"In like a lion..."
For my many years teaching elementary aged children, each month brought a theme. Sometimes more than one. March always posed the riveting questions, "Will March come in like a lion, and go out like a lamb?" Or vice versa.
In 2018, Northeast Ohio definitely experienced the "in like a lion!" Let us hope it exits like a lamb.
The first day of March brought an all day rain event. It was a "quack, quack, waddle, waddle" kind of day, as my daughter and I called it when she was little. Our backyard looked like a dismal swamp. Then around 9pm the rain changed to snow, the wind howled, and the lights flickered...until about 10 when there was complete darkness! When the flickering started, I got the flashlights, just in case.
We reported the outage, and then went to bed. The earliest power "might" be restored was 1am.
It did get a little chilly, but I am grateful for our down comforter that kept me toasty all night. I am also grateful for the walls and roof of our home that sheltered and protected us from the storm. I am grateful that no trees fell around us.
When we got up in the morning, we had close to a foot of snow. We live on the cusp of the Snowbelt. It was really a winter wonderland as I looked outside at trees flocked with snow and the ground covered in a white blanket. Power was restored about 10am. We had sunshine all day and the sky was clear and blue. By early afternoon most of the snow had blown, or melted, off the trees. A lot of snow disappeared from the rays of the sun, helped by the very wet ground. And our backyard looked even swampier with all the huge puddles merging.
March had made its grand entrance, and now it was calm after the storm. A lot like life, I'm thinking.
PS- I apologize for no post on 2/25/18, as scheduled. A virus, the germy kind, knocked me for a loop! I had thoughts, but getting something well written just wasn't in the cards. Stay healthy!
"The best night of my life!" ~a Night to Shine guest
Friday, February 9, 2018, was truly a Night to Shine! About 540 churches worldwide hosted Night to Shine proms in all 50 states and 16 countries. If you are unfamiliar with Night to Shine, it's a ministry of the Tim Tebow Foundation. The website states, "Night to Shine is an unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God's love, for people with special needs ages 14 and older." This year there were approximately 90,000 honored guests, with the support of 175,000 volunteers all over the world. That's one big prom night!
My husband and I volunteered with about 150 other folks (ages 16 and up) as our church hosted our first Night to Shine prom. Many volunteers were from our church, and others were from nearby churches who wanted to get involved. With so many details to take care of before, during, and after the prom, one volunteer shared it was like a million-piece puzzle that was so amazing to see come together. As the saying goes, "Many hands make the work light."
Nearly 75 guests attended our Night to Shine event, along with their caregivers. Guests arrived for check-in, and volunteers hung up their coats. Each guest received a corsage or boutonniere, and then the ladies had their hair fancied up, while the gentlemen got a shoe shine. Next, limousines carried guests for their grand entrance on the Red Carpet as crowds cheered and paparazzi flashed pictures. "Buddy" volunteers escorted guests throughout the evening, including a delicious sit-down dinner.
After dinner, the DJ really got the party rocking! Music, lights, cameras, and action were everywhere. It was all about dancing and having a great time. Each guest got crowned King or Queen of the prom before the evening ended. Royalty abounded. Swag Bags went home with each guest filled with lots of goodies to remember the evening, including a prom picture and a beautiful Night to Shine picture frame.
It was quite a night! Volunteers knew that doing this would bless our guests, but we all came away feeling blessed in so many ways by our guests. Seeing pure joy through smiles, and sometimes happy tears, on their faces blessed us all. We will cherish many memories. I personally will not forget the young girl who when I told her how pretty she looked in her beautiful red dress kept saying she wanted to go down the Red Carpet again. "Let's go do it," I said. We made our way there, she walked, we cheered, and anyone nearby joined in. Her smile was radiant. The next day I saw the videographer's online post. He had captured her "crowning" moment. Her expression was precious. She truly is royalty!
"Dreams don't work unless you do." ~John C. Maxwell
I've been thinking a lot about kids doing out of the ordinary things. Earlier I shared about Christian Bucks who worked to get a Buddy Bench on his school playground in Pennsylvania.
In Iowa, Luke Thill grew fascinated by the Tiny House movement. He did some research, and said, "I got obsessed with them and decided to build my own." Quite an ambitious goal for an early teen, but clearly his dream! Luke convinced his parents, but there were conditions. Luke had to raise the money, find the materials, and stay on budget. Then he'd own it free and clear.
Luke raised money cutting lawns and other jobs. He gathered reclaimed materials and bought some new. He bartered labor. Luke even cleaned an electrician's garage in exchange for help wiring.
Luke built the 89 square foot tiny home on his family's property. He calls it his "starter home," although the city codes consider it a "glorified shed." No matter what you call it the structure has a kitchen and sitting area with a drop down table, and a wall mounted TV on the main floor. A bedroom is in the loft. There is no plumbing, but that's okay for now. He uses it for doing homework, hanging out with friends, and sleeping there a few times a week.
In the process of constructing his tiny home, Luke learned many life and building skills. But he's not stopping there. In the future he plans to sell it and build another one on a trailer hoping to haul it to college for cheap living.
When Luke spoke at TinyFest Midwest, he said, "I want to show kids it's possible to build at this age."
If you're interested in Luke's project, he has a YouTube channel. And if you know about any Can Do Kids, I'd like to hear about them, too.
"In a world where you can be anything, be kind." ~Unknown
Recently I read about "The Buddy Bench" popping up on school playgrounds across America, and other countries. What a great idea! As a retired elementary teacher I recall many recess duties where kids said, "I don't have anyone to play with," or "I don't know what to do." Others aimlessly roamed. And some chose to "hang out" with a teacher on duty.
The website (buddybench.org) says "The Buddy Bench is a simple idea to eliminate loneliness and foster friendship on the playground," and it spreads "the message of inclusion and kindness."
On the website is the story about Christian Bucks, who in the spring of 2013 as a 1st grader, became aware of the Buddy Bench idea when his family researched German schools for a possible move. Now inspired, he shared the idea with his teacher and principal, who helped make it a reality. In the fall, as a 2nd grader, Christian explained the buddy bench to his school's student body right before it was placed on the playground. The idea has spread into a Buddy Bench movement. And Christian has been invited to participate in the placement of Buddy Benches at other schools. Author Lois Lowry once said, "Kids deserve the right to think that they can change the world." It looks like Christian has a good start.
There are many ways Buddy Benches can be placed on playgrounds. My first thought was this could be a great service project for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, student councils, PTA or PTO groups, sororities and fraternities. Families, craftsmen, and retired folks have already taken the challenge to build or raise money to place Buddy Benches on school playgrounds in their communities.
Thank you Christian for caring to spread kindness and make a difference in our world. And I can't help thinking on this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day that he would say to Christian, "Well done!"
"The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals." ~Melody Beattie
When I started my quote search for this post, I immediately loved the first one I read. But I looked at more, just in case. I noticed another site touted the "Top 10" on New Year's Resolutions, where this quote was honored as Number 1! It was clear. It was the first one I read, and rated number one. So this was indeed the one! I liked the comparison of a new year with a chapter of a book waiting to be written. And how setting goals helps get the story written or a task completed.
One of my goals when I started my blog was to post every other Monday. That's worked out well, except for October when things went awry. Before we departed on a ten day trip in Montana, I decided to skip the week we were gone. I wondered if anyone would notice. (After all, my techy Megan and I were the only ones aware of my goal.) But when we returned from the trip, I don't even know how I lost track of the days and the dates on my pre-determined Blog Log schedule. OOPS! (I think it was jet lag!) That's two missed posts in a row. Hmmm! So I adjust the schedule after my snafu, and have stayed on track -- so far. The blog and website together met a previous goal for 2017 of having an online presence that editors and agents advise is necessary in today's writing world.
As I ponder goals for 2018, I will continue to write and submit. Those are things I can control. As Annette, one of my critique friends says, "It keeps our brains active!" What I can't control is if or when an editor, publisher, or agent will say, "Yes!" My part is to keep on doing my best, and to maintain a positive attitude about all of it. And pray! And then there are my perennial goals to purge cupboards, closets, and drawers, and keep my writing space uncluttered...
"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."
~Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
I've been thinking about some favorite Christmas books and some memorable quotes in them.
Who doesn't recognize Scrooge's "Bah Humbug" attitude about Christmas at the beginning of Dickens's tale? It's funny how Dr. Seuss's Grinch shares the same attitude in his own grinchly style with his heart "two sizes too small." Yet by the end of each story, they both love Christmas. Ebenezer is shown many things by Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, then vows to change his ways. I like to think he became quite lovable. Mr. Grinch did all he could to wreck Christmas for every "Who in Whoville." But when he saw that even after he stole all their presents, decorations, food for their feast, including the "roast beast," they were still joyful. He heard their voices singing, "Christmas Day will always be, just as long as we have we!" And then "the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! 'Maybe Christmas,' he thought, 'doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!'" And then "the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day." Both Scrooge and the Grinch found the true meaning of Christmas in their hearts.
For many Christmases my late mother-in-law recited T'was the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve. In her last few Christmases, my husband has taken over by reading the story. This is the first Christmas without her, and he's already mentioned he doesn't think he'll be able to get through it. I've been thinking about a new tradition with this Christmas classic. We'll see how it goes to get us to "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"
My husband has also read many different picture books about the birth of Jesus, but as the grand-kids got older, he began reading the account of Luke in the Bible. Last year the grand-kids read it aloud as a Readers' Theater I put together for them to surprise their parents. When reading or listening to Luke's Gospel, I often think about The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. I love how Gladys Herdman as the Angel of the Lord says the only speaking part in the whole pageant, "Hey! Unto you a child is born!"
These are just a few of my favorites, but enough for now. And as I began with Dickens, so I shall end in the words of Tiny Tim, "God bless us, everyone!"
"I miss the good old days when Black Friday was actually on Friday."
As I shared before, I do not do Black Friday. I will admit a couple times I did Black Friday, but not because I really wanted to go. Fifteen years ago, my daughter "needed" a particular gift. It had been a rough year for her, so we decided we'd do this. We got up before dawn, fought the crowds, bought it, and headed right back home. "Never again," I said. The real kicker came a couple weeks later when I saw the same item in the same store at the same price it was on Black Friday! Are you kidding me?
A few years before that, I was hanging out with friends on Black Friday. After dining out, somebody said, "Let's go shopping." What could I do? Fortunately, it was evening, and the eager morning shoppers were either gone or mellowed.
Admittedly I have enjoyed listening to amusing tales of a couple sisters, Beth and Laura, who have made a tradition to get started early on Black Friday. They love it, and share entertaining details of their retail conquests.
But this year I noticed as early as 2 p.m. on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, some retailers were open to start Black Friday sales. Really? And it seemed by the advertising I heard or read that Black Friday lasted through the whole weekend. Also, my jammed and overloaded email box had tons of notices extending Black Friday deals beyond the weekend into Cyber Monday. But of course, Cyber Monday has now morphed into...Cyber Week! Again, really?
What's next? Perhaps "Black November" and "Cyber December." Heaven forbid!
But back to Thanksgiving Day when the shopping frenzy seemed to begin. I couldn't help thinking about retail employees who worked rather than spend time with family and friends. Did they mind missing their traditional gatherings? I wondered if retail employers asked for volunteers. Or if employees were told, "You're working on Thanksgiving!" And do the employees who work on Thanksgiving get holiday pay, or overtime, or a bonus? Or is it just another day's work in their paychecks?
By contrast I read of a retail company who closed on Thanksgiving, and gave their employees Black Friday off, with pay. Bravo! I'm guessing the company has many happy campers.
The opinions in this post are strictly my own. Thanks for reading my thoughts. But I do wonder if anybody shares my sentiments.
P.S. By the way, I completed "The Gratitude Challenge" in November. (See 11/6/17 post) There were a couple times I got behind and had to catch up. But I am grateful for that 30 day journey intentionally focused on attitudes of gratitude.
"I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States...to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father Who dwelleth in the heavens."
Excerpt from the Thanksgiving Proclamation, October 3, 1863
The above words are what led to our national day of Thanksgiving that we'll be observing in a few days. And yes, now I am thinking about making Thanksgiving dinner. But Thanksgiving has not always been about meals of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin pie.
Days of thanksgiving have been declared and set aside throughout history, even in Biblical times. In America, back in 1621 when the Pilgrims invited Indian guests and held their first feast, the word thanksgiving was more about prayer, gratefulness, and gratitude than about food. But historians say 1621 was not the first time of thanksgiving in our country, even though it's the one we teach and learn about in school. In the late 1500s when Spanish colonists landed in present day Florida and present day Texas, they prayed and feasted. In 1619 when British colonists landed in Virginia, they were under strict orders from the London Company about what to do: "We ordaine that the day of our ships arrival...shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God." In the late 1700s, the Continental Congress declared a day of thanksgiving to celebrate victory over the British in 1777. Later President George Washington declared November 26, 1789 as a Thanksgiving holiday intended for public thanksgiving and prayer, but only for that year. And that's possibly just a sampling of times when thanks and gratitude were expressed before Lincoln's proclamation.
So as we approach this Thanksgiving, I plan to continue focusing on having an attitude of gratitude, reminding myself about being thankful and grateful, and counting my blessings. And once November comes to a close, I'm going to deliberately and intentionally strive to give thanks in everything.
I'd love to hear what you're thankful for today.
Already I am grateful that on Black Friday I will not be shopping anywhere! But I do intend to patronize shops in my area on Small Business Saturday.
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend." ~ Melodie Beattie
My American Heritage Dictionary defines gratitude as "the state of being grateful; thankfulness." Synonyms offered in Roget's Thesaurus include: thankfulness, thanks, gratefulness, appreciation, and thanksgiving.
Even as a retired elementary teacher, when one month is ending and charging toward the next, I'm already thinking ahead. November just began and visions of thanksgiving are dancing in my head. However, I am not thinking about Thanksgiving dinner yet. What I am thinking about is gratitude and being thankful, i.e., thanksgiving.
In October I signed up for "The Gratitude Challenge" happening during November. I even invited a few friends to join me. And if you're interested, send me a message and I'll get the details to you.
In today's world, a day, an hour, and sometimes even a minute doesn't go by without some news or reports of a tragedy, catastrophe, chaos, threat, or disappointment. These situations can be pervasive or global to very personal.
So in November, I'm choosing to focus on gratitude and thanksgiving. Albert Schweitzer said, "The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything." I'm keeping a list.
What was first on my list on November 1st? I thanked my husband for jumping right in and taking over a clerical task I proposed to simplify some record-keeping. I assumed I would be the one implementing it. He said, "That's a great idea!" And then he spent a few hours working on it. I am grateful!
"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." - Albert Einstein
Well, here I am at blog post #4. If you've read my blog from Facebook, you might be scratching your head. You might be saying, "But this is only the second one I've seen!" And you'd be right for Facebook posts. However, this is truly #4 on my website. And that's because my learning curve apparently was pretty steep... and I made at least one mistake with #2 and #3. Let me explain.
Post #1 was entered with my personal tech support, Megan, by my side. She carefully guided, and I thought I paid close attention to details. Everything worked pretty much as planned.
Post #2, I took a deep breath, carefully followed the process, and scheduled the post to appear on September 4th when I planned to be walking the beach in Rodanthe, NC. That day I did check my website to be sure it posted. Feeling happy as a clam it was there, I went back to thinking about all things beachy!
Post #3, I was feeling a little more at ease I went through the process and scheduled to post the next day, September 18, as I had a critique group meeting in the morning. That gathering was cancelled, and I stayed home. Shortly after the scheduled post time I went to my website and discovered most of my blog post was there. But where was the ending? Panic! I took a deep breath, looked at the screen and focused to remember what Megan showed me about editing. What I remembered about making corrections was successful, and all seemed well in "blog land." Until I looked on Facebook, and found it was not there. And neither was #2! Panic again!
After texts, emails, and dialogue, Megan discovered that I missed at least one step in the process. The step that posts my blog to Facebook. Humph!
Blogging, a website, and Facebook are all new to me. I'm guessing there could be more glitches as I move forward learning. Thank you for understanding.
And now that you're here, you can read my previous two blog posts that you might have missed.