Monday, April 30, 2007

Message of Hope

As we drove throughout Oklahoma City this past weekend, I began to notice a statement that kept cropping up, seemingly repeated on every third or fourth bench we passed. It really struck home with me, and reminded me of the importance that the dialogue between God and myself should hold. There were several times that I tried to capture a picture like the one below, but there were individuals sitting on the benches. I wonder if they even had a passing thought over the message they were leaning against, or whether the bench provided just a place to momentarily rest for them.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

-Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

When things don't seem to be going my way, may I not become restless in the uncertainty--but rejoice in the assurance that God will provide for me, and rest in the knowledge that I will be taken care of according to His greater plan. All I have to do is ask!

Though you have not seen (Christ), you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

-1 Peter 1:8-9 NIV

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Oklahoma City Memorial Weekend

This weekend was the 7th Annual Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. Although I didn't participate in the marathon, the 1/2 marathon, or even run (I did try to jog to the bathroom once!) this weekend, I did enter the 5K fun run/walk.

The Gates of Time: Twin gates frame the moment of destruction (at 9:02) and mark the formal entrances to the Memorial. The East gate represents April 19, and the innocence of the city before the attack.

My friend Christina and I headed down to OK city on Friday afternoon after work. The drive down went well, and we were able to check into the motel without too many problems (there was a bit of road construction that we had to fight through.) After checking in, we headed to a local chinese buffet. It was wonderful, several rows of hot chinese foods, a cold buffet of veggies to have stir-fried (like Mongolian BBQ), and a sushi bar. I was in heaven! It was even more enjoyable when we got the check--it was less than $10.00 for each of us to eat, plus we could have had salmon, chicken, steak, lobster, etc...cooked to order and included in the price! What a find, and definitely a repeat for next year! By the time we were done, it was time to head to bed.

Sat. a.m. we woke up and ate breakfast at the hotel, and then headed into downtown OK City. We paid our $5.00 parking fee and walked down to the Cox center to pick up our t-shirt and entry packet. There is also a health expo going on that we walked through--I purchased some nice new inserts for my athletic shoes, and also got a free chair massage. When we had gotten our share of freebies we headed for the park that is nearby. Running concurrently with the Memorial celebration is also the Arts festival that is held in the botanical garden downtown. Throughout the park there are booths with fine art, culinary art (yummy!) and performing arts. For lunch I had a lamb gyro and pita chips with hummus. Christina chose the German meal--Knockwurst, Rotkraut, Saurkraut, fried potatoes, and a roll. We wandered around the art booths, and watched several musical acts before just strolling through the botanical garden, and then sitting beside a fountain for awhile.

One of many of the visual arts displays.

Included in the displays are artists actually in the middle of their art, talking through their craft and answering questions for people.

Coi pond in the Botanical gardens, and various views of the gardens. The greatest thing about the entire thing is that dogs/animals aren't allowed in the park--no worries of stumbling across anything when you want lay on the grass and enjoy your surroundings.

Christina had to finish a paper so we headed back to the motel. I took a nap while she did her homework. Mom and Dad joined us at about 5:30, and we headed to a nearby steak restaurant--Cimarron's. We all enjoyed a good, and very filling meal before heading back to the motel to sit outside and catch up on our reading, while enjoying the beautiful evening. We headed to bed early.

We woke up at 4:00 this morning in order to shower, grab some breakfast, and catch the shuttle bus downtown for the 6:30 start time. There was a bit of a break-down with the bus shuttles, but thankfully we all got where we needed to go. We headed for the starting line (and our place at the back of it!), catching the last part of the sunrise service.

At 6:30 the race started, but it was a good 10 min. before our end of the line had moved enough to cross the starting line. For anyone who hasn't experienced this weekend memorial, you need to! It is the very definition of the expression "a sea of humanity". It is amazing to see the people all stretched out, never seeming to end. I kept trying to get a picture of it, but I'm not tall enough to capture the sheer enormity of it all.

Mom, Dad, Christina and I all walked in a group, weaving in and out of the people around us that were going slower. This weekend draws people from all over the world. At one point this morning, Mom was trying to get around a group of (loud) New York men, who wanted to know why she wasn't using her turn signals! Thankfully, everyone is united in the reason we are there walking/jogging/running, and it is like walking with a group of friends--eager to talk, and hear your stories, as well as share their own. Dad got split up from us for awhile, so I wasn't able to see him with his "crush and throw" motion at the first water stop...I guess he'll just have to go next year so that I can see it! :) When we crossed the finish line for our 5K the 1st guy was finishing his 1/2 marathon! It was amazing! It was still too early for us to head back to the hotel, so we walked over to the memorial and walked around. I'll include some pictures (items in green are taken from the memorial brochure) and my thoughts will be in blue.

The Survivor Tree: 90 year-old American Elm stands as a profound symbol of human resilience. The message on the stone surrounding the elm reads: The spirit of this city and this nation will not be defeated; our deeply rooted faith sustains us.

Field of Empty Chairs: 168 chairs stand as a reminder of each life lost, symbolizing the absence felt by family members and friends. The chairs are placed in 9 rows, representing the nine floors of the building. The chairs are placed according to the floor on which those killed worked or were visiting. The chairs are designed in two sizes, the smaller size representing the absence of 19 children. The field's perimeter matches the footprint of the former Murrah Building.

Reflecting Pool: The pool occupies what was once N.W. Fifth street. Here, a shallow depth of gently flowing water is intended to help soothe wounds, with calming sounds providing a peaceful setting for quiet thoughts. The West Gate represents 9:03, the moment we were changed forever, and the hope that came from the horror in the moments and days following the bombing.

Children's Area: In the aftermath of the blast, countless expressions of encouragement were received from children. A wall of hand-panted tiles sent to OK City in 1995 by children illustrates that caring.

The Fence: The first fence was installed to protect the site of the Murrah Building. Almost immediately, people began to leave tokens of love and hope on the fence. Those items now total more than 60,000 and are collected and preserved in the archives.

"We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity."

This was left by one of the rescue workers the day after the blast.

Along with a marathon, 1/2 marathon, wheelchair marathon and 5K, there is also a Kids marathon. It was really neat to see them racing the last leg of their race!

This is the reason why we do it, and why I will continue to go back and participate. It is hard to keep the tears back when you see person after person that was affected that day.

Mom and Dad--it was pretty bright at the memorial, so the pic didn't turn out as well. We're pretty proud of Mom and her first athletic medal! :)

Christina and me on the way back to the hotel after the race. Tired and sweaty--ready for a shower and the drive home!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Recent happenings in pictures

I wrote about our recent snow storms, but hadn't had a chance to upload these pics. My thinking frog was a bit confused in the rapid changes of weather lately, I think!

MCC sale was last weekend. Freak snow storm on Friday, and a beautiful day on Saturday. New additions to the sale this year were a children's auction--complete with a clown auctioneer, and our friend Whitney! Which one is Whitney though?

We love you Whitney! :)

My friend Julie's birthday was yesterday. She's addicted to two things: chocolate and Coca-Cola, so I decided to mix the two together for her gift. Quinn was in charge of cooking last night, but I volunteered to bring a cake. Some of you know that I used to work in a chocolate shop. It's been awhile since I've spent time doing "fun" work like chocolate work, but I figured this was the perfect excuse to play! First I heated some white chocolate and colored it Coca-Cola red. Luckily, I had purchased some molds from the lady I worked for in college, and I happened to have some coke bottles in the mix.

I first started on the detail work on the coke bottles, inlaying the red chocolate. Once that had set, I melted milk chocolate and poured it on top. Unfortunately, I don't have all the tools that I worked with at the shop, so they weren't perfect, but...I did the best I could! :)

Once that was done, I drew out the Coca-Cola lable on parchment paper. I then outlined the red chocolate on the parchment paper, making sure it was thick enough, so that it wouldn't break when I tried to take it off the paper. All those loop-d-loops make it pretty difficult!

The final product--2 layers of Devil's food cake, chocolate fudge frosting, Coca-Cola label, with a large Coke bottle on top, and 8 mini Coke bottles on the bottom. Once I got it all together, I headed out to Julie and Quinn's (they live out by the County Lake). Unfortunately, the cake stand toppled over midway there. I was ready to cry! All that hard work! Thankfully, I was able to repair the cake (for the most part, at least) before Julie saw it.

Pictures from tonight (4/25/2007) Enjoying good fellowship, and home-made icecream after a fantastic meal at Arlin and Maretta's house.

Adam is really starting to scoot around by army crawling on the floor, and is able to walk when holding on to things around him. He is growing up so fast!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Finding Comfort

Sometimes life is overwhelming. Terrifying events happen, terror strikes, people make life-altering mistakes...It is at these times that one should seek comfort in a higher power than our own.

These last weeks have been overwhelming--the college shootings sent a shiver of fear through all of us, but in addition to that there have also been several events closer to home that have caused great sorrow for those involved. Time seems to just drag by, with each day bringing new unhappiness to those around me. Today was yet another example of turmoil for us--the end of April and beginning of May are always an uncomfortable time in a school environment. Rumors run rampant as to who will be fired, who will resign, and if there will be replacements hired. The rumors have been vicious this year, and everything came down to a special board meeting that was held at noon today. Regretfully, one of the teachers that I work with has been RIFfed (fancy way of saying Reduction In Force). I am deeply saddened over the situation, as she is a first year teacher who has done a wonderful job with the group of kids she was given. She is a great teacher now, and I know that she will grow into a phenomenal teacher. It is really too bad that we will be losing her.

I cannot imagine what it would be like to have news like that, and then the next day be expected to come to work and carry on as normal. It will be up to those of us that work with her to offer her support and encouragement in any way that we can.

God's spirit is with us always, no matter what happens. We may not know why the hard times happen, but it is important to know who we can trust in the midst of them. By concentrating on the love and peace of God, we are able to exchange our fear and uncertainty for faith in His greater plan.

The fundamental fact of existence is that
this trust in God, this faith,
is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living.
It's our handle on what we can't see.
Hebrews 11:1

Friday, April 20, 2007

"Putting food on my family"

Saw this (the first one) on another blog this evening, and it reminded me of that song that John McCutcheon sings...Presidential Mispeak, or something like that. Then I started looking at related items on youtube, and can see what happened. Enjoy!

or this

or maybe this?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Today we were doing our teaching plans for next week, and I suggested to the 3rd grade group that they consider reading aloud the book Love That Dog by Sharon Creech (author of Walk Two Moons), as their theme for next week poetry. When I was student teaching at Oasis I taught this book to a group of kids, grade K-6. Love That Dog is a funny, short novel about a boy, Jack, whose teacher insists on teaching poetry. He is reluctant, as after all, boys don't write poetry! The teacher, Miss Stretchberry, persists introducing the class to poetry from Robert Frost, William Blake, Walter Dean Myers, among many others. The book is written in free verse, from Jack's point of view, and as you read you slowly see his perception of poetry change. Miss Stretchberry is that fictional teacher that all of us in the teaching profession strive to be, quietly guiding the children and coaxing a love of poetry from them. It is a truly wonderful read, one that I would recommend for everyone!

Anyway, after telling my fellow teachers about it, I started paging through the book and re-reading it. One of the poems that Jack wrote really struck me, as it is so true. It exemplifies my thoughts of late! :) Enjoy!

April 26

when you are trying
not to think about something
it keeps popping back
into your head
you can't help it
you think about it
think about it
think about it
until your brain
feels like
a squashed pea.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


It never ceases to amaze me how inconsiderate some people are! Tomorrow I was supposed to have a dr. appointment with Dr. Alseudi again, a one month checkup. Over the course of the month on the new meds, my headaches have been worse than they have been in a long time. I'm upset about that, but now I'm also upset with him and his office. The last time I went he was late and made me wait for over an hour without even telling me what was going on. Well, today his office called to remind me of my 2:00 appointment. I told them, "yes, I remember, I'll make sure to be there at 2:00"...well, actually we need you to change your appt. to 11:20. That's the latest appt. we have. GRRRRRR! I've had this appt. for over a month, I've had to make arrangements to cover my classroom while I'm gone, and there is no way that I can come earlier than when my first appointment is! His office got really upset with me on the phone, explaining that there weren't enough appointments to keep him around in the office, and that he could be at the hospital instead. Truly nasty with me! I told them that it wasn't my fault he can't get appointments, and that it is inconsiderate for them to not acknowledge that their clients have busy schedules as well. It is impossible for me to rearrange my schedule at the last min., just because they can't be nice enough to their clients to keep them coming back. Anyway, the phone conversation didn't end well between the two of us, with his office saying they would get back with me about whether I could come in at 2:00 or not.

At that point, it was time for me to go back and teach for a bit. I was stewing about it the entire time though, and once I got the kids started on their assignment, I called the office back to cancel my appointment. I got a different person this time, who wanted to know when I would like to reschedule. I said that I wouldn't be rescheduling, as I no longer wanted to have him as my dr. Since she wasn't the one that was nasty, I held back on how I talked with her, but I really wanted to give the office a piece of my mind. Maybe a nasty letter would help? Anyway, I'm just frustrated at this point. I'm going to need to call down to the pharmacy and see how to get off the drugs he prescribed, whether I can just stop, or whether I have to wean myself off.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Letting Go

Okay, I'll admit it. I struggle to let go, and let God take over in my life. I've written about it before, and it is something that I am constantly dealing with. At times, my life feels like a wrestling match--selfish me vs. the me who lets God decide. Selfish me struggles to solve a problem, or reach a goal, but never seems to get a good handle on the situation, or achieve the standard to which I aspire. It is at that point that I petition God, when I've realized the limits of my own strength and abilities.

All I can do is my personal best, and then trust that the Lord will do the rest for me. Surrendering to that trust frees me from having to run the world (or at least my version of it), and allows God the room to do His work. Instead, I should try to do my part with His guidance and then I'll most likely discover that God has a much better plan than my own.

It is hard for me to trust in God's plan when I don't see the results that I expect. Since my professional life is a world which is driven by data and measured outcomes, I figure that my personal life should follow the same rules. Instead, I need to remind myself of the conversations that have occurred between God and myself, and TRUST that what He has promised for me will come, although it will be on HIS timeline, and not my own. Very difficult!

The One who called you
is completely dependable.
If he said it,
he'll do it!
1 Thessalonians 5:24

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Peace is the last thing I've felt today! But I hope (and know) that once I get through the chaos that is today, that I will feel better and experience the peace that comes with the joy of Easter.

My morning started with a 7:00 meeting that was full of emotions heightened by the fact that there is such a division between regular education teachers and "us" (those with special education background). The meeting ran late, and into the time when I was supposed to get my kids set up for their state testing. For me, this means that I am madly running all over the school trying to find computers that can be used, and adults who can sit with my kids, since they aren't included in the computer lab setup, add to that a computer fiasco with computers not being able to be used because of a fuse being blown, and also kids spread all over the school that I needed to find...I was at wit's end by 8:40, and the day had hardly started!

Once I got all that sorted out, I thought maybe I'd have a chance to get everything in my classroom under control, but then I also had a visit from my SPED director. While the kids were busy with a quick game, he sat down and had a conversation with me. All sorts of things were discussed, including the meeting we had just had earlier that morning, plans for next year at MES and how many teachers we would have, and an opening at OASIS (my dream job!) that he was wondering whether I was interested in! I had heard earlier this week that there was an opening, and was expecting this conversation, but I've been in turmoil all week as to what my answer would be. There are pros and cons to me staying, or me going. While the possibility is still there that I could take the job, he told me there is another person who is also interested in it, so it would be between the two of us and him choosing whom to send. At that point, I said that I wasn't interested in fighting someone else for a job. I am truly happy where I am, and if someone else is unhappy enough to be asking for a transfer, then I don't want to stand in their way. If OASIS is something that should happen for me, the doors will be wide open, and I won't have to agonize over the decision. At this point in the conversation he started asking me about how I know, physically. I had to request some medical leave for my 2nd neurologist appt. a few weeks from now, and it went across his desk. The leave form asks for the reason you are requesting leave, and so I had written that I had a neurologist appt. I'm sure that this is the cause for the questioning. It really struck me though---he was actually being kind and caring. Truly concerned about my health and well being.

The rest of the day was much of the same sort of stuff---running after kids, altered schedules, class parties, and then Easter party at the end of the day. Oh, and did I mention that it has been snowing all afternoon? A real blizzard! :) That really got the kids excited.

In short, this last week, and especially today, has been pretty bumpy. There have been times that I've felt alone, unhappy, and out-of-control (I HATE that feeling). The message of Easter though is that Christ will come, and take away all of those feelings, leaving hope and a new chance to do things right.

I'm leaving you well and whole.
That's my parting gift to you.
I won't leave you the way you're used to being left--
feeling abandoned, bereft.
--John 14:27 The Message

Sunday, April 01, 2007

"Courage, my friends, the world is still filled with the finest of people."

"Don't tell me hate is ever right or God's will
These are the wheels we put in motion ourselves
The whole world weeps and is weeping still
Though shaken I still believe
the best of what we all can be
The only peace this world will know
Can only come from love."

Last week I went to a fantastic concert, one of the best that HBPA has ever had. Carrie Newcomer was so refreshing to hear her music, and her lyrics. Her songs speak to me, in much the same way McCutcheon and Chapin (among others) do. I purchased 2 CDs that night and I've been listening to them nonstop ever since...when I go to sleep at night, when I'm getting ready to go to school, in the car driving back and forth from class and school...
There are many songs on the two albums I bought that will, I'm sure, become fodder for my blog, but for right now I'll concentrate on "I Heard an Owl," a song that talks of the need for peace, and loving our neighbors, just as God loves us.

As I have mourned for the conflict in Iraq, and the anniversary of our time there, I've thought many times of how it will end, if it will end, and what it will take for that to happen. This isn't something that I can talk about with most of the people I come into contact with, as the opinion I hold is not one that the majority agrees upon.

"I am a voice calling out
Across the great divide
I am only one person
That feels they have to try
The questions fall like trees or dust
Rise like prayers above
But the only word is "Courage"
And the only answer "Love"

It saddens me to think about the lives that have been lost, the number of families affected, and the amount of hatred that the world holds.

"Light every candle that you can
We need some light to see
In the face of deepest loss
Treat each other tenderly
the arms of God will gather in
Each sparrow that falls
But makes no separation
Just fiercely loves us all"