Monday, December 28, 2015

“Where’s Bronner?”

An honest and uncompensated review of Bronner: A Journey to Understand, written by Sherri Burgess.



On Jan. 19, 2008, Sherri Burgess’ life was altered the moment she asked her two sons, “Where’s Bronner?”

In the moments before, Brooks, 8, was playing Wii, Brody, 6, was watching a movie, and Bronner, 2, was playing with toys.

In the moments before, her plan for the rest of the night consisted of giving Bronner a bath and reading to him before bedtime.

In the moments before, her life was charmed and she was a princess living her happily ever after.

“Where’s Bronner?”

The answer would force her on her reluctant journey that offered no respite, no rewards for travel, and no earthly destination. The luggage required for her journey could not be contained in a rolling cart, but in the pages of the most cherished book of her faith. The ticket for her journey had been purchased on her behalf on Calvary.

“Where’s Bronner?”

As she saw him face down in the family swimming pool, she ran to her beloved baby and pulled him from the water. All efforts to breathe life into his body failed.

“My whole life – everything – was over. Not that I had given up yet. I thought he could be revived. I was hoping for resuscitation, but, even so, I knew that from that moment on nothing would ever be the same.” (p. 55)

Her life would never be the same and it was forever altered. However, it was not over. Her days were now measured by the moments before and she plunged into the one thing that had sustained her long before that night – Jesus.

Sherri mercifully prayed for God to save her son. She writes that God not only didn’t answer her prayer, but He knew what was coming.

“He, Himself, allowed it because He knew He could use it to bring glory to His name and to His kingdom, to bring lost souls to Himself, and to refine a couple of Christians who were too caught up in the things of this world.”

In Bronner: A Journey to Understand, you will read the details leading up to that moment the Burgess family was forced to reconcile to the fact Bronner would not be resuscitated. 

And, you will read about the gut-wrenching realization that not all of our prayers are answered in the way that we like. Most of all, you will read about the total dependence on a relationship with Christ.

I heard Sherri speak at a women’s conference at First Baptist Church of Anniston at McClellan a few years ago. What moved me was her love of scripture. She did not allow her grief to define her journey, but rather what God says. As she encouraged the women to be relentless in our pursuit of our Savior, it occurred to me that He had been preparing her for her journey long before Jan. 19, 2008.

Those who do not follow Christ can’t fathom that her unanswered prayer and her complete and total reliance on Christ could sustain her. But, that is the beauty in her journey. 

She writes from honesty, from pain, and she writes from the joy in knowing that when she asks, “Where’s Bronner?” she can answer without hesitation that he is with our Heavenly Father. 

This review is posted on Amazon as a verified purchase.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

For the love of Photoshop...

In my classroom, there are two types of students - those who love Indesign and those who love Photoshop. It's really that simple.

There are also a a few idiosyncratic students who prefer Illustrator, After Effects, and Garage Band. Then, there are those who like Publisher, but we tend to ignore those admirations.

For the most part, it's a clear cut love for either ID or PS.The problem is the love affair is short-lived. There is a 50-minute window in which my students are allowed to learn about the design software and then they must venture back into the undoodled world. Our students have MacBook Air laptops, but they do not have the Adobe Suite on them. So, the endearment is usually confined to the classroom.

So, what can you do? While there is not another application quite like Adobe's Photoshop, there are some alternatives.
  1. Pixlr is for photo editing and effects. Online or offline. Browser based or native app. Mac or Windows, as well as iOS and Android. The toolbar is most similar to Photoshop, so it is the one I prefer students to use outside of class.
  2. Sumo Paint is an online image editor and is focused more on illustrations, rather than photos.  
  3. Gimp is best for photo retouching, image composition, and image authoring. It is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It can be used on Mac or Windows. 
  4. Photoshop Express is by Adobe, but it is limited in that you can only upload a jpeg and it has less features than the full version.
So, this summer, when you are bored and wish to put your photo into the background of a historical picture of JFK or swap your face with a presidential candidate, you have some options.

Peace out. 
Blessings.
T.S.



It's not about you...

I've done everything imaginably wrong as a teacher.

I've called students by the wrong name. In the second semester.
I've lost projects that needed to be graded.
I've given assignments that flat out didn't work.
I've worn my shirt inside out and didn't notice until 6th period.
I've stared at a roomful of teenagers and could see that watching an episode of South of Sunset was more interesting than listening to me.
I've given A's when students didn't deserve it.
I've given F's when students did deserve it.
I've meant to praise more, but allowed paperwork, emails, and phone calls to overwhelm me.
I've allowed negativity to get the best of me some days.
I've written lesson plans and, for educational assistance, Googled objectives, before/during/after, and rubrics and still not understood what I wrote.
The list could go on and on...

In all of my failures, doubting myself, and wondering if I'm doing any good at all, I remember one thing a former journalism professor told me, "It's not about you."

That advice really fits for anything in life. Because, it really isn't about me. It's always about the students. It's why I choose to become a teacher.

When I turned 40, I suppose you could say that becoming a high school teacher was my midlife crisis. Although I was working in my dream job as managing editor of Longleaf Style magazine for The Anniston Star, I left to teach high school. Some celebrated and some pondered my mental status.

Well, I just finished my third year of teaching and I realize there are so many things I would have never learned in a newsroom. (No offense to my former co-workers as you may relate to a lot of these).

  • I've learned how to awkwardly Dougie and to Nae Nae,
  • I've learned that teenagers have dreams, but are sometimes scared to dream.
  • I've learned teenagers may stare blankly at you, but they are listening. Sometimes, they just like to stare.
  • I've learned that there are life lessons in everything. Literally. Just ask my students.
  • I've learned that jumping jacks are a good thing when they are dragging. (Thank you Ron Clark for that validation.)
  • I've learned that it's OK to eat lunch alone, but it's much better when you eat with a friend.
  • I've learned to laugh at my mistakes. Because, honestly, most of the time the students are already laughing.
  • I've learned to listen. I mean "Deer in the headlight" and "I'm not moving until you are finished talking" kind of listening. Sometimes, teenagers just need to be heard.
  • I've learned that teenagers think they are the only ones who make mistakes and they need compassion, not condemnation. 
  • I've learned that F10 is your BFF when you allow students to choose the music.
  • I've learned that when adults believe teenagers are all thinking about immoral and illicit things, some are really thinking about how they will eat that night or if the power will be on when they get home.
  • I've learned that my "last nerve" is really longer than I thought.
  • I've learned that choosing to be "too nice" is always better than the alternative.
  • I've learned that my heart has multiplied. Because every time a student has graduated, a piece of my heart is released into the world. Every new student has filled that empty spot and the growth continues.
So, as I venture into my fourth year of teaching, the main thing I'm going to keep in mind is that, It's not about me. It's about them. I'm going to repeat it over and over and over....

Selfie with some of my students at the 2015 Alabama SkillsUSA competition in Birmingham, AL. We pretty much rocked. 

2017 Edit: I'm completing my fifth year of teaching and I could also add that saying goodbye to students is one of the most difficult encounters in the journey. However, learning about their adventures and moments of the transition from teen years to young adult is so rewarding.

Thanks for reading. Have a blessed day!
Theresa



Monday, February 23, 2015

The Road Paved with Wisdom

I read a sign recently that stated, "Rules are made to break." I used to believe that and I tested it in my youthful days. But, the older I get, the more I cherish the simplicity of living. I don't look at rules as something to keep me out of life, but to keep me alive.

In reading Proverbs 3 recently, it really hit home that God rewards us for our devotion to Him and following the rules He sets for us. It's not for His good, but for ours. Because He loves us.

In reading the wisdom of Proverbs 3, there are 10 things that really stood out to me. Along with the rules God gives, there are 10 rewards when wisdom is the path taken. It's pretty clear that God wants us to treat others with love and kindness. He wants us to trust Him. He wants us to show wisdom in the choices we make.

I've simplified the chapter, but I think you can see clearly when we follow what God has set before us, we will not have shame or doubt littering the road we travel. Instead, our road will be paved with wisdom.

Read Proverbs 3:1-35 here.

1. Don't forget His Commandments.
Reward: Long Life and Peace

2. Be Merciful and Truthful
Reward: Favor and High Esteem with God and man

3. Trust in the Lord
Reward: He will Direct your Way

4. Fear the Lord and Live a Holy Life
Reward: Health and Strength

5. Give First Fruits and Store
Reward: You will be prepared

6. Take Corrections (ouch, this is a difficult one)
Reward: Reveals Love

7. Seek Wisdom and Wise People
Reward: Tree of Life and Happiness

8. Be Wise and Discrete
Reward: Safety, Rest and Peace

9. Be Kind to Others
Reward: Blessings from God

10. Be Humble
Reward: Inherit Glory and No Shame.