Limited Supply

When young
Time seemed
An endless
Supply with
Little thought
Given to limits

Wished away in
A rush to meet
Each milestone
Without fully
Understanding
Its significance

Until years later
When the reality
Of limits became
Exceedingly clear

Times where
Life and death
Suddenly carried
Similar weight

Each new loss
A connection
To the past

Each new life
A hope for
The future

Quiet lessons
In limited supply

Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce~~Kelley Morris, piano

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I’ve looked around enough to know
That you’re the one I want to go
Through time with

One Hundred

I love seeing birthday celebrations for those who’ve made it to one-hundred. A century is a log time-so many things to witness and experience. These individuals always seem to have a funny, yet wise piece of advice. Two I recently read were-just keep going and take naps. ❤

Birthday Wish

I always say
I’d like to live
At least a
Hundred years
Since I’m over
Half-way there
The thought doesn’t
Seem so strange
My family would plan
A great big party
Biggest cake
You’ve ever seen
With one hundred
Sparkling candles
Lighting up
The entire room
Sitting at the piano
I’d play a familiar tune
As party guests loudly sang
Happy birthday to me!
I’d blow out all the candles
And make my birthday wish
A hundred-year-old hope
For lasting peace and rest

100 Years-Five for Fighting
I’m ninety nine for a moment
Dying for just another moment
And I’m just dreaming
Counting the ways to where you are
Fifteen there’s still time for you
Twenty two I feel her too
Thirty three you’re on your way
Every day’s a new day
Fifteen there’s still time for you
Time to buy and time to choose
Hey fifteen, there’s never a wish better than this
When you only got hundred years to live

Choosing Hope

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

This verse popped up on my notifications last week. I read and re-read it several times. The recent stories of mass shootings and violence in the news forced me to stop and consider its meaning.

I have always tried not to live my life based on what might happen. That mindset leads to fear and worry, which then increases my anxiety. Not an easy task, but a goal.

I learned a long time ago; I cannot keep my husband and children safe. They are not with me 24/7, nor should they be. Experience has shown that even when they are with me, bad things still happen.

I used to worry about them because of high school violence. Gart was a high school principal, my kids were attending high school at various times. High profile mass shootings in high schools were unbelievably common.

Then my list of places to worry about grew longer. The same horrific events happened at the elementary school level. Stories of precious little children killed, their teachers attempting to protect them were heartbreaking.

I am an elementary school teacher. As such, I witnessed the ushering in of intruder on campus drills. I had difficult conversations with young students who should not be worried about someone entering their school to harm them.

And now? The worry invades not only my school but also the church, shopping malls, concerts, clubs. No place is off-limits. Despite this fact, we cannot remain locked up in our homes and avoid contact with others.

What is the answer? I’m not sure. Gun control and mental health top the list of conversations and news sound bites. Lawmakers bicker back and forth but offer no real solutions. Watching the news brings feelings of desperation.

Yet, I must choose hope. Hope must lead to action. Action must lead to loving my neighbor, no matter where they are from or how they look. And that is only the beginning.

“For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14

That may seem like a simplified answer for such a terrible problem. But sometimes change begins with one step toward someone else. Suddenly, we are not walking alone. And if we continue walking together, hopefully, others will join.

As this school year starts, my children will be in new places. My two oldest are embarking on teaching careers at different high schools, my future daughter-n-law also teaches at a high school, and my youngest begins college.

Of course, I pray for them and want them to be safe. But even more than that, I want them to live each day to its fullest. Not being afraid of what might happen, but working to be part of the solution.

So, my goal for this year? Not to let worry and fear overtake me. That will require prayer, trusting God, and looking for the good in each day. I will look for it in the faces of my students. They deserve a future filled with hope and love, not fear.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11

A Little While

“…What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14

How do I balance living in the moment with wisely planning for the future? If thinking only of today, will the future take care of itself? My heart says, “I know I’m not guaranteed another day.” My actions do not always match.

This is my tenth year as a public-school teacher. I’ve been in my current building for nine years, my longest stint in any job. Equal to the number of years I was a stay-at-home-mom. Cue feelings of restlessness.

Next week is spring break, followed by the final nine weeks. A flurried push to end the year strong is filled with activities. The toughest part of the year.

I am tired. Thoughts of, “How many more years can I do this?” begin to play over and over in my head. A desire for change creeps in, negatively affecting my mood. This describes my mindset for the past couple of weeks.

Suddenly, in the middle of the tiredness, a fleeting thought. Quickly dismissed. Did not write it down, afraid to say it out loud. But this thought would not leave me alone.

What if I continued teaching for ten more years?

I could look back and say, “Wow! I taught elementary school for twenty years!” An accomplishment I would be proud of. Imagine how many students would cross my path. But it sounds like such a long time…

Trust me, these ideas reflect the complete opposite of my recent list of wants:

  • Spend more time playing the piano
  • Search out new accompanying opportunities
  • Teach piano lessons again

At least, I think those are the things I want to do. Truthfully, at this moment I don’t know what I want to do. And that is ok. Maybe “not knowing” is a safe place to remain for now.

Whether I teach one more year or ten, I must give it my best. Allow some new life to be breathed into my teaching. Somehow James 4:14, “…a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes,” makes that feel possible. It may not be logical, but such is faith.

Feels like I have walked in one big circle. Now back at the beginning, I need to listen, reflect, and rest. And trust that is enough.

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’-yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

Look to the Future

As I sit in a waiting room waiting to have a mammogram and ultrasound to check out a spot, I notice words along with the flowers on my pretty pink gown. I snap a picture, zoom in and see the word future.

So interesting. All week I’ve been talking to my students about how their attitude today affects their future. And here I sit with this word on my pink gown. So, what is my attitude at this moment? Honestly, I’m a little nervous. I keep telling myself it’s probably nothing. I’ve been through this before. But there’s always that nagging thought in the back of my mind. What if it’s something this time?

Our conversations at school stemmed from learning the song “Look to the Future.” I’ve been singing this song every day with 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. It’s a positive, upbeat song and I love the lyrics. The chorus says:

Look to the future
What do you see?
I see peace, and plenty, and harmony

My favorite line from the song is-Tomorrow’s world is made from words of today. For me, this line means we must live in the moment while recognizing today’s impact on the future. Initially, the words today and future seem to contradict each other. But they actually create balance when viewed together.

These discussions with my students are very much like ones I’ve had with my own children. You cannot make decisions today based on what-ifs, especially if the “what if” is followed by something negative or some terrible fear. Focusing on all the things that could possibly go wrong makes it difficult to see any hope for your future.

We certainly shouldn’t live today afraid of what might happen tomorrow or five years from now. There’s no peace in that. However, we must take responsibility for our words, choices, actions, attitudes.

So how did my conversations surrounding this song impact my current situation? They provided the perfect reminder, along with the word on my pink gown, not to worry. Yes, the question still looms-What if it’s something this time? If it is, I will be ok. I will continue to live one day at a time. That’s all I’m promised anyway. And with that perspective, I can look to the future with hope.

FYI-My test results were good. Follow-up in 6 months to make sure there’s no change. Also, my mom is a breast cancer survivor. Always get your regular mammogram. It is so very important!

Thoughts from the Orchestra Pit

Have you considered how many times in our lives are we called to provide a foundation for something we will never get to see? Parents, teachers, even musicians in an orchestra pit can all relate to this dilemma. How will we know if all our hard work paid off? Did we provide enough support to lead to a positive outcome?

Decisions we make as parents definitely fit that description. Parenting is hard work. We raise our children not knowing what their future holds. All we can do is our best. Trusting that we laid a strong, though most assuredly imperfect, foundation.

This idea also applies to a teacher. Think about all of the students a teacher inspires. New groups every year multiplied by the years taught. The numbers can be staggering. And the range of influence for all of them cannot be seen. Yet teachers continue to lay a foundation for students to learn and be successful.

As I was practicing in the orchestra pit this week for our upcoming all-school musical, it hit me how the experience provides a literal illustration for this truth. Think about it. All these amazing musicians, hidden under the stage, working hard every day to play beautiful music. And their music provides sure footing for everything that happens on stage.

The downside? We never get to fully see the amazing things occurring on stage. If there’s a long enough pause in the music, we might stand up and catch a glimpse of the actors and sets. Since we are performing during the most dramatic and exciting parts, those we never get to see at the moment.

Although it makes for an interesting predicament, those of us in the pit wouldn’t change a thing. We get to be a part of something bigger than us. Something which takes many people doing many different jobs to succeed. The final outcome is incredible, and we get to be the foundation. (Not to mention, it’s a fun place to hang out.) 😉

Even though we may not be able to see the final outcome in each of these situations, there are moments which affirm our choices. For a parent that affirmation may come in witnessing a thoughtful or compassionate action by their child. For a teacher, it might come in a simple thank you from a former student. No, not the end result, but the motivation to continue doing what needs to be done.

So, what about those musicians in the orchestra pit? What is that moment for us? I’d have to say it’s at the very end of the show. That moment when all the singers, actors and dancers have taken their bow and they direct the audience’s attention to the pit. They all point in unison towards us, showing their appreciation while encouraging the audience to do the same.

Hopefully, this reflection will help me look for more of those significant moments instead of worrying about the future. Realizing what I do today is important. And that I am not working alone. No matter which role I happen to be in on any given day, there are others right alongside me, working for the same outcome, laying the same foundation.

Here’s to hope for the future, which just happens to include a bunch of talented students performing in a musical-on stage and in the pit.

Good snacks in the pit are a must! 😉