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: http://holdenuganda.blogspot.com/2011/01/holden.html. 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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLuaGiu73jc.)

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 them...to 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...



Saturday, September 17, 2011

Weekend Update

If there is even anyone reading this blog anymore, you may have noticed it has been weeks since I have posted...after four years of regular posts. There are many good reasons, and I will share a few:


  • My new, amazing job as elementary principal keeps me filled to the top with The Happy, but it also keeps me busy, busy, busy. Most days I don't sit down to the paperwork at my desk until about 4:30 pm. I'm getting better with the paper flow, loving the interaction with parents, students and teacher...but having little spare time to blog.

  • Iamseeingsomeoneregularly. That takes time, too.

  • I received some unimaginably horrible news about D's estate that is requiring legal help and heaps of emotional energy.

  • I love my new life.

  • Did I mention I love my new life?

Some of the best news around my region of Central Texas? The wildfires have stopped, we had a little rain yesterday, and the million day "over 100 degree mark" seems to have ended with temps in the 90s. Texas' version of fall.


Hang with me, bloggy community. Looking for things to settle down enough to have time to post again regularly. Aboutmanythings.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

First Week

My school was fortunate enough to have a three-day first week. That's enough time to get excited, crash, rest over the weekend, and return ready to go (hopefully) the following Monday morning for week two.

My first days were ones of reality:



  • Seeing the tiny tables set up in the cafeteria for the Pre-K class reminded me how precious and little some of our students are.

  • Hearing a kindergartner tell a friend, "Watch this: she knows me!" and then calling my name so I'd wave and prove it. (And my prayer every day is to learn ALL these names and faces quickly.)

  • Realizing there are days I don't get to sit down at my desk to do paperwork until 4:00 pm. (But the face time with students, teachers and parents is my favorite part of the job.)

  • Finishing a long list of email answers and hitting refresh to see 20 more emails were added since I began.

But the hardest reality? An armed bank robbery that put our school in a real Lock-down Friday afternoon. Of course everyone was safe and sound, but the realization of being responsible for all these precious children was very sobering. The teachers shared what the students said as the Lock-down continued long enough for everyone to realize it was not a drill. (My favorite? An eight-month pregnant teacher of seven year-olds. One little boy, after three days of school, finally got up the nerve to ask her, "What's wrong with your stomach?" When she answered she was having a baby, three other boys quickly added,"We were so glad he asked. We'd been wondering the same thing!" )


Week two begins tomorrow. Can't wait!


(And PS to those following my run-on sentences these days: anotherone.)



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My First Day of "Principal-ing"


I've been working at an "invisible" job all summer: a new principal with no teachers or students at the school. Today, the key players arrived for the first day of school, and our campus was filled to the brim with life.

I loved watching parents and grandparents taking all the first day pictures and videos.

I loved watching one of my brand new teachers begin her first day at our school. (The students loved her, too!)
I loved having the kindergarten classes come to my office to meet the principal. (I showed the Class of 2024 my school pictures from my first day of school!)

I loved having friends' children attending "my" school. (Welcome, Maggie Sue!)

I had the first discipline visit to my office. (A reminder we don't tell our PreK teacher we think her games are dumb.) I overheard my first entertaining kindergarten story. (Boys, of course, discussing stepping in gross things while barefoot.) I tied shoelaces, hugged crying children, handed Kleenex to crying mommies and overall had one of the best days of my life.


If you have read this blog for any amount of time, you know that the last 9 years of my life have been a very long and winding road. To find this job at the end of that path? In my mind it is nothing short of miraculous. I am so very grateful to a God who restores and blesses us in ways we could never deserve.



And at the end of the day? Flowers from Married Daughter and Faithful Son-in-Law, welcoming me to my new profession.


"This I will call to mind, therefore I will have the hope:

Because of His great love, we are not consumed.

For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning.

Great is Your faithfulness, O Lord." Lamentations 3:21-23


And, for those familiar with my posts, a little more news: thelastonewasnotaccidental.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

New Beginnings

I began my years of teaching in the early 80s. My first classroom was full of 35 fifth graders and was not air conditioned. (Oh, that I was making that up. But I'm not.) There were seven huge bulletin boards in that room that had to be kept decorated and were almost the death of me. (Along with the heat.) I was at the end of a hall with two other new teachers and most of the other (much) older teachers would not talk to us, let alone tell us how to fill up all that bulletin board space. The next year, all three of us transferred to another campus in the same district. Angels sang because we had air conditioning and carpet on the floors. A slight drawback was our shared space was that failed experiment called "open area". The only thing that separated our three classrooms were six foot high rolling chalkboards. The fourth area was for a special ed class. And did I mention we had 38 students each at some points during the year? Listen, if you can love teaching in those conditions, you were made to be a teacher.

The next school year brought a move to a smaller district. The only opening was first grade and I wasn't sure it would be a fit for me. I loved fifth graders! I had 16 six-year olds and spent much of the first week counting to make sure everyone was there. I was teaching 50% less students and getting paid the same? Double score, because I found a perfect fit in the early primary grades.

Babies followed and I stayed home with them. I heard there was a kindergarten opening when my only little toddlers were in half day preschool. I went to talk to my former principal to see if I could sell him on a half day kindergarten class. My chutzpah was rewarded with the offer of an on-the-spot created half day gifted and talented teaching position. One of my favorite years EVER.

Another move brought me into private Christian schools, where I helped administrate (and teach) a split level class of kindergartners and first graders (including my daughter). A magical year. Followed by two years in kindergarten that included my son. Perfection.

Shifts in life brought me through about 10 more years in private schools and five more in public schools. This is the first year I have not had a classroom to set up, and I am missing that a little bit. I love being a principal, but I miss putting together a room that will nurture and challenge little ones who will call it home for a school year.

Come Wednesday, the school year will begin and children will fill the halls. Bet you can smell the crayons and lunch boxes just imagining it. I know I can.

There cannot be another job that is as challenging/satisfying as teaching and shaping children's lives. 2011-2012 school year: You may be the best one yet. Can't wait.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Showers of Blessing

I love blogging, but my posts have been sporatic lately with life coming at me fast right now because... The Teachers Have Returned to the School for Inservice! (More on that later.)

First, I'm catching up on the last few weeks that were filled with wonderful friends. And these friends pictured below? An elementary school reunion thanks to our friend, Facebook. Most of us still live scattered through out central Texas, but it was the transplanted Californian who initiated the meeting. (We forgive her for her initial suggestion of an outside meeting in the million degree Texas summer. Oh, to be in cool San Diego at her home.) (ROAD TRIP!)

In first grade, I was the shortest...and that has not changed. Neither has the sweetness of this group. We were amazed at how much we remembered from our formative elementary years together. I got downright giddy trying to tell others how rewarding and meaningful time spent with this group was after almost 4 decades.


And speaking of being the shortest? This is another former kindergartener of mine.

( And I had on heels.) K was leaving for college, and her mother threw a blessing party for her. Women who had played important parts in K's life were asked to come with a blessing to read over her. It was one of the most meaningful gatherings I ever attended and I think that I was the one who was most blessed.

And this little group below? It's a view from my seat at MY FIRST INSERVICE AS A PRINCIPAL. (Back away from the caps and we will all be fine.) We have two successful days behind us and begin our final week of meetings in the morning. I was given a wonderful faculty that was excited about beginning a new year of teaching and training up students for the 2011-2012 school year.


This weekend I went to see the movie "The Help" with my college roommate. (Do not miss this movie. Seriously.) One of my friends from high school (slash fellow teacher from my last school) brought over homemade lemon meringue pie to christen my new school year.(Are you lucky enough to have a friend who knows your favorite kind of pie? There is still time to make one.) Last night was a picture perfect wedding of a young man I watched grow up, with Young Son as my date. (My favorite reception moment? Sitting with a friend who told Young Son he read my blog and knew of YS's vegetarian "commune" living experience. I'm thinking YS may begin reading this blog very, very soon to see the kind of press he is getting on it. Thanks, RJ.) Today? Church and brunch in downtown Austin with a friend who is fighting cancer with all her might. My soul is filled up with friendship.


And right now? As I am writing this it is RAINING. The last rain of substance in my drought stricken state was almost a year ago. I think the 100+ degree weather may be under 100 for the first time this summer. Maybe, just maybe, a new season of life is beginning for me, too. And I am so very grateful.


Thank you, bloggy friends, for walking the last two years on this journey through grief. I'm looking for the rainbows now.





Thursday, August 4, 2011

Shopping

I have never really enjoyed shopping for clothes. Right now my "Back-to-School" needs are a little more formal than when I was a classroom teacher who spent a lot of time on the floor with six year olds. But is anyone selling dressier clothes yet this season? Nooooooo. I'm convinced that the downturn in the economy has also affected the amount of merchandise being put out in store. I'm pretty sure Kohl's has been pushing the same clothes around on racks since April or May.

I've tried--goodness knows, I've tried, to shop during the last few days. I recently experienced a lower level of dressing room torture at Marshall's. You know how hard it is to look good in clothes lit by florescent lighting? Well, that chain has decided that more is better, and installed two six-foot vertical lights in each individual dressing room. I mean, who doesn't look great with 1000 watts of light being beamed off a fun house mirror? Isn't that the normal lighting of your wardrobe?

(My first thought on exiting the dressing room was that I bet they didn't do that in the men's dressing rooms. Then I remembered I've never known a man who actually tried on clothes before buying them. So all the fancy new lighting was reserved just for the females.)

I even went to a store tonight that had the word "Dress" in its name, but there were few dresses to be found. Does anyone know of any stores that have dresses out during this hot, hot August in Texas?

And normally lit dressing rooms would be a plus.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Happy About the Heat

I am sure that we are all Sick to Death about all this talk of the heat. Yes: we know we are setting records. Yes: we know it hasn't been this bad in central Texas since the 1950s and we are closing in on that record quickly. But let's just embrace it for a bit and see where it takes us.

I find myself taking pictures of landscaping that is actually thriving this summer. I have a bit o' fear that my backyard may end up looking like the parking lot islands at the mall. Or the parking lot itself, since it does not require watering.


One activity that always blows fresh breezes through the soul?

Weekends away with precious friends! We found a town built around a lake and enjoyed cool conversation for two days. We had a balcony that framed the sunset over the water, and enjoyed the breezes blowing by the shady side of our hotel. (If only we'd taken pictures of that instead of having a stranger snap parking lot shots as we stopped for iced drinks on the way home.)
Even my backyard critters are learning to hang out and cool off in unnaturally flat positions.


Hmmm. Anything else going on? Well, I thinkImayhaveaccidentallyhadadate. I wasn't paying attention to the lunch invitation; I just jumped up and went. And that is a I am saying about that.

Fall is somewhere on that shimmering horizon. Hold on to that thought.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Week Full of The Happy

Well. The days fly by at the New Job, and things seem to be coming together for the next school year. I had some wonderful connections throughout the week, which is always a great thing.

One day's mail contained three chatty letters from former students, and a postcard from Young Son (who just finished another long-distance bike ride) that said, "Mom, I love you more than my bike." High praise indeed.

And speaking of Young Son, who is enamored of all things 1970s, he is now living in a co-op in a funky downtown Austin neighborhood. I can't fault the "House Rules": no alcohol and no serving meat. He is a semi-vegetarian who eats healthy most all the time. Apparently there is something about not being able to have something that makes you want it even more. When I went on a tour of his home last week, he told me he missed meat sometimes and kept a bag of beef jerky in his room. Meat as contraband. (Have a mentioned a time or twenty that Austin's quasi-motto is "Keep Austin Weird"? And maybe meatless.)

Young Son and I went out to eat with one of his friends from childhood. Tyler lost his mom to cancer just weeks from the time we lost D. You know how most of us talk about writing books about our experiences? Well, Tyler's book was published this spring. It chronicles his journey in the loss of his mother, but the perspective of God that he gained. You can order it here on Amazon as a paperback or a Kindle download.

I got to have lunch with my mentor in education. She was my sixth grade teacher in elementary school, and made me want to pursue a classroom of my own. She went from being Mrs. W to Dr. W with a PhD in Educational Administration. She has been a principal of another local private school for 30 years. I met with her to ask a lot of Big Questions. Her answers were concentrated with the wisdom of many years, and we had an amazing exchange of ideas. She wants me to call her by her first name now. Somehow, the adults of our childhood don't transition easily to being peers. I'm practicing her name in front of the mirror in anticipation of our next meeting with (many) more Big Questions on my part, I'm sure.

Today, I drove to one of my favorite little "antiquing" towns, to find my favorite store locked up tight. Guess I should have paid more attention to Sunday's store hours. No connection made here today!
But the best connection of all? I happened to have Facebook on for a few minutes early Saturday morning and a message popped up. A precious friend from college was in town with her family for a wedding: could I go to lunch with them. COULD I? What a joy to have friends from "back when". It seems as though not a day has passed since those late night marathon talks on the third floor of our dorm. She and her husband have a lot to show for those years since graduation; three beautiful and charming daughters among them. What a wonderful ending to a great week.

It takes a long time to grow an old friend. And surely there is no better investment in our lives.






Sunday, July 17, 2011

Not Talking to Strangers

For the past two years, well meaning friends have told me that I should consider online dating sites. In the beginning, my reaction was red hot rage. After about a year it cooled to an icy silence. Recently, I've been able to nod politely with a tight smile on my face (all the while thinking to myself, "There. Is. No. Way.") Depending upon who you believe, 1 out of 5 (20%) to 1 out of 3 (33%) of relationships are now made online. I know people that have met and happily married people they met online, but I, personally, still cannot even imagine considering the idea. Anyway...

The other night I was watching a movie on Lifetime. My sister has spoiled that channel forever for me by revealing its secret. (Spoiler Alert.) If someone with greasy hair and/or missing teeth utters the words, "I am not/ain't ever going to let you go", it is not going to end well for someone. At one of its breaks, there was a commercial for a free trial RIGHT NOW! on a Christian dating website.

(Adult Children o' mine: stop reading right now.)

I typed in the website while continuing to watch a Lifetime Channel movie spun out of control by the stalker of the week. I just kept wondering how safe meeting strangers online could really be. The first picture that came up on the site was of a man who lived about two hours from my town. He had a made-up screen name, but his profile picture showed a hat that advertised a nationwide financial consulting business. I googled his hometown and the business and EUREKA! There was his real name, picture, and business address. I then googled his real name and city and his address showed up with a GoogleEarth picture of his home. I am absolutely sure he thought he was completely anonymous. (And if something happens to him and I am considered a "person of interest" in the crime because of my search, I need you all to vouch for me that I am relatively harmless and not even all that internet savvy.) That little story is about as terrifying as a Lifetime dating-gone-wrong movie. I would not even consider working with one of those websites if I even considered dating again.

That would have been the end of that, until I was on Facebook yesterday. Have you noticed the advertisements placed on the right hand side of your FB page? They are selected because of your age. Suffice it to say, the ads I am shown do not show flavored lip gloss or Justin Bieber (and what is with his hair, anyway?) That day, my "age-appropriate" links were to (you guessed it): an online dating website. Except it was called Senior People Meet. First off, let me assure you I am almost two decades from retirement. I am NOT a "senior". Next, the picture that was posted was someone I recognized (slightly) from high school. He had used his unusual last name as part of his username. I am sure he did not give permission to have it posted all over the country, but when you sign up for those sites they kind of own your image. (And an observation about that image: Being a football star in high school does not guarantee you will have hair at middle age. Be nice to everyone when you are younger, because it really will be your personality that will carry you along later in life.) I digress.

Let these be lessons to us all: Online information is rarely anonymous. Be nice to everyone you meet, because you are probably going to meet them again. And beware of Lifetime movies late at night.

You are welcome.

Carry on.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Goodness and Mercy Following Me

So, The Anniversary passed on Wednesday and I am entering my third year of navigating a New Normal.

I have to pause here in amazement and gratefulness for the wonderful friends who helped me mark that date. Cards were waiting for me at work. Flowers were delivered from friends from out of state. An old picture of D with our family arrived in the mail. (It was from our newlywed days; not the seven-year-marathon-of-cancer-and-loss days. The look in his eyes in that photo reminded me of those earlier, happier days that I have sometimes forgotten.) Calls, cards and texts from people who cared enough to mark July 13 on their calendar and reach out with love. Thank you, little village o' mine.

And last night? Another mark in the sand. Do you watch "Friday Night Lights" on television? It was D's and my favorite Friday night pass time. It was filmed in our area, and we had a few seven-degrees-of-separation with some of the local actors on the show. (And? Hello: it is about Texas football.)The actors, scripts, characters and filming were among the best on TV. (So, you know, let's just cancel it to make more room for bad reality shows, right?)

Anyway, last night was the series finale. 90 minutes of perfection that tied up five years worth of storylines. I laughed, I cried and I counted this among my favorite single episodes on television ever. When it was over, I posted my status on Facebook as "Goodbye, Dillion. You will be missed. Texas forever." I immediately could tell by the comments who followed the show ("I know. So sad!" and "All five seasons will rerun on ESPN Classics soon!") and who did not ("Who is Dillion? Where did he go? Is this like 'Where's Waldo'?"). I realized I have learned to bid good-bye with a smile on my face and a happy heart. That, my friends, is progress.

More progress? My limping along Grass Recovery Program in the month of 100+ degree days has produced growth that required the first need for a mower this summer. Except I no longer have a mower. I called my former grass company, from back in the salad days when the lawn actually needed to be cut every other week. The quote was staggering. Listen, if you took all the green spots and put them together, it would be a space the size of your living room. The rest of the lawn is held together by parched ground. There is no discount for amount of grass: it is figured strictly on size of lot. Drat.

I talked to a co-worker and she knew of some high school boys who could come right over. They arrived in the hottest part of the day and proceeded to mow, weed eat and blow my lawn into an orderly fashion that made it look hopeful for future growth. At the end, I asked for their price. It was a low ball figure. I paid them what the grass company had asked, because these fine young men were so worth it with their excellence. Hooray for parents who have raised their sons with such a great work ethic, and for teen aged boys who are willing to give up a Friday night to help out a stranger with their best efforts.

And now, a long, lazy weekend lies ahead of me. The possibilities are endless.

And the promises of God? They are "yes" and "amen."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Things I Have Learned on a Path Called "Alone"

I had high hopes of an upbeat post complete with pictures today. Seems I've exceeded my blog's limit of free photographs. I do not have the emotional energy to add more photo storage because of a migraine. Which I can trace to a stiff neck and shoulders. Brought on by the dread of tomorrow's calendar page: July 13. Two years since I lost D. I can tell myself that I am fine, fine, everything is just fine. But the heart and tensed body beg to differ. So, we will default to semi-upbeat without pictures.

Things I have learned in the past two days/months/years:

  • While I do not normally deal with fear, a sound in the back of the house that sounded like a machete being sharpened did catch my complete and undivided attention late the other night. Two days of trying to track down its source led me to a junebug in a metal guestroom trashcan, desperately trying to beat out an exit. Relief can be expressed in laughter, and some bugs get a reprieve from the homeowner because of their spunky manner.

  • My new best friend is a lightweight leaf blower. It weighs only a few pounds, works on a rechargeable battery and does not require a 2 mile orange extension cord. It holds just enough charge to blow the driveway, sidewalks, decks and porches. Yard work just got a lot easier in this heat.

  • And speaking of heat: Just when you think it can't get any hotter, the car temperature shows 108 degrees. You can't see my pictorial evidence of that because of the before noted photo storage limit. People: the entire state of Texas has been declared a disaster area because of the drought. Yet, we still love this place. And look forward to cooler weather sometime around Thanksgiving. (Oh, that I was kidding about that.)

  • My crazy librarian friend, KG, brought me a care package for my new office. It included a journal with the title "Diary of a First Year Principal" (with the Wimpy Kid graphic altered to look like me), a glass jar full of premium chocolate to share with teachers, and a jar of peanut butter for the days I will miss lunch. (You can tell this woman has been in education for a looooong time.) One of the things I will miss the most about my former school will be Thursday afternoon library periods.

  • My quality friends, the W's, included me in their Saturday evening out. We had dinner at a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich restaurant, followed by dessert at a frozen yogurt restaurant that had Cake Batter flavored fat-free yogurt (accompanied by angels singing "Hallelujah"), and a showing of the musical "Hairspray" at a theater-in-the-round. A. Perfect. Evening.

  • A yard that has been neglected for two years cannot be fixed in a single weekend, or even a single summer. Some things, and not just yards, take longer to heal.

Two years. Quite a journey. No prayers pointed this way tomorrow will be wasted.

So, what are some Big Things I have learned?

Like Christopher Robin told Pooh, "Promise me you will remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."
And even more importantly:

Yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness.
I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait for Him."
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
Lamentations 3:21-2

Monday, July 4, 2011

Connecting the Dots

I was out with friends last night, and they were asking how my New Job was going. I told them I am in one of those precious and rare times where I can see so many events of my life coming together and making perfect sense. Past jobs, relationships, experiences and training have all melded together to bring me to the wonderful place that I am in right now. I find myself humbled and blessed by this opportunity, and thankful that it has made sense of many of the last difficult years of my life. All things do work together for good.

My life is full of change, some very good change. My former 30 minute commute into town is now a 60 second trip. Seriously: I can leave at 8:00 am and arrive at work at 8:00 am. I have not filled up my car since my second grade class let out in May. My gas/toll bills just went down a few hundred dollars a month. Hallelujah!

I am suddenly full of energy to complete tasks I've been putting off. Grieving was a lot of work mentally, emotionally and physically, and I'm surprised at the concentration, endurance and attention to detail that has begun returning to me.

I also realize that the clearning of my mental fog has made me notice a few things for the first time in two years. Late the other night, I was sitting in the room formerly known as Married Daughter's bedroom, sorting through some boxes. I had a major aha! moment: I am alone in this house. May seem very obvious to you on the outside of the screen, but I felt very, very alone in my home for the first time. The protective numbing of reality has been lifted. It is time to adjust to (yet another) new normal. But one that is miles and miles down the read from where this journey began.

I end this post with a modern day parable:

There was a numb woman who let her yard go for two hot Texas summers, during the worst drought the state had seen in over a century. One day she woke up and realized her grass was yellow and was in need of intensive care. She began watering and raking and tending the yard. After a very short while, things began to look better and turn green as they responded to the attentive care. The woman was amazed at how quickly something that had been neglected for two years could spring into new, green life.

Connecting the dots, and the picture is emerging. Finally.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Finished

I have been on a bloggy break finishing up some loose ends in my life.

I finished editing the pictures of my trip to Pennsylvania/D.C./New York with Married Daughter and Loyal Sister.
Finished this fun fondue before leaving Married Daughter/Loyal Son-in-Law's home to return to Texas.
Finished looking at the car's thermometer for the remainder of this hot spell blanketing Texas upon my return.
Finished Young Son's four loads of laundry on his last visit home. (PS: He lives in my town and knows how to do laundry; he also knows Mom can be a soft touch. That is why he shows up at dinners with bulky, bulging bags...)
Finished arranging D's shelf in his study with all my favorite mementos.
Finished moving to my new principal's office. This is the wall I face from my desk. You may notice the beautiful picture on the wall. Let's take a closer look:
This wonderful piece of art was made for me by my last classroom in May. It fills me with The Happy each time I look at it.
Finished my desktop. (My students gave me a class picture made the last week of school and made me promise to put it in my new office. Promise finished!)
Finished hanging the picture Married Daughter drew when she was 18. I hope you click on it to see the details. She is an amazing artist and and attended the school where I am again working. She learned so much from the school's former art teacher (V.....Vaughan). It is a reminder of the many rich blessings this school poured over my children and family since first entering it in 1995. I'm ready to give back with all my heart.
Finished hanging this above my desk to remind me of the influence we can have on others. I've mentored a precious teacher for the past several years, and she made this for me. It shows her first three classes, and the words say, "Thanks for believing in me, so I can believe in them." (Reaching for the Kleenex. Thanks, E.)
Finished hanging family pictures, because what office is complete without them?

Do you know what the best part of finishing is?

New Beginnings.

Amen.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Anatomy of a Blog Post

I am amazed at the people who can post on their blogs every day (or every weekday and take the weekends off.) My three favorite daily bloggers are:

BooMama who makes me laugh every day with her Southern sense of humor and love for all things bacon. Her writing style makes me envious, and I find myself rereading sentences because they are so creatively written.
BigMama lives about an hour south of me, and represents the great state of Texas well on a daily basis. I laugh until I snort most when I read her posts most days.
(And Yes: Boo and Big are friends and often post a podcast together which is really like listening in on a call to your best friends.)
Lots of Scotts is written by a Southern mom of triplets who are now entering first grade. Her perspective is always God-centered, encouraging and inspiring.

I am just not able to do a daily blog, and I appreciate the readers who continue to check back with me until a new post is discovered about once a week. I have this week off before starting a new job and was pondering how I come up with posts on this blog.

This post began last Sunday over brunch with friends I have been blessed with since high school. One of the girls (and yes, we still consider ourselves girls, because I think we have maintained an internal age of 18 and where did these adult children of ours come from anyway?) was mentioning that she had read there is a section of your brain that is only stimulated when you are digging in dirt. God wired us to be gardeners back in the Original Garden, apparently.

This little factoid spurred me to actually take a good long look at my pitiful yard. I have let it go since D left, but this summer we have already had 15 days of 100 degree plus weather. Central Texas is hotter than Arizona at this point, and gardening is more of a survival sport than a creative outlet. Anyway, I decided to go out and dig a bit on Tuesday and started wondering how I did not notice how bad the yard had become. Part of it was the fog o' grief; but part of it was coming home after dark each day because I did not want to spend long nights at home alone. I popped the garage door opener and never gave the yard a backward glance. Now, however, I've decided to come up with a landscaping plan that will include a sprinkler system and a lot of rock work that minimizes the amount of lawn I will have to take care of.

Encouraged by the fact that I once again have brainpower and bodily energy (two-years in the making), I have felt like this is the week I will also tackle the garage (to sort through D's tools) and the study (to sort through the last box of mementos I have saved of D's). Taking the emotional temperature...and I am really ready to do this.The garage filled me with The Happy as I realized all that I learned from D like labeling paint cans with the room and date the paint was used, the careful sorting and labeling of boxes that contained tiling/wallpapering/painting supplies that I will probably need again, and the meticulously cared for tools that look brand new. It was a joke in our house that everything D had he had owned "since college". He never lost or broke anything, it seemed, and this fact led to my biggest laugh of the day.

The entire time we were married, D would always ask me where his triangular drafting ruler was. I assured him over the years that I never saw one, needed one or even knew how to use one. But he reminded me he had never lost one since his engineering classes in college. Well, as I cleaned, I unearthed NINE of those rulers in various locations. They are now proudly displayed in an antique wooden box in the study, and I will have to confess to a little loving and heavenward "I told you so".

So, my blogposts are just reflections that are sorted out and tied together...usually a week in the making. I will arrive at my new job on Monday with the last of the physical objects of D's sorted out. There is a verse that says, "First the natural, then the spiritual", and I am believing that God is at work spiritually healing me as I am cleaning out the final physical corners. We make a pretty good team, I think, and I'm glad that He is always right on time to finish His work in His timing.

And I'll bet He laughed about the triangular rulers, too.

(Ending on a slightly different note: I had a comment from a new reader in Alaska who said that my story of loss was almost her exact story. Except she is getting married in July. Alaska reader, I love to hear from you through email to hear the rest of your story.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Choosing the Right Path

I am back home after a great trip to Pennsylvania/DC/New York City. (More on that in another post.) Married Daughter and her husband will be moving to Wisconsin next month, so I took one last trip to see them before my new job begins next week. Ahh, summer.

D was always intrigued by the fact that there was a defined beginning and end to every school year. In business, the years must just pile on top of each other. But in teaching? There is always a clean line drawn between one classroom full of students and the next.

I like that order, too. I enjoy finishing a school year up and locking the classroom door behind me each May, heading off into summer. I remember my thoughts two years ago as I went home to face a terminal diagnosis with D that came to fruition six weeks later. I know my thoughts last summer were set on crossing the one year anniversary of that loss. I was convinced that some measure of closure would be reached--and it was. This summer? I feel as if I am stepping into a new life that is not clouded by the shadows of the past two years.

It has surprised me to discover that I no longer tell people who are unfamiliar with my past about losing D. If they ask about my family I will volunteer the fact, but I don't feel that his death is the defining point of my life anymore. If you have been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know what a huge paradigm shift this is in my life. I think of D often with love and fond memories, but the loss is no longer the largest part of my identity.

I know that I am standing on the thresh hold of a very clear passage in my life. I no longer wear my wedding bands after two years of off-and-on, on-and-off jewelry dilemmas. My goal during this last week of vacation is to put D's belongings I cherish the most on a set of shelves in his former study. I don't want it to be a shrine of any sort: just a special collection that will bring smiles and sweet memories.

In some ways, it feels like I have been awakened from a long, long dream. I realize that I totally let my yard go since July 2009, and am thankful for the grace of the neighbors as I scramble to hire a landscaper. I realized I've worn the same black purse for two years because it was simply easier. I find myself seeking out new colorful purses and clothes with a vengence. The fog has lifted from my brain and I am reading many books at once (oh, Kindle, you are my friend!), pursuing complicated paperwork that was languishing in boxes, and thinking in a pragmatic, clear and organized way that lets me know good changes are ahead.

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
And miles to go before I sleep."
Robert Frost

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Packing Up and Saying Good-bye

Today, I read my last children's book to a rapt audience of second graders.
Why? Because the bell just rang on the last day of school and now they are third graders!
Lining up for the last time and heading out to a wonderful summer.
The next good-bye was bittersweet:
Farewell to my last day of classroom teaching.
Hello to my new job as elementary principal.

“Your days are short here; this is the last of your springs. And now in the serenity and quiet of this lovely place, touch the depths of truth, feel the hem of Heaven. You will go away with old, good friends. And don't forget when you leave why you came." (A. Stevenson)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Manager's Choice

The last several days of the school lunchroom menu are labeled "Manager's Choice". Even a second grader knows this means they are cleaning out the freezers and every third student will receive a different offering for lunch. Let's just consider this little post as a BlogManager's Choice of some thisandthat and whathaveyou.

First off, look at what greeted me as I exited the school building on Friday:

People: it is not even June in Texas yet.
And speaking of hot, here is a view of my fireplace on Saturday afternoon:
A large raccoon took up residence in my chimney for about a month. I called animal control, but they said they could not come help unless the animal was loose in my house. (Everything heavy I own was stacked against the fireplace to prevent said entry, so that was not happening.) Anywoo, loyal brother-in-law finally resorted to a hot seat for the coon who rocketed out the chimney onto the roof in record time. My Facebook status that "The raccoon has exited the building" caused a neighbor two doors down to comment that he had ripped through her backyard when she was laying by the pool. So all's well now, right?
Well, except that night a large contingent of raccoons returned to the roof and fought over who got to take up residency next. I think my chimney must have some kind of coon hobo mark that welcomes the critters into the bowels of my home. Luckily, loyal brother-in-law has secured the screen with liquid nails and a boulder-sized rock. (He told me if I find the rock in the back yard that I should exit the building because a raccoon that strong should not be reckoned with.)
And one more former kindergartner graduate, towering over her former teacher. Heading to college to play soccer, she is as sweet as she is beautiful. Godspeed, EI!

I had a pedicure the other day. As the nail tech was painting my nails, an 80 year-old woman wandered in looking for "her" shade of polish. Ummm...it would be the same shade that I had chosen. I am clearly on the cutting edge of Memaw fashion.

My sister and I watched the last Oprah together. Loyal sister had posters up and buttons for us to wear at that little soiree. I never entirely drank the Oprah kool-aide, but who didn't have a tear when the men from Morehouse College poured in with candles while Kristen Chenoweth sang "(I Have Been Changed) For Good" the day before?

I was walking through my neighborhood early Saturday morning (see above temperature), and I came across a sweet older gentleman with a fireplace poker and an armful of American flags on dowels. He was poking holes and putting flags by everyone's mailboxes for Memorial Day. "My husband was in the service", I told him, and he gave me a flag to carry home. Happy tears on the journey back.

Today was Memorial Day and I was at school. Eating Manager's Choice. Because today was our bad weather make-up day. (But OH! that snow day in February was wonderful, and I tried to draft on that memory all day.) As luck would have it, our class was served chicken with bones. (Not to be confused with "tenders" or "fingers": real chicken.) The mashed potatoes, alas, did not have gravy. (It is probably being served with the mac and cheese or fishsticks tomorrow.) My class size continued to change all day from a low of 7 to a high of 12. (Most parents are home for the holiday and WHO ARE WE KIDDING? The report cards are already printed. ) Two more days and I am no longer a teacher...but I'll be a principal. Imagine that!
Happy Memorial Day, y'all.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Anniversary

Today would have been my wedding anniversary. Loyal sister and I had talked about maybe going out to eat to mark the occasion. In the end? I had decided to just let the day pass without fanfare.

The memories came without prompting on the drive to school this morning. I know I am so far down the road of grief: I am near the two-year point now. But wedding memories? Well, they are still a tender scar apparently.

Imagine my delight when my students arrived bearing flowers and cards this morning.

They brought the most beautiful blooms and hugs. The moms in my room are amazingly thoughtful. I'm not even sure how they knew May 24 was my anniversary. I know they didn't know I had yellow roses at my wedding. Or that they were the flowers D always gave me on anniversaries and special occasions. My eyes leaked a little bit, but they were happy tears and we had a wonderful day in second grade. (Only six to go!)
I want to show you another gift the parents in my room are giving me. They bought a crepe myrtle (my favorite!) and have asked present/former parents and students to write me a wish, blessing or poem and attach it to the tree outside my classroom.
With support like these wonderful people you can imagine why I love this class and school so much. And why my heart has healed so steadily over the past two years.

I am blessed in this life.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Graduation 2011

I may have mentioned a time or twenty that at the end of this school year, I will finish my classroom teaching career. I'm returning to a private school where I used to teach, but this time as the elementary principal. I am past excited.
One of my highlights of teaching there was this kindergarten class from 1998-1999. This picture shows "Come Dressed As Your Favorite Letter" Day. We were celebrating because everyone had learned all of their letters and sounds. ( My own children, who also attended this school, were in junior high at this time. I know they were thrilled to have their mother roaming the halls dressed as a blue M&M.)
Those kindergartners? They graduated from high school yesterday. I was honored to be asked to give certificates to the students who attended this school from kindergarten all the way through graduation. How did the time pass so quickly?
First day of school with GK...
...GK graduating. (She sang at graduation and has the voice of an angel.)
RW's first day of kindergarten.
RW graduating as salutatorian. (I am standing on a step next to her. She's grown a bit.)
JA on his first day of kindergarten...
...and yesterday as a high school graduate. (Nice tie.)
CB as one of my kindergarteners.
CB graduating yesterday. (She asked me to be her assistant at VBS last year, and it was one of the highlights of my summer)

Thank you, Class of 2011, for allowing me the privilege of being a part of your journey. I have kept up with all but a few of you over the years, and you've blessed me over and over again with sweet notes and visits. I cannot wait to see the plans that God has for each one of you unfold. I'm available in May 2015 when your college graduations roll around. Can't wait!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

An Ending and A Beginning

I have 11 more days as a teacher. That seems like an unbelievable thing to type because the classroom has been my home for 22 years.

I try to soak these last days in. It's hard because there is the usual end of year flurry of testing, entering scores online, paperwork and whathaveyou. It distracts from my view of watching the eyes of my students as they continue to discover something wonderful in each passing minute.I've been with this group of children and parents for two years and they feel like my family.They've ridden with me down the long and winding road since D's death, and they are forever imprinted on my heart. I'm thankful that I'm going out on a high note. Not that there has ever been a low note for me in teaching.

I'm awed because I know it was God's plan for me all along to be a teacher. I knew I'd be one when I was six years old, and have always felt like He led me down the path toward my first classroom. A classroom that included 38 fifth graders in an open area that included three other classes. I was in my early 20s and I loved it immediately. After almost 500 students, 10 campuses and untold colleagues, teaching is still a job I look forward to every day.

I spent hours this weekend beginning to sort out my classroom belongings. I had several piles going at once: one for the daughter of a friend who wants to teach early elementary, one for the daughter of another friend who is finishing her first years of teaching second grade. Another pile was of new books I stockpile each month through our classroom book order for two sweet girls who are in college studying to be teachers.

But the best pile? My favorite books held back for future grandchildren. (Married Daughter: no pressure.)

I halfway expected to be emotional during this task. I found that the excitement of my new job as principal outweighed any lingering loss or sadness. I did find myself thinking of this song often:

"Packing up the dreams God planted,
In the fertile soil of you,
Can't believe the hopes He's granted,
Means a chapter in your life is through..."

Looking forward to new chapters and new challenges. Pressing on.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Congratulations, Graduate!

Graduation season is upon us. Yesterday I had the honor and privilege of being invited to see one of my former kindergartners walk across the stage to receive his high school diploma.


How did those 12 years pass so quickly?
I've been blessed to watch so many of my former students grow into adulthood, and I'm always amazed at how the grown-up version is so similar to the young child I taught in elementary.

Five year old HH was polite, hardworking, smart, helpful, trustworthy, compassionate and loyal. The older "model"? Ditto.

Godspeed, HH. I've loved watching you grow up well in the Lord and I can't wait to see the plans He has for you down the road.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Turning of a Page...

15 days. This is the longest I've ever gone between posts on this blog. You may think my absence is either because I had nothing to say or because I had too much going on. Yes and yes.

You see, some rather huge changes have been working their way through my life in the past few weeks. I was offered a completely different job. And I took it.

I had to resign my jobs as second grade teacher in public school(I will finish the school year out) and Children's Pastor at a local church (my last Sunday was Mother's Day).

I've had to start cleaning out 22 years worth of teaching "stuff", because I will no longer be in the classroom. I have begun sorting out multiple piles to give to future and present teachers in my life.

(Edited to add: Thank you for so many sweet comments...Blogger erased all but the most recent ones.)

I've set my mind to enjoy every minute of these last days in a classroom. (Even though teaching in May is more conducive to hazardous duty pay.)

And I am saying good-bye to so much that is familiar and beloved.

But I am saying hello to something I have always wanted to do. And something I feel I am now far enough through my grief process to handle.

I am going to be an elementary school principal at a private Christian school within walking distance of my home.

To quote a very dear friend, "How often does God walk up to you and say, 'Here is the desire of your heart. Take it.'?"

So, I'm taking it and looking forward to pouring my life into this position. I am so very excited about this opportunity. And so very thankful, too.

"The vision is yet for the appointed time. Wait for it...it will surely come to pass." (Habbakuk 2:3)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Reaping and Laughing

Remember being trapped by someone else's home movies? Well-spoiler alert/warning--you choose: this post is going to be a virtual scrapbook of our holiday happenings.

Married Daughter flew in solo from Pennsylvania to spend Easter with her very excited Mama. What did we do with almost 7 days?
We attended a wedding where Young Son (left) was a groomsman for a "friends-since-childhood" wedding.
These two practically grew up before my eyes at a school where I used to teach. I've kept up with them over the years, and it was my joyful pleasure to see them emerge as two of the happiest people on earth at their wedding.
I was surrounded by my two (adult) children for days. Life is good.
But it can get better! Loyal Sister and her husband took us out for gingerbread pancakes...
...and lots of pictures that the kids patiently endured. (Probably because they know most of them end up on Facebook now, and they want to look good.) Breakfast followed by shopping and the movie "Water For Elephants". (Well worth seeing.)
Saturday involved more shopping and an evening with sweet friends C and C to attend a James Taylor concert.

Easter found me in church with my children worshipping on either side of me. My heart was full. It takes so little to make a Mama happy.
Easter lunch out with Aunt W--the last extended relative I have. She's almost 90, but still going strong. (A few things to say there: I'm glad I have her staying-young Swedish genes. I'm even more glad she doesn't peruse the internet and see I've listed her age. Egad.)
A beautiful Monday spent strolling through downtown Austin (pictured at the Whole Foods "mothership" store.) Married daughter left sleet to come home to 90+ degree days in Texas.

Ahhh, family time. It just fills me up. I love spending time talking and laughing with them.

It is our season for joy.

Finally.

And there is more good news coming...