Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Final Goodbye

I said my final goodbyes Facebook!

I remember being 17 years old, sitting at the computer, waiting for what seemed like eternity for our dial-up connection to bring up my AOL account and tell me, "You've Got Mail!" My cell phone was a brick of a thing that I kept turned off in my glove box in case of emergencies. There was no texting. We had pagers and we would send our boyfriends an "I love you" message spelled somehow with numbers. "Google" was not a household name.

That was only 13 years ago. The world of technology has changed dramatically in that time and with that change came social networking websites, like MySpace and Facebook. I really have enjoyed both of these websites. When I got married and had children, it was a great way to share my pictures and stories with my friends and make some new friends as well.

But are these people really my "friends?" I recently examined my Facebook friend list and deleted some people that I did not even know. But then when I looked at what was left of my "friends" there were only a handful of people I actually considered friends in the "real world." Frightening!

When I would read my "friends'" status updates on Facebook, it started to feel nosey. Is it really my business? And as I looked with a more critical eye, so much of what I read was negative in one way or another. Lots of people were complaining. Others were trying to paint a perfect fairytale picture of their life for others to see.
I am not saying that's how everyone behaves on Facebook. I had some friends that were a joy to interact with. We would tag each others kids in our pictures and respond in prayer requests when needed. I will definitely miss keeping in touch with some of my old high school friends and my family members that do not live nearby.
But ultimately, I felt like it was the best decision for me to just deactivate my Facebook account. The time I spent on Facebook was time I needed to be spending with my family anyway.

I decided to continue to blog. I never thought I would get into blogging. To be honest, I always thought it was a little dorky! But I love to write. It's soothing for me to get my thoughts out on paper (or screen!) and I am incredibly open, so this just seems a natural fit for me. I can post pictures and share stories here, just as I did on Facebook, but it's only for people who want to see. So, if you stopped by, thanks and I hope you come back and visit again soon!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Just Look!

Look around, take it in and enjoy.

Seth had alot of help yesterday afternoon when he decided to mow the yard. It took him twice as long, but he patiently weaved around his "helpers" tagging alongside him on their 4-wheelers. While I was snapping pictures of this funny scene, I began to look around and take in the beauty of God's creation, right in our yard.

It's easy to look around your home and see the negative. The grass that needs mowing, the weeds that need to be pulled, the junk that just needs to be hauled off....but if you step back for a moment and really look, you will see beauty in everyday things.

It's really not that hard where we live. We are surrounded by nature. But even where I grew up in the middle of a busy city, you can find God's beauty everywhere. Just look!

Honor the Lord for the glory of his name. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. -Psalm 29:2

Thursday, July 29, 2010

You are changing that boy's life....No, he's changing mine.

This past Tuesday marked 13 years since my mother has been gone. I posted some pictures of her on my Facebook wall and created a new album on Facebook of some of my old family pictures.

I was shocked by all of the amazing responses I received from friends and family. People had such wonderful and glowing things to say about my mother and about me as well!

Even 13 years later, her legacy lives on. I cannot brag about my mother enough. I know people always seem to turn into saints after they die, but my mother really was an angel walking on this earth.

I recently watched the movie, The Blind Side, with Sandra Bullock. (LOVE this movie, by the way, one of my all time favs now!) There is a scene where Sandra Bullock's character is lunching with her friends and she begins talking about Michael and they ask her if "this is another one of your charities?" and all start thinking about whipping out their checkbooks. I laughed at this scene in particular because it reminded me so much of my mom. Always organizing a fundraiser or charity for this or that. The character in the movie really reminded me alot of my mom and that is probably one of the reasons I loved it so much. No, we never adopted a large African American boy into our family, but it would not have surprised me in the least if my mom had decided to do so!

My mom's legacy inspires me to think about what I can do for others. We don't have much, but there is still much that I can give to my friends and neighbors.

Share freely and give generously to those in need. Good deeds will be remembered forever. - Psalms 112:9

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I hear you now....

A good friend gave me a book to read the other day. She said it was a fiction novel, but based on a book in the Bible, Hosea. I hated to admit to her that I had never known there was such a book, not to mention I had no idea what Hosea was about. As if she could read my mind she laughed and said, "I didn't know what Hosea was about either."

As I looked at the book, I did not see how I could possibly read it. It was huge, 468 pages! Hello....I have three very small children. When exactly do I have time to read?

Take it and read it.

It wasn't my friend's voice, but another voice I heard in the back of my mind. Ok, maybe I can read it as I watch the kids play outside or at night after their bedtime.

As it turned out, Hosea was about a man who was instructed by God to marry a prostitute. Interesting story line. The novel took the Biblical story and placed it in California in 1850. I haven't finished it yet. I am about halfway through it and I have not been able to put it down.

There are two main things I have learned so far from this book. One, is small, but not insignificant. I have far more time on my hands than I thought. Instead of turning on the television, instead of "living on facebook" (as my husband puts it), I have been reading. I had forgotten how much I enjoy reading! Books are great. They stir your imagination in a way that TV or the internet cannot and they are very portable!

The second thing I have learned was more important. I have heard God.

I have always heard people say, "And God told me to...." and I thought they were crazy. They are just imagining God talking to them, so they can justify their actions. I talked to God all of the time, but I had never heard him talk back. Why does He talk to others, but not me?

But I have always heard God. He is that little voice in my head that I usually ignore. He warns me of danger and he tells me when I am wrong. Suddenly it has become so clear. He has been talking to me all along, but I just have failed to listen.
He told me to read the book. And today he told me to apologize to my husband for being short with him (that was not so fun, but felt so right when I did it!)
So, now I am all ears. What else does He have to say? Lots, probably, now that He has my attention!
Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what He is saying. -Revelation 2:7
PS - Thank you, Holly, my wonderful friend. :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Giving Thanks Today

It's not Thanksgiving, but today I woke up in a thankful mood. I know it was a direct result of the prayers I prayed last night.

Yesterday I was more annoyed than usual about the state of our home. A few months ago, we took out a mortgage on our paid-for home to remodel and make improvements. Most of what we set out to do is completed. (We enclosed our back porch to make an additional bedroom, so everyone could have their own room, added a large master bath and closet, and made a separate laundry nook. We also got a new metal roof.) But there are several things that are not complete and a few projects that we thought would would have the money to do, but did not get to. So, right now, we are still without floors in the master bath and hallway (the guy is supposed to come today and give us a quote...finally!!!) and our sunroom is unfinished. We still need to paint and replace some siding outside. The kitchen counter tops and kids' bathroom look as if they will not be improved upon anytime soon and forget about new blinds right now.

Before I went to bed last night, I prayed that God would bring me peace about our situation. And it worked. I woke up this morning, looked around and decided that things were pretty good. Yes, my house is not the dream home I had imagined, BUT my family is healthy, we are happy, we have enough food on the table to eat and clothes on our backs. And really the improvements we were able to make are great! I took a bath last night in my big jacuzzi tub, Seth and I finally have our own sinks so he can't complain about my hair being everywhere, and I can put the kids down for their naps and bedtimes in their own rooms and nobody gets anybody else up. I really do love my home, but I am more thankful for the things that cannot be bought - I love my husband and my babies and I am so grateful for my wonderful family. Life is good and God has been good to us.

Give thanks to Him today!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Why my job is so much better than yours!

When I got my teaching certificate, my husband told me I could work at any level of education that I wanted - except for junior high. He said I would hate it and it was a terrible age to teach. Go figure that just a few weeks after he uttered those words, Brownsboro Junior High called. They needed a teacher desperately. A teacher was quitting unexpectedly in the middle of the year.

So, for over three years now, I have taught junior high. I am not going to lie and say that I have loved every moment. I am not going to deny trying to move to other levels of education. But after the following conversation that I recently had with my husband, I have come to the realization that I actually love teaching junior high:

Seth: I was thinking that in another couple years, you should go back to school to be a nurse.
Mary: Why would I want to do that?
Seth: You would make alot more money. You aren't going to teach junior high forever anyway, right?
Mary: Why not? I like my job! I teach a subject that I love. I really like and care about my students. I love the people I work with. I have lots of time with my own children during holidays and the summer. Why on earth would I want to do anything else? If you wanted to be married to a nurse, you should've married one! If you want to make more money, then YOU go get a new job!

I was surprised by my own response. (and so was Seth, because I know he didn't expect me to attack him like that!) But I didn't realize how much I actually liked my job until Seth put it down.

Teaching junior high is not for everyone. The students do not adore you. They actually believe that you are the stupidest person they have ever met. (besides their own parents, of course!)

If you have ever heard that junior high students are "hormones, with arms and legs," this is a fairly accurate description. For instance, I learned the hard way that I couldn't say the following things:

Mrs. Scott: "Ok, let's do these questions orally."
Joseph: "Mrs. Scott likes to do it orally!"


Mrs. Scott: "Now where do you get off acting like this?"
Trevor: "Well, I don't know about you guys, but I usually get off in my bathroom!"

Or this one I heard from a Reading teacher.

Teacher (interrupted by misbehavior while reading a story aloud to the class): "Quiet down, everybody, I am getting to the climax now!"
I think you can imagine the response she got.

It's all about being cool and impressing your friends in junior high. So, if that means writing on the wall, they do it. If that means cussing, they do it. If that means saying something inappropriate to a teacher just to see her get the idea! If you just step into a junior high school for a day, you might think they are disrespectful, dishonest....just despicable little people! They might actually make you question the entire upcoming generation! But....

I love these kids. You have to know how to handle a class of 25 little hormones and it can definitely be a challenge, but on an individual basis, they are still just little kids. They are trying so hard to be all grown up, but they still have a long way to go.

What I love most about junior high kids is that they are still mold-able. Unfortunately, most of my students are already making decisions about alcohol, drugs and sex. But they haven't committed to a lifestyle yet. I believe that every one of my students can change. They are still deciding who they are going to be, and if I can help to push them in a positive direction, that just makes all of the other challenges of a day's work at BJH seem a little less challenging.

Friday, July 9, 2010

But why God?

Why do bad things happen to good people? I actually have a book that was titled this that someone gave me after my mom passed away. She was only 45 years old and suffered for 7 months with cancer before going to be with the Lord. Why?

In Brownsboro, we have had what feels like so many car accidents that have taken the lives of many young people. Why?

A little girl dies suddenly of something rare and unexpected.

A little boy has to worry about leukemia instead of just whether or not his team will win this year.

A newborn is diagnosed with cancer. Why?

I pray and listen for an answer. I study the Bible looking for some sort of explanation, but I haven't found any.

Bad things happen to good people. Yes, something good may come of it. Someone may learn an important lesson. Or a tragedy may bring people together who otherwise would have never met. But in the midst of it, we struggle to find understanding. "God, why is this happening to me, or to my child, or to my family?"

Today I pray that God wraps His loving arms around those struggling for a reason why. I've been there before. And unfortunately, I know I will be there again.

May those who need peace and understanding today receive it. God Bless You!