Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Praise Him in All Things

Praise God from whom all blessings flow......Do you know that hymn?  I have to admit that I love it and I love to sing it around Thanksgiving time especially when the warm house and good food and seeing family makes it seem like that is the blessings just flowing and flowing.

But, not every minute of my life is like that.  I have days weeks and months when trouble seems to find me.  Recently I was mixing up a cake mix for my son's birthday.  When I turned around to reach for a spatula I klutzed and the bowl full of my lovely butter cake batter hit the floor and shattered into a million pieces.  Have you ever cleaned up large shards of glass and cake batter?  Not a pretty sight.  I had just been reading a book about praising God in all circumstances, especially the unwelcome ones, the troubled times.  There is a purpose, a good purpose somewhere within the trouble.  So, I praised God.  Instead of doing the "Why does this always happen to me?"  and the self reproach, I praised God and asked for help in figuring out what to do.

I ended up running to the store for another mix which I baked and finished icing just in time for the birthday boy to come over.  I told the store clerk a little of what had happened as I was buying the new mix.  We laughed.  I haven't discovered God's great purpose in my little accident. I probably never will.  I am happy that it didn't ruin my day or even change my plans.  I praise God from whom all blessings flow that sometimes the blessings are disguised as disasters, and I praise God.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Breastfeeding in Public

My son is in his 30s so he has been weaned for a couple or more years, but I spent a huge and formative portion of my life among breastfeeding women.  I led groups in Japan and Florida and Hawaii and Missouri that promoted and supported breastfeeding.  I took a test once that made me a certified lactation instructor, but I never did anything with that.  I feel very comfortable with breastfeeding.  I used to know a lot about the subject, but these days the technical details allude me.

Still, I have opinions based on personal experience about breastfeeding in public.  Personally I tend to get grossed out by artificial breasts waved around by toddlers in the public square.  Some of the things I have seen toddlers and young children do with artificial nipples looks a bit obscene to me.  I consider the source and generally mind my own business, unlike some people do to breastfeeding mothers and their babies.  A person can hold an opinion within the confines of their mind and not express it, after all.

I hold the opinion that breasts are natural and beautiful when used to feed babies and young children.  Breastfeeding is cheap, efficient, and natural.  Breasts are so sexualized in our culture, and yet, not taboo.  They are flaunted and displayed.  It seems that being used in the way God intended is the only forbidden thing to do with breasts.  At least in the minds of some people.

I remember that when my son was about 18 months old I was flying home from Japan to see my dad who was dying.  I was seated in a smoking section of the plane and when I complained, was told that I could get off the plane (which hadn't departed yet) and catch the next flight in a few days from Japan to the States or I could sit there.  I sat and I nursed in the midst of young Marines who were smoking on that 24 hour flight.  My 18 month old wasn't about to let me cover him up.  Those Marines got an eyeful.  But, I considered that they had to be happy I didn't let the child scream the whole way.  And maybe some of them would even encourage their wives someday to breastfeed.  And at worst, it was none of their business.

I would like to encourage breastfeeding moms to go ahead and do what is natural and right.  And if some old lady is staring, it might be that she is remembering her days of nursing her own child.  And if it is that she is offended, oh well, you can't please all of the people all of the time.  Let it go. I would like to see more moms breastfeeding in public.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Prayers

Make me a flower in Your garden , Lord.  Let me bloom with what ever grace and beauty I possess.  Let me be a delight for You. Help me in the things I lack and show me Your tender mercy.  I am Yours.  Forever. Amen

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Cleaning House

I am not much of a house cleaner.  I am messy and disorganized.  I easily get distracted and rarely finish a job I start.  When I have expanses of time I waste them by turning on the television and/or working on a creative project. I start sorting things and can't figure out what to keep and what to donate and what to pitch.  I can get way off task looking at something I haven't seen in a while.  I hate to get rid of something that might be useful or looks neat or brings back a memory.  I have judged and screamed at myself about this weakness within me time and time again.  I feel worthless.  I have been criticized and judged by other people for this also.

I make resolutions to change.  I have tried Fly Lady. I really don't think that cleaning my sink is my main problem.  I make a little headway here and there.  Then I don't.  I get depressed about it all.  This is especially true in summer when I also get lonely.  It is a bad mixture.  A toxic brew within my mind.

But, as I sit here and chew on myself for the way I am, I think, I have seen worse.  Nobody ever comes to our house, so it isn't even as though I am very embarrassed about it most of the time.  I need to keep plugging along at it.  I find when I can be more tolerant of myself and accept my limitations I actually do a better job.  When I get the monkey off my back, I feel better and do better.

I sat in prayer about this problem a while back.  God whispered some solutions to me.  One is that I long to do a little decorating, to personalized the house beyond the 20 plus year old sofa and lamps I have owned for 40 years.  I am working on a plan to do a little bit of decorating.  That will help me to feel better and to clear some things out.  Another whisper was about my desire to expand my potential to make friends.  I have a feeling that I could find a woman or two in my circle who would love to come over and give me some decorating advice.  That is opening a door.  It is not pouring out the problems of my heart or boring them with stories from my life, it is focusing on something outside of myself and getting help.  The last thing that I heard in my prayer was that I am God's beloved daughter.  I am His delight.  Anybody who isn't treating me as the unique and special person who I am does not deserve a voice in my life.

So, I am getting cracking on this decorating plan and planning to ask "the girls" over for a little cake and advice.  And I am dancing as I clean this house.  Dancing.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Seven Quick Takes, School's In Edition

Jennifer Fulwiler hosts this carnival of blogs.  Go around and visit the rest.

1. Being back to blogging this week after two months off has been challenging.  Not as challenging as parenting 6 children under the age of nine or anything, but challenging.  I have enjoyed my time off and I enjoy the race that is posting content on the blog.  I have especially missed the quick takes because they record my life and force me to take some photos of the week so that I have something to share.

2. In my bloggy giveaway for the little aqua quilt I experienced an encounter with a hateful Catholic.  I am praying for her.  Basically her comment had something to do with my eminent trip to hell because I followed the present Pope and the Catholic church since Vatican II, which was sinful according to her.  I could be flippant and say her name was Martina Luther, but it wasn't.  I am sure that she sincerely believes the things she said.  I feel so sad for her that she doesn't know the love of Jesus or feel the grace of God's mercy and forgiveness.  We are all sinners.  But, we are not called to judge one another and condemn each other.  Build up the kingdom was what Jesus said.  Build up and not tear down.  Judge not lest you be judged....I will pray for her.

But, the woman who won plans to give the quilt to her daughter.  Her daughter is praying for a husband and a family.  This little quilt will be a tangible sign of hope for the daughter.  God's love is so good.

3. Last week on Friday my husband sent me an email that our son was using our house for an interview for a job in Washington, DC.  We still have a landline and he thought it might be better than a cell for the interview.  I was sort of upset about all of that.  I want my only child to get a better job.  I have family out in Virginia.  My brother works across from the Mall in DC.  But, what if my son moved to DC?  Would he get married?  How would I ever see him?  He is not the type of person who answers my phone calls or emails, and it isn't like I call every day or even every week.  Then when my hubs got home told me that the job was in DC and son might have to travel there some, but he could live here. It was a remote job.  Whew!  Missed that bullet.  But, it awakened me to the idea that he might someday move.

4. I have been trying to run updates on the 300 eight year old laptops (used by 800 11-13 year olds during those hard eight years) that were turned off all summer.  One computer needed 91 updates (took it overnight).  I am one person.  I discovered after several fruitless days that I couldn't do it.  So, I did a presentation at the staff meeting.  I made it funny.  I asked everyone to update 4 computers.  If 60 people each do 4 computers that ought to do it.  That is the trick, make it funny.


5. It has been raining every evening and the grass just keeps growing and growing.  I am not sure when we will have time to mow it again.  When we do, it may require baling.

6. Thursday night was the Area Wide Prayer Meeting at the Rigali Center.  I always get a lot out of praying with those folks.  It is good to praise the Lord!

7. And I am having a new stove delivered tomorrow.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Dear Lord,

This week I am thankful for my job.  I am thankful for all the many parts of it and how exhausted it makes me at night.  I am thankful for the kids.  The ones who love to read and the ones who don't.  I am thankful for all those aging laptops (8 years old and used in a middle school all of those years).  I am thankful for the gift of knowing how to work with them to keep them going.

And thank You, Lord, for helping me to find the magazine I lost.  I am laughing with You over that one.

Your beloved daughter,

Mary

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Blast from the Past

Last spring I received an email from a former student.  I saw him last 20 years ago when I was his third grade teacher.  I remembered him! (Thank You, Jesus.  Because wouldn't it be embarrassing to admit that you didn't remember a former student?)  And in his email he was telling me that I was one of his best teachers mainly because of the writing teaching that I did.  Made my day.  So, I emailed him back.  In a surprising turn of events I discovered that he has gone back to school to become a school librarian and he was surprised to discover that was what I do.  I told him if I could help him out, let me know.

Then I received an email this summer from my principal.  Would I have a student teacher, named this former student.  Well, yes.  But, then I got to thinking.  He is probably taller than I am these days.  I doubt he is the curly haired bespeckled boy I recall, at all.  And then there is me--20 years older, at the end of my career and not the bright young innovator I once was.  So, now I am nervous.  I hope that it works out.  I have always wanted a student teacher.

I have been blessed to have received more than 2 contacts with former students who praised my teaching.  I am sure that I am not the best teacher on the planet and others probably deserve more praise than I do, but it was nice to have received it.  I would guess that if I had any impact it was because I always care for my kids.  I always want to be at least as good a teacher as I would want my own kid to have.  I try to remember that I belong to Christ and to bring that love with me.  I don't always succeed, but I always try.

And I will end this by saying--if you had a really good teacher or your kids had one, a little note or letter, especially one after that teacher no longer has that student, is golden.

The thing about Mom

About 10 years ago my mom had surgery for carpal tunnel on her right hand.  She was supposed to have her left done as soon as that one healed, but she decided that the surgery had not done that much good, so she would skip the left.  I told her to think about that because it wasn't going to get any better.  In the last couple of years Mom has started to complain about the left hand and wanted to get the surgery.  In her 9-s, I really couldn't see that it was wise to have elective surgery, but Mom persisted to the point that her doctor questioned why I wasn't letting her have it done.

So, we agreed to look into it.  It took all summer.  And now the surgery is scheduled for Sept. 15th.  Mom will need help.  Her mind is slipping.  That is the best I can say about it.  She is slipping. I would suspect that we are getting into the category were they might begin to call it Alzheimers.  Or whatever old age senility is called these days.

When we were with the doctor, he said that he did surgery on Monday, Wednesday and sometimes on Friday.  I told him Friday would work best.  But the nurse said that Mom was in such good health that she could only have the surgery at the surgery center and that was only done on Mondays.  On the up side, I could be there Sunday and take her Monday.  On the down side, how many work days was I having to take off?

I like my job.  It is demanding.  I am the only librarian and when I am not there, the library is essentially closed.  This is a school of over 800 students.  And I have things like processing and clean up and such to do.  I have stuff.

I am praying about it.  I know that there will be answers and it all won't be as awful as I think it will.  I need to Let Go of the anxiety and worry I feel and just trust that this will all work out.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Looking on the Bright Side

I ordered a new stove this summer.  The white one that I have is 20 years old, and at least one burner doesn't work properly.  All my other kitchen appliances are black and the range hood is stainless and black, so a stainless and black stove seemed perfect.  Until the new stove wouldn't fit by 1/4 inch.  There is a lip on the cabinet edge that was stopping it.  I sent the one I ordered back.  Then I had the adventure of getting my money back.  That was in July.

Since then we had the handymen move the cabinet a quarter of an inch.  It appears that perhaps the floor settled a bit over the years and that is why the new stove wouldn't fit.  In the way of things, the stoves had gone back up in price and so I didn't get one right away.

This weekend though, the prices were back down.  It was possible that if we waited, they would get even cheaper, but where is the fun in that?  We stopped by and ordered a new stove on Saturday.  I anticipate this coming Saturday getting a new stove.  It should be very much like the old one except for the color.  I hope all the burners work properly. 

I am trying to think of an appropriate name for this stove.  The old one is Cinders.  Maybe the new one could be Rella.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Go Sit On Your Hands

I took a needed bloggy break this summer.  I hated to do it, but I enjoyed my time off.  I have gained new insights and perspective on my life on-line.  It is great to be back.  Many times this summer I had to say to myself, "Go sit on your hands!"  And I did.  I successfully stayed off of the blog except for the give-away, which was an eye-opener in and of itself.  And my sycamore tutorial blog stats just kept rolling in.

At the time I took the bloggy break it was apparent to me that my niece was not going to ask her parents to be present at her wedding which took place in a Catholic church somewhere in Ohio.  It was heart-breaking and sorrowful in ways I didn't even anticipate.  This is a rip in the fabric of my family.  Someday I hope it will be mended, but the ugly rip will be there.  I find consolation in that sometimes mending is stronger than the original fabric was.  That impending wedding was one reason I abandoned blogging because I was just angry and sad and upset.  These are never good emotions to convey over the world wide web.

This summer I worked on researching family history, specifically the lives and times of my great-grandparents.  I had a lot to say about Kansas and Oklahoma in 1875 and 1876.  Not too much of that fits within the scope of this blog.  I spent an hour most days in the public library reading and researching the Cheyenne Arapaho tribes and the transition to reservation life.  My sister and I are writing a book.  Even if it never gets completed, it was an interesting summer of visiting the past.

After planning to go to the Holy Land for my 60th year and then scaling back to New York City and then abandoning both plans, my husband and I went to Kansas City for a few days.  As a person who loves to travel and is enlivened by travel, it was a sad summer for me.  I need to plan harder and make my dreams come true in the travel department.  It is not just going to happen without more attention from me.

I continue to deal with the problems presented by an elderly mother (93) who lives more than 100 miles north.  I am trying to appreciate the person she is and not focus on the problems, but sometimes that is overwhelming.  She has had a good summer, but the decline of her mind continues. She still drives, still cooks for herself and lives on her own, but has admitted that she forgets to eat or what day it is.  She is having surgery in a couple of weeks (carpal tunnel) and I will be up there for that.  My sister is picking up some of the slack in the doctor visit arena.

There are other things that were happening, that are happening that have contributed to my absence from this blog.  But, I have taken a break and it is over.  I have gotten some perspective.  I can see that if I don't blog everyday, no animals are harmed, no one dies.  I don't even get fired.  So, while I am back, I may occasionally take a day or a week off.  I have missed the blogging.  I have gotten lazy in my mind.  I look forward to sharpening up, to having things to say, to proclaiming the gospel with my life to the best of my ability.