Saturday, April 27, 2013

Today I Love Making a Difference

     How do know you're making a difference?  I've been thinking a lot about this these past few days...ever since I saw these lovely sidewalk chalk drawings the other day.  We all strive to make our mark on the world in our own way, don't we?  The young sidewalk artists at school made their mark in a beautifully multicolored, yet very temporary fashion.  I doubt after tomorrow's rain, their art will still exist. 
     My middle schoolers were striving to do their best on their standardized tests this week, to the point that one young man told me on Friday, "My brain hurts."  (Poor guy; so did mine, and I only had to administer the tests.)  Will those scores make a difference?  That one depends on who you ask!  Darling daughter and her high school team mates excelled at their latest track meet, proving to themselves that hard work and positive thinking do pay off...yes, a good difference and solid life lessons learned!  And just today I enjoyed the best of the best produced by the fine artists around our league at their championship art show. I know of one young lady who got up at 2:00 this morning to finish her took best of show.  Hmmm…  I spent the remainder of the day with a bunch of other ladies making memories last at a day long scrap booking crop.  Will any of THAT make a difference?  After the last crop I attended, my boy man thanked me for chronicling his childhood.  He thanked me!  (I'm still picking my jaw up off the ground!) 
     Our 8th graders head off on their 8th grade trip first thing Monday morning.  When we prayed them out on Friday we reminded them that the minute their eyes open on Monday, they are on God's clock.  We prayed that God would open their eyes to every possible opportunity to serve in His name, from opening doors for folks, to picking up litter, to serving at a soup kitchen, to simply being good people. We reminded them that they will be representing our Christian school and that they may possibly be the only Bible some people ever get the chance to "read".  I certainly hope they make their mark next week. 
     Many of you tell me that my little obsession here makes a bit of a difference in your day.  There's not really a "Today I Love Police", but I do believe it's been just about a year that I've been striving to make a difference in this small way.  I've been very intentional about trying each day to put a little bit of positive out into the world.  I don't know if it's made a difference for you or not, but it has for me.  My whole way of thinking has changed. Circumstances that a year ago would have disabled me both spiritually and emotionally, can now in some small way, if not truly be appreciated, can at least be withstood with a bit more grace than before.  My prayer for you, dear friends, is the same that it is for my 8th graders...that God will open your eyes to the opportunities that surround you to simply make a difference.  Today, I love making a difference.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Isn't she lovely? Today I love...

Okay, so here's how the story goes, as I remember it...

Once upon a time...oh, some 27 years ago today, a lovely little girl made her way into all of our lives.  Well, it just so happens, that the day the lovely little girl decided to make her grand entrance was the exact same day...exactly 26 years before to the day...that the little girl's own very handsome papa had decided to make his own grand entrance into the world!  

      So, when the very handsome papa received this oh so precious birthday gift, he wanted to shout from the rooftops and declare to the world how happy he was with his lovely little girl!  Well, living in central Ohio as he did, and having no mountain tops from which to shout, he did the next best thing...he called the radio station!  He asked them to play this song and from that moment on, it became their song.  

      Now, I don't know this part of the story for sure, but I would imagine that the lovely little girl probably danced with her very handsome papa the way lovely little girls will, her tiny feet on his, him holding her hands, to that very song many times through the years...and many times I'm sure on this oh so precious shared birthday that they have.  

      Now, this part I do know for sure...if you fast forward the story some 25 years later, that song, of course, was THE song that the very handsome papa and the lovely little girl danced to at the lovely little girl's very own all grown up wedding.  And now...that very handsome papa and that lovely little girl are in the process of doing just what all good handsome and lovely characters in all good stories do...they are living happily ever after.  

      Today I love my very handsome big brother, Craig, and my very lovely niece, Jessica.  Happy Birthday both of you!  Enjoy your day!  Hope I got the story at least part right! 

"Isn't She Lovely" by Stevie Wonder

Isn't she lovely
Isn't she wonderful
Isn't she precious
Less than one minute old
I never thought through love we'd be
Making one as lovely as she
But isn't she lovely made from love

Isn't she pretty
Truly the angel's best
Boy, I'm so happy
We have been heaven blessed
I can't believe what God has done
Through us he's given life to one
But isn't she lovely made from love

Isn't she lovely
Life and love are the same
Life is Aisha
The meaning of her name
Londie, it could have not been done
Without you who conceived the one
That's so very lovely made from love

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Today I Love Cincinnati Reds' Baseball


From the National Anthem, that always always leaves me teary eyed and emotional...

 the announcement of the players...
"First baseman...Number 19!  Joeeeyyyy Vottoooooo!"  
The home team always gets more excitement from the announcer!  



From the gorgeous skyscape 
that surrounds us...

 the hotdogs, just $1.00 a dog today!  


From the 7th inning stretch... 


...and the peanuts and Cracker Jack...

 the "Root, root, root for the Reds' Team!"

From the last pitch 
of the game 
in the
inning... the huge smoke stacks announcing that 
"this one 
to the Reds!"  


From the lazy ride back across the river to our car... a great day spent with friends...

Today I love Cincinnati Reds' Baseball!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hope is the thing with feathers...Today I Love Hope

"Hope" is the thing with feathers
      by Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
     I read this bit of verse to my sweet seventh graders today.  I think they got it.  They got the metaphor...that hope is like a bird.  I told them a bit about Miss Dickinson and how she was a bit of a recluse, never having traveled very far away from her home in Amherst, Massachusetts. They got that the "chillest land" and the "strangest sea" must have been hard, unsettled times in Miss Dickinson's life.  They got that HOPE requires nothing of only gives.

     When I got home this evening, this bright bit of a tulip was waiting for me, having just popped its head out from under last fall's leaves.  Miss Dickinson's verse came unbidden into my head and heart at the mere sight of this splash of color in the midst of the as of yet untended bed.  What a treasure!
    Yesterday was dark and stormy.  Today the sun is shining brightly and this tulip reminds me that there are more and more sunny days coming...soon.  The phlox nestled in around the tulip's roots are trying their best to reassure me of the same, but they have not quite the bravery of this daring young sprout.  This is Ohio...they could all well be covered in something cold and white come tomorrow...but I do not think they will be.

Today I will hope.  
Today I love HOPE.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Today I Love...My Running Girl - Slice of Life Tuesday Challenge

     Okay, now how exactly did this happen?  18 years ago today, I sat my bulging self down in church on a beautifully sunny Easter morning, dreaming of the French toast with strawberries that I had been craving, as only a pregnant woman can do, and knew was waiting for me at Cracker Barrel after services.  The Man and I would pick the Boy up from his Sunday school class, the Grandparents would meet us at the restaurant with an Easter basket for the Boy, and I would be a happy woman.
     About halfway through the choir's beautiful selections, I felt a little twinge and thought to myself..."Hmm...I still have three days to go.  Nah, couldn't be." 

Fast forward several hours 
into the evening and 
Rachel Elizabeth Eaton 
slipped easily 
and quietly 
into our world 
changing it 
and much for the better.  
Such a good baby, 
scaring us both silly 
when she slept 
through the night
 at six weeks! 


And now...
it's 18 whole years later 
and this sweet baby girl is 
She runs to school, 
she runs after school, 
she runs to work, 
she runs with her friends.  
She is getting ready to run 
right up the road 
to college 
and our world 
will change
 once again.  
She will run her race.  
And she will win.


She has her eyes set
on the future 
and she has a plan.  
She knows 
where she wants to go 
and she knows 
what she wants to do 
when she gets there.  

     I don't know how 
this much time has passed
 in what feels like
 the blink of an eye, 
or how this sweet baby girl
 of ours
 has grown up so quickly, 
but we are so proud 
to be a part of her life.  
We will miss her 
when she is running 
her own race 
and The Man and I 
can't always be there
 at the finish line for her.  
Hopefully she'll invite us 
to come along side 
from time to time 
to cheer her on 
or hand her a water bottle.  
But isn't that what life is all about?  
to run your own race
your path
your way.

Today I love 
my beautiful

Happy Birthday, Rachel.
Run your race 
as only you can!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Today I Love Inspiration

For those of you who have been around for awhile, you know that I post one time a day and only one time.  When I post I post positive.  No trauma drama from this least not here in FB Land!  (Or blog land either for that matter since this is cross-posting!)  
Well, after bordering on negative yesterday, today was another one of those days where I thought to myself, "Maybe today's the day...maybe there are no more things to love.  Maybe today's the day I need to hang it up and just love chocolate chip cookies and get out of the feel good game."  Chocolate chip cookies are my fall back for when I really do run out of things to love...if such a day should ever arrive.
Not so! Last Tuesday, I shared here about a wonderful Poetry Slam performance I had found on youtube.  I am sad to say that I do not remember the bunny trail of links it took me to find it or who the original "sharer" was, but Touchscreen was very well received by my 7th and 8th graders.  Today I was amazed and surprised by a poem that one of my 8th grade students wrote and shared on Facebook.  His timing was impeccable and I told him so...I also told him it made me cry.  He said, "Oh, cool!  I mean...umm..."  I reassured him that they were good, happy, "teacher" tears and asked for his permission to share his work here.  I am doubly impressed that when he posted it, he remembered to include the "inspired by" line at the bottom.  
Thanks for making my day, Clayton!  Today I love inspiration!
Tagging used to be for recess.
Tweeting used to be for birds.
We used to look out windows.
Has technology changed our words?
We used to develop pictures
In the photoshop.
And the Amazon was a river,
A favorite vacation stop.
And instead of using Facebook,
Shouldn't a book be facing me?
Our technology really has
Changed the world we see.
Written by Clayton A.
 Inspired by Marshall Davis Jones
2nd place poetry slam
Look him up on YouTube!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Today I Love Confirmation...Slice of Life Tuesday Challenge

      Stacey at The Slice of Life Tuesday Challenge asks us to consider the reasons why we write today.  I've discovered so many new reasons to write in the last month and a half.  At one time in my life, I wrote because I had to...some teacher told me to write, so I wrote.  I whined and complained and fussed about it, but I wrote.  (Secretly though...I enjoyed it!  Shh...don't tell my teachers!)
     Interestingly enough, lately...I write...because I have to.  Not because some teacher told me to (unless you count Cathy encouraging me!), but because I NEED to.  Writing soothes me fills a void.  It helps me process my day or look forward to my day or share my day with others.  I write because in some small corner of my mind I hope that maybe, just maybe, something I put out into the world might make a difference for someone else.  I write because it is something I love to do.  

    My slice of life is short today, friends.  It is a contemplative evening here on the prairie and I have been agonizing over finding a love in the mess that this day has been.  But I've said it before and I will say it as long as I am physically able...there is always...and there always will be...something to love. 

     At first I thought I didn't even have a photo for today's love.  Abstract nouns are hard to photograph.  I honestly couldn't think of how to put into words what I've been thinking, let alone photograph it.  But, as will happen, when I began intentionally looking around..really seeing what was around me...there it was.  And then when I sat back and thought over the whole long day...the whole long last few days...I realized it was there all the time.  My family has been facing a very tough decision this week and I've been looking for some sign, some hint, that we've made the right choice.  From the discussions at staff devotions this morning, to another clear sign this afternoon, to finally this beautiful crocus this has finally come to me.  As the crocus settles it that yes, at last, Spring has settled in for a good long while, the other things I heard and witnessed today also reassure me that we have chosen wisely.  

     Today I love confirmation.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Today I Love "Touchscreen"...Slice of Life Tuesday Challenge

I've been challenged by the many creative folks who participated in the Slice of Life Story Challenge that I just finished in March to actually acknowledge and do something about National Poetry Month this year.  I'm ashamed of how many times I've let it slip by unnoticed over the years and am committed (or maybe just should be committed!) to do something poetic with my students each day this month.  Wish me luck! At the same time that I am trying to be poetic, I'll also be doing a weekly slice at The Slice of Life Weekly Challenge each Tuesday. And of course...there's always something to love!  Enjoy!

Today I love "Touchscreen" by Marshall Davis/Soulful Jones.  I happened across this gem of performance poetry as I was looking for something different to share with my students on this second day of National Poetry Month.  We worked hard writing Six Room Poems yesterday (there's your link, Linda Fifer!), and I wanted them to be able to just listen and enjoy today.  My 7th and 8th graders loved, loved, loved it!  I played it TWICE for them...and for me!  Because the youtube version (link below) is a teeny bit PG rated, I did not show it to my 6th graders and opted instead to read a few poems aloud from A Child's Anthology of Poetry.  Oh, that every child (and adult) could have their own copy of this book to highlight, underline, and notate up a storm in!  They enjoyed Roger the Dog by Ted Hughes, and Homework! Oh Homework! by Jack Prelutsky, along with a few others. My heart thrilled to see that as I turned the book sideways, they recognized The Mending Wall by Robert Frost just by its shape alone!  A guest speaker recently took them all the way through this classic poem and they obviously remembered what they learned!

For my students who just competed in our Junior High Speech Meet, watching Mr. Jones perform "Touchscreen" was a chance to view an art form of the highest quality.  I loved it because so many of us, teacher and student alike, connected with it...and isn't that what poetry is all about...connections?  I asked the students to jot down words and phrases that caught their attention or spoke to them.  I was amazed at what they picked out...very much the same lines that got to me!  

"from the garden of Eden
to the branches of Macintosh
apple picking has always come at a great cost"


"it was difficult to connect when friends formed cliques
now it’s even more difficult to connect
now that clicks form friends" 

When I got home tonight I went searching for the words to the whole poem and googled them up at The Henry Brothers' Jim Jam Slam.  You'll be able to access the words and view the performance at this link.  Please enjoy this little slice of my day in Middle School as we read, write, rhythm and rhyme our way through National Poetry Month. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Today I love 6 Room Poems

Today I love 6 Room Poems.  I stole this idea from someone somewhere during the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Story Challenge.  In this activity, you divide your paper into 6 "rooms":  Image, Light, Sound, Questions, Feelings, and Repetitions.  You focus on one image and organize your ideas about that image, traveling "through" the rooms to help you recall the details of the time or place or event you are remembering.  It is just a nice way to grab the ideas out of your head and get them on paper.  I tried this three times today...once with each class as we celebrated the first day of National Poetry Month.  A natural poet I am not, but this was helpful.  You gotta love a good idea that you get for free from someone else!