Influence by the Inch

teachingThis past year, I served as an aide for after-school homework help. The lead teacher, Linda, explained that only whispering would be allowed during study time. Nice try, I thought while dutifully nodding. Did she really believe that, after seven hours of classes, the students would surrender their after-school time to further regimentation?

She did believe it! And because she believed it, the students believed too. From the first day onward, Linda kept her own voice to a whisper, and reminded everyone else to do likewise. My hearing isn’t the greatest, and I often wanted to tell the kids to “speak up,” but one glance at Linda’s earnest face convinced me to listen harder instead. [Read more…]

What do we REALLY need?


Alphonsine Imaniraguha’s blog presents a perspective you won’t find anywhere else. Her deep faith was forged in the fires of hell. She was in eighth grade when her parents and two siblings were murdered in the Rwandan genocide. In the aftermath, she sought refuge with a religious cult that trapped her in a web of lies. By God’s grace, she saw the truth and escaped the cult in time to finish high school and earn a scholarship to a college in the United States. She has lived here ever since. Despite the horrors she has experienced, her writing overflows with forgiveness and (amazingly) gratitude.

This week, Alphonsine posted a poem that surprised me. At first glance, it seemed to echo some familiar platitudes. Half way through reading it, I realized, “By golly, she’s describing my life!!”

More specifically, she was describing the hopes and dreams that give me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. And then, for each of them, she showed why it was a dangerous deception. Ouch!

The line that hit me hardest was: “God, I am not asking that things go my way; I may think that I am leading.” (I get so frustrated and angry when life throws me curve balls!)

I have printed out the poem in hopes that, if I read it often enough, I’ll begin to crave the superior ambitions that Alphonsine points to.

My blogging theme is “Assertive Servants.” I usually say more about the “Assertive” part, than about the other half. Now, in a spirit of Servanthood, I invite my readers to visit Alphonsine’s blog and read her poem. Read it more than once. The pretty words are not platitudes. They are precise descriptions of real experiences.

Here’s the link to Alphonsine’s website: