Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Last Thoughts.....

It is the last day of the second to last month of the year. I was kind of jolted into reality yesterday when one of my students was fretting over being made of fun. Katia is very sensitive and a bit of a perfectionist. She firmly told Rachel, "Don't make fun of me!"

"Rachel wasn't making fun of you, Katia," I counseled.

'But she will," she persisted.

"Has she ever made fun of you before?" I inquired.

"Ella made fun of me," she answered.

"That was Ella. That's not Rachel," I pointed out.

"Oh," she responded.

How often do we do that? I know I have plenty of times. Sometimes, I still do. As the old adage goes- History repeats itself. It certainly can, but I am reminded to take a good dose of my own advice to Katia.

I Corinthians 13:5,7 "it (love) keeps no record of wrongs. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

Saturday, November 27, 2010


“Try alcohol with an eye dropper. Just a few drops into the soil and then on the leaves to run down the stem,” Bob informed me.

“Half the plant has been devoured. I just hope it comes back,” I sighed.

So this morning I set about pouring about an inch of rubbing alcohol into a plastic container with a narrow tipped opening. Carefully I administered drops here and there into the soil and upon the leaves as Mr. Bob instructed. I’m almost at my wit’s end. The brightly colored pink, voluminous Begonia that welcomed all to my apartment in the summer is now half its original size with only a few blossoms sprouting forth.

First I thought they were aphids attacking it. Thus, I prayed for God to send a swarm of ladybugs. Last year, we couldn't’t get rid of the ladybugs. This year? Not one to be found. I couldn’t let this beautiful plant be eaten by these disgustingly, evil, white sticky bugs; whatever they were. Hence, on Wednesday I ventured to Home Depot’s garden section. One older lady overheard me explaining my dilemma to an employee and said she used something to mix with water and pour into the soil. “The spray stuff doesn’t really work,” she lamented.

The tall middle aged man scanned the shelves for what might help me. “We don’t have anymore. At this time of year, we’re all out. You're better off trying Adam’s,” he suggested.

Back out to my vehicle, I trudged, hoping I would find something to save my precious plant. At Adam’s I walked through the outdoor garden section filled with the aroma of fresh pine needles and brightly colored lights and decorations for Christmas. I found an older, short and stout man who directed me towards a container of systemic granules for insect control. “They sound like mealy bugs,” he commented. I didn’t know what they were. I just wanted them gone. I picked up the large container and proceeded to the checkout.

Once I got home, I read the directions and sprinkled my new weapon evenly over the soil before mixing it in and thoroughly watering. “I hope this works,” I muttered. Only time would tell if it would kill the invaders. Until then, I would need to keep a watchful eye. With each additional day, I have still found a few of those evil, destructive insects spattered amongst the leaves. I wiped them off and today I applied the rubbing alcohol. I can only hope this will be the end of the infestation, but will remain vigilant. After all, beauty in this life must be preserved and well guarded at all costs.

In Matthew 24:12-13, it reads, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

Last night, my friend, Stacey shared how she had to stand firm or be devoured. After three days of living in Morocco, she was wakened one night and felt something begin to grip her around the neck; an evil presence announced its displeasure. She called out to God and prayed. He answered her with, “What are you going to do?” Her response was one of sheer determination. She declared, “I will worship you God!” For the next few nights, Stacey endured similar attacks, and she fought back! She prayed. She danced. She worshipped. She won the battle. The evil presence left and did not return. From then on, she slept peacefully.

I'm not giving up on the battle over my Begonia and I am reminded I should not give up in other areas as well.

Timothy admonishes us to “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you-guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” 2 Timothy 1:14 and more importantly Jesus declared in Matthew 10:22,"he who stands firm til the end will be saved."

Undoubtedly, attacks will come, but there is help and there is hope.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Juggling, Pulling, Tugging and Ringing


I am overwhelmed by too much info. and activities! I just can't keep up with everything. I don't know how and when people find time to do everything they do. I am so far behind on reading blog posts. Yet I manage to check email daily. As a teacher, there's always work to be done-things to clean, organize, lessons to revise, new plans to be written, and children to pray for. My apartment? Well let's just say I'm glad I don't have the mess that comes with having a rather large, hairy pet lying around. I only do a thorough cleaning about once a month. Don't worry, the laundry gets done weekly, along with the dishes I wash daily. Exercise? Well, that's taken a back seat with the blog reading. What can I say, it's been a few weeks.

There's always something whispering or crying aloud, "Hey! Over here-check this out!" This brings me to question, "Where does all my time go? What is it that is constantly tugging at my heart and beckoning for my undivided attention?"

Luke 12:34 reads, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

In spite of the numerous conveniences we have with technology today, why are we so busy and always in a rush?

I need to slow down. I need to ponder and count the cost. It's time to reflect upon the year rapidly approaching commencement.

What did I do with my treasury and my time?
Was it worth it?
Where am I headed?
What do I hope to achieve and by when?

In the upcoming new year, 2011, I will continue teaching and juggling the many tasks at work, as well as with church, and time spent with family and friends, but I know I will also need to re prioritize some things. I can't do everything.

"..since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."- Hebrews 12:1.

As I approach finishing this post, my thoughts race back to 8:15 a.m. this morning when I was traveling the long and narrow county route to work. A blue and white tractor trailer began to pull right out in front, blocking the lane I was driving in. I laid on the horn and swerved into the left lane to avoid crashing as there was no time to stop. The trailer had ceased etching forward and I continued driving north, both stunned and relieved. Thank God! Thank God no one else was in the left lane and the trailer stopped. Thank God I was spared, but what for?

As we enter another holiday season of thankfulness and celebration, one ought to grapple with the question- 'What for?' .

After all, there will always be tasks, relationships, and requests to juggle. Not to mention, the pulling and tugging of everything else will refuse to sleep.

Today and everyday I live, I can choose what for. I can and should purpose in my heart what treasure is most worthy of investment because tomorrow is not promised.

" Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." (John Donne, 1624)

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Zoom in
I see a single detail
one item
one or more colors
one moment in time

Zoom out-

I see many details, items
a mosaic or kaleidoscope of colors
perhaps a whole life's journey

As a painter, so God paints
His perfect picture for our lives
He has an image, a final destiny and product in mind

BUT I don't always like the colors and techniques He uses
and yet, I am the creation with my own picture in mind
viewing my own heart's desires as things of more importance
and I don't understand

I see odd shapes with the artist's painting
I can't imagine where He is going with everything
and yet at the same time, I know that at the arrival of completion
it will be clear and an explanation given,
the artist's purpose and interpretation will be unveiled

I think of some of our great, old oaks at the River
like Marge and Bill
well into their 70's or 80's
They have walked many miles
and seen far more and better than I can
They've been given the perspective of zooming out over the years
Marge and Bill can reflect only because they have travelled so many years and miles

Why must I be in this place for this time and for so long?
Thus far there have been times of great pain-
the passing of my father, broken relationships, and hopes long deferred
I've endured disappointments with limited perspective
I want to know more and better understand all the whys
and what in the world He is doing
I can't see and I think it is fear and anger that has held me back.

Where will I proceed to next?
How can I get there?

I have hated the outcome of so many different things
Although in God's perspective they may be a necessary detail
a far bigger puzzle than I can comprehend or imagine

There are some things I don't like one bit!
And yet I have no idea of the final outcome or product
How does one let go and let God
when He has allowed or ordained so many horrible things
that take place in our world today?

How does one trust and believe God's ways are best?
How when God's ways always seem to include loss and pain along the way?
When and where is the silver lining?
When and where is the restoration and redemption?

When God? When will that ever be made clear to us?
In this life? On this side of Heaven?
Often it is after we have zoomed out
somewhere down the road
Yes, so I've been told
down the road there will be loving arms,
holding answers to our questions

But what do we do until then?

His response?

Upon my completion of the above, written out during Sunday morning worship, my dear friend, Liz shared Psalm 34!

Verse 19 reads:"Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but He delivers them out of them all."

Verse 5 reads:, "Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame."

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Sunshine Day

Psalm 67:1 "May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, "

That verse speaks volumes to me ever since I arrived home yesterday from the statewide conference for ESL teachers. At 5:15 a.m. yesterday morning the radio alarm began to sing and I stumbled out of bed, making my way to the blue and white plaid love seat in my living room for my morning meditation and reading. It was hard to focus.

My prayers went something like this:

"God please let everything go smoothly. Help me find a parking spot and the room and then I need to set the equipment up. I pray the Internet service works well and I remember everything. I pray I have confidence, courage, and boldness to do this and that I would have the same peace I had when I went in for my very first major surgery. I pray I have that peace again;a warm blanket of peace that completely covered me. I did not feel nervous then, I pray that when it comes time, I'll be able to feel that same peace again and deliver this presentation well, but first is getting there and finding a good parking spot."

I spent the next hour getting dressed, primping in front of the mirror, and preparing breakfast while I rehearsed in my mind what I needed to do. I even had time to make my bed that morning. I tried visualizing myself walking into the room and setting everything up with out any problems. That was difficult, so I tried to imagine how much more relaxed I would feel while driving home after it was all over.

This was my very first time presenting a workshop at a statewide conference. I had practiced the presentation in front of my colleagues at my home school, but today would be in front of new folks I didn't know, in an unfamiliar place, and I had no idea how many would choose to come. This was really stepping out of the box for me. It was not on my list of new things to do this year, but when the opportunity presented itself, I thought, "Why not? I'll give it a try." Thus, I submitted a proposal to the conference committee this past spring.

Conference day had finally arrived. At 6:30 a.m., I gathered up my lap top, the document camera, my pull along suitcase containing all the additional materials and headed out the door into the frosty cold air. When I glanced up at the sky, it was pitch black with the little dipper lit up brightly. The windows of my SUV were covered heavily with frost. It took about 10 minutes or so just to let my vehicle warm up and for the frost to melt away. Soon enough, I was on my way, headed north to the Crowne Plaza Hotel. During the next hour, I observed darkness change to light as the sun came up. I was hoping that would be my spiritual experience with this new endeavor I was embarking upon.

There was little traffic, so I made it in time and found the parking garage right next to the hotel. I hate parking garages. I think they are creepy places. It was jam packed. I had to drive up to the sixth level before finding a spot. There were a few other vehicles in front and behind me, looking for spots as well. Luckily, we all found something and rode in the elevator together.

Once inside, everyone was very nice and helpful. After signing in and receiving the conference materials, I was directed towards the ballroom for the keynote speaker. While transitioning I spotted the Imagine Learning display amongst other booths in the hallway. I went up to the gentlemen, the same two men from the elevator, and said, "I use this!! It's a great program."

They were so encouraged to hear some one's students were benefiting from it. They invited me to their demo. workshop at 9:00 a.m. to come and share how the computer program has been useful to my own students. I agreed. Guess where it was? The same room I would be presenting in later that day. Whew! I found the room and the projector and cables were already set up! I felt so relieved. The rest of the day I attended a few other workshops and grabbed a bite for lunch in Kelsey's, one of the Crowne's restaurant. After lunch, I walked back out to the parking garage and discovered many of the cars were gone. I took the elevator to the 6th floor, hopped in my SUV to drive closer to the floor level, and got the materials I needed for my presentation.

When it came time for me to set up, I was able to get the document camera connected to the projector and my laptop as well as lay out all the other materials. I was on my way and I didn't feel nervous. Instead, I was calm and excited to share how I use this new technology in my classroom. Slowly, about ten to twelve people filled up the room and picked up a handout. One of the participants, Mr. Hill, was a man whom I've crossed paths with before and assisted me in translating for parent teacher conferences.

Over the next hour, I demonstrated how to use the document camera for reading writing, and art activities and it was FUN! At the end, Mr. Hill commented, "Thank you so much for doing this. Didn't she do a great job?!" Everyone clapped and I smiled thinking of the grace God had shown me for that day. It was a sunshine day. His face shone upon me, letting all the details fall into place and run smoothly.

It is humbling because I know He didn't have to do that. He doesn't have to do anything for you or me, but He chose to show His grace and grant success in a new endeavor. Our God is a gracious God!