Since May 3rd, thanks to a new accountability partner, I have dragged myself out of bed every weekday morning before 5 a.m. to tackle some distance on the “dreadmill”.
Well, I’ve done it every morning except one.
Last Thursday, I received a call from Colton’s school nurse to inform me he hurt his arm/wrist while playing on the playground. After a trip to the doctor and an x-ray, it was determined all was fine, but it still hurt which caused him to have a restless night. Because Colton and I were up and down, the dog didn’t sleep well and between trips to put Colton back in bed and give him Tylenol, I was also shoving Rico out the door to take care of business. Overall, it wasn’t a restful night, so sometime after 3:00 a.m. I reset my alarm clock and gave myself permission to sleep a little later than usual.
Perfectly acceptable, right? Not in my mind, apparently. Instead of focusing on the many miles I’ve logged lately and that I can even feel a bit of a difference in the way my pants fit, I can’t seem to forgive myself for the day I skipped.
Why? Why do I do that? Why do women everywhere do that? (I’m not saying men don’t ever feel defeated or useless, but it seems to be a more significant problem for women.)
Recently, I saw a video online from the Dove Beauty Campaign showing how tough women can be on themselves. A forensic artist drew women from their own descriptions and then from the descriptions of their friends. The differences in the drawings are astonishing. Take a look here:
Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Philippians 2:13 says, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
Why, when God’s word tells me I’m worthy, useful, and wonderful, do I believe the negative voices that weasel their way inside my head and my heart? I don’t know the answer, but I know I’m not alone. Why do we waste so much time in our lives without confidence, filled with anxiety?
Do you know a beautiful, productive, essential woman who beats herself up regularly? I’m sure you do. Today, take the time to tell her what you see in her. Maybe the reflection from your eyes will fill her heart for a moment and brighten her day.
Here are some of the many amazing women I’ll be celebrating this weekend…
My mom is, of course, who will be on my mind and in my heart the most this weekend. I’m looking forward to late June when I will be able to spend some long overdue time with her. Last year, I wrote about what an incredible woman she is (This Sunday, Mum’s the Word), and every word still holds true today.
These lovely ladies with me (love the hair a few decades ago) are my grands. Grandma Louise, Fred’s mom; Nonnie, mom’s mom; and Grandmother, Daddy’s mom.
Suzy (on the left) enjoyed a little more than a decade with my Daddy before he died. You can read more about this inspiring lady in my post Why Divorce Can be a Blessing. She’s pictured here with her sister, Kit, and her adopted daughter, Willa Kate.
Suzy and Kit’s mom, Kitty, who passed away last summer, was also a wonderful woman, a true Southern belle. I know Mother’s Day will be hard for them this year, their first without their mom. I pray they spend Sunday dwelling on their good memories.
My mother-in-law, Pauline Barrick, is such a blessing. She always takes time to help out when our schedules are chaotic (which is all the time!) by picking up kids, babysitting, running errands, feeding us, etc.
All of Fred’s girls…Mom and all my sisters – Annie, me, Lucy, Liz, and Lauren.
Mark’s sister Julie and sister-in-law Karen.
With my mom as the one of seven kids and my dad as one of four, I have been blessed with an abundance of love from many aunts as well who have been influential women in my life.
My mom with all her sibs including the three sisters – Linda, Sandy, and Deb.
Uncle Rick with Aunt Pam.
Uncle David with Aunt Pam.
Uncle Bobby with Judy, who will be greatly missed this Mother’s Day as she is always.
Aunt Jackie, Daddy’s sister, loved and missed every day.
Aunt Sandy, Kevin’s wife, and her beautiful kids.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the strong, inspirational women I know. Thanks for blessing my life the way you do.
Recently I sat through an hour or so of Colton’s ball practice. It is his first year in the minors of Little League. He has worked himself up from T-ball, through machine pitch, and now faces his peers from the pitcher’s mound. His practices have occurred on Wednesday nights, so I haven’t attended many because I’m usually with the youth group at church, but that one evening I sat and watched as they took turns batting.
For an hour, I didn’t hear one word of encouragement or support from the boys to their teammates. Not a “Good catch” or “Awesome hit” from any of them. The few comments I did hear were taunting and obnoxious when someone made a mistake. It made me extremely sad, and I wondered how they would ever win a game when they obviously weren’t feeling any team spirit.
If you work with others to accomplish an end result – in a sport, at work, with family, at church – you are part of a team. Collaboration succeeds when every member applies their strengths to the task and willingly allows others to complete the parts in his or her areas of weaknesses. It’s difficult to come up with a team that has members who works seamlessly together because humans are imperfect, and there are so many potential problems to overcome.
1) Not everyone pulls his or her weight. Although this can certainly affect adults, I often see it happen in my classroom. Some students translate “group project” into “my turn to sit back and watch” and then they expect to get the same grade as the group members who have poured themselves into the project. Obviously, this problem can lead to frustration and anger by the members who are doing the work. When I see this happening, I remind the group they will be graded based on the amount of work they contribute to hopefully nudge the sluggish member into action. If that doesn’t work, I pass out the Peer Review cards then instead of waiting until the project is complete to let them evaluate the other members of their team. Some teens understand that being interdependent is a great way to accomplish large tasks, but some are so focused on gaining their future independence (from parents, teachers, whoever), they can’t see the positive aspects of teamwork.
2) A member with leadership skills is too selfish to lead. Some people are born leaders. Others learn to be. Whether it is inherent or a learned skill, these members of a team must be willing to lead the other members. If they have the “knowledge is power so I’m not sharing it with you” mentality, the team will never succeed. Anyone who becomes part of a team has to check their ego at the door or their skills and abilities are wasted. This type of teammate sometimes has a tendency to dwell in the past. He is so busy telling everyone all he has accomplished previously, patting himself on the back, that nothing can get done in the present and it eliminates any hope for the future.
I see this problem on Colton’s team. There are many boys on the team who have been playing in the minors for 2 or 3 years now, and they should be helping the younger boys learn. I don’t think this is happening but not necessarily because of selfishness. The boys are young and maybe don’t see themselves as leaders, but they could be if they were encouraged to help the new players.
3) A member who says “that’s not my job”. I don’t think I hear many comments that grate on my nerves more than that one. I realize I’m a person who has trouble saying “no” and my busy schedule attests to that, so some people may think I should say it more often. However, I don’t think when you’re part of a team you can refuse any aspect of the job if someone needs assistance. Even if roles are assigned at the beginning of a project, team members can’t be glued to their job description. Too many unforeseen needs can appear, and someone must address them or the whole team will fail.
I think there is a vast difference between saying “no” to being part of something and saying “no” to a required task once you are already a team member. I agree I need to say “no” to some of many roles I take on in life, but I pray I never become someone who says “no” instead of finishing a task when I’ve committed myself to a successful outcome.
4) Everyone tries his or her best, but there’s no feeling of unity. I see this as a problem with Colton’s team. I’m certainly not qualified to tell the coaches how to do their job, but I tried to subtly suggest to an assistant coach that the boys don’t sound like much of a team when they are out on the field. I appreciated it when he called out, “Get behind your pitcher boys! Let’s hear some chatter!” The boys didn’t respond with much enthusiasm, but it is hard to expect any because they won’t have team spirit until they feel like a team.
Have you ever seen the movie Remember the Titans? What a classic. Now that coach knew how to build team spirit. Obviously, I don’t want Colton dragged out of bed for a many-mile run that ends at Gettysburg for an inspirational speech, but something has to draw those kids together before they will show each other support and encouragement. Colton probably didn’t even know some of those older boys at the beginning of the season. Were they introduced? Did they find out anything about each other? Do they know if they share any interests off the ball field? I realize the focus is the game, learning the skills, and improving, but there are so many life lessons to be learned right along with baseball. I keep praying Colton has a chance to learn them.
Colton and I have talked a lot about his team in the last week or so. Mark and I are encouraging him to listen carefully to his coaches and to learn from watching the older boys even if they don’t offer help. I’m also trying to get him to start some upbeat, positive chatter from his right-field position and from the dugout, but I can tell he isn’t too comfortable with that. He’s trying to fly under the radar, not make mistakes, and avoid calling attention to himself in any way that might bring on ridicule. How sad is that?
Recently, I planned to begin a new novel unit with my students, which always leads to a question:
What should we read?
Many people probably think it’s not a big deal, choosing a novel. Just pick one, right? There are so many available even when you narrow it down to books appropriate for my eighth grade students. It should be simple to pick something that would interest the majority of the students. (I’m not naive enough to think I’ll ever interest all of them.)
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Every year I have to consider what my students’ lives entail. While some students might benefit from reading about someone else sharing their problems, others might feel overwhelmed having to face such personal issues in the school setting. It’s a fine line to tiptoe, wanting to take advantage of literature without causing distress for my students.
A novel that focuses on the theme of survival from abuse or neglect? Some years I can’t teach it because of the level of abuse a current student may have endured.
A teenage character whose father is an alcoholic? Maybe not a good choice.
Murder? I’ve even had to make my decision based on that.
Suicide? Always a touchy subject for this age.
In addition to the emotional issues, I have to weigh the religious, racial, and political climate of my students and their families. Will a parent feel as if I’m trying to shove my beliefs down their child’s throat if I teach a novel with Christian characters? They might though I doubt if we read something with Jewish characters anyone would think I’m trying to convert the kids to Judaism.
The factors to consider are endless. The novel I’m currently teaching was a last-minute choice based on a conversation I had with the guidance counselor. A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer was not a good choice for this year, so we’re reading I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier instead. (If someone in my class is in witness protection, there is no way for me to be aware of it, so I’m hoping it’s a safe choice.)
Obviously, trying to choose which novel to read pales in comparison to the horrifying situations in my students’ lives. I hate that I have to consider issues such as abuse and suicide. I repeatedly count my blessings and those of my whole family knowing what these young adults deal with every day. I pray they can all rise above the trauma in their lives and find success (along with a love of reading!) in my classroom and beyond.
This past week has been full of tragedy and sadness for our whole nation and for my community. Of course, everyone is aware of the devastating events in Boston. The explosions at the marathon shocked the world, and everyone mourns the lives lost and the future of a sport which will never be the same.
The Boston disaster hit close to home for the community where I teach. A teacher from the high school ran the marathon, and his wife teaches in the classroom next door to mine. I realize there were people all over the world trying to contact their loved ones, and it was the same for her. Although fear held her in its grip for a while, she soon was able to verify his safety. A collective sigh of relief echoed through the schools in our division as the news spread, and prayers of thanksgiving were sent heavenward.
After the Boston bombing and the explosion at the fertilizer plant in Texas, I couldn’t help think What else is going to happen? It always happens in threes, right?
I’m not sure if there was a “three” for the rest of the world, but for the county of Mathews where I live, tragedy struck again on Saturday morning when a high school senior was killed in a car accident. It has been almost a year since that class lost another student to suicide. (see Do They Know You Love Them?)
Obviously, this loss of life affected the students deeply. That evening, prom was scheduled, and the absence of their peer hit the students hard. It’s almost impossible to reconcile flowers, fancy up-dos, tuxedoes, and gowns with the death of a friend. How do you dance with that cloud of sadness hanging so low over the dance floor? How do you laugh and enjoy your date knowing your friend will never date again? How do you look forward to graduation knowing there will be a void in the procession where each of those peers should have been walking?
Autumn cried Saturday morning when she heard the news, trying to wrap her mind around the “why” of it all. While I know she enjoyed the prom, her heart was burdened with the loss of her friend. Looking at the pictures, her smile, hair, and gown were gorgeous, as were all the pictures I’ve viewed of others going to the event, but I know many struggled with the guilt of “going on with life” when someone they cared for was not.
In response to the sadness that is blanketing our county this afternoon as Deanna’s funeral takes place, I again ask as I did last year, do they know you love them? Do your children know? Is there any question in their minds? Do family members know how much you love them? Do your friends realize how special they are to you? Tell them. Right away.
And in memory of Deanna, please always wear your seat belt.
Last year, my blog Why Divorce Can be a Blessing focused on how my parents’ divorce blessed me with numerous people who have supported and loved me throughout my life. One of those people was my Grandma Louise, and yesterday would’ve been her birthday so she has woven her way through many of my thoughts since yesterday morning.
Gram and Grandpa moved from Utah to live with us soon after my mom and Fred married. An addition was added to the house to accommodate their arrival. It wasn’t really an addition; it was a whole house added on which made it a duplex of sorts. They lived in the house that had existed previously, and we lived in the new part, which was attached by the garage.
I followed that path through the garage countless times. Gram and I spent an enormous amount of time together. She loved soap operas, and I would hide out at her house during the afternoons watching with her. It was scandalously fun, and sometimes it was a great way to avoid chores. The bowls of orange slices sitting around – the sugar-coated, chewy candy that sticks in your teeth, not the healthy fruit – lured me in as well.
I’ll always remember Gram for her marigolds. She planted them in the flowerbeds lining her front porch and fertilized them with horse manure from the barn. They were the tallest marigolds I’ve ever seen. That manure was powerful fertilizer!
When I got my driver’s license, Gram and I would escape on adventures to the mall or to Mexican restaurants occasionally. She was one of my best friends during my teen years, and I’ll always treasure the time I spent with her.
One of my best memories includes Gram, Nonnie, and Grandmother (Fred’s mom, my mom’s mom, and my dad’s mom) going to a KC Royal’s baseball game with me. Grandmother was a die-hard Royals fan who spent most of her summer evenings in front of the television watching her beloved team. Nonnie and Gram enjoyed going to the game for the social time, and Gram always liked having a cold beer and a hot dog at the park. I went to numerous Royals games during my childhood, but that game was probably the most entertaining ever.
Happy Birthday, Gram! I miss you and love you!
This weekend, we will be attending Easter services at church before running home to throw suitcases in the car and heading to the airport.
We’re going to Disney!
The trip has been planned since before Christmas, so the anticipation has been both exciting and excruciating. For Mark and the kids, this will be their first visit to the Magic Kingdom. I can’t wait to spend Spring Break with them in such an amazing place.
Of course, I’m certain the amazing place has changed a lot since I’ve been there. When I was ten years old living in Missouri, my dad moved to Florida. For the next eight or so years, my sister and I spent a month every summer with him, and we always went to Disney. In my generous moments, I feel extremely lucky because of this. In my selfish moments, I wonder if it was part of a guilt offering for living so far away.
Was I a fortunate kid to spend that many summers in Florida with a visit to Disney thrown in for good measure? Absolutely. As an adult whose father passed away in 2001, do I wish I could trade those days at Disney for more time with Daddy? Definitely. For many years, I only saw Daddy during the summer visits and when he came to Missouri at Christmastime. It just wasn’t enough. And because of that, I sort of have a bittersweet outlook toward Mickey, Minnie, and all that they represent.
Don’t get me wrong. I have great memories of our time at Disney, and I hate that I have these stirrings of antagonism when I think of it, so next week will be about changing those feelings for good. I plan to relive my old visits with Daddy while creating new memories with Mark and the kids.
I looked through some old pictures trying to find some from my childhood Disney visits, but instead I came across this one of my sister Lauren and me at The Farm. Last year, I blogged about The Farm (What Churns Up Your Memories?), but when I re-read it today, I noticed I didn’t mention the Easter egg hunts. I can’t even begin to explain all the incredible hiding places at The Farm. The yard itself boasted many trees with trunks full of nooks and crannies perfect for concealing eggs, not to mention the many barns and other outbuildings where they could be hidden.
Of course, we always went to church and knew the reason for the holiday. It’s confusing for kids sometimes when they are taught about Jesus but want the excitement of the bunny and the glorious basket of candy. I see that in Colton now. Although we went to the egg hunt at church last Sunday afternoon and he came home with a full basket, he spent the morning in church where tears in his eyes proved to me that he knows the real story. A video depicted Easter from the perspective of the thief hanging with Christ on Calvary, and by the time it was over, Colton was working hard to swipe away the tears with his sleeve. He was baptized a few weeks ago, and I’ve wondered if he truly understood his profession of faith. Seeing those tears eliminated any doubt in my mind.
This is probably the most rambling blog I’ve ever written, but there are a lot of emotions, thoughts, and ideas muddled in my mind about this weekend and next week. I needed to get them out, even if they tumbled forth in a messy pile. If you’ve read this far, thanks for your perseverance!
Have a happy Easter, everyone. The Lord is Risen. He is King. We are blessed.
I like icing. To be honest, I love icing and maybe even lust for it. I’m one of those people who swipes her finger around the edge of the cake plate to get any sugary swirls left behind. My husband usually scrapes most of the icing from his cake. I reach for it immediately before he can do something unthinkable such as throwing it away. (Should be illegal!) I usually eat the cake first and save the icing. You know, the best for the last.
I rarely buy lunch from the cafeteria. Not necessarily because it’s cafeteria food (and all that implies) but because it’s less expensive to bring lunch from home. Occasionally, if I’m running late in the morning or my leftovers aren’t very tempting, I’ll crash the line in the “café” and grab a tray.
Recently when I did this, they were serving cake. Bonus! I stared at it while I ate the rest of the daily offerings. Once I started eating dessert, being careful to avoid the icing, it dawned on me it was really good cake. Exceptionally good. Each bite a delicious experience. Would the icing be better than this yummy cake? How could it possibly be? But you know what? It was. Even when I was eating a fantastic piece of cake, the best was yet to come.
It reminded me that in my brightest hours, when all my blessings are apparent and I feel overwhelmed with joy and abundance, something better, something beyond my wildest dreams, is still waiting for me. Eternity in Heaven will beat even the very best times on earth. No question about it…it’ll be the icing on the cake!
Reposted from March 2012