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This Phoenix Speaks

Seven years in the making, my first published book, This Phoenix Speaks , is now a reality. The tireless and tiring work invested to ma...

he made me a real teacher

You try to make a difference as you teach each day
You find the ones who need a little love
Encouragement and lent confidence dosed out
In between the lines of each school day
Pep talks and positivity and teacherly friendship
Buffing out life's smudges the best you can

Watching students grow gives fresh hope
For the future
Their future
Your own

Every gain of theirs is a feather in your cap
Every tiny triumph, every giant step
Proves that you knew good and helped it grow
With the promise and expectation
That they would continue showing the world
How brightly they do shine

But the world would have to weep
Foregoing such a privilege and treat
For Heaven needed him back Home
To shine with angels, leaving this temporary stone

And leaving this teacher's heart to mourn
The suddenly changed world, steeped in reality
Yet always to remember his kind and thoughtful smile
And the light that ignited as his confidence was born

For Jacob,
You taught me how teachers become a true teacher, a teacher forever, by loving their students and losing them too soon. You will be missed.


As I was walking up the cemetery lawn for the service for my children's teacher who passed away last week (to every teacher), I was contemplating the headstones. The dates alone tell a story. This person was 49 when he died, there was a toddler, and there were many headstones for married couples with a predominant amount where the husband had passed away and only a name and birthdate was inscribed for the surviving wife.

So many stories. So many beloved people. But does a headstone prove you were loved? What about the grave marker I saw with no name? What about the people who never have In loving memory inscribed on stone for them?

I wondered what my story would look like to someone. Will I have a double headstone or be like the single grave of some woman that didn't offer any clue whether she had anyone left behind—just her name and birth and death dates? I often wonder if I'll be here until Christ returns in his glory, which means I will be around to watch many others leave.

I have a great-aunt who is the last of her peers. When I visited her this past weekend, she told me that when she moved into her little home the bishop at her church introduced her to a row of little old ladies to befriend and sit with each week.  And now, she is the only one left of her group. She seemed to be alright with it, but there was resolve in her voice that she knew she would be by herself. She also asked me how old I was when I got divorced; I was 36. She told me she was 34 years old when she last divorced, and she never married again. My great-aunt is to be 87 years old next month. Over fifty years without a companion.

Looking to her example for strength on my lonesome days, I know I will find joy and keep adding to my story. I just wonder sometimes what it is shaping up to be. I wonder what people would say if they had to tell my story right now.

to every teacher

Got word this afternoon that one of my children's past middle school teachers died in a car accident on his way to work today. My first thoughts were for his family and then a huge wave of gratitude came over me.

I remembered a quick conversation at an open house in the fall several years ago when this teacher reassured me that my child would do well in his class, that he'd make sure all went smoothly, and that he was there to help. I remembered the absolute positivity he radiated to me in my distress and worry that another school year would be difficult. I remember now how much of a weight was lifted off of me by his confidence in his abilities to lead and teach my child.

It was such a breath of fresh air at the time. Not that the other teachers weren't helpful, but I distinctly remember how completely sure he made me of my child's success in that class. And he was right. He didn't let us down but was such a support. His guarantee was valid.

Today, I'd like to thank every single teacher out there who gives to their students (and their parents) the morsels of hope, blankets of reassurance, and that fresh air to breathe when students feel suffocated by life. I want to take a moment to recognize that I work at being that kind of teacher too. I'm sure that I am not perfect at this, but I am always striving to help and uplift and keep open the door to true education of the self.

I'm thankful for that teacher who helped my child and me during such a hard time in our lives. His life was cut short, but he made a real difference with his life. I'm thankful for all of you teachers out there who reach out beyond yourselves not even knowing what a difference you're making.