Sunday, May 29, 2005

One More For the Kids

Okay, the "young adults." And, for all of you...that is, the three of you who read my blog...who are tired of me talking about the Calculus students, I promise this is the last one. Until the next one.

I'm sending out a mailing list in a few minutes to all of those amazing, wonderful, super-hyper-mega talented folks. So it may be that one or two of them happen on this site and want to know what I've been saying about them behind their backs. I'm sure they'll refer to the Archives and access such entries as "CALCFEST 2005!" and "Killer Rabbit." Anyway, I hope to keep in touch with these splendiforous people who will soon be going away to college on their way to fame and fortune.

Tomorrow is a day off. Tuesday is a regular day, Wednesday is Graduation (Go, kids! Go, Anna!). Thursday is THE LAST DAY OF THE SCHOOL YEAR. I'm happy.

Friday, May 27, 2005


The Pioneer Club held a carnival on Wednesday night. The kids had a blast going back and forth between the train ride and the bounce house and the face painting and the basketball throw and all the games and food and fun. And then there was Whizzy the Clown. Ah, Whizzy. The kids had a blast. James had a BLAST.

I'm always so impressed by the people that work so hard on functions like these. The people who teach the classes and cook the dinners and work in the nursery. All so that the world can see Christ. All for the glory of God. I watched the people working that night...Tannon, Theresa, Shawn, Kate, Lisa, Aaron, Ryan, Kim, Tiffany, Doug, and others...and I was struck by how much of their lives people give to serve God.

It happens all the time but there are so many that go unnoticed. It will be nice to visit them in Heaven...they'll be the one's with the HUGE mansions.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

They That Wait Upon the Lord

We can be tired, weary and emotionally distraught, but after spending time alone with God, we find that He injects into our bodies energy, power and strength. --Charles Stanley

I'm tired.

They say that your hardest year of teaching is your first year. They lie. Your hardest year of teaching is the first year you teach an AP class. I feel like I've been thinking for 9 straight months. The extra time and stress of the year have weakened my body too. I haven't been sick this many days since my first year of teaching, back when I didn't have any immunities to all of the germs the kids carried around in their backpacks. This last bout started last Monday and I don't feel like I've taken a decent breath in over a week. The thing is, that while the workload increases radically from 7:00 to 5:00 Monday through Friday, the rest of the world carries on as usual. Things still need to be done. And the result of it all is, well, I'm tired. There's no gas in the tank; I'm running on fumes.

I'm not fooling myself into thinking that summer will be a time of rest. There will be plenty of activity and lots of running around. What it will be, however, is a time to stop thinking for a while. A time to veg out, watch the Angels, play at the water park, go to the zoo, hit golf balls. I may go entire days without having to...and I'm beginning to hate this word...concentrate.

Above all, what I hope for is a time of communion with God. A time to soak up His Word...fellowship with His people...and just be still and know. I hope to hear Him in the gentle wind. I hope to hide in the rock, rest in His arms. And I hope to rise up on eagle's wings.

Because the next school year is right around the corner.

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Perfect Day

Okay, maybe not perfect. If it had been perfect, I wouldn't have still been fighting a cold. Traffic would have maybe been a little lighter. But it was as close to perfect as a day can get on this side of the veil.

On Saturday, we dropped James off at his Grandma's house for the weekend. Someday, he may understand how incredibly blessed he is to have SO many people who actually WANT to take care of him. We already realize how great it is to have grandma's, grammie's, papa's, and aunts, uncles, and cousins who love him so much. The day really began with the realization of how awesome my mom is, and the rest of our family who do so much for us.

We drove to L.A. Lisa had packed some cold Pepsi's for me. She had also--get this--downloaded all of the directions we would need for the weekend into her PDA. Not only do I not know how to do this, but I didn't even know it was possible. So she navigated us perfectly everywhere we went. We got to the game just in time...they were singing the National Anthem as we walked up the outer steps of Dodger Stadium...and we found our seats. They are amazing! Our friend, Bill Barksdale, who it should be noted played ball with John Lackey's dad, gives us these tickets once a year when the Angels and Dodgers play. Lackey pitched a great game, the Dodgers made it close, but the good guys won the day.

Some time during the 7th or 8th inning, Lisa took a restroom break. While she was gone, the Angels scored two runs to take the lead. I thought she would be disappointed when she came back to see that she had missed the action, but she was all smiles. It seems she had run into Greg, one of the brothers we had rooted for on "The Amazing Race." She chatted him up for a while, told him how great we thought it was that he and his brother had not been afraid or ashamed to show their faith on the show, and he was very appreciative. He was on crutches, making his way to the exit, but she said he was very nice.

After the game, we drove to Marina Del Rey. Lisa had made reservations at a nice hotel there. Her business made it possible for us to stay there for next to nothing. She had also bought tickets online (and printed them out...who knew?) to Star Wars. We walked around a bit, had some good pizza, and went to the 7:45 showing. I liked it even more the second time and she loved it! It was fun to watch her watching it and then even more fun to finally get to talk about it with her later.

We went back to the park on Sunday but our seats weren't nearly as good, okay they were really bad, and the Angels lost. But Lisa and I still had a good time together. It was good to get away and do things as a couple. It reminds me of how amazing she is, how well we complement each other, and just how much I love her. The ball games and the movie were a lot of fun, but the best part by far was getting to enjoy them with Lisa.

Friday, May 20, 2005


"So farewell hope, and with hope farewell fear. Farewell remorse: all good to me is lost. Evil, be thou my Good." -Milton, "Paradise Lost"

My journey is now complete. I have seen the Dark Side and it is, well, Dark.

After six hours in line, with a cold I might add, the movie needed to be good. Really, really good. It met my expectations. It not only tied all six (count 'em, 6!) movies together, but actually managed to make the last two better. The music, costumes, editing, cinematography...all excellent. Even the dialogue and the acting was much better. But this one was all about story. And what a story it was.

What would make a good-looking, powerful young man make a decision to do pure evil? And did he become evil...or just a person for whom evil was easier and easier to do? Vader is such a caricature, evil incarnate, that it's easy to say he was evil. But this movie helped me analyze that approach we take to classifying people as "good" and "bad." After all, bad people are lost and, as such, a waste of time. We spend far too much time (and if we spend any time it is too much) trying to decide who is good and who is bad, who is "save-able" and who is lost. And in doing that, we lose sight of the fact that sin is not just a choice, and a new choice every time, but that it is present in all of us. We all fall short of the glory of God, and God loves the world just as much as he loves the church. Redemption is possible for anyone at any time.

Darth Vader, in a recent poll, came in behind Norman Bates and Hannibal Lecter as the "best" movie villain of all time. If the poll were taken now, after "Sith", he might be even higher. This movie portrayed how a good person, with good intentions, can walk down that path so easily. Someday, I hope to watch all six episodes from I through VI. Because the point is that, at the end, the Jedi returns. Redemption happens. Even if you're the third worst bad guy of all time.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A Brief Recap of the Past 28 Years

In 7th grade, I took an elective in Science Fiction Reading. I was into Heinlein at the time and wanted to read more of that stuff. All the buzz that year was about a big movie that was coming out in May called "Star Wars." There was virtually no science fiction in the theaters at the time and hadn't been anything big since "2001" in the 60's when I was too young to go to movies. So I got caught up in the excitement pretty easily. I didn't go opening day, but went shortly thereafter with my friend, Blaine Graybill. I remember not getting everything that was happening but being absolutely transfixed...and going again to catch more...and again...and again. It was years before VCR's made multiple viewings possible at home, so if you wanted to see a movie, you went to the theater. I went over 50 times.

I was in the first group to see "Empire" in 1980...I had to miss school for that. And I got into the theater employee's showing of "Jedi" in '83. After the movie was over at about 2:00 AM, I left the theater and got in one of the lines to see it again with the rest of the fanatics on opening day. I had to miss school AND work for that one. I hated the ewoks but loved the movie.

Then the long wait began. I was in the first groups for all of the special editions in the '90's, missing more work. And then I was at the midnight show for Episode I in '99. Of course, it was disappointing but, hey, it was still Star Wars. By the way, the name "Jar Jar" is not to be spoken aloud in the Thurman house. I was back at midnight in '02 for Episode II and it was better. And now, tonight I'll be there for the end. I expect it to be good, much better than the last two. And I expect to be a little sad when it's over.

There are very few things that connect the 12 year old to the 40 year old, but this is one. I'm glad that James already likes these movies and I look forward to sharing their story of redemption with him when he gets old enough to understand it. I promise to get back to writing about God and baseball and all the other joys of my life soon. But tonight, I'm going to the movies.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Is It Summer Yet?

After a busy workweek last week, my weekend went something like this:

Drop James off Saturday morning at Aunt T's, go with Lisa to a church workday. Back home to change (and check on the Angels score) then over to her dad's to pick him up, back to Aunt T's to pick James up for a wedding. Wedding, dinner, a little boogie-time and then home around 9:45 to polish up (and by "polish up" I mean, "write") my sermon for the morning. Up early Sunday to get to church in time to go over the PP presentation with James the Amazing A/V Man. Then preach, go to class, out to lunch with Mom (Teryaki Don...mmmmm) and home to grab concert tickets. Then back out to pick up Ashley and go to the Philharmonic (Borodin, Stravinski, and Prokofiev with 3, count 'em, 3 big choirs on stage...amazing sound). Drop Ash off and then back home to collapse on the couch and await the sweet embrace of death or the Survivor Finale, whichever came first. Fortunately, it was Survivor and Tom, whom I wish to be when I grow up, won the million. Sweeeeeet.

Anyway, I'm beat.

A quick word about Tom, the Survivor guy. He played the whole game with honor, strength, brains and dignity. A first for that show. I really was impressed.

Three more weeks of school...finals, grades, graduation...mix in a little Star Wars and a couple of Angels/Dodgers games...and then summertime. Summertime, summertime, Sum Sum Summertime....

Friday, May 13, 2005

Killer Rabbit

Sixteen high school juniors and seniors infiltrated Casa de Thurman last night and I got a glimpse (just a glimpse mind you) of the life of a youth minister. The night was set to start at 5:30 and they started showing up at 5:45. That's really good! Mind you, these are Calculus students we're talking about here, but I was still impressed. They came just at the same time as the pizza guy, imagine that. You know how, at dinner time, there's a always a point early on when the conversation dies to nothing because everyone is eating and somebody always says, "We must be hungry!" Yeah, this was nothing like that. It was loud. No, it was LOUD! Those of you who know teenagers know this: loud = good. It's when they're quiet that you start to worry. By the way, James, who usually hates noise, was having the time of his life. He loved all these kids and he just talked to them all night long.

We had a great time playing games before the movie. Three groups formed. One played Scattergories, one played Pictionary (they made up all their own phrases naturally) and the other played, ahem, Texas Hold 'em...I can't imagine where they found poker chips. The pictionary group let James play with them and he drew a quite nice representation of "James and the Giant Peach." He thought of it himself and the kids got it! They ALL screamed!!

The highlight of the movie, by far, was Pao's reaction to the killer rabbit. Hardly anyone had seen "Holy Grail" before, which was why it was a must-see. As usual, most of the girls didn't like it and most of the guys howled. But when that rabbit (with huge fangs...look at the BONES, man!) leapt from knight to knight doing mortal damage, Pao laughed so hard he fell off the couch. And then, for the rest of the movie, he kept thinking about it and laughing again. As much as I love that flick, he was way more fun to watch.

They left in one big clump, everybody saying thank you on the way out. What an awesome bunch. I think they had a good time. I had a blast!

Thursday, May 12, 2005


Some of the Calculus kids are coming over tonight for pizza and a movie. They have dubbed the evening "Calcfest 2005." I sent a note home to parents that called the night a "debriefing" of the year. The only way some of the students could get permission to come over was if their parents thought it was school-related. That makes me kind of sad, but then, that's why most of these kids are IN Calculus, because their parents have kept them focused on academics. So while we will ostensibly be discussing the applications of derivatives and integrals in actual settings, we will actually be eating pizza and watching "Holy Grail." Ah, the perks.

This school year has been grueling. I've worked harder this year than any other, including the first which everyone knows is supposed to be the toughest. Actually, the first year WAS the toughest by far, but not in terms of how hard I worked. (Why is it that sometimes I feel like I'm writing my memoirs and not blogging at all? And who would read the memoirs of a high school teacher from Fresno anyway? And aren't I very stream-of-consciousness today?) Aaaaaaanyway, as far as work-done versus results-achieved this has been a very disappointing year. I'm sure it will pay off next year and in years to come, but it's a little hard to look back at the year from a teaching standpoint. On the other hand, I have never...NEVER...known a greater group of people than the students that sat in my room this year. Every one of my five classes has been populated by the nicest, funnest (word?), most amazing group of individuals you can imagine. And, since a large percentage of my class is seniors, one can imagine how difficult graduation is going to be this year.

So, I'm going to enjoy them while I can, which will be for the next few weeks and then the occasional visit in years to come. Tonight, I'll have a chance to tell some of them how much they mean to me. Somewhere in between the pizza and Python.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Yoga. You seek Yoga.

Okay, bad pun. Sorry.

I can't help being in a very Star Wars place these days. A couple of the teachers I work with go to a yoga class every week and every time they start talking about it, I fantasize about opening my own yoga place called "You Seek Yoga." I mean, hardly anyone would get it, but since when have I cared about that and, besides, it's a fake yoga place anyway.

I've been studying about/thinking about/meditating about strength for the past few weeks. Specifically God's strength and how He gives it to us. I keep thinking about when Yoda said, "Look at me. Judge me by my size do you?" And that's the way it is with us. You just can't judge a Christian by his/her size. For our ally is God. And a powerful ally He is.

You just can't beat Yoda when it comes to spiritual introspection.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Up, Up, and Away

Brady's message yesterday was about the ascension of Christ and he introduced the topic by saying it was something that we don't talk about very much. I was struck by how true that is. That there are holydays devoted to his birth and his resurrection, but the day of ascension is so under-appreciated that we didn't even know it had come and gone. When Brady asked what was significant about last Thursday, some said that it was Cinco de Mayo, some said that it was the National Day of Prayer, and some said that it was 5-5-5...but nobody knew that it had been 40 days since Easter, the day Christ went to sit at the right hand of God!

He made a great point about how that must have been such an AHA! moment for some people. Jesus' birth was the same as anyone else's. He performed many miracles and even rose from the dead, but none of those events could have been as striking as when he simply lifted from the earth and kept on going. It had to be a "from whence he came" moment for those watching. "Where did Jesus come from?" "Ohhhhhhh...from up there...."

Our citizenship too is in heaven. He went there to prepare a place for us. We are pilgrims in this land, passing from strength to strength. Brady helped make that real.

Friday, May 06, 2005

He Has Become My Salvation

One of the greatest songs ever written was by the sister of a prince/shepherd/murderer. She had her flaws too, jealousy high among them, but boy could she write! Miriam, is in fact, one of the many overlooked heroes of the Bible, her fault for having the wrong chromosomes.

After walking across the floor of the Red Sea on dry land (dry, mind you, not soggy, not muddy, but dry!), she wrote a song and taught people to sing it. The best line goes, "The Lord is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation." It was such a good line that David and Isaiah both used it...that's like Lennon and McCartney borrowing a lyric.

I like it because it largely sums up our relationship with God. He is our source of strength, our only good, real, lasting source. He is our source of joy, our only good, real, lasting source. And He is our salvation. Period. Without Him we are weak, we are without joy, we are lost. All too often we allow Him to be one--or maybe two on a good day--of these things, but not all three. But Miriam knew that without God, the Israelites could not have pushed back the walls of the sea. They would not have had the desire to sing and dance and celebrate His Mighty Name. They would still be in captivity in Egypt.

Praise God! My Strength. My Song. My Salvation.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Catching Up

After more than a week of trying to get this blog back up, I may have figured it out. If you have NEVER posted a comment before because you have to go through the rigmaroll of creating your OWN blogsite first, do it today if you have the time. I'd like to know who's out there and whether this really is back up or not.

Here are a few happenings since my last post....

I saw the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. This is one of my favorite books (actually I like the radio show a LOT more) and I was really happy with the movie. There were a lot of things I would have done differently, but I'm deciding to focus on the positive here. After all, where else can you hear dialogue like this:

"Are you serious? Is the world about to end?"
"Yes, in about five minutes."
"Well, shouldn't we lie down or put a paper bag over our heads or something?"
"Yes, if you like."
"Will that help?"

That makes me very happy. But not as happy as hearing John Williams' music for Episode III. He pulled out all the stops for this one, writing new themes, using a lot of old ones in new variations...heck the Throne Room music plays not once but TWICE during the closing credits. I'm getting a tad giddy for May 19. Lisa and I have tickets for the 21st as well. We'll go see the Angels/Dodgers at 1:00 and then drive to Marina Del Rey and see Star Wars. Best. Day. Ever.

This week is the Pepperdine Lectureship and, as usual, I'm in Fresno. I've always been envious of my family being there, but this year it's worse than usual. See, I've gotten to know some of the wonderful ZOE folks a little bit and knowing that I am missing them...and Mike Cope...and Randy Wray...and others from places abroad...well, I'm jealous. Let's see, I retire in about 20 years....

More quick tidbits (are you actually still reading this? Sheesh.):

Bee led a beautiful prayer in Hmong on Sunday. In the silence that followed, James asked, at a normal 4-year-old volume, "Why was that man making those noises?" Oog.

Lisa and I got surprise tickets to see Maroon 5 last night. They rocked.

The Angels just finished a sweep of the Mariners. In first place and looking good.

I'm working on my lesson for May 15th. The topic they've given me is "God is a Consistent Source of Strength." Can I do it without a Star Wars reference mere days before Episode III comes out? I doubt it. Stay tuned.

Broken Blog

My blog is broken. I'm trying to fix it. God is teaching me patience. He's been working on that for a loooooong time now. I wish I could HURRY UP AND LEARN IT ALREADY!!!

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