Squinty smiles Busy knees Crawling off to adventure The dog dish Fridge magnets Surviving big brother's Best intentions A tiny heart beats for mine
A slightly older one
To his entwined
"Punchinello?" The voice was deep and strong. Punchinello stopped. "Punchinello! How good to see you. Come and let me have a look at you."
Punchinello turned slowly and looked at the large bearded craftsman. "You know my name?" the little Wemmick asked.
"Of course I do. I made you." Eli stooped down and picked him up and set him on the bench. "Hmm," the maker spoke thoughtfully as he inspected the gray circles. "Looks like you've been given some bad marks."
"I didn't mean to, Eli. I really tried hard."
"Oh, you don't have to defend yourself to me, child. I don't care what the other Wemmicks think."
“No, and you shouldn't either. Who are they to give stars or dots? They're Wemmicks just like you. What they think doesn't matter, Punchinello. All that matters is what I think. And I think you are pretty special."
Punchinello laughed. "Me, special? Why? I can't walk fast. I can't jump. My paint is peeling. Why do I matter to you?"
Eli looked at Punchinello, put his hands on those small wooden shoulders, and spoke very slowly.
"Because you're mine. That's why you matter to me."
Above is an excerpt from You are Special by Max Lucado. This book has sat on my son's shelf since he had a shelf. It was mine from college. For some reason, he never seemed too interested in it. [Maybe it was the wooden puppet on the cover? No offense Max, but it is kinda creepy.]
Dakota had had a tough night. Just tired I suppose. The poor guy's evening from supper on was just one big meltdown. Mommy was doing her best to not have a meltdown of her own. I was surprised though when he grabbed this book to read before bed. In fact, I even set it aside thinking it got tossed on the bed while he was looking for another book. But there came a quick, "No Mommy! I want that one!" So I began to read, waiting intently for his response - there was none. He always makes a comment, always asks at least 5 or 6 questions, but this time - nothing.
So I prayed over him tonight instead of with him, sensing that he maybe needed some extra TLC. Again, he was pretty reserved. No profound moments from the story or our prayer time.
As I walked down the stairs, tears started to well up in my eyes. Sigh... it was for me. Oh, I know that Dakota got something from our time together and was just too tired to sort it out with words, but I could feel my heart ache and soften. Another sigh... The line, "Because you are mine. That's why you matter to me."
I've been letting the lies of the world suck me in - "You're doing a terrible job. Why do you even try? Why aren't you more like her or him? You can't do that. Why would you even dream of doing something like that?" And when I start to do that, I start to forget just how precious I am. The God in heaven who created unimaginable far away planets and each intricate snowflake made me. And he loves me more than I will ever possibly know. He wants me to not let those "bad marks" shadow my life because what does matter is what He thinks.
My first trip down to visit the classroom where my mother worked as a paraprofessional in a "readiness" room was my inspiration. I vividly remember a teeny little guy with super duper crazy curly hair that was practicing tying his shoes. My task as a peer helper was to encourage and support him during his practice of this delicate art. I did so for a few days and then one day - it happened. A little nub of a loop connected to another barely holding on by the aglet. He. was. so. excited. The glee that poured over that little guy began like a rainstorm. A few trickles of grinning, a compliment from me, a whisper to see if he could show Mrs. Keiper, gave way to steady streams of congratulations, high fives and maybe even a few sideways shoulder squishes.
These days working with my 8th graders, it doesn't happen as often, nor as exuberant. Ha. That - would NOT be cool. But seeing their faces light up when they've tried ten times harder than the others and only done half as well and STILL proud - that, my friends, makes being a special education teacher worth it.
Here's me. My little monster avatar thingy for posting my Slices of Life-ez. At first, I kinda giggled to see them all when others posted along with me, but I was secretly a bit disturbed by my own. I mean, she has ice pic arms, cave woman hair, a mouth like a garbage disposal and sewn up eyes - is that like I'm squinting, or knocked out or something??? Well, I don't always look like this, but there are times... when honestly, I feel like this. Blue, un-huggable, and closing my eyes to the truth, while spewing loud horrible things from my mouth. What's even worse it that happens more often at home than I'd like to admit. This ugly little creature takes over my body and mind and I find myself doing and saying things that I desperately want erased as soon as it takes place. It's not a creature though, it is me, a part of me that I must learn to manage. Whatever the reason why I've lost my softness, I know at this breaking point that I must go back and amend. Request forgiveness and mercy from the ones I hold most dear. Both my husband and my son grant this so easily - it's humbling. And through this humility I am warmed and become soft once again.
It's a cruddy picture, but for the past three weeks or so, every time I've been in our girls restroom at school, there has been different one hanging up. This one says, "Smile - Make someone's day a shade brighter". Others have said things like, "Hey beautiful" and "You are lovely inside and out". I have no idea who's doing it, but today it finally soaked in just how neat it is that someone actually IS doing this, especially if it's a student. They've made me smile to myself each time I've read them. Today though, I couldn't help but wonder what young girl might read that same message as me and find that tiny bit of love and kindness that she so desperately craves.
We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Charlie Chaplin
Tucked away In my dark room Huddled by an outlet Leaning over my Gangly, criss-crossed, eight-year old legs Tiny pegs Neon colors Pop and GLOW Electronic hypnosis Calm and quiet In a riot of color Slowly warped Too many times Left on Camped beside My rainbow campfire Slowly dimimished Too many pegs became G.I. Joe missles and Barbie drinks Miss this escape Into a techni-colored Dream
Cutest blog on the block, eh? Hmmm... yep - here's a cute one! There was an error in this gadget. Sigh... Okay, well let's just post something. I've got the Blogger App on my phone, maybe I'll try it out. Warning: Does not match your account. ... [10 minutes of tinkering] ...
... [another 10 minutes of tinkering] ...
Ahhh... okay. Blogger App error resolved. Now we're cookin' with Crisco. Let's load a couple pics from today anndd... now what... Wait. Why can't I type anything besides a caption? OK, forget all the fancy stuff, that's not what this is really all about anyway, right? I'll just save what I've got and... An error occurred while trying to save or publish your post. Please try again. I think I'll just click Publish and, God willing, try again tomorrow.
He's a beefcake Make no mistake Young and single Can't wait to mingle Riding a wave A date I craved Wakeboarding in the summer sun Our life together had just begun We're married now Can't believe somehow We used to live life free and airy But it's become Little House on the Prairie Fields and hunting Baby buntings Minivans and soccer balls No way I'd ever trade it all Wrote this poem very (very) quickly for an 8th grade class today. A bit cheesy, but kinda fun to play with rhyme. I tend to avoid it, however I've decided I need to let myself experiment here - to play and make a mess of things sometimes. And while my poem may be a bit juvenile, my muse is just wonderful.
Just write something. Write about... your dog, your kids, your job, whatever. It doesn't matter - just write. Yeah. Sure. That's all well and fine until you know that someone ELSE is going to see it. I'm lovin' this entire process though. It's so very good for me. How many times have I uttered that first line to a bunch of 13-15 year-olds? Like it's no big deal, right? No big deal to pour your heart into something and have it critiqued. No big deal to happen to make a poor choice for a topic for the day and write something lame and suck-y and then have it stuck in the cogs of your brain for ever and ever wishing you could delete! Writing takes so much more courage than we give it credit for. And I need to remember to be patient and commend my students' courage much more often. I also need to be more courageous in my own writing... to dare, to dream, to dance.
Well, it's only my third slice and I'm hooked. I wish I would've been brave enough to try this sooner. I guess all things have their own time. Before I gave in, I always made the excuse that I was too busy this time of year. Secretly though, it seemed kinda, well... pointless. Now wait! Before you kick me to the virtual curb, when I was asked to slice this time around, I'd honestly been thinking on a forgotten lesson... A few years ago a very dear friend bought me a spot in a creativity class taught by Canadian artist Kal Barteski. [How cool was that!?!?] We experimented with all kinds of fun: photos, continuous line drawings, even crayons. Each lesson offered a video message by Kal to inspire and encourage. One lesson in particular pointed us to a video clip of Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, speaking on TED. It may be an overly referenced clip, but it's one that's definitely stuck with me. [There's a link below if you'd like to check it out for yourself.] I must confess I never read her book and honestly only watched the movie because Mr. James Franco tends to be easy on the eyes. Ahem. It was a pretty good movie, but what she said in her 20 minute chat was what really rang true. Her suggestion was that people cannot be a genius themselves, instead, that they have their own "genius" [as in like a genie] that provides the special sprinkles of "wow" on whatever they're creating. I found this interesting, but not until the last five minutes or so did she hit upon a very powerful splinter of truth. Elizabeth found in her studies that long ago, during sacred dances, the watchers would chant "Allah" whenever one of the dancers were truly spectacular. To these ancient people, Allah meant a "glimpse of God". Yes. Truth. And for me the truth that God creates and created us in His image tells me how important it must be to create. Before, I always viewed my time singing, acting, making cards, scrapbooking, journaling, decorating, whatever... to be frivolous. Just big girl play time. After making this connection though, I realized that it's so much more than that. Creating is a part of who we are, inherited from the one who made us. Christ himself was raised in a carpenter's house. Have you ever wondered what he made? I imagine him fashioning out a raw piece of wood, smoothing his hand over a finished piece, smiling warmly at what he'd created... How could I have missed this all those years? [And shame on me for forgetting it again!] What's more impacting this time around is the revelation of the fact that God created through words... He spoke. He didn't think, he didn't whip up a potion. He spoke. Words, out of all our creative vessels, hold such power. I just hope that through my month of slicing I can give this honor of creation the justice it deserves. Elizabeth Gilbert on Genius
Day is done Gone the sun From the lakes, from hills, from the sky All is well Safely rest God is nigh...
At least thirty meek first grade voices softly sang this tune at the end of every Troop 130 meeting. We'd all hold hands and for a few brief moments our little souls were one with each other and with God.
I had always found it a bit odd, though, that we'd end our time with Taps, a song often played at military funerals. Not that I'd been to any, but I'd seen it on t.v. [Probably M.A.S.H. or something like that.] Tonight though, this melody returns from long-ago memories to haunt me. I received a Facebook message tonight asking for contributions toward flowers for one of our Girl Scout leaders. She's not doing well and only expected to live a few more days. I don't know all the details except that I think she had a brain aneurysm several years ago. I'm guessing she never fully recovered. I honestly don't know. It doesn't really matter.
What does matter was that she was my mom. Not my real mother of course, but she along with the other leaders were my friends' moms. And they all helped to raise us. Taught us how to sing in a round, which shampoo was best for our hair type. Showed us how to make a shelter if you were stranded in the woods and that we are constantly surrounded by the miracle of nature. I still avoid Pantene like the plague and try to never ever miss a moment of appreciation for God's creation.
This dear lady was no exception to teaching me invaluable lessons. She was incredibly kind and gentle - always. When she spoke it was with such calm sincerity that I remember it vividly. I wanted to be around her just to get a little taste of that peace. I'm sure that a part of her is certainly now a part of me. And it's hard to know that she'll soon be leaving this place. In times like these you lean on what you've build your life on - the foundation of faith in God and the saving grace of Jesus Christ. And I can honestly say - with bittersweet sorrow - that "all IS well". In the joy of remembrance and in the weeping of loss - God is always good and he loves us all more than we will ever know.
You know, I'd had plans for my first "Slice". I wanted something simple, but cute, quirky, ...whimsical even. You know - make a good (i.e. safe) first impression. But that's not always what writing is about. It can be light-hearted, but it means so much more when its real and raw in rips up your guts. Tonight a simple Facebook message rocked my little world. So this post is more than a little rough around the edges, but it's a slice of my life.