Tag Archives: grow

Bloom

Discovering the bloom was surprising.

Why am I surprised, again?

God continues to surprise and amaze me along this stretch of the journey, and I continue to struggle to believe the goodness is real and really for me. He shows me that he sees me and is here for me in the bigness and chaos with just what I need, and I wonder about next time.

Will you still see me then, Father? Next time?

The bloom in front of me whispers this time. Grace for today.

It came on the day that I finished a big story for this session in Seattle. This weekend we delve into sexuality. I tiptoed in last year via Red Tent. It’s time to go deeper.

I could have missed this tiny bloom completely, but I didn’t. The pink flower adorning the leggy growth propped by the plant stand called to me as I passed by, stopped, and marveled.

Steve, look at this!

So many things spoke to me through this little pink flower. I immediately texted the giver of the transplanted-from-broken-small-shoots in a little pot to tell her. I had transplanted the growth to a larger floor pot. It’s the one to the right of the stand in the picture. It took off wildly. Like my life.

So there it is. The bloom. The special sign to me that I am seen, it is time, and all will be well. At the end of the growth will come the flower.

But first, the terror of being dumped out and re-potted. First the mess.

Scenes from Seattle, part 2

This was the view from the window at Thursday afternoon’s lunch with friends.

Friday night’s dinner was accompanied by a flight of wine.

Coffee was brewed each morning in this pot ~ and poured into a travel mug to take along on the bus.

I picked up this mug which held my coffee as I waited at the bus stop in the rain.

By Sunday morning’s group time, the candle burns low.

Across the street from school stands the question of the day.

Space NeedleThe downtown ride after dark was beautiful.

For part 1, click here.

Making a List

Maybe it would help to make a list of all the things you need to pack, suggests my husband. It is not the first time this idea has been offered. His diplomacy is sweet, considering I still have not made any lists, yet continue to bemoan all that clutters my mind.

Meals. To dos. Classroom reminders. Items to pack. These all race inside my head, yelling for attention, sending me scurrying this way and that.

I reluctantly follow his suggestion, grabbing a pad of paper and listing out clothing items, each with a box to check once it enters my suitcase. It feels so tedious, yet I immediately sense relief as the words leave my brain and fill paper.

Why do I fight this so?

I am grateful for the growth that has happened in my ability to hear my luvvvah’s words in a spirit of kindness rather than as critique and criticism. He truly is sharing what helps him and in no way is condemning me for my inability to move.

Grateful for the list, I pull out a suitcase and begin rolling bedclothes and stuffing my short boots with socks to begin filling the space. I will wear tall boots on the plane. Where are those grey pants?

This season in Seattle is not one for Toms. I had a trial run of Seattle weather a few days ago while walking Dewey, but that is for another post.

For now, I am grateful for quiet space and a few minutes to write out some thoughts about packing and how I am growing in my ability in making a list.

Now to check it twice! Here we go!

Lumping the Goals

Its is past mid-October. The earth keeps spinning and moving on its track at a speed I can hardly handle. Hours roll into days, weeks, months. They pass.

The last goal-specific post I wrote chronicled July’s achievements. August and September have had to fend for themselves. I wonder, if you work on the goals and don’t blog about them, was any progress made? Consider this a lumping together of August through October, even though October is not quite over. It is a good-faith post.

August found me back in the classroom for what I lovingly call My fourth year of a two-year stint. Year four has finally given me a groove, and the students and teachers I work with are the best. They make the days a joy and an adventure. Every day is full.

September found me on a flight to Seattle for the first of four sessions at The Allender Center at the Seattle School. I return in November, January, and March, which itself is a huge goal in the midst of being realized. For all who ask What will you do with your certificate when you are finished? that is an excellent question, and one I am fully considering.

Those are the two big events that I credit for the lack of time to blog about all of the smaller ones that have been happening.

I am still in the Bible daily. Jeremiah, I Timothy, Psalms, and Proverbs are where God meets me these mornings. I try to journal then and take time to be still. Steve and I pray together.

Connecting with family and the kids happens regularly. I am especially intentional about grabbing time with child four before he leaves the country at the end of November. Quality time with him looks like moments in the kitchen or around the table or in his almost-finished-but-moved-into room. We have taken walks together downtown. Celebrating his eighteenth birthday as a family at Wood Grill Buffet was a milestone.

As to the other kiddos, I have not been faithful about writing down the specifics of what we have done, but fall coffee drinks have been gotten, dog walks taken, shopping for clothes or desired objects has happened, and projects worked on together. Quality time is always a work in progress.

Steve and I still keep our Wednesday nights open for date night. We also try to grab as many walks together as possible and moments on the porch for coffee or a glass of wine. We know we need to do more and be more intentional about planning out our time. We continue to fight for what we know we need which is to be present together.

Connections with friends have looked like phone calls or coffee dates. I went to an overnight women’s retreat at my church with Angela. Impromptu connections with other friends have been sweet. Fun is still hard for me to come by and engage in, but I am working on it. This season of study is teaching me more about myself and my style of relating.

Stephen Ministry and worship team continue to be engaging. I have participated in both as much as possible and even got a bonus turn to sing on team as a substitute. That was a sweet gift. I updated the Stephen Ministry bulletin board for fall, as well.

Financially, we keep chugging along, and God keeps providing for all of our needs. Some ways are predictable like through the paychecks we receive for the work that we do. Others are more surprising and unexpected, like through the minor car accident that was not our fault but will replace the Jetta. In all cases we are humbled and blessed by our father’s provision.

Finally, writing. Moments like now, inopportune and hurried, are when it happens. I try to make time by taking it from somewhere seemingly less important and have kept up with the Red Tent submissions. August and September’s posts were published. As for my own blog, the number of new posts are fewer than I would like but are exactly what they need to be in this season.

To all who continue to faithfully read and engage my blog and life endeavors, thank you for your interest and care. You bless me greatly, and I hope you are blessed! Here’s to finishing out an amazing year!

Blessing the Teacher

Several months ago, I read words by Tracy Johnson on Red Tent Living. She wrote about blessing the manager in her, and I immediately thought of the teacher in me and how difficult it is to bless her.

As a little girl, I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. One brother, eight years younger than me, called me teacher before he called me by my name. I vividly remember playing school using a chalkboard set up in the smallest room of our duplex, my classroom for a season. That chalkboard was the best toy, and I was always the teacher.

Having six younger siblings, five of whom were alive by the time I was ten, offered plenty of opportunities to hone my craft. Having a father who was a Christian school teacher, offered plenty of opportunities to troll around to various classrooms at the end of each school year hoarding papers and teaching supplies that were going to be thrown in the trash.

I assembled leftover classroom worksheets into booklets, stapling them together. These were used to teach and entertain siblings on long summer car rides to Michigan. Old lesson plan or grade books with used pages torn out were treasured finds. If there was still a seating chart template in the back, I would spend hours arranging and rearranging imaginary students into rows.

I drew pictures of classrooms. The items on the teacher’s desk, the assignments written on the chalkboard, the wall decorations, all were fastidiously detailed. Sometimes I wish I still had one or two of them. Then I wonder if it is better to have them in my memory. I am curious if that is why I am intent on saving samples of my children’s work.

The dream of growing up and becoming a teacher was rooted deep inside of me. There was a time when it felt hopeful and sweet. I taught a little girl to read when I was sixteen and loved planning enrichment activities for the small group of day camp students that I worked with that summer. Then something changed.

The dream and desire became a demand. I remember when the joy of teaching was replaced by duty and the expectation to teach. I remember feeling choices slip away and panic set in. I remember trying my best to push the window of other opportunities open, only to have it slam shut and lock.

I remember feeling betrayed by the teacher in me. Why did she have to be so good at what she did? Why did she always say this is what she wanted to be? What if there were other things, too?

The teacher, ever efficient, stepped up and took over, pushing the other parts aside. She took care of business and rose to the occasion. She went to school, studied, and worked hard. She loved each student that came through her room and saw to it that she cared for them in the best possible way.

I appreciate her for that. I appreciate her ability to connect with students, to care for them, and to make learning fun. I appreciate her stepping up and doing what needed to be done. Most of all, I am grateful to have grown into a place where I can truly bless her and her gifts.

The teacher is a part of me, but she is not all of me. Still, she is pretty amazing, and I have grown to love and appreciate her. Her presence is a gift of grace in my life.

Hoarding Grace

A new school year has begun. It is hard to believe that it has been three years since this happened. You know how things look different in three years? I’m feeling it.

This school year my mantra is daily grace. My theme is grace enough. With so much going on in various aspects of life, big things and small things, if I lose focus on daily graces, I will drown. Daily graces are gifts that happen in the moment to help ease the load a bit. They are unpredictable, often surprising, and easily missed if not intentionally noticed.

Daily grace is grace enough.

The problem comes when I try to hoard grace. When I grab onto a gift I have been given in a moment and analyze and question and cling to and demand that it be like this every time, I lose sight of the gift that is grace. Grace enough says, Wow! What a gift that was!

The first day of school, grace enough was unexpected morning texts from friends, a donut from a fellow teacher, pizza brought home for dinner. The following days, grace appeared in different forms. A big field trip was scheduled, an encouraging Stephen Ministry meeting happened, food appeared for supper each evening, the first Friday pencil can activity was successful without using ModPodge.  (I have learned a thing or two over the years, and colorful “Duck Tape” works just as well or better with NO MESS!!!!)

So here I sit on Sunday afternoon with week one of school behind me. While savoring all of the grace from last week, I begin to stress about this one. Sunday evenings have historically been hard for me. I begin to feel the stress of the upcoming week and grieve the end of the weekend.

Choosing to focus on daily grace invites me to look with surprise and anticipation about what the upcoming week will bring. What does God have in store that I have yet to discover? When I change my perspective to one of openness and stop trying to pack grace manna into jars to save on a shelf for next time, I find myself breathing easier and trusting more. I also find fewer worms. (unless I am shucking the grace that is home-grown, pesticide-free garden corn)

This grace enough is such a slow process for me and carries quite a steep learning curve. I want to have everything nailed down and figured out and neatly planned. I long for ease and comfort all day every day. Instead I am given the daily grace that is grace enough to carry me through the hard, uncomfortable places and lead me to where I have yet to go.

As I look out of my bedroom windows at the bright blue sky and bright yellow sunflowers bowing their heads, I am grateful for the grace of this quiet afternoon to rest and write and refresh my soul. In this moment, it is enough.

It’s all grace.

Shannon’s Mom

Would Shannon’s mom report to the mall office, please? Shannon’s mom to the mall office.

My heart is in my throat as I step from the carpeted floor of Centerpointe, the Christian bookstore in the mall next to JC Penney, to the sleek tiled floor of the mall’s common ground. Already, time has passed too slowly and too quickly in my search for a preschooler entrusted to my care, not for a few hours a day, but for LIFE.

I am failing at it. I can’t even keep track of ONE small child. How can parents continue to trust me to care for their children day after day? In that moment, all I feel in my brain is the relief that Shannon is found and only gave her first name. What if someone heard that Mrs. McClay had lost a child? I would never be trusted again.

How did this happen?

It was supposed to be a quick, after-work trip to the mall, bringing my youngest child along for some quality time together. We entered through the Walmart anchor end, making the long trek past all of the stores towards our destination at polar opposite.

She noticed the coin-operated merry-go-round and asked to ride it. Not now was my response, because I had no change, and we had places to go. Let’s be honest, my response was usually not now, because, well, just because.

Today we are pressed for time, because I have just gotten off of work, and there are things that I need to look for before heading home to fix supper and get on with the evening. There are always things to get to. Always that next thing.

We enter Centerpointe, precursor to Family Christian Store, and I begin to look in earnest for whatever it is that I need. I enjoy it here, because there is a play area for kids in the back where VeggieTales videos loop and books and toys are accessible, while moms like me peruse the latest CDs and Christian books and tchotchkes.

Shannon is into VeggieTales, these days, so much so that her birthday party was a VeggieTale theme, so I am more than happy to oblige when she asks if she can go to play with the toys.

I scan the CD display, searching for something new, that I know will lift my spirits, though I won’t be able to buy it. I remain lost in thought for a few minutes before returning to reality and heading to the back of the store for my girl.

I find emptiness.

The play area is empty.

Bob and Larry sing silly songs to an empty chair. There is no little girl in sight.

Panic rises in my chest as I run to the front of the store where a cheerful, curly-haired cashier is ringing up a purchase.

Did you see a little girl walk out of the store?

Looking at me with concerned eyes, she shakes her head. She has not seen a child, but she has been busy ringing up purchases. I feel her care and concern as shame washes over me. She is doing her job. I am clearly not doing mine.

It is at that moment, in the front of the store, that I hear the mall loudspeaker calling for me, and I rush out to the mall office.

Scooping Shannon into my arms, I have never been so happy to see a little face.

What happened?

Well, you SAID I could play with the toys, so I went out to try to find them, but I went the wrong way.

The toys. The TOYS. The merry-go-round. She was asking to go play on the merry-go-round.

We talk it over and realize where she made a wrong turn, and where I made a wrong assumption, and I tell her I am glad that she was able to say her name so that I could come and find her. We leave the mall together with a memory and the huge relief of being reunited.

I have been Shannon’s mom for 21 years, now. I love her and how she has helped me to grow and become a better mother and person. I am realizing that there will always be wrong turns and wrong assumptions, but if we remember our name and ask for help, the reuniting is sweet and the memories are rich.

Shani first birthday

This is from Shani’s first birthday. Her face captures her essence even at a year old. Those big eyes and that furrowed brow speak volumes. I just want to scoop her up and hold her close again. Love those babies, Mamas!!! Time really does fly. Happy 21st, Little Angel!