May 29th, 2012
This sign in Washington, DC, reminded me of the pace this world seems to be in most of the time.
I think that’s one of the reasons waiting is so difficult.
It’s almost as if the “idling” stage is illegal.
On the escalators we road to and from the metro train, people who were in a hurry would literally run past us on the left as we rode the stairs up or down.
I guess they viewed the ride as a time of pointless idling when they had places to go, people to see, work to be done.
We even found ourselves walking on the escalator as the trip progressed instead of simply staying put and enjoying the few minutes of peace.
Today, if you have a chance to either move on or stay put,
I hope you’ll choose to “stay put” and simply soak up the moment around you.
Life goes by so quickly.
Idle for more than three minutes every chance you can!
“He says, “Be still, and know that I
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
May 28th, 2012
I took most of my DC pictures on my phone.
Carrying my big camera ended up being more trouble than it was worth.
For some reason, I can’t seem to find where all of the phone pictures downloaded into my computer’s hard drive, so I think I’m going to have to download them again.
Notice Karrick in the background! He was determined to photo bomb this picture, so I took about five in a row and thankfully he jumped right in when I clicked one time!
Susan (my little teacher-desk friend) enjoyed the trip although she had a rough time. I’ll share more about her adventures in another post! This is my friend Kristy posing with Susan on the bus as we drove around looking at some of the DC sights.
Lincoln’s Memorial was Olivia’s favorite part of the trip. I think she recognized it from a lot of movies, so it was extra special to see it in “real life.”
This may have been one of my favorite views as we walked around DC. I love the reflection in the water.
I think it’s good for all of us to be reminded of our country’s beginnings no matter where we live. Hearing the behind-the-scene stories of famous events in history makes the people involved seem so much more real.
My favorite story was about the night the British ambushed DC in the War of 1812. As they came across the Potomac River in boats, President Madison and his wife, Dolly, were eating dinner. They were alerted to the attack and had to run from the Presidential house and hide in another house in the town. Dolly wouldn’t leave without a painting of George Washington that hung in their home and without a little metal box of some sort. Just hearing this story in such detail, reminded me that people really haven’t changed through the years. We all cling to things.
The story goes on to say that as the soldiers arrived on land, hungry, thirsty, and tired, they first burned down the capitol building and then moved on to attack the President’s house. However, when they saw the huge spread of food that the Madison’s had left on the table when they had rushed out, they sat down and ate. This ended up giving the Madison’s plenty of time to hide safely. Hunger changes everything, doesn’t it?
Today, as I think of the clinging of Dolly to a couple of earthly things and as I think of the intense hunger and thirst of the British soldiers, I am reminded that I need to be sure I am clinging to the right things in this life and that I am hungering and thirsting for things that matter.
Summertime has swept over me with such a flurry of activities and such a long list of things I want to accomplish while on break that I have found myself finding it more and more difficult to simply sit and be still.
When I do sit down, I think of so many things I want to get done and I end up getting up and going at it again.
Last night, I went to the house of an elderly lady from our church to meet about the jail ministry.
She prepared hot tea for me and my friend, and we sat for nearly two hours visiting and listening to sweet stories from this lady’s past. It felt good to get to know her better, but I never would have had that experience had I not sat down and been still.
The same goes with my relationship with Jesus.
It takes time to know Him better.
Times of being still and listening.
Today, we have friends coming over for a Memorial Day cookout. I have a list of things I need to do before they arrive.
But it feels good to just sit for a bit and read and pray and close my eyes and know that I do not walk through my list of “chores” alone. He is with me.
He is with you too!
Happy Memorial Day.
Thank you to all of you who have served or are serving our country,
May 23rd, 2012
I love how Solomon speaks so eloquently in I Kings as he dedicates the new temple that was built under his leadership.
I love how he goes back in history and shares about how God had kept His promise to his father David when He said, “I have chosen Jerusalem as the place for my name to be honoered, and I have chosen David to be king over my people Israel.” God had gone on to say, “One of your own sons will build the temple to honor me.”
I wonder what it felt like to be “that son” and to stand with all the Israelites listening to your words as they witnessed the beauty and the splendor of an unmovable temple after years and years of carrying God’s presence around in an ark covered by a tent?
Scriptures say a “thick cloud filled the Temple of the Lord” and that “the priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple of God.”
I am sure there were all kinds of emotions in Jerusalem that day – excitement, fear, reverence, awe, joy, peace – I am sure there were also skeptics in the area thinking the whole event was somehow silly.
No matter what people were thinking, God was there! He had kept His word!
And He still keeps it today!
He promises to never leave us or forsake us; and yesterday, He proved that to me in so many ways!
Yesterday was Nick’s 17th birthday.
I found tears filling my eyes from time to time throughout the day as I reminisced on sweet memories with my brown-eyed baby boy; but God showed up again and again through messages from friends and family just saying, “Thinking of you today,” and “Happy birthday, Nick!”
I worked yesterday morning at school and then painted Todd’s bedroom in the afternoon, so I stayed busy doing what needed to be done next.
I do better when I keep on keeping on!!
Today, I’m packing for Olivia’s 8th grade trip to Washington, DC.
We leave this evening.
And I promised my students that if I went on any trips this summer, Susan (my tired-teacher desk figurine) would go along with me on the adventure!
So, I’m keeping my word and I’m getting Susan ready for our big trip!
Tim said she needed a suitcase, and I found her a perfect one! A Smarties suitcase! Traveling always makes us smarter, doesn’t it?!?!
I think Susan needs some education outside of her stack of books, though!
She was so excited to see the Statue of Liberty, and I had to explain that it is located in New York City.
Then she got excited about seeing the Liberty Bell, and I had to help her understand why it is in Philadelphia – not in our nation’s capitol!
Oh goodness, this may be a long three days, but I’ll share all the things Susan learns when I get home!
Have a wonderful rest of your week and a Happy Memorial Day weekend!!
May 20th, 2012
I love the Disney movie, “The Emperor’s New Groove.”
I love the story line.
I love the music.
I love the humor.
But I love the lesson most of all.
If you’ve never watched this movie, you should rent it this summer and see what you think.
As I’ve ventured through this first week of summer, I’ve found myself feeling a little like Emperer Kuzko.
As Kuzko enters his throne room, dancing away, he backs into an elderly man who “throws off his groove.”
Watch this short clip and you’ll see what I mean………….
I’ve found that somehow I’ve backed into summer (my figurative elderly man) and it has definitely “thrown off my groove” for blogging.
Now, I don’t want to throw summer out the window like Kuzko chose to do with this poor old man, but I know I am going to have find a “new groove” that works for me.
A groove that feels right in the midst of yard work, house cleaning, errand running, and catching up with friends I have missed throughout the school year.
Here’s one thing I know:
My blog holds me accountable.
And even though I often think, “Noone is reading my blog daily anyway, so why do I worry when I don’t post?”
Deep inside I know it’s not so much about you reading my blog daily that concerns me, it’s about me not being still enough to reflect on life and God’s constant presence in my life that I miss.
I want a new summer groove that is healthy, rewarding, and meaningful.
I don’t want to click away at my computer keyboard just to “check something off my list.”
I decided long ago that if my blog ever became a chore, it was time to stop blogging.
And the truth is, my blog is far from a chore.
It’s so much a part of who I am.
It’s kind-of like a diary for me.
A place to jot down snippets of my life and share how God is working through them or in spite of them.
A place to react to Scriptures that inspire me, confuse me, convict me.
It’s my little corner of the world where nothing changes even though so much around me changes constantly.
It’s Sunday morning, and I can’t remember blogging on a Sunday in a long, long time.
I need to go get ready for Sunday school but this morning something strange happened that woke me early.
Peppy, one of our dogs, barked and somehow it stirred me in a dream.
As I was still sleeping I saw two clocks on the floor beside my bed begin to fly away with wings and in my dream, I could hear myself singing, “I”ll Fly Away, Oh Glory, I’ll Flay Away.”
Then suddenly, I opened my eyes and looked at my real clock which said, “7:11.”
Now, if you’ve known me for a while, you know that 7-11 was Nick’s little nickname he gave himself when he learned of his second tumor at age 11 (His first tumor was at age 7.)
The 7-11 number combination became a huge part of Nick’s fight with cancer and still means so much to me and to many of Nick’s friends.
I don’t know what this dream meant this morning, but I do know this.
Time flies, doesn’t it?
Even when the pace is suppose to be slower, life has a way of rushing by if we’re not careful.
Yesterday, Tim and I went to two friends’ houses for graduation receptions. One was all afternoon. The other was in the evening.
As I sat with my two girlfriends at their homes, we reflected on how quickly our children have grown.
Maybe the clocks were symbolic of Matt and Andrew’s lives, my two friends’ sons.
Maybe the clocks were symbolic of the lives of my friends as they have watched their kids grow up.
Maybe it was just a weird dream I had because I drank a McDonald’s Caramel Frappe late at night and wen to bed regretting it.
All I know is this, it woke me up enough to realize that I needed some quiet time with God.
I’m thankful for Peppy’s bark this morning and for a dream that startled me enough to look at my clock at 7:11.
I want to find a new groove for summer blogging, and I want you all to know that even when I don’t write, I am thinking of all of you and saying a prayer that your day is filled with special moments.
I am going to do a summer fun give-away this week!
I’ll let you know when I gather up all the things I want to share with you!
For today, know that I love you, I’m lifting you up in my prayers, and I am always available at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need to chat. I’ve made some beautiful friends through email, and one of the things I look forward to about Heaven is meeting these friends in person!
Have a beautiful Sunday!
“Teach us to number our days, that
we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
May 17th, 2012
I have a lot of “thank you” notes to write this summer…….
Not because of a party where I received lots of gifts.
Not because a group of people came and moved a piano; although a group did come and do that for me several years ago, and I’m pretty sure I never wrote a note of thanks about that day.
I am so sorry!
It meant the world to me, Anita! Thank you for organizing the team of helpers that day. Watching six men heave a piano up a flight of stairs was terrifying, hilarious, and meaningful all rolled into one.
But you knew, and I knew, that Evan needed a quiet place to practice his gift; and that day will forever stick in my mind as incredibly significant.
Even more than that, Anita, thank you for leading all of our boys on mission trips through the years.
I give you and Ron so much credit for each of our sons’ love for adventure, attitude of fearlessness, excitement about traveling, and heart for reaching people who do not know Christ as their Savior!
Those are the kinds of thank you notes I need to write.
Notes that simply express to many of my friends and family how much it means to me that they have just “been there” for me and my family through the years.
It’s easy to assume that the people we love know how much we appreciate them, but there is something amazingly powerful about penning your thoughts so that these special people can realize that they matter, that their presence in your life has changed you; and that without them you (and possibly your entire family) would not be who you are today.
Those are the kinds of notes I want to write this summer.
And my list is long………..
What if everyone who reads this blog entry decides to mail ten thank you notes a month for three months to friends and family who have made an impact on their lives?
If 150 people read this, that could result in nearly 5,000 thank you notes being written! Who knows how these notes could change the lives of those who read them!
I know I have many more than 30 people to thank! I am willing to sacrifice some of my time to let them know how much I love them!
How about you?
Could you sacrifice a little time and commit to writing 10 thank you notes a month for three months?
Saying “thank you” shows honor.
God longs to hear those words from us too.
Psalm 50:23 says,
“But giving thanks is a sacrifice that
truly honors me.”
So on a much greater scale, try writing a “thank you” note to God.
This can sometimes be a painful experience, because there are parts of life that seem impossible to visit with words of thanks.
I promise you this, though, if you start writing and allow your heart to creep towards the painful parts of life with a spirit of gratitude, God will notice.
He will hear you.
He will see your sacrifice of praise.
He will be honored.
And I believe, you will be blessed in return.
My challenge today is this:
Choose thirty people who have impacted your life (teachers, friends, family, neighbors, friendly grocery store employees, and on and on). Begin writing your thank you notes today.
And at the same time, begin writing the most life-changing thank you note ever,
Your personal note to God.
There’s something extra-powerful about watching those words slip from your heart to paper.
And let me know how it goes.
Email me at email@example.com or leave a note here on my blog anytime. I read them all!
Thankful today for all of you who read my words and hopefully journey closer to His Heart!
May 16th, 2012
I’m realizing very quickly that my whole schedule has been turned upside down since I don’t have to be out the door at 7 a.m.
Mornings are much less structured and it seems that something is always going on around this house.
I have decided to transition to evening blogging so that I can have the quiet time I need to focus.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a busier school year, so my house is screaming for some attention.
I’m trying to move from room to room without becoming irritable which has not worked so far.
I’m really not sure how roller blades ended up in the living room and some type of spider nest took over the back of our TV.
I can’t figure out why dog leashes were in the same basket as a roll of toilet paper.
I am wondering how there are any trees left ANYWHERE on this planet when there are so many stacks of paper in our house alone.
I’m going to tackle the family room now.
Without moving, I already see bongo drums, ping pong paddles, and golf balls………
May 15th, 2012
How do you act when you are visiting someone’s home?
Extra polite, extra careful, extremely thankful for the hospitality of those you are visiting.
This morning I read this verse in Psalm 39,
“For I am your guest, a traveler
passing through, as my ancestors
Today, as you “travel” through the day, remember this,
You are God’s visitor here on Earth.
Treat Him and His creation the same way you would treat any other host and his home.
May 14th, 2012
We’ve had the same neighbors on both sides of us for almost nineteen years.
Both of these families have shared many highs and many lows with our family throughout these years.
They’ve helped when we’ve been in emergency situations, they’ve sat with us when we signed papers with hospice, they’ve watched our dogs when we’ve been out of town.
We’ve borrowed each others lawn mowers, fertilizer spreaders, pressure washers, and the list goes on and on.
We’ve shared many meals and delivered leftover desserts to each other’s homes time and time again.
If someone needs an egg, there’s no need to run to the store.
If an unfamiliar car is parked in someone’s driveway, a phone call is made to make sure everything is okay.
I am thankful for my neighbors.
But this summer, one of our neighbors is moving.
We have cried on their porch several times already, and I’m sure we will many more times before they move.
We have threatened to do something silly while the house is being shown, so that maybe the buyers will reconsider.
Today, I found myself in our out-building just about the time the realtor was coming to give a tour of their home.
I was in the loft reading my old diary when I heard the car door, and honestly, I almost fell over the lawn mower as I came down the ladder trying to get a peek at who the potential buyers were.
I even peeked through out fence to try to get a better look.
I am going to miss our Mark and Sandra so much.
It’s easy to take for granted parts of your life that are so naturally easy.
Having this family as neighbors has been just that……naturally easy.
We’ve talked while doing yard work, laughed at our kids growing up together, and made it very clear that we are always here for each other.
I know we’ll stay close even though miles will separate us; but it’s going to be a difficult summer – saying “goodbye” to lifelong friends.
I’m so thankful there are no goodbyes in Heaven.
I think, by the time I get there, I am going to be worn out with goodbyes.
Hug your neighbor today or at least take them a plate of cookies and let them know they are loved!
May 14th, 2012
I moved some boxes around in the shed this morning, trying to make room for school supplies that I want to store for the summer.
As I opened one box that has been packed away for a long time, I saw a journal.
An old journal.
Seventeen years old.
I had to stop and sit in the loft and thumb through the pages for a few minutes, because this was the journal I had kept in the months before Nick was born.
Some of my prayers made me smile, bringing back memories of long-ago situations now resolved.
Some of my prayers made me smile, realizing how much in life hasn’t really changed since then.
Other prayers, though, made me ashamed.
Ashamed that I was disappointed when Nick’s ultrasound showed that we were having a boy and not a girl.
Since Adrienne’s death in 1992, I had longed for a little girl again…..
And at first, the doctors told us that Nick would be a girl.
But then, in a second ultrasound, the news changed.
If I could go back and change anything about 1995, it would be my attitude during the six weeks before Nick was born.
I kept praying and asking God to help me with my heart, but deep inside I remember that I was overwhelmed at the thought of four boys and no Adrienne.
As soon as I held Nick, though, all those feelings washed away.
His big brown eyes.
His chubby cheeks.
His dark black hair.
He stole my heart.
I’m glad I have the journal to remind me of a time when what I thought was best did not match God’s plans.
The journal helped me remember that even when I don’t understand the answer to my prayers, God is always working.
I wouldn’t trade the memories of my sweet boy Nick for memories with any other child.
And I know that by having one more boy, God opened our heart to adoption which led us to find Olivia in an orphanage in a little town called Damoh.
God promises to go before us making rough places smooth, and He’s never let me down on my long and rough road.
I am thankful for old diaries that remind me of His presence seventeen years ago and today.
I will lead the blind by ways they
have not known,
along unfamiliar paths I will guide
I will turn the darkness into light
and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do;
I will not forsake them.
May 10th, 2012
As stressful as this year has been for me and my co-workers with all of the expectations from the state bearing down on us daily, I am still not looking forward to saying good bye to my students today.
But when I think of life as a story being written by God, the author and perfector of my faith, it makes days like today seem a little easier.
Ending a stressful chapter is sometimes more dramatic than ending a not-so-stressful one and yet there is a beauty in the closure. Maybe it’s realizing I didn’t quit when I wanted to run and knowing the students pulled through and accomplished so much even when they were tired, overwhelmed, or discouraged that makes today hold such significance. It’s like we have reached a finish line and the prize is summer vacation!
We’ve all had good days and bad days this year. I’m sure you have too.
I’ve seen lots of tears, mediated many disagreements, tried to encourage many who were down, and did what I could to help kids discover the beauty deep within them even when they didn’t feel so beautiful.
At the same time, I’ve allowed the kids to see me as a real person with my own set of worries and fears (even of mice).
It’s been a two-way street in my classroom, and maybe that’s why closure is so difficult.
I’m going to miss these students.
They’ve taught me a lot about myself.
They’ve reminded me that even though their generation faces a lot of struggles I didn’t have to face as a kid, they are still amazing human beings at heart.
My prayer today is that with the closing of this chapter every character in my life story has learned a little more for the next chapter of theirs, because good stories move characters along in ways that deepen them-making them better equipped for the next difficult situation, the next big decision, the next opportunity to grow.
As a teacher, I want all of my students to know this:
I love you with a love that comes from above.
Unconditional, filled with grace, and never-ending.
I’m still here to point you in the right direction.
I’m praying for you and believing that He Who began a good work in you
Will be faithful to complete it.
One day a week this summer I am committing my blog to the adventures of Susan (so-named by my one of my classes), my desk figurine who weathered the year with us.
Even though her year ended with head and feet broken off, she is in recovery at this very moment in the art room.
And I will be taking her along on some trips so that you will know that even though Mrs. Nischan is on vacation she hasn’t forgotten that she is a teacher at heart……..
Hopefully, Susan will teach us all a few things about life.
I’m excited to see where we end up in the next few months!
So today, a chapter ends.
The class of 2015 wraps up their freshman year.
Olivia says goodbye to middle school.
It’s a day of closure.
And a day of new beginnings.
Your life may not hold a dramatic goodbye today, but truthfully, that’s the thing about life – we never really know if a chapter is ending on any particular day.
Life is fragile.
How powerful would our relationships become if we treated each day as if it were the last?
I’m praying that today you can embrace everyone around you in a way that says, “You matter to me because you matter to God.”
And whether you are starting a new chapter, living somewhere deep within the middle of one, or watching the last few pages of a chapter unfold, I pray your day is a day of significance.
I love you all,