Tuesday, May 31, 2011

For Stacy

It has sat on my nightstand since the box arrived. The last book you sent to be opened, all in God's timing. It has slowed me down. It has made me stop when I would normally read to the back cover and be done in a day, I have paused, mid-chapter, mid-page, mid-sentence even to savor, to understand, to listen. I can be out in the garden working the soil and it will reverberate in my soul..."I can slow time with the weight of my attention." I can be in conversation with WG and hear her (His) words pour over my heart. I curl up each night craving and not altogether certain I am ready for the next nugget.

But tonight I sit, knowing that once again, He has used you in my life to teach me. He has used you to tell me exactly in a box sent long ago, what I needed to hear today.

I was grateful today, that the pink slips, six in number, did not come to my classroom, to my desk. I was grateful, today, for the email from a parent telling me how I have touched her daughter. I was grateful, today, for someone to be there, sitting on the deck with me, listening to my lament (complaint?) about how it was handled, how it was done. I was grateful, today for the listening ear on the other end of the line, telling me, from experience, that I could do this. I could make the change to first grade next year and live to tell the tale.

But in all my gratitude, I still held onto resentment. I wanted to be oh so thankful that my worries over paychecks and bills and a teen with college not too far off, and the house, and all that is in life, and I was, in large part thankful. But not completely. I wanted it all. I wanted Room 11. I wanted the children that make me teary-eyed with only 11 days left. I wanted the nine-year old humor, not the 6 year old neediness. I wanted it my way for true gratitude.

But God knows. He pushed me to bed early. With papers to grade and plans to create, he put instead, the book in my hand once again. I sat with a beautiful bowl - "the perfect size for cobbler" as James would say - full of just that, which reminds me again of him, of his appreciation, his adoration, his contenment in warm peaches with cold ice cream and I am grateful for each part of that moment. From gifted bowl, to the sense of appreciation topped off with comfort food that tickles my own soul, I feel as though I am weighing down time, slowing the moment to savor and remember and be grateful. But God wasn't through with me there. Gratitude isn't just a feeling sitting in bed under the cool ceiling fan on a warm late-spring night. As Voskamp says, "Eucharisteo means 'to give thanks' and give is a verb, something that we do. God calls me to do thanks. To give thanks away. That thanks-giving might literally become thanks-living. That our lives become the very blessings we have received."

It is not for me to sit here and be full of gratitude for the blessings He has given me. It is not for me to sit and think, "Whew! No pink slip for me!" and then turn my heart coldly to God for change in classrooms. I am to turn my gratitude, my blessings into a blessing for others. I am to take all the blessings I have been filled with this year and turn them into blessings for the first graders in my care next year. Quoting Tagore, the author says, "I slept and dreamt life was joy, I awoke and saw life was service, I acted and, behold, service was joy."

And so shall it be. Room 11 and the 27 third graders that have touched my daily existence this year will perhaps never leave my soul. But the joy, the blessings will be multiplied when I chose to become the gift, become the blessing next year to my new students.

And may all glory be to Him that deserves it. And you, Stacy, for once again, delivering His message. You, too, are a gift.

Monday, May 30, 2011

For The Love of the Game

Sunday at the park.

Great seats behind home plate.

The boys I love out in the field. Ahhh, summertime!


Gotta love the man.

It's tough being Big Papi. Kickin' back in the dugout, letting Youk be DH for the day.

Varitek was in the dugout, too. The Captain was taking the day off from behind the plate.

Gonzalez at first.

And who doesn't adore Pedroia?

Cabrera hit a home run (this is the actual swing) -
much to the delight of the Tiger's fan man to my left (WG).

Tekkie in action - headed out to the bullpen to warm up Papelbon for the ninth.

The Tigers tried to make a game of it, all tied up 3-3 in the 8th,
until Papi comes in to pinch hit and POW!! HOME RUN!!

Rounding third!

A step on the plate and his famous point to the skies.

All in a day's work for Papi. His job here was done.
Time for a drink and more laughs on the bench.

The man to my left (WG) might have preferred a different outcome and the soon-to-be man to my right (Flash) would have preferred another over-priced hot dog, some frozen lemonade, a soda and some ice cream, but we all agreed it was a great day at the ballpark!

Just in case this match doesn't work out...

Here's hoping 'Tekkie will leave a light on for me.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Flash's New Nickname

So, Flash completed driver's training class last week. (And yes, that IS three weeks of my life sitting in a parking lot at Sears that I'd like back thankyouverymuch.) We weren't able to make it to the Secretary of State's office on Friday (and not because I didn't try. I carpooled, but still managed to fly home from school, to pick Flash up at a friend's house who lives much closer to the S.O.S. office than we do only to find that Flash had forgotten all the paperwork on the counter at home. Ahhh, Flash...) So Wednesday evening, with extended hours at the S.O.S., WG and I convince Flash that we're going to go out for dinner when really, we take him to get his permit.

We sit in the waiting room for about an hour before we finally get called up. We had the absolutely nicest woman in the world take our information and yes, I realize I'm talking about someone in the Department of Motor Vehicles actually being NICE. She congratulated Flash on his permit and told me how easy it is for a parent to revoke the permit rights should I feel the need.

We left the office with more congratulations from WG and myself. I tossed Flash the keys to the car in Hollywood style and he responded incredulously with, "Really?!" Nope. We just drove down here to get your permit so we could look at it.

WG and I had conspired to a restaurant choice that was fairly easy to get to considering we were on some pretty busy roads. We didn't want Flash to have to contend with difficult driving on Day One. I had parked the car intentionally, knowing I would probably have him drive on the way out. There were no cars parked on the right or in front of us, and a grassy curb with a street lamp to the left, allowing Flash to be able to simply pull forward to get out of the parking space.

I hopped in at shotgun, WG jumped in the back and Flash climbed in behind the wheel. He took his time to adjust the mirrors and seat (Now I get why automatic seats are such a hit!) and to get familiar with my vehicle. He had only six hours of behind the wheel training in class, and it was all done in a small sedan, not my boxy crossover. Before he even started the car, we talked through where we were headed and I made sure he looked around and saw exactly where he was going to go. "Pull the car forward and then turn left. See that driveway? We're going to pull there and STOP. We will make a right turn out of the parking lot then, but not until I say it's clear and tell you to go. Got it?"

He assured me he understood. When he was ready, he put the car in drive and proceeded to pull out of the spot. Only he didn't exactly pull forward, he pulled more left. Which meant the front left tire hit and then went onto the curb. But Flash didn't stop there. With his mother in the passenger seat covering her mouth for fear of yelling, he simply proceeded forward. As if BRAKING never crossed his mind. I think WG started snort-laughing when the back wheel jumped the curb and we were now completely lopsided and continuing left and forward over the curb. All within clear eyesight of all the people in the waiting room of the S.O.S. office.

I finally recovered my senses enough to yell, "STOP!!" which Flash finally did. In between my laughter and complete shock I explained to Flash that from now forward, when the car hits something we are going to STOP.

We made it the rest of the way to the restaurant without incident, but jumping the curb 38 seconds after being congratulated by the nice woman at the S.O.S. left Flash at our mercy all throughout dinner.

"Hey, Eliza, I think there's a mechanic down here on Stadium that offers a frequent alignment card. After hitting your ninth curb, the tenth alignment is free."

"Do you think we could submit the video to America's Funniest Videos? I could use the money to get the shocks fixed."

It didn't take us long at all, then, to come up with Flash's new nickname. Stories like this aren't easy to live down, but we wouldn't have expected anything less from Curbie.

Love Languages

"I love you, WG, and not just for your tiller."

"I love you too, Eliza Jane, and not just for your potatoes."

Working Out the Details

"I see your point, Eli, and digging might work, but I don't think your momma would be too happy if you dug in her garden. I think we'd better just use the axe."