Thursday, December 31, 2009

365 days... 52 weeks... 12 months...

That's how long it's been since Peggy, Annemarie, Wendy, Julie, and I first posted about the words we chose to focus on during 2009. During these months, we forged friendships together as we shared our individual journeys with one another.

Although I chose to focus on FAITH and JOY this year, I must say that I learned as much from my friends' words as I did my own. Balance, discipline, abundance, and excellence made their way into my own life as I read their monthly posts or looked at the photographs and other images that helped them tell their stories. I often found myself contemplating their words alongside my own.

When I chose faith and joy, I could already see a connection between the two... that by having more faith in God and in His plan for my life, I will be able to experience more joy in the daily moments that make up my life. I shared my words with my students and made it a point to think about the words as the days and weeks rolled past.

How did I do? I think in the beginning, I was more attuned to the words and what I wanted them to mean in my life. As the months passed, however, I found myself slipping into old habits of worry. Yet, in the middle of the day or during the evening at home, I would stop and really look at the world around me. And I would smile. Joy, I realized, is all around me if I open my eyes wide enough to see.

God wants each of us to be happy... to experience joy in our life each and every day. Why else would He send beautiful rays of pink and orange to greet us each morning? Why would the sounds of nature, from birds' songs to the crashing of ocean waves, soothe our souls? Why would He bless the earth with children whose carefree laughter is a clear invitation for us to experience joy?

He gives us these bursts of color and song as a gift so that we will know joy.

Here are Peggy's final thoughts on "balance:"

This post is our final reflection on our words for 2009. I chose the word BALANCE because I hoped it would empower me to leave my unbalanced life behind in 2008. Overall it actually helped in the most simple of ways. That is, when I was feeling quite stressed out throughout the year, I would, now and then, remember, "oh yeah – balance" and take a few deep breaths.

The philosophy of balance can be found in many of the world’s religions, particularly the eastern religions. In both Hinduism and Taoism, the idea of balancing your mind, body and spirit is very important. In Hinduism it is believed that the body is made up of seven basic "chakras" or energy centers, each of which correlates to different bodily functions, levels of consciousness, emotional states and so on. In order to stay healthy, we need to ensure that these chakras remain balanced. Similarly in Taoism, there is the concept of "chi," which is the vital energy that flows through the body. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that illness is caused by imbalances of yin and yang in the body, which blocks the free movement of "chi." Thus, to stay healthy you need to maintain the balance between yin and yang in your body.

In western culture, a commonly heard phrase is "healthy mind, healthy body," which encourages balance between mental and physical health. Having a healthy mind and body, however, is only a part of the story. As suggested by the following Taoist quote, we also need to bring our spiritual selves into balance: "Unless the mind, body and spirit are equally developed and fully integrated, no [wisdom] can be sustained."

Annemarie shares these thoughts:

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (NIV) Hebrews 12:1-3

This is the last edition of my monthly reflections on the word DISCIPLINE. My friends and I started on our respective journeys twelve months ago after reading Caroline’s post having no idea where the road would take us. It has been wonderful trip. I chose the word discipline to inspire, motivate and direct me through the year.

It was a good thing to aspire to but one that I will probably never fully achieve. When I finally came to that realization, I finally felt more relaxed. The point was to reach for that goal with PERSEVERANCE. I fixed my eyes on Jesus who helped me to remain steadfast because knowing I could do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13) So as I endured difficult times, those words carried me through. My goal was not to be the perfect parent or the perfect teacher, but be more planned and organized in both of these areas.

I haven’t exactly decided what my focus is for next year, but I am certain it will involve creativity of some sort. So don’t “lose heart,” I will be back with another series of posts.

Wendy shares this with us:

January 1, 2009 I made a commitment with my blog friends ….post each month about one WORD for the year. I chose ABUNDANCE.

In the beginning, I had been blogging regularly, receiving inspiration from other blogs, and sharing my blogging with close friends. I had already quoted scriptures that speak of abundance. I understood that God wants abundance for us and wants us to recognize the abundance we already have no matter our situation. In January, for the first post I said this; “How will a WORD impact the way I am living? How will this one WORD teach me, challenge me, make me want to be a better person?”

Well, my commitment to this WORD saved me from myself. When I was depleted of spirit, I was reminded. When I was depleted of funds, I was reminded. When I was depleted of love of others, of love of self, of discipline, of faith, of balance and of excellence, I was reminded. I was reminded of my abundance every month by the words of this blog group. I was encouraged by their words and I was inspired to give more.

I learned that if you hold fast…keep moving…keep living…and keep giving, you will have enough. You will have abundance in your life. God promised it and even without faith we will have it. Faith just makes it better.

Mitch Album says “The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” I could say the way you get Abundance is the same….
I cannot say it any more clearly than the acrostic that I posted in January: Abundance is a verb. It is an act of life that requires one to move…to do, in order to become.

Atone for your hurtfulness.
Bid farewell to judgment.
Utilize your mind.
Notice your surroundings.
Draw on support from friends.
Acknowledge the gifts of others.
Nullify negativity.
Create moments of meaning.
Embrace the little things

I am looking forward to 2010. My word for 2010 is Gratefulness. Again I say, ““How will the WORD impact the way I am living? How will this one WORD teach me, challenge me, make me want to be a better person?” Come along with me those who will and commit to another WORD for your year.

... and here are Julie's final thoughts on excellence:

What an interesting discipline, this practice of choosing and focusing on a guiding word for the year. It has been a blessing and touchstone throughout '09 to meditate on the facets of excellence as my blog buddies and I have traveled this rotation.

In choosing excellence as my word for 2009, I was expressing a heart's cry to 'come up' in various areas of my life. Because I'm in the business of raising many children, I am also in the business of managing people's expectations. Some folks have very minimal expectations of me, assuming that I am too busy, too distracted to contribute in other areas. Some expect that I must be some kind of 'super mom' and figure I'm the one to call on for any kid-related project. And the reality is different.

It is focusing on excellence that helps me see what I need to be doing in my day to day life and what needs to be taken to the curb. I can't do it all excellently and there are areas where it is acceptable to me to do simple 'maintenance'. But in those areas I feel the Lord is calling me to serve, a plumb line for me to determine if I am walking where He is leading is to discern the caliber of contribution I am making. And when something comes along that is a good thing but is something that shouldn't be on my plate, holding it up to the light and seeing if it is something that could be accomplished with excellence makes it easier to put down when I see it is something that cannot be done to that level in my present season. Excellence can be defining.

I am so thankful to be on my journey with like-minded people, believers who have let go of legalism and are embracing the miracle of grace. And somehow in the doing, they are also continuing to walk with excellence, not out of a sense of fear or obligation, but out of a grateful heart, wanting to bring their best for the King. Where I set my standards for myself, the level of character I expect from myself, are all outpourings of my desire to please Him, an expression of His in-dwelling.

Has this beacon of excellence been a tool this year? Absolutely. Have I 'achieved' excellence in all the areas I would have liked to? Absolutely not. And that is the purpose of these defining words, to create a philosophy, a guide for our varying paths. Clarity has come this year through this term of excellence, clarity in areas that need more work, clarity in what needs to be laid down, clarity in what areas have been refined and may have something to offer.


And the journey continues.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's Coming Down...

the tree, that is! I already miss the glow of the lights and the way our stockings look so festive hanging on the mantle....

Even though my tree is full of ornaments (memories), I did buy two new ones this year.
One is a silver "joy," which hangs by a green ribbon. The other is a snowlady and her little girl sledding down a hill. The snowlady reminded me of the big snow we had when Hannah was little and how we used makeshift sleds to slide down a big hill nearby.

I'm thinking "joy" may have to hang near my desk this year as a reminder of my journey....

Is your Christmas all packed up and stored away? If I had it my way, my tree would twinkle just a little bit longer....

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

I can't believe...

that my girl is 14 years old now!

and that 14 years ago at 10:13 p.m., she made her arrival into this world. Where, exactly, does time go?

She had a great party last night.... She invited six friends over for a slumber party. Did I say "slumber?" Excuse me. I meant to say a "let's-see-who-can-stay-awake-the-longest" party. And, boy, did they!

Well, not completely. A few fell asleep between midnight and 2 a.m. Then a few more managed to find some zzzz's around 4 a.m. Me? I was one of the first asleep.

Here's the nearly-speechless birthday girl after unwrapping "the best present ever." (She's way advanced in the technology department compared to her mom.)

And here she is with her friends after pulling the all-nighter.... Aren't they a bright and fun-looking bunch?

Happy birthday, birthday girl! I love you!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Off Task? Shhhh.....

As a teacher, I pack the curriculum into every minute of every hour of every school day. Teaching grammar, writing, and reading in one hour and getting students prepared for not one but three state assessments requires it. So imagine my students' surprise, and mine, when I totally fell off the wagon!

It started in academic support, a 45-minute enrichment class with my homeroom students. They were bickering, and it was constant yapping and yacking as they shot verbal jabs at one another through the air.

"You sound like brothers and sisters," I said, finally, in exasperation. "Haven't you heard the saying that if you can't say anything nice, you shouldn't say anything at all?"

"Huh?" They asked with faces turned towards me expectantly.

I told them to look around the room and think about something nice they could say about every single person sitting in there. Then I had them write their name on a slip of paper, which I put into a cup. After they pulled a classmate's name out of the cup, they had to come up to the front of the room and say something nice about that person. And they couldn't just say "she's nice." Having been the recipients of numerous writing lessons during the past four months, they were required to e - l - a - b - o - r - a - t - e. "Details," I said. "Give us details!"

And they did.

They were able to say nice things about every person in that room. The girl who began the year with attitude written all over her face was complimented on her behavior and on her beautiful complexion. Her smile lit up the room. And another girl who has struggled with friendships and self-esteem had at least seven students clamoring to say something nice about her.

These kids are smart. They weren't about to let their teacher off the hook. They said that I had to say something nice about each one of them. And then the tables were turned again as several of them wanted to say something nice about me. Things like "you work us hard, but we know it's because you want us to be better writers." "When I get here in a bad mood, you make me laugh." "You're not all moody on us."

They've proclaimed Thursdays as "Therapy Thursdays."

I was so proud of them. And a bit worried. Our academic support time had rolled into language arts time, and it was thirty minutes of community-building instead of grammar and writing and reading.

But, you know what?

That was the best lesson I've taught all year.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Did I tell you that my daughter made the basketball team?
And that she scored four points tonight?

That's my girl in the center of the picture.
The photographer wasn't having a good night.
It's kind of hard to cheer and take pictures
at the same time.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Lady in the Zebra Coat

i went to a party last night
wearing a zebra-print coat and a pair of dark jeans
one fashionable shoe outshone by one air-cast in orthopaedic gray

i ate
i talked
and then i
joined hannah
and sang into a mic
although i only knew the
choruses of the songs we sang

and i was her back-up singer
and one of her back-up dancers

and i had fun,
which for me, is a biggie...
i tend to be crabby sometimes...
and not always the life of the party...


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Name That Blog...

I'm a few days behind with blogging, but when I saw Relyn's post here, which referred to Beth's post here, I decided I just had to play along.

In their posts, both Relyn and Beth explained how they came up with the names for their blogs. My story's pretty simple....

I had wanted to start a blog, but like Relyn, was a little hesitant to jump into it until I had the perfect name. I knew that my blog would be a mix of writing and photography, and I wanted these words and images to capture the simple, every day moments that make up my life.

And, with that, I had my name: Moments in Time. And it's here where I place those words and images that capture those moments in time.

Now, I'm really curious.... How did you come up with your blog's name?