Wax Museum Night

Recently people from our small group at church volunteered to help one of our members, a teacher, at her intermediate school during wax museum night.

Image result for 5th grade wax museum ideas

The night consisted of two parts in separate buildings; One part was the ‘museum’ where children dressed up as historical figures and stood like wax figures while telling the story of themselves. The other half of the night was knowledge based games and then pizza.

The game hubby and I were in charge of didn’t appear to have a name but there were 7 descriptions of people in history and what their accomplishments were. Each was labeled with a number 1-7. The answer sheet had numbers 1-7  one side and letters A-G with the names to match them on the other. Each number matched one of the letters/names.

Jackie Robinson arrived at our table as did Betsy Ross, Thomas Jefferson, Sacagawea and many others. Being a title one school filled with children in great need, the majority of the costumes were what bits and pieces they could find put together with incredible creativity. Thomas Jefferson’s mom crocheted his hair (It was impressive really) Betsy Ross had mom’s skirt and blouse, a 7″ flag and a spool of thread.

Many of the children’s parents stood behind them as they read the pages and marked their answers even when they did not understand the language it was written in. Parents would nudge their child and ask a question or just prod them to stay focused and do their best. Those kids were so excited when they got the answers correct! When children got stuck, I was there to guide them. Hubby graded and gave out hand stamps and candy. Everyone got a hand stamp but you had to have 5 out of 7 correct for candy.

Hubby and I had a great time right up to the moment a Dad said in a frustrated, very rude tone; “Just fill in the blanks, I’m hungry.” Truthfully I felt like time stood still. His son was excited, having fun and wanted to read and answer questions correctly. He  paused, looked away then sighed and wrote a number in each blank, never reading a word off the big poster. Hubby check it, gave him a hand stamp and would not look at the Dad. I on the other hand felt like staring at him (I probably was in reality) as if my thoughts would be transferred through osmosis, How could you? What the heck are you doing? Did you just say that? My heart broke for this 5th grade boy.

They moved to the next game. You see, the kids needed to play three games before they could go eat the pizza. A simple way to encourage kids and show them they were smart and could succeed. There were boxes of pizza stacked up just waiting for the families. The wait for Dad to eat would have been about 7-10 minutes or so.

The drive home was full of stories of amazing children, how smart they were, how creative the costumes were but, there was also a small thread of anger towards a parent that had no interest in what this night meant for his son nor any time to invest in his child.

Four weeks have passed and I have not forgotten this man. Maybe 30 years old, Baseball cap, a days’ growth of a beard, white T-shirt and jeans dirty from his day’s work, tired eyes and at his son’s school activity. I am working on grace in my heart. These are the positives I found to celebrate;  Dad actually showed up. There was no mom in site so Dad probably works very hard at many things. The boy has a love for learning and his teachers find fun and inventive ways to encourage not just him, but the other children as well. The teachers gather volunteers that are not attached to the school to put on these events so the kids can include their families. They all went to bed with full bellies that night.

Each of us received a thank you letter from one of the children showing the letter writing skills they are learning and the manners they have been taught. Everyone in our group smiled and passed them around the following week,

I would like to encourage you to take a moment when you are with someone who is excited about something that interests them. Celebrate their passion and joy. Celebrate their desire to learn and celebrate the time you get to share with them. Live in the moment, its beautiful there!

CWR

Pastor Gran

 

I used to be a writer

Decades have passed since I wrote everyday. The passion to write arrived when I was a child and by the time I hit 13 it was in full swing. However, I was the only kid I knew that wrote poetry. I slept with a note pad and pencil by my bed and would often wake up in the middle of the night and write an entire poem. Some were silly rhyming ditties and others were polished and meaningful. All of them reflected my heart. These feelings fit into a stationary box about 11 x 8.5  x 3 in size, hundreds of them. That is until I was in college.

Image result for pencil and paper

In college my English professor was enamored with my writing; my poetry from simple and happy to complex and tragic, a few very short stories as well as the 2 novels I had written. He thought I should publish a book of poetry but I was insecure about anyone reading them except this professor who loved poetry. Funny that I cannot remember his name but then, it has been a long time.

After a bit of time, white dresses and wedding bells took over my thoughts and time then after the I Dos, my box and I moved in with my new mate and I began to write again. I also began learning lessons, gathering scars. Are you writing again? That’s a waste of time, you’ll never do anything with it. Why do you need this box? That is so dumb.

The little box was now inside a larger box that barely fit under my side of the bed. It did take up room and seemed to be an irritant and so I wrote when he wasn’t home which wasn’t very often. my box opened fewer and fewer times to accept new words, sad words. Until one day I closed my box and slid it all the way under my side of the bed.

We had three kids and they were a joy but the notepad on the side of my bed was to remember to buy a birthday present for a birthday party one of the children would be attending or a note to buy milk. Occasionally a poem would start up in my head and I would squash it. Stupid thought! That’s a waste of time!

I went on to more schooling, taught the Gospel to many, shared words to uplift people and counseled them in healthy avenues in life, wrote and taught for years for my job. Yet at times, I found my solace in a movie called Sister Act II. There is a part in that movie where Sister Mary Clarence is talking to Rita and shares a quote out of a book with her. Basically saying if you wake up in the morning and all you can think of is writing, then you’re supposed to be a writer.  Watch it here

Zip forward 30 years or so; Divorced, remarried, retired and at a new job at a high school. I meet a lady named Christi at my new job and she is not only a very smart person that seems to know everything happening at our school, teaches me the ropes and is very nice with a quick wit and oh my gosh, she is a writer too! (I  like to say she writes a laugh with some sass}. Sometimes, we take a few minutes during our day to talk writing. She and others like her understand what it means to put words on paper (or screen as it were). She is an inspiration to me.

Over the Christmas Holiday from school, I mentioned to hubby that I wanted to start blogging. He thought it was a great idea. It took me days to work up the guts to start typing. I have deleted some of my work hearing old voices as I type and delete. I know that my skills are very rusty, but if I don’t use them they won’t get better. I also have not yet figured out how to set aside the time to do this with a 2 year old grandchild at my knee. Then I wonder why people would want to read what I write? Even with all of that, I have decided that with a wonderful, supportive husband, children and writer friends, I will figure it out. I will engage the part of me that finds joy in writing. It hasn’t been regular or frequent but those parts of my heart and mind are being revived slowly.

That box got thrown away long ago in the midst of emotional abuse and self doubt. That won’t happen again. Not only am I surrounded by positive mature people who love me and encourage me, we all know that once you put something on the internet it’s there forever!

Today I am celebrating courage. Find your courage and do something you love. Allow yourself to use the gifts God gave you.

CWR,

Pastor Gran

 

The Man Cold

I knew it was coming when I heard; “I think I’m getting sick.” come from his mouth with his hand on his chest. The dreaded man cold was on its way.

The world stops revolving around the sun and it begins to revolve around the man. The tissue box, thermometer, a glass of water, a box of brightly colored capsules and the remote control sit on the side table awaiting his beck and call.

As he settles in for his battle, which will undoubtedly be the worst he has ever felt, I wait in the wings much like a servant girl of old. Ready to fetch more water, some food, perhaps a blanket or just listen to how awful he feels or to tell him I love him and hold his hand.

Sometimes I think the man cold sweeps in when men have been too macho. Helping every friend or family member that needs it; grown children with home repairs, a wife that always has projects that need a stronger hand or taller reach. Perhaps, its when a boss, that’s not always nice, complains and the man remains silent knowing the fault is not his.  The boss will see this in a matter of hours or days but without man’s frustrated words to ignite a bigger battle the rant continues.

Maybe, just maybe, God created the man cold so the people who love them would show their care in a different way. A chance for man to drop the macho and be human. Maybe the man cold isn’t so bad (don’t tell him I said that). Maybe it’s for my benefit to learn to appreciate him for who he is not what he does.

Today I celebrate the big, strong sailor with a cold and the chance to take care of him with love.

CWR,

Pastor Gran

It’s a trap!

I take a quick look to my left with a tiny pause in my step and I see a line of people caught in the trap I have successfully avoided…this time.

Hubby and I got out of my car heading into the grocery store for just a few things when I heard it in the distance; Roses are red, violets are blue, I love cookies and so do you! I looked around and saw them; beautiful little munchkins wearing green and standing by a table full of boxes and I heard it again Roses are red, violets are blue, I love cookies and so do you! A single munchkin dancing around singing as moms and other munchkins continue adding boxes to the display. I veered left effectively turning hubby in the direction of the left door. This is kind of a no-no to me as I try to follow ‘traffic laws’ (you know stay on the right unless passing) even in the grocery store or entering the doors. Sometimes however, lawbreaking is necessary. NO walking by the cookie table!

Image result for girl scout cookies

So, in we go, bypassing the poetic, singing munchkin, heading to get just what we came for, starting with the fruit and veggies on the right. 15 minutes later, we are headed to the door and I must decide if I am going to head towards the munchkins and fork over $5.00 for some heaven on earth called Samoas or take evasive action. Since they are at the left door as we exit, the evasive maneuvers are minimal but my taste buds hear her calling Roses are red, violets are blue, I love cookies and so do you! 

I take a quick look left with a tiny pause in my step and I see a line of people caught in the trap I have successfully avoided…this time.

Today I celebrate three things:

  • The spirit of a child creating fabulous marketing skills and will perhaps one day write commercial jingles
  • The willpower that was intact today for a few minutes
  • Hubby didn’t hear or see a thing! He was focused on a weird light he noticed shining on my dashboard while driving to the store.

There is always something to celebrate people. Now if I just had some cookies to go with my milk!

Time Travel is a real thing.

Grandma and Me. She is amazed that there is a camera in my phone.
Grandma and Me. She is amazed that there is a camera in my phone.

It’s  a beautiful day outside. As I walk in, I see her sitting in her regular spot on the couch, I haven’t seen her for several weeks and I feel ashamed. My parents come to visit her a lot and I am always working or something. Today I am finally here.

We exchange hugs, pleasantries and I begin to share a memory. She’s 97 years old and has had many experiences.

In 1979 I went on my first plane ride and came to see you in California. You and Grandpa took me to Century City and there was a band playing. She has a far off, dreamy look on her face and she begins her part of our story.

It was in the fall and you guys danced a lot. That was fun!The band was good and we laughed a lot. Steve worked there at that time (that’s my uncle). He worked at a restaurant there. She reminded me that we ate Chinese food and shopped in Chinatown that day too. I reminded her that while I was in town, we also went to a haunted house with my Aunt.

I am a big scaredy cat and don’t do haunted houses, ever. That is unless my Grandma wants to go, she likes them. She led the way holding one of my hands, my Aunt held the other. Did I mention I hate haunted houses? We were almost through with the haunted house, we had to be. I was already scared and didn’t want to be there when my Grandmother suddenly pushed me to the front and they had a tight grip on my shirt hiding behind me and pushing me forward. As I retell my version of our  haunted house experience, she starts laughing, I did not push you in front. Yes you did and then… I continue the story… We rounded the last corner (we didn’t know it was the last one) and I started screaming, they started screaming because I did. When we turned that corner quickly, remember they are pushing me, someone was coming at me fast and I swear it was one of those moments you wish you would have used the facilities before you started this “fun”.  I stopped dead in my tracks and they crashed into me and I began laughing hysterically and when they looked up, they burst out laughing too. There we were staring at ourselves in a mirror! We had scared the crud out of ourselves! Her laughter is rich and carefree as we remember together. She pats my hand and says “That was fun!”

As we take a break and talk with my parents for a few minutes, she turns to me and says “And who are you?” I’m Pam your granddaughter.” Oh you can’t be, you’re all grown up! ” She asks how old I am, Do I have kids and a variety of other questions that I have heard  over and over again in the past several years. Our time traveling is over. We have traveled back in time and remembered the joy and laughter and love we share and have now landed back in current day Phoenix.

Dementia is hard to understand, it can be sad and yet, when I time travel with her, the feelings and laughter and memories are a real part of who we are and were. The woman who I made sick on the tea cups at Disneyland, who made me ovaltine and who loves me, the only granddaughter, is alive and well somewhere inside that 97 year old body and mind. She lives in another place and time but sometimes I get to visit there and it’s beautiful, precious.and something to celebrate.

Look for the moments my friends,

Pastor Gran

 

 

 

 

 

Leftovers!

For the last 3 days of 2016 I was so sick and I missed out on the “Hood Party”. The Hood being my parent’s cul-de-sac neighbors. During the year, they do pajama breakfasts, help each other with anything, share swimming pools, take care of each other’s dogs, meet out front with your favorite beverages kind of things. New Year’s Eve is no exception to the camaraderie and revelry that ooze out of this 7 home block in North Phoenix.

Fire pits, deep frying turkey, games, laughter, friends, families, food (lots of food) and a bit of alcohol combined with a walk home policy, create a memorable and safe time. The same party occurred this year without me and frankly, I was too sick to care.

The next morning, having 24 hours of antibiotics in me, I decided I had to get out and go to the store or go stir crazy. I think I went for milk but seriously the following events have washed my memory of the store visit. What is clear as a bell is my parent’s car was in my spot in the driveway and all the doors and trunk were open with no one in site when I got home. I came into the house and found my mom and husband trying to squeeze every leftover from the party into my fridge! Oh the joy! Something for sure to celebrate! The best mom ever! Leftovers – Bruschetta, turkey soup, bean dip, pie, dips, cheese, crackers,  veggies and so much more.

But during the rest of the week as I curl up on the couch continuing my healing and eating leftovers, I began to think of other leftovers. Some I had just witnessed in the last few weeks.

The mom and small child I saw in the grocery store just before Christmas; Child in basket seat, mom texting while leaning on the basket ignoring the child. I pass them several times with the same scenario. Mother never talks to the child even when he reaches his hands up to the side of her face and says Mom, mom, mom. She pulls away and turns from him to text some more. No acknowledgement from mom. Leftovers.

Wife and husband shopping, wife asks husband’s opinion, completely shuts him down with “That’s a stupid idea”. Leftovers.

Family gets together for dinner at a restaurant and when asked what husband got for Christmas, a voice filled with disdain tells of the gift wife thought he would like. Leftovers.

Grandma is invited to dinner but no one talks to her. Leftovers.

The cashier at the store welcomes her, she grunts. While the cashier works quickly the customer questions everything. She has matching coupons for everything as in a completely full basket of everything. I am standing behind her trying to figure out two things; where did she get all the coupons and what other line looks like a better choice. Since it’s just before Christmas, there is no other ‘better choice’ in my opinion. However, every other person in line looks around and leaves. The customer’s voice is heard by all the new people as they approach this lane and they choose wisely, 2 or 3 lanes down. I on the other hand, stand there, next in line and listen.

Yes ma’am. Yes. Alright. That’s a good buy. Each comment the customers makes regarding her coupons receives acknowledgment from the cashier. She looks up with warm brown eyes occasionally to clarify a coupon or item. The customer is very business like and focused on her goal. The cashier is intent on creating a positive, quality experience ensuring that there is never a harsh or exasperated reply. she completes the order and wishes the customer a Happy Holidays then turns, looks at me and greets me with a smile.

Emotional leftovers happen all too often in our world. The customer treated the cashier as a worker, almost a robot or machine, something without feelings or emotions. Leftovers. The cashier on the other hand, was humanity at it’s finest, celebrating the customer.

How can we celebrate the people in our lives instead of dishing up leftovers? Be  a the cashier – She can teach us a few things.

First and foremost, look at them. That person whether relative, friend or stranger is a creation of God. Acknowledge that with your eyes. When is the last time you looked at your teenager, spouse or aging parent with a sense of awe? They are made in God’s image after all.

Listen to them and let them know that their words are worth your time. They may have a harsh tone, they may repeat themselves or you may not agree with what they say but you can still understand that they as a human have worth and listen.

Rather than arguing with them, ask questions to clarify what they are trying to say or need. Think of a toddler who is telling you over and over again what they want and you try so hard to understand. Why don’t we try harder to understand big people?

When your interaction is ending, send them off with genuine goodwill. They may have caused you irritation, been a royal pain and dished out some leftovers, but you, I , we all need to choose to celebrate humanity.

We are not responsible for how others treat us and no one should accept abuse, ever. But in everyday life here on this beautiful plant, don’t dish out leftovers my friends unless they come from a Hood Party, those are the good ones!

Celebrating with you,

Pastor Gran

 

 

 

 

Celebrate what’s right, huh?

For the last 6 months or so, I have wondered what I should do with all this ‘stuff’ in my head that has been put there through years of education, almost 60 years of life experiences and a heart that seeks God in everything. One of our many grandchildren began a face book photo blog of sorts and I was impressed. Then a new friend at work share her blog with me. I was hooked but scared. Well 2017 is a time to be bold and pretend I watch Nike commercials and Just Do It!
Celebrate What’s Right (CWR) is a term I have used for many years and it stems from a very hard time in my life. Hubby and I had 5 teenagers at home, little time together , strained finances and poor communication. I worked for a frustrating boss and all I saw was gloom and doom.  I worked hard and did my best but…
One day I had enough and left the house in a huff and a full tank of gas. I drove north. Pouring out my heart, anger, frustration, confusion and frankly my disappointment in the Almighty God who I taught about every week! Didn’t he hear me cry every night? Didn’t he care? How could I teach families about how powerful His love was when I couldn’t even find Him in my home? Thank goodness for all the education and years of knowing His blessings. When I was finally done with my tirade, I began to pray asking for ears and a heart to hear him, and I did. “Celebrate What’s Right.” What? What does that mean? Hello? “Celebrate What’s Right.” Oh Geez, God I am a mess and I seriously don’t get this. Please be more clear with me. Please! “Celebrate What’s Right.” *sigh*.
So I turned my car around thinking about how to celebrate what was “Right” when everything was wrong. I began by thinking of my hubby. I began to think of what I loved about him and why. The list was hard to start, slow going and yet it was a start! Yay me! Then the kids. Some had very unlovable behaviors but I could easily separate out behavior (what they do) from being (who they are) and the “Right” with them came easier. Which led me back to hubby’s list in my head and his list grew significantly. The boss and work would have to come a different day.
When I got home, I wrote everywhere; CWR – a code to my brain and my heart. When they asked why they had CWR written on their mirror in the bathrooms (EXPO markers work great for this) Notes with CWR taped on the fridge and in my car and office I explained that I was choosing to celebrate what was right in my life instead of what was wrong. Besides the snide remarks and looks of ‘she’s really lost it this time!’, I had to rewrite it frequently because it was erased or thrown out. But, overall, My behavior was changed by my heart and my focus on CWR.
When I folded the loads of laundry with no help, when dishes were slammed around because someone didn’t like that chore or when tears rolled down faces because “life sucks!” when “I hate you!” poured out of children I had birthed and when I wanted to quit, I ask God to open my eyes to what was right. We had money enough to clothe the kids and ourselves, I was blessing them, not slaving by folding the clothes (whatever you do, do for the glory of God). We had eaten a healthy meal (God will provide) and someone was also learning a life lesson that life may suck sometimes but Mom always listens and hugs are always FREE.
I held my tongue more, opened my heart wider and hugged people that I frustrated or that frustrated me. I moved my CWR notes frequently so that they wouldn’t become part of the scenery so to speak.
After a while, CWR just became a part of me and I try to do that in all circumstances, many times unconsciously. My hope is that we can talk freely about life, family, marriage, kids grandkids and even work on this blog and then see how you might be able to celebrate in the circumstances that surround those things in our lives.
I hope you enjoy your time here and learn to CWR in your life too.
Hugs,
Pastor Gran