Saturday, December 21, 2013

Advent Day 21

I like the analogy that God is like mountains on a foggy day.  You can't see him, you can't touch him, but you know he is there.  Then when the fog lifts and you make the journey up to the mountain side, you see God face to face in a more clear and real way than ever before.

Even when we can't see God or feel God, when chaos, tragedy, or trivial worries distract us from God, any time, any day, any rhyme or any reason, God is always there surrounding us with hope, peace and joy.

Tomorrow is the last week of Advent, the time to focus on the love of God, love so clearly expressed by the baby in the manger.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Advent Day 20

The Power of the Spoken Word.  Here are what some of the scriptures have to say.

Speaking out loud leads to salvation.
Because if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and in your heart you have faith that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Trusting with the heart leads to righteousness, and confessing with the mouth leads to salvation. Romans 10:9-10

God spoke the world into existence.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4

Speak scriptures out loud.
Never stop speaking about this Instruction scroll. Recite it day and night so you can carefully obey everything written in it. Then you will accomplish your objectives and you will succeed. Joshua 1:8
There is power in the spoken word.
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love to talk will have to eat their own words. Proverbs 18:21

No comment.
It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, 
we also believe and therefore speak... 2 Corinthians 4:13

With just a little bit of faith you can speak things into action.
Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and said, “Why couldn’t we throw the demon out?” “Because you have little faith,” he said. “I assure you that if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Go from here to there,’ and it will go. There will be nothing that you can’t do.”   MATTHEW 17:19-20

Matthew 17:20 17:21 is omitted in most critical editions of the Gk New Testament
This kind doesn’t come out except through prayer and fasting.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Advent Day 19

There is room at the manger for everyone. Happy people, sad people, rich and poor, young ones, old ones, you and me.

Our community has had more than its usual share of deaths recently.  My church's "Pray for grieving families" prayer list increased by 6 names last week. Charlotte Smith, Oline Davis, Wayne Owens, Rosella Tahah, Chad Thompson, Bernice Eichling. The families of these people are grieving at Christmas time. There is room for them at the manger where they will find comfort.

We think we have to be happy and cheerful at Christmas. But really we can be whoever we are, feel whatever is appropriate, as long as we seek God and spend time at the manger.

Some of the new people on our prayer list do not attend church.  I don't know how a person survives grief without a connection to God and the support of people with that same connection. One good thing about a small community is that support is available. All of the churches are praying for these people.  Most community members, whether they go to church or not, take action to serve those in need. There will be visits, food, cards and all kinds of help offered.  In a way, they are bringing the manger to the people who need it the most.

Blessings to you throughout Advent and I'll see you at the manger.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Advent Day 18

From my daily advent reading:

Thank you, God, that even when I feel empty and dry, I know that the springs of joy are there, buried deep within me. I ask you to tap those springs now, release them, and carry me away on their fullness

Thank you, O God, for joy.
  Joy that overcomes all else.
    Joy that is more powerful than the darkest powers.
      Joy that is more abundant than the waters in the seas.
        Joy that is mine.

This spoke to me this morning.

And some random things I've learned and experienced lately.

Every night before going to sleep, I read a section of the Common English New Testament on my Kindle. I'm in ACTS. I've been reading about Paul's evangelism and how he made as many people mad enough to kill him as he brought to salvation.  Paul was concerned about the Jewish Christians who wanted Gentile Christians to obey all the old Hebrew Laws (like circumcision).  Paul and some buddies came up with the basic things Christians need to do; are you ready?

ACTS 15:28-29: The Holy Spirit has led us to the decision that no burden should be placed on you other than these essentials: refuse food offered to idols, blood, the meat from strangled animals, and sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid such things. Farewell.

That's a lot easier than the big ten, don't you think?

At the Beth Moore Bible Study I've been going to, I learned the power of the spoken word. Praying out loud has a spiritual power that doesn't exist in silent prayer. She quoted from these scriptures; I can't say which ones are actually relevant to the power of speech.  But if you want to look them up, here they are: Joshua 1:8, Proverbs 18:21, Numbers 13:31-32 & 14:1-4 & 14:20-23, John 15:7-8, Romans 10: 8-10, Matthew 17:19-20 and Psalms 18:19.

Meanwhile, back to joy... Yesterday was Elder Day of Homecoming Spirit Week.  Elder Day, really?  I went as myself but I wore pearls and put my hair up in a bun.

In my last class of the day, a boy asked me, "Mrs. Perry, are you trying to look old?"

"Well, I'm not really trying, but yeah."

"I don't think you look old.  You never look old.  Except for maybe the pearls."

He nailed it and showered on me both emotional and spiritual joy.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Advent Day 17

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. ~ Isaiah 12:3

The joy of advent is Jesus coming to earth being born as a human baby.

The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” ~  Luke 2:10-14

Why were the angels joyous?  Jesus had to leave heaven and come to earth to face hardships and death.

They were full of joy because it was God's delight to send his son  in human form so that we might be reconnected to heaven. There's joy for everyone in that.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Advent Day 16

Joy is a fruit of the spirit, not a result of our gratification.

Joy is an intentional action.

Sometimes I am good at being joyful.  I am tapped into God no matter the situation and I feel His joy.

But other times, even aware of God's presence, I get cranky because things just aren't going right.

Being in God's joy is much better so I'll work toward being in joy more than being cranky, with God's help.

Go, eat your bread with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. ~ Ecclesiastes 9:7

Wine is also a source of joy for me.  I'm happy to have found this scripture.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Advent Day 15

The third week in Advent: JOY. We are half way through the season of preparation and it is time to celebrate. The Savior is coming soon. Rejoice.

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” Luke 1: 46-49 

Mary sings for joy to the Lord as she anticipates the arrival of her son and savior.

What better way to express JOY than by this beloved Christmas song?  The lyrics are in public domain. Yay!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n, and heav’n, and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

I was going to put a link to a listenable version of this song but I couldn't find one that I like.  Maybe you'll have better luck if you google "Joy to the World."

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Advent Day 14

Shalom means peace in Hebrew

Shalom is more than the absence of conflict.  It's the peace that surpasses understanding; the peace that only God can give.

And this is the last day of the second week of Advent, the week that celebrates peace.


(It also means hello and good-bye.)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Advent Day 13

Friday the 13th has some roots in Christianity.  Friday is unlucky because that was the day Christ was crucified.  13 is unlucky because there were 13 at the last supper, the 13th member was Judas who betrayed Christ.

Whatever, Friday the 13th is not unlucky during Advent when the holiness of the season makes every day sacred and therefore not unlucky.

I want to walk peacefully on earth, kissing the earth with my feet. ~ Thich Nhat Nanh

How wonderful to kiss the earth with each step that we take.

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the one who brings news of peace, who announces good things, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns!" ~ Isaiah 52:7 (International Standard Version)

What's up with all the talk about feet?  Spread peace wherever you go and you will have beautiful feet.

Lord, give me beautiful feet and remind me to kiss the earth with them.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Advent Day 12

True lovers of peace are those who, in all their sufferings upon earth, remain at peace in mind and body for the love of Jesus Christ.
~ Francis of Assisi

I fell in love with St. Francis when I listened to a Great Courses lecture series about him on CDs. His personality was so much more robust than is shown in most paintings and stained glass of him. A few things that stand out in my memory. When Francis made a vow of poverty, he did so my giving away everything he owed, including his clothes.  He stood in the town square, bare naked, praising God, and humiliating his wealthy businessman father. It amuses me that Francis enjoyed having animals in his worship services.  A lot of his pictures have him surrounded by animals; the artists got that right about him.  Another great story is  about how Francis wanted to be like Jesus in every way.  He felt he should be martyred, but how does one accomplish that? Francis devised a plan. Since the Crusades were going on, he thought that if he took a trip to the Muslim world to spread the good news about Christ, that he would surely be tortured and killed. But when the Muslim ruler, I think his name was Saladin, had Francis brought to his home, they became great friends. Apparently people couldn't help but like the man. Instead of having Francis killed, Saladin had an armed guard escort Francis safely back home.

St. Francis was a true lover of peace. We can all follow in his footsteps and be peace lovers in our own walk and our own ways.

I found this picture of St. Francis at free to use and share.

It's called Saint Francis of Assisi and scenes of his life painted by Bonaventura Berlinghieri in 1235, according to wikimedia.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Advent Day 11

Carry these words with you today:
Stop, turn, look for God.

Maybe my constantly forgetting where I put something and therefore constantly looking for something is God's way of keeping Him on my mind.  I am constantly asking for his help to find whatever it is I'm looking for.  And then thanking Him when said item is located.

The theme in today's devotion is if you keep a look out for God you will be rewarded with many God sightings. I have a little different spin on it: if you live life, you'll have plenty of opportunities to call out for God's support.

Case in point, I have a class of 6 students in my pre-teaching class. My superintendent asked me if the class would "entertain" children on Monday night's parent night at school.  Parents go to break out session and we (my class & I) are providing child care consisting of games, crafts, and activities. I told the kids about it and here were there responses:

  1. I have to work on Monday after school until 10:00 p.m.
  2. I can't come because I am helping the FFA with the hot dog dinner for the parent night.
  3. I'll be staying at my mom's on Monday and I have to watch her two toddlers.
  4. My brother is having surgery on Monday and I don't know how long we are staying at the hospital.
  5. I'm not coming because I don't want to.
  6. If nothing comes up over the weekend, I'll be there.
I said a silent prayer.

Praise God for a good job, for kids who need His healing hand, for the opportunity to be a vessel for Him, and that He is always available.  Dear Lord, help me be more available to you.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Advent Day 10

Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
     righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
    and righteousness will look down form the sky.
~ Psalm 85: 10-11

How's that for beautiful imagery?

The theme today is peace on earth.  How does one bring peace on earth?

I experienced peace throughout this day.  It was brought to me by the lady in Walgreen's who laughed and joked with me while she looked for my collage. It was brought to me again by the cashier in Hobby Lobby who smiled and said she'd be glad to check me out too, even though she meant to take her lunch break after the customer in front of me. And more peace checking out in Ross. Sales people are not always friendly and peaceful, especially at this busy time of year.  But my girl was a gem, taking care of my items, talking like friends, being pleasant and smiling the whole time. Lunch at Atlanta Bread was perfect. The food was delicious, the latte even more so. It was 3:00 pm and not so busy. Friends enjoying a meal or a coffee or a snack together, the busboy wishing everyone happy holidays, the workers tending to business while tending to the customers all created an ambiance of peace.

Next stop was work at the public library and the peace wrapped up in joy continued.  I work with great people, fun and funny, thoughtful and quirky, quiet and interesting. I had an envelope in my mailbox from Beth. Oh my gosh, she is so creative. I will add a picture to this post of all the items. Not only creative but clever, the thing I love the most is a book mark made out of a sample paint strip. When I saw it, I laughed and then I smiled and then I hunted down Beth and hugged her.

It was slow at the library due to the ice, snow and cold but there were people there who needed my help.  It's good to be on the other side of giving peace.  I'm constantly amazed at how appreciative people are and how they don't keep it to themselves. It was a calm and easy night, pure peace.

So how does one bring peace on earth? One small act at a time.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Advent Day 9

And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:7 (Revised Standard Version)

"God, I surrender to you all my cluttered thoughts."  These are THE UNCLUTTERED HEART words to carry with you for today. 

Is it just my imagination, or is it really easier to surrender cluttered thoughts to God than to hand over an entire cluttered existence?

My favorite people in the whole world are coming to visit soon. With Advent-like anticipation I look forward to their arrival. But I'm also nervous because there is no way I can de-clutter my house before they get here. Not to mention the front porch needs painting in addition to a plethora of other home repairs.

There's a strange balance between the anxiety of presenting oneself as a slovenly slob and the desire to do anything but clean up. Checking my email, wrapping and sending packages, morning Advent devotion, getting out Christmas decorations, watching favorite TV shows and crocheting, texting, blogging...they all call me to take a break.

In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. ~ Philippians 4:6  (American Standard Version)

I like this much better.  Talk to God. Ask for help humbly and earnestly. Thank God for making things right, or perhaps for shedding a new light on things that puts those things in the right light.

In conclusion, my friends, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable. ~ Philippians 4:8  (Good News Translation)

And the scriptures about God's peace all put together say:

In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. In conclusion, my friends, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable.

May you be filled with God's peace during Advent, Christmas and into the new year.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Advent Day 8

Week 2 - Today we light the candle of Peace.

Or we would be lighting it if we were having church.  Another snow storm blew through our area on Thursday. The problem isn't really the snow but the snow melting a bit during the day and then freezing at night becoming a sheet of ice instead of soft, lovely snow.

It got down to 1 degree on Friday night which is very cold to those of us in Southwest Oklahoma. A congregant from North Dakota commented, "Y'all never would go to church if you lived in North Dakota."

So today I've read my first day of the second week of advent devotion and am drinking my coffee out of my Peace coffee cup.

The scripture in today's devotion comes from Isaiah and includes these verses:

The wolf shall live with the lamb,
     the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together
     and a little child shall lead them.
Isaiah 11:6

I am very literal minded and have always read this scripture literally. It paints a beautiful picture of natural enemies in the animal world living in peace together.  But today my concrete mind cracked a bit, moved outside the box and wondered, could these animals be symbolic?  Be wary of wolves in sheep's clothing.  Some people are bold as lions while others are timid as kids.  People as different as these animals can live in peace together when they are led by the Christ child.

One of my favorite hymns is the peace song:

Click on the title to view a sing-along version on YouTube.

Things that make you go "Hmmmm..."

(Luke 12:51) - "Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division."  (New American Standard Bible, 1995)

(John 16:33) - "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace..."  (New American Standard Bible, 1995)

So did Jesus come to bring peace or not?  I'd say He brings peace to those who want it.  Sometimes you've got to shake things up first.  Get people to decide what is important and what is truth. And finally, the peace Jesus brings is not of this world.

John 14:27 - “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful."  (American Standard Bible, 1995)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Advent Day 7

The last day of the first week of Advent.

Going back to the first day of Advent 2013, my worries about a grueling week of work were unwarranted. My Monday gate duty, 6-9 p.m. is tomorrow, not last Monday. We got another big snow storm that resulted in school closing at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday and all day on Friday. I also was able to skip work at the public library due to the snow and cold (it was 1 degree Friday night/Saturday morning).  This isn't the first time I worried about nothing.

This week's Advent theme has been hope and today is the last day of that theme.  I've recently experienced lessons on hope from two different sources, each with a very different presentation style.  Oddly, both people are called Beth.

The first Beth is Beth Moore.  We are watching her DVD series "Believing God" at a women's Bible study.  She is a loud, robust person, preaching God's word with authority. She was speaking about miracles and how God still performs miracles today just like he did in New Testament times. One of her statements, punctuated with volume, was that if you don't believe in miracles then you steal my hope from me." I'm not really sure how what someone else believes can steal anything from another person; but maybe I missed something when I stopped listening.

The second Beth is Beth A. Richardson whose Advent book I am reading. It's easier to absorb written information (for me anyway); for one thing, you can re-read passages if you need to. This Beth writes about spending time in silence with the Lord and the benefits of being quiet.  A gentle and peaceful spirit is evident in her words. This is the presentation style that most appeals to me.

There isn't a right way and a wrong way to share about God.  It takes many ways to connect with all the different people. The important thing is that we all find a way to find our way and then help others on their journey.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Advent Day 6


Romans 8:24-25 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

I've always wondered about the scripture verse I Corinthians 13:13 that says: In a word, there are three things that last forever: faith, hope and love; but the greatest of them all is love. (The New English Bible, the first Bible I read and reread). I wondered what we would be hoping for in heaven. I have the notion that heaven is a finalized place; a place that is, not a place that will be.  It make you wonder.

I think I've solved the mystery, and it's so simple.  When I looked up the verse online, the website had it listed in dozens of translations, most of which begin with the word "Now."

New American Standard:  But now faith, hope, love, abide...

Common English Bible:  Now faith, hope, and love remain...

King James Version:  And now abideth faith, hope, charity...

New International Version:  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love... 

New Revised Standard:  And now faith, hope, and love abide...

Lastly, the translation that states it most clearly and of which I have become so fond, The Message:  But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: 
Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

Perhaps love is the greatest or best of the three because it is the only one that will remain after completeness.

As for Advent, faith, hope and love are all elements.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Advent Day 5

I think it is so cool that Advent began on December 1st.  So the date in December is the same as the day of Advent. Nice and Easy.

Today's advent theme is comfort. This Christmas song came to mind:

God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day;
To save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray.
Oh tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
Oh tidings of comfort and joy.

I can comfort others because God first comforted me. Before I experienced the death of a loved one, I felt awkward and inadequate around people who were grieving over the loss of someone close to them.  But now I feel at ease.  I've been there, I know what it's like, and I have comfort to share.

Thank you Lord for being there for me, for comforting me when I'm down and loving me always. Let me be a vessel for your love and comfort so that others can be blessed by your gentle touch and loving care. Amen.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Advent Day 4

God is patient.

That's somewhat of a new thought. He is all powerful, all knowing, existing everywhere, creator of everything, and yet he is patient with His creation.

God is patient with me.

He is gentle and treats me with tenderness. I don't deserve it but I accept His kindness with extreme gratitude.

God allowed His son to come to earth as a baby boy.

It would've been easier to keep His son at home but God had a magnificent plan. And now we wait to celebrate that day so long ago when a baby was born.

Advent is the time we wait for the baby's birth.

Help me savor the anticipation dear Lord, waiting for the arrival of Jesus. Still my heart, quiet my surroundings and let me know in new ways that you are God.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Advent Day 3

I love today's scripture verse.

Last night at Bible Study, Beth Moore (on DVD) taught about taking up the shield of faith and wielding the sword of God's word. A war is coming, the church will be tested and refined. Oh boy! I can hardly wait!

I found these words comforting:

Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
   to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
   and that we may walk in his paths.
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
   and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
   and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
   and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
   neither shall they learn war any more.

Isaiah 2:3-4

This is a time of peace; a quiet time to be still and know that He is God. A God who can transform into a human being and live with us.  Anticipating the arrival of God as a baby, I enjoy the quiet, the peace, and the joy. Amen.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Advent Day 2

I made it through the first day of a long week of work.  So far so good.

The Advent reading for today in THE UNCLUTTERED HEART: Making Room for God During Advent and Christmas was about John the Baptist. It was a nice complement to yesterday's sermon.

I recommend these websites (click the links) for your Advent enjoyment:

1. Our pastor's sermons posted on the church website (and youtube).

2. The Uncluttered Heart on-line. It's a shorter version of the book, with pictures.

These are two resources that are important to my celebration of Advent.

I share with you an excerpt from today's Advent reading:

As an Advent proponent, I love John the Baptist - at least from afar.  (I'm not sure I would have been comfortable hanging out with a locust-eating, camel-hair wearing prophet.)  But John the Baptist's message to us during this frantic season of the year draws me in.  I mean, here's this guy out in the wilderness proclaiming God's word, "Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight."  Who wants to hear the word repent?  And who wants the extra work of making paths straight and all?

Yet we Advent journeyers also find ourselves in a sort of wilderness, a wilderness of excess, of noise and clutter and busyness; a wilderness of secular, consumer culture giving us the message that Christmas will be perfect if we buy the right presents - and do it now.  We Advent people are crying out in this wilderness, trying to prepare the way in our own lives, trying to make a place, a holy space for the coming of the Christ child.  We are called to prepare the way in the wilderness of pre-Christmas chaos, where rushed schedules and commercial chatter drown out the silence and prayer.

And hope goes with us, is with us, in the wilderness of chaos.  Hope becomes a critical part of our Advent survival kit, guiding us through the distractions, reminding us of our single task: to prepare the way.

God of hope, help me prepare the way for you in the wilderness
of chaos.  Give me strength, wisdom and patience to clear a path
for you through my cluttered heart and life. Amen

The Uncluttered Heart: Making Room for God During Advent and Christmas
by Beth A. Richardson
Publisher: Upper Room (August 1, 2009)
ISBN-13: 978-0835899949

What are some other ways to bring meaning to the Advent season?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advent Day 1

The day before a week of extra work hours.

I felt somewhat crushed under the looming week ahead. The week includes hall duty for me, which means I spend the half hour before school and lunch hour making sure teenagers don't get into trouble. They never do, but somebody has to watch them. This week, it's my turn.

School ends at 3:30.  On Monday I will put out the school newsletter after school.  At 6:00 I have gate duty: taking money and giving tickets to people who want to watch the Jr. High Basketball games.

Monday work hours: 13 hours

On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, I work at the public library from 4:00-8:00 p.m. Plus on Tuesday we have to come in to school 15 minutes early for a faculty meeting.

Tuesday work hours: 12 hours, 15 minutes

Wednesday work hours: 12 hours

On Thursday I will work on next week's newsletter after school.  I usually get it done by 6:00 p.m.

Thursday work hours: 10 hours

Friday, sweet Friday, I have nothing to do after school but whatever I want to do. I really hope to make it to the gym.  It's been a long time.

Friday work hours: 7 hours 30 minutes

Saturday is my regular Saturday at the public library.  I don't usually work Tuesday when I work Saturday, but this is an unusual, irregular week.

Saturday work hours: 8 hours (however I am at work for 9 hours)

Total work time this week: 62 hours and 45 minutes

I felt exhausted before ever getting started. Then a miracle happened.  We went to church and the preacher wished the kids, "Happy New Year!" The kids were confused but I understood, it's the first day of Advent, the beginning of a new church year.  A time of wonder and waiting. It's exciting and exhilarating.

Oh my, I'm energized.  I can take on this week with enthusiasm and anticipation. I can hardly wait to see how it unfolds.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


I've never thought that Jane and Owen look a lot alike; maybe I just never gave it any thought.  When Mari & Beth were little, if people commented, "Your girls look exactly alike.  They could be twins!" my answer would be, "Yeah, I know."  But if someone told me that they didn't look anything alike, I'd give the same answer.

To me they were total individuals but they did and do have a strong family resemblance. Plus, I like to be agreeable.

From the angle of this picture, the family resemblance of Owen and Jane is quite evident too.

Look at their little noses, their sweet lips, the curve of their cheeks, their chins, the shape of their faces...

No doubt about it, their family.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

12th of Never: Book Review

12th of Never (Women's Murder Club, #12)12th of Never by James Patterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a more standard Women's Murder Club story. I like the multiple plot lines that seem to annoy some. I'm not bothered by any lack of character depth. I read James Patterson for the fast paced story lines (the thrill, the rush).

I am bothered by discontinuities such as: Rich and Cindy were engaged, totally committed, and in love in book 11 but break up in book 12. Really?

I'm also wondering about the phone conversation in book 11 between Yuki and Jakobi's estranged wife. I thought that was a thread we were going to follow somewhere, but no mention of it in book 12.

Another thing I like about this series is that it is one of the few that I started with book one and have read in order all the way to 12th of Never.

View all my reviews

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Who Knew!

Two Buck Chuck (AKA Charles Shaw California Wine) costs $3.00 in Albuquerque. And if Time Newsfeed can be trusted, it now costs $2.49 in California.  Still an excellent deal for a pretty good bottle of wine.  I like the Merlot.

If only we had Trader Joe's (the only place to purchase Chuck) in Oklahoma.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Monday Monday

I woke up this morning with that old Mamas and Papas song on my mind.

Monday, Monday

Every other day, every other day
Every  other day of the week is fine.
But whenever Monday comes
You can find me cryin' all of the time.

I hate getting up at 6:30 a.m.
I hate realizing I haven't done my lesson plans.
I hate knowing the coffee isn't made yet.

Monday Monday...

Then I read a goofy email from my pastor and I started feeling better.

I did some html with my computer class and they mostly did it.

The weather was nice so I walked to the post office at lunch.

Towards the end of the day I made a deal with my 7th grade Financial Literacy class: Finish you vocabulary without complaint and we will go outside.  They set to work. About half way through the class, the first few began finishing the assignment. I was afraid the class would be over before they all got done so I took pity and let them save the rest of the vocabulary for tomorrow.

Out on the playground we went.  7th graders are just bigger 6th graders. A little smarter, a little older, but in many ways, still just little kids.

They ran to the swings, climbed on the monkey bars, spun fast on the merry-go-round and slid down the slide.  The boys borrowed a basketball from the 5th grade class and those who wanted to play split into two loose teams.  I never knew basketball could be so funny.  One comedian stood on top of the slide (safe to do so) and announced the game like a professional.

It was a great day to be outside, warm, not hot, with a nice breeze.  A great day to play with friends and build camaraderie. A great day to get exercise and have fun.

Monday Monday, so good to me...

Friday, April 5, 2013


I'm trying to decide if I should just give up wearing makeup.  I look at myself in the mirror after applying makeup and wonder, "Does this really look any better?"

Then after my first post-makeup nose blowing, all the makeup under and around my nose seems to transfer to the Kleenex.

During the day, I sit with my chin in my hands while reading the computer screen; there goes more makeup.

My allergies make my eyes run so the only eye makeup remaining at the end of the day is under my eyes.  Thank goodness I wear glasses!

If I were to take before and after pictures, would you give me your opinions? What if I don't label them, and you just have to guess which one is before and which one is after?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Reno Weekend

No, I didn't fly to Nevada for the weekend.  I drove to Oklahoma City on Friday evening and stayed at the Econo Lodge Inn Near Bricktown at
1750 E Reno Ave. It isn't an upscale hotel, as the name implies, but it met all of my needs: a warm room in a safe environment, TV, WiFi, coffee pot, comfortable bed (they upgraded me to a king size), microwave, small fridge, good lighting and it was quiet. The man who checked me in reminded me of my friend, Afzal, form my public library job.  He was so nice and friendly and made me feel like I was his favorite guest ever.  The next morning, his wife (I assume) checked me out with the same warmth.  I should probably write a review for them because they were wonderful.

Saturday morning, I left in plenty of time to get to my retirement workshop. It was just 1.5 miles down the road at the Cox Convention Center across the street from Chesapeake Energy Arena (Thunder up!) at 100 W Reno Ave.  I had studied my google map the night before and reviewed it over coffee before I took off.  I knew exactly how to get there. I made an easy right out of the parking lot and I was on my way.  Unfortunately, as is usually my situation, I was going the wrong way.  I drove for 10 minutes and thought, "Well, google didn't get the time right on this journey."  After 15 minutes I started to suspect I was going the wrong way.  The sun in my eyes was a confirmation, but to be sure, I pulled into a WalMart parking lot and looked at the compass on my phone. I was indeed going east when I should have been going west.

A quick u-turn and a 15 minute drive in the opposite direction (being directionally challenged can be so annoying) and I made it to the workshop with seconds to spare. A fresh cup of coffee, a seat in the back row and I was ready to learn.

The next part of this post is only for people who are truly interested in the details of my retirement quest.

My first impression was, does everything have to be so complicated? The upside is the presenters understood the complexity and could explain it.

My situation is:
  • I'm working under the rule of 80 which means my age and years of service have to equal 80.  The teacher retirement people sent me a form stating I have 23 years of service; add my age to that and I am at 86.  I'm golden.

  • In the rule of 80, retirement is based on your highest three years of service. For most people, me too, it's your last three years.

  • But there's a wrinkle.  People who worked before July 1, 1995 (that would include me) have a two tier system.  Money made before 1995 was capped (you could only draw retirement on $45,000 no matter how much you were making) but after 1995 salaries were uncapped and your retirement was based on your actual salary.

  • So instead of getting paid based on your highest three years, they average your highest three years before 1995 with your highest three years post 1995.  YIKES!  I didn't make very much money in those olden days.  Starting teacher pay in 1988, when I started, was $17,500 a year. So those pre-1995 years are dragging me down.

  • But there's a solution.  To encourage people to continue working past retirement eligibility, they offer a wear-away plan.  For every one extra year you teach, two years of pre-1995 service are worn away, or actually moved in with the post-1995 years.

  • I started my school position in 1988, but it was part-time (4/7 of a day) for several years. I worked 6 years before July 1, 1995.  I need to find out when I went full time (there was at least one year I worked 5/7 of a day) and how much actual time I have to wear away.  I've probably worn them all away since I'm at 86 but i ant to officially confirm that.

  • More to the wrinkle - You can count 180 days of unused sick leave ass one year of service, which has been included in my 23 years.  But it goes into the capped side of the situation and is another year to wear away.

  • So why would you want to include the sick days as another year?  Because the formula for figuring a person's monthly retirement check is: 2% x career salary x service years / 12. That makes my sick leave another year of salary to add into the equation.
I decided to stay another year at school. My principle was very encouraging (he practically said the school would dry up and blow away if I didn't come back) and my superintendent did her best to convince me to stay as well. The more years I work, the higher the number of service years in the retirement formula. It's only two years until I can get full social security with medicare and all the benefits (assuming the system doesn't crash and burn).

I've only committed to one more year.  I'll make an appointment with the Oklahoma Teacher Retirement System for sometime this summer and at some point decide if next year is the last year or not.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fat Tuesday 2013

I woke up early this morning, not unusual as I like to check the clock and see how much time I have before the alarm goes off.  But this morning everything was dark.  No clock illumination, no street lights from outside, just darkness and the sound of rain.

I fumbled in the dark looking for my cell phone.  How did we get along before cell phones?  While I was setting the phone alarm clock, I started getting text messages..."School starts at 11:00 am. No electricity. Text others who need to know."  That's what I call a good Fat Tuesday message.  I crawled back under the covers and didn't get up until 8:30 a.m.

The rain was still coming down as I drank my first cup of coffee.  Who needs Mardi Gras beads when God will toss down rain for a fabulous Fat Tuesday celebration?

Sunday, February 10, 2013


I pulled up to the curb in front of the school library at about 5:30 p.m.  The sun was low in the sky but still putting out plenty of light. I unlocked the door and went in.

I spent about two hours trying to catch up on school work.  The clock on the wall suggested it was time for me to head home so I set the alarm and exited the building.

It was dark and misty outside with a drizzly rain hanging in the air.  It felt like what I image being in the bogs is like. I could almost hear howling from the hound of the Baskervilles.

Is it just the Stephen King book I've been listening to in my car or is it really creepy out here?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

My Mom's Girls

My mom's girls,
She wore them around her neck
on a chain.
November, January, July.
80, 81, 82.
Mom's gone now,
so the girls travel with me,
hanging from a chain
on my rear view mirror.
Mari, Lisa, Beth.