Monday, November 23, 2015


It was Thanksgiving week and five students in my middle school literature class chose to read a selection about India. During the Wednesday literature circle, they immediately focused on the serious aspects of the piece. “It seems sad,” mused Danny, “that the people in India are starving while we have so much.”

I waited for a response to Danny’s insight. “At Thanksgiving, people ask what we are thankful for and we say we are thankful for homes, and cars, and things like that,” Lori offered. After a brief hesitation, she looked up at me and the wide crooked scar marring her face from above her left eye to her chin became fully visible. Then she continued, “But this year I found out what it really means to be thankful.” Lori’s statement surprised me. In August she and her mother were in a car accident. Lori survived. Her mother was killed instantly. Confidently she finished, “I’m thankful God let me have such a great mother. She was so much fun!  She would always stop what she was doing and take time for us.” As Lori concluded, her eyes brimmed with tears and she looked down. As we sat in silence, I reached out and touched Lori’s arm. 

The silence was broken as vivacious Elissa tossed her head, forcing her long hair away from her face. “Since we’re talking about real things,” she said, “I’m thankful for something special, too.” We waited. Then she continued, her voice quieter. “We moved here because this school has a special program for deaf students,” she said. “My brother is deaf. Dad and Mom quit their jobs and sold our home so we could come here. We don’t have as much, and we rent a house now. But I’m thankful that God gave Daren to our family because we understand he is very special.”  Elissa looked across the circle and into my eyes. I wondered at her wisdom.

It was Clarise who next interrupted the silence. “You know,” she said thoughtfully, “you can be thankful for making a good decision.” After a long pause, I prompted,  “Have you made a decision for which you are thankful?” Clarise glanced away briefly and then back to the circle. “My baby brother was in the hospital with leukemia,” she began timidly.  “My dad told us Mom wanted the baby to come home. With eight kids in our family, we couldn’t pay a nurse. Dad asked us to take turns caring for our brother in the evenings and at night so my mom would be rested to take care of him during the day. He said we would bring the baby home if everyone agreed. We each voted on a piece of paper. I’m thankful that we decided to keep him home until he died.”

The next sound to break the silence was the bell signaling the end of class. The students disappeared into the hallway, but they left with me a  greater understanding of the scripture: “No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:18 (LB)
Loved my years of teaching! 

© Verla Lacy Powers

~ Image from

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Editing: Red Pencils and Frustration

It was while teaching first grade that I learned how much angst the red pencil on my desk caused for six-year-olds. Imagine the surprise of a new teacher when red marks on paper caused eyes to well up with tears.

My way of correcting the problem was to mark papers with a variety of colors and to save the red pencil for drawing stars and happy faces. The students never said how this worked for them, but I soon discovered the parents were quite happy with the change.
The editor assigned to me by my publisher must have been one of those people who hated it when teachers “bled” all over their papers. She had a complete color-coded system for editing. If she thought I should remove something, it was highlighted in gray. Things she wanted me to review for possible rewording were highlighted in green. If she had a suggestion regarding story development, voice, word choices, or scene development she typed a message to me in blue text. Red was the designated color for my responses. Maybe this system was developed to make writers feel in charge of their manuscripts. After all, the one with the red pencil is the one with the power.

Even without red corrections, I was sometimes a little annoyed when something I valued was being questioned. Despite much pain during the editing process, it is a good feeling when someone expresses appreciation for a novel in which they found no errors. Thanks Jessie Sanders! 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Our Veterans

November 11th is Veteran’s Day. For some businesses it is a day to attract customers with sales. For some schools it is a day off. For all of us it should be a day to honor those who served in the armed forces in the past and to pledge our support to those currently serving.

Grandson, Lance Corporal Benjamin J. Powers, will spend the holidays this year in Okinawa, Japan. We will miss him greatly but admire his willingness to serve his country.

Ben home on leave after graduating from Marine Recruit Training - October 2014

Ben during Mountain Assault Training – June 2015

A shout-out to my great-nephew, Jeffrey Teter, who, thanks to the generosity of the U.S. Navy, lives in a floating hotel in San Diego.

I pray for Ben and for Jeff daily.

Thank you to two wonderful nurses in our family, Joanne Mruzek (daughter), and Kristi Donovan (grand-daughter-in-law), who have chosen to be on the nursing staff at the VA Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI. Veterans deserve to have the best in medical care.

Prayer from
“Lord, I pray that you will be our servicemen and women’s refuge and strength, a very present help in any trouble or challenge, and therefore, they will not fear. Jesus, you said, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” May our troops seek You, know You, and recognize that You are in their very midst. Thank You that we can be confident that You are able to keep what we have committed to You until that Day.” 

Suggested Reading for Children
Branches of the Military – Sean Callery

Monday, November 2, 2015

Way to Go, Royals!

Over the weekend I experimented with a new look for my blog. With the blue color scheme, I think pictures of royal blue water fit nicely. The "City of Fountains" is celebrating the 2015 World Series win by the Royals.

J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain (KSHB Photo)

Fountain of Neptune and his Trident
(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)