The Mary of Good Friday

Today on Good Friday, I can’t stop thinking about Mary.  How could she stand by and watch her son be nailed to a cross for me?

When everyone abandoned him.

She stayed.

When everyone denied him.

She stayed.

When they spat upon him, called him a leper, and hated him.

She stayed.

I understand this love.  I’ve also stayed when my girls were abandoned by friends, ignored and called names by so-called friends.

But the picture I have in my head that I can’t get out on this Good Friday is Mary standing at the foot of Jesus as he hung on a cross.  Her faith so deep that she could stand upright.  All because of her love for her son and me!

To see him dishonored, unloved, an object of hatred, yet, she stayed upright.  How did she do it?  How did she trust the plan of God?  How could she not be a seething, snarling, insatiable lunatic?

Image result for mary mother of jesusThen I start to think about the Mary thirty-three years earlier. Did she know what his future held?  Did she know the baby she held in her arms would only be with her for a short time?  Did she know that he was sent to save the world? (Did she know the Pentatonix would sing an amazing song about her at Christmas?)

God was preparing Mary from the very beginning and yes, I think she knew.

20-091310402943739-262x300.jpgMichelangelo also thought about Mary when he sculpted the figure Pieta.  A mother cradling her son one last time.  He made Mary bigger than Jesus.  Their heads and faces were lifelike but her arms and lap bigger to be a reminder to all mommas that you forever carry your children in your arms.  (I can just see my little momma trying to carry my brothers.)

When the angels appeared and the baby leapt in her womb, wise men spoke of guiding stars and even the animals in the fields bowed down to Jesus, Mary did what all moms would do.bvm_main_002-300x240.jpg

She became quiet. She pondered. She prayed. She believed. And she followed.

Wrong…Nope…Not me, I’m afraid.  I’m so glad God didn’t ask me to do all of the things she did. I’m not sure the story would have been the same.

The sadness,  the worry, the hate, and she protected her boy from it all.

I admire the Mary of Christmas and morn with the Mary of Good Friday. But, love her so for all she did.

And that her son, Jesus, the Prince of Peace,  paid the ultimate price for me.

Sunday is coming, y’ all.

 

PS:  Who doesn’t need a little Pentatonix, “Mary did you know?” in April.  You’re welcome!

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Growth, Development and a Tank of Guppies

The yearly “growth and development” video is upon us.  About this time each year, the smell of recess mixed with a fresh batch of onions starts to fill our halls and causes many of us to lose our appetites.  I actually rubbed hand sanitizer on my upper lip yesterday to ward off the smell of the six 11-year-olds that filled my office.

This movie and talk are NOT, I repeat, NOT a how-to video instead they are a way for us to separate the boys and girls and talk about the changes in their bodies.  You know hair, menstrual cycles, pimples and how to really get in there and wash in every crease and crevice.  Deodorant is the hot parting gift given to each person.  A real crowd pleaser.

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Then, for a week, we all enjoy the smell of fresh rain and baby powder.

After this week, parents start to call asking for advice.  “When should we have the real talk?” “Where should I send my child for someone else to talk to them because I don’t even know if I know what I’m doing?” “What day of the week is the best day to talk to kids so there are no follow up questions?”

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The sex education of a child is a delicate thing.  None of us wants to “mess” this up.  I’ve always laughed at the old joke about the boy who asked where he came from and the mom went into a very technical description with medical vocabulary and a flow chart. She was prepared.  The boy looked at his mother and said, “Wow. Mike told us today he came from Hartford, Connecticut.”

Growing up on a farm, we were exposed to many reproduction examples.  A few I would love to forget.  But my mother decided she would simply let a couple of guppies teach us the lessons we needed to learn.  s-l300.jpg

Our dinner conversation usually sounded something like this.

“What’s new in Sal’s by the Sea?” my daddy would say.

“I think Mrs. Guppy is with child again.” Momma would answer.

“Again!” Daddy choked.  “Can’t we organize a co-ed volleyball team to keep them busy or something?”

One aquarium ended up being two aquariums which lead to a “let’s-free-a-few-of-these- friends-into-the-fresh-lake” using the route of a toilet bowl.

“Are you girls understanding what is happening in the fish tank?” Momma asked us one afternoon.  “Oh yep.  We do.” I said.

“So you watched the momma fish have the babies? Do you have any questions about the role of the daddy fish? Any questions about why you need a male and female to have all of these babies?”

“Yep.” my sister spoke up. “We have only one question.  How do you choose which baby to eat when they are born?”

My mom walked away saying, “My work here is done.”

WARNING to Pet Smart:  We have twenty-four parents that are picking up two guppies over the weekend.3431839.jpg

Creeping Underwear

We have practically erased bad breath, eliminated dandruff, and done away with psoriasis but we have been unable to conquer one of society’s most dreaded diseases; Creeping Underwear.

Everyone talks about Creeping Underwear, but no one wants to do anything about it.  Research departments have put men on the moon yet our world is still plagued with underwear that crawls into dark places, slips off one cheek and continues upward.  I’m trying to get a patent just on an underwear warning label;  WARNING. WEAR THIS SMALL PIECE OF FABRIC AT YOUR OWN RISK.

 

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Creeping Underwear changes a person.  It sneaks up on you when you least expect it and hits you like a ton of bricks.  BAM, you become someone else.

Last night I went to a concert with my man.  When I left the house, I was a fully confident, well-adjusted, stable human being.

And then an hour into our night, I became a totally different person.  My slip had travelled north of my waistline forming a nice little floatation device adding about 10 pounds to my frame.

My Spanx on the other hand, in a series of slow manoeuvres, had reached several unexpected places throughout the evening.  First, they slide down to cause my backside to look like I had two pigs fighting under my dress.  Next, they made their way below my buttocks to make what I would call, “The-perfect-Kim-Kardashian-Rear”.  Not going to lie, while here I found some new confidence.  I’ve seen thousands of pictures of her that would let me know that this look draws attention and money, but it was short-lived and let’s face it, I am a middle age woman in Texas.  The next move I made had my ankles bound and my eyes looking for help from my man.

I tried to adjust these garments quickly and in a way to not call a lot of attention, but every time I bent over to try to grab a handful of my ‘unders’, my bra straps would slip and bind my arms like a straight jacket.

My man was the first to notice the change in my personality.  “What are you doing under the table?” he asked.  “Do you need to go to the bathroom? Are you okay?”

“I’m suffering from Creeping Underwear,” I whispered.

“You’re what? Do you have medicine for that in your purse?”  he said with concern.

He didn’t understand.  Men rarely do.  It took him 18 minutes to get ready for our night out and that included shaving.  He didn’t have to squeeze in anything, bind anything up or jump feet first off of the bed into a size 18-month pair of biker shorts.

National studies show that 98.2 percent of people that suffer from Creeping Underwear are women.  As I made my way into the bathroom, I noticed another lady about my age suffering from the same ill fate.

“Are you okay? Can I help in any way?” I asked.

“I went to cross my legs and was nearly strangled to death my off-brand supporter,” she said.

“Do you think there will ever be a cure?” I said.

“I hope so,” she said.  “I’m starting to lose consciousness.”

If I could only be sure

If I could only be sure all the lessons I have been teaching you are sinking in.  If they are all being understood.  How can I tell you about disappointments?  You’ll have them, you know.  And they will be painful, they’ll hurt, they’ll shatter your ego, leave your confidence naked, and sometimes even cripple your dreams.

But people don’t die from disappointments.Disappointment.png

They usually rise up even stronger.  Sometimes the thunder is a reminder of the calm.

But…I want you to fall flat on your face some days.  I want you to hear the words “No.” “You Can’t do it.” “You’re out!” “You blew it.” “You’re just not what we are looking for.” “I don’t want to go out with you.”

All of these words will hurt, but people don’t die from them.  no.jpg

I want you to strike out swinging, get picked last, have your heart broken, try really hard but still fail, and wait in the rain for someone that never shows.

All of these actions will hurt, but people don’t die from them.

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Adults tell children all the time, “These are the best times of your life.”

But, are they?

I don’t think they are.

Sometimes when adults say this to children, I look in their eyes.  They look like they just ate the entire package of Peeps and decided to get on the merry-go-round at the park.  (Sad to say, I’m speaking from experience.) kids_on_a_merry_go_round.jpg.860x0_q70_crop-scale.jpg

Everyone keeps telling them they are having a great time but they really would like to get off.

No one has immunity from disappointments.

The day you were born, you began to worry:  worry about the dark, noises, going down the drain when taking a bath, strangers, people dropping you, or not picking you up, or that man that said he stole your nose…would actually really steal it.

Later, you started to worry about other things like spending the night with our best friend and missing your mom, people you love leaving and not coming back, telling the truth even though it would hurt, and knowing the answers to the questions when the teacher calls on you.

And then, some heavy stuff starts to hit.  Worrying about not being enough, not having friends, not being accepted, what you want to be when you grow up, college, money, and marriage.

Worrying is normal.

download.jpgWe all do it.

But nothing like a parent’s worry.  You see, we are responsible for your life.  Heck, we brought you into this world and we can really mess you up.  (It’s why we all fret over your name for 9 months.)

There is so much to teach you and time goes so fast…

If I could only be sure you are listening and understanding just how much I love you.

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Welcome back, Cursive

I watched as three teenage girls sat staring at an amazing piece of art at the DMA.  The artwork had little color and was full of words written in cursive.  They had no idea what was written on it.

We have a whole decade of children that were never taught to read or write in cursive but that’s about to change because the great state of Texas decided that our children will once again have cursive penmanship as part of their curriculum.

So I thought it might be fun to do a little history lesson about penmanship.

download.jpgWhere did penmanship begin?

The good ole Romans began writing in the fifth century A.D. They wrote only in lower case letters that connected like our current cursive.  But after the Roman Empire fell, only monks continued to write using this type of lettering to write down stories about Christ.

download-1.jpgIn the Middle Ages, Johannes Gutenberg used a Gothic approach for his printing press.  But many people believed his writing was sent from the devil himself so they worked to change handwriting into something more Angelic.  And didn’t require a whole bottle of ink to say hi.

400px-Sütterlin_Gothic_script.pngBy the 1700s, penmanship was a status symbol that was saved for students that the headmasters considered to be”master scribes”.

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Then along came a man named Platt Rogers Spencer.  He created a formal cursive system that was used in a textbook and taught in schools and businesses.  (The Coca-cola logo is an example of his type of penmanship.)

In the 1940s, an author decided that the only way for children to really learn how to write using correct position, a new paper would have to be made. A paper with lines and dotted lines.  Big Chief Tablet was born.download-3.jpg

All was right in the world, we were writing beautifully.

download-1.pngTop line, curve down, touch the line, back up to the top, trace down and kick.

Then the computer age came along and the need to type fast surpassed the need to write a note to your boyfriend.  Just like anything new, teachers had to find something to be thrown aside and handwriting was the loser.

But current brain research shows that writing in cursive engages both hemispheres of the brain.  This right-left brain synergy, when both sides of the brain are used at the same time, promotes improved language and memory functions. Even researchers studying  Einstein’s brain found that the right and left hemispheres of his brain were uniquely well connected. I’ll let you connect the dots on that one.

So.Do.Not.Panic. my friends.  Cursive is finding its way back into our essential skills. Sharpen those pencils, grab that clean-lined paper and start practising your skills. Penmanship pride is back!

 

Some Days are Mediocre, but Not Today

“I’m just mediocre.”  I overheard her say. “Yes, I’m good at a few things but not great at anything.”  

WHAT?

I’m supposed to do something that would change her mind.  

I’m supposed to help her find her greatness.

I’m her mother for goodness sake.  

And then the tv flashed news of the college entrance scandal.  Parents doing whatever it took to make the world see their child as something other than mediocre.  

At that point, I realized it’s okay to be average some days.  Average is nothing to be ashamed of. Average is what the world makes all decisions about.  Heck, they spend thousands of dollars every year doing a census to find out what our country’s averages are. Related image

And then she did something not average.  

She went and planned a week for her peers and the students at my school.  

A whole week of spreading ‘niceness’.  Image result for a week to spread good vibes

A whole week of being anything but mediocre. 

DUDE. be nice Week was born.  A time to change the routines of our lives and focus on devoting ourselves to spreading ‘niceness’ in our schools and communities.  

Too often school programs designed for positive change focus on ‘ANTI’ something-

But not this week.

This week was all about being  ‘FOR’ nice.

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So my girl started planning.

She planned for us to have conversations about what ‘being nice’ truly meant, activities that promoted niceness and ultimately provided an opportunity for her peers and 10 and 11-year-olds to take a lead in their school and community.  

Not mediocre.

Each day we focused on a different area of ‘niceness’.  

Dude. be nice

Dude. be kind

Dude. be thankful  

Dude. be grateful

and

Dude. Be willing

We wrote notes of gratitude, said something nice, learned a new name, appreciated those around us, and sat by someone new at lunch.  

Not your average week at school.

So today sweet girl, I’ll let you say you are average, mediocre, common, ordinary, everyday adequate.  

Because some days you are EXTRAORDINARY!

 

A Little Word about Grace

I like to make people smile with a good story.   I’m pretty good at leading a group in an activity.  

But if you really know me,

Like really know me…

you know I am a “let-me-show-you-with-my-actions” kind of girl.

So if I was given 15 minutes of your day, I would love to show a part of me that I am the proudest of…the part that extends grace.

Webster’s describes grace as unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification.

I describe grace as “showing kindness to all.”

I’ve wondered all my life, when I’ve heard the phrase, “Thank you for showing me grace.” what that really means. Could grace be something small, something itty bitty, or something that doesn’t require much from me other than a small favor?  Could this really be grace? You see, grace is often a word we throw around but struggle to define. We celebrate and extol it, but I also think we misunderstand it—especially when it comes to giving grace to others.

Seeing another teacher’s house after the first three weeks of a  school year…that’s extending grace.  Understanding that you are stressed to the maximum with three projects and you didn’t remember it was your best friend’s, dog’s birthday…extending grace.  Taking time to listen to a viewpoint that is totally against your core values, and frankly, is pretty rude and not judging them tomorrow…grace.

Kids ages 10-25 years old are lucky.  That generation is known for being accepting of others differences, a character trait of most people that age that I love, but extending grace to others is hard work and takes practice.  

Showing others kindness and love, no matter our differences and not expecting anything in return, takes even more practice.  

So we should practice it with the ones we love. We should practice it with strangers on the street and we should practice it with our children.

Hi, My name is Allyson and I am practicing grace.

Allyson