Monday, September 21, 2009

"To Autumn"

Fall is by far my favorite season. I love the crispness in the air, the slight tingle in my cheeks as I walk outside, the deep smell of the earth as its goods are harvested, the woody scent of firesides. I love the vibrant colors--deep reds, bright yellows, russet oranges all accented by the golden light that filters through the trees. I love the sounds--the crunch of the leaves under my feet, the coaches whistle and plays called at football games, the drum beats and horn blasts of the marching band practicing in the early morning. Some associate Fall with dying, but I see it more as a beginning. A new school year, the advent of the holiday season, a time to rest, reflect and draw closer to those around us.

In honor of the first day of Fall, I'd like to leave you with one of my favorite Fall poems, "To Autumn" by Keats. I think he says it much better than I ever can.

Blessings and Peace,

47. To Autumn

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees, 5
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease, 10
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind; 15
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook; 20
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, 25
And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; 30
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Confession 61: Splendor and Majesty

As I was working through my bible study this morning, the focus was on splendor and majesty. It began in first chapter of Esther with a focus on worldly splendor and majesty then finished with Psalm 94, where the greatest splendor and majesty are attributed to God. I thought about that, how God created, actually created, the most wondrous sites on the planet. I thought about the sky at night, what a wondrous sight it is. You understand true majesty when you gaze up at the heavens on a cloudless star-filled night.

When Garrett and I left the house this morning, the first song we heard on the radio was Steven Curtis Chapman's "Yours", a beautiful song about how everything and every person on the planet belongs to God, both in life and death. I remembered, as we continued our early morning commute, how sad I was initially that I no longer had the cityscape to look at on my drive to work. I missed the structures of the city, the bridges and overpasses, the lanes of traffic, the billboards and graffiti. I missed the reflection of the morning sunlight off the streetlamps and the dew glistening on the streets. I especially missed the buildings, the majestic and splendid works of art human beings had created to fill the city sky. They seemed powerful and important and filled me with energy as I rushed into work knowing that I was part of this vast, thriving metropolis.

Yet, as I looked at the newborn sunlight caressing the green fields spread out like blankets on either side of me this morning, I realized that this is true majesty. The golden light, the nearly empty two-lane roads, the cows munching and the horses snuggling, the dappled light through the trees, all filled me with a sense of peace I'd never had driving in the city. I was reminded that nothing man can make can compare to the awesome splendor of God's own creation. I'm so blessed to live in an area where I can truly see an abundance of God's majesty and beauty.

Enjoy the day!

Blessings and Peace,

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Confession 60: What's the Point?

This is a question I ask my students all the time. What's the point of this text? What's the point of your essay? What's the point of your statement? What's the point of your question? What's the point of you taking this class? I get so caught up in asking others what the point is for them, that I forget to ask the most essential point question of myself: What's the point of me?

I've just started a new Beth Moore bible study over the book of Esther that I think will shed some light on that. We've only had one session thus far, but by the time Beth was finished speaking, the margins of my notebook were cram packed. It was as if God was just flooding me with thoughts and ideas. I've always loved the book of Esther. What girl wouldn't? It's the ultimate princess story, a fairy tale carved into the pages of scripture. What impressed me most during this first session was the focus on purpose, our individual destinies. God has shaped each one of us for a purpose, given us unique gifts, experiences, and perspectives to help achieve that purpose. If we're focused, listening, watching and waiting with, as Beth states, "anxious anticipation", God will do amazing things through us. Yet, as I reflect on my own personal experiences as a Christian, I worry that my faith walk is a series of missed opportunities. I know I have gifts and talents I am not using for the betterment of God's kingdom. I have not reached out to others to show them the love of Christ. I have missed opportunities to share my own faith and I can't remember the last time I genuinely invited someone to share in the experience of God through worship.

It's not comfortable, stepping out on faith and in faith to introduce others to God. I feel unworthy, ill-equipped, anxious. I find myself telling God, "You better find someone else." And he will, which means that I will miss out on deepening my relationship with him. I can miss out on my destiny, my purpose, and that thought freaks me out.

The book of Esther shows us how to push through our doubts, our fears, our insecurities and low self-esteem to see how God wants and will do wondrous things through the most common and messed-up creatures on earth--us! So, I'm prepared to be shaken, not stirred. I want to see God act in my life and the lives of others. I'm ready to stand up and say, "Hey, that's my God working through this situation and that's the point!"

Blessings and Peace,

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cool New Blog

A friend from Kansas City has just started a new blog called "Godsy Girl". Check it out! She's an awesome writer.

Blessings and Peace,

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Confession 58: A Lesson on Grace and Other Assundry Stuff

So, I have to send a thank-you to my friend Meg for introducing me to the "cutest blogger on the block" website. There are tons of free downloads you can add to your blog for a mini-makeover. It's so cool! I had to resist all of the Fall designs since, technically, we aren't there yet. So, I settled for "school-girl charm" since the school year has officially begun and my husband will like it because he's a guy and thinks anything that resembles a school-girl uniform is "hot":)

The school year is well underway here in SW Missouri. It's hard to believe that we'll have almost three weeks of school under our belts before Labor Day!! Does anyone else remember the time when school began after LD and ended before Memorial Day? Ah well... it keeps me busy!

School is off to a great start! Well, my mentoring students are doing nothing at the moment, but they're my D and F students so there quite accustomed to that. I can only do so much to get them to get their work done and into their teachers, so if they want to waste this time, I'm not going to stop them. At some point they're going to have to make a conscious choice to DO SOMETHING! It will probably occur next year when they realize that they can actually graduate but need to get their butts in gear to make it happen. Then I will move from nagging them to death to patting them on their backs and telling them, "you can do it!".

I'm trying to educate and cultivate my juniors at the moment. We're watching part of the PBS documentary The New Americans. They get a first-hand look at the experiences of Dominican baseball players, a Palestinian bride, and Nigerian refugees. A lot of it is subtitled, but they're handling it surprisingly well. Anytime they can watch TV in class, they consider it to be a worthwhile lesson:)

Speaking of lessons, Chris gave Garrett an amazing lesson in grace the other day. I was super impressed. I must confess that I don't always give my husband all the credit he deserves in the parenting process. Like many mothers, I just assume that since I carried and gave birth to the children, I automatically know what's best for them. One of Chris's common sayings to me is: "I am his father, you know!" He's actually an amazing father. He's always there for the boys, gets them ready and to the sitter's every morning, gets them to sleep at night and engages in instructive discipline. Which leads me back to my original story-- a lesson in grace.

Garrett was being a major pain in the rear last Sunday. He threw temper tantrum after temper tantrum. On one such occasion, he got overly zealous and slammed a bathroom door in his little brother's face, knocking his brother to the ground. He was immediately sent to time out and went, literally, kicking and screaming. Chris went through the time-out drill with him-- hands in lap, feet on floor, face front, no talking. Instead of complying, however, Garrett started screaming at Chris, "No! No! No!" At one point he even yelled, "Shut up!", which he's never done before (thank you Shrek) I'd had it. I came marching into the living room and told Garrett to knock it off. I also told him that Daddy and little brother were going for a walk to the park to play and he was staying home with Mommy and going to bed if his attitude didn't change.

Our routine with time-out is that before Garrett can actually get out of time-out, he has to tell Mommy and Daddy why he's there and apologize for the behavior. Chris called Garrett to him and placed Garrett on his knee. He asked Garrett what he'd done wrong. Garrett told him. Chris then asked Garrett if he deserved to go to the park. Initially, Garrett thought yes, but after a review of the aforementioned behavior, decided that he indeed did not deserve to go to the park. However, and this is the truly brilliant part, Chris told Garrett: "No, Garrett, you don't deserve to go to the park. But you know what? Daddy loves you, so you're going to get to go."

What an amazing lesson is that?! Of course, Garrett's only three so some of the finer theological principles are going to be lost on him, but what a great little seed planted. I'm so proud of Chris and his thoughtfulness as a parent. He taught me a lesson too.

Blessings and Peace,

My Family

My Family

My Family 2

My Family 2