Sunday, December 27, 2015
I was listening to one of my favorite local ministers on TV this morning. The service ended with a few Christmas carols. It caused me to think. For some reason I didn't hear many carols on Christmas 2015. Oh, sure, there was the church musical and a local radio station playing 24 hours of music, but I didn't hear music in the neighborhood as I have in the past. Maybe the difference is because, for the first time in over 25 years, I didn't spend Christmas in a classroom.
Maybe, I didn't notice the singing because many close to me are going through hardships.
I've been through my own share of hardships and have had a string of about 7 difficult years in a row, hopping from one job to the next. I've also had my share of medical issues. It definitely strengthened my faith.
2015 brought many positive changes. I started the year in such severe pain that, for awhile, it affected my ability to work. Even after I was able to work, my home was in disarray because housework was out of the question. Bills were piling up, too.
Now, things have improved. The house is slowly returning to normal and I have a new, full time job with benefits. My book trilogy, Friends of Scrapbook, Etc. had gone from an eBook trilogy to paperback. Now, that was unexpected.
There was also a wedding in the mix. My son, Adam, married his sweetheart, Ariel. The downstairs is renovated into their own apartment and my household is full of energy.
As for 2016? I am facing it with more confidence than I have had in awhile and am claiming Jeremiah 29:11 as my verse for this year.
I am happy.
I wish good fortune on those around me that are going through their own struggles. May God bless us all with a Happy New Year.
Sunday, December 20, 2015
As a child I saw Christmas as magic, visions of sugarplums--or candy canes--and celebrations. Back in those days, school parties were common. We exchanged gifts, decorated trees, and some years Santa visited the classroom. It was a glorious time.
I also belonged to various clubs. In Girl Scouts we made Christmas gifts, went caroling, and had parties. In some clubs we went caroling in nursing homes, had hot chocolate, and more parties.
Then there was pageant at church. There was the beauty of the white lights and the nativity scene, dressing like an angel and singing "Glory to God in the highest."
As I enter my teens and twenties. Christmas seemed to be about nostalgia, feeling a little lonely and wishing I could be a child again, reliving the magic. Christmas seemed stressful. Commitments were complicated.
Then I became a mother. My child was 3 months old on his first Christmas. I held him in my arms and wondered what his future held. What did God have planned for my child? I held my son and thought about all those Christmas carols, silent night, mother and child. The feelings and emotions of Christmas were more real than I had ever before imagined.
Christmas was no longer about parties, or pageants, or dolls in mangers. It is about flesh and blood, God stepping down in the form of a human child.
I think about that first Christmas with my son, that Christmas when i really began to understand, every time I hear this song Mary, Did You Know: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifCWN5pJGIE
Tuesday, December 8, 2015
I had some errands to run last Saturday and scheduled them after the local Christmas parade. I remembered the old days, when going to a Christmas parade was a real event. I loved seeing the streets decorated and children were so excited to see Santa.
This year was different. The decorations along the street were minimal, but even stores and shops didn't appear interested in decorating for the holiday. In fact, the only decorations I saw on Navy Road were in front of a florist shop, the YMCA, and the string of lights around the outside of a tavern.
When I was little, I remember the excitement of walking into a restaurant or store at Christmas and seeing a beautifully decorated tree or holiday display. It makes me sad that future grandchildren will have a lot less to be excited about.
Do I think there is a war on Christmas or that the holiday will someday cease? Of course it won't. There is always a war on all that is spiritual and holy, but those who believe will still celebrate, perhaps in a more private, more meaningful manner.
We can learn lessons from the way the Jews celebrate Hanukkah among family and friends.
Others will still shop and exchange gifts.
Sunday, November 29, 2015
It has been a busy few weeks. My son was married on Nov, 14th. Everything has been a whirlwind and I feel emotionally drained, still.
Lately, I have spent time thinking about my place in life. It hasn't been a dramatic journey. When I was young, I kind of thought I would make a bigger splash in the world. That hasn't--happened thus far.
In Sunday school class we are studying Genesis. Abraham, Issac, and Jacob were the biblical patriarchs. There are many stories about Abraham and Jacob, but very little is written about Issac. One of my college professors used to refer to him as a transitional figure. Still, Jacob knew about God and his promise to Abraham. It is likely that his father, Isaac, handed down those stories. Because of this faithfulness, Isaac is remembered.
I sometimes see myself like that. My claim to fame won't be any great act that the world will be aware of, but the manner in which I taught my family about God and his promises. Perhaps future generations will go where I only dreamed.
Friday, October 30, 2015
Halloween is often seen as a controversial holiday, filled with evil and demons.It is seen as a fearful time of Satan worship.
Maybe the holiday had questionable origins. Maybe it was shrouded in superstition, but that was a long time ago.
Now-a-days Halloween is about playing dress-up, community parties, and general fun. Yes, there is still a hint of the macabre, but for the Christian, celebrating the defeat of death should be common practice.
On Halloween, scary things are out in the open for all to see -- and to avoid if you choose. It is the other 364 days that I worry about. On those days, evil is more hidden and can often blindside the unaware.
Saturday, October 17, 2015
A few weeks ago, I hopped into my car to head to church. I turned the key in the ignition and nothing happened--NOTHING! Perhaps I left the door ajar or the lights on and the battery was drained.
My son jumped the car, hoping that would solve the problem, but it didn't. I'd recently replaced the battery and the alternator and that completely ended my knowledge of electrical things that make the car stop working.
We eventually realized that the brake lights were remaining on,even after the ignition was off. That was what was draining the new battery. After Ariel, Adam's fiance, did an Internet search, we found that a little plastic piece, connected to the brake, had broken. That was what permitted the lights in the car to shine, even after the ignition was turned off.
It was only a $10 piece of plastic that popped right onto the back of the brake, but when broken, it ultimately caused the same result as the expensive alternator. It didn't matter that the piece wasn't shiny or interesting looking, it was still necessary to keep the car working.
The same is true when a team forms for a social purpose, whether it is in a sport, employment, or a place of worship. When each member finds his purpose and does his work well, the group thrives. When that person fails to do that job and no one is brought in to replace him, the group becomes dysfunctional.
We see it all the time, schools that are no longer reaching academic success, churches that are no longer impacting their communities, business that are going bankrupt, and charities that aren't serving the purposes they once served. We have the talent but the talented no longer have the drive. That one little piece is missing.
The Apostle Paul wrote about such a thing happening to the early church. 1 Corinthians 12 gives an example of the human body and how it works. No one part of the body is better than the other, because all the parts are necessary for the body to work most efficiently.
It's not about education or beauty or age or money. It's about everyone doing his part and doing it well.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
My grandmothers didn't talk much about The Depression, at least not that I remember. They didn't have to. I knew it must have been a difficult time, because of the habits both my grandparents developed.
My grandparents were members of the Empty Plate Club. If you put food on your plate, you ate it. There were hungry people in the world and to waste food was disrespectful. Leftovers were never thrown away. They were warmed over or recycled into tasty stews and soups.
Both my grandparents knew how to can and preserve foods. The even made nourishing meals out of odd foods. One grandmother made watermelon rine preserves. My brothers loved them. The other once pointed to a weed growing in the yard and called it Polk Salad. I asked her to make some for me and she replied that she hoped she would never have to eat it again. That sentence spoke volumes.
They were the real recyclers, too. Clean aluminum foil was reused. Paper bags were save and reused--no plastic in those days. Coffee cans were painted and used as flower pots. Everything was used until it was used up.
They knew how to survive.
I knew The Depression must have shaped their thinking, their way of behaving.
It makes me think. What will my grandchildren see in my behavior? How will the assess me? What will my behavior tell them about my past and what I've learned?
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Most of us have a special place, a room, a workshop, a place to call our own. I used to claim my Grandmother's house. It was a place I could visit, year after year. There was a second place, a state park near about an hour away from her home. Now that my grandmother's place no longer exists, Natchez Trace State Park is the place I call my special place.
When I was a child, I went on school field trips to Natchez Trace. I remember one year during our annual school picnic, a group of hippies in brightly painted school buses were camping in the park. They eventually bought property in Nashville and The Farm, their settlement, exists to this day.
I remember how exciting these people in their bright buses and unusual clothes were to me. That sunny day, swinging on the swings, listening to pop music trailing from the camp store was one of the happiest I had that summer.
When I had a family, 2 foster children stayed with us and I wondered what kind of vacation I could manage with 3 hyperactive children. I remembered the fun I'd had at Natchez Trace. A cabin by the lake made a nice family trip.
My son, Adam, spent many summer trips at Natchez Trace. Over the years, when finances were tight, the park was an affordable weekend get away. It was nice to see him enjoy the place I loved.
Last year Adam surprised me. On a family retreat, he proposed to his fiance on the dock overlooking the lake at Natchez Trace. Now, the park has sentimental value for another generation. This weekend, as we packed to leave the park, he suggested that next year we should make the trip a little longer.
The 12 year old girl, swinging on the swings, listening to pop music, and watching the hippies walk past, could have never foreseen that in her future.
Sunday, September 27, 2015
An air show came to town this weekend. I love air shows, watching the sleek jets perform feats that seem impossible, stunt pilots perform sky acrobatics.
At work, people sat outside on benches during lunch for a glimpse of the pilots practicing. After work, I made a stop at my local library. Outside, a group of teens stood in the parking lot. I watched the boys while they looked at the plane. Instead of marveling at the pilot's talent, the boys each shot vulgar gestures toward the streaking planes. The boys laughed with delight, each trying to outdo the other.
Though the gestures were vulgar and unimaginative, I found the scene amusing. The pilot they were trying to insult, was total unaware of them. That pilot was flying so high, those boys were merely a speck. There insults meant nothing to him.
This scene was especially powerful since I have occasionally felt the insults of others. Like the pilot, I have not deliberately provoked the one throwing out insults. Perhaps, it is just natural for such things to happen, from time to time.
It seems to me, the best revenge is to be like that pilot. Stay on course and keep on flying. Fly so high and so well, that the insults of others become inconsequential.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
You are invited to a book launch for my trilogy, Friends of Scrapbook, Etc.; 1) A New Season, 2) Red, White & And True, 3) An Unexpected Gift. The trilogy tells the stories of a group of friends who work at or visit the craft store, Scrapbook, Ect.
The book launch will be Saturday, Sept. 26, from 10:30 till 11:30 a.m. at the public library in Millington, TN. There will be a meet & and greet. Refreshments will be served.
Everyone is invited.
Saturday, September 19, 2015
I'm always the one late to the party so I just went to see War Room Saturday. I found the movie well written, the acting was good, and the characters seemed true to their personalities. I say that because many religious movies lack those qualities. I laughed and I cried. On one occasion I was laughing while I cried.
While I watched the movie I thought back to my own marriage. Yes, I spent a lot of time trying to fix my husband, but I did also pray for him. I do believe in free will so I know my prayers do not have the power to make someone do my will. Prayers are not about making God give me what I want, either.War Room was all about prayer and how prayer is important in relationships.
Not every marriage can be saved by prayer, but prayer will make the praying person stronger, so that he/she might more easily survive the inevitable. Prayer is always the best choice.
My son will soon marry and I suggested that he and his fiance watch the movie, War Room so they can start the marriage right. I guess that is the best possible recommendation I can give the movie.
Friday, September 11, 2015
I thought I could make it through this anniversary without a tear, especially since I am no longer a teacher and won't be teaching a 9-11 lesson. Today I passed a flag flying at half-staff, then a second, and a third. Then all the memories rushed past.
Life was a little different those days. Cell phones weren't so common. Teachers weren't allowed to have them in the classroom back then. The Internet wasn't the same, either. Social media wasn't quite as -- organized. Information was limited.
I was isolated with a classroom full of 2nd graders. There was a whisper in a hallway about an explosion at one of the Twin Towers. It wasn't till lunch in the teacher's lounge that I saw the first video. I felt sick, numb when I returned to teach.
But things got worse as time went on. Later we learned the horrible incident were worse than we first imagined. It wasn't 1 plane, but 4 that were hijacked and crashed that day. That night, I crossed a darkened Hernando Desoto Bridge from Arkansas into Memphis,Tennessee.The bridge was considered a target and lights remained darkened for many months.
The next day, you could feel the fear in the classroom. School was closed after a half day, due to other threats called into the radio station and the widespread panic that caused.
The attack was on certain specific locations, but all of the US felt the pain. Fourteen years have passed and most children don't know about 9-11. If you don't believe me, stop a child and ask him/her. It is amazing how little they know.
Maybe some people think it is a good thing that the horrors of 9-11 should be forgotten. I don't. I remember people cheering at our pain, chanting "Death to America."
Evil attacked that day, but heroes fought back and that should never be forgotten.
Saturday, September 5, 2015
I used to post a lot of opinions on Facebook, a lot of political stuff. I used to find articles to correct people when their sources were inaccurate. I don't do that so much anymore. Most people aren't interested in an exchange of ideas and only a few have interest in accuracy.
So why do people post about causes and political ideas on Facebook? There are probably a multitude of reasons, but the one I want to explore is this--that it is easy. It is much easier to talk about an idea or view on the Internet than to actually get one's hands dirty and doing something.
I first became aware of this fact during Hurricane Katrina. I used to frequent a message board in those days. People were all upset because "no one" was doing anything to help with the refugees. I finally posted the question, "What are you doing?"
"What are you doing," they replied, defensively.
I shared that I was a volunteer at my church. We were filling an 18 wheeler truck with supplies: water, diapers, and toiletries. I spent my Labor Day weekend trying to be a part of the solution.
Needless to say, a lot of people ganged up on me, after that, as people on the Internet are prone to do. It was the first time I began to examine the motives of people who say, "Someone should do something." It is sometimes a code for, "I want to be on the politically right side, but I don't want to get my hands dirty."
Here's the thing, posting an opinion is nice. It is also easy. If you want to improve the world, you have to get off your behind, turn off the computer, and go out and do something.
Maybe you can't do something dramatic, but you can do something. Maybe you can volunteer at a senior center, a crisis center, or at one of your church's benevolence groups.
Talk is cheap--even Internet talk--work lasts. Get your hands dirty.
Saturday, August 29, 2015
An Unexpected Gift is the final book in The Friends of Scrapbook, Etc trilogy. In this book I break a few of the rules when it comes to inspirational romance. I think readers will enjoy the difference.
Kimberly is a college student and works part-time at the craft shop, Scrapbook, Etc. The story covers the holidays from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Here's a little teaser:
Kimberly knows things will get rough when she sees the blue sign on the pregnancy test. She and Jack had been careful—most of the time. When he learns the news, Jack becomes distant and she might be forced to face parenthood alone.
When Grams offers her a place to stay, Kimberly soon becomes more concerned about the old woman's eccentricities than her own studies. Grams collects stray dogs, talks about seeing an angel, and might be losing her senses. Kimberly doesn't realize a quirky old woman can teach her about love and parenthood.
Friday, August 28, 2015
Today I wanted to focus on the second book in our series, Red, White and True. This story focuses on the relationship between the owner of Scrapbook, Etc. and her fiance, Sammy.
When he was in Afghanistan, Sammy Walker dreamed of life back home. After returning to Millwood, he sees that life is gone, forever. Sammy is disabled, struggling with PTSD, and there is no escaping his guilt.
Karla once promised to be his wife but Sammy can't hold her to that vow. He would never know if she loves or pities him.
Karla's devotion is strong. Though she finds his mixed messages exasperating, she isn't ready to give up on him.
How can Karla help Sammy when he keeps pushing her away? Can she love the new Sammy as much as the old one?
Thursday, August 27, 2015
The last of my trilogy was published as an eBook about 6 months ago. My publisher recently contacted me with the news that my books are now available in paperback. They can be ordered through Amazon.
Friends of Scrapbook, Etc. is a trilogy that centers around craft shop called Scrapbook, Etc. The shop is in a small town outside of Memphis, TN.
For the next few posts I am going to leave blurbs about each book.
The first book, A New Season:
School teacher, Wendy Sims', peaceful life with her son is interrupted by a troublesome dream and feeling of foreboding. She senses major changes are coming. To add to her anxiety, motorcycle officer, Jerrod Hill, appears at every turn. The last thing she wants in her life is another man who lives—or dies—taking risks.
Her worst fears come true when Wendy's son disappears on the way to summer camp. Now she might have to trust Jerrod to help find her missing boy. How can they manage when the only clue comes from an eccentric child who claims he's seen a U.F.O.?
Follow the link (cut and paste) to the Amazon site to see the trilogy:
Friday, August 14, 2015
I have a wonderful announcement. My trilogy, Friends of Scrapbook, Etc., is now available through Amazon.com. Here is the link:
If you have read the eBook versions, please post a review. The trilogy might make a good Christmas gift for your bookworm friends. Shop now, before the rush.
Saturday, August 8, 2015
I often carried my lunch to work when I was a school teacher. I hated being a slave to whatever might be offered in the cafeteria. Occasionally, when in a hurry, I would pack dinner left-overs in my lunch bag and head out the door.
One day, as the students settled in their desks for home room, I went through my morning ritual. I took the lunch out of my book bag. This time I had hastily packed the left-overs in a plastic grocery sack. I took the reusable containers and set them in my desk and began to shred the bag with my scissors and throw the pieces in the trash.
I noticed the students, who had been chattering while settling into their morning routine, were now quiet. I soon realized all eyes were on me.
"What's up?" I asked.
"You," one of the girls replied. "We were watching to see what you would do with that plastic bag."
A few weeks before, I taught a social studies unit on human effects on the environment. We discussed things we could do as individuals to be good stewards of the environment. I showed them photographs I'd collected of animal victims of trash that hadn't been properly disposed of. I suggested that if a student couldn't recycle rings from packages of aluminum cans, they should carefully cut each ring, so an animal couldn't become trapped. I suggested the same with plastic grocery sacks, especially the handles.
When the students saw me bring a plastic bag from home, they quietly watched to see if I would throw it in the trash, immediately making me a hypocrite in their eyes.
"You really practiced what you preached," the student said. "You're all right."
It was a simple statement, but something that was profound. I like to think that I fade into the woodwork like a wallflower, but I am watched more often than I suspect.
We all are.
Let's try to practice what we preach.
Sunday, August 2, 2015
One of the first Bible verses I learned as a child was, "... it is more blessed to give than to receive," Acts 20:35. I wasn't sure I knew what the word "blessed" meant, just that it was a good thing. I didn't know how how it could be better to give away things than to get them. I liked presents, a lot.
Still, I learned to share what I had; toys, snack, my bedroom. In a large family, sharing is a way of life. I didn't find much of a blessing in it at all.
When I became an adult, the idea of generosity changed. As I developed political views, I was distressed by the idea of poverty and inequality in the world. Shouldn't governments distribute wealth more equally?
The New Testament doesn't focus on governments or politics so much as in the individuals' response to his fellow citizens. We should show kindness and love to others.
--So if we pay our taxes, vote for the right person, and become politically active, have we done our duty?
I am reminded of one of my favorite Christmas stories, A Christmas Carol. Ebeneezer Scrooge is asked to donate money to help the needy. He responds that he has payed his taxes and they provide services to care for the poor. That should be enough.
It isn't. Governments are wasteful, full of bureaucracies, and are at best inefficient at getting a job done. Individuals in their own communities can do a much better job.
--But from a Biblical perspective, that isn't even the issue. Something happens to an individual when he shows generosity on a personal basis. That one-on-one contact between the giver and receiver makes something happen. Just as Scrooge was changed by learning about the needs in his community and becoming a part of the solution, we too, are changed.
Our generosity doesn't have to be great. Most of us are people with modest means. We can make a difference by sharing change so someone may purchase a burger at a fast food restaurant. It might be important to help another at the check-out line at Kroger. We might donate time by mowing the lawn of someone who can't do it himself. Ways to show kindness are limitless.
I am fortunate enough to be active at a church that is involved with several programs in our community. Some are based around annual occasions, the beginning of the school year and holidays. Others have been disaster relief efforts or volunteering with service organizations. I feel different after participating in these event. Seeing a teenager tear up after receiving his first birthday cake, changes both people involved.
I didn't understand as a child, but as an adult I do realize that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
Sunday, July 26, 2015
I hate surprises.
I especially hate surprises that involve time, work, and expense.
I talked with my pharmacists about whether my prescriptions would last until I until I was on my new work insurance. If you don't live in the U.S. you may not understand what a big deal that is. He assured me that I had a 3 month supply of prescriptions.
Anyway, last weekend I called to have my prescription filled and found that, though I had refills, the prescription itself, had expired. I only had a few days of two very important medications. I didn't have a doctor or the money to pay the out-of-pocket expense and prescriptions.
How did I set up a doctor's visit during my work hours? There were layers upon layers of complications.
I told myself that none of this was a surprise to God. I prayed for him to work it out. I fully intended to leave all the worry behind and trust the details to Him.
But Sunday night I couldn't go to sleep. I kept trying to work out the details in my mind. I would get up and, at 7:00 call the Church Health Center (a clinic where I could see a doctor on a sliding fee). Hopefully they would agree to take me as a patient. I would see what appointments were available and talk to my boss about getting off work for the visit.
Sleep evaded me. I really trusted God, but I couldn't stop the worry.
In the end, all the pieces fell together. I was able to see the doctor and she gave me a four months supply of prescriptions--long enough for me to get on my new insurance program.
Why did I worry? I don't really know. I knew things would work out. Maybe I feared the way they would work out.
Like I said, I hate surprises.
Sunday, July 12, 2015
Have you ever noticed how you can read a passage in the Bible at one time, then read the same story years later and notice something new? I got a little insight into that last week. My Sunday school teacher, Al, tried an interesting experiment on us.
Al is always researching and read about an experiment a missionary conducted. The missionary notice that Americans, usually left out a specific fact from a very common Bible story. Al tried the experiment on us and we acted just as anticipated.
We were each asked to summarize the Parable of the Prodigal Son, a story we were familiar with, Luke 15:11-32. The story is about a wealthy man and his 2 sons. The youngest wants his share of the inheritance before his father is death. He leaves the family and lives lavishly until he runs out of money. He returns to beg his father to work as a servant, but the father is so happy to see the son that he has a celebration. The faithful brother is jealous of the father's attention, but the father reassures him and explains that they should all rejoice when the prodigal returns.
As we each retold the story, Al smiled and we knew something was up. When it was over Al explained that most Americans leave out one fact to the story that people in many other countries find very important. The Bible says that there was a famine in the land.None of us remembered that fact but it is clear in Luke 15:14. We all looked it up.
It seems that older Americans that have experienced the Dust Bowl Era, do pick up on the verse about the famine, but if we haven't experienced one, that doesn't seem like a significant detail.
I guess that tells a lot about how we read the Bible. Things we've experienced do seem to jump out at us.
The older I get, the more relevant the Bible seems. I've had more life experiments.
Friday, July 3, 2015
I have been fearing lately that my grandchildren won't know the America that I knew. I realize that each generation can say that, but Americans used to be known for their rugged individualism. That was what caused them to demand their independence from Great Britain. It was what helped the pioneers cross deserts and survive harsh climates. It was what helped my grandmother raise 8 children during The Great Depression.
Along with individualism there was always hope, hope that a person's children would have a better life than they had. Each generation believed their child would have a more improved life than theirs.
Now things seem a little different. Many people seem less interested in independence and less hopeful about the future. Many don't seem interested in improving their lives at all.
This is really sounding like a downer of an Independence Day post, but I know tides can change. I'm old enough that I've watched the tides change before. I remember the flags flying after 9-11. I remember seeing the church pews filling with people looking for comfort after that disaster.
I hope we will have a more positive event that brings us together, next time. I look forward to the day when our leadership will encourage unity with the country.
It's not too late.
Sunday, June 14, 2015
A little over 7 years ago I decided to change jobs. Years before I did this, I prayed for the opportunity to move from a job where I was very unhappy. The doctor was very clear that stress was affecting my health.
Then the perfect job showed itself. It was a teaching position at a small private school. The pay was good--for a private school--and the environment was great. I loved the job. Parents were very positive and the kids were a lot of fun. My next check-up was so good that the doctor took my blood pressure 3 different times on 2 different cups, just to make sure my scores were really that improved.
Everything indicated that this job was the answer to my prayers and that I made the right choice by accepting this teaching position.
Then the economy tanked and the school was forced to lay off all its new hires. I accepted temporary job after temporary job for the next 7 years. Often, I thought,"Maybe I should have stayed with my old reliable job."
I felt that God provided the new school position for me, but things turned out so wrong that I must have misread all the signs.
I was talking with my good friend, Al, just yesterday. He mentioned the Biblical story of Joseph, in relation to fiscal responsibility. As I was driving home, I was still thinking about that story.
Joseph did the right thing. He did what God wanted. He resisted Pottifer's wife and was still accused of the crime. As a result he was thrown in jail. If he had slept with her, he would not have received the jail sentence.
Sometimes bad things happen, even when we do God's will. God had a plan for Joseph. He saved the lives of his own family and an entire country.
Why did my life take such twists and turns these past 7 years?
I don't know.
Knowing what I know, would I have made the same choices?
I like to think I would.
Sunday, June 7, 2015
It's been 7 long years since I've had a steady, long term job. I left teaching in public school because I was tired of teaching children how to take tests. I was weary of the bullying that was permitted in the public school where taught. I moved to a private school where I was very happy to be a teacher.
Then the economy tanked. For the next few years I taught wherever I could; daycare centers where I was paid 7.50 an hour to care for a room full of children, a private school where I was actually cheated out of the pay for which I was contracted, and even worked for 4 years as a substitute teacher.
Seven years is a long time and it is easy to be discouraged.
Then it happened. I finally found a permanent job. I am no longer a teacher, the job for which I studied and have over 20 years experience. The fact remains that in my area, school systems have laid-off teachers for over 3 years and there is a large number of teachers struggling to find employment, anywhere. I regret leaving teaching, but am happy to start a new phase in my life.
The 4 years as a substitute taught me a couple of important lessons.
Lesson 1--Let others know if you need help. Those who love you will want to help you. Don't let your pride prevent others from getting the blessing they will receive from helping you. My son was working and living at home. I hated asking him to chip in more on the bills. Still, it was something he needed to do, something that was necessary to his maturity.
Lesson 2--I learned to trust God to care for my needs. Though I did make due without many things I wanted, God provided for those things I needed. I used to stress about all of that, but I learned to relax and trust God .
For any of you, who are in a similar situation, don't give up hope.
Saturday, May 30, 2015
I was a substitute for a group of first graders the last week of school. It was an exciting time. Awards day came and the students wanted everyone to see their reward for hard work.
That morning, one of the boys was upset. He knew his mother would be attending an awards ceremony for his brother who was at another school. He cried because he would miss seeing her. He got a stomach ache because he wanted to be with her. He asked to be sent home. I kept telling him that the school day would be over soon and he would see his mother.
Finally, at the end of the day, we had our awards ceremony. The children's names were called and they received their certificates. Parents applauded. Then this boy's name was called. He didn't just get a certificate. He also received a trophy. For what? Perfect attendance. To receive this particular trophy, he couldn't be late or go home early, either. Had he checked out early on that day, he wouldn't have been eligible.
His mother and grandmother were there to see him get his award. The boy wore a huge grin when he saw them.
Receiving awards is a great thing. Having someone to share the moment with, is far greater.
Sunday, May 17, 2015
There's an undeniable excitement to the end of a school year. It represents a period of hard work, assessments, and promotion. It is something for which the children and the teachers can be proud.
After hard work, there are awards ceremonies, banquets, field days, and class parties. Teachers rush to finish their paperwork while the students work on crafts or watch special films. Summer vacation will soon arrive and the excitement is barely containable.
It's hard to tell who is more excited, the students or the teachers. The children want to relax, spend long summers just being kids. Teachers long to have their free time back. They will have the summer to reacquaint themselves with their own children and their spouses.
Yet it's all bittersweet. Students are endearing to their teachers. Teachers are surrogate parents for 10 months. Summer means that relationship has come to an end. The students and teachers will see each other again, but the relationship will not be the same.
The 6 weeks of summer will somehow change all that.
Someday they may look back and remember, hopefully with fondness, the relationship they once shared.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Most of my gardening, these days, involves using planters and baskets in my yard or on my deck. Though I lack many skills, I do enjoy germinating seeds or potting vegetables. It makes me smile.
This weekend I was at a Lowe's gardening center, looking for a Mother's Day gift. While there, I remembered a couple of pots for the front yard that needed to be filled. On a budget, I thought I would look at some of the discounted trays of plants. The tray had starter plants that looked wilted, with lifeless leaves and sagging petals. If the trays weren't labeled, I wouldn't have recognized the flowers. However, for $.50 a tray, if only a few plants survived, I would be ahead of the game.
Rather than fill 2 flower pots, I ended up with 4 pots of flowers, and I also had marigolds to plant around my tomatoes to ward off insects. Though I carefully put the plants into the soil, petals still fell off into my hands. Even more fell as I watered the soil. A few plants had no more than root and nubs of stems left. I wondered how many plants would make it through the night.
To my surprise, the next morning the begonias, inpatients, and even the marigolds looked refreshed and full. By the next day, even the nubby plants were showing new growth. My $2.00 worth of flower trays filled over 4 flower pots and each pot had flowers that are all ready blooming.
All the flowers needed was a new, healthy environment to flourish.
It makes me smile.
I've often felt like those flowers. I want to grow and flourish, but I've stumbled into an unhealthy environment where I seem to only wilt. As difficult as it was, I've had to change my environment. Though the changes difficult, the results health wise--and mental health wise--were worth it. I've even had doctors say they could tell, from one check-up to the next, that I had done something drastic which improved my health. The change was completely environmental.
We are like flowers. We need the right environment in which to grow.
Monday, May 4, 2015
A while back, I watched an old Twilight Zone episode. The main character is going through a stressful time and his car breaks down near his home town. While stranded, he walks through the town and realizes he has also walked back in time.
I had a similar feeling a little over a week ago. My son, his fiance', and I visited a church where I had a membership on two occasions, once as a teen, and again right after I moved back into the town.
It was an unusual feeling to sit in the church with people I'd known for so many years. As a teen I was a bundle of emotions and had difficulty adjusting from the life of a military brat to the civilian world. The church was the only thing that seemed a bridge between those two worlds.
The second time I was a member of this church I was a single mother and college student. The members of the church were like an extended family and positive role models for my son.
Both periods of time ran through my mind as I sat in the pew. I looked for familiar faces, but sadly, others were missing.
Sometimes it is good to travel where you've been to get a clearer picture of where you are going.
Monday, April 27, 2015
Yesterday, I transplanted arugula and spinach into large pots on my deck. These plants like the cooler side of spring and I will soon have fresh greens for my salads. I am especially pleased that I was able to germinate these plants from seeds.
I germinated several other variety of seeds this spring; basil, banana peppers, parsley, chives, morning glories, 4 o'clock, and marigolds. Easter came early this year so I started my seed project on Good Friday. I set up a table by the glass deck door where the tubes of seeds would get plenty of sunlight.
There's something a little exciting about putting seeds into the soil, examining each seed and knowing that the design contains the genetic material to make a flower or fruit. Then the soil is gently moistened and then I must wait to see what happens.
Will I be successful? Will the seed germinate? Will I have a seedling or have I seen the seed for the last time?
Maybe, because it was Good Friday, the whole experience reminded me of the Easter story. The body of Christ was put into the ground and his followers thought they would never seen Him again. Yet, on Easter He arose to greet the women who came to the tomb.
And now my plants are ready to go outside. The pepper plant will grow tall and the morning glories will bloom. Spring is filled with the promise of new beginnings and reminders of our faith.
Saturday, April 11, 2015
I read an interesting book last week and thought I would give it a review.
David Chance begins receiving messages. They are in printed text all around him. He doesn't know who is sending the messages or why he was chosen to receive them. When he followed their instructions once, it saved his life. The second time, saved the life of a friend. Then he received a message that said that in two days someone would try to kill the President of the United States.
I found the premise intriguing and the action drew me in. I was always curious about what the next message might be.
Here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/Messages-David-Chance-Series-Book-ebook/dp/B005ECT8DO/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Sometimes we only see one side of a person and never think about the depth of character or talents that person might possess. This week I was reminded of that, in a very real way.
I work at a lot of different schools and I've become acquainted with many professionals from each. There is a teacher at one school that always seemed to say things that I find annoying. I'm not sure why, but this man really got on my nerves.
Last week I was assigned to share a classroom with him. I knew we would spend the entire afternoon together in close quarters. What if he found me as irritating as I thought he was? We would drive each other crazy.
As it turns out, watching this person teach a classroom of students was a pleasure. He absolutely had a gift for working with children and interacted with them effortlessly. He had a strategy in mind to encourage good behavior and taught difficult concepts in a new way. I couldn't help but be impresses.
Despite his quirkiness, this teacher was an absolute professional. I had a new respect for this man.
I need to remember that we all have hidden talents. We all deserve respect.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
It is getting close to Easter and there are many profound character, twists, and turns to that story. The one that often comes to my mind is where Pilate and Jesus meet. Philosophical banter ended with the most intriguing question. Pilate asks Jesus, "What is truth?"
I guess I've become the cynical type. I find truth elusive. I double check and triple check the sources on everything I see on the news and read, especially on-line.
It is a common thing to twist the truth. A public figure can answer questions about dog breeding and the newspaper headline will read "Mayor Discusses His Pregnant Bitches."
A half-truth is the same thing as a full lie.
Fanatics with a cause often misquote their enemies or quote them out of context. They will dig up something an individual said or did 20 years ago when the person was of a different mindset from the person they are in the present.
There are those who believe that a lie that furthers a good cause is fair game. Propaganda is what it was called during the Cold War times. It was said that "If you tell a lie long enough, the general population will accept it as the truth."
Truth is not a relative term. There are not a multitude of truths. There is only one truth.
Don't be deceived.
Saturday, March 21, 2015
I've been thinking a lot about challenging myself, lately. Occasionally, I get the courage to do something new, different. The past couple of days I've been doing things that are a break to my normal routine or pattern, doing things that might not work out the way I like.
I started out yesterday by scheduling an appointment to do my taxes. Tax time is a gut wrenching experience for me. I never understand how one year I can get a refund and the next have to pay in taxes. It's like spinning a wheel in Vegas. Some years I win and some years I lose. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the experience.
This year I got a refund. Whew. I survived the ordeal.
That gave me enough courage to move onto another challenge, a haircut. I wanted to go really short, experiment with several styles before my son, Adam's wedding. It was a little scary to watch the hair dresser chopping so close to my scalp, but I encouraged him to "Go short." I like my new cut because it is different. I won't get the same cut next time, but the experience turned out well and the cut is nice. I survived again.
Today I went to the YMCA for my work-out. I decided I needed a new challenge to my exercise routine. I wanted to try a vertical elliptical machine, as well as my horizontal one. Since I still have some stiffness and pain in my left leg, this is a challenge. The trainer suggested a machine (an arc elliptical) that I was able to mount and work on for a few minute. It was difficult, a challenge, but again, I survived.
I hope this will encourage you to challenge yourself and try new things. If you try, you'll accomplish more than you expect.