Stuffy Nose & Watery Eyes

I have no doubt that next Wednesday I’ll be writing another post.  After only 4 1/2 hours of sleep, I probably shouldn’t be writing one now.  However, I figure since my ponderings, as well as my stuffy nose & watery eyes, kept me from falling back to sleep that I ought to put my thoughts into sentences and hope that they make sense.  No promises. I mean, I’m most certainly an 8-hours-of-sleep-or-at-least-seven girl.

About 10 years ago, my friends Bev & Sherry and my sister Sherry had a conversation.  My friends told my sister that they thought my family would be throwing me a 40th birthday party.  My sister told my friends that she thought they’d plan something.  I wasn’t a big fan of turning 40.  I looked forward to 30.  I’m quite proud of 50, but 40….bluch.

I figured on my birthday, which is July 8, that one of the Sherry’s would invite me over for dinner.  I guessed that they’d have some extra people there for cake and ice cream.  I would’ve felt appreciated and loved.

That’s not what happened.

My sister called me last week to see if I wanted to come out yesterday to play games and have dinner and to help Connor with his “Hay Day tasks”.  [We compete in the Derby.  This is big stuff. hehe] Now for some, that may have been a reason to suspect.  However, Sherry’s known to call me and invite me out for dinner.  Connor’s known to invite me out to play games.  I didn’t think anything was out of the ordinary.

Last Sunday, I went back to our SS room to get it ready for CBC Kid’s Worship.  As I cleaned up our monthly birthday breakfast, Loretta came up and said, “Next Sunday?”  I looked at her with a look of confusion, “What’s next Sunday?” She said, “I must be thinking about something with my church.”  I assured her the only thing scheduled for yesterday was voting on a potential worship & discipleship pastor.  However, as I went to sleep last Sunday night, I kept wondering if I missed an announcement.  I texted her Monday morning, and she assured me that I hadn’t missed anything, and she had just been confused.

On Saturday, Connor (my most favorite nephew in the whole entire world) and his girlfriend Sarah came to my classroom to help me hang posters and do a couple more things prior to me taking a few weeks off  [Even thought my parents and some friends are certain I won’t be able to keep out of my room.].  While talking of my oldest sister’s birthday and mine, I mentioned that Cara, a friend & colleague, had printed two 50 t-shirts for me and that they were really cute.  I said, “I’m trying not to wear them until the 8th.”   Connor said, “If you want to wear one, just wear it to the house on Sunday.  No one would see it but us.”  Sarah chimed in, “You can get your picture taken with Connor, so he can post it on your birthday.”  Yes!  An excuse to wear one of my cute t-shirts!  I saved my favorite for my actual birthday and wore the other one to their house for games & baked spaghetti.

Yesterday at church, as “the lunch bunch” and I were pondering where to go to eat, I suggested El Nopal.  They agreed.  Self-control is not a great skill when chips & queso are in the mix.  We went. I didn’t order queso because I was perfectly happy with chips and salsa.  Then, an order of arroz con pollo made up my lunch.  Have you been there?  Their order of arroz con pollo is HUGE.  Thankfully, I didn’t eat it all, but I did eat more than half which is more than I usually eat.  I was hungry. [Sherry’s dogs benefited from the uneaten portion.]

When I arrived home, I changed into some capris and my birthday t-shirt.  Sherry texted to come out about 2, so I figured they had some chores to accomplish before I arrived.  I told her that I needed to stop at Brandi’s house for a Color Street prize on my way.  No problem.  Then, I thought…..I’m tired.  I’ll just lean back and rest a few minutes before I leave.  Then, my furball Rocky jumped up and spread out on my legs. Next, we both closed our eyes.

A cat or the TV woke me, and I realized it was 1:58.  Oops.  No problem.  Games will just start a bit late.  I fed the cats, texted that I dozed off but was heading their way.  I didn’t want her to think I had car trouble since I’m generally early or on time.  LATE is not something I do often.

I stopped at Brandi’s.  We chatted a bit about July birthdays because she shares a birthday with my oldest sister.

As I pulled up to Sherry (my sister, not the other Sherry) and Matt’s drive, I noticed quite a few cars.  I approached hesitantly.  Then, I noticed I recognized most of the cars.  As I pulled in the drive slowly, I looked at the small crowd and clued in.  This was the surprise.  I saw one of my students from last year whose grandmas both work or worked with my sister Sherry.  I noticed Bev who several years ago had moved to the Cincinnati area.  My parents, oldest sister, Sunday School class, pastor and his wife, and a friend from work who thoroughly enjoys scaring me (Not that it takes much at all to do so) were all gathered in their yard.

She had done it.  Sherry, who had been my roommate for the first 2/5 of my life and is now my best friend, pulled off a surprise party.  My last birthday party was my Sweet Sixteen party when my church youth group were the attendees.  My oldest sister who plans events had brought balloons and flowers in the lovely shades of purple, orange,  & lime green.  My family & Sherry had put together a huge spread of food.  I told the lunch bunch they should’ve told me we couldn’t go to El Nopal and picked a place I didn’t enjoy. My sister Sherry made my favorite cookies.  Dianna brought fresh fruit.  Mom had made a cake.  Dad had made sausage balls.  Lots of other things filled the table and counter, but my chips, rice, and chicken from lunch vetoed me enjoying most of it until later.

As I looked at the tables, I saw pictures of me ranging from birth to just a couple years ago.  Each of the pictures reminded me of good friends or mesweet memories.  Well, not each picture.  I few were from so long ago that I had no recollection of when they were taken.  My ongoing joke about my baby photo is that I was always a deep thinker…even at birth.

Generally, at parties or celebrations for the family, Sherry & I work together to plan it.  As I saw the spread of food, my first thought was, “I hope she didn’t do all this!”  My second thought was “I bet her knee is killing her.”

So, as I woke up at 3:30 for my I’m-of-the-age-I-need-a-middle-of-the-night-restroom-break, I realized that I couldn’t breathe very well.  When I climbed back in bed, I realized my eyes were watery.  As I flipped and flopped trying to fall back to sleep, I connected my stuffy nose & watery eyes to spending hours sitting outside with family and friends laughing and chatting.

Yes, these are signs I have allergies.  But, they’re also a sign that I am loved.  Stewarts, Domeks, Pflaumers, & Sherry, thanks for planning the party.  Friends and family thanks for spending a few hours of your Sunday making me feel special.  My cup runneth over.


Now, the cats are curled up on my legs, and I’m going to see if I can fall back to sleep.

The Dirty Truth…

I woke up this morning and plotted my Friday plans. friday I’m an adult.  It’s Friday.  It’s summer. What should I do?

If you guessed LAUNDRY, you are exactly correct.  Not only am I doing laundry, but the DIRTY TRUTH is….I’VE BEEN LOOKING FORWARD TO IT ALL DAY!

laundryNow, I’m not crazy.  I’m not even a fan of laundry.  In fact, as a single lady with a closet and dresser full of clothes, I often go a couple weeks without doing a single load.  So, why was I excited?  Because….the last time I did a complete load of laundry (meaning washing,  drying, folding/hanging) in my house was on May 18th!

That was the day that my dryer quit heating.  A week later, a repairman discovered that my dryer was still heating but that waitthe outlet had burnt a prong on the cord causing it to “kick off”.  Then, I waited. And waited.  In fact on three separate afternoons, I waited for an expected electrician to stop and replace the outlet.  Fourth time is a charm, and on Tuesday the outlet was replaced.  On Wednesday, the repairman returned to replace the dryer cord.  So….on Friday, I was looking forward to washing a couple loads of laundry at my house.

Oh, did I mention that I did wash a load during that month and just placed the clothing leakon hangars in various rooms to dry?  Well, guess what I found out during that experience.  It turns out that there was a partial blockage somewhere in the pipes, so the drained washer water went into the shower as well as a bit on the floor.  GULP!

Now, I’ve lived here 20 years, and this has happened a few times.  Each of those times, the homeowner took care of it.  got thisAlas, I told myself, “You have almost a half-century of wisdom.  Man up and take care of this on your own!.”  So….some generic drain cleaner was split into Tuesday & Thursday treatment, and today…TWO loads washed and NO…I repeat NO water in the shower or on the floor.  I told the feline roomies the good news, but they didn’t seem excited.

So, why did I write this?  I mean lately my posts have been a bit bigger and deeper.  Today, I simply want to remind you to be thankful for the mundane papers bmparts of your day.  Be grateful even for those chores you dread.  I mean, I loathe cleaning the toilet, but I would most certainly miss having a toilet to clean.  Grading papers is not one of the highlights of my life as a teacher, but without grading papers I wouldn’t be able to know what my kiddos know and don’t know.  I hate the stench of gas on my hands when I fill my car’s tank, but not having a car would be a challenge.  Not having a job to buy gas for the car would be stressful.

So, the dirty truth is….the unenjoyable and unloved parts of our lives are still HUGE blessings!  So….what mundane chore can you be thankful for?


dirty truth

Tears Will Dry…

As a teacher, I’ve seen tears.  I’ve seen tears of students when their feelings have been hurt by another student or when they are injured in a playground fall.  cryI’ve also seen the tears of the child that was “caught” doing something they weren’t supposed to do.  I’ve seen the tears as well of the child who riddled with guilt comes to confess his wrongdoing and ask for forgiveness.  Regardless of the reason, their tears dried.

Yet, tears I’ve experienced in my career aren’t only those of students.  I’ve also seen the tears of parents.  I remember two mothers in particular who met with me after school to discuss their sons’ challenges.  Both moms shared the same heartfelt wish that their child would suddenly “get it” and start making more progress academically.  These two moms both had their sons in my classroom (I believe) the same bm booksyear.  One of them had her older son in my classroom previously.  While older brother was my third grader, he suddenly “clicked” into a desire to read.  Younger brother never did develop that desire.  Mom was saddened and worried. [FYI my nephew who is very bright and a mechanical engineering student at WKU has also never developed that connection to reading….for some….it’s just not their thing…at least not yet.]  The other mother and I are friends outside of the school building, and I’ve had the joy of seeing her son develop, finish his degree, and find his post-college job.  In both situations, their tears dried….and smiles of gladness were found.

Furthermore, I’ve seen the tears of my colleagues.  Whether it’s the tears shed because of a cancer diagnosis, after a less-than-respectful observation report, or the death of a parent or loved one.  The tears have fallen.  I remember when I was being scolded in the office for not turning field trip money in ahead of our trip….of course this was while my brother-in-law was in the hospital having suffered a stroke….the office staff didn’t know this, so she was a bit baffled when her correction turned into my emotional breakdown.  Guess what?  The tears dried.  The field trip happened without problems.  Life continues.

Honestly, way back when I was growing up and living at home withmovie my parents and sisters, I remember countless times when we would tease our mom for crying during movies.  Alas, those decisions come back and bite me.  Why?  Well, in this time of “stay home-stay healthy”, I’ve watched more movies than usual.  At least five of them SO FAR have triggered my eye ducts to leak.  Each time the waterfall starts, I think back to those times we chuckled at Mom.  Sorry Mom….I guess it’s part of our wiring.

hapy tearsWhat about vegetable soup?  Have you ever cried over soup?  Me neither….until Wednesday….when Steve & Robin brought me soup & biscuits from Bob Evan’s just to show appreciation and care.  There they went….dripping down my cheeks.

Tears didn’t stop there.  A week ago, I had the honor of singing on praise team at Good Friday and Easter services.  As I started the car on Friday night to head home, the eyes leaked AGAIN…this time as I realized how muchblessed I MISS being with others during worship.  I’m so thankful that we have the ability to worship together while they’re at church leading praises and preaching the Word.  Yet, I thoroughly miss being in the physical presence of my church family.

Need some more proof?  Last Thursday (4/9), I was talking on the phone with my girl who always chooses to “do a little dance” as her morning greeting at danceschool.  We literally talked for 30 minutes.  She was her same happy chatty self.  As I hung up, I cried realizing how much I miss seeing my kiddos in person.  Then, a few days later when I commented on a purple mask her mom had posted on Facebook, I said, “I love the purple one, but I already have 2.”  She quickly replied that her daughter said that I would like that mask when she saw it.  Then, she told me how her daughter’s disposition changed back to “normal” after our 30-minute talk.  You see, her daughter loves school, and she’s really having a hard time with not being there with me and her friends.  Tears fell….again.

You see….it seems like tears are plentiful.  Whether they’re happycry tears or sad tears.  Whether they’re confused tears or thankful tears.  Tears….are part of life.

And in the end, in the words of my sweet friend Melissa…..tears will dry.  So wipe your eyes and live life by serving others, being steadfast, and staying committed to your task. As a Christian, my task is pursuing righteousness to be more like Christ each day.  What’s your task?  What are you pursuing?  Whatever it is, I am confident of two things.  Tears will fall, and those tears will dry.


TP vs. PP

Did my title hook you?  That was the goal.  I always tell my kiddos that they need to either have a title or opening sentence to grab their readers.confused

I have various random thoughts I wanted to share today, so this may lack focus….but in the end….it’ll fit together like pieces in a puzzle.

You see this morning I had to grab a new roll of toilet paper.  Yep.  TP.  Normally, I just grab one and go on with my day.  Those are not the times we live in currently.  We live in a stretch of weeks where toilet paper is like buried treasure.  I’ve not worried about it.  I mean, it’s just me and my two cats, and they opt for their litter box.  Yet this morning, I made myself count my remaining rolls (six).  I suppose I could find the “toilet paper calculator” to see how long it will last, but I’ll just take it one step (or square) at a time.

bm thinkAs I drove up to my church to get materials to teach a SS lesson online, I realized that I spent more time pondering the longevity of my toilet paper supply than I ever have.  Generally, when I start my final roll, I simply stop at Dollar General on my way home & pick up a new package.  Based on FB, finding it isn’t that easy anymore.  I decided when I have three left, then I’d start looking for a package to purchase.  When that time arrives, I suppose I’ll make that “Who has TP for sale?” post on Facebook.

The drive continued, and I realized I was approaching Circle K.  Normally, anytime I’m heading to church or somewhere on the hilltop of my old historic town, I’d stop and buy a Polar Pop.  That was my plan as I left home.  Yet, I’m a teacher….a rule follower.  Governor Holcomb said only essential trips/shopping.  Yes, I needed my teaching material, but a Polar Pop may have been nice, but not needed.  I drove by.

Seems my thoughts have changed on a lot of things.

Generally, I’m not a fan of being in front of a camera.  During the past week, I’ve recorded 22 songs.  Two of them….I wasn’t even hiding behind a costume.  The reason I faced my fear of being in front of a camera was the power of laughter….the need to lighten serious times with humor and music.  [Plus, it’s not a whole body shot, so that makes it a lot easier. Ha!]

Today, I recorded four songs as “Jade Verde”, then posted one.  I also recorded the reading of the next few chapters of one of my chapter books.  Then, I grabbed teaching material, a takeout meal, and transferred money from one account to another. washsanitize

During those things, I must’ve washed my hands a half dozen times and used sanitizer after touching everything and anything while in the car.  I spent an hour teaching/recording a Bible lesson and several hours trying to get technology to cooperate.

Then, right before sitting back to write this post, I checked Facebook.  I saw that a few stayapartfriends had shared some of my parodies.  Yesterday, I sang one as “Axel Ramone”.  Why?  To make people laugh.  To make a heavy news day seem a little lighter.  Anyway, one of my friends had a comment on her post from one of her friends.  He wrote, “Not much of a vocal talent.”  Apparently, he thought I was trying to impress people with my singing rather than make them laugh a bit.

I admit, my first reaction was to be hurt followed by being defensive.  “Well, of course the singing isn’t good, I’m a FEMALE trying to sing in the voice of a MALE.  Goodness!”

That was promptly followed by conviction.  You see, I don’t know that man.  My friends KNOW the purpose behind my daily parodies or songs. hugs I’m not trying to impress you with my vocal skills.  I’m trying to help us laugh in the midst of scary news.  I’m trying to help us smile when it’s really easy to let tears fall.

Did this come together?  I’m not sure if it did or not.  Here’s my big take-away.  NONE of us will be the same person we were a few weeks ago when this uncertain journey concludes.  Some of us will have learned to be kinder.  Some of us will be demonstrating more acceptance and forgiveness to others.  Some of us will have learned to be grateful for EVERYTHING….even our toilet paper.  How will you be different?  I hope….I pray….it’s a positive change.  Afterall, we’re all clay in the Potter’s Hands….got thisis64.8

My Biggest Fan…

Usually, I say my biggest fans are my parents.  They’ve been knownbm think to promote my books to hotel managers, waitresses, and cashiers….especially my mom.  However, this past week, I started realizing that my students may be shooting to take the title.  Why?  I’m glad you asked.

On Monday morning, when I was typing the URL to check my email, I hit a K instead of an L.  This brought up KDP’s website.  So, I checked my sales report.  Honestly, this can be discouraging at times as most of my sales or local.  I think I only sold 11 online last year.  Regardless, it showed someone purchased one of my books from Amazon last month.  I was thrilled to learn it was “Jasper, the Figurative Language Feline”, and I guessed a teacher happened upon it.  I mean, that’s how I have purchased most of my figurative language interactive read aloud books.  I was pumped.

bm ideaAs I taught my class, I shared the “big news” with my students.  One of my students replied, “Miss Pflaumer, you’re like world famous.”  Aww, aren’t they the sweetest!

Then, another student chimed in with, “You should really start your own YouTube channel, Ms. P.  That way everyone could listen to you read stories!”  You see, “Rock N Read” is probably the favorite part of the instructional day for a majority of my students.

Ever since….his suggestion has stayed in my head.  I mean, my grown third graders always ask, “Do you still read with all your voices and sound effects?”  So…today, I did a Google search to ensure reading the works of others wasn’t breaking copyright law.  Why did I do this?  I’ve been using the recordings of other people for YEARS when focusing on a genre, topic, author, so I had to chuckle at my search.

Next step, I searched for a “how to” site.  Now?  I just need tobm goals figure out the mechanics of recording and uploading.  Then?  I’ll see where my student’s idea takes me…and my voices.

Since it was their idea, perhaps I’ll create a “suggestion box” where my students can pick books for me to record.  Hmmm, I could even have them write a review of the book to share as well. Let’s face it…I’d love for someone else to give my books a shout-out on their Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, blog, or website.  I kid you not; I even submitted a request to #ellendegeneresshow for her to read and tweet about my books.  Seriously, the show has “CAT WEEK” in the fall, so a series in the voice of a cat sounds like a PURRfect fit.  Am I right?  Or am I left? [Shout out to “The BFG”]

I digress.  Biggest fan?  Yes, my parents and my students are most likely tied for tops in my writing fan club.  However, BlackTop and RockyTop are HUGE fans of mine as well, but they don’t give a hoot (or a meow) about my writing.  But…my biggest fan? 

bm gratefulThe One who created me in His image.  The One who knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  The One who sent His Son to pay a debt I could never pay.  Let’s  face it, when compared to the One who loves me most…my other fans pale in comparison.  He’s not my biggest fan — He’s my Mighty God, my Loving Father, my Forgiving Savior, and my Eternal Lord.  He wants to be yours, too.

I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.

Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!  Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Psalm 34:1-8

Third Thankful Thoughts

I could talk about how I’m thankful for headache medicine when you wake up before 5 with a throbbing headache, but I’m thinking that’s not blog-worthy!  So, what is worth my time and thought on Thanksgiving?

Family & felines, of course!

blog pareI’m thankful for my parents.  I took this picture on their 55th anniversary when I met them for dinner.  They’re most likely the biggest fans of my writing.  Mom’s been known to tell retail cashiers about my books.  I know this because my former principal heard her once and let me know about it.  I also know they’ve told the manager of the hotel where they stay in Tennessee.  Even though I live on my own, I know I can always show up at their house and be welcomed.  My mom volunteers in my classroom now that she’s retired.  Dad helps with time-consuming tasks during set-up in July.  If I forget something I need for the day’s lesson, they’ve been known to run down to my house to get it or stop by Walgreens or WalMart to get it for me.  On Saturdays, I generally meet them for breakfast to check in and just visit.  As a teacher, I know that not all children are blessed with two parents who love each other, but I was and am.  Yes, for my parents, I give thanks.

blog sistersThese cute girls holding my hands are my sisters. I am the youngest of three girls.  Dianna, on the right, was the one who played dolls with me when we were growing up.  We were HUGE Barbie fans.  We could play for hours. She lives in a different town with her husband, Tim.  They are active in their church and welcome many others into their family.  In the midst of health concerns and the challenges of life, they are vocal in their faith.  For that, I am thankful.

Sherry, on the left, is the one with whom I shared a bedroom until I went to college.  I think there was one house where I had my own, but I don’t recall much about that.  She and her husband are just a few minutes down the road, so when I need help…they come running.  For instance, when my kitten died suddenly back in August, I called her in tears.  Within thirty minutes, she and Matt arrived to take Topper to their place and bury him for me.  She’s the one who saved me from a scavenger hunt for caramels a few days ago by picking them up on her lunch break.  Matt’s the one who checks my car when needed and finds the best deal for tires when they needed replaced.  They’re my guinea pigs for new recipes since cooking for one doesn’t allow much feedback.  Their commitment to their family and their faith is evident, I am blessed to call them family.

Speaking of sisters, I always wanted to be someone’s big sister, blog laciebut after three girls, Dad didn’t wanted to take a chance on  a fourth! Ha! So, about a dozen years ago, I took the plunge to become a “Big” through Big Brothers & Big Sisters.  First, I was matched with Courtney, but her family moved after about a year.  I waited six months, in case they moved back, then agreed to a rematch.  My next “Little” was Lacie.  We were matched the summer before her first grade year.  Now, she’s a sophomore.  She’s lived in several houses and attended a handful of schools, but her smile hasn’t changed.  Such joy!  She often would ask, especially on her birthday, how long we would be “Big & Little”.  I told her I think officially it lasts until graduation, but I’m sure we can grab meals and conversations as long as we want.  To which she replies, knowing how much I dislike driving, that she’ll drive me when she gets her license.  Ha.  Yes, I’m blessed by my Little Sister.

Nope, Connor wasn’t forgotten.  I just saved him for last.  I figuredblog nephew he’d appreciate the distinction.  Back in 1998, I learned that my sister, Sherry, was expecting a baby.  What would any good teacher-sister do?  She’d start collecting books, of course!  They may not have turned him into someone who loves reading as much as I do, but I guess they’ve been our connector.  When he was little, I’d read to him like I read to my students.  He’d look at me with his little boy face and say, “Top it Dody.”  Hmm, he wasn’t a fan of my voices….yet.  In 3rd grade, he was in the room next to  mine, as I didn’t want to be his teacher but wanted to stay “Aunt Jodi”.  As his teacher and I did Rock N Read each day, his appreciation grew.  Before long, as he’d go home with me after school until his parents got off work, he & I would both pull out various accents and entertain ourselves.  Fast forward to the summer of 2018 when I finally acted on a personal dream, books connected us again.  How?  He offered to illustrate my picture books.  Then, when I offered him a percent of the royalties for the picture books, he was thrilled.  This fund helps finance footwear….what more could a college guy want? Whether it’s bear hugs, ladder work in my classroom, puns, or texts….he’s one of the best gifts I’ve received.  He said it best when he told me last spring, “You know Jodi, we don’t have a normal aunt & nephew relationship.  My friends don’t text or get cards from their aunt as much as me.”  To that, I say….who wants to be normal when you can be special?

There you have it!  Don’t get me wrong.  I was blessed with a grandpa I loved dearly.  I am thankful for childhood memories shared with Grandma and Aunt Eva.  My grandpa’s brothers impacted me by either their faith or family commitment.  I still have an aunt, uncle, and a couple of cousins who hold special places in my heart.  I’m thankful for each connection.  Yet, the eight mentioned above are the family ties that affect me most.  They’re the ones who walk this journey of life with me.  For that and so much more, I offer my thanksgiving.

Oops!  I forgot the cats?  I guess there will be a Feline Finale later today!  Hmmm, that sounds like a great name for a children’s book. blog cats




Thankful Thoughts…the Sequel

Sunday’s blog post focused on my thankfulness in the realm of my life at church, so it seems fitting that today’s post would focus on my school arena.

For 24 years, I’ve had the privilege of teaching  a class full of third graders.  Some years have been challenging in the area of classroom management.  Other years the emotional and differentiating needs have been exhausting.  Still others have been taxing by the “other stuff” involved in being a teacher.  Yet, regardless of which of those I find myself facing, I enjoy the students planted in my classroom.  We share laughter and sometimes tears. We have celebrated successes while overcoming challenges.  We have cheered each other and confronted areas in which all of us need to improve.  Yes, I’m quite thankful for my 24 classes of third graders.

I share this journey with many educators.  There have been some whom I’ve planned with and others with whom I’ve led clubs, but all of them have impacted me in some way.  I’ve been appreciative of the experienced teachers who’ve guided me when I was a newby and welcomed the young teachers who have seen me as “the Old Wise One”.  We’ve shared inside jokes and personal struggles.  We’ve dressed up in crazy costumes and cheered in the bleachers of our students’ games.  I’ve witnessed weddings of three of them, held the newborn baby of one, attended funeral visitations of the parents, siblings, and sadly a child of some people I hold dear.  We are family.

Over the 24 years, many ladies and a couple of gentlemen have joined my classroom as an aide for a part of my day.  I’ve been blessed with people I work well with and who truly care about my kiddos.  Some have been parents of former students, some have become friends because of it, a few were friends beforehand.  They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to teach one.

Speaking of this village, we have five “aides” that are teachers.  What does that mean?  It means cutbacks in funding caused us to lose licensed teaching positions in four of our special classes.  In order to still provide those opportunities to our kiddos, the corporation found five of the most wonderful ladies to bridge the gap.  Honestly, they do the work of a teacher without the pay or benefits of the title.  The only thing, to my knowledge, that they’re not required to do is give grades.  They get evaluated…just like a teacher.  They must write sub plans when they’re absent, but I don’t believe they’re given any sick or personal days.  That’s one of those things I’d change if I was in charge of the world…or at least our funding.  For these ladies as well as the licensed teacher completing her final year before retirement, I am truly grateful.

I am also appreciative for the administrators who’ve led us, even when personality conflicts may have kept a close relationship from forming.  Each had areas where their focus was more present.  Each had a value in helping me become the educator I’ve learned to be.  For these lessons and insights, I’m thankful.

I almost forgot the parents.  Now, I could be talking about my parents as my mom volunteers in my classroom once or twice a week and my dad does a few time-consuming tasks in the summer to help prep my classroom.  However, I’m referring to the hundreds of parents who’ve entrusted me with their child.  Honestly, I can count on one hand the negative letters or messages from parents.  Looking back, all but two ended on positive notes later in their child’s education journey.  Countless parents have written letters, sent emails, purchased or made sweet gifts to let me know my efforts with their child were appreciated.  Ah, little acts of kindness from students’ parents are always meaningful!

Oops, I almost forgot the office staff, custodians, bus drivers, IT, maintenance, and cafeteria crew.  They are often overlooked, but let’s be honest…without them…
My classroom would be messier….
My students would have a hard time getting to school…
My stress level would be higher…
And….I’d have to buy more groceries!
Yes, though I may not say it often, they all are important to me and my kiddos in Room 302.

Finally, I’m thankful for my Monday prayer circle.  When I started teaching, we gathered either in a second grade teacher’s room or a kindergarten teacher’s room.  Then, when the second grade teacher retired, it moved to my room which is somewhat the center of the school.  For many years, it’s been just me and two (and sometimes 3) other teachers.  How exciting it is that this year we have increased to four and recently we’ve climbed to six and seven. Whoop!  Whoop!  Most weeks, I’m the one who voices the prayers on our behalf, but when my life is in a tailspin my neighbor steps up to voice them.  My faith is my foundation, so my Monday prayer group may be one of the sweetest blessings in the realm of my career.

fb thanksI think that covers it.  My students, their parents, my fellow educators, special class teachers, teacher’s aides, administrators, and Monday prayer group….All are essential parts of my teaching year.  God is good, and I appreciate the blessings He’s given me in the arena of my career.

Thankful Thoughts

About an hour ago, I returned home from my church’s Thanksgiving dinner. As we do each year, Pastor Mike gave people time to stand (or sit) and say a word of thanksgiving.  I pondered standing several times, but my sentimental heart kept me from doing so.

There was a time many moons ago that I would chuckle (with my father) at how easily Mother would tear up during television shows.  Alas, what goes around, comes around.  Now, I’m the one that tears up during television shows.  I’m the one who literally sheds tears like a waterfall when writing a letter to my state representative about public education.  I’m the one who gets choked up when my grown third graders write sweet posts about their time in my classroom.

So, as I sit here watching a Christmas movie (the same one I watched last night) on Lifetime with two felines sprawled out on my throw-covered legs, I told myself to type out all that I thought of sharing this evening.

First, I’m thankful for my Sunday School class knowns as the M&Ms.  I even wore my M&M shirt this evening.  M&M stands for “Mary and Martha”, as we tend to be mixtures of the two.  My Martha heart serves as greeter, leads in DiscipleTown, and sings on Praise Team while my Mary heart sits thankfully at the feet of my Savior thanking Him for my salvation.

From there, I was reminded of the Hamby family and the Kimmer crew.  Pastor Mike and Pastor JC serve us earnestly by serving Him faithfully.  As I hung out with sweet girls in DiscipleTown this morning, I wondered which fruit of the Spirit was the focus of today’s sermon.  Each week of this series, I’ve went away challenged by Pastor Mike’s words to bear more fruit in my daily walk.  Last week’s focus on patience repeated itself in my mind throughout the week.  As much as I enjoy teaching His word to kiddos in DiscipleTown, I miss the sermon when I’m gone.  JC blends hymns and contemporary praise as he guides us through the gospel in song.  So much thought goes into the songs selected.  Whether the songs are faithful hymns of my past, challenging messages set to contemporary melodies, or a whole new tune & lyric to learn…they bring me to worship at the feet the One who calls me daughter.

As I sat with friends at a table in the fellowship hall, I realized how much my church family is family.  Some of the people I worship with have known me for  (gulp) forty years.  Some have known me for less than a year.  Whether they’re “old family” or “new family”, I’m thankful that my church family is my family.  On Tuesday, I shared lunch at Gallery 115 with a newer church member.  The two of us shared stories of life, lots of laughter (with a few puns because…we are punny, punny girls), as well as some sorrow.  Our lunch lasted three hours.  You can only do that with people about whom you genuinely care.  Today, due to the church dinner being scheduled and sick grandkids of friends, there were only 2 M&Ms at lunch.  My friend and I sat in the corner of Empress sharing about family and life happenings.  Yes, my church family is my family.

Of course, there are plenty of other things and people I could’ve mentioned which involve the rest of the world outside of CBC.  Yet, in the setting of our church sanctuary, I was overwhelmed by how  much that place and that group of people mean to me.  I’m happy to serve with them, I’m thankful to grow with them, and I am gratefulto be a part of them.

Thank you, God, for leading my own family to that church forty years ago and for using it to minister to me and challenge me to minister to others.  I am blessed.

A Human Barometer

I roused awake at 4:40.  Seems my internal clock didn’t realize it was Sunday, and I realized I had a dull headache.  I immediately went from “Ugh, I hate headaches” to “Thank you, Lord, for autumn.”  I dozed back to sleep and got up at 6:30 to bake a corn cake for the Jubilee Celebration Meal.

As I mixed up the batter, my head contined to be irked by the pain of a weather-change-headache, but I refused to let it win.

Off to Calvary to run through the music with the praise team.

Oh, how I love to sing His praises, so I refused to let my headache steal my joy.  However, I admit singing with your heart often makes a headache worse. Yet, the pain doesn’t generally hit until the song ends.  Alas, I kept singing because the truths of the lyrics were so true and worthy of being brought to His throne.

Off to my Sunday School class to share prayer concerns and praises.  As we began our study on First Kings, I had the joy of reading aloud part of the chapter one.  I LOVE reading aloud, so I was thankfull to be able to read part of the chapter before exiting to greet worshipers.  As I took my post at the welcome center, I thought, “You really should’ve taken something for this headache because you know it’s not going away.”  However, those thoughts were pushed aside by fellowship with friends prior to the beginning of worship.

Then, I took my post on the platform to begin helping Pastor JC in the leading of worship.  I offered a prayer of thanksgiving that today my allergy attack was a headache with just an occassional voice crack rather than a hacking cough or  bristled voice.

The singing commenced.  Members were recognized for years of commitment as I stayed standing until “Over 40 years” was announced.  When it was time for the offering, the praise team sang a song that I’m not sure I knew prior to our Wednesday practice.  Yet, each time I listened and sang it since then it would stir my heart to worship and thanksgiving.  JC had suggested we each sing a verse if we felt comfortable, so I jumped on the second verse as it was the one that brought tears to my eyes while singing it at home.  The song is “Loving My Jesus” by Casting Crowns, so my verse was…

Sin tries to make you hide
Whispers that same old lie
Keep all your pain inside
‘Cause no one will understand
The last thing this lost world needs
Is someone I’m trying to be
Truth that has set me free
Is that I’m just a broken man                                                      wesley

Pastor Mike’s message was on being generous using the passage 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, and it reminded me how being generous wasn’t just something that happens.  We’re called to be intentional in blessing others with not only our finances but also our time and talents.

After the service ended, we were going to gather in the fellowship hall to enjoy the Jubilee meal.  Before doing so, my brother-in-law went out to his truck just to get me some ibuprofen to try and calm the headache which had grown from its dull ache to a throbbing pain.  Yet, I refused to let it win.

As I went through the buffet line, a mother of a small child was trying to work salad tongs, which had closed, with a toddler on her right side and the tongs in her left hand.  Suddenly, the lock fell and salad shot across the table right onto my black flowered dress.  Oh how I laughed!  Those who know me will understand that I don’t mean a little chuckle…I laugh like I sing…with full gusto.  This guffaw of joy was like a hammer against my temples.

My plate and I made our way to a table.  Delicious! The meal was quite tasty.  I sat looking at my friend Patti who does so much for our church,  She coordinated the meal and never did sit down to eat.  In fact, as I was packing up my practically-empty corn cake pan, she was using the scraps in the pans as her meal.  You see she served us the entire meal and had not gotten a plate of food. As I was getting ready to leave, she said, “If you give me a minute, I can wash that pan right up for you.”  Um, no.  She had worked preparing before today and worked throughout the two hours prior to the meal.  I was fully capable of washing my pan. [It’s currently soaking.]

Home from church.  Dress clothes changed into my robe.  Dishes soaking in the sink.  Felines fed.  Me?  I was getting ready for a Sunday afternoon nap in hopes of it fading my headache.  Alas, I knew I couldn’t sleep until I wrote the words in my head and heart.

You see, my allergies make me a human barometer.  It’s easy to let them have authority over my itenerary.  However, the joy of singing His praise, worshiping with my church familly, and celebrating His goodness with our Jubilee meal were far more important than resting my headache away.

So, the good, the bad, and the ugly of allergies won’t steal my  joy,  but it may steal my afternoon and give me  great excuse for a nap!


As I sit here with the head of RockyTop on my ankle as he sleeps, I was thinking about my throbbing headache.  It’s hard not to think about it when it’s so irritating.  It occurred to me that I have a love-hate-relationship with my allergies.

How could I love them, you ask?  Well, I love many of the things I’m allergic too.  I love the beauty of nature, but alas…it’s nature that makes me sneeze.  I love to see a freshly mowed lawn, but alas….the mowing of yards make me sneeze and my eyes water.  Get it?

Then, I thought of my personal joke about being a human barometer.  I tell friends and students that I can predict a weather change as it generally prompts a headache.  I love a good storm, as long as it doesn’t knock out the electricity.  I enjoy a cool rain, but the change from one type to another triggers a reaction.

This transitioned into thinking about my feline roomies.  One is sleeping by my legs on my recliner, but the other sleeps in a chair by the kitchen windown.  BlackTop just came home from two nights at the veterinarian and his lungs screamed all the way home.  I kid you not he’s the loudest cat I’ve ever experienced inside the house.  Sadly, he’s not meowed much since getting home.  He’s either mad at me or still feeling the aftermath of his procedure.  I hate the volume of his meow, but I’d gladly take it now over his feline body not feeling grand and his inability to convey what’s bothering him.

Thinking of my cats made me think of my quote about why I have them.  You see, I hate cat hair on my clothes and cleaning kitty litter…or sweeping it up….or stepping on it.  Alas, I hate field mice and droppings oh-so-much-more!  So, I love cat hair and kitty litter in comparison to my disdain for mouse droppings!

All these ponderings lead me to my classroom.  I started thinking about a few challenges I’m dealing with like lying and irresponsibility.  Yet, even with my students who are most challenged with these two issue, I love them.  I accept them and realize…we’re just not there YET.

In the end, as usually happens, all of this falls to the foot of the cross as it becomes an analogy of me to God.  You see, I know with all my heart that He HATES when I sin.  He doesn’t allow it in His perfect kingdom.  Yet, He loves me.  How much?  He loved me so much that He sent His one & only Son to pay my debt…on the cross.

So…in the end, I am thankful for my allergies because they too can be used for my good & His glory.

Note: There was a delay in finishing today’s post because my post-surgery kitten needed a bit of cuddling to get his purr-motor