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Posts Tagged ‘Future’

IMG_1197.PNG As I sat in the school library, my attention was grabbed by a group of grade eight middle school students, working together on a group project.

It was one young man, in particular, who caught my gaze.

He was awkward … in every way possible.

His glasses kept slipping down his nose.

His round face, and body indicated that his upward growth had not yet stretched him vertically.

His clothes looked like ones a mom would buy (I’ve been that mom) without asking his opinion (though, to be fair to mom, maybe he didn’t really care what he was wearing).

He slouched in his chair, feet dangling inches from the carpeted floor.

Although his appearance was awkward (and I’ll bet his voice cracked, as well) it was the conversation with the girls in his group that captivated my attention.

The girls, oozing that early maturation that adolescent girls benefit from, were obviously speaking a language that he had yet to learn. They were talking quickly with their lips, as well as with their demonstrative hands. They giggled, they planned, they organized the role of the awkward boy in their project. The other boy in the group had an athletic build, and he smiled and laughed with the girls, causing the girls to hang on his every word. He was not awkward but amazing!

The young man looked like a fish out of water, totally and completely out of his element, his comfort zone, getting deep into uncharted waters.

And the girls giggled.

I have talked with this awkward young man. He is bright, makes wise choices, has compassion on others, is a great student … academically and behaviorally, he has a twinkle in his eye that makes one feel safe, heard, valued.

Here is what those giggling girls need to know:

that plain caterpillar will emerge from his adolescent cocoon a beautiful, graceful butterfly.

Now he might still not fully understand the language of females, and he may never have the buff body of an athlete, but the wise choices he makes, the use and development of the brain in his head, and his compassionate heart will grow him into a man of honor and success.

Right now, those girls are oblivious to this … right now he is oblivious to this.

Watching this young man in his group reminded me of 2 Corinthians 4:18

“So we fix out eyes
not on what is seen,
but on what is unseen

since what is seen is temporary
but what is unseen is eternal.”

So often, in the midst of the difficult, the ugly, the painful or the … awkward, we simply cannot ever imagine life being different or better. Our focus is completely on the mire of today. But God can see our future … all of it.

He knows where we are heading, and He plans to go there with us.

Just like me watching the scene in the library, believing that this young mans future looks so much brighter than his present, God looks at us in our awkward life situations and He knows what is to come for our lives, for our eternity.

Today is just a step in our life, lets keep our gaze on the unseen, who sees all.

 

 

 

 

 

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The words of the title of this entry bring anyone, old like me, back to 1984.

Start watching at about 0:54 …

Oh, Mr. Miyagi, the great martial arts teacher, and Daniel, the bullied young teen boy. When Daniel gets royally beaten up, and he is fading into ‘La La Land’, he sees Mr.Miyagi take on the whole gang of guys who beat the stuffing out of him, and win! Now, Mr. Miyagi is a pretty inconspicuous karate master, as his day job is that of a humble maintenance man / gardener. And, he’s old! We’re talking gray hair (well, what hair he has left is gray), and he’s short (but there is not a bit of a Napoleon complex here).

I think that Mr. Miyagi is one of my first role models in working with students who struggle in school. The lesson I learned from him is that learning does not have to be direct. For him (and yes, I do realize ‘it was just a movie’, but I like to gleen whatever good I can from as many sources as I can find in life) teaching karate did not necessarily mean teaching karate through ‘doing’ karate, but through life’s day to day ‘stuff’ (lets face it though, he did get his cars waxed, fence painted, etc.).

For me, to teach a lesson to the students I work with, does not necessarily mean sitting a student at a desk with paper and pencil. As a matter of fact, that would probably be the least successful way to teach them. The (high school) students I get to hang with know they are not going to be a Math or English whiz. But, frequently, what they do believe is that they are dumb, stupid, and sometimes even useless.

It is, I believe, my job to convince them that school is something ‘ya just gotta get through, so lets get it done, and move on’ (they hear that one almost daily from me), and that their failures in school classrooms DO NOT indicate what their future will be. Each of the students I get to work with have a gift, and we need to search until we find it, and figure out how to use it, when they get out of this small microcosm of life, called school.

So, I get to take my students out of school (I swear they hear the Hallelujah chorus in their heads as we are driving away), and place them in work experience jobs. They have worked in grocery stores, warehouses, plant nurseries and stores. Presently we are taking on, not jobs but service projects. And, in the coming weeks they will go to the home of an elderly lady to wash windows, mow lawns, and anything else that could make her life easier. And, at the same time, they will be doing work that has meaning, has real benefit … gives them purpose!

Along with training, and exposure to different fields of work, it is the sense of purpose, the sense of place in this world that I most strive for, for them.

Sometimes what is student learns is far more than what the teacher teaches … and, sometimes that was the hope of the teacher in the first place.

So, back to work guys … “look eye, always look eye … come back tomorrow!”

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Oh, I so love to wonder! (like you didn’t know that by now)

But, once in a while, I come across a thing (like snakes ... well, most of the time), or a place (like the dentist’s office), or an event that really steals the wonder from my day.

One day, while walking in the beautiful sun, with my beast, Shiloh, I walked by two women. One woman was pushing an infant (I peeked, and ‘it’ was definitely an infant) in a stroller, and the other walking along side of them.

They looked to be mid-late twenties, attractive, and nicely dressed (I noticed all of this because I am a female, and WE notice EVERYTHING about people). But, they didn’t notice my beast (everyone notices my beast, she is a beauty. When we walk, she makes eye contact with everyone, looking for positive attention … she hears, “oh, pretty puppy” so often, I have had to push her into the van after the walk, due to the swelling of her head … but I digress). I do not think they noticed me either, but that is not uncommon, as I walk with a beast who gets all the attention.

Just as my beast and I were passing the trio, the lady (?) pushing the stroller, says to her friend, ” … and I said, that was F#@$ing rude …”

Ouch! My ears were hurting. Then I thought of the the infant in the stroller, and my heart was aching for him/her (no color definition in the child’s clothing to indicate the gender). I may be a purist, but a new little bundle should not start life hearing such cold language. Man, what will that child hear (at home) when the ‘newness’ of infant becomes the ‘awkwardness’ of adolescence, or the independence of teenage?

Sadly, I expect more of the same. And as I walked by, feeling the sense of wonder of nature, and of life ebb from my being, I also predict that the child, sleeping peacefully in his/her stroller, may grow up hearing such caustic-ness directed ‘towards’ him/her.

I felt deflated! I felt angry! I felt violated!

What I felt most was a desire to turn around, catch up with the classy-looking ‘ladies’ and give them a piece of my mind!

But, instead, shoulders hanging low, I prayed. I prayed that God would inject, as only He can, himself into the life of that child, and the lives of those two women. I prayed that the child would never hear such nastiness, at home, when he/she is old enough to mimic what is heard.

Then, I prayed for forgiveness. I may not use the same word I heard from that lady on the path (I tell my kids that only people who have no creativity of language use such words, so loosely, and that I know they are creative people, so I expect more from them). But, my kids have surely heard the same cold, hard, unrighteous anger from me.

That day on the path reminded me that if wonder is so important to me, then I need to be more conscious to not steal it from those around me with my words … and my attitude.

“Watch the way you talk.

Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth.

Say only what helps, each word a gift.

Don’t grieve God.

Don’t break his heart.

His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you,

is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself.

Don’t take such a gift for granted.

Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk.

Be gentle with one another, sensitive.”

Ephesians 4:29-31 (Message)

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20140608-144703-53223590.jpgI love music. I love Bach, Johnny Cash, U2, Ella Fitzgerald, Starfield, Elton John, Louis Armstrong, Taylor Swift, Casting Crowns, Ennio Marricone, Coldplay, ABBA, Paolo Nutini, Michael Buble,  TobyMac, Adele, and this list is truly just a tip of my music loves iceberg!

Music speaks to me, it challenges, moves, and teaches me. I love the visuals that can be created in it’s combination of lyrics and music. I love the emotions that a song can bring out. I love how, out of nowhere a song can ‘pop’ into my mind, and be mulled over for hours, as though it was ‘placed’ there, just for me, like a lovingly wrapped gift. I hate songs that speak lies, I love songs that speak truth.

This morning I have had a song in my mind, ‘placed’ there, I am certain.

It is a song called “This is your Life”, by Switchfoot. Some of the lyrics are:

yesterday is a wrinkle on your forehead
yesterday is a promise that you’ve broken
don’t close your eyes, don’t close your eyes
this is your life and today is all you’ve got now
yeah, and today is all you’ll ever have
don’t close your eyes
don’t close your eyes

this is your life, are you who you want to be
this is your life, are you who you want to be
this is your life, is it everything you dreamed that it would be
when the world was younger and you had everything to lose

yesterday is a kid in the corner
yesterday is dead and over

don’t close your eyes

Now, maybe I awoke with it in my head because I slept miserably last night (‘don’t close your eyes‘).

Or, maybe it is because I recently celebrated a birthday … like three months ago (‘this is your life, are you who you want to be, this is your life, is it everything you dreamed that it would be‘).

Maybe it is because this weekend I was chatting with my eldest daughter about my memories of childhood (‘yesterday is a kid in the corner’ … pretty much sums up my entire childhood, so now you know what I was like as a kid!).

Maybe it’s because today is my last day of classes with students (‘today is all you’ve got now’).

Or maybe it is playing in my mind because I awoke in a rather melancholy mood (this is your life and today is all you’ve got now yeah, and today is all you’ll ever have).

I expect it’s a combination of all of the above, but, today, it might be more of the last. Now today is not all that bad, but with the combination of lack of sleep, end of the school year, thinking of years past, a kind of recent birthday AND melancholy I’m really not excited that today (more this present season of life, than this ‘day’) is all I’ve got, and all I’ll ever have. This season is one of realizing that there are parts of my life that just simply are so far from where I want them to be.

As an obsessive compulsive person when it comes to planning into the future, today my future looks far more fuzzy than I would like. To use more song lyrics, I prefer an outlook where ‘the future’s so bright I gotta wear shades’. And it’s not that it’s an all doom and gloom forecast of the future, it is simply that I cannot see anything. And I’m an ‘inquiring mind, and inquiring minds need to know’ (more indicators of my age).

Maybe the real reason this song is in my mind is that, despite my melancholy mood, despite the lack of sleep, despite my aging body, despite the end of Spring Break, despite the fact that not all childhood memories are sweetness and light, and even despite the fact the promises get broken, and the future is unknown, I’ve been given this day, and if I don’t close my eyes, I might find a bit of wonder laying in my path.

AND, by the way, there are NO wrinkles on this forehead! See, at my age, that is something to wonder about 😉

 

 

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June means the season of high school graduations and of weddings.

These are both events of our kids stepping further into their dreams, their futures and their lives. These times of celebration and ritual are opportunities in our parenting lives to further push them from the nests in which we have kept them protected and loved.

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Our International student is graduating high school, and preparing for the next stage of his life with excitement and anxiety over the decisions that need to be made for his future.

One evening he was, quite simply, distraught with a decision between two universities. He had, wisely, asked many people for their advise as to which school to attend in the fall. In turn, they had (not so wisely) told him, definitively, which university was better. He was in a bit of a tailspin as to what to do. The people whose advice he sought, were ones who he trusted, yet, they did not all agree on which school would be better, for him.

Watching him that night was like watching a little bird curled up in the nest, not wanting to dare to move as he might not do it ‘right’.

I listened, and listened, and listened (he really likes to talk!), and then I gave him my advice (like he didn’t have enough already).

I reminded him that both schools were good schools … no academic lemon in either. Both schools would provide unique learning and social opportunities. And that his decision was only about one year of his life. There was not much ‘damage’ that one year could do to his future. And that God has plans to give him a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

As parents, and parent-figures, in the lives of those who have or are about to graduate, part of our push from the nest is the continued prayers for their souls.

“Most of all I want to know that you’re walking in the truth

And if I never told you, I want you to know

I pray that God will fill your heart with dreams

And that faith gives you the courage to dare to do great things.”

The Lord came and stood there,
calling as at the other times,
“Samuel! Samuel!”

Then Samuel said,
“Speak, for your servant is listening.”
1 Samuel 3:10

May we all, like the prophet Samuel, graduate in this life to say,

“Speak, for your servant is listening.”

 

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bilde

I was excited to put a Christmas gift to good use, and immediately separated all of the parts contained in a gift box including coconut-scented body scrub, body butter, shower cream, a bath bar and a new puff. I am calling it :

memories of summer sunscreen

and I love it! Could there be a better scent for the monsoon season of the Pacific Northwest, than something that reminds ones nostrils of summer?

As I entered my shower I excitedly tossed my old shower puff … resembling more of a shower afghan, it was so stretched and misshapen. The new, replacement one was still almost round, and firm and delightfully clean.

I poured my memories of summer sunscreen coconut-scented shower cream onto the puff and smiled in anticipation of smelling better, and feeling cleaner that I had in months!

“OUCH!” I declared, audibly, in my private steamy oasis. That new puff lacked the benefit of having been softened by daily use, it’s edges were stiff and it’s effect was harsh to my tender, early morning, skin. I needed to alter my use. I needed to apply less pressure. The puff and I needed to come to an understanding of middle ground. I had not realized just how much pressure I had been putting on my old puff until I replaced it with the new, and like the idiom,

a new broom sweeps clean,

a new puff also rubs clean … and rough.

My epidermis is sensitive, and this was quite a violent way of cleaning the dead skin cells from the surface of my body!

Did you know that (according to http://www.kidshealth.org) we lose about nine pounds of skin cells every year … without breaking a sweat! Our skin, the human body’s largest organ, has an important job to do as it protects our bodies, holds everything together and gives us the ability to experience the sense of touch.

It was almost tempting to reach into that trash can and retrieve the old puff … but … I knew that the new one would probably clean better, removing the dead skin cells, so as to allow those below them to surface, so as to allow my skin to do it’s job well, so as to allow my skin to breath.

Even now, just a few days into using it, my skin feels more smooth.

The pain is worth it for the gain!

So it can be with any rough, painful, unexpected adjustment in life. The adjustments of today could pain off big time … in time. But, reaching back into the trash can of the past, means we are still dealing with the dirt of yesterday.

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.
Only through experience of trial and suffering
can the soul be strengthened,
ambition inspired,
and success achieved.”

Helen Keller

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So, I am now at day number two of my Top 10 Goals for 2013, and this time the focus is hubby.

He REALLY does not appreciate posts about him, that mention him, that use him as an example … so, in honor of his preference that I not write about him … heck, I’m just going to do it anyway!

P&C Cropped

He has to forgive me … comes with the whole “love, honor and … forgive” 😉

Here are my Top Ten Goals for my Marriage for 2013:

  1. Do not go to bed angry – I mentioned this yesterday in regards to our kids and it doesn’t hurt to say it again, “do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26).
  2. Get away – make time for at least one night each season to get away together, sans children, as a couple. It is so easy, with all of the demands of life, to forget that the family we created started with us, just us, and for this family to continue we need to invest in us.
  3. Respect him – As I write it I just know that some poor, misinformed lady is going to interpret respecting your husband as some kind of response to an archaic male dominated patriarchal society or religion. That is NOT what this is about! He is a child of God, like me, and as such I need to respect him …
  4. Make his life easier – I am sure that there is at least one thing I can do each week to make his life easier … from answering the phone (instead of letting him, because it is always for him), to doing his dinner clean up once in a while (not too often, as I do not want him to get too used to being relieved of ‘his’ chore).
  5. Thank him – so often when we live with someone it is so easy to forget our manners. Please and thank you are words I know I need to use more often with my man.
  6. Let him decide – … and be okay with his decision! My hubby knows that if I say “you choose” his whole future is at stake. I need to trust him to make a decision, and trust the outcome!
  7. Surprise him – there is nothing like veering from the normal, everyday, meatloaf every Monday stagnant way of living to bore a couple to mediocrity! Start seeing excitement and refreshment in someone else. I WILL surprise him … and the details of that, well those are between the two of us 😉 .
  8. Remember the past – I need to reflect on those days, so many years ago, when we only knew adoring love (aka, before we were married 😉 ) … not bills, crisscrossing schedules, and to do lists.
  9. Forget the past – we have baggage, and that is a reality, but the past is the past, and needs to be left there. We cannot move forward if I keep looking back.
  10. Plan for the future – “Where there is no dreaming for the future, the marriage relationship is dead” (that is the Carole Wheaton interpretation of Proverbs 29:18) … enough said.

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