“Cancel subscriptions to Southern Living, Veranda and Southern Lady magazines”
– I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg
In Flagg’s book, the main character, Maggie Fortenberry, is making plans to kill herself, but she just can’t leave the world without putting everything in order first, including canceling her magazine subscriptions. I am familiar with all three of these magazines; in fact, Southern Living and Southern Lady are both published right here in Birmingham. In another fact, I worked for Southern Lady for two whole weeks. But, that’s a long story for another day.
The bad thing for me about magazines like these is the desires they stir up. Everything is lovely and perfect… and usually expensive. Granted, there is a lot of good information between the pages, such as gardening tips and recipes. But, then again, I don’t have a green thumb and don’t cook like I used to. Maggie Fortenberry didn’t really garden or cook, either. So, why do we get these magazines?
Sometimes it’s fun to just dream. We think about houses we’d like to live in one day, places we’d like to visit, clothes that are lovely. Others of us get inspired: I could make a table like that; I could paint my room that color; I could visit that town on a budget. There is a lot of potential good if we peruse the pages with a little common sense. Or, we can just cancel those subscriptions altogether.
This post is coming up from a deep well of I don’t know what. Ruminating on friendships past and future. Looking for words of wisdom from scripture and finding nuggets in unexpected places. Surfing the net sometimes provides providential words of encouragement and exhortation.
There is no ideal place for us to serve God except the place He sets us down. We are not to run from it on a whim or sudden notion, but we should serve the Lord in it by being a blessing to those among whom we live. -Alistair Begg
I have been set down in Alabama; deposited in this south deeper than Florida. Here the grass is softer and the roads hillier; the accent thicker and the seasons more varied. Tornadoes have replaced hurricanes and I have discovered white BBQ sauce. But, God is the same. No matter how much I vacillate, He is the same.
And to quote a fictional character:
God will put you in the right place. Even if you don’t know it at the time. – Alec Hardy (quoting his mother) in Broadchurch
So, I believe I’m in the right place, no matter how I “feel” about it. Maybe I have not yet seen why. But, in our pursuit of becoming foster parents, I think perhaps this is our right place. In taking the steps to follow our desire to foster, it’s been like “going down the chute”.
You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute. – Tina Fey
Today marks the first day of PAD – Poem a Day – for this year. This is a yearly challenge by Robert Brewer of Writer’s Digest. You can read more about it HERE I think this makes my 7th year of participation. I will be posting some of my poems here throughout the month. The first prompt was “reminisce”.
I loved you long
nearly thirteen years
we were joined in the season of hurricanes
and weathered many a storm
you took me places I’d never imagined I’d go
held me when I cried
stuck by me when I was lost and afraid
together we basked in the sun under an ocean breeze
traveled the highways and byways
through Florida heat and ocean breezes
between Georgia pines and over Alabama hills
across Louisiana flatlands and home again
now you’re gone because of me
and all I have left
are pictures and memories
and your tag
“I just wanted to know what it felt like to be someone you look at.” – Ove, from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
This week I was witness to a modern day middle school dance. I use the term dance loosely. It was more like a sweaty, sugar high, hormone fest. I never attended a dance until the Prom my senior year, unless you count square dancing in fourth grade. However, some things don’t change. We all want to know what it feels like to be the one someone else wants to look at. To be someone that a special someone else wants to be with.
On the other hand he tried to point out her that she shouldn’t give money to the beggars in the street, as they’d only buy schnapps with it. But she kept doing it.
“They can do what they like with the money,” she said.
When Ove protested she just smiled and took his big hands in hers and kissed them, explaining that when a person gives to another person it’s not just the receiver who’s blessed. It’s the giver. – from A Man Called Ove
A few weeks ago I gave a writing prompt to some fourth graders. They had been focused earlier on the character trait of “caring” , so I told them to pretend I’d given them $100. But, the catch was they had to give it to someone in need or a charity. Some of the students shared what they had written, and one young boy reminded me of Ove, and of myself in days past. He told of giving to the homeless, but also went on to say some of them would not use the money for food like they should. I remember grappling with this same issue years ago. I now believe that if I give money, it’s between them and the Lord what they do with it. I am not to be the judge.
A few other responses touched my heart from those students. Like the girl who said she would give it to her mother so they could move out of her grandma’s house and get their own home.
The past few years I have learned to give anonymously. Though I long to see the joy on a child’s face on Christmas, I am happy knowing I made it possible for someone. And when I don’t know someone well enough to seek them out for a hug in times of grief or crisis, I can ask God to bless the little I can give, and to send comfort along with it.
“Werner thinks of his childhood, the skeins of coal dust suspended in the air on winter mornings…” from All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
For some reason, this stirred a childhood memory of milk. For a very short time when we first moved to Jacksonville, FL, we had our milk delivered by the “milkman”. On our front porch sat a metal crate where we would leave our empty bottles and take delivery of fresh milk. I remember the tops were sealed with thick paper lids. This milk was probably from Skinner’s Dairy, a hometown company that later built numerous drive-thru milk stores across Jacksonville.
In north Florida it didn’t get cold very often, but there were some winter mornings when we were excited to be able to see our breath in the chilly air. There was one winter I’ll always remember as the temperature got down in the upper teens and our heat went out. Our dad was out of town at the time on one of his many business trips. We bundled up and played outside anyway. The very large ditch – like a creek – behind our house was frozen on the top. Our friend’s little dog, Ginger, skittered across easily. Our dog, Dixie, followed her and went right through to the icy water.
Other fall and winter days were filled with my brothers playing football in the front yard and a few evening fires in our fireplace. In high school it was a time to wear stylish sweaters to school, then go outside for PE in the short gym suits we had to wear. I remember being teased about the chill bumps on my legs – referred to as chicken skin.
After moving to Birmingham in 2014, I was so excited about our first fall and winter. Sweaters and boots and scarves were so much fun! But, then it seemed to last forever and I yearned for the warmth of spring.
This year, summer has far outlasted its welcome. Now I long once more for the cool air and some justification for a pumpkin spice latte. But, even more, I long for rain.
From discussions at church, to social media, to radio, to conversations with my husband, the topic of race and racism has permeated the dialogue. One word that I’ve heard that I just can’t quite wrap my head around is “colorblind”. I think I know what people mean when they say they are colorblind, but it doesn’t ring true to me. I believe they are truly wanting to be colorblind in their hearts, but the bottom line is we ARE different hues.
Being colorblind robs us of the wonderful differences God intended. I have two brothers who are colorblind and I know a little about what they have missed over the years. My younger brother, who unknowingly wore purple pants as a teen when he thought they were blue, and my older brother who asked for a lot of color-matching fashion advice, have never seen how colorful they really are.
“The solution is not to pretend there is no skin color (that is dishonoring)” – George Robertson
The closest thing I’ve seen to colorblindness of the heart is watching some of my students over the years. Maybe it’s because they have somehow remained untainted by the bias and preconceptions of previous generations.
What I think needs to happen is to remove the pride and prejudice of color and keep the beauty. Easier said than done, I know. But, we need to be careful not to fool ourselves into believing there is no difference in people of different skin colors. In many cases there is a cultural difference. Jesus recognized this in his conversation with the Samaritan woman. He knew she was a of a different ethnicity, and yet He pursued her and quickly turned the conversation to the condition of her soul.
This is where our hearts need to go. The bottom line is that racism is a sin problem. It’s a heart problem.
Once again I have to say how much I like the Hoover Library – it’s a sweet slice of life every time I go. Since I have so many unread books on my TBR list/shelves at home right now, I don’t go for the books. This summer I’ve been going for the movies (reviews to come later).
Last week the place was hoppin’! I found a spot in the packed parking lot and headed in to return my movies and get some more. As I approached the front door I overheard a young man explaining why he was trying to get signatures on a petition to add a third party to the ballot.
Once inside, I took out my phone to consult the list I keep there of movies I want to see. I found three of them, plus picked up an extra. Check-out was easy and fast as two older ladies had just finished checking out their huge stack of books. Next to them was a man getting music CDs. All around me were people of every age and color.
As I was headed to my car, out of nowhere I heard a loud man’s voice saying, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!” I looked around, expecting to see Flynn Rider. My guess is that it was a father talking to his daughter, perhaps on the playground that is just outside the children’s department.
I can’t wait to see what happens next time I go. Maybe I’ll see Prince Charming.
“There is always something left to be done and no heart left to do it,” – George MacDonald
As the school year draws to a close, I think most teachers can relate to this. I’m not just talking about end of the year festivities, getting the grades in and packing up the classroom for summer. Yes, those and a hundred other things sit on the plates of teachers everywhere. But, I’m thinking of that kid, the one who acts out all the time and touches every last nerve. The one who may have a long summer ahead filled with hours of sitting at home. The one who won’t take a family vacation or go camp. The one for whom school is a respite from something much harder.
Hang in there, my teacher friends. Hug them tight when you hug them goodbye and renew your hearts and minds this summer.
I’m nearing the end of my second year of substitute teaching here in Alabama and I’ve come to look at it as more than just a job. When I was a full-time teacher, I had so much on my plate and so much on my mind that many days I was too exhausted to think much past the next set of papers I had to grade. Now I’m looking at things from a little different perspective.
Some days I just sit and don’t do much more than take roll and pass out an assignment. Other days might be jammed packed with instruction and discipline. The variety is usually enjoyable. I have learned to be an observer and I try to make connections with students when I can.
From time to time I’ll be sharing my thoughts, observances, and tidbits from the classroom.
“A circle was ugly without you.” -from Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty
Being on the outside of a circle, looking in, is a lonely place to be. I’ve felt that way over the years, but fortunately not too often. It hurts, no matter how old you are. But, the middle school years are the hardest. If you aren’t in a circle, your outsideness really shows.
Today I saw a pretty young girl sitting all alone in a room full of kids who were talking to each other and laughing while they sat together. I didn’t know her or her story, but I wondered. Did she choose to sit alone? Did she just not have a friend in this particular class, but when the bell rang would she meet up with her BFF as she headed for her next class? I sure hoped so. That’s what I wished for. I wish everyone had a BFF waiting somewhere for them. A person who was interested, a person who cared. But, I know that isn’t always the case. So, all the more reason to be kind. And to remember how ugly that circle can be when you are on the outside.