Saturday, October 25, 2008

five fabulous friends....a series

Michelle and our kids at Disney World...hopefully, she won't kill me for using this.

Second Fabulous Friend: Michelle

I'm guessing that I've known Michelle for at least seven years. She was a regular gym rat like me, and here and there I would see her at the club. But just as Lisa and I bonded through our first pregnancies, Michelle and I bonded through our second. Our daughters were born nine days apart and have been BFF's ever since.

God knows that I do everything through the buddy system and provided me with a house just two doors down from Michelle. We've lived on the same street for almost five years now, and she is the epitome of the word neighbor. Even with three children under the age of seven, she never minds adding more bodies to watch or more mouths to feed. I've never seen anyone be more gracious to kids than Michelle.

Where I usually am the stay-at-home-in-my-routine mom, she has inspired me to take the kids, make plans, or do just the simple things that a mom would do. There's no telling how many ideas I have stolen, or been given, from her.

Here's to my Grey's buddy...my kids and I have a much better life because you are near!


"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." John 15: 12-13

Sunday, October 5, 2008

five fabulous friends....a series

Our boys during last year's summer visit...

This is the first in a series of posts that will allow me to say thanks to my girl friends. It was this first friend, Lisa, who helped me realize that girl friends are important, even and most especially after we’re all grown up.

First Fabulous Friend: Lisa

We met at a club function. Was it thirteen years ago? Good grief! Both pregnant and due around the same time, we clicked instantly. But then Lisa pretty much clicks with everyone. I think the fact that our boys were born one day apart sealed the deal on our friendship. She was my best friend…and still is.

Now, a long distance separates us, and I don’t get to talk to her daily, weekly, or even monthly. My busy schedule right now also keeps me from calling and emailing like I should…like I want to. After all, she was the first one I called to tell that I was pregnant again. She was the first one I called to tell that I was getting a divorce. She was the one who offered to keep my baby girl for six weeks, so I didn’t have to put her immediately in day care. She was my earthly angel who helped me through some of my roughest times.

I have often wondered how things would be different for me, for her, and for our boys if they had gotten to stay. But that wasn’t meant to be. She has proven that she can still be my good friend from hundreds of miles away.

Hopefully, I’ll make it across the country to visit her in her beautiful oasis. Hopefully, our boys will continue to talk, email, and visit each other. Hopefully, I will make more time for phone calls and emails. Hopefully, one day we will live closer.

Until then, I’ll miss and love my friend, Lisa.

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
John 15:12-13

Sunday, September 21, 2008

it's about time...

I hope you weren't thinking that I was getting slack again with my posts. Truth be knownst, I have been up to my eyeballs in being-a-teacher work, being-a-student work and being-a-single-mommy work. Can I get a witness from the congregation?

My last two posts had a negative vibe to them, so...to stick with my positive mantra, I'm not going to dwell on those overwhelming things mentioned above. Today I just want to breathe the cool, fresh air of the first fall day, say goodbye to the sweltering days of summer, and welcome the upcoming beauty of autumn.

I also need to tell you two things. Thing One: I, hopefully, am going to begin a once-per-week series of posts starting next week. Until then the topic will be a surprise. (Yes, I already know the topic.) I've actually been thinking about doing this for a while, but I wasn't inspired to do it until today.

Thing Two: I'm posting here only once a week, but I am posting DAILY at www.photoblog.com/dgirl , and I would love to hear from you there as well. The link is also located in the Interesting Links section on the right side. The photo blog is for my masters class, which hopefully explains why I've been so busy. This blog is just for kicks, which is why it has been neglected for the last two weeks.

Okay, to end this less-than-entertaining post, I have to share with you the simple, yet powerful scripture that my pastor reminded me of last week:

"If God is for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31 Pray this for yourself and for our nation.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

did we forget...

Today was red, white, and blue day at my school and my daughter's school. We're having spirit week, so this was one of our theme days. On most other days, like tacky day (oh, the irony here), we collect money for a fundraiser. At my daughter's school they had to pay to wear the all-American colors for their fundraisers. Did we forget?

The Gooser goes to gymnastics each Thursday after school, and then we immediately go to Arby's to celebrate what she learned. On the way I noticed a couple of flags at half mast, however several were not. I have to admit, I didn't even notice our flag at school today. Even though I don't have a window to see it, it never even occurred to me to think about our flag until I saw the others. Did we forget?

Remember the flag frenzy after 9/11? Everyone had flags on their bumpers, flags flying from their windows, flags were on every lawn and every corner. Not so much today. I've seen 3 in my neighborhood. Did we forget?

Should we point a finger toward any certain person or group of people for this? Or should we turn the finger around and point to ourselves as Americans? Have we forgotten how much we love our country? Or has our love become conditional?


"O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure." Psalm 7:9

Sunday, September 7, 2008

almost gone...

There's a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach every Sunday as I turn into my mother's drive way. Will it look any better? How much worse is it now?

A five acre pond that holds so many of my fondest memories and moments is almost, well, I don't really want to say it again. The water used to be where the tall grass is growing now. Years of drought, a silt-heavy spring, and more users up the way have all depleted what used to be a favorite spot for many, especially me.

It's where I learned to swim, where I had fun with family and friends, and most importantly, where I came to clear my head. There was so much peace to be found in it and around it. It was like a friend to me, holding my deepest thoughts and dreams when I wouldn't trust them with anyone else.

My daughter even said just the other day, "Momma, I've never been fishing. When can I go?" She's five. The dam was running over the year she was born, and now it's almost, well...

I'm not sure who told me that when a loved one is in heaven, they don't know what is going on on earth because it would make that person sad. There is only joy in heaven, so I know that my dad, whom I've missed for over 18 years now, can't see that one of his favorite places is almost...

He had it built. A dam constructed from a spring that, as a long-time neighbor once said, "has never run dry." I wonder what Dad would say about it now. What would he do? Would it make him sick to his stomach, too, if he was still here?

I miss my dad. I miss the lake. I hope for joy, and rain, from heaven.


"The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing." Isaiah 51:3




Wednesday, September 3, 2008

words...

There was a note in her agenda: chatty day. “During nap time,” she confessed.

I’m not surprised. As her mom, I have usually been amused by her use of language. When she was a baby I had a student who taught me a few sign language words to teach her. One of those words was more. As she began to speak the word, it always came out sounding like mourn. For a long time, I said more with the “n” sound attached. I miss her mourn’s.

When she was two and whined the word, “Please,” I always reminded her that she had to say “please” nicely. She then began to whine, “Please nicely,” for everything. I miss her please-nicely’s.

Now, instead of saying either have or has, she has morphed the two words together into her own word: haves. Why didn’t someone else think of this? It cuts down the amount of words I need to know. She still says this one because I don’t “haves” the heart to correct her mistake. I would miss it.

But back to the note. As a parent there is such a fine line between an appropriate amount of discipline and discipline that breaks the spirit. Or is there? The teacher in me wants to jerk a knot in her because I know she knows better; however, the momma side of me knows that there has always been a need for verbal expression. But her excessive amount of words got her in trouble.

Not to worry. Before I could inflict any kind of punishment upon her, she decided to write a note, again using her words…and my spelling, to her teacher apologizing and pledging to do better. Then she promptly fell asleep. I wish she had thought about that during nap time.

Sometimes I wonder whether being a mom has had more influence on my teaching or whether being a teacher has had more influence over me being a mom. It's an interesting mix, for sure.

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

Saturday, August 30, 2008

a new "do"

I've been cleaning all morning. Piles of laundry folded and put away. And hours worth of ironing...oh, the joy! Then there was the sweeping, dusting, and vacuuming that had to be done. Just call me Cinderella. I honestly don't mind doing it because in the end, I know my house will look better. It will feel better.

So, I've also decided to spiff things up around my blogger home as well. Since I'm putting forth my extra effort to keep things going here, I feel like it might as well have a cleaner, fresher look. Imagine the scent of fresh squeezed lemons with a hint of lavendar as you read and relax. Okay, so I'm being a little silly. Hope you enjoy the new look (and smell)!

"I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me." Jeremiah 33:8

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

let the courses begin...

Stuffed ever so carelessly in my mailbox was the parcel I had been waiting for. As I was trying to wrestle my package free, I was immediately bombarded with questions.

"Is that for me, Momma?" cackled the Gooser at least five times from the back seat.
"No, babe," I answered.
"Is it for me?" joined in Bigness.
"It's for me," I announced, silencing the masses. "Mama's going back to school."

Sadly, I am one of "those" teachers, one of the few left on the planet who has not gotten an advanced degree. Most of my colleagues, including my 26 year old team mate, are entirely more educated (if you haven't already figured that out) than I. So, now...finally, I have found the right time and the right place to pursue more knowledge.

Because I'm not so great with multi-tasking, I've decided to start with only one class this semester, so my advisor recommended Creativity: Instructional Procedure and Problem Solving. Yeah, it sounds pretty deep to me too. Anyway, part of the course requirements is to develop a creative skill, and naturally, getting back into a regular groove again on the blog was my first thought.

But then the course syllabus goes on to say to challenge yourself and push into new territory. So, is just the blog going to be enough? I don't really know, and yes, I'm a little too chicken to ask. Therefore, to make extra sure I challenge myself, I have joined Project 365...as of today. I love taking photos, but a photo each day will be a stretch. I got the idea from the Queen Phenom of Creativity, Stephanie Roberts. I won't be any where near her level of artistry, but this definitely seems like just the right push for me. Thanks, Stephanie, for your inspiration!

Wish me luck and check out my first pic post: http://www.photoblog.com/dgirl/.

"Be strong and brave. The Lord your God will go with you. He will never leave you. He'll never desert you." Deuteronomy 31: 6

Monday, August 18, 2008

another football fan...

While out snapping a few shots of the one flower I have left in my drought-dried landscape, something caught my eye. Moving quickly across my front step was this gargantuan critter (for lack of the scientific term) dressed in no less than his Saturday-best red and black.

Could it be that God is a Dawg fan too?

"Lift your eyes and look to the heavens; Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing." Isaiah 40:26

article for all of you soon-to-be football widows

Thursday, August 14, 2008

reality sinks in...

Gooser, 1st Day of Kindergarten, 6:30 a.m.

As the school year came to its end in May, so did, so it seemed, my blogging days. Yeah, the ideas came and went, but the motivation to actually sit down and type never even registered. I questioned why I was doing it, the amount of time I spent doing it, and did anyone really even care.

Now with school back in and some inspiration from friends and family, I'm feeling a little blogish. We'll see how long it lasts.

So back to reality...Beginning the day after school let out, the Gooser began asking, "Is it time to go to kindergarten?" This lasted pretty much every day until I decided that she needed a visual count down...and I needed a moment to not have to think about school.

The night before school started she was so wired that she could barely go to sleep; it was 10:00 p.m. at best, which is scary-late for my five-year-old. The dreaded alarm sounded around 5:20 a.m. Thursday morning. Usually Gooser sleeps right through, but not this day. Up she popped, donned her lucky lavendar dress, grabbed her gear, and was waiting at the door by 6:00 a.m. Mornings could not get any easier than this!

The all-time high lasted for the first two days, going totally non-stop until she finally crashed Friday night sometime around 7:15 p.m. The little booger was just plum worn out. Needless to say, mornings for the past two weeks have not been quite so easy.

So tonight Goose asks, "Momma, what's tomorrow?"
I reply with much enthusiasm, "Friday!"
"Yea! No more school!" she adds.


"He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart:
He gently leads those that have young." Isaiah 40:11

...how comforting!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

...would you care for a lemon-aahd?

If you have seen High School Musical 2 twenty-five bazillion times as I have, you will recognize that line as how the high schoolers were to address the obnoxious Ms. Sharpay Evans. The spelling of the word lemonade is to reflect the sophisticated tone in which it was spoken.

I jokingly ask my HSM devotee that same question once or twice a week when we are preparing a snack or a meal. We typically repeat it several times and laugh, but today that line popped into my head for a totally different reason.

Around 9:30 I received a work-related email that made my heart sink. It involved a situation that I would be placed in for next year. After confiding in one of my super Christian friends...and taking a few Advil, I sent up one of those "arrow" prayers around noon-ish, "Okay, Lord. This is not a good situation. Please take this lemon and help make it into lemonade." I promptly went on with my day and planned to not think about again.

By 1:30 my friend referenced above stopped by to let me know that the situation had been resolved. Not only had it been resolved, but this new solution will create a better scenario for my students and me. I literally fell to my knees in the I'm-not-worthy pose, so thankful to God and my friend to be releaved of the possible nightmare.

It wasn't until later, when all of the students were gone and all was quiet, that I remembered the arrow prayer and the quote from HSM2. Don't tell me there's no God.

My daughter learned a song last year:

My God is so big
So strong and so mighty
There's nothing my God cannot do.
He made the trees,
He made the seas,
He made the elephants too (envision cute arm motions with this)

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests." Ephesians 6:18

Monday, April 21, 2008

imagination...

A long time ago, I told my son that God likes to paint pictures in the clouds. He's been seeing things ever since.

Toward the right on the top, he saw a baby bird flying away from his momma (aww!). On the bottom I see an Oriental man with a heavy five o'clock shadow.

What has God painted for you?

"Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds. His name is the LORD and rejoice before him." Psalm 68:4

Monday, April 7, 2008

over the river and through the woods...

Literally, that’s how we go to Nana’s house. It’s a Sunday afternoon thing to spend time with the family. The kids love playing with their cousins and catching up with their grandmother. I wouldn’t trade it for anything that money can buy.

While there, I captured several close-ups of the Gooser thrumming away on the piano, then I realized I was missing the better, big picture.

I love the intricate detail from the macro shot, but it only shares part of the story. Going wide incorporates the entire feeling of relaxing at Nana’s. The sentimentality of those sweet hands on the ivory keys holds meaning for me, but twenty years from now I'm sure the kids will want to see more.

My hope is that one day they will stumble across this random shot of being at Nana’s and be filled with thoughts of love, joy, and nostalgia.

“LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Psalm 16: 5-6

Saturday, March 29, 2008

what's mine is yours...

My nephews are the best. For anonymity, let's call them T.one and T.two. T.one, the oldest, caters to his younger cousin. Because there are no other girls in the family, T.one usually will help entertain her. Yes, she totally eats it up.

Last weekend this outdoors man uncovered a dragonfly hanging out near the pond. "Do you want to hold it?" he asked.

"NO!" Gooser replied emphatically.

If anyone can get the Goose to do something, it's T.one.

Several minutes of persuasion later, and...

...the Gooser held her first flying insect!

"Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near!" Philippians 4:5


Thursday, March 13, 2008

beyond words...

Obviously, this is a photo of my 6th grader's report card, and I am the proud momma. Note that he has made A's every grading period all year for his first year of middle school, and earlier (not shown) he was named Student of the Quarter by his pod teachers. Words really cannot express how incredibly pleased I am because it hasn't always been easy.

What this document doesn't show you is that in K-4 he got so many frowny faces sent home that THAT was the first thing he ever drew. It doesn't show you that by K-5, he didn't fit "the mold" at the private school he was attending. And you can't possibly see the standardized test meltdown in 3rd grade, or the unaccepting adolescents who didn't want to be in his group in 2nd.

Then I finally understood. Asperger's. High-functioning Asperger's. It took having a student with this syndrome to see it in my own child. With this diagnosis I didn't get an automatic excuse or pass for his behavior, but what I did get are the tools I need to help him be successful academically as well as socially.

Over the last two years I have begun to see this vibrant flower begin to blossom. Gone is the question, "What did he do today?" Hello comments of, "He's so helpful," and, "I wish more students were like him." (big grin, misty eyes)

It was difficult to see beyond the frowny faces when I was up to my eyeballs in them. So here's hope and joy to anyone else who thinks they have no clue as a parent. Have faith, my friend! It can be done! He would never be as accomplished as he is without lots and lots and lots of prayer.

"But without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and the He rewards those who earnestly and diligently seek Him." Hebrews 11:6

Monday, March 10, 2008

rescue me...



Isn’t he cute? Let me introduce you to Max, a three-month-old puppy left behind by his mother and sibling pups to brave the world alone. Several weeks ago he took up at the home of another teacher. A few emails and one home visit later and now my mom is the proud owner of this little bruiser of a dog.

He’s definitely going to be a project for her. I can tell that he will put the nature vs. nurture question to the test. If I were a betting person, my money would be on Mom. She certainly didn’t put up with any hoo-hah from me, so I can’t imagine she will take much from a fuzzy, four-legged critter. Even if he is as cute as a button.

“So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:21

Saturday, March 8, 2008

thanks, Punxsutawney...

Leave it to a burrowing varmint to accurately predict the weather. (See the reflection of the snow-covered trampoline above and magnolia tree below.)

While scurrying to my large garbage can this morning, I heard a strange sound on the metal garage door. I knew it was cold out, but this is March. My mind raced as I scampered back in to my heated home, “Surely, it’s not…it can’t be,” I thought.

I quickly rounded the corner of the kitchen, headed into the dining room, and twisted open my faux wooden blind to unveil the identity of the noise. Sleet mixed with snow. “Kids, come ‘ere! Quickly!” I immediately shouted.

Ironically, as we all we viewed the outdoor performance, I heard Minnie Mouse singing a song about the warmth of spring on Playhouse Disney.

The winter white lasted less than an hour, melting as quickly as it fell. Only the cold remains.

“I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles.” Psalms 145:5




Thursday, March 6, 2008

found...

Now that I'm part of Love Thursday, I feel compelled to find the heart shape in unusual places. Always up for a challenge, I just knew that every week I would uncover a unique heart. One in the most unusual of places, like crumbs on a plate or fizzled bubbles from a finished bath.

So far, no luck. But I do keep finding them in foliage and flora. I shall press on.

"This I command you, that you love one another." John 15:17

Monday, March 3, 2008

best shot Monday...

The Gooser would rather swing than eat. Since Sarah-Ji suggested I should embrace the blurred picture and Kate wanted pictures of children in their element, I knew this would be the photo for today.

There's nothing better than throwing your head back and feeling the cool air rush by as you sail to and fro again, and again, and again!

"O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens." Psalm 8:1

Sunday, March 2, 2008

missing blogger...

Where, oh where has this blogger gone?
Where, oh where can she be?

I thought I was home free. The worst of flu season had come and gone, and my house -Lysoled to the nth degree - had managed to stand firm against the evil virus.

Somehow, however, a nasty little sinus infection penetrated my defenses. By Thursday, I broke down and made the dreaded trip to the doctor’s office. (It was nice to learn that I had not been in three years…wish I could have gone four.)

It’s amazing what a few rounds of antibiotics, two thousand tissues, some serious sofa time, old sweats, and my favorite fuzzy purple socks (that match nothing) will do.

Hope all is well and germ free in your world today!

“Lord, you hear my every sigh.” Psalm 38:9

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cocoa pups...

My students are currently working on a poetry unit. To be fair, I've written a few of my own to share. Here's a haiku about my predictable, sun-loving miniature dachshund.

just like a sun dial
she floats through the house to find
the perfect warm beam

"...it will be so peaceful that not even a dog will bark." Exodus 11:7

Thursday, February 21, 2008

bring on the rain...

Rain? Who posts a photo of rain for Love Thursday?

It started around lunch today. This almost foreign substance trickled from the sky, and then slowly a steady stream began to fall. We need it so badly. Located in what’s categorized as extreme drought, it was a beautiful sight to see puddles of water standing in my yard.

I think about the pond that my daddy designed and built. Now it's not much more than a withered wasteland of stumps and mud trying to maintain some water. If he were still here to see it, his heart would be broken; therefore, I feel much love for today’s rain, and I have faith that the pond will refill.

“Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.” James 5:7

Monday, February 18, 2008

Best Shot Monday...

Nothing says "here comes spring" like bursting blossoms of pink set before a clear blue sky.

Are we there yet?

"The flowers are springing up, the season of singing birds has come, and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air." Song of Solomon 2:12

going to Atlantis...

Yesterday we ventured to the fabulous Fox Theater in Atlantis (that's what the Goose called it) to see the Atlanta Ballet perform Cinderella. While the interpretation of the story was a little difficult for my five-year-old to follow at some points, the experience was no less than magical.

After the performance we twirled and chass├ęd throughout this exquisite structure. Having only been once as a preteen, I can now appreciate why it is always prefaced with the word fabulous!

"For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance." Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4

Thursday, February 14, 2008

look closely...

I couldn't resist posting this one as well because if you look closesly, the bottom leaf is shaped like a heart. I also like the texture mixed with the light and shadows.

What do you think?

as promised...

On this Ultimate Love Thursday, I picked this flower just for you. Happy Valentine's Day!

"As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. " Proverbs 27:17




Sunday, February 10, 2008

signs of spring...


Today was one of those days when my blinds begged me to open them. As they unveiled the crisp, blue sky and invited the sunlight in, I noticed my camelia bush is in full bloom. I immediately went for my clippers.

Next I, attempting a Martha Stewart maneuver, submerged several of the blossoms in water. Even though I thought it really looked smashing in my living room, we took the arrangement to Nana for an early Valentine's Day present.

Maybe there will be more for Thursday.

"Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come," Song of Solomon 2:12

Thursday, February 7, 2008

gearing up...

My kitchen table is a sea of silly sentiments and suckers. Therefore, this Love Thursday shot shows us preparing for next week's Ultimate Love Thursday.

How do I love thee? Let Sponge Bob count the ways!

"This is my command: love each other. " John 15:17

Sunday, February 3, 2008

this little light of mine...

While searching the internet last night for information to support my next teaching unit, the lights flickered and then suddenly everything that was warm, cozy, and well-lit became dark, silent, and a wee-bit spooky.

With the hum of the computer and the furnace absent, my miniature Dachshund, who is more hound than Dachs, decided to fill the eerie silence. A few aarrrooooo-rooo-rooos later, and I was able to find my candle lighter. (Thanks to my neighbor down the street who has me hooked on Yankee Candle.)

Realizing there was not much I could do, I decided to take my primitive lighting and go read in bed. Then I saw it. The exquisite beauty of this powerful source. I had to have a picture of my burning flame, and thank God, my camera is battery operated.

I snapped about seven or eight shots and then crawled in the bed with a renewed appreciation for a light that is always ready and available. This one was my favorite, but I have no idea how I got it.

"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16


Thursday, January 31, 2008

labor of love...


It’s my new favorite day of the week, Love Thursday. This photo depicts love in multiple ways. Not only does Goosey “love” the gifts she received for her birthday, but she also “loves” the boy who is the recipient of this thank you note.

...and I just love these sweet, little fingers.

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

old and new...


One of my good friends brought over her Maltipoo puppy, Harper. As I snapped this shot of my dog playing with her new buddy, a familiar saying suddenly popped into my head. “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”

Mrs. Elizabeth, who is now in heaven, was like my second grandmother. Known for her colorful moo-moos, she was a hilarious lady who had the voice of an angel. She had her own special tune for the "friends" saying and sang it to me often when we visited.

I eventually cross-stitched that saying for her, and I treasured the fact that she hung my gift on her wall. So as I wander back through a flood of fond moments of time spent with her, I realize on multiple levels how true those words are.

Misty-eyed from nostalgia, I can still hear her crystal-clear soprano voice sing the beloved hymn:

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Sweetest Name I know,
Fills my every longing,
Keeps me singing as I go.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

just heavenly...

You would never know that it snowed last weekend. With it almost 60 degrees, we gladly donned our light-weight jackets and headed outdoors. One cleared path in the woods, several ATV rides, and a flat motorcycle tire later, we were ready for a break - and I was ready for my camera.

In the still moment of this shot, it’s hard not to notice the beauty of the background as well. Even in the dead of winter, there is still so much color to enjoy.

Time to shoot up one of those quick, arrow prayers: thank you that my eyes can see the grandeur of Your creation! What a beautiful day!

“This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalms 118:24

Saturday, January 26, 2008

birthday thoughts...


Even though I had to battle a slightly fussy five-year-old this morning and again tonight, my day has been full of blessings. Along with a variety of phone calls, cards, and gifts from family and friends, I received an unexpected call from an old high school bud. It warmed my heart, but the day just kept getting better.

My sister-in-law asked to take me shopping at The Loft, our favorite store. I can’t remember the last time we were able to sneak away from the kids for some girl time, so this was definitely a treat. And yes, I did adhere to Resolution #1, making it an even more successful trip. No guilt.

So tonight as I drove home from the restaurant where we celebrated (thanks, Mom!), I reflected on my day. (Blogging causes me to do this.) Despite all of the other wonderful things I was given, my son unknowingly trumped them all with his.

His gift was simply that he wrapped his adult-sized arms around me and with a big teddy bear hug declared, “You’re the best mom in the whole world. Thanks for all you do for us.”

That to me is priceless.

“You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit.” Job 10:12

Thursday, January 24, 2008

puppy love...

Let me introduce you to my first Love Thursday post, my new project from now until V-day (or maybe longer). I found this idea at Shutter Sisters which is a fabulous blog for anyone interested in photography. The idea is to share a link to your favorite love themed photo. What a concept!

While the rest of the world is focusing on all that is wrong, corrupt, and evil, let us take a moment to find the good. I now have a new appreciation for Thursdays. Thanks, Karen W., for creating and spreading the love!

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

Monday, January 21, 2008

renewal...


Being home holds a restorative element for me. When it’s freezing (and snowing?) outside, there is nothing better than doing only what you want to do rather than what you need to do. I enjoy that kind of time at home with the kids and was extremely thankful to have an extra day to do just that.

Here are some of the things we did at home this weekend…just because we wanted to:

1. built a fort (the little one calls it a fork, and I think it’s too cute to correct)
2. made hot cocoa
3. painted picture frames
4. danced to all of the HSM and Hannah Montana songs on TV
5. read silently and aloud
6. played the catch-the-fish game about 72,000 times
7. took pictures
8. snuggled
9. colored and painted in the new coloring books (from the birthday party)
10. slept past 5:30 a.m.
11. wore pajamas past 9:00 a.m.
12. called Nana
13. played tag with Cocoa pups
14. watched it snow
15. took a nap

What healing activities did you get to do at home this weekend? Please share!

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul.” Psalms 23: 1-3 (King James Version, my favorite translation of this passage)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

birthday party overload...


I’m not sure why I fuss and fret over every little detail of my children’s birthday parties. Maybe it’s the teacher in me that makes me think I’ll be graded on it or something. But I guess since the birthday girl is currently enjoying an unintentional afternoon siesta, I probably scored an A.

"I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety." Psalms 4:8

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I think I can...



I thought today was Friday. All day long I was working toward my three day weekend one day early. Between birthday whatnot on Tuesday, the major state test (no pressure) I had to give yesterday, and a few snow flurries last night, my body began telling my brain that we’ve already reached capacity for the week. Time to shut down for the weekend. Well, it was a nice thought.

So tonight I’m gearing up for one more do-I-really-have-to-get-up-this-early-in-the-freezing-cold day. I know tomorrow that I’ll have to bring the dog and pony (maybe even a sheep and a goat) because from the looks of things, my students were thinking today was Friday too.

What they don’t know is I have a surprise for them, their very own blog. You can almost feel their teenage excitement, can’t you? Okay, so it’s more appealing to me, but here is my thought: reading and writing blogs has evoked a daily reflective thought process that I’ve never had before. I have personally experienced how inspiration and ideas flow more easily into this online world of thought sharing than they would with traditional pen and paper. Couldn’t it do the same for my students?

I shall introduce it tomorrow. Tomorrow is Friday.

"And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; (4) and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;" Romans 5: 3-4

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

a gift...




When I was growing up, I never thought there could be anything better than my birthday. It’s your one day to feel special. Now as an adult and mother of two, I realize that there are two other days that hold much greater meaning and distinction. Today was one.

As we finally reached my daughter’s highly anticipated birthday, I couldn’t decipher who was more excited. Turning five is the first major milestone of life, and I am so delighted for her. It’s like watching your speedometer roll from 4,999 to 5,000. At five you know you’re still young with a lot of life to live, but you’ve also covered a good bit of ground. Is there any other birthday better than number five?

To watch her sweet, sparkling face as various friends and family wished her happy birthday, as she opened her presents – the one that was just what she wanted and the one that was totally unexpected (thanks, Nana), as she blew out the candles on her specially selected vanilla cup cake, I couldn’t help but feel it too. Today was special; it was my daughter’s birthday, and I was allowed to share it with her!

Before we ate dinner, I asked, “Who wants to say the blessing?”

With hand raised high, “Meeeeeeeee,” she bellowed.

The following is her prayer, and because I think it covers everything, it’s my prayer for you:

Dear God,

Make everyone be good and be kind. Let everyone be well, and help everyone have a good time.

Amen

“And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” Isaiah 11:6

Saturday, January 12, 2008

:)...



When you're walking down the street or entering a store, do you make eye contact or smile at the person walking the other way? I'm sorry to say that unless I know the person, I usually don't. I guess this treacherous world in which we live has conditioned me to look straight ahead and mind my own business, to protect my smiles from misinterpretation.

Hmmm...I'm fairly sure that is not, as the bracelet says, what Jesus would do.

So while out and about running errands today, I began an experiment. I smiled at several unsuspecting people. Their response? Almost all of them smiled back.

I love the pay-it-forward concept of passing a good thing to other people, and hopefully in turn, they would pass it on to more people. Maybe it works with smiles.


"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' Matthew 25:40

Thursday, January 10, 2008

keeping the faith...


Tonight I'm taking a dose of my own medicine. I'll give you the short version. Believe me, this could be much longer.

Pulling out of my garage Sunday morning on the way to church, my car did not shift correctly into drive as it should. Seconds later, the engine light flashed on. As an aside, I have a good car. She has never had any problems in the 6 years that I've had her.


After church and several prayers, I took her to the only place that is open. Bad leak. Almost no transmission fluid or oil. Transmission codes lit up the engine's computer. The helpful gentlemen there didn't do transmission work but were able to recommend a place that could, Mr. Transmission. They filled my fluids and wished me well, saying it could be just a patch job. I continued to pray with no worries.


Let me begin to condense now. According to Mr. Transmission (Satan), I needed new clutches and a new torque converter which together would cost $2,273. It was at that point I panicked and began to question God.


Didn't He read Resolution # 1? How was I supposed to save money with this kind of a bill? How could my feeling inside of "no worries" have been so wrong? I'm a struggling, single mom, so how could going through this make me a better person?


Then my teammate came by on Tuesday. Her dad was having open heart surgery this week, and she asked me to pray for him. I reassured her that I would. I also told her to give it God. She didn't need to worry because God was in control. "He will take care of you," I said to her. Knowing the pain the loss of a parent brings, I began to put things back into perspective. There are worse things than outrageous car bills. I should listen to my own advice.


Condensing even more now...I happened to mention my situation to another good friend at work. A good Christian friend, who later agree that this was devine intervention. She led me to the man who repaired my car for $60. Yes, just $60, and my car, which had never given me problems, continues to run like a dream.


God never abandoned me, yet I questioned his methods and his techniques because I thought He had. As I tried to remain as positive as possible about the situation, I still wondered why it wasn't turning out just as I had planned. Answer: It's not my plan, and it never was.


"Your love, O Lord, reaches to the Heavens! Your faithfulness stretches to the skies!" Psalms 108: 4





Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Things that give me that warm fuzzy...

...a spin-off of Stephanie's list

1. Realizing God has answered even the simplest of prayers
2. Sharing a long belly laugh with the kids
3. Scrubbing behind my devoted dog's ears after a long day
4. Sinking into my comfy couch
5. Receiving an unexpected phone call from an old friend
6. Singing the lyrics of a favorite old tune
7. Reaching the I-get-it moment with a student
8. Accomplishing things on my to-do list
9. Doing a favor for a friend
10. Finding God in a song or in nature or in my thoughts
11. Adding to my blog
12. Watching my children sleep
13. Finding what I was looking for
14. Fixing something that was broken
15. Knowing that my friends are visiting my blog

What gives you a warm fuzzy? When you find it, recognize the feeling and savor it for as long as you can!

"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalms 118:24

Sunday, January 6, 2008

assignment pay back...


One of my favorite things about this school year is that my son and I are at the same school. Not only do I get to see him during the day, but I also get to see his teachers.

So far, he has received nothing but rave reviews and has maintained an A average for his first two terms of middle school. I can’t even begin to tell you how proud I am of him.

On our way out Friday, we ran into his Language Arts teacher. “How’s he doing?” I asked.

“Well, I’m glad you asked. We worked on a writing assignment on the days he was absent before Christmas. He was supposed to have the rough draft written for me today, but he didn't,” she explained.

I’m fairly sure that my head spun around five times and my eyes bulged as I turned toward my son and exclaimed, “What! Why didn't I know about this?”

Daily I question what his homework assignments are, and if he has completed them. Had I heard anything about the folktale? Umm, no. I feel sure that he thought he could just not say anything, and it would magically disappear. He was absent, so the assignment never really existed for him.

I made it home without causing him any bodily harm, and yes, I even fed him. Knowing that he would rather eat dirt than write anything of length, I sat down with him to discuss his game plan. He spouted off the components of the folktales he had already read, and he selected his topic: the chameleon. Sounding like he had things under control, I shuffled him off to the computer.

After 50 minutes of, “Mom, can you come here?” and, “Mom, I need help,” and, “Mom, I don’t know what to write,” my head began to spin again. By golly, he was going to do this writing assignment on his own. I wasn't going to write it for him.

Eyes bulging, I laid down the law, “If you don’t get anything written in the next 10 minutes, you’re going to bed.” Exactly 10 minutes later he walked towards his room, head hung and defeated.

“Night, Mom.”

“You didn’t get anything written?”

“Just four words.”

After giving him the ask-God-for-help/get-a-good-night’s-sleep/pep talk, I checked the computer. Bless his heart. “Once upon a time” was all he had written.

With a fresh mind he tried again yesterday, and by the grace of God he eventually cranked out a clever tale. More importantly, he knows God helped him.

I asked for and received permission to post HIS WRITING. Enjoy!

“The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait for him, to those who seek him.” Lamentations 3:25

Why chameleons change color...

...original composition by my son, age 11

Once upon a time there was a chameleon that lived in the jungle. He was a trickster that always got away with everything. The other animals never knew he was responsible because he was never around at the crime scene, but the animals still wondered who did mischief all the time. Still, they waited to catch the animal that was responsible.

One day there was a contest that king lion was holding, he said whoever can hold their breath under water for 30 minutes shall win a potion that will grant you the ability change color. Chameleon thought that he could win this easily.

At the contest Monkey, Hippo, and Bobcat were at the pond. “I can easily win this contest,” said Monkey.

“Oh please,” exclaimed Hippo, “you can’t hold your breath for that long. I’m a shoe in for the contest.”

“You’re both wrong, I will win the contest,” said Bobcat proudly.

Then chameleon quickly stumbled upon them and quietly took a sip of the potion then went back in line. King Lion explained, ”The contest will now begin!”

“Here I go,” said Monkey. He suddenly dipped his head into the water for about 50 seconds, then Monkey gasped and flopped on the grass and panted.

“Next!” king lion shouted. Then Hippo tried it, but he did the same thing as Monkey. So did Bobcat. Soon it was Chameleon’s turn.

Chameleon rushed up to lion and asked, “May I put my whole body in the water?”

“Yes you may,” mumbled King Lion. So he strolled up to the water and dove in there. Little did they know that he changed his color and silently crawled out and crept into the bush beside it, but Monkey saw rustling in the bush and then he pounced in it and threw out Chameleon.

” Hey!” shouted Monkey, ”He is cheating.” Then Chameleon dashed over to the potion and drank the whole glass.

King Lion got very angry and shouted,” Get him, get him! He stole my potion!” Every one surrounded Chameleon, but then he changed his color and climbed up the tree. Because the animals did not see Chameleon, they searched the jungle but did not find head or tail of him. They finally gave up.

That is why chameleons change their color.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

life according to Spongebob...


As I lazily performed my Saturday morning bathroom routine of hair, make-up, and what-not, my daughter, as usual, entered to help. She selected my shoes (for herself), borrowed my eye shadow, and found some dog toys that had been MIA for weeks.

Because it is Saturday morning, I didn’t mind the entertaining, Grand Central-like atmosphere that she and the dog provided. But then suddenly it stopped, and she sat on the bathroom floor, fussing as only a four-year-old girl can.

Rubbing her finger angrily she cried, “I have sleaze and it’s itchy!”

“Your sleeves are itchy?” I questioned, chuckling to myself that she had confused the words.

“No!” she wailed, “Sleaze. I have sleaze!”

I stopped what I was doing. Watching her continue to struggle, I wondered if this was the beginning of low self-esteem issues. My otherwise undaunted social butterfly seemed adamant that she was infected with sleaze. How could this be? Determined to prevent a life-time of therapy, I tried again, “Are you talking about your sleeves?”

“Uh-uh.”

“Then I don’t know what you’re saying.”

“On Spongebob Squarepants,” she sniffed, “Sandy had sleaze and she was itchy and now I have it too!”

The light bulb turned on because, hallelujah, I have seen that episode. “Sweetheart,” I explained, “Sandy had FLEAS. You don’t have fleas, baby. You probably have dry skin. Let’s go get you some lotion.”

Magically the tears disappeared and an enthusiastic tone replaced the wine. “Okay, Mommy.”

I sighed with relief as I clasped her had in mine and walked to her room. She skipped.

"I can do all things through Christ who strenthens me." Phillipians 4:13

Thursday, January 3, 2008

more than that...


Resolution #2: read more

After picking up my daughter from school today, I noticed that her pink, Hello Kitty backpack was quite full. Once in the car and buckled, it took her a mere 2.5 seconds to unload the contents. Like a magpie, she gave me the 411 on her day and her apparent gifts.

She loves books, and she had been given two from her teachers - If You Give a Moose a Muffin and Today I Feel Silly. Nice choices to add to her mammoth collection. But there was more. Evidently the curriculum coordinator is circulating a bright yellow bag full of books through each student’s home, and this is our week. Somebody feels special!

All the way home, book after book, she confidently shared her rendition of each page with everyone in the car. So tonight to celebrate our new gifts, we added an extra book to the night-night ritual. She picked three books instead of just two.

Yesterday as I composed my first resolution, I knew that “read more” would be number two. By that, I originally was thinking more along the lines of finishing the last two Harry Potter books or reading some of the classics that I ignorantly avoided in high school. But as I read I Knew You Could, a poetic addition to the time-honored Little Engine tale, I embraced the full potential of what reading more means.


“But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Luke 18:16

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

it's time...


Resolution #1: save money

See if you can relate…for as long as I can remember, I have mentally noted areas in my life that deserve to go on the “needs improvement” list. Verbalizing them to specially selected friends and family would always be the next step. There was the I-need-to-lose-five-pounds resolution, regardless of my weight at the time. And, of course, there was the write-more-letters/send-more-cards resolution. Beautiful boxes of fine stationery lay patiently waiting, yet the personalized notes never seem to write themselves like I thought they would. What was that about something being paved with good intentions?

So…

Super excited after my first post, I knew that posting my declarations would increase the likelihood of their actual execution. We’ll see…here I go.

I’ve often said that instead of going to a therapist, I go shopping. Today I calculated how much I spent at Walmart last month; no therapist is worth that amount. Thus, specifically the resolution should and does state that I will no longer shop on Tuesdays. I’ve used the fact that the kids are usually with their other parent for the night as an excuse for too long.

Happily, I will replace my addiction with blogging and reading. Both seem to be free.

Around 5:00ish this afternoon I turned off the t.v. Blessed silence. My son read. My daughter colored, and I, for the first time in weeks, picked up a book as well. It was an amazing feeling, until suddenly I realized that I had fallen asleep and was being awakened to, “Mom, what’s for dinner?” Oops.

Hopefully this post produces a better effect.

Pray for me and my attempt to improve the quality of my life and the lives of my children. What is one of your resolutions? Let me know, and I will pray for you too.

“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” Proverbs 14:1