“…a little bit of this, a little bit of that”

the ramblings and musings of an elementary music teacher and aunt extraordinaire

Thankful Thursday #7 May 31, 2007

Filed under: Thankful Thursday — marlise @ 1:42 pm

I Chronicles 16:34 (NASB)
“O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.”

It’s hard for me to know where to begin this week. Trials have hit hard in the last week, and it makes writing this list a little difficult. It’s not difficult because I’m not thankful. It’s difficult because God has so richly blessed with comfort and grace that I have trouble knowing where to begin.

1. First, I’m thankful that when my roommate received a phone call that her sister had been shot by her husband, I was there with her to drive her over to the house, to pray, and to call church and school people to have them join in praying for the family.

2. I’m thankful that even though the victim’s mother and sons (my roommate’s mother and nephews) were in the house and saw the shooting, they were not harmed at all.

3. I’m thankful that my roommate and I go to the same church and work at the same Christian school, so I knew who to call for prayer.

4. I’m thankful that those two little boys (nephews of my roommate and my students) have so many people who love them and can care for them. I’m also thankful that they have a loving Heavenly Father that can heal even this darkest of issues for them.

5. I’m thankful that the funeral service was beautiful. The shooter’s brother was there to see the forgiveness and hear the clear presentation of the gospel.

6. I’m thankful for the devotions presented this morning in our teacher’s meeting. The leader talked about how God allowed Peter to do the impossible, walk on water, as long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus and not on the waves. I needed that reminder. I know that these next few months of grief and processing will be difficult, and I have been fearful. I know that it will not be easy to support my roommate through this time, but I know that if I keep my eyes on Jesus, He will give me the strength I need.

7. I’m thankful that even though the shooter has not been caught by the authorities, his location is no mystery to God.

8. I’m thankful that the shooter can still reach out to God for forgiveness.

9. I’m thankful that none of this took God by surprise.

Please visit Iris at Sting My Heart for even more reasons to praise the Lord.

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Praying and processing May 25, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — marlise @ 2:21 pm

This week has been….well, I’m not sure how to describe it. I’ll stick to summary of the events.

Monday– uneventful

Tuesday–busy, but basically life as usual

Wednesday–busy and here’s where everything changed
I was going all day. With a field trip scheduled for Thursday and my niece’s graduation coming up this weekend, I had lots of things on my schedule for Wednesday evening. God had different plans.
I was practicing my piano for graduation stuff when my roommate (lets call her Jan) came out of her room in tears. She had gotten a call from one of her sister’s neighbors (who also “happens” to go to the same church as my roommate and I and who also “happens” to send her kids to the school where my roommate and I both teach.) She said there were several police cars in front of Jan’s sister’s house, and she wanted make sure that Jan knew. Jan called her sister’s number several times trying to figure out what was going on. I said, “Give me a minute to change out of my sweats, I’ll ride over with you. ” I changed and came out of my room to grab keys and go. Two seconds later, the phone rang again. This time, I watched as Jan started sobbing and fell into a chair. When she hung up, I asked what happened. She said that was her mom calling to tell her that her sister’s husband had come home in a rage (they’d been having problems for a little while) and shot her sister. The police wouldn’t tell the family specifically how many times she had been shot or whether or not she was even alive. I said, “Let’s go. I’ll drive, and you can give instructions in the car.”
Jan cried and tried to call several people on the drive over. We arrived to a surreal scene. There were several police in front of the house, many people watching along the street, and crime scene tape around the house. Jan saw her parents, who are also my landlords, and they came over to her. Jan’s dad explained to me that they knew she had been shot more than once because Jan’s mom had been there when it happened, so he wasn’t very optimistic. The next few hours were very tense. I set myself to calling people from school and church to tell them to start praying. People were calling me as they heard things on the news to make sure that Jan and I were OK and that we were in a safe location. The police took Jan, her parents, and her 7-year-old nephew who saw the shooting to the police station for questioning. I hung around for a little while with the neighbor who had made the original call. We prayed together and cleaned up Jan’s 2-year-old nephew who was covered in blood. The police wanted his dirty clothes for evidence. We heard little news after this After a little while, I was ready to head home, but since we still didn’t know where the shooter was, I decided (with police encouragement) that I would spend the night at my parents’ house.
The night dragged on with little news. Finally, I decided to try to get some sleep. I tried for a little while, and then the phone rang. Jan told me that her sister had not made it. They had airlifted her to another hospital, but after they had worked on her for a little while, she died. Jan and her parents and nephew had been at the police station for a few hours. They were wrapping up and getting ready to leave when they got the call.
I didn’t get much sleep that night. First, I spent a few minutes calling my administrator and a few other people from church who had asked me to call if I got any more definite news. After the first few calls, people started telling me that they had heard on the news, so I went to bed. I spent the night thinking of the family and praying for their comfort. I also debated for a while about what I should do for Thursday. I was scheduled to chaperone a sixth grade day trip. The bus was was set to leave at 8 am and return at 11pm, but I struggled with whether I should stay behind with my friend. I finally decided to go ahead with the trip. The most I could do by staying was pray and give hugs. The praying could happen on the trip, and it sound like between our church and Jan’s parents church the hugs would be covered.

Thursday–long, somber, and surreal, mixed with fun activities and fun students
When I arrived at school for the trip, police were guarding the school. We piled on the bus and waited for everyone else to arrive. Before we left the administrator came out to pray with the students for a safe trip. He spent a few minutes telling the students that Jan’s sister who is also the parent of one of the first grade students had been shot and killed. We went for the day to the Chicago area. Our first stop, Medieval Times, just didn’t have the same appeal this time. From there, we went to the aquarium. That really was a nice break. While I was there, I got several calls. A man from church was going to visit Jan, but he wanted to check and see if that was a good idea. I told him he should definitely go. My dad and all my siblings were calling to make sure I was OK. I reassured them that I was fine–sad and concerned for my friend and my students back at school. People from my niece’s school called to make sure I was still OK with playing the piano for the graduation, and I had several more messages telling me that people were praying.
We went to the top of the John Hancock building, and then we shopped for a while before going home. On the road home, I talked with Jan for a while. She told me that the shooter’s brother-in-law had finally called. The shooter called them after the shooting and told them what happened, and then he fled. They didn’t have a clue where he went. They were stunned and shocked by it all, and the police had stormed their house looking for the shooter, so they were scared. The lady is also expecting to give birth any day now. She spent most of the day yesterday at the hospital with stress-related complications. She also said that tips had been coming in all day about the shooter’s location, but nothing was definite. The trend just seemed to be moving south.
A police officer was waiting with the parents in the parking lot when we got back to the school after our trip. Jan had asked me to call her so that I could get some things ready for her sub. I was in her classroom talking to her when the police officer and the sixth grade teacher peaked into the room. I guess I scared them. They saw my car in the parking lot after everyone else was gone, and they weren’t sure where I had gone. After talking to the police officer about the safety of going home, I decided I should probably stay one more night with my parents.
So I went back to my place and got clothes. Then, I headed over to my parents house. I went to bed right away, and I woke up thanking God. He allowed me restful sleep, and I know that it was in answer to prayers of my friends. I also spoke with Jan who said that God graciously allowed restful sleep for her and her family last night. I’m very thankful that Friday is a relatively easy day for me. I scrapped all my plans for classes. Since I had the first grade class of Jan’s nephew, I decided a video would be the best option. I sure don’t have the physical or emotional energy to teach a regular lesson.

Tonight, I have a rehearsal for graduation. Tomorrow afternoon is the graduation and graduation party. Sunday, I’m planning to get together with two friends from high school. I’m really looking forward to seeing them and having a brief diversion. Also, these are two friends I haven’t seen in ages, so I can’t wait to see them and catch up. I know I have at least a couple prayer warriors who read my blog, so I’m going to end with a few prayer requests and praises.

First, the prayer requests:

  • Pray for comfort and peace for the family
  • Pray that the authorities will be able to get the shooter soon
  • Pray for the shooter’s brother and sister-in-law as they deal with all of their struggles
  • Pray that all of them would reach out to Jesus Christ
  • Pray for Jan’s mom and two little nephews who saw their daughter/mom get shot
  • Pray that I can be serving them however God wants
  • Pray that they will continue to get restful sleep

And here is my list of praises:

  • The victim’s neighbors love Jesus and wrapped the arms of Christ around that family when they needed it most.
  • Many, many people are helping the family with meals, paper products, watching kids, and most importantly, love and prayers.
  • God will use this for His glory.
  • The family is reflecting Jesus love in their time of trial.
  • I was there to drive Jan when she just couldn’t do it herself.
  • Custody of the two little boys has been granted to their grandparents.
  • Everyone got restful sleep last night.

Well, if you have read this far, then I know you care enough to pray. Thank you for that, and thank you for taking time to read. It really has been a little therapeutic for me to type it all out. People keep telling me that God will show His blessings through this. My answer is, “He already has.”

 

8 Things… May 21, 2007

How fun! I’ve been tagged! This is the first time I’ve been tagged for a blog meme. I was tagged by Susanne at Truly Captivating to list “8 Things You May Not Know About Me.” So here are my eight random facts in random order…

1. I love to travel. I have visited 42 states and lived in six of them. Besides the Canadian side of Niagara Falls (which doesn’t really count in my opinion), I’ve only been outside of the country twice, but I would love to have more opportunities to go. The first trip was a three-week Bible history and geography class in Israel during college. The second trip was a short-term missions trip to Bonaire (a small Caribbean island in the Dutch Antilles, about 50 miles off the Northern coast of Venezuela. That, my friends, is what we calling “suffering for Jesus.”)

2. I am something of a popcorn connoisseur. I come by my love of popcorn honestly. Most of the Sunday nights of my childhood were spent on a sheet on the living room floor. (The sheet was my mom’s idea for easier clean-up.) We would all watch some family movie, and my dad would make up a big batch of popcorn on the stove. That is by far the best kind of popcorn. Stove-cooked in a little oil with no butter and lots of salt. That’s why my brother got me one of my favorite Christmas gifts of all time. It’s just like this, and I love it. In the interest of heart health, I now make it with olive oil and much less salt, but it still tastes wonderful.

3. I am the second of five children. My brother is the middle and the only boy. My father is the middle of five siblings in his family, and my mother is the middle of five siblings in her family.

4. I was born in Scranton, PA. My mother tells me that I was born nearly three weeks past the due date the doctor predicted. (I’m sure all of you mothers are groaning in horror at that.) I was also born on a Thursday. The old rhyme says, “Thursday’s child has far to go,” and that has really been true of my life–geographically, physically, mentally, and spiritually. I’ve gone far already in some respects, and I have so much further to go in others.

5. One of my earliest memories is my mother’s baptism. (She tells me I was probably only three at the time.) My father grew up in a Christian home. My mother did not. She was saved when I was very young, and I remember sitting on the top of a hill while she was baptised in a lake down below. I also remember being pretty confused by the whole thing. I’m thankful now for that confusion, because it led to my many questions which eventually led to my salvation.

6. One of my favorite hobbies (besides music) is photography. I have actually won a couple awards in art shows for photography. Due to budget constraints, though, I still only have an old-fashioned film camera. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get a digital camera soon, so I can spend more time on my hobby.

7. I am the only child of my parents who is still single. I really never expected that to happen, but I’m kinda glad it has. While I still pray that God will allow me to be a wife and mother some day, I know that He has allowed me certain opportunities that I could have only had as a single. Some of those opportunities, like travel, are fun things. Some of those, like being able to drop everything and go help when my cousin’s wife (and my best friend) passed away suddenly, were much more difficult. Through it all, God has made it clear to me that He had me in those places for His purposes. That makes it so much easier to rest in His will for my future.

Side note: Please don’t read what I’ve said as saying that I have contentment, faith, or trust all wrapped up, because I really don’t. In fact, even with all the things I said in the paragraph above, I still want to scream when well-meaning people ask things like, “So, have you found a man yet?” (as if my life has no meaning without one.) I’m equally irritated by statements like, “I just don’t understand why you’re still single” (as if I’m hiding some deep, dark flaw that keeps driving all would-be suitors away.) Please consider this my public service announcement: Singleness is not a cancer! I am loved and wanted by the King of kings, and He knows what (and perhaps who) is best for me. Right now, that’s all that matters.

8. I can’t whistle. I have always wished I could. My grandmother could whistle beautifully, and I used to love to hear her. When I was around eight years old, my uncle spent lots of time patiently trying to teach me the skill. He finally gave up and taught me to snap instead–I can snap very well.

Hmmm, this is the tough part. I’m supposed to tag eight people. Now, who do I tag?

1. Melissa

2. Emily

3. Aidyl_Joy

OK, three tags will just have to be sufficient for today. (Perhaps one of my 8 random facts could have been that I don’t follow directions very well–but I digress.) A few people that I would have chosen have recently done something similar on their blogs, and I don’t have enough energy or creativity left to come up with five more names. If you read this and would like to play along, consider this your open-ended invitation.

 

PROOF YOU’RE AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHER (or mother) May 18, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — marlise @ 2:33 pm

This list of questions came to me in an email. I was amused by the questions and a little frightened by the number of questions I could honestly answer with a yes.

~ Do you ask guests if they have remembered their scarves and mittens as they leave your home?
~ Do you move your dinner partner’s glass away from the edge of the table?
~ Do you ask if anyone needs to go to the bathroom as you enter a theater with a group of friends?
~ Do you hand a tissue to anyone who sneezes?
~ Do you declare “no cuts” when a shopper squeezes ahead of you in a checkout line?
~ Do you ask “Are you sure you did your best?” to the mechanic who fails to repair your car to your satisfaction?
~ Do you sing the “Alphabet Song” to yourself as you look up a number in the phone book?
~ Do you say everything twice? I mean, do you repeat everything?

 

Thankful Thursday #6 May 17, 2007

Filed under: Thankful Thursday,what I'm learning — marlise @ 8:05 pm

This week’s thankful list is centered on things I have (until recently) taken for granted.

1. I’m thankful for alarm clocks. For an explanation of why I am so thankful, please see my previous post.

2. I’m thankful for electricity. After a storm knocked out the power for six hours on Tuesday evening, I have a new-found appreciation. It takes a loss of electricity every now and then to remind me of how many things I use it for every day.

3. I’m thankful for the repair men who had the power up and running again in a matter of hours as opposed to days or weeks.

4. I’m thankful for candles. As a teacher, I get more candles in a given year than I could possibly use in a normal decade. I always have appreciated them for ambiance, but I sometimes tire of them. On Tuesday, though, I depended upon them to get through the evening.

5. I’m thankful that my car is a little one. This morning on the way to work, I had to pass a spot in the road where a semi had decided to park with it’s nose sticking 3/4 of the way across the street. Thankfully, there was just enough room for my tiny little car to squeeze between the truck and the mailbox on the opposite side of the street.

6. I’m thankful that my tiny little car gets great gas mileage. (No explanation necessary on this one.)

7. I’m thankful for the Thursday reminder to count my blessings. Swing by Iris’s place at Sting My Heart to read more lists of gratitude. It’s always a blessing for me.

 

Hanging in there…. May 16, 2007

Filed under: family,my life as a music teacher,what I'm learning — marlise @ 7:39 pm


This has been a weird week so far, but I think I’m managing to hang in there. My quick update:

Sunday was pretty normal. The morning church service was great. Then, our morning Bible study was very challenging. Our group is doing a unit on the church and challenging why we “do church” the way we do. Sunday’s discussion was about diversity in the church. Well, first I had to exercise all the self control I had to keep from laughing out loud. Diversity itself isn’t funny, but I am a fan of The Office, and all I could think about when the leader announced our topic for the day was an episode from the first season when Michael held his own very misguided Diversity seminar. Needless to say, this Sunday’s discussion was much more focused and appropriate. It was also much more challenging. Where do we draw the line between accepting others as they are and standing firm in our own convictions? We certainly didn’t draw any hard conclusions, but it was a good reminder of my need to rely on the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

I knew Monday was going to be rough from the moment I woke up. Of course that moment was 10:24! I couldn’t believe I slept that long. I had felt a little off on Sunday evening, and I had been up a few times during the night. I’m still not sure if it’s just my allergies or something else, and I didn’t ever feel all that bad. My body must have gone into self-protect mode, though. I didn’t hear either of my alarms, and I had set two. I didn’t hear my housemate get up and leave. I only panicked when I finally did wake up. I was really wondering why the school never called me, but apparently they tried and I didn’t even hear that. The rest of the day went pretty well. The faculty and office staff teased me an awful lot, but I think it was well deserved.

Tuesday’s big event was a storm. The day was normal enough. The weather at the beginning of the day was beautiful. That worked out well because that meant both of my first grade classes were able to go on their field trip, giving me loads of extra prep time. After school, though, the weather got dreary pretty quickly. We kept our eye on the news of the impending big storm. I’ve been on the east coast for a while, and I’m having a little trouble adjusting from hurricane news back to tornado alley news. Anyway, we normally have a ladies Bible study meeting at my house on Tuesday night. The lady who leads it called me around 5. She had heard predictions of large hail and vicious winds, so we decided it might be wisest to cancel. I should add that this Bible study has been cancelled almost as many times as we have met, and I’m a little bummed about that because I’ve really been looking forward to this study.

In this case, though, it was a good thing we cancelled. At around 5:45 our power went out. It stayed out for around six hours. It reminded me of how thankful I should be for electricity. I take it for granted until I have to spend six hours in the dark. Life is boring when I can’t read, watch TV, listen to music, or clean. I did go back to school for a little while. The power there was on, so I was able to get some more schoolwork done. (Tuesday was a very productive day for me for school stuff.) Then, when the power still hadn’t come back on at 9:30, I called my parents who very graciously agreed to let me stay at their house for the night. I could have slept in the house without electricity, but especially after Monday’s incident, I wanted to make sure I could get up on time.

Wednesday was considerably better. My mom woke me up since I didn’t have an alarm clock, and my dad had a pot of brewed coffee all ready when I was ready for breakfast. I told them they need to be careful or I’m going to consider moving back into their house.

Tonight I get to enjoy the meat that I started marinated last night but couldn’t cook without power. I’m also looking forward to an evening of being able to see, clean, cook, read, listen to music, watch TV, or any combination of the above. Then, I’m looking forward to setting my alarm and waking up to tomorrow’s adventures. Of course, I’ll have to spend this next little chunk of time resetting all the clocks, but I’m glad the power (at least for now) is back on so I can do that.

 

Thankful Thursday #5 May 10, 2007

Filed under: Thankful Thursday — marlise @ 6:36 pm

Today’s “Thankful Theme” will center around my mother in honor of Mother’s Day (which reminds me, I need to get her gift, and soon.) Here is my list of things about her that make me very thankful (in no particular order):

* Her love of Jesus Christ and her desire to serve Him wholeheartedly

* Her love of my dad. Their marriage of 36 1/2 years through all the highs and lows is a shining example in a world where divorce is becoming increasingly common.

* Her love of each of her five children, her four children-in-law, and her eight (soon to be nine) grandchildren.

* Her commitment to being a prayer warrior.

* Her quiet humility.

* Her disciplined approach to all areas of life. (I wish I had inherited a little more of that. Instead, I inherited my dad’s randomness–sigh. It’s fun, but not always profitable.)

* Her fairness. She is a high school math teacher (and a good one at that), and she has an exceptional talent for making sure everyone gets exactly the same amount of whatever is the treat of the day.

* Her strength of character.

*Her frugality. Again, I wish I had inherited a little more of that. She’s a whiz at finding a good bargain. She has always been the family bookkeeper, and she’s fantastic at it. It was only during the last few years that I realized how hard it must have been for her and my dad to make ends meet when I was a young child. Dad’s salary couldn’t have been very big, and they were working for dad to go to seminary and for all five of us children to attend Christian schools. Still, she didn’t ever let us think we had less than the best. We were always very well-fed and well-clothed and happy.

*Her honesty. She’s never one to gush or say something she doesn’t mean. So a compliment from her can mean the world.

Thanks Mom! I love you!