Showing posts from March, 2011

To Keep or Not to Keep

I confess I can toss things away without much concern. I come by it honestly.  My father, who was a chemist, organized his garage like a lab: paint cans, fertilizers, hoses, essential tools, lawn mower, enough room for two cars, and nothing extra.
Inside the house, my mother, the city librarian, had the kitchen spices alphabetized and all our books organized by subject and author. She taught me well: when I was twelve, I created a card catalog of every item I owned. No joke.
Each year in the Kramer home, two weekends were dedicated to SPRING CLEANING. I joined in the fray, weeding out clothes, old toys, books, unworthy stuff and we’d make trips to Goodwill or the dump.  We’d come home, inspect the open spaces, sit back and never consider again what we’d just hauled off.
In God’s awesome way of matchmaking, I met someone who totally didn’t understand this concept. In our thirty years together, I have boxed, moved, unpacked, repacked, shoved, shuffled, lifted, and KEPT many things that in …

A heart that beats for others

I’ve had dozens of teachers and professors throughout my school days. They gave me their insights and expertise, but none had the wisdom of my father-in-law Conward Farris. It was in his “classroom” that I learned about the human heart. 
Classes began when his son and I met at college and Conward came to meet me. Even though I wasn't aware of it yet, my life would now include someone whose heart was unlike anyone else I had ever known. Conward was amazingly genuine. He'd ask a question and then truly care to hear my answer.
The next few years our talks continued. He might not have always agreed with me, but he never preached, instead he’d reflect with a wise story. He had to have seen my immaturity but never once did he make me feel inferior.  I was beginning to see this was due to his heart condition.
Conward was an elementary school principal. Each day, he’d usually be the first to arrive and the last one to leave.  He felt there was a special purpose for each student and eve…

Extra Credit No Longer Counts

As a high school freshman I discovered the benefit of extra credit.  It was like an insurance policy for my GPA. Suddenly those pesky pop-quizzes didn’t hold as much power.  Missed points on a test could be balanced with a bonus assignment.
Some teachers weren't so extra-credit oriented. But I’d usually cajole them into considering projects that would net me the final grade I was seeking. Finally, during my senior year, my English teacher stopped me on the way out of her classroom. She asked me the question I hadn’t faced in nearly four years, was that all-important “A” really worth what I was doing to myself?
Her assessment of my motives was the closest anyone had come to seeing through me. Others may have viewed me as studious or determined. The truth was that I hated the race but was desperate for the trophy. Sadly, like an addict, I wasn’t able to stop.
In college, I had the rare opportunity to take a yearlong Human Development course from a visiting Harvard professor. Talk abou…