You are amazing because so many of you are taking a chance on giving up a bit of your day by checking out my blog. I sincerely hope and pray that you find something to chuckle about, maybe something to think about, perhaps a 'Huh! I didn't know that!" tidbit, or just a "DAAAHHHH!" moment. Whatever it is, I hope it brings you a little pleasure, because just the click of your mouse, knowing you're at least looking, brings a great deal to me. For those folks who are stopping by on a regular basis, special appreciation for your faithfulness. And a blessed thank you to my dear friend LuAnn who shared this photo she caught recently with me (was it ok for me to share it?).
SCRIPTURE: John 10:14-15 New American Standard Bible (NASB)14 I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
There seems to be a variety of proposals about whether the nails, or spikes, that were used at Jesus's crucifixion went through his hands or wrists. The length of the nails is speculated upon based on archaeological finds of the era in the region. So many debates and questions about the "facts". Isn't the really important takeaway that Jesus chose a horrible death on earth so that each one of us can have glorious life with him in heaven?
19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
A few years ago, our family was blessed to be able to visit my Aunt Anna in Jacksonville, Florida for Thanksgiving. Our family has traveled a bit, and thankfully we all seem to have learned a few helpful lessons along the way. For example, if it's important or you may need it in the next 24 hours, PUT IT IN THE CARRY ON.
I always take my Bible in the carry on. I have several, but use one. It's the one Mrs. Barbara Ready gave me in Sunday School when we moved to a new church in a new town when I was starting 4th grade. Don't even guess at the math, suffice it to say my Bible is also old enough to have grandchildren. Anyway, it's just a typical church issue Revised Standard Version with navy fabric over a cardboard cover. Probably 25 years ago, after having pitifully glued and taped the covers, I absconded with a nice quilted book cover we had given Mary a couple of years earlier (horrible example of Mom giveth and Mom taketh away). By the time of our Thanksgiving trip, Tom was pretty embarrassed when I carried my sad looking Bible to church, reminding me that I had other better looking ones, which incidentally had the same Scriptures. He didn't understand why this particular Bible was so special.
BACKSTORY: When I was a freshman in high school and chose to take following Jesus seriously, this was the only Bible I had. And so, its real journey began. Bookmarks for Bible studies, freshly underlined verses (almost heresy to my ultra-conservative parents), and eventually tokens of life. I still remember the first verse (besides John 3:16) I underlined and memorized: Matthew 7:7. The tokens became life markers. There was small photo of Mary and my niece, Sarah, decorating the church for Mary's wedding. Mama's obituary, printed on colored paper and laminated from the funeral home (because that made the loss seem less, right?). Touching notes from students. My dilapidated, but much loved Bible gave me life and held my life, or so I thought.
Back to our Jacksonville trip. Aunt Anna was downsizing, seriously downsizing, and there were some personal treasures she wanted to pass on, like irreplaceable family photos. Truthfully, I don't remember what else she wanted to give me that I thought was important enough to displace my Bible in my carry on. With misgivings, but loving Aunt Anna, I hesitantly put my Bible in the American Tourister pullman she had given us the year before.
Tired and with a three hour drive back to northeast Missouri ahead of us, we arrived at Mid-Continent International airport the day before we all had to return to work and school. After multiple spins of the luggage carousel and more patience than we felt, I had to notify the airlines that my bag was missing. No problem, they have a process. No problem? Don't you people realize what's in that bag? No problem! Thank goodness, for Tom, because I was not looking or sounding like a positive Christian role model. Seriously? What an oxymoron I was, throwing a fit because someone lost my Bible.
The airline agent assured us they would locate my bag and have it sent asap to our home in northeast Missouri, but it may take a few days. Oh, and by the way, here's the insurance paperwork just in case it's not found. Great!
After days of grieving like I'd lost my best friend, the UPS man showed up at my school. One of the secretaries (whose present was also in the lost bag) was excited to let me know my suitcase had arrived. But it wasn't my bag! Both the secretary and the UPS man said to check the contents just to make sure (not because I'm a crazy woman who obviously wouldn't recognize her own teal-colored American Tourister pullman, but because there are other crazies who think it's funny to switch contents). Reluctantly, I opened the very dirty, beat up suitcase. Are you kidding me? One broken down running shoe, two nasty socks, and an empty beer bottle! AND the delivery man seemed compelled to ask me if those were my belongings! Are you kidding me? To make it even more ridiculous, my very petite secretary thought she had to stand between me (what's the opposite of petite?) and the man to keep me from going after him. More great role modeling, right? Oh, and did I mention I happened to be the building principal at the time? Oh yeah, girl here was totally off the chain, as my homies used to say.
SIDENOTE: If it wasn't for some of Mary's other traits and physical attributes, I would think she must be somebody else's child. Waaaayyyy too often, she has been far wiser than her years and her mother. This was one of those times. Sitting in the kitchen in the dark, crying all over the phone to her about my lost Bible, Mary reminded me that it was a book, just a book. The contents were embedded in my heart forever and no one could take them away from me.
BTW, God took pity on his very shallow and shaky child and returned my Bible, along with the suitcase and other contents. It has accompanied me on several subsequent trips since taking a little hiatus, but always travels in the carry on.
So, what's in your suitcase? What is it you don't think you can function without? What if you had to?
When you are grateful - when you can see what you have - you unlock blessings to flow in your life.
Last week I was at the mall to have my new glasses adjusted, again. What a pain, right? All I wanted was to have them sit on my face without hurting, and oh, maybe let me see what I need to see without giving me a headache. I really didn't think that was too much to ask as I came into the mall and began walking in my swift (I'm in a hurry and have something important to do, so don't get in my way or slow me down) mall pace. As soon as I turned the corner I saw them.
I noticed the boy first because he seemed to be wearing a bright red and yellow knee sock on his right leg. Ok, maybe a new fad for pre-adolescent boys. No big deal. When he stopped by the railing and looked around, I noticed the woman and little girl, maybe 7 or 8 years old, holding hands as they walked in front of me (obviously, a little too focused on Lenscrafters to notice people just feet away). I looked at him, then at their backs again. It wasn't a sock on the boy's leg, it was a prosthesis. Three things struck me in short order: the smile and patience on the boy's face as he waited for his mom and sister, how cool the design on his prosthesis was, and that he didn't seem self-conscious about wearing it.
While the boy waited patiently for mom and sis to catch up, I looked at them a little closer. The girl had red hair. It wasn't until she walked away from her mom, then turned to look back at her that I realized she seemed to be wearing a wig. When she began to walk back to her mom, her gait was halting and she held her arms out like a high wire walker trying to maintain balance. Mom and brother served as bookends ready to come to her assistance, but still allowing her enough freedom to maneuver independently as long as possible.
Being a kid-person, I didn't direct my attention to the mom until after watching the interactions with the kids. That's when I saw her arm. I'd seen that arm before, my 8th grade math teacher, a boy in my son's kindergarten class, a very dear colleague. Slightly smaller, slightly errant, mom brought her right arm back to her side before reaching out to her daughter with her left arm.
In watching this brief and tender exchange, my pace and my errand paled in comparison. It brought to mind an anecdote from Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People about the importance of paradigms and paradigm shifts. In less than a minute, I shifted from my pitifully small errand to wanting to hug this woman and tell her that I thought she was so brave. Brave to personally have a physical challenge and still have a child. Even braver to have one disabled child, and still accept the risk and consequences of giving birth to another child. And yet there they were, happy, connected, and definitely not seeming to be looking for any pity.
I did get my glasses adjusted, moving slower now, paying more attention to what was going on around me. Leaving the optometrist's, I spotted mom sitting on a bench outside Build-a-Bear, gently rubbing her right arm while she watched her children in the store. In the store, brother was standing nearby while little sister looked and carefully touched a bear or two. As I watched, the brother seemed to make eye contact with the clerk by his sister, who seemed to get his message.
Still having places to go, things to do, and people to see, I only lingered at this poignant scene for a minute, long enough to make eye contact and smile at the mom. How feeble! ME, not them!
Okay, I'm not a total idiot when it comes to being sensitive or aware of special needs. Good grief, the only paper I remember writing at William Jewell was the one about how Franklin D. Roosevelt's disability obviously did not interfere with his effectiveness as our nation's only four term President. I've done workshops at local, regional and state conferences about the importance of considerations when interacting with children having special needs of any kind. I opened those workshops by telling about a family Christmas gathering of folks I love who live with deafness, blindness, orthopedic issues, asthma, FAS, Down Syndrome, plus a few others. And yet, I had the presumption to make assumptions about a family at the mall. How arrogant!
I'm so thankful that the Lord loves us so much that He keeps teaching and reminding us of powerful lessons in the most unexpected places. If my vision is to reach out and minister to at-risk children, then it's imperative that my heart, my mind, eyes and ears stay sensitive to all children (and adults, too), and the challenges that affect their lives.
What has touched your heart recently in your world? What was your response?
The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.
My mom's youngest brother, JD, lived with our family for a short while after their mother died. Diagnosed in infancy with mental retardation as a result of Down Syndrome, my grandmother was determined JD would function as a normal child as much as possible, despite the warnings and discouragement of the doctor. JD was six when he came to live with us, and I was two. Being the youngest child in the home, JD called me "Baby". The last time I saw him as an adult, married and with children, JD still called me Baby. His role in my life had a tremendous impact on my vocation, and devotion to children with challenges.
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 119: 105
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
Do you remember near the beginning of the "Wizard of Oz" when Dorothy is asking how to get to Emerald City? Fortunately for Dorothy, she has Glinda and the Munchkins to tell her to follow the Yellow Brick Road. 'Course with the big red and yellow spiral brightly painted on the pavement, I'm wondering if Dorothy was color blind. On the other hand, when double-checking, I didn't notice any signposts in the scene. Does that sound familiar? Either too many folks telling you which way to go, or no signposts at all.
The great American poet, Robert Frost, in his poem "The Road Not Taken" echos Dorothy angst about going in the right direction. Sometimes it's harder to know which is scarier, standing still, not knowing which direction to go, or going in the wrong direction, just ask the Scarecrow. In Psalm 119, the writer tells us how to know which way to go. Still, where in the "Word" can we find the answers we are searching for? Even the most studious Bible scholars can get stumped trying to use the Word to discern direction.
I'm not claiming to be the most studious Bible scholar, not even close. What I do know is my shortcomings do not dictate God's actions, or His interventions into our lives when we seek Him with our whole hearts ("for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust", Psalm 103: 114). Sometimes our choices are distinctly marked and we can see at least a little down the road. Other times, the distance to the destination may be clearly indicated, but there seem to be twists and turns along the way. Let's face it, folks, either way the decision of which way to go can be a challenge, especially with the major decisions like which college to attend, whether to get married now or later, which white top to wear today. You know, the really big stuff.
Launching into this new journey of writing, Tom and I have lots of decisions to make. It could be overwhelming, but so far it doesn't seem to be. Retiring from public education is a life-changing event, and in my state, there's basically no going back once you file the papers. But, like I shared with Mary recently, when I seem to be getting the same message from multiple sources in a short amount of time, it usually means God wants me to pay close attention. (Can we go with that, since thinking God may think I'm a little dense doesn't sound very flattering to my delicate ego?)
In the last month, nearly every preacher I have listened to, live and via media, have all said basically the same thing: God doesn't typically talk to us in an audible voice, skywriting, magic billboards, or anything else that flamboyant. One of my favorite preachers, Joyce Meyer, says "you know that you know that you". Creflo Dollar said it's knowing in your gut that it's something you just have to do. Even the devotional I'm reading now, Opening the Doors to Your God-Sized Dream by Holley Gerth, and many of the Scriptures in my personal Bible study have said the same thing the psalmist tells us:
The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.
When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.
This past week, as I was working on and researching for a blog post, a new opportunity presented itself. I researched the opportunity, maybe a little more for Tom than for me, then prayed, and waited for that scary feeling in my stomach and for my head to explode. But guess what? That's right, it didn't happen! Let me tell you, for this gal, that's a huge step! Once again, the Lord has shown His everlasting patience with me as He's tried every which way to drill it into my heart and head that trust is a two way street with Him. The more trust I put in Him, the more He puts in me. Is that amazing, or what?
Anyway, instead of taking two weeks, talking a decision to death, and more often that I would like to admit, letting an opportunity slip through our fingers, Tom and I had one quiet conversation and were both confident about forging ahead. (BTW, it's a huge step for hubby, too!) I am content to have taken a leap of faith, trusting the Lord will walk with us on the path, and knowing He "is the One who holds (our) hand(s)."
Committing to a publisher and submitting my manuscript are no guarantees of success, and there may be days when trusting Lord gets a little shaky for me. Those days will be a good time to go back to the Word, to be reassured by Proverbs 3:5-6 (Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.). Or return to one of my favorite passages in Psalm 91 (Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. v. 14-15) Believe me, I'm preaching to me, not to you. I need all the reminders I can get. You should see the Scriptures taped to my bathroom mirror to help me keep my heart and mind on the right path.
Are you rocking back on your heels, or feel like your toes are hanging over the edge as you ponder which direction to go? What helps you discern the Lord's will on matters large and small? What advice would you give the Scarecrow about decision-making?
excerpt from THE ROAD NOT TAKEN by Robert Frost
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Dear Blog Friends,
This is a special thank you, for a couple of reasons. Thanks to you, the number of folks joining us here has tripled in David's Daughter's first 6 weeks! That is totally you, and I appreciate it more than you can imagine.
But here's the big reason for my gratitude today: thanks to your encouragement (which was as simple as a click of your mouse), I submitted my first manuscript today. I am so excited! Xulon Press has been wonderfully supportive and we hope to have Life with Bobby and Bonnie (Tales from the Hood through the Eyes of the Wood) available in bookstores and online by Christmas.
It's all you! Stay tuned for updates:)
SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 24 - 25a
24 and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another...
I love writing this blog! I love writing it for you, yes you! The one who stumbled onto David's Daughter by accident, and is not sure you want to hang around. Perhaps one of my friends who's hoping I get this particular crazy out of my system soon. (BTW Friends, thanks for actively listening as I've shared my aspirations in publications.) Maybe you're a family member who's checking to see if I've blasphemed you in a post. Whatever reason you have for being here, I'm glad you made it!
Recently I had a couple of job interviews for a well-known greeting card company. In each interview I was asked what I could bring to the table. Without even hesitating, I responded that I really enjoy hearing people's stories, and I do! Whenever I meet someone new, there's a list of questions I can't wait for an opportune moment to ask. One of the first things that's fun to me is discovering if the acquaintance and I have anyone or anyplace in common. You know, the six degrees to Kevin Bacon thing.
What do you want to know first about someone you are introduced to? What's the first thing you want to share with them? Are you like me and try to wait at least 3 minutes before whipping out the phone to show off pix of the grandkids? (Have you heard the term "mommyJack"? It's me! Always looking for a way to turn a conversation into one about my kids or granddaughters.) Have you done something really cool lately that you've been hoping to have chance to talk to someone new about it? Maybe you're a movie buff and are looking for a Siskel to go with your Ebert. Are you a sports fan and size people up by their favorite teams? What's at the intersection for you and possibly a new friend?
As an educator in an urban school district, probably the most important teaching strategy I used, like most of my colleagues, was helping students make connections (aka build schema). If you're a Letterman or Conan or Oprah fan, you've seen them do the same thing, ask their guests questions until they find something in common (of course, hosts and guests may have scripts, or at least a bio for the host). My hope is that by sharing a little about me, we will find a place, an interest, or maybe a belief that will be the intersection where we can meet.
Back to Kevin Bacon. Isn't he just the cutest thing! Not to mention talented. Is there anyone out there who remembers one of his earliest roles on the daytime soap opera, Guiding Light? Everybody's got to start somewhere, right? To me, those stories can be the most fun and the most inspirational.
So, come on folks! I'm still learning about this whole blogging adventure, but I think the "Comments" button is hot. One of the things about social media that can be advantageous is that we can choose to be basically anonymous, which can be liberating for the reticent (Sounds smart, doesn't it? Heard in while watching Music Man last weekend.), or just plain chicken among us. I'd love to hear what's on your mind, which is only fair since you've been so gracious by "listening" to what's on mine.
Is there a story, yours or someone else's, you'd like to share? Will you meet me at the intersection of Kevin Bacon and Your Story?
My belief is that communication is the best way to create strong relationships.
Jada Pinkett Smith
It's probably time I've given kudos to someone who has played an important part in encouraging me to write for children, as we've share our stories. For the last several years, I have been very blessed by my school administrator, Rhonda. Because we were peer colleagues prior to becoming supervisor/subordinate, it was easy for Rhonda and I to share our stories with each other. As we have worked together to provide children with the best education possible, we have laughed and cried together (and yes, during one pivotal conversation, I'm embarrassed to say there was a little yelling on my part). Sometimes our emotional cups ran over in response to our personal lives. Other times the laughter and tears were emotional safeguards for working in a very frequently challenging environment. Rhonda was the first person I shared my vision for writing, and she has continued to encourage me, even through our tears over my decision to retire. Thank you, Rhonda, for not just encouraging, but giving me a big dose of courage to do what I am called to do.
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When I was pregnant with our older daughter, my BFF, Chip, gave me a package that included new mommy gadgets and a stuffed rabbit. Mary loved the rabbit, second only to Teddy (bear), who still resides with her. Anyway, unknowingly at the time, “Bunny”, an adorable, lovable character, had gotten stuck in the dark recesses of my brain.
Flash forward several years. The kids are in college. I’ve finally finished my degree and started a career in education. Once in a while, when writing a card or letter, I remembered how much I’d always enjoyed writing. Quietly, two little characters begin to develop, twin bunnies, Bonnie and Bobby. They happily scamper around in my brain, in there but not intrusive.
Flash forward a few more years. In October, 2007, our lives were amazingly changed with the very early entrance of our granddaughter, Annalyn, into our family of readers. Since her Mommy had always been an avid reader, it wasn’t surprising that Annalyn understood the wonder of books at an early age. That’s when it happened. Stories and rhymes began racing through my mind. I had no choice: I had to start capturing my prose and poetry on paper. Media being the incredible tool it is, it was easy to embed pictures of Annalyn into her stories. And she loved them! When I gave Annalyn a book of her stories for her 4th birthday, other family members read them and seemed to enjoy them as well.
Okay, rewind just a little. We’ve moved into a home with an enclosed back porch, which I love. We are cat people, house cat people (please see the ABOUT tab, to take a look at our two youngest children, Magellan and Maisie). Come to find out, the suburb we live in has a cat leash law. No problem for M & M. Then while sitting on the back porch, I start to notice “woodland creatures”, as our son calls them, playing in the backyard. Apparently since cats are not on the prowl, woodland creatures are. One day, I spied a couple of rabbits having a grand ole time. There they were, Bonnie and Bobby Bunny, living in my backyard!
Recap: bunny baby gift, loved writing, bunny characters show up, granddaughter is born, “Annalyn books", rabbits in the backyard. Now the stories that were demanding a voice starred a couple of bunnies instead of a little girl. The little girl still played an important role as I thought about what kind of stories I would like for her to read and enjoy. As an educator, I recognized the importance of engagement in literature. If the reader struggles to be engaged with the story, any message or lesson will be lost. The challenge continues to be to create stories that deliberately invite the reader in and make her comfortable enough to be receptive to the lesson.
As charming as I think Bonnie and Bobby Bunny are, in light of my personal vision for writing (see July 1 post, "What's Cooking?"), I think the Lord has had His hand on their stories all along. Their stories seem to have a life of their own. Teachers sometimes instruct students to try and visualize a "movie" of the story they are reading in their minds to help them comprehend it. One prayer over my writing for children is to give them a movie that draws them in. Using animals as the main characters will hopefully make them universal, so the focus stays on the lessons they are learning. Besides, bunnies are not exactly threatening, and are indigenous to many areas, which tends to make them familiar and friendly to children.
Sadly, one talent I do not seem to be gifted with is illustration. For each of the stories, the appearance and actions of the characters are crystal clear in my brain. For a while I was a little worried about not having illustrations to match the text, but no longer. I figure if I am obedient in capturing the Bunnys' life lessons, through a kid-friendly Christian lens, when the time is right, the Lord will provide an artist who will see Bonnie and Bobby as clearly as I do. I can't wait.
I hope you will join the Bunnys and me on our journey of discovery and sharing. They have already taught me a lot about writing, about life, and about leading a yielded life in Christ. Perhaps they have something to share with you. They are waiting to ask, "What's up, Doc?"
What have you been willing to open up and share with others lately?
There's nothing like the very early arrival of a child to prove that great big love can come in very small packages.
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For at least 30 years, nearly every Thanksgiving my mother-in-law was up by 5:00 a.m. in order to have the turkey in the oven so Thanksgiving dinner was ready promptly at noon. Long before Stephen Covey gave us 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, my mother-in-law understood the principle of Habit 2: Start with the End in Mind.
Hi, my name is Alice. A Way with Words is about sharing faith,
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