Thursday, May 8, 2014

Time flies, and other cliches

When I started this blog, I had every intention of writing regularly, and really gave it the old college try.  As it often does, life got in the way.  I was hired full time as an English teacher where my husband taught/teaches and got actively involved in my daily routine - raising a small child, teaching, preparing lesson plans, grading, failing at keeping up the house, laundry, cooking.  The demands of my days quickly overtook the "need" I had for writing.  After some time off, I attempted to take it up again, but I was unable to get it to work.  Technical issues frustrated me to the point of stopping all together.  Too many other things pulled on my attention.

In the time that has passed, I've gone through some of the hardest times in my life.  I lost my best friend to a lung disease that took her only five years after her initial diagnosis.  I had never endured that kind of loss and it fundamentally changed me.  My gifted son started school and has struggled for lots of reasons.  Parenting has shown me what true helplessness feels like.  I've battled some health issues, my weight, anxiety and depression.  But, I have never felt more blessed.  God is so good, and I'm so unworthy.

All of that to say that I truly love my life.  I love my Lord.  I love my precious family.  I love being an educator; I love my students.  I love creativity, music, art, and literature.  I love professional football, college basketball, and the St. Louis Cardinals.  What a rich life I've been given and I'm so undeserving.

I think I'll write a bit about it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My faith in humanity has been restored...again

Not that I haven't always wanted to expect the best of people, but let's be honest, we are often let down by society. All you have to do is watch one NBC Nightly News airing and you begin to feel just a little worse about humanity and the choices made every day. It can be difficult at times to see the good in people. A couple of weeks ago, I witnessed it first hand.

My husband flew to Austin for a science teachers' conference. When he picked up his checked bags from baggage claim, he set his book bag down on a chair to find his car keys. He was struggling to find them, and inadvertently set a flip video camera (which belongs to the school) and his jump drive on the chair. When he found the keys, he grabbed his stuff and took off.

A couple of days later, I got an email, via Facebook, from a woman I didn't know. She told me that she was flying through the Lubbock airport and found my camera and jump drive. I was very confused, because not only did I have my camera and jump drive, but I hadn't been anywhere near the airport. I proceeded to share this with my husband, who after a couple of beats, got up and got his book bag. Sure enough, the mystery was solved.

This total stranger, who could have procured for herself an expensive new camera and thumb drive, took the time to research the drive and track me down. She then shipped it to me, asking nothing in return. She was just a good person. I'm grateful to Karen Sitton James and her husband for reminding me that good is out there all around us.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Artistic endeavors and all that it implies...

Spending the greatest part of my adulthood in the St. Louis area provided me with an opportunity to be exposed to some truly great artistic minds. In my twenties, I was fortunate to meet some extraordinary talents on the local music scene and was able to follow them on a somewhat regular basis. Thanks to the magic of Facebook, I've recently reconnected with some of those musicians and I'm reminded again of how much I enjoyed that time in my life and of how much those folks influenced me in my own artistic endeavors, however small they may be.

I would go to watch bands like Red Weather and The Unconscious and marvel at what they did, both as groups and as individual artists. My friend, Jeanne, and I would go see them whenever possible (much to the amusement of some of the Red Weather musicians) and became friends with some of them. They looked at the world in a way I had never seen before and it was fascinating to me. It made me want to work harder at being an artist.

How they aren't performing in the national spotlight is still a mystery to me, especially since there's a lot out there that doesn't come close to what I've seen and heard from them. I don't think that was ever the ultimate goal for them, however. They love what they do, and I'm thrilled to have been a beneficiary. So to Dan Rubright, Ted Rubright, Tom Fulton, John Taylor, Lisa Campell, Mike Apirion, Jim Mayer, Peter Mayer and so many others on the St. Louis music scene, I say thanks. I have been and am enriched knowing you.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Faith, love, and other deep subjects...

As a Christian, I am called to love and live as Christ did. While that is easier at some times than others, I often struggle with two things...our responsibility to lead others to Christ, without ostracizing someone to the point of feeling hated (a primary example would be the homosexual community), and standing up for what we believe in, without wavering.

I think the phrase "hate the sin, not the sinner" is particularly important to remember. As I look back over my adult years, and I think about my faith, I recall the specific frustration of watching Christians being portrayed (and rightfully so in many arenas) as haters. Certain people came out so strongly against homosexuality that I feared there would be no place for them to go when they were looking for Christ. Why would they want to enter into a house of God when they are being told how evil they are? I actually heard a Christian say that no one should own an American Express card because Ellen DeGeneres is a company spokesperson. If that were true, we shouldn't buy anything, because every human being sins. Why must we focus on one or two sins? I overeat, so people shouldn't be my friends, or come to my youth group?

Danny Gokey (American Idol finalist and Christian) recently said it so well on his blog,

"Because I was very open about my faith in God, people speculated that I hated certain groups of people whose lifestyles or beliefs differed from mine. But in fact it is because of my faith that I have learned that love is unconditional and it goes beyond lifestyle, beliefs and any limitation that we as humans tend to put on it."

Yes, we have a responsibility as Christians to encourage others to live as Christ would want us to, but there's a difference between loving someone to Christ and beating it into them. Christ let people know when they were making bad choices, but he showed them love and compassion in the process.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Just when I thought teen angst was in my past...

I realize that at 41, technically, I'm not anywhere near a teenager - chronologically anyway. Those who know me well might argue that I do, in fact, act like one on a regular basis. I get positively giddy when I get a present, I giggle on the phone with my girlfriends, get my feelings hurt fairly easily, and scowl at myself in the mirror daily. I have also recently started reading the "Twilight" series, and can't put it down!

All of that said, I do realize that I'm an adult. As a high school teacher, I've very clearly drawn lines between myself and my students, and have often thought of how thankful I am not to be where they are now. That's a very difficult time in their lives. I remember it all too well. While they're going through it, they need support and direction.

The kids here in Cotton Center are absolutely wonderful. When I left my teaching position after having my son, so many of my former students stayed in touch with me. When we go to football and basketball games, I spend a good portion of that time catching up with them. I just love them to death. Which is why when our pastor came to my husband and me and asked us to consider becoming the youth directors at the church, I was so conflicted. Was I qualified in the least to do that? What a HUGE responsibility.

Living in a small town as we do, it's difficult to get ordained, qualified youth ministers to come here, and if they do, they are usually just passing through. We have had some great ministers in the past (Zane and Tara, Hal, to name a few), but they were only able to serve for a short time.

After weeks of prayer, my husband and I decided we felt called to do it. We were voted in by the church yesterday. We are so honored that they would entrust their kids to us, and pray we can aspire to deserve it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The best kept secret in..well...Texas

I'm a born and raised Missourian. There's a big chunk of my heart that will always be in Missouri. My parents and sister are there, and I still have many friends there. The past six years I've been living in west Texas. I've heard lots of people say things like "I can't believe you live there." "There are no trees" "Don't you feel like you're out in the middle of nowhere?"

I can't lie and say there wasn't an adjustment period, but I can honestly say, the people here are like none I've ever known. They opened their arms to me and made me their family, immediately. Most people tend to be a little skeptical about newcomers, especially in a small town like this one. Many generations of these families were raised here. They have known each other their whole lives. When I came here, I expected some hesitation on their part. It just plain didn't happen.

Lawrence and I have struggled some with finances since we've lived here. Some of it stemmed from having a house for sale for more than a year, and having to pay two payments during that time. People here have constantly flooded us with food from their gardens and fields, brought us clothes for Samuel (hand-me-downs that I have absolutely loved), provided extra work for Lawrence on their farms, and numerous other loving acts, some of them provided anonymously.

I'm not saying there aren't people like that everywhere in this country, but the people here are a special breed, and I thank God for the gift of their friendships. If I had to leave everything I've ever known and move 1,000 miles away, I'm sure glad God led us here.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Workout tips from a complete and utter amateur

Today was a beautiful day, and while I worked out, I felt joy. Not because it was an amazing 70 degrees, or because my son was happily playing and allowing me to walk uninterrupted. It was because I didn't want to do it. Make sense?

I felt completely devoid of energy when I woke up this morning. The whole time I was thinking that I could surely skip today. I just didn't feel like doing it. The source of my joy was the fact that despite my lack of desire, I got up, put on my shoes and started out the door. It's hard to describe how hard that is for me to do. Self-discipline is a real source of frustration for me. I know I'm not alone in that. It's as if I'm addicted to my bad habits and getting out of them is like quitting smoking (not that I've ever done that, but I hear from those who have that it's like cutting off an appendage).

So as I walked today, I thought about some of the things I've done to help myself along. Here are just a couple of them to get it started:

1) Pray. My faith is an integral part of my life. There isn't anything in this life that I've accomplished on my own. My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is my reason for living so it makes sense that while I try to work on something that is so difficult for me, I ask for His guidance. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

2) Use music as a motivator. Music is also very important to me. Have you ever been listening to a song and couldn't help but stand up and dance (or at least tap your toe)? I created a playlist on my ipod that is filled with songs like that. It's an energy injector and puts one foot in front of the other.

3) Find a way to measure your workout that's easiest for you. I found that timing it in the traditional way was making it harder for me. I would stare at the timer while on the treadmill or my watch if I was outside. It was like watching the calendar, waiting for your vacation to get here. It seemed to make the time completely drag by. So, it just hit me about the third day, that if I measured it by how many songs I had listened to, then it would successfully get me past the time I needed. And it wasn't like watching the seconds tick by on a watch. I do aerobic exercise for 10 songs. Since most songs are 3 - 4 minutes long, I know I'm getting at least 30 minutes in, and more often than not, more. Because I am enjoying the music, and because the playlist is set to shuffle making each new song a surprise, I look forward what's next. That would also work with audio books.

Again, I note that I'm no expert. I'm just trying to figure out a way to make the process easier for me. An expert might even disagree with me, but of the resources I've used over the years, the overwhelming majority say that you need to do what works best for you to get the job done. As I come up with new things, I'll be sure to share them! Now, I must work on another thing that's a bit hard to be motivated to do....laundry!