Painting in art class held a frightening fascination for me. Prep time was extensive, class time chaotic, and clean up messy. Art has never been my favourite subject, either to do or to teach. But, as it was part of the curriculum, I did my best. I was not afraid to seek help both for ideas and methods. I read books, searched curriculum sources, and put together what I hoped was a credible program. My students seemed to enjoy the projects and over the years I developed several that I found particularly successful.

One day in particular, I set up for the dreaded painting class. My students were all grade 8’s, so I was not anticipating as much of a mess as with younger students. To my surprise and delight, the class went well. The students were into the assignment and clearly enjoying the experience. I found myself intrigued with their efforts and felt the afternoon was a success.

They were a responsible class and so the clean-up went smoothly. Almost the end of the day, and all was well. What’s that verse about pride and destruction? I should have kept it in mind.

The paint came in large glass jars with twist on lids. We kept them in the front cupboard. I told the class that I would put them away as I didn’t want to risk them falling and creating a mess.

The students put the lids on when they were finished, and I carried each one to store in the cupboard. The last jar was a deep yellow and was three-quarters full. I picked it up and kept one hand on the bottom; all in the cause of safety.

I reached the front of the room and was just about to put it in the cupboard, when it slipped from my hands and hit the floor! It shattered of course and yellow paint covered the floor, splashed up the wall, the cupboard doors, and all over me.

There was stunned silence for a few seconds, then someone giggled. The humour of the situation hit the rest of us, and we all joined in the laughter. Being the great students that they were, soon someone was picking up pieces, someone else went for water and paper towels, and together we cleaned up MY mess.

I don’t remember what I did about the paint covering me. With any luck I had a paint shirt on, but I don’t remember that part. Chances are that I didn’t and that I went home covered in yellow paint!

Moral of the story: I’d like to say don’t paint with your classes, but that wouldn’t be fair. Perhaps I should say trust your students. But the best advice would be; don’t store the paint in glass jars!


Jesus is Tempted – Sharon Dow

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. Matthew 4: 1-2 NIV

Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights. We’re not told if Jesus drank water during that time, but although a person can go without water for seven days, in extreme heat the time is drastically reduced. Jesus was in the desert, a place known for heat. Because he was housed within a human body, subject to all the assaults common to man, we can make an educated guess that Jesus had a water source. Now place yourself in this position; you’ve had a limited supply of water but absolutely no food for forty days. What would be the condition of your body at this point? And what about the condition of your mind? It is no surprise to find that Jesus is hungry. He must have been hungry long before the forty days were up.

It is now that Satan decides to strike. Isn’t that always the way? When you’re down, at your lowest, Satan loves to find you. Satan knew all along that Jesus was there in the desert. He had been following him since his birth and had made more than one attempt to eliminate him. So why did he wait forty days before approaching Jesus? I believe God restrained him until God’s timing was fulfilled.

Jesus KNEW that he was going into the desert to be tempted by Satan! He knew the purpose, yet went willingly. Would we willingly go where we knew that Satan would tempt us? Jesus faced evil head-on and was not swayed by the allure of Satan. Oh to be like Jesus.

Sharon is the author of three books. Find her books and contact her HERE.

It’s time to close the door on my first Junior High School. There are many more memories but some cannot be told and some are only fragments of the whole fabric. But life was moving on, and I needed to move with it.

My next school was also filled with wonderful students with their joys and challenges and I soon became as attached to them as I had been to my first group.

I now entered the time of the grape gum; bubble gum, purple colour, grape flavoured, and with a strong aroma. My students embraced the colour and flavour and decided it was worth the consequences to chew it in class.

Now gum in and of itself bears no wickedness, but the school rules stated that gum was not to be chewed in the school and as a teacher, it was my duty to uphold the rules. The students could not understand why it should be banned, but if you’ve ever sat at a schoolroom desk and put your hand under the edge, you would encounter a piece stuck there by a precious owner. Carpets were also a great place to find bits and pieces, and removal was almost impossible. Then there was the distraction element . . . and the reasons go on and on.

With some classes, the least disruptive thing to do was to calmly say, please put your gum in the basket. This usually led to compliance and the class quickly resumed a normal working atmosphere. I liked to err on the side of fewer consequences unless the offense was often repeated. Then I dealt with it on a personal basis.

One class of students was often mystified by my ability to “see” them chewing gum and ask them to throw it away. I would sometimes have my back to them and would make my request. Often I would hear a mumbled, “How did she know I was chewing gum?” and then the offender would quietly put it in the basket.

Now before you judge me; no, I seldom turned my back on a class: not a good idea to do so. However, this particular room had a secret weapon for me. On each side of the front chalkboards were cabinets with glass doors. Unknown to the students, I could see their reflections in the glass. This coupled with the strong gum smell, led me to the correct person every time! The fragrance would alert me that gum was being chewed, then the reflection would indicate the culprit and that led to my success!

This also worked well for targeting talkers and note passers! Now of course, for most of my teaching time in the classroom, I faced the students, but it happened just often enough for the mystery to evolve.

Such fun! I don’t know if they ever caught on, but now I’ve told the tale and my secret is out!

Literature class was always my favourite class to teach. I love reading and wanted to instill a love of reading in my students. Early in my career, I discovered that even Junior High students enjoyed having the teacher read to them, so I made it a practice to include teacher reading. I’ve read through the entire Narnia series to classes over the years as well as other literature that was of interest to them.

I would often read a chapter following afternoon recess, or at the end of the day. It relaxed the students and gave them a bit of down time which was not plentiful in a busy junior high classroom.

As well as the book we were reading for pleasure, I would often read the story or poem we were going to study. One day I read a story to one of my grade 8 classes that involved a red-headed boy named Rufus. I must confess that I don’t remember the story line, only that the students liked the story.

We discussed the story and then I assigned an exercise to do at their desks. All was quiet as each student worked on the assignment. One boy raised his hand to ask permission to use the washroom. He happened to be a red-headed boy, but his name, of course, was not Rufus.

I, still in the grip of the story, answered his hand with, “Yes, Rufus, what would you like?”

The class burst into laughter! I believe his face and mine, turned bright red. I can’t remember my reaction, but I can only hope that I laughed too, and that I apologized for my slip of the tongue (and slip of the memory!)

This was many years ago and I lost track of “my Rufus.” But recently we re-connected and he reminded me of this story (nothing like your students remembering your slips of the tongue!) He told me that for a time after that, many of the students called him Rufus, and there is apparently one friend who still calls him that today! He said people ask why, but they keep the story to themselves.

I love these crazy stories that show that the teacher is subject to errors as well as the students. Fortunately, junior high students are very forgiving and so we laugh and carry on.

My classes held a host of interesting students. I don’t ever remember being bored teaching any of them. Early teens love to dream big. The world is before them and nothing appears to block the path ahead. I love their optimism.

One vibrant young lady was fascinated with Prince Charles; then a young, eligible bachelor. Her dream was to meet and eventually marry him. While she was waiting for just such an opportunity; she collected pictures, stories, newspaper articles, anything at all pertaining to him.

As most of my students will recall, a research speech was a feature of my classes. She, of course, chose to present a speech featuring Prince Charles. Because she was so enthusiastic about her topic, her speech was animated and excellent. As a class, we loved her portrayal of a young, handsome prince of fairy tale proportions.

Alas, Prince Charles married Dianna, and my lovely young lady married someone else. Time and distance were not advantageous for her. But her lively interest in royalty is well remembered by me, and I’m guessing by several of her classmates.

Fairly recently, after a gap of many years, we re-connected. I found my lovely student had grown into a lovely lady and it was a joy for me to catch up with her life.

I mentioned to her that I saw that she had changed her name to Camilla. She laughed and said, “I can’t believe you remembered that!” Then in that fun, mischievous way I remembered so well, she said, “If I had married Charles, there wouldn’t have been a Camilla.”

As I write these stores, most of the students featured so far have long since passed out of my sphere of contacts, but this one will read this story, and I hope she laughs with me!

So to you, my unnamed student of the day, know that you are loved and my memory of you as a student is a precious one. I pray that the rest of your life will be filled with every good gift that comes from above, from the Father of Lights.


I love this story!


In my early days of teaching, each year during Education Week, one afternoon was set aside for parents to visit the classrooms and sit in on a lesson. This was my first year teaching Grade 8, and it was early in the year.


I prepared my Literature lesson well, striving for interest and excitement. We were in the poetry section at the time, and some of the students needed to be convinced that poetry can be fun (or even tolerable!)


The walls of the classroom were lined with chairs for our visitors and it was full! Perhaps the parents were checking out the new teacher; the new teacher who was a little nervous teaching before parents. I wanted to make a good impression.


I can’t remember the title of the poem, but it described a wooded area during and after a gentle rain. I enthusiastically went through my carefully prepared introduction, read the poem with good expression, and then moved into the discussion. To begin the discussion, I asked a question to get them thinking.


My question was, “What do you think the woods were like after the rain?”


Hands quickly flew into the air. They, too, wanted to impress their parents. I was pleased; they were with me. I looked around making my choice of the student who would answer the question. I passed over the ones that I knew would have imaginative answers, because I saw a hand go up that was usually not up.


I loved this girl dearly. She was quiet in class; not often volunteering answers, but had answers when I prodded her. Her mother was sitting there and I thought what a great opportunity to give her a chance to present her answer.


So I answered her hand. I repeated the question; “What do you think the woods were like after the rain.”


She quickly answered; “Wet.”


The room, including the parents, burst into laughter. She laughed, too. So what else could I do except join the fun!


I’m not sure how I got through the rest of the lesson; but I somehow passed parental inspection and learned some valuable lessons, as well. I must admit, I’m smiling as I write. It was a memorable moment!

I know where you live – where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city – where Satan lives. Revelation 2:13 NIV


Ah Pergamum; beautiful Pergamum, you have allowed Satan to make his home in your city.


One day as I read this verse, Antipas caught my eye. “Who are you?” I asked. A search of Scripture found no other mention of him. There is some historical information, but even that is not extensive.


I was impressed that Christ would mention him by name when addressing the church of Pergamum. When Antipas was martyred, I’m sure he heard, “Well done, faithful servant.” Not only is he mentioned as a martyr, but also as “faithful witness.” Even under extreme persecution, he stood firm and no one could still his voice. He witnessed to the people of Pergamum until the end.


What a contrast: a beautiful but corrupt city and a faithful witness, one who was willing to witness until death.


There are places in the world today where Christians are martyred for their faith. We only hear a trickle of stories coming out of these countries. I believe that many more are standing firm for Christ, even in the midst of persecution, even with the threat of death.


Search your heart to see if your spiritual condition is strong enough to withstand the ravages of persecution. If not, it’s time to study the word of God and labour in prayer for this kind of faith. I call it persecution faith. Do you have it?

I am incredibly interested in politics. I’ve always had a secret wish to sit as a member of the House of Commons in Ottawa. Every evening I can’t wait to listen to the National News to see what has transpired during the day. I thoroughly enjoyed the interviews with Peter Mansbridge and the leaders of the four major parties.

I don’t usually blog about issues of this nature because I don’t like controversy, but this election is just too interesting to let pass. I have already decided where my vote will go; I decided long before the election call as I prefer to vote on party lines. I have moved from this position a few times over the years, but for the most part I’m loyal to my party of choice.

Some of you like to vote on issues, or on packages offered by one party or the other. That is also an excellent way to vote. The main thing for me is that you get out and vote! We are so fortunate to live in a country that allows voting, and our wishes as a nation are the final answer as to who forms the next government. This is a privilege not enjoyed by a large portion of our world. If you have decided not to vote, please rethink that decision and vote.

I have heard some say that one vote doesn’t matter, but if a percentage of the population make that decision, it matters. In the last federal election, a little over 61% of the eligible voters actually voted. That means that almost 39% of the eligible voters did not have a say in the formation of the next government. You may say, but I don’t like any of the leaders or their platforms. That may be the case, but take a look at the candidates running in your riding, acquaint yourself with their positions, and vote.

I have become a poll watcher! It’s so interesting to see what is happening with public opinion. Today, the three main parties are in a dead heat. I’m anxious to see the next polls coming out to see if any leader has broken away from the pack and captured the lead. Where will it end? It’s an interesting campaign.

Looking at the issues, as I see it, the voter has three distinct choices; stay the course, take a sharply different course, or follow a modified course. The issues at the forefront are the economy, the refugees, the war on terrorism, and the environment. There are plenty of side issues as well. Each party has a “plan” which may or may not be successful. Listening to the pundits will throw some light on the plans, but even they don’t agree.

My favourite discussion panel is the At Issue group which airs on the Thursday night CBC National news led by Peter Mansbridge with Andrew Coyne, Chantel Hebert, and Bruce Anderson. I find they bring a balance to the current events of the day and are well-versed in the topics under discussion.

One thing I don’t like is the negative advertising. It is done by all the parties and in my opinion lessens the message. However, they do seem to work, but I personally would rather each party tell me what they are going to do, not if a leader is ready, or if his policies are old traditions, or he is too far to the left or right.

The incumbent seems to get it from all sides. He is the person to beat. I, for one, am tired of the hate I see for Mr. Harper. You may or may not agree with all of his policies, but that is no cause to fill the internet with hate messages about him. Nor do I like the message that Mr. Trudeau isn’t ready. Who can say?

To the political parties I say; please tell me what you will do for our country if you are elected, and tell me how you plan to pay for it.

To the citizens of Canada I say; check out the issues, make an informed choice, and VOTE on October 19, 2015.

I love Junior High students. I love their awakening sense of the wider world around them. I love their off-the-wall sense of humour. I love their mood swings as they work out relationships and as they cope with changing and developing bodies. I love their argumentative approach when they are passionate about a topic. I love the creativity that is beginning to show real talent. I love teaching them and have never regretted my decision to teach that age level.

Today my mind is in a grade 8 classroom and it’s speech time! I’ve always told my students that this is my favourite time of year. They thought I was crazy as it certainly wasn’t their favourite (at least for some of them.)

I felt it was important for them to be able to stand before the class and present a speech that they had researched and prepared. It was important on so many levels. They needed to stand before an audience as many of them would be in careers that would demand speaking before their peers or before a wider audience. Even if they never gave a speech again, it gave them the self-confidence to know that they could.

It was important because they were sharing their ideas; putting themselves out there for others to see. This is always a risk as everyone will not agree with your ideas. A classroom is a great place to develop this skill where you are protected by the teacher from any adverse reactions.

It also involved research. For many, this was a new thing and taught them skills for effective research. They also learned how to prepare and work from a proper outline; a very useful tool.

And the lessons learned were not only on the speaker’s side, but also on the listeners. Everyone should know how to listen respectfully and learn from the speaker. No wonder it was my favourite time.

Back to the classroom where nervous students were awaiting their turn to present their speech. I knew that one girl in particular was very nervous. When her turn came, she walked to the front where I had placed a podium. The students had been instructed to use cue cards; however this nervous young lady had chosen to ignore this piece of advice and arrived at the front with several sheets of loose-leaf paper.

With a deep sigh, she spread them out in front of her. And oh no, the “merry little breezes” chose that moment to sweep through the open window and scatter her papers on the floor. She looked at the scattered sheets with tears and dismay. I was instantly at her side. Fortunately the class did not laugh which would have made the situation so much worse for her. We gathered the sheets and to my dismay, they weren’t numbered! But eventually she got them back in order, I closed the window, and the speech went on.

We made the best of a situation that was traumatic for her, and my guess is that she has never forgotten that day! I comforted and encouraged her, and I hope she can now look back and smile.

A teacher’s job is so much more than teaching curriculum. As the students return to classes this week, remember that the person in front of the classroom will be teacher, nurse, comforter, counsellor, mentor, peace-maker, discipline enforcer, love dispenser, encourager, and so much more.

Perhaps you could encourage a teacher today!



John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. Matthew 3:4 NIV

John the Baptist intrigues me. I am drawn by his passion and dedication, his message of repentance, his removal from society, and his lifestyle contrary to the norm of first century society.

Jesus captivates me. In contrast he was loving and caring, in the centre of society, teaching a new way to live, contrary to the accepted beliefs of the religious Jews. 
Both were used by God; both had large crowds following them; many believed their message, repented, and turned their lives over to God.
John was totally human and knew that he was the voice preparing the way for the Christ. I think by removing himself from society, he was able to focus on the task God had set before him. When he had completed his purpose, in a cruel twist of a woman’s mind, he was arrested and beheaded. 
Jesus conducted his ministry as God had directed him; he was fully God and fully man. Jesus met a cruel death at the hands of twisted people who feared he would take their place. He, too, completed the task God had for him.
But here all comparisons end: Jesus is the Son of God. He rose from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father in Heaven, interceding on our behalf. What a thrilling message for us today!

Do you have Jesus interceding for you? Today is a good day to accept him as your Saviour and this amazing provision will be yours, too. 

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