Window Seat 14 December 2017

Moving my “office” to a window view has eased the strain on my eyes, allowing me to look out and away from my computer screen and into the world. Early morning means the lights are still shining on the tree, and I can just make out a rabbit curled up under the bird  feeders.

A dusting of snow only fuels hope for more, and the relentless winds are already picking up for the day. The lack of moisture we’ve had, combined with the winds and warm temperatures had us dragging our hoses back out to give our trees a much-needed drink. I keep thinking that there is no way we’ll go all winter without some good snow. Right? I’m longing for that day when I am perched here in my office with snow falling and falling and falling. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll catch a break to snowshoe out and about; for now my snowshoes sit abandoned under the bench in the garage.

My window seat reminds me this day of the peace and love of this season of Christmas. I think about Alfie, the Christmas tree who loved living in the woods and dreamed of the love of the Christ-child and blessing of life. “and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” Matthew 2: 23

 

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Cookies and Milk 11 December 2017

Listening to a story about letters to Santa that get delivered every year to the GE campus in Schenectady, New York due to it’s 12345 zip code that kids often write as the zip code for the North Pole because those are the numbers they remember, got me thinking about where some of the traditions of Christmas came from.

Apparently writing letters to Santa began over 150 years ago, but it was Santa who wrote to the children. He wrote them, through their loving parents, to tell them how their behavior had been over the past year and to admonish them to be better children. Parents would leave the letters by the fireplace or in the stockings, and then, the children began to write back. The growing illustrations of Santa in the media of the day caught on, as well as the idea that Santa lived in the North Pole and all of this coinciding with the emerging postal service, so voila! 

Sometime in the 1930s, gifts for Santa were left in the stockings so he’d get them when he came down the chimney. But soon enough, stocking began being used for small gifts for the stocking owner, so Santa’s treats were moved to a plate with a glass of milk. The theory, and I like the theory, is that parents wanted to teach their children that they could still give, even in trying economic times. In Ireland, apparently, they leave a pint of Guinness with his cookies and in France, wine of course. Many also leave carrots or hay for the reindeer!

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Angel Tree 5 December 2017

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This was our first really chilly morning at 11 degrees when I left to run and upon my return, the weather app told me it felt like minus 2 and it did! My toes were very cold and my face mask was completely frosted over. I was thinking about and praying for my students in the on-line world where I teach. My students face so many challenges and yet have so much to give: those who have incredible support at home and those who are left all alone to work; those who must work or take care of a baby or take on other responsibilities they are far too young for and those who get to be a kid; those who left the brick and mortar to get away from being bullied and those who are devoted to a sport and need the flexibility; those who go hungry and those who have plenty; those who struggle and cannot find their way and those who are confident and competent; those who think they cannot write and those who cannot stop writing.

So my boss came up with a great plan to motivate them in the last weeks of this semesterPicture1 to finish as strong as they could. For every student who meets the requirement and deadline for a number of missing assignments submitted and that earn at least a passing grade, she and I will match dollar for dollar a donation to the Salvation Army Angel Tree. What I love about this is it gives my students, many of whom have nothing, an opportunity to give to others just by doing their work for school. There is something about being able to give that resonates deep in our souls and brings us joy and a sense of community and belonging. Our kids needs this in their lives. Where are you giving this season and who can you bring along with you?

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Sister Water Project 29 November 2017

We affectionately call one of my mother’s sisters, SAC. She is Sister Aunt Carolyn. Her congregation in Dubuque, Iowa wanted to answer God’s call to give drink to the thirsty in a powerful way, and boy they did! Watch this video presentation; you cannot help but be moved. It reminds me that the smallest idea can lead to incredible outcomes when we come together in community with others to make a difference.

When we begin to doubt because there is so much hypocrisy and too much mean, and people suffering at the hands of other people, and we just cannot understand why, knowing that there is also great love in abundance and blessing everywhere we look if we choose to see it, renews our faith. The old camp song we often sung comes to mind from 1 John 4, 7-8: ” Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; every one who loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love.”

Watch the video here: Sister Water Project.

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Time Capsule Part II 21 November 2017

No Hit Clips. That was a big disappointment. Part of a tiny train set, a Bug’s Life wind-up toy that only wanted to go backwards and part of larger toy-the cool airplane part. Headlines about Clinton and Columbine, the Broncos and the horoscope. And precious letters written to a little boy in kindergarten who is clearly loved and cherished by his family. There was also some amazing art work, including a self-portrait of which you can be the judge.

But it was fun to watch it be opened up, the hot glue pried off with a pocket knife and all the anticipation that green and purple painted can held. We’ll never know where those Hit Clips went, but he’ll always have a moment in time of his life at five years old.

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Outlook 16 November 2017

It can be so easy to fall into an internet black hole of symptoms when you notice something off. You wait, not so patiently, to hear back from your doctor, but pretty soon you find yourself Googling medical terms you don’t understand or trying to describe your symptoms and ending up with some horrendous disease that hasn’t been seen since the 1600s. Not me, of course.

Needing some inspiration though, I decided my problem was in my outlook. The way that I  think about things really has a profound effect on my day. Giving thanks for tiny little blessings reminds me that I have blessings: morning fog giving the landscape a mysterious look, two pheasants frolicking on top of the round bales to impress a couple of hens, Curly the bull with all the curls drinking at the tank while I happen to be standing there, getting my trusty Z out to feed the cattle, sharing that first cup of coffee in the pre-dawn dark with my husband, two children who have so much to give to this world, Bitmojis that make my students laugh, soft horse whiskers on my cheek, a standing desk, ginger snaps, and yes, I can go on and on.

From my Google outlook search led me to Livestrong.com:

“In short, having a positive attitude provides improved coping skills when you are faced with challenges or adversity.”

“Optimism can play a part in helping the body fight off illness and disease.”

“Optimistic people can envision success and therefore are able to achieve goals. People are naturally drawn to others with happy, cheerful dispositions so friendships and relationships are easier to develop.”

Yes to all of this, and, pray, dance, sing, eat chocolate, and remember that no matter where you are, you are never alone.

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Scenes 10 November 2017

A photo essay of sorts that reminds me about what it takes to plan a pack trip with:

eight high school kids, three or four adults, and I use the term loosely,

and fourteen or so horses.

 

 

There is a lot of work to be sure,

and it is work that those of us who took part in these trips over twenty-plus years still love, and miss as well. 

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