I’ve realized the older I get, the more I yearn for quiet. A few synonyms for quiet are tranquil, calm, peaceful, serene, still, silent, and hushed. When I think of watching gigantic snowflakes falling from the sky for the first time each winter, I think peaceful. There’s a quiet beauty in that.
When I think of soft jazz playing on the radio, I think calm. Music soothes my soul.
When I think of my accidental pink hair color years ago, I think still. The shock of pink reflecting in the mirror left me speechless.
And, when I think of the train rolling by at bedtime during my childhood, I think of hushed. Once the train arrived, the continual sound of the wheels on the tracks lulled me to sleep.
There is a charming children’s book called The Quiet Book that explains nicely what quiet might be. “There are many kinds of quiet: Quiet can be delicate. Quiet can be thundering! Quiet can be sweet and cozy, and can most definitely help you fall asleep.”
I couldn’t agree more. Below are a few examples of my quiet:
Early morning devotions quiet;
Reflecting on my teaching quiet;
Listening to the Chris Rice station on Pandora quiet;
Losing a colleague quiet;
Sitting by the campfire quiet;
Birds singing in the early morning quiet;
Admiring the sunrise quiet;
Waiting for the thunder after the lightning strike quiet;
Prayer time quiet;
Grandchildren playing quiet;
Snow blizzard quiet;
Reading a book with a cup of tea quiet;
Decision making quiet;
Inner beauty quiet.
In the bible, 1 Peter, Chapter 3 verse 4, Peter mentions we should desire “to be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” I want that! I want that quiet spirit. I long for the Lord to quiet my tongue, my anger and frustrations, my inner turmoil, and my emotions. Then maybe my quiet spirit within will ignite so my inner beauty can shine brightly for Him.
The older I get, the more I am finding beauty in the many kinds of quiet. I pray you do too. “Quiet is turning down the volume knob on life…” ~Khaled Hosseini
Devotions in the quiet early morning hours by the Christmas tree lights and fireplace is a favorite part of my days in December. A few days ago, while reading one of the devotions, I discovered a bible verse I was unfamiliar with. This verse from the Psalms touched my heart in so many ways.
Psalm 42:8 reads “All day long God’s promises of love pour over me.” That kind of love made me think of Jesus being born in a manger for one purpose only; to live a flawless life then die for me, for us, so our sins will be forgiven. We can receive the best gift ever…the gift of eternal life in Heaven. All we have to do is accept Him as our Lord and Savior. Wow! Love sure poured down at Christmas time, didn’t it? I believe that.
This verse also made me think of my sweet friend who recently lost her battle with mental illness. A few months ago, she came happily bounding up the office stairs and was in such a chipper mood. She shared with me that she had just heard a new song on the Christian radio station and loved it.
“Something about fill my cup,” she said as she grinned from ear to ear.
“Oh, yes! Fill My Cupby Andrew Ripp. I heard him in concert just a month ago. He is married to a gal from around here. Isn’t that awesome?” I replied to her.
“Made me think of the song Red Solo Cup, Fill Me Up,” she laughed.
That comment took us on a YouTube hunt for the country song and we listened to it while dancing and giggling right there in her office. I’m sure everyone else who were in their offices that morning thought we were a little on the goofy side. But, I’m sure it brought a smile to the faces of those who heard us.
My beautiful friend loved Jesus. Because of His gift of salvation and eternal life, I am 100% sure I will see my friend again. I am missing her this Christmas! However, I know she is in her glory and spending Christmas with Jesus.
I’m Spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this Year (author unknown)
I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below
With tiny lights, like Heaven’s stars, reflecting on the snow.
The sight is so spectacular, wipe away that tear
For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear
But the sounds of music can’t compare with the Christmas choir up here
For I have no words to tell you the joy their voices bring
It is beyond description to hear the angels sing.
I know how much you miss me, but please remember dear;
That I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I cannot tell you of the splendor of the peace inside this place.
Can you imagine Christmas with our Savior, face-to-face?
I will ask Him to light your spirit as I tell Him of your love.
So then pray for one another as you lift your eyes above.
Please let your hearts be joyful and let your spirit sing
For I am spending Christmas in Heaven
And walking with the King!
Are you missing a loved one this Christmas too? Please know I’m thinking of you, pouring out my love over you, and lifting you up in prayer. Merry CHRISTmas, friend❣
Dear Lori…I love you with all my heart and I will miss you immensely. 💔
I will miss our fun-loving bantering back-and-forth between our offices. I will miss the walks in the hallway and the walks around the track. I will miss eating our peanut butter pops together. I will miss the tears and laughs we shared and our talking out loud to ourselves then yelling to each other “you talking to me?” I will miss our outings together such as snowshoeing, golfing, or hiking monument trails. I will miss your benevolent smile, your wisdom, and your giving heart. I will miss our visits about our faith…our Jesus talks. I will miss hearing the stories about your family and the love you had for your husband, children, parents and brother. I will miss hearing you say “Jesus take the wheel,” and “oh, my lanta,” which you and I both picked up from my daughter.
I giggle when I remember our recent trip to Brainerd with seven SMSU Aspiring Educators. You chuckled when you shared with us the story of your resort room missing a few essentials such as a shower curtain, coffee pot, iron, and hangers. You never once complained about these glitches. You handled it with such grace! This impressed my daughter, and it impressed the students you were mentoring.
The SMSU Aspiring Educators adored you and were appreciative of all you did for them and for the knowledge you shared. You touched their lives more than anyone will ever realize. The letter and pictures below are from three of the seven:
You have been a light for me the past 2.5 years, Lori, and I thank Jesus for introducing us and putting our offices right next to each other. Oh, if our office walls could talk.
I love you, Lori. As our mutual friend said to me after we learned of your unexpected passing away, “Gosh, I just cannot even imagine the GLORY she is seeing right now. There is NO joy in death, but Praise Jesus…He has overcome death.” And as my six year old grandson said to his mom, “Mom, she is WITH Jesus. She is so lucky. I know grandma is sad, but her friend is WITH Jesus.”
Jesus took the wheel and drove you home, Lori! I know where you are, and I’ll see you again someday, sweet friend❣❣
My jovial, handsome brother would be celebrating his 66th birthday today. Makes me wonder what he would look like at 66? Probably just as handsome as he was 42 years ago before he entered his heavenly home exactly two weeks prior to his 24th birthday. We lost him right before the holiday season began.
Losing a loved one is hard, really hard! Add losing that loved one around the holidays and it seems to magnify the sorrow. As sad as it was for me to lose my only sibling, I saw the devastation and turmoil it caused my mom and dad. Especially my mom. I’d say it took her at least five years before I saw a small glimpse of the mom she used to be. I had missed her so much, so I welcomed this tiny step toward her healing with such hope and gratitude to God.
My hubby and I have been watching “The Crown” on Netflix and we just watched Episode 2 of Season 5 the other night. One scene shares Prince Philip soothing his grieving cousin after she lost a daughter to cancer. This cousin is wanting to start a charity for cancer victims, and the Prince shares these wise words about grief with her:
“A long time ago, I lost my favorite sister, Cecilia, in an airplane crash. I learned then what grief was. True grief. How it moves through the body. How it inhabits it. How it becomes part of your skin. Your cells. And, it makes a home there. A permanent home. But, you learn to live with it. And you will be happy again. Though, never in the same way as before. That’s the point. To keep finding new ways.
Prince Philip lovingly encourages her to keep finding new ways to embrace joy and happiness through the grieving process.
There have been so many losses recently and it is HEARTBREAKING!! I want to hug every single person who has lost one they love. I want to gently tell them “you will be happy again.” But I don’t. Everyone’s grief is their own. Everyone deals with loss in different ways. Those of us on the outside looking in…please be empathetic to this. Let them (us) journey through their grief in their own way. No matter how long that takes. Just be there for them. Somehow. Someway.
Whether it was just yesterday, last year, or 42 years ago, to all of us experiencing tragedy and loss, I offer these scripture hugs and love and heartfelt prayers…”
💔 I mourn with you. Romans 12:15B, “…mourn with those who mourn.”
💔 I weep with you. John 11:35, “Jesus wept.”
💔 I offer compassion and love to you. Lamentations 3:32, “…he will show compassion; so great is his unfailing love.”
💔 I pray for your broken heart to heal. Psalm 147:3, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
💔 I pray for God’s comfort to embrace you. Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
💔 I pray for you to find rest in the middle of your sorrow. Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
💔 I pray you know God cares for you and will lift you up. 1 Peter 5:6-7, “…so that at the proper time, he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
💔 I pray you find inner peace. Numbers 6:24-26, “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”
Finding joy and happiness once again will come. It may never be the same, but it will come. It may take quite a while, but it WILL come. Believe it. Receive it.
Sweet Jesus, I lift up all who are going through or remembering a loss this close to the holiday season, and I pray you would be very close to each one who is in mourning today. You are the God of all comfort who comforts us in time of need, and I pray for those who are facing such a painful trial today. Uphold and draw near to all during this season of grief. Sooth away our heartache. In Jesus name, Amen.
Sending my deepest sympathies, hugs, and prayers to all of us experiencing new and old loss! And…happy heavenly birthday, big brother. Love and miss you.
Two young men were heard discussing the quote Jesus Take the Wheel while sitting in their car.
The first young man asked his buddy, “You know that saying Jesus take the wheel? Where did that even come from? There’s no biblical evidence that Jesus even knew how to drive.”
The second young man answered, “Bro, Jesus drove a Honda.”
Startled, the first young man questioned, “WHAT?”
The second young man responded with great confidence in his knowledge of scripture, “Do you not read the bible? He didn’t like talking about it. John Chapter 12 verse 49, He says, “For I do not speak of my own accord.” 😀
While that second young man clearly does not understand the true meaning of this verse, I’m proud of him because at least he knew what the verse said. I didn’t know the verse so of course I looked it up to read the whole chapter and learn why Jesus said that. John 12:47-50 reads:
47 “As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.
48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.
49 For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.
50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
Basically, the last verses in John 12 can be quickly summarized like this: Some folks believed in Jesus and some did not. Pretty much sums up today, doesn’t it? And, what really breaks my heart is Christianity has dropped almost 12% in the last few years (Max Lucado, 2022). So sad!
When I get frustrated with circumstances or people or whatever, a way to call out to Jesus can be a simple “Jesus, take the wheel.” In his song “See Me through It” Brandon Heath explains why this works… “Things are gettin’ real, Jesus take the wheel. I don’t got this, I know YOU got this. I know you’ll see me through it!” In other words, “HELP, Lord, this is out of my control, and you are bigger than any burdens I will face so I need your help.”
My colleague and friend is often heard saying this. Out of the blue, I’ll hear the voice in the corner office next to mine say out loud, “Jesus! Take the wheel.” Advising almost 100 students can do that to a professor. It’s her code for asking “let’s go for a walk or something” so out the office doors we go to walk the hallways for a little while. I appreciate this about her. She’s real and open and honest, and she would do the same for me. All I would have to say is “Jesus, take the wheel” and she would just know.
Is there someone in your office or school district or classroom who is struggling and may need to go for a walk? Share the code with them and make a promise to each other that when you hear “Jesus, take the wheel,” you’ll take a Jesus break together.
Yes, Jesus, take the wheel. I give you thanks and honor and glory today and every day (Psalm 86:12). I believe, Lord! Help my unbelief (Mark 9:24). When life gets me down protect me from trouble and keep your loving eye on me (Psalm 32:7-8). Give me the courage to totally trust you today (Proverbs 3:5) and to know you will see me through all my troubles because with you all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). Take the wheel, Lord. In Jesus name, Amen.
Are you having a rough day? Go hang out in a classroom filled with kindergartners for a little while, and I guarantee it will cheer you up exponentially! Those little ones are full of awe and wonder and innocence and unconditional love…most of the time.
My daughter is a SPED Professor and she teaches college students how to become effective SPED teachers. One of the highlights of being a professor of educators is being able to go observe them when they are at the end of their prep program and are finally student teaching in a real classroom. This is their time to shine!
My daughter walked into the Kindergarten classroom and took a seat to begin her observation of her student teacher. A sweet little blonde-haired boy who was sitting close to her turned and looked her square in the eyes and asked very seriously, “Who is you?”
She whispered to him, “I am Professor Juhl, who are you?” He politely answered her and when he was done, she asked him to please turn and listen to what the teacher was going to share. He obeyed.
Who is you? This is a fantastic question to ponder. How do you think most of us would answer if asked that question? I am guessing we would give our common view of who we are and not get too personal.
Who is you?
I am Wendy.
Kyle and Jamie’s mom.
Warren, Sibyl, Tyus, and Lucy’s grandma.
Education professor at SMSU.
I am ________________ (how would you fill in the blank?).
I wonder what the little boy would have said if my daughter would have answered his question with a question.
Little boy: Who is you?
Professor Juhl: Who do you say I am?
Okay, that question reversal would most likely confuse a kindergartner. Or…maybe not. Those little 5-year old children are creative creatures. Answering a question with a question might launch the conversation on a completely different trajectory. I guess we will never know unless we give it a try.
In the bible, we find Jesus asking his disciples a similar question. He asks them, “Who do people say I am?” (Matthew 16:13).
The disciples answer Jesus’ question with the common view answer just as we might. They say John the Baptist. Elijah. Jeremiah. Some prophet. (Matthew 16:14).
Then, Jesus turns the question back to his disciples. “What about you?” he asked them. “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15). Simon Peter does not give the common view answer to Jesus. Read what he says in Matthew 16:16…Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, The Son of the living God.” He acknowledged that Jesus is divine and is the long-awaited Messiah. Simon Peter gets a little more personal about who Jesus is.
I wonder how I would answer if Jesus were to ask me, “Who do you say I am?” I believe I would lovingly tell Him, “I believe you are my Lord and Savior who chose the cross. You chose that cross to give me and others the gift of eternal life in Heaven! You chose to sacrifice your life on that cross, Lord. You chose to suffer for me and for all others because you love us that much.”
How about you? How would you answer Him if He asked you “Who do you say I am?”
What if we asked Jesus that same question? “Lord, who do You say I am?” Without a doubt, I know the answer to that question. How about you? If you aren’t sure, open up your bible and read the book of Ephesians. It clearly states who we are, who we is.
Back to the student teacher in the kindergarten classroom. When Professor Juhl had a follow-up conversation with the young teacher-to-be, she mentioned how cute the little boy who asked her the question was. This future teacher agreed and said she really loves that little boy. Then she reminded Professor Juhl about the boy who had punched her in the face the week before. This cute little boy who had asked my daughter “who is you” was him, the same kid, the one who smacked the student teacher. BUT…it did not matter! It did not matter because the student teacher just loves that little boy so much.
That is how it is with Jesus. Who is you? Who do you say I am? Jesus is love. We mess up all the time. ALL.THE.TIME. But, it does not matter because Jesus just loves us so much. We are who He says we are. We are loved. We are forgiven. We are redeemed. We are set free. That is who we is!
Do you ever wonder why certain topics just randomly pop up on your Facebook page or on your Instagram account? Why is this in my feed? Why do I keep seeing this?Lord, are you trying to tell me something? Is this a nudge from You? 🤔
That is what happened to me in April 2021. Jenn Kautsch aka @sobersis appeared in my Facebook feed uninvited. I thought what in the world is this? and kept scrolling on by. She dropped in several times so I started to read her stuff. Most times I would skim through and move on to the next post. But, the more I read the more I connected with what she was saying. I liked 👍 her page and followed along for about 5 months. Then in August of 2021, I made the choice to join her 21-Day Reset program.
This program was a 21-day reset from alcohol. I had done several 30 day challenges on my own, so I knew I could conquer the 21 days without much difficulty. And I did. When I successfully reached her 21 days, I joined her AFL program which equipped us with tools to stay on this zero-proof living path. It was during this program I learned this powerful saying, “It takes 21 days to create a habit and 90 days to create a lifestyle.” I was so close to 90 days so I decided to stick with the challenge until the 90-day mark. When 90 arrived, same thought… “I am so close to 100 days, I’ll go for that!” December 7, 2021, when I saw 100 days of alcohol free living come and go, I made a bold choice. I decided to ditch the drink for one full year. August 30th was the first day I ditched the wine, and, here I am…365 days later currently living an Alcohol Free lifestyle.
I’m sure you are wondering the same question most others ask me when I share my story with them: “Did you have a problem?” My answer to you and to them is always the same. “No, I did not!”
I was not physically addicted to alcohol. I just enjoyed my glass of wine at nighttime and began to wonder if maybe I was relishing my Clos du Bois Dry Rosé a little too much. After all, I didn’t drink wine to catch a buzz. I drank wine because I truly enjoyed the taste, and because it became so much a part of my life…social events like the University Gala and golf league, colleague outings after work, wine tasting on vacations, and back yard beverages with friends. Many early evenings, I would arrive home from work and, out of habit, pour myself a glass of Rosé which usually led to the 2nd and occasionally the 3rd glass. Yes indeed, it was time to reevaluate my relationship with wine. It was time to break up for a while.
I’ll be honest, though. Have there been challenging days where the crave wave hits? Oh, my goodness, yes! Several! Still! I enjoyed wine. But, as we all know, habits can be extremely difficult to break (just ask anyone trying to give up coffee or sugar or diet coke or whatever the poison…). My cravings for a glass of wine seem to ebb and flow like ocean waves.
For example, my husband and I will drive by one of our favorite restaurants that serves a delightful glass of Rosé and the crave wave might hit me so hard it will almost knock me down. However, when we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary in June, I turned and bravely faced that champagne crave wave and stood strong determined not to get knocked over.
During those times when the cravings overwhelm me, I say many prayers! Then I surf the crave wave and cling to my why for doing this. “Knowing our WHY gives us purpose and direction, it becomes our North Star” (Sinek, 2022). And, “You see, I think it’s when we tap into our why and see it fulfilled that we find the motivation to keep moving forward” (Lowe, 2022).
Below are my main reasons why I ditched the drink:
Obedience. The Lord was nudging me to give it up and there’s nothing in this world that I want more than to be obedient to Christ!
Overall health. Over the past few years I’ve been placed on two meds…one for atrial fibrillation (A-fib) and the other for high blood pressure. I have no idea how alcohol might be reacting with these medications.
Alzheimer’s. My parents enjoyed many cocktails throughout their lifetime, and they both had major issues with cognitive decline. Research shows alcohol can have toxic effects on the brain such as damaging the memory center causing short plus long-term memory loss. I certainly do not want to enhance my chances for this destructive disease.
Sleep. Why was I always waking up around 3:00 a.m.? I was tired of being tired.
Guilt and shame. Because one side of my family had/has major problems with alcohol, I made the choice years ago that I did not want to be like that. It seemed this decision had faded a little over the years which made me feel guilty. Satan took hold of this guilt and tortured me with it. I no longer wanted to be oppressed by this guilt and shame.
Choice. We all know alcohol is an addictive drug. It is the only drug that is socially acceptable. It is the only drug that you are questioned on if you DO NOT use it. If I continue to drink, there is that scary risk of addiction. It is still my choice to “burn the plow and leave the alcohol behind.”
Because of my curiosity, I have learned so much about alcohol over the past year. I’ve read books such as Alcohol Lied to Meby Craig Beck, Alcohol Explainedby William Porter, and The Sober Diariesby Clare Pooley (which is hilarious); listened to podcasts such as Annie Grace’s The Naked Mind; and followed some fun people on Instagram who have shared their alcohol free living journeys.
One “eyebrow raising” fact I learned was this: did you know alcohol is ethanol? I had no idea, and this was shocking news to me! I also discovered it is the additives that make alcohol taste good. Beer is ethanol with hops added to it. Wine is ethanol with grapes added to it (and I do love grapes). Spirits, like whiskey, are ethanol with barley or other grains added to it plus coke or water or whatever. Holy buckets of beer! Just park on that thought for a while. Like I said, it’s been quite a learning year.
A favorite part of my journey has been the drink alternatives because remember, for me, it’s about the taste not the buzz. One of my favorite alternatives to order when out at a restaurant is a ‘virgin’ mint mojito or as it is sometimes called, a mint “NO-hito.” So yummy, but also so full of sugar. If you order one, just ask for way less simple syrup.
During the winter months I enjoyed a “NOT Toddy.” I made it like a normal Hot Toddy but with a Cinnamon flavored Alcohol Free whiskey replacement. Another drink I like to mix up anytime is a Cherry Bomb; add one part tart cherry juice to two parts club soda in a fancy glass full of ice and enjoy the deliciousness. One bonus from this mocktail is tart cherry juice has natural melatonin so it might help with sleep at night.
Important note: I LOVE fancy glasses! I use them at home plus always ask for one when out. One time while at a local restaurant, I ordered a club soda with a splash of grenadine and muddled mint (also delicious, by the way). I asked our waitress to please put it in a fancy glass. Her response was perfect…“Oh, I got you. Everything tastes better in a fancy glass.” 😉
I shared earlier that I enjoyed a lovely Rosé. Well, I have found two Alcohol Free (AF) Rosés that are divine. Yes, both have sugars, but zero added sugars. The sugars are natural from the grapes used in each of my two favorites.
My second favorite is the Rosé called H2💗 Sonoma Soft Seltzer. There are extra bonuses in this one. According to their website, “Your body will benefit from H2💗’s extra burst of antioxidant Vitamin C, Vitamin B12, Potassium and Calcium electrolytes.” Keep in mind that Vitamin B12 gives us energy. I drink this one during the day (day drinking 😜) so it doesn’t interfere with my sleep.
Every now and then I enjoy an ice cold beer…especially during those over 100 degree days. I’ve tried most NA beers and the only one I have found to be palatable is Coors Edge which is similar to a Mich Ultra but with less calories (my hubby’s favorite NA’s are Athletic Brewing NA’s and Sam Adams Just the Haze). Add a few giant sized olives to the chilled glass and you’ve got yourself a refreshing treat (yes, we add olives to our beer here in Minnesota). Or, you could add a little lemon which kind of reminds me of a Summer Shandy.
On those special occasions, like an anniversary or New Year’s Eve, the Fre Sparkling Brut Champagne is my favorite. We recently toasted to 30 years of marriage with this one. 😍
My son celebrated a big birthday this year, along with my youngest granddaughter celebrating 5 years of life. The party invite said “Bouncy Castles & Bourbon.” 😛 My hubby enjoys an occasional bourbon. When we discovered an NA Bourbon, my hubby tried it and gave it a thumbs up to use for mixing. We took this NA Bourbon along to the birthday party and I mixed up a scrumptious NA Blackberry Bourbon Smash. Oh my, yummo!
Now that I’ve reached my goal of one year, I’m sure you are wondering what is next. I often ponder this, too. Maybe I’ll just have a glass of wine on special occasions? Well, today might be 365 days later, but the reality is my WHY has not changed! Plus, I can’t ‘unknow what I now know.’
P.S. If you are wondering about the links I’ve shared throughout my story, please know I get NO compensation, ZERO credits for sharing these. They are just my honest opinion on products I have tried. 😊
P.S.S. If you have any questions for me about my journey, please ask in the comment section found below.
In 1987, the Lord chose me for the assignment of serving others in the ministry of education. The classroom became my mission ground. Today begins the first day of my last year of this assignment. When I reach May 2023 (Lord willing), I will humbly hand in my 36 year old teaching assignment that I have worked at so diligently to the best of my abilities. I believe God will give me an A on it. I sure hope so, anyway!
From the 14 years of teaching third graders (8 years) and fifth graders (6 years), to the year of serving all elementary students and their teachers as their elementary principal, to the past 21 years of teaching future teachers how to be teachers, I pray I have made a positive impact on the lives of students and adults of all ages from all places.
This wonderful world of education…there has been no better adventure than this! I have been on this magical journey for almost 36 years and there are so many people who have tagged along with me on this enjoyable voyage. I will reach my final destination of this educational trip in May, however, I have had the time of my life completing this significant assignment entrusted to me!
To tweak the words of Walt Disney, I have “followed my teaching dreams to a place where exhilarating learning has come to life. I have created magical memories and discovered fun where imagination reigned.”
You, traveling companions, have given me daily splashes of happiness and laughter. I thank you and appreciate all of you!
To all my students since the fall of 1987, you rock my world each and every day. I wish I could name all of you, but that would take up way too much space. From Jeff, Dena, and Marci in my very first third grade class who are now successful adults and positive role models for their own children; to Sam, Kelsey, Andy, and Wilson in my college courses who are now outstanding educators; all of you have been my beacons of light. My students are the reasons why I continued on with this assignment for 36 years. I am so proud of ALL my past and present students!! You all mean the world to me!
To my family, friends, and colleagues…you have been nothing but supportive during this exciting assignment! Thank you for being some of my favorite traveling companions! I love you all!!
And, finally, to Ken Stanek…I’ve said this before, but I am going to say it again! You, sir, gave this hometown girl a chance in the wonderful world of education. You were my principal and my guide and you always went to bat for me. Even when the school board questioned your hiring policy because you hired a hometown girl…heaven forbid! 😜 I couldn’t be more grateful! Hugs to you always!
Two thumbs up to the 2022 – 2023 school year!! 👍👍 Educators, I know we will be giving our all this year as we always do!! And when it’s all said and done…Lord, I’ll be ready for my next assignment! 🙏😍🙌
As my dad’s health began to decline in 2008 and my mom became his main caregiver, I would often hear him say to her, “All I know is I love you.” And he sincerely did.
They were perfect characters you might find in a romance novel. Dad was tall, dark, and handsome while mom was petite, blonde, and a blue-eyed babe in my dad’s eyes. He was smitten.
Dad was a resilient man who worked for the Rural Electric Association (REA). He knew how to climb poles like nobody’s business, and his interpersonal skills were out of this world, which got him promoted to the main Public Relations man. Not bad for a guy with an 8th grade education.
His electrocution in 1974 took a lot out of him, but he persevered and lived way longer than all those St. Paul Ramsey Burn Unit doctors predicted he would. He survived 72 hundred volts passing through his body so I’d say he was a walking miracle.
Alzheimer’s and Macular Degeneration are the two opponents that took him down. This is when my mom showed her Wonder Woman strength in her ability to take care of him…for a while anyway. He declined quickly and ended up living in the nursing home. She visited him faithfully every single day. During the first few years, they would still dance the waltz and two step during the live music entertainment out there at the Good Samaritan Society. And through it all, you would hear him saying, “All I know is I love you.”
Mom’s health also began to decline. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, went through the Whipple procedure, and we did not think she was going to make it. I called her grandkids home to say goodbye. Well, her Wonder Woman powers showed up again and she lived 2 ½ more years after that.
I guess it’s not the greatest to be on the operating table for 8 hours when you are her age. Her memory began to fail after that surgery, and she was unable to regain it back. Sadly, she also ended up in the nursing home.
When my dad lost his ability to communicate with others and just sat in his wheel chair with his head hanging down chin to chest, I witnessed a role reversal…it was my mom who started whispering to my dad, “All I know is I love you.” And she sincerely did. She was still smitten.
As time passed and my mom’s mind was worsening, she thought my dad was her dad. In her mind, she was still a young lady and that old man in front of her had to be her dad. Mom would say things like, “I’ll be back later, daddy.” Or…“all I know is I love you, Daddy.” It broke my heart, and yet, it warmed my heart, too, because of her evident love for him.
On August 17, 2013 at 2:00 in the afternoon, I walked down to my mom’s room to get her so she could say good-bye to my dad because he was on his way home. She sat down in a chair next to his bed, and said “Hi Daddy” then began to sing him the song she had always sung…You Are My Sunshine.
About thirteen hours later on August 18, 2013 around 3:00 in the morning, with my forehead pressed softly against my dad’s cheek while I quietly sang “God Be with You ‘til We Meet Again,” this kind, gentle, handsome dad of mine took his last breath and peacefully went home to Jesus. I ever so gently slid my brow to his chest and through my tears I whispered, “All I know is I love you, Dad.”
Here I am, nine years later, and I still say that. Only now I say it to my Heavenly Father. When I am struggling with sadness or celebrating with joy, I lift up my voice to my Heavenly Father and whisper, “All I know is I love you, Lord.” And I sincerely do. I am smitten with my Savior who holds me tight in sadness and celebrates with me in joy and has a love for me bigger than I could ever imagine.
Let’s face it, life can be really hard sometimes. So, to find peace, I place my trust in the One who I know is always there for me (Hebrews 13:5). The One who I know is always faithful (2 Thessalonians 3:3). The One who I know is my light in the darkness (John 9:5). The One who I know is MY Sunshine (Habakkuk 3:4).
And when it’s my turn to go home to Heaven, I imagine I’ll run to Jesus, jump in his arms, give him a huge squeeze and say, “All I know is I love you, Lord.” Next, I’ll run to my dad and my mom and my brother for a joyous reunion, then embrace them in a huge family bear hug and hear us all say in unison, “All I know is I love you!”
And, to all of you reading this, know you are loved! Thanks for being here.
There really are no words to describe the special connection between a grandparent and a grandchild. Jokingly, grandparents tease by saying, “If only we could have had the grandchildren first.” 😉
Grandmas and grandpas learn so much from their grandchildren. A few lessons we’ve learned from our four grandkids are:
❤ Becoming a better listener,
❤ Cultivating patience,
❤ Awakening curiosity,
❤ Staying active,
❤ Finding joy in the simple things,
❤ Laughing and having great fun, and…
❤ Discovering having great fun is A LOT of work the older we get. 😜
Not only do grandparents learn from their grandkids, our grandchildren learn from us. I think of my hubby who has more patience than anyone I know. He is a great role-model for this character trait. He also loves to do projects, so he invites the grands to explore and create with him.
We can also teach our grandchildren about our faith. I had this opportunity arise recently.
Camping is something we love to do. When the grandchildren can’t come to the camper, then we bring the camper to our grandkids.
A few weekends ago was filled with tons of camping activities. One of those was swimming. The grands were going to get their swimsuits on. My granddaughter and I were in the camper and no rooms were available to get dressed with privacy. I offered to hold up a blanket for her while she changed clothes. She accepted.
About three minutes had passed and I asked her how she was doing. She responded she was almost done. I told her I was thankful because my arms were getting tired from holding up the blanket. This brought a bible story to mind so I shared it with her while I continued to hold up the blanket and she finished dressing.
“Moses was leading his people to freedom. While they were traveling, they ran into some people who wanted to fight them. Moses had a staff, or a big stick, that God had given him to use to protect them. When Moses held up this staff, his people were winning the war against the bad guys. When he lowered his arms and the staff, they would start to lose. Two of his friends saw how hard it was for him to hold up his arms for that long so they went to him to help him out. His friends found a spot for him to sit down, and then one friend stood on one side of Moses, and the other friend stood on the other side. They held up his arms for him. Moses and his people won the battle. Isn’t that a great friend to have, Sibs?”
“It is, Grandma.”
“I have a friend like that. I know my friend would help me out and support me whenever I really needed the help. I hope you find a friend or two like that, Sibs.”
“Me, too, Grandma. I’m done.”
Down went the blanket and, off to the pool we went.
Grandchildren bring so much love and hope and joy to our lives. Hopefully we grandparents bring a little of those things to theirs too (with a lot of spoiling to boot). There is no better gift than the special connection we have with each grandchild. Let’s never stop sharing our faith with them.