A faculty blog by Dr. Beth Ackerman
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
I write monthly devotional blogs for Women of Faith. Because of the quotes that have been dear to me in my walk in faith, this one has been my personal favorite. I wrote it a few weeks before the passing of Brennan Manning and it was published a couple weeks after his passing. If you are not familiar with his writings, I suggest you begin with Ragamuffin Gospel.
Postedby Margaret Ackerman at 2:40 PM |
Thursday, April 4, 2013
It was 2005, and I had already paid my $200 deposit for my first overseas trip to an orphanage in Kazakhstan. But I had found out a couple months later that I was pregnant and I would be unable to go. So I went to this meeting about the trip in hopes of getting my deposit back. At this meeting, I find myself sitting next to Ember, who I met for the first time. Ember and I talked about her doing her Master’s degree and at some point in the conversation she stated that there was no way she could have the deposit which was due the next day. So she wouldn’t do the trip on this go around. Before I could give it any thought, I told her she could have my deposit. I don’t say this arrogantly, because I was having a baby and I really wanted to keep that money. Had I given it any thought, she would not have received the deposit.
Ember went on that trip and then went every summer until 2008 where she stayed for a year. That year she met Kiikzhan who she married in 2010. They now have 2 beautiful children, the newest one born last week that sparked this blog. They may even return with their family to Kazakhstan someday. I occasionally see them around town and pictures of their beautiful family on Facebook, and I just think… a $200 deposit I hoped to get back. Ember would also tell you all the other people that got her there that day and later on the different trips to Kazakhstan. My role was very small and really the role of many others. Ember made the true sacrifice. But my point is that we may never be used in the ways we had thought we might. But we are all used in beautiful ways. If you open your eyes to what is happening around you, you will see it.Postedby Margaret Ackerman at 5:34 PM |
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Throughout my life there are those images left frozen on my mind. Mental pictures that can always spark instant emotion. Some are funny, well hysterical actually, others are pure joy, and then there is this one - one that leaves me with the rawest of emotions - sadness, frustration, anger, and doubt – all in one picture. Every time I’ve thought of it, it ends with - WHY? Why doesn’t God protect us and keep us safe? The thing about these mental pictures is that no words can do it justice. But I’ll try.
It was almost 2 years ago and I was attending a double funeral of my colleague and friend’s daughter and son-in-law. It was a tragic death of a beautiful young couple killed in a fire. I was watching the family procession into the church. Behind the shared single casket which held this young couple; there was my friend, Dr. Kathie Morgan. She seemed barely able to walk with 2 men supporting and guiding her along; one man, her first husband, who she had grown to forgive and continue to love, and the other man, her new husband who walked with her through her recent battle with cancer to include a mastectomy. Just behind her walked her only surviving daughter, and when I see her I know instantly the world of hurt that she is facing in losing a sister. There was my snap shot and mental picture of Kathie bearing all of life’s possible pains.
I also have to say here that Kathie Morgan is one of those amazing, kind women, who I imagine has very few, if any, grudges against her. So with this mental picture, I’m often left wondering – Why? Why does it storm so hard on some people? And good people? Where is our protection?
Yesterday, Kathie shared her story in our School of Education Convocation, I honestly wasn’t sure if I wanted to go. I knew it would hurt to hear her story again. But then sometimes it seems the least we can do is to listen to her story. I also knew that underneath the pain, perhaps she would offer me some wisdom. That raw wisdom discovered through life’s pain. She told her stories of pain, heartbreak, and loss to include others, like losing her sister to cancer. She didn’t even have time to share her husband’s recent heart problems and her Mom not doing well and other struggles I know she faces. While we are all left crying and emotionally drained, she closed with these thoughts. She gave us five things to do –
1. Love those people God put in your life in grace. Allow them to be free. And don’t allow any regrets.
2. Choose people over things
3. Choose your friends, mentors, and colleagues wisely, as through the hard times, they are your support.
4. Listen to your heart
Being true to teaching and her love of literacy, Kathie ended it with a quote from C.S. Lewis in The Chronicles of Narnia referring to Aslan.
"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver; "don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."
Here is a picture of Kathie and her daughter. Because this is much her story, Kathie read this and gave permission to share. It's been an honor to learn from her and I hope you feel this as well.Postedby Margaret Ackerman at 7:05 AM |
Sunday, February 24, 2013
This weekend Mom wanted to get Dad out of the house a little more as it's now been a few weeks since his open heart surgery. Yesterday, at a middle school play where his granddaughter had a leading role, he seemed to be struggling a little and felt he was going to faint. I jokingly told him that “you’re just trying to get out of the Carousel play tonight”. He said, “That’s one of my favorites. I love the music to that one”. He rested for the afternoon and was able to attend the play.
So last night, while waiting for the start of Carousel with my parents and extended family, who traveled to see my cousin perform, I looked at the Playbill wondering why I don’t know what music was even in Carousel. I turned to Dad who was sitting behind me and asked, is this THE “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. And he said “yes, but it won’t be as good as the Lettermen singing it” (Though we all now agree the performers last night DID do better, particularly the closing number was very moving).
But I grew up listening to Lettermen tapes - or could it have even been 8 tracks? :). As a kid, I never realized they were a "cover band" of sorts. So it’s always funny to me when I find out where these songs originated from. But as a child and as a family, we would belt out songs like this in the car, and songs like "Yesterday", never fully understanding the meaning and emotions of the lyrics, songs about life's storms or of loss.
So at the end of Carousel, sitting with some of the extended family, family who've traveled to funerals, to include my Sister’s (their cousin and neice), as well as Grandma’s and Grandpa’s funeral, family who travel to each other’s weddings, family who vacation together…and with more weddings and life to come. And also sitting with my Dad, who is still pulling through on a difficult and scary time. Through all these family memories, we arrive at a part in the play when the characters attempt to move beyond a death and the struggle of life...there was the childhood song and the lyrics to You’ll Never Walk Alone –
When you walk through a storm
Keep your chin up high
And don't be afraid of the dark.
At the end of the storm
Is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark.
Walk on through the wind,
Walk on through the rain,
Tho' your dreams be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone,
You'll never walk alone.
When the play was over, I saw Mom’s eyes filled with tears as we were probably sharing similar thoughts. What a blessing, to be raised with such strength and determination, "Walk on, walk on" through difficult times, to be taught such "hope in your heart", and most importantly to be taught undying family loyalty that - “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.
Postedby Margaret Ackerman at 10:01 AM |
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
This past week has been a rollercoaster of emotions as my Dad had congestive heart failure that led to a four bypass heart surgery. Thankfully, he is now home recovering. I spent much of my time in the hospital contemplating my time with Dad, remembering good times and wondering if he knows how much we love him.
Now that he’s recovering, I’ve become aware that I’m at an amazing and beautiful time in my life where I have three Valentines, my first one – my Dad, the obvious one - Jhon, and my son (who at 7 years old says we will NOT do a date this year, because that is weird). Not to boast, as of course, all relationships have their challenges and no one can escape heartbreak, loneliness, or loss. But it occurred to me this week that I’ve ALWAYS had a valentine. I remember all through school Dad sending a flower and/or a valentine card delivered to me in class, along with delivering them to my three sisters. While studying at Liberty University and still living at home, I met Jhon, my true Valentine.
I’m often asked which parent I am the most like. This is probably because many people know all three of us. And honestly, I’m very close to both my parents. But of my sisters, I probably was the closest to a “Daddy’s girl”. Growing up, Dad and I would wake up before the rest of the house. I actually only did this because I shared a bathroom with 3 sisters and this is the only way to get ready in peace. But sitting in the hospital watching Dad struggle and sleep and then struggle again, I would get teary eyed thinking about those many mornings of sharing the newspaper, mostly in silence while the rest of the household got ready.
Dad taught us all to face life with a laugh… sometimes it’s hard to even imagine him being serious about anything. Just today, I asked how he was feeling, and he said “with my hands”. He also taught us to have a zeal for life, an ability to have happy and sad tears and feel all of life’s beauty, both in joy and pain, even at the same time! But the biggest thing I got from him was to marry well.
I remember in one of my bitter teenager days that I got upset with Dad for something and refused to come to the table for dinner. Dad was trying to talk to me to get me to come to dinner, but I had my headphones on and music up loud and was quite disrespectfully, ignoring him. He grabbed my hand and mouthed the words to me, “I love you”. Dad handled being surrounded by women so well. At the time these events happened or when this special silence was shared with my Dad, I never realized the power of these memories and the joy they will hold over my life.
I love you, Dad! Glad your heart has been healed in time for another Valentine’s Day!Postedby Margaret Ackerman at 8:28 PM |
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Jeanie, my 5 year old, sat next to me drawing a picture while I worked on the computer. She was actually being needy and I “had” to finish this project by a deadline. So I sat her next to me with a paper and pen and asked her to draw me a picture. She was so intent on her drawing making tight little boxes on a piece of paper. When she was done, she held it up and exclaimed, “look, what I have!” As anyone who works with or has young children can understand, I had to ask Jeanie, “tell me about your picture”… as I had no idea what she had drawn. : ) Her response, “now I have a computer like you, Mommy”. And she sets it down next to me and my computer and starts typing on her drawing. I shut my computer and snuggled with her the rest of the evening. I now keep her drawing next to my computer to remind me to try to limit my time on the computer when the kids are around. And anyone who knows Jeanie, knows she is also just that “good”. : )
Johnny, my 7 year old, has been having nightmares for months. With the helpful advice of a friend, we’ve gotten him to go to sleep at a regular time and we’ve gotten our evenings back. However, for about a month he wakes up at around midnight, like clock-work, needing someone to sleep in the bed with him. On Sunday, I was sharing this frustration with another Mom. She said that her 9 year old often does this as well. But that she also has a teenager now. She shared that whenever she gets frustrated about the 9 year old - she remembers her teenager and how she just wished she could go back and have those moments of him needing her again. The last few nights I’ve been excited about Johnny waking me up and me getting to spend “time” with him.
So much beauty…so much to be thankful for. To me thanksgiving shouldn’t just be an event, a day, a person, it’s a state of mind and awareness…sometimes it is even a struggle to see and be aware of life’s beauty… but it should be a constant state of gratitude.
Postedby Margaret Ackerman at 10:25 PM |
Thursday, October 25, 2012
So I’ve been neglecting this blog. I wonder if I still have to do this since the person that requested I keep the blog is no longer at Liberty University. Ha! Sometimes it’s just hard to know what to talk about. As one point on what to discuss, I think we are being blogged and social networked to death. I think I’m finally getting a bit weary of it, or more accurately, I’m in a season of social networking weariness. And then as another point, what do I talk about?!? For example, I have a lot I could say about election season, but I keep thinking – “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything”. :)
So I just looked over my old blogs and realized I’ve never covered Fall. How could I have not written about my favorite season!?!? Beautiful weather, football, new TV episodes, pumpkins… or more specific… pumpkin spice lattes or pumpkin cheese cake!! We have the beautiful colors here in Lynchburg now. We (my family) just returned from a trip to Florida and returned to the peak of the beautiful Blue Ridge fall colors.
Seasons and dates have always been important to me. I think because they represent all that life is…every season…turn, turn, turn… every date…turn, turn, turn. Fall represents change … leaves that fall and will no longer be… to be replaced by new leaves, new colors, and greener grass. Ah, I do love all types of seasons, particularly Fall…. And turn, turn, turn...Postedby Margaret Ackerman at 10:42 AM |
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
I'm so happy to see my students on Facebook who are excited about the new school year! Some are getting their first classrooms and others are at it again and are becoming veterans (this makes me feel old). I remember these days, that anticipation for the new school! Sometimes a slight dread of what is to come. So here is one of the thoughts I often shared in class. One that I had in my classroom and it is still in my office. Never forget that you all are doing magnificent work!
Thank you Lord
Dr. Edward Joyner
Even though I clutch my blanket and growl when the alarm clock rings each morning, Thank you, Lord, that I can hear. There are those who are deaf.
Even though I keep my eyes tightly closed against the morning light as long as possible, Thank you, Lord, that I can see, there are those who are blind.
Even thought I huddle in my bed and put off the physical effort of rising, Thank you, Lord, that I have the strength to rise. There are those who are bedfast.
Even though the first hour of my day is hectic, when socks are lost, toast is burned, tempers are short, Thank you, Lord for my family.
And even though our breakfast table never looks like the pictures in the magazine and the menu is at times unbalanced, Thank you, Lord for the food we have. There are so many who are hungry.
Even though the routine of my job is challenging, Thank you, Lord for the opportunity to work. There are many who have no job.
Even though I grumble and bemoan by faith from day to day, and wish my circumstances were not so modest, Thank you, Lord for the gift of life.
And even though I work in a profession that does not get the support from society that it richly deserves, I don’t make the salary of a professional athlete, I don’t enjoy the prestige of a doctor or lawyer, and I don’t receive the hero-worship of an entertainer, Thank you, Lord for giving me the opportunity to finish your magnificent work by being a positive force in the lives of children made in your image.
Thank you, Lord, for giving me a touch of the divine.Postedby Margaret Ackerman at 8:52 AM |
Thursday, July 12, 2012
My Grandpa would sing this song, low and a capella. I'm trying to find a recording of him doing it at Grandma's funeral in December, 2004 and will post that if we do find it. Yesterday, he went home to his dear wife of 56 years. This song has been in my head all day.
God Leads Us Along (George Young, 1903)
1. In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet, God leads His dear children along; Where the water's cool flow bathes the weary one's feet, God leads His dear children along. 2. Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright, God leads His dear children along; Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night, God leads His dear children along. 3. Though sorrows befall us and Satan oppose, God leads His dear children along; Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes, God leads His dear children along. 4. Away from the mire, and away from the clay, God leads His dear children along; Away up in glory, eternity's day, God leads His dear children along. Chorus: Some through the waters, some through the flood, Some through the fire, but all through the blood; Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song, In the night season and all the day long.
Grandpa, Elmer Cleveland Painter, at 84, picture taken just a few weeks ago.Postedby Margaret Ackerman at 10:12 PM |
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Some of my students and graduates may appreciate that I have a new book published -
The book was written to be a companion with -
If you follow my blog you'll know how much I love to talk about the struggling learner and the difficult student. These guidebooks were written with prayer in what God has laid on my heart to share with Christian educators, both in our mission focused on The Great Commission coupled with practical tips for educators.
While I hate to seem as though I'm self-promoting, I love to get these ideas to as many Christian educators as possible. :) Join me in sharing with our fellow educators how to help "the least of these" in our classrooms. Let's all share with our fellow educators how we are mandated to reach out to ALL children and adolescents.
Postedby Margaret Ackerman at 9:22 AM |