Thursday, December 22, 2011

Be still

One thing I have particularly enjoyed since I have been home this week is the opportunity to be still.  I almost missed this opportunity by trying to fit in everything I needed to do before Christmas....including socialize with friends.  Amidst the trips to Target and fighting traffic, I have taken time to be at home with a cup of coffee, my Bible, and the fireplace.

It amazes me how hard it is for people to be still.  Even when we have the opportunity to sit still, we don't.  We live in an electronic world that exists on sound bites.  We Google what we want to know and as soon as we've read the part of the information that gives us the answer, we move on.   We shuffle to our favorite song on our Ipod, listen to our favorite part, and then shuffle on to the next one.  We change the channel on the TV every chance we get to see what might be better on another channel.  We avoid live productions that we can't "mute" or "fast forward".  We choose DVD's and sound bites so we can stop and start at will, rewind when we missed something because we were talking, and come back to it later when we feel like it.

I have tried an experiment in my classes this year.  I have chosen a piece of choral music that lasts at least 3 1/2 minutes long.  It seems that 2-3 minutes is the maximum amount of time people will sit without "needing" to make a comment, think about something else, get bored, make eye contact with another individual, or fidget.  I will continue to play music for my students to practice the art of listening and being "in the moment".  I don't really know how to fix this glaring problem.  We can't take away progress and remove all their gadgets.  Teachers feel so defeated at times that we lower our expectations because we feel people aren't capable of listening or that we won't be supported by parents.
Society makes excuses for people who won't listen by blaming the teacher for being boring, the subject matter for being outdated, the method of delivery for only reaching one type of learner, and the list goes on.  I don't want to compete with gadgets and Hollywood style visuals.  God gave us five senses.  One of them is hearing.  I don't want my children to only hear what they want to hear.  I want them to learn to be still so they can hear the Lord.  I know God is capable of piercing the noise and pushing His voice through the noise of the world.  I don't know if He will always choose to do so.  "Be still and know that I am God."  If I don't learn to listen I will never hear my Shepherd's voice amid the noise and clamor.  Just like we savor a yummy piece of cake or our favorite dessert to the very last morsel, we should be still and quiet long enough to taste the very last morsel that God has for us in a song, in a scripture passage, in the words of someone older, wiser, and slower, or in a story.  It is important to remember that we have to learn to listen.  I don't want to teach my children that it is the responsibility of others to entertain them and keep their attention.  If they want to learn, they must choose to listen and learn.  I want my children to be responsible for learning.  I hope they will love learning and that those teaching them are passionate for their subjects, but I don't want them to expect entertainment.  I want them to learn to listen......really listen.

Don't fill the silence.   Oftentimes it is in the silence that God reveals Himself.  It is also in the silence that our minds are allowed to process information.  If we dump all the ingredients to make bread in a bowl and do not allow time for them to incorporate and blend evenly, our bread will not rise or bake correctly. Let's allow time for the ingredients of life to rise and blend.

Be still.
It's hard work, but will reap great results.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

And the award goes to......everyone.

It has been a very long time since I've written a blog post.  There have been many times over the last several months that I have had thoughts of topics I would like to write about and then I would forget them. I always thought I should take time to jot my initial thought down to remind myself later, but life always got in the way.  My job tends to run my day and my thoughts are usually put aside until another time....and then I can't remember what it was I was pondering.  I don't even know if I would consider it "pondering".  To ponder is to consider something deeply and thoroughly.  The nature of my days have not allowed for deep or thorough thinking.  My pondering begins and ends as a fleeting thought, much like a bubble that dissolves before you have a chance to even catch or pop it on your own.  Over the last couple of days I have been on Christmas break and have found a few hours where my mind has been allowed to linger passed the fleeting thought and actually step into the land of pondering.  It feels rather strange.  I hope I am able to make sense.

One thing that has been on my mind lately is the idea of rewards and expectations.   I was brought up to understand that there were things that were expected of me and it was my job to make sure I did those things.  There would be no payment for following through with what was expected of me.   It seems that over the years the idea that doing what is expected entitles people to being rewarded in some way.  If you are on a recreational sports team you receive a medal or trophy at the end of the season for simply being on the team.  Everyone gets an award.  I remember receiving my very first trophy for actually being the sole winner for an event I was participating in.  I was the only recipient of the award and it really meant something to me.  I notice that when my children get medals for being on a team, they often get thrown in the corner, lost in the back seat of the car because they never made it out of the car in the first place.  The award meant nothing to them.  I receive a pay check every two weeks for doing my job.  I don't get more money in a salaried job because I meet the expectations of my employer every day.  Exceeding the expectations of my employer might result in a bonus at the end of the year, a promotion, or an award of some kind.  If I do not meet the basic expectations of my employer I will, however receive a penalty, a reprimand, an infraction, a demotion, or lose my job completely.  The "reward" for meeting expectations is knowing I am doing the right thing, doing my job well,  and having a sense of peace.    If I find I am not meeting expectations, my peaceful existence is interrupted by the need to do better, being reprimanded by my superior, stress, urgency, and if bad enough, the possibility that I may need to look for another job.  Law enforcement does not reward me for driving the speed limit.  The IRS does not reward me for paying my taxes.  The power company does not give me more power for paying my bill on time.  

I remember teaching at a school back in the early 90's.  We had a new principal who was very big on self esteem and making sure every child felt important.  A teacher was called to a meeting with the principal and a parent of one of her students over a math grade.  The student earned a "D" on the report card.  The parent was upset because their child received a D and they didn't understand why.  The student seemed to know the material and did okay on tests.  The teacher showed the parent and principal that the student had failed to complete the majority of their homework assignments, did average on tests, and did minimal work in the classroom.  The principal began to question the teacher in front of the parent about the homework assignments.  The teacher gave examples where the student was expected to complete 10 math problems for homework and had only attempted two or three.  The principal told the teacher that if the student did two out of the ten problems assigned and did them correctly that she should award the student a grade of 100 on what they accomplished.  The teacher was speechless.  The principal made her change the grade.  I'll never forget that day as long as I live.  This particular teacher had been teaching for many more years than I had and she was completely baffled at the turn of events.  The student continued to do less than what was expected in the classroom and as little as possible.  I often wonder what became of him.  During this same year one of the special area teachers decided to run a contest between all their classes to see who was on time, on task, in their seats, in attendance, stations cleaned, etc....and the winning class would hold the trophy for that month.  Each month the class with the most points would hold the trophy.  The same principal stopped the contest because it meant that there would be classes that did not have the trophy because they did not exceed the expectations.  She was afraid this would damage their self esteem.  I think that is when I really saw the shift in thinking, especially in education.

I pray that I never fall victim to this way of thinking in my own parenting.   We might as well have no expectations and just allow people to do what they want to.  No one wants expectations to be outlined for them, but they sure have their own set of expectations on what they should receive for doing any work at all.

Good and honest labor.  Where did that idea go?  I used to have to go out and pick up the rotten citrus that had fallen off the many trees in our backyard when I was a child.  I can imagine the answer and reaction I would have received from my father had I told him how many pieces I had picked up and what I should receive for each one.  I knew what I would receive if I didn't pick up the fruit!

Thank you for the privilege to live in peace when I do my work. Lord, help me reward when it's worthy, award when there is merit, and praise when praise is due.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Glitter and Glue

When I was a little girl I loved the days my teacher would pull out the bottles of glitter for art projects.  I remember one project in particular.  We were to use our bottle of Elmer's Glue to make any design we wanted on the construction paper.  We could write our name, draw a picture, or do any random design we wanted to.  Such freedom!  So many choices!  I decided I was going to do as many swirls and loops as I could fit on the page.  Then we were to take the glitter and sprinkle it all over our paper.  We could use one color or mix them.  There was gold, silver, red, blue and green glitter.  So many choices!  What was a girl to do?  Use them all, of course!  I began sprinkling each color at random all over my paper of glue swirls and by the time I finished it was covered in glitter and quite a mess......ugly actually.  I looked at the girl's paper next to me and she had used only three colors of glitter and was very careful how she placed it.  (The inside of her desk was also clean.)   Oh well.  What was done was done.  I would just have to wait to see how mine would turn out.   We were to wait until the Elmer's glue had time to dry.  I was a little worried because I had used quite a bit of glue on my paper.   Our teacher probably read us a book in another part of the room to distract us and get us away from our desks....but most likely this was after a bathroom break and a good hand washing.  When the distraction period was over she sent us back to our desks to finish our masterpiece.  We all patiently waited while the garbage can was brought around the room to each desk so we could dispose of our excess glitter.  This is when the magic happened.  As I let the glitter slide off the construction paper it revealed a beautifully designed masterpiece of swirls, loops and squiggles in beautiful colors.  I was amazed!

I was praying the other morning on the way to work and asking God to order my steps.  I have quite a bit on my mind and I am working on sifting through it all.  I asked God to bring clarity to how to prioritize and see what was truly important.  As I was praying, God reminded me that He has designed my life.  He has a beautiful plan for me.  I have to continually fix my eyes on Him in order to follow this plan.  Oftentimes there are distractions along the way that get me off track.  I am distracted by things that are more the glitter bottles in all the colors of the rainbow!  Sometimes by our own doing...and sometimes by life's circumstances we get our beautifully designed masterpiece of glue covered in so much glitter that we can no longer see the intended design.  Life gets messy.  As I continued to pray I asked the Lord to help me blow away the excess and unnecessary glitz and glitter and make clear what He wanted me to focus on and do.  He allowed me to see that in doing this brings peace......His peace.  God also showed me that as I begin to blow away the excess glitter around my life I am seeing how much time and effort has been wasted in things not of eternal value.  What began as beautiful bottles of glitter in specific and intentional colors have become an unintentional and unidentifiable mess.

I am taking my paper to the garbage can and asking the Lord to help me blow away the excess.  I want to see what is left behind.  I know it will be beautiful.....and just the thought of that brings me peace.

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you."
Isaiah 26:3

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Death of Manners and Etiquette

Over the last week I have traveled by plane and been in several situations where I have had many teachable moments with my children.  We have had times to wait, times to be flexible, times to show kindness, and times to compromise.  I think the thing that confuses me is that it seems that no one else in America is teaching or learning these important lessons.  I don't mean to be pessimistic.  Actually I am hoping that others feel the same way and that we can all ban together to have a resurgence of manners and etiquette and good old decency in our family at a time.

While flying this past week, I had the pleasure of sitting in front of small children who kick the seat and are not taught that it is not good manners to do that.  While pondering why their parents weren't putting a stop to it, the father proceeded to use the top back of my airline seat to brace himself each and every one of the billion times he needed to stand and stretch and sit back down again.  When he finally got settled and comfortable he began his exercise routine of tapping his foot against the bottom bar of the seat.  Suppose he was nervous?  Stressed?  I am sure he was.  The father also allowed the child to take all the magazines and airline safety cards out of the seat back pockets over and over again as a game to occupy him, all the while I had the pleasure of having my seat pulled and knocked each and every time he opened and closed the pocket.  I won't even mention the seat back trays.  I figure you get the picture.  Finally the sweet little angel settled down with his electronic device (that had never been turned off during take off) and began to play his game.....without earplugs.  Loud rhythmic sounds in the background accompanied the shots from an animated gun that had high pitched shots and bombs.   Ahhh, just what I wanted to hear as I tried to read.  Getting off a plane is always an experience.  People begin standing in the aisles in an attempt to jump ahead of anyone they can to get out as soon as possible.  Can people not learn to be patient and wait until it is their turn to exit one row at a time off the aircraft?  Wedding etiquette (which has also gone to pot) used to have ushers exiting each row one row at a time so there is not so much congestion at the door of the church.  There ARE reasons for procedures and they are often times for order and efficiency.  Moving on to the baggage claim area we found ourselves lining up for the long wait for the luggage to enter the claim area.  I stood back about two or three feet from the moving belt in order to be able to see the luggage as it would come around the corner.  A woman saw what she thought was an "opening" and jumped in front of me as quickly as she could and brought a horde of people with her.  Everyone rushed to stand with their knees touching the belt so they could lean over and try to see the luggage.  The teacher in me had to restrain myself from clapping my hands, snapping my fingers and instructing everyone:

"Stand back away from the belt so everyone will have a good view of the luggage.  When you see your luggage step forward, claim it and move aside."

It was hard.  I said it several times under my breath.  To my disappointment it was a push and shove race to see who could grab their luggage first.

My children are far from perfect.  My children have had their share of moments where I felt like I had no control.  But it seems like more and more the control is falling into the hands of the children of America just like the Wii remote.  The moments parents used to feel helpless are happening on a daily basis instead of being rare occurrences.  Children today demand instant attention and results...and for some reason parents seem to feel as if it is their obligation to answer their every whim.

Manners and etiquette are good.  Let's brush off our Emily Post books or look it up online for goodness sake.

Man your battle stations!  This is war!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Can't put it down and can't pick it up!

I have always loved to read.  I love to go into a library and smell the books.  I also love the smell of a bookstore.  I don't always get to read during the school year as leisurely as I do during the summer, but I still try to always have a good book on my nightstand.

I have always had to be careful about reading.  I tend to get very caught up in the stories and can't put them down.  Good fiction, especially historical fiction, is one of my favorite types of entertainment.  I get very involved in the story and the lives of the characters and feel as if I know each and every person in the story personally.  I find myself mentally living there with them in the plot.

I recently went on a trip to the beach and bought a book for the trip that I have wanted to read for quite awhile.  After the first chapter, I knew it was a good one.  (I try to give a book three chapters before I toss it in the corner and give up.)  I really enjoy reading at the beach because I don't feel guilty about reading the day away and even into the night.

The thing I dislike most about reading is when I read the last page.  I often want the story to continue, which is why I love historical fiction books in a series.  When the story is over in a series, there is usually another book waiting in the wings.  Not in the case of the book I read on vacation.   So, I headed to the bookstore with my discount card to buy me another book.  I had a very hard time finding something I wanted to read, but made a selection anyway.  I took the book home and it took me a couple of days before I could pick it up and get interested in starting another story.  I was still "mourning" the loss of my new friends in the last book.  I found myself wanting to know what happened to them.  (Yes, I know.....they aren't real people! haha)  I finally picked up the book and started it two nights ago.  I couldn't even make it through the first three chapters.  Every time I went to read I would read a few paragraphs and then put it back down again.  It did not hold my interest.  I ended up taking the book back and getting my money back.  I looked again, but came home with nothing.  I go through this pattern every time I read a really good book.  After supper tonight, we stopped by another bookstore.  A new sense of excitement filled me as I smelled the coffee and the books!  The selections were much better and I found one by an author I've never read before.  The caption on the front of the book by a critic said, "I read this book straight through."  Ahhhh.....  A book you can't put down.  This book was written during the same historical period as the last book I read and so I picked it up and took it to the counter.  The cashier was an older gentlemen who said, "My wife just finished this book and said it was even better than The Help by Katherine Stockard."  Really?  That was the book I had finished at the beach!  It was meant to be.  I look forward to reading The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew and will decide for myself.  The title is so colorful and descriptive.

I will need to read quickly because my next choice is To Kill A Mockingbird.  Classics should be read and read again.  I wish all students looked at summer reading with such joy and pleasure.  Thankfully my kids are readers and are now on book number two and three of several they will read this summer.  We bought them book lights that lay over the page so they can read at night when it's cooler in their room with the lights out.  Last night my youngest read for a long time down on the living room sofa with the lights out and the book light on because it was so cool downstairs.  I love that!  Today she finished Anne of Green Gables while I worked this morning at school.  I was shocked.  She read for two straight hours.  Tonight she begins Mr. Poppers Penguins and has already finished Sign of the Beaver.  My older daughter discovered the joy of reading in a chair on the beach.  She was amazed at how all the noise of the world is drowned out by the roar of the ocean.  She fell in love with reading on the beach.  Too bad it didn't happen until the last day!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I may be wilted, but I'm not dead!

I had a good chuckle over this today.  This is probably the best visual of where I am physically, mentally and spiritually.  I'm sure my husband is secretly chuckling to himself but for very different reasons....reasons that simply have to do with the fact I have never kept a plant alive----ever!

We were driving downtown the other night to my daughter's violin and piano recital when I suddenly GASPED in horror because I realized that I hadn't watered my tomato plant in days or maybe even over a week.  This is quite a sore spot with my husband.  Not the plant, but the GASPING in the car without warning.  He suddenly thinks he's about to have a wreck or hit something he doesn't see, when all the while I'm just in my own world panicking over things I have forgotten to do or turn off.  This is the story of my life.  Things get so busy that being still for even a short ride in the car can cause me to literally come unglued because my mind will "rest" on all the "unrest" or "undone" tasks.  I have been in bed recently and practiced breathing techniques I preach to my students all the time.  I try to fill my lungs with oxygen in order to calm my mind and body.  It hasn't been working.  I don't sleep.  I wake up frequently in the night.  When I try to connect with God I feel like I can only get so far but my soil is never quite quenched.  I watered this sad tomato plant this morning.  I went back into the house to refill my watering can (...which I purchased brand new because I was going to become a master gardener).  By the time I returned to the deck to water the other plants, my wilting plant was already dry again.  I watered the other two plants and they looked satisfied.  What was the problem?  I remembered that I bought my plant with one green tomato on the vine.  It came with the soil provided.  The other two I planted myself in pots with organic soil that holds water for longer periods of time.

This is like our walk with the Lord.  When we invest in things kingdom worthy we will not wither as fast when the storms come and the weather is unpredictable.  But if we invest in things that do not satisfy us spiritually, eventually the soil will not be able to help us but for just a short while.

I read a quote by Robert J. Morgan recently.  He said, "I have found that through scripture memory the incredible treasures of Scripture are not only just available to my mind, but they inform my whole being in a way that is a substantial testimony to the power of the Word of God."  He also said this in regards to our minds:  "A person's mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth.  If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind."

So I will continue to rescue this plant with water.  I will continue to breath in the scriptures and rescue my mind and heart from the overgrowth of the world.

Welcome summer.  I have missed you.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My mind is so full it has gone blank...

Today I feel like mush.  Such an eloquent, sophisticated and descriptive word choice.  I have so many things crammed into my mind right now that this morning I can't decipher any of them.  Some word pictures that come to mind are

  • a backed up disposal needing desperately to be drained...the more you plunge and stir , the cloudier it becomes
  • a computer loaded with a lot of important information suddenly crashes and the screen is either frozen completely or blank....the dreaded black or blue screen...POOF!  All info is gone!
I finally have a moment today to sift through my mess and I find myself unable to find anything.  It's as if the laundry pile is so high and so mixed up that I will never find the matching socks.  (sadly this is not only figurative, but literal)  I keep trying to think...and I get confused.  I don't know where to begin.

I think we all have experienced this more often that we would care to admit.  I am afraid if I close my eyes and try to calm my mind with the intent of bringing clarity to the fog....I will simply fall ASLEEP!

I remember being in this place years ago when I was in my early twenties.  I was hanging on by one frayed thread.  I had not been still long enough to even attempt to find clarity.  I was playing for a church service and the time came for the special music.  The soloist was using a track and I made my way over to my little chair behind the piano where I sat during the sermon.  I remember sitting there and holding on for dear life.  She started to sing and these were the words to her song:  (you can listen HERE to an arrangement by a choir that is quite lovely)

Rest, the Lord is near, refuse to fear, enjoy His love.
Trust, His mighty power fills every hour of all your days...
There is no need for needless worry, with such a Savior,
we have no cause to ever doubt, 
His perfect Word still reassures in every trial.
Call Him if you grow Him, with loving care,
He'll lift your burden and you'll rest, the Lord is near,
Refuse to fear, enjoy His love.

I wept.  Literally wept.  The sobs that make noise.  Thankfully I could keep them quiet.  I was having trouble catching my breath.  Only one sweet friend saw me and came over to ask if I was okay after the service.  Thankfully my release was not a distraction.  It was however, unexpected.  

Thankfully I am not in the weeping mood today...just cluttered and foggy.

I will have to start small.  
One load of laundry, figuratively and literally.
If I can make that much room in my mind (and laundry baskets) I may be able to breathe a little easier and maybe, just maybe I'll find that missing sock.  

Friday, May 6, 2011

So what is wrapped around YOUR vacuum cleaner brush?

The house was quiet this evening.  One daughter is on an overnight field trip and the other is at a skating party.  I decided to do a little straightening and vacuuming.  As I swept the upstairs hallway, I began noticing that the vacuum didn't seem to be picking up much dirt and dust.  If fact, I don't think it was picking up anything at all.  This has happened before, but after cleaning the dirt container it usually goes back to working normally.  This time, that wasn't happening.  I turned it off, sat on the floor and turned the vacuum over.  I couldn't believe what I saw.  I would post a picture but people would judge me, surely they would.  The amount of "stuff" wrapped around my brush was so thick I couldn't see the brush!  I was so embarrassed....and there was no one home to see it!  I didn't even want the cat to look.  After a half hour of tedious operating, my brush looks like new.

This got me to thinking about how hard we work at cleaning up the messes in our lives.  We work very hard to keep things in our lives looking neat and put together.  There's really nothing wrong with that.  We want order, happiness and calmness.  When things get "messy"at home or at work we quickly act to clean things up so all will be well again.  No one likes to live in a mess or chaos.  The problem is that we are so busy cleaning up the messes around us that we forget that all the dirt and grunge has to go somewhere.  Before long, we are unable to really clean things up because we haven't properly disposed of the grime and trash.  Cleansing is as important as the cleaning process.  It would be like scrubbing toilets and never washing your hands afterwards.  My vacuum cleaner brush was a wonderful visual for me.  My vacuum had worked hard to clean up my messes...but I forgot to clean and take care of the "cleaner".  We have to let things go.  Put them to rest.  Bury the mess.  Forget it and move on.  I've had many messes in my life that I have replayed over and over again.....knowing they were all cleaned up.....but for some reason I kept revisiting them.  I am learning to let them go, forgive, put them to rest, and start with a clean vacuum.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Black (not brown) Thumb

I bought a tomato plant today.  This may not seem like a big deal, but it is to me.  I can't grow anything except mold....and I can do that without even trying.  So today, on a whim, I stopped in the hardware store and they had some tomato plants.  As the girls and I made our way to the car with the fragrant tomato plant, we started talking about growing vegetables.   Before we'd even made it out of the parking lot, the girls had already decided we should grow peppers, lettuce, beans, and they got all excited planning where they might be able to put this magnificent garden in our uneven backyard.  I looked at them and said, "Let's just see if I can keep this one little tomato plant alive."  They laughed the rest of the way home, agreeing that was the best plan.  They told me they would help me keep it alive.  My husband has his doubts.  It was written all over his face when he came home at lunchtime to the excited squeals of the girls announcing that "MOMMY BOUGHT A TOMATO PLANT! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH"  Yes, the announcement was followed by much mockery and laughter.  I'll show them.  I think I'll charge them for the tomatoes.

I have enjoyed the last few days of this much needed spring break.  Tonight I have a homemade soup cooking.  It's chicken, zucchini, spinach, carrots, and onions.  I feel so domestic and relaxed.  My washing machine is humming happily. (It ought's brand new.  The old one died....twice.)
The girls are happily playing and GETTING ALONG.  Of course if they don't they have horrible punishments like cleaning the kitchen or doing chores while linking arms and staying glued together.  It makes life interesting.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Signs of Spring

I am weary of the constant weather roller-coaster.  One day the sun shines warmth and our steps are a little lighter...only to wake up to cold winds and cold temperatures chilling us to the bone once again.  I know we need the rain.  I actually love the rain.  I think it is when it is mixed with the cold and bitter winds with a day of sun and warmth thrown in to tease us that it makes me sad. 

I love teaching.  But right now I am weary from the pace that we have to keep as teachers during the day.  We are expected to be "up" and "happy" and "engaging" and "alert".....all the while our sweet charges are sleepy, tired, daydreaming, and generally not interested because they need a break so desperately.  Believe me.....teachers understand.  Underneath our smiles and Energizer Bunny costumes we are weary, too. 

Last night the storms were fierce.  My husband and I woke up in the middle of the night to the flashes of lightening and very high winds.  We did not sleep until it passed.  It rained all the way to school this morning.  By lunchtime as I came out of a long meeting I saw the sun had come out and it was a gorgeous day.  Still cold....still windy....but beautiful.  I had to run to the store during lunch to pick up some treats for my sixth graders.  As I was driving to the store I had an overwhelming sense of Christ's presence as I looked around me at the beautiful dogwoods.   When I lived in Florida it was the pine tree crosses.  Now that I am in North Carolina it is the dogwood blossoms.  There is something about coming out of a long period of cold, cloudy, and dreary days and having a glimpse of the coming of Spring that makes me think of Christ's death and Resurrection.  I remember when I lived in Florida I was always amazed that the pine trees did not bloom until Easter.  It was if they knew and were celebrating the risen Savior along with believers.

Here in North Carolina it is the dogwoods.  If you aren't familiar with the legend of the dogwood trees you can read about it here.  My weariness at this time has had the added weight of our spring break not coming until almost the end of the school year.  Most schools' breaks will have come and gone a month before we will have ours.  So as I look around at the hints of spring in the dogwoods, I long to be with my Savior.  I long to be near Him and thank Him for all he has done for me.  I am confronted with my own lack of worthiness.  I am lacking in so many areas.  I long to stop the roller coaster and sit in the Son.  The cold and dreariness has over stayed it's welcome and I long for the warmth of my Savior on my face and in my heart.

One of my favorite songs is about the dogwoods and the promise of redemption and cleansing.
The lyrics are printed below.  If you click on the title you can hear it.

Dogwood's A' Bloomin'

The dogwoods a’bloomin’,
Oh hush, little one

The winter is over
The warm winds have come

The bud on the maple is tender and green
The hope the Savior is risen with spring

The dogwoods a'bloomin' perfume in the air
Stirrin’ the warm bed of the sleepy old bear
Can he hear the rhythm, the drums on the wind?
The heart of the Savior, is beating again.

The dogwoods a'bloomin; with blossoms of white
Dressin' the dark wood with innocent light
Tellin’ the secret it wants us to know

The sins that were scarlet are whiter than snow.

Come spring.  Please come quickly.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Trash Talk

I have been sick.  Some nasty stomach virus.  Yesterday I stayed on the sofa all day.  Television did not interest me.  I tried to watch a movie, but could not focus.  I have some really intense books on my reading list right now, and yesterday was not the day to try and focus on those.  I did some praying.  It was quiet in my house and the fireplace was on.  I have a novel that I have been wanting to read for awhile but have been quite busy.  I brought it downstairs and read most of the day between cat naps and sips of ginger ale.

One of the story lines in the novel is dealing with one sibling in a family of four children.  The children live in very meager conditions and work very hard.  Very hard.  The responsibilities that they take on are more rigorous than most adults are used to today.  I got to thinking about this a lot yesterday.  It is amazing how much thinking I was able to do while I was on the sofa.  I realized it has been a long time since I have been able to sit in the quiet and have time to really let my mind wander.  Most of the time my mind is running.  In the middle of the night Monday night I woke my husband up to tell him that I was not going to be able to go to work and needed to go through "the plan" that would have to take place.  There were many details that needed tending to and he would have to pinch hit for me.  I had already run through this plan in my mind as I tossed and turned.  At this point it was very important that I go over the plan with him.  It was about 3:30 in the morning and he was sweet enough to listen to me go through the many details that I needed to unload off my mind in order to attempt to rest.

As I rested on the sofa by the fire, my mind was able to wander.  My thoughts were able to stop and linger awhile in places before moving on.  It had been so long since I was able to allow my mind to take a leisure stroll and enjoy the places I discovered and ponder on those that bothered me.  We live in a very noisy world.  Rarely do we get alone and quiet.

One of the places where I chose to linger was on this idea of hard, honest work.  Those who came before us lived simple, yet difficult lives.  The difficulties were in their struggles and physical labors.  What we consider normal, they would never have seen in their lifetimes----running water, heating and cooling systems, gas stoves, refrigerators, washing machines, cell phones, etc...  We have always required our children to do chores around our house.  There are many chores that children younger than mine were required to do on farms and in their homes that people today would consider harsh.  They didn't work all day, but they were expected to do their share and learn responsibility.  The children and adults also walked miles to places they needed to go.  Children were sent to school and would walk two miles to school and two miles home.....even in heavy rain or snow.  

My children have told me that some of their friends don't have chores.  Now I realize that most likely this is not true, yet there may be some who don't.  When I look around at the floors at school and the trash that gets thrown on the ground without a second thought it makes we wonder.  We all go through times where our children are not so pleasant in their responses.  Sassiness and disrespect is found in all of us.  The very thought that being asked to do a little work brings an immediate reaction of irritation shows us how sinful we are.

The students at my school have been asked to do some chores recently.  The lunchroom has been quite messy after lunch.  Trash isn't making it to the trash can.  The hallways have been less than tidy with items that would make you throw your hands out with huge question marks in each.   Why would one put an orange on the floor of the hallway, stomp on it to see how flat they can make it....and then just leave it there.....for someone else to clean up?  Some people laugh and say...."Oh, that is just kids for you."   I beg to differ.  On any given day I can look up and down the hallway and see things that never make it to the trash can.  Instead, they are just thrown on the ground...because "someone" will pick it up.  "Someone" who gets paid to do that.  A friend recently told me that some of the students are not happy with having to wipe down tables after lunch and pick up trash.  One of the kids said that there are adults who get paid to do that and the students shouldn't have to.  Where did this attitude and thinking come from?  Are we really teaching our students that it is another person's job to pick up their trash?  Sure, we have paid personnel who clean and maintain our facilities.  We have teachers and assistants who are paid to look after the kids and supervise them for their safety and well being.  But to pick up the trash that they deliberately threw on the ground or left on the table?  Somewhere we as parents are missing the mark.  We often complain and gripe about the things left out and not put away, the dishes that never made it to the sink, the clothes that never made it to the hamper...and then we pick them up and do it ourselves to save time...all the while grumbling and complaining.  We could take this one step further and say that often we teach our children to clean up after themselves.  The message that they are learning is to clean up only what mess they know is theirs and leave the rest....after all...they didn't make it.  I am guilty of this, too.  If we are honest, we all are.

When I was in middle school, I remember being assigned a table at lunch.  I was even assigned a seat at that table.  We were to eat quietly and wait for our turn to take and clean our trays or throw away our trash.  We then returned to our assigned table and seat and could talk quietly for the remainder of the lunch period.  We did not go outside.  We stayed inside the lunchroom and waited for the bell.  Then the assigned student would wipe the table down.  I remember taking our trays to the lunchroom ladies and being sent back to the trash bins because we did not scrape them clean enough before turning them in to be washed.

So back to the idea of hard work.  The idea of learning what it takes to maintain a home needs to be learned by our children at an early age.  Respect and positive attitudes will spill over into school and other places without us even trying.....if we do it right at home.  It all starts in the home.
Let's get out our chore lists and evaluate whether or not they are sufficient.  Saturday can't get here fast enough.   Hmmmm......why wait until Saturday?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


arrogance [ar-uh-guhns]  –noun
offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride

Arrogance makes me sad.  When I hear or see quiet or deliberate displays of arrogance, my mind immediately quotes the psalmist:

"When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 
what is man that you are mindful of him" (Psalm 8)

I also think of God's answer to Job:

"Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
   Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
   Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
   or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars  sang together
   and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" (Job 38)

This chapter is very sobering.  It also makes me love God more.  He is GOD.  
Who Am I?  I am nothing, yet He created me and knows my name...and even loves me.  There is a song that reflects these humbling thoughts.  The lyrics are,

"Over time You've healed so much in me and I am living proof

That although my darkest hour had come
Your light could still shine through
Though at times it's just enough to cast a shadow on the wall
Well I am grateful that You shine a light on me at all

Who am I that You would love me so gently?
Who am I that You would recognize my name?
Lord, who am I that You would speak to me so softly?
Conversation with the love most high, who am I?"

Paul says, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief ."—I Tim. 1:15.

The problem today is that people do not choose to recognize sin unless it is an extreme evil or a "socially acceptable evil".  Even in these cases, many try to blame their actions on "insanity", "mental illness", their poor childhood, their financial ruin, and anything else that can exonerate them.  Few accept responsibility for their actions because they do not consider them wrong in the first place.  

One thing I have noticed growing more prevalent today is how people feel entitled to everything.  There is such a sense of selfishness in the world.  It causes people to elevate themselves above anyone that doesn't agree with them.  Many times Christians are the ones who are singled out as having this "issue".  People say that Christians think that everyone who disagrees with them is wrong.  If others do not agree that the Bible is the True, inerrant Word of God, they bash Christians who do.  Not all Christians are saying that other people need to agree with them, but are saying that others should agree with God's Word.  Another argument is that the Bible is open to individual interpretation.  I disagree.  The Bible clearly states,

“The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.  For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him?  In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.  We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.  This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.  The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:10-14.  There is no understanding apart from the Holy Spirit! 

“To God, who alone is wise, be the glory forever through Jesus Christ.”
Romans 16:27.   
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” --Proverbs 9:10.  
“The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.”
Proverbs 15:33.   
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” Psalms 32:8.  
 “I am the Lord your God, who teaches what is best for you, who directs you in the way
you should go.” ---Isaiah 48:17. 

Sadly, when God's Word does not line up with what certain people believe, then the Bible simply becomes any other book in their minds----not Truth.  So if the Word of God is not TRUTH, then where is Truth?  From what source does one measure decisions and beliefs?  You will most likely find them measuring "truth" according to their own beliefs and thoughts.  I find that scary and arrogant.  

Today I have been overwhelmed and burdened by this.  The arrogance and self-centeredness of society causes me to wonder how bad things are going to get in the future.  We were never promised an easy road---a road without bumps and opposition.  I believe the opposition to our God and His Word are on the rise. Are we ready to defend the Word and uphold the Truth?  

Someone said recently that Truth, Goodness and Beauty were once believed to be objective and measurable.  They are measured by God's standards.  Beauty was the first to go, Goodness followed, and now "truth" has become relative and all three are now very subjective in the eyes and minds of mainstream society.

I have peace and confidence knowing that I have something by which to measure my decisions and choices.  I have God's Word---TRUTH.  I have God's Word and standards--Beauty.  I have God, Himself---Goodness.  I don't want the responsibility of defining Truth.  It has already been done for me.  I would fail miserably because I am a sinful human being.  

Our sinfulness causes arrogance.  The further away we are from God and Truth, the more arrogant we become.  Arrogance doesn't always perform loudly....sometimes quiet arrogance is just as bad.  Cynicism is also running wild today and is a direct result of people not believing in Truth as God defines it.

It is my prayer that people will stop searching the internet for any "source" that backs up their own beliefs--beliefs that change as quickly as the direction the wind blows. 

As my pastor quotes weekly, "The grass withers and the flowers fall,

but the word of our God endures forever." (Isaiah 40:8)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Teaching an old dog new tricks....

Humans could learn a few lessons from the life of a dog.  This morning I stopped in the grocery store to grab some contact solution.  As I was coming out of the store I saw people rushing from place to place, probably like me---hurrying to work.  I looked up to see a man and his "best friend" taking a morning stroll in front of the grocery store.  The man had his head down and was really not "strolling", but rather walking briskly.  The dog, however, had other things on his mind.  He was taking in his surroundings......sniffing the scents of the world.....perking his ears to every sound around him....and totally enjoying his time outside on such a beautiful morning.   The minute he saw me, his head turned, and he least that is what it looked like to me.....and in his own way said, "Good morning!".  He really wanted to stop and visit, but his owner was in a hurry.  The dog didn't know me, yet he wasn't overly cautious and shy.  He also didn't keep his head down and keep walking.  I am guilty of that.  Not always.  There are days when I long for smiles and interaction with others and therefore I speak quickly and smile earnestly.  Often I am rushing from point A to point B and don't take time to "sniff" and "listen".  Most dogs have never met a stranger.  They want nothing  more than to spend time with humans and be petted and loved.  Of course, there are a few with some psychological issues.....moody.....stubborn......and high maintenance.  Generally, dogs are friendly.  Like humans, if they have been mistreated and abused they either retreat or lash out in anger and aggression.  The lesson that I seem to learn from dogs is that no matter what they seem to keep coming back to love and be loved.....and most often, they are the initiator of the relationship.  They are the "giver" and we are the "receiver".  Sure, we feed them and offer them shelter, but, even when we aren't as attentive as we should be, they still want to give us attention.  We could really learn a lesson from that attitude.  People in our lives are going to disappoint us, neglect us, treat us unkindly, abuse us, forget about us, ignore us, and yet we should still love others.  The scriptures are very specific in their teachings about loving others.  Nowhere does it say, "Love others if they love you."  Instead, the scriptures say over and over again.....

John 13:34
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."

John 13:35
"By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Romans 12:10
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves"

Galatians 5:13
"You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love."

Ephesians 4:2
"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."

Hebrews 10:24
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds..."

So, let's lift up our heads and greet one another along the way.  Let's speak to strangers.  Let's smell the beautiful scents around us.  Let's listen to one another without thinking about what we are going to say next. Let's smile at others.   Let's call people we know by name.  Let's stroll, not hurry.  

Let's be man's best friend.  

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sitting Near the Son

My sweet Lucy-girl is about to be 14 years old.  I'll never forget the day we brought her home.  We had moved into a new rental house in Florida and decided to get two cats so they could keep each other company.  We went to the Humane Society and were overwhelmed at the number of cats and kittens on hand.  It was filthy and sad.  This was a couple of years before the Humane Society had new management and better facilities and care.  We stepped into the kitten and small cat cage and were immediately mobbed by cats.  One was climbing up the side of the cage (made like a chain fence) and when he was up far enough he leaped across the cage and landed on my back!  He acted possessed.  I did not want to take him home.  I had always wanted a large, fat cat.  I looked for the biggest kitten I could find.  He was yellow and quite fluffy.  I had one picked out...all I had to do was find the second one to be his friend.  I found a beautiful large smokey gray kitten.  I really wanted that one, but every time I tried to pet him he hissed at me.  I just didn't think he was very friendly.  Every time I went to pick up another cat I saw this very tiny kitten sitting at my feet.  She was skinny, didn't have much hair, and was every color in the book.  She wasn't much to look at.  I continued looking for another beautiful cat, and it seemed they were ALL possessed.  I've never seen so much hissing and jumping all over the place.  All the while, the skinny little kitten was sitting at my feet.  She didn't make any noise and she didn't try to scratch or hiss at me.  Something told me I needed to take her home because no one else would.  That is the story of how we came to have Linus (fat cat) and Lucy (skinny cat).

We took them home and let them loose to roam in the house. Over the next couple of days we noticed that Lucy was acting like she was sick.  She wouldn't eat, was sneezing quite a bit, and didn't stay awake very long.  It was summertime, and she always seemed cold.  There were several skylights in our Florida home and she would find the spot on the carpet that had a square of sunshine from the skylight and sit there.  When the square of light moved, so did she.  She has always followed whatever patch of sunshine she could find.  It could be hot as blue blazes outside and Lucy will find the sunshine spot coming in through the window and sit in the ray of sunshine.  This morning I found her behind the blinds on my bathroom window sill....the only place in the bathroom with any warmth of sunlight.  As I was putting on my make up I was thinking about her finding the sun wherever it is.  God spoke to my heart and reminded me that He wants me to seek Him like that.  He wants me to follow him wherever He is.  He wants me to seek Him out and be near Him all the time.  Such a simple lesson, but one one that has stayed with me all day.  I am so glad that my God speaks to me in the simple things.  I reminds me that He is with me all the time and wants to communicate with me on a very personal level all throughout my day....even during the mundane tasks and daily routines.

Lucy reminds me to "sit near the Son" and follow Him all throughout the day....wherever He moves.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I'd like to take a mulberry

Years ago (PK--pre-kids) I took up learning to play golf.  I really enjoyed it.  I got pregnant shortly after I started learning.  I took a lesson or two from a lady pro at one of the local golf clubs where we were living in Florida.  The first time I played an entire round of golf was in a real golf tournament!  Talk about just diving in the deep end!  Thank goodness it was a "best ball" tournament.  It was quite fun.  The funny thing was I was quite pregnant during my days of learning to play and I had to learn to maneuver my stomach.  One day while I was out playing 9 holes with my husband one evening, I missed my shot pretty badly.  Wanting to show him that I understood the game and "lingo" I told him I would just take a mulberry.  He stopped and looked at me (I suppose to see if I was serious...which I was!) and then started shaking his head and laughing.  He then proceeded to let me know that the correct term was "mulligan". 

Today was one of those days that you really wish you could call on a mulligan and get a complete "do over".  I went to work yesterday with a headache.  I did everything I could to be cautious and take something before it got worse, but it didn't make any difference.  It got worse as the day went on.  By the time the work day was complete I was a wreck.  We went out to dinner and I came home and crashed.  I went to sleep and had a very restless night.  I kept waking up due to the headache.  I slept a little later this morning hoping it would help, and woke up to find it was not gone.  It continued ALL DAY .  I did a load or two of laundry and hemmed some pants, but did not accomplish much else today.  It is now 10:00pm and my headache is finally gone!  I am so happy.  But, I would really like a do-over.  The one day to enjoy my family and get some things done at home.......gone.  Another treasured Saturday eaten up by a horrible headache. 

I am thankful I had today to rest and try to nurse the headache away.  The selfish part of me wishes I could get the day back.  There was nothing I could have done to change the fact that I have had a headache for two days.  It is what it is.  It does make me think about all the days that I would like to do over due to my own sinfulness.  I am so thankful that God's mercies are new EVERY morning.  We are truly fortunate and blessed to have a God who allows us to begin again.....every day....with a clean heart, a clean slate, and a fresh perspective. 

I guess instead of whining about losing today, I will look forward to tomorrow. 
Great is His faithfulness.

And...I think "mulberry" is a nicer term than "mulligan". 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Window to the Soul

"The eyes are the window to the soul."   This statement is so true.  It was so true today.  I looked into the eyes of someone and what I read there was loneliness and confusion.   I also saw someone who had been wounded and was weary.  Yet, as I looked again I saw a glimpse of joy...a small fleck, but there nonetheless.   I think I know what brought about the sense of joy, and I hope that it was enough to light a flame that will continue to burn away the other things I saw in those eyes. 

The human heart and soul has a depth like nothing I've ever known.  God's ability to stretch and fill that space is miraculous and the fact that we can't really "see" the soul makes it even more miraculous.  Looking into a person's  eyes can be proof enough there is a soul.  I was jolted by the fragility of it today.  It is hard to explain.  We can be tough and quite good at masking emotions and feelings, but it's quite difficult to really mask what is in your soul.  The eyes can show the loss of innocence.  They can show love, fear, joy, and sorrow. 

Years ago I had a "fever of unknown origin".  The doctors had no idea what was causing it.  I saw two different doctors and each ran every test they knew to run.  The last doctor I saw read my blood work results and sat there baffled.  I had been running a 101 degree fever for over two weeks.   My husband had taken a job in another state and had to move ahead of me, I was caring for a newborn baby, working full time and pregnant with number two on the way.  The fever was posing quite a problem because I was unable to take medication and therefore quite miserable.  The tests showed nothing.  I remember my doctor putting down my file and walking over to the exam table and standing in front of me with his hands on my shoulders he stared into my eyes for what seemed like an eternity.  He quietly told me to be very still and let him "look" at me.  He was looking into the one place he thought he might find the answer he was looking eyes. 
I remember thinking that no doctor had ever taken the time to really look at me that way.  I honestly think he was one of the rare physicians who believes that not everything can be medically explained by science.  There are sometimes you need to resort to looking into the eyes of someone and trying to "see" what is underneath. 

I've only had one other similar experience with a physician over the years.  Sadly, many are so overworked and overscheduled that they don't have time to listen to their patients, much less look into their eyes.  Those two times I felt as if a doctor really wanted to find out exactly what was causing my physical issue.   They treated me as a whole person...knowing that sometimes there are other issues that are present that are causing physical reactions.  Emotions?  Stress? 

So "the eyes have it".  A play on words, yes.  I should say it "hit me between the eyes" today as I saw the eyes of another.  I pray that God will allow me to slow down long enough to really see others.   

Monday, January 31, 2011

As The Washer Turns

There is something soothing about the sound of my washing machine.   I love the constant hum of the washer as it turns and spins.  Saturday I was extremely tired and decided to take a nap.  The washer was running and I remember slipping off to sleep so easily....comforted by the fact that even though I slept, progress was under way in the laundry/house keeping department.  Chuckle if you must.  

I am home today with a sick child.  I hate it when my children are sick.  I am glad to be here with her, though.  She is quiet and in need of some TLC as well as liquids and lots of rest.  I love tucking the blanket under her feet and making her feel cozy.  She is eating grits (as every good southerner should).  The warmth is good on her throat, as well as the texture that will help the discomfort in her throat also.  Soup is good, grits are better.  A nap for her is just on the horizon. 

The washer going is a great kind of quiet for me.  Total quiet is almost loud.  I hear more things in the total silence that distract me.  The silence of white noise allows my mind to concentrate, pray, think, read, and of course nap when necessary.  My dad often talked about working third shift at Goodyear Tire plant years ago while he was in school.  He would come home in the early morning and go to sleep to the sound of the vaccum cleaner.  I don't have the same affection for the vaccum cleaner as my dad does.  I associate the vaccum cleaner with unrest.  When I was a teenager and sleeping late on Saturdays, my mother would often wake me up by running the vaccum cleaner outside my bedroom door.  If that didn't work, she would hit the door with the front of the vaccum....eventually making her way into my bedroom and vaccuming right there while I tried to sleep in peace.  Hahaha!   Someone vaccuming means I'm not up working and therefore I feel guilty.  So, I don't like the vaccum cleaner noise. 

Today has been quiet.  I've done some work, planned some meals, given medicine, fixed lots of hot tea and sick foods and loved my girl.  Looks like we may be doing this again tomorrow.

Well, the washer has stopped.  I must go start it again. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Blessing Beyond the Wall

This morning I was listening to the morning announcements and heard that there would be a time of worship during the high school lunch time.  They also announced that it would be in my room.  Surprise!  I had no idea....not that I minded, but I was very surprised.  I had no idea who organized the lunchtime worship.  The day progressed and I forgot about it.  Lunchtime rolled around and I went to my office to check email and eat a quick sandwich before the rest of the day descended upon me.  I finished returning some emails and then got my lunch bag out to eat.  It was then that heard the sounds of the piano coming from my choir 
room through the wall.   I knew the tune.  I knew the words.  All of them.  A few minutes later, I heard the singing. 

"This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long!
This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long!"

Really?  Were my ears deceiving me?  I was transported back to a place in my life where I found such joy.  Singing hymns in church as a child is one of my most vivid and precious memories.  It is these same songs I sang while rocking my children to sleep.  It is these songs that I sing when I'm in quiet time with my Lord.  These are the same songs that many teenagers (and adults) have never heard.

I got up from my desk and walked down the hall.  I didn't know who was in my room or how many I would find, but the sounds coming through the wall were beckoning me to come.

"Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blessed;
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness lost in His love.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long."

The honesty and adoration I heard in the voices of the ten high school students in the room touched me deeply.  I worshipped with them.  I could not hold back the tears.  I listened to them read scripture and then I slipped out the door.  This was their time, and I did not want to intrude.  I don't think they would have thought my being there an intrusion, but I still wanted to give them their space, their independence, and their sweet time of fellowship with their God and their peers.

Before I left, a couple more students came in.  One slipped in quietly.  The other student looked a little uncomfortable and said (out loud), "I really don't think this is where I want to be right now."

As I slipped out the door I thought to myself, "But this is exactly where you need to be." 

The walls in my modular are thin.  Many times this is irritating and makes teaching difficult for all of us out there.   Today.....those thin walls were a blessing.

Blessed assurance!  Jesus is mine.....and theirs.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Meet Lolly.  I assume most children have a special "friend".  No bedtime is complete without this friend by their side, comforting and soothing them to sleep.  This friend gets dragged through the house, taken on sleepovers, packed in suitcases for vacation and ride-a-longs in the car.  Sometimes nothing can make a child stop crying except their special "friend". 

Ms. Lynda gave Janey her special friend before she was born.  This little cloth doll was waiting on Janey when she came home from the hospital.  We called her Janey's "dolly". 

"Where's your dolly?"
"Can you find your dolly?"
"I'm gonna get your dolly!"

When Janey started talking she tried to say "dolly" and it came out "lolly".  Once she started talking, she called her doll "Lolly" and has ever since.  I am sure every mother out there knows the lengths you will go to sneaking in your child's room to find the special friend in order to wash them.  As Janey got older I would have her help me wash Lolly.  She would put the soap in the washer and turn it on the delicate cycle.  She would patiently wait for Lolly to finish washing and then she would place her gently in the dryer and once again wait until she was clean and dry.  Then.....all was right in her world.

As Lolly got older, she lost her plumpness.  She also lost the cute yarn tassel on the top of her head.  Janey used to carry her around by the yarn.  My mother found another doll just like Lolly and gave her to Janey.  We thought she might like to "swap her out".  That suggestion didn't fly.  So Lolly now has a nice, new, plump friend named "Molly". 

Tonight, I found Lolly on my bed.  Apparently Janey brought her in when she came up for bed. 
How do you resist a well planned out request?   Not many mothers can.  So, out came my sewing basket, needle and thread.  I mean, the child even provided the stuffing!  So, Lolly is now a little more plump than she was yesterday.  I have to close now and go and reunite Lolly with Janey. friend's name was Leo.  Leo the Lion. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Finding my balance

Last night I found myself off balance.  My children were invited to a sleepover and that left the evening free for my husband me to go on a date.  My days are quite noisy.  I work in a school full of wonderful, energetic, smart, and noisy students.  I have grown quite tolerable of the noise level that a school brings, though I find myself longing for quiet every now and then.  Yesterday afternoon my children came to bring me their backpacks and school treasures and exchange them for their sleepover bags.  They were so excited as they skipped along with their friends for their evening of fun.  I went back to my classroom and cleaned up from the chaos of the day, did a few things that needed attending to prior to the weekend and week ahead, and then gathered my bags and coat to head home.  My husband was going to try and come home early because he had been in meetings all day every day this past week and was quite tired.  As I walked to the car, I stopped.  I looked to see that I had all my bags, coat, keys, computer, the cord---which I often forget, and then started toward the car again.  What did I forget?  I walked slowly to the car because I knew I was going to remember and turn around and have to go back.  As I reached the car and began to load my items in the back it dawned on me what my problem was.  My children were missing!  The constant babble and chatter, the tons of book bags, lunchboxes, violin, music books and coats weren't there to load.  It felt very odd.  Almost unsettling.  I drove home in silence.  That in and of itself is a beautiful thing on any given day, yet specifically on a Friday afternoon after a week of school  it was so strange.  I arrived home to find my cat sitting at her food bowl giving me "what for" about it being empty.  She weighs less than  6 pounds soaking wet and yet she gets very feisty when her bowl is empty.  I fixed her some supper and then my husband came in.  He had a little bit of work to finish upstairs on the computer so I went downstairs to catch my breath.  I sat on the sofa and closed my eyes for a minute.  After sitting there for a few minutes I heard the strangest sound.  I sat their trying to figure it out.  Was it dripping?  Was it tapping?  After several minutes of pondering what this unusual sound was, I figured it out.  It was the paws of my cat walking across the floor!!!!  The house was so quiet I could hear the cat walking across the floor.  My husband finished his work about an hour later and we went to dinner.  We had the best time.  We walked right into P.F. Chang's.  That was a first.  Tables for two are easier to come by, I suppose.  We talked and had the most tasty dinner.  Afterwards we went to REI to find me some snow boots.  Everyone is sold out of snow boots.  I neglected to get myself some when they first came out.  So we ordered them at the store to be shipped to the house.....for the next time it snows.  (Now that I have boots, it won't snow!)  After that we did a bit more looking around and then we headed home.  We got in our warm p.j.'s and settled in for some TV.   We had a very nice evening and enjoyed each other's company so much.  It was very restful. 

I still missed my children.  I told my husband that I really like the feeling of everyone under my roof and that I feel strange when the kids are gone.  I asked him if he felt "lost" as well.  He said, " must be a mother thing."  haha    Don't get me wrong, he loves his girls!  I do, however think that it is "a mother thing" as he put it. 

I went to bed and slept until 8:00!  We had coffee and breakfast together before he set out to pick up the girls and the three of them took our dear 14 year old friend, Lucy to the vet.  She weighs 5 lbs 13 oz...same as last  year.  She eats.  She is playful.  She is cuddly.  She's just very very small.  Even her "meow" is small. 

So thankful for a restful night with my husband.  It was quiet.  It was needed.  It was strange.  It was a glimpse into the future when we are "empty-nesters".  I am so glad I am married to my best friend. 
I am glad my children are home.  I am also glad they have sweet friends to spend the night with. 
I know that others are experiencing the incredible emptiness of children growing up and moving away.  I know that I have more years to look forward to.  I plan to cherish this time. 

One is playing.  One is asleep.  Husband is studying.  Washing machine is humming.  All is well.  All is well.