Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Psalm 91:11  He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go. (MSG)  

    I was twenty-three, a young wife preparing to live overseas in Japan, with a two-year old daughter and a son (still baking in the oven), that we expected to arrive within a few months.  Our family rented a third story room to save on expenses before our departure 
     We literally lived on the third floor of a couple's home.  Entering the front door, we quietly climbed the winding wooden staircase, then turned to the right down a narrow hallway.  When we ran out of hall, we ducked our heads to the left, climbing a creaky padded stairway up into our humble home: the attic's efficiency apartment.
     To the far left, was an area where we placed a large white crib for our adorable little blond-haired Jennifer.  Close by, waited a smaller brown port-a-crib for our second born, Nathaniel.  We literally rented one large room with a small kitchen and bath, but there was a lined curtain that we drew across to darken and separate the area at night. This gave us a little privacy and helped Jennie to fall asleep easier, without the distraction of our lights or me cleaning up the kitchen.
     Tonight was like any other.  Jennie carefully picked up her toys to put them into our make shift cardboard toy box decorated with adhesive shelf liner.  I chose her favorite pink "ducky" pajamas, as we called them, with the feet attached.  
     Then, since our tiny bath only had a shower, she and I descended to the second floor to use a shared bathroom to bathe her in a claw footed tub that we'd asked to use for her at bedtime.  
     After watching her play and "swim" amongst the bubbles, I wrapped her up in a towel and creaked up the stairs to get dressed. She padded over to pick out a couple of stories from her bookshelf and then hopped up in my lap as we snuggled in for stories and our nightly conversation before bed. 
     After this we said a prayer, then hugged and kissed.  Tonight's routine ended by me tucking the fluffy comforter all around her.  With a pat and a gentle rubbing on her back until I slowly backed away.  
     Usually, this did the trick.  She would doze off soon after, worn out from the day.  
     This evening, however, I heard her giggle a little at first, and then louder, the same way she did when someone was playing with her.
     Tiptoeing closer, I peeked through the crack in the damask curtains to see what was going on.
     My little cherub reached up toward the ceiling with her eyes focused intently on something very specific that kept her attention.  Pointing upward she laughed uncontrollably.  Next, she placed both her palms up against her mouth and just laughed and laughed.  
     I glanced up, squinting to detect a spider web, or shadows on the ceiling from traffic lights on the street below, but I couldn't see anything out of the ordinary that would capture her attention like that.
     Motioning for my husband to come over, I pointed through the crack in the drapes. I wanted him to peer through and share the scene on the other side.  Shrugging, I arched my eyebrows in wonder at what could be possibly causing her to giggle so.  
     Still as statues we watched until finally she lowered her arms and settled herself down.  Chubby arms finally rested.  They lay stretched above her blond curls as she breathed steadily.
     There were only a few other nights that we heard her giggling like this.  All that I could figure was that after praying all her life for the God to send angels to watch over her through the night, that just perhaps at times she had been aware of the presence of her heavenly guardians.  Playfully, they entertained her before she dropped off to sleep.
     This never occurred during nap time, nor did this happen ever happen at any other location.  
     To this day, I remember these gentle ones, often as I pray for each of my children, their spouses, and the my grandchildren.  At times, I sense the presence of angels as they watch over me, making me thankful and confident. 

Radar alert: God in His love beckons to me, soothes my soul, as I am blanketed with this cozy homespun warmth.  I am safe in His arms.  


Saturday, April 5, 2014


Isaiah 55:6,7 (MSG)

Seek God while he’s here to be found,
    pray to him while he’s close at hand.
Let the wicked abandon their way of life
    and the evil their way of thinking.
Let them come back to God, who is merciful,
    come back to our God, who is lavish with forgiveness.

I remember the first year I taught at a small gifted magnet school: grades two through five.  I was the new "kid" on the block with only two years experience from a smaller district.  

With only two of us teaching fourth grade, you might conclude that it would be a cinch to plan together.  Think again. 

Much of my right-brained enthusiasm and a multitude of ideas resulted in my left-brained partner's stern looks and sharp remarks on more than one occasion during our planning periods.  This almost quenched my child like desire to share as we spent time together.  (Almost.)

I enthusiastically continued to spout my ideas during our weekly conference.  It never occurred to me then that this might have annoyed her.

"Let's just get the outline for the plans done and run off the worksheets," she curtly interrupted.  She just wanted to complete the plans and return to the sanctuary of her classroom.

At the beginning of the second semester, we needed to agree on a destination for the year end field trip.  

My partner wanted the tried and true one that they had done for years in fourth grade.  

Me? Well, the previous weekend, I attended a marine science workshop. My notebook and mind brimmed with ideas for labs and activities for a beach field trip at South Padre Island.  I could not wait to tell her all about it and how it tied into our science objectives.

So, as soon as I saw my partner in the hall, right outside the teachers' lunchroom, I stopped her. 

"Wouldn't it be great to take the kids to the beach?  I've got a lot of great labs we could conduct there." 

Initially, just the two of us stood in the hall, but by the time I finished, a second grade class filed quietly past us. 

The "beach" word really must have really set her off.  Immediately, without missing a beat, this woman proceeded to squawk at me!

"There is NO WAY that I will take any of these kids to the beach!  I don't know what you are thinking!  They'll be out on the beach, getting lost, or maybe even drowning!  Forget it!  We will NEVER go to the beach!"

I felt my eyes filling up and ready for a down pour, so I headed straight for the staff restroom to disappear and calm down.

Humiliated, I collected myself before I entered the staff room, lunch bag in hand.

Respecting the fact that we each had our different point of view, I forgave her abruptness and worked with her for three more years, but at times I walked on eggshells.  

Several years later, I ran into her at a restaurant.  We chatted at the entrance,  and then we decided to eat lunch together.  

While reminiscing about some of our times teaching together, I asked her if she remembered the first field trip discussion. 

Funny, she never even recalled the hallway conversation.  

I told her how it had affected me, and that I didn't harbor any bad feelings, but I just wondered about it.  

She assured me that she was stressed out during that time with personal issues.  I could relate and we parted on a positive note.  I was glad to see her.

God states that he will pardon the most wicked if they ask for it and turn from their evil ways.

So, who am I to hang onto PETTY differences?  Why not let go and clear my heart?

The only loser, when I don't hush my mind up as it starts to recycle old dirt, is me. 

So, now it's time for spring cleaning: forgiveness.

I will examine myself.  Dump the garbage.  Tell those spiraling words to cease and desist.  Throw out those unproductive thoughts; and gift myself with calm emotions and more clarity to enjoy the present.      

Matthew 5:8  You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. (MSG)