Sunday, September 11, 2011

What I Can't Remember

It's amazing what we can remember.  And what we can't.

Like, I can remember my 5th grade teacher's birthday - October 3rd - every year.  Since 5th grade.  Just to bring everyone up to date, I haven't been in the 5th grade since 1978.  I can't remember if I locked my car tonight or not. Just to bring everyone up to date, I haven't been in my car in like, I don't know, five minutes?

I can remember most of "...In Flanders Field the poppies blow..." from the 7th grade (you can now do the math to figure out the last time I was in 7th grade - as a student, that is.)  I can't remember any of my sons' current cell phone numbers without looking them up.

I can remember the smell of my grandma - Noxema and roses - and she's been in Heaven since 1981.  I can't remember if I just took the Tylenol I was thinking about taking or not.  (Don't worry, I won't overmedicate!)

I can remember what I was wearing that June day in 1987 when I met my husband - the infamous University of Kansas "Beak 'em, Hawks!" t-shirt.  I can't remember if I wore the outfit I just laid out for school school last Friday.

I can remember where I was on September 11, 2001, just as my parents can remember where they were the day JFK was shot and my grandparents could remember where they were when they heard of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Like most of you out there, I can remember a lot and I can't remember a lot.

And of all the things I can't remember...

I can't remember a time when God has not been with us in the midst of it all.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Unibrow Blessings

You read it right.  Unibrow.  Blessings.  Together.

I have been crazy busy and just plain crazy.  Many of you are the same, though probably not as much of the latter as me.  It's okay.  Anyway, after so many of you who are just plain crazy gave my last blog post a crazy amount of readership, I disappeared into my craziness and took another extended time away.

I'm back.  With thoughts on unibrows.  Hopefully, it was worth the wait.

So, lately I've been a bit overwhelmed by yucky stuff on earth that just makes me yearn a bit more than ever for heaven.  And to keep myself from becoming too melancholy, I go to my Unibrow Blessings list.  Things I'm grateful for, no matter what junk this life throws my way.

For instance:

1)  Unibrows.  Well, thankfully, I don't have a full-on one of these babies any more, but I do still grow enough eyebrow hair that I surely could qualify as a donor at Hair Club for Men.  However, I'm grateful for my often unruly and unkempt eyebrows.  You see, when I was in junior high, my grandmother was going through chemo.  I sat in her bedroom one, vain, selfish, preteen day and suddenly noticed her brushing  her hair...right out of her head.  Then, I saw her wipe her eyebrows...right off her face. Thankful for the brows.

2)  Laundry.  I 've mentioned my love/hate relationship with this part of human life before.  But, if you know me at all, you know I equate mounds of clothing (currently, teenage-boy-summer-job-roofing-jeans) with children in my house.  Gotta' love children in the house.  Blessings.

3)  Occasional headaches.  Whaaat?  Well, for a decade I had make-you-puke migraines.  (Following a decade in which I didn't believe in them at all...I know...I know...)  God has brought me great relief in this area and so when the occasional discomfort comes along, I'm like, "Thank you, Lord!  I'm so glad I don't have these all the time anymore!!"

4)  Skunks under my house.  See last blog.

5)  Poopie diaper changing gig in the church nursery.  Aromatic sign of a growing church.  Lots of churches don't have babies at all.

6)  Car out of gas...which mine is right now.  Thankful I have a car to gas.

7)  A classroom that is a mess and not in any way ready for another school year.  A reminder that I have been blessed with a job in a very, very bad time for teachers to get jobs...let alone one a block from their homes!

8)  Memories of loved ones already departed from this life.  Thankful that I carry in a most convenient compartment snapshots of amazing people who God gave me the honor of knowing - even though it may not seem like it was for long enough.  I am who I am because of many of them and I am better for knowing all of them.

9) Dishes in my sink.  This symbolizes the fact that food is coming into the home and stomachs.  Hooray!

10) Bills.  Okay, these truly stink.  But, just when I think, "Will it ever end?!" I remember that God has paid my eternal  Amazing.

What are your Unibrow Blessings?  You know, things that could seem not-so-good but may only serve to remind you of how blessed you truly are.

Here's looking at your forehead!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Skunks Under My House

I wish my blog title was just a made-up attention grabber.  It's not.  I really do have skunks under my house.

We figured they moved in around July 1st.  Our oldest was home from KU over the weekend of the 4th and actually named the mama and her two babies.  All I can remember is that one of the babies is named "Travis."  I specifically told Kaleb not to name the skunks as that would cause us to become more attached.  I was being funny.

My youngest first noticed Travis and his sibling on our front porch on July 3rd.  In my sweet, Mayberry-of-a-town, it was the night of the city fireworks.  My hubby had already gone over to the high school football stadium to start popping popcorn with fellow Lion Club members.  (I told you I lived in a Mayberry kind of place...)  Anyway!  We were waiting for dark and also for the horrific lightening storm to let up before we trekked over for the big fire in the sky when Klay spotted Travis and...Tootie.  (We'll call her Tootie, but don't let yourself get too attached.) He started yelling and quickly ran out the other end of the house so that he could somehow "get" them.  I know, "getting" a skunk sounds like a grand idea.  He didn't "get" them, but he did "get" them worked up.  Yes, they sprayed under our house.

So, it's hot.  100+ degree hot for the next several days and we feel that we should turn the air conditioner off to somehow keep the smell from blasting throughout the house.  Good times.  No, really.  Good times!  As our oldest left the house late on the 4th he exclaimed, "Best 4th ever!!  So fun!  I love the skunk thing!  Awesome!"  Okay, this is probably a strange time to plug my book, but come on.  It's got a lot of parenting stuff in there and if it's written by a gal who has raised children who are just as happy with skunks as they are with big, blow-out fireworks that cost an arm and a leg...she's doing something right!

We have heard the nuttiest stuff since the skunks have moved in.  I found out that it isn't that uncommon of a thing we're experiencing here.  At least three teachers I am working summer school with have crazy skunk-under-the-house stories that are way better than mine.  Friends from church have brought traps (settle down, PETA friends, live traps) and suggested everything from apples to tuna for enticement.  Go on the web and search it yourself.  Seriously.  Just put something like "how to get skunks out from underneath your house" and you will be entertained for hours.

Thankfully, we only had a skunky smell around for a day or so.  The air is back on (as it is still 100+ out) and my home smells lovely (thank you horrible candle habit!)  But, Travis, Tootie and Mom are still here.

I hope they don't stay forever, but this is what I've learned from having skunks under my house.  Skunks = distractions.  And while we may not all have skunks (just us lucky people!)...we do all have distractions.  I have been very, VERY distracted the past few years by a plethora of things.  What things?  Oh, everything from sinus infections to houses that won't sell.  Skunks all.  The skunks are under my house and I have no idea for how long.  They could exit in two months without a trace of odor, or they could say "so-long" tonight and leave us reeking for weeks.  We may have to get help in getting them out or we may not even have to lift a finger ourselves.  But, will go on in the house above.  The sun will rise on my pretty, little, yellow, Norman Rockwell house and it will also set upon it.  We will go to work, school, church and the occasional baby shower, baseball game and cook-out.  I mean, I don't like the skunk ordeal, but they aren't going to knock my house over in the night.  They aren't going to turn my friends against me.  And I'm pretty sure they aren't going to get me fired from my teaching job.

The enemy brings distractions.  Life brings distractions.  Sometimes, we are the distractions.  They may be big and stick around for years or small and fleeting.  They may go as quickly as they came - without a trace - or, they may leave a stink for a while.  Regardless, God has a purpose for each one of us, no matter what the distractions.  We must keep focused on what the Lord can do in and through us - in the worst of circumstances -  and stop spending so much time thinking about what's under the house!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Take the Church Lady Challenge!

I may be showing my age when I speak of The Church Lady, but she really does inspire me.  And by the end of this blog, I hope that regardless of whether you are a lady or a dude, an adult or a teen...if you associate yourself in any way with "church"...that you, too, will be inspired by her. 

For those of you wondering what corner of crazy I am coming from today, I will try to explain.  Several years ago, comedian Dana Carvey portrayed a character who was a church lady.  The church lady.  Anyway, Church Lady made a lot of people laugh with her over-the-top uppity, self-righteous hilarity.  My personal favorite is a bit where she is highlighting the evils of including Santa at Christmastime, and really drives it home by showing us all that if the "n" in "Santa" is moved to the end of "Santa", well...come on!  You've got it!  That's right...spells SATAN!  And the look on Church Lady's face is priceless.  She has Sunday-schooled us again!

(Please note that I recently saw a bit of the Lady again, and my, she could be pretty raunchy.  Because I only saw clips here and there...many years ago...I think I had blocked out the questionable.  So, please know that I refer to her because she is character that we aspire to be "unlike"...thus, the inspiration!)

When not raunchy, the lady can make me laugh.  But, she also - even sans raunchy - makes me a bit uncomfortable. I mean, I laugh because I know her. We all do.  The judgmental, hypocritical "Christian" who lacks pretty much any quality that Jesus possesses.  Horrible, right?  Well, this is where it gets uncomfortable.

Not only is the Lady's image one that many hold when they think of church or a Christian...there probably isn't a one of us claiming Christ who hasn't been guilty of contributing to said image in some way.

I just had a talk with an old friend this week about judgment.  We didn't water down standing for right and wrong...we just discussed how the real Satan (not in any way related to our beloved Santa!) seems to be very busy and out to get the human race (not in any way a new concept!) and we have to be more intentional about bringing the hope of Christ to those around us. 

This is where the challenge comes in.  Read the following and think about joining me.  It could revolutionize the world. At least our worlds.

For the month of July,  I am purposing to:

  • Pray, not gossip.  For instance:  You get a call that someone needs prayer and that someone has requested that you pass the prayer need along, but you end up just passing and not praying.  Um, that would kind of defeat the purpose.  Before you make your next call, stop, drop and pray.  Also, beware of conversations that begin with, "You know who we really need to pray for?" and then don't end with someone actually praying.  "But, Cavewoman! People just come to me with stuff!  I can't help it.  I don't start gossip, it just finds me!"  It may not start with you, but if it finds you, make sure it ends with you.  A good friend once told me that when people come to her with a "prayer need" or concern or even a gripe about someone, she stops them immediately and says, "Let's pray right now!"  She says you instantly can see motive.  If the person is happy to pray and then go on, their heart is right.  If the person wants to keep explaining, talking or complaining first, then their heart is right...of center. I know my own heart needs some "shifting" on occasion.
  • Praise, not pout.  There are a lot of miserable looking Christians walking around.  I'm afriad that I, at times, am one of them.  We live in some rough days and it's easy to get down. As Christians, we know we're blessed, I mean...hello, God sent Jesus to die for us...that's blessed!  But, we tend to look horizontally more than vertically and then we think, "Wow, why don't I have what they have?  Why isn't God allowing me to do that?" and next thing you know, we're pouting.  Get in the a Psalm...remember all that God has done for you and get your praise on!  Why would anyone want to know Jesus if all they know about Jesus is what they see in a pouty Christian?  I stand as convicted as anybody out there!
  • Proceed, not retreat.  I am at the point in my walk with God where I am sure of Him.  For the most part.  Okay, I'm sure of Him being Who He says He is.  I am sure of Him creating me, saving me and someday taking me to Heaven.  I am not always sure of Him sustaining me in my day to day and that is the very thing that keeps me from being what I need to be for those around me!   Just because we are Christians doesn't mean we won't have trouble. It certainly doesn't make us better than others, giving way to our doing a Church Lady "Superior Dance"... please!  Most of our heroes in the Bible endured hardships that would make me jump off of a cliff.  Yet, I tend to think that my life should be easier.  No, I tend to think that if I appear perfect (not Church Lady perfect, but my version of perfect...which is perfectly together in every way without flaw) that then people will want to be a church person, too.  They will see how amazing I am and then want to know why I'm amazing and I'll say, "Jesus!"  and the angels will sing in Glory.  But, I am a human.  I am flawed.  I have troubles.  It's when others see me proceed through my troubles because I know that Christ sustains me...that's when they want to know what makes me tick.  If I retreat now, well, I am a hypocrite. And there ain't no dance for that one at all.
So, what do you think?  Will you join me?  Let's give church ladies (and all church goers) a good name! Let's see what could happen if we all prayed, praised and proceeded spite of our circumstances!

No "Superior Dance", but no "Inferior Dance" either.  How about an "In Spite of My Exterior, God is Holding Together  My Interior" dance?  People will notice.  People just might see Jesus in it all.  And that, as the Lady might say, would be very "special" indeed!  Cue:  dance.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


It's been a while, I know. What started out as a happy blog-break due to end of school festivities and a son getting married, transitioned into something very different.  A kind of very challenging blog-cation due to the whirlwind start of taking summer grad classes, teaching 6th grade summer school actual whirlwind of sorts. 

The afternoon of May 22nd found me napping.  This is strange, as I am not a napper. It was the day after our middle son's incredible wedding and I was exhausted, but grateful for such a wonderful family and for my beautiful, amazing, new daughter-in-law.  My head was just getting comfy on the pillow when my youngest called from a friend's house.  He was frantic.  "Mom!  There's been a tornado spotted north of town, are the sirens going off?"  Being a native Kansan, I sleepily slurred, "Oh, buddy, it's Kansas in May.  I haven't heard anything, so don't worry about it."  My husband walked into the bedroom and I handed him the phone.  As soon as he said, "Hey, bud!" the sirens went off.  Still, we didn't get too freaked-out.  It gives me chills to think of this now, but my husband and oldest actually hopped into the car and headed out to storm chase.  Even more chilling, I had just received a text that good friends from Seattle- in for the wedding - had made it to their destination of Springfield, Missouri to visit some other friends.  They had passed through Joplin a mere hour before.

My middle brother was soon calling, imploring me to turn on the news.  He's awesome, but I thought he was caught up in storm fever and after I hung up with him, I avoided TV and radio and simply went and sat on my front porch.  It turns out my brother wasn't caught up at all. 

I don't have to go back and detail the events of that day any further.  Most of America and many parts of the world now know of the devestation that hit Joplin, Missouri...45 minutes from my childhood and current home...favorite place to shop as a teen ("Let's go shoplin in Joplin!")...current and sadly, now former home to many friends and loved ones.   What I did see on TV later that same day was shocking.  My husband, our oldest and a few others headed straight over to help with the immediate aftermath.  When my husband got back from Joplin at four in the morning he said, "I haven't seen anything like this since we took a team to Ground Zero right after 9/11."  I knew it was bad, but had no concept of how bad. 

I drove down Rangeline the Friday after and cried as I tried to keep the car on the road. I had to be told where the Home Depot - one we had frequented - used to stand.  Unrecognizable.  I wept as I thought of the orange trimmed structure that then-missing, and now confirmed with Jesus, cousins of one of my son's friends had been when the tornado hit.  Believe me, the tears were flowing and I had seen just a fraction.

On Memorial Day, I was honored to travel with many church friends, my husband and two of my sons to Joplin to help with the clean-up.  Everyone in this part of the world has a Joplin story it seems, as Midwestern folk are typically caring servants, rolling up their sleeves to help others in need.  I'm thinking that my story isn't different from most of theirs. The inital shock of seeing block upon block completely wiped out.  The almost numb feeling as you ask those around you, "Where on earth do we begin?"  The compassion as you help an elderly woman try to dig through rubble to rescue something...anything.  I found birthday pictures in streets...clothes in trees...a suitcase (in what used to be a garage) holding memories of someone's 1971 wedding day. I found pieces of of homes...fragments of hearts. 

You can't walk away from destroyed structures, or in these economically depressed times, lost or foreclosed dwellings, without really thinking about the word "home." 

I am no preacher.  I am not a great theologian.  I am just a girl with a Bible...and a God. 

"Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations."  Psalm 90:1
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'"  Psalm 91:1-2

It is so hard to remember that this world and the structures within it will all someday be gone.

It is so hard to remember that this is our temporary home...until we see how quickly it can be destroyed.

I pray for the families who have lost so much and will continue to be a part of whatever I can to serve them. And I also pray that we will all find refuge in so much more than a basement.  I pray that we all may find solace in knowing that while fortified walls can give way...God never can.

I pray that for the rest of my temporal life that I will remember this...

it's not what we dwell's Who we dwell in.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Grapes of My Wrath

Oh, man.  I don't know how long or coherent this blog will be.  I haven't had my writing mojo on lately as it is the last of school.  With 8th graders.  Who think they should already be in high school.  Good times.  (Sense my sarcasm that I made a resolution to refrain from using this year?)

So, I had a happy, teacher accident and created  - by no great design of my own -  a coolio unit to end the year that links some incredible literature with amazing facets of our country's history. It really has been outstanding, but the kids are starting to lose interest...oh, who am I kidding?!  Interest:  lost.  ANYWAY, the kids ate up learning about the Birmingham Children's March of 1963 coupled with the writings of Maya Angelou and Alice Walker.  They seemed to really enjoy pulling from an old, late, grade school fave, "Esperanza Rising" when I was trying to gather some background together for Chavez and his worker's rights events (different decades...same premise.)  Dust Bowl?  Loved it...I teach in a Kansas school not five minutes up the road from the Oklahoma line...the kids gobbled up "Out of the Dust" and were captivated by the photos I flashed on my ENO board to the tune of Woody Guthrie's, "I'm a Dust Bowl Refugee." Brilliant moments in teaching.  (You know me well enough by now to know that I always have a big "but" coming, eh?)

BUT, we are under 15 days out from the end of school now.  I recently, erroneously thought to myself, "Self, why not go for it?  They seem ready for Steinbeck!  Okies going to California for a better life!  The kids will go nuts!"   The only person going nuts the past week or so is the teacher lady. 

My students are truly great.  I love each one of them.  But, after a few days filled with a plethora of comments and questions such as, "Why do all of the women look like men?  Didn't they have make-up?" and "They didn't have indoor plumbing?!  Gross!"  and "Dances in the worker camps every Saturday night?  I so want to live there!"... I'm feeling as done as the kids.  And a little angry.  People are suffering and the answer to their problems may be found in a tube of lipstick?  Wrath:  rising.

I really don't want to ever use this blog to self-glorify, self-pity or self-anything.  So, let me share the nugget of God-gold found buried in my bucket of sour grapes today. 

Just when I was feeling chained to a classroom full of kids who have given up and in turn, have caused me to feel like giving up, I read Ephesians 5. (Written, oddly enough, by a man literally chained to prison guards for an insane amount of time.)  You can read the whole thing for yourself, but let me share the zingers that I needed to be zapped with today:

-Live a life of a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (vs 2)
-Live as children of the light - for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth (vs 8 & 9)
-Live wisely, making the most of every opportunity (vs 15 & 16)

Live, love, light and look for every opportunity.  I felt my wrath wane.  Things smelled a little better.  Things looked a little brighter.  I saw things a little more clearly.  And my obstacles started looking like opportunities.

And instead of joyously counting down the days of school...I soberly realize the precious, few moments with a very special group of young people that I actually have left.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday Song

I know there are a lot of haters out there, but I personally love the much-viewed, overly-played "Friday Song" by Rebecca Black.  Just to occasionally annoy my 8th grade students...I've been known to play it in my classroom...on Friday, of course!

Just to occasionally annoy my spouse...I've been known to belt out, "Fun, fun, fun, fun!" and "We so excited!  We so excited!"...on more days than just Friday.  Let me just say:  annoying accomplished.  He kindly drove me to my grad class the other night (2 more courses, 2 more courses, I think I can, I think I can...) and at one point said, "Honey, you have to stop it with the 'Friday Song'...I'm serious."  He was serious.  I stopped.  For a while.

It's Friday today.  My district is out of school. Other than my yearly check-up with the doctor this morning (incidentally, not "Fun, fun, fun, fun!") I have a neat day planned.  Lunch with the hubby - which will be a treat even though he will surely shut down my, "...I got this, you got this, my friend is at my right..." And tonight and tomorrow we actually get to attend an awesome couples' event with a bunch of cool people - including my son and his bride-to-be. 

But, this week, most of us know "Friday" is special.  It's significant.  It's good.  Very good.

You don't need a three point sermon from the likes of me about Good Friday and what it means.  Maybe you just need a simple reminder - like I did earlier today -  to drink in all that Christ as done for us.

Because of what happened on Friday...we get to celebrate on Sunday.  (Which the "Friday Song" taught me comes "afterwards" Saturday...thanks, RB!) And though I love to have fun more than just about anyone I, I am experiencing waves of very somber, emotional gratitude when I think of Christ on the cross...on Friday.  And I'm tearfully saying, "thank you," I get really excited about the salvation that has been afforded me and overwhelming joy kicks back in! 

The old preachers used to proclaim, "It's Friday...but, Sunday's coming!" when referring to Easter Weekend, and I always loved the way people in the congregations would respond to the proclamation.  Shouts, hand was awesome. 

I guess they were saying then what I catch myself singing today...

"Everybody's lookin' forward to the weekend!"

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Whistle While You What?

Like most good Americans, I love practically anything that's Disney.  However, there are a few D-deals that I don't feel all that magical about.  Like waiting in line for an hour and a half to get Donald Duck's autograph for three, small, sweaty, fussy boys...only to have Donald go on "break" two frustrated families ahead of you.  And while most of the music attached to the Mouse is amazing, for the past two days I have not been able to get that stupid, "Whistle While You Work" song out of my head and, believe me, these have not been days in which I felt like whistling.

My job is one that requires my spending large amounts of time with junior high students.  Well, for those of you who maybe haven't glanced at a calendar in a's April.  It's that not-so-magical-time between Spring Break and Last Day of School.   On the Crazy Meter of Life, I am somewhere between "I need a Dr. Pepper - STAT!" and "I need a Dr. Phil - STAT!"

Maybe it's more me than the kids.  Maybe it's more my disposition than my position.  Oh, man...I sound like a plaque.  I think I'm a hard worker.  I think I do my best at all times.  I think I'm giving 100%.  I think a lot of things in my little, magical, Disney-like, unrealistic mental-world.

Crud.  It probably isn't my job.  It most likely isn't even the students I work with.  I know it isn't the pretty long-suffering co-workers that lovingly tolerate my "uniqueness."  Yup.  Pretty sure it's me.  Crud.

In a time where many teachers are looking and praying for positions...I have one.  In a time where adults are competing with teens for minimum-wage jobs and dreaming of benefits...I can go to my yearly check-up (another thing I like to complain about "getting" to do) next week and merely cough-up a small co-pay.  It's official...I'm kind of a jerk sometimes.

God, forgive me for not waking up this morning and saying, "Thank you for my job!  Thank you for an opportunity to pour into the lives of young people!  Thank you for allowing me to impart some of what I've learned to others! Wow!  This is going to be a great day!"  (Cue:  whistling.)

Look at what I came across today of all joke:  "Be very careful then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.  Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.  Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.  Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."  Ephesians 5:15-20

In a biggish nutshell:  Be careful, live as a wise person would, make the most of every opportunity, don't rely on or indulge in temporal things that lead to harm, be filled with the Spirit, speak from the Spirit, sing and make music...and give thanks for everything.

And every once in a while, when you're making that music, maybe try throwing in a little whistle.

Monday, April 4, 2011

It Wasn't Me...It Was Julie!!

I have worked with kids forever it seems.  And I have forever been harping on them to take responsibility for their actions and to stop making excuses. Darn kids.  Why can't they be more like us adults?

Okay, I'm being sarcastic.  At least about the part where the kids should be like us.  Well, at least when it comes to making excuses.  It doesn't matter how old we are, being responsible takes some work.  It takes some effort.  And there's the rub.

One of my favorite excuse lines is from a movie and it goes something like this, "It wasn't me!  It was Julie!"  I won't elaborate, but it's my go-to statement when I'm being a big baby and don't want to take responsibility for something. I'm not alone in this battle to be more responsible, aside from the kiddos, there are lots and lots and lots of people in the world who just don't want to take responsibility in any way, shape or form.  It can range from relationship issues (always blaming the mean, uncaring husband) to giving boundaries to our children ("Junior is just acting demon possessed because he's tired and teething.  I know he's 12, but really...tired and teething...") to a million reasons why we don't eat right or take care of ourselves.

I hear a lot of excuses in my classroom like, "I'm tired, Mrs. Weaver, do we have to do work?  I stayed up until 4 AM playing 'Call of Duty' and I just can't do this English stuff you want me to do today!"  Yesterday, in kids' church, I heard a great one.  When asked why a youngster jumped about six feet out of his chair at an inappropriate time, the answer was, "I fell!"  Don't you hate when you projectile fall from your chair?  Me, too.

But, I can't just come down on the kids.  I started a diet...I know...because I need to, but my reason for putting it off until now is that I've had a very stressful year or two. (Did you hear the pathetic, whiny sound in my voice?) I'm teaching, doing stuff at church, writing, finishing my master's degree, sending kids to college, going to the high school kid's "stuff", being a pastor's wife, being a regular wife, still settling in after a move.

Okay, I just read back over that and it's pretty weak.  Kind of embarrassing.  Actually, all of those supposed roadblocks to my eating properly are truly amazing blessings in this life.  Crud.  When it comes to excuses...I got nuthin'.

I mean, my kids at college...they're making me eat extra butter?  How about finishing that degree?  My professors are sending subliminal messages for me to drink Dr. Pepper?  Um, I don't think the fact that they are "doctors" really has anything to do with my extreme consumption of the beverage.  Going to Klay's baseball game tomorrow evening somehow warrants my going to the concession stand and eating chili cheese fries?  (Okay, let me get back to you on that is a double-header, you know.)

Kid behavior and adult eating habits are easy targets in the world of excuse making.  I actually hide behind them this evening as I have bigger issues.  Wow.  I think I'm excusing my excuses. I have degrees of excuses. This is sad.

Today, I lost a coworker.  She was very good to me and I appreciated her friendship.  Right after we received the news of her passing, my first thought was, "I wish I would've spent more time with her, but we were all so busy."  Yuck.  Seriously?  What am I so busy with?  Coming up with the cure for cancer by Easter?  Could that stack of papers have waited five more minutes once in a while so that I could ask her how she was really doing and then actually listen to her full response? Oh, I'm not beating myself into the ground.  I actually purpose and do a fair job checking up on people...letting them know I care.  But, could I do better?  Yes, I could.  No excuses.

If that last little bit wasn't heavy enough for you, let me take it one step further.  Excuses?  In light of the cross of got nuthin'.

Okay, Lord.  You know it and I know it.  It isn't always Julie.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Long John Silver's with LYLAS for Lent

Ah, Lent.  Growing up Protestant in the 70's and 80's with Catholic best friends, I have to say that the term "Lent" was synonymous with one thing for me.  And no, it wasn't Easter.  It was fish on Friday's.  At Long John Silver's.

Many a Friday night when we were in high school, Carolyn, Erica and I would go grab a pizza before hanging out with various other friends.  But, during pepperoni pie at Pizza Hut.  During Lent...two piece fish in a tray with extra batter crumbly Long John Silver's. 

I was cool with this as I'm a good eater regardless of what's in the feed bag you strap on me.  And supporting my friend's was also cool as we all loved God and hey, we were all about LYLAS.  We were abbreviating long before texting.  You know...LYLAS..."love ya' like a sister"?  Come on.  You knew that, right?

Well, it seems that in the church world today, everybody is talking a lot more about Lent...regardless of denominational affiliation.  And anytime people are highlighting all that Christ has done for us...both my thumbs are way up!

But, just as we decide each December that the joy of Christmas (that overwhelming feeling we have at the thought of God coming to this crusty planet in the form of one of ultimately give of Himself to save us...) should be something we experience all year long, I've been thinking along the same lines about the sacrifice of Easter.  That overwhelming feeling we have at the thought of God coming to this crusty planet in the form of one of ultimately give of Himself to save us.  Oh, I already typed that, didn't I?  Good.  Meant to.

For some reason this week, not only have I been drawn to Philippians 2 in the New Testament, but I found out just a little bit ago that my hubby and youngest son have been camping there a bit as well.  Every time I struggle with too many thoughts of myself and too little anything for anyone else...this chapter snaps me out of it.  As Lent is that lining oneself up with Christ's example of prayer, fasting and self-denial, Philippians 2 is a powerful reminder that we should be lining ourselves up with His example every second of our lives.  Not just during this amazing season.

Struggling with self?  Who isn't?  (If you just said, "I'm not!" then I will write a blog next year entitled, "Long John Silver's with LYLAS for Lent and All You Liars Out There"...)  We are, after all, flawed beings on this crusty planet.  But, because of a great and loving Creator, Savior, Healer, Friend, we are hopeful beings on this crusty planet who have been called to be carriers of an incredible gift found through this example...

"Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His advantage; rather He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!"  Philippians 2:6-8

Ah, Lent.  I still LYLAS my girls and if I could fly Erica in from Boston and get Carolyn and I out of our respective school duties at decent times, I would happily drive us all to Long John Silver's tomorrow night.  But, even if that can't happen, how cool is it that we can still all remember and follow Christ's example of self-sacrifice and giving of ourselves not just at Lent, but all year long.  All life long.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cap'n Crunch, Rob Bell and Hell

Thinking this title will get me some extra hits...and some chastisement from my mama for typing the "H" word!  (If you joined in to see some review on the Rob Bell book...sorry!  This really will have nothing to do with it.  If you joined in to get some free Cap'n Crunch...sorry!  That will not be happening here.  Surely nobody joined in to read about Hell...but, you never know!  Anyway, all feel free to read on!)

Now, for those of you too busy (like myself and pretty much every other woman on the planet) to get caught up in the latest deep, theological debate, there is great fuss and controversy over a new book by a pastor in Michigan named Rob Bell.  As I have laundry, no lesson plans for Monday, am short on toddler workers in the church nursery tomorrow morning and boys to pack back off to college...and that's just some of my "stuff" today...I'm not really feeling the need to get involved in the fray. 

However, the book - one including some thoughts Bell has on Hell - has birthed some "on the side" questions regarding how to talk to kids about the afterlife.  So, though I am a person who believes the Bible means what it says and says what it means and also one who grows stronger each day in her own convictions, in true cavewoman style, I will keep this real-life friendly and practical.  Again, I am not reviewing the content of the Bell book.  Like Hell, I don't want to go there.  I just want to encourage parents when it comes to having conversations with children.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Kids and questions regarding the afterlife.  Discussion topic that ranks up there with "Where do babies come from?" and "Why did God let my goldfish die?"...and "Why are you and daddy always wrestling in your room?"

I can't tell you I've hit a home run with my answers on the latter three, but when the whole matter of Hell came up when my boys were little I didn't have too go far for some great stuff to share.  You see, I knew exactly how they felt because I grew up in church and had once been a child myself.

If you were blessed enough to be a child in church during the 70's, chances are you got to view a movie series about Jesus coming back to earth for people who knew and loved him...and the horrors those left behind would surely experience.  Now, I must say - and I'm not looking for a big, debate here, unless it's about who is going to win the Final Four (KU) - that I believe all of the Bible.  It's the real deal.  And though I speak figuratively a lot myself, I think God's Word is pretty literal.  Sure, there are parables, but the truth is there for us to draw from, and I for one will not be tampering with it just so that I can shirk responsibility or live any old way I want. Okay, that's been stated, so let's go back to the kid discussion and leave theology to those guys with more time and degrees than us simple - but awesome - cavepeople.

When I was young, the movies I mentioned came to my church.  After viewing, I locked myself in a bathroom at home and wouldn't come out.  My mom, the wisest cavewoman ever, let me cry for a bit and then - through the bathroom door - asked me a question, "KyAnne, do you love Jesus?"  I whimpered, "Yesssss..." She then questioned, "Have you asked Him in your heart and purpose to live for Him each day?  Loving people the way He would have you to?"  I again answered, "Yes..."  She went on, "Well, then you have nothing to be afraid of."  Tears dried up, I wiped my nose, I unlocked the bathroom door and happily went about my childhood.  I'm sure there are those who would say, "This is too simple of an answer.  There's much more to this!"  Well, duh!  But, most children are not enrolled in seminary and pondering the deepest, spiritual things.  Most of them are rather pondering questions like whether or not the gum they just swallowed will stay in their stomach for the next seven years.

I may not claim theological greatness, but I have probably had more discussions with children than most out there.  We don't want our kids to be uneducated or unwise when it comes to what they believe, but if your kid is four and worried about leaving their house and Wonder Pets to go to Heaven, you have to pray for sweet and simple answers.  As they grow, their understanding will, too, and we need to give them opportunities to learn.  We are their trainers and teachers for only so long, and there comes a point where they hit that "age of accountability" and we have to acknowledge that they aren't given to us to be our little robots, but like us...they have a free will.

When my kiddos were grade school and junior high kiddos, we rang out the praises of Heaven and had a quiet understanding that none of us wanted anything to do with Hell (whether believed to be temporary or not) EVER.  Really it was only mentioned when we sang on the way to school each morning.  One of our favorite bands had a song called, "Breakfast," which was fun and uptempo...but, actually packed a punch.  Maybe we misinterpreted it (which wouldn't be a crime as it wasn't necessarily Scripture), but to our little gang it was a challenge to be fueled up on God's Word, an encouragement to be a witness of Christ's love and to always remember, as the song says...

"When the toast is burned.
  And all the milk has turned
  And Cap'n Crunch is wavin' farewell.
  When the big one finds you
  May this song remind you
  That they don't serve breakfast in Hell!"

No breakfast?  What kid would want to go there?  Why would any of us?  So, the afterlife.  Heaven and Hell.  Keep it simple for your kids.  Hell?  Um, just don't go there.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ode to OxiClean?

Well...not exactly an ode.  An ode would require a complex scheme of rhyme and meter.  That will not be happening here today. 

But, I will express some exalted emotion within the confines of this blog - that's the other stuff that makes an ode and ode. And I will begin by "oding" (pretty sure that's not a real word) to OxiClean.

I thank my good friend, Barb, for introducing me some years back to the wonders of OC, and I could practically write an ode to her because of it.  It's so great that I spent an entire baseball season feeling immense pride when other moms would say, "How do you get the boys pants so white?!  It looks like they haven't ever played in them!"

A couple of problems here:  1)  Only a man would pick the color white for baseball pants.  Especially when the game is being played on some Mississippi mud.  The real stuff, not the dessert. Though the dessert would stain as well, I'm sure.  2)  I found out much later that my boys weren't as proud of the pants as the grown-ups were.  They also told me it looked like they hadn't ever played in them...which baseball playing boys don't think is cool at all.

So, I love OxiClean.  Anyone who knows me well, knows this to be true.  I think I've even woven it into a pre-Thanksgiving Sunday morning message before.  There's no way around it.  Awesome.

But, being that it is Spring Break here in my little corner of Kansas, I have been thinking about cleaning a lot.  Did you catch that?  "Thinking" about cleaning a lot...not necessarily cleaning a lot.  Anyway, as I periodically pick up around the house - which, by the way, needs more picking up than usual since the whole gang's here - I am reminded of so many things.  Most of all things to be grateful for.  Things greater than my beloved OxiClean.

I'm a winter fan.  I love snow.  I love to be cold.  I typically am one of those people who can get along with anyone...but, if I have to be in the heat for extended periods of time, I can make Santa cry.  However, there is something about spring and a cool - not cold - breeze blowing through the house that makes me happy.  My step quickens and I want the home God has given me to be tidy and comfortable.  As I wash clothes (yes, with OC) I thank God for the appliances I have and the people who wear the mounds of material I will be cramming in said appliances.  I happily dust off "Blue Bell", my trusty bike, and zip around the metropolis of Altamont, waving to every person I pass. All around can probably hear me humming as I thank God for such a sweet place to call "my hometown." 

Sure, I come back from my ride and remember there are bills to pay, lesson plans to make (school will resume on Monday whether I like it or not) and that two of my boys will be gone by the weekend...which seemed much further away just a day or two ago.   And these are just minor things I face, nobody needs me to go into the "heavy" stuff on such a lovely day.  But, here I am...thinking about OxiClean and...God.

I sing the praises of OxiClean because it has the power to take away stains from things that only have a temporal value in our home.  In other words, OC may clean, but it merely delays the inevitable.  Clothes don't last forever.  This isn't going to be an eloquent's Spring Break, for Pete's sake!  But, I do immediately think of the hand of God in my, fixing, healing and helping.  And He doesn't simply delay an inevitable end...He carries us to an incredible future.  Don't you feel exalted emotion just thinking about it? Ode-lay!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Root for Your Home Team!

I am a University of Kansas men's basketball fan. I can chant "rock chalk" with the best of them. This is one of my favorite times of year...March Madness, baby!

It helps that I love basketball and that at one time...when my body was in an entirely different form and much, much younger...actually played a fair amount of hoops myself. Oh...and it really helps that I'm a Kansan. And that I have a son attending the institution. Very few of you care about any of this, so I'll quickly transition. But, first let me say, if you are a Kansan and you have ever been to Allen Fieldhouse for a would have to agree that there is at least one moment (most often during the chant) when you look at those around you who don't hail from the Wheat State...and feel great pity.

Everybody has something they root for. It doesn't even have to be a traditional team or sport. It can be for your favorite TV show to return to the fall lineup, it can be for your child to make the honor roll, it can be for your company to surpass projected sales. It can even be for your friends to gain weight. Oh, come on! Some of you root for that - and you and I know it!

One thing we did from the time our boys were very small was the Weaver Chant. Seriously. This first took place when our oldest was two and our middle was an infant. My husband would belt out, "Give me a 'W'!...give me an 'E'!..." - you get the picture. The two-year-old would shout back the letters at the top of his little lungs. It was one of the most exciting times of his day and we dared not miss this evening ritual. I remember when we brought our youngest home form the hospital and the two older boys were four and two. The oldest said, "You know what I'm 'cited 'bout, Mommy? I'm so 'cited the baby gets to do the Weaver Chant!"

You see, we really tried to instill in our boys from a very young age that we were a family with a name we could be proud of...and therefore one we needed to strive to represent well. Are we perfect? No way. But, that pride the boys could grasp onto was balanced by the reminder that they (and their parents)needed to "represent." I'm a will only be something to be proud of as long as I live a life that strives to give those around me something to be proud of. Especially God.

We will never achieve perfection. We will fail. Miserably. We can never live lives completely worthy of what our ancestors sacrificed for us and worked so hard for us to have what we have today. We can't ever live lives anywhere near worthy of what God has done for us. But, could we at least try to live our lives as if we could? Just as a way of saying, "Thanks!"?

So, cheer loud, be proud, live well!! Come on! Give me a...(insert your family name here...)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Inner Marie Barone

I don't typically recommend TV shows or movies. Last time I recommended a movie I forgot I had viewed the cleaned-up, airplane version and spent some time explaining myself to a very shocked and disappointed who had rented the movie for a family movie night. Egg: on face.

There is a show I have seen from time to time that, when the content is completely appropriate, has made me laugh so hard I thought I would throw-up.

On said show, there is an overbearing mother of grown sons who just can't let go. She is always putting her nose where it doesn't belong and not only "s'mothering" her sons, but often offending her poor daughter-in-law as well. I really can't relate to a person like this at all...that's what makes it so funny. Yeah, right.

I like to think I'm a cool mom. I like to think I have raised my little birdies up to fly freely out of my nest and have a wonderful life without me in their faces 24/7. I also like to think that when my son marries his fantastic bride in May that I will always keep my nose where it should be and be the mother-in-law from Heaven.

But, there are times...

Okay, like the other day when I called my oldest son to see if he was eating. Not eating right. Not eating enough. Eating. Did I mention he is almost 22 and has lived on his own for a while? It's probably safe to say that he occasionally puts some form of nourishment in his face.

Or, incessantly calling my middle son at college just to make sure he "made it home okay." He's the one getting married, so I hope it's obvious to all that he is not six.

How about the "baby"...who would be 17 as of yesterday that I call most mornings after I leave the house for RMS 310...just to make sure he's up, almost ready for school and knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that I love him.

The TV mom I refer to also worries about one son's safety so much that she actually sabotages a job for him in government law enforcement. I think she even sends a pie to the FBI with a letter asking them not to hire the boy. One of my sons will be commissioned upon college graduation as an officer in the US Army, and I've already been flipping through pie recipes and thinking of ways to get him a desk job.

Wow. Letting go is harder than I thought it would be. Oh, sure, when they were eight, 10 and 12 - yelling at one another because someone breathed on someone else - I thought I would dance on the day I saw the back of the last one's head pulling out the driveway to live on his own. But, now...not so much.

For those of you in the same boat as me - I know you feel this. For those of you who have long been without a child living in the house - I know you remember and relate. For those of you who think "that day" will never come - you may remember my words and say, "The crazy cavelady actually knew some stuff!"

My boys will all be home next week for Spring Break. I am so excited to have all of my birds back in the nest for a little while. The first few days will be a blast with me hugging them a lot, their dad wrestling with them a lot and me happily doing their laundry. But, towards the end of the "break" I'll remember. I'll remember that God gives them to us to raise up and send out. My husband and I purposed to give this sad world three more people who could offer something good and help it - at least from their respective corners - be a little better place to be. It's a good thing to see your birds fly. It was the goal all's just hard to see the goal when our eyes are clouded with goodbye tears.

Just about that time...when my inner Marie B. starts to kick in and get selfish...God helps me snap out of it and see the men I get to still have in my life...just not necessarily in my house. And if that doesn't snap me out of it...the 5th bag of dirty laundry - that someone "forgot" to bring in at the beginning of break now making it's way up to my back door at the end of break - typically does.

Monday, March 14, 2011


I didn't spell it wrong. I wasn't trying to say what you think I was trying to say. I think I was trying to say what I'm trying to say. Oh, just read on...

Tomorrow, within the hallowed walls of Roosevelt Middle School, my 8th grade lab rats (metaphor) will be tested over their vast knowledge of many things, including the subject of "figurative language." Their incredible grasp of this facet of language arts must surely be credited to their brilliant teacher's capable instruction. Cough! Cough! (onomatopoeia)

I don't know if weather tampers with testing or not, but I heard it could be raining cats and dogs tomorrow. (idiom)

Okay!! Enough with the figurative language, I know! But, there is something I do want to tie-in to life tonight...and that would be hyperbole. Or, as we like to say in Room 310...exaggeration for effect.

My students really struggle with this one, and I don't know why. I mean, come on...they're junior high students! Exaggeration for effect? Seriously? All children and many adults seem to incorporate hyperbole into their lives on a daily basis, but teens are especially adept.

I realize most people refer to it as "drama" these days. But, what is drama at it's very core? Yup. Exaggeration for effect.

This hyperbole-in-life manifests in many forms. Fit-throwing two-year-old. Whiny four-year-old. Belligerent nine-year-old. "I'll be the only one not at the party! Everyone else is going!" 14-year-old. (That would also be an example of the "bandwagon" persuasive technique, but that's another blog altogether...)

How about the "If you don't let me date him, I'll just die!" 17-year-old? Let's push ahead a few years...ever seen the "I work and work and nobody ever notices or appreciates me!" 40-year-old?

Ah, hyperbole. Or, sadly, most days, that would be Hyper-ol-Me.

Look! There's me freaking out over not having the house clean! Look! There I am again, telling someone I am the worst mom in the world because I couldn't get to my son's school for Parent-Teacher Conferences tonight. Now, I expect all of my students' parents to line up tomorrow night at RMS to visit with me! Great! Now I'm also the worst, most hypocritical teacher ever!

She's hyper! She's old! She'! She's Hyper-ol-Me:
Ms. Exaggeration for Effect!

But, what if she could use that exaggeration for effect as a tool of good and not evil? Mmmm...

You see, I looked it up and one synonym for "exaggerate" is "amplify." Like it. I just got to thinking a little bit ago, "What if I stopped exaggerating the bad, negative, stupid (well, sorry, but some of it is just plain that!) in my life and started amplifying the good?" Or, since I fully know that any good in my life comes from God, I could say "amplifying all that's God!"

Then, my exaggerations for effect just might have positive affects on everyone around me. And that's no exaggeration.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Easy Like Sunday Morning?

Lionel Richie has obviously never been to my house on a Sunday morning. Seriously...easy? What was he singing about? Where does he live? Who does he live with? Really?

When my kids where little, we woke up on Sunday morning earlier than any other morning of the week. Why? Because we go to church. Now, my middle son really hated church when he was a toddler and his older, preschool brother loved to use it against him (I'll give an example soon...) Many a Sunday morning, to avoid a level nine meltdown, I would dress the church-hater in his sleep. That way we didn't have crying all the way to the House of the Lord. I believe I also used the Pop Tart bribery method.

I need to insert here the fact that when my middle son - or Number 2 - was in his toddler and preschool years he hated being left anywhere with anyone other than mommy or daddy. He was "our" boy and the only one of our three boys who ever was clingy. For those of you who have had your own "cling-on" know it is a very draining thing. I mean, we want our kids to love and miss us, but I don't know anyone who enjoys the process of prying a small child off of their leg just so one or the other can use the bathroom.

ANYWAY, back to the oldest using the church-hating against the middle guy. Number 2 would wake up sometimes on the way to church, look down, see the dress-up clothes and ask, "Where we going?"...and Number 1 would maliciously reply with a creepy-beyond-his-years, "To CHURRRCH!" Cue: wailing.

There was a season in which I got up at 5:30 AM just to get the three ready to be at church by 8 or 8:30 AM. And it's not like we lived 50 miles away from our church. It was more like five. One morning, when I was wearing a white dress (stupid, I know) my oldest asked, "Mommy, are you gonna' wear that poopie dress to church?" He wasn't implying that the dress was unattractive, he was simply addressing the fact that I was indeed wearing poop on the dress. You think the stink would've clued me in. That's how crazy my Sunday mornings were.

In addition to the mayhem of getting people out the door in excrement-free,dress-up clothing, we typically had an insane ride to our destination. These trips grew with intensity as the boys aged. One Sunday morning when the boys were about 10, 12 and 14, it was so bad that I pulled the car over on I-5 in the north of Seattle and said (loudly and crazily), "I know what you're thinking! You're all thinking, 'Sure, she's yelling at us and then she'll walk in the church doors and be all nice to people.'" I continued, "You bet I'm yelling at you and you bet I'll be nice to people at church! Why should I be upset or ugly to people at church when you're the ones who are being rude, disrespectful and hateful? Is it their fault you are making bad choices this morning? Well, IS IT?!" Cue: crickets chirping.

I looked at the three faces staring at me from the backseat and realized, though we were now most likely going to be late to church, that I had a teachable moment. "Look guys, I know Sundays can be a bit nutty. I know you may even think me hypocritical at times. But, here's the deal...whether your dad was a pastor or not, we'd be going to church. Whether we were in occupational ministry or not, our family would have the same guardrails. You see, we go to church because we have this awesome God who helps us so much that it is the very least we can do to set aside part of one day a week just to go and say, 'Thanks' and 'What can I do for You?'" I pressed on, "Also, every time you think me hypocritical, ask yourself this question, 'My mom is pretty crazy, what would she be like without God?'" The boys looked at each other with this, "Wow...never thought about that and it would be bad!" face that just about made me laugh out loud.

The oldest finally spoke up and said, "That actually makes a lot of sense, Mom. I get it." Don't you love when kids "get it"...those light bulb moments? I apologized to them for possibly being a little harsh, I also reminded them that I was human - though that was no excuse not to let God help me get better each day at being more like Him. I don't know about you, but I've expected too little from my kids at times. On that day, we turned a big corner and never looked back. It was a very good thing. After that, Sunday mornings didn't get easier, but they got way happier.

You see, I was honest with my kids. Not in a self-serving, make excuses, "deal with it" sort of way. But, in a way that my kids could not only swallow but that they could truly understand. I didn't say, "With God, I will now be the perfect mom!"...I said, "With God, I can be a way better mom than I can without Him, so let's get our fannies to church and say a big, collective, 'thanks' for helping our family be a little less crazy all the way around!"

Easy like Sunday morning? Whatever! Better for Sunday morning? Maybe...sometimes. Better because of Sunday morning...and Who and what it represents? Definitely.

If you haven't had your fanny (and I say this in all love)to church on a Sunday in a while...I understand. I lost that hour of sleep last night (thanks, daylight-savings-sleep-stealing people!)and barely got my own fanny up and out the door this morning. I also didn't have enough volunteers for the children's program I direct, which made it an even more "sunshiny" morning than usual. BUT, once I got there...once I saw some cute kids all happy to see me...once I had some cool people walk over and hug my neck and say, "Love ya', girl! How are you doing? What can I do for you?"...well, I was glad I rolled the fanny out of bed. (And if you've seen my fanny lately, you know this is no small feat!)

I also remembered today those words I had so vehemently told my boys that not-so-easy Sunday morning all those now many years ago, "...we go to church because we have this awesome God who helps us so much that it is the very least we can do..."

If you're a church faithful - good for you, but I'm not giving out any cookies and neither is God. Just stay faithful. Keep serving, loving and thanking. And if you're someone who is struggling to find a worship place or someone just struggling to faithfully get to one you've already found...pray for that awesome God's help. I mean in light of all He's's the very least we can do.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Crammin' for Tests

So, I just ended a day in which I tried to help my 8th graders cram for their big, state tests next week. We will cram again on Monday. Tests are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. By the way, I also have some parent-teacher conferences thrown in on those days just for fun. And, yes, I am being sarcastic.

Truth be told, the testing success of my students will rely more on what we've done in class every day for the entire school year...not solely in the last few hours leading up to the tests.

Stink! I feel a convicting, life tie-in coming on...

How many times have a I been faced with a crisis - or test - and scrambled as fast as I could to find my dusty Bible? (Sound familiar to anyone out there?) How many times have I asked God to give me "big" opportunities or challenges only to be reminded that I was greatly struggling just trying to handle the "lesser" ones He had already entrusted me with?


As I age, and (please, dear Lord let it be so) mature in Christ, I don't find myself enjoying life's tests any more than I ever have, but I am finding them not to be as earth-shattering to navigate. This is probably in large part due to the fact that I now try to study God's Word a bit each day, instead of waiting to cram it and fit it in right at the "midnight hour." Now, we are blessed in that the Lord still tends to bail us out of rough situations, even if we haven't done our part. Actually, this would pretty much be the crux of the Gospel. But, it does seem pretty silly to not be communicating with and learning about this amazing, heroic God every chance we get.

I mean, we're sure quick to holler His name when we're in a plain English...we're users. Not so Sunday School sweet when you put it that way, is it?

When I was a teenager, I would often doodle, daydream, pass notes or sleep when I was in class. I would procrastinate writing important papers and studying for tests. Many a late night, I would desperately ask my parents to please "pray for me"...secretly thinking that would make their child sound very spiritually minded. They weren't ever as impressed as I thought they should be. I typically got an answer like, "Well, we'll pray for God to help bring to mind all of the good stuff you've been studying and working so diligently to learn. That's about all we can do." Smarty-pants parents.

I don't like tests whether I'm studied up or not. And let's face it, some tests are more difficult than others no matter how hard we prepare. But I vividly remember the slight anxiety I felt going in to take tests I had really tried to prepare for versus the sickening, paralyzing fear I was overwhelmed with when I approached a test for which I hadn't.

We don't know what life tests are around the corner. We'd probably have to be resuscitated if we did. But, letting God teach us a little bit each day - even on the good days - sure helps eliminate that good, old testing anxiety. As well as the need for cramming.

And who of us couldn't do with a little less anxiety?

I know we're all tired. I know we all have a lot do to. I'm typing and you're reading and we should both probably be sifting through those piles of "things" we have to deal with in our lives. But, take some time each day to hide God's Word in your heart. It's your secret, testing weapon.

And whether you're being tested at work, school or a co-worker, teacher or three-year-old...make sure you're stockpiling the Word a bit each day. When that pink-slip comes or that three-year-old's crayon melts in the dryer and just makes your slip'll be glad you did! (I know, nobody wears slips was for affect, okay?)

"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word." Psalm 119:11-16

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


No, I didn't get a tattoo to commemorate the release of my book. I also have not taken to watching reality TV programing set in tattoo parlors. Please continue to read and you'll get where I'm heading here. (Oh, and would someone quickly call my mom and tell her that there is not a picture of my arm - with a tattoo - floating around in cyberspace?)

Though it's been an amazing week seeing my manuscript come to life in book form...there's at least one aspect in all of the hubbub that makes me a bit uncomfortable: book signing.

Seriously? Have you seen my signature? If my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Beaver, gets a load of it anywhere she is going to demand that "Superior Handwriting" certificate back that she proudly gave me in the spring of '78. (Well, even if she wants it back, I'm sure it's in the same black hole as the macrame hanging planter I was working on in Girl Scouts around the same time. So, no dice, Mrs. B!)

But, as awkward (and humbling) as it is to be asked for my signature, I think I'm struck more by the thought of putting my name to something. Our names represent who and what we are. Call it whatever you want..."signing your John Hancock"..."puttin' your name on it"..."making your mark"...when you sign your name you are saying, "I approve of this message." People are big on endorsements...when someone lends their name to a product, a message or a person - no matter how we look at it, they are saying, "I approve!"

How comforted and encouraged I am when reminded of the words in II Corinthians 3, where we are told that one of the coolest things ever written is not even written, signed or endorsed by a mere mortal like you, me or the person responsible for the "Twilight" saga.

" are a letter of Christ...written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets but on tablets of human hearts."

Wow. I want to be endorsed by God. I want to strive to live a life worthy of having His signature spirit-inked all over me! And when we are His written work, this is the best part of all...

"Now we have such confidence in God through Christ. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as if it were coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God."

So, here's the deal. Yes, I've launched a book. Yes, I wrote it all by myself, though with some great input and much prayer. Yes, I would love to see people read it and be encouraged by it. Yes, my John Hancock is on it. Yes, I have a book signing at the Mustard Seed in Parsons, KS on Saturday from 10 AM until noon. Yes, this is all a bit exciting.

But, it all pales in comparison to this: if we are in Christ...we are His letters. We are His writing. We are inked by God.

I love the thought of it: Life Signing by God. 24/7-365. No waiting. No purchase necessary.

Get (spirit) inked! :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Reality Check

Yep...I'm home from a really awesome conference alright. No more maid service, no more lettuce wraps at P.F. Chang's, no more girl chat until 2 AM and no more sleeping in.

Back to the land of "I have no idea what to wear to work tomorrow as I personally haven't done a load of laundry since Tuesday" (it's Sunday night, for those of you who haven't been scratching tally marks on your cave wall). I also need to go grocery shopping as I pretty much know the choices for breakfast in the morning will be eggs or eggs. (The milk smells, I had to even mark Capn' Crunch off the list of possibilities!) That stack of "to be graded" papers I just knew would shrink as the flurry of my red pen cut it down to size in no time - sadly, still looms large. My caveman didn't know about some money I forgot I spent last week, and I unwisely waited until tonight to tell him...just a few hours after he had spent the entire afternoon doing bills and preparing taxes.

Yep...I'm back! You see, for the past three days I've been "the speaker"...the "big deal"..."someone who seems to have some answers." It's cool to be able to go and share with others and try to impart awesome stuff that God has shared with you. It's both humbling and gratifying to have people come up to you and say, "I loved what you said!"..."You're awesome!"..."Maybe you can come speak at the next event my group is having!"..."You made me feel so understood and hopeful!" I pretty much drove the two hours back home to my cave on a cloud.

But, fortunately (and I do mean fortunately) for me...before my cloud engine even had time to cool down...the reality of my cave gave me a big, reassuring hug. You see, I had spent three days encouraging women through drawing from my own cave experiences. I had the incredible opportunity to remind people that God sees them...right where they are...dirty laundry, spoiled milk, unbalanced checkbook and all...and in the midst of it He gives them the love, hope and energy to carry on.

I smile as I sit here typing at my little table that barely can hold my laptop because it is already struggling to support a myriad of items as varied as a baby gift that should have been gifted days ago, a container of air soft pellets (remember, I have boys) and a turned-over bottle of Febreze (remember, I have boys). Speaking of boys, I just let one in the back door and I am now pausing to spray some Febreze...

Spraying accomplished. So, because I have laundry and you have a life...I'll sum this up: Conferences are fun. Taking a break from the cave is nice. Catching up with old friends and hanging out with new friends is spirit-lifting. Eating at P.F. Chang's gives my taste buds their very own mini-vacation. Knowing I may have encouraged others is amazing. Still, I'm back and I'm thankful...

Thankful for the people in my reality who create the laundry piled on the bathroom floor. Thankful for the people in my reality who need to eat...which will make for a Wal-Mart stop after a long day in RMS Room 310 tomorrow. Thankful for the people in my reality who create the papers I need to grade. Thankful for the person who tries to keep both our checkbook and me in balance.

Thankful for a God who gives me everything I need to bravely embrace it all. "To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me". Colossians 1:29

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cavewomen Unite!

I am a cavewoman.

No cryogenics have been involved, and I don't live in a subterranean house. But, I am a 21st century cavewoman...

It has been well over two decades since I first stepped inside my cave, but the memories of that day remain fresh and clear...unlike the air within the actual dwelling! I have endured the hardships of living in tight quarters with males lacking good communication skills. I have also learned how to function in life while often lacking the proper resources. Like making pretend swords out of foil and cardboard, as well as feeding four people at McDonald's on $2.85. So, if you stopped by hoping to read about how we as women must struggle and conquer to survive and may not be entirely disappointed.

I don't always buy into the "power of positive thinking" as I have been incredibly positive about having pets, sleepovers and natural childbirth - and a whole lot of good that did me! But, I do hope to bring a little ray of light into the musty, dark caves all women find themselves in from time to time. Whether you work in the home or out of the home, have skin that is yellow, black or white, have money or don't, went to college or didn't - if you are the the keeper of your cave - I have news for you! You are a cavewoman...and I say we wear the moniker with pride! (That doesn't necessarily mean we start wearing dino bones in our hair or burn bras or anything. Well, we could probably eat some cookie dough from time to time...that would be first...then we would feel sick and be angry with ourselves for all blowing our diets that we just started that morning, but...oh,well!)

When you have a spare moment - like when the men are making fire and the children are not - stop back by for a visit...we cavewomen have to totally stick together. Oh! And if the kids are at grandma's (or maybe even college!) in your near future, you might have a precious morsel of time to check out my new book..."Diary of a Cavewoman"...easy read full of encouragement for women of all ages and stages! You can find it on my website at