Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Dream

Offenses long forgotten.
The greatest of needs,
belonging in a family.
Happiness complete as can be.

Work valued and regarded
as the missing piece to a puzzle.
Never asking, why bother or
what's the point of this struggle?

Utopia, perhaps with
fresh water and new wine gushing.
Blue skies empty of threat.
Soft, pink peonies blossoming.

Where, oh where can I find this place?
My heart wishes and dreams.
Suddenly, it occurs what was lost.
We long for Eden, where everything beams.

Grown Ups-Written 11/30/11

Always rushing,
checking off lists.
Fumbling through papers,
Rushing to get kids.
Eating a bite here
and there in between.
The only time they sit?
To look at a screen.

Is being a grown up fun?
It looks really hard.
I'd rather play with blocks
or go out in the yard.

What are they thinking?
Are they mindful of me?
Sometimes their eyes
look lost in the sea.

Being an adult seems
not so much fun.
There's so much to do
and they never seem done.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Sixty dollars buys a key
Unlocks a door to virtual reality
Cowboys, soldiers, war torn lands
Adventure waiting for all who enter

Ten minutes here, or twenty there
Hopping time zones or characters
Good and evil reduced to the screen
Life at home, safe as can be

Where have all the heroes gone?
Old ones dead and new ones where?
Safe in bed or a reclining chair?
Carefree as unicorns in magical lands?

Old ones died exploring or fighting
No guarantees of anything provided
Their legacies lived out and written
Freedom purchased for us left behind

Battles of injustice loom far and near
Who will fight now and have no fear?
What will it take to open more doors?
Is there a key to turning virtual off?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Untimely-written 10/29/11

A crumb pecked by a blue jay
Fat and happy, he gobbled it
Blue jay outside, me inside
The sky turning gray

Hours later his perch unseen
Globs of white fluff now heaped
Forcing all upright to hang low

I bundle up and venture outside
I shuffle through five inches of
this most new and unwelcomed guest

Moments later, I'm startled
A loud cracking noise echoes
the breaking and splintering
make me freeze in my tracks

A sparrow darts from a bush
Equally shaken and unsure
Where can he now rest?

How many more will fall?
No one knows, but all pray
Our creation is groaning
My heart yearning for spring

Jake-written 10/24/11

The message was shocking,
"Had to put Jake down Monday,
Congestive heart failure and edema."
My heart sunk with great sadness.

My mind raced backwards to two weeks ago
when I stood beside this old, great one.
Eye to eye we stood, watching the sunset.

I stroked his soft chestnut, brown coat,
along his neck and under his mane.
His eyes contained such warmth and depth.
Thirty years he spent and graced this place.

A young teenage girl bought and trained him.
Children loved him, herds respected him.
Me, I simply communed with him.

After feeding him carrots he lowered his head.
His white striped forehead butted against me,
"More. More.", he whispered, only the bag was empty.
So together we watched the sky splashed with color.

Brillant shades of pink, orange, yellow and blue,
a glorious sunset over New York's Catskills.
One week later the sun went down on my new friend.

Children in Sunshine-Written 10/6/11

Have I told you I love it?
Have I told you how much?
Children engaged outside,
marveling at nature's wonders,
sketching the beauty they see.

To save Earth, they must love it.
To love Earth, they must know it.
To know it, they must spend time in it.
They must experience it.

I pray my students, my children,
will love and cherish it.
May its majesty overwhelm them,
as a rushing waterfall spilling over or
the sweet song of bluebirds and insects.

I pray they love it enough to care
as a new mother watches and nurtures.
I pray they share its goodness and
leave it intact for more to gaze upon.

I pray I see children's children
basking in warm sunshine,
mesmerized by the beauty they see.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Nature's Opus

Sing to me in the morning
Sing to me through the night
Birds beckon the sunrise
Crickets welcome moonlight

Heaven's orchestra of creatures
sent to bring a sweet, joyful tune
announcing a new day with sun
Commencing bad ones with the moon

Faithful and persistent creatures,
Hidden birds and insects
Cyclical and melodic sounds of
lively musicians bedecked

Each carries a different note
All blending in harmony together
Background sounds many tune out,
Constants bringing comfort forever

An opus I can't live without
No need for radio or t.v
I simply open my windows and listen
It's nature's song ringing free

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Battle and Loss

Like an old friend quietly standing by
The great evergreen was always there
I could glance outside my office window
and see it's wispy,green needles hang

Hundreds of feet into the air it stood
Several in diameter its branches spread
A shelter and resting place for many
A constant beam of strength to me

Now only a two foot stump remains
Two other logs lay on the ground
The wispy, green needles no more
Birds and squirrels left nests

Why was the tree cut down?
Across from it new oil tanks wait
Animals roam elsewhere searching
Can they find another place to dwell?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

After the Storm

It is officially three weeks now after Hurricane Irene has passed through our communities. This past Friday I was able to purchase a new, used vehicle. I say new, used because I never buy new, only used, but it is new to me. I've learned a lot which brings home the truth of the old adage- Hindsight is 20/20.

Here are some of the lessons I've learned-

1. Storms do pass. Two hours after my vehicle was flooded, the rain had stopped. The water receded and the sun came out. However, the damage was already done. This leads me to my next lesson.

2. Tis better to dwell and park on higher ground. No one had ever seen the water rise that much or that quickly. I had no clue the parking lot would fill with almost four feet of water and neither did anyone else. I was worried about the power lines and trees coming down, but hurricanes mean WATER just as much as they mean WIND.

3. Know thy neighbors. At 10:30 a.m. there was just a puddle in the parking lot. Within a half an hour the water began to fill the whole lot with about five to six inches of water. One of the girls in the other section of the building knew it was my vehicle that was out there, but she didn't know which apartment I was in, so she couldn't knock on my door to let me know. After the storm had passed and my vehicle was towed out of the
lot with a backhoe, I learned the people in the basement apartments had lost almost everything. The water was waist high. I wished I had talked to them more. If I had known the water was rising down their in their apartments, I would've gotten my vehicle out of the lot sooner and helped them try to salvage more of their things. A lesson hard learned.

4. Respect and revere nature. I've always loved water whether it be to swim in, wade at the beach, take a hot shower or listen to it's melody while falling against my roof and windows. I have never feared it until now. Not fear in the sense that I run in terror from it, but there is more of a reverent fear I hold now. It is not to be trifled with. I wonder how many of the natural catastrophes we are experiencing today are due to our poor stewardship of the Earth we have been entrusted to respect and care for. It is as if everything is shaking and screaming-"Enough!"

5. It's a beautiful thing to live debt free! I have begun to understand this more over the past year or so, but having my vehicle counted as a total loss reinforced this feeling even more. Many told me that if I had a loan on my vehicle still, the insurance would have only given me enough to cover the loan and I would have nothing or very little left over to go shopping with.

6. It pays to save. Luckily I had some money I had saved for a rainy day so to speak. Good thing I did. I was able to take what the insurance company gave me and use some of my savings to purchase another vehicle.

7. God's grace supplies. After two weeks of talking to people, looking online and many prayers, one of my doctor's saw my mom and passed on the message from a patient of his. The man was looking to sell his father's car. His father had passed away earlier this year, so he was just looking to get rid of it. It's younger than what my other vehicle was and has less miles on it.

8. Cars are not closets. In my other vehicle, I threw anything and everything in it. When it got flooded I had to take all of that stuff out. Everything was drenched with yucky, brown, creek water. Blankets and clothes could be washed, but everything else I had to throw away. Eventually everything you put inside a car comes out sooner or later. It's better to travel light and not keep anything in it that is really important to you.

9. Do your homework. This is the first time I have ever researched the safety and reliability of cars online. Since I had to buy something new/used and I didn't want a car payment again, I had to do my homework to make sure that whatever I was going to buy would be something I could afford and would last me awhile. I also had my mechanic check over the vehicle to see how good it was. He gave it thumbs up. Decisions are well worth making informed.

10. Good does come out of bad. I would never wish this experience on anyone, but in reflecting I've come to realize there was a lot of good that came out of it. Not only do I have a slightly newer car with fewer miles on it, I've gleaned lessons that no one can take away from me. I also experienced receiving great kindness from people who were willing to help me in the interim of losing and obtaining another vehicle.

Storms come and go, but so does the warmth from the sun. I have felt the sunshine again and I am reminded of God's grace in and through it all.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Do you hear what I hear?
Like nails pounding in a fence
So are the words of a gossip
Spewing forth, piercing another

"What kind of people are they?"
"Don't they have any consideration?"
"What filthy slobs they are!"

Like a horse without a bridle
Our tongue and thoughts wander
How does one steer them?

Words thrust forward like a knife
Are they true?
Are they kind?
Are they necessary?

Nails are for boards, not flesh
A tool for building not wounding,
conversation, intimacy

Sunday, August 28, 2011

In the Midst of the Storm

By late morning I heard wheels spinning out in the front yard and then felt my building shake for a few seconds. I bent down to look out my kitchen window and saw a rather tall, middle aged man trying to push his truck out of the mud. He was driving across the lawn and got stuck. "Why is he driving across the lawn?" I wondered aloud. The curiosity drove me to investigate closer. So I grabbed my keys, slipped on my pink crocs and headed down and out into Hurricane Irene. I walked down and to the left and saw almost two feet of water covering the parking lot. "Agh!! Oh, my God!" I gasped. The parking lot was quickly filling. I rushed over, got inside and started my Escape hoping I could some how drive it out before it got worse. There was a black sedan to the left of me, so I could not turn left to pull up onto the pavement and drive over the lawn as the truck did.

By this time the man from the truck and our superintendent were out there. The young girl from upstairs came down to get her vehicle out as well. They began to push her silver toyota up onto the black top path while she steered. They saw me backing up and one called to me, "Don't back up, the exhaust will go under." I stopped. Again and again I blurted aloud, God help me! I don't know what to do!" The guys were able to push the toyota all the way up and the young girl drove across the lawn. I slightly hit the gas and my Escape pulled forward and along side the building as I steered right. All I could see was water surrounding everything. I paused for a second wondering if I should park there as the water was not as deep, but I needed to get out of the parking lot. There was no telling when the water would stop rising or the rain would let up. I continued to steer right hoping to drive up the hill and get out. It stalled and I began to sense the water moving the vehicle. It began to seep in through the edges of the doors and fill the bottom. I was stuck. My vehicle was stuck and I was trapped! "Jesus help me!" I screamed over and over with tears streaming down my face as I panicked. I pushed on my door and it would not open. I began to grab what I could-CD's, first aid kit and insurance papers. The water was now up to my ankles. I rolled down the passenger side window and yelled to the guys on the path, "Help me! I need help." They waded across the three feet of water. When they reached me, the taller guy said, "Put it in neutral." I grabbed the shift and began to pull hard, but it would not move. "I don't know what to do!" I blurted aloud. By now he could see it was in park and said, "Leave it." I pushed on the passenger's side door and it opened. More water came flooding in. With a few items clutched in my left arm, the superintendent reached out his hand to grab my right one and helped me step out. The cold water began to soak the bottom of my gray gym shorts. I stepped away from the vehicle while pushing the door closed.
Pushing one foot in front of the other, I followed the two men as we waded through the flooded parking lot onto the blacktop path. "Thank you for helping," I cried.

The rain continued to pour down drenching my black t-shirt and hair. I began to shiver from the cold air and sheer terror of being engulfed by so much water. I gazed in disbelief at my white escape submerged by more than three feet of water. This was the kind of stuff I've seen on television so many times, not in my own parking lot. I turned away and stammered up to my apartment. What else could I do?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Oh, How They Love!

I'm somewhat torn this evening. I've not had much time to write this month, but have been inspired a few times through God's own amazing creatures. The question for me is which vignette do I share? Perhaps I can bring them together in one piece as a testimony of the great beauty and love that exists in this precious Earth entrusted to us.

With temperatures dropping into the sixties this evening, I ventured out with my friend, Patti to stroll through some of the gardens at a nearby mansion. Brightly colored roses, zinnias, marigolds amongst numerous species of plants decorated the grounds. The air was crisp and dry. "Oh, these are just gorgeous!" Patti exclaimed.

"Look at these. I never knew marigolds could get that big!" I added with delight. We continued to "Ooo!" and "Ahhh!" for another ten minutes before exiting through the gate and returning to the paved road. Canadian geese were scattered everywhere while grazing. "I think they look so elegant with their markings. They're very striking," I remarked.

Patti agreed, "They are."

"Earlier when I went to see my friend Keith I noticed two by the pond near his apartment and one had something wrong with its wing. It was sticking out oddly, but not moving it. Its mate was right beside it. It reminded me of the two drakes and lame hen that visited my sister's yard for bird seed. The drakes would hover around her, keeping watch while she had her fill. My mom told me they will be with her for life," I shared. I could tell by Patti's heartfelt expression that she was equally touched by the example of love and loyalty shown. These creatures don't leave their wounded trailing behind. There is no such concept of survival of the fittest in their repertoire. Which brings me to another amazing creature, the horse.

This past year I read a book entitled, "Hope Rising" by Kim Meeder. For over twenty five years she has been rescuing abused and neglected horses while inviting children and their families that have been equally beat up to come and enjoy learning to care for these animals and how to ride them. The collection of anecdotes inspired me to learn about these massive gentle giants and take some riding lessons from a well respected teacher and trainer nearby.

Three lessons into it and I am hooked! Superstar, a ten year old dark Gelding is still being rehabilitated. When Amy, my instructor got him from the auction he was poorly nourished with scrapes on his face and back. He was on his way to slaughter, but she bought him this past February at the auction. Now I, along with other novices, get to ride him.

Before my riding lesson begins, I spend time grooming him before tacking him up. This past Wednesday, I led him out of his stall for the very first time. He patiently stood in place as I groomed him. His brown eyes were soft and curious. He lifted his head and looked into my eyes while sniffing. I fed him a few carrots and proceeded to brush the side of his neck with the grooming brush. He stood in place without twitching or stomping. I can only gather he enjoyed this part of our time together. When I finished, his dark coat shone brightly and felt as soft as silk. I wrapped my arms around his neck and rubbed my face against his freshly brushed fur while hugging him. He just stood there, letting me embrace him while stroking his black mane.

During the lesson, he walked when I told him to walk and trotted when I told him to trot with only a slight nudge of my heels. Up, down, up, down, I posted around the arena. One time, then a second and finally a third time we circled around the indoor arena. After each lap, all I had to do was say, "Hoe." and he would come to a gentle stop. I did not have to pull back on the reigns at all. Gently and obediently he did whatever I asked.

Amy, my instructor, said, "His mouth is like butter." Nobody knows what he endured or enjoyed before Amy brought him to her barn. However, there's no doubt he is grateful for the care and attention he receives now. He will lovingly follow Amy around the arena unless I steer him otherwise.

Somehow, three ducks, some geese and one rescued Gelding have all touched me through their testimonies of love, loyalty, and endurance. Life has been anything but kind to these creatures and yet they forge onwards and upwards, doing only that which they know how to do. Loving each other and responding to the love shown to them with infinite loyalty.

I've often wondered, "If animals could talk like people do and voice their opinions, what would they say?". Now I don't have to wonder. Their actions say it all-"This is how I love thee in spirit and in truth, standing and walking beside thee in obedience and gratitude."

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Rain

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Again I say rejoice!
The sudden coolness of earth and sky
Heavens gates finally open wide

I open all my windows
Soft breezes blow
The scent of dampness comes right in
Skies flood, pouring down with rain
I hear shh, shhh, shhh all afternoon

Raindrops frolick everywhere
pouring, dancing, rejoicing, refreshing
I marvel at their beauty
Silver beads from heaven
Hydrogen and oxygen combined
Rained down in celebration
A gift freely and abundantly given

Why, oh why?
Then I listened
Birds sang and car tires played
tweet, tweet, swish, swish
Burnt grass and cracked dirt swallowed
Gulp, gulp, gulp
Shrubbery and flowers perked up with a smile
Bing, bing, bing
Creeks outside rustled and streamed
Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh
Everything breathed a sigh of relief
The balls of refreshment only giggled
Hee, hee, hee

I peered closer at the drops on my window
Then I realized they live to die
Sent freely from heaven above
Everything, everywhere sucks them up
Slurp, slurp, slurp
They cry aloud
"We cleanse, we decorate, we nourish all life!"

Earth abounds while they dissolve
Their remnants only vaporize
Back to the heavens
Saved for another day
A day when we'll cry,
"Rain! Rain! Come back and play!"

Rain invites and appeals
Join us! Join us!
Refresh and rejoice!"
I wonder- How? What can I do?
How does anyone refresh and rejoice?
Live and yet die to come back again?
I wonder and ponder
Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm

Amazing and precious
The life all Earth needs
For pleasure and purpose
Rain falling, falling down on me
drip, drip, drip

Friday, July 15, 2011

What She Lives...

Four year old Chris leaned over to kiss his 5 month old sister, Elena and tenderly affirm her. "You're so gorgeous, Elena!", he lovingly repeated over and over as he held her cheeks and rubbed his nose against hers. She clutched his cheeks in return and babbled away as she stared into his eyes. I marveled at the gentleness and genuine affection he showered upon his newest sibling. I could only surmise that surely he saw his mom and dad interact this way. As I sat on the picnic bench holding her on my lap, I asked Chris, "Do you hear your Dad say that to Mommy?"

"No, he just says she's having a good hair day," he retorted back. I looked up to see their mom, Natalie, standing less than a foot away while holding their two year old brother, Nate burst into hysterics with me. "Does he ever say she's having a bad hair day?" I inquired.

"No, he doesn't say that. He just says she's having a good hair day," he answered.

After our snack and walk alongside the lake, Natalie and I secured each of the kids into their car seats and headed back to her house. Nate had instantly fallen asleep once the vehicle was in motion, while Chris stared straight ahead at the highway before us. Elena was quiet for a bit before starting to fuss and then little by little, wail. Poor Chris wasn't sure what to do. I prompted him to hold her hand and try talking to her. He sheepishly gazed at me as if to say, "I'm not sure this is my department." Nevertheless, he complied and gently grasped her hand and began to repeat those tender words of affirmation once again, "Elena, you're gorgeous." Unfortunately, Elena was not comforted by this in the least.

"Sometimes, I've had to pull over to nurse her, but we're almost home so I won't do that. She may have a dirty diaper also. When they're that little there are usually only a few reasons they do that. You just have to troubleshoot," Natalie explained. Amazingly enough, Nate continued to sleep with his head cocked to the left and downward. While after a few mintues of unsuccessful attempts to soothe his sister, Chris turned his gaze towards the front once again. His words and presence seemed to have little effect.

Upon arriving to their home, Elena's sobs finally ceased. I climbed out of the metallic colored SUV's passenger side and opened the back door to see her face streaming with tears. As soon as I unfastened her and lifted her up, she breathed a sigh of relief. Natalie unfastened Nate and hoisted him up onto her shoulder and then reached down to help Chris undo his buckle. We carried the two inside, while Chris trailed behind. Sure enough, Elena's diaper was soaked.

During the ride back to Natalie's, I briefly pondered, "What's the lesson here? Is there one?" We didn't know exactly what was paining Elena so that she began to wail, but after she was lifted up, held and had her soggy wet diaper changed, she was back to feeling and looking oh so gorgeus. It was only moments away, yet for her the time it took to get home and be lifted up and out of her distress, seemed to be an eternity. No doubt, as she grows older, she'll learn what it means to wait and how to do it patiently without crying out in angst. She'll learn and experience plenty of good and bad hair days. However, for right now she is still learning that she is cared for, lifted up, loved and so gorgeous.

Upon reflection, I know some days I'm able to do the lifting up and caring for another. Not only am I able to do it, but I find it to be a pleasure. Yet, I won't deny there are those other days when my heart cries out in angst to be lifted up, nurtured, and told I'm so gorgeous, too. For now, I am still learning not so much what I live as children often do, but how to live inspite of what I've lived and all the bad hair days in between.

Perhaps it even means carefully choosing what I will now accept and grab hold of. Who knows? In turn,I may afford myself some more of those good hair days, knowing I am cared for and circumstance is always subject to change. Perhaps it is time to put childish things away while maintaining the innocence and faith of a child. Perhaps one can live as a child without reason to doubt, but one that gleefully basks in the warmth of surrounding love. Perhaps. Yes, perhaps I'll need to think on it some more.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

To the Left or the Right?

"I just wish you guys could get a break. You've had so much over the years with health stuff, one thing after the next," I murmured.

My dad grinned and replied,"Yeah, but I don't see that. God has blessed us so much! When I think of everything He's given us, to have a little of this other stuff, it's OK. Everybody has something. I used to wonder what it would be like if I got cancer and now I have it. I'm OK."

I couldn't really grasp what he was fully saying. I know they have good jobs, a nice home, kids and grandkids, along with great neighbors, but I hate the thought of them having to physically suffer with something else.

Over the years, my mom has had multiple surgeries from her shoulders to her back and down to her knees. My dad broke his back years ago and later had his spine fused. No fun! I remember seeing them move or walk ever so gingerly and their faces grimacing from the pain at times.

However, I never saw them quit or give up on life. In spite of everything they've been through, they have found times to enjoy kayaking, gardening, arts and crafts and lot's of time with their grandkids. They even have a show stopping clown act they do together.

My mom has a pink, shaggy clown wig, while my bald dad wears a rainbow colored curly afro. Both have very stylish red clown shoes and noses. My mom wears a purple jumpsuit with a pink collar and Dad wears black and orange pants with suspenders. She paints faces. He creates animal balloons. Their clown names? Melody and Scrambles.

Moments after my dad's response to my comment, an idea popped into my head. A burst of energy rushed through me as I remembered what a nut he can be. I suggested to him, "Hey, the next time you go for chemo. you should wear your clown wig."

His eyes sparkled and a devilish smile began to shine. He exclaimed, "Oh, that would be hilarious! I could walk in and say-'Hey, look at what you guys did to me! Last week I had no hair and now look at me!" My mom just rolled her eyes when we informed her of the plan. My brother chuckled so hard his eyes began to squint.

And so the fun has begun. The journey marked ahead appears long and somewhat treacherous with corners we can not yet see around. This is the track we are on as a family. To our left is a rather stealth and mountainous diagnosis of Stage 4 cancer. To our right is a cool stream flowing with firmly planted fruit trees and bright yellow sunflowers facing towards the sun. Each friend and family member are like those trees and flowers, providing nourishment, shade and beauty.

It is the strength of such beauty that draws me to peer closer out the window on my right. I can not help but gaze in its direction. I glanced to the mountains across the aisle out the left. Majesty is present there, but the eyes of my heart are magnetized by the steady flow of the crisp, blue stream. Blue monarchs circle above it and the heads of bright, yellow sunflowers are lifted up in the distance. The ride is more than OK. The outpouring of love and support mixed with laughter is nothing short of beautiful.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Do you hear what I hear?
"You need to prepare yourself. This is serious."
"You can't listen to them. Don't believe everything you hear."

Do you see what I see?
A man standing six feet tall
fit and trim
riding bikes with his grandchildren

Can you believe what I read?
Stage 4
lung cancer
Chemo and radiation on Wednesday

"No, you're not driving," his wife reprimands him.
The son chimes in-
"I'll go with him. He'll be fine."
"Do you want me to go?" the daughter asks.
"No!" they respond in unison.
The groceries would wait
There was enough salad for another day anyway

Six months of chemo
5 days a week radiation
How can it be?
Where will it lead?

There's nothing to get about this
Like the day the twin towers crumbled
Life will not be the same again
Thank God for monotony
Thank God for survivors
Thank God for my dad

Welcome to a new normal

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Drink Up

I rose bright and early this morning. In fact, it was before six. I didn't need the aroma of fresh coffee or the radio blaring. It was field day. Rather, it was SUPPOSED to be field day. All of our students would be outside running relay races, flaring a parachute, hula hooping and bouncing upon hippity hops. It was to be a day of fun in the sun. All until I stepped outside with my jean capri's on and red and white school t-shirt. Very slowly came the drops, sprinkling upon me and everything else.

I grumbled all the way to school thinking of the fun we would now miss and the looks of disppointment emanating from students' faces. Sprinkles quickly turned to pouring down rain. I thought of my student Christiane. This was to be her very first field day here in America. She came to our school as a new student in September. Yesterday morning she was making her wishes known as she told everyone, "I hope it doesn't rain tomorrow. I can't wait for field day!"

I entered the office to see Coach Ralphie sitting behind the desk. "I was all dressed and as soon as I stepped outside it started to rain," I complained.

"Tell me about it," he commiserated.

"What a bummer! I don't ever remember it raining before," I continued.

"This is the second time in twenty years. Don't worry. We'll get it in tomorrow," he reassured me. Still I was bummed and no doubt the students would be also.

Nine o'clock Christiane and Alicia trudged into my room and each one plopped on to a chair. They both sat pouting. "I'm so mad! I can't believe it rained!" Christiane lamented. Alicia was silent.

"I know. It's a bummer. I don't like it either, but we will have it tomorrow," I explained.

"I don't feel like doing anything," Christiane whined.

Not before long, I found myself presenting them with a choice. A choice I perhaps needed the prompting to realize myself. "I was mad, too. We can sit here and stay mad or we can do something else fun. Being mad isn't going to change the rain," I explained.

Christiane didn't need anytime to think that one over. Immediately she responded with, "Do something else fun."

By 9:05 a.m. the girls were sitting on the mats and we began reading, "Going on a Whale Watch". Five minutes later three other students joined the fun. For the next half an hour they were whales breaching,spouting, and flippering through deep ocean waters.

As I reflect upon this, I know there are tons of circumstances in my own life as well as the world to be utterly discontented with. However, there is also a choice. Each one of us can sit and stew over missed opportunities and fun or we can make some good old fashioned lemonade by adding the sweetness of creativity and optimism.

I must admit, over the past few months I have chosen the lemons without the sugar, but today was different. Today, I can proudly say, we, not just I, but my students also, were able to quickly divert our attention towards warmer waters and make some of that deliciously fresh squeezed lemonade. How about it? Would you like some?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Child's Friendship

Will you play with me?
Visualize and listen close?
Can you hear them?
dragons roaring
damselles in distress
a baby crying
hurricane waves crashing
all in chaos, yet none lost

community forms
it takes a shape
the world of actors set upon life's stage
a table, a chair, some sand and water
perhaps a bean bag, too.
working, living, laughing, living, trusting
knowing there is a purpose for each one
not long before a hero steps in

enter the world
the world of community
step up or step in
there's a friendship and connection waiting to be made
an invitation extended
it stands open
a child asking,"Will you?"
"Will you enter my creation and take part?
I can always use a little help from some friends"

Monday, May 16, 2011

Lessons From the Lady in the Laundry Room

The apple blossoms have disintegrated and only dark green leaves remain on each of the tree's branches. While driving to work this morning I reflected upon the lessons I learned from my dear friend, Ellen. It has not yet been a full week from her passing, but I thought it worth posting.

1. Know who you are. Ellen made no bones about telling everyone,"I'm not a cancer patient. I'm a child of God. I don't let this run my life." It is because of this tough as nails attitude that she survived so long. Her doctor told her that if anyone else had the type of cancer she had, they would have been dead a long time ago.

2. Love yourself and others. Ellen always used to say, "I love Ellen." She was always kind to herself and others. Eating right and exercising were a way of life for her. She was good to herself. For others, one of the last things I did with her was to bring some goodies and cheer to an old friend that was ill. She loved it and so did the person we visited. Upon returning home, Ellen took care of herself. She rested.

3. Be honest. Ellen never held anything back. She was very transparent with me and God. "The hair, Lord. Please, can you do something about the hair? I just want my hair for the play," she pleaded. Losing her hair from chemotherapy was traumatic as well as having others have to help her get dressed in the morning. She hated it and never tried to hide it. Her brutal honesty only speaks of the depth of her personal relationship with Jesus.

4. Enjoy the free entertainment. Ellen often told stories about the people in her neighborhood and others she knew. Some of the stories were hilarious. One man, she enjoyed seeing mow the lawn in his bare feet while he was drunk and singing. She'd say, "That's way I stay here. It's the entertainment."

5.Keep busy. Up until her last full day at home in her apartment Ellen was knitting sweaters for kids in the Ukraine. Even though she was not able to make it to church to play the piano, she could knit and so she did. In addition, she kept a stack of puzzle books and devotionals on the nearby end table to read. She had no tolerance or time for self pity.

6. Ask for help. Ellen loved being independent, but she wasn't afraid to ask for help. The Saturday before her death she had difficulty getting out of her blue recliner to get to the bathroom in time. She pressed the button for the Life Alert and paramedics came. Afterwards, she called her physical therapist right away to see if he could work with her at home, showing her how to get up the right way. "If I need help, I get it," she explained.

7.Praise God. Ellen was a pianist. She loved to play, but more importantly she loved to worship God. She informed me that she picked out 10 hymns to be sung at her funeral. It was going to be a sing-a-long. With tears in her eyes and a slightly cracked voice she said," That's the way I want to die-with my hands praising Jesus." Ellen simply loved to praise Him.

8.Don't settle. Although, Ellen never married she was engaged 3 times. Yes, you read that right. One man in particular made dinner arrangements with her and then stood her up. He chose to have dinner with his mom instead. When Ellen asked him if he ever thought to tell his mother he had plans with her, he replied, "No." Ellen had prepared a lovely meal with stuffed peppers. Her friend expected to be able to come the next evening. Ellen told him no. She would be having the rest for left overs. She was not about to settle for a man still joined at the hip.

9.Look and listen. While driving south on route 9, Ellen noticed a crew of men working alongside the road doing landscaping. While pedaling on the bike at the gym, she began to think of what she could do to thank them for brightening up our community with new plants and flowers. She heard the soft whisper of the Holy Spirit say, "Donuts, Ellen. Men like donuts." After finishing her workout, she was off to Dunkin' Donuts for a box of Joe and a dozen donuts. She delivered them and gave them all a standing ovation thanking them for their service. The mens' eyes began to fill with tears. Ellen was open and took the time to say, "Thank you." We'll never know the full effect of her kindness that day, but I know people were changed because of it.

10. Make new friends. Ellen was quite the social butterfly and loved it. She would talk to anybody which is how I met her. One Saturday in the laundry room, I entered to see the lady with the cute little hat, no eyebrows and thin wisps of white hair poking out from the bottom, greet me. She was waiting for her wash to finish while doing a crossword puzzle. She began venting about her annoyance at having to go through chemotherapy. She was a woman on a mission; a mission to seize the day and make the world a whole lot nicer in the process. Our friendship only grew from there.

The apartment complex I had been living in for the past 7 or 8 years suddenly became a lot more homey. I had a new friend with whom I could talk with over lunch or the laundry. There was a new friend in my own complex to pray with. I had a living witness and testimony sharing her life lessons, laughter and heartache. I had great treasure cloaked in the simplicity of an older woman wearing plaid shirts, long cotton trousers, and white sneakers from the A building's laundry room.

I had Ellen Marie Barrett, a woman I deeply admire and now strive to emulate.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Tribute in Spring

Today I planted some yellow tulips beneath the apartment complex sign where I live. They were Ellen's, my dear friend and neighbor I met in the laundry room two years ago. Ellen has passed on to better and bigger things now. I received the news just last night. Although I know where she is and enjoyed my time with her, my heart still breaks. I'm separated by death from the woman who inspired me and brought new meaning to life. I have composed a poem in her honor posted below.

Like sweet magnolia's and Golden's apple blossoms
shed beneath stout branches
So has my friend's spirit departed

Pink, white, dainty and pure
Her soft petals drenched with heavenly fragrance
Embodied majesty
Blossoms of splendor shone like stars and then alighted

Shining forth glory from a beautiful life
Her warmth touched
Her spirit inspired
She decorated with gardens
Her stories delighted

Friday, May 13th now arrived
Apple's blossoms have begun to wilt
Fading from pink to white then brown
Maggie's flowers fallen
Their petals withered and long departed
Memories of wonderful aroma and life
Memories of Ellen
Ellen, my dear friend, for but a short time

How I wish spring's blossoms lasted longer
How I wish it were not so long til another talk
How I wish I knew her sooner
How I wish Spring would start all over
But perhaps then she would not be such a beautiful flower
Perhaps then, Ellen would not have meant what she did
to me and so many others

My dear friend, Ellen, Thursday, May 12, 2011

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Top Three and Then Some

I was given a new challenge tonight.

ASSIGNMENT? Before sleep write down three things that went well today. Do this each night for the next few weeks. What could I say? I've done it before, but here are three for the day:

* A friend returned my phone call and was open to resolving a disagreement
*Two students told me they have a surprise for me tomorrow for Mother's Day
* One student told me she liked me like her mom

These brought warmth to my heart, but one of my favorites? Oh, that's right. It was three things that went well and this one is not on the list. I guess I'll have to add it.

***Seeing and hearing the joy of my students creating masterpices of art via FINGERPAINT.

If only there was more time. They were just getting into it when the clock said it was time. Time to wind down and clean up. They loved that, too, though. All while belting out, "Shaving cream!! Shaving cream!!" to the tune of Jingle Bells. They were as free as wild horses galloping across the prairie and happy as pigs in mud. I felt much like the proverbial "fly on the wall".

I felt privileged to observe such creative juices flowing along with the empowerment of their young minds and the freedom that energizes and flows from within. They were kids being kids. And it was BEAUTIFUL!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Two Pegs

Cube meets cylinder
One is pink
the other is blue
both sleek, smooth and solid
Created and shaped to fit
Fit with a puzzle

One time they pass
A second time nearer still
Then a third and fourth
They are formally introduced

They meet
No dancing.

Cube is too square
Cylinder too curvy
One supports
The other rolls on and on and on

Round peg doesn't fit
No clicking or snapping in place
Cube has empty corners remaining
Round peg is uncomfortable

They came
They saw
Their pieces did not fit

Two pegs stand alone now
One wonders-
Will I?
Can I find the empty mold or cutter?

The one especially made for me

Come Venture

A splish of color
A splash of pink
Winter is gone now
the earth awakened

My garden rejoices
Greeting all passer byes
Life buried beneath soil
Now resurrected
It sings a new song

A well watered garden
Bears fruit
Yields beauty
Kings' treasures?
No comparison
My garden gives life

A symbol of hope
An entity of splendor
Like a young child
Nourished and nurtured
my garden
Carries blessing

A touch of purple now added
My garden is a haven
Feel it's warmth
Experience the splendor

The earth laughs
Heaven guards
My garden is waiting

Won't you come hither?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fun Filled Sacrifice

After not one or two tries, but three Ellen finally succeeded in getting her swollen and stiff legs into my mini SUV. I pulled left out of her parking lot and headed down East Market towards the Green Acres Florist. "Do you need anything from the post office," I inquired.

"Nope," she answered.

"I'm going to the florist first and then we can go to Molloy's," I explained.

"I want to go in half on the flowers. How much do you want?" she asked.

"Ten will do it," I replied.

I pulled into Green Acres' parking lot next to a huge white tractor trailer parked there to deliver new, fresh flowers. "I'll wait here," Ellen said.

"I'll be back in a few," I responded while eyeing all the fresh daffodils and tulips planted outside the small shop.

Moments later I returned with a huge bouquet of fresh spring and summer flowers wrapped in green tissue paper and clear plastic wrap. "Oh, these are just perfect!" Ellen exclaimed with eyes bright eyed and wide. "What are we going to do if he cries?" she pondered aloud.

"I don't know," I said as I relished the thought of bringing tears to one of the most shrewd and hard nosed business men I've ever met.

We continued chatting onto the next stop, May's Pharmacy just five minutes down the road. "Do you want me to go in for you Ellen?" I politely asked while not wanting to discourage her independence.

"That's fine. You're my legs today. Here let me give you some mons," she said while digging through her wallet. "Large print puzzles and a Hershey chocolate bar any size," she reminded me.

The next stop would be John Smith's home. Ellen got news that the seventy something widow had fallen out of bed and was not doing well at all. She's known him for more than forty years. Although he appears quite dignified and shrewd as ever from behind the desk at our complex's rental office; Ellen remembers him as a great card player and hilarious as ever. Today was the day we decided to stop in and share a visit and some small, but lovely gifts with him.

Ellen shifted her body to the right and gingerly stepped down and onto the blacktop paved driveway of John's home. She grabbed my arm for support to walk up the narrow path to his front door. Only minutes prior she was chatting on and on about how fun it was to do ministry and have someone to do it with.

I rang the bell and John bellowed, "Come in!" I opened the door and allowed Ellen to pass in front of me. She shuffeled a bit before grabbing the railing to hoist each foot upon the brown carpeted stairs. "Can you get the stairs OK, Ellen?" John called out with concern.

"I'm taking my time," she answered. Once to the top she breathed a sigh of relief and cheerfully greeted her long time friend. 'We brought you some goodies, John," Ellen announced with glee.

I handed the large bouquet of colorful flowers by greeting him with,"For the man who loves flowers."

"Why these are just beautiful!" he beamed. "Please sit down," he motioned.

For the next half hour or so Mr. Smith went on and on sharing what's been happening while inquiring about the newly moved in tenants. He could not thank us enough for our time and gifts. The hard nosed business man I had always known from behind the rental office's desk was as delightful as the flowers we brought him.

After dropping Ellen back off to her apartment, I watched her through the tinted passenger window as she made her way, slowly and carefully putting one foot in front of the other upon the narrow concrete walkway. Finally, she grabbed the wooden railing and once again lifted one foot at a time up each concrete step before entering her sweet, cozy domain. She had given what she could today all from her heart and the little physical strength she had. As Mother Theresa once alluded we can all do, Ellen performed a small act of kindness today with great love.

It is no easy task to rise above one's glaring reality of cancer and limited strength. It is even greater to look upon the needs of others and become some sunshine to brighten their day. Ellen made a fun filled sacrifice today and reveled in every minute of it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Newly Arrived

It happened overnight
Warm, moist, precipitive fronts
Ushered in a whole new world of color
Bright, golden yellow trumpets
Declared their greetings
Lime green drop like beads
Decorated my Hydrangea
Mini purple stars of royalty
Curled outwards to kiss the air
Soft white swatches of fragrance
Aroused my olfactory

I know not when or how
I only observe the life that has recently sprung forth
It happened overnight
It happened while we were sleeping

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Martha, Martha

I stood outside the darkened side entrance of the church. Rrrrrrrrring the doorbell belted. I wondered if anyone upstairs would hear me. After a second try, Bill came scurrying down the steps to let me in."I just saw your truck go by when I was lookin out the window upstairs," he informed me.

"Thanks for coming down to let me in. I wasn't sure anyone heard me ringing the bell," I replied. By 5:45 p.m. the doors are locked as to deter people from coming just for the food. It was now 6:20 p.m. and I had just come from work to help out with tonight's serving. Bill and I climbed the steps to the second floor to be greeted by guitars and maracas playing amongst a unison of voices singing Your Love is Amazing. Bill sat back down while I passed into the kitchen to help out."Hi,Leigh," Don greeted me.

"How's it going?" I asked followed by, "What can I do?" For the moment there wasn't much happening. The food was ready to be served, but the service had not yet commenced. Through the kitchen door's window I could see leaders gathering around Bill to place their hands and pray for him. Everyone bowed in agreement. The kitchen workers began to grab the clear plastic pitchers of water and red fruity Kool-Aid ready to serve. Once the praying ceased we followed one by one with two pitchers for each table. Upon returning to the kitchen I headed over to the rectangular, steel counter across from the ovens to start serving.

Shredded Barbeque Chicken atop a soft sesame seed bun with crispy, golden tater tots and green beans on the side. I began to split the buns open and place each one on a plate to get a head start. Moments later, Bob returned the tray to load up. Bun. Plate. Shredded Barbeque chicken. Pass. Next. Three or four trayfuls later it was time to grab my own plate and eat.

I sat down next to an older woman with white hair slicked back and gathered in a bun. "How's it goin', Mary?" I inquired.

"Alright," she answered half heartedly.

"Yeah, it's pretty gray out there today," I replied. Mary continued to eat and engaged no further. Across from me Bill rambled on about the Mets and the Yankees to a few others while the middle aged woman, Diane, sat next to him. My friend, Mark sat next to me and began to engage in conversation with the rather oversized man sitting across from him. James was his name. He'd spent four years down in Fort Worth, Texas and began to share about his experiences there.

I wasn't even half way finished with my meal when out came a fellow servant with the dessert tray. Next, helpers were ready to start fixing seconds for people and then meals to go. I scarfed down the rest of my meal and headed into the kitchen to see what else needed to be done. Shortly afterwards a whirlwind of counter wipers, scrubbers, sweepers, dumpers and so forth plunged into action from every direction. Mary was just finishing her icecream when someone grabbed the pitchers and carried them off to the kitchen. Some of our guests had rushed out while a few lingered at the tables to finish eating or chatting while others worked around them. When I glanced up at the clock it was only 7 p.m. Less than 45 minutes prior to I had entered this very same room with people singing and playing music. Now it was clean up time. How long did they get to eat? How long did I eat? I suddenly felt a great welling up of somberness rising within. It was as if I was back at work following a routine of get 'em in and then out.

They came. They listened. They sang. Some stared. Some prayed. We ate. We all hurried up and rushed on our way. I stood at a loss for words. Why? Why the rush? Oh, Martha why?

Pastor asked me if I would take Diane home. "Sure, no problem," I volunteered. Diane never drives. Tonight, for the first time, I found out why. She matter of factly explained how she failed her driver's test three times. She continued with telling me her reflexes are too slow and that she takes medication for Epilepsy. I've seen her in church for at least two or three years now and never knew this. Why? I am challenged to question what is truly the meaning and purpose of the "Bread of Life". What is LIFE?

When I gather for a meal with some of my dearest friends, we relish our time together. We share. We empathize. We laugh and giggle. We partake of great food both physically and emotionally. We relect and we digest. We are anything BUT rushed. The sun passes from over our heads to setting in the far west by the time we are done.

Tonight I heard, "Martha, Martha you are worried about many things, but Mary has chosen the better." and I wished everyone and everything would just STOP. I wish I knew why we are always in a rush. I wish we could linger and commune more deeply.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Eyes

Envisioning, perceiving, adjusting
Is it a thorn bush with roses?
Or a rosebush with thorns?

The eyes determine who, what, and how we will see
At times vision may be clouded, severely obscured
While other times it's clear
Clear as crystal on a brilliant, sunny day

Do you vex between the two?
I do.
The battle rages on almost daily
What special lenses are required to help you see?

What shall I choose to put in or upon the frame of mine?
After all, my eyes can lead me astray
Eyes determine one's future
Directing our actions and triggered by light

Mine are only half open sometimes
Eyes close up reflect one's heart and pain
like the mirror you face early in the morning
What do your eyes behold this day?

Saturday, March 26, 2011


"Mmmm," the old GE refrigerator hums at a high pitch sound.

"Tick,tick,tick,tick," strums the living room clock.

Sunday morning

Cars swish by outside her window
The neighboring blue jay caws aloud
It is only Elena
Listening, breathing, sitting on her blue, plaid loveseat

"What must he want now? Will he ever stop cawing?" she wonders
Perhaps it is that long awaited announcement of spring he makes

March 20th
Bright, warm
Sunny as the eggs one would fry with bacon for breakfast
Elena's stomach is empty, about to grumble

The humming of her old GE fridge has ceased for a moment
Beaming rays of the sun stream through the east side kitchen window
Revealing a pathway of light that leads into her living room
The clock ticks on as cars continue to stream by

"Where did the blue jay go?" she inquires aloud.
His cawing has also ceased.
Perhaps he is filling himself of the seed scattered below.
She catches a glimpse of two small kingbirds darting to the rooftop above.

Except for her amongst numerous books, photos, and furniture
One may say the apartment is empty

The birds outside begin to caw even louder now.
There is a fullness of sound beckoning her to arise and partake.
Partake in the newness of life offered this day.
Like a newborn babe exhaling its first cry upon entering the world
So is this first mourn of spring

Sunshine brilliantly calls aloud to her,
"I am yours!
Rise up and come!
Embrace me that your arms maybe full and no longer empty.
Rise up!
It is God's day!
It is a new season!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hope-To be Full of or less than

“Peter Rabbit gut stug under the net. He stop triying and giv up,” Christene read aloud from her journal.

“So, what’s a word that would describe Peter Rabbit?” I inquired. Christene pondered the question deeply as her lips protruded outwardly and her dark eyebrows pointed inward and down. I gave her a minute or so before making some suggestions. When I said, “Hopeless.” Her lips shifted to the right. She had never heard that word before. Thus I began to explain what it meant to be hopeful or full of hope. I used the example of her hope that her mother would return from school this Saturday. When one has hope, they don’t remain sad. Instead there is a looking forward with anticipation of that long awaited event. One may even do something to prepare for the other’s arrival. Christene might make her mom a picture to surprise and welcome her.

On the other hand, when one or a situation feels hopeless it is quite another story. There is a sense of what’s the use? Why bother? It’s easy to become that way, especially when things never seem to change. Poor Peter Rabbit thought he’d be trapped under the net forever. He may have even thought of the other rabbits baked into a pie or simmered in stew. Oh me, oh my! Yes, it’s true. He stopped trying to get out and wept bitterly. Most assured, Peter felt everything was quite hopeless.

Somehow this brings me to connect with Abraham and Sarah in the Bible who really had no hope UNTIL that one day when God made them a promise. He promised a child and descendants that would be as numerous as the stars and grains of sand by the sea. Although they had every reason to be and feel hopeless at ninety something years old, God made them a promise. Much later, He delivered. If only I had a promise; a personal promise just for me. I can think of all kinds of things to wish and hope for, can’t you? Well really only a few are most true and dear.

Without a promise, there is simply NO HOPE! So many times, I can feel and act like that impetuous Peter Rabbit, getting myself all tangled up and without any hope. Yet if I knew that my desires were God’s desires and that what is important to me, is important to Him then I would rest assured. I would know it’s going to be OK. I could and would anticipate. I’d even prepare. It would be as if the net wasn’t even there. Age would just be a number, not a hindrance. There’d be no worry. No care.

Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. Sarah laughed, but later came around. Peter, well he did not end up as rabbit stew or pie, but I’m sure it was a long time before he ventured into Mr. Macregor’s garden again. Me? Hope is available, but I’m still under the net and not really sure what I can or should hope for at this time in life. I know what I’d like, but again without a promise, there’s just no hope.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Beauty Within

“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” the old adage goes. One of my ESL students took this literally to mean it is only books that we need to look inside and read before making a judgment. He is still learning that a proverb has far deeper meaning behind it. However, another student from the same class understood it perfectly.

Pepe is a bright nine year old youngster with a determined attitude and good heart. In addition, to learning English as a second language, he is challenged by Dyslexia. There are times he works with a partner on reading and writing activities because his literacy skills are equivalent to that of a first grader at this time. Although he has to work twice as hard as many other students, his love and respect for others has never been hindered. He is one of the friendliest and most gregarious students I know. When he first came to our school three years ago, he didn’t speak a word of English. He would enter the classroom joyously greeting everyone with, “Hola!” He learned to speak and understand the language rather quickly and soon changed to, “Good morning!”

As an ESL teacher, I give my fourth grade students a new proverb to reflect upon and then respond to questions about each week. I ask them to make a connection to their own life and explain what it means to them. For Pepe, I meet with him every Thursday morning during my prep and his library time to assist him in reading the questions posted on our class blog. When I asked Pepe to tell about someone he met and later became friends with, he was beautifully honest. He said, “There was this kid Ryan in my class and when I first met him he just looked kind of strange to me.”
“So what happened after you got to know him? What surprised you about him?” I inquired.

“Mmmm, after I got to know him and we became friends, I was surprised how considerate and respectful he was. Today he’s one of my best friends,” Pepe responded.

“What did you learn? What does the proverb teach us?” I read from our class blog on the computer’s screen while trying to contain myself with excitement.

Pepe explained,” You shouldn’t judge someone because of their face or body. You should give them a chance.” Pepe dictated, as I typed his response.

Yahoo! He got it! Even though he is only reading on a first grade level and dyslexic, he understood the principle and knows how to apply it to his life. Given the opportunity to wrestle and respond to a higher level thinking question, Pepe passed with flying colors. Some of my other English language learners didn’t get it right away. They needed multiple examples before understanding the meaning behind it.

What a privilege and confirmation. I feel encouraged even more so now to set aside that extra time for individual students who need the opportunity to show what they know in a different way. This was my first year teaching ESL to fourth graders in quite a few years. It was also the first time I gave students a proverb of the week. Without a doubt, I plan to continue with it next year.

In addition, I look forward to working with Pepe more. The nine year old second language learner from Mexico came with little to envy. He spoke not a word of English and has found it extremely difficult to learn to read. Some kids made fun of him because of his large, round frame. Others have laughed when he stumbled to sound out words and read them aloud.

Me? I have been able to catch glimpses of the great beauty within this boy. I feel honored to be given the opportunity to teach him. He is an amazing boy who no doubt will grow into an even more extraordinary young man. As a teacher, I see him as a living example to the old adage. No, we should definitely not judge a book by its cover or even the first few pages inside. Given the chance, everyone can learn and everyone can make a difference in making our world a lot nicer to live in. Pepe is just one example of that.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Burning Brightly

He takes the boys out
One three and a half, the other only two
Picks up the groceries
Giving his wife some quiet time alone
Returns later with a smile and greets her with a kiss
On to start a new fire
Out the door he goes to get more wood

His beloved refreshed
She has neither need nor time for worry
She nurses her newest one while talking with their friend

Moments later he's off to pick up dinner
A most delicious meal
Stuffed shrimp, Salmon, and Penne a la Vodka
Next he brings out the wine
Fills his beloved's and their friend's glasses first
Last he pours his own

Kind, sweet and most polite
He is a good provider
Faithful Father, husband, brother, son, uncle
Lover of God

His beloved adores him
His children thrive
His parents most proud and bragging I'm sure

Beacon of light
Set upon the mountaintop
Surrounded by those who love him
Providing clean, crisp water to all who come
Shelter and protection
Humbly and most contently serving

A light burning softly
Softly and brightly
A light perched high for the entire world to see

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Power of Kindness

I rushed to the phone tonight, bursting with good news to share. One of my students journaled this week about his memories of his coming to an American Kindergarten for the very first time. He shared about how he could not speak English and was fearful that the teacher would scold him for his lack there of. Instead, he discovered the teacher was nice. More importantly he shared that this experience taught him that even though it was hard to do something new, afterwards it became easy.

In the near future, Kim will enter junior high. This experience happened to him years ago. It has stuck with him ever since. Furthermore, it has given him the confidence he would need to keep doing and trying new things.

HALLELUJAH!!!! Isn't that why teachers teach?!

We long to inspire our future generations.

We work to prepare them for what they will inherit.

We pray they will far surpass us when it comes to stewardship and leadership.

We want them to be confident and play nice.

When we lead and model kindness we can never go wrong.

I'm so thankful for those who do!
I'm so thankful for each day we are given to show it.
Every new face and friend is a privileged opportunity awaiting the sunshine we have to offer.

Never underestimate its power!

Sunday, February 27, 2011


The sun is shining, glistening, beaming.
White rays of light shimmer down.
When I awoke this morning there was nothing but dimness.
A fresh coat of snow lined the great Oak’s branches.
Now the warmth of the sun splashes across my face.
It covers my shoulders.
I can feel its heat.
Great Oak begins to shed tears.
Tears of joy that is.
DRIP drop, DRIP drop
A mixture of snow and slush forms below.
Ice crystals are transformed.
Days are getting warmer and longer.
Spring is not far off.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Turned Over

One class cancelled, an assembly for them.
One on one time chance for a writing conference with another great kid.

A different one soaring.
She's a most absorbent sponge.
She's zipped through one grade's reading level and mastered all Dolch words in less than five months.

Mailboxes cleaned out.
Student papers organized.
The big kids are relieved their poster is done.
The little ones excited.

Some touched a real octopus, dead, but preserved.
Some picked out books.
Some simply shared their own stories of immigrating to America.
They've come from many distant far off lands.

Things have taken a twist.
They're already looking up.
Next week my littlest ones perform.
They'll dress up and practice-The Little Red Hen.

Tuesday was bad, but now over and done.
Far better still are yesterday and today.
My how things have turned over and started to look up.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My Party With Alexander

It was one of those days
At the end I declared, "I'm having a party with Alexander!"
Alexander, a rather grouchy and discombobulated young man.
You know the story.
Alexander's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
by Judith Viorst

Today it became my own.
Won't you now join me and commiserate just a little?

It started with my silver hoop earring getting caught in my brush.
Somehow it slipped out.
I was brushing my hair of course.
What else?
It hit the floor.
Then clunk.
I searched with all my might on both hands and knees.
Five minutes later, I resigned myself.
Time to choose something different.
I would resume my search later.
Later after work.
I resumed to no avail.
My earring had vanished.
Simply vanished into thin air.

By nine o'clock the first class entered.
Chattering and rambunctious as ever.
Coughing and sniffling.
All while elaborating on every detail of their current condition.
They did not finish their work.
They were to come in for recess.
Two never showed up.
More work for them to do later.

On break,the copier was most temperamental.
It wanted nothing to print.
Nothing at all.
It must not have liked my anxious fingertips.
I typed in the code.
Anything EXCEPT what I pushed seemed to light up.
"Aagh! What's the problem?" I vented.
Of course the Konica was silent.
I felt like yelling and punching.
Thank goodness for our friendly librarian.
Most kind and gracious, she was happy to help me.

By afternoon, the kids were wild and zany.
I'm so glad there were no chandeliers or vines for them.
They'd be swinging like monkeys.
Boys bursting with energy and loud as elephants.
Most wanted to play puppets.
I wondered who or what had their strings so wound up.

By evening it was time to commence the day with a meal.
Mmmm, chili I thought.
Warm, comforting and most appealing.
One slight complication.
Only crushed tomatoes with Italian herbs to mix with the meat.
Upon its completion, I set it down way too abruptly.
Before I knew it my Italian herbed chili splattered all over my pant leg.

Exhausted and depressed.
Fed up if you will.
It was one of those days when I just couldn't win.
So a declaration I made as I called a dear friend.
"Today, I'm partying with Alexander," I informed her.
She's a teacher, too.
She knows how it is.
She laughed and then listened.

By the end of our talk I felt so much better.
And then I remembered.
I thought about my miserable friend, Alexander.

His mommy pointed out, "Some days are like that even in Australia."

Yes, indeed.
Some days are like that.
No matter where we are.
Life can be that way.
Tiresome and irritating as ever.
Thank God, it never lasts!

It comes.
It passes.
Then it moves on.

I appreciate that.
We all can.
I'm sure.
Like sweet chocolate kisses wrapped in shiny tin foil.

So, rejoice and be glad.
Open up your hard heart.
Say so long to the pity.
So long, Alexander.
So long to the mishaps.
Put it behind you.
That horrible, rotten, no good, stinky day is now done.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mission in Burma

Black and white photos
children, both big and small
smooth black hair and almond shaped eyes
round, white circles smeared on their cheeks
I don't know them and they don't know me

hundreds, if not thousands orphaned
sitting in rows on a gray cement floor
no concept of family other than the camp they compose
they are children from Burma, both older and younger
Tiny buds unopened, delicate and fragile

striving heavenward amongst dry terrain
filled with life
they frolic and smile
strong survivors
children of beauty and grace

One questions, "How is that possible?
Will those buds ever bloom?"
Another dismisses them declaring, "There's no hope for them. Don't even bother. They won't survive long."

I see brilliance, purity, innocence and the future
Like a treasure of great price hidden in the darkest of caverns
pressurized and split into many facets
so are the orphans of Burma and elsewhere

they are children, big and small
living together
striving heavenward
dreaming and frolicking
Mine, yours, the world's and ours

most precious of jewels contained
hidden in deep,dark caverns

Can't you hear them?
HUSH and Listen!
The future is calling.
a black and white slideshow starring unknown faces
accented with white, round circles smeared on their cheeks

Friday, February 18, 2011

Oh, Baby!

Tiny toes and humble hands
smooth, pink skin wrinkled a bit
a round,button nose and bluish gray eyes
a veil of brownish strands to cover her head
she is swaddled in a white blanket with two turquoise stripes
snug as a bug
all seven pounds and only two days old
she is pure and perfect, Elena Rose

a luminous little light
she entered our world on Valentine's Day
loved and adored
nurtured and nursed
cradled and rocked
A gift from above sent down here to us

as a new member in her family
she adds, enriches, complements and shines
Who she will grow into and what she will be has yet to evolve
although we do not know to where or
whence all the places she'll go
her name says it all

daughter of Nicholas and Natalie
victory of the people and Christ's birthday
Elena Rose
pure and perfect with her tiny toes and little feet
a light and flower for all to see

Monday, February 14, 2011

How Can It Be?

A newborn baby born today
while someone else may have passed away
I look at you and you look at me
Different lifestyles, different eyes with which to see
Perhaps you wonder much like I-
how is it your not married after all this time?

Most friends have done so
Some in their teens while others well on into their 20’s
I’m still here in this awkward place looking in from the outside
For those who celebrate such wedded bliss
they can’t really understand or relate

They’ve walked with that one true love for so many years
A testimony of perseverance, true love and grace
While me, I’ve watched and only hoped,
but all for nothing it seems and to no avail
Independence has become a must;
There has been no other option for me, my friend

Yet I’ve watched so many come together and become one
The iron has sharpened iron and they are now solidified
Or at least on their way towards becoming such

Perhaps they question-
Doesn’t she like children?
Doesn’t she want a partner?
Why would she choose this?
How can it be and what is it like?
They really just don’t have a clue why or why not

And still there are others who envy me
They see the freedom and little responsibility
No strings attached
Why oh why must it be?
They can’t fathom being alone becoming a drag or getting old
They’ve become self focused on all the drawbacks
When they find out I am childless, they say, “You are lucky.” Or “Smart lady!”

Lucky? Smart? How can that be?
Elizabeth and Sarah, both barren, felt nothing but disgrace
My how our times have changed
And I still wonder, “How can it be?”

God was finally gracious to them and said,”OK, Sarah.
OK, Elizabeth. I will bless you.
I will take away your disgrace and you shall honor me.”
After so long, Zechariah and others inquired, “How can it be?”
Yet God promised and God delivered and so I continue to ponder,
”How come them and still not me?”

Divorced, remarried, single, loved, barren, fruitful, soon to be wed, widowed
Or even somewhere else in between
In passing, any or all may contemplate,“How come? What’s it like for her or for them? What does it mean?”

Me? I still don’t know what to think
You look at me and I look at you
I look at all those amongst my surroundings from the outside in
Some are happy, some are not
And I still ask, “What can one do and how can it be?”

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Luv Those Ladybugs!

Ladybug, ladybug, where have you been?

I've been to the garden now and then

Ladybug, ladybug, what did you see?

Fat little aphids waiting for me

Ladybug, ladybug, what did you there?

I gobbled them up, protecting the flair.

Ladybug, ladybug where to next?

perhaps a plant near someone's deck

But ladybug, ladybug, wait for me!

We can't we're too busy spotting new opportunities

Ladybug, ladybug, for what do you wish?

More precious ones to flutter round and beautify things

Ladybug, ladybug how long will you live?

Not long at all, but my offspring will continue on and keep multiplying

Ladybug, ladybug, to where will they go?

Colonies of aphids in the gardens that is

And ladybug, ladybug what will they there?

Feast upon them of course and protect the flair

Ladybug, ladybug, how precious you are!

Long live your multitudes, ladybug, both near and far

What Can I Say? What Can I do?

Tea time with Keith and Kate has been postponed. My friend was rushed to the ER this past week after his dear wife, Kate discovered he was choking on his saliva. Today I returned home from visiting with them in CCU at the nearby hospital.

"What can I do?," I inquired. Keith's eyes motioned me towards his spell boards. I reached for one, held it up and he nodded. His eyes focused on one section of the board and then I pointed. When I guessed the correct letter, he would nod. I had pointed towards the letter "p". I inferred based on the most recent events, he wanted me to pray. I held up a different board and he would move his eyes towards the side the letter was on. Sure enough, it was the letter "r". "Pray?" I asked. Keith nodded.

How do I pray? What do I pray? What does anyone say? His wife Kate asked if I would pray over them right there. I answered, "Sure." Then came the hard part,doing it. I didn't say much. It wasn't a long prayer. I simply requested God to bless and comfort them, give them wisdom and that they would feel His presence. After closing, I opened my eyes and sheepishly admitted, "I don't know what else to say." It was not long before the tears spilled over onto my cheeks and I began to share about my own grandmother who had ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease many years ago. I didn't understand it then, nor any of it today.

Yet I was reminded of the verse in Matthew 25:40, "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.'"

I had an opportunity to show kindness to the king today while he was laying in a hospital bed with pierced skin and surgical tape applied to hold IV needles and tubes in place while he was connected to a ventilator and propped with a soft fitting, black cushion around his neck.

His wife, Kate joked with me and the respiratory nurse on staff how she heard that some of the medications caution that a possible side effect may include sleep walking at night. "We'd all like to see that. Sure bring it on," she kidded. No doubt all of us would whole heartedly love to see that for Keith. I'm sure he wouldn't shrug it off either, but welcome it with open arms. It's not impossible with God, but it doesn't seem to be the way He is taking them at this point in time.

So what can I say? What can I do? Although trapped in a body that is increasingly debilitating, my friend, Keith is still Keith and he's not giving up anytime soon.

I am thankful to know he and his wife, Kate.

I am inspired and challenged by them.

I feel compelled to pray for them and to show kindness.

I am impressed to share with others

- Life is fragile!

Pray hard!

Play hard!

Work like the devil and

take time to smell the roses.

Never cease to show kindness

for neither royalty nor valiancy is dead, but shining in some

of the most hidden and unexpected places.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Woman

What is a woman these days and to whom does she embody those qualities?

If you look in the Bible you will read she was a help meet for Adam, the one who was deceived, bears children and through whom salvation comes

If you look to the media, you’ll get all kinds of mixed messages-
A sex symbol, gossiper, crusader, victim and one who makes history

To a man she may be a warm conversation and a trustworthy companion or a source of temporary pleasure and an object to enjoy

To a child she may be a nurse, teacher, their inspiration
or someone to be feared and intimidated by

To a mother she is their daughter grown up
One carrying forth their legacy and message
Good or bad, she is the fruit of their womb

To a father she may be their most prized possession
One to guard, protect and love always
or simply a commodity to sell for whatever money he can gain

To a sibling she may be their trusted friend and confidante or someone to envy

To someone in need, she may be their only friend, their world and so much more than we'll ever know

To me a woman is myself
a person with deep feeling, lost hopes and broken dreams
a person growing older and hopefully wiser
a person who lives, shouts, laughs, cries, dreams, likes, loves and still has more to give
She is an individual unlike any other and yet so much the same

To me a woman, is simply me

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Welcoming

Lined with multitudes along the narrow street
Clapping, cheering, waving
Welcoming me home

Living beams of strength and courage
So tall and stout with their long arms branching forward
Those who were planted before me
Those who’ve survived those arduous winters,
Long decades and all kinds of weather

They line our blacktopped routes along with those of gold
Both the visible and not
Witnesses who’ve celebrated so many changes
Flash their brilliantly colored leaves in fall
While sharing their dainty bouquets of pleasant aroma
Fragranced only in the spring
In summer, they reflect our times of growth and prosperity
Warm, gentle breezes blowing
While simultaneously, waving their emerald shades of green
In winter, they remain stark and dignified
All of life quiets and rests while hibernation begins
Yet elegantly dressed they are
In icy glass beads and snow covered crystals

Oh, the infinitely endless nights, sunrises and sunsets
They’ve either rejoiced or dreaded
No one knows except Him

But they welcome
They beckon me
Onward and upward
To persevere around all sorts of curves, bends and mountainous terrain
While holding signs and cheering,
“Hooray! Hoorah! Yippee I Ay!
You can do it!
You did it!”
And finally once home, “You made it!”

These glorious towers of strength
Existing long before I ever did
They chant, they strengthen, they encourage
They know and they believe

My friends, my family, my heavenly witnesses
Like a great forest and variety of young and old species alike
Perhaps next I will see them dancing
And then, one day, I shall finally join them
The great cloud of witnesses
Strong,tall,vibrant and as real as these trees that line 9G waving me home

Sunday, January 30, 2011

For the Birds and So Much More

"Uh, there's a bird!" Lee exclaimed. She gazed at the small Chickadee pecking away in my recently installed bird feeder. She was mesmerized. This exemplar of simplicity, beauty, and life only a few feet away, enjoying the new mix of dried fruit and seeds, delighted her. As the minutes passed, she began to wonder more and more about this lovely creature. She asked questions like, "Do they store food in the winter? How do they keep warm? What kind of bird is that?" Teachable moments don't get any better than this. Ever since I stuck the feeder to the outside of my classroom window, all of my students have been enchanted. They are actively engaged in the scientific processes of hypothesizing and observing.

Heartbreaking to think and know this kind of learning may soon be a thing of the past. With a greater emphasis on high stakes testing and accountability these days, I'm afraid teachers are feeling the pressure and finding less and less time to engage their students in these types of activities. Not to mention the amount of time kids are spending inside. How often do they get out exploring our world and experiencing the beauty of nature?

I just finished reading an article about the benefits of Forest Schools in the United States. Are you ready for this? In the Forest School, also known as the Waldorf School of Saratoga Springs, N,Y., children spend a total of three hours a day outdoors, rain or shine. Teachers there have noticed an improvement in motor development and children resolving social issues through imaginative play.

I love it for these aspects and so much more. It lets kids be kids and fosters a greater respect and appreciation for our environment through its "nature based outdoor education". Furthermore, you probably don't see any children with obesity issues there. Kids are allowed and given the opportunity to get out and move. Notice I said allowed and not encouraged. Children already have a deep intrinsic need to actively play and learn. It's time those making the policies start paying attention to this.

This brings me back to my students and my new friends, the birds. In a day when we are constantly being warned of the effects of global warming, pollution, and the need to conserve, it seems we could benefit from going back to some good old fashioned basics. Allowing our children to be children while fostering respect and appreciation for the planet entrusted to us for stewardship and care, are more important than ever. Tests will come and go, along with the politicians who mandate them. Yet, how we educate our children and train them up is pertinent to our own survival and future.

In conclusion, it's time to start looking and listening more carefully. Millions of dollars aren't needed for reform. Good teachers know their students and know what works and what doesn't. Letting children be children while providing educational opportunities that actively engage them and foster a sense of respect and appreciation for each other and the world we live in, is what's needed today, now more than ever.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Appointment

For JFK, Garland, Lennon, and Marilyn amongst others
We say it came too early
We needed and wanted so much more

It is an appointment we shall, indeed, all keep
Young, old, early or late
It pays no mind and does not discriminate

Some pass on from us unnoticed
While for others the world ceases to orbit
We find ourselves stunned and weeping
For the greats who met theirs unexpectedly

Hate, carelessness, drugs, alcohol or cancer
The terms of it never cease to vary
As long as the sun continues to set and rise
These appointments will sadly carry on
Claiming hundreds, thousands, and even millions
Before the world reaches its final end

Adam and Eve were promised and warned of this so very long ago
So each one prepares and responds differently
However, some of us don’t even do that
We carry on as if there will always be a tomorrow

How and when will I know?
For when shall my own bell toll?
Like an unexpected thief or a long awaited friend?
This I do not and may never foresee to know
Five or ten minutes I usually tarry
But for that final appointment
I can not, nor will I be late
The grander one’s exit and the appointment’s arrival
The grander in memory one individual shall remain

Yea, though I do not know the day or the hour
I do know that from an eternal perspective
It can not be far off
For a thousand years to us, is only one day elsewhere

So best get crackin’
Living, loving and laughing
Sending a strong hearted message and legacy onward
Making and raising new babes and disciples
Inspiring everything and every one of good repute and nobility to go forward

Listen here, all you who tarry
tomorrow’s not promised to me or anyone
Each and every one of us can be sure
We will make that appointment and make it on time

Monday, January 24, 2011

Look On the Bright Side

Fifteen minutes after reading numerous pages detailing my friend, Keith's new diagnosis, my heart groans and the tears come. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, commonly referred to as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease, is no stranger. I wasn't even a teenager when my very own Grandma, Ida, was diagnosed. Clumsiness, tripping over one's feet, decreased motor function, slurred speech, difficulty breathing and swallowing are all stages one enters and never recovers from. At its final outset, one is totally imprisoned in their own body, unable to speak or move, but fully cognizant of everything happening around them. In my opinion, it embodies the worst of the worst. Many, including myself, wrestle with the why's of it all.

Keith and my Grandma are not unalike; both of them highly intelligent, creative, gifted individuals. Keith, an author, illustrator, musician and teacher at one time, who is now confined to his bed, still writes. He dictates and is currently on his third novel. Ida, my Grandma, was a fantastic nurse, artistan, tailor, gardener, and teacher. She made me a Kermit the frog piggy bank and sewed a beautiful christening gown for my brother when he was just a wee little one. Beautiful people with beautiful gifts, robbed of a fully functioning body, no longer able to freely create.

My eyes looked up towards the beige ceiling of my kitchen as I began to cry out a prayer of intercession on behalf of my friend, "Please God, heal my friend. I don't like to see him suffer this way. Please, God. Please, take his ALS away."

We never like to see anyone suffer, especially someone of such beauty and gifting, even less so when it is someone so near and dear. ALS does not discriminate. It robs men and women alike. It robs and robs and robs until there is nothing left to take. However, despite its tragic fury, I've come to ponder what and how it gives.

I realize it gives an opportunity for one's true colors to show, both the individual along with the family and friends affected. It gives an opportunity for us to show kindness to those in need and to weep with those who weep. It gives an opportunity to count our blessings and think about what is most important in this life and the one to come. It gives an opportunity to fight the good fight or cash it all in early and kick the bucket. It gives us some of the most painful and memorable lessons we will ever learn. In its face, we will either cower with fear and despair more unbearably or learn to live, laugh, and love more heartily.

Keith's wife, Kate, is now one of my hero's. As a dedicated and loving wife, she cares for him at home. She is a fine nurse who loves her husband and tends to all his needs. It is a beautiful testimony of the words, "for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, and for richer or poorer..." lived out. She is still able to smile and chuckle as she takes everything in stride. She is thankful for the many blessings they have been given.

I am thankful for the privilege to know them and share with them. I am thankful for another visit and opportunity to show kindness, even if it only means sitting beside my friend and reading a few stories to him.

ALS takes and it gives, but I must believe it is not an end in and of itself. There is so much more for us to enjoy in the life beyond here and now. For ALS can neither rob us of our souls nor the eternal joy we have been given to possess. If we are to press onward, we must believe the best is yet come.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Snapshot In Time

Sparkling confetti

Swirling around, floating above

Dancing here and there

The magic and brilliance of winter’s crystals

If only to find such delight in life when each storm arises.

If only to embrace the bitterness and cold as such

An orchestrated dance of great mystery and wonder

Sparkling confetti

Swirling, floating and dancing in the beaming rays of the sun

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Simple Splendor

They greeted me this morning and then once again this evening
The silverfish, white, lined branches and limbs of the great oaks and maples, staggered across the valley
Some of them tinted with only a trace of pink
Simple and magnificent in all their splendor
A distant ball of fire ignites their glazed over look, erected high in the sky

It’s a whole forest lining the narrow route to work
dirtied snow banks piled high below
No device to capture this; only naked eyes of drivers and passengers alike glancing through their windows.
Many have complained, “Not another one!” or “I’ve had enough. Spring can’t come fast enough.”

But I say, “There is beauty. Each new sudden brunt brings a different shade of glory.”

Today, it was the simple splendor of all the living beams dressed for an elegant ball.
Dressed in thin, delicate, sheets of icy glass.
Perhaps tomorrow, they will have piled on their fluffy, white robes.

Who knows?
It is different each time.
Watch closely, wait, and you will SEE
With each new flurry and force of the season, a fresh new wardrobe is revealed.
The storms and their fashions always change
Yet those royal, strapping limbs remain erected high in all their simple splendor

Thursday, January 13, 2011

2011 - Forging Ahead

"Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."
James 4:13-16

Goals. I've never been one for a five or ten year plan. It's always been difficult for me to plan and imagine that far down the road. I really don't know what I'd like to be doing and where and how I plan or hope to live that far down the road. However, I don't think I'll be in quite the same place as I am now.

For this year, I found it difficult to even set new goals. A lot of them were to continue or maintain what I'm already doing. There is one hope though. I hope I will be able to narrow down my focus and better understand my life purpose. It may even come as a surprise to me and my readers later on. Who Knows?

When I reviewed my goals for last year and compared it to everything I actually did, there were some stark contrasts. Out of the 20 goals I set for myself, I accomplished about 8 of them. Yet there were all kinds of new things I had never planned on doing at the beginning of that year. In fact, at least half of my top 20 highlights of 2010 were totally unforeseen or unplanned! Which brings me to the passage from James 4 included at the top.We never know what each day will bring us. May we cherish and make the most of the opportunities we are granted.

I am excited that there will probably be some new and fun things I will get to do and learn this year. I am also excited about the possibility of deeper or new relationships. I hope it is an exciting and blessed year for you, too!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Looking Back on 2010

I just finished reviewing my journal notes for 2010. WOW! There were so many things I forgot about. If you've never reviewed your own personal life from the year before, I highly recommend it. People perish from lack of knowledge. It's always good to take a look back on where you've been, before forging into a new year with new goals.

Here are my top 20 highlights of 2010:

1. Started blogging.
2. Throughout the year, I found inspiration to write more.
3. Made new friends.
4. Opportunity to share my testimony in church in relation to John 11 and grave clothes.
5. Worked with a sister in Christ to make a presentation for foster care in May.
6. God provided summer work!
7. Planted my very first flower garden ever!
8. Celebrated my mother's 60th birthday with her!
9. Deeper conversations with my sister, Jeneen.
10. Doing art for church- each time it flowed well with the message brought forth.
11. Visited a new friend in Columbus, Ohio for Columbus weekend.
12. Helped to do an orientation for people interested in becomming foster care parents.
13. Opportunity to honor veterans in church for Veteran's Day.
14. Made my very first presentation on technology at a statewide conference.
15. Very first professional article published in a teacher's newsletter.
16. Accepted to present at a technology conference in the spring of 2011.
17. Self published another collection of short stories for Christmas.
18. Started teaching an additional 2 grade levels this past September.
19. My students are excited about learning new proverbs each week.
20. Learned sign language for the song, "How Many Kings?"

In addition, there are many things I can give praise for as well. My family, friends, health, job, along with another year to smile brightly and share the love and kindness that has been shown to me.

As always, the new year is full of so many unknowns. I hope it is a year of gaining more insight and direction for myself, as well as opportunities to bless others and be blessed. I hope it is a year of seeing more things redeemed and restored rather than lost; kind of like the earring I found. I have yet to set new goals for this year, but I am thankful for the year I enjoyed and was blessed to live in 2010.

I hope you are encouraged to do some reminiscing of your own and to step out and try new things. Each year I try to do something new and different. I've discovered it is one of the best ways to approach a new year and in turn it has yielded some pretty awesome results.

Carpe Diem- It's 2011, a new year and a new decade!