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Archive for June, 2014

* this is a post from over three years ago, and although I would love to think my grammar skills have improved …20140630-112210-40930586.jpg

Recently, it happened AGAIN. And I hate it when it happens.

It makes me feel so … inferior, so …unknowledgeable, so … dumb 😦

Sigh, and the reality is … it will happen again, and again, and again … alot!

The funny thing is, it never happened to bother me, when I was a student.

It didn’t seem to have any effect on my self confidence, as a kid.

Or even on my school marks.

Heck, not even my college marks!

It really didn’t surface until, O, I think it was my first day working in a high school.

The ‘it’ I refer to is … good grammar …

I remember that day so well. I had gotten a job as a SEA (Special Education Assistant), and my role was to assist students with their learning. Not all students have the same learning capacity, nor the same learning style, nor speed. An SEA assists them in learning in a way, and with special materials, tools and curriculum that helps those students reach their potential. That was (is) my job.

What happens when the ‘assistant’ to a student is the equivalent to Shrek in the Kingdom of Grammar? That would be me (I think I might be more fairly compared to Donkey in that kingdom).

So, on my first day of high school, for the second time (I did graduate from high school, by the way), I went, along with my student, to English 9. And it was there that my lack of good grammar skills were giving me chills. I remember, as the teacher used words like:

NOUN and PRONOUN (aren’t they the same thing, just one being positive …’pronoun”?)
VERB and ADVERB (and aren’t they the same thing, just one being extra verbious … ‘adverb’?)
PREPOSITION
CONJUNCTION
INTERJECTION
PREPOSTION

My head started swirling, my palms were clammy, my knees were knocking … all because I feared the teacher was gonna call on me to answer the question that none of the students were answering. For that endless period of time, I was back in high school … all over again, and I really wasn’t appreciating the deja vu .

Being in that class, was so good for me! In that year I learned the meaning of noun, pronoun, verb, adverb and lots of other parts of speech. But, I am learning that there is still so much I don’t know … it’s amazing that I can communicate at all!

Recently I learned there are two ‘O’s’. One is ‘O’, and the other is ‘Oh’, and the two have different uses (who knew?).  ‘Oh’ is used as an exclamation of emotion. On the other hand, ‘O’ is used to address someone or something. The best way to differentiate them is “O God, Our Help in Ages Past”, and “O God, there’s a snake!” (so, ‘O God, Our Help in Ages Past’ would have a very different meaning … this will make you look at worship songs on your screen or monitor next weekend very differently).

I also recently learned that ‘alot’ is not a word (who knew?). The correct way to go is to use it as two words, ‘a lot’ … but them it doesn’t really make sense … ‘I love chocolate a lot’ (so I love chocolate … on a lot … in a lot … so confusing). The best thing to do is to switch ‘alot’ with ‘much’ … I love chocolate … much (hum, I still think alot sounds better, and anyone who knows me, knows I do love chocolate alot).

And then there is ‘ain’t’ … heck I cannot find evidence of it being a real, acceptable word, or not, it is just so confusing, some say it is and some say it isn’t (ain’t), all I have to say is that at my age, and the way I write (and talk), using the word ain’t, ain’t my problem … it’s run on sentences, and I ain’t gonna fix that one any time soon!

 

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That season that many of us fear, dread and deny it’s existence is upon us. The season, of course, is swim suit season.

The thought of baring, normally covered up, skin, stretch marks and cellulite to the unassuming public is enough to force a woman to lock herself in a closet with a good quality dark chocolate.

A number of years ago I felt I had to confront my fear of baring almost everything about myself. I had two daughters, of seven and three, and a toddler son. We lived across the street from a public pool, and they could not go swimming unless I accompanied them.

Would my self consciousness concerning my body image keep my kids from the cool of the pool on a hot summers day? Would my stretch marked naval gazing keep me from fun with my kids in those precious young memory-making years?

I decided I would not be ‘that mom’ who would let her body image detract from meaningful experiences with her kids. I would purchase the first suit that would cover her well, and I would (literally) dive into summer with joyful abandon.

I was thrilled to read a post at http://www.incourage.me, just last week, by Lisa-Jo Baker, called, “You Are More Than Your Swimsuit.” I hope you enjoy it, and her challenge, as well.

“My kids officially smell of summer. And to me summer smells like sunscreen.

From the moment the gates of our community pool crank back open again, our kids will swim, dive, splash, lather, laugh, lick ice cream and live at the pool.

And I know for many of us, that is the exact same amount of time we will spend trying to hide, cover up, conceal, suck in, and disguise the very bodies that gave birth to these kids.

These bodies that stretched to accommodate sets of feet, brilliant heads and minds, beating hearts, and flexing limbs. These bodies that are round where some say they should be flat; soft where some say they should be hard; and full where many others are running on empty.

These bodies that are winsome and wise with their wrinkles that wink back at the world and share more inside jokes and delicious life experience than could possibly squeeze into the tiny, polka dot bikinis of our youth.

These bodies that are in the service of the King who sculpted them out of sinew and His own Spirit.

These bodies that bend low and pick up socks and broken hearts, wipe crumbs and tears and walk the long, lonely hall ways of two a.m. – rocking babies or waiting up for teens.

These bodies that are the sanctuary for tired kids and continue to carry them and all their hopes and dreams deep here under our rib cage. The place that aches when they smile; the place that spills over with wonder at all this eternity walking around with skin on.

These bodies with wrinkled hands from years of serving meals or making art or sewing or digging gardens and planting bulbs.

These bodies that have born children through our words or blogs or hundreds of hours spent mentoring the next generation or bringing babies home from broken places – all the incredible, miraculous ways our bodies mature and our hearts explode the limitations of skin and muscle.

These bodies that tell the story of miracle and wonder and wink from wide hips and wrinkled steps at the tiny life guards who don’t know yet that living life unguarded in the wide open expanse of opening your life up to others is the best way to be beautiful. They will grow into it. They will earn their own scars.

And we will be there modeling what brave looks like for them. Every step of the way into the deep end of the pool with miniature daughters clinging to our necks. Or with other wrinkled sisters who still swim on fearless. With joy off the diving board and loud laughter trying to out race our sons.

“You should not spend your days trying to preserve your body in its eighteen-year-old form. Let it be used. By the time you die, you want to have a very dinged and dented body… Scars and stretch marks and muffin tops are all part of your kingdom work. One of the greatest testimonies Christian women can have in our world today is the testimony of giving your body to another.”

~Life-changing wisdom from Rachel Jankovic, author of Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches.

Let’s not hide this summer.

Let’s spend it all. Lavishly.

All this life we’ve been gifted with.

Let’s spend it down to the very last delicious drops of summer – because you are created for more. Much more than your swimsuit.”

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GRRR! I hate it when things go bump in the night … and linger on into your day!

I awoke one morning (Saturday, no less) at 6:18am, after a disturbing, realistic, haunting, big, bad dream. And I couldn’t get it out of my head. It was, quite literally, haunting me, shadowing my day, making me edgy … and I did’t like it!

I hate it when that happens (like you didn’t figure that out already). I’ve been awake for over five hours, and my heartbeat is still too fast. I’ve had the joy of going to a school fundraiser, meeting up with lots of people (who I probably communicated poorly with, maybe I was even unfriendly to), opportunities to eat yummy foods, and I am still on edge!

This dream, this nightmare is probably still haunting me, because it originates partly in reality, a reality I just wish would, I wish could be forgotten! But, until senility sets in (and, despite the belief of my kids, it hasn’t happened yet), my memories will simply always be there.

But, it is not just the dream that is driving me around the bend today. It is also me, and the way I think. My kids love to joke with me all the time about how I look for a deeper meaning to EVERYTHING! If you’ve ever seen that YouTube ‘Double Rainbow’ video that’s gone viral … well, my kids like to joke … with their hysterical laughter … “that’s just like you, Mom” (how many hours of labor, how many sleepless night, how many stretch marks  … for those … darlings?). But, I digress …

I did awake this morning, from my nightmare dream, disturbed, and wondering WHY did I dream this? WHY did that come to my unconscious thoughts? WHY did God allow those thoughts to invade my mind? I don’t have many answers (other than an afternoon nap, with the hopes that my thoughts will be redeemed), but, I do believe that God can make anything new …

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.

My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

John 10:10

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Holy, Holy, Holy

I wrote this on a Sunday, three years ago!

It has been many weeks of ‘church visiting’. Hubby has been away from his ministry position, on sabbatical, since mid-February. And, my easily bored, need for the adrenaline rush of anything ‘new’, undiagnosed ADD personality has thrived with all of this change and variety!

I have been to amazing churches that have made us feel welcomed, transported my mind to heaven, and taught about spiritual things … kind of sounds like how  ‘Woodstock’ has always been described to me 😉 (there was not stripping at ANY of the churches I visited … just for the record, after my Woodstock comparison).

And today, like the rest, left me feeling well fed (ah, the story of my life). But, not just well-fed … if left me, us, feeling nurtured.

We originally chose the church we went to today, because our son has a friend who attends there, but, he and his family were not there today. We were greeted warmly by people we knew, and by people we did not. There was a line up to enter the church! (when does that happen?) The worship music was not spectacular, but it was good. The message was not spectacular, but it too was good. There was a ‘family feel’ in the place, but not a blood-relation-family-feel … (although, as Christians, it is a blood relation … from the events of Good Friday), so much as a we-chose-to-be-a-family-family-feel.

Maybe, for me, the morning was solidified as good, when we sang an old hymn from, well, forever-ago! I remember singing it EVERY Sunday as a prelude … my friends and I would mock it, because we were so familiar with it … singing it with our faces contorting as though we were singing opera. We HATED it! (I admit, I LOVE ‘classic’ hymns … not all though, some should be filed … permanently. And I love the new worship music … but if it is 10 years old … it is not longer ‘new’ for me)

But now, as an old church lady … (okay, so maybe I’m not quite a ‘lady’ yet), when I hear it, when I sing it … the tears flow as though it is my whole being … heart, mind, body and soul, singing to my creator what I was was created to sing … praises, and confessions, and, once again reminders that the God who reigns, always has been, and will forever be, praised by all that He has created. And that, is not dependent just on my will to sincerely praise Him, because I was created to praise Him, as all of His creation will praise Him.

I was good to go to the house of God, and to feel part of something bigger … just because I showed up … and He did the rest.

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Evil Thoughts

Do you ever have … evil thoughts?

Well, maybe not really ‘evil’, just … thoughts that, if you carried them out, would be so against your nature, and so vile and nasty to the recipient of your actions or words.

I am mature enough to tell you that I am guilty of having … evil thoughts.

This revelation began  w  a  y  back into my childhood, when I was old enough to know better than to do what the ‘little voices’ (oh man, now I am revealing that I hear little voices … now it’s in print, and could be used against me … to the ‘home’ they will send me) in my head were telling me to do … with my brother (I don’t remember which one, but that doesn’t really matter … I’m sure I had this thought about both, at one point or another). I was carrying him, and, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, there is this evil thought in my head … Carole, throw him down on the floor … Yikes! Now, depending on what he had done recently to my Barbie dolls, I might have contemplated that a bit longer than I should, but, let me assure you that I did not do it … but I thought about it.

Then, the other day, I was out walking my beast. We walked near our home for a change, along the road, past other more rural properties. My beast, at the beginning of the walk, had a poo (and, yes, I did have a poo bag) … now this is strange, because she normally ‘goes number two’ at the end of our walk. So, I had to carry the full poo bag on our walk. Then, out of nowhere, there is this evil thought in my head … Carole, put the full poo bag in one of the mailboxes …. Yikes! We passed  m  a  n  y  mailboxes on our walk, and the temptation was great! (and just to let you know, especially if you live near me, I did not put the poo bag in any mailboxes … just sayin’)


Not long ago (okay, yesterday) I was at a movie with my girls. And when I returned to the theater I almost went to sit with the wrong person (it was a very dark theater). Then, out of nowhere, there is this evil thought in my head … Carole, just sit beside him anyway, and eat his popcorn … Yikes! Okay, that one did make me giggle (and my daughters heard me, so they could direct me where to sit … and to ‘be quiet, mom, you are sooooo immature … imagine if I had told them why I was giggling)!

Then, there’s the parking lot … any parking lot. And the lot is jam packed, and I cannot find a spot. Then, just as one comes available, someone else gets it before me, and I have this thought … heck, just play the video!

And, NO, I am not guilty of actually doing this … yet (I do fear that the onslaught of … getting older, might make me susceptible to actually fulfilling what, lets face it ALL of us have had evil thoughts about doing).

Not long ago, my hubby had declared his 50+ pound weight loss, in our church, to much praise and congratulations (I’m so proud of him, too). After the church service, someone (whose identity God has been gracious to wipe from my memory), came up to me and said, ‘I see you’ve been finding all the weight that your hubby has lost’. And out of nowhere an evil repertoire of words came to mind, but … yikes … Gods omnipotence struck my vocal cords, and I was unable to respond (and, I have to say, I am a bit bitter about that one!).

Then there is that email … you know the one. It talks about fun things to do, to other people, while shopping (so many ‘evil thoughts’ in that one email)? Like slipping boxes of condoms into unsuspecting shoppers carts, hiding in a clothing rack and, when someone is looking, yell out ‘pick me’, or setting all of the Tickle Me Elmo’s off, then scooting out of the aisle, just as hubby walks into the aisle … oh wait, I actually did do that one … but not the condom one … yet 🙂


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Maybe it’s because I am guilty of saying the wrong things to my kids that made me decide to re-post this … and don’t take it personally, but this one is for me … not you!

When I read the following story, by singer/songwriter Jason Gray, I could relate to his first interaction with his son.

As a parent, I say the wrong things to my kids so often. I sometimes feel that if a caricature were drawn to represent me as a mom, one (either or both) of my feet would be sketched into the gaping hole on the middle of my face!

Please read Jason’s story of foot in mouth disease (thanks once again to Ann Voskamp for sharing this story, with such perfect photography, on a holy experience Caring For The Right Thing At The Right Time)

“The other night while we were washing dishes, my son Jacob said he’d seen a trailer for a movie he wanted to see.

“Oh yeah? Which one?” I asked.
“The new Red Dawn.”

“Ugh.” I said. “Why would you want to see that one? You know they’ve been sitting on it for a couple of years because they knew it was a stinker. I think they’re only releasing it now because it’s got Thor and Peeta in it and they’re hoping they can cash in on their popularity and at least get something back for their poor investment.”

Jacob continued, unfazed. “It’s also got an actor in it who I used to love when I was a kid—Josh from Nickelodeon’s Drake and Josh. I’d really like to see what he’s doing now.”

Undeterred, I continued my diatribe. “Well, I loved the original when I was a kid in the ’80s, but this one got TERRIBLE reviews. It’s going to be bad. I’m just telling you because I don’t want you to waste your money.”

About the time these last words came out of my mouth, I began to realize how much of a self-righteous jerk I was being.

Unfortunately this is not uncommon for me—I can be oppressively opinionated and uppity. By God’s grace, however, I am learning to recognize it better and quicker.

I’m so grateful for growing conviction, the evidence that God is still at work in my life.

A part of my problem is that sometimes I care about the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Sometimes I care about fairness instead of generosity.

Sometimes I care about someone else’s theological accuracy when quiet listening would be better.

In this particular instance I was caring more about the quality of a film than I was caring about the quality of a conversation with my son. (In fact, I think he knew that I wouldn’t care for this movie but brought it up anyway, risking my scorn. Brave.)

Of course it’s good to care about things, and it’s good that I care about things like well-crafted films and good storytelling.

I care, too, about nuanced and cathartic acting performances that are as delicious to the soul as a fine meal is to the palette. I am grateful for my capacity to enjoy these and other forms of art-making: books, music, painting, and on down the list.

I care about these things because I’m convinced that beauty matters and is both a grace to be enjoyed and a calling to participate in.

But in that moment with Jacob, my care for a certain kind of beauty turned ugly because I was picking the wrong thing to care about.

Consequently I failed to recognize a more subtle and significant beauty that was being offered to me: the beauty of my son sharing his simple desire to see a movie—one that reminded him of fond memories of his childhood.

In that moment I had also been offered a chance to create something beautiful myself: a generous response with the power to foster a culture of kindness, grace, and intimacy in our home. What work of art—be it a song, a book, or a film—can compare to this?

By God’s grace I recognized what I’d done early enough to maybe do something about it.

“Ah Jacob. I’m sorry. What a jerk I am sometimes. Can we try this again, would you let me? Let’s start over. Tell me again what movie you want to see.”

He laughed, but played along. “Dad, there’s this movie I really want to see. It’s called Red Dawn.”

“Oh yeah? Man I loved that movie when I was kid. Tell me more about it, why do you want to see it?”

“Well, it’s got Peeta from The Hunger Games in it. It’s also got Josh from Drake and Josh” and just looks kind of cool to me.”

He was creating something beautiful of his own by graciously playing along with me, giving me a chance to make amends. This is the beauty of grace.

“Awesome! Well, let me know when it comes out and maybe we can watch it together.” I said, smiling.

“Okay, dad,” he said, smiling back. He had accepted my apology and offered me a way back into his world. He is a kind boy.

Later that night my youngest son Gus asked if I’d lay by him in his bed a little bit before he went to sleep.

After a little reading (from The Jesus Storybook Bible—so, so good, check it out if you haven’t already!), we lay there a bit in the dark.

Kipper and Jacob had come upstairs and were across the hall talking with their mom, laughing, being rambunctious and making some noise.

I sensed it was distracting Gus in the quiet of the moment we were sharing.

With every word and bark of laughter he heard from across the hall his body would tense. I could tell he was about to holler down the hall for them to be quiet because he was trying to sleep.

I was about to say, jokingly, “Man, your brothers are noisy!”

But remembering my earlier moment with Jacob, I wondered if there was something else I might say that would be better, something that might help foster kindness, grace, and intimacy in our home.

What was the right thing to care about?

“It’s nice to hear their voices, isn’t it?” I whispered to Gus in the dark.

“Yeah,” he said as his body noticeably relaxed.

He was quiet for a moment, and then said, “That’s just what I was going to say.”

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As the school year is coming to a rapid end, those of us who work in schools tend to become reflective about the year that has past. We wonder if we taught everything that the students needed to learn. We wonder if the students learned everything that they will need to succeed.

Earlier this past week I was speaking with a young man who is graduating from high school. I have never been assigned to work with him, I have never assisted him in a classroom setting, in no way have I ever been responsible for any part of his education. In spite of the fact that there is no direct connection to him, I have gotten to know him a bit by saying hi and connecting in the hallways.

This young man has not been successful in an academic sense. He was not a ‘good’ student. I would guess that he did not have the best handwriting in elementary school, the best understanding of algebra in middle school, or the best essay writing skills in high school.

From what I have learned, over the years, from talking to him, from watching him, and from hearing about him from others, I believe he will be immensely successful in life … and it has little to do with schooling.

This young man is kind … I have seen how he treats others.

This young man is hard working … I have seen his acts of service in the school.

This young man is responsible … when asked to do a task, he shows up, and does it.

This young man is humble … he does not do things for praise.

He is the young man who will grow up contributing to society.

He is the young man who will grow up caring for his parents.

He is the young man who will grow up supporting and loving his family.

He is the young man who you would want for a neighbor.

He is the young man who knows that he has nothing in this life without working hard, being responsible and being faithful to his commitments.

He is the successful result of parents who loved him and who modeled a life well lived. His success is the result of having the benefit of being able to participate in a program at school that allowed him to earn a portion of his credits by doing the manual labor he so loves (and is probably amazing at). He is the successful result of an inner strength of character that kept him going to school, just because it is a hoop we all need to do to be part of our society.

I wish I had had the opportunity to work with this model young man … I bet he could have taught me something!

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