Monday, June 15, 2009

He Was in a Big Tree House with Him and His Self

There is no escaping ourselves. Wherever we go, there we are with us. Though the grass seems greener on the other side, when we go to lie down in the meadow we find those same red ants biting at our legs. To use a popular expression, we take our “baggage” with us most of the time. Be it problems, personality, habits, or the extra twenty pounds.

When we lived in Lake Wales, Florida we rented a house with a tree house about 10-12 feet off the ground. The way to get in was by climbing a rope, so that kept me out. Our three older children loved it! I imagine it was great fun to have a place to go to be alone, or play with each other – a place where the grown ups didn’t go. A place to pretend or read or spy on those people below. A place to escape the world for a while, but never to escape from self.

So, here I am now in this “big tree house” with myself. I am alone often, so I can read or daydream or spy on the neighbors. But, what can I do here to glorify God?

I thought moving would make a huge difference for me four years ago. And it did make some differences for the better. We were able to purchase a nice home, live closer to our parents and reconnect with family. We were here when our family needed us and I am thankful for that. I see, a little but not enough, that God’s ways are not our ways. I think of the story of Joseph and his brothers. They wanted to harm him when they threw him in the pit, and he did suffer for many, many years. But, God meant it for good. This was the way Joseph was placed in the right place at the right time and saved Egypt during the seven years of famine.

Oh, I wish I were like Joseph. I wish I could endure being in the pit without feeling sorry for myself. I don’t really know how Joseph felt – maybe he DID feel self-pity. But, I know he endured it to God’s glory. He stayed an honest and upright man and became the second in command under Pharaoh. This is my prayer – to be an honest and upright woman and to be used of God.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

“You want to Know Where Baloo is? He is in New Hamsterdam”

With the abundance of technology available to kids with the internet and television, it’s amazing that so many students still have no grasp of geography. I must admit it’s not my best subject, but it amazes me when a child in upper elementary school doesn't know that Kentucky is a state or Australia is a country. Recently, I had a sixth grader answer on a test that England was in West America!

As a teacher I wonder how to get this knowledge to them so they can see the big picture. I think they need to know where in the world they are to help them decide later on where they want to go and what they want to do. When I was growing up I never thought much about countries, except for the fact they were “foreign” and, I supposed, all backwards compared to the United States. I assumed most countries, except perhaps England, were still fairly primitive. I never knew about the big world out there. Now that I do, I want to see more of it. I want to visit the places I read about in history books. I want to see the wonders God created. I want to see Holland; not Amsterdam, or “New Hamsterdam”, but Delft.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Alen was Poor All His Life. It Runs in the Family.

Why is it that some family characteristics are handed down from generation to generation and some are not?

For instance, red hair pops up in my family, often skipping generations. Some of my grandma’s brothers and sisters had it, but then it was only passed to one of my cousins. Yet, two others of my generation, not red heads, ended up with a red-headed child.

Then there’s the infamous “Bailey head” as my dad ( NOT a Bailey) called it. The Bailey head is a bit large. And the Bailey nose is a bit wide. I was fortunate to be blessed with both. I don’t know where my little “chest” came from, but my unhappy daughters are also the recipients of this diminutive trait. However, these are all just physical attributes.

Sometimes poverty does seem to “run in the family”, but not always. Not in our family, though, or at least it didn’t use to. My parents were poor, both having been raised by single mothers. My dad’s father died when Dad was four. He had a ruptured appendix and gangrene set in before he could get from out in the country to Atlanta for medical attention. My mom’s father deserted his family on the side of the road when she was just a babe in arms. So, both of my grandmothers were the sole providers for their family. I never knew my dad’s mom as she passed away just before I was born. But my Grandma Bryan I did know, yet I didn’t understand how hard she had worked all her life until I was an adult. She worked in textile factories, raised five children, and would never divorce or declare dead the man who left her.

As a result, my parents knew what it was like to grow up without luxuries. They never went without food or clothes, but I know they often had very little. My dad would tell me about eating onion sandwiches. My mom was working and buying her own clothes on a $2.00–a-week plan when she was fourteen. They learned to work hard, make-do with little and do without a lot. As for myself, I never wanted for any necessities when I was growing up.

Dad worked hard to provide for us financially, allowing Mom to stay home and provide us with stability, security, and her time and talents. Their thrift allowed us to have a carefree childhood. We worked around the house to earn our allowance, but we were never worried about food or clothing.

We were very comfortable by the world’s standards. But, we were also rich in something that can’t be measured. That was the feeling of belonging to a family and to knowing home was a safe place of refuge. And love. We were rich in love. And love is one thing I want to continue to “run in the family”.