Monday, December 31, 2007

Five Things-Tagged Again!

Alicia tagged me again--this was a tough one. I think it should simply say "20 Things You Want Your Kids to Know" and be done with it, but here it goes....

Five things you want your kids to know before they grow up
  • That the pain of the past creates strength and confidence for the future.
  • That who they become is far more important than what they amass in earthly terms.
  • That gentlemen put the lid down---yes always.
  • That spiritual strength is not about church and religion, but that the community of believers should provide opportunities to serve.
  • That creating loving relationships is what makes life sweeter and this is sometimes hard work.
Five things you want to tell your children when they are grown up
  • That I would do it all over again (I have to steal this one—it says it all).
  • That the legacy of love and hope that their father left them should be a goal in their own lives.
  • That without the pain—there would be no way to experience real joy.
  • That I am terribly proud of who they have become.
  • That the profession they choose should create in them excitement every day and that this is the definition of success.
Five things you want to tell your children before you die
  • That how ever they choose to deal with my death—it is fine with me.
  • To treasure the small events in life—it is short.
  • That writing is more than a class in school, but can be the window into the soul and much cheaper than counseling.
  • Faith is the foundation on which a home is built.
  • To enjoy the beauty of God’s creation—take time to plant, grow and enjoy.
Five things you want your children to know before they die (I took this as experience)
  • The joy of raising children.
  • The wholeness of finding the love of their life.
  • The enjoyment of travel.
  • The hope that faith in God brings.
  • The importance of learning to forgive—especially themselves.
As far as tagging the next victim in this exercise--I say if you are reading this, consider yourself tagged. After thinking through these answers, I realize that there are many lessons my children are going to have to learn the hard way--- trial by fire.

This I know for sure...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve Blessings

Waking up this morning I didn’t anticipate that the day would turn out as it did. I was unaware of the blessings God had in store for me this day. I woke with a million things on my mind. My family was coming to my house for Christmas dinner -- I hadn’t begun wrapping all my presents—my house needed cleaning – laundry needed to be finished-- and I was exhausted before the day began.

Rolling out of bed, I threw on a t-shirt and sweats then took mental note of my daily tasks. I carried down the laundry, checked my email and put on a pot of coffee when all of a sudden; I heard my garage door open and in walked----my cleaning lady. Yep, Daysi walked through my door and said, “Didn’t you expect me?” I assured her that I was very surprised that she came on Christmas Eve—yet was ecstatic that I no longer had to worry about getting my house ready for family tomorrow (blessing number one).

I retreated to my room to finish wrapping my Christmas presents. As I placed the final piece of tape upon each gift, and wrote the familiar “to:____ and from: _______” I felt compelled to offer up a prayer for each recipient. I prayed that this year would bring each individual blessings and an abundance of hope beyond expectation. This was one of the most profound solitary moments I have spent in my entire life (blessing number two).

After Daysi left, my best friend, Ginny arrived unexpectedly for an impromptu visit. We chatted and laughed together. It is always a gift to share part of your day with one who understands and accepts you so completely ---again---this was another unexpected blessing (number three, but who is counting).

Taking a long bath was next on my list, followed by preparing for an evening with Don's family. The last two Christmas’s, to say the least, have been difficult for all of us. Losing Don the first Christmas was difficult enough, not to mention, the loss of his father 10 months later making last Christmas unbearable. I decided that this Christmas would be different. I knew it would take a conscious effort to make this wish a reality.

We arrived at my brother-in-laws in time for our traditional Christmas Eve meal of homemade pizza—oh so delicious. We played games and laughed until we cried, while reflecting upon memories of the past. After exchanging gifts to one another, my MIL placed a final gift into my hands, the tag read: to Kent. She will never know what a blessing this simple act of acceptance and love meant to me. Upon reflection, this evening was the day’s greatest blessing— the love of Don's family— who through the depths of grief to the heights of promise have continued to love -- was indeed a highlight of my holiday. God has been faithful to bless our lives in spite of what life has thrown our direction. Christmas Eve blessings are sweet indeed.

This I know for sure.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


I keep a writer's notebook at school which I write in if I wish to model writing with my students. I came across a notebook I kept 2004-2005. I began to read the entries and was amazed at the providence of some of the writing I did before Don died. Here is an example:
Is a big girl
She ignores uncertainty, despair and self-absorption
She treats them as if they didn’t exist
She has been through great trials
Yet remains friends with contentment
She looks toward the race
Becoming as she journeys

(mentor text: “Confidence” from The Book of Qualities by J. Ruth Gendler)

Providence - something I am more aware of than ever before...
This I know for sure...

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Fine Art of Re-Gifting

Ok—I admit it. I have, once or twice in my lifetime, re-gifted. I am not proud of this fact, but I am prepared to come clean. Since my initial re-gifting incidences, I have been socially educated (via Oprah) and understand that it would have been a better choice to donate the items to charity rather than re-gift them. Seems re-gifting falls into the social context of an unacceptable faux pas. This unintentional blunder got me thinking--are there gifts that would be perfectly acceptable, even admirable to re-gift? I imagine that there are. I even believe that you possess some of these gifts; they are simply lying around your life, stagnating, ready to be re-gifted in order to be fully appreciated.

The Gift of Friendship – This is a gift that certainly keeps giving. I have found this to be one of life’s most precious offerings. C.S. Lewis noted that “Friendship is born in that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one!” and it is in that moment that a bond begins to form. Re-gifting friendship simply brings more folks into your life enriching your journey, making your path more bearable and providing you with opportunities to nurture another.

The Gift of Grace – This is a word we don’t often use today. I know there are times I expect others to grant grace to me without extending the same consideration to them. I teach middle school children. If ever there were a population that could utilize every bit of grace one might possess, it is this group. However, I find that when I extend grace (re-gifted if you will) it does pay forward. I notice that others in my life tend to become more gracious, even 12 year olds. This season is your chance to re-gift grace. I am speaking of grace in a more intimate context—that within our families, friendships, spiritual communities and homes we grant Godly grace out of love and openness.

The Gift of Silence – Well, heck—I would love to re-gift this—if only I had some given to me. Seriously, sometimes I find myself talking way too much and listening way too little—just ask my 19 year old he will gladly back my story. I used to love silence. It was in the still of those quiet moments that I would feel most centered because I was actually making the effort to listen. I rarely spend time in silence today. Since Don died I can’t even go to sleep without the television blaring in the background and when I am cooking or cleaning—noise is a constant companion. I believe this holiday; I will re-gift this one to myself and set aside some time to simply be quiet.

The Gift of Hope – There are so many folks out there who have lost hope. They may have owned it at one time, but for some reason it has been stolen from their lives. Hopeless people come in all shapes and sizes; in all ethnicities; in all socioeconomic classes; in all emotional states and sometimes are right in front of our eyes, but we fail to even notice. This gift comes wrapped in various packages. Hope sometimes presents itself in simple ways like in a touch, a glance that says we understand or in a warm embrace. Re-gifting hope could possible require much more of you. It may call you to give time, effort, or resources in order to reach out in hope to someone else. Life is hopeful. It is the way we were meant to live-by all means it is mean to be re-gifted.

So go ahead—I give you permission, even encouragement, to re-gift ANY or all of the before mentioned gifts. I believe you will find your holiday season much more gratifying and rewarding if you do.

This I know for sure…

Sunday, December 16, 2007

And the Countdown Begins!

March 15, 2008
1:00 pm

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I AM Dancing!!!

Psalms 30:11
“You have turned my mourning into dancing”

As many of you know, this scripture has been my mantra the past 2+ years. It wasn’t that I ever questioned “if” I would “dance” again, but it was a question of “when” I would dance again. Well, seems that time has come. I believe my life is “dancing” at last.

As the holiday season is in full swing, so is my holiday schedule. This weekend was Chandler’s birthday and from the sleepover Friday night to the family party Sunday, I should be exhausted. What I found for the first time in a long time, was that instead of being exhausted I was experiencing----joy. Yes, I have much to be joyful about this season, but I don’t think I have taken the time to claim it. This fact hit me this weekend as we were laden with that last minute cleaning before family arrived for the birthday party. In the past, it is during these highly taxing moments that the stress-monster brandished its ugly head and I turned into some kind of panicked, control freak----not so this weekend. Today, I know why---I was dancing and didn’t even realize it.

I tend to be a bit high-strung—ok—a lot high strung. I am not as bad as I used to be; however stress does escalate the condition. Don was always able to temper that character trait and have a calming effect on my spirit. Without that mitigation the past two years there have been times I have felt a heightened sense of anxiousness and lack of control. It tends to suck the joy right out of the moment.

This weekend, for the first time in over two years, I felt balanced—like my life has finally fallen into a rhythm, which will carry me into the next chapter of my life story. It is an exceptional place to be. I am not only open to the joy of the season, but also to the prospects of what’s around the corner.

Love has found its way into my heart once more and laughter fills the rooms of my home again. Though there have been many changes in my life, my heart is at peace.

It is true ---- I am dancing.

This I know for sure.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Shopped at Target and then at Walmart in one day---what does that make me??? ---

Yep, France

This I know for sure...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Love Trumps All!

A very well meaning family member sends me a plethora of ultra-conservative propagandaish materials on a weekly basis. I don’t mind receiving them and like most things in my life I do what every good Christian does and take to heart the parts I am akin to and discard the rest as “hogwash”. But this week’s mailing got me thinking, what is it that Christians are so afraid of? This week’s portion of propaganda centered around an “ALERT” from a family organization up in arms with the fact that gays were boycotting Walmart. Seem the corporate conglomerate refuses to grant the “same sex” marriage benefits that it gives to “traditional marriage” relationships. Target, on the other hand, did provide such benefits, so the homosexual community was encouraging the patronizing of Target over Walmart. The family organization behind the “ALERT”, as a direct line of defense in battle for traditional-Christian family values, answered back (in rather strong language) with a call to “buycott” Walmart.

Contrary to popular belief, I am a rather rational, even-tempered (for the most part) individual. However, by genetics I do have an ornery aspect to my nature, which I am unable to control under conditions such as this. Taking the personality disclosure into consideration, you have a better understanding as to why an email response was compulsory. It went something like this:

Dear ____,
Interesting email--with a "buycott" of Walmart in place it seems we should be hearing some stimulating sermons on gluttony soon---ought to make overweight Nazarenes and Christians in general a bit on edge---esp. at the holiday season. Guess my point is that many of us “Christians” seem to "pick our sin" to abhor---- and it is usually the ones we aren't personally tempted with or involved in-
Hhmmmmmm….just a thought.

Immediately after clicking the “send” button, I called my mother forewarning her she might be receiving a correspondence concerning her “heathen” daughter. Mom, as always, giggled followed by “Now, what have you done?” Don’t get me wrong; I don’t regret pushing the send button. I believe we must make sure we are calling each other to task as readily as we call the “world” to such.

My observation is that the Christian community tends to jump on the activist bandwagon as soon as “sins”, we personally detest, present themselves as threatening to our sense of propriety. We often sight the preservation of traditional values as the platform for our actions. Is there a place closer to the hand of God for those who boycott, pontificate, and with obnoxious distain browbeat the sinners around us? I simply don’t get it. I haven’t heard of anyone boycotting a business because it provides temptation for the glutton (which, if I am correct, is also a sin), but if a bar or casino opens in our neighborhood we are all over that one.

No wonder some folks don’t want anything to do with Christians—we don’t always act very “Christ-like”. It all goes back to what Christ himself said was the most important commandments.

Mark 12:29-31
“The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

Above all else, we are commanded to love God and love each other. This frees us—it allows God to be God and supports our call to simple love. No boycotts, no strong exclusive theological rhetoric, and definitely no “holier than thou” attitudes are needed to expand the community of believers. To paraphrase Christ’s words---Love trumps all!!

This I know for sure…


My 6th graders are writing poetry during this holiday season. One of my students asked me if I ever write poetry for fun. I had to answer honestly---no—I don’t. I am not sure why. I do write poetry on demand when I need a mentor text to share with my students for modeling purposes, but to simply sit down with the intention to write poetry---not so much. So here it goes…

Too busy to blog---

Too weary to blog---

Too lethargic to blog---

Too uninspired to blog---

Blogged out---

For now.

OK—so there is a reason I don’t write poetry.
This I know for sure…