Tag Archives: Memories

Remember ~ 10/31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes

 

Remember: “He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.” 1 Peter 2:24(NLT) / Pixabay

I have a hard time remembering some things these days.  What I had for lunch. Where my keys are. Why I came into the room.  My biggest challenge though, is to remember to forget!

My younger sisters have pointed out that while I’m forgetting day to day things of the present;  my memories of our past are becoming keener (a sign of aging, they proclaim). Don’t tell them, but I’m really ok with that! To remember the happy times we’ve spent with family and friends serve as a reminder of how blessed we are!

My remembering the past doesn’t stop with vacations and holidays however, I can relive words I should’ve never spoken, moments I let loved ones down, actions that were anything but Godlike, and chances I missed to do the right thing as if they happened yesterday.  They play,  through my mind like an old home movie, frame by frame reminding me of my unworthiness. Ever happen to you?

There’s no doubt we’re going to mess up in this life! And mess up again. And. Mess. Up. Again. Enter Jesus! He took all our sins; each one nailed to the cross. Because of His grace, we need to remember to forget!  Not forget so that we don’t learn from our mistakes but rather forget in such a way that we live as God intends: FORGIVEN! Remembering times and people of the past is truly a gift but, remembering all our sins of the past is a burden we’re not meant to carry because Jesus. Already Did.

 

 

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Deep in the Muck

A "cleaner" wheeler ride! Can you believe I got back on with him?

A “cleaner” wheeler ride! Can you believe I got back on with him?

Have you ever had an up close and personal relationship with manure?  You know…sticky, smelly, squishy…comes from the wrong end of everything? You read it right, manure! Well, my encounter with manure is one I’ll never forget!

As a new teacher from the city, in a small, rural town, twelve hours away from all my family and friends, I was welcomed into the home of a fellow teacher for supper each weekend.  (She later became my mother-in-law but that’s a story for another time). Anyway, I loved going there because it was on a farm and there were so many new things to see and do. Of course I never considered a rendezvous with manure being one of them.

After supper one cold, blustery night, Joe, the youngest in the family had to go check on the cows.  As he donned his coveralls he looked back over his shoulder and jokingly asked if I’d like to join him.  Much to his surprise (and mine too) I said yes.  So began my transformation.  Coveralls, gloves, a disreputable hat, and knee-high black rubber boots.  I was quite thrilled with my get-up and felt ready for the cover of The Farmer’s Almanac!  Out the door we went.  With an uncoordinated swing of my leg I plopped on the back of the three wheeler behind Joe and we took off around the fields checking for any new calves. The icy air slapped my cheeks  and the bars I was sitting on slapped my other….well, you get the idea. Approaching the barn, I thought our job was coming to an end but we paused right outside a large opening.  What I saw in front of me sent a shiver down my spine. There in our path was a huge pile of snow.  Joe looked back at me and seeing the terror in my eyes he smiled, revved the engine, and took off determined to give me the ride of my life!  I had a sinking feeling.

sinking became more than a feeling! As it turned out, it was not the snow pile we’d anticipated.  Instead it was an enormous mountain of manure disguised by a layer of clean, white snow. Momentum propelled us upward but just as the wheeler reached the top, the engine died and we sank. Despite several valiant attempts, Joe was unable to get us free so he told me I’d have to drive and he’d get off and push us out.  This is where city girl made her mistake .  Having never driven a three-wheeler or anything close to it, I was scared and so I firmly refused. With more confidence than I actually felt, I told Joe that I’d get off and push!

To his credit, Joe did ask me if I was sure before he agreed.  Attempting to appear undaunted I stepped right down into the waiting muck. My feet began to disappear deep into the mire until manure was dripping down inside my knee-high boots; gunk soaking through my socks.  Gripping the back bar of the wheeler I listened as Joe counted……Are you picturing  where this is going?

One, two three!…….He gunned the motor. With a gallant effort, I pushed. The tires spun. And yes, in a split second I had cow manure everywhere manure could possibly go.  In my hair, dripping from my eyelashes, my nose, in my ears, covering my clothes. I was manure from. top. to. bottom.  As I stood stuck, with globs of poo plopping from the brim of my hat and sliding down my face, I learned that being deep in the muck is NOT where I wanted to be!

Since then I’ve come to realize that life can sometimes feel like being stuck deep in the muck. Stress at work, bills to pay, health issues, troubled marriage, worrying about children, plans that don’t work out….the list is long. None of us want to be lodged in the depths of these situations but when we find ourselves unexpectedly sinking, what a comfort it is to know we are not alone.

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in Him.” Psalm 40:2-3 (NIV)

I certainly don’t have all the answers and I flounder when I find myself not where I want to be. I  may not always see a solution right away or recognize God leading me to solid ground as I struggle in the slime, maybe you can relate,  but this I do know… His word assures us we can look to Him for help and He’ll not leave us on our own.

The end of my “farm-hand initiation” that winter night? It came when Joe suddenly (not quite quickly enough for me, mind you) remembered a switch on the three-wheeler that when flipped, enabled the tires to lift up out of the murky hole they’d been trapped in. I’ll never forget his sheepish grin as he reached out his hand and helped me, manure smell, and all, back onto the wheeler.

This was the first of many adventures I had on the farm but the lesson I learned in the manure  is my favorite.  When I find myself unable to move forward or release what is behind me. When I’m sinking and stuck deep in the muck I’m reminded that just as the tires were lifted up so many years ago, we have a God that we can trust to lift US up. That smells like victory to me!

Temple of Memories

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I’m a collector.  Not just any collector, but an emotional collector.  Old photographs, dried corsages, drawings by my children, love notes from my students, letters from my grandparents all saved.  Some in boxes or on shelves, some in albums, and still others stuck between the pages of my Bible.  Each precious piece tells a story of my life.  I cling to them. I depend on them to take me back in time so I can recall that very moment like it was yesterday.  Fingering the soft material of my babies’ blankets, reading personal messages in greeting cards I’ve received over the years, and using dishes that used to be in my Grandma’s kitchen all kindle a myriad of memories for me. 

Recently, I was looking at my “teacher shrine”.  (Yes, I have filled a shelf with bits and pieces of my teaching career; things I couldn’t bear to throw away or even put away.)  As I stood there reminiscing with each item I began to wonder:

why do I so passionately hold fast to things that take me backward? 

As I’ve spent time with this question I have come to realize that looking backward is safe and safe is what I like.  Preserving fragments of life allows me to pick and choose the experiences I recall.  The people, events, and feelings connected to each memory don’t change and change is what I don’t like so, cradling the past has protected me from the anxiety of taking steps into the unknown. Whoa! This is big!  You see, I’ve been praying, with no result, for God to show me His plan for my life, but how could He?  Just as an Owl can completely turn its head around I now realize that I’ve diverted my focus away from the life adventure that is waiting ahead for me.  

Maybe you’re like me and while spending time in our

 “temple of memories,”

we have missed opportunities for Divine adventures and to worship God, the writer of our futures.

Traveling down memory lane is fun every now and then, but I think it’s time for me to clear off a few shelves, empty some boxes, clean out the temple, and give myself space to make new memories.  It won’t be easy. Anxiety? You bet!  I’ll have to take it one box at a time but, eyes forward,  I’m determined to “press on” toward living life in the direction God is leading me and not looking back.

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14 NIV

I have written this post as part of Suzanne Eller’s #livefreeThursday.  Want to read more about anxiety and adventure? Go to her website www.tsuzanneeller.com for inspiration.

A Teacher’s Heart

Teaching is a Work of Heart!

Teaching is a Work of Heart!

To all my precious Teacher friends out there…Happy Teacher Appreciation Day!  Never forget what an important job you do and how much I admire you!

A Teacher’s Heart

It started when I was very young,

A seed began to grow.

Crayons, scissors, glitter too,

Went with me where I’d go.

Sunday School, babysitting

Camp counselor and more,

Time with children anywhere

Caused my heart to soar.

It took hard work along the way

And several interviews

With love and support of family and friends

I stepped into my teacher shoes.

Those poor first students who had to teach me

Time and time again

Lessons tried, lessons failed

Lessons that should never have been.

Through it all they didn’t give up

And thankfully neither did I,

When I think back on those precious first years

I truly want to cry.

I’ve put my heart and soul into

My classrooms and each child,

Each day a new adventure

Some good, some bad, some wild.

Thirty-two years of my life

Living out this dream,

The ups, the downs, laughs and tears,

The times I wanted to scream.

The teacher’s day is never through

It’s hard to understand

The patience, the strength, the prayers it takes

To embrace a job so grand.

The seed has grown and blossomed

Its roots have gone quite deep.

In my heart are memories

A treasure I’ll always keep.

Little did I know back then

Long ago when this did start,

That God’s perfect plan all along

Was to give me a teacher’s heart.

Once a teacher, now a teacher

it’s what I’ve always been

Looking back I have no doubt

I’d do it all again.

Home

"There is more than enough room in my Father's home. If this were not so would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am." John 14:2-3 NLT

“There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” John 14:2-3 NLT

I got up this morning, poured my cup of coffee, and sat down in my chair at the window to watch the activity taking place at the bird feeders.  This is my routine pretty much every morning I’m home, however, this morning was a little more exciting (in the bird world, at least) because the Wrens are back and building a nest in the bird house.  It’s an amazing thing to watch as the tiny bird approaches the small opening in the bird house with a GIANT stick, often three times their size and yet, it still manages to maneuver it through. All the while the other half of the couple is chattering anxiously and excitedly flitting here and there. It’s hard work creating a home one stick at a time!

Home……it’s what’s been on my mind lately.  I recently traveled to help my mom prepare to move into a new home.  It’s a lovely condo with lots of light and storage. But even though it’s a positive move it has still caused her feelings of doubt, anxiety, and heartache.  At the same time, she’s experiencing excitement about redecorating, the joy of having friends close by, and a peace knowing she’s found the right place

In a few weeks my daughter, who I can still picture smiling up at me with a toothless grin and a head full of curls, is about to have a baby of her own.  She and her husband will be navigating their way to recreate their home as a family of three instead of two.  Doubt? Anxiety? You know it!  And as a parent I know that there’ll be some heartache too, but right there mixed in are great excitement and abundant joy!  (I can hardly wait!)

Add into the mix, my son, who is about to be married and join two lives into one home.  Again, its a time of mixed emotions. There are so many questions to be answered, plans to be made, and priorities to set. If ever there’s a time with a myriad of feelings, it’s planning a wedding, but the promise of this new love brings such delight!

My home was built over one hundred years ago and has seen better days. Now common sense would tell you that we have enough going on in our lives right now, but I’m not always sensible, SO….my husband and I have been looking into making a change in our home too.  We’ve given consideration to building a new house, one board at a time….. TOO STRESSFUL! Tearing down our family home and putting in a modular has been an option….. this caused me some heartache, though.  Remodeling where we’ve called home for many years is still being considered.  All three options are exciting and all three have also caused my husband and me a great deal of anxiety!

Home…..some of its definitions are:  shelter, a dwelling place or retreat, any place of residence or refuge, a place in which one’s domestic affections are centered.  These are all so true but for me there’s something more about home which cannot be defined.  It is that gravitational-like pull that draws me back. It is memories of times past and hope for times to come. It is love.

Yes, every emotion on the spectrum is experienced in a home…some good, some not. It is where we teach and learn about life.  It isn’t perfect but it’s where we begin and where we end. And in the midst of it all we have the promise that a Heavenly home awaits us. A place where there will be no more heartache or anxiety, only excitement and joy as we have never known before!  They say “Home is where the heart is”.  I have definitely put my whole heart into creating a home for my family and more importantly into building in us, one prayer at a time, hearts of faith, so that on some sweet day we will all finally be home together, forever.

Little Boxes

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Little Boxes

Little boxes stacked up high

Inside, memories of days gone by.

Pictures, letters, report cards, too

Together they tell the story of you.

Bits and pieces of times long past,

Carefully saved to make remembrances last.

A poem, a ribbon, a small round stone

Preserved to go through when we feel alone.

Little boxes stacked up once more

Tucked in the closet, close the door.

Life moves on and then one day

Little boxes, so precious, are thrown away.

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”  Matthew 6:19-21

The Only Way to Travel

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Riding the Tygart Flyer

Fall is here!  The colors are vibrant, the air has less humidity, and the evenings are cool.  It’s one of my favorite times of year!  My husband and I celebrated the season and his birthday by taking a short, scenic train excursion yesterday.  Scenic it was!  The mountains were alive with golds, reds, oranges, and greens.  The bright blue sky boasted fluffy white clouds and the falling leaves whirled on the breeze like fairies.  When we reached our destination we were not disappointed.  The waterfalls and river glistened in the afternoon sun like diamonds.  It was a fun and relaxing day except for one thing……

Our train traveled up then back down the mountainside on one track which means on one leg of the trip you’re sitting backward.  I didn’t think much about it until a funny feeling came over me.  Call it dizzy, woozy, or what you’d like, it wasn’t pleasant. Scenic or not, taking a trip backward is not what I prefer.  Thankfully by adjusting my seat and where I focused on the landscape I was able to enjoy the rest of the journey back to the station.

If traveling backward is so uncomfortable, then why do I do it so often in life?  It’s hard to say how many hours or even days I have spent looking back to times past when I was younger and skinnier, my children were little and I felt needed , love was new, or someone I cared about hadn’t passed away.  During those times I yearn for the past and often perceive it to be better than today.

Unfortunately, I don’t only look back on “good times.”  I more frequently return to the mistakes I’ve made, the people I’ve hurt, the people who’ve hurt me, and  the things I wish I’d done differently.  Returning to these memories produces that queasy, uneasy feeling just like my train ride down the mountain.   These are painful reminders of my failures and I can recall them just like they happened yesterday.  As a result unpleasant sadness and regret settle in my soul.

Have you too taken these backward excursions?  It’s time to adjust our seats and change our focus!  Why continue to waste our today by reaching back into yesterday?  It ‘s becoming clearer to me that continually traveling back to the past takes me off track and is making it harder to reach my desired destination.  The events of our lives, good and bad, have helped shape us into who we are today.  Instead of clinging to them we need to focus on the joys we’ve experienced, the lessons we’ve learned, wisdom we’ve gained, and set our sights ahead to a future that is vibrant and alive.  Whether life takes us up, down, or whirling on the wind we can be sure of one thing…… Living in the now and looking forward is the only way to travel!

Simple Love Notes

It took six days but I finally have my classroom cleaned out of 32 years of saving, creating, collecting, and reusing stuff!  It only took five or six wheelbarrow loads a short trip to the dumpster and a LONG walk down memory lane.  Deep in the corners of drawers, cupboards and shelves I found trinkets, artwork, and gifts I have received through the years.  Precious things that a teacher just cannot throw away.  Amongst these treasures were a variety of love notes from former students.  Some scribbled on scraps of paper.  Others drawn with crayons or markers and the paper filled with colorful drawings.  Reading those forgotten notes brought back vivid memories of children I taught who are now adults with children of their own as well as students I have had more recently.  Many letters had no name on them to identify the writer just the words “I love you” in a child’s print, but I saved them all just the same.

The offering of love is a precious gift. One that we should all freely give.   Children seem to understand this better than we adults.  Four little words,  You’re the best teacher”, scribbled on  the back of an old wrinkled spelling test years ago, filled me with such joy when I received it and again when I uncovered it last week.  Six words…..”I wish you were my mother”.  Three words….”I love you”.  It seems so simple….feel something and express it, but we know that giving love is risky.  We might be hurt or made fun of.  The feeling may not be returned.  We can think of many reasons for not opening our hearts to others.  It seems easier just to keep it to ourselves.

After experiencing the overwhelming warmth of love I felt as I read each note I found, I’m determined to be braver and more willing to show others how I feel about them.  Maybe it will be through a smile, a hug, a gift, or who knows, even through a love note.  It doesn’t have to be elaborate.  It doesn’t have to be planned.  It just simply has to be shared.

Before I started cleaning out my classroom, I promised myself (and my husband) that I wouldn’t bring too much home with me.  I must confess though, that I could not bring myself to throw away those precious acts of love I had been so freely given.  I tucked them away in a special box to be gone through again when my heart needs reminding about the wonderful power of a simple love note.

A Simple Love Note

A Simple Love Note