Nine times the Bible says The Lord is slow to anger.  I like all the references, but this one stuck out to me.  Ex 34:6-7  “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger , abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children  …NIV  I heard the part of God being slow to anger is a song I had on while texturing our bathroom wall.  While I held that soft, malleable clay in my hands, I remembered a conversation I had with one of my students this year in the hall.  It went something like this:

Me:  Hey bud – what’s up, you look like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.    The young man shrugs and starts to just walk on by, then abruptly turns around.

Student:  Mrs. Winter, I am just having a crappy day but I have a question for you.  How come you’re the only teacher I have who seems to actually like their job?

Me: What do you mean?  (in background – the loud bustle of students hurrying to class and teachers barking commands like military drill sergeants)

Student:  All my teachers seem to hate their jobs because all they do is yell at us ..and I’m not exaggerating.  All but you.  You know, it’s really out of my way to come this way to my next class but it’s worth it because you always have a kind word or a smile.  You have no idea how much I need that to keep me going till 6th period.  Thank you!   With that he scooted off to class leaving me stupefied and heartbroken at the same time.  I honestly do not remember what my reply was other than “you’re welcome!” that followed after him down the hall.

 

For the rest of the day I became more aware of my surroundings in the hall.  As students scurried off to class and we teachers stood guard – I heard either a mixture of “Good afternoon so and so” to “I SAID GET IN YOUR SEAT -NOW!”  Granted not all my co-workers were barking orders, but the ones who did, drowned out the ones of us who politely greeted our students.  Then I looked into my classroom and notice my kiddos either retrieving their folders from the cabinet or getting the handouts from back counter.  Others are reading the Smartboard and beginning the bell work.  By the time the tardy bell rings, most everyone is in their seat and quiet.  Some call out “Hey Mrs. Winter!”   My classes are far from perfect – trust me, but I’ve worked hard at creating that relatively cooperative and pleasant atmosphere.  My mentor teacher told me once that our attitude creates the tone of the classroom.  I believe it. Have I yelled at my students?  Yes on occasion, but I try to make it a rarity because I honestly believe they tune me out when I yell. I am slow to anger.  Besides, kids hear angry adults way too often.  My daughter told me once that students really don’t respect teachers who yell all the time.  Most students will shine and give their all for a teacher who truly shows that they care.  Is that a simplistic, idealistic way of thinking?  No.  I heard an interview with an 40 year veteran in field of education stated pretty much the same thing after one of her teachers complained that none of the students did well on an assessment and she taught them everything – they must be stupid.  The educator told her colleague – that’s not it – they just don’t like you.  Students will not put forth effort to learn if they perceive you do not like them.

 

So am I saying we are to be their friend and “friend them” on Facebook?  Absolutely not.  I am saying have compassion on them.  In a nutshell, my goal is to treat these squirrely 7th grade students I have the way I’d want to be treated.  Or how I hope my children’s teachers treat them.  The classes my kids excelled in the most and enjoyed the most were from the teachers who treated them with compassion.  The second part of the verse is the key also.  He does not leave the guilty unpunished.  If you make a bad choice in my room, you pay the consequences – detention or office referral.  Do the crime, do the time.  Every year I have my frequent flyers who have detention with me at least once a week, or more.   I know this year will be no exception.

 

So what point am I trying to make?  Why are so many teachers angry?  I seriously doubt that was their goal as they began their career.  Well maybe some, those powertrip teachers who enjoy belittling students with caustic one liners and who enjoy verbally pummeling students into quiet, unresponsive submission.  I imagine politics, state mandated standardized tests and other asinine things have a role in stealing the joy of teaching.  So what!  We choose our behavior right?  Don’t we tell our students the same thing?  Shouldn’t we practice what we preach?  Honestly – if a teacher has so much perceivable anger that all her students see is someone who appears to not enjoy teaching –maybe they should get a different career.   Our students are like clay and we have that ability to mold them with our words. It makes me cringe to think I’ll be the teacher my students hated in 7th grade.  Of course I want them to learn my content, but not at the expense of loathing reading and writing.  Getting a 7th grader to read is battle enough, why add to it with having a crappy attitude?  Guess that’s why I have the reputation of being the “fun” teacher.  So be it.  At first that really bothered me and made me think my students are not “learning”.  Well – since test scores are the true measure of learning (ha!) – I suppose my students are “learning”.  You know what else they learned this year?  That someone cares about them – warts and all.  To me this all comes down to relationship.  This year I was the subject of a former students Jr. English project based on the novel Tuesdays With Morrie.  I wrote about that experience in  My Constant  http://nocoincidence63.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/my-constant/ so I won’t restate the whole thing again.  Bottom line – he chose me based on the connection developed in the classroom.  A dad recently told me that his son still thinks of me as his favorite English teacher.  This boy will be a Freshman in college this year.  I hear similar stories to this all the time and it is what keeps me going.  I’ve already decided that if I ever become that angry, bitter teacher -I’ll quit.

 

 

My Constant

Becoming the topic of a former student’s research project has made me pretty introspective, slightly paranoid, and extremely humbled.  I had this young man as a quiet, inquisitive, and gifted 7th grader a few years ago so when he told me I was the subject of his research – his person of influence – well – it is a humbling honor to say the least.  The project is based off the novel Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Album, where Mitch writes a novel about his favorite professor and the life lessons Morrie imparts.  Well – my student, who I either called Kabetzke or McGeek, and I met at a local coffee shop, every Sunday during the Fall semester. Oh – the McGeek reference is from NCIS.  His class period was my NCIS kiddos because several were fans of the show or I thought they reminded me of 7th grade versions of key characters.  Well – I of course was the female version of Gibbs – because of the constant cup of coffee I’m sure.  Well –there is the gray hair and the parental devotion I have for my students too.

Anyway – every Sunday, Kabetzke would have his list of questions and I honestly had a hard time putting into words my responses and sounding somewhat –normal.  It’s a little strange to lay aside my teacher persona and put on the normal person persona.  But the sounding normal – that is where the introspection comes to play.  Some questions have been about my childhood experiences, tough situations I’ve gone through, my family –past and present, and my influential people.  It’s a lot like having someone write your biography –well it is exactly like that.  The hardest question to date has been “What has been your constant?”  McGeek thought it would be my coffee – but that’s just partially true.  That particular question gave me pause because one primary constant has been my family, yet even that is in a constant state of change.  That’s why in my mind this past Christmas was the last one with us’ns.  Our son will graduate from A&M in May, our oldest daughter is in a serious relationship with a young man and our baby girl is getting ready to apply to colleges.  So – the family dynamic is changing, yet they are still my constant. I know in my heart – that even if our children are scattered across the globe – we will have that strong bond.  This past summer, the two college kids wrote me separate letters of encouragement and appreciation. Just because.  Both letters had me in tears and both made me realize I have been a positive influence in their life.  (During those weird teenage years – a mom often wonders if her words sink in or not)

I really have two constants –the second being Faith.  I do not have answers to why I’ve walked through some of my situations.  I just know it has molded me into a person who does not give up.  So – the experience of having someone choose you as their person of influence – very humbling and eye-opening.  It has made me realize how powerful our influence within the classroom and within our families can be. We do leave legacies – question is – what kind are we leaving?

How To Start That New Chapter

How To Start That New Chapter.

How To Start That New Chapter

You’d think that by now sending my 3rd and final child off to college would be easy.  That I’d have the routine down pat.  Well – if routines, packing lists, and schedules were all there was to it – yes – we have this thing down to a science.  For example, when she registered for her classes, her dad already had several choices mapped out by 1st, 2nd, and 3rd on an elaborate color coded spreadsheet.  Yea – that’s the easy part.  Trying not to cry in front of people is another thing altogether.  So far, knock on wood, that has only happened once – but the transition isn’t over yet.  You see – I am “losing” both my daughter’s in the month of August.  One to a dorm in A&M and the other to an apartment in Lubbock with her husband.  Like I’ve said before, things happen fast around here sometimes.  Just this particular day then Beth’s boss asked if I was ready for her to move away  – my stupid waterworks opened up because that morning I awoke, looked at the calendar and realized that in exactly one month from that date – both would be gone.  Silly huh?  They are not gone forever by no means.  Just that one chapter has ended, and I, like one of my girls,  sometimes do not like the start of new things but would rather get to the middle of it when it’s normal again.

 

So – for those out there experiencing this new chapter in your life – I only have a few words of wisdom for you.

 

1.  Make the most of your time with your children and have an open hand because they will also want to spend time with friends who are also moving away.  But – grab those moments when you can.  A popular one with mine has been over the dinner table or breakfast, and of course, shopping.

 

2.  Spend time listening to them.  You know – they are nervous about leaving too, but they probably won’t admit it.  Hence, the sometime grumpy, short tempered, attitude that comes out of no where.  So – don’t take it personally when they snap at you.

 

3.  After you’ve left them on their own, don’t be that mom who texts or calls 100 times to see if they are okay.  Trust me – it’s very tempting, but just one or two texts will be enough.  Even if it’s a thing like “hey – I packed your ___ in the ____.”    I try not to go overboard by bugging them everyday, but try to put the ball in their court and give them a little space.  Most of the time, I have received the phone call regarding how much detergent to use or how to cook a food item.  My son would sometimes call while walking across campus to class.  I called it his point A-B call.  When my oldest daughter moved away, our phone calls sometimes happened on Sunday afternoons.  You will find a right time, but let it be on their terms.

 

4.  Send random, old fashioned letter or card with a gift card to their favorite coffee place.  Maybe send a surprise care package of cookies just because.  Even better, take the time to go see them in person at least once or twice during the school year and bring the goodies in person.  Attend a football game together, or treat them to a place to eat or let them suggest a place they found and enjoy the experience together.


5.  Finally – pray and trust in the raising.  This is the time we take that verse at it’s word – Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he shall not depart from it.  Yes – we have self will to deal with, but that is where the power of prayer comes into play.  Bottom line, be ready for a shift in the relationship because our “babies” are transforming into the strong, independent young adults we always prayed for them to become when they were in diapers.  It’s just time to realize that that time has come.  

The Pursuit of ….

I think it’s safe to say that most of us are familiar with the old children’s Sunday School song that goes “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy is down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart…and if the Devil doesn’t like it he can sit on a tack, etc.”  It seems the give the idea of that this joy is “happiness”, bliss, a euphoric emotion  of extreme happiness.  Okay – then why does it say in  Ps 30:5 Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.  Or  – Neh 8:10b For the joy of the Lord is your strength.  Both indicate a quality or state of being that enables us to endure trials.  It is a gift from the Holy Spirit – along with, love, peace,patience and the rest.  All are given as special gifts from God and His Spirit.

 

I think I’d almost explain it this way:  Joy is akin to the peace that goes beyond our understanding.  It’s a deep knowing of trust – right in the middle of heartache – you can have joy.  Again – this isn’t that stupid grin happy feeling – it’s a resolve to stand strong.  Or – that’s how I feel I’ve experienced this – gift.  I have two distinct memories of how this resonated in my heart.  The first was the day an officer brought my sister-in-law’s purse to me after the tragic car wreck that killed her and her family.  A couple of things  happened as  I held her once immaculate, white purse that now was stained beyond repair.  My first thought was she would be pissed that her purse was ruined.  My second thought – they. were.gone.  It was at that moment that this strength came over me and a peace and a joy that we would not walk through this alone. To me – joy begets strength; strength begets hope.   The second time I experienced this supernatural strength of joy was at the bedside of my son while he vomited blood every 30 seconds.  He had a water skiing accident where the ski popped off and smashed into his face crushing the occipital bones of his face well the one side at least. We were told that he was more than fortunate or lucky because if the ski had gone just a hair one side or the other – the results could have been blindness or death.  All Daniel experienced was a mild concussion and shattered occipital bones that needed time to mend.  While sitting his side, praying the nausea medicine would kick in quickly, I really don’t remember experiencing a feeling of helplessness and if I did, it dissipated as the joy/hope replaced the fear I may have had.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – we know these truths.  Pursuit of happiness – it doesn’t come easily – it is to be sought after, chased down, hunted and acquired.  It requires our effort.  Maybe that’s why I read two different articles this morning about an app for happiness people can download  and it shows them how to be happy. The other article mentioned a true “happy pill” , but it’s really a placebo.  People are desperate for peace.  What we are really looking for is hope, assurance or peace of mind.  An app or a pill will not give you this.  It really is the peace that goes beyond our understanding because in those situations – I had confidence.  and strength that held me together. Did I have answers?  No – still don’t.

 

I’ve been reading and re-reading this particular verse lately:

“Come, let us return to the Lord.

He has torn us to pieces

but he will heal us;

he has injured us

but he will bind up our wounds.

2 After two days he will revive us;

on the third day he will restore us,

that we may live in his presence.

3 Let us acknowledge the Lord;

let us press on to acknowledge him.

As surely as the sun rises,

he will appear;

he will come to us like the winter rains,

like the spring rains that water the earth.”`Hosea 6: 1-3
This to me shows that we will endure crappy things in our life, but those things do not have to destroy us.  It all comes down to a choice – not an app or a pill – but a conscious effort on our part to choose to press on and trust Him.  Therein lies our joy and strength.

I am a Mom.

In the past  51 years, I’ve had many of what I call titles:  Jim & Margo’s baby girl, Margo’s Bouncing Baby Tumor (another story for another time), the girl who stole heart of man from Tennessee (I gave myself that one), Mrs. Winter -7th grade English teacher, Pastor Kent’s wife or Miss Suzy.  Yet one of my favorites is “Mrs. Daniel Winter’s Mom “spoken by one of my son’s friends. For over 20 years, I’ve been a Mom and have loved the greeting of being called Daniel, Beth or Christy’s Mom.  Granted the tone of voice it was spoken gave me a clue as to what my child (usually the boy) may have done.   Nonetheless, it’s been my identity.  Maybe I invested too much in their lives or lived too much through or for my children.  No,  I do not believe I have.  I have some fantastic kiddos who didn’t just raise themselves.  However,  I feel as though my one job description will change come Fall when our last little Winter starts off on her grand adventure.  I have  no  doubt she will still need me, all three do to a degree, but I feel like I am entering a new definition of “mom”.  It’s just not –natural feeling yet.    It’s sort of like when I first married, I practiced writing Mrs. Suzy Winter over and over.  I now sometimes have to pause and think of my maiden name.  The new role I have now is that of – friend.  Or I hope that’s how my now adult children see me.  I am reminded of that cheesy book that has the line “as long as I’m living, your mommy I’ll be.”  While I am not planning on stalking them (like the mom in the book) – I’ll always be their Mom, Momma, Ma, Mother, Madre, MooMaw,  but I suppose come Fall I too will  embark on a new adventure of rediscovering  – me.

My Champion

 

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Sharp, searing pain consumed my 8 year old body with each labored breath.  “I don’t wanna breathe” I whispered in the darkness.  A warm, yet calloused hand gently held mine.  “Sugar, squeeze my hand when it hurts.  Squeeze hard.”   I do not remember how long Daddy sat beside my bed while I squeezed his hands, but I do know – he never left my side. A few years earlier, he taught me how to fight.  I mean literally how to punch a guy in the face and break his nose fight.  I just so happened to live next door to the neighborhood bully who made it his daily routine to taunt me in true David/Goliath form.  Daddy had had enough.  So one night after dinner, he called me into the garage to teach me to fight.  His 6ft3 frame knelt down to my eye level.  Holding his massive hands up in submission, he instructed me “make a fist and hit my hands as hard as you can!”  I refused.  “No — I don’t wanna hurt you.” I cried out.  I remember seeing Mom peering through the door with a slight smile on her lip.  Daddy was the real giant in my life – a gentle giant.  He kept encouraging me to hit his hands – finally –smack, smack, smack filled the tiny one car garage.  “There you go sugar, you got it!”  The next day, my Goliath called me out and shoved me almost to the ground.  Both our daddy’s were standing in the background.  I pushed him back but I might as well have pushed a wall.  He pushed me back and to the ground.  “Get up Suzy – you can do it!”  I pulled my tiny self up, shut my eyes and swung.  It’s hard to describe the sound I first heard, it almost sounded like twigs breaking.  Yet, the next sounds I heard were a combination of someone in pain and a chorus of cheers.  I slowly opened my eyes and saw my fallen foe covering his nose as blood poured out and mixed with the tears streaming down his face.  I’d won.  I didn’t become the new bully of the block, but the bully (Terry) and I actually became friends.   I learned you can defeat anything if someone believes in you.  

 

My daddy wasn’t perfect and had his own demons he battled.  He was a quiet, soft spoken man who was a walking sports almanac – all sports.  He was brilliant and the only man I knew, beside my husband, who could look at a math problem and tell me the answer in 5 seconds.  No pencil working out the problem; no calculator.  It amazed me and infuriated me at the same time.  He taught me how to play basketball, tennis and baseball.  He also taught me the insides and out of my first car. I spent nearly every weekend and summers in his transmission shop answering phones, filling out repair orders, and cleaning the bathrooms.  When I made “that face” – he’d just smile and say – this is why you will go to college.  I never remember Daddy being sick with a cold or flu.  Only occasional allergies would plague him.  So when we learned of his secret doctor’s appointment he’d made of his own volition, we were stunned.  He quietly told us, Mom and I, that he was forgetting things and he wanted to know why.  He then handed us a multiple page document with the title – Organic Brain Syndrome neatly typed across the top.  The document contained hundreds of possible diseases that fell under the category – from hardening of the arteries to Alzheimer’s.  I was only 19 years old and it dawned on me that someday I would have to be his champion as he faced his battles, his new demon named Alzheimer’s.  

 

This disease almost stole everything from his brilliant mind.  His sports stats, his mathematical ability, his ability to read.  Well – everything but his ability to read and comprehend the Bible.  He would wander up to complete strangers and quote John 3:16 to them and ask if they were going to heaven with him someday.  I had moved away to Austin after I married and came home one weekend with my husband.  I heard Daddy up in the kitchen making his coffee, all of the pieces carefully laid out in order of assemblage the night before by my mother.  I quietly said “Good Morning Daddy.”  He slowly turned around and extended his hand – “I’m Jim, who are you?”  Tears spilling down my face, I couldn’t speak.  He then raced to my old bedroom crying out “Margo – where’s the baby?”  The commotion woke my husband and as he came into the room and stood beside me, Daddy returned with Mom by his side and stared at us both.  “Hey – when did ya’ll get here?” and embraced us in his enormous arms.  Daddy didn’t remember me.  

In just a few years, we placed Daddy in an Alzheimer’s Unit, buried my mom, become guardian over dad and became pregnant with our first baby.  Then one afternoon I received a phone call from the head nurse at the nursing home.  “Darlin – I can’t explain this over the phone.  It’s just something you need to see.”  I found myself later sitting at my Daddy’s bedside.  He was staring out the window, but from his smile and the line of sight – he was not focused on the tree outside his window.  He was looking at something, or someone invisible to me.  I then took his enormous, less calloused hand in mine.  “Daddy – it’s me. “  The nurse had told me this is the state most patients enter into before they pass away.  He turned away from the window and locked eyes with me.  He could no longer speak, but the expression on his face I could tell he remembered me.    He then looked at my huge pregnant belly and smiled.  He reached out and gently laid his hand on it.  The baby began kicking which made Dad smile even more.  I told him it was okay to “go home” that Momma was there waiting on him as was my older brother.  He squeezed my hand, smiled, then turned back to the window.  The next afternoon found my husband and I by Daddy’s beside watching his breathing becoming more labored. I knew he was already gone and his body only remained.  Still, I took his now frightfully cold hand in mine and told him to squeeze hard.

Like the Season

“Winter – like the season”.  Forever that has been our line in explaining how to spell our last name.  As cheesy as it may sound, our life has gone through all the normal and not so normal seasons.  Today, we took the first step into a new season.  Our youngest, Christy ,graduated from high school and in roughly 87 days, she will leave our home for college, a short 9 hours away.  Seasons in the Texas Panhandle can change in the blink of an eye.  In one moment, rain, snow, wind, then sun – in about a 24 hour time frame.  Christy went from precocious baby to fun loving young lady – well in the blink of an eye.  Have you ever wondered how many times the Bible says the word suddenly.  One Google search says 41 times while my Bible program gave me 56 instances.  Regardless, God on occasion operates in this time frame too and when He does, we need to hang on.    Even though we complain about the waiting aspect of God’s answering our prayers, I think some of us are more comfortable there too.  All throughout my children’s growing up, my primary prayers focused on their staying true to their faith, being Christian examples on their campuses, protection in various circumstances, finding God’s call in their life and I’ve been known to pray occasionally for their future spouse.  All those, and many more, were answered over a period of time – time that allowed for God to orchestrate events in their lives.  I also decided to do a search for the word wait and the result was about triple with verses that used the verb wait.  No surprise there.  The conclusion I have is we are to wait more because in the waiting – the suddenlies happen.

We all know that our children are always in a hurry to grow up and some parents are also in a hurry to empty out their nest so they can repurpose Jr’s bedroom. I am not that way.  The past year has been a roller coaster, a shock wave of the suddenlies. that has relocated my heart to my throat.  So – here we go  –  June 2012  oldest daughter, Beth,  meets young man named Chris at camp where they were counselors together, and in August – we move her to Bryan, TX to go to school,and  December she moves back home to attend local university, and  April of 2013 Beth and Chris become engaged.  A few weeks later in May, son Daniel graduates from A&M, and the following August 2013 he moves to Dallas to begin new life, and then Christy – the baby – begins Senior year of high school, and November -Beth and Chris get married,and my now son-in-law Chris has cochlear implant.  Are you tired yet?   Life slows for a bit – now here we are attending a plethora of Senior events for Christy including the graduation today.  I know the summer will fly by and I wish I could freeze time like Hiro Nakamura from the defunct show Heroes.  I remember in my article I wrote called “How to Say Goodbye” when my son Daniel left for the first time to A&M, I had a line that said  it won’t be long till I do the same with my daughters.  Funny how time raced by to make that reality.  Every since Christy received her acceptance letter from A&M, I’ve had those emotions race through me.

We named our youngest Christina Joy because we felt she would be a physical representation of Christ’s joy in our lives.  She has been that and more.  I am sitting here remembering the times she was a baby and how she did about anything to get a laugh – make her “snoot” face, laugh and coo – always, say “Meow” in a deep voice for every animal – just to get us to laugh.  Then putting her pantyhose on her head in church and joyfully dancing about the chair.  She has become a joy in many other ways.  Christy is the one who delights in decorating the house during Christmas – earning her the nickname – Christy Christmas.

I am proud of her accomplishments she accrued in high school and of her graduation.  But – let’s be honest, exiting high school is a no brainer.  I agree that  it is an important event in a child’s life,but it should be the first step into the rest of their life. Which means for us – having our last little Winter 9 hours away from us at Texas A&M.  She has given me little glimpses even now with the empty house as she is always out living her life in color.  After a long day at my school, quiet can be nice, but after 15 minutes – it is –hollow. It’s not the same watching shows like Castle or Once Upon A Time and having a literary analysis by myself.  I guess I could start playing video games with the husband.  Sigh.  Anyway – I do not want to hold Christy back either.  It reminds me of the poem entitled Fear where the mom states she doesn’t want “them” to turn her daughter into various things – a swallow who flies away or a queen who sits above her.  I start the school year reading this, but I may have to choose a different one or have tissues on hand.  My children have all changed after leaving our home –all for the better.  I suppose it’s time for momma to change as I enter this new season of my life because it can change faster than snow melts on a sunny Winter day.  

Let My Light Shine

photoThere is something sacred and beautiful in the artistry of stained glass.  I’ve always been fascinated by the intricate patterns that comprise many familiar Bible stories – from the story of Christ to Old Testament legends (Daniel, David and Moses to name a few).  I remember as a child becoming lost in the colors and patterns, often times zoning out during the sermon.  Even today, as the sunlight played amongst the colors, I became enchanted by the beauty.   From what I’ve read, each piece of the pattern is created by a master craftsman who fashions the glass in fire, flattens it, adds the desired colors, cuts it into various shapes and lays it into a  pattern – piece by piece.  The process sounds very precise, time consuming, and labor intensive.  Yet, I would imagine a labor of love.  To create something of beauty must be a joy.  However, its true beauty is not revealed until the sun pours through the many facets.

I imagine our life is the same.  Each piece of our life -the good, bad, trying, glorious, heartbreaking -have been laid out into a spectacular mosaic of color and beauty.  One of the ingredients of the glass is potash and I am reminded that beauty arises from the ashes.  Our beauty is more often than not forged in fires as well.  So many of us travel our journey broken shards of glass, but I know if we give our broken pieces to our master artisan, He can gently place them into a story that reveals His glory.  People really do not need to know all the details for our lives to reflect the glory.  Do they?  I believe all people really need to see is the beauty our story tells when His radiance shines through our stains.  

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