Saturday Surprises

I came out to check on the kittens that have taken up residence in our bushes to find that some of them are not there. I may have caught the mama in the middle of moving them. 

I hope not. They are so sweet.

  
As my sons and I were sitting here enjoying the breeze and the kittens, we began to hear the sounds of a mariachi band floating through the neighborhood – not a normal occurrence here- and wondered at it until we also heard the sounds of a construction crew starting up. My elder son sometimes does yard work for a different local construction company and said their crews do the same thing. We laughed. 

About that time, this beauty showed up to show off.  

 My younger son took this picture. 
The butterfly headed over to peak under the bushes where the kittens were hiding. I couldn’t get the best picture of that, but I thought the green leaves highlighted the colors on his wings. 

 
Anyway, the morning has shared some beauty with us and I thought it would be nice to share too.

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Thoughtful Thursday

Today has found me ready to return to a pattern more normal than many I have found myself falling into this summer. 

I thought, yesterday, that I had found a neighbor’s missing cat hiding under my maple tree. It did look very much like the missing boy, but when we looked closer, we discovered kittens cuddled up to a look-a-like female. At first I thought she was grey, but after watching her from a distance she was comfortable with, I noticed that she has almost a double coat. The longer fur is grey, but as she moves you can see a definite yellow coat underneath. Since she has white patches on her face and feet I guess the she is actually a Calico.

As far as I can see under the bush where she has them hidden, there are three kittens: a marmalade, a tuxedo, and a grey tabby.  

It is so hot that I took pity on her and gave her some water and a little dog food – it’s what I had. 

I wish I could get close enough to get a picture, but I’m trying to give her some space. (Because she hisses at me when I get anywhere near close enough.) 

Between stealing peeks at kittens and calls from people I haven’t heard from in a while, I got a text from my mother about a PR snaffu where my Dad works that everyone but the PR department and the president seem to  be completely embarrassed by. I have a little experience with PR and my sister is a certified expert at the stuff and we know we would have been in serious trouble over such things.  So I was truly annoyed for my dad and ready to call his boss and chew him out or at least demand that he fire the so called PR person. But I didn’t. I would only have embarrassed my dad more by doing something so brash. 

PR is best handled with an eye on a yearly calendar – not a daily one. And perhaps that’s why my own timing feels off today. I used to plan a year ahead, adjusting if necessary, but this past year has found me slipping more and more into an hourly outlook – not even daily or weekly. 

The problem I have is that nothing really has to go in order. I’m a very sequential person, but my life is more random with every passing day. 

I am praying for something to change – even if it is my own heart. Because I truly need to find the motivation to do more of the things that need to be done around here. I need to find a way to sequence things so that I am not randomly wandering between three or four tasks instead of actually making progress on something. 

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:”  Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭NIV‬

The rest of this chapter poetically names all the things there are time for – and there really isn’t much that doesn’t fall into what it says. I think I will be taking a few days to study it and maybe my heart will begin to find its way through time again. 

Wisdom Wednesday

“I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.”

The first part of this post is truly a summary of tonight’s lesson. Thanks to Pastor Mike for the inspiration. The second part is me putting that together with a podcast my husband asked me to listen to regarding finances, so thanks to my husband as well. 

People keep saying that they just don’t understand how our world is so out of control – Baltimore, Furgeson, etc. – they say it’s never been so bad. 

Really? Take a look at Acts 19. There was a crowd of about 25,000 people all  assembled and shouting about their economy and the disrespect they were facing because people were starting to have different ideas. 

Who were they mad at? Paul. Why? Not because he said anything about them or about their goddess in particular, but because one man chose to get upset. He was worried about the effects that Christianity would have on the silver trade, because he was a silver smith. What does Christianity have to do with silver, you ask? Nothing – and that was his concern. He made silver idols and Christians not only didn’t need them, but Paul had the audacity to tell people that gods made by human hands were not gods at all. So this guy (Demetrius) got worried that no one would need him any more, called his buddies together, got everyone all riled up, and they headed out to the streets to find Paul. 

They didn’t find him by the way. But what did happen was still strange on a grand scale. All those guys running through the streets complaining about Paul and yelling about praising Artimus (Diana) got a lot of attention. So much attention that people started following them just to see what was happening.  They all wound up at the local arena (stadium) yelling and shouting. Somebody pushed a Jewish man on stage to explain what Paul was doing – as if he knew – and when he tried to talk, instead of listening, the people started chanting and yelling praises to Diana/Artemis – FOR TWO STRAIGHT HOURS. 

And you know what? All those people that just joined the crowd to see what was going on – never found out until after they had been yelling for two hours. 

The city clerk finally came along and told them they were pretty crazy, that Paul had never specifically commented on Diana/Artemis nor did he have a grudge against their jobs. He reminded them that anyone with a real complaint should take it to a judge in a lawful manner and that if they kept it up they could all be arrested for unlawful assembly. 

And you know what? They all went home. 

Paul didn’t have to get involved and he went on preaching and planting churches.  It was all a bunch of rowdy nothing because people let their feelings get hurt, listened to someone misquote and misinterpret the words of someone who was trying to do good, and got carried away by emotions without seeking the truth. 

Sound familiar? So next time you see a bunch of madness on television, remember that this behavior doesn’t shock God off his throne. He is still in control, and even a city clerk (a government official) can speak in wisdom if he takes the time to think about what is really going on instead of falling into the traps of hypocracy, anger, fear, and confusion. 

We do not have to let fear control us. When we are children of the most high, the future is so much more than any situation we face today. Christian financial advisor, Larry Burkett, once said that most of the financial concerns people argue over (and allow to ruin their relationships) are usually imagined future events. In all his years of counseling people through financial troubles, the greatest persentage of them were more able to cope with the loss of a job or an illness when it actually happened than they imagined they would be before it happened – if they applied God’s principles to their lives. The same is true of rioting crowds and congressmen. If they would apply God’s principles to their lives, they wouldn’t need to worry in the first place. No one has to find themselves swept along in a state of noisy confusion just to see what’s up. 

God always knows what’s up – all we have to do is spend time with Him and listen to what He has to say.

Tidal Wave Tuesday

To be honest, I haven’t known just what to write the last couple of days. The image from my dream keeps coming back to me. I’m standing on a shore watching a massive wave of newness and change as it rushes headlong toward me. I am not sure if I am going to need to dive straight into the waters or if I’m going to stand there with arms outstretched as it plows into me. If I stand there, I imagine the impact of it, but then a huge relief as it washes over me and I hold my breath until I find myself floating, blissfully riding the currents upward. 

I seem to find others encouraging me to start flailing my arms right now though – as if that would prepare me for it better. 

I’m not sure which is the right approach, but either way – the wave is coming and there is nothing I can do to stop it. 

In some ways I long for its coming. Perhaps it will wash away things that don’t need to be here – back down to the foundations even. In that I almost find freedom, but from what? An expectation or a misunderstanding? 

Am I wishing for something to bring change for me because I can’t find a way to bring it to myself?

How long will change really last? When the water recedes will things just go back to being like they were, or will there be lasting change?

I think of Peter walking on the waves with Jesus. Will I be able to maintain my focus on Him and keep walking, or will I falter like Peter and need to be rescued? Either way – as long as Jesus is there, I’ll be alright. 

Of course He is always here – we just don’t always pay attention. 

Moody Monday 

Mondays Can be moody 

Manic 

Misty

Or morose 

They can bring migraines

Multitasking

Misery

Or mirth

Monday’s may be rainy 

Or they may try to bring you down

But there’s one thing about a Monday that just can’t make me frown

And that’s the fact that waiting may make it take so long, 

But Tuesday morning’s coming with its own sweet victory song.

Saturday Slideshow: What I’m Learning

This is the first summer in more than a decade that I haven’t been reconfiguring lesson plans for a new school year. Even last year, when I knew I was not going back, I still did so much packing and reorganizing of my teacher “stuff” that I didn’t have much summer in my summer. 

So this year I’ve enjoyed being able to look at things through slightly different eyes. 

So what have I learned this summer? First, I have learned so much from the Bloggong 101 class and am grateful to have found a rhythm to writing (even though I’m still working out the kinks) that I have never had before.

Second, I’m learning about my garden, as you have seen on other Saturday Slideshows. 

Third, I am learning how to put up those wonderful things that come out of my garden and those of my friends and neighbors.   So here are a few pictures of that process. 

   

Here are some cans waiting to be processed in my canner. I can use it for the boiling method or the pressurized method – which I’m still a bit scared of because of all the old TV shows I’ve seen where the thing blows up. Luckily it seems fairly easy if you follow the instructions.

 Bread and Butter Pickles

   

Corn – obviously. This one required the pressurized method and lead to some interesting bubbling sounds as things went through the final cooling (see bubbles below)

  
What I have says that’s normal, but if anyone knows differently, please say so now.

  
Best tool ever – so much easier to take super hot cans out of the water with these than with regular kitchen tongs!

Next, I’m not really as afraid of spiders as I thought (tarantulas not included – they are too much) as long as they are on the other side of a camera lens.

   
   
(I’m also learning to take pictures of the same things from a variety of angles. )

Here is another example of the angles lesson – you may recognize this little fellow from Friday’s post.

   
    
   
And finally, I learned that I wouldn’t die trying to walk a 5K.  My daughter ran it, coming in third overall and first in her age group. My mother, whose legs are several inches longer than mine, made me quick step to keep up. Shh. . . Don’t tell her how hard I was really having to try – she’s in much better shape than I am cardiovascularly speaking. Thanks to my sister’s company for sponsoring the run as a Relay for Life event.  

    
 
Three generations of feet ready to run (umm walk fast) in support of cancer research. 

Which reminds me, I learn more everyday how awesome my grandfather is. He is brave in the face of chemotherapy and petscans and long drives to the doctor and sleepless nights because of all the medication. Yet he finds time to belly laugh when I tell him about the craziness of my day and to encourage me and my husband. And best of all, he loves my grandmother like crazy. I am so blessed to have them both still in my life. He said to me yesterday, that he still feels like he is in his twenties, it’s just his body that complains when he tries to act like it. As my daughter would say:

Much love for that man – much love. 

Defeathering the Nest

While my nest is certainly not empty, it is beginning to feel somewhat cramped for space. Not in the literal sense at all; there is more than enough room. But in the figurative sense. With all three children making leaps to new levels in the fall, the attitudinal space is what feels all too cramped lately. 

My husband still feels the need to guide every step and pave the way for every new adventure. And in the way that he does those things, he is right – they still need guidance and advice. 

I, however, being the more emotional one, am admittedly ready for some of these attitudes to find their own way. I love them, and would do anything in the world to help them, but sometimes it’s quite difficult to maintain my own emotional sanity in the midst of the growing confidence of teens and young adults. 

I remember well how they are feeling. At their ages I thought I  was all grown up and was tired of my parent’s guidance. Not that they weren’t good at it, I was just itching to try my own hand at adulthood. I wanted to order my own day and make my own decisions and tell everyone around me how they would fit into my plans (rather than asking permission or seeing how two or more sets of plans could merge). 

That is where it seems my own children are finding themselves lately. Not wanting to be under our roof and still doing our chores and doing what we tell them to. And it is right where they should be. 

But being the one who tries to emotionally balance all these egos is exhausting. 

My husband tells me to mind my own day and they will have to work around me. That makes five people in the house that would all be trying to make it work that way and exactly zero people understanding that some elasticity would go a long way around here. So I try to be the elastic one, but I am sure that some days see my elastic self being snapped across the room – flying through the air on my way to land a sting against an unexpecting victim. ( I have confiscated enough rubber bands from middle school children in my day to know the damage that can be done through a carelessly aimed shot.) 

Now, I am the one having to adjust – still trying to help my husband uncover their unmet needs so that we can make a way for them to get what they need means I still have to do the (figurative) backpack checking to see what is left undone. But that means I have to be creative in doing so in order to maintain my status as helpful mom rather than prying, snooping, controlling wench. 

Everyone wants to be a family, but everyone wants control of how the family works. I just want a nap.

I know that my place is ordained. That it is purposeful in these trying days, but sometimes I struggle to see myself in these verses:

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: (‭Proverbs‬ ‭31‬:‭25-28‬ NIV)

But I know that it is when I am weak that He is strong. 

Lord, I pray today that you would guide my restless spirit into the peace that you alone can bring. I pray that you will help me to still my tongue when it would be harsh, but let it speak instead your truth and wisdom. I pray that you would order my mind so that there is no confusion found in me, for you are not the author of confusion. I pray that you would guide me through the process of helping our children to become the adults you would have them to be, while not loosing sight of the woman you made me to be as well. I pray also for the comfort and closeness that marriage can bring in all its changing seasons and that I would yet be a helper to my husband and not a hindrance to his own growth in you. Thank you, Lord for all your ways, for they are surely higher than my own.

Important or Interesting? Thoughts on Transference 

One theory of giftedness says that gifted individuals are able to transfer knowledge from one situation to other, seemingly unrelated situations.
Other theories indicate that giftedness in one area may not necessarily indicate giftedness in all areas (something many teachers have a hard time understanding).

The two theories are not necessarily mutually exclusive, as an individual may be able to see how a skill could be applied in different areas, but may not be able to make the skill translate as smoothly in one area as another. Think about the similarities between mathematical properties such as multiplying two negative numbers to equal a positive number and its similarity to using double negatives in English. While a student may see that the ideas are similar, his ability to stop himself from saying, “I didn’t do nothing,” is more related to his comfortability with his own dialect and personal habits than his understanding of the concept. (My response to that statement is usually, “that’s right you didn’t do nothing – you did something – even if it was breathing – you did something.” They do eventually get it.)

One of the skills that students are learning these days is to be able to distinguish between what is interesting and what is important in text.  It’s a great skill to have. It makes it possible to determine the important parts of a textbook to study, or to understand when an author is illustrating a point with interesting facts instead of just giving more facts. There are so many things that the skill allows us to do while reading – and good readers can usually do that without noticing they are doing it. So for good readers, it can be difficult to slow themselves  down in order to (metacognitively) understand what they just did.

I think that is what can make transference difficult. If you don’t notice that you are using a skill, how can you see the steps involved in a detailed enough way to notice that they could be applied elsewhere?

For instance, noticing importance and interest might be a useful life skill – not just a reading skill. Oh, say in the area of time management perhaps? For those of us, like me, who are decidedly challenged in the area of time management – the skill seems to be lost in translation.  

My husband commented recently (and in an unexpectedly loving way I might add), that I seemed to be more concerned with whatever I was doing than what was important. How could that be?  What I was doing was important – to me anyway. 

But the more I thought about what he said, the more sense it made.

I started looking at my house – at how disorganized it seems to be lately. I started thinking – what have I been doing differently? I don’t mind a somewhat cluttered lived-in house, but this is more than that. It’s not that things are normally messy (three teenagers make lots of laundry), but that things are bottlenecking in new and unusual ways. Laundry got done, but it was weird laundry (cloth napkins took precidense over socks and undies). Dinner was cooked, but we were using the dishes usually reserved for big crowds because the dishwasher never got unloaded and since the regular dishes weren’t in the cabinet people couldn’t figure out where to look for them. 

I could easily place blame on laziness or teenage weirdness, but these were things that I normally took care of. What was I doing?

Oh, yeah. This. This is what I was doing. I can write just about anywhere and at anytime – I’m always thinking so writing just happens. But I have been using that early morning power hour, that normally sees me herding kids through chores and changing out the laundry to make sure the important loads are done first, to write.  

I love writing in the morning, but I’m kind of concerned about the lack of clean undies around here. And the lack of forks in my silverware drawer – where did those go anyway?

So, if you haven’t noticed the last couple of days, I’ll make it clear – I’m changing my writing time because I’ve noticed that this novel that is my life seems to have jumped into the twilight zone lately and I need to make some adjustments to bring it back into reality. There should be more important facts and fewer daydreams going on – at least first thing in the morning. 

I wonder what my husband will say if I start writing before bedtime? Hmm . . . I think I should probably find a nice time between lunch and supper to write instead. 

I’ll still be on my bench, but until I figure out my optimal time, it may be a bit unpredictable around here. 

So – I’ll see ya when I see ya. 😊

Quoted: Day Three – Looking for Reset

In that space between waking and “five more minutes, please,” I found all kinds of strange things: John Wayne helping me fix a fender on my minivan (which I don’t have by the way), a deer running across a yard carying a Nationwide Insurance flag in its mouth  (again, I don’t have that brand of insurance), a woman trying to adopt me (hello? I’m grown, and wasn’t an orphan anyway), and a tidal wave being held offshore while I watched a red boat carrying a red trailer as it dove and struggled not to sink (boats don’t carry trailers, do they?).

The strangeness of it all doesn’t make sense without some kind of decoder ring – or a dream interpreter. But as one coherent though peeped through, it started to make sense. John Wayne – from Sunday’s sermon and therefore Monday’s post. Deer with the insurance flag – my husband’s workplace insurance finally coming through on a claim that was creating lots of strange issues (it isn’t Nationwide either, but it is a company I don’t have personally – the deer part is more difficult to explain in the space and time I have here today). The lady trying to adopt me – a mixture of my concerns about the sabbatical and a comment I made on someone else’s post the other day about adoption having more to do with absence than death. The tidal wave and the red boat/trailer combo – that would be my redheaded self trying to sail through something I know is coming up but that I feel I don’t have much control over (again I get the trailer part but it’s really too convoluted for this post).

So I reached for my phone and called my husband, who quietly left for work this morning and let me sleep in, and asked him where the reset button could be found. “Reset?” he said.

“Yeah, I can’t seem to find one on my body anywhere and I was wondering if you knew where it might be?”

He laughed – out loud. He understood, and reminded me that reset buttons can sometimes cause more problems than they are worth because you loose the good lessons too – not just the programming that’s gone wonky. 

I think it’s the first conversation we’ve had this week that made sense to either one of us. How crazy is that?

Which reminded me of someone else, who in later years didn’t make much sense either, that always quoted the same scripture to me on every birthday and Christmas card she ever sent. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭3‬:‭5-6‬ NIV)

It used to be the only scripture I knew. I would quote it to others when I was trying to fit in – climbing trees because that’s what good Christians did (see Monday’s post for that explanation). 

But, even though I misused it for a good portion of my life, my great-grandmother’s intent turned out to be right on the money – she gave me something to hold onto when things didn’t make sense. She gave me the reset button I needed – and one that meets my husband’s desire to not erase the good with the bad – because leaning on God’s understanding does both. It resets the bad, showing you how He intended for you to walk through it and how you still can. It makes all things new while reminding you of the lessons you’ve already learned. 

So day three of the three day quote challenge is done – and all because of a crazy dream and a quote passed down by a crazy old lady (to be fair crazy is incorrect – she had dementia and would sometimes fill all the glasses in her cabinet with water and leave them in the cabinet that way.)

And it is now time to explain the rules of the challenge and pass it along to others. I would like to pass this along to some new (to me) folks out there: 

Stubbornly Courageous

Inspiration With an Attitude

Chronicles of a Kid Next Door

And a couple of oldies but goodies- though they are quite young!

Imperfectly Nice

Another Battle Won

And that leaves four more spaces – like I said a couple of days ago, I’m bending the rules here. I would love to see quotes from everyone I’m following or who follows my posts, but I also know you are busy people and I don’t want to annoy you with multiple challenges – since I already have some still floating out there. So, if we regularly exchange comments, consider yourselves challenged.
I – Post your favorite quotes or your own quotes for three (3) posts in a row.

II – Thank the person who nominated you.

III (a) – Pass it on to three (3) other bloggers per quote, each time you post them.
III (b) – Or pass it to nine (9) bloggers if you choose to post all the quotes together, in the same post.

Quoted: Day Two – Worth It

For day two of the challenge, I’m going to use a personal quote – not one that’s out there to be researched or scrutinized. Lillian the Home Poet reminded me of it yesterday, and since it sort of continues the conversation on gifts and identity, I decided that it must be shared. 

One of the best teachers I ever had was Annabelle Timms, a ballet teacher. I drove an hour each way to be able to attend her classes and it was so worth it. 

On one day in particular she pushed us very hard and every time I started to feel as if I was doing something right, she devastated me with a correction of something I hadn’t even noticed I was doing wrong. 

I started second guessing myself and looking at some of the other girls in class to see if I could tell the difference. That only gained a correction for not focusing. 

It just seemed to snowball. By the end of class, my bleeding toes were a mirror to my heart. I was crying mad, frustrated and flattened. I took an extra long time getting ready to leave because I was trying so hard not to cry – I couldn’t walk back through the studio and let her see tears. 

No luck there – she found me in the dressing room and let me know that she understood. I didn’t get it – how could she understand and still put me through that misery? 

That’s when she said, “Heather, I correct you because you are worth correcting.”

I had never heard something like that before. And to be honest I still don’t take most correction well nor do I even want to. But I do sometimes hear the echo of her voice when I’m trying particularly hard to understand why my best doesn’t seem to be good enough. 

And, I have often quoted her to my own students – when they need it. It’s hard for advanced students, who are often praised for their mere existence in a classroom rather than any particular effort they have displayed, to hear that there are improvements that can be made in their work. They aren’t used to having someone take a truly critical look at their work. They have never had someone tell them they aren’t good just because they are breathing, but that they are good enough to encourage toward something even more.

It is a hard lesson, but it’s worth learning. 

It seems God wants us to understand this too: 

And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. (‭Hebrews‬ ‭12‬:‭5-13‬ NIV)

We are worth correcting. Not because of our abilities or skills, but because we, by grace through faith, have been saved and therefore adopted into His family. 

What areas of your life are worth correcting today? 

I pray that we may find the ability to discipline ourselves in areas where we have already received instruction, not forgetting what we have already been taught; and that we are able to stand under the correction that may come in new areas, showing ourselves to be true sons and daughters who are grateful for our Father’s loving guidance.