Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday Moments with Mimi and Heartfelt Prayers for OK...So Glad the Anchor Holds!

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

Monday Moments with Mimi--Ideas Born and Promises Kept

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!

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 and Today's Monday Moment with Mimi--"Cheap Watering Hoses"

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.