Saturday, April 28, 2012


My son's small Christian school does several fundraisers throughout the year. We have the green and yellow recycling bins where people can drop their paper. We collect Box Tops. And we do two major fundraisers during the year - a field day in the fall and an auction in the spring.

We had our auction last week and had a fantastic time as usual.

The first year we were part of the school, I volunteered. It was a great way to learn how the event worked. The last few years we have chosen to host a table or two instead and invite friends outside the school to join us and be part of this place that is such a major part of our lives. It is an event we look forward to every year. We get to hang out with friends, get to know people better than we did before, and we help out a great cause.

As we were leaving the event this year, I stopped to talk to the woman who runs the logistics of the auction - entering bidder names and numbers into a database, cataloging items for bid, and generally coordinating the whole kit and kaboodle. She said the return is about the same as it is for something like a walk-a-thon with a lot more work, but it becomes an experience that people share together. They laugh together. They remember stories of previous years and items that went for a lot of money. The experience of the event what makes it special - the "family" coming together in a reunion of sorts.

I made enough of a spectacle of myself this year that we might be one of the stories told in future auctions. We have never won the classroom project for my son's class. Some years the bidding is over my budget before I can even get a hand on my bidder number. But not this year. I had a secret weapon - Dad. I had some Dad money set aside and I was determined to leave with the project this year. The poor woman I was bidding against had no idea of my determination. She was filling in for her sister who couldn't get to the event. The auctioneer was working her because no matter what he did, I accepted it. People around us, watching, we're laughing in disbelief, watching this poor woman who barely had time to take a breath before the bid was back to her try to decide how high her sister would want her to go.

The room mom who put together the project graciously intervened after this went on for awhile and offered a second identical package if we both wanted to accept it for the same amount. And we agreed. At the end, I went over to the woman who was still shaking her head. She had been texting her sister who thought she was kidding about how high the bidding had gone.

The other highlight of the night was when the principal jumped in to bid on a project. I knew the mother who had worked on it had chosen colors that would go in the principal's kitchen on purpose. She wanted this project. As the bidding went on, people started running over to her and handing her $20 bills to help her stay in the fight. Then other families started doing the same for the other bidder. It was so funny.

The auction itself was fun. The auctioneer was hilarious. I was successful in my quest to come home with the prize. But best of all was the experience of being with our school and church family, laughing and enjoying fellowship together.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

SAVOR: Family Fun

The other night, my husband and my son were supposed to be putting laundry away. Instead of the mostly quiet sounds of drawers opening and closing, I heard yelling and laughing. When I went to investigate, I found them "fighting" ninja-like with their clothes. It was hilarious. I just stood back and watched the two of them being completely goofy together.

All too soon, my son will likely grow out of that silliness and desire to be goofy with us, and I wanted to SAVOR the moment.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Really, God?"

A couple weeks ago at church, the pastor talked about the disciples who talked to Jesus on the road to Emmaus. As they walked, Jesus prompted them to tell him "what things" were on their minds from the events leading up to that moment. Our pastor said, "It is good for us to tell God things" - things that matter to us, things we tell someone when we want to be in relationship with them, things we might not be free of until we tell God.

He said, "God has made me better in the telling."

Last summer, after several weeks in my childhood home taking care of my father's estate, I was finally home for awhile. I was finally getting to recharge after months of difficult moments. Then the phone rang. A major storm had blown through my hometown and had taken out two significant trees on my dad's property, causing damage to the garage and a neighbor's home.

I believe my first response was "Really, God? Are You serious? After everything else, was this really necessary?" I ranted and raved in my journal (the one truly safe place I had to vent) for an hour detailing the unfairness of it all. Once I had poured all that ugliness out, I felt worlds better.

I always told my Sunday school kids that God was big enough for any question or frustration or heart-ache they had. And those words came from experience. This sermon was a great reminder of that truth. Maybe Jesus is asking you, "What things" are on your mind and heart today. He can handle anything you have to say.

May you be better in the telling.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

SAVOR: Moments

Over Spring Break, I decided to take advantage of technology and use my phone to take pictures of our activities.
I did miss a few things - like the tow truck pulling our car to a shop for repairs or helping jump start a friend's car, but I did get pictures of the boys hanging out and playing Wii, craft day, and some nice meals away from home.
Pictures are a great way to SAVOR moments in life, and many of us have the technology with us all the time to do that.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Standing in the shadows

My son and I recently stopped by the library to drop off some overdue books. I decided to just use the drop box and deal with the fines the next time we stop in. As I pulled up I noticed movement in the shadows by the drop box - a man was standing in the shadows. I almost didn't notice him.

As I walked up, he said good morning and made little comments as he smoked his cigarette. My guess is that he is one of the homeless men living in a local shelter. The men have to vacate the shelter during the day and they often hang out in front of down town businesses. I started hoping to just drop off my books and leave, but before I could slide into my car and make my escape, it happened. He asked if I had any change. This is always an awkward moment. What if he uses the money for drugs or alcohol? Is it my responsibility to keep him from using the money for something I don't think he needs. What difference would my change make? It won't get him a job or a home. It won't change his circumstances long-term.

At the same time, I know I've got cash. I'm about to take my son to lunch. I can afford to give this man a little money.

It was Good Friday. I decided I could share a little of my abundance and let the man be responsible for his own choices on what he did with the money. I was still uncomfortable about the whole thing. I feel like I'd rather avoid down town than confront the reality of the poor and the homeless. It's awkward. I'm uncomfortable.

Maybe that's the point.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Spring Break Productivity

Over spring break, I felt like I should have been productive, but I really just wanted to rest. This became most clear to me on Wednesday of break.

Monday and Tuesday we had to spend time at school wrapping up the book fair, so Wednesday we planned a day for my son to hang out with three of his buddies. The major question for the day was what should I do while they took over the family areas of the house?

I grabbed my piles of magazines that hadn't been read, a tote bag full of books I wanted to read over break, and other paperwork that I needed to get done. I piled it all on the bed...

And then promptly ignored it.

I watched episodes of Pysch on DVD ALL day. It was glorious! I was able to check on the boys every hour or so, made them lunch, and supervised clean up, but otherwise I could leave them alone to do their own thing. And I did my own thing with only a slight twinge of guilt for not being productive.

I have to be intentional about just resting. That is what this whole "savor" year is about. I'm glad I spent that day doing nothing.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

SAVOR: Success

Our Spring book fair was a great success, despite the rocky beginning. Almost every classroom teacher picked out $20 in books for his/her classroom. We gave away two large boxes of books to another community. And we raised money to buy books off the teacher's wish lists of books for their curriculum needs. We put a lot of school time and personal time into the whole event and I want to savor the success for a little while.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

God's Book Fair

Twenty years ago, in college, I heard a chapel speaker tell a story about having to accept God's control in the life of a family member. The question from God that she wrestled with was, "Is he yours or is he Mine?" At the time, I wrestled with that question as well in my relationship with a guy I liked at the time - a guy I'm married to today.

Fast-forward 20 years.

When I finished my first book fair as the elementary librarian at my son's school, my rep asked if we had ever considered a spring book fair. We had never done it before. My principal was game and so was I so we scheduled one as an experiment.

As it got closer, we decided to emphasize our teachers and their book needs and called the fair a Teacher Appreciation fair. I quickly discovered that this spring season at school is crazy-busy. I was tired and ready for spring break. Our music teacher was working herself weary putting together the Grandparents Day program. I started to question the wisdom of this experiment.

Then a coworker told me that she would have been upset if she was a parent at our school because we already did one fair and now we were asking parents to shell out more money for another one. A second co-worker said the same thing the week of the fair. I was surprised. I assumed that the parents would make their participation decision based on their personal budget - we were just providing an opportunity.

I know that I am book obsessed. I think there is always money for books. I grew up that way. My parents were always willing to buy me a book and we are the same way with our son. Maybe it's an only child thing. Whatever the lifestyle differences, I was stunned by the feedback.

I asked the principal if she had heard feedback like that. She had received different criticism - she heard from someone else that instead of collecting money for books for our teachers (essentially, collecting for ourselves), we should be collecting money for folks in our state who lost everything in recent tornados. A good point, but not something we were thinking of in November when we planned this fair.

I was feeling discouraged.

But we had made a commitment, so I had to set my second guesses aside and move forward. I told students to keep their wish lists modest and "politely-sized." We found a donor willing to match what we collected in classroom collection boxes so we could buy books for the area ravaged by tornados. We gave free books to every classroom teacher who came to the preview. I tried to convince myself that I could be okay with the whole thing if that was the most we did, but I knew I would be disappointed. I even asked my husband, "what will I do if no one buys anything?"

The stress was starting to get to me. I was waking up in the middle of the night, unable to get back to sleep because of the things swirling through my brain. I was losing some of the joy I usually feel when I get to talk to kids about books. I was afraid other parents were going to complain.

Then one morning, in the middle of the fair, I woke up at a reasonable time of the morning instead of 2am. In my head, very clearly I heard, "Is it yours or is it Mine?" I hadn't thought about that chapel speaker in years! But the answer was clear. The outcome of the fair was out of my hands. I did the preparation. I showed up every day and did my job. The rest was up to God. I felt like a weight was lifted from my shoulders. I could acknowledge the questions of others without taking them personally. I felt like I could be okay with whatever happened next. I also felt like it was likely that we wouldn't do a spring fair again for awhile, and that would be okay, too.

In reality, we had a very successful fair. But it just as easily could have been a bust. The idea that it was God's fair and not mine was a great relief and a lesson I likely need to apply to other areas of my life and work. I can't bend every event - or other people's opinions - to my will. I need to do my part and then step back and be open to whatever happens next.

So, is there a part of your life where God is asking, "Is it yours or is it Mine?"

Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring Break Break

It's spring break here and I'm looking forward to a week of sleeping in, reading and being crafty. I'll be back to regular blogging next week.

Happy Spring Break - and Happy Easter!