The Professor and His Parents

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An oversized cardigan and a bow tie were his going home clothes. At the age of two days old, he was heading home from the hospital with his exhausted but overjoyed parents. “With that outfit, he looks like a little professor!” exclaimed his father as he tucked him into his car seat.

The nickname seemed to stick and so it came to be that little Titus David Mueller became known as “Professor Titus” or just simply…“The Professor.”

The Professor wasn’t entirely happy about his lot in life outside the womb and wasn’t afraid to let his parents know about it. After a couple of nights of continuous, inconsolable crying and no sleep for anyone, the father reached out to me, The Professor’s grandmother, who was happy to come and spend a few days in the classroom of townhouse #190.

I was nervous. Even though I had experience with newborns, it had been many years since I had helped care for one. Would I remember all the tricks? Would any of them still work? I knew the parents would be in a precarious state, not having slept in days. What would I encounter when I crossed over the threshold of their townhouse? I had packed a suitcase for a few days but had no idea exactly how long I would be staying. To free up Titus’ mother to do nothing but baby care and self care and better sleep for the whole household were my goals. Titus’ father was off work for a few days, but eventually, he was going to have to return to work. Just how long would this take?

As I pulled into their parking lot, I breathed in deeply and slowly exhaled. “You got this,” I murmured under my breath. The Professor’s father actually appeared rather calm, albeit haggard, when he opened the door. I stepped into the darkened room, which would become somewhat of a classroom for the next several days. Soon The Professor’s mother joined us, clutching the object of their love and dreams and angst. Titus David. How could such a tiny person upend their world so quickly and completely?

As I scooped him up, I shooed the parents upstairs with orders to go to bed and sleep. I sunk into a deep chair with the swaddled Professor and didn’t move for two and a half hours. My arm went to sleep as deeply as the child. Studying his face, I marveled at all his features, at times seeing glimpses of his father as the little boy who was once my own and other times seeing his mother’s face. Titus slept soundly as his parents snoozed away upstairs, and I thought maybe, just maybe, I was going to be able to handle this.

When his parents descended the stairs, they couldn’t believe The Professor had slept that long. Handing him over to his mother to be nursed, I headed for the kitchen to see what I could put together for a late supper. Simple and quick seemed to be the order of the day, and I put together some sandwiches, which were hastily devoured by the three of us.

Although the household had come to a screeching halt since the arrival of The Professor, I sensed no chaos. The parents were stumbling through their days and nights as if in a dream, but I could tell they had kept their love on. Together, they would learn the rhythms of life with a newborn, and I was privileged to be called alongside to see the beginnings of this new family unit.

The first lessons taught by The Professor at townhouse #190 were unforgettable. In Fluidity 101, it seemed as though the class was held under water. There was an ease of movement as we “went with the flow.” We didn’t establish any rigid standards of how things were supposed to look with a newborn. We took our cues from Professor Titus, which gave us increased mobility and less strain.

I thought Flexibility 101 was going to be a stretch for me, but I actually found it be a fun class! The three of us, who were taking the class, took turns leading. Sometimes The Professor’s father took over in handling him. Other times it was the mother. And other times it was me. I marveled at the grace the parents exhibited towards one another as one would step up while the other stepped back.  We took turns sleeping so the others could rest. Even I had to have my nap times! Fueled by healthy food, naps, and even some laughs, we powered on. Little by little, we were gaining ground. Laundry was done, groceries purchased, meals prepared, diapers changed, bedding changed, bathrooms cleaned, and floors mopped. The Professor’s mother was slowly but surely recovering from childbirth. Soon it was time for The Professor’s father to return to work, and I knew my time here was coming to an end.

As grateful as I was for passing Fluidity 101 and Flexibility 101, my favorite class of all is still being held, and most likely, I will never graduate from it. Fascination 101. In this class, I study The Professor himself. He is fascinating! Every little furrowed brow, purse of the lips, wisp of hair, brush of eyelash, tiny sigh, and mammoth yawn are studied and memorized. And when I am apart from him, the chords that are struck in the sweet companionship we share, cease not to vibrate. That is the wonder of grandparenting.

I am convinced we are to be living in a state of fascination not only with little humans, but with their Creator as well. It is how He has hardwired us, to be completely fascinated with Him. To be drawn irresistibly by the attention and interest He has in us. We are His creations, and I believe He finds us fascinating as well!

As my visit came to a close with The Professor and his parents, I stood in the doorway of townhouse #190. What a week it had been! I turned to his father and remarked, “The Professor is going to teach you more about life and love than you will ever teach him!” He laughed and nodded in agreement. I looked at The Professor, and a little newborn grin broke out over his face. “Class dismissed!” he seemed to say as I turned to go.

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Loading and Unloading: A Perspective on National Educational Reform

The bedrock of my beliefs regarding the education of our children is this: The rights and responsibilities of educating our children lie with the parents first and foremost. Of course, there are many parents who forsake that right and responsibility or just lack the belief or confidence it is theirs. While we have the right to delegate much of that to someone else, such as public schools, private schools, charter schools, etc., at the end of the day, it is we, as parents, who are still responsible. I believe this is a God-given right.  It’s time to unload the weight from where it has been and put it back squarely where it fits.  By expanding our nations’ educational options, we better serve our parents in their roles as overseers of their children’s education.

Recently, I read this in an article written by Mark Bauerlein, a professor of English at Emory University. It was posted on vox.com as part of The Big Idea, a section for outside contributors’ opinions about, and analysis of, the most important issues in politics, science, and culture.

“As the cost-benefit numbers continue to look bleak, the qualifications of a public school insider should mean less and less. And the more politicians and commentators insist that the first responsibility of the secretary of education is to represent and support public schools, the more we have an example of “capture” in government.

Capture takes place when an agency charged with monitoring an industry or profession ends up in the service of it. The agency or official starts to regard the object of evaluation as a constituency that must be supported. When the governor of a state gets too close to the public employee unions around negotiating time, he has stopped representing the people of his state and become a partisan of special interests. He has been captured.”

The Department of Education and the National Education Association have long been mainstays in how we view the education of our children, possibly for generations. Over time, they have flipped how our nation once believed (the responsibility of the education of our children lies with the parents) and have instead placed the responsibility squarely upon the shoulders of the government.

The DOE and NEA are powerful structures, which I believe have been “captured” and now work to serve their own interests above the interests of our children. It is no wonder they are so threatened by an outsider, who dares to think differently and propose additional avenues to the education of our children!

In some ways, I believe we as a nation have adopted a “slave” mindset concerning how we perceive the education of our children. This is how things are. It’s all we have known. Our grandparents and our parents have served under the mindset of public education being first and foremost the responsibility of the government. We can’t fathom or imagine anything else. We have no grid for it. But the door to freedom has cracked open a bit. Do you perceive it?

What I see happening is the dismantling of some of these incredible power structures in our nation for the purpose of introducing innovative, creative solutions. And the power structures in place will have none of it!

It is my own natural bent to cling to the way things have always been, to hold onto the status quo for dear life because it is the most comfortable and safe way of doing things. But when I listen to my spirit, I hear something else. I hear embrace innovation, offer choices, expand opportunities, etc.

Honestly, I rejoice to see this day come.  My children are grown and gone, but I have a grandchild, who could one day greatly benefit from this opportunity.  It’s an exciting, albeit sometimes terrifying, season for our nation! It is my hope and prayer that our nation’s educators and administrators will see the opportunities that lie before them and welcome the kind of change that could lead to the betterment of our educational system.

I will end with this quote from the aforementioned article, which can be found here: http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/2/7/14529608/betsy-devos-defense-critics-wrong-public-schools

“Indeed, as the alternative schooling movement spreads, one can imagine it attempting the same kind of capture that every other large industry aims for in its relations with the federal government.

If done with integrity, however, this diversification of primary and secondary education is clearly a threat to the privileged status of public schools. In objecting to Betsy DeVos on the grounds that she is insufficiently committed to the public schools above all other deliveries of education, her opponents are maintaining a narrow and disappointing status quo, whether they realize it or not.”

Ship Turning: A Perspective on National Course Correction

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You probably have heard the adage that goes something like this: The bigger the ship, the longer it takes to turn it around. A small ship can turn on a dime. A large vessel needs lots of time and careful preparations before making a shift in direction. While this is true as a whole, it also depends greatly upon the type of large ship we are talking about.

A cruise ship is designed primarily for the comfort of the passengers. Turning around in a critical situation would take several minutes and anything faster could create big problems, not only with the passenger’s comfort but with all the ship’s systems that are not equipped to handle sudden change. A cruise ship is a type of floating hotel. Tables and beds would be overturned. Passengers would be thrown off balance and fall. Injuries would probably ensue. Perhaps lives would be lost.

A battleship, however, can turn around much quicker, perhaps in several seconds, although even then it could cause some discomfort for the sailors and damage to equipment if it isn’t securely affixed. But these vessels are designed for war, where every second of maneuverability can mean the difference between life and death. Every man and woman on board is ready for this type of quick turnabout and is trained for it, plus, the logistics of the vessel are designed for the possibility that a sudden change may need to be taken. A battleship will suddenly change direction for strategic and tactical advantage, while a cruise ship would never have a similar reason for turning.

I think you may catch my drift here. As a nation, we have been accustomed for many years to being on a cruise ship. However, that is no longer the case. Whether you realize it or not, we are in a battle for the heart and soul of who we are as a nation. It is a spiritual war primarily but with many earthly ramifications.

For many years, we have been making a beeline in a certain direction. It has been extreme. It has been purposeful. It has been mostly unchallenged and in many cases ignored. Its ultimate destination would have been deadly in regard to our identity and sovereignty as a nation.

Change was needed and needed quickly. It has come. Although we have been duly warned, even so, we are still shocked and rocking and reeling with the change. We are being thrown about the vessel and many have threatened mutiny.

Here is why I am still “on board” and not being tossed about the ship:

1. I am a nationalist. By this I mean, I support the concept of individual nations, not a global society where borders and boundaries are erased supposedly for the common good. By being a nationalist, I am NOT saying that I believe our nation is intrinsically “superior,” should suppress weaker nations, or have no regard for other nations’ concerns. However, nations cannot be nations if they do not have boundaries and borders. They are what make us distinct and yes, defendable. If you know my husband and me, you know of our great love for the people of all nations. You know we have supported the work of the church in many places around the globe. We, ourselves, were foreigners in another country for the first year of our marriage. In no way, is the love for our nation exclusive, but our first national loyalty is to the one that has given us so many freedoms and privileges for which we are ever grateful.

2. Someday, I will be a “globalist”…but that day has not yet come. As a Christian, my first and foremost loyalty is to another kingdom – the Kingdom of God. For now, this kingdom is primarily invisible and resides in the hearts of Christians. It is manifested to some degree wherever Christians abide and are “salt and light.” However, it is not here fully and will not be until Christ returns. On that day, there will be a “one world government,” and we will be a “globalist” society with a benevolent King. But in the meantime, we have nations. Individual nations each with a unique identity, purpose, and destiny.

3. Sadly, between the time of individual nations and the return of Christ, there will be another “globalist” society. One that is ruled by a man. This is prophesied in Scripture so we know it is coming. We will lose our national identity and sovereignty, as will all nations. It will appear as if peace and world harmony have come, but it will be a false peace. Does that mean we just accept it and go along with it? No, of course not. It will be a time of great wickedness unlike we have ever seen. But for now, we have a window of opportunity to turn our crash course around. Are you aware of it?

The national course correction we have embarked upon seems severe. It seems extreme. But if you look behind us, for several years we had been on another extreme path, one that I believe would have led to destruction. We have mercifully been extended an opportunity to turn it around.

Having said that, no amount of extensive, broad reading and listening to news will give you a complete picture of the true state of the affairs of our nation. It is partial and incomplete at best. We know in part and we prophecy in part. Likewise, no amount of Scripture study and knowledge will give you all the answers. In fact, you can probably find Scriptural reference for just about any stance and opinion you have. What is needed most is discernment, an understanding of the times and seasons in which we live.

Here are three ways to grow in discernment:

1. Hold to the “main and plain” things of Scripture. There are really only a few firm stances that I maintain in life that won’t budge. Most of these are contained in the Apostles’ Creed. Many other stances are loosely held and adjustable because they are preferences or opinions.

2. Look for discerning individuals and listen widely but with wisdom. Because we only have partial knowledge and understanding, we need to put the pieces together by listening well. No opposing views should be summarily dismissed as invalid but kept under consideration until proven otherwise.

3. If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit resides in you. Ask Him for discernment. One of His main purposes is to lead us into all truth. “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come.” John 16:13

If you are a fellow Christian, we owe to one another a terrible loyalty as well. We are on the same team, not opposing ones. Most of this loyalty is expressed, not in the high places of speech and rhetoric, but in the trenches, in the low places of service as we walk out our citizenship in this great nation. See you in the trenches!

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