Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Today I Love a Challenge

Today I Love a Challenge (Part 1 of 2)

Our two 4th grade classes have taken the song "10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)" by Matt Redman quite literally and have challenged the entire school to come up with 10,000 blessings...10,000 reasons to worship God. This is my oh so sweet slew of 7th graders singing along to the song of the same name this morning. After a bit of explanation and discussion, we each took a sticky note and started our own personal lists. 

I wanted to make sure they understood that this is similar to Today I Love, but not quite the same thing. While we might love fried chicken, for instance, it might not necessarily be something we think of as a blessing or a reason to worship God. After they had a few moments to think, I asked a few to share some ideas.

The first boy I called on said, "God's omnipresence."

Another boy said, "His redemption."

A third student said, "Forgiveness."


I think they get it.

With one student absent, we had 400 reasons at the end of class. Stay tuned for the final results from our class tomorrow, as I am about to send out an email inviting their parents to join us.

And...ummm...if I may be so bold...while you're waiting for our numbers, why not start your own list? You may not reach 10,000, but the simple act of thinking it through will most definitely lift your spirits.

I promise.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Today I Love Learning How to Live - Slice of Life Tuesday September 8, 2015

Today I Love Learning How to Live

Today I love learning how to live. 23 years ago today, the day after Labor Day is when I really began receiving lessons. On the evening before Labor Day, The Man and I had just put the finishing touches on the baby's room and then we just sat in that peaceful space listening to lullabies before going to sleep for the night. (Maybe that's where some of this boy’s love for music comes from, but I truly believe that gift comes from God.) Little did we know, as we rested our heads that evening, how our lives were about to change.

Fast forward to 2:13pm the following afternoon and this guy shows up to begin our lessons in how to live. He's been teaching us ever since. We've learned some things that we'll never forget, a few lessons that we needed extra course work in (thus his sister two and a half years later), and a few facts that I'm sure he doesn’t realize he taught us. And there are a few that maybe even he has forgotten. I thought I'd set them down here for all of us to remember.  In no particular order, these are 10 Lessons in How to Live from my baby boy:
1. Never expect things to go exactly as planned. I think this is the first lesson all babies teach their parents.
2. Always be ready for an adventure; keep your Legos packed. You never know when you'll have the opportunity to take off for South America. (Make sure your dad is watching when you leave so he can stop you before you actually leave the yard!)
3. Learn...in spite of what doesn't go your way...learn from it...learn in spite of it. (And never mix up the radiator with the windshield fluid reservoir.)
4. YES on the copy of Oh! The Places You'll Go for high school graduation; YES on getting all of the teachers along the way to sign the copy.  NO on the read aloud at the graduation party...trust us on this one. The ugly cry is...well...not pretty.

  5. Keep wonder; lose judgement. (He got almost as excited about the tree frog outside of Henry's Restaurant in West Jefferson as he did at the baby tigers in Indiana last week!)
6. Youtube...if you don't know how to do something, chances are someone else does. And if they know it, they have probably shared it with the world!
7. Something can usually be made from nothing...open your mind and let your creative juices flow! This kid once fixed our refrigerator shelf with a paper clip and a rubber band!
8. Macaroni art is a perfectly acceptable gift. (See #7 above!)
9. Be ready with a song; you never know when you'll need it, and you'll always be able to make someone else's day with it.
10. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31 This one goes all the way back to our first Vacation Bible School experience. I can still hear his 4 year old voice reciting this memory verse. True then, true now, true forever.

Happy Birthday, my son.  I've told you before, and I'll tell you again, and someday you’ll believe me...you are a great teacher. 
Thanks for the lessons. 
I love you!  

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Today I Love...umm...well...LOVING! Slice of Life 2015 Day 18

To borrow a phrase from a friend today, have you ever watched God thread the needle and sew things up?  That's what I had happen today.  

When I left my classroom last evening, I adjusted the Today I Love count that I keep for my students on the whiteboard and felt a bit of pressure as my own "count" turned to 1,000 days of loving.  Now, count is a very loose term...remember I am a word girl, not a number girl.  I have taken a day off now and again, still loving, but not always posting.  I may have miscounted, and I have definitely posted more than a few DOUBLE WHAMMY and TRIPLE WHAMMY and even QUADRUPLE WHAMMY Days when it was just not enough to only love one thing.  As I hit Day 100, I loved LOVE...I quoted some Bible verses and thought that it was a pretty stinkin' big deal to have intentionally loved for 100 days in a row.  

Day 500 came and went and I honestly have no idea what I loved that day...it very well may have been LOVE again.  And there have literally been a thousand crazy things along the way:  I have loved the electric bill, being left handed, all sorts of food, BACON (multiple times!), particular people and loved ones, strangers, keeping dry, getting wet, PBJs, particular colors, pinky promises, weddings, sleeping in, staying up late, getting up early...you name it!  But as day 1,000 came closer and closer, my mind actually started to wonder...would that be it?  Would I run out of things to love after 1,000 days and have to finally come through with my promise to love chocolate chip cookies and call it quits?

Heavens no!  Perish the thought!  If anything, what today (a long day!) has taught me is that it is the actual LOVING that I love the most.  It is the daily search, the wondering, the pondering over the day's happenings, and yes, sometimes the desperation to turn something negative into something positive before I fall asleep at night, that gets me through!  I have never thought of myself as a "glass half full" optimist.  Being medicated for depression several years ago pretty much stripped any idea of my being "positive" away from me.  It is sometimes a genuine struggle to find any light in my day at all.  But that's where this crazy obsessive habit has come in quite handy.  By "forcing" myself to look for, to find, and to LOVE something each day, I do not allow myself to wallow...well, at least not permanently!  

And the best best best part?  Seeing it show up in others' lives.  I found out late this afternoon that my seventh graders who are searching for that sweet spot between 6th and 8th (and keep getting in their own way as seventh graders will) just talked with their homeroom teacher and together they have started their own "Attitude of Gratitude" bulletin board; a place to sticky note up the things for which they are thankful.   

 So, silly as it may seem, when "beamish" showed up as the "Word of the Day" on my dictionary app (beamish; adjective, bright, cheerful, optimistic) I just had to laugh at God's sense of humor and absolute perfect timing!  I could see Him threading that needle and beginning to sew up this 1,000 day issue for me once and for all.


And THEN when He arranged chapel and had the song "Speak Life" by Toby Mac played, I was chuckling (and singing along!) again.  (Please listen if you have the few moments.)  He THEN sent Matthew Vohlwinkel, youth pastor at a nearby church whom I have never met, to speak at chapel this morning about how we must search out those positive things in our lives, not grumble, not whine, and not miss the daily blessings that God sends us...yeah, I was smiling again.  

So...1,000 days is a lot of days...but really not that many in the grand scheme of things.  I expect to make it to at least 100 years, as My Ol' Man has said he will do.  That's roughly 36,500 days in all.  I'm almost halfway to that 100 year old mark, so that means I have roughly 18,250 days (give or take) left.  So...what will I do tomorrow?  Why, look for something to love of course.  

Because today...
             and tomorrow...
                        and the next day...

                                        I will love the LOVING.  

                                                     Won't you please give it a try?

                                                              It really does make all the difference.



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Today I Love the Unexpected Gift - Slice of Life 2015 - Day 17

Today I love the unexpected gift.

It started a week or so ago, when I asked the children's librarian at my favorite local library for a new book on CD to listen to.  (I don't drive without story.)  She knows that I teach middle school and selected an author that many of my older girls have been reading.  The story was one that I knew would be on the somber side...a young adult reeling from her best friend's suicide...so I told the library lady I'd better balance it out with some Ramona Quimby.  Well, somber is not the word for the first selection.  I found myself dreading the drive time that I normally look forward to.  I mean, I wanted to find out what happened (I am a confirmed story addict!) but the depressing nature of the story and the language (eek! the language!) left me feeling shell shocked every time I got out of the car.  I stuck it out, and two days ago finally got a decent ending to an otherwise very sad story, and was happy to hear a TON of suicide prevention information at the end of the book.  

Enter Ramona Quimby in all her 8 year old glory, as read aloud by none other than Stockard Channing...the PERFECT choice for the voice of not only Ramona, but also her big sister Beezus, her mother, father, and even the neighborhood children Willa Jean and Howie Kemp. Ah, what a blessing that story has been.  Now, don't get me wrong...this was no new adventure for me.  My kids grew up on Ramona ala Stockard on long car rides and I can practically recite along with her.  She is one good friend of the family!

Today, however, as I received the unexpected gift of the sun shining down on a day forecast to be gloomy, Ramona and her family were enjoying a nice family dinner out to eat, and suddenly there was an unexpected gift for them as well.  The man sitting across from them in the restaurant had watched them, determined that they were a nice family, and missing his own children and grandchildren, paid for their meal as he left the restaurant.  What a treat for a family struggling with finances and just wanting a little change in pace!

But the unexpected gifts didn't stop there.  On my evening walk, not only did I get to enjoy that sunny blue sky some more, but I happened to notice actual buds in the neighbor's tree!  Spring really is on the way!  For a confirmed sunshine-aholic, this was good to see indeed!


And that's not all...The Man needed me to run to Wal-Mart for him, something I am normally loathe to do, but it was something he really needed and that blue sky was calling me, so off I went, with of course a side stop at that lovely library I mentioned before.  More Ramona found its way into my back seat and guess what!  There was an entire teacher's collection I had requested just waiting for me to put to use right after Spring Break! Book lover's heaven!

And then, Wal-Mart...well....I got what The Man needed, but in the process, I just happened to walk through the baking aisle, and I just happened to remember a recipe that I wanted to try from The Pioneer Woman's latest episode, and I just happened to have my very smart phone with me, and I just happened to find the recipe and the ingredients and well...the rest...including my nice relationship lately with My Fitness Pal...is history!  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Chocolate Lava Cakes with Vanilla Ice Cream...the final unexpected, but most delicious gift of my day. (You can find the recipe here.) Now there's an unexpected gift for you!  Enjoy!  


But that's not all!  You know how this deal works by now...now YOU need to pass it on.  What unexpected gift can you provide for someone who needs a lift in their day?  Can YOU pay for a meal?  Can you cook a meal and deliver it to someone who ISN'T sick or recovering from surgery, but just because?  Can you lift someone's day?  Sure you can...go for it!  (If nothing else, you can make Chocolate Lava Cake!)


Monday, March 16, 2015

Today I Love My Walk - Slice of Life 2015 Day 16

Today I love my walk.

I have been hanging out 
                         way too long.
To be out in fresh prairie air
this evening
was just what this teacher needed.  

A blue sky, a sunny sunset,
a wave or two to the neighbors
as they drive by.

A few songs on the Pandora,
bouncing along in my pocket, 
reminding me of all my blessings. 

Birdsong in the air,
A breeze across my brow,
The day melting away.

Today I love my walk.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Today I Love Knowing the Words - Slice of Life 2015 - Day 15

Today I love knowing the words. 


I'm the one on the right with the "What am I doing here?" look on my face.

Yesterday I tried something new. I was out of my element. I was nervous and a bit apprehensive. Peace was hard to find at first. Peace came, but it had to introduce itself to me as if it were a friend I hadn't seen for years who had somehow changed from how I remembered it looked. 


This was the first song at church this morning...an old favorite!
Today I was comforted and inspired by the familiar, the eternal, the never changing. I was calmed and soothed and peace filled my soul; wrapped its arms around me and welcomed me home. I was reminded of my calling here on this wild ride around the sun. I was challenged to look at that calling with fresh eyes. Books and stories and words; nouns and verbs, and even gerunds and participles are important, but Jesus is more important.


New is good. 
To challenge ourselves is good and healthy. 
But to know the words, 
to know the assurance of eternity...
to sort out what is best...
that is best.

Thanks, Rob Swartz, for the reminder of what is 
most important 
and for helping me 
know the words.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Today I Love Cautious Optimism and the Writing Process in all its Ugly Glory - Slice of Life 2015 Day 13

Note to reader...this is what a slice looks like when you try four FIVE separate times to get the words out and they really just don't want to come out!  Sometimes life is like that, and you know what?  The world still spins!  Sigh!  Today I love Cautious Optimism and the Writing Process in all its Ugly Glory.  Read on, only if you dare.


Today I love cautious optimism.  I am not a runner.  I enjoy walking.  Tomorrow I am signed up for a 5K.  I have never run or walked a 5K before.  I allowed a few good friends to talk me into doing this and I am admittedly a bit nervous.  I do want to be healthier and exercise more and be balanced in my life.  But anytime we try something new it can cause a bit of apprehension.  I'm having a hard time putting my feelings into words this evening, but that's okay too....


Today I am fluttery.  
A bit of a case of butterflies in my stomach. 
An "oh-my-golly-did-I-really-do-that" kind of feeling.

I am not a runner.
I enjoy walking.

And tomorrow I am signed up (and have paid MONEY for) my very first 5K. 
I have friends who will be running or jogging. 

I am not a runner.
I enjoy walking.

I am trying to be an optimist.  
I will make new friends.

I will get rained on.
I will jump in puddles...my daughter's rule!

I am not a runner.
I enjoy walking.

I am trying to be healthy.
I AM losing weight.

I am jumpy.
I am .....
I am not a runner.
I enjoy walking.


Oh, for Pete's Sake!  I'm signed up for a 5K and I'm geeking out about it already!
I know it'll be fine, but I'm having a big ol' hissy fit and I don't know what to do about it!


Deep cleansing breaths.....deeeeeeeeeeeeeep cleansing breaths........Today I Love...umm....

I will be optimistic.
I will get good exercise.
I will burn calories.
I WILL meet new people!  
I LOVE meeting new people!
I will get rained on...I will NOT melt. 
(I really don't want to get rained on and I really don't want to get my new shoes wet...)
But it will be fine.  
It will.

Today I love being cautiously optimistic.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Today I love puddles - Slice of Life 2015 Day 11

I'm not normally a puddle stomper, but I have an idea I will be this weekend!  I am walking (Running?  No...I don't think so...) in my first 5K. Well, it's not really a 5K. It's a Pi Day 3.14K...get it?  March 14, 2015...3.14.15?  

ANYWAY...The weather folk are calling for lots of rain which means lots of puddles on Saturday.  I wasn't very thrilled with that prospect until I had this quick text-versation with my Running Girl daughter at some point in the day after she went for a run.

I have always thought of puddles as something in the way...an obstacle...a hindrance.  Now, I'm sure that as a youngster I did just as much stomping as the next kid, but...well, I guess I grew out of that habit.  


That's a hard thing to admit.  

What else have I outgrown?  

Cookies and milk?  Surely not!  Perish the thought! Anyone who knows me knows that cookies are an entire food group for me!

Snuggling up with a pillow or stuffed animal to sleep?  Nope...gotta have that pillow under my chin!

Finger painting?  Haven't done it in a loooooong time, but would love to now that I think about it! I wonder how I can work that in to a Middle School Language Arts lesson...hmmm....

Naps?  I most certainly did outgrow those, but as The Man says, now I am growing back in to them!  Ah, the joys of aging! 

I'm not sure what other things I have outgrown, but now that I'm on the lookout for them, I can be sure to take the time to enjoy them and make sure they keep me young!  

I'm so glad that my daughter set my priorities straight, and if I see you at the 3K this weekend, I'll be the one with wet shoes and a big ol' smile on my face!  

Today (and this Saturday) I love puddles!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Today I Love Normal - Slice of Life 2015 Day 10

It's Tuesday...and we had school!  

This may not seem like a great revelation to you, but since Christmas break was over, my school has had a total of SIX snow days, one no electricity day, Presidents' Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Professional Development Day, Grandparents' Day, and THREE full moons!  In that same amount of time we've had only three normal, regular, five day school weeks.  For Pete's sake, one week we only had ONE day of school!

This week, the weather forecasters are not predicting anything lower than 29 degrees and NO snow is predicted at all.  If we can just keep the electricity, heat, and water on, we may just have a fourth regular school week on our hands.  

We all gripe and complain about wanting something new...something different...something exciting.  But on this particular Tuesday evening, I love normal. I know there's no such thing as normal...not really...but I hope you won't mind if I continue my search for it just this once! 

It really is...if you stop and think about it. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Today I Love Silly...Slice of Life 2015 Day 9 but late to the party

Knock knock...phew!  (Imagine huge dust cloud!)

Dust, dust...

Wipe, wipe...


Anyone out there?

Well, it's been over a year since I've been here, but my friend Cathy has inspired me to join the party at Two Writing Teachers again this year.  Sorry I'm getting here so late!  

If you don't mind, I'll just pick up right where I left off last year and right where I've been going along all this time on Facebook.  I post a Facebook status update each day (today is roughly day #991) telling about something I love.  How that whole habit got started is another story all together that you can read here if you want. 

Today I love silly!  My college daughter and her friend were home over the weekend, coinciding with a quick visit from my older sister.  We had the best of times! My Ol' Man took us all to the diner down the road for the very best homemade pie in the world!

It's pretty much impossible to get a "before" picture of Henry's pie!

We chatted, we cooked, we ate like stevedores, and laughed and laughed and laughed and were just plain silly!  Somewhere along the way, someone mentioned the game Chubby Bunny, which neither my sister nor I had heard of, so the college girls demonstrated!  In case you are unfamiliar, the basic premise is to say, "Chubby Bunny", then put a marshmallow in your mouth.  Don't chew!  Say, "Chubby Bunny" again, put in another marshmallow, and repeat until you can no longer be understood!  Or...until you are forced to choose between choking on or spitting out marshmallow goo!  There may or may not be a video of that experience, but since I love all of these girls and want to keep up my relationship with them...you won't see it here!  But, ooooh! We laughed so hard!  And for the record, my college girl won the contest with a whopping ELEVEN marshmallows crammed in her chipmunk cheeks!

Also, somewhere along about Saturday afternoon or evening, the song "Everything is Awesome" from the Lego movie came up and...yup...you guessed it... it became the ear worm of the weekend! Such fun times!

"There you go, that's $37."  / "Wha-a-AWESOME!"

Fast forward to today...the first day of what will surely be the first full five day week we've had in quite some time.  
The first day of Daylight Savings Time.  
Monday....the first day of the week for Pete's sake!  
Things were most definitely looking decidedly UN-awesome!

And of course, that's when that tune came bubbling back up to the top of my mental play list.    

It reminded me of laughter.
It reminded me of pie! 
It reminded me of marshmallow goo!
It reminded me of the weekend and the good times we had.

And suddenly...everything was looking pretty awesome again.  

I was so blessed to be able to spend that time with loved ones.
I am so blessed to be able to teach at a school that I love.
I am also so blessed to be a part of this writing community where my teacher juices are replenished when things begin to fall toward the un-awesome.  
And aren't we all blessed with the ability to be just a little bit silly when we need to?

So, there it is.  Your daily ear-worm and a little dose of silly delivered right to your door!  

(Go on, head to the store for marshmallows...you know you want to!)