Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sobering Up

Hi. My name is Gina. I am a dietcokeaholic.
I was first introduced to the drug diet colas in my teens. Yes, I admit I experimented with TAB.  Longing to keep my figure in check, I sipped on the bitter, saccharine flavor of a drink long forgotten by most. Peer pressure at its best. I was a pushover. It looked so appealing in its slender bottle, but it quickly fizzled out as a choice beverage.

Then came the college years. 1982. Diet Coke arrived on the scene.  My first hit drink of the liquid drug was at a Wendy's in Statesboro, Georgia. The juicy burger, the fries, and that amazing Diet Coke... Ahhhhh! It was a love at first sip. 

Except for a brief time where I had the urge to keep a stockpile on hand for some reason, I really only drank when I was stressed, wanted to reward myself, or ate a hamburger, a pizza, or Mexican food. Which was pretty much every day!

Since January though, I have been reevaluating my eating (and drinking) habits. In early February, I read an article about Blood:Water Mission which challenged me to give up all other beverages, besides water from February 17 - April 3, keep a tab of what I would have spent, and at the end of the 40 days, donate that money to Blood:Water Mission. 

Made me think....How much money I wasted daily on something that really wasn't even good for my body at all.
And I figured if I saved $2 a day just by forgoing my daily Diet coke (on ice), then I'd save $80 in 40 days. That would be enough to provide clean water for 80 people for an entire year! How cool is that?

So here I am...been drinking water ONLY for a week now. Seven days of sobriety. Honestly, I never realized how hooked I was til I decided to give up something so simple. 


Monday, February 22, 2010

Exceeding gifts...

However many blessings we expect from God,
 His infinite liberality will always exceed 
all our wishes and our thoughts. 
-John Calvin
644. Griff, my youngest son

645. healing burns

646. restored eyesight

647. medical care

648. prayers of family and friends

649. oldest son's humor and wit

650. daughter's selflessness

Life interrupted

Call it mother's intuition. Or call me a worry-wart, a mother hen, I don't care. But I have been really unsettled about where my son has been working the past month or so. See, he took a job with a local chemical company and well, let's just say I am a little nervous about those kind of places. OK, a lot nervous!

Two weeks ago, he encountered a minor incident where a small amount of the toxic chemical strangely leaked out of a hose and sprayed droplets on his lip and face. Nothing really to be alarmed about unless you are me...his mother. When I saw him, I urged him to look for another job and in the meantime make sure he wore all the protective gear, etc. He rolled his eyes and said "I do wear it...and Moma, I am not a kid anymore, quit worrying!"

Last Wednesday morning began as usual. Husband left for work. Daughter and I talked about her plans for after school and later that evening to celebrate her 18th birthday with her boyfriend...then she left. I was digging through a box of some old photos of the kids when the phone rang. My husband in an attempt to stay calm on the phone asked, "Are you up and dressed?"
I immediately knew something was wrong.

It was Griff. He had been hurt at work. I dropped the phone and quickly dressed into something that was laying on the bathroom floor. The drive to the hospital was a complete blur. After I got to the hospital I learned more specifics of the accident.
Griff was processing 30,000 lbs of Sodium Hydroxide, at 170 degrees F, from a holding tank through the mix equipment. When he opened the valve to allow the chemical to flow through the strainer/filter, unfortunately the lid had not been tightened by the previous shift. The pressure created by gravity and the weight of 30,000 lbs. through the strainer/filter caused the lid to lift, blowing off Griff's protective face mask and helmet. The chemical sprayed all over him since he was standing only 3 feet from the leak. Griff quickly removed his clothes, all the while moving to the shower to wash himself off. He stayed under the shower, cold water and outside the building at 5 a.m., for better than a half hour attempting to rid himself of the chemicals which already were attacking his head, his neck, his face, his eyes and other parts of his body. 

After four days in the hospital, this mom can finally breathe a small sigh of relief. And at this point, thankfully, there doesn't seem to be any permanent damage done to his eyes. In time, the burns on his ear and neck will fade. Some scarring may linger. But, oh how grateful I am that it was not any worse. 

Not exactly what I expected last week to be like.

Not what anyone would wish for.

Interruptions can be like that.

Screeching halt. Brakes on life. Sudden stops that turn our world upside down or right side up, if needed. Looking to Him. Remembering what really matters. 

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I will remain with you

Behold, Lord, an empty vessel that needs to be filled. 
My Lord, fill it. I am weak in the faith; strengthen me.
 I am cold in love; warm me and make me fervent,
 that my love may go out to my neighbor.
 I do not have a strong and firm faith;
at times I doubt and am unable to trust you altogether.
 O Lord,help me. 
Strengthen my faith and trust in you. 
In you I have sealed the treasure of all I have. 
I am poor; you are rich and came to be merciful to the poor.
I am a sinner; you are upright.
 With me, there is an abundance of sin; in you is the fullness of righteousness. 
Therefore I will remain with you, of whom I can receive, but to whom I may not give. 
-Martin Luther

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A look at love

God the one and only ---
I'll wait as long as he says.
Everything I hope for comes from him, 
so why not?
Psalm 62:5

I had good intentions. Really. I planned to post some lovely romantic thoughts and download some nice pictures taken over the long Valentine weekend. But, well, life and its happenings over-ruled. I still may get around to that later though. It will just have to wait.
For now, I am looking at love from a much different angle than originally planned.

Here goes....

I am pondering a  relationship that  never disappoints, shortchanges, disregards or ignores me. It's the relationship I  have with the lover of my soul: Jesus.

I am so thankful that He accepts me just as I am.
The One that knows every ugly flaw, yet covers me with grace.
The One who hears my every cry, but never tires of listening.
The One who sees every obstacle and makes a way.
He has never disappointed me.

Wish I could say I reciprocate and return that love, but more often than not, I am cold.  Doubting. Even lifeless. Hard. Gray, bare limbs reaching much like the birch trees seen on a recent winter walk.

But, today I saw Spring. Not in the actual warming temperatures outside, but a warmth, a thawing, a promise kept in the middle of what I thought was hopeless. In a classroom. A heart with layers of mistrust began to shed, like bark falling from a tree. A shy smile burst through hardened turf.  

The long-awaited for spring weather, the greening of the grass, the blooming of every dead bush, the times when I think He has forgotten, He gently whispers, "wait." And He keeps His promise. Now that's love.

Since before time began
 no one has ever imagined,
 no ear heard, no eye seen, 
a God like you who works 
for those who wait for him. 
Psalm 64:4

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change

Upon those who step into the same rivers
 flow other and yet other waters. 
All things...are in flux like a river.

Just when the new doesn't seem so mysterious and frightening anymore...just when things are becoming routine and somewhat comfortable, the rug always gets pulled out from under my feet, so to speak. 

See, tomorrow I will gain, not one, but five new students to the already twelve students I have. Our room is small, space is limited, and many of the students need help on a regular basis. 

Stressed? Anxious?  YES. 
Me and my current students.
So true the saying, The only thing that is constant is change.

Why is it so hard to accept? This constant change. The ever evolving current and stirring waters. 

Perhaps change is necessary, less I become like a stagnant pool of water. A community within its self. Harboring, yet too protected. Closed off. Suffocating. Lifeless.
Rather, I should view this place as a  life-giving river, flowing, moving, changing, and growing. 
Clinging to the ONE who knows my name...the ONE who can calm the waters...the ONE who gives peace like a river.

Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you. 
  I've called your name. You're mine.

When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you. 
   When you're in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you're between a rock and a hard place, 
   it won't be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God, 
   The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you...
That's how much you mean to me! 
   That's how much I love you!
I'd sell off the whole world to get you back, 
   trade the creation just for you.

Isaiah 43:2

Bless you!

picture of daughter, Savannah-Jane last summer

When the first light of sun, 
Bless you. 
When the long day is done,  
Bless you.
In your smiles and your tears,
 Bless You.
Through each day of your years, 
Bless you.
Irish blessing 

The 1000 Gifts List continues. Listing things...joys and blessings recognized. Simple, yet profound. 

639. spending day with daughter, at her request

640. sunshine on my face, long awaited for

641. phone call from someone special, encouraging

642. cozy blanket and a good book, comforting

643. students, second chances for us both

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Bread of Life

You satisfy the hungry heart with gift of finest wheat. 
Come give to us, O saving Lord, the bread of life to eat.
Robert E. Kreutz

 On a quest to find a Starbucks before heading home today, daughter and I stopped off at a wonderful little place called
The Bread House & Granary. 
I remember reading about it in a magazine a while back and was delighted to actually find it today.
The whole grain wheat flour is milled on site and the loaves are kneaded and shaped by hand.
What is even more exciting to me is that the Bread House
"provides healthy products for enhanced bodily healthy and the nourishment of souls while employing , empowering and transforming women through God's healing mercy and grace. GraceWay residents work in the granary and learn new skill sets. These employees give back to the community and begin rebuilding their lives based on the promises and Word of God."

How cool is that? A ministry in the marketplace.

My Saturday

Today a new sun rises for me; everything lives, everything is animated, everything seems to speak to me of my passion, everything invites me to cherish it.  
-Ninon de Lencios

Saturday started early. Not a creature stirring. That is, until the cracked egg landed in the frying pan. Then suddenly, I had company. Max, our beloved miniature, nervous-as-a cat, drama king of a daschund made his way to the kitchen. Those eyes. That posture. Begging, pleading for a fried egg of his own. How could I resist? 

He knows just how to get his way. It's not only about the eyes. He resorts to an annoying whine, too that pulls at my heartstrings. Sucker, I am. 

(The picture of Max was taken at Christmas, not this morning. Same begging, pleading posture though. Someone give him an Emmy! Or better yet, a fried egg will work.)

More footsteps, too this morning made their way downstairs. These belonged to our beloved, baby girl now a woman that rules this house. Savannah-Jane, that daughter of ours. Those eyes, that heart, that spirit. She prepares her own breakfast and asks, "Mom, you gonna be ready to go at 8:00?" And I answer, "Sure babe!"
How can I resist?

And so it was a day together, somewhat. Visiting that boy she's crazy over. But still, there was the four hours in the car. Alone together. Girl talk. Starbucks. Good times. Pulling at my heartstrings. Sucker, I am.  

(The picture of Savannah was taken a while back.  OK, fifteen years ago. Same adorable, sweet heart.)

Friday, February 5, 2010


The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain.
 -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Monday, February 1, 2010

I am NOT smarter than a 5th grader!

I confess. It's really embarrassing, but I have limited teaching skills when it comes to teaching Math above 5th grade. I don't have to have Jeff Foxworthy prove it to me. See, I already know it.
I am NOT smarter than a 5th grader!

Algebraic and Geometric configurations cause me to bite my nails and break out in a sweat.
This explains my desperate need for a manicure and the lovely arm-pit sweat stains on everything I wear these days. See I applied for, and surprisingly got hired for a job as a teacher of 16 and 17 year-old high school dropouts preparing for the GED.

Three weeks into this job I realize that most of these kids are still  struggling with multiplication, fractions, and integers which, thankfully, I am able to help them with. Coupled with their academic challenges are some pretty serious personal struggles, too. Parents divorcing, unemployment, teen pregnancy, etc.

Some days I wonder if I am making a difference. I wonder if their lives will improve. I'm not sure.
But one thing I am certain about is that we do have a common denominator. (math pun intended)

See, I have had my own struggles. I remember being their age. I know what it meant for that one person to  offer help. Advice. Just an encouraging word.

Yet I can't forget, the very first day on this job. A seasoned teacher/Catholic nun told me, "Just remember, you can't save the world, Jesus already did." Good, practical advice for one that tends to take on the burdens of the world.

So, I do ask that you pray that this job, however long I am at it, will honor the Lord. That somehow they might see Him in my humble actions. That maybe their lives will be changed. I know mine has already.