Friday, November 30, 2012

Photo Day--Time to Put Fall Decorations Away

Fall decorations are still out.
This weekend,
I hope to put them away
and begin adorning the house
with Christmas.

This turkey and the two Pilgrims were given to my mother
and now I have them.

Soon snowmen will be protecting my hands
as I reach into the oven.

Blessings to you as you begin the weekend!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Corner View: Thankfulness

This week's corner view is on thankfulness.
As do many, I have much for which to be thankful,
but I have chosen to focus on my children and their families.

I am thankful for a daughter who takes the time and effort
to design a beautiful Christmas card every year
that records the growth and changes of her precious family.
I used to kid her about how fanatical she was about
getting the cards done in time to arrive almost immediately
after Thanksgiving.

Now,her earnestness has rubbed off and
I spent part of my break designing my own Christmas card.
Mine will be out much earlier this year.

The joy I felt at holding this latest card
made the day brighter
and the anticipation of seeing them at Christmas, keener.

I am also thankful for her diligence
at keeping her blog updated,
so that I can 'watch' my Texas grandchildren
experience life, even though I live in Ohio.
Thank you so much, Sara!

I am thankful for my son who loads his 'crew' up
and brings them over for family time.

I am thankful for the girlfriend who never fails to hug me tightly
and who has the food put away before I can even think about it.
(That saved me so much time after Tday dinner last Friday!)

I am thankful that she regularly bakes with Doug's oldest Peyton.
Dani has much patience in sharing the joy of baking with Peyton
and it's obvious Peyton enjoys every minute of it.
(They made an awesome chocolate pecan pie for Tday dinner!

I am thankful for a son who spent time browsing the downtown shops--
supporting the local economy and teaching his children
they don't have to buy, but can have fun just looking.

I am thankful that he played with the two youngest in the park,
so his girlfriend and older daughter could have uninterrupted
 together time in the kitchen.
(He wore the youngest out and Addison slept through the entire evening!)Thank you, Doug!

{I am also thankful for the movie The Christmas Story
and the sharing of laughter as a family,
as the grandson enjoyed a quality movie versus sub-standard cartoons,
which is what they are doing in the photo.)

For more views on thankfulness,
please check out Francesca's 'place'.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Barn Charm #61Before and After Huge Storm of Summer of 2012

This barn belongs to a high school classmate of my husband's and mine.
Well, it's actually his wife's third generation family farm.

Here is a good view of the old homestead that set to the right of the barn.
This particular 'set' refers to past tense.
(The verb goes present-set, past-set, past participle-have set).

Here are two fairly close photos of both structures
taken in early summer two years ago.

Now here is that same barn after the horrendous storm
that blew into Ohio and other states June 29th, 2012,
leaving many without  power for anywhere from one day to two weeks.

This is a shot taken from my car after the storm
and my first ride down to Seneca Lake
to take note of what had been damaged.

As you can see, the old homestead is no more.
The storm destroyed it.

You used to not be able to see the barn from this angle
because of the house.
Now a camera has a clear shot.

When my husband last talked to the guy
back in July,
they were considering tearing the barn down.
As of late August, it was still there.

The house and chimney you see in the distance to the right,
in the third photo up,
was the second home.

It is no longer lived in either.
They live in a brick ranch house built way off to the left
of the barn, outbuildings, and homestead.
(I don't have a photo of it--it is okay, but nothing special.)

Here is what you saw before June 29, 2012 from the road
 looking up the farm's lane.
I have featured this photo twice before for different reasons.

This is a long post, but I thought the house needed to be 'mourned' also, 
not just the extremely damaged barn. 

For more barns,
click on Barn Charm and go to Tricia's place.

The absence of anger and malice in a granddaughter and Monday's Prayer

Perhaps Peyton is the least complicated of my grandchildren.
She is certainly the most cheerful of my Ohio grandchildren.

It occurred to me this morning that I have not seen her throw a fit
or sulk and be truly bad-tempered. 
Oh she cried as a baby. 
She cried and fussed when punished for doing something
 she was told not to do---I remember one particular 2-yr.-old act of defiance while babysitting her.

But she always woke up with a smile.
She still comes in the door with a big smile
and a bright, cheerful, "Hi Grandma!"
She rarely complains and even then, she lets it go
after telling it.

She is working hard at getting better at gymnastics.
She scored an 8 out of 10 on her floor section.
We were all pleased for her.
She was nervous, but still smiled.
The smile got huge when she saw all the family in the stands
cheering her on.
She cares about that.

She is also the one who regularly lets her Grandpa Mike
know how much he means to her.
Having not been a father,
 the grandfather job has been an unexpected joy.
It is also an area of uncertainty for him.
Peyton never fails to let him know he's doing a good job.

"As long as you live here on earth,
you will face countless opportunities to lose your temper
over small, relatively insignificant events:
a traffic jam, a spilled cup of coffee,
an inconsiderate comment, a broken promise.
When your are tempted to lose your temper over the minor
inconveniences of life, don't.
Turn away from anger, hatred, bitterness, and regret.
Turn instead to God."
From 100 Days of Grace for Women.

"Life is too short to spend it being angry, bored, or dull."
Barbara Johnson

"When something robs you of your peace of mind,
ask yourself if it is worth the energy you are expanding on it.
If not, then put it out of your mind
in an act of discipline.
Every time the thought of "it" returns,
refuse it."
Kay Arthur

"If your temper gets the best of you . . .
then other people get to see the worst in you."
Marie T. Freeman

"Do not let your spirit rush to be angry,
for anger abides in the heart of fools."
Ecclesiastes 7:9

"But now you must also put away all the following:
anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language
from your mouth."
Colossians 3:8

Today's Prayer of Grace

Sometimes, I am quick to anger and slow to forgive.
But I know, Lord, that you seek abundance and peace
for my life.
Forgiveness is Your commandment;
empower me to follow the example
of Your Son Jesus
who forgave His persecutors.
Today, as I run away from anger,
I will claim the peace that You intend for my life,
and I will praise You for Your blessings.

I hope this ministers to someone out there
as God used it to minister to me this morning.
I think the prayer is especially timely
as I head into a day of professional development
on Ohio's many new 'expectations' of 'its' teachers!

Blessings to you all as you begin the new week!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Integrity and Monday's Prayer

"Beth Moore correctly observed, 'Those who walk in truth walk in liberty.'
As believers in Christ, we must seek to live each day with discipline, honesty, and faith.
When we do, at least two things happen: integrity becomes a habit,
God blesses us because of our obedience to Him.
Living a life of integrity isn't always the easiest way,
but it is always the right way . . .
and God clearly intends that it should be our way too."
From One Hundred Days of Grace for Women

Above is a photo of what is on the shelf of my computer armoire.
The armoire is in the dining room and is where I do all my computer work
and bill paying.

It has a photo of my parents, two precious wooden figures, Dad's books on WWII,
Mom's Bible with the "Angel on Duty" knick knack that reminds me
they are still looking out for me.
It also has photos of my dad resting on the POW album I made him for his 80th birthday
and a few other items.

There is at least one person in my family who might disagree with me
on this next statement and I have shied away from saying such things
so as not to upset him.
But they are my parents and for me, they lived integrity.
Every moment, every day? No!
They were not perfect.
But they made a commitment to live a life for God
\and share the love manifested in His son, Jesus Christ.
I watched and learned and hope that most days I make them proud.

Both figures were given to my dad.
One represents Dad as it is an old-time preacher.
The other one represents the man who became like a second father to me.
They were close friends.

'Porky' was salty in his talk and attitude,
but oh he lived integrity.

He was dry humor and blunt honesty.
When I needed that most in my senior year of high school,
living with him and his precious wife Marge (my second mom),
Porky came through.

 More later---
[I'm running out of time and must not be late for school.]

Here's Monday's Prayer:
Dear Lord,
Every day can be an exercise in character-building,
and that's what I intend to make this day.
I will be mindful that my thoughts and actions have great consequences,
consequences in my own life
and in the lives of my loved ones.
I will strive to make my thoughts and actions
pleasing to You,
so that I may be an instrument of Your peace,
today and every day.

"As the water reflects the face, so the heart reflects the person."
Proverbs 27:19

Monday, November 12, 2012

Change . . . and Monday's Prayer

 The four photos are of a property before and after the huge 'non-tornado' that swept through our area this past summer.  The last two photos show that the dilapidated house is no longer. It's gone--crumpled into the ground.  This is near Seneca Lake in southeastern Ohio.

Change.  I've been experiencing it at work and at home; in my professional life and my personal life. I didn't do well with change for years; then, I was drug through a horrendous change: a divorce and a dismantling of much that was familiar, safe, certain.
I learned to adapt, flex, change.
I leaned on God some, but more so on my parents' prayers, especially that direct line I believed my dad had with God--a privilege or more to the point a discipline I didn't have.

When my nephew suffered a devastating, life-changing stroke at the age of 31 in Malaysia (five years ago) and my brother told me on the phone that he needed Dad---he needed Dad to pray, I heard the helplessness and fear in his voice.
Dad was nowhere we could phone, drive, fly. . . go to.  He was with God.
I emailed my brother later that I had come to realize that Dad didn't have an exclusive, direct line to God;
he just used the one that we all had.  And that he and I simply needed to utilize it.
I got better at being in touch with God and turning to Him. But inevitably, I go through periods when my body weakens; exhaustion sets in, and I permit depression to make me feel alone.

Chicago city teachers went on strike awhile back. I found it interesting and somewhat amusing that one of the key issues they were fighting was the connecting of teachers' evaluations to students' scores.
I sat watching the news and said under my breath, "Welcome to my world."

I wished them luck, but wanted to tell them that eventually they will lose the fight.
After all, someone has to be held accountable for the lousy state of education in the United States
and who better to blame than the teachers and their 'misusing of power' unions?

Ohio is there.  Next school year-the 2013/2014 school year--fifty percent of our evaluations will be based on our students' tests scores. Half.
I won't bog you down with all the situations we deal with like the parents who don't even make their kids come to school on a regular basis--who write sickness on excuses when they know it was really the latest X-box game or being out too late with the college boyfriend or at a party where of course there wasn't alcohol (yeah, right, and I'm Queen Elizabeth).  That's just a sample.
Yet those same kids will help determine how good I am at my job.

Our school district is part of the Race to the Top initiative and another one that has an acronym
I can rarely remember and can never remember what it stands for.
So we have been working steadily towards this day for several years.

But working towards it and having it looming over you are two different things.
I have deadlines now that must be met or I will be called on the carpet.

One such deadline is a 23 page booklet in which I account for how I am teaching every required standard.
23 pages.
So the kids' essays will sit and wait while I write down just exactly what I am teaching and how I am teaching it.  I thought that was what we do in lesson plans in which we state the standards we are meeting.

They (the board) can't not non-renew me yet, but they can have a looong memory.

That is what is weighing on my heart, mind, soul. There is a new test "a'comin" that has mostly nonfictional writings in the reading test.
Since when did literature become solely nonfictional?
How do I justify To Kill a Mockingbird
or Of Mice and Men?
And poetry?  That is being fazed out in the new tests.

Also all units have to have a pretest and posttest,
and there will be an SLO (Student Learning Objective) that will be a major part of the final measurement
of my students' learning and thus my evaluation and worth.
But I cannot create that SLO myself. Noooo.  
 I must do it with my team of one other English teacher--the young woman who believes her way is always right and who does not want to work with anybody.
(I'm not sure she'd collaborate with Jesus were He to walk in her room and sit down. ----I'm not joking.)

So I spend my day off due to our Veterans' sacrifices
trying to wade through the red tape that is due this week.
Change.  I was getting fairly good at it.
Not so good any more.

Today's devotional in 100 Days of Grace for Women
"Every day that we live, we mortals encounter a multitude of changes----some good, some not so good.
And on occasion, all of us must endure life-changing personal losses that leave us breathless. When we do, our loving Heavenly Father stands ready to protect us, to comfort us, to guide us, and in time, to heal us. . . God is far bigger than any problem you may face.  So, instead of worrying about life's inevitable challenges, put your faith in the Father and His only begotten Son: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever' (Hebrews 13:8).  And rest assured: It is precisely because your Savior does not change that you can face your challenges with courage for this day and hope for the future."

Ahhh, if it were as easy as it sounds.

Here's Monday's Prayer from the same book:

Dear Lord,
Our world is constantly changing.
When I face the inevitable transitions of life, I will turn to You
for strength and assurance.
Thank You, Father, for love that is unchanging and everlasting.

Blessings to you as you go through this week
and thanks for listening.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Corner View: Longing

I long for balance in my life and in my mind.

For more views on longing, please check out Francesca's Fuoriborgo.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Barn Charm #60

The sunlight was incredibly bright and coming from the wrong direction
for me to get great photos of this barn.
I am still learning the tricks of my camera;
thus, I still get the blue flashes sometimes.

It was up to the right off a part dirt/part gravel road
that I took out of curiosity.
This is west of my small town,
 in the area
where I like to explore with my camera.

It is deserted as is the house to the left of it and the barn across from it.
(That barn was featured awhile ago.)

Fences are still up and "No Trespassing!" signs,
but Mother Nature is beginning to take over.

The house is below.  I imagine if I had gone back in August,
I would have been able to see very little of it
as the overgrowth tends to hide things.

I'm sure at one point it was a lovely hillside farm.
Join others at Barn Charm.

Monday, November 5, 2012

No limitations and Monday's Prayer

Oh to have the faith of a little child!
 She lets go of mama's hand,
believing she can walk on her own,
but all the time knowing mama will be there to pick her up, should she fall.

I am struggling with balancing---no, I am struggling with getting things done
that need to be done.
I spend Saturday resting---literally.
I am physically, emotionally, and mentally spent after a week of teaching.
Yet there is so much to do.

My devotion this morning had as its second sentence:
". . . as you have faced the inevitable struggles of life-here-on-earth,
 you have--without realizing it--
placed limitations on God."

Then the next bit:
"To do so is a profound mistake.
God's power has no such limitations
and He can work mighty miracles in your own life if you let Him."

I read on and let the words settle within me.
Then I made a list of all that is part of my life--my job--my everyday responsibilities.
I made the list with these words: "With God's help, I can. . ."
I must look to Him more and what I can do through Him
and not what I can't do.

But first I began the morning by plugging in the coffee pot
with no water in it---I forgot to set it up last night! He He!
I laughed, shook my head ruefully and told God,
"This isn't a good start to the day!"
Then I went and opened 100 Days of Grace for Women
and heard His response.
I began again.

"Faith means believing in realities that go beyond sense and sight.
It is the awareness of unseen divine realities around you."
Joni Earekson Tada

"The most profane word we use is 'hopeless'.
When you say a situation or person is hopeless,
you are slamming the door in God's face."
Kathy Toccoli

Looking at them, Jesus said, "With men it is impossible,
but not with God, because all things are possible with God."
Mark 10:25

"For nothing will be impossible with God."
Luke 1:37

Today's Prayer of Grace

Heavenly Father,
Your infinite power is beyond human understanding.
With You, Lord, nothing is impossible.
Keep me always mindful of Your power,
and let me share the glorious message of Your miracles.
When I lose hope,
give me faith;
when others lose hope,
let me tell them of Your glory and Your works.
Today, Lord, let me expect the miraculous,
let me praise You,
and let me give thanks for Your miracles.

May we all have a blessed week and not limit God!