Sunday, September 18, 2011


Today in church we started our stewardship drive aka "The Pledge Drive."  This year's them is "Giving is a Gift from God" and we've been challenged to identify the gifts with which we've been blessed, and also to identify the times when we have felt blessed by our giving gifts to others.  The lectionary selections were especially appropriate with the start of the campaign.  We heard first the Exodus passage (Exodus 16:2-15) where the hungry Israelites grumble and complain about the lack of food.   God responds by gifting them with flocks of quail and the "fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground."  In the second passage (Matthew 20:1-16) we heard the story of the laborers who complained about the fact that the laborers who worked only a short time were paid the same as they who had worked all day. The meaning that I took from both these stories is two-fold.  First, God provides us with what we need, when we need it.  And God gifts every single one of us, equally, without regard for how hard we've worked, or how hard we've prayed, or how good we try to be.  God's gift of grace and forgiveness are for everyone.  I also thought about all the times I've felt cheated or resentful because I didn't get the same "reward" that others got.  Instead of finding joy in whatever it was I had received, I focused on what I didn't get, or the "more" that someone else got.    These two stories were good to hear today!    I needed these reminders.

I'm also hoping (and praying) that as our church makes some budget decisions, we can let go of our tight-fisted Yankee frugality and caution, and open ourselves to new ways of understanding how to spend our limited funds so that we are focusing more on spreading the gift of the Good News, rather than worrying about the future.  We are a giving church in time and energy.  Our motto is "Always for Others" and we practice what we preach, with a food pantry, emergency shelter, space for AA, Compassionate Friends, a community mother's group, and various other ministries.  Yet, I think we worry too much about "dipping into capital" and "saving for a rainy day."  As I wrote in my monthly "Moderator's Musing" column for our church newsletter, it's always a struggle to decide what to spend our limited resources on - in some things we have no choice.  But we do have choices and I'm praying that we stop being so practical, and learn how to gift our resources to others.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Friday Five On Saturday: Your Work Space

Yesterday's Friday Five from RevGalBlogPals:
I don't know about you, but I am a notoriously messy creative worker.  My workspace at home, and at my office is always littered with books and papers and mail and pens and keys and mugs....and tschotske (momentos, weird things, etc.)   I am looking right now at a pair of dice that someone gave me that have "God" on each side, so that anyway you roll 'em, you end up with God.  Different, right? 

So, this Friday Five is all about YOUR tschotske in your workplace.  Describe five things in/on your workspace (however you define workspace--I tend to spill over onto bedside tables, end tables, coffee tables...create wherever I land) that are special to you!   Bonus points for pictures!    

My Workspace at 6:40 am

The two pictures are from my workspace in my 6th grade classroom.  It's how my desk space looked Friday morning at 6:40 am.    
Five items in the pictures:

  1. The red clock in the center of my desk is waiting to get hung up.  I have to find a longer screw, nail or hook to put it over my board. And I have to find a hammer or screwdriver to put the screw, nail or hook into the wall.  Then I can hang the clock.  There is already a wall clock but our automatic school clock has a habit of counting time in a odd way. Every so often, we gain/lose odd amounts of time.  Sometimes it gets stuck, and time stands still!  So I like to have a backup.  Our school doesn't use bells, so we have to dismiss our classes on our own.
  2. In the 2nd picture you can see a orange stick puppet with straw hat.  He's on my Pass In basket.  Quite a few years ago now, we did a whole grade integrated unit based on the novel Holes.  As a final project, we divided all the kids up into groups and each teacher led an activity.  My group created puppet shows based on the novel.  This was one of the puppets a student created.  I saved it and he's been guarding the Pass In basket ever since.
  3. The paper towel roll in picture 2 is used daily to wipe up spills, clean desks, wipe off the white board.  
  4. In the first picture is a small silver bell on the front edge of my desk.  A student gave it to me one Christmas, years ago.  I use it sometimes to get the class's attention.  I can't believe I still have it.
  5. The desk itself is new-to-me.  I had a honking large desk that took up too much valuable real estate.  I traded it for a desk someone was getting rid of.  The smaller desk helps me with my room arrangement, but it really is a bit small to sit behind.  I keep knocking my knees against the sides.  On the other hand, I don't sit there much.  When I was getting ready to put my stuff in the drawers I discovered some treasures way in the back of a drawer.  One of the treasurers was a school roster of all the kids and their teachers from 1992.  My oldest son was in 6th grade then and there was his name on the roster.  What fascinated me was that it was a typed list that had been mimeographed!!!  All of our rosters are now computerized.  How quickly things have changed.  Although I just realized that 1992  was almost 20 years ago, now.  Where has the time gone!

I had some time to tidy up my work area before I went home. So here are some "clean" work space pictures ;)

                                                                   4:00 PM

I even got most of my planbook filled out for next week!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Liturgical Mystery #2

The Baritone Wore ChiffonThe Baritone Wore Chiffon by Mark Schweizer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hayden Konig is the police chief of St. Germaine, a small North Carolina town.  He's also the volunteer choir director/organist of the local Episcopal church, and an aspiring writer whose literary muse is Raymond Chandler.  In this second "Liturgical Mystery", Konig is asked to assist English police in the investigation into the death of a visiting "songman" at York Minster.  Hayden travels to York where he discovers some key evidence.  When he returns from England, a new interim priest has been installed at the church, along with a Presbyterian Christian Ed director.  It's Lent, and Hayden's significant other has asked him not to undermine the new staff.  So it's hands off, as the hapless congregation is subjected to a Clown Eucharist, an Edible Last Supper, the incomparable Feng Shui Altar Guild led by the rector's wife, and the insufferable ego of the new priest who favors high church processions led by his valet/verger Wenceslas who is proud of being a dwarf.  I don't know what events made me laugh more:  Rev. Barna's first attempt at a children's moment, with Moosy as the star pupil or the Feng Shui Altar Guild's constant rearranging of the altar and pews.  Hayden's Comparative Religion lectures are also a terrific counterpoint to the "Finding Your Inner Clown" classes led by Brenda, the Christian Ed. director.  Eventually the murder in England and the new leadership at the church are connected, and Hayden is the one who sorts everything out.  The added bonus to this series is the "novel" that Hayden writes and shares as the main story evolves.  This series is a terrific way to unwind, and anyone who is familiar with church politics and organization will chuckle!

View all my reviews

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Need to Knit

A Life in Stitches: Knitting My Way Through Love, Loss, and LaughterA Life in Stitches: Knitting My Way Through Love, Loss, and Laughter by Rachael Herron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I came across Rachael Herron's essays by chance. I was waiting for my husband at our local Wellness Center, and I picked up a copy of a "woman's magazine" sitting in the lounge. (I honestly don't remember which magazine it was.) An article on knitting caught my eye. I read it and wrote down the author's name and blog site.  When I got home, I read her blog "" and went to Amazon to buy the book from which her essay was extracted.    I was not disappointed.  Her collection of essays about how knitting has enriched and informed her life puts into words the experiences I've had as a knitter.  Her compulsion to knit is the same compulsion I feel.  She just explains it so well!

View all my reviews

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Glass Castle

The Glass CastleThe Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After reading Jeannette Walls' second book, Half-Broke Horses, I was eager to read this one, her first book.  This is memoir.  Walls describes her less-than-ideal childhood growing up as the child of an alcoholic father and a free-spirited mother.  Most other people considered the Walls family "poor white trash" and she shares the story of waking up in Oklahoma after sleeping in the car, surrounded by grinning adults and teasing children -- "We out-Okied the Okies" is her conclusion. Her family was poor, they were often hungry, and they lived a nomadic life:  Arizona, California, Nevada, West Virginia were all places she called home.  Despite the hardships, it's clear that Walls had a deep love for her father and family.  It's also clear that even as a child she somehow understood that her life wasn't normal. It was interesting to see Grandma Smith (the subject of Half-Broke Horse through her child's eyes.  Having read the second book first, it's easier to understand her mother's motivations. I was also impressed by the way Walls' was able to find the figurative "gold" in the way she was raised.  Even though her father never found the real gold he was constantly seeking, Walls managed to mine her life for the moments of wonder and splendor:  the millions of stars at night in the desert, the beauty of her geodes and rock collection, the realization that she was strong and could handle everything life threw her.

View all my reviews

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Found My Mojo!

I have struggled for the last three years to be excited and happy about my job.  First I was assigned to teach a subject that I didn't enjoy, and then I got moved to a grade level I didn't want to teach.  On top of that is joy-draining pressure of high stakes testing and being a school in need of improvement.   Retirement seemed to be too far away and not soon enough!

I am overjoyed to find that I am once again filled with enthusiasm and excitement.  I'm looking forward to working with the students I've been given.  I'm back 'home", teaching sixth grade social studies and English language arts.  We've just finished 4 days of school, and I love my kids!  They are funny, interesting, and still eager.  Yes, there are going to be the usual challenges --kids who come from dysfunctional homes, kids with ADHD, kids with Tourette's,  kids who are gifted and talented, average kids, bored kids, parents who don't support the classroom or who get upset, etc. etc.  But I can't remember when I've had a group of homeroom kids (23) who worked together cooperatively and successfully to complete a challenging 25 piece abstract jigsaw puzzle!  Or a group of kids who actually stayed 100% silent during the first fire drill that lasted almost 20 minutes!

I'm pysched!!