Archive for April, 2014


I went to bed Saturday night with the excitement and anticipation of a child awaiting the arrival of the Easter Bunny!

I knew, that when I awoke on Easter Sunday, coffee with


awaited my taste buds!

For the first time since before the season of Lent I would not just have the habit of my morning hot and steaming cup, but also the enjoyment of the taste!

Hubby was making the coffee that morning, and asked how many cups I wanted. The anticipation was so great that I knew one cup would not do. He decided to double his regular amount as well. Of course this meant that the waiting for it to brew also took double the normal amount of time!

You know how they say that a watched kettle never boils? Well, let me tell you, the same goes for a watched coffee maker!

Once I was pouring the hot, steaming dark into my cup of cream, the rest of my senses awakened with delight. The marriage of the white and black into a caramel cup of visual wonderland. The steam was beckoning my inhaling of nasal delights. And my hands sought the warmth pushing through the ceramic mug. All that was left was to lift it to my lips and enjoy.

And enjoy I did! It was such a treat for my senses.

I also made a realization … this Easter Sunday treat created such a delightful start to my Sunday.

I feel embarrassed to admit that I had not looked forward to Sunday like this in … too long.

This omission of cream in my every day morning coffee, although such a miniscule sacrifice, did give me a fresh appreciation of what Jesus sacrificed. Everything about the Easter story was clearer, more meaningful to me. Not because I had omitted cream from my coffee, but because I had participated in sacrifice. In a sense I awoke on Easter Sunday feeling as though I had gone to the tomb and found it empty.

I had participated in walking the final steps with my Lord, and that was even sweeter than cream in my Sunday coffee. It has made the six to seven week walk to the cross, to the tomb and out …

my walk.

” … stay here and keep watch with me.”
Luke 22:38b

“But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ,
so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
1 Peter 4:13


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Ever have a day when thankfulness seems to be spilling from every pore in your body?

Recently I had such a day, in the area of mothering.

My son came home from school puffed up bigger than the Magic Dragon.

He had had three interactions that day, that reminded me that, as parents, we are not raising our children all alone. It also reminded me that God, in His infinite wisdom, places people in the lives of our kids.

Our son had visited a past teacher that day. One who had nurtured his soul, and encouraged him that who he is, is valuable. My son still visits this teacher periodically, because in the presence of this teacher, my son knows he is accepted. In the presence of this teacher my son is valued.

That day our son had also conversed with another teacher, one whose opinion of how our son did in the school play, meant more than any other opinion. Why? Because our son respects this teacher, and thus the opinion of this man matters to him. This man continually, indirectly, reminds our son that they are brothers … brothers in Christ.

There is another man who has encouraged our son, one who has surprised me (oh, how I love to be proven wrong in these things). This man instilled confidence in my man-child, that he could learn his lines for the school play, when others may have doubted. And this man affirmed his efforts and results.

As I prepared dinner that night, I lifted my thanks to God for the men of good examples that He has placed in the life of my son.

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“I always say
they have to think that you care
before they care what you think.”
Jeni Rogers

When I read this article faces and names and memories came flooding back to my memory.

There was that grade one teacher who always seemed excited to see us enter her classroom.

That grade four teacher who made every … every student feel like she loved us, whether we passed the test, or failed miserably.

That grade six PE teacher who made me feel like even I could learn to throw a baseball.

That high school Social Studies teacher who made history interesting.

That high school Math teacher who loved practical jokes, to play them and to have them played on him.

We all have memories of teachers who taught us well … heart, mind, soul and body.

And that would seem to be the type of grade five teacher, Jeni Rogers, is for her students.

The story of Ms. Roger’s good teaching were focused in an article in the Daily Herald. And, I have included it below.

“Jeni Rogers was dragging.

This was several weeks ago and she was coming off the flu and the level in her normally endless reserve of energy and general peppiness was hovering near empty as she entered her fifth-grade classroom at Prairie Elementary School in Naperville.

After several minutes, one of her 24 students, a boy, eased up to her the way fifth-grade boys do, looked her in the face and said, “I’m so glad you’re here. I love you so much.”

And suddenly Jeni Rogers, a teacher known throughout her school community for her ability to build connections based on mutual respect with her students, their parents and her peers, felt it all pay off.

The teacher who has built a career by building confidence in others, by knowing exactly what motivates them and how to push them to excel, by demonstrating the importance of caring, had come face to face with a student who not only learned those lessons, but instinctively knew how to apply them.

“It was,” she says now, “like a gift from God.”

Funny she should say that, because after almost 30 years in Prairie classrooms, many of the folks she has come in contact with feel Rogers is something of a gift herself.

“I cannot do justice in words to express my gratitude for the passion, commitment and excellence of Jeni Rogers,” parent Jennifer Curtin wrote in one of many emails the Daily Herald received nominating Rogers as a teacher worth celebrating.

Curtain said her son was in Rogers’ class and she hopes her daughter will be, too.

“She changed my child for the better, and we feel absolutely blessed to have had her in our lives,” Curtain wrote. “Jeni Rogers is a diamond among gems in our Naperville Unit District 203 school district team.”

This is Tracy Dvorchak’s first year as principal at Prairie, but she sees it, too.

She talks about how Rogers strives from the first day of school to the last to treat each student as an individual, to find out what drives and interests them, and to build upon their attributes.

She talks about how Rogers sets goals for her classroom and how she’s a serious educator who makes learning fun.

Walk into Rogers’ classroom, she says, and you’ll see kids learning in many different ways but, “inevitably there’s laughter and joy.”

Better still, Rogers is the same way with parents and staff.

“She makes you feel special,” Dvorchak says. “She takes time to laugh and celebrate.”

“In a lot of ways,” Dvorchak says, “Jeni is the heart and soul of this school.”

Always a teacher

“Mrs. Rogers was an absolutely fantastic role model for my son. She brought out the best in him and helped him to become a confident and strong young man. … She is also a wonderful motivator … funny, charismatic, smart, witty and loving.” — parent Yvette Pelicot.

Jeni Rogers grew up in Naperville, went to school here, and knew early on she wanted to be a teacher. As a young girl she was always “playing school,” and by the time she reached Jefferson Junior High she found she loved everything around her. Loved the classroom. Loved the teachers. Even loved the principal.

She started out teaching first grade at Prairie for about 14 years, then spent four years as a second-grade teacher and finally settled into her fifth-grade classroom.

Ask around about what makes her so effective and almost everybody will settle on a common theme: She seems to know what makes kids tick. And they know what makes her tick, too.

Fifth-graders challenge her, she says. They make her laugh. “They’re funny, inquisitive and I love to see the growth,” she says.

On a recent morning, Rogers gives her students a group assignment that will take maybe 10 minutes and sits down with a visitor. During that conversation students approach her with questions, oh, every minute or so. And every one of them says “excuse me” or waits to be acknowledged. And Rogers thanks each of them by name for their courtesy, patiently answers their questions and sends them off with some simple encouragement.

That process of mutual respect starts the first time a student walks into a classroom and, as we shall see, never really ends. Parents marvel at how quickly she connects with their children, how quickly she builds trust.

She calls it “emotional intelligence.”

“I try to get to know them individually as people before I try to teach them,” she says. “I get to know what they like and what they’re afraid of.

“I always say they have to think that you care before they care what you think.”

It doesn’t happen overnight. She starts each school year with roughly two dozen new students, each with a different personality, background and skill set, and begins the process of preparing them both scholastically and emotionally for the coming jump to middle school.

Dvorchak says Rogers starts by working with her students to build expectations. That, she says, gives the students a sense of ownership and that sense of buy-in is key to Rogers’ success.

Rogers strives to make learning fun, but she can be firm when she needs to. Earlier this year, for example, a problem was developing with cellphone use in her class.

“Your job here is to learn,” she told students, “and your cellphones aren’t helping.”

At the same time, Rogers doesn’t dwell on the negative.

“If a child makes a mistake, that’s how she looks at it — as a mistake,” Dvorchak says. “She addresses it and then says, ‘How do we move forward?'”

“She’s a great teacher because when we don’t understand something … she goes back again and again until we understand,” student Ellie Stanich says.

Rogers says she strives to be flexible, patient, aware of individual differences and forgiving. It’s not a bad approach for her students to take, too.

“In this classroom, we have each other’s backs,” she says. “We try to forgive people and be able to apologize. I tell kids, ‘If you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up.'”

Role model

“My daughter sees Mrs. Rogers almost every morning as she waits for the bus to pick her up for middle school. It’s fun to walk to the bus stop and see all of the former students smile and wave at Mrs. Rogers.” — parent Amy Lieberman.

If you’re going to be a great teacher, you have to have a passion for what you do and you’ve got to understand that it’s just possible your influence is going to last long beyond the end of the school year.

Jeni Rogers knows that, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded, and that happened over winter break when a former student, now about 30 years old, returned to Prairie to look up his former teacher.

The two chatted for a while and he recounted stories from his first-grade year, things Rogers had said and done, and she smiled and nodded and thought something like, “Jeez, I don’t remember all that.”

But her former student did, and ultimately that’s what counts.

“You have to realize how important this job is,” Rogers says. “What we do, what we say, how we act, is something these kids will never forget.”

For Rogers, that sometimes means engaging in a little self-deprecating humor.

On a recent morning she turned to her students and asked, “What’s my favorite joke?” and many of them shouted back “Your hair!”

She laughs because, truth be told, Rogers has lots of hair. Lots and lots of hair. Enough to make a bald reporter think to himself, “Hey, could you lend me some of that? Nobody would notice.”

“What else?” she asks the students.

And one boy shouts back, “You slipped on some yogurt and tore your meniscus.”

Rogers laughs again because, yeah, she did slip on some yogurt and, yeah, she did tear her meniscus.

“If you see me limping around,” she says, “that’s why.”

It’s a natural give-and-take, and it’s the kind of thing that won’t stop when the school year ends.

For just about as long as anyone can remember, Rogers has written emails to her former students that go out a day or two before they start middle school. It’s a note that reminds them how special they are. It’s a note that reminds them she’s still thinking about them. It’s a note that reminds them they’ve done all the necessary work, they’ve learned all the necessary lessons and they’re ready to take this next, sometimes scary step.

“The night before he began junior high, we received a lovely email from Mrs. Rogers reminding my son (and his grade five classmates) that he was ready, that he was able and, more importantly, to remember how special he was,” parent Jennifer Curtin wrote in her email. “He walked tall to the bus that morning and has come home with a smile on his face every day.”


“Mrs. Rogers is one of those teachers that you never forget, the one with the poofy hair and nicknames for every student. She truly cares about each and every student. … The best gift Jeni Rogers will receive is the knowledge that … when asked years from now, ‘Tell me a teacher that made an impact on your life,’ many of these students, if not all, will say Mrs. Rogers.” — parents Andrea and Ajay Marwah.

In addition to her classroom work, Dvorchak says Rogers plays a key role on the school’s continuous improvement team, helping plan staff development and working on curriculum.

“It’s a remarkable balance,” she says, “people and curriculum. When you’re able to blend those two things, that’s when magic happens in the classroom.”

Better still, Dvorchak says, Rogers is adept at building the critical three-way relationship that connects the school, parents and children. It’s based on a lot of open dialogue, she says, that allows Rogers to work with parents to identify their child’s potential weaknesses and to formulate effective plans to deal with them.

“She sets high expectations for character and academic success,” the principal says. “Every student comes in at a certain level and her job is to meet them where they are and help them move forward. When you can build a community in your classroom where students aren’t afraid to raise their hands and say, ‘Hey, I don’t get it,’ then you’ve accomplished something.”

You also know you’ve accomplished something when the principal starts getting calls and notes in January from parents of fourth-graders who want their children to be in Mrs. Rogers fifth-grade class next year.

Rogers glances away when you tell her stuff like that. Look, she’s 50 years old and been at this for 28 or 29 years, and she knows she’s good at what she does. But she’s also quick to deflect much of the praise, talking about the importance of parental involvement and the advantages that come with working with “some amazing colleagues, from the administration to the teachers.”

After all these years, she says she’ll occasionally be asked if she’s ready to retire. This is a demanding job, after all, working with 24 fifth-graders, meeting new students and parents every year.

But, for now at least, she scoffs at the idea of stepping down.

Yeah, sometimes the day-to-day planning can be tough, and trying to keep on top of every subject you teach in fifth grade can be a challenge. And, yes, she’s got a husband and four kids of her own — ranging in age from middle school to college — and sometimes it’s hard when you’ve got to take some of your work home or maybe sneak in for an hour or two on weekends.

But retire? Now? With all those kids still out there, kids looking for a teacher who believes in them?

She’d cut her hair first.

“There’s nothing I don’t love about my job,” she says with the same look in her eye that has made hundreds — heck, thousands — of kids believe in her message and believe in her.

Dvorchak knows the look, too. As a rookie principal, she faced some of her own challenges when she arrived at Prairie and one of the first people to welcome her was Jeni Rogers.

Every once in a while, she says, you meet someone who just seems made for the job. Someone with passion and humor and a sense of caring that just fits in perfectly with those around her.

She sees all that in Jeni Rogers, and if she was to tell her what she really, really thinks about her teaching, it would be incredibly simple.

“Wow,” she would say. “You ended up doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing.”


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The eggs hidden around homes and gardens this weekend remind us of the rock in front of the tomb, and the hope of new life inside.

The joys of chocolate and a feast mark the end of the season of Lent that had many giving up, sacrificing, so as to share in the sacrifice of Jesus.

The rising sun of this morning reminds us of the rising SON that we celebrate, as believers in Christ.

 “He is not here; he has risen!

Declared the heavenly men in the tomb to the women who had come to the tomb with spices to cleanse the body that was gone (Luke 24:6).

Today we celebrate the risen Christ, the fulfillment of the prophets, the blood that was spilled to redeem our sin-soaked lives.

Today we celebrate that the grace of God.

The grace that is available to all, and is there in every high and low of life.

And it comes,

it came,

to us.

And it is still looking to find us, this Easter Sunday.

“From the creation to the cross,
There from the cross into eternity
Your grace finds me.”


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Tomorrow we celebrate Easter Sunday!

The season of waiting and preparation ends as the sun rises on Easter Sunday, proclaiming the rising of the Son of God, many years ago.

Because of sacrifice of Friday, and the separation of Christ from His heavenly Father, we are READY for Sunday! Not because of anything that we have done, but because of the sacrifice of Christ.

There are still those who have not grasped what Easter is about, why we Christians hold dearly the image of a man on a cross. They have not seen that man from the cross emerge from the tome of their own sins, whole again.

The most viewed post of this week refers to this. In the post, Looking for Cameo Appearances, we are reminded that we are to share the news of Christ’s appearances. Really, we are to share that Christ is everywhere, in everything, and His purpose in life was to give us life that never ends, and, more than that, life today that is with Him.

Also this week :

A Good Good Friday

Mary’s Story of Pain

The Sixth and Final Week of Lent

Prayers Offered in Faith

Happy Easter!


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Today marks the day that Christians around the globe recognize and remember the sacrificial death of Jesus, leading to His foretold resurrection from the dead on Sunday.

This Good Friday observance is frequently remembered in a funeral-like way, with the recognition of the terrible death, darkness and quiet. It is a very direct opportunity for followers of Christ to come face to face with what Jesus did for us all.

There is another side to Good Friday …

it was

it is


The horrors of the day that we celebrate were trumped by His miraculous return from the grave on Sunday.

He overcame death!

And, because of Good Friday, we can all overcome death.

Good Friday always brings me back to the foundation, the basics of what I believe, and the song on the video, below, echos what I believe.

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I wrote the following during the Easter season of 2000, when our son was still a baby …

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
Luke 2:19

The pains are coming more often, and oh how they hurt. Do you feel what I am feeling?

Soon we will be in Bethlehem and you, my son, will be born;

in a strange inn, in a strange town.

I feel such a felling of impending loss my son, soon you will no longer be just mine, but all of Israel’s. I thrill with every last movement of you withing my womb.

I look so forward

to holding you

to looking into your eyes

to counting your tiny fingers and toes …

how quickly the pains are coming …

Hours Later …

Oh, the pain! Will this agony soon bring you into my eager arms?

This isn’t right. You will enter into this world with the touch of rough hay, the smell of animal dung and with no family to welcome you. How sorry I am that I could not deliver you into a softer, sweeter place.

The pains,

they are coming again …

Later …

The pain is all over now, my son.

You are so beautiful.

Your hands

your feet … ten perfect little fingers … ten perfect little toes …

so soft … but, they are not like mine, or any of my kin.

Your eyes look into mine as though you have always known me, as though you know my very heart … but, they are not like my eyes.

Your lips are as I imagine those of the angels … plump and pink, shaped like a heart. I wonder what words will be spoken from your lips. … but, they are not like mine.

Your nose is a like a piece of art, perfectly positioned in the center of your gentle face … but, it is not like mine.

Your shoulders look like those of a man, broad and strong. They will strengthen to hold your head up high … but, they are not like mine.

Oh, my beautiful little son, is any part of you from me? Was I simply just the vessel from which you came?

Oh course,

now I see,

you have my blood within you. As your heart beats, my blood rushes through your body, making you alive, and fully human.

Hush now, my beautiful baby, no need to cry, the pain is all over now …

Years Later …

Oh, the agony.

Why did they have to pierce a spear in you too? How could they do this to you?

YOur hands,

your feet …

they are pierced through with hard, ugly nails. Oh, my gently one!

Your eyes … they show your pain, they are wet wit your tears!

Oh, my beautiful son!

Your lips … they are so dry, and made worse by the vile those guards offered you! Oh the bear of my heart!

Your nose is covered with the perspiration of your body’s torture! Oh, my sweet one!

Your shoulders are weighed down by the weight of your body! My pride and joy!

And your blood … my blood … flowing our from all over your flesh! Oh my flesh and blood!

I agree with the words of your Heavenly Father,

“You are my son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11)

You made me a mother, my first born.

May God end this suffering for you so that the pain might finally be over.

The day following the next Sabbath …

My ears still ache with the rumbling of the earth, only moments ago.

That ache is nothing compared to the ache of my heart, for the loss of my dear son. But that man, like the heavenly messenger I met many years ago, says that you are alive, that you have risen from your death.

There you are! You are whole again!

Your hands, your feet … they hold the story of your death …

but you are not dead, you are here, you are alive!

But you speak of leaving to go back to your Father …

please do not leave  … do not leave me … you are my son,

pleases come home with me?

But, you have not forgotten me. You spoke on that cruel cross,

to me,

that your beloved friend and follower, John, is now my son …

that I am to be cared for by him, as though I were his mother.

You are entrusting me and my care, my future survival, to the hands of the one you love most.

Oh, my beautiful gift of a son … from the very hands of God.

As my heart beats, you will always be the blood the flows through my veins.


Now there is no more sorrow , no more sadness, no more pain.

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;
and there shall be no more death,
neither sorrow, nor crying,
neither shall there be any more pain:
for the former things are passed away.
Revelation 21:4


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