Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lot's of Ladybugs

I reached inside the small party gift bag my student, J.T. gave me, to pull out a rectangular turquoise box. I was thinking, "Wouldn't it be neat if there was a frog inside?" Ever since I discovered Kermit at a yard sale a few years back, I just I love frogs. I lifted the top off. It was not a frog, but a ladybug key chain instead. This was just as good, if not better. This past school year was the year of ladybugs. I've never seen so many!

In the fall, my students and I saw several crawling on the outside brick wall of our school. Bright, red with tiny black dots; they all congregated together. They were trying to get inside. Upon arriving home later that day, I discovered several outside my apartment building on the door frame. Then later in the week, some had found their way into my apartment. Time of year? Probably. Winter was on it's way and no doubt they were wanting to get inside for the warmth, but I wonder if there was a deeper significance. I like to think there is or was.

Ladybugs are indeed lovely and seen as a sign of good luck, but I didn't know much more than that until I did some of my own research online. I was enlightened to find they have a very short life cycle of only a few weeks, yet can reproduce hundreds of generations within one year. They are also great for your garden.

When I showed the key chain to my friend, Rita, she remembered the influx of ladybugs I was bombarded with late last year. I said, "It must have some significance, but not sure what."

She replied, "Ladybugs are protectors. They protect gardens." I had never heard that term used to describe them before, but I now know they eat aphids which can destroy a garden.

I love these amazing creatures! They are brightly colored, delicate, useful insects which multiply like crazy. They are known to reproduce anywhere from three to six hundred generations in one year. That's a lot of multiplying to say the least!

They are inspirational in the sense that I pray my life will add such beauty and protection to those in need and bear much fruit. Therefore, I will always welcome lot's of ladybugs.

Friday, June 18, 2010

What's It Worth?

"Sunday, Monday, Happy Days; Tuesday, Wednesday, Happy days; Thursday, Friday, Happy days; Saturday! What a day! Rockin' all week with you!" Do you know the song? Do you remember? Was it a favorite? It was of mine. As a kid, I looked forward to watching the 1970's hit series "Happy Days" every evening at 5:00 p.m.

It was an all American family living in a nice neighborhood with Marion, the Mom, Howard, the Dad, and Joanie and Richie, their two teen age kids. They had problems, like anyone, but always seemed to have them worked out and wrapped up by the end of the show. For the most part, they seemed to enjoy lot's of 'Happy Days' together when life was much simpler than what it is today. The mom and dad were together, the kids were not being cursed out and beaten, and everyone appeared to not only love each other, but really like each other, too. The parents, Marion & Howard, told their kids when they were proud of them. They had heart warming chats and were not afraid to hug.

How many of us can say that was true or is true of our own families today? Unfortunate as it is, it is not the norm today. Not in 2010, nor other decades like the 80's or 90's. It certainly was not true of mine and others I know. Home was not a happy place to say the least; nor did we share many happy days together. Like many children, my parents divorced when I was 13. There was much turmoil in our home up to that point and even after. I wanted it to be different, but didn't have much say or control. As cliche as it sounds, I now marvel at families that stay, play and pray together. What an amazing feat!

Yet, I struggle with the verse in Psalm 139:16, "..your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days were ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." One of the definitions of the word ordained in Webster's dictionary is "to order or command". Would God ordain, order, or command people to be born into a family that is not intact or falls apart somewhere on the road of life? In light of what Job once said, "Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?" (Job 2:10), how does I or anyone reconcile this with the goodness of God and His love? I don't know. I don't understand it. It frustrates me to no end.

So what do I do then? What does anyone do who has been through tough times? Is there a purpose in suffering? What can I do? What can you do? We can change the future for ourselves and hopefully someone else, too.

Recently, my church hosted an orientation for people interested in becoming foster parents. In my hometown, more than half of the children in foster care are not living in a home like setting. These are children who can't stay with their parents simply because it's not safe or they are unable to care for them.

When my father was unable to care for me any longer, I had a Christian family that stepped in and said, "You can stay with us as long as you need to." That was over 20 years ago. Today, we are family. I am so appreciative of them and to God that they were willing and able to care for me. If it were not for God's grace in my life and their sacrifice, I do not know where I would be today. I have a truly blessed life.

Now, my hope is to inspire others to reach out, and care for children in dire situations. My dream is that more children will have a place of safety and refuge to go; a loving family that will care for them; that people will serve as Jesus' hands and feet and put their faith into action.

I can not change my past, but I can speak on behalf of the children who need a voice. I can inspire. I can share my story. And just maybe there will be more kids who get to experience some bright, new, 'happy days'.

In that case, I would have to say, it was well worth it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rox A Boxen Takes Me Back

Projected on a large screen was the story, Rox A Boxen by Alice Mclerran. It is a great tale of children using their imaginations to play outside in the sunshine. I was enchanted with the story line and objects the children used. Objects like rocks or pebbles, not the plastic stuff supplied by Fisher Price or other well known companies.

After the read aloud commenced, one of the directors of our Early Childhood Conference, asked us to take seven minutes to write about a memorable childhood play experience we had before the age of ten. That was easy. Hide and Seek, of course. Growing up, it was an all time favorite in my neighborhood.

I used to play it with my friends, outside on a warm summer's day. In our neighborhood, there were tons of places to hide. When the person, who was 'it' finished counting, they would then holler out, "Two box of powder, two box of soap. Whoever not ready, holler 'Billy goat'".

Some of us hid behind a car or a tree, in green shrubs, or under a front porch. The nearest car in a driveway or the front steps of some one's stoop, were usually designated home base. The sun was hot as ever, but I relished the cool breezes that would blow and rustle the leaves of maple trees that lined our street. Occasionally, a car would pass by, but there was hardly any traffic on our narrow side street, so we were able to run in or across it with little to no worries. It was a childhood game, often played numerous times for hours on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

It is one I have taught to my nieces and nephews since they were wee toddlers. We continue to play it until this day, even though my eldest nephew will turn 15 tomorrow. I have yet to meet a child who doesn't love to be sought after and found. It is SO MUCH FUN playing hide and seek.

It makes me think, that everyone must love to be sought after and found. How many of us continue to experience this today? Do we know the 'Hound of Heaven' who sniffs us out? Are we hoping He'll find us sooner or later? Do we seek for Him?

Matthew 18:3-4 reads:" I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."