Friday, June 5, 2015

VerMeer's Top 10 List for Graduates

Congratulations graduates of 2015!  You are now ready to start your next's a little help from your beloved teacher.

VerMeer's Wisdom List:

1.  Kindness is MORE important than popularity or being right.
1 Cor. 16:14 Let all you do be done in love.

2.  Today's choices build tomorrow's reputation.
Proverbs 22:1 A good name is MORE desirable than great riches.

3.  Get comfortable with being Uncomfortable; life is challenging and requires you to stick to your guns.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you; plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

4. Work at something you enjoy; something that is worthy of your time and energy.
Psalm 16:11 You will make known to me the path of life; In your presence is fullness of joy; In your right hand there are pleasures forever.

5.  Forgive - yourself and others.
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as Christ forgave you.

6.  Happiness is NOT based on money, beauty, possessions, a killer pair of heels or prestige, but on loving and respectful relationships.
II Cor. 9:8 God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things and at all times, having all that you NEED, you will abound in every good work.

7.  Be Honest - give credit and take blame.
Phil. 4:8  Whatever is TRUE, whatever is HONEST, whatever is PURE, whatever is LOVELY; think on these things.

8.  Don't Gossip!
Ephesians 4:29  Do not let any unwelcome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is useful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

9.  Discipline yourself to save money, pray daily and NEVER kiss on the first date!
Isaiah 58:11  The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, whose waters do not fail.

10.  Never lie to your Doctor, Minister or Mother!
Isaiah 43:2 When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.

Therefore, graduates remember your path is ordained and as Romans 8:31 says, "If God is for us, then who can be against us?"

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Eulogy for a Mentor-Friend

My friend, that I wrote about in my February 24, 2014 post, passed away this week.  Her fight to survive, live her faith and witness is over.  She was released from this disease that ravaged her body and delivered to Heaven.

Carol was a wonderful person and a beautiful addition to my life.  I am deeply grateful.

These are some of the things I learned from Carol:

Hang the laundry out to dry before going horseback riding, but definitely go horseback riding without guilt!

Encourage others pursue their dreams.

Give generously of your time, talents and energy.

Raise strong kids through tough love, genuine love and true love.

Love your husband unconditionally.

Go to church; every Sunday because worshipping and fellowshipping is important.

Go to bible study (a cute bible is not necessary but a good study bible will pay you back 10 times).

Make chocolate chip cookies often.

Hold your best recipes in secret; make them beg and drool.  You can always promise to pass them on after you die. (Psst! we are all waiting for the cheesecake and slushy recipes!)

Live life and don't be paralyzed by fear.  This means cantering in the woods, talking to everyone, traveling, and learning new things.

Really listen to your children but set boundaries of acceptable behavior.

Celebrate your children and help them know their strengths and weaknesses.

Your Mother is your best friend; treat her well.

Sisters are not limited to blood relatives.  Be a sister to a sister.

Don't gossip.

Be Positive because negativity is a waste of a good life.

Get an education and use it for the glory of God.

Be pragmatic, practical, in all things.

Say your peace; be honest.

Laugh loudly, have fun and joke.  The meek will inherit the earth but they will need to be entertained so go ahead and laugh.

Be a wise steward of your money so that you can give freely and splurge once in a while.

Sunday's are a day of rest and therefore, perfect for horseback riding!

Fight until God gives you permission to give up.  His timing is always perfect.  Healing can take place in Heaven.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Prayers and Dr. Suess

My elementary teaching days are like my shadow late in the day.  I can see them but not touch the very top, for they are getting farther away as the sun sets.  My love for Dr. Suess has grown in the absence of the demand.  When I had to read Green Eggs and Ham over and over, my adoration for Suess' wacky nonsense wained.  Now that I am freed of this repetitive responsibility I am finding a renewed appreciation.  I am re-reading our collection of Suess books to my sons.

I did not expect the impact it would have on our morning prayers.  I started modeling adoration, repentance, and supplication (asking) by praying over our day as we traveled to school.  Recently, my fears of being widowed with two strong-willed boys to raise haunts my thoughts.  How would they learn to shave, change the oil and fix a lawn mower?

So, my deepest worry needed voice in our prayers.  I wanted the boys to know that sometimes prayers are unanswered because God is choosing a trial for us, to make us grow.  I also wanted to make sure they knew that God's will, not our will, is the base of our asking.  (Luke 22:44)  "...and Jesus asked his Father to remove the cup of suffering. Then He surrendered, "Not my will, but yours be done."  

And with that I started ending our prayer with, "if it is your will, please bring us all back home together again tonight."  

This morning, deep in the thorniness of May, I asked the boys to pray as I drove.  The Tall One began thanking God for the natural world, family and friends.  The Little One added a prayer of thanksgiving for chickens.  His innocence shining through his words.  

Then, he closed the prayer with "if it is Your will please keep us safe from here to there and everywhere."  

Dr. Suess influenced supplication. 

I believe I will continue both the read-alouds and the spontaneous prayers led by my boys.  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Teamwork Employability Game

Working Together – Employability Skill Practice

Equipment required: Pens/pencils and paper.
Split the group into random teams of three or four.
Instruction to group:
One person in each team starts by drawing a shape or outline.
The drawing is then passed to the next team member who must add to the drawing.
And so on.
Time spent by each person in turn on the drawing is limited to 10 seconds. (The facilitator will say 'change' when time is up.)
No discussion is permitted during the drawing!
The drawing must be completed in two minutes.
Discussion & Review:
  Don’t tell what was drawn! Just talk about the process.
  Did the team draw anything recognizable?
  How easy was the understanding between team members?
  How did team members work differently on this task?
  What was the effect of time pressure?
  Was there a natural tendency to draw supportively and harmoniously, or were there more conflicting ideas?

The drawings are then displayed on document camera so the other teams can tell what they believe the drawing is or represents.
Final Review:
  What factors enabled teams to produce recognizable drawings?
  What factors led to drawings being unrecognizable?
  Are 'drawing' skills especially helpful in this exercise, or are other capabilities more significant?
  What does this exercise demonstrate about mutual understanding and how to achieve it?
  What obstacles to understanding and teamwork does this activity illustrate?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

I am officially breaking up with Winter!  It's not Winter's fault.  It's me.  I thought I had the midwestern moxie to find the quirky, numbness of winter fun and adventuresome.  I am not that person anymore.  I think we've just grown apart.  I am ready to move on from snowshoeing, shoveling and 4WD.  I am ready to grow and see new seasons.

Winter, you really must stop snowing and blowing.  Please don't cry anymore freezing rain.  I will always love you.  I will remember fondly your frostiness and glistening drifts.

But, I can't see you anymore, Winter.  It is not healthy for me.  I am weary from shoveling and snow blowing.  It's not you, really.  It's me.  Your beauty sparkles, your flakes form perfectly and your power is mighty.  
                                      You bury me in your icy piles and frosty window panes…
Honestly, I am tired of snowshoeing and sledding.  The intrigue and wonder has worn off.  I have faithfully tromped through your drifts; marveled at your creations.  I have enjoyed our time together, crunching through the woods.  The adventure of an evening hike with headlamps cutting through the dark to highlight the tiny bits of white flakes, was a delightful double date.  I appreciate our time together, the lessons you've taught me and the gifts you brought.  I just can't accept your gifts anymore.

I find myself yearning for something different.  Something you can't give me.  I need to grow.  I need to see more of the world than white drifts and icy piles.

I think I want to hang out with Spring.

Spring and I deserve a chance.  We would like to get to know each other better.  So, Winter, you've been great but I am moving on.  I will always love you.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Facing Eternity in the Eyes of a Friend

How many days do we have to impact this world? Love our families?  Give wisdom? Learn?
Since that answer is cloaked in the gauzy film of unknown I will not speculate.  The veil cannot be lifted to reveal the day of our departure.  I have a friend that is facing a terminal cancer.  She is close to that veil but still she focuses on love, wisdom and life lessons.

I went to console and comfort, armed with homemade cookies.  How does one approach social entertaining with a dear friend with a limited calendar?  Awkward at first I talked too much and listened to little.  I left feeling empty and sad. 

The next visit, again toting homemade, warm cookies, I prayed for peace and comfort for both my friend and myself.  I asked that God would contain my mouth and allow for my emotions to be real.  I prayed I could be a comfort instead of a distraction.  Here is the paradigm shift that God orchestrated. 
As we chatted I carefully listened.  I listened to the horrifying story of her initial diagnosis.  I fully engaged in her story of transformation from healthy breast cancer survivor to terminal cancer victim.  I heard and felt  her anger and frustration.  She transitioned quickly to expressing her desire to make each day count.

I found myself being easily agreeable. As I relaxed, I cuddled up next to her and shared pictures on her Kindle.  Her eyesight is failing due to a bone tumor pressing on her brain.  She wants me to see the newest pictures of all her grandchildren.  She explains that, while I am in the midst of raising my sons, she is free to experience the sheer joy of grandchildren.  She says to hang in there because grandchildren are the true reward of raising good children.

She then looks me straight in the eyes.  She informs me that she is limiting her audience of well wishers and visitors.  It appears that when you reach the time in which you can see the veil blowing in the breeze you truly see the hearts of those around.  She loves more tenderly the husband she’s been married to for decades.  She sees him more clearly and regrets being so strong and a self-reliant.  She embraces her new softness and lets him comfort and dote on her.  These are the last days of her earthly partnership: oneness.

My friend shares with me her new boundary for gossip and negativity.  In light of her limited time on earth, she is unable to stomach any negativity or gossip.  She shares a particularly cheerful and hopeful Bible verse as an example of how she desires to spend her time.  This is the tone of her future days.  She will love her creator, love her family, love her friends and limit any distractions.

So, I am challenged by her decree.  How will l decide to live my days; no matter the number?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Working Moms Don't Iron Tablecloths

There are many resources for stay-at-home moms.  There are reams written to justify the executive working mom.   What of the regular, middle-class working moms?  Where are the bloggers, experts and articles catering to the working moms that have to work or choose to work so that their families can have a middle-class income?

Here is what I believe: working moms don’t have time to blog or become an expert on balancing both work and family.  They are baptized in the fiery schedule of working, family, housework, meals and extracurricular activities.  I am one of those middle-class working moms.  I am terribly grateful for my husband’s sacrifice in pay for my education degree.  My degree and subsequent employment at our local public school has been the financial stability we needed over the last decade of economic depression. 

Here is a list of things I don’t do that my fraternal grandmother spent time doing:

Working Moms don’t…
1.     iron tablecloths
2.     iron sheets
3.     iron shirts or pants
4.     hand mop the kitchen floor
5.     wipe down baseboards
6.     bake homemade cookies
7.     make cupcakes for school birthday parties
8.     mend/darn socks
9.     make bread from scratch
10. homeschool their children

Working moms are happy to have a warm meal on a clean tablecloth; unironed!
Working moms are relieved that the sheets are dry by bedtime.
Working moms are masters of using a damp cloth, dryer sheet and the “dewrinkle” setting on the dryer.
Working moms use swiffers (or a damp rag and their foot).
Working moms scrub baseboards when it’s time to repaint them.
Working moms buy cookies at the grocery store in a tube of doughy yumminess.
Working moms are proud to stimulate the economy and buy cupcakes at the bakery.
Working moms can’t find the match to the holey sock anyway.
Working moms use their bread machines or visit the bakery on the way home (again).
Working moms trust the school systems to give their kids a solid education of basics.

Working moms are masters at short cuts and paring down life to its most essential
Working moms have good kids that are independent, confident team players.
Working moms have mad skills at work and at home.