Sunday, September 23, 2012

Quantum Leap

Hello, Bloggy World! It's been a nine-month break in posting news from my little corner of the world. In that time, I've completed my first year as an elementary principal, finished all but two classes for my Master's Degree (completion date: December 8!) and continued having those unaccidental dates for over a year that have turned into an engagement. Yep: I'm getting married in December, after a journey through grief that began three and a half years ago.

Remarriage was certainly not something that I would ever have looked for. Many friends had told me I should consider dating again, but I told them God would have to send the guy to my door...and He did. R. literally came to my office door a year ago July to see if I'd like to go to lunch. We've eaten a lot of lunches and dinners together since then, and decided this future together is a perfect fit for both of us. He lost his wife going on two years ago. Our families knew each other and our children went to school together. Suffice it to say, there is a big grin on my face even as I am typing this.

I am blessed in this life, and so very grateful for the new future that is soon to be ahead of me.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Some Spare Time

Hello, Bloggy World. I have so missed posting and reflecting on what is going on in life. My world has become very busy in a fulfilling way. I began the one-year learning curve (at least) of becoming an elementary principal this fall. That involves about 550 students, 800 parents and 24 teachers who report to me. But, wait! There's more: I needed a different certification on my Masters (which was a condition of my taking the job), so now in my "spare" time, I'm taking classes. And: I'mstillhavingunaccidentaldates. So, yeah: a little busy around here.

I have also had a season of unexpected losses of friends and family members since September. So much grief in such a short time that it takes my breath away. And I consider myself strong in the tough times. This fall I learned there is "tough" and there is "almost unbearable"... but for God. My prayer is that 2012 brings me some green pasture time to rest and refresh.

I've spent a lot of time in John 14 trusting God for His peace in this period of life. Peace that is not dependent upon external circumstances. I wanted to share a lesson from the devotional I use for my daily quiet times. (It is "In Touch" and can be ordered/viewed online through In Touch Ministries.)

God gives His peace to every believer as a gift, our experience of it is related to our faith in the following truths:
  • God is in control of everything. Without this assurance, the world is a scary place.
  • He loves me and will see me through all circumstances, no matter how difficult or painful they may be.
  • To have Christ's peace, I must yield my life to Him. When I hold onto my ways and plans, I'll experience turmoil.
  • I have a limited perspective and understanding of my circumstances and God's purposes for allowing them. His goals for me are greater than my immediate comfort.
  • The Lord promises to work all things out for my good. He is continually acting to conform me to Christ's image.
  • I must live in sync with God, walking in the Spirit and promptly confessing and repenting of sin.
  • Scripture is my foundation for peace. It increases my trust in the Lord's goodness, assures me that He keeps His promises and reminds me of His sovereignty over every situation.

(Me again.)

In this world there are going to be trials. But fear not: He has overcome the world. That little baby we are celebrating? He is the reason we can overcome this world and its trials.

Amen and amen.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Status Updates

"Just found out my mother passed away. Rapid change in Thanksgiving plans."

I posted this status update to my Facebook account yesterday, and had over 125 comments from sweet friends within hours. Proof that social media can reach out and touch. Also proof that a dozen words cannot tell a nuanced story adequately.

The plan was for Young Son to fly with me to Wisconsin to see Married Daughter and her husband for Thanksgiving. As I am typing this, I'm waiting for Married Daughter's plane to make it to my side of the country to help plan a funeral. She's being picked up by her brother who is doing everything he knows to help his mom as she processes this newly unexpected wrinkle in the agenda.

My lifelong friends know the details of the life I experienced with my mother. I don't feel this blog is the appropriate place to share them. The best I can offer are the lyrics to Kelly Clarkson's "Because of You" to explain a journey I am still healing from as an adult with adult children of my own. I am dealing with this loss as authentically as I can: I am determined to not put on the "Fine, fine, everything is fine"mask, because I am decidedly not fine at this time.

Some friends have asked me if I thought there would be a final visit toward restoration. I knew there would not be. I discovered long ago that sometimes God's healing is done without homecoming. I was already prepared for the final bite in her will. Somehow, realistically anticipating that for years has lessened the blow.

And where am I now? I am mourning a lost childhood. I am asking God to prove Himself real to me and to redeem the years that the book of Joel says "the locusts stripped away". I am praying for wholeness, for the broken places to be strengthened and for proof that this can all "work together for good". I am looking for any generational tendencies to be broken off my children and future grandchildren.

"Pain endures through the night; a shout of joy comes in the morning."

Squinting hard in the darkness to see the light of dawn.

I believe, Lord; help me in my unbelief.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Knit in the Womb

I have attended the same church for almost 16 years. The pastor is an amazing man who truly has a heart for Christ and our community. As long as I've known him, he has challenged us to be "Jesus in skin" for those around us, to make a "maximum impact for Christ" and to "do life like Christ." While his messages are always passionate and challenging, today's words were at such a level I felt like I should take my shoes off, because surely we were standing on sacred ground.

A young couple in our congregation found out they were pregnant with their third child this summer. The elation was soon replaced with the heartbreaking news that, while the baby was growing and viable in the womb, it would not live long after birth. After much prayer and (I am sure) heart-wrenching talks, they elected to carry this baby to term instead of having it taken earlier. They are adamant that the life within the mother's womb is a baby who was created "fearfully and wonderfully" (Psalm 139) by a loving God.

The due date is now upon this precious family. On Tuesday, the baby will be delivered and probably only live a short time out of the safety of the womb. Today, our church participated in a baby dedication for this precious little one that we will never meet this side of heaven. The parents stood before the congregation to give testimony to their decision and the grace that God has bestowed upon them during this journey. As our pastor noted, when you are "squeezed by life", you find what comes out of your heart. In their case, what came out was the love of an almighty, all knowing and all powerful God.

After a brief dedication time where the couple was surrounded by family and friends, we were challenged to give to a foundation that builds wells with clean drinking water in Uganda through an organization named Holden Uganda: These wells are named in memory of children, and we were encouraged to donate in honor and memory of this little one who will live briefly on this earth on Tuesday.

While we donated, prayed and hugged this sweet family, a song was sung called "I Will Carry You (Audrey's Song)" by Selah. It was by a sweet blogger I've read for years after she lost her baby in the same way. (You can listen to it here:

At the end of the dedication time, our pastor prayed for those in the congregation who had lost a baby in any way, and who were still feeling the effect of the loss. The number of people who responded to this call was staggering to me because I am sure that my congregation is a typical cross section of any church in the area.

Praying for this sweet family on Tuesday. And thanking God for His grace and mercy on their lives.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Choosing the Good Part

When I lost D, I designed a unique eating plan. It was called the "Put Whatever Tastes Good in Your Mouth" diet. It was wildly successful and caused me to gain 20 solid pounds. (Truth be told, it was a variation of a program I'd already been on for 7 years called "Eat Your Way Through Cancer Stress" diet, when my best friends on many long and lonely nights were sweet and salty.)

About 9 months ago, I had a wake up call when I lost a friend who was my age...which is far too young. I determined that I was going to watch every bite that went into my mouth, because it was time to get serious about a healthy lifestyle. Then, when I began my new job almost 5 months ago, I decided I was going to go to the gym before work every day from 5:00 to 6:00 am. (Please do not misconstrue that as a huge sacrifice: I am a morning person, and that is usually peak time for my energy level.)

The results have been a huge surprise to me. Because I am not very tall, I never really played sports. I didn't know the results of vigorous exercise could be more..well: vigor. Seems totally upside down to me, but all I know is I feel strong, awake and full of energy all day long when I exercise. Guess those endorphins really do kick in.

I've lost those 20 pounds, but realize the number on the scale is no longer the Big Deal. It is more about feeling strong and wanting to feel stronger by kicking it up a notch each day. (Which did result in a pulled back muscle when I "kicked up" too much weight on a machine. Note to self: you will never be a professional body builder. Dial it waaaay back.)

I realize how cushy going to a gym really is. The machines make the workout easier to track with all their bells-and-whistle displays, they all have ports for earbuds to listen to three televisions during a workout, and they shield you from the real world of pounding the hot asphalt during an outside run. (Outside in Texas is very hot most of the time.) But I show up every day, and that is really the victory.

There is not a day that goes by that I don't think I should just skip my workout and go to work early to get more work done. Reality check: the work will never all be done. I am a Type A, slightly OCD, organization freak. The biggest adjustment for me in this new job is realizing IT WILL NEVER GET DONE. Deal with it. And go to the gym every day.

My favorite day to work out is on Saturdays. For some reason, unknown to me, one TV is always set to HGTV on this day. I have found I can stay on the elliptical machine for two shows without feeling like it is too long. (Again: the gym is very good to me.) I looked down at the machine's screen after my hour today and realized I had racked up more "distance" (even though I had not moved) than a 5K. Almost 4 miles, and I was feeling pretty good. Googling local 5Ks today to see what it would be like on the not-so-hot autumn asphalt.

I would love to say that my eating is healthy every day, too. I do eat less, concentrate on fruits and vegetables and avoid the sweets. One major downfall is we have a wonderful lady who cooks hot lunches from scratch at school and HELLO: homemade chicken pot pie! But I do try hard to make wise choices in food selection. Enough so, that when friends hear me say I stopped for fried chicken, they know that my stress level is too high. Thankfully, Popeye's and KFC only see me about once a month.

I am learning that success is not a number on a scale; it is feeling physically strong and disciplined. A lesson learned...five decades in the making.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Life in Bullets...

  • Took Married Daughter and Loyal Son-in-Law to eat peppered bacon and gingerbread pancakes on the way to the airport. They were returning to their new home (in already frosty Wisconsin) after a quick trip home for a beloved grandfather's funeral.

  • Went to the wedding of former elementary school students. Groomsmen, maids of honor and singers were all former students who have grown into strikingly beautiful/handsome and wonderful adults. I was full of The Happy and shed a tear or twenty to prove it.

  • Went to my --th High School Reunion (we were the bicentennial class--you do the math). Somehow I had forgotten that everyone would ask about my family, and I would have to repeat the words "My husband died of cancer" approximately 6 million times. Clearly not the most magical of evenings, but I was accompanied by two precious friends who made sure I did not come or leave alone.

  • Back on the school front, my favorite "principal's office visit" yet: Kindergartner who filled his pockets with rocks at recess and then asked to go to the bathroom. On his little field trip, he deposited the rocks in the potty and flushed see if they would flush. When I asked if his mom would let him do that, he replied, "Not rocks...but I flush a lot of leaves and sticks at home and they work just fine."

  • I have been surprised to hear from people at work, church and states away who have cracked the identity code of thecrowdedwords at the end of my posts. To ensure privacy of others, I am going to have to stop writing about that part of my life. Butitsureisfun.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Lots of Misc.

  • I've long thought one question I'd ask God when I make it to heaven would be, "What was up with my hair and feet on earth?" I've posted often about my hair, which, during humid Texas weather, had its own zip code. And the feet? How many grown women do you know that wear the same size as her elementary students? People kept assuring me my feet would grow during pregnancy, so that some day I could actually buy heels. To the contrary: my tootsies only grew wide and stretched out the shoes I already had. But suddenly? The Chi hot iron and bob have made my hair manageable and (could it be?) stylish almost every day. And the feet? I walked into Macy's today and discovered I can wear a woman's size five heel. And the angels sang a Happy Song.

  • A mentor elementary principal friend of mine warned me this summer the age group that would visit my principal's office most often would be the kindergartners. She said if they can be trained at five, you will not see them as fifth graders. I was a little skeptical of that prediction, but she was spot on: my office is inundated by kindergartners almost every day. I spend lots of time on the floor handing small pieces of tape to my small friends who have ripped up their papers in frustration. I often have them call their parents to explain why they are visiting the principal's office. (Before they take the receiver, they usually give me a frown and say, "You are about to get me in a lot of trouble!" I usually have to cover my mouth to hide my smile.)

  • Our head of school is over six feet tall; I am just over five feet in my newly acquired heels. One first grader told me her teacher told the class they could not refer to me as the "little principal" anymore.

  • Knowing some of you are scanning for the crowded words found at the end of most posts lately: includinggrownchildreninmeetingsthisweek.

And off to another wonderful week among my 525 small best friends...