Reflections…………………………Back to School

The beginning of a new school year is filled with the energy, excitement and enthusiasm which is a delight to experience. The mystique of the new school year and opportunities for success produce a certain aura. With the fresh start comes responsibility which is not always realized in the excitement of the new beginning


Creating the proper atmosphere rather than concentrating on structure, will be most important as you make a conscious effort to return to the routine of school. Special effort to praise and to provide positive reinforcement for a job well done can create a sense of pride in accomplishments which, as a child matures, takes a place in the psyche which equals or even surpasses that of a fun event.

The Parent: The child’s first and most important teacher.

When our society was grounded in Judeo-Christian principles, your child (student) was taught Biblical principles in school, and he/she could easily see those principles lived out in the community. This is no longer true and a ‘war’ for the mind of your child is raging. This is especially true in the area of mass media, social media and in general, throughout the market place. More so than ever the parent has a special responsibility to off-set this ‘war’ by following the mandate given to us in the scripture.

Condemning the evils of the internet and social media will not help. Suggesting that your child unplug is wrong and unrealistic. It becomes our responsibility as parents to provide our children with biblical and practical ideas on how to use technology and the changing morals in a Christ-honoring fashion . We should prayerfully strive to teach them to “take every thought captive”, including thoughts and practices related to the use of social media.

Early Morning and Travel Time:

A stress-free morning before school is essential. The time to begin the alleviation of stress is the night before the following school day. Be sure the clothes your child is going to wear are in readiness the night before. Likewise have all supplies and books in place of readiness for the day. A chaotic morning looking for clothes and books makes for a chaotic day. If you provide transportation for you child, arrive at school a minimum of five minutes before classes begin with the proper materials and equipment for the day. Make the ride to school pleasant, sharing thoughts of positiveness and well being. It is most important that you as the parent say good-bye to your child(ren) in a pleasant, warm and caring way. Be sure the climate is not harsh. Flowers cannot grow in a harsh environment.

School a place of work:

Each day the faculty and staff go to work at a place called school. They should be the models and examples for your child. The school should exemplify the characteristics of a place for learning. Likewise, each day your child goes to work at a place called school. Their dress, their behavior and their preparation should exemplify preparation for learning.

Evening Meal:

If there is one thing I could recommend for “bonding” of parents and children it would be the evening meal. Make it happen. Discuss the day, talk of books that are being read, what happened at school today. I really like what one family does by placing a large bowl in the middle of the table. The bowl is filled with ‘situations’ that occur in every day life. Each child, parents too, if you so desire, take a slip and reads the situation. Example: “you are at a party and your friends decide to leave to get some alcohol and ask you to go, what do you do.” Obviously, you make the situations age appropriate. The purpose is to create real life situations to intellectually rehearse before your child is placed in the situation. Parents, this is a golden opportunity to integrate biblical truth in your child’s every day life.

Family meeting: A good way to start the year is with a family meeting where the guidelines and behaviors for the new school year are discussed. Talk about the morning routine, evening quiet time for study, conduct at school and other places. This is a good time to voice a prayer for your children and the year ahead.


The end of a day, story time, talk time, prayer time. Mom and Dad please take this time with your child to recount the blessings and to place issues aside by conflict analysis or giving it to God. Like the morning, time this is not a time not for chaos but a time of comfort and togetherness.

Remember, you are your child’s first and most important teacher. This journey of going to school will last 13 years. At the end of this time your child will depart and establish their own lives. You might ask what will they be like, what will they be doing……….remember they will be doing what you have taught them.

 “…….and when they grow old they will be like their teacher”

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June and I arrived in Berlin, Ohio with anticipation of returning to a simpler form of life.

The new dress code is as follows, red suspenders and hat

The area and adjacent counties are home to a very large Amish community.  The country side has many working farms and is also the home of numerous industrial corporations operated and staffed by Amish individuals.  The most prominent and visible change to this idyllic community is noticed in the local restaurants and businesses where Amish girls are employed. (Most of the boys are working in the factories or on the farm) The girls wear dresses and their etiquette and politeness is refreshing.  Everything is in the natural order without artificial enhancements. This is equally true of the community where wholesomeness and order permeates both the town and the local countryside……..Behavior is learned therefore it can be taught.


Switch with me to a local high school in Nashville, Tennessee where during the last period of the day students are placed into teams with a senior class member serving as the leader of the team.  Their task is to clean the building in preparation for the following day of classes.  The school employs no housekeeping personnel.  After an athletic event the students can be seen picking up debris and other items and placing it into large trash cans.  A visitor to the school would be immediately impressed with the cleanliness and order of the campus.  Students take pride.  Behavior is learned therefore it can be taught.


Now switch with me to the nightly news which is highlighting the city of Baltimore where 2.5 Billion dollars have been spent in the last several years in an attempt to rehabilitate a population that has become dependent upon society.  A local councilman addresses the issue by placing the blame on 400 years of racism.  When interviewed, a   pastor indicates more federal funds are needed.  To add fuel to the fire, all of the problems have existed for years.  However, the reporter left no question the present conditions were the result of the President of the United States. A behavior that is positively reinforced will repeat itself.


Two outstanding football quarterbacks were recently in the news.  One for kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem at the beginning of the football game.  The second for kneeling at the conclusion of a game to thank God for His blessings.  The first was awarded a one million dollar contract by the Nike Company.  The second did not receive any recognition.   A behavior that is positively reinforced will repeat itself.


Society, grandparents, parents…….and what will they be doing when they grow old.   They will be doing what we have taught them and what behaviors we have positively reinforced.  Above all remember………Values taught are free .






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It was a sultry July morning when Dr. John Geradine was summoned to come to the Coker household. Not an easy journey from the community of Jersey down the Social Circle highway. Albeit the doctor’s car did not like the dirt roads it had to travel. Nevertheless, he made it just as Magdalene (Maggie) was in the final stages of delivering the largest baby, 12.5 pounds, the doctor had ever delivered or seen.

The oldest of the family, John (Junior), was immediately summoned to begin his pre-ordained journey to tell relatives and friends that ‘baby’ Coker (a name not yet decided upon) had arrived. Fast of foot, even barefooted, Junior delivered the message across pastures and through backyards with the final stop at  Alcovy mountain. Thus began the journey that continues with the latest birthday.

I began writing articles and blogs in my middle twenties  when my picture showed me with lots of hair. Ten years later I had less hair and my complexion began to take on a ‘rugged’ look. And now here I am, an old ‘guy’, with jowls, crows feet at the corners of my eyes, and a modest “wattle” adorning my throat. Several years back I decided it was okay to get old and grey, and that process is well underway. I am looking forward to writing in the future. Maybe something like: ‘reflections………from the nursing home’ or ‘reflections………one foot in the grave.’ Or if I have gone home to Jesus, how about Reflections……How it ends.

Birthdays create trips down memory lane and memories light up the corners of my mind. Starting with the spring of life when innocence was filled with playmates, family events, and learning can it be that all was so simple then, …or has time rewritten every line. Even with time there are special ‘closets’ tucked away in the recesses of our minds where doors stay closed. However, on special days like birthdays, you reach for the key and unlock the door and rushing out are those memories……smiles we gave one another for the way we were……

Reflecting back over the years with the many people and circumstances that have marked the pages of time…. scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind…..I ask myself……If I had the chance to do it all again…..would we….could we.

Meanwhile, time marches on. What everyone exclaims is so true: Life is really short. We don’t have time to waste—-however long you may live, today is the only today you will ever have. When today is over, it will be over, and it will not come again. Don’t waste a moment of it wishing you were younger than you are, or that you looked like you use to look, or had done something other than what you did in life. Take whatever you have to work with and make today as sweet as you can make it. Nobody can do it for you, and nobody will. It is yours alone.


…..memories may be beautiful and yet……what’s too painful to remember………we simply choose to forget…….

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Reflections……………………Mother’s Day

As I left the small rural town of my birth and formative years of elementary and secondary education I left a storehouse of memories. But one thought that stayed in my mind for years to come was, home was always where “Mama” was. My mind has lingered upon this concept and frequently I subconsciously say; “I want to go home.”

The writer Rudyard Kipling puts it this way.

If I were hanged on the highest hill, I know whose love would follow me still. Mother of mine. Mother of mine. If I were drowned in the deepest sea, I know whose tears would come down to me. Mother of mine, Mother of mine. If I were damned by body and soul, I know whose prayers would make me whole. Mother of mine, mother of mine.

There was an interesting story on CNN many years ago about a twenty-five year old man in San Francisco who was dying of aids.  Because of that his father had completely disowned him. His mother was dead. So there was nobody. The man looked like he could not weigh over a hundred pounds and had the look of death on his face. The reporter asked him how he was able to stand all of the pain, not only of death, but the pain of family rejection. He gave an interesting answer. He said I stand it by closing my eyes and imagining that I will awaken in the arms of my mother. I know that she will never leave my side.

It is appropriate that we single out a day in the year to recognize mothers, but when we really think about it, there ought not to be a day that goes by that we do not rise up and call our mother blessed. The highest tribute that we can give to our mothers is not to praise her, not to give her a gift, not to pay a visit, and not even simply to come to church on her day. The greatest tribute that we can give to our mother is to be the kind of person that she, and our Heavenly Father, want us to be. Amen.

Editor’s note:  For more writings go to Reflections………Mama May 3, 2016

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Reflections…………….Education 1993-2019

Special note: The following are excerpts taken from a speech given  to a group of educators preparing for the new school year in 1993. The content is as applicable in 2019 as it was in 1993.

Education in general has not been in good favor the past 25 years. This despite large amounts of money spent on public relations and marketing plans. As we look toward the future, what should be the characteristics of a Secondary School graduate?

First, we must look at what the year 2000 will bring.

  • A diversity of religion with each one growing faster than Christianity.

  • We will be able to flash the Encyclopedia Britannica across the ocean six times in a minute.

  • Families will become more disjointed.

How can we have an impact? Who will be our leaders? Who will be teaching our students? Who will sit in our legislature? Who will be our pastors? I will tell you who. It will be the students who sit in our classrooms today. So what will our leaders of the future need, and what should we as parents and educators need to be doing now?

SCHOOL IS THE HOME OF THE MIND! We have fallen victim to expecting too little and organizing around the lowest common denominator. Ask yourself, “what should a (fill in the blank) grader know?” At the current rate we will have to scramble to keep up with world standards. We are not competing against students in our local city or community. Our market place is Stockholm, Paris, Seoul, Tokyo, to name only a few. As much as the diversity of our society has taken up ‘watch’ on our educational process, it is imperative that you as educators keep upper most in your minds that discipline, respect, reasonable authority are paramount to the educational process. The movement that places self-esteem in front of these principles of the heart has become misplaced.

We have to do better! Students must have highly developed basic skills. Students who think globally, master international standards of knowledge and skills will be the leaders of the future.  We must establish proficient levels of minimum skills—not just getting by—that are achievable by most students provided they work hard and long enough. Curriculum must emphasize the use of language. Students who read well, master vocabulary and become learners will inherit the earth. In your classrooms, the order of the day should be developing serious essay writing, grammar and spelling. The three R’s will be reading, reasoning and research with a fourth element of writing.  In the home the four R’s will be rules and regulations without relationships will lead to  rebellion.

Let me encourage you to be sure to have your students read and write something of substance. By the time students reach their final years of Secondary School we want them to read 15 to 20 books annually. Yes 15 to 20 and they should be books that stretch the mind.

We must spotlight global studies, world history, geography and foreign language. Our students need to be informed about other countries. How will our children be able to compete with people we know nothing about? It is our goal that by the time the existing kindergarten students graduate, they will be fluent in a second language. Language unlocks doors of commerce and diplomacy.

It is important that as educators and parents we expect a high level of work competence and help students develop ethical work habits while at the same time manage time and resources.

Our schools need to create a climate for learning that is natural, where lessons are  supported and there is time for reflection, inquiry, and debate. Everything has to be fun is a myth.

Godly principles and virtues of work, citizenship, honor, responsibility, trustworthiness and civility will become our responsibility. If we have full employment, great economic growth, if we have cities of gold, but our children have not learned to walk in goodness, justice and mercy, then we have failed.

I wish for you God’s richest blessings as you prepare society for the future by teaching the children of today.

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In the process of housecleaning my professional materials that have accumulated over the past 40+ years I have mixed feelings as to whether to throw away much of the materials are try and archive them. In any case I get to travel down memory lane filled with emotions. These emotions rekindle past events. So is the case with this writing.

In the early 1980’s public and non-public school teachers were presented professional growth workshops on writing instructional objectives. These objectives were the foundation for daily classroom instruction and a teacher was to “teach to the objective” and stay on task. I had the opportunity to be a presenter in several of these workshops.

One workshop in particular was composed of teachers from Christian Schools. As the time progressed and rapport established between the teachers and myself I challenged the group to compose a workshop on teaching to an objective with Jesus as the moderator and the teachers were the disciples. The following is the result of that exercise.

..then Jesus took his disciples up the mountain, and gathering them about him, he taught them saying:

“Blessed are the poor…..

“Blessed are the hungry….

“Blessed are those who mourn…..

“Blessed are the oppressed…..

Then Simon Peter said. “do we have to write this down?”

And Andrew Said, “Are we suppose to know this?”

And James said, I don’t have papyrus with me.”

And Phillip said, “Will we have a test on this?”

And Bartholomew said, “Do we have to turn this in?’

And John said, “The other disciples didn’t have to learn this.”

And Matthew said, “Can I be excused?”

And Judas said, “What does this have to do with the real world.”

Then one of the Pharisees who was present asked to see Jesus’ lesson plan and inquired: “Is this lesson aligned with state standards? Does it address multiple intelligences? Where are your objectives in the cognitive domain?”

And Jesus wept.

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I sat in awe and in total amusement as the House of Representatives tried to censor one of their own members who had recently made a disparaging remark concerning Jews. Three days of selecting the correct terms and writing, finally ended with a statement that did not address the issue nor the person who made the remark. Suffice it to say every kindergarten teacher in the nation has been confronted with some child who made a disparaging remark about a classmate. The teacher did not call for a conference with the other teachers. The teacher did not get all the children in a huddle or any other similar strategy. No! The teacher took the child aside who had made the remark and said, “We don’t talk like that”.  “We are nice to other people”. “We don’t want to hurt others.” Wow! What a novel idea. Maybe we should send a copy of the book, “All I needed to know I learned in Kindergarten” to members of Congress.

Contrary to the behavior of our elected officials, I shouted with joy when Gail Miller, the owner of the Utah Jazz professional basketball team, addressed the fans at a ballgame after a very unfortunate incident involving a fan who shouted profanity and called players vulgar names. Mrs. Miller very calmly stated to everyone that members in the audience were to conduct themselves with dignity and respect. Name calling and other acts of irresponsibility were not who the fans of the Utah Jazz were and in all cases they would show respect . Derogatory behavior toward guests and anyone else was not “who we are.”….She received a standing ovation. Amen!

WHO WE ARE !!! This would appear to be a simple question to answer. However, it appears we have lost our moorings . A nation founded on Judeo-Christian principles should readily recognize ‘who we are.’ However people of faith appear to have lost their moral compass.

I recently received an e-mail from someone who by all standards is a strong person of faith.  This person is a  weekly church attendee and frequently announces they are Christian. However, I listened as this individual berated several people including the President of the United States.  I hasten to add this was not uncommon from this individual nor from others.

I would encourage everyone to read Tim Keller’s book Fruits of the Spirit. The Holy Scriptures are filled with ways we need to stay connected to the true Vine (God). …….and how shall we know them…….by their love for one another……you will recognize them by their fruit……..they are ambassadors of love……. they are not arrogant….they have self control…………………http://Galatins 5:22

Freedom Of Speech Does Not Include The Lack Of Respect

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me

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Gary Coker

In the early 1950’s my dad met a stranger who was new in our town. From the very beginning Dad was enchanted with this stranger and newcomer and soon invited him to  live with our family.

The stranger was quickly accepted and was around all the time I never questioned his place in our family.

 Mama taught me to love the Word of God, and Dad taught me to obey it, but the stranger was our story teller. He could weave the most fascinating tales. Adventure, mysteries, and comedies were daily conversations. He could hold our whole family spell bound for hours each evening. He was like a friend to the whole family.

He took Dad, my brother, and me to our first major league football game. He was always encouraging us to see movies. He was an incessant talker. Dad didn’t seem to mind, but sometimes mom would quietly get up, while the rest of us were enthralled with one of his stories of faraway places and go to her room and read the Bible and pray. I wondered if she ever prayed the stranger would leave?

You see, my Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions, but this stranger never felt an obligation to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our house, not from us, from our friends, or from adults. Yet, our longtime visitor used occasional four letter words that burned my ears and made Dad squirm. To my knowledge the stranger was never confronted.

My Dad was a teetotaler who didn’t permit alcohol in our house. Not even in cooking, but the stranger felt like we needed exposure and enlightened us to other ways of life. Frequently he would talk about drinking beer, and about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing. He spoke of homosexuality and other sexual identities as if they were totally normal.

As I look back, I believe it was by the grace of God the stranger did not influence me more. Time after time he opposed the values of our parents, yet he was seldom rebuked and never asked to leave. Nearly 60 years have passed since the stranger moved in with us, but if I could walk into my parents house today, I would still see him sitting there waiting for someone to listen to his stories. You know I never knew his name, we just called him by his initials…….”TV”

adapted: source unknown

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Ramblins……..Global Positioning System….GPS



For the past three to four years I have had an ongoing relationship with Patti. She is a delightful companion but for some reason she constantly wants me to make a u-turn. When she really gets frustrated she tells me she is re-routing. Patti has taken the place of my former traveling companion who was somewhat directionally challenged.

Most of you have had some experience with a GPS system in your automobile or perhaps, your smart phone and know how it works. You program your destination into your GPS and it gives you the directions you need to get where you need to go.

One tip I recently read, for which I am guilty, is not to set your “Home address on your GPS to your actual address. This is in case someone steals your car. They’ll know you’re out and can then proceed to ransack your property. Instead, you should set the “home” address as that of your local police station. What a great idea.

If I ask you your philosophy of life could you tell it to me? If I could take some liberties with my thinking and I would use a metaphor that your GPS is your philosophy of life. I arrived at this thought when it dawn on me that each morning when I arise I turn on my GPS. When I meet other people I turn on my GPS. How I treat other people, my attitude, how I approach a new situation, the way I spend my time, how I spend my money are in direct proportion to my Global Positioning System. In other words the direction I am going is determined by my personal GPS. And, the direction we are going is the single most important factor in our pathway of life.

When I first had a GPS in my automobile it took some practice and getting use to how to program it. On more than one occasion I found myself having to re-enter my directions and I frequently got them wrong. I was excited when my new car was hands free and the GPS was completely audible. All I had to do was talk and if I made a mistake I could return and add or take away my previous conversation.

A friend of mine recently told me without his GPS he has trouble getting to where he needs to go. Many people have lives that lack direction. That’s why we need a dependable philosophy, a GPS for our life. With a reliable philosophy of life we can program our life with a set of beliefs, values and priorities that will guide us to our destination. It comes in written form (Bible) and also voice activated (prayer) which quickly tells you when you need to make a u-turn or to re-route. The original model was issued 2000+ years ago.

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Reflections……don’t let the old man in


How old would you be if you didn’t know the day you were born? Think about it. Physically, Mentally and Spiritually. Don’t read any further until you have answered that question.

                               Many moons  I  have lived….                                                                       My body’s  weathered and worn

In retrospect as you ride into the future, look in the rear view mirror and reflect upon the mountain top experiences that you have had along the way. Ask the question “is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?” Don’t let the old man (woman) in.

                                                       Try to love on your wife (husband)                                                                                                                                              And stay close to your friends…..

Reach over and grab your spouse’s hand as you cross the street, enter the grocery store or attend church. This is the mate that is your traveling companion. Every chance you get look at her/him and smile. Contact your friends by e-mail, telephone or a note. Stay social with friends and avoid becoming a recluse. Don’t let the old man(woman) in.

                                           When he rides up on his horse (birthday)                                                                                                                                      And you feel that cold wind……

Look out your window and smile. Ask yourself how old would you be if you didn’t know the day you were born.

                                         If I died tomorrow I would still plant                                                                                                                                                     my Apple tree….

Every day is a gift. That’s why it is call the present. Live in the present.

                                             Look out your window and smile…                                                                                                                                              don’t let the old man(woman) in




Writings inspired by Toby Keith

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