Blog

Crown of Thorns

By Janet Ann Collins | August 12, 2020

Son of Mary is Book 1 in the Crown of Thorns series by R. S. Ingermanson. It’s about one of the most creative concepts I’ve ever heard of: what if, instead of thousands of years ago, the Incarnation happened in modern Palestine? Even though I knew the basic plot, this book was so exciting I couldn’t stop reading it, and finished all 565 pages in one day! And the author is obviously familiar with the environment, culture, and language and portrays them well. My only complaint is that the other two books in the series haven’t been published yet and I don’t like having to wait for them, even though I know what the outcome will be.

Different Like Me

By Janet Ann Collins | August 8, 2020

Different Like Me by Xochitl Dixon is a wonderful book to teach kids to accept – and enjoy – others who are different than themselves. The illustrations are lovely and show the story in an entertaining way. Information at the back will help parents and educators. The Christian content is inspiring. I love this book!

I’m Back!

By Janet Ann Collins | August 3, 2020

It is such a relief to be able to blog again! I’ve been thinking about masks, for obvious reasons. Back when I was a kid there were stories about bandits who covered the lower parts of their faces with bandanas so they couldn’t be identified. But now I see people with that part of their faces covered and I can easily recognize them. And it used to be the bad guys who wore masks. Now it’s the lawbreakers who refuse to wear them The world has certainly changed a lot since I was a kid.

The Worst Job I Ever Had

By Janet Ann Collins | July 11, 2020

Years ago I was hired to teach first grade at a private school in the San Francisco Bay Area. (I won’t be more specific.) The principal who hired me in June told me she was leaving, and there would be a new principal when the next school year began. The week before school would start I went to set up my classroom. The school doors were open, but there was nobody in the office. I wandered all over the ground floor looking for the first grade classroom, but couldn’t find it. Finally I saw a man in overalls standing in the hallway and asked him, “Are you the janitor?” Someone behind me said, “He’s my husband, and you think he’s a janitor because he’s black.” That was my new boss speaking. Except for a music teacher who came in once a week, I was the only white person who worked there, and the principal told all the other teachers I was a racial bigot, so they weren’t ever very friendly to me. Prejudice works both ways. My classroom was on the second floor (which was illegal in California) and the teacher of the class below mine would get angry if I let the children move around because it made noise. I had to keep my students seated all the time except for recess. And at recess they weren’t allowed to run on the cement playground. Because the school was in a dangerous neighborhood, they never got to play outside from home, either. And kids that age have lots of energy. There were 42 in my class. The curriculum had just been changed from one that taught reading in First Grade to one that taught it in Kindergarten, so all my material assumed the kids already knew how to read. I had to develop my own material to teach them to read. Then I was put in charge of writing and directing a Christmas play for the entire student body of 250 kids. When the Christmas break arrived I was so tired I had health problems, so I quit the job. That was one I’ll certainly never forget.

History

By Janet Ann Collins | July 8, 2020

During theSpanish Influenza epidemic more than 100 years ago my father was sent away from the city to stay with his grandparents in the Appalachian Mountains. At the end of the school year when he was able to return he was given the kerosene lantern from the bedside table he’d used and the hand-held school bell from the one-room schoolhouse where his aunt was the teacher. I still have both of those things. I’ll probably keep some cloth face masks, which will be reminders of the Covid epidemic, but what other things might we use to pass on knowledge about this time in history? There’s a saying that people who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. The riots, movement to end racial injustice, politics about the presidential election, businesses and schools closing, and people loosing jobs are all important things involving the future of our nation and the world. What might we save to share with future generations about our current events?

Fourth of July Appreciation

By Janet Ann Collins | July 5, 2020

Where I live, in the Sierra foothills of California, the Fourth of July has always been a big deal. Grass Valley and Nevada City alternate between having the parade, which includes music, floats, lots of groups marching, etc. and reaches for blocks.The Nevada County Fairgrounds has a lot going on all day and a spectacular fireworks show after it gets dark. This year, because of the Corona Virus, none of those things could happen. I sadly expected Independence Day to be just another day. But the police and fire departments of both towns combined to give us a parade after all. The whole parade of their vehicles lined up and blinking lights lasted less than ten minutes, but they drove all over both towns for several hours so people could see them without gathering in crowds. Then, at night, the fire crew set off fireworks at a highway overpass. It was one of the most spectacular fireworks displays I’ve ever seen. It was so considerate of those agencies to use provide some celebration for us. It probably cost them quite a bit of money too. Besides buying the fireworks, while being sure their usual services were available, either they had to pay extra for the staff, or those folks donated their time. I’m so grateful for all the police and fire departments did to be sure we could enjoy The Fourth of July.

Family

By Janet Ann Collins | June 25, 2020

I have a very extended family. When we first got married my husband gave up trying to remember second cousins, cousins once and twice removed, cousins-in-law, etc., etc. and called them all my ‘step-neighbors-in-law.” While most of my relatives are from European ancestry like me, I also have step-neighbors-in-law who are African-American, Japanese, Latino, and Jewish. To me, they’re just family and I love them all. If only all people would just consider each other family the world would be a better place.

Children of the World

By Janet Ann Collins | June 20, 2020

In Sunday School most kids learn the song about how Jesus loves all the little children of the world. The lyrics help to teach kids not to be prejudiced against others because of their race. But part of the song, while well meaning, is inaccurate. Humans are not really red, yellow, black and white. Native Americans do not have red skin. The only truly red skin I’ve ever seen was on people with light colored skin who got severe sunburns. And Asians are not yellow. The only person with truly yellow skin I’ve seen was of Anglo-Saxon ancestry who was dying with liver jaundice. I have seen a couple of African and some African-American people whose skin was such a dark mahogany-brown it was almost black, but most African Americans I’ve seen have skin in various shades of brown. And the only person I’ve ever seen with truly white skin was a little albino girl who happened to be African-American. Maybe we should change the lyrics of that song to say, “Tan, and brown, and beige and pink, God still loves us when we stink.” And if we all learn to love each other there will be a lot less stinking in the world.

Playing

By Janet Ann Collins | June 18, 2020

When I was a kid, way back in the 1940s and ‘50s, Kids could just go out and play. We weren’t allowed to leave our neighborhood without permission from parents, but no adults watched us while we played. We were free to use our imaginations and spent most of our time doing that. The boys usually wanted to play “Cowboys and Indians” or have wars with their cap pistols and squirt guns. Girls preferred dressing up like princesses or playing “House” with toy dishes, dolls, and whatever we could use for furniture. Often we’d figure out ways to compromise so boys and girls who lived near each other could all use our imaginations together. We could climb trees and pretend those were forts or castles, and go back and forth between each others’ yards freely. Sometimes we’d do things like jump rope, play “Catch” with balls, or play games with rules, like “Tag.”  But usually we pretended. Sadly, recent generations of children haven’t been able to play outside without adult supervision because it’s not considered safe for them to do that. And it’s no fun to use your imagination with adults watching and judging you if you’re a kid. Today most kids play video games, and those do involve imaginary characters and situations. They have limits, so they aren’t as creative as our free play used to be, and any interaction with other players is at a distance. Even kids sitting next to each other and playing the same game aren’t watching each other’s expressions and body language. But at least they do allow kids to do some pretending.

My Ignorance

By Janet Ann Collins | June 13, 2020

I grew up in a semi-rural county in the San Francisco Bay Area, Everyone in our small town was white except for one Chinese family whose daughter was my friend in school. I assumed most other Chinese people lived in the San Francisco Chinatown because they wanted to be with other people like themselves. And I thought all the African American people lived in Marin City for the same reason. Every year before the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and freeway were built we’d drive through Richmond at Christmas on our way to my cousins’ house. I’d see lots of African-American out playing on their new bikes and other things my family couldn’t afford. I assumed they were rich. When I was eleven years old I was sent to the Stanford Convalescent home because of my severe asthma. The only other kid my age there was an African American boy. To me he was just a boy and I didn’t think about his race. Other than him, I never knew anyone else who was African-American until I gotta college. That was when when the Civil Rights movement began, and was horrified to learn about all the prejudice and discrimination that existed. I didn’t participate in any protests, but I did go door to door in Oakland getting African-Americans to register to vote. When the Civil Rights Act passed I assumed prejudice would be eliminated. The Bay Area became integrated and I didn’t pay any more attention to people’s race than to their clothes or hair styles. Lots of my friends and even some of my relatives were African American. Of course I knew there were still some bigots in the world, but I assumed there weren’t many people like that. Boy, was I ever wrong!