You know I am often torn between planning and “to do” lists and schedules, and just “winging it” through life. My split personality comes from years of seeing my plans change because things happen that I don’t anticipate. I was reminded yesterday that some of those things can seem very insignificant until we see them from a different perspective. I am always asking God for guidance and yet sometimes when it comes it is so gentle and subtle that it is overlooked. I guess I am often guilty of waiting for the burning bush.
Looking back over this past year I can see some little events and encounters and experiences that have had a profound effect on how I will proceed toward the future. I am reminded this morning of Romans 8:28- “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” We just have to remember that Paul doesn’t mean fun times and comfort. He refers to our eternal life and he qualifies his statement with two requirements: we must love God and do His will.
Things happen…it is how we handle them that matters.
Okay, I’ll be honest. I was feeling a little down yesterday after seeing all the wonderful Mother’s Day photos on FB. I don’t get to see my children for holidays or many other events. I’m blessed to talk to them on the phone, but there are times when I wish they lived closer. I was also feeling a smidgen of guilt and a bit of pity for them because they have such a dull, boring mother compared to so many others. I know they probably wish I was more stylish or trendy or creative or exciting or something. After all, I don’t drink, swear, smoke, gamble, or even dance. I don’t wear makeup or style my hair. No bling, no high heels, no polished nails. I don’t even have a tattoo! I don’t text, tweet, or skype. I don’t even have cable. Boring, dull, plain, and behind the times…besides being old and fat. If they did live closer they might not even want to be seen with me.
Then I went to Walmart to pick up my photos.
Oh, the blessings and life lessons of Walmart. Thank you Lord for making me appreciate even my shortcomings! The first person who walked past me was a man of about forty: obese and wearing a tank top, pierced eyebrow, spacers in ears, and sporting a long goatee decorated with beads!
Next was a woman pushing a young child in a cart. She had her hair covered by a “doo rag”, she was wearing a short sleeved shirt so I could see that her arms were completely covered by tattoos, and she had on tight jeans, leather boots, and a leather vest.
The woman with three layers of makeup, high heeled sandals, short shorts, and a tank top might have been attractive had she not been my age and size, plus more.
You know I could go on and on. There are all kinds of people in the world! Each person has a unique “style” and individual personality. I think I’ll just be happy with mine. If my children or anyone else complains, I’ll just send them to Walmart for a new perspective!
Yes…it has arrived. The week that seemed so far away in August is here and for once it doesn’t seem like there is much to celebrate. This is the last year I will teach under the leadership of my friend and former high school classmate. The last year I will see the smiling face of our wonderful pre-k assistant. The last year I will watch our amazing nurse care for our sick and injured students; the last year I will be able to seek out her advice and counsel for my own health. The last year I will see the understanding face of my former college classmate as she sits in her office listening patiently to my latest complaint. Selfish thoughts, I know. I should celebrate the changes in their lives and wish them joy. I do. But I also feel so very sad for the rest of us. Change is always a challenge and next year there will be so many.
I WILL celebrate the accomplishments of my students and will be proud to stand next to them on Friday as they receive their diplomas. They have worked hard for me this year and have learned so very much! They have also matured and most have met the challenge of changing from child to student. It is a huge transformation and one that I feel privileged to witness each year.
I am looking forward to more time in the garden, a little travel, lots of writing, and perhaps a few photos here and there. LOL
Last week of school…
It occurred to me yesterday that although I miss my own mother at times and in ways that are often inexplicable, the mothers that are most important to my current life are the mothers of my students and the mothers of my grandchildren.
The mothers of my students provide me with a job I love and they tolerate my intrusion into their lives. I am constantly asking them to do something that adds to their work and stress. Homework and projects and extra handwriting practice require as much time and effort on their part as their child’s. Most graciously accept the extra tasks, and for that I am grateful. It is also my job to let them know if their child has a problem with skills or behavior and that is often news that is difficult to accept graciously. Mother’s don’t always agree with my assessment of their child and then we walk a thin line between tolerance and trouble. Some years dealing with angry mothers has proven to be more of a challenge than dealing with their mischievous children. But everything- the good, the bad, and the angry- has only added to my experience and my appreciation of the complex job of motherhood.
I wasn’t always a good mother. I would like to think that I did the best I could at the time with the knowledge and skills that I had, and that as I gained experience I improved. Maybe, maybe not. There are some things that happen in life for which there is no preparation, no experience that enables you to make the right decision or do the right thing. There are some things I did that in hindsight seem stupid, but I have to remind myself that I am a grandmother looking back and criticizing the actions of a woman who was barely more than a child herself when she started raising children. So I cut myself a little slack.
I do take some pride in my motherhood skills when I see what great adults my children have become- especially my girls, who are much better mothers than their own. I know that most of what they have accomplished and most of what they do is because of their genes and personalities and motivation and experience, but when I see who they have become I just have to take a little credit for providing the foundation for their futures. And as mothers themselves I think they will allow me that bit of selfishness.
So on this day set aside to honor mothers I salute the mothers of my students and the mothers of my grandchildren and wish them a day filled with love and hugs and the recognition they most certainly deserve!
Several people have posted photos of their beautiful roses this week.
Don’t wait for mine.
Roses have long been the proof of my failure to advance to the status of a masterful gardener. The gorgeous rose shown here is in front of a local church. There is only one rose in my yard and it was here when we moved in. My only claim is that I have not yet killed it. Just give me a little more time.
My earliest memory of roses is not a pleasant one. My younger brother fell over a rose bush, somehow jamming a thorn into the top of his foot. It broke off and remained under the skin until our father managed to pull it out. I can still hear my brother screaming.
When I was eight we lived in a huge house on Lewis Street in Fresno, CA and it had a rose garden in the back yard. The bushes were old, tall, and rather spindly. My neighborhood pals and I discovered that the space in the corner behind them made a good “clubhouse”, but crawling back there meant a good many scratches on arms and legs!!
Our neighbor in Georgetown, Texas had two things that fascinated me: a nine-year-old genius son who was in high school, and green roses! I had never seen either.
My grandmother Bea had beautiful roses! She carefully tended them and knew the name of each one. She gave me lots of advice about how to water and prune and fertilize them. I guess her words didn’t endow me with any special powers because I have never duplicated her success.
We had a friend years ago whose hobby was growing tea roses. He had dozens! Each was prized for some unique trait. I thought it so ironic that our friend was also a big burly truck driver!
The first house we ever purchased had three gorgeous roses in the front yard and the seller of the house actually had it written into the contract that he could remove them and transplant them to his new home. Probably saved the roses from a slow painful death.
I’m not sure why roses don’t like to live in my garden. Perhaps I don’t pay enough attention to them. They have always seemed “needy” and “fussy” to me- prone to so many diseases and conditions. I’m a bit lazy and always behind on chores. I don’t spray and fertilize and weed and water on any particular schedule. I don’t do a lot of planning and careful companion planting. I’m a “wing it” gardener and I’m not sure that is compatible with the requirements of roses.
Oh, the experts and websites make it all sound so simple. One suggests that all you have to do is: 1. Choose the right rose. 2. Plant where it will get six hours of sunlight. 3. Water regularly.
Okay, let’s start with #1. There are seven different types of roses. So I have seven opportunities to make a mistake! #2. There are five guidelines in the planting instructions regarding light, air circulation, soil type, planting near trees, and digging the hole. #3. Water regularly?? How much, how often? Then the site gives instructions for pest control, winter protection, and pruning. Too much for me!
So…I’ll leave the beautiful roses to those of you with the magic touch. Please continue to share!
The title of today’s post was for a time the title of my grandmother’s column in the newspaper. I think of her often and recall her words of wisdom and humor fondly, as do most people who read her words each week. She had a way of seeing to the core of people and understanding their needs. I thought of her yesterday when I attended the retirement party for three of our staff members. The comment was made about our principal that he has the ability to “read people” and that talent had often been an asset in dealing with students and parents and staff. Seeing people for who they are and understanding how to deal with them honestly and fairly requires a personality that first of all cares about people and desires to know them. Most of our daily interactions with others would benefit from more of both.
I also had the thought yesterday that thanks to FB and email and phones and easy travel, the retirement of someone who doesn’t even live in the local community is not the “end of the world”. I often read in the old papers about families who moved from Caddo to Wapanucka or Tishomingo and the sentiment expressed was as dark and depressing as if they had moved to the Arctic. I suppose the reality was that some were never heard from again! I’ve also read of relatives from other states visiting Caddo residents for the “first time in twenty years”. Imagine going that long without seeing a friend or loved one. We are so blessed by our advances in travel and communication.
Before the cake was cut yesterday the honorees stood up for photos and a dozen phones and cameras appeared. There are often comments made on the news about our obsession with recording every moment of our lives. I find nothing wrong with that! You know I’m never without a camera and my phone also takes excellent photos. I often wish that I had more photos of my own childhood and even more of my children. Better to have too many photos of people and events and be able to pick and choose from among them than to reach the age of sixty-three and realize you don’t have a single photo of your second birthday.
Yesterday was the birthday of both of my granddaughters. I didn’t blog about them or post funny photos of them because they are both of an age (15 and 21) to either be embarrassed or indifferent to such a post. Neither really has the time in their busy schedules to read my blog anyway. I am so proud of their accomplishments and their ambitions. Good girls and good students! What more could a grandmother ask for?
Grandmother. I am someone’s grandmother. I am at the age now that my own grandmother was when I thought she was “so old and wise”. Three people asked me yesterday when I plan to retire. I have some vague thoughts about it, but I am definitely not quite ready. Though I have plenty of hobbies and activities to keep me occupied, I still derive enough joy and satisfaction from my profession to continue it for a few more years. One of the retirees said yesterday that she enjoyed her job and never had a day when she didn’t want to go to work. I feel the same way. So I suppose the decision has to be based at some point on a balance between my desire to continue teaching and my ability to do so with the energy and enthusiasm that my students deserve. I promise to quit long before I’m limping to work with a scowl on my face! Lol
Those are my random thoughts for today…
Yesterday I read one of the little tags on a plant I was carefully tucking into the soil on the east side of my vitex. “Full sun” was the recommendation listed. However, after twenty+ years of gardening in Oklahoma I have learned that tags printed for national distribution have to be read with caution. “Sun” seldom means the plant will survive the hot temperatures and drought conditions of Oklahoma or Texas in June, July, or August. So I opted instead to let the vitex provide a little summer shade for it.
We gardeners live on hopes and dreams, plans and schemes. I put fifteen plants into the ground yesterday and if everything works together for good, I will reap the reward of having a more beautiful yard. But gardeners must always be humble and give credit where credit is due…to the grace of God. No gardener, even a “Master Gardener” can brag that their little paradise was produced without a single failure. Weather, animals, diseases, neighbors, children, and a dozen unexpected things can cause the best plans to go awry. I recall one year when I had a metal archway over one of the paths in my garden and a gorgeous morning glory vine wrapped around and over it. It was one of the best things I ever added to the garden. I loved to walk under it! One morning I awoke to find that the wind, combined with the weight of the vine, had toppled the arch and pulled the vine out of the ground. Not a great surprise! However, there have also been many times when I have lost all hope for a plant and nearly pulled it out of the ground, only to have it rebound and thrive.
I often think that God keeps me in the garden because the lessons I learn there apply to the rest of my life. The hopes and dreams, plans and schemes I have for my family, my career, even my hobbies, are all subject to the will and grace of God. Who better to trust them to than someone who is so much wiser and more powerful than I am?