Tuesday, December 18, 2012

2012

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Being

My propensity for doing originated at birth, I think. I come from a long line of do-ers: teachers, professors, accountants, factory workers, gardeners, bakers, crafters, writers, musicians. It's in my blood.

And although working hard and accomplishing and doing have great benefits, it is sometimes a curse. Especially when it comes to one's spiritual life.

I have discovered I am most comfortable when checking off a list in my Christian life:
 - Have a quiet time.
 - Tithe.
 - Give of my time and resources.
 - Be patient.

I can practically hear myself checking off each item as they are accomplished.

But then I recall Jesus' words to Martha when she complains that her sister Mary isn't doing enough, "Martha, Martha, you are worried about any things, but only one things is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her."

This story has always irked me a bit. I mean, God is the one who gave me Martha that personality, right? He knows she is a do-er. Can't that be her way to serve him? Doesn't that count for something?

A wise friend recently suggested I treat the season of advent like lent, committing to do or give up things to focus more on Christ and his coming. I loved the idea and started brainstorming things I could do (of course) to make the season more meaningful.

Then God revealed to me my backwards thinking. I didn't need to do more. I needed to be. And while that sounds simple, it is also profound.

I grabbed my "To Do" list, modified it a bit, and asked the kids what they wanted to be these next few weeks. They shared ideas, and we came up with a list of being items and a few ideas of what we might do in order to encourage these qualities and attributes these next few weeks.


May I just say that I love this list! 

While I have still made specific commitments, my heart is centered on who I am, not what I am (or am not) doing. 

Doing to being. Martha to Mary. Sounds like the kind of transformation Christ came to bring about.

Want to join me? Just grab your list and a Sharpie and let's get started...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Reflection

Week seven of "Seven" is officially over.

For some reason, out of all the weeks, the week of prayer and Sabbath seemed to be one of the most difficult for me.

Maybe it's because with seven commitments to pray throughout the day, including midnight and 6 am, failure seems probable.

Maybe it's because deciding to pause and breathe intentionally takes effort.

Maybe it's because adjusting one's schedule to pray is often inconvenient ("...so is being poor." Thanks, Ryan.)

Or maybe it's because regularly inviting God into one's day and week has the potential to be so life-changing that the enemy will use anything and everything to prevent it from happening.

At the beginning of the week, I was confident (with pride, not humility, unfortunately) that I would easily do all of the prayer times. I mean, how hard could it be to pause for a few minutes to pray seven times throughout the day, right?

Piece of cake.

So I set my phone with seven alarms:

Midnight: Night Prayer
6 a.m.: Morning Prayer
9 a.m.: Midmorning Prayer
Noon: Midday Prayer
3 p.m.: Midafternoon Prayer
6 p.m.: Evening Prayer
9 p.m.: Bedtime Prayer

And I woke up at midnight.

Half-asleep, I reached for my Bible and read Psalm 42, "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. Where can I go and meet with God?"

I wish I could say that this first prayer time was incredibly meaningful and that I had some sort of spiritual breakthrough.

Unfortunately, I don't remember much about it except struggling to stay awake through the passage and being relieved to turn off the light so I could roll over and go back to sleep. (I know. Shallow and very un-spiritual.)

A mere six hours later, my second alarm rang.

Six a.m.

Psalm 19, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."

Amazing words.

Even now as I type them, my spirit swells considering the glory of God and his creation. I think most of that wonder was lost that morning as I stumbled through the passage.

"What is wrong with me?" I thought. This is suppose to be easy. And meaningful.

Both.

At the same time.

A friend graciously offered to let me borrow "The Liturgy of the Hours" for "Ordinary Time" (as opposed to "un-ordinary time" Confession: that thought seriously crossed my mind. Sad, but true.)

This book had prayers and scripture for each hour written and ready to go. Score! So each hour, I opened the book to the appointed prayer and read.

I had no idea what I was doing, but I did it anyways.

Noon: read and pray (and eat).

3 p.m.: read and pray.

6 p.m.: read and pray.

I developed a sort of a rhythm...a bit awkward and unrefined, but consistent. Until one night when I didn't get up for midnight prayer.

The alarm went off and I...turned it off and fell back asleep. Nice.

Then the 6 a.m. alarm went off. I did the same thing! Huge fail. It's embarrassing to type.

I got back on track with daytime prayer but realized that it was too late. I had ruined my track record. My perfect score.

Then God revealed my self-sufficiency.

And my self-satisfaction.

And self-confidence and self-admiration.

(Are you sensing a pattern?)

Since when did prayer - or any spiritual discipline for that matter - become about me? If it's not about God, then what's the point of doing it?

I decided to let go...

of keeping score.

of comparisons.

of tracking and goals of perfection.

And I embraced grace.

Sweet, generous, overwhelming grace.

And I kept praying...not to prove or win or do.

But to be.

And that is enough.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Tradition


I wrote this poem 10 years ago. 
I am so thankful God has been working to transform me 
and to free me from the expectations of society 
and the curse of commercialism. 
Christmas has become a time when our family 
tries to find ways to give gifts to Jesus Christ...
since it is His birthday, after all. 

"...whatever you did for one of the least of these 
brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
Matthew 25:40

“The Month Before Christmas”
by Jaena Womack

‘Twas the month before Christmas and all through the town,
Every person was busy – no joy to be found.

With their calendars full and great plans made with care,
They knew that the holidays soon would be there.

I’m all ready to go, with my red Santa’s cap
Though I’d rather hole up for a long winter’s nap!

The family is coming for turkey and pie;
There is work to be done; there are groceries to buy:

Cranberries, plum pudding, mincemeat and hams,
Flour, sugar, eggnog, marshmallows, and yams,

Cashews and pretzels and chocolate for dipping,
And full-caffeine hazelnut coffee for sipping,

I can’t forget ice cream -- six quarts, Neopolitan --
Good grief! I may need a sleigh just to haul it in!

Yes, it’s happened again: preparations gone wild,
And I’m half-Martha Stewart half-Julia Child.

Yet there’s still more to do! Let me show you my list –
I have shopping and wrapping and my kids insist

That we spend one whole day finding just the right tree,
Then we finally select one at least nine foot three

Which we drag to our house through the ice and the sleet…
(Never mind that our ceiling is only eight feet.)

Now it’s off to the mall for a fourteen-hour sale
With holiday coupons received in the mail.

With such bargains around…well, it isn’t too hard
To max out my VISA and Discover card.

So I head for our home with my presents in tow
And if this year is much like the past years, I know

As I pull in the driveway and walk through the door,
I’ll be greeted by sounds of my husband’s loud snore.

My children have fallen asleep on their beds
With clothes still on bodies and hats still on heads.

I grab the remote and turn off the TV,
Collapse on the couch, almost too tired to see…

I’ve run myself ragged with plans so sublime
Now I ask, “What’s the point? Is it all worth my time?”

In the silence I treasure a brief interlude;
My thoughts become clear, and I humbly conclude

That it’s not in the presents wrapped under the tree,
It’s not in the friends or the family you see,

Of course it’s not Rudolph or old Santa Claus,
Or donating money to some worthy cause.

No, it all traces back to the night long ago…
To the mother and child and the story we know

But we often forget as we bustle around,
The true meaning of Christmas can only be found

In the birth of a baby – the long-promised king
Who caused shepherds to wonder and angels to sing.

That’s why we celebrate, though some don’t know,
Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, and so…

What I whisper aloud as I turn out the light
Is not, “Merry Christmas, to all a good night.”

Rather “Glory to God in the highest” and then
“Peace on the earth and good will to all men.”

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sabbath

The last chapter of Seven has started a little early in the Womack household.

(I always was an overachiever.)

The title of chapter seven is "stress," which means we will try to reduce our stress by adding resting and prayer to our lives. The author's family started being intentional about taking a Sabbath, beginning with a family meal Saturday evening and continuing through Sunday. She also committed to pausing to pray seven times throughout the day.

While the idea of honoring the Sabbath intrigued me, what inspired me to actually implement the practice was spending an evening with some dear, new friends who live in intentional community in downtown Marion. Residents of the Incarnation House invited me to join them for a Sabbath meal several weeks ago. (Shout out to Amanda, Annie, Emily, Jared and Ryan!)

I was told that they "kind of dress up" (what does that even mean?) and have dinner together, followed by some type of activity (an opportunity to interact and build community).

So, I got "kind of dressed up" and went.

It was a perfect introduction to Sabbath.

Reading the liturgy.

Lighting the candle.

Passing the cup.

Breaking the bread.

Sharing a blessing. 

We ended the evening carving pumpkins together, talking and laughing.

It was a beautiful evening.

I invited them all to celebrate Lord's Day Dinner at my house the next weekend. They accepted.

We read.

We drank.

We ate.

We shared.

Another beautiful evening.

The next step was to involve the kids with Lord's Day. Providentially, a friend's family was also starting this tradition, so we combined our families for the evening, hoping the togetherness would add an extra measure of fun, convincing our kiddos that this was a positive change.

Let's just say that celebrating Lord's Day with six adults is slightly different than celebrating with six children under the age of ten.

We read.

We laughed.

We planned who drank so there would be no arguing about who had to drink after the others.

We tried not to laugh as the kids cringed at drinking after others (even though we wiped the cup.)

We broke bread.

We laughed about the gigantic pieces of bread the kids took.

We shared blessings: dogs, family, friends.

We ate.

We laughed some more.

It was loud and a little crazy.

It was beautiful.

Last Saturday was our family's first Lord's Day dinner on our own.

The kids asked if we could have someone (anyone!) over for Lord's Day, but it didn't work out.

So we sat.

Four around the table.

We set the table with our Lord's Day dishes (my great-grandmother's vintage Fiestaware).

We read the liturgy (four year-old Josiah echoed the words).

"The Lord himself is with us,"

"The Lord Himself is with us"

"to refresh us"

"to refresh us"

"and to strengthen us."

"and to strengthen us."

We drank juice (the children out of tiny plastic medicine cups which ended the "who goes last" discussion).

We broke bread (a slice of whole wheat sandwich bread because I forgot to get a loaf).

We shared blessings (dogs, family, friends).

We laughed and ate.

And it was beautiful.



Thursday, November 08, 2012

Spending

I got a little ahead of myself and thought last week was week six, meaning I only had one week to go in "Seven."

I was wrong.

It turns out that last week was only week five (it just feels like week six), so I have two more weeks to give things up: spending this week, followed by stress the week after.

So, spending...

My plan is to spend money at no more than twelve places for a week. I know that sounds like a lot, but as you will see below, I am including in that list every place our family spends money to live - even if the bill will not actually be paid this week. Here's what I have so far:

  1. VIA Credit Union (mortgage)
  2. Vectren (gas)
  3. AEP (electric)
  4. AT&T (internet and phone)
  5. Verizon (cell phone)
  6. Western Reserve (insurance)
  7. Wabash Valley (trash)
  8. BP (fuel)
  9. Meijer (food/everything else)
  10. Reserved - to pay a soil specialist that is coming Monday to check our backyard for the $8,000 to $11,000 septic system I have to have put in! I may be sticking to this week's spending plan forever.
  11. Midwest Coffee Company - this was a "free"spot/TBD until today when I bought coffee for a gift. I decided since I was already spending money there I might as well buy a cookie for myself. At least the food week is over.
  12. This was a free/TBD spot until now when I realized I have to pay my babysitters for the week - 3 different people. Rats. Okay, I am going to try to live within the spirit of the law here and not the letter of the law. All three sitters will be covered in this last space. That's okay, right?
I thought I had this all figured out. 

I already had a friend* suggest that using my Starbucks gift card might need to count as a place on my list since it is "spending" and "consuming."

*Formerly known as my "wise friend" but I'm rethinking that description after the Starbucks advice. 

Just kidding. 

Kind of.

Until today, I would have considered my spending habits fairly restrained. But, I have discovered it is kind of like the food week: I take little bites of things here and there and barely notice I am doing so.

For instance, I made dinner for the kids but didn't eat myself so when I ran to Meijer at 6:30 to grab some medicine for Elisha, I hadn't eaten yet. Normally, I might have allowed myself to grab a taco or something. Instead, tonight I grabbed a rotisserie chicken at Meijer and came home and made myself oven fries. Not quite as convenient but definitely a healthier option and more cost effective since I now have 2-3 cups of de-boned chicken in the fridge for dinner Saturday night.

The kids want to shop at the school book fair tomorrow and don't have quite enough of their own money to do so. Normally, I might give them a few dollars each so they can purchase a book. I sometimes even go ahead and buy books ahead to save for future gifts. As it is, I am hoping their grandparents will buy them a book since they will be visiting the school or Grandparent's Day. (Do you think it's too forward of me to email them this link tonight?)

Bottom line: this is good. Focusing on spending is making me consider each and every purchase I make. Spending, like eating and media, is becoming intentional; and that intentionality is what I hope to carry on long-term to help transform our family.




Sunday, November 04, 2012

Reflection

We are on week six of Seven, which means our focus is "Waste." In her book, Jen Hatmaker commits to seven habits for a greener life:

  1. Gardening
  2. Composting
  3. Conserving water and energy
  4. Recycling
  5. Driving only one car
  6. Shopping thrift and second-hand
  7. Buying only local  
Although we already incorporate several of these practices into our daily lives, we still have a long way to go before I would consider ourselves "green."

Since my journey through the book has been the slacker version, "Twelve," I thought about coming up with twelve ways to be more earth-friendly. If I counted each type of material we recycled, I might be able to come up with enough:
  1. Recycling cardboard
  2. Recycling paper
  3. Recycling glass
  4. Recycling aluminum
  5. Recycling steel
  6. Recycling plastics #2
  7. Recycling plastics not #2
  8. Conserving water
  9. Conserving electricity
  10. Conserving fuel
  11. Being intentional about extra/leftover food
  12. Reusing things
Okay, I'll admit it. I made that last one up just to get to twelve. 

I don't know what else to do.

I can only drive one car.

I garden during the summer, but it's now fall.

I don't know how to compost. But I guess I could look that up and get started. Maybe.

To be honest, the past five weeks have been a little rough, so I'm happy for an "easy week."

That's not to say I think taking care of God's creation is unimportant. I'm becoming more and more convinced that it is a responsibility I have neglected.

Recycling might seem "unspiritual" to some, but taking care of God's creation and thinking not only of ourselves but what's best for others sounds like sacred work to me.

I was reflecting the other day on how strongly I feel about littering. I would never just throw paper down on the floor or sidewalk, expecting someone else to clean it up. It's my trash. My responsibility.

I questioned how different that is from throwing my trash into a landfill, expecting future generations to deal with it. It's my trash, and it should be my responsibility.

So that's how I am approaching this week. I am trying to focus on each piece of paper and plastic that can be recycled, each leftover bit of bread that could go to the birds instead of into the trash, each light left on that could be turned off.

I think every action counts both for today and tomorrow.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Withdrawal

It's my understanding that after giving up an addictive substance one goes through a time of withdrawal that is "typically accompanied by distressing physiological and mental effects." (Thank you, hard copy of the Webster's New World Dictionary, Third College Edition which has not been off my bookshelf in years.)

As I anticipated Seven Week 4: Media, I predicted the biggest factor for me would be not checking Facebook each day. Okay, multiple times a day.

It turns out that I am spending significantly more time with my computer than I thought. It's ridiculous.

Typical Day:
Wake up and check Facebook.
Get ready then check personal email and possibly school email and Facebook.
Go to work and take lunch break, check email and Facebook.
Finish work day then check email and Facebook for messages before leaving to get kids.
Get home and check Facebook and my blog.
Throughout the night Google topics as needed
Post on Facebook cute things the kids do or say.
Read on Facebook the cute things my friends' kids do or say.
Check out blogs of favorite authors, etc...
Put kids to bed then hang out online looking at friends' pins on Pinterest.
Sometimes watch a show on Hulu.
Read friends' blogs, etc...
Check Facebook one last time before bed.

What is the deal with me and Facebook?

Why am I obsessed with social media?

Why do I continually post things about my children or life?

Why do I care if people "like" my posts and comments?

My commitment for Week 4 was to fast from Facebook for seven days and to limit my use of the internet to email, blogging, and job-related sites.

My media fast started Thursday morning, and I blew it in the first 5 minutes of the day. I received an email from a friend that she had read my blog and had linked my blog to her most recent post. So, of course, I had to click over and read what she wrote, right?

I thought back to my food fast and how a wise friend had referred to the profundity of Ignatius of Loyola who encouraged very specific and clearly defined commitments concerning a fast. I knew I needed to be equally as vigilant regarding my media fast.

So, I started turning my computer monitor off. I checked email fewer times throughout the day and sent emails as needed; but I found I had a lot of extra time on my hands to finish going through closets and cabinets, to clean and organize the house, and to spend with the kids (Read: take a nap with Josiah on the couch).

Now that watching a movie as a family is not an option, I hope to replace that time with activities our family can do together: games, books, projects, cooking. I want my kids to choose playing Racko to watching Ratatouille.

The harder part for us has been the radio. Since it *is* a form of media, it was included in my media fast.

And I miss it.

Desperately.

Perhaps most of all on our hour-long trip to visit friends in Noblesville Friday night.

I planned ahead. I took card games and electronic Twenty Questions.

Elisha started playing the electronic game, but that didn't include everyone so we transitioned to old-fashioned Twenty Questions. Me and three children: 4, 6 and 9.

I guessed Elisha's object in under 3 minutes. It went something like this:

Elisha: It's a thing.

Me: Is it alive?

Elisha: Yes.

Me: Is it an animal?

Elisha: Yes.

Me: Does it have 4 legs?

Elisha: Yes.

Me: Does it have fur?

Elisha: Yes.

Me: Is it a type of pet?

Elisha: Yes.

Me: Is it a dog?

Elisha: Yes. What kind of a dog?

Me: Is it a Yorkshire Terrier? (the breed of his dog)

Elisha: Yes.

And then there was Madelyn's "animal" which we couldn't guess and it turned out to be an alien. (Or was that Josiah's?)

This quickly degenerated into children not taking turns and arguing and loud voices which inspired me to impose a "No Talking Time" while I called my friend who is also participating in Seven and asked her when it becomes more necessary to turn on the radio and keep mom sane than to complete the seven media fast. She kindly suggested we all play the Alphabet Game.

We all started looking for letters which lasted approximately 5 minutes at which point the younger two gave up. Fortunately, they started playing Go Fish while Elisha and I spent the next 30 minutes finding G through Z.

We arrived at our friends' house and enjoyed dinner together. I decided to allow a brief recess from their fast since we were guests, and the kids ended up having a dance party, playing a Cars video game and watching Madagascar 3. I rationalized that, ultimately, this is my journey and they should not have to be subject to the same level of dedication that I am.

So it seems like we have been on Week 4 for around two weeks, but it has only been 4 days. I am looking forward to the end of this fast but am contemplating what balance looks like for me and my family in the area of media.

Any words of wisdom and discernment from the blogosphere would be welcome. What's working for you and your family? Anyone?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Space

Seven week three has continued into week four.

Once I started purging, I just couldn't stop: bookshelves, closets, cabinets...games, sheets, blankets, magazines, books, dishes, college notebooks, bags, hats, puzzles.

I have an entire corner of my living room piled with boxes and bags of donations.

God has connected some of my stuff with people who can use it, but there is so much more that still needs to find a home. I'm excited to keep searching for people who need these items.

But, look what I found during this process...





That's right.

Space.

Empty space.

Shelves that were crammed with books have extra room.

Closets that had boxes stacked under the hanging clothes have nothing on the floor.

I have written before about margin, and that is what is now reflected in our home: blank space around the edges. Room to breathe.

I love the way it looks.

But I love the way it feels even more.




Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Stuff

Does anyone else get overwhelmed walking through stores, looking at shelves and shelves of "stuff"?

Maybe it's just me, but I often find myself wondering how stores can possibly sell all of the items they stock.

And where do customers put it all?

And where do we put the things we have to make room for more stuff?

I'm starting to hyperventilate just thinking about it.

(Deep breathing.)

So this week's focus was on possessions. Stuff.

My commitment was to get rid of 12 things a day for a total of 84 things.

Like I mentioned in the last post, I regularly sort the kids clothes and hand them down to friends. I already sorted my clothes and gave them away. I thought I might have a little trouble coming up with 84 things, but I had a backup plan: books.

This is where I confess that I love to read. And my family loves to read. My brother was an English and Writing major, remember. He actually worked at a bookstore for several years and use to surprise me with packages of books delivered to my door. (Thanks, Joel!)

In fact, it has become a Christmas tradition for him to buy the kids classic books: Flat Stanley, If You Give a Moose a Muffin, Don't Let the Pigeon Stay up Late.

So, if all else failed, I would sort through our shelves of books and make up the difference.

Then, I started looking through my cabinets: dishes, vases, crystal serving plates, bowls, more dishes, things I rarely or never use.

And I felt God urging me to let go of my stuff. Good stuff. Beautiful stuff. Useful stuff, even.

But stuff that I do not need and that someone else could use.

I have no idea how much I have given away this week. I know it is way beyond 84 items, but I don't plan to count because it's not about a number.

It is about the freedom in my heart and in my soul. A freedom from possessions and a freedom to share and give generously in God's name.

It's not comfortable.

It has been painful.

But God keeps reminding me of a conversation with a wise friend that adjusts my perspective and reminds me of why I am doing this.

Me (realizing that I am wearing my only pair of jeans to build a fire Saturday night and that I planned to wear them to church the next morning): "Oh, I'm going to have to wash these. This is all kind of inconvenient..."

Wise friend: "So is being poor."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Reflection

My food fast ended Sunday evening; and although the timing was when I had planned, the meal wasn't. I knew we would be ending our Sunday School class activity with pizza, but I guess I envisioned sitting down and eating at a leisurely pace while enjoying deep conversation (or something.)

Instead, I was helping determine the winners of the race and ended up grabbing a piece of lukewarm pizza and some carrots while helping clean up the mess.

I was grateful for the chance to eat other foods again but felt like the breaking of my fast needed to be a bit more meaningful and intentional. Now that I know more about what to expect, I think I can plan my next fast more effectively. We'll see.

Even though the fast is over, I have found myself thinking more about the foods I choose to eat. Do I really need a snack-size Snickers candy? Am I hungry enough to have a another muffin or does it just sound good? Do I want a Starbucks mocha loaded with sugar? Usually, the answer to these questions is no, and I refrain (although I will admit to having two muffins.)

I hope to continually evaluate my choices with food, if for no other reason than to ensure that I am eating healthy and balanced meals and snacks and honoring God in this area.

Oh! And a final note: I realized today that I have not had a bowl of cereal in over 2 weeks. That may be the longest I have ever gone since I was physically able to chew. I LOVE cereal. It's quick. It's easy. It's inexpensive. It tastes great. And...it have 12 essential vitamins and minerals!

But, it's not "real" food - basic, grown from the earth, less than 5 ingredients, blah, blah, blah. So, I'm trying to live without it. So far, so good.

And now for this week's challenge: Possessions.

I have to admit that I thought this one would be easy.

I go through clothes and cabinets a couple of times a year to organize and sort and give away.

I pass down all of the kids' clothes to friends who can use them.

I raid our pantry for food items to set out for fill-a-bag-for-hunger when the postman picks it up.

In fact, I just went through my closet and gave away a ton of clothes.

I actually wondered if I would be able to find enough things to give away, but I made my commitment:

I will give away 12 things a day for a week.

That's 84 items.

I thought if I got desperate, I could give away some of the kids' books.

Then I started going through cabinets and closets tonight.

I think I need an intervention.

Seriously, where did all of this stuff come from? And why am I keeping it?

I'm creating a pile of items to share and am certain I will have no trouble meeting my goal of 84 items.

Now I need to know the best way to find someone who needs it. Facebook? This blog? A list posted at school?

Again, I'm open to ideas. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Choice

We Americans seem to view choice as a good thing.

Give us options, variety, a vote. Choice is a right.

While it has been challenging to limit my food choices these past 9 days, it has also been strangely freeing. No longer do I have to decide what to have for a meal. The kids' leftover sandwich scraps stay on their plate. Snacks and extra treats are bypassed. In my crazy life, it has been one less thing to think about.

But then I realized: this is still a choice. My choice. One that millions of people do not have. 

I stood serving food to sweet families at St. Martin's last Saturday and was overwhelmed with compassion for those in our own city who have no choice.

I know some would argue jobs and politics and welfare; but the fact is that whatever has created and perpetuated their situation, there were people who needed a meal. St. Martin's leaders and volunteers met that need. 

Then there are those in other countries: brothers and sisters in Christ, our neighbors, by Jesus' definition. I keep thinking to myself, "If I were a parent without food, unable to feed my children, how generous would I want a fellow Christian to be?" Would I struggle knowing the huge discrepancy between my life and theirs?

Knowing this, what is my responsibility? Most of the time we are told that as long as we do "something," we are doing our part.

I'm not sure I believe that anymore. (Maybe I never did.)

Maybe "something" is not enough.

Maybe I am called to do more.

I'm still struggling to discern what that means long term; but for this week, it means I will add clothing to my fast. I have narrowed down my wardrobe to 12 items ("outerwear") that I will wear for the next week: work, church, sleeping, mowing, mom's birthday lunch, volunteering at St. Martin's, Sunday School event. All of my activities in the same 12 articles of clothing:
  • one pair jeans
  • one pair black dress pants
  • one pair tan cords
  • one red v-necked sweater
  • one black long-sleeved t-shirt
  • one rose v-necked long-sleeved t-shirt
  • one gray long-sleeved shirt
  • one teal Frances Slocum t-shirt
  • one old soft burnt orange t-shirt
  • one gray hooded sweatshirt with "San Diego" on the front
  • one black zip up jacket
  • shoes: black dress shoes and tennis shoes
And here's what I'm leaving behind:
  • jewelry
  • belts (had to use a safety pin this morning
  • scarves, hats, other accessories 
I just realized while typing what I won't wear that I have to wear a hat to St. Martins while I work in the kitchen or else I have to wear a hair net. After one week in a hair net, I quickly decided to wear a hat from that point on. So I have a choice: exchange an item already on my list for a hat or keep my 12 selections and wear a hair net. 

The fact that I even mentioned this reveals the vanity in my heart. Rats. We'll see what happens. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Reflection

I'm seven days into "7" and I'm still alive.

I haven't messed up. (Unless you count Saturday night: I dreamed I was walking down the hallway at school and someone had left a Starbucks drink on the floor. For some reason, I assumed it was for me and started drinking it only to realize that in doing so I had broken my fast! It was a terrible feeling even as a dream. And it might have been worse if I had acknowledged my sin of theft as well.)

Overall, choosing to only eat from my list of foods has not been as hard as I had anticipated. I struggled with an eating disorder for several years in high school and college, so restricting food is not a new discipline for me.

In fact, it is due to those tendencies that I have never chosen to fast from food for an extended period of time. I kind of gave myself a pass and skipped on to other spiritual disciplines.

I'm discovering, though, that dieting and restricting food is altogether different from fasting. (Or at least it should be.) The distinction is motive.

When I diet, the focus is me: my weight, my body, my self-esteem.

When I fast, the focus is God: His sufficiency, His Word, His power.

In case you are wondering exactly how this has played out, here is what a typical day looks like. (I am assuming if you don't care, you can scroll down or click off my blog. No one is forcing you to be here, right?)

Breakfast is often toast and milk, maybe a banana. I found a whole wheat bread that I really like and plan to continue buying even after this 2 weeks. I have been drinking 2% milk instead of 1% so I don't lose too much weight (a couple of friends were worried about this), and could definitely adjust to that taste.

Almonds or string cheese provide a good grab and go snack. Or sometimes after school, I have an apple.

Lunch usually consists of cheese, a hard boiled egg or chicken, an apple, and sometime a banana, depending if I had one earlier.

Dinner can be eggs or chicken, more fruit and bread or sometimes a smoothie (frozen strawberries, frozen ripe bananas, plain yogurt, frozen orange juice concentrate, and milk.)

Part of me likes the predictability of knowing what I will and won't eat. It saves some energy and brainpower.

I thought the kids might wonder about what I am eating, but we must have been eating a lot of eggs and toast or chicken and sweet potatoes before because they haven't asked about anything. I do fix them other things. So don't worry that they are stuck eating just what I am.

My verdict after week 1: I think this is a good thing. I feel healthy. I am not wasting money on extra snacks or fast food (although I should admit that I was once tempted by Culver's flavor of the day), so that is better stewardship. And I have spent some of my meal times reading the Word and talking to God. Which is the point, right?

Well, that and realizing how much excess I live with and learning to make godly choices regarding that excess. More on that tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, we are  meeting tomorrow night to discuss week 2: clothes. Seven clothing items. Or twelve even. I'm not sure how that is going to play out with work...we'll see. Any suggestions?


Thursday, October 04, 2012

Food

"Seven" week one has begun. I met with the girls last night and we hashed out details of our fasts: How many foods? Which foods? How many meals? How long will we fast? 

Due to some miscommunication, I started my fast yesterday morning and my friends are starting today. Last night, I already found myself thinking, "What am I doing? Who picks certain foods and decides to eat only them for an extended period of time?" Evidently, four moms in Marion, Indiana. 

Below are my 12 foods. I'm not sure why I chose 12. It seemed like a "biblical" number: 7, 12, 40, right? Seven didn't seem like enough and 40, well, that was too many; but 12 was (say it with me) juuuust right. So here they are:
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Plain yogurt
  • Milk
  • Whole-wheat bread
  • Almonds
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Orange Juice
I'll fast every day, all day for 12 days, breaking my fast on Sunday evening, October 14 when my Sunday School class has an social/outreach activity. It seems like a fitting time to end since part of what I hope to gain from this time is more compassion for others, a deeper understanding of their needs and how God can use me to meet those needs. 

My heart is overwhelming with gratitude for the blessings my family enjoys: health, home, friends, family, food, heat, clothing, a job...God's physical provision. But also for the unseen gifts he so generously bestows: joy in the very midst of trial; peace in any and every circumstance; hope for the future, both earthly and eternal.

I'm learning that these blessings are not mine to hoard and enjoy. It is my responsibility, my privilege even, to share these. I want to know how to do that. What does that look like for our family? I'm trusting God to make some of these answers clear in the next several weeks as I journey through "Seven." (Or should I call it "Twelve"?)

I'd appreciate prayer. I want to be faithful to this fast. I was talking to a co-worker yesterday and she was eating a caramel-apple sucker. (I love those!) I was thinking how I'd love for her to offer me one, then suddenly realized I might have eaten it if she did. Yes, I forgot in under 12 hours that I was fasting. Brilliant.

In case any of you are planning to fast, Bill Bright has some great thoughts on fasting. And I'd recommend talking to friends who have fasted for advice and perspective. A wise friend called last night and shared some verses and insight that helped me finalize my plans and expectations for this time. 

I'm excited. I'm a little nervous. But I'm anticipating great things. 

"He must become greater; I must become less." -- John 3:33

Monday, October 01, 2012

Seven

The summer of reading has continued into fall. I recently started 7: an experimental mutiny against excess by Jen Hatmaker. Wow.

Not only is it a challenging book with ideas for reducing and giving and re-thinking "stuff." But she quotes (and actually met!) Shane Claiborne. 

See how God is weaving together all of these books and themes? Very cool. 

A few friends and I created an accountability group surrounding the book and are planning to focus on each of the 7 areas Jen addresses: food, clothes, spending, media, possessions, waste, and stress. Below is the description from the book cover to give you and idea of what we are getting ourselves into:

"Jen and her family would spend thirty days on each topic, boiling it down to the number seven. Only eat seven foods, wear seven articles of clothing and spend money in seven places. Eliminate use of seven media types, give away seven things each day for one month, adopt seven green habits, and observe "seven sacred pauses." So, what's the payoff from living a deeply reduced life? It's the discovery of a greatly increased God - a call toward Christ-like simplicity and generosity that transcends a social experiment to become a radically better existence." 

This week our group's focus is food. I want to approach this as a fast: intentionally sacrificing what I would normally eat in order to gain a deeper understanding of who Christ is and what he desires of me.

My question is what will that look like? I have less than 48 hours to discern this since my group meets Wednesday night. No problem, right?

I have thought about choosing 7 foods; but to be honest, I think I could live quite happily on cereal, milk, eggs, peanut butter, bread, potatoes, and apples. In fact, that is often what I eat when the kids are not home. Let's be honest, it's mostly what I eat when the kids are home.

However, those foods are not amazingly healthy; and I'd like to encourage more "real foods" in our diet. So I have also considered doing a nutritarian diet where "90% of your daily diet should be comprised of nutrient-rich plant foods with health-promoting phyto-chemicals."

Confession: I didn't even know what a nutritarian was until yesterday.

I think I need to pray about it. It feels weird to type that. I'm not sure why. 

I'm sure God has an opinion and a preference, but I often don't ask him about things like this. Which I should. And I plan to. Now.

I'll report back after our first meeting. I'm looking forward to it (in a this-will-be meaningful-and-life-changing-but possibly-not-fun sort of way.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Semantics

My brother is good with words. He was an "English and Writing" major and he has the ability to make anything I write (or anyone else writes, for that matter) sound better. In fact, he could edit this blog post in about 5 minutes; and it would be clearer, more concise, and easier to read. What can I say, he has a gift.

I have heard that excellent writers pays particular attention to word choice. Is a word the best fit? Does it have the most specific meaning? Are they using it correctly? Would another word work better?

Lately, I have noticed that we often use words but they don't mean what we think they mean when we say them. Was that sentence confusing? It made sense in my head. I clearly need my brother's intervention...Joel?

Perhaps I should try an example:
My sweet 6 year-old daughter sometimes often comes home from school and complains to me that she is starving. Since the definition of starving is "deprived of food," this is a huge exaggeration. Is she intentionally lying? No. It's an issue of semantics: the meaning of the word. There is a discongruity between what she thinks the word means and what the word actually means.

But, I want her to know the difference. I want her to know that there actually are 6 year-olds who are "deprived of food." I want her to develop compassion for them as well as gratefulness for the cheese stick she can get out of the fridge. For this reason, I try to encourage my kids not to use the phrase, "I'm starving." They can say, "I'm hungry" (which interestingly can mean either "starving" or "desirous") or "I want something to eat."

Another common scenario is when my son says that he needs a new Lego set. I try to tell him that he does not need a Lego set; he wants a Lego set. (And that his mother thinks we need to sell or give away some of the Legos we already have....I digress.)

I have always thought of a need as something a person had to have: water, food, shelter. But I looked up the word on thesaurus.com and it gave the definition: "want, requirement." Have we as Americans actually modified the definition of a word by our use of it? That seems crazy.

I just started a book about getting rid of "excess" in our lives. At first, it was hard to imagine our family lived in excess. It sounds so exorbitant. The definition of excess was "overabundance of something" which sounds like you have to have bins or closets overflowing with food and supplies.

But then I checked out the synonym list: spare, duplicate, surplus, waste. Wow. According to this, we live with excess and lots of it. So, we have a challenge. An obligation even. To sort. To give. To share. To be godly stewards (managers) of all He has given us.

Spiderman warns us that, "With great power comes great responsibility." I'd like to suggest that knowledge is power and with it does come great responsibility. So I hope to use it wisely. Anyone else want to join me? I just might need some help along the way.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Enough

This summer was a summer of reading for our family.

I read memoirs: Girl Meets God by Lauren F. Winner, Look Me in the Eye, My Life with Aspergers by John Elder Robison, The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls.

I read fiction: The Testament by John Grisham, Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult, and The Boxcar Children Books 1-7 to my children. 

And then I read another genre of books (their backs are labeled "Christian living" and "religion" but they should be labeled "Warning: this book has the potential to change your life!): Reckless Faith by Beth Guckenberger, The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. 

These are stories of people who are allowing God to transform their lives: the way they think, the way they give, the way they live. These books, along with my memories of reading The Hole in the Gospel by Richard Stearns and with challenging sermons by our pastor and engaging discussions with friends have been rocking - and wrecking - my comfortable, little, Christian world.

I am being challenged with new thoughts about poverty and war. About my responsibility for the welfare of God's children across town and across the world. It's overwhelming and unsettling, and I have more questions than answers. But I am seeking and praying and trusting in God's ability to help me hear his voice and to be obedient day by day. Step by step. Dollar by dollar.

I recently read a quote on a friend's blog that she confessed to hearing on the radio, so I am not even sure whom to credit, but it is worth considering, "The opposite of poverty is not wealth; it is enough." 

I love the idea of enough. Not in need, not with excess, but enough. Just the right amount.

It's the same principle that God commanded when He fed the Israelites manna in the wilderness: "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test then and see whether they will follow my instructions." (emphasis mine) -- Exodus 16:4

I wonder if the principle of enough is a kingdom principle. Jesus shares parables that warn of the folly of building barns for excess and admonishes us against storing up riches on earth. 

Are we to live with a such a level of trust that we daily dependend on God's faithfulness to provide enough

Do we miss out on God's blessings and miracles because we insist on planning ahead and holding so tightly to the things of this world to the point that we render God's intervention unnecessary. 

Is it okay that hundreds of thousands of children die daily of preventable diseases while my children live in excess...with more than enough?

What does living with enough look like? How is God challenging you to share your "excess" with those "in need"? 

I'm not sure what this means for our family; but I have a feeling we are starting a new journey, and this is just the beginning.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Review

Although several of my friends read The Hunger Games trilogy last summer (or the summer before even?), after hearing the basic plot of the stories, I was unsure I wanted to read them. It sounded unsettling and disturbing. But when I heard the movie was coming out this spring, I opted to go ahead and read them because I have a thing about seeing the movie without reading the book first.

Side note: I actually read The Help last summer so that I could go see the movie with some friends, but something came up and I never went to the movie. So I have read the book but still have not seen the movie - crazy, huh?

I started The Hunger Games and found them so compelling that I finished all three books in under 72 hours. They were well-written and seemed to pull me into what the characters were thinking and feeling as they made hard decisions (or as decisions were made for them).

As much as I was drawn into the series, I was also disturbed by some of the themes and content. I hated what "The Capitol" represented and was uncomfortable with the similarities I saw in the book and in our world today: the way we view entertainment, the huge discrepancy between haves and have-nots, the way I sometimes worry more about what I need than the good of everyone in the world. I was challenged to think and change because of the books. (Although I still feel like I need a book club or support group to help me process my thoughts.)

I have been anticipating the movie, hoping that it would rekindle some of the thoughts and feelings I had for the books. I saw the movie Monday night and have to say that, while I think they accurately portrayed the events of the book, something was missing. I was disappointed and (to use a word from the review I posted below) "under-whelmed."

The characters and setting and events were as I had imagined; but, after reading this review, I think I know what was missing: it was the inner monologue of Katniss. Her thoughts and feelings, and emotions were described in the books in such detail, that there was no way to capture that in the movie through facial expressions and conversations. What they showed was good, but there was so much more to be shown.

I think this article says it well. What do you think?

Monday, March 12, 2012

DST

Josiah (3) just got out of bed, came into the living room and complained, "I'm sleepin' in the middle of the day!" My thoughts exactly.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Divorce

I hate typing the word.


I hate saying the word.


I hate thinking everyone is looking at me thinking the word.


I hate checking the marital status box on medical forms.


It's a word I never would have expected to be applied to me. I mean, I didn't even get married until I was 28, waiting for God's timing. And then I was so happy. Content with my spouse, my children, my life.


But, things happen. People make choices. To say things. To do things. Two people choose how to treat their covenant.


For better or for worse.


What happened to my attitude in the hard times?


For richer or for poorer.


Why was I so anxious about money?


In sickness and in health.


Where was my patience in times of struggle?


To love, honor and cherish.


Did I do this? Daily? To the best of my ability?


I have regrets. And guilt. And more guilt.


But God juxtaposed a conversation with a friend and a quote from a Mark Lowry concert and started me thinking.


A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with a friend about the divorce and how incredulous it was to me that this all happened. She kindly commented that “my sin” and circumstances just happened to be public and that she would not want some of her choices or her sin to be made available for all to see.


I was a little surprised. While I have made plenty of poor choices and did, in fact, sin during my marriage, I have not considered the divorce itself to be a matter of sin for me. I did not want it. I did not pursue it. And I only “agreed” to it, signing the final paperwork because it was holding up the process of buying a house for Jim.


I did not say anything, but continued to consider her words.


A few days later, I attended a Mark Lowry concert. In the midst of his sharing about how we are all able to be used by God, he specifically referred to people who are divorced. He said, “God was divorced” and told us to read Jeremiah 3:8. He went on to encourage us that if we were divorced, God could still use us and to not think of it as a barrier to what God could do with us.


His words were powerful. I went home and looked up the passage and found this:


I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery.”

(emphasis mine)


According to this, Mark was right. God gave Israel a certificate of divorce. If God did this, how could it be a sin?


I started researching verses on divorce and found that although divorcing someone can cause them to sin (commit adultery), I have yet to find a verse that says the actual act of giving someone a certificate of divorce is a sin.


I’m still looking and thinking and praying. What do you think?

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Cookies



I love cookies. A lot.

In fact, I have often thought that cookies might be my one weakness when it comes to food. There is just something about a cookie that makes me want to keep eating and eating and eating.

It takes a bit of effort to convince myself that eating one (or two) cookies will be just as good as eating 10 (or 12) cookies. And that it will probably be better, in fact, because I won't be willing myself not to be sick from all of the sugar and butter sitting in a lump at the bottom of my stomach.

But, I digress. My point is (was?) that I love cookies and I decided to make cookies tonight. Monster Cookies.

Side note: I cannot decide if they are named Monster Cookies because of how huge the cookies are (you are suppose to use an ice cream scoop to dip them out and place them on the cookie sheet) or because the recipe makes a ton of cookies (it calls for 2 sticks of butter, 2 cups each of white and brown sugar, and 9 cups of oatmeal/flour.)

I originally planned to make them for the students at school to celebrate them doing ISTEP this week. But then I got to thinking about who really deserved cookies:

The students who, yes, have worked hard at testing but who also have gotten extra snacks and recess all week?

Or the teachers and staff who have been cooped up in rooms testing students all week, carefully reading pages of instructions and making sure they do everything just right so that they are not reported to the DOE?

Not to mention the parents who have put their children to bed early and gotten up early themselves to fix scrambled eggs and toast for their elementary children. (Hypothetically.)

It was a no-brainer.

I have already baked around 50 cookies, and I think I have at least 3 dozen to go. So far, I have managed to eat only one cookie. And I'm thinking I should stop there or I may not be able to stop at all.

The bright side of my late night cookie-baking adventure is that I may actually be awake at 9 pm to watch Person of Interest. With a cookie and a big glass of milk.


Saturday, March 03, 2012

Randomness

A List of Things I Discovered Today

(Alternately titled "A Desperate Attempt at a Post")

1. The amount of time it takes to clean my bathroom mirror is disproportionate to the difference it makes.

For some reason, when I clean my bathrooms, I often skip cleaning the mirror. After scrubbing the toilet, sink, and floor (and sometimes shower, although I hate to admit how many times I skip that too - is that too much information?), I figure I've done enough.

But today, I looked at the mirror and decided it needed an intervention. So after a few squirts of cleaner and a few swipes of the paper towel (minus the moments of scrubbing those stubborn toothpaste splashes), the mirror was sparkling! Note to self: Clean bathroom mirrors more often to see an instant improvement.

2. Toothpaste does not always end up on your teeth.

While in the aforementioned bathroom, I decided to clean the kids' toothbrushes and cups. I have recently wondered why Josiah's toothbrush seemed hard as a rock and would not brush his teeth effectively.

Now I know it is because there was hardened toothpaste between the bristles. He still uses an "edible" toddler toothpaste because he likes the flavor. (Not that I keep feeding it to him *because* he likes the flavor but because I am afraid if I promote him to regular kid's toothpaste, he might like to eat it; and I think there may be negative effects if he does.)

So, I spent several minutes (more time, in fact, than it took me to clean the mirror!) separating the bristles and rinsing it under warm water and he now has a like-new toothbrush. Madelyn too.

3. Cream of Wheat will always be comfort food for me.

For several months in high school, I had the same thing for breakfast every morning: Cream of Wheat made with milk and a sliced banana on top. It was a bowl of warm, creamy deliciousness to start my day. And it was most likely the best part of my day, since high school was a time of anxiety and insecurity for me; but that is another post entirely.

Anyways, sometimes, I find myself craving a bowl of Cream of Wheat, and tonight was one of those nights. So I whipped some up (I didn't actually "whip it"...more like "stirred it" but that does not have the same ring to it.) I topped it with a sweet ripe banana and a little sugar and had it for dinner with a large glass of milk. Lovely.

4. I will most likely be watching episodes of Person of Interest on the internet instead of on live television.

The past three weeks, I have wanted to watch this show. I have planned to watch this show. But by the time 9 pm rolls around, I find that I would rather go to bed than stay up to watch this show.

Between last night and tonight, I caught up on the last three episodes online (Illegally? How do I know if they are illegally posted? This may keep me up at night.)

I am evidently too old now to stay awake for Prime Time shows. I realize this is sad and lame on several levels. And most likely boring too. Sorry about that.

5. Finally, never underestimate the body of Christ.

I attended the funeral for the baby of some sweet friends today. They have known for several weeks that their baby had physical maladies that, without God's miraculous intervention, would make it impossible for their son to live outside his mother's womb. Today we celebrated little Elijah Korbin's short earthly life and his heavenly home-going.

Despite the parent's loss, they seemed to be surrounded by an almost tangible peace. Their pain is great, but they exhibited grace and hope. Dozens of friends supported them and their family today, grieving with them, trusting with them and celebrating with them.

Earlier this week, I dropped off to them a basket of goodies on behalf of a friend. I found myself desperate to take them something to "make it better." I realized that I cannot take away the pain, and I don't even have much to offer to ease the pain. But I can walk with them in the pain. I can pray for them. I can offer a hug or a word of encouragement. I can continue to ask how they are and lift them up in the weeks and months to come.

I think grief is a journey. One we are not meant to take alone. But with others.

That is what I saw today. And I am grateful.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Insomnia

Note to self: When you spend the day at home with a sick child and end up resting on the couch with him most of the morning and then taking a nap with him in the afternoon, you may have trouble falling asleep at bedtime.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Odd

It turned out that the piece for which I was interviewed was on the front page of our local paper last Friday. The reporter was quite articulate and did a nice job putting the article together. So a few friends have been commenting on the paper and teasing me, asking me to sign a copy and all.

Then today, I received an envelope addressed to me with no return address that contained the following:

* a neatly trimmed copy of the article
* a recipe for Taco Pie that appears to have been cut out of a magazine
* an evangelistic tract titled "What If" that asks "What if...your life were to end today? Are you 100% certain that you would go to Heaven?"

A friend who was here when I opened the mail noted that the postal stamp if from Indianapolis, Indiana and things mailed locally go through Kokomo.

So, I don't know what to make of this. Here are some possible theories I have so far:

A. Some who knows me wanted me to have a copy of the article and a new recipe to try. For lent their have pledged to hand out one evangelistic tract a day, so I was their person for that day. They work in Indy and mailed it from there.

B. Someone who does not know me wanted me to have a copy of the article. They read that I was a single mom, so they included a new recipe for me to try. They were unclear of my spiritual commitment since the article shared that I use to work as a children's pastor and now teach at a local school, so they included the tract.

C. Someone I may or may not know wanted me to have a copy of the article. They read that I am a single mom and concluded that I am obviously living in sin because I either have had children out of wedlock or I am divorced. Either way, the tract would take care of that issue, and they threw in the recipe to seem more kind.

D. What do YOU think?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Date

Two tickets to see Mark Lowry at the Honeywell Center: $32.00.
Fuel to drive to Wabash: $10.00.
Dinner from MCDonald's drive thru: $8.10.
Water and Cheetos (and orange fingers) at intermission:$4.00.

Having my nine year-old son turn to look at me and say "I love you, mom." five times during the concert: Priceless.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Today

A couple of highlights from my day...

After a busy day helping with our Black History Month Fair, I was exhausted this morning and did the very minimal in getting ready: I didn't take time for make up and I did not dry or straighten my hair, so it was curly/wavy.

Less than an hour into my day, I began to regret that decision when a fourth grade girl in my Success group said, "Your hair is crazy today Ms. Womack."

"I know." I replied. "Do you think you can help me?"

"Yes." she offered, but our science practice test for ISTEP prevented me from taking her up on her offer.

Fast forward 2 hours into my morning when I enter a first grade class and am greeted by a sweet boy who matter-of-factly observed, "Bad hair day, huh?"

"Yes," I agreed. "I am having a a bad hair day." I laughed with the classroom teacher and made a mental note to blow dry my hair from now on.

The day progressed uneventfully until after school when I unexpectedly I found myself the subject of an interview. Our local newspaper is doing a series of Marion residents, and I was happily answering questions about my life when the reporter mentioned getting a photograph. "Are you kidding?" I asked. "No way!" (Just kidding.)

I graciously posed for a photo with a small group of students and learned a bit more about humility today. I have to admit that I have my alarm set and plan to be much more prepared tomorrow...just in case.