Hope for the Future

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

We interrupt the Chicken Wrangler news for a report from my other persona – the music teacher.

I began a new position in August after the private school where I’d taught for 10 years closed due to lack of enrollment.  My new school is much larger – which is a good thing for job security but it has presented its own challenges.

I spent the first six weeks memorizing 180 names and learning a new grade book program.  Then there were the important things like where to get coffee and eat lunch.

The former music teacher had a very different style and the students were not all on board with the change. To say the first semester was interesting is an understatement.

One of the most challenging groups is the middle schoolers.  Just their age gives them a whole set of difficulties and I met regularly with the principal to try to figure out what to do with them.

I settled on History of Rock and Roll curriculum that has proved to be somewhat interesting to them.  In one lesson, however, a student took offense at the language.  The word “negro” was used and she felt the term “African American” was more appropriate.

I encouraged her to write her feelings in a letter to the company, and I would pass the information along.  I have done business with this company, Fun Music Company, many times in the past and have found them to be very responsive.  She worked with a few of her friends and wrote a very well worded letter.  Then she copied it over so it was neater.

I contacted the company who was very interested in reading the letter.  I scanned the document and sent it.  Within 48 hours I had a response from the company.  They were very glad to have the input and in fact changed the wording.  The creative director wrote a personal letter to my student.

“Thank you so much for writing – it has made a massive difference for many students around the world, as no longer will any student be offended by this word in one of our worksheets.”

This is by far the most encouraging thing to happen in my class in a long time.  Amaria, the student, handled the situation in a mature and appropriate manner and was able to make a permanent difference.  I look at that group in a whole new light.  There is hope after all.

In an age where overreacting and posting negativity is the norm, Amaria has taken the high road.

Well done, young lady, well done.

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Considering TIME – Martin Luther King

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Starting 2019 with Martin Luther King

Today we honor Martin Luther King, the symbol for non-violent protest since the sixties Civil Rights Movement. His leadership in a trying time inspired change. He stirred, and still stirs, our conscience with his words.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • “Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
  • “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
  • “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
  • “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”
  • “The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.”
  • “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

Are we forwarding the vision he set forth in these quotes today? Why not make this MLK Day the start of a year in which we purpose to move forward.

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Problem Solving on Miller Farm

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

I believe one of the most important skills one can have is the ability to solve problems.  I’m not talking about the word problems that plague math students every where.  I mean real life problems like how to open the door of the chicken coop from the inside when it shuts behind you.

I recently had to employ this skill while filling the chicken waterer.   The waterers have a lid that is removed to fill the tops and a small lid that covers the spout so water will not come out while it is being filled.

We have three waterers and somehow we have managed to lose all but one of these small lids.  This means that each time I carry a waterer to the hose, I must make sure I have the little lid. This week I failed at getting the small lid and I didn’t realize it until I had started to fill the waterer.

Rather than stop and go back into the chicken yard to get the lid, I used my finger to stop up the hole.  This was a little challenging because my index finger is still numb from having the tip cut off this summer.  So I used my middle finger.

As I stood there holding back the flow of water with my finger, I thought of the story of the little Dutch boy who put his finger in the hole in the dam and held back the North Sea.

I’d say fingers are a very important part of the problem solving process.

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Considering TIME – C.S. Lewis

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Starting 2019 with FOCUS

2018 is history. 2019’s clock is ticking.

A New Year signals

  • a fresh start
  • a new chapter in life with blank pages to fill
  • new questions to be asked
  • new answers to discover

It’s a time to move closer to fulfilling dreams and achieving goals. An opportunity to bring new focus.

Many pick a guide word for each New Year to help them focus. Words like Achieve, Joy, Balance,  Learn. You can find ideas here.

In the past, I’ve chosenHope fuels the creativity engine. That year I published two books and ultimately creativity has led to seven published books.

Last year I chose PROGRESSIt’s from the Elsie Joy Get to Workbook, a fantastic planner for projects. In spite of 2018’s many interruptions (some good, some not so good) I did make progress last year. Not as much as I planned, but forward movement is forward. I’m just saying.

This year my 2019 focus will be CONSISTENCY.2018 was full of spurts and fizzle outs. I’m determined to be more focused on my writing. My 2019 SMART goals are set to accomplished that focus.

In case you’re not familiar, SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, and results-focused – guidelines to achievement. Schoolteachers will recognize the idea from lesson planning. Setting SMART goals help me clarify ideas, focus efforts, and use time and resources productively. More about SMART goals in next week’s blog.

Have you picked a focus word for your new year? What did you choose? If you haven’t, what would it be?

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Silly Roosters

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Winters in Texas are not particularly harsh. In fact if the temperature drops below 50, we are getting out our winter coats. The problem is that when it is 50 and raining, it feels really cold.  This was the case for several days during the Christmas break.

We have four roosters that have been put into separate runs to prevent them from terrorizing the hens.  The runs were built for the bantams that Rachel had for a while so the coops are a little small for these big roosters.  This meant they were left out in the cold rain.

I started to feel sorry for them so I went outside in the cold rain and put a tarp over the runs. I even secured it to the fence with zip ties so it would not blow away.

Then I came inside to warm up and dry off. I figured that after I left, they would huddle under the tarp to stay dry.

I was wrong. They remained in the opposite end of the run, getting wet. It made me think of the saying “they don’t have enough sense to come in out of the rain.”

I give up on those silly roosters. I have more sense than to go out in the rain to coax them under the tarp.

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Considering TIME – Holley Gerth

With special thanks to Holley Gerth for her generosity in sharing her graphics for free.

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Starting 2019 with a Story

To start our new year off on a writerly foot, I’m sharing a Christmas short story by my grandson. Morgan is a student at Southwest Baptist University and writes for their Student Media Organization newsletter INFUSE. “The Bicycle” is a short read – only three minutes – that offers food for thought as we begin 2019. Enjoy!

The Bicycle
By Morgan Hixson

It was the Christmas of 2006. I’m sure I asked for dozens of toys and things, but I don’t remember getting much in particular. I had recently turned 7 years old, and one of my favorite things to do was ride my little blue bicycle all over our subdivision (we lived near Houston, Texas at the time so the weather was in the forties and fifties). It hadn’t been very long since I’d finally gotten my training wheels off, and I was eager to show my older sisters how well I could ride now. The bike was a little small for me and only had pedal brakes, as opposed to the brakes you squeezed with your hand like all the big bikes had, but I loved it more than anything else I had at the time.

Well, December 25th came at last, and as usual our parents made us all wait upstairs while they made the final arrangements with the stockings and gifts downstairs. After they had finished, Mom had us all sit on the stairs while she took what seemed to be a million pictures. Once she finished, we were FINALLY able to gallop down the stairs and take a look at what we got. Our faces were shining with delight as we discovered various presents from our wish lists. Everything was wonderful, until I saw it.

It was as shiny as if it had just been brought home from the store and had a festive bow taped to its handlebars, but there was no doubting: it was my little blue bicycle, resting on its kickstand next to my little brother’s stocking. Immediately my eyes filled with tears and I ran back to my room, slammed the door, and dove onto my bed, the entire time screaming “It’s my bike! It’s MY bicycle!! He can’t have it!”

I don’t know how long I laid there sobbing the sobs of a broken-hearted little boy before my parents came in, and I don’t remember how long it took them to calm me down. I do remember them telling me it was okay, that they understood how much my bike had meant to me but that it had gotten too small for me, then leading me to the garage. Once we got there I quickly became ashamed of myself, for there in the middle of the bay stood a brand new yellow and black bike. It was much bigger than the other one and it even had a brake on the handlebars like I’d always wanted! Needless to say I soon fell more in love with that bike than I’d ever been with my old one.

Sometimes as children of God we all act the way I acted that Christmas day in 2006. We take the blessings God gives us for granted until he takes them away, and then we whine and scream and cry without bothering to stop and look for the bigger picture. Then, when God unveils His plan and we realize how much better it is than our plan, we’re left feeling sheepish and childish because we didn’t trust Him like we should have.

Photo Credit: Wix Images

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Christmas Is ~~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

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