Sunday, November 23, 2008

Paul is not a Grandfather...yet

Nor does he have immediate plans to become one.
But he is now the last of his living brothers to either have a grandbaby or expect one in the next couple of months.

Paul's "baby brother," David, just welcomed his first grandchild, Gareth Zubrowski, to the clan this morning, 11/23. Gareth shares a birthday with a different nephew. He weighed 7 lbs, 12 oz. The happy parents are Marc and Bekah.
I don't feel much older than I did when it was David and Donna having their second child four months before Ben came along. How do 21 years speed by like this?
For the record, I think I talked them out of their girl's name. It was going to be Ada something Zubrowski. I said, "Oh, she'd be Ada Z." Marc didn't get it. Bekah said, ""Say it out loud. A to Z?" Then he said, "A to Z? We can't do that to her!"
Anyway, I'm tickled pink about this baby in blue.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My Parents Trained me in the Way I Should Go

Scripture says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Many Christians erroneously believe this verse means "Do all the right things as a parent and when your kid grows up, he'll turn out right." What's a parent to do when a kid hits adolescence and his behavior and attitudes seem all wrong? Have Mom and Dad screwed up? Has God made a promise He hasn't kept? It doesn't compute.

But the phrase "the way he should go" means something different. It refers to a person's God-given bent, the way his Creator hard-wired him. It's a bent that shows up in the diaper stage and continues for life. For some the bent is toward analyzing data, experimenting with variables, and logging outcomes. That child is always asking, "What will happen if I do this?" (while jumping off Dad's dresser that he just scaled like Spider-Man). Mom is thinking, "This kid is nuts!" but the kid is trying to figure out how high, how fast, how many times, he can do this and what the outcomes could be. It's a thrill that surpasses the pain of punishment-- which he may or may not have been smart enough to predict. After several trips to the ER, the kid grows up to be an aerospace engineer.

God wired me to teach, and I credit my parents for recognizing, nurturing, and encouraging my bent. Most of the encouragement has come from their modeling. My mom has been a student for as long as I can remember, so books weren't just for us kids. While a pastor's wife, she earned double degrees, one in Political Science and the other in Religious Ed. (Sidebar: she missed her college graduation ceremony because she was recovering from a miscarriage/D&C that caused her to bleed to death on the operating table; she was miraculously revived.)

I grew up watching my mother teach. My earliest memories, of course, are so deep they aren't even observations. They just are. For instance, I didn't watch my mom teach my older sister to read. I don't remember that one day Rachel couldn't read, and the next day she could. I just know that reading was as natural as eating (though a rule in our house was "no books at the table" because it's rude unless you've planned to share it with the rest of the family). Somebody taught her, and that somebody was Mama. My mom taught all four of us girls to read. We had plenty of stories read to us by Daddy, too. (He has the best bedtime story voice; I tease him that I fell asleep during his sermons not because he was boring, but because his voice is so rich and smooth and peaceful.) I also watched my mom teach Backyard Bible Clubs to neighborhood children. Those flannelgraph boards with pictures of Jesus and His miracles made a lifelong impression on me. I grew up believing there's nothing Christ can't do, and subsequently, that I wanted to be a missionary and a teacher so I could manipulate flannelgraphs and flipcharts for a captive young audience.

Mama also taught Women's Aglow Bible studies, English to Chinese students, and taught an illiterate adult man to read so that he could read to his five-year-old daughter. I saw my mom at lecterns, around the kitchen table, and side-by-side students . I saw light in her eyes and heard a lilt in her voice when she taught, when students would have "aha!" moments or exclaim, "I can DO this!"

My dad loves theology, science, antique cars, and genealogy. Einstein is his favorite author. Does that tell you something? Daddy got his Mechanical Engineering degree at KU, met Mama, married her, and moved to Edgewood, MD, to work for the Dept of Defense. He later felt called to ministry, so he and Mama packed up their young family and moved to Missouri where Daddy got his MDiv (Masters of Divinity) at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Pastoring seemed every whit as woven into his DNA as engineering was.

But what I remember my dad mostly doing was helping me with algebra. I cried and pouted and stomped every single night about how stupid I was. "None of my daughters is stupid," he'd say (For the record, he had no sons.) "Let's work this out together. You'll get it." And painstaking after painstaking problem solving, I did. The man who had tutored the famous basketball player Wilt Chamberlain in college at KU was sitting beside a math idiot named Zoanna. And never once complained. Never once let out a sigh of impatience. My dad made me feel like there was nothing I couldn't accomplish if I broke it down into steps. Baptist yet Methodical, that's my dad.

Idyllic childhood I had, with great parents. Then came the teen years. Did my bent change? No. Did my behavior? Oh, yes. The Bible tells us not to dwell on the former things, the hidden things of darkness, so I won't. Suffice it to say that I went through a time of rejecting the Jesus I had once adored on a flannelgraph. I was double-minded and unstable in all my ways. (Good on the outside, rotten on the inside. Fooled lots of people.) But deep down I had an inescapable desire to help others learn things .

I was young. I am now old (er). So all that training up of me in the way I should go, has borne the lasting fruit of a love to teach. I am happiest when watching people of all ages soak up learning.
When they "get it," I have light in my eyes, I'm sure, because my soul is happy. I have not departed from my God-given bent. There's no possible way. I am just immeasurably thankful to God for my parents who didn't try to make an aerospace engineer out of me.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Quoting Myself and Something About a Battery-operated Jesus

My son's latest post title made me read it (besides the fact I love to read whatever my kids write. You moms can relate.) The post is a charge to memorize scripture, believe it or not. Reading it has reminded me again of the value of memorizing scripture, something I used to be faithful in doing. Question: if you're currently finding a certain method of memorization helpful, please let me know. My age has really been a factor in the difficulty level of this spiritual discipline.

As far as quoting myself, I seldom think of it the way Stephen put it. Once in a great while someone will remind me of something I said so long ago that I've forgotten. (That's a scary thought in itself.) Just yesterday, for example, a friend at church was telling me about how she is going to decorate her table for the Ladies' Christmas Breakfast. (There are usually about 25-30 tables in all, each one decorated by a different woman of the church. It's gorgeous and I love the creativity.) This friend told me that I had remarked last year that there was not a single nativity scene on any of the tables at the Ladies' Christmas Breakfast. Plenty of snowmen, but no Jesus. She said the comment made such an impact that she has purposed to put a nativity scene on her table this year.

I don't say that in any way to cause guilt; I've been decorating a table for this annual church occasion for probably 8-10 years and have never put a creche on it. For one thing, they tend to be one-sided, and so half the guests would be staring at the backside of a stable. Or worse: the backside of a donkey. I've been on the prowl for many years for an open nativity set where Jesus looks Jewish and so do his parents. I would love to find one where Mary's hair and complexion have that blotchy "just gave birth" look, Joseph appears bedraggled and is holding an empty wallet in one hand, a mug of coffee in the other. Mary holds a colicky baby nervously at her sore, bulging breast. (The baby would be a battery-operated Jesus that has no "off" switch. I mean, Jesus was, after all, a human baby.) And though He created the "aroma" of fresh country air, shall we say, I doubt His infant lungs appreciated a steady whiff of it while he was trying to nurse. Once again, I'm mystified by the why of His choice to come to earth and subject himself to that. It was least of the all the stenches He would endure in his tenure on earth.

My point is--if I had one--oh, yeah, I did!--is that what we say can stick with others a lot longer than it sticks with us. Lord, may those words be ones that keep pointing people to you, not away from you. Remind me to be quoting You, Father, to myself and to others. May your Word never have an "off" switch in my thinking.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Christmas Tag

This came as an email, and I was supposed to copy and paste it into another one, send it on, you know the drill. But I'm gonna do something different with it: use it as a blog tag.

These are my answers. Can't wait to hear yours.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both. The sooner I buy it the more likely it is to get wrapping paper.

2. Real tree or Artificial? Real. Love the fragrance!!
3. When do you put up the tree? Usually the second weekend in December

4. When do you take the tree down? by Jan 5th I'm ready to send it bye-bye
5. Do you like eggnog? Yes (the non-alcoholic kind; I've never had any other kind)
6. Favorite gift received as a child? an overnight bag
7. Hardest person to buy for? mom and my husband
8. Easiest person to buy for? my daughter Sarah and dear friend Barb
9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, I'd like more, but most of them picture a blond Norwegian Jesus or one with his fingers extended like he's holding a cigarette in each hand.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? I think I'll email a newsletter and mail actual cards. I've cut back on postage without regrets in recent years. No one seems to have missed my corny Christmas poem last year when I didn't send it. (Sniff, sniff.)

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? a purple towel from my husband. I told him I wanted a heart-shaped amethyst ring to commemorate our last child's Valentine birth (an extremely long-awaited birth but an intensely long and painful recovery). I thought my hubby was being creative and had a precious, little ring wrapped in a big, thirsty amethyst towel, so I opened it ever so carefully. He thought I looked silly being timid with a towel. Well, then, I shook that towel, and nothing fell out. Nothing. "No ring? Is this all?" I said hopefully (greedily?). That. Was. It. "You like towels," he said. Yes, I do, but not instead of something I really wanted and asked for!!!!!!!!!!!

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Charlie Brown Christmas (okay,so it's not a movie; fave movie is A Christmas Story)
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? In stages. For the next Ladies' Christmas Breakfast at church, I buy right after Christmas during the 70-90% off sales. For gifts? I start with Operation Christmas Child gifts in late August. The rest I make or buy in Nov/Dec.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Of course. What comes around, goes around, don'tcha know?

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Barb's peanut brittle and Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies
16. Lights on the tree? colored
17. Favorite Christmas song? Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay home. We do Hanukkah at my folks' place.
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? ......... Yes
20. Angel , star, or other tree topper? .... Angel

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? .........One on the Eve, the rest on the Day
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? parents bribing their whiny brats with lies that Santa won't give them anything if they act like that
23. Favorite ornament theme or color? anything handmade
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Last year our second son made a Greek dinner. It was wonderful. Best part was dessert: baklava!
25. What do you want for Christmas this year?. to see extended family; I also want new furniture, white dishes, comfy socks, a professional massage, large silver earrings,
my wedding rings sized, maid service for a year, painless feet, a self-grooming dog, lots of compliments on my hair or anything else, really (I'm not picky) and for everyone to master to the use of apostrophes. (I got this email w/ the question ,"Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's?" Well, first of all, the plural of reindeer is still reindeer (no "s") and if you forget that, please don't compensate by adding an apostrophe, also. Okay, so I really want to see extended family for Christmas BECAUSE they all know how to use apostrophes. :)

You're tagged. Gift-tagged.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

"New Food I Wanna Make" Tag

For years I have had a mental list going of "New Food I Wanna Make."

What's on the top 5 right now?

1. Key lime pie
2. Lobster bisque
3. Steamed artichokes with lemon butter
4. Roux
5. Something with mascarpone

I've concluded the reason I haven't tried yet is that I'd rather just have fun saying them. "Bisque" is so much more sophisticated-sounding than "soup" or "chowder." Artichokes? Does any word rhyme with it? It's a cool word and a cool veggie. Roux? I shall call myself a chef when I have made roux no matter the results. Mascarpone? Again, it outshines cheese as a word.

As for Key Lime Pie? I honestly do want to try to make it. Not a fancy name, but something I've had a hankerin' for lately.

I tag you if you have a similar quirky thing about food. Saying some food words is half the fun. What would be on your Top 5 ?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sick Hypocrite

It was kind of funny in a humbling sort of way. Last week I told my students they'd have to give an oral presentation for geography on Wednesday the 12th, followed by a test on Tuesday of next week. (I don't teach on Thursdays, and we have two early dismissals back to back, Friday and Monday, so Tuesday would be my next in-class day.)

The topic for the o.p. would be the New England state they've been researching. It's cool because I have six students and there are just that many NE states. The presentation had to be 5-7 minutes total, include at least one visual aid, and a learning game for the class. Naturally half the class wanted to know, "What if we're sick?"

Well, let me tell you, I have little patience for sickness as a teacher because it slows everything down. Throw in an early dismissal here and there, some vacation time, a field trip or two, and I feel like we might get not get west of the mighty Mississip by May. I know I'm a nerd, but my mind says, "So much to learn, so little time to teach." And I myself am hardly ever sick. Excluding pregnancy nausea, I've thrown up maybe once a year in my adult life, even less as a kid, and had a cough just every other year. I am thankful I don't get sick often; you'd think gratitude would lead to compassion.

Instead I said, " Don't be sick. I mean, try really hard not to be. If you're sick, you'll have to research the other five states and do a written report."

'Nuff said.

So Wednesday morning--Oral Presentation Day-- I woke up, put my feet on the floor, and ...felt pregnant. It was all I could do to stuff a lunch into Joel's backpack and send him out the door with Dad. (Thank God for a husband willing and able to flex his work schedule to take his son to school sometimes.) Then I ran to the bathroom and--how shall I put this?--made an "oral presentation" of my own. (Need a visual aid to enhance my words?)

Then I went to bed. Woke up for a half hour to email my lesson plans to the sub, and slept the rest of the day, feverish, achey, "out of it." I had the sub go ahead and let the students do their presentations as a practice run, but all I could think about was my warning to them,"Don't be sick."

Lesson learned? Never order a bowl of chicken soup with a slice of humble pie. It will leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Spittin' Images

Yesterday our care group had a fall party at Karen and Ronan's place. What a blast. You'd never guess we possess any couth in a normal setting. Must be something about the country air of Jarrettsville that brings out the hick in all of us.

First we had a dangling doughnut game. Mitzy tied a long piece of string to a doughnut and tied the other end of a string to a stick. Think fishing pole with an oversized glazed cheerio as "bait." The "fish" had to put hands behind his back while the fisherman dangled the doughnut slightly above, below, or beside the "fish. " Every time it hits the face, gooey, sticky glaze sticks to the "fish's" nose. Ew! Or he licks it so many times in an attmept to bite it that it's lathered with drool. (If you're not totally grossed out yet, read on.) The teasing and torment for one taste of this treat was too tempting for toddlers. They ended up grabbing it off the string. They're not dumb.

Next we had a pumpkin slingshot game. Picture a 3-foot wide bungee cord with handles and halfway between the handles a nylon "cradle" the size of an adult sock. Picture also sticking a fist-sized pumpkin into it while two grown men hold the opposing handles. The "shooter" guy (or gal) would load the pumpkin into the slingshot, pull way, way down on the "cradle" to get a good arc on the "bullet" and release! A couple seconds later? Splat! Hit a tree. Good shot! The real trick was keeping the toddlers from becoming targets.

I took sunflower seeds and hosted a spitting contest. I told the kids to take a seed, suck the salt off it, stand like so, keep lips close together/tongue behind seed--then SPIT! Far as you can! The boys (ages 2-47) thought this contest a speck of glory. Then the womenfolk--boasting narry a shred of femininity, grace, or class--showed them how to really make the ole sunflower seed go the distance. If only I'd had my camera. But thankfully, others did, so I asked them to take some spittin' images. (Karen, if you have photos, please upload. We've got to show off our salivary talents in cyberspace.)

Ronan and Karen came up with a scavenger hunt and treasure chest of candy for the kids. Mitzy handed out caramel apples. All of us brought dessert in addition to other munchies. (Can you say sugar high?)

We can hardly wait to go back next year. Karen's wondering what a veritable size pumpkin patch and sunflower garden might grow in the meantime. Call us the care group that really knows how to plant seeds.

We ain't too shabby at spittin' and slingin' 'em either.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Peace that Passeth all Understanding

My friend Libby's post on anxiety vs. peace reminded me of something God whispered to my heart not long ago.

I had let my mind rehearse all the negatives about not being able to understand something. It had been so long since I'd experienced such frustration with people whom I actively wanted to love rather than avoid. I didn't understand them; I didn't understand how my responses could be so different from my prayers to respond differently to them. I didn't understand why nothing was changed despite my prayer and energy. My lack of understanding was what bothered me more than all the rest of it. (Not my sin, mind you, but my lack of knowledge and understanding.)

God showed me that "the peace of God which passes all understanding" (Phil. 4:6-7) doesn't always mean that peace will surpass your understanding of peace, but rather, peace supercedes understanding. It's more important, more valuable, more worthy of seeking than understanding is. Peace "surpasseth" all (successful and unsuccessful attempts at) understanding in this life.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Gettin' a Reputation

A few days ago one of my students said, "Mrs. Zubrowski, this is the first year in my whole time of going to this school that we've had art homework."

I replied,"Wonderful! My philosophy is that you only get good at something by practicing. Fifty minutes a week is not enough to get good at art and you all keep getting better, so..."


Today I asked the students to produce pen and paper for a writing assignment (as usual). One asked, "Do we have writing every day with you?"

I answered, "Yes! You certainly do. We write about Roosevelt, we write about New England, we write about jellyfish, we write about farmers and sons."

Another student said to the one who asked, "Of course! You can't get good at writing unless you do it every day."

They. Are. Catching. On!

I Know What I'm Getting for Christmas

At care group last night, my friend Mitzy said she saw a T-shirt that reminded her of me.


Funny Jesse

My Inkling student, Maggie, told me the other day she was watching her little five-year-old brother, Jesse, eating ice cream (I think it was) that Grandma had given him.

"I think you're spoiled. Are you spoiled?" Maggie asked him.

"No, I'm still fresh," he said.

Beautiful Description of the Church

My eloquent friend, Amy, wrote this gorgeous post today. She was inspired first by one majestic, brilliantly blazing autumn tree, and then by one simple leaf she plucked from it. Do yourself a favor and hop over to Lavendar Sparkles to see this thing of beauty--her post.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Q&A Wednesday, a Day Later (Again)

I remember my 5th grade teacher was the only male teacher I had in elementary school. He gave me my first "C" ever, and it was in handwriting. I was Crushed-- with a capital C. I loved my handwriting and had practiced for two years to make it as pretty as my mom's (though I never succeeded. Hers was just as pretty whether she was addressing Christmas cards or writing a grocery list. My handwriting to this day reflects my mood and pace. In a word: inconsistent.) Mr. P's handwriting was so-so. Not bad for a man, but then again, who wants to read flowery penmanship from a man? Ick. My mom advocated for a change in my grade, but he held firm. I think from then on I really didn't care what my handwriting looked like; I was going to be unfairly judged by it anyway.

My 6th grade teacher had five or six kids. I remember thinking she looked too old to be a mom. She had a 20 year old son named Kenny in college. (Oh, no! I have become her, minus one kid.) I couldn't fathom that someone had adult children. It made no sense to me. I remember her oldest son was a monarch butterfly specialist. He came and did a talk on monarchs. I've loved butterflies ever since--and grew up to marry a butterfly specialist!

Recalling your days of school, particularly your middle school years (5th-7th grade) what are some things your teacher(s) did that meant the most to you? What kindnesses or blessings do you remember? (These could include things like comforting you in a certain situation, understanding you, holding you accountable, giving you breaks, helping you study, encouraging your potential, repeating a great quote reguarly, being enthusiastic, not comparing you to others, giving you extra (or fewer) assignments in relation to your ability, complimenting you, inspiring you, correcting you, and all sorts of things. Any special moments you can't forget? By the same token, what are some things teachers did wrong by you? I am trying to learn from both the bad and the good I hear and have experienced myself.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

As my 5th / 6th Grade Class Goes, So Goes the Nation?

How exciting to be a US History teacher on this day! I couldn't let the day pass without whooping it up . I wore red earrings, white pearls, and a blue dress. I took my camera. I was going to hold a mock election after a grammar test. (Priorities, priorities!)

On the board we hung signs that read "Election Day N0v 4, 2008" and signs about McCain vs. Obama. My co-teacher, Mrs. Ruiz, was dressed in a red top and blue denim skirt. We set the kids in front of the signs, found a willing student to take pictures, and posed on this historic day. After the group shots, I snapped individuals. Man, these guys ham it up, pointing 2 thumbs up toward amd raising high, happy eyebrows at their candidate of choice.

The kids kept begging to vote. So I tossed red and blue plastic tablecloths over a spare desk and called it the voting booth. Then I gave them each a slip of paper, invited them up one by one, had them crawl into the voting booth with paper and pen, cast their secret ballot, and crawl out. (Let's just say it was more ballot than secret.) Of course I had my camera in hand.

In the last ten minutes of class, we prayed for the election, the candidates, the voters, and ourselves. It was precious to hear the kids pray. Politics took a back seat to petitioning the Lord for His will and for our willing acceptance of the outcome of the election. When it came my turn to close in prayer, I was choked up, foremost because of the incredible privilege I have of praying aloud in my school, second because such freedoms have come at a high price, and third because they might not always exist like this. For the first time in my personal history, I felt a gripping sensation in my throat that this freedom to pray in public anywhere may be taken away from this young generation. But overshadowing it all was a calm peace that God is sovereign and I can trust Him no matter what.

P.S. At dismissal the students greeted their parents with the news that McCain won their election. I think there should be a new saying, "As Mrs. Zubrowski's class goes, so goes the nation."

Cardboard Testimonies: Please Pass the Kleenex

On this Election Day, I am keenly grateful that God elected me to be one of His children. I am also thrilled beyond expression that each of the people in the following video are my brothers and sisters in Christ who also happen to be part of my very own church.

Some of my friends have posted this link, but I realize we don't all share entirely the same readership. I want even more people to be blessed, so please take a couple minutes to watch it. You'll be glad you did. Just don't forget the tissue box. You're gonna need it. I haven't been this moved in a long time

These cardboard testimonies were given on our New Name Sunday, which was this past week. Formerly known as Chesapeake Community Church,we are now Sovereign Grace Church.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Ben's Boxcutter Boo-boo

All right, so it's more than a boo-boo, but I like alliteration.

Ben (our 20 year old) drove separately to church today.
Nothing unusual.

We had New Name Sunday.
Quite unusual.

Ben stayed after to help serve.
Nothing unusual.

He did so by taking down a projection screen that was suspended by a cable.
Quite unusual.

He used a boxcutter. The cable was being stubborn in its thickness.
Nothing unusual.

Ben put extra muscle into the job, and ended up slicing into the fleshy part of his left hand.
Quite unusual.

Gary Bull, our resident paramedic at church, tended him with expert care and compassion.
Nothing unusual.

I didn't freak out when I saw it.
Quite unusual.

Ben is now watching the Ravens game instead of having his injury evaluated at Patient First.
Nothing unusual.

I'm not pressuring him to get medical attention.
Quite unusual.

He's probably going to need stitches and a tetanus shot.
Nothing unusual.

Please pray that God will heal him
as usual
and that we
are grateful
for His