Monday, December 8, 2008


Proverbs 17:22 says, "A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones." This verse came to mind throughout the past week, beginning with an incident at Wal-mart.

I was in the restroom there when a stall door opened, and a little boy and his mom stepped out. The boy (about 3) had a big yellow smiley face sticker on the end of his nose. I couldn't help but smile at him. He acted like it was the most natural thing in the world! Wish I had had my camera!

I've been trying to write more about my years as a teacher, and these two memories popped up:
One hundred years ago teachers did not keep their grades on a computer. Instead, we kept a grade book. When it was grade card time, we had to hand write the grade cards. One particular quarter, the staff was directed to put our students grade cards in their first hour teachers' mail box, as cards would be distributed by them. (As I write this, it makes no sense. Why didn't each teacher hand out her own cards?) Anyway, I had dutifully made a note to remind me to get those names, and at the end of first hour, I walked to the front of the room and said, "I need to get the name of your first hour teacher." The kids burst out laughing, and for a second, I didn't see why. Then I realized what I had done -- and laughed with them.

Apparently, I am always slow on the upbeat: Here's an even more embarrassing moment. Upon returning to school after a couple of sick days, I found a mechanical nut on my desk. I thought nothing more about it until sixth hour, when for some reason, I asked my journalism class, which included three or four football players, "Did any of you lose a nut?" They all burst out laughing --howling, really. They were such a rowdy group anyway, and I was a bit irritated by their behavior. So, I said, "Well, did you or didn't you?" Of course, that set them off even more! Suddenly, I realized why they were laughing! All I can blame it on was that I was about 8 months pregnant.:)

I pray that if your heart is troubled today, God will give you something to lighten it. If your heart is merry, I pray you will share that joy with someone.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Yesterday was my maternal grandma's birthday anniversary. She lived to be 94, and though she's been gone 14 years, I still think of her often.

She taught my sister and me to play Spoons and Old Maid. When she went shopping, she'd always bring us some little something -- a toy, a scarf, or a book. She delighted in her grandchildren, and like a true grandma spoiled us as much as she could.

This time of year I always think about her culinary talents. The kitchen is where she shined. She made everything from scratch -- from lemonade to chocolate cake. She was, in fact, rather famous for her chocolate cake. She took that cake to every pot luck dinner she ever attended. At one point, she decided maybe people were tired of it, so she switched to a different recipe. It wasn't long before others were asking, "Where's Stella's chocolate cake?"

She was always in charge of the pies at Thanksgiving, and while I have her recipes, I can never quite duplicate the taste of these pastries. Part of the problem stems from her measurements: one heaping spoonful of flour. Spoon refers to a serving spoon, and heaping means "not level, but not too much either." She always had just the right amount; just the right touch.

I'll make a pumpkin pie for Thursday, and it will taste good. It just won't be as good as grandma's.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Having a Mary Heart Request

This post is for Debbie, who wanted to know where to read my posts about Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver.

Click here to visit my old blog: marmee's musings and, Debbie, thank you for your encouraging words. I am thrilled that you like my writing and visit here often!

Being Remembered

A few weeks ago a former student found my email address through Google and contacted me. We have been emailing, catching up, and sharing our faith experiences and family pictures.

I've really enjoyed the communication. We're both teachers. We love Franklin, Tennessee, and a local eatery Meridee's Breadbasket. We attended the same college. We both have two boys (though his are much younger than mine). We love reading . . . the list goes on.

Being only ten years older than he, now makes us peers, so when he surprised me with a call yesterday, we just talked and talked! During the conversation, he said, "I remember something about you." Not really knowing what he would say, I wasn't prepared for this:

"You popped your contact out of your eye, put it in your mouth, and then popped it back into your eye! You were diagramming a sentence (which shows how long ago this occurred -- no one diagrams sentences anymore!), but after doing that you lost me. I think you traumatized the whole class!" I have no memory of that moment, but I did wet my contacts that way -- not something I recommend! Anyway, his memory gave me more than a good laugh!

When I was considering retirement, one of my biggest concerns was that I would miss relationships with my students. But one day, within my spirit, God said, "There will be other students." I didn't know those others would include some from long ago coming back into my life, but I'm most grateful!


Thanksgiving approaches, but I keep thinking about Halloween and my granddaughter's Wizard of Oz ensemble: Kara as the scarecrow, Anna as Dorothy, and Lydia as Toto (or TO TO as Kara pronounces (and advises others to) it!

Krista's brainstorm for the costumes began with a pair of hand-me-down ruby slippers, which Anna wants to wear every day. Someone loaned her Dorothy's dress, but then she improvised Kara's outfit, using a pair of maternity pants rolled over at the waist and ankles. With a dark green turtleneck adorned with burlap and raffia and some face makeup, Kara was applauded everywhere she wore the costume (a night at the zoo, library story time, a party, and trick-or-treating) Krista lamented that Lydia's costume wasn't quite accurate, as TOTO, depicted in the movie, was brown, and the ears more resembled a cat's, but I said who cares? Not me! Personally, I thought we needed to find a costume contest to enter!

I spent the weekend with my friend who moved to Kentucky this summer. On Friday night, her school had a Pumpkin Patch in a way I'd never experienced. Vans, SUVs, and trucks parked in the school lot and opened their back doors or tailgates which had been decorated in some appropriate way. Families arrived, and the kids trick or treated from vehicle to vehicle. Inflatables and a concession stand (serving delicious chili) added to the fun.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Six Year Anniversary

Today is the anniversary of Brock's stillbirth. He would be six today-- and maybe he is six in Heaven! (I don't know.)

I think of him often and miss his presence in our family. But more often I think about how God revealed His goodness to me during the long healing process. That revelation has deepened my faith and changed me in ways that would not have happened if Brock had lived.

As my natural self, I would be willing to give up this spiritual profundity, but in my desire to live for my King, I gladly surrender to His sovereignty and will. I do not understand the whys of tragedy, but my experience is living proof of Romans 8:28 "All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose."

Because of Christ's sacrifice on the cross, I have an assurance that I will see Brock again. Do you, dear reader, have the assurance that you will spend the next part of eternity in Heaven? If not, I pray that you would acknowledge your need of a Savior and ask Him to come into your life and justify you before God the Father. Then ask Him to be your Lord, and He will sanctify you to grow in the likeness of Christ.

I made this decision when I was 28, and I have never regretted doing so. It is the most important decision any human has to make.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Word Problem and Essay

On August 16th (Same Song, Tenth Verse), Kathy set a goal to have 100 posts on her blog by October 31. Today is October 24, and Kathy has 84 posts (including this one). How many days does Kathy have to meet her goal. How many posts does she need to write to meet her goal?

Even I, dyslexic with numbers, can figure out this word problem. Kathy has 7 days to post 16 entries.

Let's turn the math question into an essay (more to my liking).

Do you think Kathy will meet her goal? Explain your answer by citing details about Kathy, her schedule, and her writing habits to support your answer.

Kathy is too tired to post 16 times in 7 days. Every day between September 15-30, Kathy's calendar was packed with activities: Writing Project duties (office work, newsletter, and writing retreat), Bible study preparation, Bible study/church/Sunday school attendance, spending a Saturday with an out-of-town friend, going to physical therapy twice a week (for a back problem) and going to the hospital (for heart palpatations caused by stress).

From Oct 7-23, Kathy again found herself coming and going as she continued her Bible study prep, church attendance, and WP office duties. Oct. 10-11 was the writing retreat. Oct.16-18 was joyfully occupied with family when her sister came home. This week she cleaned her house and began painting a bedroom and hallway. October 21 the neighborhood HOA meet at her house.

On October 27, she leaves for Kentucky, which is always packed with nonstop energy of three beautiful granddaughters. (no complaint there!) In fact, none of these are complaints on Kathy's part; her life full, and she has determined to go with the flow when her calendar events collide like a 20 car pile up.

Kathy could meet her goal if she moved some more posts from marmee's musings to here, or she could post twice a day (as she has today). But more importantly, God has been showing Kathy a lot about the pockets of perfectionism that still shadow her thinking (note previous mention of heart palpatations). He's helping her let go of impossible expectations and the dismay she feels when life doesn't go as planned. In short, He's given her permission to give herself permission to fall short of her goal, and to know that doing so is okay.


Since joining Literary Mama, I've communicated with or read about women who began writing when they were children. Since I came to know the writer in me much later in life (though I've saved poems fraught with adolescent angst), these mamas' memories make me wistful.

Then last weekend my sister and I helped my mom and dad clean out an old trunk where my mom revealed a forgotten cache of elementary workbooks she had saved for us. Tucked inside one of mine was a letter I had written in 4th grade. It was obviously an assignment, as I talked about visiting Courage Cove (a place unknown to me).

The letter is unremarkable except for one passage: "I went to Courage Cove this Monday while I was there there was a storm. But rain can't keep me in. I wandered all around the place I went to to Gray's Repair shop. . ." Tucked between two run on (one awkwardly constructed) sentences, I see a glimmer of my writing voice.

That made me happy.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Another Enjoyable Writing reTREAT

The Greater Kansas City Writing Project's 6th Annual Retreat was this past weekend. This year we stayed at the Hyatt Regency at Crown Center.

The elegant suite offered a fantastic view of downtown KC.

The food was delicious! Once again we ate dinner at Milano, an Italian restaurant in Crown Center. Afterward we had cheesecake and coffee in the suite. Each guest had a gift card for Panera for breakfast and/or lunch, and snacks and soft drinks were available all day in the suite.

The 16 participants were enthusiasitc and supportive of one another. In our share-out Saturday evening, we enjoyed a variety of voices, genres, and topics: The Kansas City Star and its connection to World War I, a novel inspired by the Old Testament, the hilarious adventures of using an online dating service in the quest for Mr. Right, a mother and son's journey through Asperger Syndrome, a sonnet about Kansas City, and others.

And the uninterrupted time to write was truly priceless.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Hardy Hibscus

A hardy hibiscus is one that will survive Midwest winters, and they are planted in the ground.

My hibiscus is a potted plant, but I'm so happy that I have nurtured it to live through one winter and two summers! I brought it inside a few weeks ago, and it has bloomed twice since then.

I will say no more, lest I jinx its health, but isn't it pretty?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Speaking of Perfectionism

This was my first post at marmee's musings.

I am a recovering perfectionist.

Sometimes when I say that, people chuckle. I assume they think I'm making a joke -- parodying AA's famous introductory statement: "Hi, I'm Kathy, and I'm an alcoholic." Believe me, perfectionism is no joke.

Some see perfectionism as an admirable quality because they equate it with excellence. However, there is a big difference. People who seek excellence do their best at any given endeavor; they are able to differentiate the finished product from themselves. Their motto is I did my best, and my best is good enough. Perfectionists, on the other hand, see falling short of excellence as a character flaw. They think I should have tried harder; I'm a failure.

So what does this all have to do with strawberries? Well, recently, I was enrolled in a beginner's water color class through a local adult education program. The first night the teacher showed us (among other things) how to use materials such as alcohol, salt, rubber cement, etc., to create certain looks to our paintings. In the second session, he brought some fruit and asked us to create a still life, incorporating one of the techniques he had taught the previous week.

I sketched some strawberries and an apple then dotted the berries with rubber cement, so when I applied the red paint, it would leave white spots. When the red paint was dry, I could then rub off the cement and apply a different color to create the seeds.

The apple was a disaster from the first stroke. I used the wrong brush to get the needed effect, and I applied yellow paint first, which bled into my red, leaving my apple looking more like a peach. So, I abandoned it and turned to the strawberries, which at one point looked pretty good, if I do say so myself. Well, the berries were too pale, and the seeds were too big, but otherwise, they looked pretty good.

Several people, including the instructor, peeked over my shoulder and agreed; the strawberries had turned out pretty well. The class then moved onto a different project -- except for me. I fixated on my strawberries that just looked "pretty good" but not perfect. So. . .

I mixed some more red paint with water and painted over each berry. Now, water color is not like oil paint, which can be painted over and over and over without doing any damage. I turned my pretty red berries into this muddy mess as the seed's yellowish brown color bled into the red color. By the time I was done, they looked like the berries the produce customer would have designated for the compost pile.

Because I am a recovering perfectionist, I was able to separate my self-image from my picture. I did not feel like a moral failure because I ruined my strawberries. Still, I saw my old nemesis raise his ugly head, and I learned another object lesson: leave the strawberries alone.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Marmee and Money

When Jeff's family and I ate at a Mexican restaurant recently, Kara had one thing on her mind: the mini arcade positioned by the front door.

Our booth was on the opposite side of a short partition that divided the dining area from the video games and vending machines. Always propelled by curiosity, Kara kept standing up (and sitting down at her father's direction), so she could survey all the fun things.

After she finished eating and because he could see the games from where he sat, Jeff granted her request to leave the table. While Krista packed the diaper bag, and Jeff filled the leftovers containers, Kara rounded the partition and headed straight to me with one pressing question: "Do you have any money?"

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Perfectionism: A Too Familiar Tune

Once again I find myself in a familiar place: battling perfectionistic thinking. This time it stems from a new job as the assistant to the director of the Greater Kansas City Writing Project. (Katie, the director, refers to me as the assistant director, but I can't quite own that label!)

I love Katie and so many other people I get to work with, and I love the work. More than once in the last several years, I have said being someone's assistant would be fun, and then Katie asked me to take this position for this school year. What a blessing! After (minimal-- I confess -- perhaps my first mistake) prayer, I agreed.

As I settle into a routine, anxiety sits on my chest, much like a 100-pound gorilla. This is old stuff, and I've pulled out every tool God has given me to have victory: reciting scripture, praying, confessing, seeking wise counsel -- yet nothing has changed the fluttery heart and shortness of breath.

Yesterday at Bible Study Fellowship (where we are studying Moses) our teaching leader commented on how Moses 'messed up' when he tried to help a fellow Israelite by murdering an Egyptian. She went on to talk about our 'mess ups' -- in our relationships, in our educational experience, with our children, on the job. And in the middle of her list, God whispered (in my mind) Will you let me be the God of your 'mess ups'? In that simple question, the Holy Spirit revealed that in my fears, I am ultimately saying my mistakes are too big for God to handle. How arrogant of me! I repent and am thankful for a merciful God who forgives.

The question did not have a magical effect by removing every trace of anxiety, but I purpose to go on with God, and I am greatly comforted to know that He promises to never leave me nor forsake me. I'm in good hands.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Second Professional Blessing

In 1983, a group of teachers in the Blue Springs District signed up for a mini-writing class given by the Greater Kansas City Writing Project. We met each Saturday morning for about six weeks. There I was introduced to writing as a process, to 'showing' the reader, and many other techniques that would become a regular part of my writing instruction.

In 1993, I was accepted to attend the Greater Kansas City Writing Project's Summer (Invitational) Institute. It was a rigorous six-weeks, meeting all day, five days a week. We read two texts, journaled about them, drafted and revised three papers, and planned and presented a demonstration on a instructional lesson/activity of our choice. Whew!

Upon completion of the course, the participants become teacher consultants. The summer left me eager to return to my classroom brimming with lots of great ideas, and the desire to continue working with the project. The National Writing Project's philosophy is teachers are the best instructors of other teachers, and teachers should be paid for their expertise, so I was also interested in remaining active in some capacity. Soon after completing the course, I stayed connected to the GKCWP in various ways, but as time passed, I pulled back as I worked on earning my masters and devoted time to my family.

When I retired in 2004, I looked forward to rejoining the Project in some capacity -- I didn't really know what. It so happened that the site had received a grant to participate in Project Outreach Network -- which basically focused on helping teachers and students who live in the urban areas of our site's territory. That led to my being the editor for the project's newsletter. (which I love doing!)

This past spring I was asked to be the assistant to the director during the '08-'09 school year.

I have often said that I would love to be someone's assistant. I like clerical work and enjoy organizing and tending to details. It's fun to see all the work that teacher consultants

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Spaghetti Dinner and Other Blessings

Every Wednesday during the school year, my church serves a hearty meal. Different folks volunteer to cook the main course and side dishes, another team of volunteers bring desserts. The church secretary prepares ingredients for a garden salad - and Wa La! Dinner is served! It's a great time to catch up with people, eat good food, and, for mom (and maybe dad) to breathe a sigh of relief that there's one night with no KP duty.

My favorite Wednesday meal is Raymond Bazley's spaghetti dinner. Ray and his wife Melissa own a restaurant where they are hands-on owners, so the kitchen is a familiar and comfortable place for them. I can't say exactly why I like Raymond's spaghetti so much -- it doesn't have any secret ingredients that I know of. It just "hits my spot" as my friend Jan likes to say.

Tonight was spaghetti night, so I was there -- early -- one of the first in line (and I made it a point to bring my husband a carry out plate since he had to work late.) But tonight's dinner tasted extra special. It was more savory than normal.

You see, Raymond and Melissa were in a terrible accident recently. While on their way home from Ray-Mels, their motorcycle was hit by a car driven by a drunk driver. Ray tried everything he could to get out of the car's path, but like a magnet attracted to a steel beam, the car just kept coming at them.

Both of them suffered major injuries, and Raymond lost one foot. They have spent long days in the hospital and long days at home. Every chore is a major ordeal as they maneuver wheel chairs around the house. Every routine trip in the car requires getting to the car, getting out of the wheelchairs, getting the wheel chairs into the car, getting themselves into the car, etc. I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

So, tonight I celebrate life with them. I thank God for sparing them, for allowing them more time with their family, their restaurant crew, and their friends at church and elsewhere.

Tonight's spaghetti dinner never tasted better, for it was seasoned with a heaping cup of gratitude.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sincerely Yours

Tonight I wrote a rejection letter to someone who submitted an essay to Literary Mama. I hate writing them, and every time I struggle with the wording, to be gracious, honest, and sincere. In fact, I closed with "Sincerely," which brought this (with revisions) post (from my old blog) to mind.

I fall in love with words. Sounds silly, I know, but I do! I love how the English language provides a broad variety of words to express precisely what I want to say. I love the connotation and nuance of them. I like to say words that fill up my mouth or create a gymnastic exercise for my lips and tongue: discombobulated, tumultuous, persnickety.

I also enjoy learning about word etyomology, so a story I read many years ago about sincere captured my attention. It was a charming story of how Greek column makers used the roots sine (without) and cera (wax) to advertised their marble columns. Disreputable carvers hid column flaws by filling them with wax, but a column advertised as sine cera meant the column was pure marble. Over time, the word entered the Greek lexicon and was used to describe other things that were honest, pure, or clean.

Sometime later I bought a tape which included the song "Sincerely Yours," about writing a letter to the Lord. My knowledge of the word's root coupled with my desire to love the Lord with all my heart, mind, and soul, prompted me to make the song's words my life's motto.

But as I close, I see a phrase I took for granted,
And it leaps out as I see it written there.
And as the truth of it begins to become planted,
These two words have now become my heartfelt prayer:
Sincerely yours. Lord, I sign my life to You, sincerely yours.
With a strong and honest wish
To be the best that I can be at what I am,
Without a thought for me.
Lord, teach me how to be Sincerely Yours . . .
1979, Paragon Music/ASCAP

Recently I discovered the Greek reference is most likely not true. Instead, sincere stems from the Latin sincerus, meaning "clean" or "pure,"and cere originates from an Indo-European root ker- "to grow. " The combination creates "pure or honest growth." (TakeOurWord) Ever the romantic, I was disappointed to learn the story about the marble columns is not accurate, but that doesn't deter my interest in sincerity, and it doesn't deter my desire to stand before my Lord pure and clean.

Of course, I can not do that under my own power; I am totally dependent on the shed blood of Christ to cleanse me of sin. Do I still sin? Yes, unfortunately I do, but God looks upon the inner person and sees a heart bent to obedience, a heart sincerely seeking Him. Sin has not mastered me, and that pleases God. For His grace and mercy, I am sincerely grateful.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering September 11

Last November I visited Ground Zero for the 2nd time. Unlike my first visit in 2005, the fence surrounding it was covered in most places, perhaps to keep the construction of the memorial and new buildings somewhat private until the future dedication and reveal.

I especially remember FDNY Firehouse Engine 10 and Ladder 10. The station is right across the street from the former towers, and the crew lost five men during the attacks. The station itself was severely damaged, and the surviving men were split up and sent to different precints until the station was restored.

The first time I was there, the station doors were closed, though I noticed a memorial on the wall commemorating their crew members who died on September 11. I often think of that station, and in November, when the station doors were open, I spoke to one of the men on duty, telling him about my father-in-law, who was a fireman and a fiercely patriotic American, and how I was certain, had he been living in 2001, he would have gone to New York to help with recovery and clean-up.

The station sells t-shirts to raise money for a college fund that benefits children who lost their fathers on that infamous day, so I bought one for my husband to show my support (though it seemed a pittance) of the Enginehouse 10 crew and the thousands of people who lives were personally changed. They are nameless to me, but I know they are not to God, and that is why today I pray for them.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Professional Blessing

In November, 2005, while looking for a quote with a gardening/writing metaphor, I came across a website called Literary Mama. Posted above the linked text was a call for a copy editor.

Dated June, 2005, I thought the position had surely been filled but inquired anyway. To my surprise and good fortune, the position was still open, and the editors sent me a text to edit in way of an interview. That was a little nerve-wracking because I had perused the site and saw how many of the literary mamas held doctorates, had published books, and taught at the college level. It seemed their expertise dwarfed my secondary level teaching experience and my masters plus 40 hours (which moved me to the top of the pay scale -- I've never had an inkling to get my Phd.)

Still, my participation in a long-distance writing course with The Institute of Children's Literature (where Bill Wagner, a former editor of Jack and Jill , was my mentor) and my years as advisor to Blue Springs South's literary magazine had honed my editing skills, so I stepped out in faith, attached my edited file to an email, and hit 'send.'

Now almost three years later, Literary Mama has grown to an international staff of 35 women, and I am currently a co-editor of the Literary Reflections deparment. It is an awesome experience to work with such an accomplished, supportive group of women, and to have met and worked with many talented writers who submit work to the site or have become linked through online classes. This coming February many Mamas plan to attend the AWP Conference in Chicago for a first LM reunion. I am so anxious to see them face to face and give them each a hug (or a handshake for those not so touchy-feely ones).

My life has been enriched by our association, and I'm grateful for the serendipitious moment that linked me to the LM site. What a professional blessing!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Being Marmee

I just returned from a trip to to see my son's family -- most specifically my three granddaughters!

Only Kara accompanied her dad to the airport to pick me up, but she wanted me to sit in the backseat by her car seat, well not exactly next to her, because ever particular, she wanted the box of books between us. I read two books on the way home.

Upon entering the apartment, Anna, up from her nap, greeted me with a hug, and as I picked up Lydia to say hello, I suddenly wished I had three arms and three laps, as Kara and Anna pressed against us vying for attention.

Then it was off to the bedroom to find a game to play: Memory with Disney characters, being the first choice. Spreading the cards out of on the floor, Kara flung a few at Anna, with a disengaged "Here, Anna, these are yours!" (to keep her from disturbing the "real" game we would play). Memory was quickly followed by round of Feed the Kitty. (Where this time Kara tossed a few mice at Anna for the same reason she flung the Memory cards!) That was followed by Where's the Button, a round of Hi-Ho Cherry O, more reading and chalk art.

At that point, I had been at the apartment almost three hours -- loving every minute of it!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Grammar Lesson

One of the drawbacks to being an English teacher is that people think I grade their emails or even their conversations. I assure them I do not carry a red pen in my pocket, and now that I have officially left public education, I mention that I've retired the pen. I never want to embarrass someone by pointing out a grammatical mistake, nor do I want people to avoid writing me or talking to me for fear I will judge their grammar! I've seen enough of my own mechanical errors to remain humble.

Having said all that (and truly meaning it!) I am about to risk my reputation by addressing the misuse of I and me. It drives me so nuts I am compelled to blog about it! (Also, I have to write for 10 minutes,)

In elementary school, teachers correct children's "Me and my sister went to the store," by restating it correctly: "My sister and I." By the time that child reaches high school, he/she has morphed that correction into a new rule: "Don't use me."

Thus, we have sentences like this one: My friend gave movie tickets to my wife and I. or She called my wife and I. Would you say, "My friend gave a gift to I?" or "She called I?" Of course not!

So, without boring you with definitions of prepositional phrases, direct objects, and nominative/objective case, I encourage anyone who reads this simply to restate the sentence by using only I or me.

Me and my wife went to the movie. = I went to the movie.
My friend gave movie tickets to my wife and I. = My friend gave movie tickets to me.
She called my wife and I. = She called me.

There! Now I feel better!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Same Song -- Tenth Verse

I've been working with a young writer through email these past few months. I LOVE our exchange but she is frustrated by what she sees as her slow progress in turning that writer's corner -- you know the one if you are a writer -- it looks differently for each individual.

For her, right now, it is delving into a creative nonfiction piece, fleshing out the description of her family dynamics, using details to evoke an emotional response from the reader.

For me, it involves writing an interesting short story. Or creating a poem that is framed in the abstract more than the concrete -- its text calling for a wide range of interpretations. Or a humorous creative nonfiction.

Anyway, in encouraging her this evening, I typed the words just write, and I once again reminded that I need to take my own advice.

It is so easy to read Literary Mama submissions or a piece from my writing group and make suggestions to them for revision. It is quite another to sit down and write something of my own.

So, world (or at least to the five people who read my blog) I am committing to writing for at least 10 minutes a day. If I end up writing longer, fine, but 10 minutes is a sensible guideline, considering how I am an all-or-nothing type of thinker. I might post that writing here; I might not. I have also set a goal to have 100 blog posts by Halloween. Having begun this blog in January, '07, I have a grand total of 69 posts. My friend Daphne, who began her blog five months after I did, celebrated her 100th post exactly one year later. I'm slow, but now I'm determined!

I am going to write! Someone please hold me accountable! :)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

55 Things Meme

I came across this meme at Caroline's blog. Memes are great for generating ideas and getting to know friends better (Even long-time friends I see every week -- it's amazing the things we still don't know about each other!) I tag anyone who wants to explore through a meme.

1. Spell my name as it sounds: (I'm going with my last name here because it is often butchered.)
muh (rhymes with "duh") ran Most people stumble over it because it looks so much like moron, and they seem hestitant to offend me -- except for immature students who through the years have accidentally on purpose pronounced it incorrectly!

2. Am I a worrier? Sometimes, but not usually. When I'm worried about something, I pray.

3. What’s my favorite CD? I don't have one.

4. Favorite colour(s)? Pink!

5. Does my home have an attic? Yes, we have a pull-down door in our garage. I, however, have never been in our attic. My husband stores business-related items there. I would love to browse thorough an attic filled with someone's wonderful things.

6. Have I ever been to Canada? Yes, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Banff.

7. Have I ever gone fishing? Yes. When I was a child, my Grandpa and Grandma Fizer (maternal side) took my sister and me fishing many times. I never caught anything worth keeping, unlike my grandma who could put the hook in the water and snag a fish within seconds. I graduated from a pole to a reel and loved the motion of flicking back and releasing the line.

8. Have I ever seen a celebrity? Yes. American Idol 2008 David Cook

9. Have I ever been on a motorcycle? Yes. My husband (then boyfriend) and I took a sorority sister's out for a spin one afternoon.

10. How much money do I have on me right now? In my purse, I have about $40.

11. How many cars have I owned? Eight -- 2 Plymouths, 1 Ford Probe, 1 Datsun, 1 Nissan, 1 Cutlass, 2 Chevrolet Monte Carlos (one of which I have now)

12. How many jobs have I had? I have had 5 positions: unit secretary (at the nurses' station in a hospital, toll booth attendant (on the bridge over the St. John River in Jacksonville, Florida), librarian, teacher (in 4 different school districts) and teacher consultant.

13. How tall am I? 5'5"

14. Last person to call me: Katie, director of the Greater Kansas City Writing Project

15. Last thing I yelled out loud: "Jim, I made oatmeal!"

16. Last person I was in a car with: my husband

17. Last time I ate at McDonald’s: about two weeks ago -- I had a craving for their french fries.

18. Last thing I bought: some groceries, mostly fruit

19. Last person I saw: Jim on his way out to run errands

20. Last time I cried: This week when discussing sexual abuse with some friends (a heavy conversation).

21. Last time I laughed: This morning with Jim

22. What is the temperature outside? 71F. Wow! What a nice respite from triple digits!

23. What time of the day did I get married? evening

24. What did I do two nights ago? Rode along with Jim when he made a business-related delivery.

25. Who’s birthday is coming up next? Mine, acutally, September 5

26. What time did I go to bed last night? 12:30.

27. What was the first thing I thought this morning? "What time is it?"

28. What are my plans for this weekend? Attend a wedding this afternoon, go to church, go to my husband's end-of-the-year baseball-team picnic

29. Lemonade or iced tea? Either -- only if the lemonade is homemade, not something from a powdered mix.

30. What do I dislike at this moment? My body -- too pudgy.

31. What did I dream about last night? I can't remember exactly -- something related to teaching

32. What’s the last TV show I watched? Sex and City -- in reruns on TNT

33. What is my favorite piece of jewelry? A necklace with a big synthetic pink stone

34. Am I a dancer? in my kitchen Actually, Jim and I like to swing dance, but we seldom have a chance to dance.

35. Have I ever cut my own hair? All the time!

36. What is my favorite treat? Brownies with icing and nuts sprinkled on top

37. How many piercings/tattoos do I have? Pierced ears.

38. Where’s my favorite place to be? home or any quiet cafe with my friends Dottie and Betty Jo (Their company is comfortable, yet reviving!)

39. Is there someone I haven’t seen in a while and miss? Yes, my friend Betty Jo moved to Kentucky

40. Who was the last text I sent to? Patrick, about a week ago. I don't remember what wrote -- the process is such a slow one!

41. Do I care what strangers think about me? not really -- but probably sometimes

42. Last person I talked to on Instant Messenger: Jeff, over a year ago. When re-installing programs after a computer crash, I never got around to Yahoo! Instant Messenger. We have Skype now and use it more.

43. Last person to make me cry: something I saw on TV

44. Who can I tell anything to? God

45. What am I doing tomorrow? See #28 above.

46. Do I have alcohol in my home? Wine and whiskey -- the wine is for dinner parties (which I seldom have) the whiskey is from Ireland and the Jack Daniels distillery in Tennessee; the bottles have not been opened.

47. Do I like ketchup? Sure -- always with french fries

48. Do I think I will be on a vacation this summer? This summer my only vacation was traveling to Shelbyville, Tennessee, with my husband's baseball team. The women spent one afternoon in Franklin, one of my favorite places, eating lunch at Merridee's Breadbasket on the Franklin Square -- I highly recommend it!

49. What colour is my master bathroom? beige walls, white porcelian, sage green and pink accessories

50. Do I wear a bikini at the beach? not since I was in college!

51. Have I ever been to the Grand Canyon? Yes

52. What is my favorite fruit? I love all fruit -- except mango

53. What did I really want to do today? Same as Caroline! Sleep in. Stay in bed a long time after I woke up, reading. (It's a cool, cloudy day!)

54. Am I always cold? Not always, but often. I carry a jacket wherever I go, just in case.

55. Does it annoy me when someone says they’ll call or text, but don’t? Only if their call/text was about something I needed to know in regard to setting an appointment, finishing an article, etc.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Stranger in the Night

Recently I traveled with my husband's baseball team (He coaches 17 and 18 year olds.) to Tennessee for a tournament. We arrived in Nashville in the afternoon and spent our first evening at the Wild Horse Saloon (which sounds like a terrible place to take a group of adolsecents!) a popular tourist destination with a huge dance floor, performance stage, line-dance lessons, and lots of good food -- really a family atmosphere.

At the end of the night while waiting for our groups' cars to pick us up, another coach's wife and I noticed this young man who was dressed in gangsta style (baggy shorts, basketball jersey, lots of bling bling, shaved hair) who had Jesus in a crown of thorns tattooed on the back of his head and another tattoo on the top of his head that we couldn't see. He was smoking a cigarette and talking non-stop to the saloon's security guard who was politely nodding and smiling.

I couldn't take my eyes off that tattoo and became so curious, I had to talk to him. So, I (little Miss Priss, straight-as-an-arr0w conservative) interrupted the one-sided conversation and asked him why he had that Jesus tattoo. He told me he was a Christian and then revealed the outside of his arms which were tattooed with "Amazing Grace."

He was pretty amazed that I had been bold enough to approach him and even more surprised when I told him that I was also a Christian. Then he asked me a question "Do you think it is okay not to attend church?" I could tell from his tone and expression that mainstream congregations (who look like me) had probably hurt him, but I didn't have time to answer, as my ride pulled to the curb. I really wanted to finish our conversation and was tempted to ask the driver of the van to cruise around the block a couple of times. But not wanting to be inconsiderate, I, instead, asked him if he had a business card. He didn't, and I didn't, so I hugged him goodbye. He thanked me for talking to him and expressed how encouraged he was by my friendliness.

I have thought about him several times and expressed regret to friends at home that I now have no way to reach him. BUT they have reminded me that God has a way -- so I pray that any wounds he may have suffered at the hands of Christians who were perhaps self-righteous and judgmental will be softened by the happy memory of our chance encounter.

Still, I would really like to talk to him again because I forgot to ask him about the tattoo on the top of his head!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Lydia Suzanne

It has been a month since Lydia Suzanne made her appearance at 2 a.m. on May 30th. Dark complected with lots of dark hair, she looks like her big sisters, especially Kara.

Jeff and Krista have always thought carefully about choosing their children's names. Lydia is mentioned in Acts 16:14-15 as a woman whose heart was opened when Paul shared the good news of Jesus Christ. She was baptized and invited Paul and his fellow travelers to stay in her home while they were in Thyatira.

Suzanne is Krista's and her mother's middle name, and as Kara has my mother's and my middle name of Jean, I love that the tradition has been carried on for Krista's side of the family.

We are so blessed to have three beautiful granddaughters and look forward to getting to know Lydia!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

David Cook Comes Home

American Idol contestant David Cook's homecoming last Friday turned out to be one of the most memorable of my life. I reveled in my students successes and triumphs while I was teaching, but seeing David achieve his dream on a national level has given me immeasurable joy!

I haven't seen David since he was a sophomore or junior in college, though I have thought of him from time to time (as I do many of my students), wondering how his band (whose other members were also my students) was doing. Being David's teacher was a privilege and joy -- He was a solid, responsible student -- quite personable and tremendously talented. American Idol aside, David is a student I will never forget.

Part of Friday's enjoyment was seeing the culmination of all the excitement and buzz his AI success has brought to Blue Springs. Tuesdays nights a local bar and grill has held watch parties for about the last six weeks. It is a noisy crowd until our hometown boy performs, and the judges critique him. The place erupts in cheers after David sings and more cheers or boos follow, depending on what the judges have to say. At 8:00, cell phones flipped open, we begin voting. (Once I'm home, I use my cell phone and our house phone to get in as many votes as possible! My husband used the word possessed!)

On Wednesdays, conversations at the grocery store, the doctor's office, the beauty shop center on David's performance and how many times a person voted. People of all ages sport David Cook t-shirts, which draw remarks and questions: "Do you vote?" "Are you related to David?" "Look, Mom, a David Cook shirt!" Even wearing my shirt while out of town last weekend solicited comments: "He's my favorite!" "I vote for him every week." "I hope he wins!"

The local Fox channel followed David with cameras all day. He was stunned by the crowd that gathered in downtown Kansas City for a mini-concert, but he was emotionally overwhelmed at the 10,000+ fans who welcomed him home during a parade and another mini-concert at Blue Springs South High School's football stadium.

These past weeks I've prayed for David, for as fun as this is, he's also been thrust into the limelight and a celebrity culture that offers many temptations and few guidelines on how to handle them. His older brother is ill with cancer, and for David to be away from home right now offers its own challenges. I've prayed for his family as they deal with the excitement of David's success and the battle against Adam's cancer. I've prayed that someone will help David stay grounded and humble, but at the same time, he will enjoy this great opportunity.

Listening to him on television and in person reassured me; he is still the David I loved like a son. Asked to sing the National Anthem at the Royals' game Friday evening, he declined when he learned that doing so would bump a middle school choir's opportunity to perform the song. Asked what was the best gift he'd received in the past weeks, David said it was a letter and picture from an elementary teacher who uses video of his performances in lessons for her special needs students. She sent a picture of her students who had written "give back" on their palms, following David's example during a performance to remind the audience to donate to "Idol Gives Back." That he could be a motivation to these students humbled him.

He shook hands, gave hugs, posed for pictures, and signed autographs, humbly thanking all those who support him, acknowledging "I 'owe you guys the world.'" AI planned a surprise visit to David's elementary music teacher's classroom. The kids crowded around him as he spread his arms and welcomed them all to draw closer.

It was a picture in Saturday's paper of David and Mrs. Gentry in a heartfelt embrace that evoked the strongest emotion of all. I don't know Mrs. Gentry, but as a teacher, I know how satisfying and rewarding it is to see a student succeed and to be acknowledged and remembered by a student, by someone who has become a star -- an American Idol -- well, that just topped off the whole experience.

Pictures from

Monday, May 5, 2008

Button, Button, Who Has the Button?

With one small, pink button, Kara and I enjoyed hours of entertainment during my visit in April.

First, we played "I Spy." One of us hid the button while the other one closed her eyes. Then as we moved about the room, the hider would direct us with hints: "You're very cold." told the seeker to move to another part of the room. "You're getting warm." let us know we were headed in the right direction. "You're hot!" tipped us off to exactly where the button was!

We tried to play "Button, Button, Who Has the Button" with Mama and Daddy, but they could only play a few rounds of passing (or not) from person to person before becoming occupied with making dinner or changing a diaper, so Kara and I devised our own version.

We would put the button behind our backs and place the button inside a closed fist. Then placing our closed hands in front of us, we waited while the other guessed which hand had the button. If guessed correctly, the guesser earned a point. If we fooled the other, the button holder earned a point.

Even though I observed, Kara almost always placed the button in her left hand, and she almost always guessed the button was in my right hand, she somehow beat me 11 games to 1. Every guess was accompanied with a giggle and the repeated question, "How many points do I have now?"

I'm so thankful for the joy found in simple things, of making memories, of being Marmee.

Friday, May 2, 2008

6 Things Meme

Caroline tagged me for a meme, which I always enjoy doing.

Here are the meme rules:
1. link to the person who tagged you.
2. post the rules.
3. write six things about yourself.
4. tag six people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
5. Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their sites.
6. Let your tagger know when your entry is up.

Following Caroline's line of thinking. . . Six things on my mind today.

1. I don't like change, and in the coming weeks, I will be facing a lot of it! At the end of June, a dear, long-time friend is moving to Kentucky; my pastor and his wife are moving to a different church almost in Missouri's boot heel (seven hours away); and a colleague/friend from the writing project is moving to California! BUT one good change is the addition of a granddaughter to our family at the end of May -- I pray for her safe delivery.

2. Identity theft: ABC news is running a series on this topic, and I'm about ready to close every online account, cut up my credit cards, and find a identity protection service. The reason for my paranoia is that several months ago I received a phishing email that looked like it was from Pay Pal, and I stupidly replied to it, providing some personal information. Also, recently, I received a writing submission that came to my personal address, and the sender's contact info was sketchy, so I did not answer it. I feel like my identity has been compromised. It creeps me out!

3. David Cook, one of the top four contestants on American Idol, was my student in creative writing and American literature. He also played baseball for my husband's American Legion summer team. It has been so fun to watch him succeed on AI and have his dream come true. I get mad at Simon and people on community boards who label him as arrogant. He's one of the most talented and amiable people I know! More on him later!

4. My husband is mowing the lawn right now on a riding lawn mower he bought for me! Isn't he sweet? You see, I like to mow the lawn, but I can't use a walking mower because it aggravates problems in my neck and shoulders. Our new home has a bigger yard, which justifies a riding mower. The problem? I have not used it once! I always have some excuse -- this is the summer though -- I'll report back when it happens.

5. Here's another thing I have procrastinated doing: painting some iron wagon wheels that are set into the ground by our front porch. They need painting -- just ask my mother -- she tells me that every time she and Dad come over. In 2005, I told her I'd have them painted by the end of the year . . . It's always too windy, too cold, too hot, too wet, too something . . . Here's a picture. You can't see the chipped paint and rust because of the snow.

6. I look like a Weeble! Twenty pounds has settled around my stomach and my hips! It is not a pretty picture, but I'm dedicated to lose this weight in the next few months. More on that later! Here's a picture of a Weeble in case you are too young to remember the '60s.

I tag Joyce.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

What Punctuation Mark Are You?

I am always looking for fun grammar ideas, so when I found this quiz at Fertile Ground, I could not resist taking it!

"You are elegant, understated, and sublte in your communication. You're very smart (and you know it), but you don't often showcase your brillance. Instead, you carefully construtct your arguments, ideas, and theories until they are bulletproof. You see your words as an expression of yourself, and you are careful not to waste them. Your friends see you as enlightened, logical, and shrewd. (But what you're saying often goes right over their heads.) You excel in the Arts. You get along best with the colon.

What Punctuation Mark Are You?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

It Is Finished

According to John's account of the resurrection, Mary Magdalene told Peter and John the tomb was empty. They, then, ran to see for themselves. John 20:6b-7 says, "He (Peter) saw the strips of linen as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus' head. The cloth was folded by itself, separate from the linen."

In a Beth Moore Bible study several years ago, I learned that during Jesus' time, it was customary for a carpenter to fold his work cloth and leave it on the finished piece, so the one who had hired him would know the work was finished.

Did Peter remember Jesus' last words on the cross? "It is finished." (John 19:30)

If so, this folded cloth would have sent them a clear message, and it provides a clear message for us today. Jesus is everything we need Him to be because He has done all He needs to do for us.

Happy Resurrection Day!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Lost Glove -- Lost Sheep

I have a bad habit of putting my gloves in my lap after the car warms. When I get out of the car, the gloves drop onto the ground unnoticed. Sometimes I'm fortunate to find them on the ground by my car when I return to it. Other times, not so lucky --

I lost a pair of leather gloves in Milwaukee at an NCTE convention. My sister had driven from Chicago to have dinner with me and my friends, and upon returning to the hotel, she dropped us off at the door. In a hurry to say our goodbyes, I did not miss my gloves until the next morning.

Another time Jim dropped me off at home before going on to an appointment. When he returned, the car lights illuminated one glove. I was so distressed about the missing glove --black leather with fur trim, a Christmas gift from a student who had no idea I had just lost a pair --that Jim retraced his drive and found it in the gutter of a nearby street. Apparently, it had landed on his Explorer's running board and fell off when he turned the corner. It was wet and cold, but I tenderly "nursed" it back to its original condition, and I still have the pair.

This week I lost another leather glove while out running errands. (I never lose the Big Lots-three-pair-for-$1 kind!) It was 7:00 p.m. when I noticed. What a disappointment, especially since I've been remembering to lay the gloves in the passenger seat or to put them back on before I get out of the car.

I had been all over the city -- Brookside on Kansas City's southside and several places closer to home. Tired and late in getting to my parents' house, I decided to take the time to return to my parking spots at a gas station, the church, and my chiropractor's office. No glove! A trip to Brookside was out of the question, so I resigned myself to the fact that I was gloveless once again. Then as I turned my car to head out of the last lot, my eye fell upon my missing glove. Instead of falling from my lap, it had fallen from my pocket when I retrieved my car keys upon leaving the office. I was soooo happy -- so relieved!

I thought of this glove while reading Matthew 18:12-14. Jesus, talking about how precious children are to God, speaks of a sheperd who will leave ninety-nine sheep on a hill to seek one lost sheep. If he finds it, "he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off."

As happy as I was to find that glove, God's happiness in having a person come to Him through the love of His Son is infinitely greater than my delight. I'm grateful that He uses the common things of life to remind me of His unending compassion.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

In Honor of the Lunar Eclipse

To walk outside and discover moonlight fills the sky always fills me with serendipity, as if God says, "I have something for you!" And I, as though I have never seen the moon before, look up and smile in rapt wonder.

When I was a little girl, one October evening, squeezed between my mom and my grandma in the front seat of a car, I watched a gargantuan golden orb rise over the skyline. I don't think the moon could have possible have been as large as I remember it.

Flying into New Orleans above a cloud cover, I saw a full moon reflected on the clouds, creating a light show that rivaled the twinkling city lights of the Big Easy as we descended.

Driving to Louisville one evening, I watched the moon and the clouds play a celestial game of musical chairs, creating the most awesome study of light and shadow. I video taped some footage. (That, unfortunately, was accidentally erased.) From KC to Louisville is about a 7.5 hour drive -- sometimes boring -- but that night the time zoomed past.

One winter evening, a full moon shone upon the frozen water of Blue Springs Lake, casting everything in silver. A man-made lake, the east portion of it has dead trees rising above the water, which cast eerie shadows upon the silvery frost.

Nestled just so along the tree line, a new moon was barely visible in the darkening dusk, but at its bottom was the slenderest sliver of orange.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Time Flies

I have not posted here for almost a month. I was so full of ideas back in January -- felt like I had something to say everyday -- sometimes more than one thing to say.

Then life happened: substituting high school English/Spanish (¡OlĂ©!) for two weeks, finishing a newsletter, dealing with a crashed hard drive. (Both mine, and my computer's!) I am so out of condition to put in an eight-hour day, to be on my feet ninety percent of that time, to keep up with the flurry of activity that surrounds teenagers.

I taught an American Romantic unit, covering some of my favorites: Thoreau, Longfellow, and Whitman. Spanish classes watched cultural videos, preparing for a language arts fair project. Fortunately, the Spanish teacher next door had a student teacher who helped the students check their workbook assignments. All went well, and I enjoyed the students.

Still, Thursday morning, I heard those long-familiar, poetic words: "Snow Day!" I have never appreciated a day off so much!

A month later, the newspaper has gone to the printer, and the hard drives in question have been restored. Here's hoping the blogging ideas begin rolling in.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

For Buddy

Today my husband and I went to the funeral of a former student who lives in a community about an hour south of Kansas City. He was one of our favorites, but time has slipped past us, often at break-neck speeds, and it has been years since Jim or I had seen or spoken with him.

I was sorrowed when I heard the news but unprepared for the grief I felt when I arrived at the funeral home. He was a young man -- only 46 -- with two grown sons and grandchildren. Way too young to die.

Seeing his sisters (whom we also taught) and other former students brought a flood of memories: Friday night football games, taco parties on Super Bowl Sundays, taking the freshman class to Worlds of Fun, Jim's driving a school bus to Colorado on the senior trip, working on the school newspaper.

Jim and I left the school district and moved to Kansas City after Buddy's senior year. We kept in touch regularly at first, but then job demands and our children's activities kept us busy, drawing us away from these special people who had been such a big part of our lives.

The last time I saw Buddy was at a football game in a Kansas City suburb. I don't remember why we were there or what teams were playing, but I do remember a tap on the shoulder, and I turned around to see a bald-headed man grinning from ear to ear. For a moment it didn't register, then I recognized the once curly-headed boy I'd known was standing before me. I cried, "Buddy!" and gave him the biggest hug.

I wish he had been there today, so I could have hugged him one last time.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Rest of the Story

In several posts lately, I have mentioned my grandson's stillbirth, but I have been remiss in not telling "the rest of the story."

Brock would have been five this past November, and I often think of him, but God has been good to me and has blessed me in many ways:
  • with a strong support group at my church and former school and across the world through my online writing class and Literary Mama
  • with two beautiful granddaughters who have given my whole family great pleasure
  • with a sweet, generous husband who loves and supports me and works hard to provide for his family
  • with two handsome sons who have become responsible, personable young men
  • with a wonderful daughter-in-law whom I love and value greatly
  • with the greatest sister in the whole world Oh! How we laugh!
  • with my parents who have enjoyed longevity of life and reasonably good health
  • with Jesus who is my Lord, Savior, and Friend
  • with His Word to comfort and guide me.
Though life can be hard, God is always good. So, I just want to set the record straight. I am at peace and filled with joy.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Full of Smiles

Recently my colleague and dear friend Michael described me as being "full of smiles." I do love to laugh, and since my last few posts have been on the sober side, I thought to lighten things up, which led me to think of my niece's November wedding.

Beth is an amazing young woman, and she married a great guy Brian Bell. I love their alliterative names so much I wrote their first and last names on their Christmas gift tags!

The wedding and the reception were both elegant and lovely. Tiny white lights woven through ficus trees made the reception room twinkle with the magic of a fairy tale.

Here is my favorite video clip from the weekend! While the quality is not the best, it's good enough to remind me why I'm full of smiles.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Writing Ironies

This week my essay A Kite in November about my grandson's stillbirth is among the writings featured as Literary Mama's 2007 Favorites.

When it was posted in November, a friend complimented me, saying, "You must be proud." I was pleased to be published at a website like LM because I know the staff's integrity and expectations of excellence. But proud -- no -- that does not describe how I feel.

Even now, to be included as a favorite, I don't feel proud. I am touched that my colleagues think highly of my piece. These are writers who have PhD. after their names. They have published books! They have agents! These women give me something to aspire to, as writers, mothers, and women, and while I am proud to be associated with such a fine organization, recognition for this particular writing evoked a different emotion.

If I had written about something less intense, some circumstance with a happy ending, I image the elation and euphoria of being published would have me smiling for days. But there is an entirely different feeling related to this. This experience called to be written to offer hope to others, to give a voice to the sorrow, to experience the catharsis, to honor my grandson and his parents.

While I'm glad to be recognized, I know that to write deeply, we write of our losses, yet we'd most gladly escape the losses that provide opportunity to write deeply.

There in lies the irony of writing.

New Year, New Look

I love pink. It makes me happy, and being one of my most flattering colors, it makes me look happy. Sometimes I have considered making it my signature color -- become the next Carolina Herrera -- make pink the new black. (Except I think someone else thought of that a couple of seasons ago.)
Creating this blog, I chose a template that reflected my love of pink. I was never completely happy with it, but hey -- it was pink! No matter it was loud -- maybe even startling! It began to remind me of Pepto Bismol. Not exactly what the product a writer cares to be associated with.
So, with a new year, I've created a new look. A soft, calming green.
I hope it doesn't put anyone to . . . ZZZZ.
Postscript: Since making these changes, Blogspot has developed more template choices. Thus, I have returned to my favorite pink! Hopefully, in a tone more pleasing the PB.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

The Christmas following my grandson's stillbirth was a difficult one -- I could not concentrate during sermons, Sunday school lessons, department meetings, or any group gathering. Everyone sounded like the teacher in Charlie Brown cartoons: "Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah." But music cut through the cloud that enveloped me, and in that, I came to regard "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" as my favorite carol.

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
"Peace on the earth, goodwill to men
From heaven's all gracious King!"
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.

O ye beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.

Through the lyrics, I sensed God's call to rest and marveled at His gracious provision of words I could hear -- words that offered compassion and mercy, warmth and sympathy, kindness and encouragement.

Now during Christmas, I look forward to singing this carol that reminds me of God's faithfulness, and I pray that those whose forms bend low beneath life's crushing blows will also find comfort in its message.