Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

The Last Week of School

May 16, 2021

The chalkboard in my classroom displays an over-sized “5” on it! It’s an announcement, a hope, an applauding encourager to indicate that the finish line is in sight. Five more days of school, which could be slimmed down to say there are two more days of instruction and three days of throwing water on thoughts of student dumbness sparking.

Like runners facing the last mile of a marathon foot race while being chased by a herd of confused gerbils, teachers head toward the finish. In the coming few days as they say goodbye to kids who they have bonded with in various ways the last nine months, there will be relief, revelation, and regret.

The relief will come in knowing that a school year like no other is concluding. That is, the trail of the past school year has had as many switchbacks as Barr Trail that leads hikers up Pike’s Peak. The direction and directives then back of one week would be switched for the next week and the other direction the next. Virtual learning, hybrid, remote, quarantines, teachers in quarantine and students in person, cohorts, cafeteria divisions…mercy! it resembled a passenger on Frontier Airlines trying to get to Florida by way of Phoenix, Las Vegas, Houston, Charlotte, and Memphis. Most teachers have adjusted well to the numerous changes, but the mental, physical, and emotional fatigue has begun to show itself. Relief is coming in the form of ten weeks of a different schedule that will be distinguished by fishing destinations, relaxed reading while sitting on a porch swing, lawn mowing, and wondering what in the world to do on an event-less June afternoon?

Revelation will take different forms. It will include revelations of understanding what was and who he/she really was, and revelations about what will be. I’ve discovered that as I ponder each of my students. Some of them have become heartbreakers as I’ve become more familiar with their family situations and home chaos. The school struggles of some and the academic apathy of others are simply ripple effects of what and who have shaped their lives. I can use the safety and coursework of a classroom to try to distract them, but the pain of their brokenness is an ongoing weight on their shoulders. The sobering realization that I can’t have an effect on every student grieves me.

But there’s also the revelation that Johnny Junior, who seemed to annoy you on Day 1, is simply proficient at being annoying. It wasn’t a mistake or miscalculation. Your first-day perception was dead-on! He has pushed your buttons so many times it’s permanently pressed in. He’s Dennis the Menace times ten! In regards to him, you started counting down the days last August. You may already be writing sympathy notes to whoever his eighth-grade teachers are going to be.

And then there are those students who are revelations of hope. On the days that have seemed a week-long, they have brought a grin to your groans, and optimism about their potential. They are the kids who say thank you each day when they leave class and appreciate their teachers’ efforts, the ones who seem to already have a grasp on what is important and what is excess.

Finally, there are the regrets. The list is long and, in some ways, guilt-producing. I regret not understanding my students’ culture more, a dinosaur living in the land of Minecraft. The verbiage sometimes was incomprehensible to my AARP brain. It brought back memories, weird as it sounds, of the semester during my seminary years when I took Hebrew…a square student in a round language hole.

I regret not helping struggling students through the times of remote learning. When I say help I mean being able to come alongside them in their emotional and mental distress, their social isolation. Learning how to organize an essay doesn’t seem very important or pertinent to a student who feels she is in the midst of a long, dark tunnel with no sign of light to indicate its end.

I regret having to say goodbye to the students I bantered with daily, the end of handing out awarded or begged-for Smarties, and the laughter of my teaching team. Our team of four celebrated birthdays, gained pounds by eating our science teacher’s quarter-pounder cookies, saw the social studies teacher learn new teaching tricks, and marveled at our math teacher’s increasing collection of moose-related accessories. I’ll miss them as I fade off into the sunset. And I’ll really, really miss the daily strategizing with and instruction of my South African-accented, long-tenured, and multi-talented co-teacher. We played a rendition of “Good Cop-Bad-Cop”, I being the counselor and she the boot camp drill sergeant. I brought laughter to her daily school life and she brought a new education to one who is more knowledgeable about Tinker Toys than teaching apps!

The last regret is that I’ll be done. Sounds weird…counting down the days, but then having regrets about the school year coming to an end. Sounds more mixed up than a seventh-grader trying to figure out the difference between an idiom, a metaphor, and hyperbole.

The Day Your Oldest Grandchild Hits 13!

May 9, 2021

It’s Mother’s Day! That’s not a revelation to anyone…well, most everyone! I noticed several men rushing into the supermarket this morning at 7:00, passing other rushing males running back out with bouquets of flowers in their hands. The revelation came late for a few, but hopefully before the “shes” woke up!

In our family, however, it’s also the birthday of our oldest grandchild, Jesse Dean Hodges. It is the first day of his emergence into teenager-dom. It culminates “birthday week” for our family: May 5 for me, May 8 for Jesse’s dad, Kevin, and May 9 for “the kid”. Hopefully, Kecia Wolfe Hodges does not feel slighted this year by sharing Mother’s day with a newly-arrived teenager.

Jesse is the reincarnation of his Granddad Wolfe. When I was a 7th grader I stood about 4’6″. I grew to 4’10” by the time I arrived in high school, easily overlooked at Maysville High School and in fear daily of being stuffed into a hallway locker. Likewise, Jesse is not a threat yet to reach something on a top shelf. He’s about 4’8″, a couple of inches ahead of his granddad’s height pace. My growth spurt didn’t come until around my junior year of high school and, suddenly, I was a lanky 5’8″!

Like his granddad, Jesse also has endless energy. Think tree-climbing, fence-bounding squirrel! I met one of his teachers about a week ago in Culver’s (Butterburger, please!). She had been his assessment testing proctor that week and mentioned the chair that Jesse was sitting in that, unfortunately, had wheels on it. In case you don’t understand, a student with limitless energy sitting in a chair with wheels is a bad idea for a testing environment.

At church camp, Jesse is known for his sudden bursts of uninhibited dancing that causes my body to ache just watching. His creativity is a reflection of his mom who used to videotape herself doing made-up monologues dressed as an old lady or an extremely pregnant twenty-something. Jesse’s creativity comes out in sudden brain bursts filled with movement and expression.

Like me now, but unlike me when I was his age, he is an avid reader, consuming books like candy. His reading level is far above most of his classmates. That can be attributed to his mom who is an elementary teacher, who has always stressed reading with her kids.

Like me, Jesse has always been involved in a church fellowship. He’s a follower of Jesus and in the midst of figuring out what that means and how it looks for a middle school kid in a world where there is limited absolute truth. The challenges ahead will be many, but he’s planted into a well-grounded family that has a good balance of guidance, loving concern, and discipline.

This summer I’ll be his camp pastor, something that causes my eyebrows to raise more than it concerns him. Can I let him be himself, not just my grandson? Can I let him be “me” five decades ago? Can I let him breakdance in the midst of singing praise music? Can I let him pass gas and not scold? I think I can, and if I become too much like a stern granddad he can straighten me out.

Happy birthday, Jesse Dean! I hope your entry into the world of teenagers is awesome. I have to admit, however, that the idea of you driving three years from now causes me to quiver!

Middle School Track Meet

May 2, 2021

This past Thursday we had our first middle school track meet since two years ago. In other words, none of our runners, jumpers, and throwers had experienced a meet before. They were all rookies as they surveyed the competition who were in the same boat.

The nerves were quivering at hyper-speed. The hurdles took on the size of eight-foot electric fences. The discus seemed to weigh a ton. Long-jumpers felt like they had lead in their feet.

“Hey! Let’s go out there and have fun! Don’t worry! Just go and do your best and then we’ll have something to go on as we establish goals for our next meet.”

“Coach Wolfe, I’ve never thrown the shot put!” whimpered one girl.

“Neither have I!”, I replied. Her eyes got big. Was I being empathetic or sarcastic? “What’s the worst that could happen?”

“I could lose!”

“No. The worst that could happen is that you never try. Just don’t drop the weight on your foot, remember which direction you’re supposed to throw it, and you’ll do fine.” She nodded her head in partial agreement still halfway in doubt.

“Hey! My college track team had 7 guys on it. We competed in all kinds of crazy events that were outside our comfort zone. I threw the javelin, high-jumped, long-jumped, triple-jumped, ran the mile, the hundred, and a leg of the two-mile relay. It was fun and I’m still alive to talk about it.”

“Will people be watching me when I run?” asked another young lady, hoping that all spectators would suddenly turn their backs and not view her attempt at running half a lap.

“Should I have our announcer ask people to not watch the girl in lane 4?”

“Can you do that?”

“No.”

Smiles emerged from the others in the group. They knew such a request was asinine, the result of an eighth-grade girl’s confused wanting to be seen mixed together with her dread of being watched.

And they did fine! There was the one young lady who hit herself in the mouth with the baton as she ran, but other than that everyone was smiling when the meet finished a couple of hours later. Many of them surprised themselves with their times, jumps, and throws. They didn’t think they were capable, but they found out that their ability was greater than their apprehension.

The next day, one girl who had won every event she competed in wanted to know how many points she had scored for her team. She wasn’t trying to brag. It was actually a revelation to her to realize that there was something that defined her, something that she’s good at. Her older siblings each have their areas where they excel. She had been the uncertain and undefined youngest sibling, a bit discouraged at not standing out in any way. Now her new discovery had traced a smile on her face.

Friday was a day of giggles and the absence of anxiety. They had made it through and not felt out-of-place. They are happy and anxious for next Thursday’s meet. The one girl who was hoping no one would be watching is even okay with momentary glances as long as nobody stares!

The Maturing (Or Not) of Seventh Graders

May 1, 2021

Three weeks remain in the school year. That equals 15 days, or 60 class sessions, or 105 hours pinched in between the opening and closing bells. The students also know these facts. A wave of stupidity usually begins to flow in about this time of the year, sort of like the tide rolling in. It’s the school version of spring fever.

In teaching seventh grade this year I’ve noticed how many of the students have matured. Many have come to understand that they can do excellent work, comprehend what was once incomprehensible, and engage in discussions in ways that make me say “That’s a great point!”

On the flip side of the coin, there are the Goobers who are still committed to pirating the classroom ship and sailing it to the harbor of nonsense. They are the Timmy Little’s and Johnny Davis’s of my RED HOT novel series who cause some of their teachers to grind their teeth and chew on their fingernails.

Seventh grade seems to be the year where the gap widens between those who are growing up and those who aren’t ready to grow up. It’s amusing to me during these past few weeks to notice some of the girls beginning to roll their eyes at the actions of some of their male classmates. I prefer the rolling of the eyes versus the emerging “batting of their eyelashes” that seems to surface in eighth grade.

Some seventh graders have a hard time emerging from their goofiness stage. It’s as much a part of them as that hoodie they’ve worn to school, and throughout the school day, for the whole year. In fact, as a teacher you’ve come to associate the Mountain Dew hoodie with a certain student. At some point the evolution of goofiness into naturally funny or entertaining occurs, but it might not happen until the kid is halfway through high school. Until then, he still has to be reminded to tie his shoes, not pick his nose in class, and take all of his belongings with him when he exits the classroom.

Maturity, however, has arrived like a sunrise for some of my students. I have to admit, most of them, but not all, are females. They seem to find the path through the woods of our assignments easily and navigate without the help of their instructor. Their grades are proof. The girls in my class have a GPA of 2.96, just a good quiz away from a 3 point average. The boys have a GPA of 2.27. Perhaps…perhaps the boys are more proficient in math and science, but maybe their language skills are an indication of the reality of the moment.

Hey! I was one of those 2.27 kids myself when I was in seventh grade! In fact, their were a few report cards that a 2.27 would have been a welcomed great improvement. I matured about four years later…I think! Some days in class is almost like a reminiscing trip to Williamstown (WV) Junior High (7th Grade) and South Zanesville (Ohio) Junior High (8th Grade). We didn’t have cell phones back then, but we did have bored attitudes, restroom infractions, and incredible stupidity!

How might the wind blow the dingey of stupidity in these last fifteen days?

Seventh Grade Trivia

April 24, 2021

As I round the bend and head down the unexpected school year stretch, the final four weeks will be filled with excitement, anticipation, actions by students not thought through, sadness, gladness, push-and-pull, and at least a dozen bags of Smarties.

Smarties are my go-to for awards. I hand them out for the winning entry in “The Most Stupid Answer” contest, where I ask a question and encourager the students to think of the most ridiculous response possible for it. It takes some smarts to think really dumb.

Another Smart competition that happens daily is answering the daily trivia question. For that one I have the students work together as table-mates (3 or 4 sitting at a quad table) to provide an answer. Sometimes the answers are thought through and perspective…and sometimes they aren’t.

This past week I asked the question “What is the fruit that has the highest amount of sugar?” No one answered correctly in my first class, or my second class, or my third class. When my last class was given the question they talked to their table-mates about it. “Okay! Let’s start with Quad 1! What do you think?”

“Mango.”

“Quad 2?”

“Mango.”

“Quad 3?”

“Mango.”

“Quad 4?”

“Mango.”

“Quad 5?”

“Mango.”

Something was smelling and it wasn’t the aroma of a mango. I looked around the classroom at a crowd of smiling faces. “Okay! The correct answer is mango.” Cheers!

“So we all get Smarties?”

“Yes, but I’ve got a feeling you may have had some help in finding out that answer.”

Confession is good for the soul, and they all pointed at one girl in the class who had found out the answer from a friend who was in the first class of the day and informed all of her classmates about it.

“Does this mean we don’t get Smarties?” came the pitiful plea.

“No, I applaud your ingenious efforts at finding a way to discover the answer without really being knowledgable about the subject.” I passed out the Smarties and then said, “And I guess I’ll need to change the trivia question for you all from now on.” Guilty groans echoed through the room as they bit into their Smarties.

Yesterday I switched the question for them. The question was “how many pounds of cheese does the average American eat in a year?” The answer is 34 pounds, but no one in the class was within a block of cheddar of getting it right. In fact, one table’s answer was- get this!- 13,000 pounds a year! That averages out to 36.6 pounds of cheese consumed each day. That’s about half of the body weight of one of the boys in the class.

I said, “A person might as well put his bed down by the cheese aisle in the supermarket!” It could have been the winning answer to the Most Stupid Answer contest. Sometimes seventh-graders are right on target and sometimes they are like a balloon that you let loose and it goes crazy in the air as it dispenses its air.

At any rate, I hand out Smarties like Santa Claus hands out candy canes. I’ve still got about 250 Dum-Dum’s also, but the sucker isn’t conducive to our mask-wearing environment. My fear is that I’ll go to the supermarket and the Smarties shelf will be barren, picked clean, sold out. After all, I’ve only got a reserve supply of about 400!

When the Help Stops the Help

April 18, 2021

When the pandemic hit in full force, afflicting people’s help, crippling businesses, and causing uncertainty about the days ahead, the government stepped in several times and provided financial assistance. The stimulus bill put money into bank accounts, helped pay the bills and the landlord. And then there was the financial help for businesses that kept the doors open.

And now the help may have had a boomerang effect. Unemployment checks of $600 don’t run out until September, but businesses are in need of employees now. I viewed a national news report tonight about businesses that are now able to reopen their doors, increase their hours and services, but unable to find people willing to be hired. Several voiced their opinion on what the problem is: The amount of the unemployment checks make work less necessary.

I can understand that. And yet, I’m uneasy as I think about it. Even though the assistance came from the government is there an understanding…a responsibility…to reciprocate when the need arises? Maybe that sounds strange or even optimistically naive. Perhaps it’s even rooted in my Christian values and how my parents raised me, the idea that because I’ve received I give back.

My son, who’s a restaurant chef, talks about how hard it was to let most of his staff go last April when dining was halted. With a staff that was less than twenty percent of what they had been at his restaurant survived, although it was touch-and-go. Now the struggles are because he can’t find help and is working himself to the bone. Another restaurant owner talked about the fact that his establishment has had to reduce hours and is only open four days a week.

So what happens in September when the unemployment checks run out but the summer rush for many businesses is already over? That’s four months away, you know, like in another lifetime. In the mean time, the uncertainty of businesses’ futures is causing a lot of owners and current employees uneasiness. Weird, because of the fact that their anxiety is due to whether they can provide the kind of services that people have come to expect when they want to receive it.

In a convoluted sort of way, it revolves around the idea of caring for one another. When one of the links in the chain folds its hands the chain of concern, care, and even sense of community is broken.

By now some of you are either with me or are beginning to think I’m deranged. I admit that I have been influenced and drawn to the words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 8 where Paul writes about a group of churches, who even though they were themselves in need took care of others in other places in need. The first four verses say:

“And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.  In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.  For I testify that they gave as much as they were able,and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own,  they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people.” (NIV translation)

I realize we are a culture of self-absorbed individuals ready to receive what we may not have earned, but in my prayers I hope for the hearts of the helped to be turned toward the helpless– those who a few months ago were writing their paychecks.

Knowing When It’s Me or It’s the Culture

April 11, 2021

I haven’t always been the best judge of what is right and what is wrong, or, more relevant for these times, what is just and what is extreme. It goes all the way back to high school and having parents who were strict in what I was allowed to do and not do. I often complained to my friends about my lack of freedom. Being Baptist and having strict parents was often compared to being a juvenile delinquent with handcuffs on.

Years later, and in the reflection stage of having raised three of our own kids, I realize that my parents had a very good grasp of the wheel that charted our family’s vessels through a mixture of smooth and rough waters. Wisdom is often defined as stupidity by those who tend to drift into dumb waters.

And now we live in the midst of tumultuous times filled with difficult decisions. People are being asked to answer higher-level questions that are criticized by one side and praised by another. Questions such as “Do I get vaccinated?”, and “Do I believe everything that I’m being told I need to do to protect myself and others from COVID-19?” And the questions persist into other areas, such as “How open should our borders be?”, “In a social dispute should all the blame be laid on one side, or are should both parties involved have a share in the problem?”, “Should there be gun control and what is too much government regulation?”, “Should the tax burden be placed more on our shoulders now or placed on the backs of the next several generations?”, “Is college tuition debt something that should be eased or not?”

The questions could fill up a Jeopardy screen. The answers range from conservative perspectives to liberal leans.

The quandary for me and others who are on a journey with Jesus is discerning what is a culture cry and what is a Christ-cry? After all, the cry of the public was to crucify Jesus. He was too radical, too “out there” for His time. The establishment saw Him as a threat, even though He was voicing the thoughts of God.

For us, when we sense that inner-uneasiness, how can we tell if the squirming we’re experiencing is the whispering of the Holy Spirit or a ripple effect of our life experiences? Is it a holy uneasiness or a shaking of the tree that contains all the ways we were raised?

When it’s the Holy Spirit speaking to us, how do we speak in non-judgmental, loving ways that convey our convictions? How do we reflect the Christ we follow and are rooted to without sounding like an arrogant, pious church-goer? How do we speak with other followers of Christ who differ in their opinion from ours? Are we able to see each other as spiritual siblings who simply disagree without attacking one another’s salvation status?

After all, even the disciples of Jesus didn’t always agree. They got into arguments and discussions about who amongst them was the greatest, who was supposed to provide the food for the crowd of people gathered to hear Jesus, who was at fault…the afflicted or their sinful parents? Jesus had to change a few of their opinions in the time He mentored them.

Maybe some of our opinions…some of my perspectives also need to be changed…while others are rightfully anchored to the Rock.

Come to the Table, Would Ya’?

April 3, 2021

The Georgia Voting Restrictions that were recently passed has caused quite the stir, like two Ultimate Fighters seeking to pummel the opponent on the other side while never acknowledging their weaknesses.

As I looked for information on the restrictions, rationale and also rationale for being opposed to them, I noticed a few disheartening things. Most of the news sources were more about convincing the reader of the validity of the changes or how oppressive they were. It was hard to find a news source whose purpose was to simply report the news and leave it to the reader to make up their own mind about it.

And then there were the political advocates and opponents! Each of the two prominent political parties brings quotes and slammed to the situation that seek to convince the reader of the righteousness of their position. Sometimes what is being said isn’t the whole story, but rather just enough to cause there reader to be swayed.

And here’s the thing! I believe I speak for millions of Americans in saying “We just want our politicians to come to the table…maybe break bread together and they’re talking about what is and what can be, not politicking.

Both sides have good points and both sides need to share in the blame. However, the perception put forward is that one side is always right and the other side is always wrong.

When Paul said, “All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God…” he wasn’t thinking of Republicans and Democrats, but it still seems relevant. Political parties are about power and persuasion, not about peace and progress.

And that’s what’s so frustrating for me as a citizen, to see two agendas that are miles apart and a resistance to compromise and common sense. Compromise seems to be seen as a sign of weakness and vulnerability and common sense is like the index that is restricted to the end of the book.

Call me an old-timer. I just remember the old days when a community made up of different people with different beliefs and opinions would still be able to come together for the common good. Yes, I’m that old…and yet I still believe it’s possible!

The Testing of Patience

March 31, 2021

Being pulled into a full year of teaching seventh-grade language arts has been an interesting and energizing experience for me. I’m an almost-67-year-old rookie who hangs out with 12 and 13 year olds five days a week. Some of my students when discovering my age have ribbed me with comments like “Forget your walker today, Mr. Wolfe?” and “Don’t fall and hurt yourself!” They say things like that with smiles on their faces, not really intending to be disrespectful. Bottom line, it’s been a good journey that I’m glad to be a part of.

Education this year is more about the journey and not so much about the content. Knowledge and understanding are happening, but awareness of the emotional, mental, and social aspects of our student’s lives have risen to the top of the priority pole.

One of the dilemmas that schools face this year that has become another aspect that is out of their control is the mandating of assessment testing. Irregardless of all the other stressing situations and despite the fact that some school districts are still not back to in-person learning, the edict has come down that states and their school districts will be required to administer assessment tests. There is much debate, discussion, and heated dialogue as to the need for it. In a stressed-out school calendar year it means taking two to three days to find out where students are most deficient. For many school districts across the country that means testing will happen shortly after students have finally come back to in-person learning.

Our school is expecting that the parents of about half of our 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students will opt their children out of the testing. In essence, the data from those who test will be incomplete and inclusive. In my view of those who have opted out so far, it seems that parents who are more engaged in their child’s learning consider testing to be an unnecessary and ill-timed intrusion into the education journey for this school year.

But schools have been mandated to do it…even when half won’t be there. For those in our school who opt out, they will be given assignments to do asynchronously those days at home.

The arguments in support or opposition bring out the passion in the opinionated. Those who support testing seem to say that we need the data to see how much ground we’ve lost. It’s an indicator, a tool to help guide the next school year. Those opposed say that it’s not what is good for kids right now. It’s the pull of the structure versus the sanity of our students. Preserving the structure has a tendency to take on a sacredness to it, kind of like cursive writing. Or better yet, the placement of the letters on our laptop keyboard that was determined back when typewriters had all of those annoying arms that would become entangled if someone typed too fast. The letters were arranged to slow down the typist. Guess what we still use in this age of laptops? The slowest keyboard design known to mankind! That’s the firmness that structure can sometimes have.

Evaluating what has been has value to it. Assessing has merit. Sometimes, however, you just need to take the extra garments off because the temperature doesn’t warrant them being worn. Wrap the sweater around your waist and use it next time.

Drywall and Thankfulness

March 28, 2021

The call came from my oldest daughter, Kecia. Carol and I had left Colorado Springs Friday morning for a few days of vacation in Arizona, where her four siblings were rendezvousing. It was a welcome break from the snowstorms and blizzard we had recently had.

On Monday morning, my cell phone rang indicating that Kecia was calling me. Her first words stunned me: “Dad, I’ve got some bad news!” Her voice had an emotional tremor to it, and my first thought was that something had happened to one of the grandkids. I waited in the two-second pause that crept by. “There was a leak in your upstairs bathroom and it’s flowed down into the family room. The drywall has water coming out from it and the carpet and couch are soaked.”

“Oh, okay!” She was relieved at my unemotional response. “That’s fine! I’ll call my insurance agent and talk to them about what we need to do.”

“I’m sorry, Dad.”

“Honey, it’s only drywall and stuff. I thought you were going to say that something happened to one of your kids. We can replace drywall, but we can’t replace Jesse, Reagan, or Corin!”

Perspective. Sometimes it’s hard to keep the right one. “Stuff” becomes our focus so often. The commercials I watch on TV usually try to tell me that my life needs more “stuff”…well, that is if I had a TV to watch right now, since the one in the family room got baptized. I guess that would have been a Methodist baptism…it just kept getting sprinkled!

Life situations happen that bring us back to what is important. Saying goodbye to my friend Lessley was more important than picking up sale items at the store. Being about to fly back to Ohio ago to spend my dad’s last day with him was far more important that the inflated plane ticket price. Having a phone conversation with my friend, Dave Volitis, is far more valuable than the time I take to talk with him.

“Stuff” doesn’t amount to a hill of beans when it comes to the inconvenient events of our journeys. The joy and celebration of our family opening Christmas presents will be remembered far, far longer than what the actual gifts were that got unwrapped. People are the gifts. Conversations are the seasoning.

And so I said to Kecia, “Oh, okay!” It was not our idea as to how to get rid of the popcorn ceiling in the family room, but I guess that’s a ripple-effect blessing that will come from this unexpected baptism.