest blessing. It is only right that your happiness is endless because, for many years, this is where you have longed to be, worked to be, and need to be.

We are with you.

All our love,

Mom and Dad

Empty Nest, Full Hearts

Today is the day.

Today, we three

become two

as You

grown into

Your One.

Today, we leave You


in college

and head for


Today, we leave You

with all our hope

and all our

forever love.

Today, we wish You

oceans of joy,

our beloved son,

our only child,

our most radiant


Today, we wish You

the dreams

of your heart.

Today and always,
"a good time
to laugh
is anytime
you can."

Today and always,

live knowing

that the song of

your childhood

(and ours)

"Jesus love me,

this I know..."

is truth

for You

and for All.

And that

none of us

have to be


to feel that Love.

You are loved

just because.


and endlessly.

Today and always,

You carry

our heart

with You.

Today and always,

we cherish

the goodness

and dignity

of Your Soul.

We trust You.

Never doubt

Your Goodness.

Believe in

Your Wisdom.

We treasure



And always will.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sharing great books is a great love of mine. When you are a reader and a writer, passing on treasured words is a habit (or maybe an addiction!). Because I am frequently asked "What have you read lately?" when I am brain fogged with jet lag, my tired old brain struggles to spit out some best books quickly and thoroughly. So, if you will forgive my absent-mindedness, I will continue to post books worth your time here on my Blog.

In honor of one of my favorite reads from the last year (and, as I mentioned her in August, a recommendation from frequent book guide Mary Denman), here is an appetizer of Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely Tree Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Gordy: Listen, you have to read a book three times before you know it. The first time you read it for the story. The plot. The movement from scene to scene that gives the book its momentum, its rhythm. It’s like reading a raft down a river. You’re just paying attention to the currents…The second time you read a book, you read it for its history. For is knowledge of history. You think about the meaning of each word, and where that word came from. I mean you read a novel that has the word “spam” in it, and you know where that word comes from, right?

Junior: Spam is just e-mail.

Gordy: Yes, that what it is, but who invented the word, who first used it, and how has the meaning of the word changed since it was first used?

Junior: I don’t know.

Gordy: Well, you have to look all that up. If you don’t treat each word that seriously then you’re not treating the novel seriously.

Gordy:…and you read a book for joy.

*From The Absolutely Tree Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Poetry Friday - on Tuesday

Soon, we will be taking our son to his first year of college (and my heart is too full to even record some thoughts about this here). So, I will offer a Poetry Friday entry a wee bit early in honor of great friends at CAIRO AMERICAN COLLEGE. This poems makes me think of earlier conversations I have engaged in with so many of you about books being mirrors and windows in our students' lives...and in our own children's lives, too.


The biggest
On the library shelf
Is when you suddenly
Find yourself
Inside a book –
(The hidden you)
You wonder how
The author knew.

Beverly McLoughland, Cricket, September, 1985

Connection Quote

In an connection to yesterday's Blog entry, a favorite quote...

The most important thing I know about living is love. Nothing surpasses the benefits received by a human being who makes compassion and love the objective of his or her life. For it is only by compassion and love that anyone fulfills successfully their own life’s journey. Nothing equals love.”
Sargent Shriver

Monday, September 15, 2008

Extending Our Hands of Friendship

In response to my learned friend Paul's message (included below), I offered the following response tonight:
Brilliant, Paul...I was so bewildered when I read the words on this DVD...I have recently returned from Egypt where it is Ramadan...I challenge each of us to look at our address books as one way to evaluate our sense of connectedness and, as Paul wisely advises, to make sure that love and not fear is our lens. How many Muslim friends do you have living on the pages of your address book?...Does your address book reflect people of multiple faiths, diverse racial heritages, many chronological ages, and embrace those whose sexual orientation is different from your own? Expanding our hearts to see a brother or sister in all human beings is critical and, for me, my best way of living my Christian beliefs. God is truly all in all.
Love and respect,Laura

Greetings! I found it very disturbing that a DVD entitled "Obsessions, Radical Islam" was included in the Denver Post on Sunday. I wrote the following for my church members. If you find it of use, please distribute it to you networks. Paul

In Sunday's Denver Post there was a mass distribution of a DVD entitled "Obsession, Radical Islam's War Against the West." This distribution represents an action with which we should be deeply concerned. It represents desperately inflammatory material that loosely charades as being factual and therefore accurate. This DVD was initially created back in 2005. The timing of this distribution is directly tied to the upcoming election. If you go to the website, the website makes it very clear which candidate you should vote for in this election if you want to fight radical Islamists. While the website does not actually tell the viewer which candidate to vote for, the video clip does end up with John McCain's face in full view of the screen and Barack Obama's profile view in the back ground. What becomes clear is that this material is intended to make fear be the primary motivation for how people vote. History has shown over and over again that when we allow ourselves to be motivated by fear, we allow ourselves to be manipulated by the very people who say that they will protect us. There are many reasons to vote in this election. I truly believe that both presidential candidates are worthy choices. But please encourage those around you to be NOT be so bluntly manipulated. Here are five reasons to say NO to such blatant material:

There are radical, militants who are Muslims, whose desire is to force the world back into a type of Medieval existence. The issue is not whether these individuals are serious threats. The issue is how best to fight them so that we do not inadvertently create a world public sympathy for them, which will only increase their ability to inflict violence.
Our best resource in this fight is to befriend the moderate Muslims here and around the world. To help them build quality lives and remove the sympathy and intimidation that the radicals try to form with them. But this alliance with moderate Muslims cannot be created with bombs and guns. We have to demonstrate that we can assist them in their efforts to create better communities and lives for themselves and for their children. The efforts of an American named Greg Mortenson [ Three Cups of Tea ] illustrate the effectiveness of such quality community building efforts.
On Wednesday, September 10, Admiral Mike Mullen chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff acknowledged in front of the House Armed Services Committee that "we cannot kill our way to victory." His statement was that while we must have a military presence, we must be more diligent to offer effective nonmilitary assistance to the Afghans.
Senior editorialist for Newsweek Fareed Zakaria wrote on May 24, 2008, "The Simon Fraser study notes that the decline in terrorism appears to be caused by many factors, among them successful counterterrorism operations in dozens of countries and infighting among terror groups. But the most significant, in the study's view, is the "extraordinary drop in support for Islamist terror organizations in the Muslim world over the past five years." This study directly counters the fear that Sunday's DVD is attempting to instill.
There are numerous Muslim voices that speak out against the extremists [yes, in some cases at great risk to themselves]. One such voice is Fethullah Gulen. I would invite you to "google" his name and read his writings. He has millions of Muslim followers around the world. In Denver, we have many Muslim voices that speak strongly against terrorism.

We really do have two quality presidential candidates for this November's election. It is imperative though that people study the issues and be informed in their vote. Do not let yourself be motivated by television "sound bites" and fear-mongering. If these two influences carry the election, then we will be at risk of having created that which we most feared.

Rev. Paul Kottke
Senior Pastor
University Park UMC

Draw From Your Well

When you are just not sure how to teach what your students most need, draw from your well. When you know you have no words to model and demonstrate the literacy strategies for and with your students, draw from your well. Think about what you DO as you read and write. Record what you do and what you say in your head as you construct understanding and compose to be understood by others. Your notes will give your brilliant and radiant words for explaining the why's and how's of literacy to your students. It is like Glenda the "good" witch of the Wizard of Oz said, "You have always had the power within you." By being wide awake to your own reading and writing, you will know how to support your students' literacy journeys with insight and confidence. Your well is deep, your well is perfect.

Compass Quotes

No matter the instructional format – lecture, small-group activity, or individualized assignment – students make their own sense of what they’re taught. Ideas don’t fly directly from teachers’ minds into learners’ minds. Effective instruction requires teachers to be able to assess what students are taking from instruction and adapt their instruction to meet the differing needs of students.
Jayne Boyd-Zaharias and Helen Pate-Bain in “Class Matters – In and Out of School” in
Phi Delta Kappan, September 2008 (p. 40-44)