Sunday, October 14, 2012

I Did it Again

      Friday we had a young, up-and-coming author come to our little Prairie Elementary. His name is Royden Lepp. He has just released a graphic novel called "Rust", the first in a series of four novels. (In this instance "graphic novel" refers to the genre that used to be called "comic books". No longer confined to "Rock 'em, Sock 'em" Batman-ish little newsprint magazine, they are all grown up hardback books now, and very popular.) Our librarian had an advanced copy of the book, and had helped the kids understand who they would be meeting. We knew that Hollywood has already come knocking at his door, and a movie based on his book is in preproduction. It was all very exciting!
    We always say the Pledge of Allegiance and sing a patriotic song at the start of every assembly. As all five hundred of us stood respectfully, and recited the pledge together, I noticed that Royden wasn't saying it with us. He was just quiet. We sang the Star Spangled Banner and still he just stood there. In the recent past we have had a number of student teachers from Evergreen who also did not participate in the pledge or songs, and I was sure we had another one of those.
    I admit that I was quite disappointed. My opinion of him fell several notches in those few minutes. 
    Then after a nice introduction and thunderous applause from the audience, this mild young man came to the mic. He complimented the kids on their great assembly manners, and said, "I am Canadian. I don't know the words to your national anthem. I could sing, "Oh, Canada" but it wouldn't sounds as good as you did. I am a better artist than singer, so let's do some drawing..."
    I shook my head. I had done it again. In spite of the hundreds of lessons I have taught on judging, I jumped to a conclusion that had no basis in fact. I offered a silent prayer of apology, acknowledged my puny human failings, and vowed once again to do better. 
   I also spent real money on a real hardback book, something I rarely do! I am now the proud owner of a personally signed, first edition, debut graphic novel from my friend Royden, the very kind and talented Canadian author.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Dancer's Feet

    (In case there is some explanation needed in the future, "Pinterest" is an electronic scrap book for saving pictures of things you like. The "pinner" is the person who decides the categories for the items they would like to collect, and chooses the pictures they would like to paste, or "pin" onto your "board". Examples of my collections include recipes, holiday decorating ideas, inspirational thoughts, quilt ideas, and things I think are funny.)

  This week while looking at pictures that I might want to save to my "Beautiful/Amazing" board, I was browsing through images of ballet dancers. I have several already, and never cease to be amazed at the flexibility, strength, and fluid beauty of a dancer's body. After several rows of pictures of these, I spotted an image of worn ballet shoes, hanging by their ribbons. Next to the toe shoes were two tired feet. The joints had abrasions on them, and red ridges in the skin from where the edge of the shoe dug into the top of her foot. I looked at that and thought, "Yes, that's the truth, right there. There is a price to be paid for being able to do what they do."
   I clicked on the picture, to make it bigger, and I was kind of repulsed by what I saw. They weren't just tired feet, they were ugly feet. I decided I didn't want to put them on my "Beautiful/Amazing" board, they just didn't fit in with the rest of the board. I moved on.
   Days later I find that I have been haunted by those feet. Those hard-working, sacrificing, neglected, used and abused feet.
    How I love the final outcome; the beautiful dancer in her flowing costumes, spinning, gliding, twirling, and effortlessly holding a graceful pose! The ugly feet represent the truth of how hard it is to become "Beautiful/Amazing", and should be respected as part of the process, and accepted as the price that was paid for the end result.
   When we see the outside of those we admire, respect, and even envy, it is well to remember that there may be some 'ugly feet' involved. I am going to look at them with a little more appreciation from now on.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Red Rover, Red Rover...

Life Lessons 
Learned From Rover

     I don't know who Red Rover is, or who gave him the authority to send anybody anywhere, but it occurs to me that there are many lessons to be learned from playing this game. As is so often the case, it takes very little to draw parallels between a particular situation; in this case an old-fashioned children's game, and the game in the grander scheme, the one we call "life".
      For one thing, there is no justice when assigned to teams. You simply wind up on a side based randomly, on the most whimsical of reasoning, or simply on the basis of when your arrived at the field. There's no sense grizzling about where you started out, just make the best of your placement and wait for the time you can make your dash. You quickly learn that you do not play this game alone. You must hold hands to have even a thread of a chance of making it through the first round of challengers. Once you dare to make the run yourself, you don't know if you'll be greeted by soft hands that bend to your pressure, wrapping you gently in their grasp, if you'll burst through to victory on the other side, or if you'll be clothes-lined and wind up on your back with the wind knocked out of you. It's all part of cultivating courage and being willing to take the chance.
      After playing the game for a little while, you realize that some people take the game pretty seriously, some are jokers, and some don't even know the fundamentals. It's good and kind to help others learn the ropes, and develops patience as you listen to other peoples' advice about how it should be done.
      Sometimes you'll find yourself facing insurmountable odds, with one side weighted heavily against you. In these cases, hold hands even tighter, say encouraging words to each other,
and be brave.
      Thankfully, there are always kind people who are watching over you. They'll make sure you'll survive. You never know when the tiniest person might cause the tide to change, so don't despair.

                      Be kind to people weaker than you. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt.
     Be happy for those who make it from one side to the other. Rejoice with each arrival to your side.
                 Cheer for your loved ones. In this game, whether you're currently being sent over here,
                                            or over there, we're really all on the same side.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Hello Out There?

      I know it's been a really, really, long time. But I'm back. I have no real excuse for the long lapse, except that there were places and spaces in my life that got very difficult for awhile; perhaps, say,  about a school year. After that period I suppose I needed some time to heal up. It wouldn't be productive to look too deeply into the pit, lest one fall in. I don't even want to go close to the edge. I am out of the mire, and the summer sunshine has let warmth and light back into even the darkest recesses. It feels good to feel good!
     I am going to admit that Pinterest helped me through this adversity. Really! It was so relaxing to look at beautiful pictures, inspiring to read uplifting truths, heart-warming to see pretty babies, cute kids and baby animals. I felt my creative juices begin to simmer as I saw what others did with scraps of fabric, beads, and paint. I gazed upon beautiful flowers, saw the hope as brides collected wedding ideas, and felt a kinship with people who like the same things I do. It is a reminder of how much good there still is in this world, and how many people are adding to it. Pinterest helped me connect to my cousins, who both pin what inspires them, and I see how alike we are! How fun is that!?

     I am thankful for wonderful friends who listened to my rantings and wiped away my tears as I sorted things out. For my family members who listened and cared, for my adorable husband who didn't understand 50% of what I was talking about, but cared 100% if it mattered to me. I hope I didn't wear any of you out, and I promise things will be better this year.
    I did it. I am tough.  And to know that is worth a little something.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Feeling Faint?

Last week at the beginning of Relief Society a sister in the back row fainted. Already a bit under the weather, she was also fasting. Without any signs that she wasn't doing well, she began to fall, and two sisters caught her. She was gently rested on the floor at their feet, where immediately there were kind hands straightening her clothing and making her comfortable. Someone was immediately on the phone with 911, though that may have been a bit premature, it was quick and decisive thinking. A nurse in the room began taking note of her pulse and heart rate, and a two doctors in the ward were with her within two minutes. The rest of us just cleared back to give her some air, and in hushed tones spoke of her sweet nature and gentle spirit. There was not one negative thought for her, only love and concern. She was out for a few minutes, while someone ran to get orange juice for her. She began to come around and the doctors said her husband could take her home to care for her. Others followed her progress until she was well.
I was thinking about her, and wondering how she was feeling, when it occurred to me that her faintness was visible for everyone to see. Since we could see her in trouble we knew how to react and rescue. I wondered how many of us have spirits that are a bit under the weather, and feeling faint? We push on, and on, and try to keep a smile on our faces while operating under trying conditions, as if fasting on an already weakened spiritual body. If we could see it, would we be faster to rush to the aid of someone who has spiritually fainted? I bet we would be as eager to straighten them, give them tender care, if only we knew they needed it.
I guess that's why friends are such an important part of our lives. They see almost imperceptible signs that we are wobbly, and need shoring up. Loved ones can spot the smallest difference in our posture, or the look on our faces, or sound of our voice, that tells them we are feeling a little faint.
I am thankful for those who sensitively minister to the faint in heart. Whether our collapses are visible or not, we all need hands and hearts to help us when we faint; physically or spiritually. May we be less afraid to ask for help ourselves, and more able to see when others need our help, lest they faint.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

More Memories

Each temple built by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a beautiful building. They reflect the regional flavor of the area, the grounds are always impeccable, and to me, the decor inside might be deemed "understated elegance."

There are sweet, all dressed-in-white volunteers to greet you, waiting to help you along every step of the way. You can feel the peace and good will as soon as you enter the front doors. I think the cleanliness of your surroundings, and being greeted with genuine smiles, helps contribute to the feeling that you have arrived 'home', and that while you are within those walls you are safe from the cares of the everyday world.
For the last two Saturdays we have had the blessing and joy of being at the temple with Amanda and Bryant. Last Saturday we were privileged to witness their beautiful little family be sealed to one another for time and all eternity. What radiant faces, and beautiful children! My heart was so full as I watched a miracle come to pass. I don't think Bryant will mind me calling him a miracle, as he has expressed the same; The atonement of Jesus Christ took place for people who make mistakes; guess that encompasses all of us, huh?
How amazingly hard to take in, "that he should care for me, enough to die for me. Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sun and Sand...

If you want to keep most kids happy, take them to water. If you can throw in some sand and shells, so much the better. If you can bring food, and provide a bucket and a shovel, you are almost guaranteed a successful outing. And real sunshine? Ah, now you have "a little bit of heaven right there."