Saturday, April 30, 2011

In My Father's House

I was making myself a plate of post-run nachos and began thinking about my sweet Grandma Agnes in Michigan who is passing on from this life.  Soon, she'll be my Glorified Grandma Agnes in heaven.  Immediately this verse popped into my head:  In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.  (John 14:2)  I grabbed my Bible and headed back here to my laptop.  Suddenly my nachos have less appeal.  God's word is satisfying and sweet.  Even monterrey jack and jalapenos can't compare to the promises of God.  What a firm foundation is God's word for my soul.  I don't have to be troubled and fearful and overcome with emotion.  Hope abounds in the midst of my tears. 

Already occupying rooms there are my dad and sweet Grandpa Ritter.  (Of course there are others, including uncles, an aunt and my Grandpa Fleszar, but my dad and Grandpa were very, very dear for many years.)  Jesus wants me to grieve alone.  My mom and brother are in Michigan.  When I was losing my dad, Mom was busy caring for him and Ryan was busy with work.  And I grieved alone.  The day that my Grandpa died, my parents were busy in Texas making arrangements, and Ryan had to leave for work.  So I grieved alone.  These times of grieving were, in a sense, satisfying.  I completely put my hope in the Truth and experienced the emotions deeply. 

So, I think of Grandma.  I wonder about the things I wish I knew about her.  I relish the things I do know.  I study pictures I have of her in my mind.  I remember the sounds, sights, smells, and feel of Grandma.  I imagine what it's like for my mom to sit with her in a quiet, darkened room and listen to her breathe, just like she did with my dad 18 months ago.  I wish I were there.  I love her.  I miss her.  I'm thankful for Jesus and eternal hope.  I'm thankful that my Grandma is continually in the presence of her daughters and kind care-givers until she goes to the presence of her Eternal Caregiver. 

Most of my memories are of Grandma in the house in which she raised her kids and lived until I was an adult.  I remember the Butter Braids and the cinnamon grahams she fed us.  There were cut up pieces of garden hose, "snakes", to scare away animals from her garden.  There were toys she kept for us in the garage. I see the place in front of the stove where she stood and cooked. The table where we played lots of Scrabble.   I wonder what she'll do in God's home.  I imagine the deep, fully-satisfying reality of her soul feeling completely at-home.  A home for the soul that feels completely right and comfortable.  Forever.  At home.

Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me.  In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you... Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.  John 14:1,2,6

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tales from the Road

On one of my running routes, I often encounter "the wind tunnel".  Pushing 35 pounds of preschooler, uphill, into an impressive Texas wind, the jogging stroller and I moan as we climb.  Actually, the stroller doesn't moan, but it makes me feel better imagining I'm not in it alone.  Nearing the top of the wind tunnel this morning, Molly implored me, "Sing with me, mommy!"  Oh sure.  I'm really happy just to be respiring at the moment.  So, I ignore her.  Actually, I answer her, but not audibly.  That seems impossible at the time. 

After we round the corner, I continue to trot and catch my breath.  We slow to a stop, and she dismounts from her seat.  Wearing a teal tutu, she kicks my butt on the track.  As usual, she flys down lane 5, and I jog behind.  When we reach the other end, she insists on climbing the retaining wall- her favorite part of our stops to the track.  Actually her favorite part is when she gets to jump down with my hands holding her waist.  I limit her to three climbs and jumps, and she complies.  Thankfully, she forgets that if we shout we can hear our echos off of the nearby school.  I don't have the energy for yelling on command.  She tears off down the track and slows near the stroller.  Surely she's not ready to go home.  That's true because she just needed to grab a goldfish cracker and toss it into her mouth.  What???  I guess she's learning early from mommy that we run so we can eat what we want! 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Greener Gardening

It's Molly's naptime on Sunday afternoon, and I'm supposed to be lesson planning.  Somehow that doesn't sound as fun as gardening.  My cousin the landscaper pointed out some aphids on my new hibiscus tree.  He suggested that I buy a type of insecticide that the plant takes in through the roots.  I decided to check out more natural types of aphid-killing suggestions on the web.  I opted to try cutting off the affected areas and spaying the plant with a diluted mixture of cooking oil and dish soap.  I'll monitor it and see if it is effective.

There is something munching on a couple tomatoes and strawberries.  I found a recipe here for an insect repellent that can be sprayed on the plants.  Since I have neither a couple heads of garlic nor habanero peppers sitting around the house, I'm trying some diluted orange oil.  Again, I'll monitor and pull out the garlic and peppers if needed.  I swear that one of my tomatoes is getting a little blush color to it.  It is mid-April and ripe tomatoes might be here in a week or two?  (Even though my mom doubts that tomatoes can be grown in abundance in Texas, I'm a believer!)  Because they'll be ripening soon, I want all bad bugs gone.  Now. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Summer's Top Ten

Home improvement goals, that is.

1.  Paint most of the walls in the house.  The ones that have smudges and look grubby.
2.  Paint the vanities in both bathrooms.
3.  Finish painting the garage.
4.  Paint the garage floor.
5.  Buy a couch.(!!!!!) 
6.  Work on the front landscaping.
7.  Battle the weeds in the lawn. 
8.  Install solar screens on the rear windows.
9.  Install a rain barrel.
10.  Organize the garage a little more.  And definitely my closet. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Final Summit

I received The Final Summit from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.  This is my third book to review by Andy Andrews as part of the program.  I found both of the other books, The Heart Mender and The Butterfly Principle, to be inspiring and captivating reads.  I found the opposite in this book.  The main character was also present in The Traveler’s Gift.  David Ponder returns and is swept up into heaven by the angel Gabriel.  He is given the challenge of discovering the two-word phrase that is the key to saving humanity from its destructive path.  To help him in task, he is joined by characters from history to assist him as they participate in a summit and share ideas.  The historical figures represented are nearly all American or European.   This seemed odd and bothered me.  Additionally, the majority of the book is dialogue which was not engaging.  I found this to be a very boring portrayal of heaven, a summit where human ideas, not spiritual principles, are expounded in a large meeting room.  I did, however, enjoy reading about Eric Erickson, a little-known historical figure who was central in weakening the Nazis and single-handedly lessened the duration of World War II.  I usually pass on the books that I enjoy through this program to a friend or family member, but I don’t believe this one is worth the time spent to read it. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

No Offense

I was having a conversation with a friend yesterday.  He was saying that it was a shame that his sister with two master's degrees is considering becoming a teacher.  "No offense," he said.  Sure, none taken.  After all, she can earn a salary many times greater than that of a teacher.

My current teaching job is the first job I've had that I can honestly say that I love.  (Apart, of course, from being a stay-at-home mom to Molly.)  Last year, when I found myself needing a job after my marriage tragically ended, I thought about different careers.  Definitely the teacher's schedule is a huge benefit, especially to a single parent.  I also considered my skills.  I enjoy thinking about math and physics concepts (somewhat a rarity, I believe), and I also think that I am able to communicate those concepts somewhat well (also a rarity, perhaps).  So, I believe that teaching math and physics is what I was created to do for this time in my life.  It is a joy to be able to earn a good living doing what I'm called to do. 

For me, teaching is also exhilarating.  Sure, there are days that it is difficult to get excited about going to school, and there are class periods that make it feel like I'm battling to get the class on-board with learning.  Then there are the times where a student stays after school, and we work together to travel from total confusion to mastery of a concept and then she nails it on the quiz.  I love the challenge of teaching a difficult Algebra skill to the learners that struggle while at the same time increasing the rigor to capture the interest of gifted students.  It is a privilege to be a role model and a trusted confidant.  I take seriously the responsibility of being a role model and try to treat others with respect and live a life of principle.  It is also a calling to wake up at night troubled by a student's situation outside of school and to be able to pray and believe that my prayers will make a difference.  I've felt compelled to apologize to a student after considering a comment I made that may have been misunderstood and been hurtful.  I hope that the experience of having a teacher apologize is a learning experience for that sixteen-year-old.  I remain consistent in having high expectations for my students knowing that will benefit them in life.  I joke with my students about the excitement of doing math, but it isn't always just a joke.  When a lesson goes really well and students are engaged and learning, there is a euphoria that makes me grateful for a job that I love.  So honestly, my friend, there is no offense taken.  The blessing of living out my calling surpasses any accolades that I can receive from an outsider.