Choosing Wrong Forks. And Second Chances.

Uncomfortable, angry or crying onAna’s shoulder is how I spent the Fork retreat. It’s the best thing that could have happened to me. The retreat was really called “Friendship Feast.” But I can never remember it that way. Forks were everywhere—giant posters, speakers’ messages about feeding yourself the right spiritual food. There was even an envelope you were supposed to open if you felt negative at any point, which contained encouraging wisdom and a plastic fork. Were they reading my mind, or what? The particular thing I was struggling with at that time was overeating. I knew God had been asking me to eat healthy and lose weight and was just not able to do it. I even realized I was turning to food for comfort instead of trusting in the Lord to be my joy and strength. I’d been feeling really dry for a long time, as if I was living in a desert. I was a Christian but couldn’t feel any joy in my life anymore. Now all these forks everywhere. Could choosing the right spiritual food really be connected, for me, to how I ate? Just a few weeks before that retreat, I woke up sick of myself being stuck in overeating; so sick I admitted the whole problem to a godly woman at church, told her I was powerless to control it and needed her to pray for me. I prayed and told God I was done, could not do it—He’d have to do it and I did not even know what to do about it or how. That awful point was actually the beginning...

Timeline: Spring 1997 – What Will I Do For The Rest Of My Life?

While a Senior in high school, my daughter Melody was faced with that age-ol’ decision, “Who do I want to be when I grow up?” She pondered nursing but was afraid she might accidentally kill someone — which made her ponder — perhaps — forensics . . . CSI Miami, anyone? Melody consulted her high school guidance counselor.  Having experienced the joy of working with small children in the church nursery, Melody decided that teaching could be an option.  She told her counselor that she had learned some American Sign Language and would like to explore that field.  When Melody left the counselor’s office, she had made the decision to pursue a career teaching children who were hearing impaired. Her counselor told her about a wonderful college in St. Augustine, Flagler College.  Before Melody graduated high school, she had been accepted into this fine institution of learning. Her grandmother Shirley (who will be at the retreat this year) asked her, “how do you know that is what you want to do?” (I really believe that Shirley “Nanny” may have had some ulterior motive in that she did not want her granddaughter to be five hours away from her — yes, they are close.) Melody had no answer. While attending “Night of Joy” (an all-day, all-night concert event at Walt Disney World Orlando featuring various top contemporary gospel artists), Melody pondered that question . . . how do I really know? How do I really know that teaching deaf children is my life’s career choice? While observing Michael W. Smith in concert, and out of the corner of her eye,...

Sacrifice Enough?

Last retreat I invited a friend of mine to come with me.  I knew she needed to be spiritually fed.  She is a mom of two beautiful children; last year the oldest was 3 and the youngest was 1 year old.  When I went to pick up my friend from her house, I could hear the screaming and crying of both children begging for her to stay home.  She was firm and consistent all the time; she wanted to go to the retreat.  She said she was determined to go because she wanted “to become a better mom, a better wife, and a better Christian.”  Would her babies’ tears be enough for her to quit her resolution? Would she be strong enough to close the door behind her leaving her precious babies crying for her?  Grandma was there to take care of them, but they didn’t care, they wanted “mommy” to stay with them as usual. My friend never before had been separated from her babies; I knew it was going to be hard for her.  I waited at the parking lot with a bottle of water on one hand and a box of tissues on the other.  For a second I thought she wasn’t coming; to my surprise she did.  She took the bottle of water silently and the box of tissues and started to cry like a baby.  I knew she was suffering; it was a huge sacrifice to go to a retreat miles away from her babies.  I asked her if she was sure she wanted to go, she nodded.     I prayed for God’s protection over...

My Truth . . .

My truth: Last year’s Time to Graduate Princess retreat was part healing and part misery for me. Fairly new to Everglades Community Church, I didn’t know many of the other princesses, and the ones I knew well enough to be comfortable with were busy putting on the retreat. My usual trick of hiding behind service to cover up my deficient small-talk skills didn’t work at this Christian function because I was there as a princess. Any offer I extended to help was rejected because princesses were to be ministered to. (Darn it, Girl Friday, are you sure you couldn’t use an assistant? Ms. Saturday, perhaps?) Making matters worse, one of my princess friends said something insensitive to me. I was hurt, but the thought of confronting her tied my insides into ginormous granny knots. The longer the day went on, the worse I felt. My kids were starting to get annoyed by all of my calls – the nerve! So when they stopped answering the phone, I overdosed on chocolate, catapulting myself into a migraine. Not a perfect princess. My graduation: Finally, I knew I had to stop wallowing in self-pity and talk to the princess who’d trampled on my toes. Through plenty of tears and a few stammers, I told her I felt she had given me the responsibility for something that was partly hers to bear. I spoke the truth in love to her. In response she told me she liked me. Not exactly what I was expecting, but on the other hand, I really don’t know what I was expecting. Later, I mustered the nerve to...

A Lesson On Teaching

In the spring of 1997 I was finishing my last semester of a bachelor of arts in linguistics at Indiana University. My studies included a research project that set out to find which instructional activities best achieved mastery of the target language in a high school foreign language class. I observed a first-year Spanish class twice a week for nine weeks to gather data for my project. The teacher, Mrs. Diaz, wasn’t much old than I, and we had similar ethnic backgrounds – one parent from Mexico, the other melting pot American. However, she was fluent in Spanish, and I still am not. Toward the end of the nine weeks I realized that it wasn’t the daily homework, carefully laid lesson plans or vocabulary drills that helped these 14 and 15-year-olds learn Spanish best. It was one of Mrs. Diaz’s classroom policies. Anytime a student blurted out something in English, she had to repeat the phrase in Spanish. In addition to the Spanish she already knew, the student could use a dictionary, her textbook, help from another student, anything. Having to apply the language in a meaningful, everyday circumstance gave the student purpose for her studies and thus helped her learn better. A novice in this area, I was shocked by my findings. Mrs. Diaz, on the other hand, either had a really good poker face or was too busy maintaining order in her classroom to reveal any surprise. These days the only students I see on a regular basis are my 12-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son, and they speak even less Spanish than I do. But the principle...