The Things She Carries

On weekdays she carries her LL Bean backpack,

Gray and filled with pockets.

Some mornings she also carries a stack of textbooks that won’t fit

Into the pack because it is too full

Of other books and accessories.

G2 pens, some black and some red,

And mints and earbuds and chap stick and her water bottle—teal green

And hurriedly filled with filtered well water before she heads out the door in the morning.

 

The small pocket at the top of the pack carries her key ring.

She carries the house key for her parents’ house because she still lives with them

Even though she is in her thirties.

She is not married and is grateful for her mother’s homecooked meals and

Her father’s wisdom.

She thinks about moving out again someday soon but is waiting

On Jesus to give her the word.

She carries the large key for the school building and four smaller keys for the

File drawers and cabinets in the school.

The remote control on her ring is for her Honda Odyssey, still running

Faithfully at 273,486 miles.

The last key on her ring is for the Honey Brook Youth Center

Because she used to live next door and somehow she

Never returned it.

 

In the main pocket is her large blue binder. The binder

Has survived years of teaching—and even the year she took a sabbatical

To graduate from college.

Every year she puts new labels on the dividers. This year they say

BIO, HS ENG, IEW, YEARBOOK, and

BIBLE. These are the classes she teaches.

The front of the binder, a clear plastic pocket, is stuffed with layers

Of mementoes from the last decade.

A thank you note from a little boy who is now a man, a photo

With a fellow teacher in front of the tulips at a park in Manhattan,

A verse in the beautiful script of a favorite student who left her school

For public school.

 

In another pocket is her wallet. She carries little cash,

But the MacBook she carries has a whole Excel file that records people’s generosity

And God’s miraculous provision. She carries credit cards from Amazon, Boscovs, and BB&T,

A driver’s license, tax exempt cards for when she does school shopping,

And loyalty cards for September Farm and Panera and Ollies.

Often she carries gift cards. Her friends are kind.

She carries receipts for gas, for groceries, and for the McDonald’s in Pottstown

Where she buys Big Macs for her friend Kim.

 

She carries her cell phone in the small pocket. It is an iphone with

501 contacts. On her home screen she has WhatsApp and GroupMe and Voxer

And her alarm clock and calculator and calendar and camera.

Her Instagram is not on her home screen,

But she knows where it is.

 

On her wrist she carries a large watch with a leather strap. She lives a very scheduled life

Except on Saturdays when she lets the watch lie on her dresser.

 

On Saturdays she carries a large faux leather bag

When she goes to see Kim at the Manor Care at Pottstown.

In her bag she carries red nail polish and homemade cookies,

Wheat crackers with cheese and a bottle of shampoo for Kim.

 

And on Sundays she carries her worn leather Bible.

It has large margins penned full of good quotes, cross references,

And Greek word definitions.

Under her Bible she carries her journal, bound hardback,

With narrow lines. In it she processes things too raw for human ears.

Prayers of surrender. Pleas for her students. And sometimes the ache

To have a family of her own and be a wife and mom.

The silk ribbon in the journal marks a page with a verse she’s choosing:

“Forget your people and your father’s house,

And the King will desire your beauty.

Since He is your Lord, bow to Him.”

 

All this she carries with a strength not her own. She is weak, but

Christ in her is strong.

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Teaching Poetry When You’re No Poet

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Poetry. I like to read it–once in a while. I like to recite it, especially when a line is just perfect for something I’m experiencing.

Until eighteen months ago, I didn’t like to write it.

But in the summer of 2015, I was in a writing seminar at Millersville University. As a part of that seminar, I wrote a couple poems. Feeble attempts, perhaps. But I enjoyed the experience. And when I returned to the classroom as an English teacher this fall, I was determined to have my students write some poetry with me.

But how do you teach poetry when you’re really no poet?

Enter Sara Holbrook’s excellent book, Practical Poetry. I used the exercises in the book to guide my class through a number of delightful poetry-writing experiences. Of course some of the poems they wrote were better than mine, which I didn’t mind at all.

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As Holbrook suggests, I wrote a verb poem:

Tickle

is a little chap,

has red curls and a sailor cap.

Rolls on the floor

and laughs till he cries,

a mischievous twinkle

in his eyes.

My kids wrote verb poems as well. Some were fun, but some were serious, like this one entitled “Cut.”

I also did Holbrook’s lesson on poems for two voices. The two voices I chose for my poem are marriage and singleness. Read it here: day7mylifeisgift2.

I’ll definitely return to Holbrook’s great book again when it’s time to teach poetry!

 

 

 

Where I’m From

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I used George Ella Lyon’s “Where I’m From” poem with my students (as I had suggested in this post). Their poems were great. You can enjoy some of them here and here and here.

I finally wrote one of my own as well:

I am from the kitchen table.

From red-checked oilcloths and imitation blue willow plates.

I am from the trailer paneled in brown and carpeted in ’70s green,

Frayed, cozy, and smelling like fresh bread.

I am from paths through the towering weeds

Worn by my bare feet on my daily trek to the neighbor’s.

I’m from Beiler days and four-part harmony,

From Grossmommy Glick and Grandma Stoltzfus.

I’m from the work hard and do it right,

From the “turn the other cheek” and “don’t pity yourself.”

I’m from family devotions, Daddy reading Bible stories, and all of us kneeling in a row by the couch for bedtime prayers.

I’m from Germany and Switzerland,

Fresh-dug potatoes, garden green beans,

From the blue jays Grossmommy shot,

The car my little brother drove into her house.

In my mind I hold these memories,

The seeds of who I am today.

Jesus is truly so good. 

From one of my students who is standing on the Rock!

Streams of Grace

Tonight, my faith was tested. But without a doubt, I was still able to say God is good. Without a worry, I am able so Jesus is holding me in the palm of his hands. || I was at youth center. The kids had gone home. The clean up was done. We had just finished thanking the Lord for such a good night. We, as in us staff, sat around and carried on with conversation. I mentioned something about being content to one of my friends. “Con-ten-T?” One of my other friends had asked. ”Yeah? Is there something about the word content? He replied, “No, but we’re human. Is there even such a thing as being content?” Well, I mean, of course, there is; the Bible tells us to be content, but in all honesty, I am truly content. I went on saying, “this summer, I came up with a…

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Is Your Child Getting a Good Writing Education? Four Questions to Ask Your Child

Great questions for any writing teacher as well!

Teachers, Profs, Parents: Writers Who Care

by Ken Lindblom

You want to make sure your child is getting an excellent education in writing. But if you’re not an expert, how do you really know? Here are four simple questions to ask your children about the writing that they are doing in their classes to determine if they are receiving an education in writing that is based on research and that reflects best practices for authentic writing.

Question 1: How many different genres are you writing in school?

The more genres your child is writing, the better.

Academic writing definitely matters. You want your child to be learning to write academic essays, literary analyses, and writing that will work for exams. But academic writing is just one color in the vast writing rainbow!

You want your child to be comfortable writing in many genres, and you want this for at least two reasons:

  1. Each genre of writing…

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Popcorn and Peter Elbow: Ways to Help Your Kids with Their Writing

Teachers, Profs, Parents: Writers Who Care

by Laura J. Davies

It was 7:30 pm, otherwise known as the witching hour in my household. My 10-year-old son, Mac, was sitting at the computer desk and staring at a blank Word document, his arms crossed defiantly, his eyebrows furrowed.

“I can’t do it!” He stomped his foot and pounded the desk with his fist.

“I don’t get it!” He scowled at his baby sister, who was toddling around the corner with her little grocery cart filled with plastic fruits and veggies.

“This is too hard!” He shuffled the papers in front of him, and in a dramatic show of pre-teen angst, flung the whole stack onto the floor.

Hmmm, I thought. Perhaps it’s time for some parental intervention.

My first instinct was to gather the papers, put them back on the desk, and let Mac know in no uncertain terms that the blame for not starting…

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