Finding Community at the Sewer Ponds Whilst Looking for a Wagtail

  Confessions of a Wanna-be Birder I confess, I might classify myself as a birder. Although I don’t hope to join the birding legends (yeah, birding has ‘legends’) who seek out 700-plus bird species in a single year, I do have a life list. I can’t drop everything and jet off to the corners of the United States when a rare bird happens by. Fortunately, I live in Arizona, a state that gets its fair share of rarities. This weekend…

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How Do YOU Define Christian?

Doing Research in the Age of Information Leading high school students through the arduous process of writing a research paper leaves me feeling exhausted. Since the advent of the Internet, Google, Wikipedia, and social media, kids define cutting and pasting content from other sources as ‘research.’ I beg to differ. And so we do things the old-fashioned-sort-of-technologically-advanced way in my classes. The students make photocopies of everything they plan on using that comes from a book. They print out web…

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I Survived Hell’s Revenge (and Learned a Few Lessons Along the Way)

Headed to Hell’s Revenge “Let’s do Hell’s Revenge!” Pedro exclaimed when we finished eating lunch the first full day of our Moab vacation. “I’m in,” Louis, our son-in-law, said. Laura and I looked at each other and headed into the trailer with the dirty dishes. “Maybe we won’t have to go,” I said with a hopeful grin. “We could stay here and write or something,” Laura agreed. Neither one of us relished a tour of one of the most difficult…

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When Someone Grieves, Offer an Embrace

The Passing of a Family Friend I wanted to reach through the phone line and embrace my daughter. Instead, I texted her back and tried to concentrate on reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to my freshman class. I kept losing my place and glancing at my phone. Not professional behavior, I know. But when your daughter texts you that her beloved German Shepherd has bladder cancer and the vet sees no hope, you do what needs to…

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When it’s OK to Call Your Kids a Friend

Why DID We Have Kids? “Mom, why did you and Dad have kids?” Sarah asked a few years ago. “Because we knew that when you guys became adults we’d have two awesome friends.” I quipped. “But didn’t you tell us that we couldn’t be friends?” Sarah reminded me. “No. We said we couldn’t be friends until you’re 18 and out of high school.” “Oh, yeah,” she said. “Kids need boundaries and mentoring. They don’t need the burden of having an…

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Being Half Vegetarian in a World of Abandonment

Half Vegetarian For some reason, Pedro is discussing meat eating and vegetarianism with students while he patrols the playground after lunch. As I walk by on my way to my next class, I overhear a youngster declare, “I’m the only vegetarian in my family!” “Really?” Pedro asks. “Everyone else eats meat?” “Everyone but me!” the second grader declares. “Guess what, Mr. Ojeda?” a third grader asks. “I’m half vegetarian!” “Really!” Pedro exclaims. The bell rings and I hurry to unlock…

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The Pitfalls of Treadmill Training You’ll Want to Avoid

Painful Lessons Two things happened after I finished a half-marathon two weeks ago. First of all, I realized the importance of trimming one’s toenails adequately BEFORE a race. I don’t do the mani-pedi thing, so I rarely consider my toenails and their needs. Thus, I started my race with the toenail on my right big toe just a wee bit long. When I finished the race, I realized that my toe hurt a little. Imagine my surprise when I removed…

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If You’ve Lost Your Purpose, I Know Where to Find it!

Morning Discontent When I woke up this morning, I felt bleh. I made sure to spend an extra amount of time in my gratitude journal, praising God for everything. “Thank you for the tulips that push their way through the hard soil in February. Thank you for the rain. I praise you for the sunset last night.” And then I confessed to God that I felt bleh. Frustrated because I still struggle to know my purpose in life. Yeah, I…

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Why I Hate the King James Version of the Bible

Hating the Bible? I know. One shouldn’t hate the word of God. I don’t really hate the King James Version of the Bible. I hate what it represents. Before you skip to the comments section and vilify me for allegedly trash-talking the Word of God, hear me out. We sat in church and I glanced around at my fellow congregants. Sixty percent had yet to reach their eighteenth year. Eighty percent had grown up in a home where the majority…

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There’s No Such Thing as a Slow Student

Slow Students I have a student that our school almost didn’t accept. You see, we don’t have a special education program because we’re a small, private school. This young man had an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) from his previous school, but his parents really wanted him to experience life as just another kid. When I first met Fred*, I wondered if maybe we hadn’t taken on a task that we didn’t have the qualifications to accomplish. Some would call Fred…

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