* Losing my mojo?

Warning: This post contains explicitly dismal thoughts.

Last November, I mentioned that I had applied to renew my National Board Certification. To qualify, I needed a current teaching license, so I kept hounding the licencing board for my renewal status (for which I had submitted my course credits in June). When I finally saw that my license was active, I paid my big bucks and started the NB process. I completed a teaching video in December and by March, had a nearly complete set of entries. Then the coronavirus hit. The deadline for completion was moved to June. Whee!

I don’t know why I rechecked on my licensure, but I’m glad and sad that I did. The licensing board showed my teaching certification as expired! WHAAT?!? I considered how I could appeal this process. All my communication with the board had been through a ‘Contact Us’ format. I had no records of any of my questions, nor any record of my license being active. There were no ‘live people’ available. Ever. I wasn’t going to lie to get my National Boards. I didn’t have money to hire an attorney, on the slim chance that might make a difference.

In the midst of these dismal thoughts, I was forced to consider that I hadn’t talked to either my dearest teaching widower or God about renewing my National Boards. I was renewing them because:

  • I could not imagine myself without that validation of my skills?
  • My self-worth was bound up in my career?
  • I had worked hard to get those renewal credits?

Whatever my rationale, I have sort of accepted this situation. I still wish I could have renewed my NBs, which perhaps means I have more come-to-Jesus times ahead.

Good news, though. None of the effort in licensure and NB renewal was in vain. All of it improved my skills and made me perfectly suited for my current work. And had God not prompted me to get NB certification 20 years ago, and blessed the entire process, I would never have National Board Certification in the first place.

To answer the question: No, I am not losing my mojo. My pride is skinned, which is a good thing. My love of all-things-teaching is intact.

I love this photo of my DTW with all his mojo!

* TToT for a million dollars

It’s been eons since I last posted; I hope all of you are well and making it through these tough times! My next-to-oldest great-nephew keeps asking me what I would do for a million bucks. I do remember those days when it seemed like the most spectacular thing ever to get $1,000,000. Or to get ‘all the money in the world.’ Now I know what true riches are, so I will share my Ten Things of Thankful (TToT) blogging challenge with you out of a truly grateful heart.

#1 I am thankful for my dearest teaching widower (DTW). He continues his treatment for cancer and is such a warrior. I thought this nightmarish ‘cure’ might cause him to stumble, to become impatient, to change who he is. But he is still the loving-est DTW in the world. That counts for about 5 TToTs. Or about $1,000,000.

#2 I am thankful for our dearest son and his most precious wife. Matthew has endured much with a 5-year-long health struggle, going from triathlete to incapacitated to nearly incapacitated. And he has started a blog (please check it out!)! While his chronology of the illness is heart wrenching, it’s also filled with faith that comes from trusting in the Lord through desperate times. I’d say this special couple are worth at least $1,000,000.

#3, #4, #5 Special families and kids, Cadbury chocolate, and vegan chocolate cakes still rank high on my list! Although I haven’t hiked outside since summer weather took root, I’ve savored the photos I took. Cee‘s awesome photographic influence is easily worth a cool mil. (Be sure to check out her blog, too!). I’ve never met a plant I didn’t want to photograph!

#6 Of course, the kiddos keep us on our toes and give God plenty of issues in my heart to work on, with impatience being at the top of my list. But who wouldn’t enjoy being asked if I would wear a KKK robe for a million dollars? That question is followed by shrieks of glee: I should want to be in the Kool Kids Klub. Yikes. Glad we are quarantined or they’d be stoned!

#7 Tea is right up there with chocolate. Tetley’s is my fave. The caffeine kinda makes up for my lack of sleep. Sorta. Perhaps. Not so much.

#8 Now that I have cracked through the Blogging Barrier Reef, I am excited to catch up on others’ blogs! Yay! (I really don’t like that spelling but my use of yea always gets misread as yeah, so meh….)

#9 I love to watch the birds who visit our feeders and bath. A robin just finished a thorough soaking and sat fluffed up on the edge, drying off. So sweet. OK, not so fascinating to everyone. The hawks? They love it. Totally grateful. Yum yum.

#10 Last but not least are you, my dearest readers, who continue to follow this blog. I’m grateful!

* Weekend Chocolate Share

I’m joining Eclectic Alli’s Weekend Coffee Share, despite the cup of tea in my hand and bits of Cadbury milk chocolate on my shirt. SHH! It’s been a week of increased prayer, chocolate, and bible reading.

My dearest teaching widower has recovered quickly from surgery and starts radiation treatment soon. He’s such a sweetheart! [I just remembered that our anniversary is next month! Wow! I will get an extra point for that. We hardly ever celebrate it, but whoever remembers it first gets a point. I’m racking it up this year.]

Speaking of sweet men, our 18-year-old great nephew (GN) has now been living with us for a month. What a challenge for him! He’s already learned that folks in their seventies are hard of hearing and addicted to chocolate. GN’s partial to sour gummy worms but I do share my chocolate stash. I think that’s true love.

I’m so happy! Having GN here has reminded me of the peace in our lives, the joy of sharing movies, and the immense privilege of being saved. Thank you, Jesus!

What about you?

* What if….

What if I had not already lived through JFK and MLK and 9/11? Would I understand how this pandemic will likely change language and cultures?

What if I became immune to numbers like 30,000 and 2,000,000? Or what if I became immune to COVID-19?

What if I was trying to explain this pandemic to a kiddo with moderate AU? How could I do that without causing him to feel like he’d topple off the earth? What about all those kids who already struggle with anxiety? And what about their parents who are desperately trying to be family and school?

What if I did not already belong to Jesus? Would I turn towards him or pretend that I’m God?

What if I wanted to cut my hair? Or buy toilet paper?

What if the people who are suffering the most are not reading blogs? What if they have no internet or devices or running water or doctors? Or what if they live in a country where individual rights mean nothing? Where you disappear if you say anything negative about the president?

This photo was posted on Nextdoor. Sweet and talented!

* COVID-19 faith (#4)

I’m SO grateful that Jesus picked me up as I crashed on the dead end road of my life in 1988. I was shattered and not looking for him, that’s for sure. In fact, I mocked people who loved him. As we face the unknowns of the coronavirus and economy, I am grateful that God hunted me down, hounded me.

My DTW has developed a serious health issue and will need surgery in a couple of weeks, and we are still trusting God and his faithfulness to us. We know we’re not here permanently and we eagerly await seeing Jesus face-to-face. Sometimes I ask him to beam me up, but I know I cannot lengthen or shorten my life. Every day has been written by him.

So what are we doing? Praying and trusting God. Plus, my dearest teaching widower and I have been binge-watching Containment, a 2016 series we’d never heard of. The show is about a deadly engineered virus; we’re only halfway through so I can’t spoil anything. It only has one season, so we might be in the minority of folks watching. They use the expression, “social distance,” which I thought was unique to 2020. Not many people in 2016 knew so much about the structure of coronaviruses, what PPE stands for, and what N95 has to do with masks. Oh yeah, I never knew that toilet paper would be such a commodity.

Stay safe!

* I’m HOW old???

When I was four years old, I thought 14 was so OLD! I adored a neighboring teen who was kind enough to teach me how to wash dishes. That might not seem very special, and I prefer the dishwasher today, but she was patient and sweet to me, something I didn’t experience at home.

I always loved my ‘old’ teachers. One day, I was talking about how old my third grade teacher looked. I remarked that her skin was so browned and lined because of all the kids who had been talking to her; I assumed their ‘hot air’ burned her face. (My face burned when my mother repeated that anecdote to her!)

As I approached my 30th birthday, I struggled through each day. Seriously depressed, I had this belief that I would die at 30. I certainly tried to make that a reality. But my dearest teaching widower was patient, loving, and praying for me, and at 38, I met Jesus and was set free from depression. My life was forever changed, as was my view of aging.

A couple of years ago, my extremely talented sister and brother-in-law surprised me with a birthday cake. And there I was, a youngster on top of it, with real icing on my face!

Today I am 70 years old! I still think I’m relatively young, perhaps just past middle age?

* Christmas Fibbing

Caution: SPOILER ALERT

I love Pesnsitivity’s blog and she was hosting Fibbing Friday last week. I’ve missed every Friday since I first heard about this silly blogging challenge, but maybe this week!

There is a fib, though, and it has to do with Santa Claus. My dearest teaching widower (DTW) was talking to me about the impact of that fib lie on many children. As a curious child psychologist, he has often asked folks how they felt when they learned the truth that Santa wasn’t real. Many adults can tell you the exact time and how deceived they felt.

I remember feeling a great sense of betrayal as I read about that sham in the newspaper. (I was four years old and it was part of my father’s “I-hate- that-you-can-read-but-prove-to-me-that-you-can-read” endeavors.) I tried to protect my younger sister from finding out, so I played along for years. I think she already knew but I hated to see her suffer. Of course, we had so many other dreadful things happening at home that Santa Claus was a mere blip on the radar of betrayal.

As parents, my DTW and I resolved never to tell our kids that Santa lie. We explained that it was a belief for some families. We said it wasn’t okay to tell other kids what to believe since that was the responsibility of their parents. As a teacher, I always took the same stance, especially not allowing kids to torment others about this societal fibbing.

My DTW, who is always thinking about deep stuff, worries that if kids can’t trust their parents about Santa Claus, can they trust them about God? To me, the bigger issue is that my parents were supposed to represent God to me. So I grew up believing that my heavenly Father is deaf, cruel, powerless, and untrustworthy. Now I know the truth about him, how he chased me down with his love. And I still believe we should ditch the Santa lie.

* Victory before the victory

What on earth is ‘victory before the victory?’ Is it systemic cheating as featured in the movie Bad Genius? Is it positive self-talk? A new type of name-it-claim-it hysteria?

No, no, and no. Thank you, Kendrick: victory before the victory is a faith-based moment (or even years) when I praise God without knowing the outcome. For me, it’s giving over but not giving up. Praising Him no matter how miserable things look.

I had a serious knee injury at school that left me in a wheelchair for years. I HATED being in a wheelchair (although I did love racing through the hallways). I couldn’t walk more than 20-30 feet on my own. After the first year of despair and much prayer, I said, “Jesus, you bought my body with your own. This is your knee so it’s your problem. I want to be healed but if I must live this way, it’s up to you to keep me. Keep me from bitterness and angst and despair.” I should have added, “And impatience!”

Despite knowing that this was His knee, I perpetually complained about the school wheelchair and grocery store wheelchairs and being below eye level and people staring at me and people asking me how I was doing and people thinking I was healed because I could walk a short distance. I was bugged by relentless kids who said said, “Aha! I saw you standing up!” And I was bugged when I got my wheelchair stuck between tables in the cafeteria. Duh!

But I was content with the disability, even if getting around was a hassle. If this is how things were going to be, God was still in charge and promised to work it for good. Not my problem to fix.

My dearest teaching widower (DTW) and I made three annual trips to the beach after my injury and surgery. My DTW tried to pushed me through the sand the first time and was smart enough to realize that wouldn’t work the next time.

On the third trip, I decided to make it to the stairs by myself. He asked, “Are you sure you want to do this?” I was a bit grouchy as I explained that I couldn’t go too far! Duh!

So I made it to the sand. Very slowly. I walked 30 feet, then 50. I called my DTW and said, “Uh, I can walk!” He asked if I wanted him to come with the wheelchair. He cautioned me to call immediately if I collapsed. I kept walking. I called him back after I’d walked a quarter of a mile and over his objections, I walked another quarter mile with a big smile on my face. Miraculous!

Yeah, God is still working on my impatience. Duh!

the ultimate love. — Song Bird Songs

There was one that loved once. Loved enough to leave all and come, begrimed and dirty, into this world. To venture to an ancient stable, to know dirt, and cold, sickness and pain. Yes, lots of pain it cost him, one who had never so much as pricked His finger before that day he lay, […]

the ultimate love. — Song Bird Songs
Thanks to Claire for her inspirational posts!

* TToT- bloggers plus

I am thrilled to join the Ten Things of Thankful folks once again. I really need to be grateful for all that I have in this life and the one to come. Here we go!

My dearest teaching widower (DTW) has been so incredibly patient as I’ve gone through one-handed weeks after my shoulder surgery. I could not have survived this without his love, wisdom, and encouragement to take pain pills!

I am grateful for our pastor at Grace Church, Kendrick Vinar, who shares his journey and inspirations on his Enjoy More blog. Not only is he an amazing leader, he lives what he teaches. Kendrick was recently diagnosed with cancer and is celebrating the victory before the victory!

Last night in our movie group, we showed a powerful documentary (“Last Train Home”) on migrant workers in China. It was filmed across 3 years, with a focus on a couple who left their kids with grandparents and migrated to a city for factory work. Let’s just say that all of us were deeply moved to be grateful for the abundance of our lives.

I appreciate so many bloggers, including Barbara at Teleporting Weena, where you will find all kinds of lovely and mysterious writing plus photos. Her post on Fibbing Fridays is absolutely hilarious!

We’re having a cold spell, which makes me grateful for Shari’s post on the Weekend Coffee Share. She writes about all things Christmas: hot chocolate, snow, sledding, Christmas cards, and the old Sears Christmas Wish Book. Jingle, jingle!

My dearest teaching widower and I went on a short train ride with some friends! It was my DTW’s idea that we take up train riding as a retirement hobby. So neither of us has actually retired but we’ve made our first trip! Yay!

I’m grateful that it’s pomegranate season! Stained teeth and fingernails don’t bother me at all.

I’m grateful for the ‘purple pill,’ as my DTW calls it. Yes, Cadbury milk chocolate comes in a sparkling purple wrapper. And it makes my brain so happy.

What wonderful kiddos I serve! How they light up my life!

Finally, I am grateful to Clark (well, perhaps Roger or Scott) for the rule that allows me to stop at #9! Hope you feel encouraged to be grateful today!