Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Delicate Shoes and Store Bought Dresses

I have a letter to share with you.  It is a letter written to my father soon after my mother died.  Before a person who does not know my parents can truly appreciate the poignancy of these words they must be privy to some background information.

When my parents were a young couple with two small children, my father pastored a very small country church.  This church was filled with simple folk.  Many of them were farmers.  A few were wealthy but most were either just getting by or just trying to survive.

My father told me that pastoring this flock was not always easy but then being a pastor seldom is....

I don't know how my parents were so enlightened during a time in America's history when so many were close minded, prejudiced and intolerant. 

I do know that they loved each of the lambs in their flock whether they were dirty and smelly when they came to church or not.

On second thought.....I do know how their unusual ability to love the unloved came about.....His name is Jesus.


Before I read this letter, Dad told me about some of their visits with church members living in that in that little dip in the road in rural, red clay Georgia.  

These were not the gracious, antebellum mansions or the idyllic red-roofed farm houses you  might imagine.  Many were shotgun houses.  A shotgun house is a house is one in which you can stand at an open front door, fire a shotgun and be confident that the pellets will exit the house through the open back door.

These were people that had lots of children because they needed the help in the fields.  These were people that went to bed hungry.  These were people that lived a hard life and usually died young.

The author of this letter was a small child when my parents were her pastors.  My father tells me that when he and my mother parked in their dusty, grassless front yard they assumed that no one was home.  The many children living there were no where to be found on that hot summer day.

I don't know why they got out of the car.  Maybe they needed to stretch their legs or maybe they wanted to knock on the door.  I'm sure they didn't plan to leave a note on the door.  Very few of their church members had enough schooling to learn to read.

Dad said that as they stood there their gaze wandered over to the cornfield beside the yard.  Slowly, one by one, they began to see small heads peek over some of the shorter cornstalks.  Like nervous animals, the children's eyes darted around the yard as they cautiously made their way out of the corn patch.

"You see," said Dad, "They hid in the corn field anytime they heard a vehicle coming down the dirt road.  They never knew if their daddy would be coming home drunk or sober.  If he was drunk, they would need to hide until he left the next morning to work the fields for the landowner they sharecropped for. You see, if he was drunk he would beat on whichever child was unlucky enough to be found."

The letter that follows was written by one of those children.

Dear H. Family,

     I am so deeply sorry to learn of the loss of Mrs. H.  She was such a loving , kind lady, who loved her family, as well as others, I can remember when you all started at Beulah Church.
     She always wore such delicate shoes and she held her foot in a pointed position. G. she always had you in such pretty clothes.  T, you always was a hand full when you came to church.  But you all were a family who I loved Very much. H, bought me and my sisters, our first store bought dress.  We had a program  at church and she took it upon herself to dress us properly.  I wont ever forget it.  Once, again I am so deeply sorry.  But you all know she is in a better place than were are.

Love always
One of the J girls.

Betty Jean M.

Betty Jean, your letter is treasured by us all.  You gave me and my siblings yet another reason to be proud of who we came from.  You also show us all a wonderful way to comfort those who are grieving.  Thanks, Betty Jean.  I will always remember how you ministered to me.

Just sayin'............

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

This is What You Get When You Help Your Husband With the Weed-eating

Today I have been compelled to force most of my
family members to look at the suspected
poison oak on my arms.

All have all been commanded to feel
great sympathy and compassion for my plight.

I am certain that this particular species of
poison oak was germinated in the very darkest
most odious depths of hell.

I find myself channelling my chicken pox
covered four year old self. Complete with
surreptitious scratching and lots of

I would feel better if I could stand on my
bed like she did and belt out a few
Elvis and Bobby Sherman songs into my
fabulous hairbrush microphone.

Probably ice cream would make four old
living inside me feel better!

Just Sayin'........

Monday, May 24, 2010


The last three days of any school year HAVE to be the longest of the year.
EVERYONE is done for the year…
students and yes,
teachers and administrators.
We are all in that curious state of brain fog brought on
by spring fever and the stresses of testing.

Today I left my house while holding an ice pack to my head.
Starting the fifth day of a migraine found me
a little unsteady on my feet,
feeling sorry for myself and
irrationally angry with the world.

My friend took one look at how I had
accessorized my outfit......
with an ice pack
and groaned.

She knows that bringing an ice pack
to work is not a good sign.

And today I brought three.

I’ve had a demanding class this year and together
we have weathered more than a few upheavals.

Even so,
this particular group of kids has brought me great joy
and has taught me some very important lessons about loving each other
and laughing with each other.

It is amazing how laughing with children
can give teacher and child both a sense of belonging
and can build a family.

I have laughed with them and yes,
I have laughed at them.

You see, they don’t always know when they have said something that
tickles the funny bone of an adult and sometimes an
inappropriate comment from a child who just doesn’t know any better
can make even the most stoic of us hide a smile.

I have enough stories about children and the funny things they say
to fill a book or two.

I teach in a very special school with very special people. 
We love, support, pray for and take care of each other. 

I have said many times that there must be a sign somewhere
on the busy road near our school that directs the unusual
and even the crazy
our way.

I think crazy happens to us because God 
knows that we take care of each other

This is what I love best about our school. 
The unusual and the crazy make life interesting! 
Things happen here that don’t happen anywhere else
and teaching kindergarten age children only serves to
intensify that phenomena.

Another co-worker who also happens to be a friend recently
coined the acronym-

Some things happen Only in Kindergarten.
Some things are said Only in Kindergarten.


Today in my room we discovered an entire 1 lb package of ham in one student’s cubbie. It had been opened, the ham removed and placed on top of the package. 

It apparently had been there since last Thursday.


Of course, it didn’t really look or smell like ham anymore and
in fact it was several different shades of green, yellow and black.

And of course, no one knew how it got there.
So....we did the only thing that made sense. 

We went around to the other kindergarten classrooms
and offered to
share our ham

if someone else could provide the bread.........OinK

Later on, I let the children play with some play dough that they were taking home today.
One of my boys decided to make a hat.

He also decided to try it on.
I spent several minutes combing play dough from his hair.

He just wanted to see if his hat would fit…..OinK

This all happened in the first hour of our day.
Stay tuned for more OinK
It's guaranteed to make you smile...

Just Sayin'............

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

It's raining here in Warner Robins...The sky looks angry right now.
Remember when I used to call you to tell you that bad weather was headed your way? You and daddy didn't have cable and the only channel you ever watched was WMAZ out of Macon.
If they weren’t airing a mystery you weren’t watching.
You never understood why people left their TVs on all day and I always worried that bad weather would catch you and daddy off guard.
And so I always called…
Hey Mom, bad weather is headed your way. Why don’t you turn on the TV so you'll know what's happening? 
I always heard the smile in your voice when you said. "Honey, your daddy and I are fine. We've been dealing with bad weather all our lives." 

I miss you, Mama.
Love Ann Marie

Dear Mom,
I'm mad that people who still have their mamas aren’t soaking in and treasuring every moment. I'm mad that they aren’t hiding the memories in their hearts. I’m mad that I had to say good-bye to you before I was ready.

I’m just mad.

I miss you mama.
Love Ann Marie

Dear Mom,
I realized today that I didn’t get a birthday present from you and dad this year.
I cried in the car when it hit me.
I wasn’t crying because I didn’t get a present.
I cried because you were the one who remembered the birthdays and anniversaries.
I cried because I didn’t have a mama here on earth.
I cried because you weren’t here to say…..Happy Birthday my precious angel. I’m so glad God gave you to me.

Oh Mama, I’m so glad God gave us to each other.

I miss you mama.
Love Ann Marie

Dear Mom
They told us today that lots of our fellow teachers will be losing their jobs.
They reminded us to be grateful that we still have a job.
I'm grateful
but I resent being told how to feel from a person who makes thousands and thousands into the tens of thousands more than I do.
It's a sad day for education in Georgia.
We just lost much of the ground our state has made over the last 20 years. Our class sizes will now be larger and our resources will be cut to the bone. Today’s kids aren’t like kids were 20 years ago.
They expect to be entertained.
They do not expect to work hard.
They expect to live a life with no negative feedback or failure of any kind.
Everybody gets a trophy in today’s world.
You always knew how to commiserate while encouraging. You knew the battles teachers fight and what it was like in the trenches.
It meant so much to me that you thought I was a good teacher
because YOU were a good teacher.

I miss you Mama.
Love Ann Marie

Dear Mom,
I woke this morning with a prayer for you on my lips.
“Dear Lord, please be with my Mama today. She hasn’t been able to eat and she doesn’t feel well. She is weak and frustrated."
The realization that you no longer needed my prayers and that you died from the monster that kept you from eating kicked me right in the middle of the stomach.

It hurt.

I miss you Mama,
Love Ann Marie

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Sweet Kids

Saturday morning Tony woke me after he had finished his shower.  Smelling of Ivory soap, which is the cleanest smell in the world, he snuggled up and told me that he had decided we should spend the day in Macon. He thought we should go let me pick out something special for my Mother's Day present instead of working in the four yards we find ourselves responsible for these days. 

FOUR yards.  Don't ask.

Being the incredibly intelligent person that I am, I immediately agreed that we needed a day of leisure instead of sweating our way through mowing and weed- eating multiple lawns.

So, off we headed to spend money on ME. What a great husband! 

On the way to the mall he spotted a Harbor Freight which is basically a tool/gadget/junk store that caters mostly to the male species.

Yeah, we pulled in.........for two hours.

Who doesn't love a lighted magnifying glass with two attached alligator clips or a circular spinning organizational tower?

After that, we headed off to the Macon Mall.  

I don't know why we did it.

I hadn't been there in a few years and had no idea just how bleak it has become.   It was okay though.  The Peanut Buster Parfait I ate made things seem a little better.

After that we wandered around another mall...

After that, we headed home.

But first we had to stop by a car auction and look at lots of old beat up trucks.
It was hot and the salesman was annoying.  He followed us around in a golf cart and answered each question we asked with a tone of voice that suggested that we were stupid for asking.

Did I mention that it was hot.

After that, we headed home....but first we had to stop by a feed and seed store.

After that, we headed home.

So, I walked into my house and was surprised to see my oldest daughter sitting in my den watching t.v. with her brother.

I threw my purse onto the kitchen counter as I asked her why she was hanging out at our house.  I was excited to see her.  I know she is grown and married with a house of her own but she will always be my baby.

After that, I wondered why she and her brother were looking at me with such amused expressions on their faces.

After that, I checked my shirt and smoothed my hair down because I get these looks often.

After that, I cautiously backed my way into the kitchen with our packages
and after that, I saw what my sweet children had been working so hard on all day long.  I have a beautifully painted kitchen with carefully and artfully place accessories.

And after that I realized how blessed I am to have been chosen to be the mother of these specific three children.

Thank you, Jordie, Phillip and Morgan.  And Tony.  :)


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Note to self:

Do not be fooled by the big grin on this face or the innocent green eyes.  Do not let sloppy puppy kisses beguile you into believing that this angel dog can do no wrong.

For she is easily bored and sharp of tooth and may be forced to eat the rocker of your favorite back porch chair.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I love, love, love this face!
Her name is Molly and she lives in the basement with her boy, Phillip.
She makes me laugh everyday.
She drives the grumpy old dogs craaaaazy.
And she has the most gorgeous green eyes you have ever seen!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

You Think Your Life Sucks?


Rant at life just ahead.

Hit the back button if you don’t want to hear it!

So….did I miss the memo?

You know, the one that said everything had to suck at one time.


First of all, I’m way behind with all that teacher paperwork you hear teachers complain about.

so much of what we do is
and I

But I rushed away from school yesterday because
that was the day most of our kids could 
be here to celebrate my birthday.
We are all stretched thin right now so
instead of going out to eat
I decided to cook so I needed to hurry home to get started.

First I needed to stop by the pharmacy
to pick up a prescription that trust me,
wants me to skip.

(yes you read right)
I get home.
What a sweet word.

I love it here by the lake.
Until the alarm across the lake began to shriek.
And shriek.
And shriek.
How rude.
Someone really needed to turn that stupid thing off!!

It was our alarm.
You know....
the one I don’t know how to operate.

I’m yelling for my son
and pushing the button that says
And pushing all the other buttons.
And pushing.
And pushing.
And wondering
if the message that says
Fire! Zone 99
is important.

That would be when the doorbell rang.
It was a helpful neighbor.

Suggesting we push…..
the off button.

Thank goodness for Phillip
who determined that the shrieking was happening
because the smoke detector on the very top floor had been tripped.

When he twisted the smoke detector to turn it off
water poured from it.


From the smoke alarm!?!?

At least the noise stopped.

While I ranted about the stupid leaky roof that we
to have inspected
we bought the house,
Phillip calmly went up in the attic and
discovered that the pan beneath the air handler
was full of water and leaking.

of our three air conditioner units were
The one that works?
It’s in the basement and rarely comes on.

Resolving to shake off the irritation and anger,
I headed to the kitchen to take something from the freezer for dinner.
The 30 year old Sub-Zero refrigerator/freezer that came with the house.

Of course, the meat was.not.frozen.

Thank goodness for my husband
who knows how to fix stuff and can
even fix his wife.

After lots of...
shall we say...
‘magic’ words
that apparently need to be
screamed in order to work properly,
Tony decided to dispose of the heavy duty garden hose that refused to siphon off the water standing in the tray.
he walked out the front door just past my assigned post of faucet turner
and heaved the part of hose he carried in his arms out into the yard.

The part he wasn’t carrying?
Oh, that’s the part that hit me in the head.

I turned and watched him stomp angrily into the house.
He stopped in the foyer,
thoughtfully tilted his head,
turned cautiously
and asked,
“Um, did I just hit you with the hose?”
Go ahead and laugh.
I did.  :)

That’s when I noticed the time and realized there would be
no yummy birthday dinner for any of us.
Times like this are why I have Dominoes on speed dial.

Arriving home with the pizza, I answerd a call from a
sweet, sweet friend
who knew that I’d dreaded celebrating this particular birthday.
She had made me a pound cake.
Only, it fell when she opened the oven door.
And it stuck to the pan when she tried to remove it.

She was apologetic.
I said, “Hey, just scrape off what stuck to the pan.
 That’s my favorite part anyway.”

It really is.
My favorite part.

Kathy cleared her throat and said,
“Well, I just ate that part.”

That’s okay.

The rest of it tasted really good.

And tomorrow will be better.

Just sayin’.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Rainy Days

Wouldn't it be nice
if the rain could
wash away
than the pollen that
has plagued us lately?

If it somehow left our
hearts and souls
as clean and crisp
as the fresh washed air.

The music it plays
as it falls through the trees
is comforting and even the nearby streets seem

I am soothed
by its song but
like a fretful baby
I feel too restless to sleep.

Not a day has gone by
that I haven’t thought,
“Oh wow, it’s been days since I talked with mom!”

Often my phone is out
and my thumb is pushing the numbers
that always
led me to her voice
before I realize that
she doesn’t live here anymore.

That is when my heart breaks all over again.

I worry that I am not present enough
for the part of my family that lives in this house
and in this town with me.

I worry that I am not present for my father
and my brothers and sister who live in other towns.

I worry that I am not present enough for my students.

I told my sister that we will need to make a truce with the pain if we want to find peace.
We must barter with pain for its share of our hearts.
In exchange,
it will not take its leave of us but it will evolve.
It will recede with the tides of time…
returning though,
just as the waves do.

I believe that we will endure a time of high tide,
maybe a tsunami or two…
or two hundred.

Rouge waves of sorrow will surprise us
and find us staring at a phone
that won’t reach those we
miss the most.

More importantly,
I know that rainy days are
and that peace
is promised

and it is coming.

Just sayin’.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Still Waiting

When we moved into this house by the lake we decided not to make any of the improvements needed until my house sold. Five months later, we are still waiting for someone to love my house.

I tell myself that just as God led us to this house, He will lead someone else to the house I left empty and waiting.  I've been pray for the people who will move in and love the backyard with the pool, huge trees and the see-saw.  I hope they will find as much joy there as I did.

I am looking for the lesson in all of this. We have learned a few but I wonder what I am overlooking and if overlooked lessons are why we still wait.  We have learned to share rooms and bathrooms.  We have learned to survive a winter with no heat on the middle floor.  We have learned to delay the things we want in order to provide our children with the things they need.  We are learning to work the hardest early in the morning and late at night to take advantage of the cooler temperatures.

I am reconciled to the fact that there will be no big profit from the sale of the old house.  I am reconciled to the fact that a teeny tiny profit means teeny tiny upgrades to our house by the lake.

That's okay.  We have all we really need. 

We are together, under one roof, well fed, mostly healthy and.......

we have cable and internet.

Just sayin'...