Our Happy Dance

Joy in the day to day! Joy in who we are together! Joy unspeakable (1Peter 1:8)!

God Sized Dreams: Student Teaching

Another moment of joy put in writing. . .

I rush from Teacher in Service over to my college halls on a Monday night. My old Suburban is burning oil and rubber as I rush to get to the meeting in time. The humidity is palpable and it feels as though you can reach out and touch it with the window rolled down. I’m listening to the radio, so very loud, and tears threaten. Things are a little tender in my heart these days.

The Director of our Education Department says, “Congratulations, you are embarking on the culmination of your education here.” All day long, I’ve heard about curriculum choices, state standards, and I’ve sat with wide eyes and open heart as teachers more experienced than I, allow me to shadow them and to learn from them. I’ve been allowed a bird’s eye view on the amount of time these educators spend away from home. I’m beginning to realize the weight of this decision; the support families offer in allowing wives, husbands, mommas and daddy’s to educate others. A million times over I’ve pinched myself. In my mind’s eye, I’ve seen me as nine year old sitting with my Dad, writing the plan for college prep. Life proceeded differently and I took a lot of detours… Culmination? This one has been a long time coming. In fact, after seeing the ten year high school class reunion come and go, marriage and two babies,  all of us dared not believe it would ever happen. I want to call my husband and my parents and shout, “we’ve arrived!” I want to call my fifth grade teacher and say, “thank you, with all my heart, thank you!”

I’m handed a handbook of requirements, more rigor, more checkpoints. Afterward, my Professors shake my hand, wish me well. There are offers of support and exciting exchanges concerning commencement. One Professor, stands before me and apologizes for cold hands. He says, “After 26 years of teaching, I still get nervous before crowds.” He spoke to all of us moments earlier about some reflection requirements and standards of excellence our State requires we embrace as teachers.  He’s one of the good ones, one of those seemingly carved out to instruct. When he speaks, I listen and I look for the teachable moment because I’ve learned from experience, its coming.  I reply, “I always get cold hands too.” You can see the feeling in his eyes when he says, “Because you care.” He’s been adamant from the beginning that his teaching students never stop caring. He’s taught me that the very best instructors approach it in this manner–as an act of service. He’s reminding me of why I’m here. I do care.

Its impossible to say what sort of impact I’ll make in two months time. I know my heart though, this is a gift. I’ll approach it in that manner. Student teaching has begun!

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Maximize Your Peace

Just me thinking out loud again. . .

Today, I’m writing about three precious words, my husband graciously tosses my direction when I am getting discombobulated by the here and now. Seems I’ve got myself quite a toolbox of beautiful phrases to meet the needs of my heart. . .here’s another one for you to munch on:

Maximize Your Peace

The fact is peace is a gift given to us. It sort of comes with that grace package Jesus offered us. If we already possess this gift then maximizing it should be less than rocket science. Tricky business? I tend to make it so. Tell me I’m not the only one. Of late, when chaos or anxiety pushes in on me, my thought process goes something like this. . .

Does this thing give me joy or does it zap my energy. . .

Does this relationship make me better in some way or does growth seem like an impossible pursuit?

Am I jumping to conclusions?

Am I operating in my gifting and talents?

Maximize Your Peace

John 14:27 promises that Jesus has given peace sufficient for us. It reads, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”  See there? It’s a gift. I feel like Jesus is saying, though, don’t let this gift get robbed from you, hang on to it. I wonder if you could use that encouragement today?

Jesus knew full well what we’re up against here. I bet He knew too, our greatest danger wasn’t the circumstances or people we’d meet. I bet he knew our greatest hindrance would be our reluctance to accept what’s He’s so graciously given, that we in our human pride would prefer a task list, a ladder or a how to video, and a pat on the back for our stellar accomplishment.

I’ve been doing some reading and much of what I read in scripture concerning peace does involve our active participation…check this out. . .

Isaiah 26: 3 assures us that God will keep in perfect peace those whose mind is steadfast.  So be steadfast. . .

Psalm 34:14 tells us to seek peace and to pursue it. 

Romans 12:18 reminds us as much as possible to live at peace with everyone As much as possible, absolutely! Friend, it’s not always possible. . .

Galatians 5:22 tell us that the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.  A fruit. . .hrm. . .

So now I know, and now friends you have been reminded too, peace we’ve been given. . .unwrap your gift and utilize it and don’t you let any person, place or thing take what is rightfully yours.

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Better Days Are Coming

It’s been a rough week filled with oddities and out of the ordinaries.  My nerves, as such, have been wearing mighty, mighty thin. There at the laundry machine yesterday, deep in thought, transferring a load from the washer into the dryer, I began ruminating over the chaos. I spent some time talking to God about the why’s and how’s. I pushed the button to the dryer and listened to the hum, just allowing myself the pause to have my frustrations, perhaps, drowned out by the din.

What I got, instead, was a memory; a memory of hand written words on the back of a photograph.  The words written on the back were penned by my Grandfather and its those words that came out of nowhere and knocked my negativity straight on its tail. The fact the memory of these words came to me in the middle of my mundane and served to straighten me out, well that, my friend, is taken as a downright extraordinary.

“Better days are coming, Honey, better days are coming!”

Since, I’ve been resting on those words, letting them sort of unleash themselves in my mind and soul. My better self, the one that has a heart right and an attitude more reflective of light and love finds a compass in them. This morning it sort of hit me how reflective they are of my Grandfather’s character, forged on something bigger and better than himself. He believed in the Triune God. Believed so strongly that for years, he brought seven kids, all dressed up in their Sunday best, to a church where they would have an opportunity to hone their faith on the cornerstone of Christ. I wonder what he’d say as I make excuses for arriving late or not at all with precious two.  No, I don’t wonder what he’d say, I know he’d give me grace because that’s what people do who have visited with grace themselves.

When you are living in the light of the promises of God, you have every reason for hope, and words like my Grandfather’s become more than just another example of optimism, they become truth. Better days are coming, Honey, better days are coming!  Not because God will answer every prayer the way we think He should but simply because He is and He loves. . .

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Spring Violin Concert

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Every single day you fight us, daughter, on these lessons. You fight until you hear the music come out the way its meant to.  Last year and this, Daddy and I wondered how the recital was going to go. We wondered if there were to be tears over a forgotten note. We wondered if you’d just freeze when you see how many people, perfect strangers, are in attendance. Your teacher, Joanna, coaxes you into proper form during every lesson, reminds you of your bow hold. Reminds you to relax too. Daddy and I see the transformation that comes over you when the music starts and its pure joy for all of us.

Great Uncle Milt gave us the down payment on that violin for your birthday, blessed our socks off, and made this dream manageable. Then Daddy and I worked to get the instrument paid off. Nothing worth having is worth half as much if it comes easy. This is a mantra around here, isn’t it?

Its your violin now, Baby girl, your instrument; and you are God’s. Both of you are meant for beauty. When you stand in that college chapel of ours, there in front of the altar cross, Daddy and I, we realize again just how blessed we are. You’re wearing pearls and such a sweet smile and when you curtsy after Lightly Row, you look more destined for Camelot than our cookie cutter town home life.  I look over at your Daddy, who has bravely walked toward the stage to get the important photo. His face says it so eloquently. Every single good gift comes from above, from the Father of lights, you my sweet girl, are one of the most precious gifts, He has ever given us.

 

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Kids Choir Concert

My daughter has had such a great year in large part due to all the friends and mentors she’s received by joining kids choir at our church. We’ve been blessed to watch her grow in her faith and we feel fortunate to be part of such a welcoming church family. For her final concert this year, her grandparents drove the hour commute in rush hour traffic to celebrate with her. The Choir Director had the students well prepared to sing every song they had learned during the year and it was truly a beautiful concert. Just after the finale, the church provided Dilly Bars for the house! Can’t wait for next year!

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Hunting for Easter Eggs in the Snow

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Can’t ever seem to get these three precious kids to look at the camera at once. In any case, smiling or pouting, they fill my heart to overflowing!

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Let’s Go Fly A Kite

Photos from Easter (I’m that far behind).

Traditionally, as much as possible, we fly kites on Easter weekend. I’m not sure why we do this except to say that Hubby has a sweet and dear Aunt (love you Aunt Sue) who lived on a beautiful farm. When we’d go to visit her, she’d hand us kites. We had such fun it became a tradition. It does seem to me a really beautiful way to celebrate the risen King! She gave us another tradition too, her pineapple casserole which is a welcomed addition to my Easter dinner always.

Hot Pineapple Casserole

3  two ounce cans of pineapple chunks, drained well

6 T flour

3/4 c of sugar

2 c shredded cheddar cheese

1 c Ritz cracker crumbs

6 T. melted butter

Combine flour, pineapple, sugar and cheese in a 9×13 buttered pan. Sprinkle cracker crumbs over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

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Chin up!

I don’t know about you but there are days when its tough to crawl out of bed. For me those days often come in March when the snow is thick and I’ve got too much to do. It’s been one of those days. However, I made this discovery, just now, during my quiet time.

I love these words from the Message Bible 1 Peter 3 starting at verse 15

“If with heart and soul you are doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ your master.”

I love how it breaks down. . .Here are my notes:

Through thick and thin-a glorious idiom of deep friendship. It means you don’t retreat, in good times and bad, you stand hand-in-hand. Friendship is a bit like faith, in that if its not tested, you can never be certain of it. In this case, we are talking about the friend that sticks closer than a brother. If there is one thing life has taught me, its that I’d rather taste anguish holding Jesus’ hand, than to gain the accolades of the world. To neglect what gives me meaning would be foolishness.

The position of At attention, or Standing at attention, I checked that out too (Thank you Wikipedia). “It is a military posture which involves the following general postures:

  • Standing upright with an assertive and correct posture: famously “chin up, chest out, shoulders back, stomach in”.
  • Arms fixed at the side, thumb or middle finger parallel to trouser or skirt seam, depending on military drill specifics.
  • “Eyes front”: head and eyes locked in a fixed forward posture. Ideally eyes unmoving fixated on a distant object. Blank facial expression.
  • Keeping the heels together, toes apart
  • No speech, facial or bodily movements except when as required by military drill.”

Notice, in this posture, your hands are not busy, they are still. You are not leaping into the next ministry opportunity, you are looking at your master, you are waiting for His direction. Eyes front, looking ahead and not behind.

Adoration is a beautiful word!

It is one of those beautiful action words, and we girls, we love activity, don’t we? Can we say, multitasking? Here’s the mission for today; rejoice, adore.

So here we go, eyes forward looking to the author and finisher of our faith. If there is no strength to stand, at least let us position our hearts to do the one thing they were created to do, speak up in adoration, rejoice–out of the abundance of love we have been filled with-love for Him who became sin for us.

Chin up. . .you are in audience of a King, and Easter is coming.

 

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Get Yourself a Yellow Purse

I married a neutral sort of fellow. When I took his last name and took half of his closet, he gently complained over the vibrant colors of my wardrobe. Think Italian girl meets German boy, because this is what had happened.  His side: brown, grey, olive green and variants of the aforementioned–all practical. My side: fuchsia, chartreuse, turquoise, and many, many shades of purple all with matching shoes! Time passed and little by little I embraced my inner Scandinavian; recognizing that I felt better in earth tones. I traded my big hair for more subdued fashion and my overstated makeup for visible freckles and bright eyes. I embraced chocolate brown. Who wouldn’t?

So, imagine my surprise when I came home from a thrift store shopping extravaganza with a purse the color of Big Bird’s feathers. What on earth was I gonna do with it? I tried switching out my black mommy tote and chucking everything inside of this new beauty. The moment I did, I slapped my forehead in wonderment. I’d had some sort of momentary lapse of judgement, I was certain. I emptied the yellow purse and tossed it up high on a closet shelf.

Then came the In(rl) sign up for this year and the many lovely ladies sending encouragement and their blog addresses so we could get to know one another ahead of time. I became intrigued by so many of them, including Vicki and wanted to reach out. Reaching out requires bravery (extra bravery for the introvert).  Many of these girls seemingly have genuine hearts and gorgeous-strong-spirits. I began following many of them and decided once we started throwing small talk out via Twitter, we should get to know one another, soon, and in person.  Again–bravery. Next thing you know though, I’m mumbling something about meeting for coffee and oh, by the way, “I’ll be carrying a yellow purse.”  People, it’s like something took over.

Well, friends, I just met Vicki for coffee with my friend Laura and I did carry my yellow monstrosity handbag.  I had it sitting out there on the Panera table, in broad day light; I really wanted our new friend to be able to find us. Oh my heavens, what a day! What a seriously good day! Now, that yellow purse will forever be associated with audacity and fierce friendship. No momentary lapse of judgment, no waste of hard earned money. Just three really fabulous girls doing lunch.

In a few words, get yourself a yellow purse and go dance outside your comfort zone. It’s so very worth it!

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Curiosity

I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.  ~Eleanor Roosevelt

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