Five Minute Friday

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 Pre-Trip Inspection Keeps Me Safe in More Ways Than One

The Dread Pre-Trip Inspection I didn’t want to do it. Never in my life had I thought, ‘Hey, I want to drive a bus!’ Yet last week I spent hours and hours studying for my Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Six months ago I passed the written portion of the test to get my learner’s permit. The next day I took one look at the pre-trip inspection section of the manual and stopped studying. Our school has a maintenance guy who…

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The Problem With Being a Middle Child

How Do YOU Define ‘Middle?’ In a family with four kids, I consider the second and third children to be ‘middle’ children. I don’t know if birth-order gurus would agree or not, but in my mind, how else could it work? So that makes me a middle child. It also makes me super-competitive. The problem with the super-competitive-middle-child syndrome is that as I grew older it turned into the super-comparative syndrome. The act of comparison always leaves someone feeling little…

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Choose to Connect With Compassion and Grace

How We Connect These Days Moments ago, Pedro finished eating his second serving of Eggplant Tagine with Mint and Cilantro over a serving of buttery couscous. I made supper using a Moroccan cooking dish that our Chinese daughter gave us for Christmas. Pedro set down his fork and said, “It’s time to chillax. Shall we watch another episode of Poldark?” I glanced at my watch. “I think it’s time for my Twitter party,” I said. “Can we watch it when…

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A Psalm for NOW! (An Inner Coversation)

So Busy So many things to do NOW! The end of the semester looms, but ungraded papers weigh my backpack down. The house remains half-decorated for Christmas, but I spent the evening watching the Survivor finale. Forty people will arrive at my door tomorrow night for the annual staff Christmas party. But first I need to clean the cobwebs out of the windowsills (not the kind one uses for Halloween decorations). I haven’t washed the windows in two years…or more.…

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How Your Gift of Mentorship Can Change Lives

Joy (and Frustration) in the Journey I call each student to my desk and they show me their journals, where they have written steps they need to take to complete a goal. Goal setting does not come easily to my kids. They come from homes where children learn early what surviving from paycheck to paycheck really means. You might not eat more than gravy for days a time. It means you might have to steal the ingredients from the local…

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What I Crave During the Holidays

In Need of a Miracle The moment I see her, I crave peace and quiet. In fact, the moment she pulled into the driveway I felt as if I’d stuck my heart in a nettle bush. I feel God working on my heart, constraining me to hold my temper in check. At the same time, bitterness pricks and prods. For three decades she has annoyed me, irritated me, rubbed me the wrong way, tried to manipulate me, and worn me…

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Why it’s Better to Have a Learner’s Attitude for Life’s Tests

My First Driving Test My first real driving test came when we left Bozeman and headed towards Canada. We decided that I would drive so that Pedro could work while we still had Internet. He hooked up the trailer, and I nervously hopped in the driver’s seat and adjusted it for me. I like driving his truck, don’t get me wrong. But I feel like I’m driving an army tank down the road—and now I would have an army tank…

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