Thursday, September 29, 2011

Happy Unbirthday To Me

Today is my half birthday. If Gram was alive, there'd be some sort of acknowledgement. Any reason to celebrate or have fun. Today is also the day Grandma O. died -- 20 years ago. Funny the things you remember. My great-grandma and I were the best of pals. I was 17 when she died - she was in her mid-80s. Almost 7 decades separated us but I often raided her closet for clothes to wear to school. Several of my class pictures were taken wearing one of her outfits! She lived with Gram and Gramps and had the best bedroom in the world. There were so many things for a kid to explore. I especially liked her make-up. I'd often go in and put powder on my face. I loved how her room smelled. Gram and Gramps had a guestroom but when I spent the night, I always slept with Grandma O. in her twin bed, right up through my senior year of high school. She was beautiful and always looked so perfect. I did her hair and her fingernails every week. Saturday mornings, I'd pack up my stuff, go to her house and we'd have salon day. So many memories of casual visits, lots of laughter, shared snacks. We both loved hominy. She'd heat up a can, add a slab of butter, divide it into two bowls and we'd have it all to ourselves. No one else seemed to like it the way we did. When she died, I went to the funeral home and did her hair and nails one last time. At the viewing, I slipped a bracelet on her wrist, under her sleeve. It had half a heart that said, "Best." I have the other half still. It says, "Friend." Nobody knew this next part until I told my mom last summer. Grandma O. is the one who heard all my teenage drama. She had the most time to sit and listen to me. When she was gone, I missed having her to talk to so I'd write my thoughts on paper, fold it up really tight and small, go to the cemetery, dig a small space around her headstone and bury the paper. I was telling Mom that if it weren't for the effects of time disintegrating the paper, I bet we'd find about fifty notes I stuck in around the edges throughout the years.

Grandma O. and Gram
(Lillian and Ruby)

Grandma O.

As I think about my life today, the years I've lived, I realize how blessed I am to have had so many kind, loving, wise people invested in it. Parts of each one can be found in me. of my kids. I love them.

Monday, September 26, 2011

To God Be The Glory

We sang this song in church yesterday and as we got to the last stanza I was thinking about the author, Fanny Crosby, who was blind. The words must have had such a deep meaning to her. We all look forward to seeing Jesus but she was looking forward to SEEING Jesus. I wonder if the wonder and awe, therefore the blessing, was greater for her? Did what she lacked here build in her a greater anticipation of what awaited her there?

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He has done.

Great things He has taught us, great things He has done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
But purer, and higher, and greater will be
Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.

On my way to work the other morning I saw the following saying on a license plate holder:

Smooth seas do not make an expert sailor.

I'm not usually a slow-learner. I study my lessons, figure out what is important to know, memorize it and bring it out for use whenever appropriate. I add to my knowledge base. I take pride in being informed and educated. When I played basketball, I learned not only the plays for my position, but the plays for every other position because this enabled me to know where my teammates were at all times. I knew where to pass the ball before our center was even there. I was able to anticipate the cut from our off-guard and hit her with a lead-in pass that took her straight to the hoop. Basketball was my life for several years and there wasn't anything about it I didn't know. I was an expert. When the defense switched coverage half-way down the court, I saw it and knew what to call. When I was double-teamed, I knew which of my teammates was left open. The more practice I had, the better I became. Why did it take me so long to make the connection that occurred to me in church yesterday? Why was I so slow?

I haven't looked at my "rough seas" as lessons to be learned. I've looked at them as trials to be endured. I haven't studied them, I haven't let them teach me very much. Today in health class I was presenting a lesson on "Choices and Life Skills," and I borrowed the Spiderman quote, "With great power comes great responsibility." It could be twisted around to say, "With rough seas comes great responsibility." God has given me the opportunity to draw close to Him, to study the waves, to study the wind (prevailing? J), to explore the currents, the riptides (all at the knee of a Master sailor) and instead -- for reasons unknown to this otherwise intelligent girl -- I have chosen to ignore what He wants to teach me, what He wants to personally hand down to me. I am not only robbing myself of knowledge, I am robbing others... the people God may want me to reach using the knowledge I've gained from the seas I've learned to navigate. There is opportunity and there is responsibility.

Coming back to Fanny Crosby, there is also anticipation. I have not lost my vision. Seeing Jesus will not mean exactly the same thing to me as it meant to her. I have my own losses. The seas that are teaching me to be an expert sailor are creating in my heart a built-up anticipation to walk, without pain and a body that has turned on itself, into the presence of Jesus. What will that feel like? To stand before my Lord whole and healthy? And in the meantime, can I praise Him? Acknowledge the great things He has done? I don't want to be mediocre anything. I want to learn my lessons well. I want to use them to further His kingdom. I want to anticipate the need and meet it before it is spoken. I want to love. I want to teach. I want to reach. I want to make a difference. I want to live in anticipation. Maybe some parts of my reunion with Christ will bless me more than others because of what I lacked here. Maybe that's part of the design - creating a hole or a deficit - to create a longing that can only be met when I am in the presence of my God.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

very good

click on this

A very good article. Reached me at a place I didn't even know was tender.

What I Hate

Going to the effort of typing out class rules that specifically state..."Papers with no name or date will receive a zero." Answering this question EVERY day..."Should I put the date on this?"

Going to the effort of typing out class rules that specifically state..."Completed papers should be put in assigned binder." Answering this question EVERY day..."Should I put this in my binder?"

Telling students to turn to page 23. Answering this question EVERY day..."What page should I turn to?"

Telling students to work quietly at their desk on other assignments OR draw/read if they finish a test. Answering this question EVERY day..."What should I do now?"

Telling students my #1 pet peeve in the classroom is being asked repeatedly, BEFORE CLASS BEGINS, "What are we going to do today?" (This is why I give students a day-by-day schedule at the beginning of each week.) Answering this question EVERY day..."Excuse me. What are we going to do today?" (Let me tell you what I'd like to do today.)

Being asked a question, such as, "Miss P, would you explain #2 please?" I answer the question, in detail. Being asked one minute later by a different student, "Miss P, would you explain #2 please?"

Hearing these words, "Miss P"

I no longer go by that name. If you know me outside the classroom please don't ever call me Miss anything. You can call me Mr. Grump, you can call me "Sun-in-my-hair," you can call me Bathilda Bloomers. I don't care. Don't call me anything that reminds me of my profession. I check that hat at the door at 6:00 p.m. exactly.

3:30 on Fridays.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wanna Be My Groupie?

Yep, that's me...Drummer-Girl-Rockin'-Out! I had my first lesson today, complete with an audience of ten. Such curious children wanting to watch their teacher make an idiot of herself. It was lots of fun. We had electric drums, turned on the microphone and away we went. Today's lesson was surprisingly easy.

1 -2 - 3 - 4 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 Bass/Cymbal - Cymbal - Cymbal/Snare - Cymbal - Bass/Cymbal - Bass/Cymbal - Cymbal/Snare - Cymbal

And you know, because I am 50% my mother's child, I couldn't end on a dull after dutifully playing the part, I said, "Okay, I'll practice at home." When they all stood up to leave - I banged out my own version - which I think was much better. I was in marching band after all. I have rhythm! Yep -- my kids were pretty impressed. At least that's how I'm choosing to interpret their faces.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Baby Feet

I made this print for a friend who had her baby dedicated at church this past weekend. I thought it would be a nice reminder of the hopes/prayers they have for their little girl. As I was putting it together I began thinking of my own life. How easy and hopeful it seems to write this verse and think of a little baby's feet, so small now - growing and developing - learning to walk, not only physically but also spiritually. What about my own feet? Am I not a child to my Father? Does He not see me as his little girl? I tend to think that most of our relationships here, those designed by God, are to give us a taste of what relationship with Him can be. The whole verse says, "You have taken my soul from the power of death and kept my feet from falling, that I may walk before [You] in the light of life."

I wonder what my Father's hopes are for me? What are His dreams? He went to great lengths to rescue my soul from death. He has provided His light to guide my steps. I am His. My name is written on His palms. I want Him to be proud of me. I want Him to watch my footsteps and say, "That's my daughter. Just like her Dad!"

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

deep calleth unto deep

"The yearning to know what cannot be known, to comprehend the incomprehensible, to touch and taste the unapproachable, arises from the image of God in the nature of man. Deep calleth unto deep, and though polluted and landlocked by the mighty disaster theologians call the Fall, the soul senses its origin and longs to return to its source."

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hollow Replacements

There is no one holy like the LORD. There is no one but you, O LORD. There is no Rock like our God.
1 Samuel 2:2

Your mercy flows like a river wide,
And healing comes from Your hand.
Suffering children are safe in Your arms,
There is none like You.

There is none like You.
No one else can touch my heart like You do,
I can search for all eternity Lord
And find, there is none like You.
~Lenny LeBlanc

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Mighty Fortress

Today, in church, we had a short time of remembering 9/11 and later, a time of communion. Last night I wrote some of my thoughts about what happened ten years ago and I was still thinking about that when we sang this song.

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God...
I thought about the images that take over my sleep sometimes, the stories I read on the internet, the footage flashed across the TV screen -- all signs of a desperate world. The words to this hymn are like an underscore, a set of parentheses, an exclamation point and a period, all at once.

This world is filled with evil but one little word from our God will silence everything. His kingdom is forever.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Nothing deep to write here tonight - nothing insightful - just thoughts. I remember exactly where I was when the first plane hit the WTC. I was teaching 8th grade earth science when Mr. Mattson, the 7th grade life science teacher, came out in the hallway and loudly told all the teachers to turn on their televisions. We stopped our lessons and watched smoke billowing from one of the towers while a lady reporter talked about an accidental crash. As she was speaking we saw a 2nd plane come in from the side of the television screen. One of my students said, "Is that another plane?" It was a chilling, eerie day. We didn't know what was going on but reports kept coming in - about the Pentagon and a crashed plane in PA. We didn't know if there were other planes, headed to other destinations, or what would happen. It was something our minds didn't know how to grasp and yet we tried to make some sense of it as our students were watching in disbelief - looking to us for explanation. My mom was teaching 6th grade science down the hall and all I wanted to do was dismiss my class and go sit in her room where I knew I was safe and if not at least I'd be with her if something happened.

That evening, I watched more coverage. I didn't actually see bodies jumping from the burning buildings but I must have heard about it because when I went to bed I had a nightmare that would invade my sleep for years to come...the exact same dream...night after night the first few months until it slowed down to a couple of times a month...and here we are...ten years later and I still find myself having that dream when I'm under stress or very tired or feeling overwhelmed. I'm driving a car on a two-lane highway that is headed straight up to the sky. The ground is below me, I can see it in my rearview mirror, and my grandparents and great-grandma are passengers in my car. There is water falling down on either side of the road so if I make a mistake and drive outside the lines, the water will overtake me and kill us. As I near the top of the road, so far above the ground that I can no longer see it, bodies begin dropping past my car. I don't know where they are coming from or why they are jumping. I can just watch helplessly as they pass my window. The road levels out and I find myself driving under overpasses in NYC. I am approaching the WTC and it becomes clear where the bodies are coming from. My car stalls with a perfect view of the burning buildings and the people dropping from the windows. I want to catch them. I want the firefighters to hold out those big round things they use in the movies to catch jumpers. I want the dream to end but it never does...not til I wake up. I sit in my car and cry. I cry about the people in the plane (I have a 2nd recurring dream that I am in the plane), I cry about the people trapped in the buildings, I cry about the loved ones who receive phone messages. I cry and cry and all around me water keeps falling. I'm trapped in my car, forced to watch, unable to help.

Same dream. Ten years later. Same helpless feeling. I wonder why?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What Is...

...disappointment? I've read that it is "the feeling of dissatisfaction that follows the failure of expectations to manifest" or "to make unhappy by not being as good as expected or doing something that was hoped for."

I am well acquainted with disappointment. My mom says my standards are too high. No one and nothing can reach them. I have it in my head how I think people should act, what I think they should do, what I know I would do in the same situation. When the behavior does not match my expectations, I am disappointed. I hold out hope that people will figure it out on their own...that I won't have to tell them...because it is so much more meaningful when actions occur of their own accord - not because I dictated it.

I am extremely well-acquainted with disappointment in God. I think many people are, even if they don't admit it. It seems to be the waving banner of "strong" Christians to never admit doubt, hurt, betrayal at the hands of God. Okay, then, I'm weak...because I've experienced it all. I've talked to God about doubting His existence, His goodness, His wisdom. I've confided in Him about my hurt feelings and sense of betrayal. I've questioned His motives and talked about forgiveness...what do I do with the sense that I can't forgive Him? Is this a sin? I don't think so. Disappointment is a hope deferred. The Bible says this makes the heart sick.

S.I.C.K. -- not S.I.N.F.U.L.

Michael Card's book, "A Sacred Sorrow," is all about expressing our disappointment, our heart-cries, through the language of lament...admitting we are hurting, doubting, feeling alone, abandoned, forgotten. It is a longing expressed..."Please, Abba Daddy, draw near. Where are You? Why do I not feel your Presence? Why do I...Why am I...Why did this...Why did she...Why does it...Why do You...Why?Why?Why?"

There are stories in the Bible where we hear the hope, the disappointment, the resolution. Among them:
Hope: Rachel
Disappointment: Leah
Resolution: Rachel (even if Leah was the true keeper)

Hope: Love of brothers
Disappointment: Sold/prison
Resolution: Love of brothers

Hope: "Remove this cup"
Disappointment: Death
Resolution: Resurrection

I could list so many more but you get the idea. In all of these stories there is a happy ending. (I know...there are also the stonings, the crucifixions, the tortures...but when you are disappointed you don't focus on others' troubles!) I have a tendency to get discouraged. "Why did you answer yes to them? You listened to them. You drew near. Why did they get a happy ending?" Father reminds me...gently, quietly, repeatedly, patiently...

"Your story hasn't ended."

Now we see a blurred image in a mirror. Then we will see very clearly. Now my knowledge is incomplete. Then I will have complete knowledge as God has complete knowledge of me.
1 Corinthians 13:12

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back to School 2011

The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder.
~Ralph W. Sockman