Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Less Project: Looking Backward

Merry Belated Christmas to you and yours!  
Meet P. Fitzwilliam Darcy, better known as Fitz.
I hope your season was--and is--bright with the Light of Christ. 
May I confess that I've started and discarded a dozen posts this month.  With my classes on hold until January, this month seemed the perfect time to return to blogging.
Only it wasn't.
This post, however, this post has been in my brain for a while, waiting post-Christmas, end-of-the-year reflection.  
Other bloggers are posting their "best of 2014".
 2014 got the best of me.
My word for the year was "less".
I envisioned clean closets, clutter-free counters, maybe even some minimalist decorating.
And there was some of that.
Like this year's Christmas, with its silver and white and green and pine.
(Having a red-free tree stressed me out for about five minutes, and then I found it soothing, somehow.)
But mostly, this year has felt like, well, less.
I can't even put a super-spiritual spin on my less-ness in 2014 
and say I learned there should be less of me, more of Him;
 truth be told, I've come face-to-face this year with just how much of me is still lurking around, 
and it's not pretty. 
With this year's tiny church plants and half-empty nest,
 its class-from-Hades and its what-was-I-thinking-return-to-college, 
it left me feeling half-empty, too.
There were  lots of good things--I counted 1000 of them!-- 
but with more stress and more questions, 
there was less blogging, less creating...
less focus, less discipline,
  less confidence, less peace, less purpose.
The Lord's been patient with me here, 
and He's talked to me about my dangerous propensity for nostalgia.  
He's given me a word for 2015 that amounts to a holy kick in the pants; 
I'll share it later on.
I think less was the prerequisite course.  
It's time to pack a lighter suitcase for 2015.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

So Much

When I was a little girl, the children used to sing a song that went like this:
   "We have so much, so much, so much, (hands spreading apart a little at a time; quiet voice)
 so much, so much, so much, (arms getting wider and wider; voice getting louder and louder)
so much, so much, so much, (arms spread as far as they can reach!; shouting!)
to be thankful for!"
It was quite rousing!  We liked it.  
It's an easy song to learn and a harder life to live, which is the way it goes.
This year I am counting gifts.  I think I will make it to 1000 by December 31st.  That's cool, but it only matters if my heart is trained to bless God in the process.  We can record on autopilot, I think, just as we can approach the Thanksgiving table tomorrow with hearts still cold toward Christ.  

This morning, my devotional asked for a bit of reflection, for me to take time to think on the last 10 years of my life and see God's faithfulness in it. 
What a decade.
We moved, went from elementary schoolers to high school and college,
buried my dad, moved my mom, went through two surgeries with her in a year,
 found our ministries in the church, left our church, started a church, 
went back to teaching, left teaching, went back again.
We gained three dogs, lost one.
Gained three cats, lost two.
Crazy, but no crazier than yours, I'd warrant.

And God is faithful.
In ten years, He's done more than I could think or imagine.
He is more than I thought or imagined.
David Crowder said it best:
"At the start, He was there.
In the end, He'll be there.
After all our hands have wrought,
He repairs.
  He repairs."

This year is full of nostalgia for me, but my faithful Father is nudging me along, 
gently but with definite firmness, 
because, while gratitude looks backward and blesses, it looks forward with yeses,
with the "Amen" as benediction and the "Our Father" for the journey to come. 
He is faithful.
Happy Thanksgiving!


Friday, October 31, 2014

Long Time, No Blog: a Daybook

I've missed you.
I miss writing, and I miss words, and I miss the faithful handful who respond and make me feel like I have something to say.
So today I am diving back in as though someone cares--because the someone who cares is me.

It's a Friday day-book--just because.

Listening to...the No Other Name album by Hillsong.  Does the Lord give you theme songs?  He does that to me all the time.  This album is the background music for this season.
Eating...brussel sprouts!  (Like, for the first time ever.  Brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, roasted at 425* for about half an hour.  I'm a believer.)
Checking...things off my packed fall schedule; one class down, just three papers left in the other, and I'll be about 1/6 of the way through this Masters.
Sneezing...ah...because it's time for my annual head cold--choo
Missing...a regular exercise schedule, teaching women's Bible study, my college girl
Untying...the knot in my stomach over this school year.  Knowing why would not bring me peace.  Jesus brings me peace, so I'll take it.   By faith, not by sight.

Stunned by...sapphire blue skies, leaves crowning trees like rubies and citrine and topaz. 
Say hello if you will!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Beautiful Gate

(Two posts in a month!  We should probably celebrate.)
 One night, I manage to slip away from the papers and tests long enough to go with my husband to the track. 
Beside me, Big Red begins his intensive workout--sprints, burpees, and other mind-boggling, sweat-inducing moves.
I walk in circles. 
Big Red is training for a Spartan race.
And I thought, I am training to hold my breath.
So I pray to exhale.
Around the track, around my head, prayers loop and weave in between my parallel lives of teacher, mother, student, wife.
Lesson plans and supper plans and best-laid plans.
The next morning, I'm in Act 3, 
reading about the man at the temple who holds his cup out to Peter and John.  
He's asking for silver,
but he gets something far more precious.
He gets a chance to praise Jesus with everything--
body, soul, spirit.
It's a cool testimony, and one with lots of implications, but my eyes go to the line Luke repeats.
"...the Gate called Beautiful."
It sings like a chorus in my head all day: the gate is beautiful.
The place he sat, day after day, year after year-
 where he looks at Peter and John,
where he listens to Peter's voice,
where he anticipates just enough for today,
where he seizes Peter's right hand,
where  he gets more than he ever thought or imagined.
It was beautiful 
because it was the place where he waited with expectancy and where he accepted what was offered.
This place where I am, 
the place where I'm waiting with my cup out,
looking, listening, expecting,
that's the place Jesus calls beautiful in me.
What looks like brokenness now will look like beauty later.
I don't know what I'm anticipating, 
but I know Jesus well enough to know that it will be more than I bargained for--
and I want to seize it, accept it, 
and leap for joy.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The God of Present Tenses

Long time, no blog.
The pace of life accelerated out of control around here in July, with gardens and graduates taking the bulk of the hours.
In August, I sent my baby away to college, started my Master's degree (hello, college tuition), and landed in one of the most challenging professional situations I've ever found myself.
There has been insomnia.
There have been tears.
There has been the stupor that only comes when overwork and under-rest collide. 
Oh, and did I mention I am working a retreat team this fall as well?
As my laundry list of responsibilities grew (including laundry, which sits in untouched mounds awaiting action), my mother questioned my participation on this team.
It was tempting to free a night in the crowded calendar, but God said no, and I listened.
This past week, He did a bit more speaking.
It started in the worship, when the Comforter reached into weary places and did His thing.
Then the speaker reminded us that God's name is I AM.
Not I Was or I Will Be.
He is the God of present tenses, in my NOW, because He is unbound by time. 
In every season, He is there.
The past belongs under His blood; the future in His hands alone.
My present tense: morning mist on the pond
Truth be told, nostalgia had taken over, 
a wistfulness for the days when my girls were little, 
and I was a SAHM, 
and, as it always does when viewed backwards, 
life seemed simpler.  
In a school year when I am not at all sure I will survive until May, 
that simplicity (or, at least, those problems) taunted me.
So, in the quiet of that room, the Lord reminded me that I am in my now, 
and He is, too.
He is here, 
in a middle-aged woman attempting to return to college mode for a few semesters.
He is here, 
with a mama launching one from the nest with fear and trembling.
He is here, 
in a classroom with insurmountable issues further complicated by educational bureaucracy.
He is here. Holy, holy.
He is here. Amen.
Linking here.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Meanwhile, back at the 'House...

Anybody stopping by?
I took a blogging break.
I might still take one; I've not decided yet.
Remember when I said this was a good season?
We interrupt this blog post for a 'Where's Waldo?" moment; do you see it?  Look closely...
I didn't have time to change my camera settings--assuming I knew what they should be. 
 It is, but it's within an unreal busy season,
with a ultra-short summer on the school calendar 
(Teachers go back week after next.  Yes, I know summer just started.), 
a soon-to-be college freshman,
a house with projects.

My hands have held paintbrushes. (Interior doors; not blog-worthy, but oh! the difference!)
My head is holding dorm supply lists. (My head is not big enough to hold it.  Things ooze out of one list and ooze onto the next one when I remember.)
My heart is holding John's gospel,
 my girls' faces as they struggle with coming changes,
 my husband in his jaw-dropping garden.

All summer I have chased the days and found them fog-like.  They seem tangible but aren't; they disappear before I have time to enter into them.  
I've forgotten my camera. 
Meanwhile, zinnias bloom, 

blueberries ripen, 

peas promise to take over August.
Today, I exhale. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Multitude Monday: Lists

I am a list-lover.
I'm not always good at following them, but I like them.
Organization eludes me, best intentions aside.
As our uber-busy summer flies by, I'm trying a different kind of list, a short and sweet one written daily in large letters on the chalkboard. 
Amazing the satisfaction one can derive from a chalk line drawn through a completed task!

List makers vary by style.  I manage my list with micro-tasks.  Fold one load of laundry.  Paint a door. Dust the living room.
Big Red's lists are global, sweeping vision statements to guide his long-range plan.  Clean the basement!  Landscape the yard!  Paint the whole house!

Today's gratitude list resembles Big Red's method more than mine.  They're the mammoth, underlying blessings that make the small ones possible; they dig deep roots that tether my wandering heart to my Rock. 

507.  The Lord calls me to believe Him, and He can be trusted.
508. He speaks to me, and He'll speak to me again.
509. The Old Testament undergirds the New.
510. God gives God.
511. The Word nourishes me.
512. The Word is sweet to me; I know it is feeding me even if the message is bitter.
513. Living Water leaps up in me and flows to others,
514. Jesus is beautiful to me.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Grass is Green

Yesterday I attended Day 1 of a two-day college orientation for DD#1.
(Dad is taking his turn today.  Bahaha!!)
Somewhere in between the " Don't helicopter over your college student" (got it; I teach middle school and am well-acquainted with helicopter parenting) and " You will need a second job to pay for this, " I cleaned 519 emails off my account.
True story.
And don't even get me started on FERPA. 
Me no see grades, you no see cash.  Very simple.  
Yesterday evening, this tired mama and the sweet daddy who had swooped in (helicoptered??) to rescue shared a pizza and talked finances, dorm dilemmas, assorted worries about our child.

This morning I was reading about the feeding of the 5000 in John 6.
5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”  6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.  7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”   8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up,   9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”    10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
There was plenty of grass in that place. 
Jesus is getting ready to show His disciples yet again that He's sufficient for every need.  He commands them to have the people sit down, and they sat on the grass.
Another gospel tells us it was "green grass". 
Not dirt.  Not sand spurs.  Not gravel. 
Green grass.
I love that detail.  I big-puffy-heart it.  It brought tears to my eyes today, because it is the picture of the God Who overlooks nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He meets my need and then some ( a point that He makes again and again in this story.)

Not gonna lie--sending my kid--and in particular, this kid--to college is a big, huge, fat, hairy deal.  It is not small. In fact, between this and work, this fall is loaded up with not small.  
In her book, Rhinestone Jesus,  Kristen Welch shares an email she received during a difficult season:
"'You are not going to lose this battle because it is already WON on the Cross.  I don't believe in losing or getting the victories because Jesus has already done it.  The question is, how far will you do to declare the victory in this battle?  Would two more rescued girls make you know it?  Or two thousand more?  How far will you go to proclaim that the victory was DONE for you?'"
How much will it take for me to know Christ is sufficient for all things?  How many more signs do I need?
He fed 5000 men with five loaves and two fish, and everyone ate as much as they wanted.  There were leftovers.
There was green grass. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Public Service Announcement

Two posts in a week!  It's summer; can you tell?

Some of the best "duh" moments I've had originated in Blogland or on Pinterest.  While my pin boards and favorites tabs have their share of clutter, I've picked up quite a few tips and tricks that have helped our lives run more smoothly in some area or another.
So, in the spirit of the practical post, I'm sharing a long-time favorite with you.

I used to be a daily exerciser.  I am not athletic at all, and the 5:00 a.m.  two-mile walk represented enormous self-discipline on my part.
This past year, life got bumpy in the way that it does, and my habit bit the dust.
I'm trying to restart it, but this last back episode has made this a slow process.  In the midst of injury drama, however, I have a faithful exercise buddy.

Leslie Sansone.
For the record, she doesn't know me from Adam's house cat, and this isn't a sponsored post.  I just like her Walk-at-Home program at lot, and she's become my go-to exercise solution in health or injury.

Walk at Home is just what you think it is.  You walk at home in your living room or wherever you have space to spread out a little.  Pop in the DVD and follow along.  There are no fancy steps, a bonus for people like me who still don't know their left from their right.  Any equipment is either optional or included with the DVD.  Even though I rarely go the whole distance (hello, who has time?), I prefer the longer-mile options (4-5 miles) because the pace tends to be faster, but if you're new to exercise, beginner, shorter versions are available.  

Some exercise gurus are too perky (Denise Austin) or just plain mean (Jillian Michaels; I have to mute her.).  Leslie is neither. She's pleasant and funny and cues well.  I like the sessions when she has a group of walkers with her; the interaction is distracting in a good way, and it makes jumping around the living room by myself seem less weird, somehow. ;)  

Admittedly, my girls think she's exercise for old people--and since I can modify the workouts when I'm moving like an old person post-injury, that might be fair to some extent.  However, I discovered Leslie post-DD#2 when I was 15 years younger, too poor for gym fees and juggling an infant and toddler, so I was too frazzled for fancy workouts.  
And you can do sidesteps and refill Cheerios at the same time. 
I do supplement her workouts with Pilates, a necessity for middle age and weak backs.  Another day I'll share my favorite instructors for those sessions. 

This concludes today's Public Service Announcement.  Regularly scheduled (such as it is) will resume shortly.  Now I need to get up and um, exercise.  
Happy Wednesday!

Three Word Wednesday/ Works for Me Wednesday

Monday, June 16, 2014

Small Moment

I was up at 5:30 am.  It's not even a school day.
Today was super-busy, and the rest of the week doesn't promise to be any slower with a birthday, college orientation, Bible study, and ongoing physical therapy on the calendar.
It's a week that could disappear in a flash, so I am slowing down to count gifts.
We made an impromptu visit to Asheville to visit my mother. She attends a large church with dynamic worship music which we enjoy but is often, um, lost on my 88-year-old mom!  In yesterday's service, however, the praise team sang a hymn she loved.

Over the crowd of voices, I could hear Mama singing.  Her voice is thin, a reedy version of her previously robust soprano.  
It was the loveliest of sounds.
I stood quiet to listen, swallowing down the lump in my throat.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
in the light of His glory and grace.

Today, I reread my list of gifts so far, all 488 of them.  Apparently I appreciate food, appliances, and the view from my porch.  Those seem to be recurrent themes.
Woven around the scones and coffee are tiny sparkling gems that illuminate time and reflect the face of God.
Small moments, and I am thankful.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Good Season

It's summer break here at the 'House.
That means watermelon season is upon us.
I would've taken a picture, but I ate it all before that occurred to me.
I followed up my watermelon appetizer with a lunch of pimento cheese, one of the great foods missed by millions simply because they are Yankees and have never heard of it.
Sad, really.

Simple pleasures, fruit and cheese.  As I've counted gifts this year, I've wondered at how many of them are small things.  I am blessed by minutiae of everyday life.
Yet, in this list of little things, there is large.
The large things are hidden by the tiny piled atop them.

For instance, # 439--"Breakfast out with daughter".

Oh, the significance of that small entry.

My girls tease me when I write about them.  "Mama just writes about how hard it is to have teens!"'

Well, it is hard.
As a friend wrestles with a tragic situation concerning a teen family member, I'm reminded that Jesus is the Only Hope we parents have.
The anxiety is real, and the fights are real, and the regrets are real, and the dangers are real.
There's nothing easy about this gig.

Over the years of parenting, I've asked God for some things, things I've begged to see in my household before my children fly the nest.
One of them will launch all too soon, and these last few months together have been a good season.

Hard (yes), but very, very good.

So "breakfast out" really means "the unfailing love and faithfulness of the LORD".

We've got challenges coming in these months of transitions; of that I'm sure, but we can say that we have seen the goodness of the Lord

I'm not sure who, if anyone, reads this blog, but this is for the weary mamas, the struggling daughters, the ones who wonder if it will ever be better.  What I can say to you is this: I have been there.  There are buckets of tears with my name on them, and there are probably several more sitting on ready, but Jesus will not waste them.  He'll redeem them.  They will lead to my good and His glory, and whatever glorifies Him will have been worth it.  
His unfailing love and faithfulness, His grace and truth, turn breakfast into Bread and Wine.

For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
    and I walk in your faithfulness.

Psalm 26:3

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Pinky Promises

The never-ending school year is done--Hallelujah!--and we have six weeks of house projects, mini-vacations, gardening, college orientations, Bible study, and all the unexpected that will no doubt blow the plan to smithereens before July 30.
Six weeks will go by faster than a greased gnat, so I am making myself a goal list.
This summer I want to
1) get back into an exercise habit after a long-standing routine crashed and burned;
2) lose the creeping pounds (see #1)
3) paint interior doors, dining room chairs, DD#2's bedroom--heck, I might paint Big Red if he stands still long enough
4) NOT think about school at all for at least 5 weeks. (No, you cannot see my fingers crossed behind my back; it's your imagination, I promise.  Really.)(Pinning school things doesn't count.) (My list, my rules.)
and oh, yeah,
5) write a Bible study--at least the rough outline of one.

I need some order, some self-discipline, and a ton of prayer.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Graduation Parties for the Overwhelmed

Last Saturday was party time around here!
It followed the last week of school with kids, and weeks of concerts, banquets, awards nights, and other party-preparation-time-sapping events.

Enter my Top Ten Ways to Throw a Last-Minute Party

1) Have a friend convince your introverted child that others love her enough to attend a graduation bash in her honor.  Save your most convincing spiel for two weeks before.   That way you can't  shouldn't second-guess your decisions.

2)Scour Michael's for milk bottles and yellow chevron straws.  These will delight the graduate and spark her enthusiasm.

3) Hit the dollar store for masses of tissue paper to make these poufs.  Instant (and cheap) pizzazz.

4) Be tempted to kiss the feet of the friend who offers to make potato salad for 50.

5) Spray paint mason jars in your theme color.  Fill them with daisies and Monte Casino.  Be happy. 

6) Bless the friend who shows up at your house while you are at one of those many banquets and makes your graduation hat candies out of Lindor squares and mini-Reeses cups.  Add a tassel of embroidery thread. 

7) Enlist someone else to create an ombre cake.  Top it with pinwheels created on the Silhouette.  Prove to your husband again that you are still thankful he splurged and bought you one for Christmas. 

8) Add "perfect weather for an outdoor party" to your list of 1000 gifts.

9) Eat leftover buffalo chicken and coleslaw for days.

10). Celebrate the end of an era.  Be grateful for the past. Embrace the future.  


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Deep Breathing

I almost feel I should introduce myself again.
Does anyone else struggle with consistency in their little corner of cyber-space?
We have survived graduation...and graduation parties!!

And it was a fun day.
And that was good, a gift.
And I am recovering today with lots of reading and leftover-eating (and will be for a while...since we had a super-abundance of food). 
I promise to return (pinky-promise) and share graduation party survival tips.

Friday, May 9, 2014


I had planned a thoughtful, maybe deep post that might appear yet, but I must pause to ponder the merry, merry month of May(hem).
Maybe June is your month when all kinds of crazy collide, 
but ours is now, especially with a graduate in the house.
A graduate who just agreed to a graduation party this week.
("What's the big deal about graduating anyway? Everybody does it!") 

Damask graduation cake
(Her cake-of-choice if someone besides Mom can make it..)
There are two weeks before graduation.
Graduation Party Drinks ~ Be Different...Act Normal
(These are cute and doable!)
Did I mention her parents teach?
How about a cheesy "diploma" for your graduation party?
(Another cheesy idea for graduation food.  (I'm tired; can you tell?)
And they have finals for their students--as well as all the usual last-week-of-school chaos--
  the day before graduation?
Graduation party food Little chocolate covered strawberries shaped like a cap and gown.
Adorable, but I might lose my mind!
(She also detests the phrase, "Congrats, Grad", so that eliminates many options.)

black and white congratulations banner. doubles as gift bags!
(Though this is super-cute to me!)
Thank You, Lord, for Pinterest.
I know you can laugh and cry at once, but can one laugh-happy and cry-sad all at the same time, too?
Excuse me while I go put out another fire/call another guest/plan a menu/ roll my eyes at the honoree/grab a tissue.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Day a Writing Prompt Called Me Out as a Liar

Today, when looking over some potential lessons for next school year, I ran across the old advice, "Write when your students write, and share your writer's notebook with them".
Right up there with "sleep when your baby sleeps," this is probably wise but practically difficult.
So I tried a test run of sorts.
I decided to write a "mentor text" of a personal essay prompt to inspire next year's budding writers.
It was standard stuff, an introductory essay to tell them a bit about my family, my preferences, my goals.

And y'all, it was hard.

Hard for lots of reasons.
Hard because writer's block shows up every spring with the same regularity as allergies.
Hard because I could hear myself rambling.
Hard because I can't share anything meaningful about myself without sharing Jesus, and that must be carefully navigated in public school.

As a teacher, I believe this practice will help me in the long run.
It will probably make me more empathetic--which is important to remember when the powers-that-be seem to think all children-of-the-square-peg variety can be jammed through the same round hole-of-testing if only
their teacher is differentiating/summarizing/reteaching/tap-dancing enough.

As just me, I think this practice will help me, too.

A few months ago, I confessed to a friend that I felt God might be leading me to write down what He was teaching me in John.
She laughed, and said, "Of course."
A few days ago, I confessed to this same friend that I was feeling ill with insecurity--that I didn't know how to begin.
She said, "Good!  I'm praying you stay insecure so that you always know He is your source."

She's a very good friend, and a very good pray-er.

To paraphrase one of those Pinterest-y inspirational signs, here I go confidently in the direction of my insecurity.
(Or insecurely in the direction of my confidence?  That might be a better way to say it.)
Maybe in the meantime, I'll share my writer's notebook with you.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Multitude Monday: In All Things Edition

It was a terrible week, and it was a beautiful week.
There was hope, and there was happiness.
Peace alongside pain.
Anxiety and acceptance.

It was a week to remind me why I need a Savior...and a week to praise God that I have One!
A week to examine my heart, and a week to realize that He redeemed my heart and made it new.

Counting gifts through storms and sunshine:

A husband who prayed and helped when my back went out this week
Students who have been surprisingly kind to their turtle-paced teacher
A breathtaking sunrise Easter morning
DD#1 taking over the grocery shopping when I couldn't drive, much less push a loaded buggy through the store
Salted caramel candles
Tiny chartreuse leaves of baby lettuce
Pink dogwood
Pain killers ;0
Praying with a young missionary to be and seeing her excitement to follow Christ
Three books worth reading: Love Idol, Jesus>Religion, and The Utter Relief of Holiness--much to chew on
For better or worse, testing will be over soon
At the start, He was there.
In the end, He'll be there.
The tomb was EMPTY.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

On Writing

Writing is both solitary and social.
Solitary, because sooner or later it is just writer and blank page with no mediator.
It's the heart or the brain on paper, as public as a blog post or as private as a prayer journal.

Yet writing is also social, because every author seeks an audience on some level or another.

This question of audience puzzles me.
It makes me realize that establishing a legitimate audience for my classroom of I-wish-they-were-writers is an important component of my teaching that I've neglected.

Then my question becomes, " Who is my audience?", and I struggle to answer that.

I'm in the midst of my annual spring blogging slump, and every year I ask my Audience of One if I still have a purpose here.
He hasn't really answered yet, except to give me this post--which I suppose means I have today's answer!

I do know this. 
About two months ago,  He whispered to my heart that there are words waiting for me from the book of John, and while fear and self-doubt assail,  He's been faithful to encourage.  

So I wait for the solitary and the social to find their meeting place.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Taking a Walk

It's spring break here at the 'House, 
and all God's children said, "Amen!"
So even though the weather hasn't been particularly spring-like, 
this morning the sun was winning,
and the light and the green were calling,
and I took my walk in defiance of wind and pollen.
Want to come along?

I love this little stream that feeds the neighborhood pond.

Yellow dandelions polka-dot the road...

...while the dogwoods above are just beginning to bloom.

When I was a little girl, I picked these tiny violets by the handful, filling old vanilla bottles with their sweet, fragrant blossoms.

This calf never would come near enough for a clear close-up, but he posed nicely while I tried to figure out the zoom on my phone camera.

Another lap around and we'll have done two miles.  

Meanwhile,Big Red is braving the wind to plant phlox on our steep hillside.

I'm dashing off to the dentist (and tomorrow to another appointment, and the next day to another...poor planning on my part!)
Thanks for visiting!

Monday, March 31, 2014

A Short (but very, very wonderful) Story

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess (who has never quite known she was beautiful),
who, for lots of reasons, struggled to give and receive love.
It wasn't that she wasn't loved. She was, deeply.
It wasn't that she didn't love.  She did, deeply.
It was just complicated,
 the way things are, the way people are.
Anyway, the lovely princess (who doesn't know she's lovely)
 had some hard things happen, 
things her parents couldn't make better,
and she couldn't seem to change,
and the girl wondered if the King,
the One Who created her, and died for her, and made her a princess,
(and she did believe that-- really she did--but this life wasn't working out like any fairy tale she'd ever heard)
really cared at all.
So this weekend, the King sent some messengers to remind the princess 
He sent her the Gospel.
And the princess (whose life isn't likely to become a fairy tale any time soon)
heard the message loud and clear:
Jesus loved her.
Jesus loved HER.
And that, really, was the most important thing she needed to know.
The End (but not really)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Daybook of a Used-to-be Blogger

Helloooo out there!
Anyone still around?
Since it's Friday afternoon,
and right this moment I have time and inclination (a necessary combination),
I present this week in verbs:
Listening: to birdsong, the humming refrigerator--the sounds of an otherwise empty house
Preparing: to celebrate 20 years with my honey, for state testing in a few weeks, to put together this summer's Bible study
Watching: clouds roll in, laundry pile up
Pondering: a friend's birthday gift, the book of John, how to get groceries into my house without actually venturing to the grocery store
Searching Google for: Reader's Workshop materials for middle school, kelly green ankle pants (which appear to be only part of my fantasy wardrobe), recipes that don't require a grocery run
Losing: my voice, patience during 3rd period today, half of every pair of socks I own
Pinning: classroom ideas for next year, Easter tables, pictures of Scotland
Needing: a nap, some prayers answered, perpective

What's on your verb list?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Mighty and Mundane

The Dreaded Triumvirate: February, March, and April.
Imagine you're slogging through a snowstorm, icy wind in your face, drifts in your path.  Then suddenly you step off the edge of a cliff into a raging waterfall.  You tumble downward, grasping for anything to slow your fall.  You're drowning in the rapids.  ( That's state testing, if you're lost in the melodramatic metaphor. )
Then, just as you catch your breath and think you might breathe again,  you discover you're trapped in a whirlpool.  ( That's May and endess days of post-planning.)

Hyperbole aside, we're halfway through the worst stretch of the school year--
the point in the year where I--and consequently, this blog--get boring and lame.

I could wax eloquent about standardized testing,
or complain about students,
or bemoan life surrounded by teenagers in the throes of hormonal meltdowns.

I could talk about birthdays and flourless chocolate cakes and dinners with friends.
How about endless winter or meatloaf recipes?
I could write about John's gospel, and Christ's deity, and Living Water, and the untroubled heart.
Mighty and mundane side by side, juxtaposed in my year-older brain.
And it's March.

Linking at Three-Word Wednesday

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

This and That

Doing a lot of this

Eating a lot of that:

Enjoying a lot of this:

Anticipating the return of that (plus freezing temperatures along with the clouds):

Using this (like, every day):

Overwhelmed with that:

Needing a lot more of this:

That's all I can manage today!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Down Here


It's me.

Can you see me?

I'm down here, waving.

I'm the fingers you see poking up from a pile of projects and vocabulary tests and novel quizzes and test-prep assignments.

Since this isn't a teacher blog, I don't think you care about the ends and outs (some of it very cool, some of it dull but necessary), 
so I'll just say that I'll be back when I come up for air.

What's on your to-do list?


Monday, March 3, 2014

Multitude Monday--It's March Already Edition

For about 3.5 seconds this afternoon, the skies were blue, the sun was shining...
and the temperature was a breezy 37 degrees.
It was 61 degrees when I left home this morning, if that tells you anything, and I had already changed clothes three times trying to get out the door.
(Volatile weather + volatile hormones.)
Winter and spring begin their annual wrestling match.
Do you ever have one of those going on in your heart, or is it just me?
One moment warmth and hope, the next cold and grumpy.
(See hormonal comment above.)
So I am grateful for gift-counting; it makes me concentrate on the good, search dilgently for the joy, hold onto hope.

244. Good conversations with teens.
245. Worship with our small group.
246. Watching a student's aerials performance over the weekend. Stinkin' amazing.
247. Having a student who wanted her teacher to come see her aerials performance. :)
248. Skinny chicken parm. Oh, yeah.
249. Coaching responsibilities for Big Red pausing for a season.
250. Indoor exercise on a blustery day.
251. Being introduced by my very best friend as "my very best friend".
252. Our God is an Anchor.
253...and a Mighty Fortress
254. He's amazing.
255...and He hears our praises.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Three Word Wednesday: Not Feeling It

It would be grossly unfair for me to call this last few weeks a hard eucharisteo.
So, forgive me; I teach middle school and I have teenage girls, so let's chalk it up to the company I keep.
(Or my natural propensity for drama...that could be it. Maybe.)
In the real, no-kidding hard eucharisteo moments, when the pain is breathtaking, it's almost as if I'm searching for gifts under a microscope.  I'm desperate for hope, desperate for Jesus to heal--
and the small becomes Divine.
Then there are days (like today)
 when busy and tired and discouraged are duking it out for Adjective of the Day, 
and my brain is like so much mashed potato, 
and I can't see any gifts because I'm not looking.
Those days I'm looking for a little drama.
The warm bowl of oatmeal with toasted almonds and cranberries doesn't have enough pizazz
 (and besides, haven't I written that down already?)
In John's gospel, there are lots of folks looking for a little more action.
Water to wine? Yesterday's news.
Bread for thousands? Yeah...but what have You done for us lately?
So Jesus calls their bluff.
How about what you really want need?
How about Living Water, Bread of Life, New Wine?
The Lord tells His people,
"Be still and know that I am God."
(and...we stop there because that's all that fits on a coffee mug or a wall plague.)
and we I miss the last part:
"I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted on the earth."
That should be enough drama for anybody.
So my list of gifts grows by (a very, very, super-exciting, uber-important) one:

244. His Name is exalted in all the earth.



Three Word Wednesday

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Three-Word Wednesday: Amazed by Bread

Lately I've been studying the gospel of John.
He has a lot to say about the signs Jesus gave that He is Who He said He is.
Miracles, we'd call them.
Years ago, I heard a preacher talk about a college professor who doubted the miracles recorded in the Bible were true.
His reasoning?  Those things can't really happen.
To which the preacher replied, "Duh. That's why it's a miracle."
Yet, this week I am struck by Augustine's commentary on Jesus's signs and wonders.  He wrote, 
"For certainly the government of the whole world is a greater miracle than the satisfying of five thousand men with five loaves; and yet no man wonders at the former, but the latter men wonder at, not because it is greater, but because it is rare.  For who even now feeds the whole world, but He Who creates the cornfield from a few grains?"
While I marvel at the feeding of 5000, I should also marvel at the bread.
Isn't it true?  
Consider the lowly kernal. 
Can you conjure one from the air?  Fill it with nourishment? Explain how bread becomes...well, bread?
I am powerless in the face of the ordinary.
I'm amazed by bread.
And isn't that the point of counting gifts-- 
that I would train my eye to see the miracle in the mundane and give thanks?
Ultimately, though, gift-counting by itself may miss the point.  
Jesus had crowds of followers who missed the point:
 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.  Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life,
 which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal....I am the Bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst.” (John 6:26-27, 35)
It's one thing to be amazed by bread.  
It's another to let my amazement at the bread mean I'm amazed by the Bread. 
It's about Jesus, or it's all for nothing.
Lord, open my eyes to see Jesus in the bread, in the ordinary, in the mundane.
Then I'll be amazed by You.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Mulitude Monday:The I Can Imagine It Will One Day Be Spring Edition

Happy Monday!
Believe it or not, our school system managed to eck out a few days of Winter Break despite some snow days, 
so here I am at home again on a Monday. 
I must confess I love being home on Monday.
It's almost...decadant,somehow, like an orange cream cheese scone.

It's a gift.

204. The whole world coated in sugar frosting.

205....but now it's melted! #IlovetheSouth
206. Milder weather for a few days
207. Being able to take my walk outside without icy winds and/or mud puddles
208. House church meeting here yesterday--I love opening my home.
209. New faces in our group--with two of the best-behaved children I've ever met.
210. A friend being able to begin college classes again.
211. Red in the morning--even if it is "shepherd's warning".

212. Tree silhouettes.
213-214. Heavy red fleece and bright green top for a total of $6. I love thrifting!

215. Purple flowers from the grocery store

216. Pinterest..and pinterest projects done!

217. Teen having lunch with a friend
218, A whole day planned with my friend on Wednesday!
219. PW's sour cream pancakes
220. hugs from a 14 year old!
222. Teen-meltdown-crisis that ends in laughter and forgiveness
223. Pain in my back much better
224. " God's very reality revealing itself--occuring!--in Jesus." (quoted in The New International Commentary on the New Testament)
What are you counting today?
Linking here