Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Throughout November, people have been posting and sharing things for which they are grateful.  I do this with 2 different online/email groups, but we do 3 things each day for which we are grateful.  Finding their emails in my Inbox every morning is such a blessing, especially on the days when I am grumbling around, or have not yet done my gratitudes for the day.  
As I'm sitting in my living room this morning, I started to think through all the things for which I'm grateful.  I decided to see if I can do an A-Z list.  So - here goes.  

I am grateful today for:
A: Abundance.  I don't take lightly the fact that at any given time, I have more than enough of whatever I need.  I have been blessed. 
B: Bread.  I don't mean this in the literal sense (although who am I to pass up a good dinner roll?!), but the fact that I am able to nourish my body in a healthy way is another example of the abundance in my life.  
C: Coffee.  Seriously.  It's a treat I get to enjoy every day. 
D:  Dave.  I had always heard how your spouse completes you.  I never fully understood that, until I married Dave.  I love this man more than I ever imagined I could love another human. 
E:  Energy.  Sometimes I joke about how exhausting it is being me.  I am grateful for the energy and spirit I am given to complete the tasks that are in front of me.  
F:  Faith.  Knowing I have everything I need in Christ is beyond incredible for me to imagine. 
G:  Godchildren.  I've not been blessed with my own children, but having been asked to help with the spiritual rearing of Lauren, Lucas, Anslei, and Laura Mae (and being a confirmation sponsor for Vanessa) has been a humbling, incredible blessing.  
H: Home.  We are blessed with a wonderfully safe, secure home.  I love that Dave opened his heart and home to me when we got married, and that we can share our home with our friends and families.  
I: In-Laws.  My brother-in-laws and sister-in-laws mean so much to me.  I am grateful for what each of them brings to our family.  
J:  Jesus.  Need I say more?!
K: Krance family.  Just typing that brings tears to my eyes.  I love my family.  
L: Life.  Too many loved ones have endured "close calls" with health this year, and their experiences have helped me treasure each day even more. 
M: Music.  Ahhh.  
N: Network of friends who support me.  Whether from a professional perspective, heart-to-heart friends, or more casual acquaintances, I am grateful for the incredible people with whom I surround myself. 
O: Opportunities.  I have been given great opportunities to grow as an individual, but also to encourage others, which is my greatest joy.  
P: Purpose.  My purpose in this world is to help others know Christ.  I am grateful for the guidance and opportunities He provides me to do this.  I fail miserably at times, but that makes me more grateful for His mercy and grace.  
Q: Quilts.  I love making quilts or afgans to share with others.  The warmth and security they provide is almost like an invisible hug from me to them. 
R: Running.  I don't do it nearly enough, but I am grateful for my health and strength, and the ability to run. 
S: Sunrises.  They just remind me of God's presence, and the possibilities that come with each new day.  
T: Teaching.  It is my job, but it is my passion.  Whether teaching young people, or other adults.  
U: Understanding.  Grateful for my mental capacity to understand , and grateful for being understood.  
V: Vastness of the world.  The beauty I observe, whether here at home, at the beach, at the mountains, all bring my heart and focus back to the wonder of creation and what God has done.  
W: Wendt family.  OK, a new round of tears for me.  How this family has welcomed me into their lives is beyond what I thought any family could.  I love them.  
X: X-periences.  (So I cheated a little......) We have had some awesome experiences this year, which I cherish.  
Y: Young people.  They drive me wacko once in a while, but I see such hope and promise in them. 
Z: Zucchini.  I like zucchini, but what zucchini makes me think of are people sharing what they have been given.  I am grateful for what others share.  

That's my list.  What would you include in your list? 
I have so very many things to be grateful for this year.  
Including zucchini.   

Friday, November 8, 2013

Five Minute Friday: True

Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker and Five Minute Friday, where we write for five(ish) minutes on a one-word prompt.  This week's word:  True.

We had our fall concert last night at school.  I'm fortunate that Dave and I had dinner before the concert together, and he stayed for the concert.  I don't take this for granted, the fact that he stayed for the concert.  Not having any relatives in the program, or even any real connection to the school or community (other than me teaching), it'd be easy for him to bow out.
And I'd be ok with that.
But the fact is, he was there.
That's one huge indicator of true love, in my book.
A funny thing happened after the concert, though.  I had opened up my room so students could claim their belongings, and was standing at the door as they went in and out of the room.  Dave was standing next to me, and was ready to go, so he leaned over and gave me a kiss as he was leaving.  One of the students walked by and made a funny comment about PDA.  We all laughed about it, and Dave leaned over for one more kiss from me before he walked away.  Another group of students saw and, oh my goodness, the squeals that came from them.  So darling.
As I reflected on this as I was driving home, and as I was finishing up the day, I realized the incredibly humbling way God is answering my prayers.  My most constant prayer is to make a difference for Him.  That's all I ask.  I realize as I am in situations every day where Christ's presence in me is making a difference for some of the young people.  As they see me interact with other teachers. As they see me handle challenging situations.  As they see me with my husband.
Do I always succeed?
Oh my.......I wonder when "grace" will be our Five Minute Friday prompt........
Heavens, no, I don't always succeed.  I fail miserably.  But I am so, so, so very thankful for God's true grace and mercy and unending love.  I am thankful for these reminders to keep me humble and always searching for His guidance in my life.
Love.  Grace.  Mercy.  Love.
These things I know are true.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

FMF: Grace

Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday.  This week's prompt:  GRACE.

How do you write about something so intangible yet so crucial in our lives as "grace"?
I've been using up much of my 5 minutes pondering.....what IS grace?
I know what grace is....when I taught religion, I helped my students understand that it is free, undeserved help from God.
It's the allowance God gives us in our weak, human state.
It's the allowance we extend to others because we can relate to where they are, what's going on.  It's not making excuses for another, but extending to them the care, concern, help we would hope to receive in a similar situation.
Free, undeserved help from God.  I'm sure there's a more theological definition of it.  But when I pray for grace, when I pray to be graceful (filled with grace), when I pray to be able to share grace with others, I am grateful for this gift God so freely gives.
I needed this moment of grace in an otherwise busy, frazzled week.  These moments to stop and reflect and rejoice in what God always provides.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Together

Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker and others for Five Minute Friday.
Today's prompt: Together.
Five minutes starts............

I have been looking forward to today for several weeks.
Why, you ask?
Well, for one thing, we don't have school.  It's a much-welcome day for fall break, for students AND teachers.  And as much as the kids always like having a day off, the longer I'm in teaching, I think these days off are as much (if not more!) for the teachers as for the kids.
But, also, I get to be together with some friends.
Several weeks ago when a friend came over to visit, we talked about trying to find a time to get together to do some papercrafting, either scrapbooking or card-making.  She had been talking with a mutual friend of ours, Christina, who lives a short distance away.  We checked calendars, Jenny did some emails and phone calls, and voila!  We were set for today and tomorrow.
I can't tell you how excited I am to just be together with these two ladies.
They're staying here at our home, and that adds to my excitement.  I love having guests, whether it's for a few minutes, or several hours.  Fresh towels are in their bathroom downstairs, bedding is freshly washed, pillows are plumped.
The rest of the house?  It's presentable.  And you know what?  For once, I'm completely OK with that.  Because I know they're not coming over to inspect the house, to tsk-tsk about crumbs on the floor (which there are), the layer of dust that's covering most of the furniture (which it is, but, hey, we live in the country and it's harvest season!), or the laundry that will continue to be done in the utility room while we work in the basement.
We need this time together.  To share life, to laugh, to chat, to reflect, to ponder, to pray, possibly to cry, definitely to eat chocolate, to drink
Oh, yes, and we'll hopefully get some cards made too.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Five Minute Friday: WRITE

Partnering up with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday, where we write, unedited, for five minutes on a given prompt.  This week: WRITE. 
Ready? Go!

Do I think of myself as a writer?
Do I think of myself as a blogger?
Not really.  Other than the fact that I claim a spot on Blogger.
But do I feel comfortable expressing my thoughts and sharing my heart through writing?
Oh, heavens yes.
I can be a talker.  Just ask my husband.  Or any of my sisters.  Or my friends.  Or my students.  I am a teacher, so by nature, I am a talker.
I'm also a speaker.  Give me a podium and a room of 100 people, and watch me shine.
But do I feel comfortable walking into a party where I only know the host?  Especially if I'm by myself?
Oh, heavens no.
I'm glad to have an outlet where I am able to write.  Whether people read my writing or not is....well, I'd like to say it's irrelevant.  But the truth?  I want people to read what I'm writing.  I want people to relate to what I'm saying. I want to feel like I belong, like what I'm thinking and feeling isn't unique just to me.
I'm grateful that I can write.
And if you're reading this, I'm grateful, oh so grateful, to you!!
(With a few seconds to spare!)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Five Minute Friday: TRUE

Five Minute Friday: True

Linking up with Lisa Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday.  This week's prompt: True.
Ready, go!

I know some things to be true:
God's love is unconditional.  He loves me exactly as I am.
There is nothing I can do more of, or less of, for Him to love me any more.
I know, all too well, I am far, far, far from being anything near perfect.  God alone is perfect.
So then, why do I spend so much of my time, thoughts, energy, and efforts trying for perfection?  Regardless of what I am doing at school, at home, with family, with friends, so much of the time I feel "less than."  I feel like I'm not doing enough, not doing well enough.  That I can do more, do better.  The enemy invades my thoughts way too often, and if I'm not careful, those thoughts take over my mind.
But then what I know to be true comes back to me again: all I can do is all I can do; all I can ever be is what God made me.  God's love, grace, mercy does not depend upon on me.  Not in the least. Thankfully.
And I need to settle that truth more securely in my heart.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Bittersweet Thoughts

If you follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook, you already know I had surgery last week.  After many years of suffering with "female" problems, things this summer got to be unbearable.  Following an exceptionally tough week in July, Dave encouraged me to seek a second opinion from an OB/GYN specialist.  I did, and we scheduled the hysterectomy for the first week of September.
Everything went well with the surgery, and my recovery has gone well since then.  Sure, I'm sore, yes, I'm tired of being told lovingly over and over from my husband, "Sit down.  Let me do that."  So I really can't complain too much.
But things are different.
Dave and I were both over 40 when we got married, so we both knew the chances of us ever having children of our own were small.  But there was a chance.  This weekend, as we were talking about my recovery, we were talking about the finality of this surgery.  Even though we had that small chance of conceiving before the surgery, it's gone.
Never will we get to see that little plus sign on the pregnancy test.
Never will we get to decide what color to paint the room for our baby.
Never will we get to debate names.
Never will we get to do the black and white family pictures I love.
Never will we have an excuse to vacation at Disney World.
Never will we be able to do a million other things that other people take for granted.
It's sad, when I let myself think about it.
Yet, it's a little bit of a relief at the same time.
We won't have the sleepless nights worrying about if everything is ok with them.
We won't have to pay ridiculous amounts of money for prom or homecoming.
We won't have to decide whether to do soccer or dance.
We won't have to worry about how to pay for college.
So while we won't have our own child, our nieces and nephews become that much more precious to us.  My kids at school take over a new part of my heart.
Dave and I have no doubt this was absolutely the best course of action for my health.  Finding out after surgery that there were fibroids taking over one of my ovaries and creating their own tendons attaching to internal organs, and discovering my abdomen and uterus was scarred from endometriosis, we definitely know this surgery was the best thing to do.
But it's still a bittersweet recovery right now.  

Friday, September 6, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Red

Every Friday, hundreds of us do a five-minute write on a given prompt.  Then we link up and post on  Join us!
Today's prompt: Red
Red was my favorite color for so many years.
To me, red symbolizes strength, courage, boldness.  There's something to notice when we see the color red.  A stop sign, a stop light, a warning.
Or a celebration, like a big top tent at a circus.  The stripes on our American flag.  Or a Nebraska Husker football game when 91,000+ people fill Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.  That's a celebration!!
But red also has another meaning to me.  I was reminded of this yesterday as I came out of surgery.
Red is the color of blood.  And in many ways, blood symbolizes life, as well as death.
So as I was pondering this prompt to write, it hit me that when I consider the blood that was shed by Christ for all of us, red takes on a whole different meaning.
Yes, the blood symbolizes His death, as well as new life for me.  But in addition to strength, and courage, it makes me think of humility, and self-sacrifice.  His life, His blood poured out through a life of self-sacrifice, humility, so that my life can be filled with boldness and courage to live for Him.  
You know, I think I have a new favorite color again.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Worship

I think I may have a slightly different view or self-made definition of "worship" than some people who might be posting on FMF today as well.
To me, worship is more than a type of music. Worship is more than something we do for a set amount of time.
Worship goes beyond that.
To me, true worship happens when we devote our whole lives to Jesus.  When everything we do, everything we say, points others toward the greatness and majesty of our amazing, incredible, loving Lord.
Now, often, music enhances that feeling of awe we may have when we are relishing the presence of the Lord.  And yes, we may feel that intimacy a little truer when we are in our quiet time that we try (sometimes desperately!!) to set aside to be with Jesus.  These things and important, and even essential to growing our spiritual relationship with Christ.  But to me, this is not the end-all, be-all of worship.
When our lives are lived in and through and for Christ, every second of every minute of our life is a source of worship, and so our whole life is a continuous flow of worship.
This is my prayer, that my life be one that helps others see the goodness of God through the sacrifice of Christ, His Son.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Last

Five minutes to write on this prompt:  Last.
I don't remember many "lasts" in my life.  Some people have this amazing gift to remember things, and remember things well. I see it as a gift because I don't think I remember things well.
There are times when I'm together with friends or family, and they start talking about certain instances, or funny stories.  Most of the time, after we start talking about them, I do remember them, but to just pick a moment or time at random and start talking about it?  Not me.
Because of that, I don't remember many "lasts" going on.
I remember I was happy on my last day of high school.  I remember I was relieved when I got to leave a bad job for the last day.
Oh, yes, and I remember the last time I got to have lunch with a good friend.  It was awesome -- an hour and a half at the Cheesecake Factory.  Delicious.  The food, and the fellowship both!
And I remember the last kiss Dave gave me.  (That's easy, it was about an hour ago!)
And I remember the last beautiful sunrise I saw.  (It's going on right now!)
And I remember the last time I was overwhelmed by God's goodness and grace.  (About 20 minutes ago during my Scripture study.)
So maybe it's OK that I don't remember all my "lasts".
I just remember the good ones.

Friday, August 9, 2013

FMF: Lonely

Five minutes on the topic of "lonely."
A couple days ago I finally did my FMF post on "Belong."  So in a way, I kind of thought I covered "Lonely" by what I shared in that post.
Then today happened.
I hadn't been looking TOO forward to today for some time, to be honest.  First day back to school.  I was feeling sad, discouraged, down in the dumps, so I did what any normal person with social media did:  I posted it on Facebook.  Then walked away to get the day going.
A day of workshops and sessions at work.  In a previous blog post, I had talked about how it seems hard to break in with people at work, to get into their pre-formed circles.  Cliques, if you will.  Much of the time, I feel like I don't belong.  So, walking in to the first session, almost everyone was seated.  I did the old middle school sweep-across-the-room-hoping-for-an-invitation-to-sit-down look from someone.  Anyone.  It didn't come.  Since I didn't see too many open seats without crowding a table, I sat down at a table by myself.  A couple other teachers did sit down at the same table, eventually.
Now, picture it -- I had just posted my down in the dumps post online, then walked into the replication of the dreaded lunchroom experience.  My day was not getting better.
Then, God did His amazing thing.  He reached out to me.
My phone notification started going off with Facebook comments.  God reached out to me through some of my amazing friends.  I felt the presence of God through Denise, and Susan, and Beth, and Rhonda, and so many others who offered hope and encouragement in my day.  I have been humbled, and honored, and blessed by their words today.
These comments did much more than give me something to read for part of the first session of this work day: they helped me remember I really am never alone.  I may be in situations where I feel lonely, but I know God is always with me, and His Spirit is working through others to remind me of His goodness and His grace.  
I pray I can do His work to reach out to others -- especially when they may be feeling lonely, and remind them they really never are alone.
STOP (A little more than 5 minutes, but not too bad!)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Different Take on FMF: Belong

So I haven't done a Five-Minute Friday post for a few weeks.  Yes, I've been doing lots of things as summer draws to a close.  But honestly, one of the FMF prompts a couple weeks ago stopped me cold: Belong.  There's no way I can do a five-minute post on that one word.  It's loaded. Here's why:
Am I the only one who feels like I don't belong much of the time?
Let me give you some examples of what I mean:
The teachers I work with are great, but they've all established quite the working relationship that it's hard for me to "break into" since I've only been there two years so far.  I feel like I don't belong.
The church my husband belongs to is an incredible church.  They've welcomed me, they reach out to me, they include me in many activities, but when it comes down to it, I don't belong.
For many years, my friends and neighbors have gotten married and created their own family units.  When they talk of their kids, when they have endless activities and are so very busy keeping up with their wonderful families, I don't belong.
I used to be a relatively decent runner.  Sidelined by my broken foot a couple years ago, and just due to my own laziness, I'm not much of a runner anymore.  But I'm working to get back to that point where I can talk running strategies with others.  But for now?  I don't belong.
I can go on and on and on.....I don't belong with ladies who do incredible needlework and amazing quilts.  (Sure, I do OK, but compared to some.......sheesh!) :)  I don't belong with people who are great cooks.  (Sure, Dave and I aren't starving, get it.)  I want to have a blog that makes a difference, that helps others know God's love.  Do I belong with the ladies I see at that level?  Not at this point.
I know insecurities can find us wherever we are, at whatever stage of life we find ourselves.  I can wallow in those insecurities - and sometimes do! - but I know this is not where I am meant to be.
So, this is where life gets interesting.
I know I have two definite "belongings" in my life:  with my husband, and with Christ.  And I don't feel I can talk about one without the other.  Dave brings Christ to my life every day -- he shows me God's mercy through the forgiveness he offers me, he brings me Christ's love in countless beautiful ways, he offers me reassurance through Christ that I DO belong. I am every day, and forever grateful to our almighty, loving God who brought Dave and I together.
I belong with him.  And I belong with Him.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Present

I've had the luxury this summer of having a lot of down time.  This feels like the first summer for a long time that this has happened.  Not having to take classes, not preparing for a new job, not getting married -- these things are what I've done the last 3 summers, so this summer it is very nice to have free time.
There have been many things I've wanted to do during this time away from school: work on my quilting stash, keep the garden better, go to a yarn shop and pull any yarn I want to and start a small project, start running again.  I've done better with some of these things than others, I must admit.  (But I actually *have* run!)
Yet, I have to keep watch on myself so that I stay present with what I AM doing, so that I don't get so caught up in what's coming up that I lose track of what I'm doing in the present moment.  Whether it's enjoying sewing on one of my quilt projects that have been tucked in my cupboard for however many years, or spending a fun day with my nieces, or working in the garden, it's hard for me to keep my mind from racing.  And can it ever race: from what else needs to be done, to what's coming up, to what happened the other get the picture.
But, with God's amazing grace, every once in a while, I do have the sense to just pause, and breathe in, and "check in" with myself, with Him, with what He's given me.  When I am able to be present, I'm able to appreciate greater the incredible blessings my God grants to me every day, and I'm able to share those blessings with others with a more cheerful heart and more willing spirit.  And everyone appreciates that!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Beautiful

Today's Five-Minute-Friday word is: Beautiful
I am blessed to be surrounded by beauty.  I realize this as I see it everyday.
Not everyone would agree with my perspective of beauty.
We have a beautiful home, but none of it, nor any of our belongings, have been designed or decorated by well-known designers.  Well, OK, other than the "named" purse I've been fortunate to have for the last month or so.  But our home is beautiful, and welcoming, and it's home.
I look out the windows of our home, and I see waves of green flowing in the fields.  I believe the mountains are beautiful, I love the beach for it's beauty as well, but, there is beauty to be found in the Midwest too, believe it or not.
I look in the mirror, and I don't always see beauty.  In fact, more times than not, I see flaws, imperfections, things I'd like to have different.  But when my husband sees me, he sees beauty, and that's important to me. And I treasure that.  Immensely.  
When Christ sees me, I realize He created me -- flaws and imperfections and all.  But He created me in His image.  I view Christ as beautiful -- broken, and beautiful.  Which means, if I am created in Christ's image, I am beautiful.
And that's the most important way I choose to view myself.  Beautiful, not in my eyes, nor in my husband's eyes, but in Christ's eyes.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Five Minute Friday: In Between

Today's prompt:  In Between
I don't know many people who enjoy being in between.  It's a place I think all of us find ourselves at one time or another.  And from what I hear from other people, they don't enjoy it anymore than I do.
There's always some level of in between going on.  In my family, I was in between siblings: 4 older, 2 younger.  I loved it.  That, I guess, was - and still is - one case of in between I don't mind.
But at the same time, there are other in betweens going on:
I'm in between school years.
I'm in between loads of laundry.
I'm in between efforts to get back in shape.
I'm in between being content with my job and wanting to do something different.
A good friend of mine went through an incredible trial a couple years ago when their daughter was diagnosed with cancer at 23 years of age.  Her daughter, Melissa, was a first-year teacher, taking graduate classes, working a part-time job, enjoyed exercise and healthy living, so it came as quite a shock to her family.  My friend, Maggie, told me during one of their in between treatment times, that although they were encouraged, it was tough being in that "holding pattern".  She said to me: "When God closes a door, He always opens a window, but sometimes, it's hell in the hallway."
Now, thank heaven, I'm not dealing with anything that critical in my life right now.  But it's not comfortable to be in between.
I know in my heart, though, it CAN give me a chance to practice patience, practice relying more fully on God.  I will pray to focus on that rather than my discomfort as I work through the in between.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Rhythm

This is a new experiment for me.  It's called Five Minute Fridays, and I learned about it on Twitter.  Given a prompt, I write for five minutes straight.  That's it.  Well, then I post it and link it up (which I hope I can figure out!) and my free-write is out there for everyone to read.  So, here goes.  

Today's prompt:  Rhythm.
My house is quiet right now, and yet I hear patterns and rhythms.
I'm a pattern-ish type girl.  I like order, I like having a plan.  So I seek this out.  I like finding the rhythm of life.
At times during my teaching career, I've taken students on a "rhythm walk" or "nature walk".  (OK, yes, part of it was just to get outside during nice weather!)  But I would encourage them to notice things that have a specific rhythm to them.  The things we would notice were interesting and varied:  trains, car tires going over bumps, birds, the wind.
I still notice some of these things now.  At night, well, and sometimes even during the day, I hear the bullfrogs on our ponds croaking away.  There are times when they croak together, then at other times, they are at odds with one another.  Once in a while they join their rhythm together, but not always.  Other times there is that ongoing tension.
I find this in other things too:  the washing machine -- ahhh when it's balanced, but boy howdy when it's not.  The dryer.  The clocks ticking.
I find it in my spiritual life as well.  When I am listening to God, spending time in His word, things are in sync. I have that "ahhh" feeling.  When I think I'm too busy to schedule quiet time in, when I haven't spent time with Him in prayer, I feel that tension mounting.  I need that balance.  I need that relaxation, that release, when I am back in line with my Lord.
As a music teacher, I thought of the song, and changed it up:  I got rhythm, I got music, I got my *Lord*, who could ask for anything more?!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Ideas and wonderings

Something strange happens to me during these lazy days of summer. 
I so appreciate that I've had a few days to do some things I enjoy (sewing, mowing the yard, etc.), and taking care of things that need to be done (weeding the garden, laundry, etc.)  
But when I have time to let myself just "be", I start getting all these ideas.  And wondering about things.  
Ideas like: I'd really like to be a successful blogger.  
And: I would like a speaking engagement or training for 8 to Great to do.  
And: I would love a fun adventure to come up to enjoy! 
I wonder about things like:  Could I make a living sewing?  How about crocheting? 
And also wondering:  Why can't I keep my office/workspace neat?  Or the rest of the house, for that matter?
I spend alot of time thinking about the coming school year and my students.  I pray for guidance in decisions to be made, I pray for my students, I pray for the other teachers and workers at school.  (I know, it's summer - quit thinking about school!)  
I think about my friends.  I have great ideas to get together with them, plan adventures together...but most of the time, this is where I fail.  I figure everyone is busy with summer plans, and it's too hard to try to schedule time together, so I let it go........I let my mind wander on to other topics, and never get in touch with my friends, and sadly, don't even let them know I was thinking of them.  
With Dave out of the house most of the day during this summer time, I'm left alone with my ideas and wonderings much of the time.  Sometimes it gets a little goofy and silly.  But sometimes it serves me well.  
I've got a little time before Dave gets home for the day.  I think I'll try to set up a "play date" with a friend.  

Friday, May 31, 2013


This week has been a stormy week weather-wise.  We have needed the moisture, so the rain has been good.  The way in which the rain has come has also been good.  If it rained too hard, too fast, the ground wouldn't have had a chance to soak in all the goodness, and that wonderful moisture just runs right off.  But we have been fortunate this week, because generally, our several inches of rain has come in rainfalls of .30", or .50" at a time.  This is an amazing gift.  
Yes, there were some more intense rains, particularly the other morning when we got an inch of rain in almost an hour.  That caused some tension.  Some of our beans have been in the ground right about a week, so a rain too hard would cause them to wash out.  If the beans hadn't taken hold yet, re-planting is usually needed.  But, after a drive around some of the fields yesterday, my amazing husband is pleased with how things look with this much rain with such young plants.  
Last night, there were some wicked-looking clouds around here, and we spent the majority of the evening in a thunderstorm warning.  This is not unlike how most of the week has gone.  Dave and I spent quite a bit of time watching the sky, either from the open garage door, or out the front window.  We have a unique opportunity, as our living room and garage face west, so we are able to see the storms coming in, but our kitchen and deck are on the east side, so we are able to see when the storms are past.  Sometimes we have some fun with this, saying, "I like the east side better, it's still raining over here," or "Ohhh - look over here - it's done raining already" if we're in the living room.  
As the storms progressed past us last night, Dave called to me from the kitchen, commenting on a rainbow.  It was a full, complete rainbow, which is really cool.  But better than that - it was a complete, full, double rainbow.  I couldn't get the whole thing in one camera shot -- but here it is in two.  

So this morning, when I woke up at 3:45 (don't ask -- I don't know why!), I started thinking about last night's storm, and the rainbow.  And it struck me how our perspective makes all the difference.  We can be going through an incredibly difficult time -- feeling we are in the middle of a storm, feeling alone, feeling betrayed, feeling abandoned -- even by God.  Wind blowing all around us.  Rain pelting down.  Gray clouds and wicked skies surrounding us.  
But eventually, it passes.  
The wind dies down.  
Rain stops.  
Gray clouds part to an amazing, peaceful, beautiful sky.  
It doesn't always happen right away.  Sometimes it takes hours.  Days.  Weeks.  Months.  But God is faithful.  He will see us through our difficulties.  He will not leave nor forsake us.  
When we are in the middle of our difficulties, it's often hard for our limited human-sight to see what good can come from a situation.  But when we get on the other side of the storm, we can see God has been working all along.   
Fields become green. Trees grow.  Flowers bloom.  Rivers and lakes and streams flow more freely.  
We are refreshed.  
We can choose to focus on the storm, or we can choose to focus on the rainbow.  

Saturday, May 18, 2013


I attended a funeral yesterday for a wonderful 96-year-old lady.  I didn't know her well, but her daughter-in-law is a friend with whom I work.  It was interesting to hear of her life, she was a delightful woman who worked hard during her life, raised three wonderful children, loved her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and loved the Lord.  There were many people in attendance, there were beautiful flowers (she loved flowers!), beautiful music (Patti can play for me anytime!!), and a great message of eternal life.  Did I mention the flowers?  :)
But I was a bit distracted with my own thoughts.  Actually, I was a bit distracted with thoughts from previous funerals.
My sisters and I have been honored to provide special music for many, many funerals over the past however many years.  We've been part of incredibly sad, mournful services, and we've been to a couple services where it was hard not to keep the smiles off our faces due to the joy everyone felt for the deceased.  After watching a loved one suffer, and/or after a long, well-lived life, there is a sense of joy and relief the family and loved ones feel when their burden of living is released.  
My mentor, Fr. Frank Hoelck, always said funerals are more for the living than they are for the one who has died.  How true.  The person we are remembering has passed into their eternal glory - WE are the ones left with sadness, loss, emptiness.  WE are the ones who need to gather and comfort one another.  I love Fr. Frank's words of wisdom when they come back to me.
One of my sisters had a co-worker who commented one time how remarkable funerals are.  He explained by saying that you can plan a gathering, send invitations, plan food, etc., and people will find reasons and excuses why not to attend.  But for funerals, people go out of their way to make plans, rearrange schedules in order to attend.  He has a good point.
Probably my most favorite thought of funerals came, I believe, from a relative of mine when we were planning our great-aunt's funeral Mass.  They said, "Funerals are so much like weddings.  There's alot of people.  Everyone dresses up.  There's alot of flowers.  There's food afterwards.   They're alot alike."   We all laughed at the truth in that statement.
And that's much of what I was pondering yesterday through much of Viola's funeral. I thought of this as I listened to the minister talk of Viola's faith and her life.  As I relefected on Patti's angelic singing.  As I admired the amazing floral arrangements - the lilies, the roses.  (Can you tell I'm a flower person too?!)  
Why do we wait until someone is gone to celebrate life?  Why do we wait to say the good things about them when they're not present to hear them?  Why are all those beautiful flowers all at the church at the same time?  Why don't we send those gorgeous arrangements throughout the life of the person so they can enjoy their beauty?  Why do we have to wait for someone else to tell how they saw Christ in the way we lived?
I thought about these things.  And I decided the following:
I want to celebrate life every day.  I want to remember to let people know what I appreciate about them.  I want people to know what they mean to me.  I want to enjoy beautiful flowers every day.  I want others to enjoy flowers while they can enjoy their beauty.  I want to live my life so others see Christ through how I live every day.
Yes, I'd love for other people to say nice things about me when I'm gone.  But more importantly, like so many other faithful followers of Christ, I want to be greeted with the most enormous embrace when I pass through Heaven's gate, and hear the amazing voice of Jesus greeting me with, "Well done, good and faithful servant....."  The thought of that makes me cry.  And smile.  What an amazing reward, and what an amazing welcome into eternity it will be.
And I bet the flowers will be unbelievable too!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Of Graduations and Receptions

Ahh, graduation season.  As a teacher, I love graduation season, as it symbolizes the closing of a school year, the promise of summertime to come.  Some years, graduation is a very welcome rite, when students are ushered from the halls and classrooms of the school with great relief.  (Theirs AND ours!)  Other years, graduation is bittersweet: we've watched students grow and learn, fail and succeed, and in all reality, they have become my friends.

(Warning:  The rest of this post contains a little cynicism and sarcasm.  Readers should proceed at their own risk.)  :)
But along with graduation comes the ever-present reception.  From a teacher's perspective, receptions provide an interesting situation.  We get many invitations from students to their graduation parties.  Do we try to go to all of them?  Do we just pick and choose which ones we want to attend?  Is that based on who the student is?  Who the parents are?  Who is going to be serving the best food?  So many decisions.  I know a teacher, and in fact, it was me for a while, who approached the reception dilemma by saying if he couldn't go to all of the receptions, he wasn't going to any of them.  Very fair in a lot of ways.  
Yet I know it means a great deal to many students to see their teachers on their "home turf".  Parents appreciate it too.  
Parents put an amazing amount of work into receptions any more.  Way back in the day, graduation receptions consisted of various drinks, a cake, nuts, mints (if you were lucky to have someone make them for you!), maybe some cold cut sandwiches, and a bowl of chips.  If the graduate was a girl, she may have kept a scrapbook that could be put out by the guest book.  The senior picture would be prominently displayed as well.  That would be it.  Sweet, simple, nice, and neat!  I remember my graduation, our biggest concern was that it might rain (it didn't) since we lived in the country and our reception was in our new garage.  Oh, and when it started to warm up during the day, we hoped the cream cheese mints my aunt had made would hold their shape. (They did.)  
I am blown away by receptions now days.  Reception halls are rented, caterers are booked, coffee shops are rented out, party-planner/decorators are hired, presentation boards are loaded with pictures, memory videos play.  Now, I know there are good reasons for some of these things.  Sometimes houses are too small to host gatherings (one of my sisters was in this situation), or the family lives a good distance from the school (a different sister was in this situation).  Some students achieve such great things you can't HELP but brag them up through their pictures and mementos (not even going to try to name them all).  And you know, sometimes families truly enjoy putting on a party, and having a chocolate fountain for their only daughter's graduation party makes perfect sense at the time.  Ask me about that one sometime.  The reception at Tom and Mary's truly is a funny story that we still laugh about today.       
But really, I start to wonder after a while, are these parties for the kids, or for the parents?  Re-doing the house, re-landscaping the yard, all the planning and stressing and worrying and work: do parents enjoy this?  And this is for high school graduation?  I don't know about you - but throwing this big of a party for an event that kind of seems like it ought to be expected of students these  I don't know.  Yes, for some students, high school graduation IS a big deal, it IS the culmination of hard work and overcoming obstacles.  But, don't we still expect them to work hard and overcome obstacles for the rest of their lives?  Having a party like this when a person is 17 years old, I wonder about the sense of entitlement some kids develop for other events in their lives.  Like weddings.  But that's another post for another day.  
I've been pondering these things for some time.  And I figured it was safe to post this this morning, as I am heading to the first two receptions of my graduation season later today.  I love my friends.  I love their children.  I am proud of all them.  And I pray for God's continued guidance and blessings on them all the days of their lives.  
The kids and the parents.  

Monday, May 6, 2013


We have two ponds on our land.  From where I am sitting right now at our kitchen table, I can look out the east doors, past the upper deck, and right on to the pond.
We have wildlife that take advantage of our ponds, it's not unusual to see deer, muskrats, raccoon, or any number of birds.  I've never really been a bird person, but in the last couple years, I've started to pay attention a little more.  We have the usual sparrows, crows, hawks, and pigeons, but we'll have bluejays, cardinals, turtle doves, even a bald eagle fly through our yard every now and then.
I've started to pay attention to a few bird types when I see them.  We had a sandhill crane a couple weeks ago - very cool.  We have ducks pretty regularly.  But my most favorite is when a pair of Canadian geese decide to rest at our pond for a while.  I have no idea if it is the same pair or not; I like to imagine it is.  I like to think we have a welcoming and safe area for them, where they can feel comfortable stopping in whenever they need.  But, of course, they're birds.  I have no idea.
I had read things about geese flying together in the "V" formation to help each other out, to honk to encourage one another - and that was really neat for when I see them flying in their giant formations overhead.  I also learned if one is sick or injured, another one will drop back to stay with that goose until it is ok to move on.  But to see a couple of geese up close, it just makes me smile.  What fascinates me the most is that I never see just one.  We never have a single goose on the pond; if there's one, there's two.  When they're together, they look out for one another.  One swims while one stands guard.  One stays on the tuft of weeds while one rummages around for whatever he or she can find.  They are never far away from the other.
Geese mate for life, around 25 years, from what I read. Quite honestly, these geese remind me of my husband and I.  Even if Dave and I aren't side by side, he knows I'm on guard for him, and I know he's got my back.
On an even bigger scale, isn't that just like Jesus in our lives?  Helping us with encouraging "honking" from the Bible and from others, never leaving us alone, staying with us, seeking us out?
All I know is when I see our "gooseses" on the pond, it makes me smile.  And I hope they stick around for a long time.  I like having them here.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


I'm realizing an interesting thing about myself:  I'm not very patient.  With some things anyway.
I marvel at my husband.  As a farmer, so many things are out of his control.  Let me re-state that:  As a farm family, so many things are out of our control.  The weather this spring has been crazy, especially when compared to how unusual last spring was.  As I'm typing this, 3" of snow have melted since it fell last night.  Yes, today is May 2.  During this time of year, farmers are busy preparing the fields and planting their crops. There's fertilizing to be done, then there's planting to be done, then there's spraying to be get the idea.  I think I am getting much more impatient for this whole process to get going than my husband.  He was able to complete the fertilizer application before the snow, but now we wait for things to dry out so the planting can begin.  So I marvel at how Dave takes this all in stride:  we can't do anything about it anyway, so why get all upset about it?  And he truly means it!!
Now, don't get me wrong.  I am so thankful for the much needed rain and moisture our barren land has received after last year's record drought.  God has been good.  And I don't just want my husband out of the house, because that couldn't be further than the truth.  But, the whole thing of waiting........being patient........."Be still, and know I am God."
One would think that as a teacher, patience would come easily for me.  And once in a while, it does.  But alot of times, I struggle with it.  
A student of mine did the song "O Rest in the Lord" from Mendelssohn's oratorio "Elijah" for Contest this spring.  I helped him pick that song out, mainly because his voice was amazing with the song, but deep down, I think maybe I was a little selfish, and knew I would need to hear that reminder:  O rest in the Lord, wait patiently for Him.....
I do have a tendency to want to rush things: times, dates, etc.  I get so excited when things are coming up, when there is something to look forward to.  I've been given so many wonderful, amazing gifts, blessings -- I don't want to pass up any of the goodness of the present in anticipation of the promises of the future.
I need to be present in the moment.  Appreciate what is right here.  Right now.
Just rest in the Lord........wait patiently for Him..........