Monday, May 20, 2013
After school today, I stayed for a few hours to begin packing up and cleaning up my classroom in anticipation of summer vacation. But tonight while working, I found myself glued to the news coverage. This simple yearly chore, which had begun as the usual task of throwing away broken crayons and old glue bottles, became almost overwhelming as the news began to pour in.
As I listened to CNN, I could only imagine the terror that the children and teachers in Moore, OK felt as they prayed and awaited the terrible storm that headed towards them. I heard an aunt interviewed who--while waiting for news about the fate of her sister and niece--reminded everyone that in these darkest times, we cannot let go of our faith. I was amazed both by this lady's wisdom and by her testimony as she shared about her hope, even in the face of insurmountable tragedy.
Won't you join me in continuing to pray for these precious families and this community??? So thankful that His strength is perfect when our strength is gone! Hope you find encouragement in Mimi's inspirational post for this week! Shannon
The Anchor That Holds
I dearly love spring and all its various colors! Have you noticed even the greens of the trees and grasses are various shades when they have received enough watering?
Several years ago in my front yard, we planted evergreen shrubs to the left of our walkway. These shrubs grew very quickly to a size I did not anticipate! In fact, it became a very tight squeeze trying to walk along the sidewalk next to my brick house, a house that had once been my parent’s home as well.
The growth pattern of these shrubs far surpassed my expectations of height and width within this small space. I thought at one time these shrubs were a miniature version of boxwoods, but not so!!! Even the roots seemed to be spreading aggressively under my sidewalk.
A few weeks ago it seemed like a viable plan to just pull them up and start again with a smaller, simpler flower or a flowering bush. This may have been a workable plan, but it was not an easy task. After lots of effort, I replanted my flower bed, complete with a beautiful row of Tiger Lilies and some garden lights.
Last week, while I was watering the new growth, I found a bent nail still in the brick, that served as somewhat of an anchor for me. This nail served as both a sweet remembrance and stark reminder--let me explain...
Probably some 40 years ago--when my dad worked in this same, small flowerbed--I recalled his beautiful, tall Dahlias growing in this very spot. They too had grown past his expectations and were falling over this same sidewalk. My mom insisted that they be held up neatly as they grew or at least staked up in order to prevent them from leaning over onto the front sidewalk (Honestly, I think she actually preferred that they be pulled up and taken out altogether.)
My mom suggested that my dad instead build a container garden or plant something long and narrow in the area instead. My dad was not a handyman, nor was he a resourceful guy, able to quickly build and/or design a planter. He clearly and emphatically wanted the Dahlias left there, leaning in their same spot.
What I can remember most is the Saturday morning that I pulled into their driveway and found him beating 2 nails into the mortar of the bricks, the nails about 6 feet apart from each other. He bent each of the nails in order to form them into somewhat of an anchor or hook. He planned to run a string through the hooked nails so as to prop up his row of precious Dahlias.
Last week as I worked in this flower bed, I found a nail, still in the mortar, rusted and bent, but without the string. Funny enough, as I reached to pull it out, I realized that it really was still “stuck” firmly in. I am not sure I remember him drilling out the mortar—just beating the nail in. What I do know is that the strands of cotton fiber he used to hold his precious Dahlias up did not last, but his nail anchors did. He and I both knew that the cotton line we used would not endure the entire season with the weight of the leaning Dahlias pressing down on it, but for the moment it was all he had and for the moment it seemed to work. As I stayed to help him, we doubled the line around the anchor nails and smiled at our accomplishment.
Years later, I have come to realize that my sweet remembrance is not about the beauty of the Dahlias or the frailty of the double string, but rather the longevity of the bent, rusty nail. The anchor holds. Our own precious little ones will have their leaning seasons as well. There will be days that they will desire “propping up.” As they grow, they too will turn and look for hope from things of life that are fragile and will not last. My stark reminder is while in their proverbial leaning season, let us always be the anchor that holds and the anchor that brings them hope.
Hebrews 6:19-20, “This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us…”
Monday, May 13, 2013
I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day yesterday. This week's note from Mimi is a bit of inspiration about plans made and appointments kept. It is also a follow-up to a post from a few weeks back, so feel free to go back and view Mimi's Moment from April 15th. Enjoy! Thanks so much for stopping by! Shannon :-)
Ideas Born and Promises Kept
I don’t often have a two-part story or a continuation from a previous blog post, but the reminder I received in the events of this week spoke volumes to me, so I just had to share.
A few weeks ago I shared about the times in our lives when we have to re-position ourselves or recalculate our thoughts for success. The title of that “Monday Moments with Mimi” was actually “Life Comes from Recalculating.” And boy, was that appropriate!!! I could have just entitled it “Life Comes from Reminders.” Let’s get started with a portion of that post, just to give you the back story…
“The other night at our nursing home ministry, I was honored to be holding the song book for a precious elderly lady friend that is a stroke victim. She loves the singing and musical part of our service. She cannot see very well, nor can she hold anything with her partially paralyzed arm. Last month, she forgot her glasses, could not see well at all, and just hummed along with the piano playing. This month upon entering the room, she proudly held up her glasses with her good hand, as if to say to me, ‘This week I got it!!!’ Shortly into the song service, I realized that she still could not focus enough to read the words on the page. I was not sure if it was the lighting in the room or her failing eyes, but clearly she was doing all that she could to see, but seeing was not happening. We repositioned the book and adjusted her glasses, but to no avail. At the end of the service as I leaned over to hug her goodbye, she literally lit up with another idea. I could see it on her sweet face. She excitedly exclaimed, ‘I have a large magnifying glass that hangs around my neck. Do you think that we could try it next time?’ ‘Sure,’ I responded. I thought that next time, I would just intervene and fix the problem for her, so I said, ‘But next time, you tell me three of your favorite songs, and we will sing them – and you won’t have to hold the book or see the words at all!!!! I smiled as I left the room, because she definitely was trying. And with each try, she had come up with a different approach…”
And then one month later…
This same sweet lady was at church this Sunday with her family for Mother’s Day, and I went over to see her. And she once again brightened when she saw me. As I leaned into for a hug, she surprised me by stating, “I missed you Thursday night at the nursing home!”
I explained that I had been called into work, and that I was sorry I was not there. With no hesitation in her gentle voice she said, “I remembered our talk so I hung my large magnifying glass on my neck for us, but you were not there.”
I was a little surprised, but was absolutely sure someone else there would have gladly assisted her. So I inquired, “Did someone else take my place and help you?” She responded, “No, not really, I just thought this was what you wanted to do.”
I felt honored, encouraged, and convicted all in that moment. She was an elderly mother, doing what mothers do best, having an idea and working her plan through to completion.
Birthing an idea and keeping a promise all the way through to fruition commands a different type of respect. And at this moment she had mine.
An idea born with our children brings life to them for the moment. But it’s the promises kept in their lives that makes them responsible for a lifetime. Let’s affectionately, but pointedly, make a plan with our children. But more importantly, let’s keep the appointment. They may forget the path, but as mothers, we never should. Blessings, Mimi (AKA Anne)
Ephesians 31:10 A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Happy Mother's Day weekend! I am so thankful to be a wife to Kevin and a mom to Tucker, Tate, and Sadie.
I am also grateful for so many precious ladies in my life who mean so much to me...friends who inspire and motivate me, older women who serve as mentors, younger friends just getting started on life's journey...
And lastly, I am so incredibly thankful for our mom, Anne Lyles. My sister--Dana--and I were talking yesterday about how the sacrifices of our mom truly helped put our lives on a different trajectory!!! She is such a great encourager to us both!
Wanted to share a little video with you to encourage you as well on your "path to awesome." Click this link for an inspirational pep talk video, and Happy Mother's Day to you all!!! Shannon :-)
Monday, May 6, 2013
Happy Teachers' Appreciation week!!! As a fellow-teacher and mom of 3, I know what a HUGE difference teachers make in the lives of their students. As a way of saying thank you, I am hosting HUGE sales in both of my online stores this week--both at Teachers Pay Teachers and Teachers Notebook. Simply follow the links below to take advantage of the savings. And THANK YOU, teachers, for all that you do each day!
This week's post from Mimi is such a great one. Problems arise, but we do not have to let them steal our joy! Lots of love, Shannon :-)
Cheap Watering Hoses
Many, many years ago I was struck with the grandiose thoughts of authoring a book in time for Mother’s Day in honor of the precious Mom I lost to cancer. It would be in her honor, but more importantly, it would be about the journey I had been on. Before the Internet, blogging, and posting were a way of life, my laptop was a spiral notebook. I posted my thoughts with a pencil, corrected them with its eraser, and changed the flow of my ideas with a bottle of white-out!!!!
In any event, my book was going to be entitled something about “Cultivating a Garden” as it applied to our walks in life. I hoped to intertwine my genuine love for growing a garden with the growing of my faith. This rainy morning I can clearly recall my original thoughts and points about the rewards of planting and harvesting. Spiritually, I interjected principles on the stark reality of storms and the barren seasons of our lives. The longer we live, the more we recognize that we need sheltering from storms and direction in droughts.
As the years passed, my children grew up, my seasons changed, and my time was gone for great authorship…and here I am. I am happily typing—not of those grand principles of life—but of my crimped water hose, my lack of patience, and stolen joy. Just as we all have our seasons in our gardens; we all have our days of kinks in watering hoses. But they should not occur every day, with every watering.
I must have a personal attachment to my yards and yards of garden hoses, because I have had them for quite some time—long enough to replace numerous seals and patch many holes. Just last week I discovered tiny new holes, complete with tiny sprays that I now have to avoid as I water my plants and garden. You can hardly see the openings, but you quickly feel the cold spray of the water!!!! Maybe it is because I drag these hoses over concrete sidewalks, through wooden decks, and around brick walls in order to stretch the width of my yard; they are in such pitiful condition. (Or maybe it is just because one of my hoses was very cheap to begin with!!!)
All of this does not really disrupt my watering or cause me much dismay, that is until my hose kinks and my water flow stops completely!!!! My irrigating goes on as pleasurable as planned, until such a kink occurs. I lift the hose to try to shake it out and tug on the line to try to pull it out, but to no avail. I then retrace my steps to locate the kink and with my hands, straighten out the folds in my cheap hose.
Irritated for the moment, all pleasure is gone. Grrrr…I make my 3rd trip to fix the same hose. My love over the years for gardening has been quickly replaced by my irritation in the moment. My joy in the doing has quickly given way to a lack of patience when I purposely stomp like a disgruntled child to straighten my crimped hose with an expression of “ugh”.
No great insightful points are written here this rainy morning, only one astute observation. At some point, I need new hoses. And at some point we all do, literally or figuratively. We all need to rid ourselves of unwise, unsafe, or unhealthy heartfelt attachments—be they crimping hoses, unpleasant habits, or harmful relationships—for the sake of our joy. Don’t let what you love to do be so easily inundated with irritations from something insignificant, when you own the fix.
For the past 3 days I have had plenty of rain, but as soon as the sun shines again, I am off to purchase 3 new 100’ hoses and put my other five cheap, patched ones in the bin for trash day. The necessity of daily watering may still be a challenge, but kinking hoses will no longer be a reoccurring irritation that I allow to steal the joy of harvesting in my garden. Blessings, Mimi (AKA Anne)
James 1:19-21 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
Monday, April 29, 2013
Hi! Can you believe May is just around the corner? And just behind that, summer vacation?!
Just wanted to take a minute and share some of the May resources I have available in my online stores. Simply click the links below to check out these resources for yourselves.
Just wanted to take a minute and share some of the May resources I have available in my online stores. Simply click the links below to check out these resources for yourselves.
We are so excited to have so many new faces along for the journey aboard Bryant's Brain Train! As many of you may already know, my mom (Mimi) guest blogs each Monday to share with us a bit of inspiration and wisdom. It is so hard to believe that it has almost been a year since Mimi first joined us. I thought it would be neat to revisit Mimi's original post this week. I am so thankful for her words of hope and help each Monday. Now let's head back in time to Mimi's very first post...
A Tribute to My Dad
As my 2 oldest grandchildren were swimming in my pool the other day, I found myself repeating words to them that I said to my own children. Even funnier, they were words my Dad said when he was on pool duty with my children over 25 years ago. Isn't it strange how we say we will not "say what our parents” said -- as we repeat the exact wording with identical enunciation?! The moment made me smile and brought back sweet memories of Daddy who has now gone on to be with the Lord.
My dad loved to teach me, but more importantly -- he wanted me to learn -- from the art of Bridge to the importance of being on time to Sunday School. He believed in the necessity of teaching, but more importantly -- the love of wanting to learn. Somehow, he intricately wove the two together in one piece of fabric...all my life.
So, this first Monday is a tribute to my Dad who took the moments to teach his only child to love to learn. Actually, he possessed the innate skill that is known today as “siezing teachable moments” with children, only he did so long before books and articles were written on this topic. With most circumstances he taught as he talked directly to me. He seized moments to discuss anything from the gift of gardening to the placement of politicians -- and much in between. I was probably the only 5 year old that could use a wooden Coca Cola crate as my stage to recite the Gettysburg Address or that could tell her 2nd grade teacher which fertilizer was the best to use while handing her a bouquet of the garden's finest tulips. He spent a lot of precious time teaching me the why’s and what’s of life.
I guess for all of us, including my Dad, we have a heart's desire to give more to our children than we had in our lives, so Dad you have your heart’s desire granted...I pray not just for opportunities of the priceless scattered ” teachable moments” he gave to me. I seek more. I desire a more intentional way of life with my eyes always toward Heaven, my feet never leaving the Christ-like path, and my heart always in the moment prepared to teach.
I desire all the days of my Kingdom calendar to be filled to capacity with teaching others to want to learn. And yes, let it be from gardening to politics and everything in between. I want to teach the beauty of gardening -- but to also show that is it from my God who is the Maker of all Beauty. Let me share the importance of politics -- but share that it is more than electoral votes, appointment of rulers, and service to country. I want my life to teach so that one day the Lord of Lords will say, “Well done, your time was well spent.” Mimi (AKA Anne)
Monday, April 22, 2013
First of all, let me share how ecstatic I was to be quoted in the TpT newsletter this week! Super exciting to see my name in print and super thankful for the extra blog and store traffic as a result!!! Exciting stuff! This week's TpT newsletter article was about classroom management, a topic covered by many of the resources in my online store. Interested in viewing these? Simply search Shannon Bryant's Brain Train under the topic of classroom management. The original resource is pictured above, and the link is shown below. The one shown here has a traditional train theme, but there are several classroom themes for you to choose from, including farm, bees, pirates, garden, etc. Tons of tips and goodies to try!
This week's post from Mimi is a great one, so I hope you enjoy!!! It literally left me in tears. I am so thankful for God's provision and blessing. Sometimes it is good for me to remember and reflect on just how good He has been--unmerited favor--and I praise Him wholeheartedly for His healing of our Sadie!
This has been a tough week for so many...don't forget to let the ones you love know just how much you love them! Have a wonderful week! Shannon :-)
Hair Bows and Hugs
As I read my daughter’s comments last week, I immediately knew what my post would be about this Monday. It is not about Sadiebug’s 6th birthday, but rather about the second week of her life. Yes, we had a meningitis scare, a hospital stay, a kidney reflux diagnosis, and several sleepless nights. Whew—she came in demanding all of our attention!!!
The scare this brought to our family is as vivid in my mind as the taste of my morning coffee that I am sipping. The times my girls have called me with traumatizing news about lives are branded forever in my thoughts.
But I never want to forget the good that came from it all—THAT is forever branded in my heart.
What do you do when you think you may be losing something so precious, so small, and so awaited? You panic for the moment and pray for the duration…and find a white bow for her hair!!!! I went to my daughter’s house the night that Sadie was so sick in order to keep her older brothers while all of the testing was going on at the hospital.
Shannon was blessed to have her best friend there on staff and guiding them medically, so I took watch of the boys back at home so that Kevin could also head down to the medical center. The boys were sleeping soundly in their rooms, and I was praying sincerely in hers.
By morning, things looked much brighter, and I was off to the hospital to see exactly what was happening. Sweet little 7 lb Sadie was in her white knit gown, adorned with beeping monitors and small tubes—but she was still there, and she would get better!!!!
I was able to navigate her from the hospital crib onto a pillow on my lap. As she lay sleeping peacefully, I rubbed her tiny back and head with all the love a Mimi can muster. But something was amiss!!!! It was her hair bow.
You know how when all first, long-awaited, little girls arrive to a family, we feel the need to shout, IT’S A GIRL!!! It is usually with the color pink, tiny ruffles, or big hair bows. Since, the hospital was providing the plain white attire, I could at least provide a bow!!!! Funny how we long for the little things to bring our hearts and minds back to normality and safety. I can remember thinking that if I could just get Sadie’s bow in place, all would be complete—tubes or no tubes.
When I returned on my afternoon visit, I had found a small, Velcro bow and lovingly placed it atop her tiny head. I returned to my position, holding her in my lap on the pillow, while rubbing the tiny little back, only this time the bow was in its proper place.
I smiled this Friday night—a good 6 years later—as Sadie and I were out in the rain in my backyard, planting broccoli and Roma tomatoes. These plants were leftover from the ones that she had earlier planted in her “newly” decorated pot. Tonight Sadie’s blonde hair is much longer and braided, with a big black polka dotted bow that was now getting damp and dirty as she played in the potting soil.
As Sadie readied for bed later that night, I leaned over hugged her and kissed that sweet head goodnight. Yes, it was resting peacefully on my pillow, and yes, I left the big bow in its place—even at bedtime—and remembered.
What we do to show our love to our children should be as tender and just as personal as in that day; when they are small on that pillow, laying in our laps at a mere 14 days old. But we should also remember to have fun and laugh, even while planting vegetables in the rain. And by all means…it is OK for the bow to get dirty!!!
But as they grow older and busier, a gentler chord should be struck and held by us for each of them. They grow up and grow out of arms reach very, very quickly. Don’t lose the tender moments that love requires. Let your affection manifest itself and be poured out, not just with endeavors, but with a loving hold of their hearts and a tender stroke of their precious lives. When they no longer will fit on the pillow, they always fit in your arms! Blessings, Mimi (AKA Anne)
Matthew 26:6-10 While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.
Monday, April 15, 2013
Hi, everyone! With the news coming out of Boston today, it is easy to be overwhelmed with sadness and discouragement. It devastates me as a parent, a teacher, an American,...Our prayers are with those so tragically affected by the attacks in Boston. Please join us in praying for them as well!!!
Mimi's post today reminds me of just how important it is to carry on, to keep the faith, to hold out hope in all circumstances. I pray that you find encouragement in her words as well. Beauty from ashes...that's His promise!!! Shannon
Life Comes from Recalculating
Over the last couple of weeks, I have been reminded of a saying that goes something like this…If at first you don’t succeed, try and try, again!!!
Although, that phrase may be an encouragement to some, I am not one of them. When I hear that phrase, I quickly revert to one of my favorite expressions…only a foolish person continues doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result!!!!
Yes, there is a place for ENDURANCE with TENACITY and PERSEVERANCE at all costs in order to stay the course and achieve a desired result. But often we fail to recognize that sometimes it is necessary to back up, reassess the situation, and attempt a different approach.
It is kind of like the obnoxiously-toned GPS that I have. The voice screeches—recalculating, recalculating—as it provides me a new and different approach to my desired destination. Whether or not I like the sound of the voice of the GPS is immaterial; it is warning me that I need to recalculate.
The other night at our nursing home ministry, I was honored to be holding the song book for a precious elderly lady friend that is a stroke victim. She loves the singing and musical part of our service. She cannot see very well, nor can she hold anything with her partially paralyzed arm. Last month, she forgot her glasses, could not see at all. and so she just hummed along with the piano playing. This month upon entering the room, she proudly held up her glasses with her good hand, as if to say, “This week I got it!!!”
Shortly into the song service, I realized that she still could not focus enough to read the words on the page. I was not sure if it was the lighting in the room or her failing eyes, but clearly she was doing all she could and seeing was not happening. We re-positioned her book and adjusted her glasses, but to no avail. At the end of the service as I leaned over to hug her goodbye, she literally “lit up” with another idea. I could see it on her sweet face. She excitedly exclaimed, “I have a large magnifying glass that hangs around my neck. Do you think that we could try it next time?” “Sure!” I responded.
Secretly, I thought that the next time, I would just make it easy for her and fix the problem myself. I said, “But next time, you tell me three of your favorite songs, and we will sing them. Then you won’t even have to hold the book or see the words at all!” With each try, this lady whom I sat beside, had come up with a different approach.
Later in the week, I have thought of my girls and their accomplishments, great and small. They together and independently exhibit more determination than most people that I know. When obstacles present themselves to my girls, they just hurdle over them, or they too recalculate their path. They seldom give up on accomplishing their objective. The “unknown” is but another adventure for them. The “unheard of” is just not spoken by them yet!!!
I have been privy to witness the excitement and participate in their adventures. Truly, I have seen them seize moments that would paralyze most. Against all odds—literally and figuratively—they have loaded minivans with furniture that others said would not fit, while smiling as they drove away. They have staked in party tents in windstorms that others said should be enough to cancel the party.
They ride the momentum of the challenge and call it an adventure. More times than not, I have actually felt them take real pleasure in the CHALLENGE itself. What an accomplishment!!!!
Having thought about this all week and about my sweet friend in the nursing home, I don’t think I am going to let her know that I have three of her favorite songs prearranged and ready to sing. For I have come to understand that she, like my girls, “light up” when another idea or possible solution comes to her. Next month, we will just figure out how to hold her book, her magnifying glass, adjust her glasses, and sit where the lighting is better. If that doesn't work… then we will sing her songs. I can’t wait to see what the next idea or adventure will be… Blessings, Mimi (AKA Anne)
2 Corinthians 8:2, “In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.”