Saturday, April 30, 2011

It Must Be The Tiara...

One of the themes I stress as I teach US History is the role of women throughout history. In the beginning, women (like Abigail Adams) admonished their husbands to "remember the ladies" when they were forming the government of the new nation.  John Adams, of course, ignored Abigail and there was little she could do... other than make him pay for it at home.  Wives have a tendency to let their unhappiness show when they are ignored afterall... Women did not have a voice... yet.  This was way before Hillary or Palin. Our value had not been truly discovered and understood.

Today, we have female politicians fighting to change the world around them.  We have mothers researching to find the cure for their child's disease or to unlock the key with their child's learning disability.  We have stay-at-home moms teaching their children that they are the sole center of the universe and we have mother who work outside the home teaching their children that they are the most important part of the universe even if they are gone part of the time. Women can and do accomplish everything today.

Why is this my blog this morning? Simple.  Females around the world yesterday stopped in our tracks to watch Kate Middleton walk down the center aisle of Westminster Abbey and marry her prince.  The fairy tale that so many of us was reared on played out before our eyes, and so many of us simply stopped.  How many of you said to yourself, even silently, "oh... I want to marry a prince." or "oh... I want to be a princess?" We, as a gender, have came so far, accomplished so much, made incredible leaps and bounds, and we still want the fairy tale.  Me too.  Meee too.. I think it is the tiara. Maybe, we all want to wear jewels in our hair and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are special.  We are special!

When school let out yesterday, a small group of teachers met in the media center of my school for a royal wedding reception.  We had cake and punch; we wore paper tiaras and watched the recap of the wedding on the large screen.  We critiqued the dress ~ understated and elegant.  We talked about what we had read and heard about each participant in the affair ~ what the lipreaders had said William and Kate had said during the ceremony.  We all agreed that we dislike Camilla immensely and think Kate is beautiful. Then, the women gathered went home to their real life princes. Sometimes life truly is a fairy tale..

I was reminded of the best part of today's women though when I stopped for gas on my way home.  Two teenaged girls dressed in their uniforms for Powderpuff Flag Football were pumping gas beside me. They were headed to participate in the annual game where the same girls who oohed and aahed over the royal wedding would run, block, and aggressively grab flags off their opponents. Girls today are not confined to any one stereotype.  They can be romantic, girly, and tomboy-ish... They can be themselves... with or without a tiara.

Friday, April 29, 2011

And They Lived Happily Ever After... Oh I Hope So...

I remember when Diana and Charles married. I was young and I sat enthralled by the romance of the entire ceremony.  Little did I know that Charles secretly loved another or that Diana, the beautiful bride, was so insecure that she would develop an eating disorder. They painted such a beautiful picture...

Marriages end; I know that sad fact first hand.  Not every princess gets her happily ever after, but I hope that Kate does. I think this royal couple is completely different from the one we watched marry in that other royal wedding.  I believe William and Kate truly love each other.

The couple is older.  Both are in their late twenties, and have known each other for years.  They know each other; they have seen each other through the seasons.  They are familiar with each other's moods; these two seem to be friends.  He is royalty so today, they played by the rules for the most part.  He didn't look at her as she walked down the aisle, but his little brother did.  William told her she looked beautiful when she reached him. He beamed when he looked at her, and she looked adoringly at him during the ceremony. He kissed her on the balcony for all to see.  The prince blushed and looked embarrassed to have shared such a private moment with the world.  Then, he kissed her again.  The two are in love - plain and simple... Royalty or not, these two are in love and I hope the entire fairy tale come true for them.

I think one of the most telling signs that Kate does not share the heartbreaking insecurities that plagued William's mother, Diana, is the dress... No.  Not Kate's wedding dress, but the dress her sister wore as she walked behind the radiant bride. The world is watching.  Literally, the world is watching the fairy tale play out, and the sister wears a stunning white  fitted dress that shows her amazing figure.  Kate appears to not be bothered by it at all.  Bridesmaid dresses are notoriously ugly and unflattering.  The bride is after all the center of attention, and some brides go the extra mile to make sure this is the case.  Not Kate.  Pippa was gorgeous. Kate wasn't worried.  She knows that she and she alone holds William's heart.  Let the rest of the world check out her sister.

All good fairy tales end with the phrase "and they lived happily ever after". We who have been married know that the important part begins after the guests leave.  Today was the party.  The true fairy tale begins tomorrow; the true test of love is the marriage, not the wedding.  Will he bring her tea when she is sick?  Will he take turns rocking the royal babies that are sure to come? Will he gaze at her adoringly when she burns the pudding?  Will she continue to look at him with love when his family is on her last nerve, when his duties have limited their private time together yet agin?  Oh, I hope so.  I Hope So..  I Hope So... 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

It's Not How Many That Matters...

When I entered the chapel today, walking a few steps behind my mom and dad in the traditional family march of mourning following my aunt's casket, I looked around and was saddened by the small number of mourners present.  My aunt had been retired for a number of years; she had been mostly confined to her home the last few years due to health concerns and family issues.  There were not large numbers of people from a church congregation or from work relationships or from volunteer agencies. Most of the people there had came to lend support for one of the family members. My aunt had lived a small, quiet life the last few years of her life; she was going to have a small quiet burial. It seemed so wrong.

My aunt had a miscarriage - twin girls - when my mom was pregnant with me.  She always said that this was why I looked so much like her. I always argued that I did not resemble her.  I wanted to look like my small, elegant mother.  I refused to say that I shared any traits with this loud woman who laughed all the time and pinched my cheeks.  If you thought that older relatives who pinched little children's cheeks were simply figments of a screenwriter's imagination for television, you were wrong - my aunt, Martha, pinched my cheeks over and over when I was little.  She was beautiful too, of course; her beauty came from her laughter and her heart and those startling blue eyes of hers. Now, of course, I want to share those traits. My aunt loved to cook.  She loved sweets especially and when I was younger I loved for her to make banana split cake.  It makes me smile thinking of it now. The cake was delicious. She cried easily and went to pieces as my mom would say whenever there was a stressful situation. In a family where strong women are valued, this is not a great trait.  I cry easily too, but then I get over it.  I like to think Martha did too. I have wonderful memories of her. I wanted the chapel to be overflowing with others who would testify to her wonderfulness.

There was a song, and then the preacher began to speak.  It was a typical funeral message until he started reading things the grandchildren had told him about their grandmother. How she loved to laugh, how she would do anything for anyone, how she was an amazing cook, how you could not come visit without being fed. My eyes overflowed with tears. To these five grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and her two sons who were audibly weeping throughout the service, Martha meant everything.  They knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was a great woman, that their lives had been shaped by the bounty of her love. She didn't need an entire chapel full of people.  The family that she cherished was there. The number of mourners doesn't matter; the amount of love that you share on this earth does. Make sure that the people you love know it!  Call them right now for no other reason than to talk to them.  They'll be gone quicker than you think....

Blogger Question

For you have read daily and are not bloggers, this does not count as my blog for the day... 

However, if you are a blogger, I have a question.

I linked an older post of mine today to a Blog Hop @ http://www.diminishinglucy.com/.  I am supposed to add her button here.  I have no clue how to do that or what the really means...HELP!

Sarah @ http://www.ahthepossibilities.com/, I got the idea for blog hopping from you, so... can you help me?

Thanks Everyone!  I'll be back to blog later... :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kung Fu Kick - Wow...

On Wednesdays, Wild Wings runs a special.  For every order of wings you purchase, you get an equal order free.  It's a great deal.  Taylor and I often go and eat for less than $15, including drinks and fries.  Every other week, I go with my friends, Patsy and Ken. It's an inexpensive way to catch up over dinner. I love Wing Ding Wednesday!

During the months of April and May, the restaurant is testing new flavors.  There are two/week and you call in to vote for your favorite new flavor.  Taylor and I decided to play along tonight and tried the new marinades - Kung Fu Kick and Honey Please Curry. We tested the flavors before ordering by tasting fries dipped in the sauces.  They were delicious, so we ordered wings in these new flavors.  They were spicy! Taylor and I normally eat 8 wings/each rather quickly... Tonight, we ate rather slowly.  The wings heated up our mouths. Needless to say, the Kung Fu Kick was aptly named...  It definitely had a kick.  The Honey Please Curry had much more in common with curry than honey... With each bite, we wished that we had stuck to our old tried and true flavors.  I'm glad we tried them, but next trip, I'll order what I know I love.

If we had never tried them though, we might have missed out on a new fantastic favorite.  Never be afraid to try something new.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Picture Me Laughing...

My mom re-did my aunt's makeup today at the mortuary.  She went to view the body and decided that her sister did not look look quite like herself as she lay sleeping in eternal peace.  I'm not sure that I could do that, even for my sister. The whole conversation made me think about death and funerals and those left behind... I don't want to lie in a casket waiting for my friends and family to file past to pay their respects.  I don't want the people who share my day-to-day existence to try to figure out if my hair should be down, curled, pulled back, or styled in an updo of some sort to make me look like me.  I wear little makeup, so in death, I definitely wouldn't want it piled on to give me a healthy glow.  I would be dead afterall... There would be no need to make it appear otherwise.

I am saved. When I die, I will be in the presence of my Lord; I will no longer be here. I want my body to be cremated and to have my ashes scattered at the beach. This way, if you feel an overwhelming need to commune with me, to discuss the great mysteries of life with me, you can head to the beach. The ocean breezes will stroke your cheek; the sun will warm your skin. The sand will shift beneath your feet to remind you that life always changes and no terrible thing lasts forever.  Life always gets better. I do not want the people I love to worry over details of caskets and tombstones.  I want them to go live!

I plan to live to at least 100, so there's no need to plan anything for a long time hopefully.  When it is my time to be called home, picture me laughing.  I love to laugh.  Close your eyes and hear my laughter... Isn't that so much better than worrying about whether or not my hair and makeup looks life-like?

How do you want to be remembered?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Love You Like A Sister.... Well, Maybe Not...

My mom's sister died last night.  My mother was in the room along with my aunt's youngest son when she passed. I had visited a few hours prior to check on my mom and say goodbye to my favorite aunt.  As I watched my strong beautiful mother gently brush back the hair from her sister's face, I was reminded of how I always used to sign the notes I wrote to my friends in junior high with LYLAS (love you like a sister).  The closing was meant to convey how close the friendship was, but .... is there anyone that shares the bond that sisters do?

I am the youngest of four; my sister is the oldest.  Personality theorists would say that birth order is what defines our relationship.  They would be wrong. My sister was my first role model.  I wanted to be exactly like her. Lynn was beautiful and cool and amazing.  To her, I was a brat.  Because there were two boys and two girls in my family, we had to share a room.  She became a teenager when I was 6.  She would lock me out of the room and only allow me in to sleep. The movies would have portrayed that I resented this; I didn't. It made me imagine all sorts of adventures that she must be planning on the other side of the door. I read her magazines; I read her books.  I wanted to be the cool teenager that she was; she ignored me.  As the youngest child, I spoke baby talk when I started school.  Lynn promptly told all her friends I was mentally challenged. No one ridiculed me because there was a rule against mocking a disabled child.  She also told them that I was adopted.... At night though, in the darkness, she would talk quietly to me.  She would ask me about my day.  She would let me creep into her bed to sleep when the scary movie she had  finally let me watch proved to be too scary for my little six year old mind. I knew she loved me.

Lynn married her high school sweetheart when I was 12. I sobbed throughout the entire ceremony.  Not graceful tears that leaked from my eyes... Big gulping sobs.  My sister was leaving me. She didn't though.  Lynn would pick me up for sleepovers, send me encouragement cards in the mail, and let me wear makeup. I knew she missed me too.

Lynn and I have taken vacations together with our children, camped together, shopped together, gossiped together.  We have had screaming matches and not spoken for weeks.  We have inside jokes and call each other whenever one of us has a secret that we cannot share with anyone else on this earth.  We are each others worst critics and fiercest protectors. We laugh and laugh and laugh over stupid stuff. She can make me cry quicker than anyone. She is the other half of me.

My mother will bury her sister this week.  My heart hurts for her. I don't even want to imagine losing my forever friend.  Friendships end; sisterhood doesn't.

My sister, oldest brother, and me yesterday..

Sunday, April 24, 2011

It's Not About The Front Door

When Taylor swore in on Tuesday, his recruiter presented him with three t-shirts to commemorate the day.  One is a long sleeve black shirt that has the Marine Corps emblem on the side and Marines across the front. Taylor wore this when we went to the mall yesterday, and several people commented on it. There was a level of respect paid to him simply for wearing the shirt. Semper Fi!

However, Taylor is a Marine not because he wears a shirt that says he is.  He is a Marine because of the person he is, the fine man he has grown into. Last week, he told me that the house is only as strong as its foundation; the front door doesn't matter. That's pretty deep for an 18 year old. What he meant was that life isn't about what people can see.  What truly matters is what something or someone is founded on, what they stand for, what they are made out of. I tend to worry about appearances.  I want the titles.  I need the affirmation that I am doing a good job. None of that matters

We have spent this Easter surrounded by amazing people who have helped lay the foundation of who Taylor is - my parents, my siblings, my family... These people along with his coaches, teachers, friends, and other family members are responsible for Taylor being willing to lay down his life for ours.

Brandi taught Taylor Bible story after Bible story in Children's Church when he was younger.  He will tell you that one of the reasons that he wants to be a Marine is that someone must stand up and protect the family.  This is based upon a Bible story where the family members where placed behind the weaker parts of the wall because the leaders knew the soldiers would fight the hardest to protect their families even if the wall was weak. Brandi helped lay the foundation early.

Jared was Taylor's youth leader for a time. Jared is a Godly man, and serves as an example of the upstanding man you should strive to become.  When Taylor was in Youth, Jared explained that he tried to never lie, to NEVER lie.  Not just big lies but even small half-truths like not telling his wife what he had bought for Christmas.  What an example to have during your forming years! Jared helped lay the foundation during his teens.

Taylor and I have went on several mission trips beginning with one to Louisiana the year after Katrina.  Taylor was about 12 years old, and yet JJ put hm to work as one of the men.  Taylor became a mason's helper during that mission trip and worked for him throughout the following summer.  Taylor learned rock work, wiring, sheet rock, and a slew of other construction type skills under JJ. Tay never went through an awkward stage of self-doubt about his skills as a man because of upstanding Christian men like JJ who trusted him to work hard.

Cricket and Taylor are as close as brother and sister although they are cousins.  From the time that Taylor was born, the two have shared a special bond.  She carried him around on her bony little none-year old hip and taught him everything she knew. When I traveled for work, Cricket would move in and care for Taylor. She drove him to school, to practices, to games.  I would come home and while Taylor would be glad to see me, he mourned the loss of Cricket a little. She would allow him to ride on the trunk after getting the mail.  She would blow the horn and random people and wave.  She was fun and young and amazing. Cricket helped Taylor know he was valued and special.  She helped make sure the foundation was strong by showing Taylor love from day one.

I am leaving out a gazillion people, but the point is that Taylor is who he is because the people who have surrounded him during his lifetime.  You have made a difference (either positive or negative) on the people you meet.  Lay a strong foundation and don't worry so much about what the front door looks like...


Saturday, April 23, 2011

The 7 Things Jesus Said On The Cross

Yesterday while searching the internet for Good Friday related thing, I saw several references to the 7 words that Jesus said on the cross.  They are actually phrases, but the point is that some religions have Good Friday ceremonies where they read and ponder on these 7 sayings.  Good Ole Baptists don't do this; we'd turn it into a dinner if we did.  Baptists love to eat and fellowship.  :) There is so much to be gained from Our Savior's last words as the savior in human form that I decided to share them today though.  We should all live as Jesus died.

My original thought was simply to copy and paste the entire posting from http://www.jesuschristsavior.net/Words.html. I trimmed it and added some of my own thoughts but it still a pretty large post.

"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."
Luke 23:34
Jesus says this first piece of advice only in the Gospel of Luke, just after he was crucified by the soldiers. The timing of this suggests that Jesus asks his Father to primarily forgive those who have tortured him, mocked him and nailed him to the cross. This could also apply to his friends who have deserted him, to Peter who has denied him three times, to the fickle crowd, who only days before praised him on his entrance to Jerusalem, and then days later chose him over Barabbas to be crucified.

Could this not also apply to us, who daily forget him in our lives?  Does he react angrily? No, he asks his Father to forgive them, because they are ignorant! At the height of his physical suffering, his Divine love prevails and He asks His Father to forgive his enemies. Wow!  What small petty hurt are we holding on so tightly to that we refuse to forgive?  This piece of advice strikes such a cord with me.  I am slow to forgive; I really need to follow His example here.

"Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."  Luke 23:43
Even one of the criminals who Jesus has been hung between mocks Jesus. However, the criminal on the right stands up for Jesus, explaining that while the other two are guilty, "this man (Jesus) has done nothing wrong." Then, turning to Jesus, he asks, "Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom" (Luke 23:42). Ignoring his own suffering, Jesus mercifully responds. Isn't it amazing that Our Father continuously forgives and offers us grace when we are not worthy of it? The criminal simply had to ASK, and Jesus gave him pardon.

"Jesus said to his mother: "Woman, this is your son". Then he said to the disciple: "This is your mother." John 19:26-27
Mary was at the cross to watch her son die for us. How I ache for her as a mother myself.  I cannot imagine having to watch my son mocked, tortured, and crucified.  Jesus understands her pain. Jesus is concerned about taking care of his mother. Remember that the next time your mom wants you to take time out of your crazy schedule to do something for her.  Jesus' example is that we are to care for our mothers even in the worst personal time.
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"  Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34
The tone of this saying is totally different than the first three.  It has to be. This cry is from the painful heart of the human Jesus. Jesus feels separated from his Father because He is now bearing our sin. Without this separation, He does not become the Passover lamb for our salvation.  Jesus completely lives the human experience as we do, and by doing so, frees us from the clutches of sin. The burden of all the sins of humanity for a moment overwhelm the humanity of our Jesus, but it is only for a moment.  It is in defeat of his humanity that the Divine plan of His Father and Himself will be completed. It is by His death that we are redeemed. "For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as ransom for all" (l Timothy 2:5-6).

"I thirst"
John 19:28
The fifth group of words from Jesus on the cross is His only human expression of His physical suffering. Jesus is now in shock. The wounds inflicted upon him in the scourging, the crowning with thorns, and the nailing upon the cross are now taking their toll. He is dying for us. 

"He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross,
so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness.
By his wounds you have been healed" (l Peter 2:24).

"It is finished";
and he bowed his head and handed over the spirit.
John 19:30
Jesus has achieved His purpose.  We have eternal life through Him. When Jesus died, He "handed over" the Spirit. They did not kill Him; He died for us.
Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit":
Gospel of Luke 23:46
The seventh word of Jesus is directed to the Father in heaven, just before He dies. Jesus recalls Psalm 31:5 - "Into thy hands I commend my spirit; thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God."  We can be redeemed at that moment too.  Jesus died for us so that we might have eternal life. 

Tomorrow, we celebrate His resurrection.  Remember that among the bunnies and eggs.  :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Jesus Died For Us. They Did Not Kill Him.

Today is Good Friday.  It is the day celebrated to commerorate the crucifiction of Jesus Christ, my Great Redeemer. The Passion of The Christ does a remarkable job visually showing the pain and agaony Jesus endured for each of us.  I cannot watch it without weeping.  I am so unworthy, and yet, He gave His life for me and you and anyone who will believe.  However, because He underwent such beatings and mocking and abuse, it may be assumed that Jesus was killed.  He was not. My Lord and Savior gave His life willingly.

The Easter Contata that we will perform Sunday includes a song entitled Behold the Lamb by Dottie Rambo. In it, I narrate several passages between the song lyrics.  My favorite section says this... "No one took his life from Him. He could have stopped the painful parade up to Calvary with a word, but He never uttered it.  Instead, He opened His arms to the beam, He opened His hands to the nails, and He allowed Himself to be crucified.... Behold the Lamb, surrendering His life, bearing our sin, absorbing the wrath of God in our place, and finally dying for our atonement."   They did not kill Him, my friends.  He died for us. Praise God!  He died for us so that we can have eternal life.

All you have to do to receive this blessing is ASK.  There is no great secret or huge hoop to jump through.  Ask. Below is the sinner's prayer in case you are struggling with what to say.  Feel free to put it in your own words.  What is in your heart is what truly matters....

"Heavenly Father, have mercy on me, a sinner. I believe in you and that your word is true. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and that he died on the cross so that I may now have forgiveness for my sins and eternal life. I know that without you in my heart my life is meaningless.
I believe in my heart that you, Lord God, raised Him from the dead. Please Jesus forgive me, for every sin I have ever committed or done in my heart, please Lord Jesus forgive me and come into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior today. I need you to be my Father and my friend.
I give you my life and ask you to take full control from this moment on; I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ."
Amen. http://www.intothelight.org/answers/sinners-prayer.asp

If you have said the above prayer and truly meant it, you are now a child of God.  Your old life, whatever sin it may have contained, is over.  Live for Christ.  Grow in Christ.  I will be glad to help you figure out how to do that if you would like me to do so. Leave me a comment or send me an email to trayseetodd@yahoo.com.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

If It Can Wait....

As a teacher, I encourage students to not wait until the last minute to start their assignments because I know that the longer they wait, the more work they will be required to rush through leading to lower retention and lower test scores. Nothing good comes from procrastination, I remind them. As a parent, I remind Taylor to do the little things now so it doesn't lead to larger problems later - check your oil, use antifreeze, brush your teeth, clean up that spill... I do not always follow my own advice, however.

A few years ago, the doctor told me I needed a hysterectomy.  I did not want this surgery, so I put it off and put it off until there was no other possibility but to have it done.  By the time I finally gave up the futile fight to retain some out-moded idea of femininity, I was severely anemic and my body had paid the consequences in a number of ways. My teeth were greatly weakened during this time, and now I need dental work.. In true Tracy fashion, I have put it off as long as I could but it is not going to get better. I have to have dental work done tomorrow that requires me to be sedated.  I am not looking forward to this procedure. Please pray that the procedure goes well, that it goes smoothly, that I am able to speak clearly so I can narrate the Easter contata that we have practiced over and over and over... Procrastination never pays.

Whatever it is that you are putting off until tomorrow... DO IT NOW! You'll be glad you did.  A stitich in time really does save nine.  Ole Ben Franklin had it right all along... By ignoring things, you only make them worse.  Get busy, and I'll hopefully be able to blog tomorrow...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What Are They Measuring?

Tonight on Top Chef Masters, the chefs had to compete using bugs for ingredients and then, later they were required to cook without water, space, or fresh ingredients.  After the chefs had still managed to serve a delicious meal to their diners, one chef was sent home for not measuring up to the standards set by the judges. The point of the television show is to determine who is the best master chef.  Somewhere along the way though, the show lost this focus and decided to see how many hoops the chefs could jump through.  Are they measuring the quality of the food or the chef's jumping ability?  What are they measuring?

This strikes a cord with me. I am not a chef.  However, as a teacher, we are measured on so many things that have little to do with our ability to educate. South Carolina currently requires every student enrolled in US History to take an end-of-course exam that counts as 20% of their yearly grade.  The test consists of 55 questions and these magical questions count as much as an entire quarter's worth of material. The passage rate for this test statewide is approximately 50%.  Yes, we are giving students a test that we know half of them will not pass.  Every meeting I have attended regarding it has centered on what the teachers are not doing right to prepare our students for this test. Teachers have explained the vocabulary is too high.  The questions are confusing.  There are issues with the actual test.  We are required to keep giving it, and then, the scores go on our school report card.  We are judged using an unfair measure. The Superintendent of Education wants to cut teacher pay and base it on performance. I am not afraid of being judged based on my teaching ability; I am afraid of being judged using this test.  Measure me on the right things.

The master chefs competing tonight can cook amazing meals.  Diners call and request reservations at their restaraunts weeks in advance.  They are talented and at the top of their games; yet they get sent home because they cannot cook with bugs or without water. Teachers every day are staying up late to make creative lesson plans or grade papers.  They worry about their students who are not on target.  They tutor afterschool and come early to provide extra help.  They spend their own money to buy the materials that they think will get through to that one student.  Then, we are judged using unrealistic measures.... Measure us on the things that matter most, not one test....

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Swearing In Day

Taylor and I traveled to Columbia today so that he could take his oath to officially join the Marine Corps. The love of my life, my heart that walks outside my body bravely raised his hand and duly swore to uphold the Constitution of this great nation of ours, to protect your freedom and mine even if it cost him his life to do so.  There is not a single person alive worthy of that sacrifice and yet, my beautiful baby boy promised to give his life to save ours.  Yes, I cried.

The commander who issues the oath for all poses for photographs with each newly sworn-in recruit if their parents are present.  He asked kindly if I was okay, and I nodded through the tears. Taylor assured him that they were simply tears of pride and he is right.  I am so proud of the young man he has became. I am also terrified of the dangers and hardships he will face as any mother would be. I am saddened that he will be far away and not sleeping soundly in the next room. I know this is his path, but I will miss him.

This was it until February 6th or whenever the Marines decide his actual departure date is.  He has almost ten months to prepare to leave.  I have ten months too...

I am proud of you, Taylor.  I love you more than life itself.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Praying Through

On Sundays, I normally write a recount of the preacher's sermon in my blog.  I planned to do that yesterday, but when I sat down to write it, I couldn't. There were too many connections to my life. Yesterday's sermon was based on 1 Samuel 1 where Hannah is so heartbroken over her inability to have a child that she goes to the temple and prays.  She prays with her face on the ground, totally given over to her prayer.  She prays so passionately that the priest thinks she must be drunk.  She prays silently, mouthing the words, feeling each word.  She prays like we should pray, but we rarely do. Her prayer was answered.  God gave her Samuel and she gave him right back to the Lord. It's a wonderful story. 

When I was a little girl, my mom had a big red medical dictionary with pictures that she kept on the bottom part of the side table (the tables that sit beside the couch and hold the lamp or they did in the 70's at least). I loved to read even back then, and if I had ran out of things to read, I would read this book.  The pictures were pretty gross for the most part; however, there was an entire section on the stages of childhood.  Each developmental stage had a picture - a rosy cheeked baby, a chubby kneed toodler, a curly haired five year old, etc. I named each of these children and made them mine.  I wanted at least ten kids.  I would lower that number to six by the time I was married, but I always wanted a ton of children. I could not wait to be a mom. I totally understand Hannah's heartbreak. Every month that I was not pregnant after I was married, I cried. I cried for the loss.  I cried out of self-pity. I wanted a child so badly.   Three years of tears and trying and heartbreak, I was given Taylor. God blessed me with this one amazing child. Hannah sat through ceremonies where she had to watch every other woman give thanks for their children, and she was barren.  She turned to the only person who could help.  She turned to God. God answered her prayer.  He's amazing like that.

Hannah didn't pray the watered down prayers that we often do though.  She prayed a passionate prayer. This was her heart's desire. She prayed prostrate - face down.  She prayed in her heart.  No words were said; only her lips moved.  She wasn't just saying some rhyming phrase she learned as a child.  She was begging her Heavenly Father for a child. I've heard some strong prayers in my lifetime. My dad prays and you know when you hear it, it is a reverent prayer.  My dad is a reverent man.  I have been deeply moved witnessing little children at Backyard Bible Club all pray out loud together (like Wesleyans) and know they are talking to their friend. The prayer of another that I was most moved by though was a prayer that mirrored Hannah's prayer. Preacher Ray ( a former preacher at RCBC) prayed one night at the altar in a service where you could feel God's presence.  I don't know what he was praying about, but he was heartbroken without a doubt.  He prayed and prayed and then, laid his face on the ground with his arms outstretched and continued to pray and cry.  When he finally stood, I had no doubt that he had spoken with God. It was a powerful site.  I want to be that prayer warrior. We should all pray those types of passionate prayers for the lost, the homeless, for this world we live in.

Hannah prayed with great humility.  She didn't walk in and demand things of God. She said she was His handmaiden.  A handmaiden is the equivalent of a female slave.  She didn't say I am a really good woman, so please give me this child.  She asks humbly for a child and says she will give the child back to God. She wasn't making a foxhole deal with God.  She wasn't saying if you do this, then I'll do that - only to totally forget the promise as soon as she conceived.  Too often today, people try to bargain with the Lord. We make deals.  If you will heal me, I'll start coming to church.  If you will allow me to get this job, I'll start tithing. If you will fix my marriage, I'll become a better person. He doesn't need whatever you could offer.  He is the Great I AM.  Come to Him as His humble servant.  To do otherwise is disrespectful.

I've came to the Lord a few times heartbroken and begged Him to fix the situations. I did not do it at the altar.  I have sobbed in my bed begging Him to fix my marriage. I have sank to the floor in the shower begging Him to help me through a painful situation involving Taylor when he was younger. I begged Him with all I had to not take Taylor when the doctor said he may have Leukemia even if all I could get out was the word Please. I prayed fiercely when Taylor said he wanted to enlist. God answered in each of those cases.  The answer was NO in a few.  He gave me strength through each situation though.  I did not demand His help.  I begged Him.  Come to God humbly.

Hannah kept praying until she had been heard.  She prayed through. This is an old expression that you don't hear much anymore.  Today, we pray at the altar until the music hits the second or third verse and then, we get up because everyone wants to go home.  Think about that.  We go to the altar to speak to our Lord and Savior and then, we cut it short because other people might want to go home and watch television. If you are heartbroken, pray until God answers you.  Remember that the answer may be no. You aren't praying until He says yes.  You are praying in great humility, with great passion until He answers. Prayer is not supposed to be a postcard. Wish You were here. Prayer is a conversation. It's a chatty letter where you take the time to communicate with the most important person in your life. Take the time to pray.

God gave Hannah a child. She named him Samuel which means "Because I have asked him of the Lord".  She gave praise to God for the blessing.  We need to be continually praising God for His blessings on us. God is good all the time and all the time, God is good.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What Example Are You Setting?

As I was getting dressed this morning, I had to search for a slip to go under my dress. My dresser drawers need to be re-organized; I have a tendency to forget to put away clothes after they have been washed, so I am constanty looking for certain items.  Socks, underclothing, pajama bottoms, camisoles, slips.. I pondered if I needed a slip, but felt uncomfortable going to church without one.  My mom is a stickler for certain things and ladies wearing slips is one of them. If I went without one, I would run into her without a doubt or someone would comment. Why risk it?  I found a slip.

Today, many dresses are lined so there's no need for a slip.  According to the internet, slips are designed to make clothes lie smoother, to protect ladies from scratchy fabric, and to make their clothes less sheer. One of the most famous photographs of Diana, Princess of Wales, was a photo taken right after her engagement when she wasn't wearing a slip.  The sun shone right through her dress reflecting the outline of her long slender legs making her appear immodest. It caused a scandal. Oh, how the times have changed.. I teach high school.  Trust me... girls are not worried about their clothes being too revealing.  I am constantly asking girls to fix their shirts that are showing almost all of their cleavage.  I shake my head at the girls who wear brightly colored bras under light colored shirts. Boys wear their jeans so low that you see entire boxers. They want people to look.  What happened?

It's partially our fault.  The preacher spoke tonight on raising good Godly children.  To do so, we, as parents, have to model how the children are to behave. Don't worry...  He didn't speak on underclothing, but it goes along with my thought process of deciding whether or not I needed a slip.  I felt I needed one because my mom had brought me up to wear one.  My mom was my example. Taylor has served along side me as we worked VBS and  served on mission trips. He grew up volunteering. Taylor knows he needs to serve the Lord.  He has my sense of humor; he has my hand gestures..  He feels called to serve.  I want to believe that is my example.  I pray God keeps him safe while he is serving and always.

What example did you set today?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Let Me Save You $25

If you ever find yourself asking why you are paying to do something, don't do it.  I wish I had taken this advice.  Today, I paid $25 to sit in a class with two of my best friends to make chocolate Easter baskets.  While I enjoyed laughing with my friends, when we left, we were all asking why we had to pay for the class.  The instructor provided absolutely no materials save from handing out a plastic cutting board to roll chocolate on.  She provided no great expertise other than to say make your strands this length.  When problems arose, she said this or that could be the problem, but she offered no solution.  Donna left without a finished product. I left with a basket that looks like small child created it at daycamp.  Patsy, of course, created a beautiful basket that looks exactly like the brochure said it would look.  Let me save you $25.
Here is exactly how to make a chocolate Easter basket.  I found the instructions online for FREE @ http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/White-Chocolate-Easter-Basket. If you run into an issue, I'll be glad to offer advice.  I hope you create a basket that matches Patsy's...

Steps one and two are done together because you are creating the base.  We did this part Tuesday night at Patsy's house.

Step One is to create your basket base.  This is really simple.  You will need a 6 inch pan according to the class I took, but the website says you can also use a 1 1/2 quart bowl to create your base.  Regardless of which you use, you simply melt 20 oz of candy coating, mix in 2/3 cup of corn syrup over low heat and pour it in to create the base.

Step Two must be done quickly so the base doesn't completely set up before you do it. Using the same melted candy coating that you will pour as your base, coat 13 three inch pretzel sticks or 13 sucker sticks to serve as supports for the basket sides. Let them cool and then, insert them around the edges of the pan/bowl you poured your basket base mixture into. Stick in the freezer for about 30 minutes until it is firm. When you remove it, your base should look like the picture above. Mine staretd off beautiful and smooth. I had such high hopes....

Step Three was also done at home and is fairly simple. Using the same chocolate clay mixture of melted chocolate and corn syrup, you will create eight 1 inch balls of clay.  I used different colors for my basket; Patsy used green and Donna chose yellow.  Get creative!


 Step Four is to simply roll out the balls of chocolate clay into 1/4 inch ropes.  


Step Five involves weaving the ropes through the support sticks.
Alternate directions every time your begin a new rope.







 Continue to layer until you reach the top.  Leave a little room for the top braided rope.






Braid two (according to the instructor) or three (website) ropes of clay together to create a finished braid. Add to top of basket around all support sticks. The website says to add a small dot of melted clay on each stick to act as a glue. Great idea...





 Voila!  You have a finished basket....  Patsy's is the beautiful green one... while this is mine...  Donna's went home to try again another day since our instructor was of no assistance at all.  The website even explains how to do a handle because all baskets need a handle but we didn't have that option in our money-wasting class. I hope you will give this a try. I think it is a really wonderful idea.  I'm am not sure though why I paid money to someone who did nothing and provided no supplies or help.  You do not have to though!  Go have fun with it!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Spring Break Has Arrived!

Spring Break.  The words alone make me smile.  As a college student, the words conjure up images of beach trips, wild parties, bikini-clad girls and buff beach guys.  All that youth trying to live life to the fullest. I am not that college kid though.  Spring break means a time to relax, catch up with friends, and sleep. The break recharges me so I can live life to the fullest.  Same idea, different strategies. I'm older now.  I know that life is not a sprint; it's a marathon.

My plans for Spring Break are incredibly simply. I plan to sleep late and take naps.  I constantly say that I am tired.  This is the week that I can catch up on sleep. I plan to read.  I love to read, and although I must read 93 APUSH essays sometime during the next week, I also plan to read magazine articles, novels, juicy details.... I want to travel to places far far away in my mind through the pages of the books. I want to read other people's thoughts, to live their lives for a brief time, to explore.  There is something magical about reading. I plan to catch up with friends.  Reading is magical, but so is laughter shared with friends.  I want to laugh and laugh and laugh.

Let the college kids party and bake their bodies in the sun. I want to savor the parts of life I love.... and sleep a lot. Then, I want to count down the days until summer...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Well, Hello There World...

When I began this blog for Lent, I wrote that it would be the blog about nothing, the Seinfeld of blogs as it were. I think I've lived up to that prediction.  I sit down and for about twenty to thirty minutes every day I write to whoever stumbles across this blog about various things.  When I first started writing, I wasn't sure if anyone would read it.  Afterall, God didn't say start writing so that people will read; He said start writing to heal your broken heart over Taylor's enlistment.  The daily pouring out of my thoughts has accomplished that.  I made it through the day when Taylor signed his enlistment papers without a single tear which was a major accomplishment for me. The blog has helped me.

I did not expect to hear that so many people read my daily ramblings.  I have several friends tell me that they read daily or that they catch up on them every few days. My sister-in-law told Taylor last night that I should continue writing after Easter because she reads it.  It does give me a forum to talk about anything I have on my mind which I am beginning to think is my next big need.  Maybe God is telling me that I don't have to have solo conversations in my head when Taylor leaves.  I can blog and maybe, just maybe some of you will talk back.  See, it really makes my day when I see a comment on the blog.  The comments mean that I am actually talking to someone and not just typing to the universe in general.  Please talk to me! I'm actually not sure what steps are required to comment.  I have to sign in using a free Google account to blog. However, I have anonymous comments from time to time so you do not have to leave a name to comment. Go ahead... leave a comment. Let me know what you think...  Should I continue to blog after next Sunday?

Blogger (the site that hosts my blog) has an interesting tool that gives you statistics related to your blog.  While I have no idea WHO reads my blog unless you tell me, I can see which part of the world they are in.  I write about randomness and usually detail things in my part of the world. However, my stats say I have readers in 10 countries.  AMAZING!  I apparently have readers in Pakistan, Russia, Denmark, South Korea, India, Australia, China, Iran, Germany, and the US.  Wow...  I look every day at the audience bar to see if I have collected any new countries.  It's the blogger version of the license plate game. If you are reading this from another country, PLEASE comment.

As I am sitting here writing about people from around the world reading my words, I am smiling.  Not only because I am humbled that people think I have anything of note to say but also because God is so amazing.  He is using this blog as a mission.  People around the world are reading about the grace of God, about the power of God, about the truth of God. Our Great Redeemer helped me and then, He began using me to reach others in a blog about absolutely nothing. God is good all the time!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Finding The Good....

Some days are just rough.  This was definitely one of them. I am determined to find the good though.

Today was the day of my practice AP exam.  Students arrive at school early to take the three and a half hour test which means that I needed to arrive even earlier.  I was at school, in my room, by 6:45 a.m. rushing around to finalize all the things that needed to be finished before students arrived. Because it was so early, I could not stop by The Huddle, my favorite place to grab a morning biscuit and glass of tea.  I ran through McDonalds' drivethru.  However, my chicken biscuit hit the floorboard when my purse tipped over.  No biscuit for me this morning.  Not a good start... I didn't need those calories anyway.

The students walked in, sat down, and began working.  With less than two minutes left to go during the multiple choice portion of the test, a student asked to go to the nurse stating that she felt faint.  The nurse diagnosed the attack as stress-related.  The girl returned in tears.  Yep, going to be one of those days... Isn't it great that I have students who care so much about their grades that they feel faint over their performance on the practice test though?

The students are given a short break between the multiple choice section and the essay portion.  I provide snacks for them.  I have a tendency to feed my students.  Today, after I arrived and set up the class, I remembered that at least two of my students had given up sugar for Lent.  Most of the snacks I had bought contained sugar.  Off I went to find Brad, keeper of the canteen, to buy sugar-free snacks. I didn't mind this.  It means I have students honoring God. That's worth a few extra snacks.

The exam ends.  I take a short break myself during first lunch only to hear that the auditor has pulled one of my receipt books.  Student Council constantly writes receipts for the gazillion events we host.  Since they are teenagers, the students do not always fill the receipts out completely which I have reminded them about several times... Now the auditor has pulled a book to review.  Luckily, he has only a few minor complaints and Megan, the bookkeeper, has handled those.  Isn't it great to have wonderful co-workers?

I am helping the co-worker of Patsy, one of my close friends, tweak her National Boards entries. ~ Hi Heather!  I know you are reading this. :) ~ Her lesson was so cool, but the write-up needed a little polishing.  She took her students on an on-site field trip to explore the effect of temperature of changing states of matter (why snow does and does not melt).  They are in kindergarten and already doing hands-on science experiements.  Cool, cool, cool! I worked on it all during my planning period and then for some reason simply closed it.  Gone.  Lost.  Wiped away...  Seven pages of work vanished. Ummmm.... Really? The good in this is that I was even asked to look over her entries and I was so impressed with her science lesson.  I did it all again and it looks good.  :) PLUS, I reminded myself to always, always, always save my work...

After school, Student Council had a meeting for students who are willing to run for the Student Body officer slots next year.  Only two students came.  It is an extreme amount of work, and I am not the advisor next year.  The good?  The two that were there are simply amazing.

I left school at 4:45 pm. 10 hour day... I ran to let my parents' dogs out since my dad was having a heart cath today only to discover that both locks were locked and I only had a key to the deadbolt.  I pulled out my phone to call my mom only to find that my phone was dead...  This day is like a bad comedy by now..  I head to my house, plug the phone into the charger, and call my mom at the hospital.  She is not happy but she tells me to check if the back door key is on the key ring.  It was!!! The other good thing is that my sister who hates dogs was there earlier to let the dogs out... even if she did lock me out by locking both locks.  Now she knows better though.  Yay for sharing the doggie duties!

Headed to meet Patsy for dinner.  I am late by now, of course.  Dinner was great!  Patsy let me vent and laugh all the way to Greenville.  She truly is amazing. Her hubby, Ken, wouldn't let me pay for my dinner. Double Yay!!  I have wonderful friends!

Stopped back by my parents and arrived at the same time that my parents drove up.  Yay that my dad came home today!

Finished tweaking Heather's entry a second time.  Saved it this time. Lesson learned. I realized that I forgot  to finish making the test for my CP class tomorrow morning.  That is the good the students may find in this day tomorrow.... unless I get up early again tomorrow.... 

It's been a long day, but great things happened all day among the craziness.  I'll focus on that, but just in case.... How many days to Spring Break again???

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Forget The Joy... I Need The Basics Of Cooking..

Last year, I watched the movie Julie and Julia about a woman who blogs as she works her way through Julia Childs classic cookbook, The Joy of Cooking. The movie focuses on the modern-day woman and how she has this unknowing connection to Julia Child's life when she was writing the book. Julie blogs daily about the recipes she tries and discovers truths about herself along the way.  I can relate...  I discover things about myself every day as I sit down to write to you.

I share another connection to Julie as well... I know it is a little late in the game since my only child is leaving home, but I want to learn to cook... and bake from scratch... and dare I say it.... to grill. I can cook, of course.  Taylor has not grown into the tall strapping young man that he is based solely on a diet of Happy Meals and frozen pizza.  I fed him proper meals when he was younger ~ the staples of chicken, hamburger, steak, soups, and stews.  If asked, Taylor will tell you that my steak and smashed potatoes is his favorite meal.  I tried to sneak lima beans or corn into the equation, but as he has aged, the accompanying veggies were pushed to the side to linger until they are scraped into the trash later. I can make Taylor's favorite meals, though he is rarely home in the evenings for me to do so these days. I want more though. I want to learn how to truly meld flavors, reduce sauces, marinate meats until they are infused with deliciousness.  I want to cook something that I cannot wait to eat. Where do I start? Exactly where does a novice chef turn to figure our how to separate an egg and why it needs to be separated in the first place? Where do I even begin without taking on the sort of huge project seen in the movie?

As a shopper at heart, I think I need the stuff  first.  Tonight, my friends, Patsy and Donna, made the bases for candy Easter basket that will be woven with choclate strips to make beautiful edible baskets. Patsy provided all the stuff for me to make one as well so I can join them for the class on Saturday.  Patsy is a wonderful cook; she also has all the equipment to do about anything.  She has candy molds and an entire collection of differing sizes of glass measuring cups.  I have a single small aluminum measuring cup. Is it really any wonder who the better cook is here? The stuff matters.

Saturday, G, my niece, great-niece, and I went to dinner after taking prom pictures. We ate at a wonderful downtown restaurant (Smoke on the Water) where I enjoyed the loaded potato cake.  It was delicious and light and absolutely perfect.  I want to be able to cook well enough so I can eat something like that and know how to recreate it at home in my own kitchen. If you haven't been to Smoke on the Water, go.  They have wonderful lunch deals during the week; they have this amazing squash casserole too.  I'd like to make it as well.  I want to make food that I relish rather than eating soup from the pot so I don't need to wash an extra bowl. Anyone have a list of exactly which items a functioning kitchen for one should have to allow me to make delicious meals at home?  What do I need?

When Taylor leaves for basics, I plan to stay busy, to keep my mind occupied, to try not to become the weepy military mom that I fear I will be.  Maybe, just maybe that involves a cooking class and a shopping spree at a kitchen store.. I need to know the basics before I can tackle the Joy of Cooking. Sorry, Julia..

Monday, April 11, 2011

Talk To The Hand

I'm not sure where the phrase "Talk to the Hand" began, but very few conversations that I engage in end without some part of the conversation being conveyed by my hands.  You cannot talk to me without talking to my hands too.  I would be willing to say that the vast majority of you reading this blog use hand gestures in some way, shape, or form to get your point across as well. Our hands speak volumes.

When I was videoed teaching as part of my quest to obtain National certification, I realized just how much I spoke with my hands.  I knew that I made motions. However, I did not realize that there were patterns to the movements.  When I present material, I move my hands in a rolling motion outward.  Take your hand turned palm inward.  Now turn it in a cricle like you are rolling out something away from your body.  In every single video, this is what I did with my hands while lecturing. I suppose I was rolling out information.  Interestingly when I asked questions, I started with my hand further away from my body and rolled it back in to my body.  I wanted them to bring the information back to me. I also moved my hands about to simulate movement, jumping, making connections and the like throughout the lessons. I was acting out certain portions to get my point across without realizing it.  My hands help me teach daily.

Saturday afternoon while Taylor was mowing the lawn, I had a conversation with a friend of mine. We disagreed on a few items, and after a few minutes of discussion, he left.  Taylor turned off the mower to ask what the argument had been.  I asked why he thought there had been any discord.  He replied "I didn't need to hear you to know what you were saying.  You always argue with your hands." He went on to demonstrate and explain a few of my motions which made me laugh.  They were completely accurate.  I want to go on the record though.  I was not using my middle finger.  I'm not even sure why that finger is any more offensive than the index finger, ring finger, or pinkie.  It is though and I do not use it in anger. The two gestures that clued Taylor into the fact that my friend and I were disagreeing were simple.  First, I took my hand placed it about level with my head and chopped the air.  Moved down a little further, chopped the air. Repeat motion a few more times and you realize that I am creating an angry timeline in the air. Taylor said that while he didn't know what the issue in question was but apparently it had been going on a while because I felt the need to list every incident.  Ummm...  Good call.  While the timeline may be a hand gesture personal to me, the second motion is definitely not. Put both hands out to your sides, arms fully extended.  Palms facing out.  This is a question which may or may not be accompanied by a spoken question.  In anger, people have a tendency to move their upper body slightly into the space between the arms.  Recognize it?  Yep... We all do this one. Taylor is perceptive.  He really needs to think about choosing intelligence as his job in the Marines.

Of course, I am not the only person to use hand gestures. Think of all the universal movements out there of which we all know the meaning; the ones that help us throughout our life from the time we are small kids placing one finger over our lips to ask our friend not to give our location away in a game of hide and go seek. Stop - hand up, palm facing out.  Call me - hand closed with pinky and thumb extended held toward your ear.  I love you - arms crossed over your chest followed by extended index finger pointed at the loved person. You can build an entire relationship based on the movement of your hands.

A friend wants to introduce you to a single friend who is nearby. They say the guy's name and then, bending his arm at the elbow motions the prospective date over with his hand moving in a waving motion.  No need to shout "Hey Buddy, Come over here where I am"; the hand gesture works. The guy walks over.  The host introduces you by moving his open palmed hand to you and then to the single man.  You shake hands. There is lots of communication going on during this exchange that is unspoken.  Psychologists can prattle on and on about why it is important to make the exchange with open palms to show welcome and openness.  You don't need the jargon behind it to understand that this open palm is much more appealing that someone introducing you to some one using a closed fist or a pointing index finger or dare we say, the middle finger. The handshake is important too.  In my Leadership class, we do an entire lesson on how to properly shake hands (not to hard or soft, not to long or short).  How many times have you shook the limp fish hand of someone at a social gathering and immediately disliked that person?  Same holds true for having your hand crushed by someone and wondering what their issue was.  What your hands say matters.

Of course, parents use nonverbal hand communication to discipline children all the time.  I'm not talking about spanking; I mean the point and look.  Your child is across the room from you goofing off, doing something dangerous, chewing with their mouth open, whatever.  You make eye contact with them, put two fingers to your eyes and then, turn the same two fingers toward them. The child immediately stops the offensive action. You have spoken and perhaps even let them know what the punishment is without saying a word. Your hands have said it all. Of course, if you have not actually parented your child, the point and look will mean nothing just like the international phone gesture will mean nothing to a third world resident who has never seen a phone.  There has to be context.

I could go on and on.  There are literally tens of thousands of hand gestures to show joy, praise, excitement, loss, despair, love, hatred, shyness, openness. I will let you ponder your favorite hand phrases for awhile though..... What are your hands saying today?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Putting All The Pieces Together

My friend, Avannah, gave me a beautiful shirt last week. She felt the blouse was more suited to my style than hers.  I absolutely love clothing, so I was thrilled.  Saturday afternoon, I wore it for prom pictures.  It is a wrap-style silk shirt with a sash that circles the waist and ties in front.  When I first put it on, I was confused by how the sash should go and in pictures, the shirt looks ill-fitting on me.  I changed into another shirt before heading downtown for more photos.  This morning, I put the shirt back on determined to figure out the fit issue.  It is a beautiful shirt so it is worth the effort.  I realized that I needed to thread the sash through certain slits in the shirt to achieve the proper fit.  I had corrected the problem by looking at the design closer. I wore it to church with a camisole underneath since the wrap left more uncovered than I wanted exposed. At lunch, I realized that the shirt had a small clasp that actually connected the two portions of the garment making the shell underneath totally unnecessary. I had overlooked important information. I had simply put the shirt on twice without taking time to adequately look at the shirt.  I assumed that I knew all I needed to know, but I was wrong. I needed to slow down and put the pieces together using the design the maker planned.

God has designed our lives for a specific purpose, and we need to slow down to understand each part.  We need to make sure that we are putting all the pieces together correctly. Earlier in the week, I planned to blog about Francis Chan's Crazy Love. I have been reading this incredible book slowly after a student asked me to read it with him. The section that I planned to write about deals with who God truly is.  God is holy, eternal, and all-knowing.  He is perfect love, and He knows the true you.  On Sunday mornings, many people dress up and put their best face forward as they shake hands with the members of the congregation around them.  God knows though.  He is the all-knowing, all-powerful savior who knows the TRUE us and died for us anyway.  Wow.  Chan further explains that the true being of God is so massive that our understanding of him can be compared to trying to fit the ocean into a soda can.  He is vast. We cannot even fathom His true greatness with our limited minds.  The creator of the universe knows us, knows what we think about in our weakest moments and He still died for us. Yet, even though we cannot truly grasp how amazing He is, we question Him. Chan asserts that arrogance makes us question God.  People ask if there truly is a God, then why is there hunger in the world? Chan answers this.  The answer hit home. God has more of a right to ask us why people are starving in the world. What have we done to feed them, to clothe them, to house them, to reach them?

As a teacher, I know that the basic needs of a child must be met before they can learn.  It's one of the first teaching principles in education programs.  You must make the child feel safe. Ensure they are warm; they are nourished. If they are worried about survival, you cannot really expect them to focus on US History or quadratic equations or whatever. Yet, I have totally overlooked this from a spiritual standpoint.  I didn't blog about this although I had planned to do so.  God knew I didn't have all the pieces yet.

Our sermon this morning was about Life in Christ Jesus.  There are three types of life - judicial, spiritual, and eternal.  Judicial life is the pardon we have received from God.  Jesus died on the cross for my sin, for your sin, for the sin of the world. Yet, we question Him. We make excuses for the sin in our lives.  God never excuses sin.  He hates it.  Remember that on the cross He endured great pain and suffering for us because of our sin, and we want to bargain with him to continue sinning. We bargain with God. The Almighty, Creator of universes sent His only begotten son to die so we could be pardoned and we want to strike a deal to keep on sinning. I am not suggesting that we can ever not sin.  We have a sinful nature by birth, but we need to start TRYING to not sin.  We should respect the judicial life God has granted us.  The second life is our spiritual life.  God has sent us witnesses to tell us of His grace.  If we reject this grace, we will have to answer for this at the judgement seat.  Do you want to face God and say yes, I heard the truth but I rejected it?  John the Baptist bore witness that Jesus was the Son of God.  The works of God bear witness that He is real, that God is truth. The Father himself speaks to us. Why do people not answer? John 5:40 says "And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life."  The third type of life we have in God is eternal life. Thank you, God! We do not have to face the wages of our sin, but can have eternal life instead.  I started to blog about this sermon earlier today, but God wasn't through showing me pieces yet.

Choir practice for the Easter Contata continued today.  One of the songs touches me deeply every week.  In Before the Throne of God Above, the words "the King of Glory and of Grace. One with Himself, I cannot die" resonate with me and give me peace. Taylor can enlist.  He can go fight.  He is saved and under God's protection.  He has eternal life.  Every week, as we practice this song, God reminds me of the importance of salvation.  I didn't know the song gave me a piece of a larger conversation until today though.

The final piece was delivered via the serman tonight.  The preacher struggled to deliver his message.  After the service, a couple of teachers joked that he needed ritalin since he seemed to be all over the place tonight.  He said he had a message all planned out about how people perceive some great mystery surrounding Jesus when it is really simple.  Jesus died for our sins.  You must ask for forgiveness and receive salvation to receive eternal life.  That simple.  No big mystery surrounding it.  Click. The lost aren't coming to Him because they haven't been told that one simple message yet in very easy terms.  Jesus Christ died for your sins and mine.  He did so willingly.  He wants to pardon your sins and give you eternal life.  There is no mystery.  Ask God to forgive your sins.  No bargaining.  You have sinned and can never deserve eternal life.  God will give it to you though. What are you waiting on? You have all the pieces in front of you.

I am amazed that God offers me small parts of a larger picture all throughout the week. I need to slow down to make sure I don't miss the big picture. It's too important.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

And The Countdown Speeds Up...

Senior year is a series of milestones. The clock heading to graduation starts ticking the night before senior year begins and ends when your child walks across the stage to receive his diploma. First day of school.  Tick.  Last home game.  Tick. Mid term exams.  Tick.  Graduation supplies ordered and delivered.  Tick Tick.  The time is elapsing but like the New Year Eve's countdown in Times Square, no one really pays attention until the time is almost over. People start counting along when 10 seconds are remaining, not two hours. I've known for months that the end of senior year means Taylor leaving home is real. There are no more finish lines to cross before his enlistment begins.  Tonight is his senior prom though. Did anyone else hear the people yell 10, 9, 8...?


 Taylor and his beautiful girlfriend, Rachel posing in front of the azaleas. Rachel earns many points for this because this is Taylor's fifth prom and she is the first girl to come to our house for pictures.  Every year, Taylor goes to pick the young lady up from her house and I either join him there for pictures or I depend on the date to share pictures.  Rachel willingly came to the house after Taylor picked her up to pose for pictures. Nice change.  Of course, we then drove to Greenville to take pictures of the entire group but still...


 Every year, Taylor and Wrenny, my great-niece take pictures while he is all dressed up.  Last year, a classmate asked if she was his and Taylor laughed.  In today's society, teenagers having children is more and more common.  I am proud to say that Taylor is not one of them.  He does love Wrenny the Pooh though.

Lucas, Taylor's best friend, also came to the house for the photo session and a little help figuring out the pocket square.

This is Taylor's prom group. Taylor is blessed to have an incredible group of friends that he has known forever.  Starting from the left is Suzanne.  In first grade, Suzanne hurt Taylor's feelings by telling him that he had to go to remediation because he was dumb.  He was devastated.  He was (and is) dyslexic.  Taylor forgave her long ago.  Me?  well... Next to her is Chelsie.  She was the tough girl on Taylor's peewee soccer teams.  He once invited her to an all boy birthday party, but she didn't come.  To a seven year old, the invitation was high praise. Interesting side note, Chelsie dates Zach who went to camp with Taylor year after year as they grew up in church together. Small world... The handsome young man next to Zach is Lucas, Taylor's very best friend who he has known since nursery school. In the long pink dress is Sarah., beautiful and sweet Sarah.  Taylor and she have been fast friends since middle school. The young lady in the dramatic red dress is Tori, Taylor's prom date from last year.  In middle school, Taylor told me that Tori reminded him of his "big sister cousin" Cricket which is the highest praise anyone could be given. The tiny blonde next to Rachel is Bree who has went to school with Taylor since first grade. She likes to wear baggy shorts and t-shirts most days so it is wonderful to see her all dressed up.  The last couple is Taylor and Rachel who are absolutely goregous.  Taylor has talked about the twins (Rebecca, Rachel's twin didnt go tonight) since middle school.  He has always thought Rachel was beautiful.  She is.  You know how in Father of the Bride, Steve Martin sees a little girl telling him she was getting married rather than his grown daughter?  That's how I feel when I look at these kids...  How is it time already for them to be grown?

The countdown is speeding up...  Swearing in May 2nd.... Class Day... Graduation... Basics... Tick Tick Tick...