Thursday, March 31, 2016

Red Buds and Ocean Scene

The last day before spring break was a chalk pastel day.  True confessions, I chose chalk that last day of school because it is an easier clean up than paint.  Okay, I feel better now.  I also like the results.   One of the  fourth grade classes did these spring pictures.  We started with the sky and grass and added the blooming red bud tree.  The lesson included perspective and the rule of thirds.  We discussed what details we wanted to add to our pictures.

The ocean pictures are  from the 5th grade.  I can't explain it but the 5th graders  do not seem to enjoy the chalk as much as the other grades.  This group of students have always been great in creating interesting pictures, but for some reason they seem hesitant  to add extra details to the things that they do in chalk.   I like their work the way it is but always enjoy seeing what they can add to make their pictures unique.


Spring time whispers secrets in the ear
But only if you care to hear

Dogwoods, tulips, azaleas and paper white narcissus
Wisteria's gossamer fragrance

We turn our backs on erstwhile somber winter
The sun restored from its' sojourn on a cold watery plain

The world awakens in a splendor of
pinks, purples, and effervescent whites..

Quickly you must drink from the beauty
Hurry, hurry before the balm fades to sultriness

It is too sacred to last

Monday, March 28, 2016

Water Lilies in Chalk Pastel

I really like doing chalk pastels with the kids, because we can make an interesting picture in a short amount of time.  I found a water lily tutorial on  We followed the basic directions and I showed the students pictures of real water lilies.  I encouraged them to use more than one shade in their water lilies to keep them from looking so flat.  They added their own details to the sky. The students always have great ideas on how to make their pictures better.  I learn from them probably as much as they learn from me.  I love how the chalk looks on the black construction paper and the vertical movement of the water using the blues and blacks.  I always hand out baby wipes when do we chalk, but it is still a pretty messy adventure. :)

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Weekend Wit 6

“If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn't rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.” Timothy Keller

John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

"The message of Easter is that God's new world has been unveiled in Jesus Christ and that you're now invited to belong to it.”
N.T. Wright

Romans 8:11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

“I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.” Charles Colson

"The tomb of Christ is famous because of what it DOES NOT CONTAIN."
Sam Morris

"For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins." 
1 Corinthians 15:16, 17

“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.” Martin Luther

Friday, March 25, 2016

A Day of Death and the Hope of the Resurrection

It has been a rough week emotionally.  One of my friends was sent home with Hospice.  She passed away last night leaving a loving husband and three beautiful daughters.  She fought tooth and nail to beat her cancer.  She took experimental drugs. She spent many days in the hospital but still kept her hope alive.  She kept on coming to work even when she had  little energy.  I know she had no desire to leave her family.

I knew Terri from work.  She accepted me into the little school family from the get go.  She always had a ready smile and an easy manner about her.  In my human mind, I can't understand why she was not allowed to live out her life and see her girls all graduate, marry and have a grand baby or two.  I don't get why her husband is now without his life partner.  I will grieve for Terri, but her family has been altered and they will forever have a gaping wound that will always seep tears.

It is Friday.  It is the day we set aside to remember that Jesus went to the cross willingly to suffer and die for our sins.  He paid the penalty of death for the sins of each of us so that we could have radical new spiritual life and be restored in our relationship to God, the Father.

How mysterious that Terri left us on the day that our Savior went to the cross?   It is Friday and all is death and sorrow and tears today.  Those of us who personally knew Terri are sad and  distraught.  Even to the end I prayed that somehow she would rebound and that we would see a miracle.

It was the same for Jesus' friends.  They saw the unfairness of the arrest, the trials and eventually the crucifixion.  The hope of the disciples was dashed.  They knew that it was all over and their friend and brother was gone.

Those  who has gone through the loss of a family member or close friend,  have experienced this same kind of insufferable loss.  In those kinds of moments, we do not know how to go on.  The longing for our loved one to be returned to us is an incalculable sorrow that the human heart does not have the true capacity to bear.

As long as we live on this earth, we will live in the reality of Friday.  We will suffer loss and pain.  I hate it.  I hate it with a passion.  Make no mistake here.  When Adam sinned in the garden, it was our decision as well.  We live in the reality of that rebellion every single second of our lives here on the earth.

 Jesus did not stay on the cross.  He was laid in a cold borrowed tomb, the very picture of defeat.  But it was not Jesus who was defeated, it was death itself.  The grave could not hold HIM.  He arose!!!!  On Sunday morning the disciples incredible spirit of defeat and sorrow was changed into an unbelievable joy.

We may live with our lives stuck in Friday, but my friends Sunday is coming.  It is coming and death will be swallowed up in victory.
Flowers that the kids drew and painted for Terri    (K through 5th  MCA)

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die...

Monday, March 21, 2016

Some Reasons Why Atheism Isn't A Viable Choice For Me

So delicate and beautiful, the common peach blossom
Cluster of pear blossoms
Years ago a little old lady gave me a small piece of this bush. I need to find out the name.  I enjoy the pink cotton candy color blossoms of early spring.

 I only have a few tulips left in the yard.  I love them and hope to remember to plant more in the fall.
 Dandelions may be officially weeds, but look how beautiful the sun reflects on the seed head. It is a perfect delicate globe of wispy little seeds.
Violets come up all over our yard, I love them too much to consider ever getting rid of them.

Look at Mister Cardinal sitting in the maple  filled with a plethora of wing nut seed heads. What a fun design are these little helicopter spinning seed pods? 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Weekend Wit 5

Of Perseverance 
The right response for most days is to just get up and start moving forward.

Of Prayer
God is more willing to answer our prayers than we are willing to pray.

Of Life
We have not seen the whole puzzle only that one small piece from our itty bitty lives.

Of Hope 
Hope is a tangible reality that we grab hold of  by faith in the promises of our God who does not lie.

"To know God is eternal life."

Of Humor
I find humor in much of life, it is my secret weapon against dry rot of the soul.

Of Faithfulness
Taking care of your family is not as sexy as volunteering at events where they give you t-shirts.  But the things you do for your family is really what keeps the world from falling apart.

Of a Mother's Advice
When  leaving the house for the day or the evening, my best and most consistent advice is, "Don't do anything stupid."

Of Marriage
Most enter marriage immature, if you stay long enough you will mature and so will your partner.  Too many don't stick around long enough to see the magic that comes from the longevity.  It is beautiful, winsome and holy.

"There is, hidden or flaunted, a sword between the sexes til an entire marriage reconciles them."
C.S. Lewis

Of Politicians
Leaders only have the power that God allows them to have.  They would do well to realize that they will be held accountable for every single one of their actions.

Of God's Glory
"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the , 'darkness' on the walls of his cell."
C.S. Lewis

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Spring's Arrival

The earth is fully awake
Garbed with sultry green

Bonny cows with heads bent down
The sparest of sparrows flitting about

Bullfrog croaking his watery sounds
Trees primp in their frilliest as the wind whisks it away

Spring has arrived!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Yesterday When I Was Seven

Yesterday I was seven
With the wind in my hair and butterflies floating across the sky.

I used to be twenty with stardust in my eyes
as I peered at the future just beyond the horizon

My soul is now housed in the fifties
As that vapor becomes thinner than ever

Tomorrow I will be seventy
And soon the veil will completely disappear in wisps

Eternity and reality will be one.

Maeyn Succat and St. Patty's Day

This is Saint Patrick's Day and somewhere in the back of our minds we have ideas swirling around about green beer, corned beef and cabbage and wearing green.  Every year I try to share the basic story of Saint Patrick with my kids at school. 

 Many believe Patrick was born Maewyn Succat.  He was kidnapped by Irish raiders around the year 400.  The best story I can find, is that he was a teenager who was taken to Ireland and sold as a slave.  Some stories say he took care of pigs and some that he took care of sheep. Maewyn cried out to God in his slavery and eventually was praying as much as a hundred times a day.  After a six year enslavement, he believed that God was telling him to escape and go home.  Maewyn convinced a ship's captain to take him home. He was reunited with his family and became a monk. 

 Eventually. after about twenty years, he had dreams that he was suppose to go back to Ireland and share the gospel message with his Irish enslavers.  He went and one of the first converts was the man who enslaved him.  He spent the rest of his life ministering now to his beloved people of Ireland.  Eventually his name was changed to Patrick.  

 The kids in the 4th grade made celtic crosses.  They added a triquetta, the three cornered knot, to the crosses and the Prayer of Saint Patrick to their picture.  The kids had the freedom to design their crosses and add other embellishments to their work.  Some of these are not finished.  Marker, colored pencil, wide black Sharpie, and crayons were available for use.  

I love the story of Saint Patrick.  I love the work of the sovereign God in Patrick's life.  As a young man, he had no interest in the gospel, but through what would seem a tragedy, God turned his life totally around and at the same time converted a nation from paganism to Christianity.  I get that not everyone in Ireland was converted and that over time the gospel message can be lost even to those who profess that they are believing people.

 I am still excited to know that God worked in Patrick's life. Maybe today there are circumstances in your life that seem totally beyond any hope.  Be a Patrick, turn in your desperation to the God of hope and see what He is willing and completely able to do in your life.  Corned beef and cabbage, green beer and wearing green have their worth, but the true story of Patrick is something that can capture the mind and be cause for true celebration.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Do You Just Look Pretty (Stinking Trees and Fruitless Lives)

I love nature.  I love gardening and over the years I have become somewhat educated about the plants that grow in my region of the country.  I am the kind of person that goes out in the early spring and gets all a dither when some little green tendril is poking its little leaves out of the ground.  Things in blossom make me go all weak in my knees.

This is true confession time though.  I do have one tree that I genuinely hate.  I don't just dislike it, I think that there should be an international chain saw  day where these trees are purged from the earth.  It is the ever popular over planted cultivar called the Bradford pear.  Subdivisions, fast food businesses, churches, and downtown areas all were sucked into the Bradford pear delusion.  They are beautiful trees.  Nice 25 foot height with an upward sweep of lovely green foliage.  These trees have no natural pest enemies.  They bloom a lovely white fluffy bloom in early spring.

I hate them, and let me count the ways.  They stink, literally, like a dying fish that was dredged up in the murky waters of a sewage canal that gives off nefarious sickly sweetness. Because this tree was over planted, the smell can be over powering.  As of last count, there were 962 of these trees within walking distance of my house (just kidding -but there is whole bunch of them).

The trees have not been proven to cause allergies, but I am personally skeptical as I have some type of allergic reaction that causes my throat and sinuses to swell and  a continual headache as the trees enter a full bloom until a hard rain washes the blooms to the gutters and front lawns.  This year as the trees entered full bloom I also had strep.  I hate the trees even more after my dual agony of sinus and strep.

The trees are truly fruitless.  Some of them have mixed with other varieties and produced a small hard fruit.  Why call it a pear tree?  Call it a pearless tree.  I have pear trees.  Even if I don't take the fruit from them, the birds and the yellow jackets are in heaven in the fall.  Why have a "fruit" tree that does not even produce fruit?

 Soon after the stinking blossoms season passes, it will be broken Bradford Pear tree season. The Bradford Pear break at the first little wind.  Those lovely up sweeping branches are a weakness.  The tree would be much more sturdy with more horizontally growing branches.  We have numerous neighbors who planted multiple trees and suddenly found their landscaping wop sided as another Bradford Pear bit the dust.  Church parking lots lined with this perfect looking tree begin to look a little snaggle toothed as random trees are broken by the wind.  Even if the wind doesn't get them, they have a short 25 year age span.  By the time that the yard has grown to maturity, the Bradford will go AWOL and the neighborhood landscaping is back to square one.

The Bradford can be a picture of a lot of people that profess Christ.  They look great.  They say the right things and everyone loves them.  The problem is that in their perceived beauty they are actually giving off a noxious gas that is causing sickness in the body of Christ.  They do not produce fruit in their lives and they have no strength.  At the first wind, they are going to crack.  You can't even count on them to consistently just look good.  Eventually, they are going to become an eyesore in the body that will bring confusion to those around them.

"Lord, my blossoms might be small and my fruit spotty and I might need a really good pruning job, but at least let me bear some fruit that is good and let me be of benefit to someone.  Let me not trip up others by the way I live and respond to circumstances.  When the strong winds come, help me to stretch my arms out to You in complete dependence."

 "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? "So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.…

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Walking in Town

Yellow Jessamine is our state flower. It grows on a woody vine. These were growing wild in a copse of trees near town.  I love  having jessamine. I had a really overgrown one that looked almost like a bush attached to one of our front porch posts.  It eventually had to be cut back because it threatened to consume the house and was intimidating the delivery guys by it sheer size and its green leafy tendrils that seemed to be waiting for the chance to ensnare the unsuspecting.  I now have mine at the corner of the back fence, where it can live freely without fear of being misunderstood by strangers.

Camellias, could any flowering bush be more sublime?  I have yet to be successful in growing one.  These beauties bloom when it is blooming cold outside and even the birds are freezing. They keep green waxy leaves and for most people require very little care.  If I don't have success soon, I am going to have to turn in my "Southern Old Lady Garden Certificate".  My mother in law has even rooted them for me.  I no longer ask her for help, now I wear dark glasses and park around the corner from the garden shop when I have the courage to try again.

Soon the blossoms are going to pop completely.  I love the compacted buds with all of the subtle spring colors and muted greens intermingled.

This is the local "feed and seed" store.  I do not really enjoy the big boxed store experience when looking for my gardening supplies.  Yes, I do go there, but this is the kind of place that I enjoy more. The shellacked plank floors are stained and warped and a good earthy smell  permeates the walls.  No one is in a hurry and they will tell you plainly that they are out of knuckle peas. They give you no hope that they will order more.  You should have had better sense and come in when they had them.  This is a place that promotes responsible living.  When I go to the big box store, I never know who is going to be walking the aisles to help me.  Here, I know.  The same two men have been waiting on me for the last 20 years.  That's continuity friends.    

This the Saluda River.  It is a major river in SC.  I cross the bridge that goes over the Saluda on Highway 8 on a regular basis, but am ashamed to admit that I really did not know what direction the river took moving away from town.  My husband and I went exploring today and we found the river. It wasn't missing, but sometimes we can be so locked in to our own little worlds that we don't notice the beautiful things that are really in our own backyard.