Monday, October 16, 2017

ANOTHER WRITING IDEA

In the immediate aftermath  and shock of death, information is collected  by a newspaper to announce and celebrate a life to write an obituary.
                 Names…dates…honors…survivors…a picture…a recording of the remains of  life.
But what if the dying were able to provide a real tribute to their own lives?
        Passions…purpose…highlights…heroes…hopes…etchings of  the testimony of a life.
It’s a difficult  and brave matter deciding how to define the life you are living–to review it from outside yourself to decide in limited words what will represent your life at its end.
I wondered what questions I would ask to be able to write this type of obituary for another person. So here are the beginnings, the questions, the ramblings of a brain that is throwing around the idea of engraving someone’s life through words.
Here are the first raw thoughts of questions that I think could be used to glean the picture of a life in order to help to shape a story for others.
  • What is most important in your life?

  • What do you admire about your life? 

  • What inspires honesty in you?
  •  
  • What have you spent most of your time and energy on?  Why?

  • Gratitude…what do you have genuine gratitude for?

  • What is it not too late to say?  To whom?

  • What has “saved” your life today?  everyday?  this year?

  • Be a completely wishful thinker.  Tell a wish you have.

  • Recall someone who at sometime has been a lifeline and tell the story.

  • What do you hope to still be working on when you die,  literally or conceptually?

  • Who do you call for help at 3 a.m. 

  • Who do you want to make proud? 
  •  
  • Tell a time you made someone proud.

  • What person in your life has offered the most influence?  guidance?

  • Where have your actions spoken the loudest to demonstrate love?

  • Who will miss you?  Why?

  • Besides those in your immediate family, who contributed to your being well?

  • What moved your heart?  Tell the story of proof.
This inkling of an idea may never get off the ground, but some brave souls have already willingly offered to pitch their lives into my hands to mold into their stories. Turning this idea into a reality seems a daunting task,  but some day it may be trumped by my belief that it is a lasting comfort  that the living can have the final lasting words on their lives.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A COUNTRY CONCERT

con·cert 
agreement, accordance, or harmony.


con·cert·ed
adjective
  1. 1.
    jointly arranged, planned, or carried out; coordinated.


    synonyms:jointunitedcollaborativecollective, combined, cooperative
    "concerted action"
    antonyms:individual
    • strenuously carried out; done with great effort.


      synonyms:strenuousvigorousintensiveintenseconcentrated;

      antonyms:halfhearted
  2. 2.
    (of music) arranged in several parts of equal importance.

CONCERT...the meaning is not lost on me in the midst of our COUNTRY'S recent tragedy. It stands like a siren beckoning us as a country to dig deeper, to hear, to heed, to hone a weakened resolve to work together for the humane soul of our country.


A COUNTRY CONCERT...the strange 
significance of those words side by side is not lost on me. 

With compassion and fearless deed, fraternity was the first concerted response, mutually agreeing to save lives through any means possible, even at the ultimate sacrifice of laying down one's own that others might live.


There was no debate or side or reason given for helping a stranger, merely the desire to help end pain, tears, and cries of the wounded and bleeding. A concerted effort to defend life. 


In the wake of horrific events, once again our bleeding country is called to concert to listen to one another, to mutually collaborate to hear the cries around us, to choose to not be divided by the orchestrated mayhem, to work to clear the chaos, to act to end the pain of strangers. 


As citizens of this great country we must make a concerted effort to listen to the heart of the words that ache for our nation that keeps dividing itself in pieces in the hopes of uniting itself in cause. 

And yes, hearing others above our own assertions will require a strenuous, concerted effort. Hearing others' heart cries may take the sacrifice of our own words and the carrying of their burdens. 


But bringing peace to the chaos requires a country concert, a mutual agreement to coordinate because we all are parts of equal importance. 



Monday, August 21, 2017

WHO IS YOUR REMINDER?

KAREN COMBS is my reminder to be always at work for others.

This happened more regularly than I really want to admit. A moment of exhausted frustration reared its ugly head just when I wanted to make a hopefully simple, quick teacher trek to the copier and then run back to my room to accomplish a million other tasks.  

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But then that quick trip turned into a blind, confused, unbelieving stare at the copier. Sometimes, it was accompanied by guttural moans that I wished were silent. 




And then a calm voice nearby always offered, "Can I help you"  or "Is there something I can do for you?"  

I tried to be mindful that she, too, had a million things on her plate to accomplish along with answering the phone and buzzing people into the building and getting field trip drivers lined up and organizing a school wide fundraiser and ...  
Karen Combs helping another teacher problem solve.

So, my polite answer was that I was just trying to figure something out.

But then before I knew what to do, I felt her presence alongside me asking, "What have you tried?"  

As she miraculously worked her way through the quandary of the machine, her response to my frustrations were always in agreement, "I hear ya!"  While I pushed buttons at her prompting, she would say, "No worries, I've had to try this before."  



She ALWAYS gave me her good side.  
She ALWAYS made the time for my issues.  
She ALWAYS made it seem like I could accomplish things on my own, but she was just going to stand there beside me.
She ALWAYS made me feel like I was on the right track. 
She ALWAYS made me feel like I didn't need to get frustrated because I could master it.  
She ALWAYS offered a possible guess or solution.  
She ALWAYS validated my problems. 

She stayed with me through the problem until it was solved. On those days when my teacher time ran out at that copier, she even offered to complete my work and bring it to me! 

I know I fall very short of being that kind of a reminder for people, but I am ever grateful for the person she encourages me to be just upon every remembrance of her. 


She is my reminder to look around and see the needs people have.
She is my reminder to be a sounding board for others' frustrations.
She is my reminder to offer help to people. 
She is my reminder to put others before myself.

I'm thankful that our paths crossed and that she is all of those reminders for me. 

Who is your reminder to be a problem solver with others?


  




Thursday, July 20, 2017

EVEN IN THE CHAOS, IT ALL MATTERS...a note to my daughter


 TODAY REMEMBER THIS:   
YOU DO ALL YOU DO BECAUSE YOUR ARE BUILDING A LIFE, AND ALL OF IT MATTERS.

All your simple moments matter...

...Waiting and watching while she wipes her own bottom and puts on her own shoes
...Singing her four songs from a tired door frame lean to banish the bedtime wiggles
...Brushing teeth that will come out anyway
...Preparing the snack baggy to take in the car on your drive.
...Finding Horsey to take with her.
...Kissing boo boos
...Watching her dance to the music videos
...Letting her help load the dishwasher



Truthfully, many days in the lives of young moms and dads you just don't remember any of the many little things you did that seem equivalent to the spectacular, nothing earth shattering.

Sometimes, those many things that added up to a whole day just don't seem to have achieved even an honorable mention in this monumental parenting task.

Every day of parenting seems to have the possibility for a pop up thunderstorm that blurs your vision for that day, but especially when your babies are very young.

At the end of the day, patience is paper thin and energy is spent.

You have met demands all day from every corner with clear intentions to create moments to cherish.

Yet, during the deluge of parenting, life is full of the energy draining necessary trivial tasks which leave us with a myopic memory of those cherished events.

We swear we will slow the pace to hold everything faithfully dear, but our best hopes seem to glide down a steady hill.

All of it...all of it...all of it is part of the mysterious cosmic whirl at the center of your life's purpose...to build a life of purpose in our little babes.

Some day, as fast as these chaotic storms arose, they will fade. The energy expended will dissipate and not everything will be dizzy spinning out of control.

Just as surely as some chaotic day picking the right backpack and comforter for college will seem trivial in the scheme of their years ahead.  And your call to check in before finals will seem unnecessary.

But each moment of the controlled chaos of parenting is purposeful.

Rest assured, all of these big and small moments create what really matters: a life lived with the purpose to build a little life of purpose.



And even if you can't remember each special moment along life's way, you will always treasure that little life you purposefully nurtured.





Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A LETTER TO MY BROTHER ON HIS 50TH BIRTHDAY

                                              June 15, 2017

Dear Kevin,

Looking back at our 50 years together, I could delineate quite a few stories we’ve laughed about for many years.  As M2 (Mom 2), I  would start by reminiscing over the talented ways you could quickly finished your chore of taking out the trash by readily dumping it in our neighbors’ yard, entertain others with music by farting with your body parts (legs, elbows…), tease a cat, captivate the cousins with entertaining Barbie doll stories of "Little Batsy," consume two cheese hotdogs for a snack before eating a full dinner, get us all woke up at 6:30a.m. by hiding dad's comb or brush so he would yell up the steps, "Everyone up!," or even hold back your broom chasing sister after you walked across her newly mopped floor.  



But at this juncture, I would rather reminisce about something far more significant: the COURAGE you have shown throughout your life.  Each of these words from others about courage remind me of my simple hero brother:

Acts 4:13, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (NIV) 

Even in the midst of trying circumstances and personal anguish, your desire to laugh and easy nature have always invited others into your world and given them the courage to share their hearts and stories. They have not worried about feeling rejected by ears that don’t listen or a heart that doesn’t reach. Your courage empowers people to live real, out loud.  That emboldens others to live with the same courage. 


“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” ― Winston S. Churchill

Choosing to find success in serving others in your business venture stands as courageous in our financial world.   When the world’s business is about what people can get or take,  yours is about giving quality of life to others. Serving others needs has not been easy, but you have persevered with the heart of a lion.


“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.” ― Maya Angelou

Your life is a testament to this type of courage— to trust your heart to love again after loss when pain and disappointment ramp up loudly in the ear.  Turning off that refrain of failure that tries to play in the background of your heart and to choose to believe you can give love well again is paramount courage. 



“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or… too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” ― Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Screenplay

As we have aged through the years, I have watched you reinvent who you want to be, to find the courage to struggle to be the better man you envision, and live with the passion to make it happen. No man can be perfect, and most men live with scars if they engage in life with a purposeful passion. You capture the essence of living authentically and also galvanizing other men to this brave venture. You are one of the sincerest King’s men I know.   



“Courage is found in unlikely places.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien

I can’t count the number of times you have provided perspective and wisdom and courage be it unknowingly through an uplifting or challenging comment to me as a teen girl or an emotional adult.  Know that your words and actions have provided courage, hope, and balance. 

In a day when we don’t credit heroes or knights in shining armor,
I proudly proclaim that you are one of mine in my life’s drama.  

Love today and on your special day,

Your sis (M2)
Cherie

Sunday, June 4, 2017

LIVING WITH THE BREAK AND THE ACHE

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If we live long enough, it seems heartache and heartbreak visit. Dark hours shrouded in loneliness when it seems taking a breath must be deliberately exercised.

Those moments of despair and depression when loved ones are lost and snatched from bosoms too early or within circumstances humanely unfair. Those moments when we were cheated out of the joy life was to guarantee us. Those moments when imagined family dreams were shattered. Those moments when innocence was violated. Those moments when friendships were splintered. Those moments which amass years discouraged by physical conditions without solutions.

The heart is broken and the ache is real. 

And our daily life journey can also seem like rough moguls pressed over broken ground. We are the weak kneed wounded whirling our way through days.

The crowd sees the hardened shell as we live as if all seems well. 
We know the inside mess where we wonder if we can survive this brokenness.  

And the lyrics resound, "We shall overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of our testimony." (Rev. 12:11)

We WONDER:  
We shall overcome shame, depressions, despair, sorrow, disappointment, distress, loss, suffering, grief, misery, problems, regret, pain, and heartache?

When our heart is broken open and aches from the tearing, it's at these fissures God fills our chasms. The imperfect wounded heart is filled with a super glue that holds it perfectly together.

It's at these tough trenches of the heart He suffuses a soil that sows a new life, a testimony that teaches us to live WITH the brokenness of this life. The scars a reminder of His power to hold our heart.

Jesus didn't just die for us. He SURVIVED for us to be our Overcomer in this life. 

We GROW and begin to KNOW:
We shall overcome shame, depressions, despair, sorrow, disappointment, distress, loss, suffering, grief, misery, problems, regret, pain, and heartache!

His OVERCOMING surgery connects His life marrow to our heart tissue.  He is our heart bypass. His Spirit fills us to live by His restoring. He takes His blood vessels and restores the flow of new life to our broken, throbbing hearts.

We may not escape this life without heartache or pain, but we can learn to LIVE with our brokenness as proof of Life---proof of His abundant life in us and proof that He heals our imperfect hearts whole.
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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

JUDGING TEACHER EFFECTIVENESS

After 29 years in education, I would have thought I perfected this teaching thing.Yet with my introspective nature, I don't  really expect that to have happened. I would like to think I've grown considerably and tried steadily to be a good teacher. In the hard drive of my brain, self-assessment is malware.  It's a constantly running program in the background of my brain. Truly, no one knows better than me my failures and weaknesses, and likewise no one knows better than me my desire to create a better version of me, the teacher, to improve the operating system.


As I wrap up this school year and my teacher career, this teacher evaluation component of a teacher's life has often been a quandary for me. I've thrived under systems that foster teacher learning. I've found myself more productive than those that that just gave check marks for teacher competence. Teachers that feel they are being judged by Simon Cowell work for the smile not the frown, but that's only when they feel critical information will help them develop to become more effective rock star teacher for  their students. 

As a teacher, I didn't mind being evaluated. However, I desired to develop not just be measured.  Measuring type evaluations left me feeling judged, while developing type assessments gave me a goal and knowledge of how to grow and administrators a place to provide input and assistance.


I know the value of words being motivators and confidence builders, words that create effort and a learning environment, words that challenge me to grow and continue to put forth every ounce of energy when my efforts might seem fruitless.   







While I've been judged many ways through the years and by many people, (administrators, teachers, parents, and students), the box I value most being checked is the one that a student says they had a great year.  It's usually accompanied by a hug and a great note. 


Cheers to those teachers striving to do their best for their students. May you know your efforts are developing you into that teacher your are imagining you can become.