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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Where Were You and What Are You Doing Now?

Where were you nine years ago today? Many people can probably tell you exactly where they were on September 11, 2001 and what they were doing when the Twin Towers of The World Trade Center in New York were brought down by hijackers as they rammed two separate commercial airliners into the buildings. Hijackers also used a commercial airliner to crash into the Pentagon. And Flight 93 was diverted to Pennsylvania by passengers from what was sure to be another terrorist attack thought to be headed for Washington, D.C.
There were no survivors on any of the planes and several were killed at the World Trade Center.

In the days and months after the "9/11" attacks we were a changed country. Citizens filled churches and turned to each other for comfort and wisdom in an effort to make sense of what had happened. We asked questions such as why did this happen on American soil? How could it have happened on American soil? Are there more terrorists living in our country? Could one of our neighbors be a terrorist? Could it have been prevented? People were afraid to travel, especially fly, for fear of something happening again.

In some ways we became a closer nation and in others we were a nation divided. The United States of America was founded on the premise of being a melting pot for people from all over the world. People have made the US their home in the name of freedom for over 200 years. After 9/11 we limited those freedoms of certain nationalities of people because of suspicion of involvement in terrorism. Where is the freedom and justice in that decision? What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

Remembering the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11 Tragedy makes me realize how fragile life can be. It also reminds me of how little we know about each others religious beliefs.

Are we doing anything different in the past 9 years that helps create a better understanding of others? Or are we perpetuating a stronger and wider divide? Are we practicing what it says in Ecc. 5:2 "Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily."

When 9/11 occurred in 2001, thoughts were of family and the need to pray. Our pastor called a special service that evening and many came to pray. Heavy hearts grieved and prayed for those who lost their lives, for understanding,and for the unknown future. The slow process of healing began even though our town was far removed from this horrible tragedy. Many had seen the happenings over and over on the television and the devistation had a profound effect.

As a nation, we are not perfect. As a people, we are not perfect. God does not expect us to be perfect as Christians. BUT, he does expect us to continually seek Him, ask for His wise counsel, and be His example to the world around us. My prayer is that we can do this without having another terrible tragedy occur.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Who's Your Daddy?

Today is Father's Day. I have been thinking about this day a lot this week. As a society we celebrate Mother's Day with all the bells, whistles, flowers, cards, ribbons, and bows we can find. But Father's Day seems to come around with a little less festivities. Why is that? Fathers are just as special and important as mothers, are they not?

My mother and biological father divorced when I was a small child, probably around 3. I do not remember much about that time of my life, which is probably a good thing from what I understand. My mother, brothers, and I came back from California on a train to Kansas where my grandparents lived. On a previous trip home to Kansas, during a separation from my bio Dad, my mother met a man that she became friendly with. When we returned to Kansas after the divorce, this man came calling and he became our stepfather.

Not many men during the 1960's would marry a woman with 3 children under the age of 4, but he did not hesitate. He loved my mama and loved us as well. We moved to Oklahoma into his house and thus began our life as a family. It was not perfect, by far, but my Daddy was one of the smartest men that I have ever known. He worked hard to provide for our family and there was never a doubt that he loved us.

He always introduced me as his daughter, even though I was as white as a sheet and he was a full Cherokee Indian. He had a great sense of humor and his carpentry skills were phenomenal. His attention to detail when he was building something were incredible. Though he never had formal schooling beyond 6th grade, his math skills were unbelievable.

He loved being Pawpaw when we had our first child. He had nicknames for both of our children just like he did for my youngest brother, Buster. He called our daughter "Squirt-squirt" and our son "Bubuski". They adored their Pawpaw.

The day he died was one of the worst days of my life. Most likely he had a massive stroke or heart attack as he drove down the highway. He was a retired trailer mechanic and worked as a handy man for the "elderly", which is kind of ironic, because he was 78 at the time. Fortunately, he went quickly. I have great satisfaction in knowing that my Daddy died as a child of God and was carried into the waiting arms of Jesus.

I did not know my biological father well. I had seen a him few times at my grandmothers growing up. It really wasn't that I did not want to see him, it was just that he was not around to see. He did not see the rest of his family much and did not see his children either. He was the type of man who made lots of promises, but did not keep them. There were other circumstances that kept him away as well, but that is not a conversation to be had today.

As an adult, he called me a few times after I married, but he was under the influence of alcohol and those conversations did not go well. I decided that it was best that we not talk. I did not hear from him again until the death of my mother. After she passed away, I went to see him. More out of curiosity and in search of answers than out of love. What I found was an old man who was sorry for the way things turned out. He was very ill and said that he loved me. He kept calling himself "my Daddy", but in reality, I knew that was not so. He was more like a friend. My earthly Daddy died earlier that year. We kept in touch up until his death of cancer two years ago. And I am glad of that for both of our sakes.

Then there is my heavenly Father in whom all things are possible. Earlier this year I was asked "who is the Father to you?" That is a potent and powerful question that every Christian should have to answer and ultimately will have to. To me the Father is the "Daddy" that I go to in prayer, praise, and need. He is the reason I am here and do what I do. He goes before me each day and guides my path. He will be waiting for me at the gates of heaven with my earthly Father and biological Father.

WOW... what a day that will be!!!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Editorial Comment

This is what happens when you read something in the paper and it totally makes you mad. I read the paper every morning with my coffee and breakfast. I do read the comment sections and the editorials. I do not always agree with them, and that is okay. They are written as op-ed pieces to make you think and to challenge you. But the one this morning got to me for many reasons and just ticked me off for lack of a better way to say it. So, I decided I could not let it go. I wrote my own response and posted it online. Now of course, I used an assumed name, but I am curious to see how some of my friends feel.

Dear ________,

Making a comment such as you made regarding AIDS patients dying in agony because of the availability of less expensive drugs is one of the most inhumane things I have read in a long time.

Maybe you should consider volunteering in a hospice unit where AIDS patients are cared for until they die. Or at a hospital where children who have contracted AIDS through no fault of their own are cared for until they die. It is not all about risky behavior.

Try counseling or ministering to a mother or sister or brother whose loved one has discovered they are HIV and facing a potential death sentence and the availability of any type of medication is seemingly impossible. AIDS patients are not the only ones who are looking for cheaper or less expensive medications. Do you have any idea about the combination of medications an AIDS patient must take? I think not. I know several mature adults who are not HIV who take anywhere from 4 to 8 medications per day.

Sir, you are correct when you say that the health care system is stressed. But I submit to you that the so-called AIDS epidemic is not the cause of this problem. We are the cause of this problem.

It is so easy to make callous comments when you do not have to put names with those "pathetic photos" as you called them.

My question to you is, what are you doing to make a difference or to change society. How are you influencing and promoting the ABC's of safe sex, "Abstain, Be Faithful, Use Condoms."

Do something or do not speak to something to which you know nothing or very little about.

Well, let me know what you think.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Is It Finished Yet?

I hate laundry. I absolutely hate everything about it. Sorting clothes, washing clothes, folding clothes, ironing clothes, and putting them away. At this very moment piles of laundry lay on the chair in my living room, on the dining room table, the rocking chair in my bedroom, and in the dryer. The folding part of the laundry is unfinished. I love clothes and shopping for clothes, but not completing the laundry.

In an extra room in our house I have a tub with several scrapbooks. There is a scrapbook of our various travels, one of our son's Navy career (at least what we know of it), another of our grandson, and one for our granddaughter. Packages of stickers, pictures, letters, paper, and every scrapbook supply or gadget you can imagine are waiting to be utilized. The scrapbooks remain unfinished.

Making lists used to help finish different tasks. I took great satisfaction in marking something off of the list. But there was always something else that could be added to the list. It was not unusual to have 20-30 items on a list. The things on this list were mostly just minor day to day living things that have to be done to keep our house and lives in balance and running smoothly.

So, I probably need to get started on my lists again. Seems like I cannot get things finished without them. And if you know that something helped in the past, why not go back to it and try it again.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Then There Was Grace....

My whole life has revolved around taking care of the people in my life.

When I was elementary school, my daddy worked 60 miles from home and didn't get home until 6:30 at night. My mama worked away from home as well and often didn't get home until 5:30 or later. When my two brothers and I got off the school bus in the afternoon it was my job to make sure that they did their chores and didn't kill each other before mama and daddy got home. I also started supper every evening. Most evenings it was ready and on the table when mama and daddy walked in the door. This continued until I got married.

Then there was Grace. She had shoulder length blond hair and blue eyes. As I recall, she had light colored freckles across the bridge of her nose. The first day she arrived our teacher introduced her to the class and I was excited that she got to sit by me. By the look on her face I could tell that she was scared. Almost immediately the other kids started making fun of her clothes and shoes. Her clothes were faded and worn and looked different from what the rest of us were wearing. I didn't like it that she was being teased and made fun of. I felt sorry for her and just wanted her to be my friend and to be her friend. By the end of the week, I brought Grace some of my clothes from home to see if she could wear them. I didn't tell my mama. Things just mysteriously disappeared from home. Wherever Grace went at school, I went. We were always together. Grace didn't seem to mind that the other kids made fun of her. She and I were friends and we just told the other kids to "shut up." We ignored them as much as we could and just did our own thing. And then about 2 weeks before school was out in May, she moved. I never saw her again. But I have never forgotten her.

A couple years after I married, we began having children. The first was born and I loved taking care of her. When she was nine months old, we got pregnant with our son. That was an interesting and challenging time - taking care of two babies under the age of two, but it worked out pretty well. At least for the female child anyway. It amazes me that I once ran into a high school friend who told me that she never thought I would have children. I thought that was an odd statement. Children were always in my plan. Someone to love and take care of. Absolutely.

As a teacher working with students everyday I had the opportunity to take care of ten years worth of students. When I first became a teacher I thought that my job was to teach my students the subjects they needed to be successful for the next grade level. Was I ever mistaken. My job became so much more. I took care of making sure my students had school supplies, warm clothes, lunch money, Christmas gifts, and the list goes on and may sound familiar to some of you.

As an administrator not much has changed. I often tell parents and students that they may think that the most important thing that I do is to make sure their child gets an education. But it is not. My most important job is to take care of the students and teachers at our school and make sure that they are safe and secure every single day. If they are, then we can get about the business of education. When I originally became an administrator, my goal was to make teachers' jobs easier. I work at that every day. Some days are more successful than others.

The most difficult task that I have had to take care of so far in my life has been to care for my mama when she was dying of cancer. My daddy had died suddenly in April of 1999 and mama got sick. Her doctor diagnosed her with pneumonia, but she just was not improving with medication. My brother checked her out of the hospital, took her to Tulsa and within two days she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.

God certainly gave me "grace" of a different kind during this time. I simply could not imagine watching my mama slowly die. I even told mama that I didn't think that I could handle being with her when she died. I was mistaken. God gives you grace and strength to do things that you cannot imagine. During the time my mama was ill, I continued teaching in Springdale, but spent every week night with her at her house in West Siloam. Family members took turns staying with her during the day so that she would never be alone. On Friday I would go to my home to see my husband and children, my brother would stay with mama, and I would return on Sunday. We continued this routine for 7 weeks. Four days before she died I had to make the very difficult decision to put her in a nursing home because we could no longer provide the care she needed. But because God gave me grace and strength, I was able to sit with my mama and hold her hand as she passed from this world into the arms of God. I would not have missed that for anything in this world.

I am so thankful for God's grace - both times.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Mean People

I asked someone this week why he didn't like another person and the reply was, "cause he or she is mean." I quizzically asked "really, in what way?" And the reply was, "he or she just is. I always feel rushed when I am around he or she." (names have been left out to protect the guilty)

I think that most of us have seen the bumper sticker MEAN PEOPLE SUCK. It is certainly not meant to be a compliment and the wording is not exactly something that we really want to go around repeating. But the point is made and understood completely. Webster's definition of mean includes such words as hateful and mean-spirited. Adjectives such as those are not what I would want others to use to describe me and probably the same for those of you reading this.

There are two age groups in our society that are most susceptible to others when it comes to people being mean. Children and the elderly. For some reason, there are people in this world who feel that it is perfectly acceptable to be mean to innocent children and elderly folk who are unable to adequately fight back. We see and hear of physical abuse of children and elderly in the news nearly everyday. This is just plain wrong on so many levels. It just is.

By no means is it acceptable to be mean to anyone of any age, but to specifically target someone because they cannot defend themselves is not right. For the life of me, I do not understand it.

So, if someone thinks you are mean because you make them feel rushed when you are around them, does that signal it is time for you to slow down and pay closer attention to the people around you?

I am waiting for the day when we see a bumper sticker that says WHAT MEAN PEOPLE???

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Do you ever wonder about the decisions you make?

I once read that an educator makes over 10,000 decisions a day from the time he or she gets up in the morning to the time he or she goes to bed at night. Some days I think that is true for myself. I can tell by how tired I am when I get home. I literally do not even want to think anymore and if I have to make one more decision, I will scream until my head falls off and rolls around on the floor.

The best decision I ever made in my life was to marry my husband. He is the kindest, most loving man I have ever met. He absolutely treats me like a queen. He is quiet and unassuming with his generosity and people never know what he does or when. I wonder if he feels the same about his decision.

It's so much easier to remember the good decisions we make in life than the bad decisions. I tell students that they learn more from the bad decisions they make than from the good decisions. What about when we are adults and we make bad decisions? Do we learn from those? I certainly hope so. Otherwise we just keep doing the same thing over and over and over.