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Day 11: A pie in the face, monster doors and Heavenly speeches

August 23, 2018


I just found out that one of our new students passed the word around that I was strange.

I had to chuckle.  If the student thinks I’m strange now, she should have seen me as a child with my brothers and sisters.

And Mom.

Back in the 60s when I was in the third grade, we were all sitting around the table after dinner.  My mom walked in with an over-sized cream pie. “This pie got spoiled because the freezer quit this afternoon, so we can’t eat it,” she announced loudly.  “I don’t want to waste it.  Who wants a pie in the face?”

My 11 year old sister Gwen jumped up.  “I do!”

Mom never hesitated.

WHOMPH!  My mom walloped her right smack in the face.  The whole scene looked like something out of a Three Stooges movie.  We kids fell off our chairs laughing.  Gwen liked it so much she posed for a picture of her face.  With a Kodak Instamatic 110, no less.

Then there was the time my mom made a batch of fudge that for some reason wouldn’t set.  We elementary-age kids were sitting around the table after the main course.  “I can’t take this to the Cub Scout banquet,” she said, with the fudge running like Silly Putty through her hands.  “Who wants to eat some?”  I raised my hand and -so help me – my mom threw a perfect strike right on the place mat in front of me.  BLAUAP.  A wad of fudge splattered out, and I gobbled it gleefully.  All my siblings were yelling for a toss, and here’s my mom throwing food across the dining room like a high school food fight.  The screaming and laughing went on for an hour.

Strange families also have odd set-ups.

We once lived in a house that was structurally incomplete, especially in the attic where we boys lived.  My brother Brent once set up an entire HO scale train set in a hole in the ceiling above our bedroom, fully functional with a whole town spread out on a plywood board.  We would stand on the top bunk and pop our head through the ceiling and have a great time as engineers. My brother Brent also organized an all-household table hockey tournament, which is where I got my first start as a play-by-play announcer.  (I would later spend some time in radio broadcasting as part of my early career.)  By the way, Brian won the tournament, but Brock claims he cheated.

I recall the time Bruce and Brent got ahold of some that early 70s glow-in-the-dark paint that probably had some chemical that was poisonous, but none of us knew it so we bought a bottle of it and stashed it in our bedroom. Late one afternoon Bruce painted some blood-dripping monsters all over the doors of my sisters’ bedroom – on the inside of the room.  That night when it was plenty dark and the girls’ bedroom lights went off, we heard a series of blood-curdling screams.  When my mom opened up the door and turned on the lights, the paint naturally disappeared.  Mom was fuming while my sisters were crying about monsters in the room, but when Mom inspected the door she couldn’t see the faint outline that Bruce drew.   Mom would scowl, turn off the light and close the door – and here went the screams again.  Mom would bust in the room and roar while across the hallway we boys buried our heads in our pillows and snorted with glee.  It was a great night but none of us got much sleep so Bruce and Brent quietly washed it off the next day.

Yep.  My childhood is one for the books.

I smiled when I heard the claim about my weirdness but I settled into a student’s desk at the back of the room and pushed the stopwatch button.  Today was Speech day.  Team speeches – complete with PowerPoint – on the doctrine of Heaven.  The students critiqued one another on paper and handed in their suggestions and hints to the speakers.  It was a full morning and afternoon.

Boy, it was good.  Even the students enjoyed the various presentations.

“What I liked about these speeches,” said Ben during our after-speech class discussion, “was that even though every team had the same subject, none were repeated, and none were boring.”

Ben, you got that right.

Think of the subject matter:  Feasting and laughing.  Not even able to comprehend pain.  Seeing Jesus face to face.  Talking to God the Father.  Not being afraid anymore.  Finally going home.  Home.

I was firm and direct – as a teacher should be, right? – but I was enjoying this immensely.

And the peak of the day – my favorite moment – was when during the fifth team’s presentation Tina stepped forward to speak her part.  She methodically and coolly touched on numerous verses shown on the PowerPoint screen, but changed as she then turned to us and with a moment of pure introspective joy, spoke out:

“Oh, the part I just love is the fact that we’ll be together with family and get to see Jesus together…”

I want you to go back and re-read Tina’s words, and put the emphasis on the word “love” as openly and as honestly and – yes, as lovingly as you can imagine.  That is how Tina said it.

My heart melted.  She was expressing a joy for the Lord and His Kingdom in such a way I will long remember.  She was caught up – just for a moment – with the touching reality of Jesus organizing a family reunion forever, and expressed it in such a way as to bring a hush to the classroom.

Yes, it has been a good day.  It’s been good.

And what is even better is …

… tomorrow the second half of my classes give their speeches on Heaven.

This is why I became a teacher.



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  1. Priceless childhood memories! And you are accumulating more with your students. Sir, you are blessed of the Lord!

  2. Beverly permalink

    What a great post! Thanks for the smiles.

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