Sunday, February 26, 2006

Out of the Darkness

I have recently come off of a couple of bad weeks. Nothing in particular....and everything in general. I have been fighting somewhat of a negative attitude; a foreign intruder in my usually peaceful world.

Last Saturday I had to go into the school to clean. The last thing I wanted to do on a weekend was drag my body out into the coldest day we'd had all month and spend my afternoon with a dustmop and a bottle of Terminator! On my way out the door, I grabbed my old cassette player and a couple of tapes from my days singing in the church choir in our hometown.

Earphones positioned just so, I set about the task of scrubbing and sweeping. I was in the middle of the mundane when a favorite song from my past began playing, "Let Me Have the Mind of Christ." Suddenly, it was as if a switch had been turned on from deep inside. The music I had sung at a very trying time in my life came back with full force, striking a chord that had lain covered in dust and sleeping within me. With tears filling my eyes, I was overcome with an indescribable feeling of joy. The negative melted away and I felt loved, whole, new.

God is on our side and is ever present. Often we find Him at unexpected times and in unexpected places. Dark times will come, clouding our view, distracting us, taunting us. But when they blow away - as they always do - we find that His light was there all along; simply and patiently waiting for our hearts to awaken...and see it once again.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

One Moment in Time

There were a million things to do. It was the first evening in two weeks that we'd made it home before 7:00. I had supper in the oven and was headed for the laundry room when I heard it: the thud of his basketball hitting the hard dirt that makes up his outdoor court. Opening the door I saw the team of one; dribbling, swooping and spinning with the confidence of 13 years beneath his feet.
I needed to stay in. But I needed to be with him more.

"Watch this, Mom!" he called as he practiced his latest move. The deep voice that now belongs to my son rang through sharp, clear air and his laughter echoed across twilight.

I guarded. He humored me. I shot. He tried his best not to poke fun. We ran and laughed, breath coming quick with the cold air painting pale, winter skin with a rose-tipped brush. Time had stopped...and for a moment I was just 'Mom', with nothing else to do but spend time with my son.

And though my list of "to do's" still remains, the digression was worth it. It was a moment, afterall. A moment spent in joy, dotted with love and best of all, shared with a heart that's so dear to my own.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Greener Grass

(A repost...since it's still winter in KS! But something that's been on my mind.)

The other day when I was out mowing, I noticed that part of our yard was a lot greener than the rest (no surprise there since our house is basically out in the middle of what used to be a milo field, so much of our yard still yields to weeds). I started thinking about the old saying, "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence." What usually follows is the premise that once you climb over the division between your yard and your neighbor's, you find that it's really no different.
But it is. Life is hardly fair. There are people who have elaborate sprinkler systems and special gardeners who cultivate their lawns with the latest in agricultural technology...and the results are beautiful. Others struggle with Bermuda grass that creeps into flowerbeds, threatening to choke out the lovely things you've planted, and weeds that sprout up in the most undesirable places.
There will always be someone who has greener grass. And there will always be weeds that if left unattended, will overtake the progress that we've made or wish to make. We can be wistful and stand back, viewing other's loveliness and wishing for what they have. Or we can tackle the weeds in our own yard, work in the soil and deal with the sweat and dirt to make our corner of the world as beautiful as it can be.
Sometimes we are given the perfect spot to cultivate our life. The rains come at the most opportune time, the soil is dark and rich and perfect for planting. Others help us till the land and the fruit is plenty. Other times we are plunked down in the middle of a weedpatch during a drought and given a rusty shovel and gloves with holes. We don't always choose our circumstances, but I believe that 90% of life is what we choose to do with what we've been given.
There will always be "greener grass". But chances are that somewhere, someone is looking over the fence into your backyard and wishing they could climb over. Bloom where you are planted. Brighten the corner where you are. Think "Green".

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Valentine Box

Roses in crystal vases tied with red satin ribbon; heart-shaped boxes of mixed chocolates; Cupid with his blazing arrow aimed at affection; sweet sentiments upon lace-edged cards. Today I remember all of those things and the times in my life when I faced Valentine's Day with a mixture of excitement and dread. But the most coveted and cherished memory I hold is of the Valentine Box.

In the month of February when I was a child we were given a shoebox and an imagination to create. Thin, rectangular cardboard was transformed into something splendid; a holder for anticipated words of endearment, hopefully from that one special boy or girl. Each box was original and lovely; a project most children shared with their parents. Back in the 1960's, the world didn't seem to revolve so quickly. People weren't rushed or pulled in so many directions, and an evening of quiet creativity was not out of the question.

I felt I held the monopoly on inventiveness...because I had my mother. Always the artist, she would help me create the most beautiful and unique Valentine box, covered in red and white crepe paper. Truly a masterpiece.

Years ago, while missing this beloved tradition, I purchased a plain paper mache, heart-shaped box, painting it fuchsia and white, and covered it with hearts, flowers and pink-cheeked cherubs. Inside I would tuck little notes: "I love M. because she is kind and caring; a true friend." "D. is special because he always has a grin on his face and is affectionate and sweet." The children, catching the spirit, would write their own little notes, slipping them quietly beneath the lid. The idea was not so much to read what the others had written, but to think about the blessings of one another and what we felt in our hearts.

The kids are teenagers now, and the Valentine box has lost much of its fascination for them. Blue iris and apricot roses from a special boy call attention away from its simplicity, and chocolate-covered basketballs are more "manly" than the sentiments once expressed from a little boy's heart. And that's OK. Their love is growing up. I am truly thankful that in its growing, it has stretched beyond the confinement of a paper mache box and found its way into the true hearts of many.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A Stitch in Time

Two weeks ago my daughter, a friend of mine and her daughter went shopping for material. Our school play is coming up and I always help out with costumes. This year's production has a fifties theme so it's all about ginghamed waitresses with little luncheonette hats, poodle skirts and leather jackets.

I'll be back, I promise. But for now you'll catch me cutting and stitching, serenaded by the sewing machine, and "bonding" with fusible interfacing!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Laurel Facts

OK. Of all the tags I've read on these particular questions, mine is by far the dullest! Seriously, folks. I can basically sum up my whole life in three inches on a Kansas map! I've never seen the ocean, or traveled across it, haven't been on a vacation in five years or been to the places my hearts dreams about. But since Mellissa was wondering, and she was one of my first blogging buddies (AND because I think she's great!), here goes!

Four jobs I have had:
- Selling Grit Magazine when I was 12 - my first job
- Housewares and cashier at Wal-Mart, long before Super Centers
- Reservations clerk in Admissions at a large hospital (loved all the medical terminology. I should've gone into medicine...)
- Interlibrary loans at a university

Four movies I could watch over and over:
- Friendly Persuasions
- Best Friends
- Return to Me
- Anne of Green Gables (with Megan Follows)

Four places in the U.S. I like:
- Galveston, TX
- Grand Lake, CO
- Coronado Heights, outside of Lindsborg, KS
- Home

Four places I have vacationed:
- Ontario, Canada
- Chicago - briefly!
- Scotsdale, AZ
- San Antonio, TX

Four T.V. shows I enjoy:
- Any home improvement show
- Biggest Loser
- Oprah (though I'm never home to see it)
- According to Jim

Four favorite dishes:
- manicotti
- Mom's home-made chicken and noodles
- chili
- anything and everything Mexican

Four places I would rather be:
- on vacation - anywhere lovely and warm - with my family
- shopping with my friend, Bev
- back in my 30's (because I looked and felt better...and I'd have ten years back!)
- out of debt

Four (well...three!) sites I visit daily:
- all the blogs I love
- Google, or another search engine to find new ways to present material to my students
- Yahoo! - my mailbox

Have a wonderful Thursday everyone!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

In Memory

"I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses

And the voice I hear
Falling on my ear

The son of God discloses...

And He walks with me and He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known."

Anyone who has ever loved a garden, or has ever loved a gardener knows the sweetness of these words. It is a special heart that walks among such beauty, and a special hand that makes it so.

In sweet memory of a lovely woman who shared her lilies, planted seeds of love and who now walks along sunlit paths in the most beautiful garden of all...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Lonely...or Alone?

"I get to work with you today!" she said, big brown eyes sparkling and a wide grin on her face.

"I know!" I gave her a big hug.  I worked in a small classroom, teaching creative writing, but was taking over another lesson with this particular student.

"But won't my other teacher be lonely? She won't have anyone to work with since the other two are sick."  Her smile changed to concern.

"Mrs. Crawford. has been really busy today, and it will be nice for her to have some time alone." She pondered this for a moment. "There's a difference, you see, between being lonely and being alone."

Head tilted to one side in puzzlement she asked, "How are they different?"

I explained that being lonely is when you feel you have no one to turn to, when your heart is alone. And that sometimes you can feel lonely in the middle of a lot of people. "Do you sometimes have disagreements with your friends and they don't want to talk to you, and then you feel sad?"

"Yes. Sometimes they whisper about me and then they won't play with me. That makes me feel lonely." Her brow furrowed into little 8-year-old lines.

"Loneliness makes you feel sad," I continued, "But being alone....sometimes that can be a very nice thing! It gives you a chance to do things that you enjoy, like reading or drawing and spending time with just yourself."

She smiled in understanding....and I began to think a lot about being "alone".Aloneness allows time for dreaming, for trying new things in the absence of watchful eyes. It's discovery on your own terms and looking at the world through your own glasses.It's enjoying moments of pure bliss and taking in everything around us. It's breathing in the very life of Mother Nature, running through tall grass and wheatfields and listening to raindrops on top of a sheltering umbrella.

It's quiet time of reflection and quiet prayer where we find strength and solace in God's tender grace and loving hands.

It's making something out of nothing, filling space with our own creations and making our corner of the world sparkle and sing.

It's growing and being and becoming who we are. By spending time with being "alone", we are able to find that place inside where only we reside. We are able to fine tune our hearts so that when we do come back together, we can give from that reserve and touch another soul. Once we have discovered how to be alone - and how to do it well - we can share what we've learned so that neither we, nor those we love, ever have to be lonely.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


The eve has drawn the curtain past the window of today......

Goodnight, everyone.