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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Better Things Part 2, AKA, Puddleglum's Save

Last night my son had a sleepover with his cousins and a friend. All four boys literally crashed in the living room for the night; I came down at 3 AM to find one sprawled on the couch, two in reclining chairs, and the fourth (who, by the way, is about 6'3") spread out on the living room floor. His long limbs were tangled up and his head was trying desperately to find comfort on a low-sitting massage chair. I took pity on the poor kid, and tried rousing him to come upstairs to sleep in our guest room. He politely begged off, stating that he was too tired to climb the stairs, even for better accommodations.

I found myself bowled over by the human condition. We sit around like people in Plato's Cave, enjoying our toys and trinkets, often oblivious to the fact that better things are ours for the taking. Or consider C. S. Lewis's The Silver Chair, in which the Lady of the Green Kirtle (AKA the Queen of Underland) almost succeeds in convincing the three main characters that her dark dungeon-like world is really the only world, and Aslan's realm, just a fairy tale. Like Lewis's well-intentioned protagonists, we have hopelessly short memories and minds that quickly fall prey to clever arguments with enticing words. That's why it's so important to ally ourselves with Puddleglum-type people who speak the truth, even when that truth seems ridiculous or onerous in light of our present reality:

"Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things--trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play-world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia." (Lewis, C.S. The Silver Chair. Geoffrey Bles, 1953)

I'll take a small serving of Puddleglum philosophy over a heaping helping of Underland hospitality any day of the week.

For more like this, check out: Morsels for Meditation...: Better Things

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Autumn Rains and Abundant Showers

"Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for He has given you the autumn rains because He is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil." Joel 2:23-24

We have had more than enough rain in the past weeks and months. Some days the Almighty has showered us relentlessly, drenching fields, farms and families...

... and other days just a small trickle, like tiny tears that cleanse even as they offer release.

Either way, we're getting WET!

So I took note of the above-referenced verse when I stumbled onto it recently. I love how God puts these dismal days in a good light. When I read this passage, I picture flowing fountains and waterfalls, and water parks that send jets of man-made rain to sprinkle my hair and lap at my toes.

"... your Father in heaven ... causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." Matthew 5:46

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Lockers and Notebooks...

Just a quick update (since I know all my "fans" ... or should I say "fan") are/is waiting with baited breath to see how the school year is going):

I'm really glad to be back at the middle school. Starting to feel at home again after a seven-year hiatus, and getting that "awwww" feeling from seeing the looks of accomplishment on sixth grade faces when I help them open their locker or organize their notebooks. A small thing like getting the hang of turning a combination lock can boost or deflate self-esteem big time (and our locks are pretty tricky, so that's no joke). It's really the underpinning of so much of the middle school experience, since they only have a few minutes between classes and can't carry everything with them. Little things can become huge roadblocks when they don't work right (just think of a dripping faucet or a "minor" car noise); at the same time, they facilitate the whole process when all is well. It's been fun to see the progression from day one, when all the kids were struggling, to the present, when the ones who have it down love to help out those who are still fighting with the metal monsters. 

I really like "mothering" all the kids, and feel good when I can do my part to alleviate the stress that I endured in school. Always felt behind the eight ball, and no one was more surprised than I when I succeeded. Always thought I had everyone fooled, that I really just knew how to "play the game" but deep down, had nothing to offer. If I can head that off in some of these little 11-year-olds and help them see they have what it takes, what a joy!

Excerpts from Matthew 18 on the subject:

1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. 6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven."

For more like this, check out: Morsels for Meditation...: School Bells and Ink Quills

Morsels for Meditation...: Grade School Heroes

Morsels for Meditation...: Grade School Heroes Part 2

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sleep on It

Last night I dreamed I had to fill in as an anchor for a well-known TV newscast. The whole premise was ludicrous, since I was unschooled, unprepared, and completely unsettled. I made an utter fool of myself (and of course the station), as I floundered and flubbed my way through the longest 20 minutes of my life. The only saving grace was that I had failed to reach any of my friends to ask them to record the event for posterity.

The reason behind this disturbing dream, I'm certain, was that I went to bed with a heavy heart. Throughout the day, I had rallied God's forces on behalf of someone I love very dearly. I called half a dozen people and literally asked them to storm the gates of heaven. I went to sleep knowing helplessness and rose to discover joy, Joy, JOY!!! God had answered our prayers and then some.

Not all my requests are answered so speedily or completely. But I have learned that helplessness produces dependence, and dependence is the predecessor of trust.

"For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." 
(Romans 8:24, 25)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

School Bells and Ink Quills

I haven't blogged in awhile, but it's been for a good reason. Actually, a couple of good reasons. For one thing, I've started back to work (in a different venue - I've been reassigned to the middle school after working at our local high school for seven years). So I had meetings this week, which I'm proud to say I walked to (two miles round trip!), and learned some valuable stuff about the student(s) I will be assisting this year. It feels strange, even though I worked at the middle school for the better part of three years before moving to the high school, because there are so many new people and the building, for all intents and purposes, is new (having been under construction for three years now). Feels a bit like jumping off a cliff, if you want to know the truth. I have to keep reminding myself that the new school year always feels that way, it goes with the territory, and there are 30 million other people in the country feeling exactly the same way. Not all are as lucky as I am, having numerous relationships already at my worksite. And I only have to find my way around one building, as opposed to people who travel to different buildings routinely as part of their employment. Still, there's this part of me that's feeling anxious (not that you could tell). I just have to let myself feel and walk through and allow it. By this time next week, I'll be in a different spot. I know this from experience.
The other reason for my absence is that I've been putting the finishing touches on my manuscript. Yup! After several years of plugging away, I'm finally ready to submit my work to a publisher. It's exciting and daring for me to do something like this. I have to give credit to my former husband. He always encouraged me to write, even when I was doing much more important things like watching reruns of The Mary Tyler Moore Show for the seventy-fifth time (I tried to find a twelve-step program for my addiction, but they wanted me to promise abstinence, so I had to draw the line). Further back, my parents always supported my writing, even when I was a little girl. I remember plunking myself down in front of my dad's "state of the art" electric typewriter (OK, I'm old), and picking out the letters for a short story. I hunted and pecked my way through a number of pieces, and my folks went the extra mile of submitting one to a children's magazine. I got a lovely rejection notice to counter-balance my chest full of pride that Mom and Dad had faith in their aspiring author. They even took me to see the girlhood home of my writing idol, Louisa May Alcott. Mom and Dad, no matter what the outcome of my scribblings, thank you both for believing in me!

I'll keep you posted if there's any exciting news to report. I just feel really great about getting to this point. There were many times I wondered if I'd ever get it in shape to show a publisher, but it just goes to show, with God all things are possible.

For more like this, check out: Morsels for Meditation...: Grade School Heroes

Morsels for Meditation...: Grade School Heroes Part 2

Morsels for Meditation...: Lockers and Notebooks...