Monday, October 29, 2012

My Quest

In the spirit of TJEd's 'Inspire Not Require' and 'You, Not Them', I've written an essay for my English 121 students at Ashford University following the same criteria they do for their first assignments (draft and final). This doesn't totally follow the APA formatting because it's a blog! But it's close. They have another draft and final essay later, but they're changing the course after this class, so I simply won't be that inspiring. =/

My Masters Quest
Verena Beckstrand
October 29, 2012

Over fifteen years ago I began pondering what I would do after I graduated from BYU in Humanities the next summer. I felt hungry to keep learning, but in a way that I could use to serve other people. Digging around the BYU Masters of Instructional Science caught my eye and by the fall of 1996 I was enrolled in the program. Just over a year later I was a newlywed and pregnant with my first child. Despite all of my efforts, I had to abandon the program. Ten years later I applied to the Masters of Education program at GWU in Cedar City. This time I never had the money to even start. I still really want to get a Masters of Education, but I must wait until I find the right program to fit my particular needs and interests in regards to Education, for the right time because I want to make sure I have done everything I can to prepare myself to make the most of my Masters program, and I need to have enough money and time to pay for tuition and complete the course work.
I love learning. I can’t remember a time when I haven’t looked at my teachers, whether they be school teachers, church teachers, seminar teachers or what have you, with a critical eye. Furthermore, I love to look outside the ‘box’ for solutions to learning experiences. I love my 5th grade teacher who pinned a dead fly to the ceiling for my classmate, who was forever dreamily looking at the ceiling, could have something to look at. My older sister started home schooling her children when I was in my early teens, and I have never looked back. I love having my children home with me, and I love teaching them; though admittedly I also love learning about learning through them almost as much as I love watching them learn. I must wait until I find a program that will help me learn about learning without all the requirements that a ‘box’ puts on learning.
I am constantly learning about education. I have the list of books from the GWU Masters of Education classes. I have read some of them, and I want to read more. I follow several blogs about education. Seth Godin has a lot of great things to say on his blog at . I also enjoy reading The Innovative Educator blog at, and the Thomas Jefferson Education blog at among several others. While in China I thought a lot about learning a language. I wrote down my thoughts and feelings not only while learning Chinese, which I knew almost nothing of before we went there, but also while teaching English to some children there. I am also pondering and researching my own theories of learning in a book I hope to write some day. So often I wish I could already have my Masters done. Sometimes I think that all of things I’m learning about education and all of the ideas I’m working on concerning learning would be easier if I already had my Masters of Education. But even though I hate waiting to have or even start my Masters of Education, I know that I will be better prepared to make the most of the opportunity when it does come.
The most frustrating and even boring reasons I have for not working on my Masters of Education is money and time. The economy has hit us about as hard as anyone in the past few years. We simply have too many basic necessities that we aren’t meeting for me to even consider adding tuition to the list of bills to pay. I really will hate sacrificing time with my family. Still, wouldn’t I be a much better home school mom if I already had my Masters? (NOT that I think every home school mom even needs any educational training. I think WAY too far out of the box for me to believe that a requirement.) I hope that I will not have to wait until all of my kids are raised and gone before I can get my Masters degree.
So I wait. I wait and I study and I serve my children as their partner in learning in the best way I know how. I know that someday I will find the right program to fit my particular needs and interests in regards to Education. Someday I will have done everything I can to prepare myself to make the most of my Masters program, and someday I really will have enough money and time to pay for tuition and complete the course work. After all, as my BYU Professor, the late Dr. Dillon Inouye said, “What is God, if he's not an Instructional Designer?”

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Journal Entry: Sunday, October 7th

          I feel numb and exhausted. I didn’t even want to sing during the rest hymns of General Conference today. I usually love singing the rest hymns. I still think I’m in denial, however, about how I’m feeling. … Guess I’d better quit trying to understand why I’m feeling this way and just face it and work through it. “The pressure of my life [are just] weighing me down,” as Lolly on The Weed said yesterday. I like what she has to say, and I like what a friend told her, “You know that you don’t have to earn God’s love. He doesn’t determine His love for you with a tally sheet of all your good deeds.” And the outcome of hearing her friend tell her that is also relieving to me: 
“It all comes down to my personal relationship with Heavenly Father. He loves me unconditionally and I love Him. I show my love for Him through my actions. I am obedient to His commandments and I serve His children in need. I do this not because I’m worried about what other people might think. Not because I’m trying to earn His love. I do what I do because I love Him. That, in and of itself, is enough to relieve my burdens.”
I’ve thought about Unconditional Love off and on through the years. I’m not sure that Mormons do such a great job of communicating it to others, the DUTY speaks so loudly sometimes. I wonder if the world doesn’t wonder about all of our Duties as Pollyanna did:
Pollyanna sighed now—she believed she was going to hate that word—duty. "Aunt Polly, please," she called wistfully, "isn't there ANY way you can be glad about all that—duty business?"
Duty has certainly been speaking very, very loudly to me lately, and it is a powerful force for action.

But maybe Love should speak louder.


Friday, August 10, 2012

A Great question of Necessity

When does a luxury legitimately (i.e. in God's eyes) become a necessity?

When does buying clothes, electronics, or taking a trip or time and money for leisure cross this line?

How do we know when something is an extravagance or something that just gives us breathing room to keep going when life is otherwise all about holding your breath and just hanging on?

How can we possibly answer these questions for other people?


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Timely Truth for an Overworked Worry Wart

Risk, fear and worry  
by Seth Godin Jul 24, 2012  
They're not the same.  
Risk is all around us. When we encounter potential points of failure, we're face to face with risk. And nothing courts risk more than art, the desire to do something for the first time--to make a difference.  
Fear is a natural reaction to risk. While risk is real and external, fear exists only in our imagination. Fear is the workout we give ourselves imagining what will happen if things don't work out.  
And worry? Worry is the hard work of actively (and mentally) working against the fear. Worry is our effort to imagine every possible way to avoid the outcome that is causing us fear, and failing that, to survive the thing that we fear if it comes to fruition.  
If you've persuaded yourself that risk is sufficient cause for fear, and that fear is sufficient cause for worry, you're in for some long nights and soon you'll abandon your art out of exhaustion. 
On the other hand, you can choose to see the three as completely separate phenomena, and realize that it's possible to have risk (a good thing) without debilitating fear or its best friend, obsessive worry.  
Separate first, eliminate false causation, then go ahead and do your best work. 
So timely. My worries and my fears need a permanent vacation, especially now as our family faces even more uncertainty. Hopefully this will help others as well. 


I really do want…

"I really do want world peace." 

Replace this line of Sandra Bullock's character from the end of “Miss Congeniality” with this one:

"It really is all about letting go of pride and trusting in God's Greatness enough to allow Him to gently teach me and help me Do whatever is next to help me become like Him."

Sometimes you get to the place where you really believe what you once thought crazy.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Got Needs?

Why is it that when you ask some people for help (and even offering to pay them for that help), they think you want a lecture on how to avoid needing their help?

Maybe what they’re really saying is that they really need some help but don’t know how to ask for it nor even what it is they really need.

When a person has a need (internally or externally created) for help from someone, they have amazing ways of communicating that need if we really listen. 

… And sometimes they just tell you the boring way, with words.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

More Tossing

 Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.
Tony Schwartz, author, speaker, and founder of The Energy Project

I think I found this on Facebook a while ago, and I’ve kept it around until I could really make it mine by writing about it.

“Let go of certainty” speaks as though from Him who also said, “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee” Psalm 55:22. More tossing. Knowing that the Lord is a good catch gives me hope of release.

“The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides.” This tells me that I don’t need to carry the burdens that keep me from His promised joy and wonder and love in life.

“The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.” Can there be any greater challenge? Any greater burden? Anything that feels less certain?

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen. Moroni 7:48

If you get to a place where you find it difficult even to keep breathing. That place where everything feels overwhelming, and everywhere you turn you falter no matter how good or right your life should be.

If you get to that place, stop. Stop asking. Stop planning. Stop evaluating. Stop doing. Release. Reach out. Re-connect. Toss out the certainties that weigh us down and seek instead to be filled with His love.

The ultimate challenge is to Trust Him and sincerely and Faithfully reach out to Him in the midst of our struggles and our burdens and feel God’s love for us. Allow Him to sustain you, and heed His tender guiding hand as you learn and grow.

But start with tossing.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Tossing Stones

 Hmmmmm . . .
Do I have enough?

...OK, so maybe I'm exaggerating a little. =]


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Teasing the Positive

Amplify the positive outliersThe most efficient way to get the behavior you're looking for is to find positive deviants and give them a platform, a microphone and public praise. Seth Godin

I really hate the ‘change your attitude, change your life’ thoughts and quotes and junk. Really hate them. For me it just smacks too much of just ignoring the bad stuff and forcing life to be good. 

Godin's thoughts somehow over come that for me. 

Because they also speak of the good coming from outside of one self, good that one doesn’t have to create, just good that one needs tease in to taking center stage. 

Because sometimes there’s really not a lot of good going on inside no matter how hard one tries.

And because sometimes persistent teasing is the only thing one is capable of doing reliably. 

Now if only I can stay on target with my amplifications and teasing . . .


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Good Godin!

Recently my niece introduced me to Seth Godin’s blog. I’ve read his books, Tribes and Stop Stealing Dreams, and I’m loving his blog. He’s like a modern day Emerson. Here’s a few of his recent posts and my comments:
Note for note 
I'm listening to an obscure CD of the Silver Beats , a group of four Japanese lads who play note for note renditions of Beatles songs. They don't speak a word of English. And yet they sing beautifully. 
I saw them as an opening act a few years ago, and the novelty was extraordinary. 
The thing is, I don't want to see them again. Why would I? It's note for note. No chance for random rhapsodic moments. No chance for total disaster. 
Part of the magic of our work is that it's not guaranteed. As soon as it is, we can digitize it or mechanize it or outsource it.

So not being a guaranteed happy mom is just job security??

Amplify the positive outliers 
The most efficient way to get the behavior you're looking for is to find positive deviants and give them a platform, a microphone and public praise. 
The tribe is hyper-aware of what's being celebrated, and when you celebrate those that are moving in the right direction, you create a powerful push in that direction. It's tempting to spend your time extinguishing bad behaviors, but in fact, spreading the word about the superstars is far more likely to change the culture of your market.
AND another reason not to wallow in what I’m doing wrong or what others are doing are or what is just wrong. Seems I need lots of reminders about this, and I’m grateful God continues to tell me in new ways.

"I don't even know what I'm afraid of" 
This is the fear that kills brands and b2b sales and individual creativity. It's the fear without a name, without a face, without false facts that can be shot down or arguments that can be reasoned with. 
This is the amygdala firing, the lizard brain being triggered without rational explanation. 
When we are wrestling against the elusive and resilient fear with no name, often the only choice is to live with it, to care enough about forward motion and practical progress that we can come embrace the inner trembling that won't give up. 
In market after market paralyzed with fear, this trembling might be the very best sign that you're on to something.
I’m struggling with fears concerning several issues in my life. Godin gives me understanding and tools here to keep moving.

Compared to magical 
The easiest way to sell yourself short is to compare your work to the competition. To say that you are 5% cheaper or have one or two features that stand out--this is a formula for slightly better mediocrity. 
The goal ought to be to compare yourself not to the best your peers or the competition has managed to get through a committee or down on paper, but to an unattainable, magical unicorn. 
Compared to that, how are you doing?
This reminds me of a previous blog post about seeing goals as Stars rather than Sticks. I’m praying for ways to have a vision of Stars so that I can keep moving with some of my cherished goals.

Check out his blog! You just might be inspired too!


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Weeding in Wisdom & Order

Yesterday Rob left for another business trip on an overnight sleeper and will get home Friday morning. I was really, really worn out, and his leaving was really hard. As much as I prayed and worked to stay on top of things, I finally sent the kids to bed early and retreated to my bedroom. I did a little Chinese study and then watched a movie. I went to bed still choking in my frustrations. 

Emails to and from dear friends helped, and this morning I read Alma 6 about establishing order in the church. They wrote off the prideful and welcomed the repentant. Then they sought to preach the Gospel to ALL and prayed continually for those who knew not God. As I read I wondered in awe at God’s ability to order His church for our best growth. And I also wondered if that pattern could apply to how I bring order to those desires I was nurturing in my life. 

It did. I found great relief in weeding out desires currently based on pride and welcoming in desires that met my goals to best serve my family and not run faster than was needful (Mosiah 4:27). I can still pray for the right opportunity to meet the desires that had previously been based on pride. The main activity I weeded was a simple activity really, but one that, given my current situation, can only be met if I put pride first. Right now prayer really is the best way to meet the need I was pridefully trying to meet at the wrong time and in the wrong way. And God answered another prayer, that of easing my burden even in the midst of other struggles we are facing as a family (Mosiah 24:13-15 and hopefully soon 16).

Sigh. Such a sweet miraculous peace that comes from a truly wonderful and loving Father in Heaven. If you have desires that need weeding and feel so inspired, try following the pattern found in Alma 6!


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Imaginary Book Club: Walking Drum

I miss reading books with my home school friends. I have a book club here in China, but it's not the same, and of course nothing can compare to the legendary HAPE Group. Anyway, my antidote to this current lack is to share my random thoughts here about the book I just finished reading and writing about.

What is it about some stories that feel soo beyond normal, and yet connect they so profoundly with life? Maybe it takes a story that is beyond normal to pull normal out of it's doldrums into something more profound.

Mathurin Kerbouchard reminds me of Thoreau, though partly because a friend just told of finishing Walden. He has great insights, but so many of his life goals are so different from mine . . . And yet so much the same.

Here's some quotes I really liked. I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of these:

"To get my money back would not be enough. They had taken months of my life, and for this they would pay. For who is content to get only his capital back from an investment? There must be profit also." (Kindle Locations 641-643) This idea that anything we don't like can be an investment has been enlightening and empowering to me in helping me overcome some really dumb habits.

Another way to know someone by their fruits: “You have made a powerful enemy, but a man may be judged by who his enemies are, and their power.” (Kindle Locations 1694-1695)

“Trust your instincts. Life teaches us much of which we are not aware. Our senses perceive things that do not impinge upon our awareness, but they lie dormant within us and affect our recognition of people and conditions. But you must be patient. In impatience there is danger." (Kindle Locations 1734-1735) This quote reminds me of Market-Based Education and makes me wonder what the implications are for teachers.

"stop nowhere without finding a way out, a means of escape." (Kindle Location 1899) I've pondered this one a great deal as well in my daily life.

“Explorers and discoverers are often those who draw attention to what simple people have been doing for years. I doubt if any land has ever been found where some hunter, fisherman, or trader had not been before.” (Kindle Locations 3016-3017) So it's really the simple people who lead out and the explorers and discoverers just follow them. I wonder what the simple people are discovering today?

“I dare say anything,” I replied more cheerfully, “because I have a fast horse." (Kindle Location 4372) Just a really great quotable quote.

"Civilization was born of curiosity, and can be kept alive in no other way." (Kindle Locations 4473-4474) There are so many great quotes about learning in this book. I can't cite them all.

"There is no cause worth dying for that is not better served by living." (Kindle Location 4533) I agree with this quote IF what we are dying for dies also. Otherwise, I disagree. If we die that something else can live, then it is worth dying. What that 'something' may be, which could be a variety of things only God understands.

"the spirit of inquiry was alive here, and where it has a free existence, ignorance cannot last." (Kindle Locations 4544-4545) All learning begins in freedom and with questions.

"How much could I tell them? How much dared I tell them? What was the point at which acceptance would begin to yield to doubt? For the mind must be prepared for knowledge as one prepares a field for planting, and a discovery made too soon is no better than a discovery not made at all." (Kindle Locations 4553-4555) This appears to be one of the most crucial questions a teacher should ask themselves.

“Study, Julot, gain prestige, and people will ask you solemnly for advice about things of which you know nothing.” (Kindle Locations 4659-4660) My internal cynic loves this one.

“That drum has been our pulse, and often have I wondered what it is that starts the drum of a man’s life to beating? For each of us walks to the beat of our own drum, an unheard rhythm to all our movements and thought." (Kindle Locations 5748-5750) This begs the question of 'What drum am I walking to???'

"EVIL COMES OFTEN to a man with money; tyranny comes surely to him without it." (Kindle Location 6150) I wonder if there are other things that keeps a man from tyranny besides just money? This entire book is about how learning can keep tyranny at bay.

“There are always the shores beyond, for this have the gods given to men: that we shall always have those farther shores, always a dream to follow, always a sea for questing. For in this only is man great, that he must seek what lies beyond the horizons, and there is an infinity of horizons that lie ever waiting. Only in seeking is man important, seeking for answers, and in the shadow he leaves upon the land.” (Kindle Locations 6273-6276) This quote epitomizes why this book drives me nuts in some says. Literally, I completely disagree with this. Figuratively, I completely agree. Nuts.

"Our lives hold a veil between anticipation and horror. Anticipation is the carrot suspended before the jackass to keep him moving forward. Horror is what he would see if he took his eyes off the carrot.” (Kindle Locations 6460-6462) AND another one for my cynic. It makes me laugh.

“The mob always wishes to make its hero the emperor, but no sooner is he emperor than they have another hero they wish in his place." (Kindle Locations 6465-6466) This reminds me of all the fads that people cling to, particularly fads from experts like what drugs are safe, how to parent, and what conspiracy theory will destroy us next.

There was once a man who preferred to visit a city before he learned the language. He believed he could better estimate its quality before hearing the comments of its citizens. He depended on what he could see, hear, and sense.” (Kindle Locations 6572-6574) AND some people get to learn this whether they want to or not. ;)

"He who would see a far land must carry the far land in his heart. The heat, dust, and struggle are a part of it; these were what made the beauties worth having." (Kindle Locations 6650-6651) This reminds me of Oliver DeMille's article, "Educational Pioneers" and Shadowlands. No joy or pain without the other, no progress without leaving something behind.

“To challenge the fates, that is living! To ride the storm, to live daringly, to live nobly, not wasting one’s life in foolish, silly risks, or ruining the brain with too much wine, or with hashish!" (Kindle Locations 7462-7463) One thing I love about this legend is that it challenges me to see my humble life, where even living in China, my biggest challenge isn't China but trusting God and being humble and loving my children and my fellow man, as a grand adventure.

"The weak can be terrible when they wish to appear strong" (Kindle Location 8003) Just a really good one to remember. We certainly see it a lot here in China.

"When one has lost his freedom it is always a long walk back." (Kindle Location 8082) Something to prepare for.

Love you, Keelee, Angela, & Deulene and all the others who joined that HAPE adventure!!


*L'Amour, Louis (2005-04-26). The Walking Drum. Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

. . . AND pressing on

In case anyone else is having trouble pressing on as I have, here's a few thoughts from my journal yesterday that might help.

I feel numb with frustration. I feel so stuck here right now… more humility is needed I suppose. I feel like I’m praying for the wrong thing. There are so many aspects of every situation. I don’t think God wants solutions to be easy. He wants us to understand the depth and nuances within each situation. Sometimes recording the details of events is so overwhelmingly tedious. I tire of facing those details each day, and I dread the discipline of rehashing them here.
            OK, and coming to church should help too.... [I was traveling to church by subway while writing this. The rest I wrote that night at home.]
            It did. Well, the opening song at Seminary Graduation finally put me over the top. Sometimes you’re just so miserable that everything just looks grey and you feel so numb and caught up in an unending cycle of hurt and confusion and frustration. That’s when you just hold on and pray until the light and the peace come. For some reason that came to me today through the hymn “Let Us All Press On” as the opening song in the graduation ceremonies. 

1.               Let us all press on in the work of the Lord, That when life is o'er we may gain a reward; In the fight for right let us wield a sword, The mighty sword of truth.
[Chorus] Fear not, though the enemy deride; Courage, for the Lord is on our side. We will heed not what the wicked may say, But the Lord alone we will obey.
2.       We will not retreat, though our numbers may be few When compared with the opposite host in view; But an unseen pow'r will aid me and you In the glorious cause of truth.
3.       If we do what's right we have no need to fear, For the Lord, our helper, will ever be near; In the days of trial his Saints he will cheer, And prosper the cause of truth.
Text and music: Evan Stephens, 1854–1930

I’m also thinking of the quote from President Hinckley that I shared last Sunday in my RS lesson:
As a Church, we encourage gospel scholarship and the search to understand all truth. Fundamental to our theology is belief in individual freedom of inquiry, thought, and expression. Constructive discussion is a privilege of every Latter-day Saint. 
But it is the greater obligation of every Latter-day Saint to move forward the work of the Lord, to strengthen His kingdom on the earth, to teach faith and build testimony in that which God has brought to pass in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times. (May 2012 New Era in this month's New Era entitled,"Any Questions?" by David A Edwards)
Sometimes you just get in a funk of asking questions of yourself and feeling overwhelmed and you need help getting back in the boat and on your way and back to work. That’s what Sundays and temples and spouses and friends of the heart are all about—all working for the Father of us all. 

Thank you Sundays and temples and spouses and friends of the heart and the Father of us all! Pressing on!


Here's another quote Rob shared this morning that might also help someone else as it helped me:

“The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude.”
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (1917–2008), “Come What May, andLove It,” Ensign, Nov. 2008, 28.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

GREAT questions & answers

If you judge people, you have no time to love them. Mother Teresa

If you judge someone, you answer life’s Great questions for someone else.

Nothing is more powerful in someone’s life than answering a Great question.

Which questions are yours and which belong to someone else to answer?


I love you!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Working Hard & Hardly Working

Sometimes it’s difficult to know whether one should work hard being content with their lot, or if one should work hard at changing their lot.

Thankfully, working hard at anything good is its own reward.

. . . Is that why those days when working hard is hardly working are so frustrating?


Friday, April 13, 2012

"Worst Case Scenario . . ."

'Worst Case Scenario' is really a misnomer.

If we believe in the goodness of God, then we should consider any worst case scenario as really only another Great scenario.

The Greatness of a 'worst case scenario' is simply so different from that of a best case scenario, however, that . . . well, it's just too Great for our understanding until we've actually experienced it!

Great . . . ;)


P.S. Before anyone asks, I'm not experiencing, nor my family either, any unusual 'worst case scenarios'. This just sprang from my own naturally random thoughts.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Franging

Easter snuck up on us this year, which has happened before, but here in China that mistake is less forgivable. Then this morning I got a second chance to feel like the Easter Bunny while practicing the fine art of franging, and I realized that the evidence of Easter is everywhere.

Yes, He really, really lives.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Real Teaching & Real Learning

I’m passionate about education, and I’m passionate about teaching. I’m passionate because I love learning, and I love teaching. Sometimes I’m even good at learning. I hate it too though. And very often I’m pretty miserable at both. But the world needs great learning and great teaching. So I must tenaciously seek to fulfill my mission in regards to education and learning. In the process I’m grateful for God’s servants to help us understand His Truth in regards to Teaching and Learning. In the October, 2011 LDS General Conference Matthew O. Richardson gave a talk entitled, Teaching after the Manner of the Spirit. The following quotes are from this talk:
 I have learned that a key to becoming real in every aspect of our lives is our ability to teach in a way that does not restrict learning. You see, a real life requires real learning, which depends on real teaching.
In another post, I admitted that I hate teaching, mostly because I’m overly sensitive to anything that even remotely smacks of non-real teaching. Overly. Enough that I simply walk away from such teaching when I should find a way to help the world have more real teaching and more real learning.
While we are all teachers, we must fully realize that it is the Holy Ghost who is the real teacher and witness of all truth. . . . As we align our manner with the Holy Ghost’s manner, then the Holy Ghost can teach and testify without restraint.
This is both frustrating and comforting. Frustrating in that we over shoot the mark with our teaching so often. Comforting to know that all we have to do is lead the horse to the water. Then we just let the Spirit do the rest.
The Holy Ghost teaches individuals in a very personal way. This makes it possible for us to intimately know truth for ourselves. . . . . Those who teach after the manner of the Spirit understand they teach people, not lessons.
What is the implication of this idea of teaching people not lessons? How do we apply that? I love this question too much to even attempt to answer it here.
The Holy Ghost teaches by inviting, prompting, encouraging, and inspiring us to act.  . . . . You see, the Holy Ghost cannot learn for us, feel for us, or act for us because this would be contrary to the doctrine of agency. He can facilitate opportunities and invite us to learn, feel, and act. . . . . Parents who mirror the workings of the Holy Ghost create homes where families learn to value rather than just learn about values. In like manner, rather than just talking about doctrines, teachers help learners understand and live gospel doctrines. The Holy Ghost is unrestrained as individuals exercise their agency appropriately.
One of the things I hate about teaching are the things teachers ask us to do. What kinds of things does the Holy Ghost invite us to do? What kinds of things do the Holy Ghost not invite us to do? Again, I hesitate to answer that really great questions. I’m pretty sure, however, that the Holy Ghost did not inspire the study guides required in my 5th grade Social Studies class, even though I really did like my teacher, Dr Darden.

So my tenacious passion for Real Teaching must be about inviting the Holy Ghost to teach so that the Learner can act. How does the Teacher do that? What does the Teacher do?

I love great questions!!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

HOW was this Abraham Lincoln?

My thoughts after reading Henry Ketcham’s The Life of Abraham Lincoln
Kindle Ed.
Born and raised in the Wild West, his mother, step mother and then he, alone, had the audacity to tame it within and without, for himself and a whole nation through companionship with formidable greatness. Along the way he found the eternally flowing fountain of hope and compassion for every soul struggling within the world they were given. Then, empowered by unbending integrity and resolve, he puzzled through to the heart of every dilemma in his path matching the incredible power of deception and oppression with truth, clarity, and purity. Acting according to his duty and with the greatness he had tamed and aided by his humanity, he carried the crosses of a lost generation.

And enabled others to do likewise.

Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.

The man does not live who is more devoted to peace than I am, none who would do more to preserve it; but it may be necessary to put the foot down firmly. And if I do my duty and do right, you will sustain me, will you not?"

I know there is a God, and that He hates injustice and slavery. I see the storm coming, and I know that His hand is in it. If He has a place and work for me—and I think He has—I believe I am ready. I am nothing, but truth is everything. I know I am right because I know that liberty is right, for Christ teaches it, and Christ is God. I have told them that a house divided against itself cannot stand, and Christ and reason say the same; and they will find it so. Douglas doesn't care whether slavery is voted up or voted down, but God cares, and humanity cares, and I care; and with God's help I shall not fail. I may not see the end; but it will come and I shall be vindicated; and these men will find that they have not read their Bibles aright.

Let us forget ourselves and join hands, like brothers, to save the republic. If we succeed, there will be glory enough for all.

It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us,—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Is it absolutely true

that a goal MUST be written down in order to be effective or viable or even worth making?

Goals are stars to steer by, not sticks to beat yourself with.

Barbara Smith
I have a goal that I'm working on right now, but I've been in the stick business for so long (think Personal Progress, very first goals) and this goal is so important to me that it's probably more of a prayer.

I think there's a hierarchy of goals based on how much of your heart it demands. Some, like a 'to do' list, may demand very little. This goal of mine (and, no, I'm NOT going to write it down despite the suspense it may be causing some of you ;) is demanding a LOT from my heart. Other goals may be somewhere in between those two. Whether or not it requires a written evidence of the goal, depends on a person's ability to keep that goal demanding what they want it to from their heart.

So, if anyone has a goal that you feel loathe to write down. Don't! Especially if it helps you look up enough that you can't find your stick!


Thursday, March 8, 2012

SO, What Will Matter?

My mother sent me this email this morning. After having so much of our lives turned upside down with recent underemployment, massive downsizing in our stuff, and then moving to a very new and very foreign culture, this certainly hits home.
Dear Family,

After weeks of trying to organize all our stuff I came upon this "What Will Really Matter?"

It is just what I need to finish organizing all the stuff we have collected. After another week of stuff, and three boxes of old letters yet to go through, I needed this article. I will file this under, Daily Read Stuff.

Love you all

Mom Broderick

What will really matter?
By Richard Schuif  - 8 Feb 2004

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end for each of us, this earthly life.
There will be no more sunrises, no days, no hours or minutes.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, ambitions, plans and to to lists will all expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won't matter where you came from, or on what side of the tracks you lived.
It won't matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Your gender, skin color, and ethnicity will be irrelevant.

So what will matter?

How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built:
Not what you got, but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage and sacrifice
that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew,
but how many will feel a lasting loss when you are gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories of those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by who and for what.
Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident.
It's not a matter of circumstance but of choice. 
Choose to live a life that matters.
And to my Mom and Dad:
As we watch your time here with us come slowly around to a close . . .
I want you to know that
YOU and everything you've stood for and fought for and become MATTERS TO US!!


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Frang, Frung, Franged, Franging

For those who missed it on Facebook
As the proud owner of 5 drying racks (count them FIVE, NOT including the stair rail which could count as 3-4 more) and no mechanical laundry dryer, I'm coining three new words today:
frang- v. the fine art of hanging laundry up to dry
frund- n. any laundry hung up to dry
afrang- v. the fine art of adjusting frund so that the dry stuff gets put away and everything still wet can dry more efficiently.
conjugate like 'hang' (yes, I like the innuendo there . . . ;)
I frang, therefore I am. 
(Yes, I'm a little tired of frund! . . . Now back to my regularly scheduled Thursday.)

Friday, January 6, 2012

听不懂 Tīng bù dǒng

Today I’m celebrating our upcoming 5 month anniversary of living in China with a proclamation:

听不懂 Tīng bù dǒng.

Literally this means, “I hear, but I don’t understand.”

A dear friend and fellow expatriate taught me this phrase within a few days of our arrival here in Shanghai. It’s the proper way to let people know that you don’t have the slightest clue what they’re saying. But it’s not just for expats. I’ve heard my Chinese English students say it to me in class. It’s cute, really, to hear them say it, but then, I love my English students. I’ve also heard adults say it to people who are trying to talk to me in Chinese. And sometimes someone will say it to me when they realize I have no idea what they’re trying to tell me. It’s not so cute then, and not just because I feel it WAY too much myself to enjoy hearing someone tell me that I don’t understand. Mostly it’s not cute because of how prevalent the 听不懂 Tīng bù dǒng attitude is here for the Chinese themselves.

One prime example of this attitude is that no one uses their rear view mirrors here. If they can’t see you, you don’t exist and you’d better stay out of their way. A recent example of 听不懂 Tīng bù dǒng happened just this afternoon when a group of security guards and office management people (including one who I know speaks tolerable English) talking in front of my home refused to come ask me (sitting at the window looking at them) why someone (sitting in the car and whom they also refused to speak with) was leaving with a whole bunch of stuff from my home. No. They had to call our Realtor, who then called Rob. It was a simple answer of course, that our friends had just been storing a few things at our home in the process of moving from Mongolia to Nanjing. But all they could see was what they didn’t understand.

Rob and I are also really disappointed with many of the Expats who live here and walk around with a similar attitude, only their circle of who they connect with is even smaller than it is for the Chinese. We rarely speak to any Expats outside of our Church and home school family because of this.

You know, there really is something grand about living abroad where the language and culture and daily habits are so foreign from one’s native country. Here in China I am surrounded by writing and meaning I don’t even partially understand. I think often of how great it is to have this chance to stretch my world, and that of my family, in such a way that it is bigger than we ever comprehended before. The opportunity to love a people so separated from the Truths we know and yet still so rich with their own is truly awe inspiring. And yet there’s also something so oppressive about living abroad where the language and culture and so much of the meaning I’m surrounded by are simply indecipherable. Nothing wears on you like the ever present, and sometimes so completely unavoidable, message that you don’t understand. My sanity recently has come from using the energy from that frustration to push back and reject those who hear me but don’t understand and push forward to follow and protect the treasures and cares of my heart.

So, after 5 months, how do I like living in China? Do I have any regrets about moving here?

No regrets. We have connected with some fabulous people and experiences and opportunities here. No, we don’t love living here, for a variety of reasons. There are things we really hate about this whole adventure. But I’m learning to just prayerfully say,

听不懂 Tīng bù dǒng.