Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Day's End

Embers of molten colored flecks descend into the night sky

Smoldering richness of wood smoke

Quietness of the soul speaking

 Mesmerized I am by the flames licking into the contorted wood

Almost chilly breeze wraps around my sun scorched shoulders

Stars appear intermingled among the whispering clouds

It is dying day but a full life.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Weekend Wit 13

There is amazing beauty in the world.  There is also amazing beauty in doing it God's way.  I am still learning this lesson.

I fear that too many do not choose the "life of the mind".  We are like animals following any fool and any fad.  To be sure the fools and fads come to us clothed many times as popular culture and iconic figures.  

We live in a "dog eat dog" world where so much is based on selfish ambition and pride.  A better model is one where we build up, bless and encourage.  

For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere.…

Francis Schaeffer Quotes 

“The basic problem of the Christians in this country in the last eighty years or so, in regard to society and in regard to government, is that they have seen things in bits and pieces instead of totals.”

“The central problem of our age is not liberalism or modernism, nor the old Roman Catholicism or the new Roman Catholicism, nor the threat of communism, nor even the threat of rationalism and the monolithic consensus which surrounds us. All these are dangerous but not the primary threat. The real problem is this: the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, individually corporately, tending to do the Lord’s work in the power of the flesh rather than of the Spirit. The central problem is always in the midst of the people of God, not in the circumstances surrounding them.”

“When a man comes under the blood of Christ, his whole capacity as a man is refashioned. His soul is saved, yes, but so are his mind and his body. True spirituality means the lordship of Christ over the total man.”

"Christianity provides a unified answer for the whole of life."

"The beginning of men's rebellion against God was, and is, the lack of a thankful heart."

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Weekend Wit 12

You'd better figure out what took place in the Garden if you want to understand what is taking place in your life right now.

Impoverished people do not necessarily become dysfunctional, but many dysfunctional people become impoverished.

A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.

A need of the true church is recognizing what the Spirit is doing right now.  

Change comes whether we want it or not.  Every single part of our lives is always in flux.  Our security can never be found in our circumstances.  It can only be found on the Rock and that rock is Christ.

A Little G.K. Chesterton

“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.” – The Everlasting Man, 1925 G.K. Chesterton

“He is a [sane] man who can have tragedy in his heart and comedy in his head.” – Tremendous Trifles, 1909 G.K. Chesterton

“To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.” – A Short History of England, Ch.10 G.K. Chesterton

“Women have a thirst for order and beauty as for something physical; there is a strange female power of hating ugliness and waste as good men can only hate sin and bad men virtue.” – Chesterton on Dickens G.K. Chesterton

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” – Chapter 5, What’s Wrong With The World, 1910

Friday, May 20, 2016

Redeemed Redneck and That Chapter 7 Business

This week I have been disgruntled and full of churning emotions.  Something in my little world was being disturbed and I wasn't happy about it.  Overall the thing I have been spending so much emotion on is really about a category 1.5 as far troubles go. I have probably driven my husband crazy with my continual analysis of my little situation.  I have fretted and worried and  I have also been cross, angry and judgmental.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret--it leads only to evil.  

Recently someone said, "I thought I would be farther along at this point in my life."  Me too, sister!  Me too!  I know so much of the scripture and I have that desire to live it out in the big and small ways of my life, but "here I go again" handling things in a totally wrong way.  

Are the angels texting each other, SMH ? Is it even possible to frustrate angels?  

There is a story in the Old Testament about Saul before he became king.  His father had sent him to find some runaway donkeys and in the process Saul was delayed in returning home.  His father became concerned about his son and lost interest in finding his property.

 That is the way it has been this week with me.  I didn't lose my donkeys, but I was having anxiety that I was going to lose "my own way".  I had one of those moments where I realized that in the process of trying to hold on to my rights that I was losing something even more important.  I was losing my integrity.  This week I desperately just needed to believe the truth of scripture and trust God with every single facet of my future.  I often run ahead of God and try to rearrange things so that my little world is not disturbed.  Change means that I might have to rely on God.  Maybe, just maybe God is doing something and I should just trust Him.   Maybe I should believe that He is really working everything for "the good".

So that brings me to the place where I always end up, a redeemed redneck whose natural inclinations have to be put to death.

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh; for I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do. Instead, I keep on doing the evil I do not want to do.

God does not leave me to my own devices and He does not leave me in my sin.  His Spirit brings conviction and a realization that I am totally off base.

"Return again with showers of covering grace to a poor gospel-abusing sinner."
 taken from Puritan Prayer   Need of Grace

But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

No matter the day,  I am always in need of the grace of God. 


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Ten Things In the Box (Preschool Art)

As part of my job, I am a preschool art teacher.  I have 5 classes of three year old students and 5 classes of four year old students. I have a purple and red plastic tool box that I requisitioned from some cast off school supplies.  It is now my preschool box and it goes with me when I am the traveling art teacher.  The little ones are too small to come to my art room, so I go to them. I have through trial and error stocked my box with things that I find helpful.

1. Glue and Colored Glue 
Good ole Elmer's Glue is in my box.  I have 5 or more bottles.  I do not need that much very often but glue bottles can become dysfunctional quickly and the smallkins are not very patient.  A preschool art lesson needs to keep moving or the little natives will quickly degenerate into painting one another or sticking stray legos up their noses.

 I have bottles of blue, pink and black glue in my box.  I make the glue by adding liquid water colors to regular Elmer's glue.  The black glue can be used for a quick eye ball, seeds on a sunflower, or  stripes on a tiger etc.  Blue can make stars, clouds, or raindrops for a textured outcome.  Pink makes flowers and  bunny noses, etc.

2. Glue Sticks When I am particularly brave I let the little ones  use glue sticks, but I always take the lids off and prep the glue to the just the right level. I let them get up and return glue or crayons or paint brushes to a designated container when they are finished.  It encourages finishing the task and gives them a real sense of pleasure and accomplishment.  They love to put something away.  It is also an appropriate opportunity for movement.  The younger ones really desperately need that.

3. Bingo Paints or Dot Paints These are cheap and easy to carry and to use.  They can be used to draw in quick leaves and stems,  the center of flowers or for any thing that might need a little touch of paint.

4. Scissors It doesn't matter how much I plan and prepare, it seems that I am always needing to cut a few more dinosaur heads  or flowers.

5. Googly Eyes  I use hundreds of googly eyes every year.  Googly eyes can make the difference between a blah project and one with just a little whimsy.

6. Small and Large Cheap Paper Plates  Plates are great for paint palates that can be easily folded and thrown away.  A half a paper plate can be the back of a dinosaur or a boat.  Whole paper plates can be almost any animal, a flower or even a tambourine.

7. Big Paint Brushes A hundred times I have needed a paint brush or two to complete a project.  Many times I bring a brush for each student depending on the project.

8. A Smiley Face stamp  It could be stickers or any kind of stamp.  At the end of a project I ask the students to tell me one thing about today's project.  I am working on language and engagement.  When they answer, they get a smiley stamp on their hand.

9. A Puppet  I bring Quackers the Duck and he talks with the students at the end of a lesson.  He uses up the last minutes that I have with a class.  I have 30 minutes and some projects are shorter depending on how many students are there that day.

10. Baby Wipes Giving one baby wipe to each student keeps things a lot neater.  Smallkins are often upset by a dot of glue or paint on their hands.  At the end of class we take our projects into the hallway to dry.  I send them back inside to wipe hands first and then their spot at the table.  This is sometimes their favorite thing.

I prep my lessons and have the things that I need for each individual project, but these ten things have been very helpful to me. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Flower Pictures from the 4th Grade

These flowers were done by the 4th grade.  I gave them this project the day after they had returned from a three day field trip.  Most of them were pretty exhausted.  I wanted something that did not require a lot of instruction and that gave them a lot of freedom.  The older students can grasp a project and run with it. They got so much into doing this that it took some of them multiple days to finish, which was not what I had in mind at all.   They really enjoy being able to individualize their work. The flowers are drawn with black sharpie and then water colored. They finished the project by water coloring the background.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Best School Year Ever

Many people have read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson.  Ms. Robinson made the fictional Herdman kids famous.  The six  Herdmans are stair step kids in a single parent family.  The mother works two shifts at the shoe factory, but no one can blame her.  Either she is trying to make enough money to make ends meet or she is avoiding her horrible offspring.  Even the social worker only does drive by cursory visits. The Herdman's have a cat that is so mean that they have to keep it chained.  The kids are a terror in every grade level at the school.  No teacher ever fails a Herdman for fear that they will have two in their class the next year.  The Herdmans always manage to strong arm their way into lead parts and positions much to the chagrin of the principal and other community leaders.  They also find creative ways to abscond refreshments at local events.  They create so much havoc that they produce nervous conditions in their fellow elementary school students.

Ms. Robinson also wrote the The Best School Year Ever.  I personally think that both of these books are great read alouds for the classroom or for a read aloud at home with the family. These books are hysterical. Ms. Robinson creates "almost believable" comical situations that will have most kids belly laughing.

We all have had the anxiety of a Herdman in our life.  Most of us know the angst of wanting to avoid a person like that out of genuine fear coupled with  innate struggle to recognize their humanity.  Ms. Robinson draws us in by creating an atmosphere where we totally are sympathetic toward the Herdman's  victims but also see that they are a family in crisis that has learned to cope by being tough and resourceful.

These are short chapter books that I believe every kid should have a chance to read at least once.  They are written on a 1st through 3rd grade level.  The adults will enjoy reading the books to children almost as much as the kids will enjoy listening.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Castles in Second Grade

I used Deep Sparkle Space as guide to do these castles with the second graders.  We have already drawn a royal portrait this school year in second grade.  I took the opportunity to talk about lords of the manor, and peasants.  They were shocked to find out that the "middle class" did not exist in the times of  castles, knights and peasants. We discussed some of the ancient warfare and how a castle was used as a fort for the peasants to run to when there were maunders. We even discussed family crests. They were very interested in seeing examples of crests associated with their last names.

This was a guided drawing.  They had freedom to add  number and placement of towers. They went back and added black oil pastel on the main lines of the castle.  They added a line of horizon and the details that they wanted in their pictures. Small details they colored in with oil pastels.   They water colored with the idea that they could use whimsical colors.  Notice how their choice of color changes the mood and look of each castle.  The black oil pastel lines helped to keep the water color in the lines. and overall made for a neater project.

Weekend Wit 11

Of Reality
Movies, television and fictional books all have contrived endings.  Buyer beware!  Life is not like that.  There are built in consequences in going against the truth that God has built into the universe.  Sometimes the consequences last for generations. Just as their are physical laws in the universe, there are also spiritual laws.  If we jump off of a building, gravity will be in operation.  The same with spiritual laws, we do not break God's laws, they break us.

Of Freedom
“The stamp of the Saint is that he can waive his own rights and obey the Lord Jesus.”
― C.S. Lewis

Of the Whole Counsel of God
There is more hell on earth because we refuse the concept that there is a hell in the hereafter.  A ingrain fear that there might be hell to pay might give pause to some of the weird and violent behaviors that we have in our culture.

Of Our Blind and Foolish Selves
LUCY FOLLOWED THE GREAT LION OUT into the passage and at once she saw coming toward them an old man, barefoot, dressed in a red robe. His white hair was crowned with a chaplet of oak leaves, his beard fell to his girdle, and he supported himself with a curiously carved staff. When he saw Aslan he bowed low and said,
“Welcome, Sir, to the least of your houses.”
“Do you grow weary, Coriakin, of ruling such foolish subjects as I have given you here?”
“No,” said the Magician, “they are very stupid but there is no real harm in them. I begin to grow rather fond of the creatures. Sometimes, perhaps, I am a little impatient, waiting for the day when they can be governed by wisdom instead of this rough magic.”
“All in good time, Coriakin,” said Aslan.
“Yes, all in very good time, Sir,” was the answer. “Do you intend to show yourself to them?”
“Nay,” said the Lion, with a little half-growl that meant (Lucy thought) the same as a laugh. “I should frighten them out of their senses. Many stars will grow old and come to take their rest in islands before your people are ripe for that.  Voyage of the Dawn Treader  C.S. Lewis

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses

Every day there is beauty and truth staring us in the face.  We are often blinded by our self centered importance, so we go through life living in the very small world of "Me".

The scripture is adequate in giving us instruction. Why are we always digging for some hidden truth that we think will help us be over comers.  We just need to believe the truth that is there in plain sight.

Of Some Day
"See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.

"Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate;
And though I oft have passed them by,
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.“

J.R.R.Tolkien The Lord of the Rings

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mountain Dulcimer

I went back to my room at school today to gather my things and there were a couple of people in my room getting ready for a music lesson.  Our school  is a shared space experience and so it is not unusual for me to have people doing other activities in the room that I consider mine.  I have opened my door and found a room of senior saints having a meeting.  They usually give me the jaundiced eye look as I back out and slink off.  Sometimes I am unaware of what else has been scheduled and so I have those moments of being in the right place but at the wrong time.

Today I think I was in the right place at the right time.  Bill Voorhes gives music lessons in the afternoons at our school and he was there with one of his students.   Bill is a pastor, self described as being as old as dirt.  At one point in his life,  he was the Mission Director in Transylvania County in NC for the Southern Baptist Association until he retired from that position.  Ms. Lorraine was the music student in the room.  She now lives with some physical difficulties but here she was working on a new skill.  I really love that!

Bill specializes in the mountain dulcimer or dulicmore as mountain folk might call it.  The mountain dulcimer is unrelated to a hammered dulcimer.  It is a slender violin looking instrument that is traditionally played in the lap. It looks to me like the kind of instrument that might have been played in  Elizabethan England. Most of mountain dulcimers have a three octave range. They can be in a teardrop or hour glass shape. It is a fretted stringed instrument that was developed in the Appalachian region probably by the Scot-Irish people who settled there. It can be plucked or bowed.

 For years the mountain dulcimer was virtually unknown to the musical world but in the last century it has gained some notoriety.  It can now be found all over the United States and is making headway in other countries. The mountain dulcimer seems to have captured the imagination of folk musicians and hipsters alike.

For skilled instrument makers, it seems to be relatively uncomplicated to make.  Several families of Appalachia gained the reputation of being top notch dulcimer artisans and the craft was passed to the successive generations.  The dulcimer has patterned sound holes with shapes like hearts and hummingbirds..  The shape traditionally indicates the state where it was crafted.

The mountain dulcimer has a haunting sound that may be somewhat reminiscent of the drone of the bagpipes.  Mountain music would not be mountain music unless the sorrow of life was backdropped in the mixture of joyous melodies. It seems as though the mountain people of Appalachia  created an instrument that does just that.  Classic mountain tunes and sacred music are traditionally included in mountain dulcimer selections. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSP_fhIY7SA

Bill taught the mountain dulcimer at Brevard while  he resided in NC as the Missions Director for the SBC.  He was also part of an ensemble of mountain dulcimers and other stringed instruments.  Bill has performed in front of audiences in several countries and had his music recorded for viewing in China.  He provides an hour lesson for $30 and can be reached at

 Bill says that if you can read and count then he can teach you to play the mountains dulcimer.  I am pretty intrigued by this.  I have always wanted to be able to play some type of instrument.  I think the mountain dulcimer might be just the instrument to play sitting on the porch as the evening cools and the day fades.                                

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Flowers, Fluff and the Reality of Motherhood

Anna Jarvis wanted to do something to commemorate mothers and so she worked to set aside a special day for mothers.  Woodrow Wilson signed it into a reality in 1914 and the second Sunday in May was added to the calendar as the official day to celebrate mothers.  Anna Jarvis later was later disgusted by how commercial the holiday had become and tried to have the holiday rescinded. She wanted the holiday to hold more significance than a bouquet of flowers and a sentimental card.  I am a bit torn by all of this as I do think taking time to say "thank you" is important and  most of us need some kind of tangible reminder or culturally induced guilt to do what we should do on our own. I don't really love the commercialization of any of the holidays though.

I am not really sure that I learned to really appreciate my own mother and the genuine sacrificial life that she lived until she was gone and gone for many years.  I learned to appreciate Mama when I looked through the lens of my own experiences as a mother.  Someone said that to be a mother is to forever wear your heart outside of your body. 

 I have one son and he is grown, self supporting and married, but you had better leave him alone.  A rage forms inside me if I think he is being mistreated.  He is that baby that I felt move inside my body. That first image of a 9 pound 9 oz. boy that looked like a little purple sumo wrestler is forever stamped in my mind.  I dealt with my own fears and insecurities as I watched him grow.  There are 6,000,000 million little snippets of memory running around in my head of ordinary days and of  the milestones of his life.  He is that little one that pulled himself up and attached himself to my leg so he could follow me around the kitchen as I did my morning chores. I can recall with almost perfect detail the surreal experience of seeing him graduate from college or the look in his eyes as he watched his bride come down the aisle.
I have visions of my own mama standing in that hot summer kitchen canning food until the late hours or her coming into my room at night when I was scared by a bad dream.  I remember how she stood up to the untimely loss of my sister.  Mama would call me as a young adult just to remind me of something that I needed to do. She wasn't being bossy just gently helping me grow up and be responsible.  I remember how she quietly handled every single difficulty that life threw at her.  
I miss my mama.  I wish that I had loved on her more.  I wish that I taken time to spend more time with her.  She left me way too soon.  Thank you Mama for standing in the kitchen to cook a zillion meals. for washing my clothes, for nursing me when I was sick, for always keeping me close in your heart and mind,  for never giving up on me and for loving me.  

Flowers and a card might brighten a mother's day, but I suspect that what any mom really wants is just for her kids to understand the tangible but ever so vulnerable  nature of the love that we as mother's  possess.  I think most of us want our kids to know that we really do  know we are not perfect.  We want our kids to give us a measure of grace in our brokenness and in our fallibility.  I used to tell my son that I was going to mess up.  I told him he had to take all of that failure to the foot of the cross because I knew that I was going to blow it in many ways. 

I am an average mother.  I did nothing that was all that wonderful or special.  I have loved my son albeit imperfectly.  Most of the mother's I know consider the things that they have done for their children as nothing in comparison to the sheer privilege of being called a mom.

Most of us are not Ma Barker nor are we a mix of Mother Teresa housed in June Cleaver's personage. We are just regular people who enter motherhood with stars in our eyes and soon we realize that we are inadequate for the task.  Most of us are a day late and a dollar short in every phase of raising our children.  But when God's grace is added to the equation, it becomes enough.

My fourth graders drew and water colored these flowers for their moms.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Weekend Wit 10

Of Reality 
All the chapters of my life end with the words, "...and He parted the Red Sea."

I am more insignificant than I can grasp and you are too.

No one can bear the weight of my soul.  Depending upon someone else for my happiness is impossible and the weight of it will virtually crush the other person.  "remembered thoughts from a sermon by John Barnett many years ago)

We really are suppose to throw all of our cares upon the Lord.  It really is the only way we can make it.

"Your DNA was stamped in the Garden of Eden." 
Matt Williams
(You have expectation that the world should be better than it is.)

Of My Current Meditation
...until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Of Training Children
Discipline your children while there is hope. Otherwise you will ruin their lives. 

This is a most needful truth in a culture where we try to make our children's world full of butterflies and lollipops.  Those sweet little darlings need to learn that they are not the center of the universe.  If you doubt my words, I refer you to the "Snowflakes", those ever so fragile college students. Many times the parents lives are ruined as well.  I can think of nothing more heartbreaking than to have to watch your adult child spiraling out of control.  It would seem to me a form of living death.

Of Pride
When you start getting too full of yourself remember that rocks have more staying power than you do on this earth.

Most of us need to spend some time around little kids and let them do the talking.  We might learn some things about life.

Of the Finer Things
If you never have enjoyed the sweet fragrance of honey suckle growing wild, then you cannot  say with all veracity that you have experienced all of the finer things of life.

Of  Motherhood
I belong to the mother's club that is always switching back and forth between the emotions of joy, guilt, and pride. When those bevy of emotions finally settle, I find that it is love hiding in the background all along.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Sunflowers and Apples

These apples are a fourth grade project.  We used black construction paper and oil pastels.  This was a difficult project for the students, but it was probably more difficult for me to explain.  I love the results and would happily frame one of these for may walls at home.

The sunflowers are from second grade.  We used oil pastels for the flowers.  We worked on drawing big.  The background is liquid watercolor.  These two materials are a great combination to get a great piece of art. The oil pastels resists the watercolor and so it is an easy application that have stunning results.