Monday, December 24, 2012

today's blessings

Today is full of blessings.

I just finished opening up a bunch of Christmas presents. But those are not the blessings.

One of today's blessings is that even though she is 1500 miles away, we could video chat with our adopted sister, and open presents with her. It would have been better if she could have been here, but this was great. To get to see her, to get to say thank you in person, to watch her open was great and I'm so glad it worked for us to be "together".

Another of today's blessings was spending it with family. We went to church together, we ate together, we opened presents together. Not to mention some laughing and hugging in there.

The blessing of the natural world is that the snow held off long enough for me to easily get home. I am somewhat of an old-lady-driver in the snow, so it was nice that there was just a little bit on the roads.

The most important blessing is remembering that Christ came to earth as a baby on this very night. We remember that He came so that we could be in fellowship with God. He came to take our sin on Him.
No, today's presents are very definitely NOT the blessings.

Thank you God for all of the blessings you bestow on me.

Friday, December 21, 2012

doing good

Today I bought a hair clip.

On the side of the road.

I had gone to target to get some really exciting things, like toilet paper, and dishwasher detergent and such. As I was headed home, there was a guy standing on the corner with a sign that said "I am not a panhandler-just doing what I can with what I have."

I was intrigued by this, so I rolled down my window and asked what he's selling.

And then came the reply: "hair accessories".

Even more intrigued.


So I pulled around and parked. This guy was great - he announced to me as I walked up that he loved Jesus, and that he wanted me to know that Jesus loves me. He got saved 2 years ago, and just wants to make sure people know. I shook his hand and told him I am a Christian also - I got saved when I was 7. He asked if I had been saved ever since, and I said for sure. He showed me his shirt that said "Rep the King". (For those NOT in the 'hood, Rep means "represent". Clarification: I am not in the 'hood either - in the interest of full disclosure.)

I looked at his hairbands, hair clips and what he was selling. He told me that his wife made all of them, and he was just out trying to do his best at selling them. So I bought one.

Here it is, sitting on my computer.

As I drove away, I felt really good about buying this little hair clip. I ALWAYS feel conflicted about people standing on the corner asking for handouts. I want to help, but NEVER know how I could actually help. And then I hear the statistics that some huge percentage of any money you give is used for drugs and alcohol, which makes me feel even more befuddled about what, if anything, I can actually do.

But today, I felt really good. I felt like I helped. I felt like making the decision to spend 5 dollars on a hair clip was the good one - whether I actually wear the hair clip or not. But if for nothing else, I really appreciate his creativity, and willingness to DO something besides just stand there.

No, I don't know how that money will be used. But I know that there was time spent making these, and creativity spent in coming up with something they could do. And I fell really good about rewarding that.

So, for now, I will just keep my hair clip, and pray for the hands that made it, and the family that hopefully will benefit from today's interaction.
I know I did.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

'tis the season...

...for singing.

Last Friday I sang my little heart out at our Deck The Hall concert. It was lots of fun Christmas and holiday music, and a very festive evening with a hand bell group ringing along with us.

...for doing good.

Last Saturday we went up in the mountains and sung our concert again as a benefit for a local mental health agency. We had a fun time singing, enjoyed people's company, and had a fun dinner with some friends after.

...for *cough* *cough*

Evidently, I am destined to get some sort of bronchial ailment every December. Now I think I have bronchitis, but it could be whooping cough. Never fear - I went to the doctor today. I'm on all kinds of medicine, and hope to feel much better very soon.

...for partying.

This weekend is our school Christmas party. This is seriously one of the funnest things. There is good food, great company, music, games, dancing, winning of prizes...I can't say enough how much I am looking forward to spending time with friends that I work with.

...for buying.

I love getting Christmas presents for people, and I stretch it out from August through December. But I'm almost done with buying, so now it's time to get wrapping.

So many great things come at this time of year, it's almost hard to list them all. But I am not short on blessings. I have a wonderful job, the best boss in the world, an amazing family, and a great church. Not to mention the gift that came a long time ago, this time of year. He is the best blessing of all.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

my life sings

Now I know that being a music teacher might make you think that I am musical all the time, every day. Some days this is true, but some days are just normal days, and music is just my job.

Not this weekend.

Thursday was concert day at school. I had 260 kids up on stage, performing music that we had worked on for the past couple months. And not to brag or anything, but all the music was in another language: Japanese, Chinese, Hawaiian, Finnish, Maori, etc. They were great! Not because of me, but because they are great kids and we have worked hard together on this music. Definitely a great day.

Friday, I went to the local Youth Symphony concert. I had several kids from school in the performance, and it was great. 7 different groups, and many hundreds of students playing lots of different instruments. And it was hard music, too: much of it was from The Nutcracker. That means it is professional level music. And they played very well. One of my students was in the 3rd group from the top, and he sat 1st chair. I am so proud!

Saturday, I got to attend a piano recital, and see several of my current and former students perform. It was fantastic, and inspiring. I will be looking up some of that music to start working on myself! It was a beautiful setting, and a beautiful night of music played by a host of talented students.

Tomorrow evening I am going to a performance of Messiah here in town. A friend of mine is singing the soprano solo parts, and I'm so excited to see her. She has been working like crazy to be ready for this, and it will be fantastic! I've sung the Messiah several times, and twice all the way through. Granted, I have never sung the soprano solos (Lord, have mercy!) but I understand the music, and know what it takes to do that.
I can't wait!

So it occurred to me today that my life really is filled with music, and I am SO LUCKY to be in the midst of it. To participate in it. To see so many young people DO music, and do it well.
THAT is a blessing to me.

Friday, November 23, 2012


I went bowling the other day. Actually, Mom and I took the 2 nephews bowling.

We had a great time. But the thing that struck me while I was sitting waiting for my turn to bowl: the bowling alley is a great playing-field-leveler. Unless you put a lot of time and effort into practicing, bowling is a pretty even sport.

In fact, there were several people on either side of us that were developmentally disabled, or special needs of some kind. And they were having a blast! When the guy on my right got a strike, I wanted to stand up and cheer! It made me smile, and I realized that he probably had a better bowling score than me.

The 4-year-old beat the 8-year-old, I beat everyone in our group, and the group next to us had the best score in the place. But we all had fun, and the 8-year-old learned the lesson that it's OK to not be the winner all the time in everything.

The bowling alley = an equal playing field. It made me feel good about being there.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


I am SUCH a music nerd. As I typed that title, I started singing a little: Friendship, Friendship...

Anyway, today I had lunch. With 2 friends.

The value of a good friend is immeasurable.

I have worked with these 2 ladies for the past 8 and a half years, but I consider them friends. Not co-workers.

OK, it was just lunch. But the company was outstanding. :)

Thanks, you two, for your friendship. And everything else.

Friday, November 2, 2012

job love

This was a little gift outside my classroom this morning.

There are a lot of chalk drawings out there, but this particular one I took as a little love gift from one of my music students. I don't know who, but I still love it nonetheless.

I *heart* being a music teacher.

K :)

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Today in second grade we are talking about Bach. How he played the organ, and how he wrote all this beautiful music. We are listening to Bach's Toccata and Fugue in G Minor. The whole thing.

So all my second graders are busily working on drawing organs, Bach playing the organ, halloween pumpkins sitting on top of organs, etc. I am sitting at my desk watching them work, and listening to Bach.

I get to sit here at listen to Bach. I get to bathe in the art of Bach's work. Bach put his life into creating beautiful music, and I get to enjoy it. I get to appreciate his art. I get to lead second graders in appreciating his art. I get to reveal to them to intricacies of Bach's works, and what a genius he was.

We are appreciating art. Together.

And in them, I see a hopeful glimpse of people who will be art appreciators  for the rest of the lives.
I can only hope.

But today, I get to listen to Bach.
I am so lucky.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


I am rich.

I realized this as I was writing thank you cards yesterday. I wrote a thank you card to each person that came to my birthday party. I really had a great time, and wanted to write thank yous to the people that threw the party, and the people that gave me gifts, so I thought, "What's a few more cards?"

As I was sitting there writing, I realized that I am so very rich.

Not in the conventional sense of the word - in fact in THAT sense I am pretty dang poor. As evidenced my my 11 year old beater-car. And several other things I can name that I occasionally am not happy with around my life. But in the "life" sense: I have a great life, and more specifically, I have great people in my life.

Today I went Glow Golfing. Not by myself, but with the 2 nephews. We glow golfed, and then played at the mall "playground", and then went out to lunch. And can I just say that it is amazing that I even got any food down in the midst of helping the little one with his burger, cleaning up the mess, and making repeated trips to the front for mustard and ketchup. But I realized, as I shuffled them off to the car to go home, that they make my life rich.

Last night I went to a hockey game. Now, really, I could care less about this hockey team. But it is the college here in town, they have a fairly good hockey program, and my parents have season tickets. They said they were going to take the boys, and I asked to go along. It was tons of fun - not so much for the hockey, but for having dinner and spending time with the 2 nephews and my parents. Things like this make my life rich.

Yesterday afternoon I met with a girl from Youth Group. She asked if I would "mentor" her. I said yes, but I have to confess that I feel pretty inadequate to be a good mentor. But I DO care about her a ton, and so we get together and talk about things in our life. Sometimes spiritual stuff, sometimes family stuff, sometimes other stuff. But even though I am only a so-so mentor, her friendship makes my life rich.

And I could go on and on. But I am thankful for the depth and richness that my life has because of who He has put in it. I only hope that I can honor that, and make the most of the life that I've been given.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I use my grandmother's dishes

I have often thought about writing a book with this title.

I look around my home, and I see the afghan she crocheted for me. I look at pictures of my Grandma Annie and Grandpa Glen and I miss them. And then I look at my dishes.

Now, really I am taking a little poetic license, because the dishes I have now are from Target. But for years, the set of Corelle dishes that I used everyday were ones that used to belong to Grandma and Grandpa. Now they are up at the cabin, so I still see them from time to time.

But when I think about any "things" that I own, the ones that are important to me are ones that came from people in my family. And not like the kindle that my sister got me for my birthday.

No, the important things are those that meant something to them. Like the doughnut cutter.

Grandpa Glen and Grandma Annie owned a coffee and doughnut shop for a long time, like maybe 30-some years. A few times, during a summer when we were visiting them, Grandpa would get me up at 4:30am and we would go in together and make the doughnuts. By the time Grandma came in at 6am, I felt like I had already worked an entire day. But it was fun, even though it was a lot of work, and I still remember it to this day.

I have that doughnut cutter.

When Mom and Dad were going through Grandma and Grandpa's stuff after they had passed away, they called me and asked what I wanted.

I asked for the doughnut cutter.

Last week, for my birthday, mom gave me a pair of diamond earrings.

Now that is lovely, and I was thrilled to get them. They truly are beautiful.

But then she told me: they were Grandma's.

At that point, they became infinitely more important to me, because they were hers. They were in her ears, and now they are in mine.

So now maybe I'll have to change the book title: I Wear My Grandmother's Earrings.
Thank you Mom.
K :)

Friday, September 21, 2012


So my milestone birthday has come and gone. I was told by my family that we were going out to dinner tonight, you know, in celebration.

Boy oh boy, did we celebrate.

Turns out, they had planned a surprise party. I went over to my sister's house, so we could go to dinner, and when the door opened and everyone yelled "Surprise!" you could have knocked me over with a feather. I was shocked, and had NO idea. This is pretty amazing, because there were several friends from school there, and we had eaten lunch together for the past few weeks without anyone saying a word.

I am impressed.

There were friends from church, and even friends that I went on the women's retreat last weekend that didn't say anything at all. My 2 nephews were there, and they hadn't said anything either. But to be fair, sister didn't tell them until last night so they didn't know until the last minute.

My mom and dad and sister and brother-in-law all collaborated on this big party, and it was a blast. If they had asked me exactly what I wanted, it would have been this very party.

My sister put up a bunch of pictures of me and the family - school pictures from 1st grade, 5th grade, 8th grade, high school and college graduation pictures, family pictures, and even a picture of me waterskiing. I called it the wall of shame. :) Mostly because of the questionable hairstyle choices...

People hung out and talked, and there was food - holy cow was there food. We ate well, I tell you.

My sister took pictures of everyone there, and had them write a note which she is collecting into an album for me. And she gave a little speech which made me cry.

But the great thing about tonight was not the speech, or the food, or the carrot cake (though it was DELISH!) but the fellowship. It was the fun - the hanging out and being with friends all night. It was the laughter of them recalling how shocked I was, and their surprise that I really didn't have a clue. It was the gathering of people, and I am honored that it was for me.

Surprised, but honored.
Huge thanks to my family for putting all of this effort into a fun party just for me.
I feel not only honored, but loved.

And very blessed to be so loved.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

on being a certain age

Well, today is my birthday.

And currently I am wearing a hot pink headband/tiara that says "happy birthday".
It has been a very happy day. :)

And my birthday today is a big one - for I am turning a milestone age. One of my co-workers gave me a card that says "Happy ___th Birthday! Welcome to my side of the hill. The grass is pretty green here!"

So on this, the celebration of my birth so, so many days ago, I reflect on the life I have now.

I am so grateful for my family. This morning my sister and 2 nephews and the girl that carpools with them brought me balloons and presents and cards and sang Happy Birthday in the hall at school. It was a happy way to start the day!

I am grateful for my parents. My mom texted me "Happy Birthday" today. A nice message, but also nice that she actually texted! :)

I am grateful for my job. I work with awesome people and am so lucky to love my job so much. The Spanish teacher has kids right before me, and has told them all day that today is my birthday and that they should sing.

I am grateful for my ministry. Sunday night at Youth Group, Hannah and I stood up to be sung to. The boy's rendition of Happy Birthday was SO awful that it was fun, and made me smile much.

I am grateful for my life. Yes, it might not be EXACTLY as I would choose, but I am the most blessed person ever. I hope I have this many years again.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Today in 3rd grade music, we listened to Rhapsody in Blue. Previously I read the story of George Gershwin, and how he wrote Rhapsody in Blue.

But today we listened. To the WHOLE thing.

Boy oh boy, do I LOVE that music! It makes me simply happy inside.

After class was over, I walked down to the office, and I was singing the tune the whole length of the hallway. I said to my classes that this song makes me want to sing along. But there's no words!

One of them said, "well, make up some words!"

I just love how after listening to 15 minutes of music, I was happy. Light, refreshed, and joyful. Full of joy.

Isn't it amazing how a piece of music can do that?
Shouldn't we take advantage of that more often? Pop a CD into the player and become joyful!
What a gift...

Friday, August 24, 2012


This is the end of the first week of school.

I LOVE this time of year.

There is a newness that is absolutely delicious. Everybody is excited to see each other, as opposed to the mid-year doldrums when everybody is getting on each other's nerves. Everybody has new teachers, new school supplies, new classrooms. There are new friends to play with, and new things to learn. I can't resist the smell of a freshly sharpened pencil.

I think there is a reason that I have worked in schools of some sort for my whole career.

As the weather cools off and we all settle in to the school routine, I just can't help but think about the new beginnings. The fresh start. The new opportunities.

It reminds me to take advantage of the new beginnings in my life. To revel in the fresh starts. To embrace the new opportunities. And most of all as a teacher, to GIVE everyone a fresh start. To leave behind the aggravations of last year, and to see everyone with new eyes.

Because, after all, don't we get that fresh start too? God doesn't keep track of our past sins and hold those against us in a supernatural tally sheet. He doesn't remember those things we did last year to grieve Him. He gives us a fresh start, and so we should do the same for others.

I LOVE this time of year.
K :)

Monday, August 6, 2012


While in Washington DC, Carol took me to the National Cathedral. I was NOT expecting to be as moved by this building as I was. Even though it is an Episcopal Church, and services are held there all the time, it is really a beautiful Gothic Revival building.

Awhile back, the whole east coast had a pretty big earthquake, and some pieces fell off the cathedral:

I'm SO glad that this random guy walked behind them, just as I was taking a picture, so you can see how huge they really are! These are sitting out in front of the cathedral, and I'm not sure when there are plans to replace them.  If you look at the following picture closely, you can see the minarets that they fell off of. They are flat on top, unlike their neighbors:

Broken minaret - right in the center.
The main sanctuary is beautiful, and has gorgeous stained-glass windows all around it. Note the black netting on the inside, because they weren't sure if any pieces would fall on the inside:

This picture is from the main platform, looking up into the nave where a service was taking place:
As I was taking the above picture, right next to my left leg was the seat where Nancy sat for Ronald Reagan's funereal. Lots of Presidents and important people have had funereals here, and Woodrow Wilson is actually buried here. Well, not actually buried - his crypt is here.

Woodrow Wilson's crypt

The stained-glass over Woodrow Wilson's crypt.
There are other beautiful stained-glass windows also, like the Space window:
And the Colorado window. Look closely for the Air Force Academy Chapel at the top:
There is a hall with the flag of every state:
And lots of little chapels off of every hallway. This one was being prepared for Sunday Services, with fresh flowers:
I happened upon this crucifix while wandering the halls and finding other little chapels:
Carol and I went up to the 7th floor observatory, and could see several states. This is a view of Washington - notice the Washington Monument sticking up right in the middle:
And this is looking down from the observatory, on a garden that is on the property:

I think the thing that struck me most while visiting the National Cathedral was the diversity of the people there - not just different cultures, but different religions as well. I think that this place inspires reverence, no matter what you relationship with God. I'm sure that every person there was not there because of their close, personal relationship with God, but because it is beautiful, and one of the things to do. But, I really appreciate that this place is about the collision of daily life with the Holy; About how the Divine reaches down to us, regardless of what we call ourselves.

I reveled in the reverence that was there.

And it didn't matter what the people around me labeled their religion: God was there.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

dead people are everywhere

This week I got back from visiting Washington DC. Yes, I saw a bunch of the monuments, and Yes, I walked almost the entire Museum of American History, and Yes, I rode the Metro. But none of these things were what made this vacation so great.

It was the friends.

I got the stay with my friend Carol for the first 2 days, and had a great time hanging out with her. She also happens to be a fantastic Personal Tour Guide, and I was the better for that.

The world's smallest house (blue one in the center)

Mount Vernon

Christ Church in Alexandria, VA

US Marines Memorial (Iwo Jima)

Iwo Jima from the west: Notice the US Capital and Washington Monument on the right.

National Cathedral
 In the National Cathedral, there are so many beautiful stained glass windows to see, and so many little chapels to duck into, that there is something beautiful and "picture-worthy" at every  turn. BUT, Woodrow Wilson is alos buried there, and as we stood next to his crypt, I told Carol, "this creeps me out a little." I think it was just the juxtaposition of the beautiful windows, the reverent feeling, and then this crypt. And me standing about a foot away from it. Like I could have reached out and touched it. Eeewwwww...
And he's not even the only one! There are lots of crypts, and it seems like every time you turn a corner there is a crypt of some kind. Why so many dead people???

"Space" window in the National Cathedral
 In that "Space" window, you can see the big red moon in the upper center. Right in the middle of that red moon, there is a piece of the actual moon, brought back from the Apollo XI mission.

We ate at Ben's Chili Bowl: a U St. landmark since the 50's.
I did have a great time visiting all these great places, and learning a TON about George Washington. By the way, I believe he was visionary. I think he just had *something* that let him see what needed to happen at a certain time. Like when Braddock was taken out in the French and Indian War, and George just stepped in and organized the men how they needed to go in order to win that battle. Then, he said that God gave him that victory, because 2 horses were shot out from under him, and there were 4 bullet holes in his jacket, yet he came out unscathed.
AND, I have so much respect for him; At that time, money almost always had a picture of the person in power. But George eschewed the personal gratification, and featured Lady Liberty instead, so that all Americans could reflect on what makes our nation great: Liberty.

But, that was not even the best part. The best part was the part where I got to deepen my friendship with Carol. It was refreshing to spend time with her and her family - she made me feel like I was part of the family. And I am grateful.

Then I got to spend some time with my adopted sister, CherylLyn. She's not a sister by blood, but because my family has made her a part of our family. Even if she lives in Maryland now. :)

We also got to see a lot of neat places and things in the DC area. We went to Baltimore, and one of the Smithsonian Museums, and on a bus tour of the monuments after dark.

A Baltimore Neighborhood

Ship...or restaurant???

US Capital

Me, as the president. HA!

CherylLyn as the president.

Thomas Jefferson

Sunset from the Jefferson Memorial

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

Jefferson Memorial from across the tidal basin

Washington Monument

Honest Abe

Lincoln Memorial
And all these things were great as well. We both had a good time seeing things, but the best part was spending the time together. To talk without anyone else around, to hang out with just the two of us was fantastic, mostly because we never get to do that.

What a great time - great time with friends and family, great time seeing our nation's capital, great time just being together.

But as we walked out of the Smithsonian castle, there is another crypt - Smithson is buried there. Right there! Just to the right of the main doorway. And the person in the information center told me this like it was something great - "you can walk right up to  Smithson's crypt!"

No thanks, there are dead people everywhere.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


A friend of mine from church recently felt led to do something for the people who had lost their houses in the recent fire. There were 346 houses totally lost, and lots more that were damaged. So Mandy set out to do something.

She set up a "Free Garage Sale". Meaning, anyone with an ID and address on the affected streets could come to our garage sale, and shop for free. No money. Nothing cost anything. She got a church to give us some space to do the sale, and a bunch of people to donate things that one might need after losing almost everything. She had volunteers to do everything in running the sale, and coordinated with the disaster relief effort going on nearby - they were helping people sift through the ashes of their homes, and using this church as a home base. They handed out water all day, and sent people inside to do some "shopping".

So I dropped off lots of sheet sets and comforters that Mom and I had culled from the cabin and our homes. And I told Mandy I would come back early Saturday morning and help get things opened up for the day.

So yesterday morning, I got some coffee and headed over to the church early in the morning. I had to be there at 7:30, and as my Mom says, "That's ALL THE WAY on the other SIDE OF TOWN!". So I went.

I didn't do much, except check-in volunteers, give people tours of the sale space, and smile and be friendly.

But let me just tell you.

As I was driving away, I got to thinking about those people that came to the sale. And I got to thinking about how they must be feeling right about now, as the shock has worn off and the finality of things set in. About how they must feel every time they have to meet with an insurance adjuster, and how they must feel sending in a mortgage payment on a house that doesn't exist anymore.

And I recalled the gratitude of the people as they asked over and over, "You mean we can take ANYTHING?" "We don't have to pay for it?" And their incredulous expressions as that information set in.

And I thought that even though I can intellectually understand the enormity of what has happened, I do not truly have empathy for them. I cannot wrap my mind around all the things they are dealing with at this point.

So I prayed as I drove home that God would give me more empathy for these neighbors of mine, and the will to find another way to help.

And then I was thankful for Mandy. That she had found a way to provide a little bit of hope to these people that must need some encouragement. And that God told her to do something and she obeyed.

And then I looked to the west, at the charred hills, and prayed for my neighbors who lost homes. That they would find what they need to go on and thrive. And I think God gave me a little bit more empathy, right then.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

thoughts on what is important

Last week I went on a trip with about 90 people from my church. We had done a VBS here 2 weeks prior, and in order to be a blessing to a new church plant in Kansas City, we took our VBS there and did it for their church kids and the kids in the neighborhood.

What a great week. Our team was fantastic, and flexible, and wonderful to live with for a week. Even in the heat.

Closing Craziness

Our awesome team

Amazing students working with kids that came to VBS

Me, leading one of the sessions
I a grateful for the students that gave a week of their summer and went. They did a fantastic job of doing ANYTHING that needed to be done. Of loving on those kids that came to VBS. Of not complaining about the heat. And did I mention it was HOT? The hottest day was Wednesday, where we topped out at 105 degrees and about 60% humidity. You know how when you are baking, and you open the oven door, and the heat hits you in the face like a frying pan? That's how it felt every time you walked out into the heat.

But the heat aside, it was a great trip. We had a great time with the kids that came, many of them not knowing anything about church or God at all. Our students loved on these kids, and had fun with these kids, and most importantly showed Jesus to these kids. It was awesome.

But in the midst of this amazing journey, we had a reality check from back home. The day we left was the day that a fire started up in the canyon to the west of our city. We heard about the fire, but it was mostly background to the great things happening at our VBS trip. Until Tuesday. Tuesday, June 26, 2012 was the day that the winds shifted to the west, and the fire rolled over the mountains down into the city. At the worst, 35,000 people were evacuated out of their homes, 349 homes were destroyed by fire, and 2 people were killed. Even now, 2 weeks later, the fire is only at 80% containment, and there are still firefighters up in the hills working to keep any hot spots down, and contain the northern fire lines.

While this was happening back here at home, our phones were "blowing up" with texts and pictures from friends, and facebook posts and pictures about the fire. We had messages from out of state friends asking if we were OK. We had facebook pictures of the fire and destruction. We were streaming news to find out what was actually happening. But the worst was that we had several students and adults on the trip that were in the evacuation zone. Their house and family was threatened while they were away and couldn't be near. Eventually, we had to shut off the news, because it was really freaking several of them out, looking at pictures of the fire that was coming dangerously close to their homes.

We had several very personal discussions about how we have to trust God, because there is nothing we can do about this from Kansas City. Ironically, Trust God was the theme of our VBS, and we quite literally lived that out during the week. We went over what the important things are: Your family is safe. Your pets are at a shelter. You are here and safe. Your parents have gotten the few important possessions out of the house. You MUST trust God at this point. But when you are 12 years old, and on one of your first missions trips away from home, that is a difficult thing to do while looking at pictures like those above and knowing your house is in the path of that fire.

This past week, I have come to the conclusion that my friend Diane said it best: It comes down to Faith, Family and Friends. Everything else is just "stuff". In the heart of the fire raging, I asked my parents go to my house and pick up a couple papers for me. My mom asked if I wanted her to take anything else, and my answer was like Diane's: no. It's all just stuff.

If I was here, I probably would have taken a couple things that have sentimental meaning for me, but in the end, all that is still just stuff.

The important things in life are the things that cannot be quantified on an insurance form. Family. Faith. Eternal work for God's kingdom. And relationships with friends.

Am I glad it took this literal trial by fire to cement these things in my heart? No.
Am I thankful that I am a changed person, and have a clear vision of what IS important in life? Absolutely.

And as a final note, I am SUPREMELY grateful to those firefighters that have fought this fire for the past 2 weeks, and continue to do so. There are not enough words to express our gratitude to you.

Thank you.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


I have discovered that I am not very flexible. OK, I am flexible, but not flexible ENOUGH.

No, I'm not talking about Yoga-type flexible. Though, I am less yoga-type flexible than I used to be when I was younger.

I'm talking about attitude-type flexible.

You see, I am not a laid-back, easy-going type person. I truly aspire to be, but it is not in my nature. I WANT to be go-with-the-flow. I WANT to be that person that  isn't bothered by anything. But, alas, I am not like that. I am at heart a Type A, control-freak kind of a person.

But I am trying.

I am really trying to be more flexible. I am praying for God to give me flexibility. I am praying that I am more able to roll with the punches, and able to adjust as needed. Because this week I think I will need it.

I am going on a work trip with church, and there is NO TELLING what is going to happen. But it is my prayer that God uses this trip in me to make me a better person, and to make me a more flexible person. Oh, I KNOW He is going to work.

I'm just praying that He works in me too.

Here's to flexing. :)

Sunday, June 17, 2012


And here we are.

'Tis the season of Blanket Roulette.

Today I put a blanket back on my bed. But this is the same blanket I took off about a week ago. And I took a different blanket off about 3 weeks before that.

3 days ago, it was SO hot when I was trying to go to sleep that I had bad dreams. Until it finally cooled off outside and when my alarm went off I was snuggled under my blankets all wrapped up like a burrito.

My favorite thing about living in Colorado is living with the windows open. When it is truly summer, I have to close them during the day, but as soon as the sun goes down I fling them wide open. There also may be a fan or two around to circulate the fresh Colorado air through my  house.

And it is delicious.

But no doubt that in a day or two I will have to either add or subtract a blanket (or several) to make for good sleeping.

But oh, let the worst problem I ever have be blanket roulette.
Thank you Lord, for the beautiful Colorado weather, and especially for the cool(ish) nights.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Tonight I am full.

No, not full of food (though that might be true, thank you Sarah for your wonderful dessert!).

I am full of blessings, full of good friendship, full of dinner with friends and lots of good conversation. I am full.

I was just driving home, and thinking about how wonderful life is, and how blessed I am with good friends and fellowship. I had dinner at a friend's house tonight. And, actually, some people might think it was unusual. You see, Amanda was a teacher at my school, and we were good co-workers and team mates. But then she got pregnant and stopped working partly through the school year when she had her baby (who is ADORABLE, might I add.)

So currently we are not co-workers, but we have become friends. And I am blessed to have good friends.

So thanks for the dinner, Amanda. And for the fellowship. And for the laughs and for letting me hold the baby, even though he fussed. :)

I am full.

And I am blessed.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Playing cards.

Today I am thankful for playing cards.

Last weekend the family went up to the cabin in the mountains and just hung out as a family for Memorial Day weekend. It was lovely. My assignment was 1 watermelon and 2 cantaloupe, so that was the sum total of my cooking for the weekend - cutting up those melons. And, someone (thank you mom and Dan) had made coffee each morning before I even got out of bed, so I didn't even have to do that. And I can already hear you asking, so I will preemptively answer your question: No I did not sleep half the day away. I set my alarm each morning for about 7am, and then hit snooze once or twice. That's it.

But I did nap most afternoons...  :)

So I grew up watching, and then as I got older, playing card games. The preferred game was pinochle, but there were others, such as the Twist version of London Rummy. For example, my Grandma Annie taught me how to play solitaire. I still think of her every time I deal out a game of solitaire.

Anyway, pinochle.

My brother-in-law always thought of pinochle as an "old people game", and then he married into our family. We do play us some pinochle. And it is fun. There are always rules, like "Dan and Pop can't be on the same team" and the like, but it is fun to play together. Last weekend we played pinochle 2 evenings, after the nephews went to bed, and it was a terribly fun way to spend time together as a family.

So I'm thankful for cards. I guess I could be thankful for my family, but that's been done. :)

Here's to more playing cards, and spirited family game-playing in love.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Today I saw an accident.

Let me be clear: I'm sure no one was hurt. At least not hurt badly - it was just a fender-bender.

As I was driving down a pretty big street, there was traffic waiting off to my right at a red light.  They were waiting to right-on-red and go the same way I was traveling. As I looked over at them, I saw the 2nd car in line run into the back of the 1st car in line. I'm sure it was because that 2nd car was looking to the left, to see what was coming, and not paying attention to the 1st car and whether they were going. Or NOT going, as the case turned out to be.

Anyway, like I said, I'm sure no one was hurt badly. They didn't hit very hard, and they weren't going very fast. But as I continued on, I realized that this situation is just like life. So often I get to looking at what is coming down the road a ways, instead of focusing on what I am doing right now. And it occurred to me that it is our job to do well at what we are doing now - not looking at what is coming next.

Make sure to keep your eyes on what God has given you to do right now - not what you want to do later, or what you think He has for you after this. If you don't focus on what you have right now, you're liable to get into a fender-bender.

Though I could stand some body-work...
K :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012


As I might have mentioned at some point, we are nearing the end of school. :)

This week I have been doing a Jazz unit with all my kids. I usually read them a book about a Jazz artist, and then we listen to a couple songs, discuss the person, see if there are any life lessons we can learn from them, and then watch a short clip of them performing. I've done several, all with a different grade level: Dizzy Gillespie, Django Reinhardt, Mary Lou Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and John Coltrane. I have really enjoyed it, and I think the kids like it too, mostly because it is out of the ordinary for them.

Earlier this week, I was reading the book about Mary Lou Williams to a class. There is a section about when they move from Atlanta up to Pittsburgh. In general, it was a hard time. She had to leave her organ behind, it was a long trip, and when they got there the neighbors weren't very welcoming. In fact, at one point, someone threw a brick through their window.

Well, at that exact moment, with better timing than if I had arranged it ahead of time, one of the boys GASPED loudly, and then in a hushed whisper said "NO!". I looked at him and I quietly said, "I KNOW!"

I tried not to laugh, I really did. But his timing was impecable.

But the thing I loved most was that he was outraged. That he couldn't believe that someone could actually do something like that. I loved that his outrage overtook him and made him burst out with "NO!".

Best outburst I've ever had. In any class. Ever.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


On Sunday, I was moved. And I cried. This is a lot to happen in one day...

But the movement in question happened as a result of a concert. Not a shocker that I was at a concert, but what happened to me was totally out of my ordinary.

Several people I know were singing in the Sunday performance of Carmina Burana. This was the Youth Symphony, the local Ballet Theatre, the Children's Chorale as well as about 300 singers from several local choirs. In case you are not familiar, here is a clip of the last piece, which happens to be the same as the opening:

Now I have performed this piece 3 times, and this was my 3rd time attending a performance. But I was totally unprepared for what happened when the first notes played. I had watched the performers walk out on stage. I had watched as the conductor got them ready. I knew the piece very well, so I knew exactly when he was starting, and I knew what to expect. I could have sung along.

But I wasn't ready for this. As that first drum note sounded (BOOM!) and the chorus sang those first words (Oh Fortuna!) I was taken aback, and a tear slipped down my cheek. As they sang more words, more tears. Until, finally, I had tears streaming down my cheeks, and I couldn't stop them.

I think the shocking thing about those tears was that I knew exactly what to expect. I knew the music enough to sing it from memory. I knew the piece, and had listened to it several times before. But still...tears.

As I sat there crying in the dark, thinking about how beautiful this music is, it struck me that music is magical.

I know that there are a limited number of ways to put together a chord progression to comply with accepted western musical theory. I know the nuts and bolts of music. I have performed so much music that I couldn't list it. But still...

The fact that I know music, and even more that I know THIS music didn't change those tears from coming.


Now here's the confession of the day: I'm not really a cry-er. I don't cry all that often, and even a sad movie has to be REALLY moving for me to shed a tear. I'm not someone who cries often.

Which makes this episode all the more intriguing, and makes my gut reaction of tears almost astonishing. I wanted to turn to the person next to me and ask, "Don't you realize how amazing this music is?"

But don't you realize that I didn't even know how amazing this music is?
How amazing music is?


Saturday, May 5, 2012


I believe we are going through a plague.

The moths are among us. How can something that only lives for 20 days be such a nuisance? And why do they always fly RIGHT at your face? My vacuum cleaner is full of moth carcasses. But I will admit that attacking them with a flyswatter is GLORIOUS!!! I bought 4 brand-spankin-new flyswatters last week - 2 for my classroom, and 2 for home. Boy oh boy, I have used those things like crazy. And I am taking out every ounce of hate I have ever had in my whole life, whapping at those moths.

And now that it seems like the moths are dying out, we are being attacked by the cottonwood tree blooms. As I was driving home the other day I was dreaming up a way to "catch" these little natural cotton balls that always seem to get stuck in my mouth. It involved a tennis racket, and some duct tape. But I can't tell you the rest, because I'm pretty sure the patent will make me tons of money.

Yeah, I know, the moths are not really a plague. But they are REALLY annoying.

For reals, the last couple weeks of school is a plague. We have about 2 and a half weeks of school left, and I don't know if I can make it. OK, OK, I can make it. But it doesn't feel like it.

I don't really need a whole summer off - I just need a break. And I know lots of people that feel the same way.

Why does it not matter when the "end" is...we still look for it and count down the days?

Is that a natural human inclination - to always look forward to the end? To look forward to the next thing coming down the pike? What happens if we don't have anything to look forward to? Would that affect our human-ness, if we didn't ever look forward? To the next break? To the next vacation? To the next...

I can say for sure that I am looking forward to being off school for some time. If that makes me more human, than so be it. Human I am.

But I will be human with 10 weeks off work.
K :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Last week I was humbled.

No, not like "I'm such a humble person."

I did something wrong, and totally had to humble myself and ask for forgiveness.

I spoke to someone at work harshly, and I shouldn't have. I had to go tell them I was wrong, and ask for forgiveness. But I am fortunate, because she was sweet to me, and everything is alright now.

Then, I had to apologize again. I had talked to our Assistant Principal about something, and gotten all upset that several of us weren't told about a situation.

Well. It turns out that the information we had was wrong, and we never needed to be told. I had to tell her I was sorry, and that my information was wrong, and that I should have checked it out before getting all irritable with her. She also was very gracious, and said I could talk to her any time. I do believe that. I believe that I CAN talk to her anytime, and if she has any answers she will give them.

But I also know that I jumped the gun, and should have checked out that information before assuming that we were slighted.


Doesn't it always seem like things are clicking along great, and then a stick is thrown in your bicycle tire, and you end up gym-pants over tennis shoes on the ground? Then you have to regroup. That's what I felt like last week. Like I had to regroup. Like I was not a very good person. Like I am a big mess.

But you see, I am a big mess. I am human, and make mistakes just like everyone. Just because I have a low tolerance for mistakes doesn't mean that I don't ever make them.

I guess the lesson from last week is to think before you speak. Lesson learned. For now. I'm sure I will have this problem again, but I'm thankful that I am flexible enough to learn lessons. That I can learn from my mistakes. That I am able to humble myself and apologize.

I used to pray for flexibility, and I guess this is the answer to those prayers. Thank you God, for loving me enough to teach me and make me a better person.

Can it not be so painful next time???

Friday, April 13, 2012

on the moment

Yesterday was the Spring Concert at school. 1st grade, 2nd grade and 3rd grade all performed, and they did great. I was very proud of them. One of the boys that sang a solo has had some significant challenges in life and in school, and he did so well yesterday that it truly was inspiring to see how far he has come. 2nd grade sang a song about the Olympics, and since my sister carried the Olympic torch in 2002, she let me have the torch for the past week. All the kids got to hold it, and my sister came to talk to all the 2nd graders. She is fantastic. Today was Teacher Appreciation - we had a wonderful lunch, and there was an improv group that performed, and we took funny staff pictures. It has been a great week, and I am blessed. Blessed to have a job that I love, blessed to have a family that I love and that love me, blessed to be able to influence so many kids, and teach them about all things musical.

Just as a forewarning, one of my parents at school showed her appreciation for the concert with a bottle of wine, and I am enjoying a glass.

This might get a little wordy...

As I was driving home today (WAY before having any wine), I got to thinking about how people often look at the short-term, and fail to see anything past the moment. Actually, I was thinking about the person that cut me off, but this is the philosophical side of that rant...

But really. I think that people often fail to see that there are often some pretty large consequences for decisions that we make, and that the possibility of them affecting us for a long time to come is huge.

Like, take that guy that cut me off. He was probably in a hurry, and had to get somewhere RIGHT NOW.
Or maybe he was just impatient. I don't know. But what will happen when he zips through a light at the last minute, and gets T-Boned by another car? What happens when he tries to zip around someone going too slow and side-swipes a van with a family in it?

Or let's take the possibility of making a rash decision with only the immediate present in mind, without consideration of what could happen to the future. Like, perhaps, leaving things in the car without taking precautions - leaving your purse on the front seat to...who knows. Leaving a closed laptop bag in the car, whether there is a laptop in it or not. Not properly protecting your valuables, or being mindful of where your purse/key/phone is. 

Is this the difference between being young and old? Between being ignorant and wizened? Between being cautious and carefree? What makes people think about just this very moment, and what makes people consider the possibility that things could happen that have a ripple-effect far into the future?

Why do some people not care about the future at all, and just completely live for this moment? Does this explain the recidivism rate for prisoners? Obviously jail is not THAT much of a deterrent, otherwise there would never be anybody going back that had ever been in jail in the first place.

Why would someone drive like there was no tomorrow, considering all the things that could go wrong, and all the damage that could be done?

Is there a way to instill an eye toward the future into people, or will they always only be mindful of the moment?
Just wonderin'...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

update and music

OK, this is an update to say that I'm not going to update - yet. I DID work on the spare bedroom project of 2012, but I did not get it done. I made some good progress, but it is NOT done.

So, I'm going to put it on hold, until school gets a little less crazy. This means I'll be back sometime in May with the final picture. I know, you can hardly stand it...

On a very exciting note, today I watched a segment of 60 minutes that made me cry. And it made me smile. And it was possibly one of the coolest things I have seen in a long time.

It was on a symphony orchestra. But not just any symphony orchestra - it was on L'Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste. It is based in Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo. This report talked about the hardships that people face living there, in one of the poorest places on the planet. They talked about the struggles that many of the people face, often living on less that $50 a month. They talked about how there is not really any culture to speak of in this city, but...yet...there is a symphony orchestra.

What a fantastic feat of human resilience, to start, nurture, procure instruments for, teach lessons in support of, and direct this symphony orchestra and chorus. I am in awe of this man, Armand Diengienda. He put everything into making this project work, and it has become his life.

What a great life.

In the segment, they were performing Beethoven's 9th Symphony finale, and it was majestic. Having personally sung this piece at least 3 times, it gave me a special connection to people on the other side of the planet.

I got it.

And it gave me a little tear as well. The first time I performed this piece, it was the last thing that Pierce Arant performed. He passed away soon after, but he was a fantastic conducting professor, and I learned a lot from him. Whenever I hear Beethoven's 9th, it makes me think about Dr. Arant and how lucky I was to study under him.

And this piece also makes me think about the common condition of man, and how much I have in common with French-speaking people living in the DRC. What a small world.

So I give them and Mr. Diengienda a huge round of applause and a couple high-fives. Keep playing, and making great music. Even if it is an abandoned warehouse in Kinshasa, keep at it.

And thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for keeping music alive everywhere.

Monday, March 26, 2012

letting go

First things first, it is Spring Break. I might not have words to express my excitement at being on break!

Today I got a massage. Maybe it's my reward for making it to break. :) Anyway, I was laying there as Carrie kneaded the knots out of my shoulders and back, and I was telling myself to relax. I would find that my muscles would involuntarily tense up, and I had to tell myself to relax them. It got me to thinking about how important it is to be able to let go. Yes, in the muscular sense, but also in life.

I think it would be terrible to not be able to let anything go. I got thinking about things I've had to let go of in the past. I got to thinking about how painful it is to hold on to everything and to not let go of anything.

I think this is an important life skill, and that not everybody has it. Have you ever known someone who just couldn't let anything go? Who was always holding a grudge? Who couldn't ever relax because they were so busy holding on to everything that has ever happened to them?


I SO do not want to be that person. So here's to practicing letting go.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


My nephew goes to school at the same place where I teach. Yesterday I was walking down to the art room where I eat lunch every day, and he was walking toward me with his lunch to microwave. I asked him if he was OK, or if he wanted me to come down with him. He thought for a couple seconds.

"Ahh...I want you to come down. I like it when I just get to talk to you."

Well. Out of the mouth of a 7-year-old.

I think that might be the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me. :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

way to live

This sign is for my Mom.

I've already printed it out and posted it on her refrigerator, but it makes me both laugh and think of her every time I see it.

And besides, it's a good way to live.

I'm just sayin'...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

old people

Today I wrote to my Auntie Carolyn.

She's so cool.

And, yes, she's an old person. But she is one of the coolest people I know, old or not. I was thinking about her lately, so I sat down and wrote her a letter.

I used to do this all the time, but it was to my Grandma Annie. We lived across the country from each other, so when I got to thinking about her, I wrote her a card. And then we started the chain letter, but that's a whole 'nother story. Grandma Annie's gone now, so it would be, well, different to write to her, but I still sometimes have the urge to connect with old people. So I write to the old people I have left: Auntie Carolyn, and also my Grandma Betty. I wrote to her today too. Somehow, even though I'm not actually writing to Grandma Annie, it feels a little bit like I am honoring her by writing to old people.

Anyway, Here is a picture of Auntie Carolyn and me from a couple years ago. We were sitting on the balcony of the Claremont Hotel in Berkley, CA.

Aren't we just the cutest?

I guess my point in saying this is that I'm grateful for all the old people God has put in my life.

I'm blessed for growing up having 6 Grandparents.

I love having my Auntie Carolyn. Even though she is technically my Dad's aunt, she's MY Auntie Carolyn.

I'm extremely blessed for KNOWING and loving my Grandparents, and knowing that they love me.

I'm so lucky that I got to spend time with old people, and that I still get to spend time with the ones that are still around.

I'm sad for kids that don't have any old people in their life - they are missing out.

I hope I can be an old person to someone else, like they were and are to me.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

lord have mercy...

Yesterday I wrote about my March Madness project: cleaning and reorganizing the spare bedroom. Huge thanks to Rachel at Home Sanctuary for the encouragement to do this.
As promised, here are my pictures of the spare bedroom.

Out. Of. Control.

the crazy desk area
the bed/couch/staging area/sweater drying rack
the rest of the room
And can I please point out that you can't even SEE the wrapping paper on the other side of the shelving...

I am praying for discipline and patience to tackle the mess that I have created.
But this is my attempt to be accountable, and here I go. My first accomplishment is that I did clean all the papers off my desk tonight. Project 1 down. Only 87 more to go...

Here's to using your space, and not having your space take you over. I just watched an episode of "Obsessive Compulsive Hoarders", and that MAY be encouraging me to get this done... :)