When we are Named and Known

I silently knock on the Kindergarten door, helper for the day in my Assistant Teacher role.  I love Kindergarten.  I did my student teaching there—sang a LOT of songs and played games and sat on the floor and learned words.
Today is one of those days—a learning day—except I am the student.
I teach in a very diverse school district.  The population we serve has changed significantly in the past 7 or 8 years. Our students are 85% immigrants—mostly African, primarily from Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia. Needless to say, school is a challenge for these immigrant children.
Today the teacher asks me to take time with Mamoud and Khalid who are only just learning English. 
Mamoud is silent as he follows, but Khalid’s first words to me as I reach out my hand, are, “Good morning, teacher.”
I am warmed at the thought of appreciative parents who have taught him this important phrase. They know more than anyone the power a good education has and the place of a teacher in that process.
I am guest posting over at Kelly Chripczuk’s blog today for our Small Wonder Community. To read the rest of this post, you can click here.
photo credit: Leah Richardson’s blog

How to Write a Thank You Speech

photo credit*

The Golden Globe awards were on last night, the show which honors not only television but movie shows, their actors and actresses.  I had a vested interest in the outcome for the “Into the Woods” cast–not ONE award–shock! 

Of course, the real reason I watched was for the fashions–who was wearing what. Katherine Heigl’s gown was the loveliest, IMHO.  The color, the cut, the train….wow.

Aside from the fashions and mostly amusing banter from the co-hosts, the real gems of the evening were the very precious thank you speeches from those who totally did not expect to win.

Amy Adams said she forgot to apply lip gloss before coming on stage, Michael Keaton who honored his best friend–his son, and Patricia Arquette, who acknowledged her mom.

People always thank their mom.  God also gets a few nods.

All those heartfelt speeches had me practicing my own speech in my head between commercials.  I’d wander into the kitchen for a glass of water and envision myself on stage in a lovely gown–something by Caroline Herrera, royal blue, stunning (and of course I’d be thin. And young.)

You know you’ve imagined the same, dressed in a gown OR a tux.

But my friends, this is no imaginary life we live.  Someday we will be saying our thank yous in front of a large audience with one Very Important Person front and center.

There will be crowds.
There will be music.
Our vestments will shine.

But what will we say?

I know where I’d start. My award would be for writing.  Something.

“Mom, I’d like to thank you for hanging in there to raise 5 kids on your own after two husbands came and went.  I’d like to thank you for the DNA of writing you gave me and the treasure trove of stories I found after you were gone. 
Thank you, Mom, for taking us to church–Unitarian, Lutheran, Assembly of God, even if it was just to get an hour and a half of peace on a Sunday.
  Because of your own searching a seed was planted in me that God watered over time and that finally grew.

I’d like to thank Mrs. Jenkins, my 8th grade English teacher, for her strict demeanor and no-nonsense approach to language.  Dissecting and diagramming sentences did nothing to kill my love affair with words.  Instead, it unlocked the wonder and depth of meaning, the power of just the right phrase at the right time.

I’d like to thank my husband for his kindness and infinite patience with me all these many years.  He is a gift to me from God.

Most importantly I’d like to thank my Saviour for the grace to hear His voice when He called so long ago.  If it weren’t for Him, I wouldn’t be standing here.

And lastly, I’d like to thank my sister Laurie for the lovely green dress.”

(Trust me, I have pictures–it’s a gorgeous dress.  It wouldn’t fit me, but it’s gorgeous.)

“Well, they’ve cued the music; it looks like my 45 seconds are up.  God bless you all.
Good night.”
That’s what I would say…….How about you?
  I’d love to hear in the comments.

Linking with Jen and the SDG sisters, Laura for Playdates, 
Jennifer for Tell His Story and Kelli at Unforced Rhythms.

*My sister Laurie took this photo of the beach in Cardiff, CA

Jesus Blows My Mind

I grew up in Southern California, in the ‘shadow’ of Disneyland.  My husband’s uncle owned a home on the street behind the Park and we often sat on the hoods of our cars and watched the fireworks over the trees.
They appeared at 9:00 on the dot every night in the summer.

Some things never change.
Unless, of course, they do.

We went to Downtown Disney a few weeks ago with my daughter and son in law.
It was a wonderful, magical time as always and the fireworks are still amazing.
Well, more amazing, over the top, like 

It reminded me of our pastor’s message this morning from John Chapter 11 
where Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.
The sermon title was “Jesus–Friend or Formula?”

The pastor reminded us that too many times we try to put God in a box.  We decide how He’ll answer our prayers, how He’s going to work in our lives and those of others, what we think He should do………

As if.

We are so silly–He is not God in a Box. 
He is not a formula that can be managed.
He wants to be our friend.
He wants a relationship with us, a daily seeking, asking, knocking 
“what do you have for me today, Jesus?”
He’s that kind of God–the God we can know.**
The kind of God who encourages us to seek after Him.

I experienced a taste of that during the week when I interviewed for a teaching position–I was hopeful, but it was a dream job–early childhood learners, great hours, good pay–exactly what I wanted.
My interview went well but I didn’t expect to hear anything for 2-3 days as there were many other applicants.

The principal called me the next morning and offered me the job.
I was flabbergasted.  Yes, that was a God-sized answer to my me-sized prayer.

And now this.  I had completely another blogpost in mind for today, but there was no opportunity to write it. Again it was my turn to have life burst right out of my me-sized box.
(Besides, I was too busy watching Mr. Wallenda 
now there’s a man who knows a God who works outside of the box!)

Life came in fits and starts today, not at all as I had planned, and here I am rushing at the last minute.
So I will leave you with this: 
Trust God for amazing things.
Pray with your hands and heart and eyes wide open
and expect something different, beyond your wildest dreams, for yourself, 
your spouse, your church, your kids.
Something God-sized
and bright and beautiful.
Like fireworks.
Photo credit, my daughter L.M. Johnson.
**I wonder, do you know him?
Linking with Laura for Playdates
and Jen for Soli Deo Gloria–more great words in both places.

Love and Marriage

“Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
(but) A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”
Ecclesiastes 4:12 NIV
Here’s to the third cord, our Saviour,
and to the twining of the two-
my lovely daughter Leah and her husband
William–held by Him.
Happy 6th Anniversary!
linking with Deidra and the Sunday Community

Strong Trees

Josh Groban is
heavenly hollering
“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”.
The sweet and gentle
resolution of the violin and oboes
slows me down to hear your
soft love.

Not the out loud from
the rooftops kind,
but quiet as the roots of
a tree digging down
in the dark,
seeking support
where we need it.

You tether and train the branches
so I can build a tree house
for all the world to see up top,
waving bright flags
to the busy, noisy world
calling, “Isn’t life grand?”

But your towering quiet
reminds me
a tree is beautiful and strong,
growing not just up and out
but down as well,
anchored in what matters–
the soil of who you are
living with the leaves of
who I am,
splendoring the world
with shade and space,
quiet, strong, sure.

You stay put and
I’ll climb up,
letting the banners fly,
declaring these words,
“Isn’t God grand?”

Jody L. Collins c. 2012
Three months ago when my husband was getting ready retire I was not looking forward to the transition. A friend who prayed for us gave us this verse, which was a little odd at the time, but it actually fits perfectly.  To my surprise and delight my precious husband has the kitchen clean when I get home from work, vacuums the floors (his idea) and sorts our clean laundry without me asking.  AND, he doesn’t mind when I listen to Josh singing his heart out with the volume way up while I cook.  Yes, my husband is a gift. And yes, our God is grand.  (Thinking of something my friend Emily Wierenga wrote about marriage…) and linking with the Soli Deo Gloria Community

Finding Heaven
and with dVerse Pub for Open Link Night #67.