Monday, February 27, 2012


It was late- all the lights in the house were out. I had a sudden urge to spend time with Bonnie. Quietly tip-toeing down the stairs, I grabbed a jacket from the closet. Feeling like a blue snow-woman in my Dad's big blue winter coat, I walked to the back door and stood still watching my dog. She was very alert, listening to something. I waited to see if a coon or possum would show itself- or a stranger from over the brick fence. After a few minutes her tensed form relaxed and she put her head on her paws. 

I knew the moment I turned the lock on the door she'd be on her feet wiggling her stub of a tail to greet me. It was chilly & humid- I don't know how Texas manages to do that. And to top it off, the mosquitoes were so happy I'd come! Swatting at them, I knelt down to pet Bonnie. She butted against me and looked up with her dog smile. Why did she have to do that- look like nothing was wrong? Maybe it was a gift- one more good night before the end.

Sitting on the edge of the doorstep, all I wanted to do was snuggle. But Bonnie, rarely a snuggler, grabbed the mangled stuffed doll lying on the porch. (The doll was a gift from one of Abby's students to their "techer" that she donated to Bonnie.) She began her prancing and pushed the toy against my legs and arms. If I tried to catch her to snuggle she'd whip away and playfully growl a challenge. So instead of snuggling last night, I played tug-of-war with my dog. She was happy. I provided a feast for the mosquitoes as our heavy breathing combined with my laughing announced fresh blood to the little vampires.

I finally sat down on the cement, grabbed my dog and just held her. She stopped squirming and looked up into my eyes. So trusting. I had to squeeze mine shut. How can I do this? Why can't she just die on her own? Why do we have to put her down? I hate having the power to choose the date and time she leaves this earth. Do dogs go to heaven? I haven't seen anything in the Bible really discussing it- but I know they don't really have souls like we do. I just can't imagine my sweet dog ceasing to exist. It feels unreal.

Good-bye is so hard. I hate death. It's an enemy that gained access to this world because of our sinful nature. But sometimes I love the fact that we get to experience hope and grace and mercy that we wouldn't have if we had been perfect. "It's a hard-knock life for us."- as Annie would say, I mean sing.

God has a perfect plan- even in the loss of one of my best friends. I haven't cried yet- she isn't gone yet- but she will be by the end of the week. I will miss my dog VERY much, but I'm so glad that she was at that pound the day my parents decided to get us a dog! There will never be another one like Bonnie. (And I'm sure thousands of people have felt that way about thousands of dogs.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Broken Vessels

Well, I can't sleep so I figured I write. It's late on Valentine's Day. My sister (the school "techer") brought home all kinds of goodies from her students today. I thought I'd help "dispose" of the dark chocolate, but forgot that it was after 6pm and that I wanted to go to bed before 10pm...
My head is pounding SO badly. Migraines are awful. I tried to make light of the pain and told my sister:
"I'm thinking of donating my brain to science."
"It won't do anyone any good..." ouch? I thought, but she continued "...I mean I haven't heard of a successful transplant." ohhh. miscommunication. :)
So, here I sit. Exhausted and dealing with a migraine. But my eyes can't shut and my brain is super awake. Why don't I remember that any form of caffiene is bad for me after 2pm?? I will never learn. I'm hoping the two Tylenol PM I just took will kick in soon...
In the meantime, I heard something on the radio today that really struck a chord. The radio announcer was talking about a funeral she'd been watching. The sister of the man who had died was sharing a memory from one of the last conversations she'd had with him. He'd known he was dying, and said: "Eternal life is God's gift to us; this life is our gift to God."
 That struck me. Stunned me, really. I've probably heard things similar to that several times, but not stated quite so simply. I forget that I can give God something- and as a "gift-giver" I loved hearing it put that way!
Of course, once I put aside the incorrect assumptions that my works are the things that bring me God's affection and acceptance, then I can move on to doing things because I WANT to. For Him. Because my relationship with God is forever. Forever. No human man will ever be able to match that amount of time or the depth of God's love for me. (For you too, of course- if you've trusted in Christ).
 I can't imagine who I would be without Christ. That person would be terrifying. Occasionally I see glimpses of what might have been when I act selfishly, and it makes me shudder. I want to be Christ-like. I wish I could be perfect. I have a theory- one I've thought about for several years and wrote about WAY back when I had a "Xanga"- bet that stirs up memories for some of you...or you just gave the screen a blank look. :)
Here's my theory:
God refers to Himself as the Potter and to us as His "clay". He mentions the different vessels that are formed from clay- from lighting a room (the cush job) to storing refuse (the horrible job)- but each is NECESSARY. Now, if we are all vessels and necessary- that puts us on equal terms. So just assume there are millions of clay jars- each representing a person. Specifically, Christians.

God also tells us to let our light shine before men. A perfect jar- if it had a candle inside it, would not show too much light. It would be beautiful, but not too useful. Similarly, if a person is assumed to be perfect, that person is intimidating. To many, they seem unapproachable.

On the other hand, a cracked jar would show more light. The candle would be more visible between the cracks. This would be the person who has made mistakes and cracked themself (or been broken by others). The light is more visible and therefore, the vessel is more useful.
This kind of person is approachable. When people admit they've made mistakes and have truly made changes in their lives for the better because of them- we not only learn from them, we open up to them. People are more willing to share with a broken vessel.
Perhaps, that is not put as clearly as it could be? To sum it up: broken vessels show more light. God can use our mistakes for His glory- if we let Him.
That is my theory. I am a broken vessel. When I share my mistakes with others, I've learned that they are more willing to open up and hear what I have to say about God. I will not be perfect on this earth- there are more mistakes in my future- I know it! But I praise God that He has found a use for me on this earth, and the fact that I'm still alive means my work is not completed.
"He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Phil 1:6b

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Garage Doors: Endangered Species

Perhaps you've seen a garage door before? They seem fairly common these days, but don't be fooled! Garage doors have become an endangered species. Their mortal enemy? The teenage driver.

Teenagers seem to do their level best to kill at least one and earn the special dents and glory that come from such dangerous and often fatal* rendezvous. Who can blame them? There's a certain thrill to be gained when you smash into a garage door. When you observe the amazing level of havoc you've just created- doubtless a sense of something will prick you. Be it pride or shame.

I received a text message this week from my little sister along the lines of: "Just rammed into the garage door. It is no more." Naturally, I got home as quickly as I could because when you've just killed a garage door, you need moral support. I happen to know this for a fact...

You see, when I was 15 and still learning how to drive, I too killed a garage door. But my damage was much worse than my sister's. She only ruined the garage door...a simple, cheap aluminum model. My murder...well, it wasn't pretty.

It was a beautiful day in Nebraska...I couldn't tell you what season it was- I only know it wasn't winter. My Dad had me driving around the neighborhood- getting in those hours of practice. He was a very patient and thorough instructor. I had been forced into the whole "driving thing." I couldn't care less about it, but my parents wanted to have a 3rd driver available in case of emergencies. I probably would have delayed the process as long as possible, but I was told I couldn't go on the choir trip if I didn't pass my driver's permit test. So I got an A on the test. No way was I missing that choir trip after practicing for months! Now, several weeks-maybe even months- later I was feeling pretty good about this whole driving thing.Two pedals, one steering wheel, a seat belt- like driving a Go Kart.

I was comfortable with driving. It wasn't my favorite thing- but I could do it. It was still early in the evening and there were a couple more hours of daylight. Dad had finally agreed that the lesson was over and we could go home. Excited, I turned towards home. As we passed the neighbor's house I noticed one of the boys out playing basketball. I waved and again, focused on driving.**

As I pulled up into the driveway, my Dad thought that I was going a bit fast and the next word I heard was "STOP!" My brain responded immediately and I jammed on the brake pedal...only it wasn't the brake pedal...

We plowed into the side of the house, crushing the ugly squash-colored vinyl siding, splintering the white trim, and bending in the track of the garage door. The only thing that stopped us? The bumper of our family suburban which was parked in the garage...of course, we dented that and it moved forward a foot or so (leaving inches between it's front bumper and our dining room wall!)

Mortified, because I had just had my first accident and in major shock; I can't tell you how my Dad was feeling, thinking or acting. I only know that we suddenly had a tiny crowd of neighbors- and of course my family- who was curious about the loud banging that had occurred.

After several minutes- and once my Dad had finished a quick assessment of the damage- I was told it was ok. I could get out of the car. Shakily, I climbed out to be met with stares- mostly of sympathy.

"You know, Dear," my next door neighbor's grandmother told me, "I had my first accident when I was about your age..." and here I was introduced to a new topic of conversation. I had just earned my "badge" and right to speak about accidents with knowledge- and no human being had been injured. A few more neighbors shared their stories with me too over the course of the next month or so and I gradually began to feel as if I might drive again...someday.

We left the dent in the suburban. Used that suburban to pull the house back into place (apparently, I knocked it off the foundation an inch or so...). Replaced the truck's front bumper. Had to go to a special shop to find the weird pattern of vinyl from military housing to match the pieces I had crushed. Never were able to match the ugly squash color...which, combined with the dent in the suburban were solid reminders of the dangers of driving. And lastly, my Dad somehow bent that metal garage door track back into place- the door itself was solid particle would have cost a LOT to replace it. Thankfully, it had been open.

So you see, I know all about garage door murder.*** It happens. Especially when there are teens around.

*Fatal to the garage- not the teen- depending on the teen's parents...

** My Dad likes to say that I was paying special attention to this boy- ridiculous nonsense. His older brother was much more interesting- and neither was as interesting as another guy I had my eye on at the time. There was NO distraction from driving that can be credited to the neighbor boy, ok? Just so we're clear...boy=no distration.

***I suppose mine was more of a "house murder"...It was pretty awful. But I learned a lot about house repair...and how to replace a bumper on a truck, so if you have questions...:)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Breaking Point

This is the darkest part of my testimony. Five of the loneliest years of my life drove me to the edge.
Not sure about you, but I've been hurt before. I'm guessing you probably have too- on many occasions. Have you thought about what drives some of your decisions and choices these days? I bet if you really considered it- you'd see that it might be defined by something from your past. A hurt that made you change your approach to certain areas of life.

We are who we are mostly as a result of our choices, but one cannot ignore that fact that our surroundings (including people) have a large affect on us.

I was the little girl that was highly ignored. It wasn't really on purpose, but people seemed to accidentally forget that I existed. Especially my peers. I cannot really name a single girl in those 5 years that was a "friend". Now there some girls that I keep up with from those places- but our friendships formed later. There were also some singular acts of kindness but they were few and far between.

When I was 11, I had only one boy my age that would play with me- but if he thought anyone else we might both know was driving by, he'd hide in the bushes. At first I thought it was funny- but after a few months, I began to be hurt. I was happy when we moved the following year.

When I was 12, we reached Hawaii. Everyone thinks that it is beautiful, but as a little girl? I knew differently. Sure, the ocean and plants were lovely and the weather was perfect, but I had no friends. Acquaintances, yes. The neighborhood kids would play "night games" on Friday- usually just hide-and-seek. I can't tell you how many times they forgot I was playing and would start a new game. Frustrated, I'd sit there and watch two rounds of the game before heading inside. It was a lonely existence.

Once I tried to make my "forgetable-ness" work for me. We were playing capture the flag. When I approached the enemy's flag they suggested that I guard it while they took care of some kids from my own team who were trying to cross the line. They had already forgotten I was the "enemy." I agreed to guard it, and once they were around the corner, nonchalantly picked up the flag and carried it to my side. Game over. Only everyone was upset with me- even "my team." Every single one of them called me a cheater. Life was tough.

There was the time two of the counselors on a mission trip took me aside and began scolding me about being "bossy" to someone I hadn't even looked at. All because that someone had an irrational fear that I was there to steal her best friend- another girl that I rarely spoke to. I was 14. It scarred me. At first I was caught off guard and confused, so I asked who had accused me and what I had done. They wouldn't say who. One of those counselors acted as big sister to the girl who considered me a rival- her lie had been believed and I had not been asked if I was actually guilty of the act. I cried.

That same night, I found smashed cookies in my sleeping bag. I was a 10-hour drive from home and  surrounded by immature teens who called me "Erkel" because I had accidentally packed my sister's pajama pants instead of mine and they were above my ankles. (You know those matching flannel sets- my Mom liked to buy us the same pair- to this day I hate flannel pajamas.) I spent the rest of the week focused on the kids I was teaching in VBS and the nights trying not to cry. The girls were in a clique that did not include me- it was so painfully lonely. It's a miracle I ever went on another mission trip.

Two years later, at 16, with many of the same group, we went to a new location. (I had been unsuccessful in suggesting a different church- the rest of my family was content with that one.) The youth pastor had no control over the teens on the second trip. (He later confessed that he hadn't had a quiet time in 2 years and resigned.) We were in St. Louis, MO and I couldn't wait to leave. On the ride home, I was pushed out of the first van and then one of the girls in that van acted upset that I would "get to" ride in van number two. How else was I supposed to get home?

The final straw was waking that next morning at home to be told my Dad had a tumor and my parents were headed to the hospital for more tests. Did any of those kids from the church call me when they heard? No. Did they call my little sister? Yes. That was it.

Those 5 years of my life were unbearably miserable. No earthly peer seemed concerned about me. I swore that I would become a hermit when I grew up. I thank God that I didn't commit suicide. I wanted to. I was at the edge of the world with only a dog's shoulder to cry on. I had had the impression that as the oldest I was supposed to be strong for my family. They assumed I cried for my Dad- which was partly true. I couldn't explain to them why I was hurt. If we had lost my Dad I would've shattered. God was the only One I could turn to.

(To be fair to my parents- they didn't know everything that happened to me and were busy with moves, my other sisters, and then the tumor. I still consider them the best parents in the world!)

My first instinct when I see anyone like me is to turn away. I don't want to see their pain. Then I remember who I was. How I was treated. I have to turn back around. No one deserves to be invisible. Forgotten. Ignored. How many times have I been guilty of doing the same thing to others? I may never know. I don't want to know. How awful.

God changed me. I spent a lot of time praying that God would give me the ability to love people as He did. I wanted to see people as He does. Not as a mass of human beings who make mistakes, hurt each other, and are oft-times undeserving of His grace; but as individual creations- spectacularly designed, highly broken and lost, and unfathomably loved. By Love Himself. The Creator of Love.

And I still have to pray for that love- I will never be perfect. I may have forgiven the people who've scarred me- forgetting is much harder. God has taught me that I am precious to Him and here to bring glory to Him. Against human nature, I've had to learn to accept His gift of grace. Any works I may do to try to be worthy of receiving God's grace are not even worth the blink of an eye. I can't earn my way to Heaven. That which is born of flesh- remains flesh; but that which is born of Spirit? Is of the spirit- no fleshly works will buy my soul passage into God's eternal Kingdom (John 3:6). Jesus paid my price. (John 3:16) Yours too. Isn't that a relief? You don't have to worry about being "good enough". And if you're lonely? You don't have to be.

My prayer is that this would not seem like a complaint or simply the sharing of some painful memories- this is part of my testimony. The part where I had reached the end of my rope. You will never know how close I came to killing myself. Or maybe you do? I thank God you haven't and that you're alive and reading this. I pray that you will open your bruised and broken heart to Him- the Author and Pefecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2) Let God heal you and set you on the path you were designed for. Beloved, how precious you are in His sight! (Isaiah 43:4) What an incredible treasure God made when He formed you in your mother's womb. (Psalm 139:13) He knew who would hurt you and who would help you along this journey. He knew the mistakes you'd make and the problems you'd face before you existed. And most exciting of all? Make no mistake! God's got a plan for you. He says so. I will leave you with some of my favorite Bible verses. The ones I read when I was at my breaking point:

"'For I know the plans that I have for you,'" declares the LORD, "plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart." -Jeremiah 29:11-13

"'Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.'" -Jeremiah 33:3

"Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; how blessed are all those who long for Him." -Isaiah 30:18

Friday, February 3, 2012

Blonde Moments & Lies

Admit it. You've probably had at least one of those moments. And as a blonde- I take umbrage at the absurdity of labeling people of a specific hair color with that polite phrase for "incredibly dumb!" But I still use the term "blonde moment" as an excuse whenever I sound un-educated.

Perhaps simple comments like "Wow! This red chip tastes like tomato!" after the person has just dunked said chip in salsa are deserving of the term. (Really happened- you know who you are...:)

Or being forgetful like a certain sister this week: "Wow! Look at this huge bag! It's so big!" only to forget it 10 seconds later and trip over it...maybe that's "being blonde"?

I'd like to share one of my most recent "blonde moments"- I wish I could say it was the last one I'll ever make...

It was October. It had been a busy month so far. Just 4 days before boarding my plane to Nashville to visit with two of my dearest friends, I had done the flowers for a rather fancy wedding downtown. I had enjoyed doing that, but was super excited that "relaxation" was about to be in my vocabulary. :)

I had two best friends freshman year. The first, Monica had married a couple of years before & was living in Nashville. As that is not within easy driving distance I hadn't seen her in awhile. Knowing that she had a spare room and having had her invite me to come so many times, I finally caved. I told Sallie- the other part of our "3 musketeers" group- that she should come. Sallie wanted to, but was unsure about ticket price. Understanding that, I didn't push her...just sent her hints every time we talked. Finally, she agreed! But- we decided not to tell Monica. This is where we build up to the "blonde moment."

Sallie had arranged it that she would first fly into Houston and then we would be on the same plane to Nashville. I was delighted! However, her layover was only going to be an hour...which can be tricky and unpredictable. Her plane ended up being delayed. So while I waited to board-alone- she called me back and said she had a new flight heading straight to Nashville and would only be about 45 minutes behind my plane. Good!- I thought. "Delay Monica, somehow," she said, "You can say you're waiting on another piece of luggage!"

Ok. I'm not a very good liar. Guilt usually gets to me.

So I spent a lot of my flight thinking about how I was going to have to lie to one of my best friends within the first few minutes of seeing her. The plane I was on was a small one...which meant my carry-on bag had been tagged and stuck in the cargo hold. (Or whatever you call the place they stick luggage...I'm not the biggest expert on planes...obviously.) They had given me a blue ticket stub with the number matching the one on my bag. Aha! I thought. I'll say this is the stub to my "other bag" when I see Monica. Good. I can do this. Breathe.

Finally we landed. Poor Monica, I'd already accidentally told her that my boarding time was my landing time...thankfully the flight was less than 2 hours... As soon as I had service, which wasn't until we were taxiing to the building, I called her: "Monica! Um, do you still want me to visit? I'm SO sorry! I got so occupied with what time I needed to be at the airport I forgot that I'd still have to actually spend time flying..." Being her usual cheerful, sweet self, Monica laughed at me- as good friends should. "Of course I do!! Are you here?" she asked. "Yes! I just landed."

As I got off the plane, I got another call from Sallie. She must not be on her plane! I thought. Sure enough, "Hannah, they had to cancel my flight again! I should be getting there around 7pm." "Oh no!" I told her. "I'm sorry you're not getting here before then! I just got off my plane and haven't reached Monica yet, but I'll tell her my bag isn't being delivered til'll be ok." Suuure.

"Um, so they had a problem with my bags," I said holding up the blue stub after hugging Monica. "This bag has your present in it! It should be here at 7pm." I smiled apologetically.

She bought it!!! "Oh that's fine! We can pick it up after supper." she said and I sighed in relief. That afternoon was wonderful, but the whole time I had some thoughts in the back of my mind:

1) I hope Sallie's ok.
2) I hope her plane doesn't get canceled- again.
3) What is she going to eat for dinner?
4) I am SUCH a liar. I feel like a jerk.

It was time for us to go back to the airport for Sallie. Surprised that the time was flying, Monica said, "You don't have to be there RIGHT at 7pm, do you? It could wait a while and we can..." I began shaking my head. "Oh no. I really don't want it to go missing! It's got a special gift for you in it and I need it for this weekend." I replied.

On the inside I was saying: "LIAR!" and panicking that she might not buy it and I'd have to spill the beans.

"Ok." Monica let out a little sigh. I could tell she'd noticed my bag. Her thinking was probably along the lines of: "The bag you have is fine for a 4 day weekend...why would you need more luggage??"

Doing my best to hide my embarrassment, I followed her to the car. We made it to the airport and by that time I was on such a major guilt trip. It had been 5 hours. It was 7pm. Where on earth was Sallie? And why didn't I think to have her text me her plane info? Scanning the screens of flight info, Monica joined me.

"Oh there's one from Houston! But it's not til 9pm!! And the other one got here 40 minutes ago...lets go ask someone!" she said. "Um, no. Not yet. I have the phone number they gave me, I'll try that first." I hurriedly replied. "I'm going to go look in the baggage claim area." Monica informed me. "Ok!" I said. "You'll know it when you see it!" And then I mentally scolded myself for that hint I'd just given.

Where was Sallie?? She didn't answer her phone. "Must still be in the air..." I muttered to my phone as Monica came up behind me. "Ok, let's ask at that help desk over there." Monica said.

I lagged behind a bit looking at my phone. Willing it to ring. Nothing was happening. We were within 10 feet of the help desk. I looked up and caught Monica's eye- she was very confused about my behavior...didn't I want to find my luggage? Why wasn't I being my proactive self?

There was nothing for it but to march up to the help desk with purpose. I did and the first words out of my mouth were: "Excuse me. When is your next flight from Pan Am?"

-We interrupt this tale to point out the "blonde moment" which is glaringly obvious to anyone who frequents airports. Pan Am shut down in 1991- so it has been extinct for 20 years.-

The man and woman at the help desk stared at me. I had their full attention. "What?" the man asked, for clarification purposes. "Pan Am?" I repeated. "When is the next flight?" I was still oblivious to my mistake. After the woman gave the man a quick glance, she cleared her throat. Deciding to humor me she said, "Where is the flight coming from?" "Um," everything in me wanted to say where Sallie was coming from but Monica was there...I couldn't give the secret away after keeping it ALL day. "Houston." I replied.

"Well, there are no Pan Am flights from Houston today." the man replied. Not catching his sarcasm, I glanced toward the escalator where I hoped I'd soon see Sallie. "But," he continued, "there is one more flight due at 9. It's a Southwest flight."

Monica decided that something had happend to her friend that was usually filled with initiative and took over. "She's looking for a bag," she said. The man looked at us for a second. "Well in that case, if you go over to those offices, they should be able to help you track it down." he said.

"Thank you." I replied and turned to see Monica pointing. "Look! That lady just helped some people with their bag...she may know what to do!" Groaning inwardly, I held back. "Monica, they told me it would be here about 7pm. Maybe there's another flight they don't know about? Let's wait just 10 more minutes?" as I said this I gave a sigh of relief as the lady who'd been helping with luggage disappeared around a corner. And then I realized that Pan Am didn't exist anymore.

Mortified that I had been reduced to a lying, blonde idiot, I walked towards the escalator. I couldn't believe that I had asked about Pan Am! I hid behind a pillar out of sight of the help desk. They were talking and looking in my direction.

After sitting on the floor of the terminal, Monica and I began playing the game Life on my nook. Distracted I told her I was going to try the number for my bag again. I called Sallie. Amazingly, this time she answered! Glancing behind me, I noticed that Monica was within earshot. "Hello! I'm calling about my luggage." I said. Sallie giggled. "Well your "luggage" just landed and will be in the baggage claim area in about 10 minutes!" Wanting to shout for joy, I maintained my polite "talking to a stranger" voice and said, "Good. I'll meet you by the escalator near baggage claim." "Great!" she said.

"My bag is here!" I told Monica. "It should be coming down that escalator in a few minutes." Poor Monica was tired and a little annoyed with my behavior that evening. "Ok, great." she said with a small smile.

We continued to play Life on my nook and I constantly checked the escalator. However, it was as I looked in the opposite direction that I spotted Sallie making her way toward us. "Monica!" I said. "That lady there in the maroon shirt has my bag!" And as Monica looked up, suddenly the lies were worth it. I carefully grabbed my nook before she dropped it on the floor in shock.

"SALLIE?!? What??" she gave a shriek of delight and I was on her heels. Poor Monica kept saying, "I can't believe this is happening!!" We laughed because she couldn't think of anything else to say, except "Oh!" as we gripped hands and hugged again. Sallie, Monica and I were a giggling mess and had quite an audience.* Perhaps some misinformation is worth it? Perhaps not... I just know that I don't particularly want to be the "liar" again anytime soon... And I definitely don't want to look like such a fool either. I still blush a bit when I think about it...

*I hope those people at the help desk saw that reunion and thought I was joking about Pan Am and the luggage...

Chapter 3- Ours

None of us could explain the sudden change of heart. One day the couple was ready to take Bonnie to Arizona to be a show dog- the next they were relinquishing their claim and giving her to us. It was with indescribable joy that my sisters and I heard the news! Our prayers had been answered. We were getting Bonnie!

As soon as possible, we had her home.

We were living in a squash-colored military house with awful chrome window edging - but it was the biggest place we'd ever lived. After the tiny apartment in Hawaii, we reveled in the space indoors & the yard that seemed gigantic. I got my own room- which was very exciting. It was in the basement of course...but there was carpet on the floor and odd windows that were half above ground/ half below. To complete the suite I even had my own tiny bathroom & shower. I felt like a princess after sharing one bathroom with three sisters!

Bonnie was to be an outdoor dog except in extreme weather (hot/cold/tornados/blizzards). My Dad, always resourceful and not one for fancy things, got Bonnie an obnoxious orange (think hunting orange) collar & simple green leash. She also had a choker collar that nearly killed her twice...but that's for a later chapter.

To understand Bonnie's indoor privileges you need a basic understanding of our basement floor plan.

Most basements were simply wooden steps down to a concrete-floored room that ran the entire length of the house. We had a fancy one that had belonged to a high-ranking officer. He had fixed it up! It had been sectioned into rooms (some with carpet!) and one of those was a tiny bathroom. When you opened the door to go down you were instantly at the top of the carpeted stairs. At the bottom of these immediately in front of you was a door. To the right was a nice carpeted room which we used as our schoolroom. It was one of the nicest homeschooling rooms we ever had!

If you opened the door instead of turning right, you found your self in a hallway- tiled with linoleum. There were 3 doors on the right, one on the left & one straight in front of you.

The first door on the right led into the laundry room- a giant room with the original cement floor (and a drain). There was a giant utility sink & a refrigerator...we felt like kings with two refrigerators and our freezer. (I'm afraid we've never gone back to a single fridge since then.) The second door led to the "utility room" which housed shelves of sports equipment & a giant cushion for Bonnie. The last door on the right led to my room. Because it had carpet, I was not supposed to let Bonnie in there. For the most part I obeyed...

The little door at the very end of the hall was my bathroom & the door on the left? Well, that was a magical room. The room was the same concrete floors as the laundry & utility rooms. It was so large that we set up our ping-pong table in there & our Foosball table. Around the edges of half of the walls were shelves and pegs which my Dad used for his tools. We dubbed this room: The Workshop.

There. Now that you have a generic idea of our basement, we can move on.

That first night we had Bonnie in the hallway of the basement. We were discussing her training.
"First, she's got to learn her name girls" my Dad said. The air vibrated with the word "Bonnie" as four little girls repeated it over and over while stroking Bonnie's soft fur. Bonnie enjoyed the attention.

We were ecstatic to hand her a tennis ball and play fetch- but Bonnie didn't understand that she was supposed to give it back so we could throw it again. My sisters and I were unconcerned with that fact and scrambled around the hall chasing her and trying to pry it from her teeth while she danced out of reach and playfully challenged us with soft growls. We had the upper hand though, as the floor was slippery and Bonnie slid all over trying to keep the ball away.

Bonnie was finally home. At last she was ours! And in my heart, I knew she was mine.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Why Teachers Should Play Mad Gab

The title says it all my friends.
My sister occasionally has some unique letters from her kids & to protect privacy I'm changing names. Also, I'm not telling you where she teaches or even what grade-but think: elementary. :)

It never fails. Fill a room full of people & conflict is sure to appear. Kids can sometimes be utterly obnoxious. My sister has a few who seem to be constantly pitted against each other- oftentimes they slip out of their seats to get near each other and inflict mental torture followed by swift physical vengeance. Only when the physical happens & my sister hears the shrieks of pain and outrage is she alerted to the problem behind her. She rarely gets to eat lunch because she is too busy enforcing rules.

Below are 5 of the most recent letters from her students. Older ones were unfortunately discarded before I thought of posting this. A favorite misspelling was "sawry" for "sorry."

We'll call this first student: Melanie. She's had a saga of letters and verbal requests to be transferred to a different table in the classroom- here are two of her letters:

Letter #1 -From: Melanie
Dear Miss Beard,
I am so sorry but I want to go to a different table because do you want me to go crazy?

(Melanie is usually at odds with another girl in the room: Mazie.)

Letter #2 -From Melanie- again
Dear Miss Beard,
I think two weeks are you know too long and whatever you do please don't put me next to Mazie or my head will pop off of my body! I am sorry if I'm getting anoying but I just can't take it! Also please do not put this on my record! Because then I will die instantly and insted I will have a heart atack! :(
And please write back.

P.S. This might be the last letter!

Actually, Melanie is one of the better writers. Now on to (her enemy) Mazie's letter.

Letter #3- From: Mazie
"Form Mazie to Miss Beard" Look ->
Dear, Miss Beard
You are the best trecher in the earth. I love so much becunes you are nice in school. I love you Miss Beard.

Moving on...

Letter #4- From: Susan
To: Miss Beard <3 From: Susan
Dear Miss Beard
I love Miss Beard because you are respetful to use and you bring use sacks. You did a rellay good gob being a techer. We love you so much we want you to be our _*_ gred teacher. You are a nice teacher and you are to pretty to be a teacher. Love, Susan

Letter #5- (my favorite! -and about the worst behaved student in my sister's class) Dillon
(I have no idea who gave this one to her, though.)

Dillon is in chrodol.
Jastin, Dillon, Scott, Matthew, to the pricpol oficire. Dillon is in chrodol Because he said Big fat mother panes. he said it to Scott doring desmesol.

Dillon is in trouble.
Justin, Dillon, Scott, Matthew, went to the principal's office. Dillon is in trouble because he said "Big fat mother panties." He said it to Scott during dismissal.

Also, "sacks" from Susan's letter= snacks.
What's that? You didn't need my translation? :) Well then you must play Mad Gab quite often.

That's all class. You may go to "desmesol" now. :)

*Hid the grade level to protect privacy.