Monday, April 28, 2008

Deflated & Drifting

Ironic for someone of my continuous battle with the bulge to say, but today I found myself asking God to re-inflate me. Spiritually.
As you can see from my life verse, I truly believe in the promise of seasons. I don't really feel that any situation or idea is a promise (or a sentence) of forever. So when life ebbs and flows, I really try to flow right along with it, patiently awaiting the next season. For me, this is just an expression in my faith that ultimately God holds it all and His consistency is all I really need.
Back to me being deflated. Don't think that is some metaphor for depression or disappointment or disillusionment. I've been all three, but not lately. No, it is more of me feeling distanced from some of the personality traits that have often defined my spirituality. I have worried here and there that this shift in me might represent a drift from God. I didn't know how to interpret this down-time of mine. The weird thing is that I didn't feel convicted or uncomfortable in the drift. It has been gentle and soothing. Almost a relaxing of my spirit. Truly, like drifting down a river on a warm soft raft. Nothing pulling at me or demanding my attention spiritually speaking. I haven't taught anything faith-based since last summer, haven't counseled since last fall. Not in any official capacity. The last time I spoke I felt a forced-ness, an unnaturalness and the ugly mortifying realization that I had made no sense. For those of you familiar with Christian-speak; I felt no anointing. So I decided driving home that night, that's it for me. Clearly my time for teaching was a season and I was more than willing to leave the season behind if the alternative was this embarrassing display of babbling. And you know what? I have not missed teaching or speaking for a single moment. I have not missed counseling. I have felt liberated. Drifting without a destination. I've liked it.
This month marks a year since some people I love started down a painful path. I won't say I felt their pain with them, but I attempted to share some of the weight when I could. I don't believe I actually relieved them of anything in the end. But I knew then that I was anointed. I was driven by God. It was intense twenty four hours a day for my heart and I think I may have temporarily emptied myself out. It was just a month after God stepped me back and away from the situation that I had the ill-fated speaking engagement. Laying in bed that night I had the strangest thought, did I empty myself out once and for all? Maybe I had a limited store of knowledge and wisdom and using it so doggedly for those months had finished me. I found myself thinking, "Huh., I think I'm through."
Not wanting to direct the attention to myself and my own grief related to my friends, I pushed through and just quietly starting shutting down Ministry Sara. I felt like a rag doll and yes, now and again the devil tells me that I am a failure because I couldn't see them through. I have felt like the person who was supposed to throw out the life preserver and somehow I missed. I have drifted away from the teacher and counselor I've been for so long.
Now you might think I'm painting a picture of martyrdom and that is not true. I know most of the time that I followed God's call and the rest is left to others. I do not blame myself for my friends pain. I am honored to have been allowed to walk with them through dark days. And a year later, I love them more than before.
So I've just been drifting for a long while now. I've had to redirect my energy to my grandmother's illness and then her death. Arlene's illness and passing consumed my heart. I have started a new job that requires lots of new learning and long hours. I have moved into this new old house and invested my heart in other places. Places of no ministry. Places that reflected in and in and in.
Maybe I got selfish but it has felt good. I have not made myself teach a Lifegroup or even dragged myself to church when it seemed like I was enveloped in peace on my own couch. I have excused myself from dramas and battles and gone to sleep with not a thought in my head. Yeah, I've turned in.
Then Jada's Gigi commented the other day about "freedom in Christ" related to my shameful church-skipping and I cannot tell you the joy and revelation that she brought to me. I have not drifted from Christ, I've been free. Free to believe I'm safely in God's hands and that He is not tapping his foot waiting for me to teach a Bible study. I have been on sabbatical. I have spent all of these months enjoying freedom, the freedom of God. That is why when I wondered if I was sliding away (backwards no less); I never really felt that my drift had gone that far. I have been the one who needed a life raft. God placed me on a gentle sea and held the rope so that I would not drift too far.
I still don't have any desire to teach or counsel. Maybe that was a season that is truly gone. If so, that's ok. I won't mourn it. I have ministered and been exhausted in the same breath. Now I am quiet and joyful. I don't think either are mutually exclusive but I'm good with where this season has me.
I am like a balloon that has been, at times, over-inflated. When I am full and floating I look like I am at my best, that I am fulfilling my purpose. For several months I have slowly let the air out and been deflated and still.
While I thought I had left ministry behind, I was being ministered to by God. In all the personal ways that bring me peace, He has ministered just to me.
I am ready to be re-inflated now. Refilled and renewed. If I am truthful, I think I deflated a while ago and God has been breathing life back into me. I won't grasp after what I want that to look like anymore. I'll just greet the day of the season I'm given with faith in the promise of Life.
I am ready to breathe deep and discover tomorrow.

Romans 8:20-21 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.


Do you see this woman? She told me something today as I leafed through "Cottage Living" magazine. You see, she was on the inside back flap wanting to sell me Quick Step flooring. Only she wasn't telling me about the floors today. She called me fat. Fat and stupid actually. But I think she meant well.
My weight is creeping in the wrong direction again, up. I started dieting on April 1, 2002 and I would call myself successful. Success for me is measured in days and not pounds at this point. I reached my "goal" weight a few years back which I maintained for a long time motivated by the numbers on the scale and the tag on my jeans. In order to maintain this ideal weight (according to Weight Watcher standards); I had to eat very very little. But I was ok with that because the numbers were pretty. After a while though, I started to wonder if it had been long enough for me to trust myself to eat without counting every calorie and point and even to let my weight settle somewhere healthy even if it wasn't necessarily "ideal." Again, I would call myself successful. Yes, I settled about ten pounds higher than Florine Mark prescribed and so that sort of put me in the Lifetime Member penalty box. I was about one size bigger and decided that it was acceptable. The new challenge is now to be aware and healthy and not take advantage of this new freedom and become a size twenty six again. Or, frankly, a size fourteen. Size fourteen is the cut-off for me personally, the point when I seriously need to lose weight. That's just me; please do not feel that I'm out there hunting for size fourteens to judge overweight.
This remains for me a bit of a tight wire act. I settle in and then start to creep a bit too high. Time to reign it back. I've yet to wake up to that glorious day when I've inadvertently gotten too skinny.
So this woman with the beautiful laminate floor. What drew me to her? Her shoes. Look closely, in the middle of that floor are a pair of black high heeled sandals. I looked at this picture and thought, "My feet would be killing me if I wore those shoes to work." You see, I had assumed the woman had just gotten in from work, kicked off her stilettos and reclined to listen to some smooth jazz floating in a sea of perfect fake hard wood flooring.
And this is what she told me...
Why don't you try something, anything, other than food to unwind with. I have heard this before in terms of taking a walk, working out, scrap booking. All things that seemed a misery to me. After work is my absolute pig-out moment. I don't want to wait for dinner and it's not because I am necessarily so hungry or a piece of fruit or salad would take care of it. It's a method to calm down and relax. Food is my evening cocktail.
And it's having an ugly effect on my own tail.
Now I'm thinking, hmmm. Maybe I too, could quiet down with some music. Maybe I could take a little snooze before making dinner. Maybe I could read for a while. I know that none of this seems like tremendous insight. But this woman with the smooth jazz piano keys floating over her head and her cute little dress looks relaxed and thin.
I don't know. It's just an idea not yet tested. Maybe I need to take a lesson from this person.
Clearly, what has been missing all long in my struggle with food has been...
a laminate floor.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

You Might Be Surprised To Know

1. That my husband is stronger-willed and more secure than I am.
2. That I have not called off work in one year as of this month.
3. That my car is an absolute pig pen.
4. That I watch two rerun episodes of The King of Queens every evening.
5. That I bought a murder mystery book this week and before I finished the first chapter, I thought "this is really a downer, I need something uplifting to read."
6. That I love Netflix.
7. That I spent hours raking my lawn.
8. That I am sure I'm good at my job.
9. That my dirty little secret pleasure is skipping church on Sunday mornings to watch old movies in a quiet, empty house.
10.That I cannot stand David Archawhoozits on American Idol.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Through My Window

Well, today is birthday number forty one and I've been thinking all morning about something profound to write.
It is overcast today but promising to warm up into the seventies which, for my birthday, is pretty warm. We need the rain so I say bring it on. After three weeks and many hours of raking this old new yard, the lawn is greening up and looking pretty and just two days ago the leaves on the trees appeared. I never used to be so aware of the day the leaves appeared or the growth of perennials a day at a time but I am more attuned now and I find it fills me with a sense of blessing and joy to know how to find the fingerprints of God on average days.
I am sitting in my future office, my computer facing the window which looks out over the back yard. There's Donny sniffing around for something that seems very important. He sneaked his bunny into the yard last night so this morning he dragged it inside wet and smelly from the overnight sprinkles. Into the washer it went to his dismay. I think he preferred the stinky bunny.
From here I can also see my grampa's grape vines. As a kid I'd eat the green sour grapes unwashed as I walked under the canopy of leaves. In the last several years it has ceased to produce grapes, obviously my grampa pruned it in his daily care of the yard although I don't recall ever seeing him do so. That brings me to another point of happiness, my cousin Tom. Tom is Trish's husband, you'll see her blog to your right. Tom is the son of my gramma's sister. Got that? We have always been close to these cousins on the Hungarian side of the family. I have always felt deeply loved by Tom and Trish and their daughters were in my wedding twenty two years ago and would be again today. Tom painted this house after my gramma's death and the very paint on the walls feels like a gift from him when I walk through these rooms. When I came over to see the progress, he seemed to feel honored to work in my grandparent's house. He understands this house too.
So back to the grapevines outside my window this morning. I mentioned that I'd like to bring them back to life but I was afraid to work on them not knowing what I'm doing. To no one's surprise, Trish said Tom could prune them. And so I came home from work to find the brown vines trimmed and pruned and a pile of dead vines that had been choking back the fruit. And once again, Tom has convinced me that he did not come here to work but to love and minister to us. Us being my grandparents, my parents, all of us.
We are the grapevine outside my window. Intertwined and flourishing in our day. Thickened and unproductive in quieter years. God has pruned away the vines that have served their purpose and left what seems like just a few to grow deeper roots and bring forth the next harvest. The grape arbor seems stark outside of my window with so many vines now missing. But it does not make me sad to see it. I know from seasons past that it will fill in with healthy new growth and it will flourish again. Some vines are many years old and once touched by my grampa. Some vines have come to be since his death that he has never seen. And someday vines will curl up the wires of the arbor that I will never see. All bearing the handiwork of loving hands and God's purpose.
So this is my birthday. Very likely the half-way mark of my mortality. I too have been pruned to reveal what more I can be by loving hands.
I too am intertwined, my branches among so many others and inseparable at the root.

John 15:1-3 I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Marches On

On Saturday morning, the day of the April Birthdaypalooza, the Mr. rolled over, kissed me on the forehead and said, "You're beautiful." And I agreed.
Not that I agreed in the literal sense of about to be crowned Mrs. America beautiful. But I felt beautiful to him and now, that is not just enough but it's everything. I don't think any longer when he calls me "Beautiful" that it's an empty word or a compliment born of pity. He sees me beautiful. He makes me beautiful.
Ever the insister of reality, as we snuggled up talking about the busy day to come, I looked at his face just inches from mine. Sleepy eyes and tousled hair so familiar to me and still so sweet. And I thought, "Man, are we old." Those sleepy eyes are wrinkly around the corners and that tousled hair is becoming more salt than pepper. I kept these facts to myself though. I figured the "beautiful" statement was better left to ring in the morning air.
In just the last five years or so, I have become no longer the youngest one in the room at work. I look around and see lots of prettier faces and sexier bodies. I nearly shouted for joy when belly shirts went "out" and longer shirts with empire waists came "in." I now use Gold Bond lotion on my face at night during the winter because it is so dry. Seriously. Same for my hands. In my twenties I never wore foundation. Now I have an arsenal of sunscreens, lotions, potions and powders.
I've no doubt under my highlights and lowlights I now sport gray lights.
I have had moments of fleeting panic for as long as I could remember dreading the inevitable. Daboyz growing up, my grandparents passing, my parents and my husband growing older. What will I do if/when...?
The only comfort the Lord ever offered me in those days was that when it came along, I'd be ready. So far, this has been true.
Time refuses to wait for my mind to catch up to its handiwork. And so I wake up in the mornings now to a middle-aged man with crow's feet who was once a seventeen year old boy with braces. And the girl in the red strapless prom gown has gray hair.
And the threat of time has become the gift of time.
And we are beautiful.

Psalm 102:27 & 28 But you remain the same,and your years will never end. The children of your servants will live in your presence; their descendants will be established before you.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

He Did A Bad Bad Thing

So as I'm walking in to the family room in the morning, this is what I find. Later in the same day, the mystery of the disappearing landscaping trim is solved. Good thing he's cute.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Little Lewiston

One of the pleasures of our new old home is the yard. My grampa was a genius in the yard and you could be sure to find him outside working during any warm day if you dropped by. Then around 3:00 he would leave his dirty tennies on the deck and come in to shower downstairs. The yard is a largish lot and in his days of care-taking, it was breath-taking. Or maybe just we who loved it found it so. It was never a fussy yard. In fact, the front yard has always been trim and neat and honestly, nondescript. The back was lush and green. Never formal but somehow extravagant-feeling anyway. Hedges ran down every fence offering a buffer to the neighboring yards without appearing to be there for privacy's sake. A tree next to the deck not only blocked the yard next door but was such a pretty sight you didn't really think that there were stranger's just feet beyond it. On the far side of the yard, more hedges ran the length but they were trimmed casually. They appeared to have simply grown up in their places with soft limbs hanging low but never growing wild. Perennial bulbs were placed here and there (note my ongoing photo gallery of Grampa's Mystery Buds) along the back hedge without a specific plan. Again, they seemed to have simply sprouted from where God might have placed them, rolling them from his fingertips as he walked by one evening.
Large trees from which a wooden swing hung when we were small. The cement rooster and chick from The Farm's yard pulled out every Spring and put unceremoniously under the tree nearest the garage where you'd always notice it when you pulled in but never really paid attention to it. From those tree branches also hung a number of bird feeders filled daily with seed and in the distance, a bird house high on a pole where nests were built and babies squeaked every spring.
Around the deck would hang heavy glorious baskets of flowers. Usually petunias in every vibrant color and no particular plan except to serve as a banner around us while we sat on the deck as my Grampa drank ice water and rested from his work.
It was an easy-seeming yard although it grew from the constant attention of my Grampa. It seems he just loved the labor of it and the result reflected the man that he was, a farm boy. Unsophisticated and easily amused with silly jokes. Informal and perfectionist all in one. The yard just reflected him. Unplanned it seemed and yet a prettier yard I've yet to find.
Now it is our turn to care for this yard. After he passed, lawn companies took over the work for my gramma. She liked simplicity and clean lines. And so the unruly hedges were removed because their maintenance was too much if they were to be kept to her high standards. The baskets of flowers around the deck never appeared again after the summer my Grampa passed. The tree next to the deck is no longer there and I can't remember when it came down. The landscapers didn't clear out around the hedges to look for the willy-nilly perennials and so they didn't bloom out in the open. I imagine that only a few of us understand the magic of this yard and what it was meant to be. I understand the intentional unintentionally lush green of it and how it somehow smelled like The Farm and how the same breezes have blown for forty years over my life from there to here. The cool sweet air surrounded me then and hovers at the edges of the chain link fence waiting to swirl around me again. I feel the yard waiting to wake up to play again like it did with my Grampa.
I've never been a yard person and the Mr. is even less of one. And despite his love for my Grampa and for me, he cannot understand what the breeze and the trees are hoping to be again. Only a very few of us understand that this is a sacred place. So I tell him what needs doing as I quiet myself and listen for what I used to know. And I walk around the edges as my Gramma did looking at every corner and understanding every leaf. And I work in the sunshine trying to recreate details that looked accidental when my Grampa's hands were at work. And I take my shoes off on the deck at around 3:00 and come inside to shower and have dinner.
And it is working. Those very few of us who understand see the color of the grass and the willy-nilly perennials and feel the breeze begin to laugh and dance again. We know that Grampa's yard is waking up. It reaches up to cradle us and soothe us. It draws us all, I think, my sister and my parents and my cousins who walked on the cool grass while my grampa sat in old iron lawn chairs admiring the trees. We want to be here when the temperatures start to climb and we are drawn to baskets of petunias. I see my father sitting on the deck with a cup of coffee and feel his spirit breathing deep. I see my mom watching quietly from a lawn chair as another generation runs on the lawn. I see my sister as she looks at the sturdy beams of the deck and remembers my grampa's hands hard at work building it.
It is our Israel and our Eden. It is our homeland and our inheritance. Not just bricks and mortar and an address. Deep and nourishing to the few of us who understand, my Grampa's yard is coming back to life and teaching us all again to live.

"Little Lewiston" refers to what we've nicknamed the yard. My parent's cottage is in Lewiston and it symbolizes "The Farm" of my children's boyhood. It is the ultimate honor to have them equate this place with Lewiston and speaks of four generations breathing in the goodness of the land. Jay, being a man of letters, has also referred to this placed as C.S. Lewiston.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Where Is The Little Boy I Carried?

Oh, he's in the basement apparently. Empty nest indeed.

April 20, 2008

Job 17:9 Nevertheless, the righteous will hold to their ways,
and those with clean hands will grow stronger.

Click here for a peek at the April Birthday Bash '08!

Pic: Grampa's mystery buds Week 2.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Saturday In The Park

1. Yellow flower bush whose name I do not know flowered while I slept.
2. Sat on the deck drinking coffee playing fetch with Donny.
3. Birthday party today for our April birthday bunch (Dad, Me, B Girl)
4. 72 degrees promised!!
5. Soooooooo happy for a day off!
6. The Mr. wacked me in the nose while I slept. Just thought I'd mention that.
7. Utterly relaxed.
8. Gonna grill hot dogs.
9. Donny going to the beauty parlor this morning, I mean barber shop.
10. Time to get moving! Happy Saturday!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Or Under Wire?

Job advice overheard today:
"Why can't you just strap the sisters into an appropriate device and dress like a professional already?"

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Smooth Operator

Donny has quickly made the rounds of his new domain meeting the multiple neighbors. Single guy, man with a couple of young sons, retired couple, renter directly behind us. This has become the standard greeting as we introduce ourselves, "Hi, we're Dean & Sara.."
"Oh yeah, I met your dog. He's a really nice dog. Aren't ya boy? Yeah, who's a good boy? Isn't he a good boy? You're a happy guy aren't you? Such a good puppy! Yes you are! You never bark do you? No, you're a good boy!"
And so on.
Additionally, Donny who is not allowed table food came trotting happily into the house ten minutes ago with something suspicious tucked away back in his mouth. The Mr. made him drop it. "It" was a hunk of fresh French bread. A baguette perhaps. I believe it was buttered. Now he's got the neighbors slipping him forbidden snacks through the chain link.
Not wanting to have him running back to tell them what ogres we are, we let him eat his baguette.
We're hoping he'll bring home a pie next.

Pic: Donny last Saturday with his beloved wabbit.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Abundantly Desolate

The list of things I am able to do is far longer than the list of things I should do.
And the two lists are constantly trading back and forth. I have to pay close attention to see what is where.
I can teach, speak publicly, do well in school, cook, decorate, counsel, read, dress well, give myself a French manicure, do well at work, be funny, write, be an excellent snow driver and sing all the words to The Devil Went Down To Georgia.
I cannot sing, tap dance, draw, perform on the uneven parallel bars, levitate or clean dentures.
There may be more items for each list but I cannot currently think of them. So I guess thinking of more things goes on the "things I cannot do" list.
It gets really interesting when other people cast their ballots as to what I can, cannot, should or should not do. And most of you are very convincing. That is why I do not listen to you. Because you are crazy and I cannot medicate you.
I have both underdone and overdone life. I have done a whole lot of nothing productive. This is fine as long as it doesn't become one's specialty. I have noticed that the less things I choose from the things I can do list that also qualify for the things I should do list the more of things I am not supposed to do surface. Such as being un-graceful, being very sarcastic, being discontent, being easily hurt...
Now let's talk about overdoing life. And life can indeed be overdone. Let me share with you a true story from the Mr.'s life. When our marriage was gasping its death rattle, he became a Golden Boy. The Golden Boy of Ford Motor and our church that is. Nothing the guy wouldn't do...except be at home. Working twelve hour days and weekends. Need someone to go to midnights? He's your man! And ministry? MINISTRY in bold caps I tell ya. Practice, church services, street ministry, prison ministry; you name in. How can you fault a guy so dedicated to the WORK OF THE LORD; also in bolds and caps you'll note. Things in bolds and caps cannot be questioned as they are holy. If you question them you will incur the wrath of God and his PEOPLE (note bolds and caps.) You'll pray to be turned to a pillar of salt when they start looking concerned about your lack of passion for the WORK OF THE LORD.
Anyhoo, I was not and am not impressed with the Golden Boy. He was doing a lot of nothing. His life was abundantly busy and personally desolate. He was hiding in abundance (neither capitalized nor bolded.)
A very good measure of whether you might have items displaced to the wrong list is joy. Do you find joy in what you're doing or do you look for joy in what you're doing. Hmmm. That's profound if I do say so myself.
Are you tired from a season of hard work for a specific purpose or are you exhausted from trying to do more than you did yesterday or last week?
I think we all need to look at the Things I Can Do List and make sure every item is not also on the Things I Am Doing List.
If the two lists are identical, be very careful. You might find yourself starving in the feast. You might be golden but tarnished. You might be abundantly desolate.

1 Corinthians 10:23"Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is my dad's birthday so if you'd like to celebrate with him, stop by Border's. That is his office.
I remember getting yellow roses from my dad for Valentine's Day because I was born in Texas. I remember getting candy in a heart shaped box every year too. I remember my dad working on prom night but coming to the house in the rescue wearing his uniform (and dragging another firefighter along) to see me in my dress. I remember being taught to swim in my grandma's pool with his quiet and gentle lessons. I remember reaching up to hold his hand in K-Mart because he was so tall. I remember having my head anointed with oil and being prayed for out loud when I was sick in bed. I remember a special Christmas gift every year just from him. I remember scuba gear in the closet in the garage. I remember riding behind him slowly in circles on Avalon street when he got a motor cycle. I remember a green Chevy Luv and an orange van and an old blue pick-up from Bronson. I remember a green Army tent in the back yard to play in, until Daisy threw up and it smelled bad in there. I remember a full beard shaved off to become a fireman. I remember candy in a plastic garbage can when he was a garbage man. I remember his Royal Ranger's uniform that matched Tom's and Pinewood derby every year. I remember being allowed to shoot skeet and bow and arrows.
I remember him always remembering it was my birthday and calling me no matter where he was or where I was.
I bet if you know my dad, you have some "I remembers" too. And you can be sure he remembers you.
Happy birthday dad!

Pic: The family at Mac's high school football game. I remember my dad being the king of tail gaters!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

April 13, 2008

Luke 12:27 "Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these."

(My grampa's mystery sprouts. Lilies maybe?)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Is It Spring Or Is It Michigan?

1. Thought I heard birds singing this morning, then I realized my stuffy nose was whistling. (This is true.)
2. Hooray! It's forty two degrees! I'm wearing my spring coat!
3. It's in the sixties outside but if I turn off the furnace, my house is freezing.
4. Don't work in the yard when it's above forty and you'll have a brown lawn all summer.
5. Work in the yard when it's above forty and you'll get a sinus infection.
6. It is entirely possible to slip on the ice while wearing flip flops.
7. Half the windows have storms, half the windows have screens.
8. Grilling hot dogs, wearing a stocking cap.
9. Feeling very spring and so I'm sleeping without socks.
10. A/C in the car, electric blanket on the bed.

Hot Brown Water

For three years I started every morning with a cup of hot brown water.
Sometimes I got the hot brown water and sometimes Becky got us each a cup.
I've been thinking all week about abundant life. I would suspect this arises from the current changes in my own life but these thoughts haven't been rooted in the visible and material. It's been more about the abundance that overflows from inside of me and an awareness that I wasn't always aware of it. Over time, we all meet people who God uses to show us where the abundance is. To teach us to look and listen and feel for it. Because abundance is always there. I learned a lot about abundance drinking hot brown water with Becky.
I was a special education teacher's aide for six years. The first three were spent as a substitute working in all the classrooms in the city providing special ed. I worked with everyone from toddlers with medical conditions in a preschool to a 23 year old who had sustained a closed head injury at sixteen and was working through a modified high school program. For the third year I was assigned as a one to one assistant to an autistic child. The expectation was that when that position was posted as full time in the next school year's job bid, I would take the position full time. Summer break wound to a close and the union sent out a flyer for the upcoming bid. Only there was a glitch in my plans. Alongside of "my" position was another one. McDowell Elementary School, Emotionally Impaired 4,5,6 graders. I'd spent a few days in that classroom as a substitute. I really liked it. All the way until I wrote out my bid, I was not sure which job to choose. I chose McDowell. And hot brown water. And a teacher named Becky.
Becky and I were a great team. Seriously, we were awesome. We made huge strides with the kids in our class. And I rocked at that job. When Becky was off, the substitute teacher would function as the aide and I would teach. I loved every day there. And I loved Becky. We were best friends for those three years. And Becky taught me abundance.
Becky fully embraced all that gave her joy without concern about her age, dignity or station in life. She still loved children's books, so she bought them and read them with the joy of a first-grader just discovering literature. From her, I learned to read children's books if it made me happy despite being an adult. She liked only gentle movies and humor and books. Nothing sad or upsetting. From her, I learned to be aware that I could feed my soul the diet it needed purposefully. She was confident enough in herself to be my "boss" and the teacher of a classroom of difficult little boys without ever seeming bossy or authoritarian. From her I learned that confrontation is a fluid thing, best to be hesitant, be sure and then act. She was not afraid to confront but to confront wrongly.
Becky laughed at herself and at me and everything that caused a giggle to rise up within her. Becky put on sandals on the first really warm day of the year and realized that her toenails needed painting so she painted them after putting on her shoes and then walked like a duck for the first hour of the day waiting for them to dry. Her pinky toes did not get painted because they did not show in her sandals.
Becky was teeny tiny. She was roughly 5'1" and I'd guess less than 120 pounds. I was 5'5" and 260 or so pounds. Becky also regularly came to work in the winter time in a heavy sweater and no coat. At recess time she wore my giant coat outside and somehow I didn't feel embarrassed at how it hung on her. There was so much sweetness in her that I just laughed at her while she laughed at herself and turned no attention back at myself.
Becky loved Walt Disney and stuffed animals and pet rats. From her I learned that rats are very cool and I'd put ours on my shoulder to go get our mail from the office just to watch the secretary, Rusty, flip out.
Becky had an amazing work ethic and when she was sick, she'd have her husband wake her up two hours early so she could take medication and a long shower and drink some tea so she'd be ready to come to work on time. I would wake up slightly happy that I had a sore throat so I could call off. From her I learned the joy of hard work.
Becky knew herself and was true to herself. She painted her living room whatever color made her smile even if no one else smiled when they walked in. She considered long and hard what was right and wrong. She sought her mom, her husband, God, me or anybody else she believed in when she was unsure. Then she stood on the ground she believed in without a second thought to the consequences. From her I learned that good breeds good.
Becky cried as easily as she laughed and on 9-11 we stood together crying and holding hands. And when I told her I had to leave and go get my kids and hold them she told me to go, and spent that awful day alone trying to comfort six special ed. kids.
And in year three of our time together, Becky told me I was made for more than being someone's assistant. And when I mentioned going back to school she smiled and cried at the same time and hugged me hard. And when I started Weight Watchers she insisted she could see every half pound I lost and ate whole grain bagels for breakfast with me.
I've seen Becky twice in the six years since we worked together. In that time I've changed in abundant ways and think of her often when I read a children's book to no one but myself or watch Nanny McPhee because it's gentle to my soul.
And I am thankful. To her, of course. But most of all to God who brought her into my life at a time when I needed to be brave while terrorists attacked and I was obese and I needed to go to college. God knew that I'd have to insist on joy to ease the pain and courage to do right and confidence to move forward. And laughter to hold it all together.
This morning I e mailed McDowell Elementary to let Becky know that she is someone that God used to teach me to look for abundance.
About that hot brown water, our cooks at the school would brew coffee for us every morning. Becky and I love coffee. But bless their hearts, being frugal women, they used very little actual coffee in the coffee. The result? Hot brown water.
Who would have thought that God could started three years worth of mornings with hot brown water to flood my life with abundance?
Only He. And Becky.

1 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Getting There...

I am officially posting from my own computer! Of course, all the bugs aren't worked out but we're getting there. Apparently the Mr. and Daboyz hooked this bad boy up using my mom's ethernet cable. Whatever that is. The point is, she wants it back.
It's a pretty day here in Michigan finally. About 70 degrees and sunny. But the wind is blowing in some rain. That's ok, it's April Showers time, right?
I would like to post some pics but in the computer moving my camera was still left behind. Not sure how that happened since someone would've had to have unplugged it to move the computer but there you have it.
In my raking out around the perimeter of the yard, I uncovered a patch of tiny buds that promise to be tulips or daffodils when they finally bloom. My grampa must've planted them years ago and I suspect they've been buried under years of leaves that the landscapers didn't properly clean out from under the privacy hedge. They are just random and willy nilly enough to bear the mark of my grampa and thoroughly irritate my gramma in their disorganized planting so they gave me a smile. When I grab my camera in the next few days, I'll share them with you.
The Mr. and I are gonna grab some dinner and just laze around the ranch for a bit this evening. We've raked up a lot of the leaves but it's too windy to get much more accomplished today. I'll take that as a hint to relax on the deck and watch Donny romp. Maybe tonight we'll sleep to the music of those April showers. Might just wake up those willy nilly mystery perennials.
Hope all is well in your world.

Judges 5:31 "So may all your enemies perish, O LORD!But may they who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength."Then the land had peace forty years.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Weekend

1. Change sheets (check)
2. Laundry (started)
3. Move computer (shooting for Sunday afternoon)
4. Grill dinner (done, with the 'rents and a fine time was had)
5. Rake leftover leaves (2/3 of the back yard done)
6. Sweep hardwood floors (not yet, running out of weekend)
7. Move more shoes to new house (not gonna happen)
8. Move sock monkeys to new house (see above)
9. Church on Sunday (Yup!)
10. Go to the movies (not this weekend. it seems to be flying by)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Nighty Night

I am worn out for no good reason today. I've spent the last two days in a leadership class at the D. Well, I guess that does explain why I'm so tired! Back to the office tomorrow and then the weekend off.
I also know that my body has a cycle (yes, THAT cycle) and this is the time when I'm really tired and usually develop a monstrous headache...yup; there it is. There was a time that I would be so frustrated with this headachy tiredness but I've come to embrace it as just part of what I am and stop fighting against things that are the result of this frustratingly human body I occupy. Nowawdays, I just take these predicatable days in stride. I put on my jammies and go to bed early. On the bright side, being a lifelong insomniac, the deep sleep I get for these nights is a treat! Actually, I haven't had insominia for a few months but I still appreciate a good night's sleep.
The Mr. is off to pratice tonight so it's a good evening to hunker down with a blanky and drift away in front of the television before I climb into bed officially. I went out to dinner with some friends and then to Old Navy to bum around and buy flip flops...2/$5! Now I'm in for the night and about to wash my face and brush my teeth for the much anticipated sofa nap until bed time.
I love the getting-to-know-yourself that comes with age. I used to say, "I'm so exhausted I don't know what to do!" Well, at forty one I've figured out what to do. I'm gonna go to sleep.
With age comes wisdom they say.
Good night, sweet dreams.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Warning, Boring Blog Ahead.

Hello! Well, this is going to be a boring no picture blog because figuring out how to post a pic with my mom's laptop is just beyond any measure of motivation I can muster. Yes, I am still without my computer here at the new crib. We are officially having internet installed this morning but now the Mr. and Mac are debating over how to solve the shared computer quandry. Our p.c. is at the other house and Mac uses it for homework. Last night the Mr. and Mac ventured out to purchase a lap top so there would be access at both houses but somehow that disolved into some plan to wipe our desktop and sell it to Mac or Mac will buy the lap top and we'll take the desk top and the long and short of it is, I am still using my mom's lap top. Having used this fancy schmancy laptop, I really do prefer a desk top and don't feel I need a laptop. I don't want to take it on vacation and I work in an office with a computer so I just want my old dependable desk top back. Well, that was all very interesting and worth waiting for, huh?
In other news my "new" job continues to be a joy. Yes, it is challenging and I have moments when I sit at my desk and wonder what in the world I got myself in to, but it is the right place for me and everyday I am happy to drive to work.
Yesterday I was off and went to the old hospital to visit my former co-workers and friends. It was a nice few hours I have to say. Everyone was so warm and sweet and it reminded me how very blessed I am. And it was as busy and stressful as ever so I was really happy to stand there and observe without having to do any work! I spent a little time with my sister and her medical floor was equally ridiculous. I am truly grateful for my office with a bathroom! I also stood there and was reminded again how wonderful it is to be in this profession that provides me so many options.
We spent some time yesterday doing more moving and organizing around here. My mom will be having an estate sale in a few months so Mac and I took a few hours to divide up the garage sale items from the other stuff and lend some kind of order to everything around here. Tiring but satisfying work that ended up with Mac conking out in the spare bed and spending the night here.
So hopefully the internet freeze will come to and end soon, although I still don't have an actual computer of my own in the house in which I live! Oy-vey, as my gramma would say.
Hope all is well with all of you. I'm off to check in with everybody and then get this day started.
Love you guys!
Update: I have stopped by the old homestead and uploaded a picture. Enjoy!