Monday, March 23, 2009

Well done, good and faithful servant.

I just found out that Mr. Martin (see previous post) passed away this afternoon. Moments like these remind me of how fragile and fleeting life can be and cause me to pause and take a look at my own life. How would I react if I were Melinda (Tom's wife)? If I were a parent of one of Tom's elementary school students, how would I answer their questions? Of course, there are no easy answers, no "right" things to say. Praise God that He's the God of this situation. Praise God that He knows exactly how to comfort Melinda's heart. Praise God that I don't have to have all the answers. I just need to trust that He is good...all the time.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mr. Martin

Mr. Martin was my high school track coach and assistant in the high school library. His wife, Melinda, was my freshmen and JV basketball coach and 8th grade math and geometry teacher. (She also taught me how to hurdle in 7th grade. If you're wondering why you never hear me talking about being a hurdler, it's because I wasn't a very good one. I just needed something to pass the time until I figured out what an amazing race the 400 m dash was). Together they started the Fellowship of Christian Athletes group at the high school when I was a sophmore. The group was just gaining momentum when I graduated, and I hear it's grown into something quite amazing in the last 10 or so years.

I just found out this past week that Mr. Martin has been sick. "Some sort of cancer," my mom told me on the phone last weekend. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I found a Facebook group "Friends of Tom Martin," which led me to a Caring Bridge website (set up by hospitals so people can easily give family and friends updates on a patient's condition) where I learned some heart-breaking news: Mr. Martin's gall bladder/liver cancer is very bad. They feel they've exhausted most, if not all, treatment options, so they've moved him to a hospice room at the hospital and are fervently praying for a miracle.

My eyes tear up as I type, which may seem foolish considering I might see Mr. Martin every couple of years at the state track meet where we may have a five minute conversation. I didn't go on to compete in college or really stay in touch after high school. But when I think about great high school memories, Mr. and Mrs. Martin played a part.

Mr. Martin is one of those coaches who motivates most often with encouragement and very rarely with a raised voice. His positive attitude made practices seem not quite as terrible as we would've liked to think they were. His favorite quote, "There's no rain in my lane," (in response to our whining about bad weather at a track meet early in the year) became the mantra on our track t-shirts and warm-ups for several years.

As I've read the personal messages left by hundreds of past and current students, their parents, and community members on the Facebook and Caring Bridge pages, I'm in awe of the impact that he and Melinda have made on my little hometown of Pierce. I'm torn between wanting him to get to go home to be with Jesus and selfishly thinking that he still has so many lives to touch yet here on Earth.

Mr. and Mrs. Martin are the kind of teachers and coaches that I'd like to be. Do I remember many of the things that they taught me in the classroom and on the track? Not really. (Sorry, Mrs. and Mrs. Martin, but I don't want to lie.) But I will never forget their positive attitudes, thier work ethic, and the love for the Lord that they conveyed to their students and athletes. I hope that someday I can be that kind of teacher and coach.

Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Martin, for everything.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Well said, Maya.

Quote of the day (courtesy of my friend Monica's Facebook):
"It is imperative that a woman keep her sense of humor intact and at the ready. She must see, even if only in secret, that she is the funniest, looniest woman in her world, which she should also see as being the most absurd world of all times." Maya Angelou

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Required reading...

I have read four books in the last two and a half weeks. Now, before you think I'm being a lazy slug, let me say that they were all for work. All young adult novels that we are thinking about making part of the freshman curriculum next year.

As I read, I have to ask myself, "How would I teach this book?" One of the big "Hmms..." I've run across thus far is the presence of questionable material in all of them. Nothing terrible or illegal and nothing that goes on for more than a line or is mentioned in more than a passing reference (sometimes just alluded to), but when I'm standing in front of my class, trying to get them to refocus from the line, "But now she won't even let you touch her" from The Miracle Worker (the Helen Keller story) which obviously has nothing sexual about it but still their minds went there, I have to wonder how I'll get them to overlook the very brief mention of masterbation or a prostitute or something like that.

Haven't quite figured out what to do with that besides giving the meanest "teacher look" I can muster and insisting we move on to the actual point of the story. They didn't cover any of this in teacher training...