Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I'm Giving Myself an F in Multitasking

I’m obviously not a good multitasker.

Since school started last week I have opened my computer about 600 times to start a blog post, thinking that maybe someone out there might be missing me. Funny thing is, blog posts just don’t magically appear. Poof!

It would be nice if blog posts magically appeared. I would like that very much. But, as I tell my students, their essays won’t write themselves either. You have to have an iron butt. Sit it in the chair and don’t get up until the work is done.

And so, this afternoon, my butt is firmly planted in my chair with no intention other than to write a blog post.

Back to multitasking. I’m terrible at it. Complete failure.

Oh, sure, I can manage to get some laundry done while reading up for the next class. I can manage to scrape together some leftovers for my family to eat while I’m folding that laundry. But other than that, I’m a one-task-wonder. Maybe I’m ADD; I don’t know. But lately, multitasking is kicking my iron butt.

School is going great. I love my students. I love being on campus. I am energized like I haven’t been energized in a long time. (Just don’t tell my family because usually I come home dragging like nobody’s business. I’m tired at the end of the day!) But teaching energizes me. I love it!

The thing is, I just can’t do everything, and I can’t give everything in my life the time it deserves right now. Take, for instance, my bed that I’m staring at right now. It is unmade and it’s making me crazy, but I left the house at 7:00 this morning and just did not have time for it.

I have to let some stuff go.

Including blogging on a regular basis. I’m frustrated and I’m sad, but writing blog posts on a regular basis just isn’t happening for me right now. My brain is too tired to think of anything to say.

I’m fairly confident it won’t be this bad all semester. I’m pretty sure I’ll fall into a rhythm and my days won’t seem so frazzled. But for now, I’m giving myself a little grace to blog when I want and not worry about the numbers or the comments or the stuff everyone says you need to have to blog well.

I hope you’ll keep checking back anyway. Maybe I’ll surprise you.

If you’d like to suggest a topic for me to write about, I’d be more than happy to give it a shot. It’s just that right now, the topics just aren’t coming into my head. There’s too much else going on in there right now.

Like what-on-earth I’m going to make for dinner now that the leftovers are gone?


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Eager Learners

Standing in front of a class can be intimidating.

Standing in front of a group of high-achieving, highly-motivated, top-of-the-line Christian college students is terrifying.

Especially after five years.

I wondered if they could tell I was nervous. I wondered if they could tell I was out of practice. I wondered if they would mock me behind my back . . . or, heck, even in front of me.

They could, you know, mock me. They would have every reason to do so. It was not a good hair day.

I wondered if they could see me sweat. Sweating was something I was really good at today.

And I wondered if they could tell that I didn’t sleep very well last night. All night long, every time I flipped over (which I did a lot of last night), I pictured myself walking the halls of the very old building in which I teach. I don’t know why I was walking the halls—I’m the old ghost they can’t get rid of, I guess—but I do know that in my dreams I never really made it into the classroom.

Bad sign.

Thankfully, though, I did make it into the classroom. Twice. I’m teaching two classes this fall; same subject, both, because we don’t want to confuse the old ghost and plus we’d really like her to pull her hair out grading 42 papers at a time. What was I thinking?

Is it too late to back out now? Probably not. They’ve been paying me since July.

Anyway, I made it through the first two classes without too much trouble. Even a baboon could walk their way through a syllabus and tell the kids to write something. Which is pretty much all I did today.

I learned something today, though, which I will share with you just in case you have someone going to college soon or who is in college now or in case you’re thinking about going back to college someday soon: these kids are eager learners. And I say that in the kindest possible way.

Now, my oldest, Kate, was what you might call an eager learner. She was the kid who always raised her hand in second grade--you know the kid, the one who wiggled her fingers like crazy and rested her arm in the other hand when it got tired--just hoping and praying the teacher would call on her. Kind of like Horshack in the old “Welcome Back, Kotter” show.

Remember him? “Ooooh! Ooooh!”

Anyway, I know for a fact that some of Kate’s elementary school teachers didn’t appreciate her learning style. They might not have seen her eager hand waving raising as a positive thing in their classroom. They might have even thought it was annoying.

But I always found it endearing.

Anyway, today’s students would put Kate to shame.

Five years ago, the last time I stood in front of a classroom full of bright, shining, college-aged faces, my students were kind of aloof. Occasionally someone would talk to me after class, but rarely, and I do mean rarely, would a student come to see me in my office. Only in the most dire of circumstances would one of my students venture up to the third floor cubicle where I resided back then.

Back in the day. When I taught with confidence and my students were just normal.

Today I have already fielded two emails from the same student wondering about his research topic. (Hint: the paper is due at the end of the semester—16 weeks away!) I’ve had one student come see me in my office about the same thing. I had one student give me an official-looking government-type document excusing him from class on Monday (he has to go out of the country—the nerve!) And I’ve had about 15 students shake my hand and introduce themselves.

Honestly, I was overwhelmed with their kind welcome back to the classroom.

I shared my surprise with my family over dinner and they all agreed that these kids are the product of their competitive environment. They have all been told to meet the teacher, stand out, to make an impression from Day One.

But really? Maybe a few could just wait to meet me on Friday.

Because to tell you the truth, after getting up at some God-awful hour (well, compared to the God-nice hour I had been getting up all summer) and spending eight—EIGHT!—hours at work today (folks, I honestly cannot tell you the last time I put in an eight hour day at any job) I went home with a wee bit of a headache.

Not from the students. They were delightful.

If not eager.

Two classes down; 46 to go.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Back to School--wherever you choose school to be

My kids all go back to school this week (I go back to school this week too!), so I guess the back-to-school theme has been on my mind lately.

Source: None via Shelly on Pinterest

Along those lines, I saw a comment on a blog recently that I just can’t get out of my mind.

The blog post was from a mom who was pouring out her heart about sending her first child off to first grade. Lots of conflicting, difficult emotions there.

I remember.

But the comment. Oh, the comment. I can’t help it, but it has bothered me so much I want to scream.

The commenter basically said something like this: “Well, if you homeschooled you could just keep her with you all the time and enjoy all those precious moments of learning together.”

Where do I begin? There is just so much wrong there.

For one thing, the sweet young mama who wrote the post might not have had a choice. She might need to work outside the home to support her family, as many moms do.

On the other hand, she may have also chosen to send her child to school—whether private or public—for reasons that are personal to her and her husband.

And for a third . . . well, I can’t think of a third. Do I have to?

I know many moms who have chosen to homeschool. That’s their right and their privilege. My husband and I chose—CHOSE—public school for our children for many reasons, all equally valid.

The homeschooling mother who made that comment probably wasn’t thinking at the moment. She was probably just so thrilled with her choice that she thought everyone would be happy if they did the same.

But I’ve had friends do that to me early on in our schooling career—try to persuade me that their way (homeschooling) was the best way—and I have to say it turned me off more than anything.

I have never tried to persuade anyone to put their kids in public school. I will happily tell you of our experience, if asked, but I would never say to you, “Well, if you put your child in school you’d have so much more time to serve the Lord elsewhere” or something equally as inane.

I guess the reason that comment got to me was because I just plain don’t want someone else making my educational choice for my children and my family. And I don’t want to make that choice for you or yours.

So what do you think? Was that mom out of line? Or does she have a point?


We sure have fun over here at the Wild Side, and I'd love to have you join our band of followers. You can "Follow" me right over there ----->. Or you can sign up to have my posts emailed to you. Either way, I'd love to see you around here again!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Five Minute Friday: New

Wow, I haven't played Five Minute Friday in a long time! I've kind of missed it.

And today, because my life has suddenly spun out of control, five minutes is about all I can give.

I love Lisa-Jo's word for this week--"New"--because it really seems to fit my life right now. So, without further waste of words, here I go.



New job.

New office.

New clothes. (Of the teacher variety.)

New schedule.

New rhythm to my days.

New learning-how-to-do-this.

New students.

New technology.

New adjustments for my family.

New dinnertime routines. (One less person at our table.)

New friends.

New colleagues.

New lesson plans.

New thinking.

Everything feels new to me right now. I am a bit like a newborn foal, legs splaying in all directions, trying to figure out how to walk, even run, at this new pace. My head feels foggy, spinning, discombobulated from all I'm learning right now.

It's all new, but it's also all good. Because what hasn't changed is so much stronger, so much greater, so much bigger than what has.


So can you tell what's been on my mind this week? *sheepish grin*

If you want to read more "New" posts, head on over to The Gypsy Mama. She's got about a hundred links or more for your reading pleasure.

Now tell me . . . what's NEW in your life?


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Stuart Smalley's Guide to Getting My Groove Back

Source: via Shelly on Pinterest

Today I embark on a new adventure.

After a five-year hiatus—five years of blessing during which I started this blog, had many opportunities to speak, and made lots of new friends—I’m heading back into the classroom. (Classes actually start next week, but today I’m attending a New Faculty Orientation.)

I’m returning to a classroom where I’ve taught off-and-on for the past 20 years. To teach a class I’ve taught 12 or so times.

So why, this time, am I so apprehensive?

Why, this time, does it feel so much harder?

The first time I taught this class I was 28 years old, working full-time, and pregnant with my first child. I had finished my master’s degree a few years earlier and wanted to give teaching a try, so I didn’t think twice when I was asked to teach at my alma mater (where I was also working). I taught on my lunch hour and loved every minute of that semester.

Never once did I think about failure. (Even though I had no idea what I was doing.)

But now? Today? I think about the possibility of screwing up every single day. I wonder just exactly how I’m going to handle the sudden busyness of life. I wonder if my students will laugh at me. I wonder what I’m going to say to them every day.

So why the change? Why do I doubt myself now?

I’m listening to the wrong voices. I know it. I try not to do it. I battle it. But I still listen to the wrong voices.

Yesterday I read a wonderful post by Michael Hyatt in which he talked about this very thing—self-doubt--and he gave five suggestions for changing the voice we’re listening to. I thought it would be helpful for me to just walk through Michael’s suggestions as they pertain to my current situation.

Hyatt says:

1. Become aware of the Narrator. Hyatt says to ask ourselves: What is the story I am telling myself right now?

I’m listening to a story of failure, of ridicule, of incompetence. Sad, but true. I’m wondering why God would choose me to teach this year when I thought I’d be doing something else.

2. Evaluate the story the Narrator is telling. Ask: Is this storyline accurate?

No, it’s not accurate. It’s not even close to accurate. The way things “fell into place” for me to have this position, the timing of everything, was absolutely God’s doing. I have no doubt that this is where He wants me this year.

3. See the story from a larger perspective. Ask: How does God intend this situation for good?

From the day I said “yes” to going back to teaching, my family has been so supportive. My girls are obviously older now, and our family situation is much more manageable than it was five years ago. It’s time. I know that.

I also think one really important aspect of the “bigger picture” is my students. I’ve always enjoyed my students, but now, as a mom to a college student, I feel an even greater affinity to these kids. As someone in my family pointed out one day, “Mom, maybe God wants you there to minister to your students.”

I know He does.

4. Affirm what you know is true. Ask: What do I know to be true?

The truth is, I’ve always gotten good evaluations from my students. My department chair always has positive things to say about my work. I know in my heart that I’m a really good teacher.

What is true is that I can do this. I’ve done it before and I can do it again. With excellence.

5. Write a new script. Ask: How can I make the choices that create the best possible story?

The way I see it, I can choose to just “get through” the semester, or I can choose to see my job as God-given, God-ordained, God-blessed. I can choose to be unprepared when I walk into the classroom, or I can be well-prepared and teach with excellence. I can choose to have surface conversations with my students every day, or I can choose to show true interest in their lives.

Now that I’ve written all this out, I kind of feel Stuart Smalley-ish. Remember Stuart Smalley? He was the SNL character of long ago who used to say, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”

But, hey, maybe that’s the voice I should be listening to right now. And if that's what it takes to get my groove back as a teacher, I'll Stuart Smalley-speak into my life every day if I have to.

(Thanks, Michael Hyatt. This exercise has been really helpful.)

As I head into this new adventure, with all of the changes it brings, I could sure use some extra prayer. Thanks in advance!

So how about you? Are you listening to the wrong voice about some situation in your life? Spill it!


Monday, August 15, 2011

I'm Over at MODsquad today!

Good Monday morning! How was your weekend?

I'm excited to share another week with you--lots of big changes around my house this week. More on that later.

If you're a mom who needs encouragement like I do some days, head on over to the MODsquad blog to read my post there today. I hope it will encourage you for the week ahead.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Is Heaven Is For Real For Real?

So many of you have asked what I thought about the book Heaven Is For Real that I figured I’d better just put it out there.

Once I figure out what I really think of the book, that is.

A little background first. While we were on sabbatical a friend gave me this book to read. I had never heard of it other than maybe in passing on the news. I had never read it. I really didn’t know much about it at all.

So if you’re like me and don't know much about the book, I’ll give you a quick two-sentence synopsis. Colton Burpo, not quite four years old, has an emergency appendectomy and is very near death. Several weeks later he begins to tell bits and pieces of what happened to him while he was on the operating table, and it seems to his pastor-dad that he has been given a glimpse into heaven.

The rest is the book Heaven Is For Real.

I honestly don’t know what I think, other than knowing that the book has certainly stayed with me.

I decided, for the sake of research, to read what some others have said about the book and found reactions that range anywhere from “Cool! He went to Heaven!” to “Hmmm, maybe.” to “No way. No how. There is nothing like this in the Bible anywhere.”

A little grace-less, that last post, in my opinion.

Here are some things I know:

- Nobody in the Bible had an experience like this and came back to tell about it. Yes, Lazarus was dead, but once he came back to life there is no biblical evidence that he spoke about his experience in heaven.

- God has told us everything we need to know about heaven in the Bible. He doesn’t need a little kid to do His work for him.

Here are some things I wish:

- I wish God had told us a little more about heaven in His word.
- I wish I understood heaven better.
- I wish I longed for heaven more—I think it would change the way I look at the world around me.

Here are some things I felt after I read the book:

- More secure in the love God has for me. There’s a part in the book where the parents ask Colton what God looks like. He thinks about it for a long while and then he says that God is big. But then, rather than focusing on what God looks like, he says (and I paraphrase), “He loves us so much. He really, reeeeeaaaaally loves us. You can’t believe how much God loves us!”

As someone who constantly struggles with wondering why God would love me—little old unworthy me—this section of the book made me stop and think for a while. And cry just a little bit. Because when I think about the marks on Jesus’ hands and feet (another part of the book), I have to ask myself, who am I to question God’s love for me? He sent His SON to die for me. Of course He loves me!

(He loves you that much too, by the way.)

- Really excited to get to heaven someday. There are people I can’t wait to see there. My brother, especially. And my dear Grandpa Earl. I thought of them constantly as I read this book. Do I think they are eternally sitting by a pond fishing together? I have no idea. But do I know without a doubt they are there, waiting to greet their loved ones. Yes, I do. And what a glorious reunion that will be.

But here’s where the book and I part ways. My biblical understanding of heaven is that worship will be a huge part of what we’re doing in heaven. It’s not ultimately about seeing our loved ones again. It’s all about Jesus and His Father, and laying our lives before His throne because of what He has done.

And there’s very little of that in the book.

There are lots of stories about a long-lost grandfather or a too-early-lost sister who was miscarried long before Colton was born. There are reflections about what Jesus looked like and what He was wearing. And a really hard-to-believe part about angels flying around.

But where’s the worship?

“Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, 
for ever and ever!” Revelation 5:11-13
Personally, I don’t want to spend my time in heaven focusing on my past hurts, losses, or griefs. I want to spend eternity focusing on the One who loves me so much that He would give his life for me.

Do I believe Colton’s story? I still don’t know. I think I will always take the 5th on that one.

Do I want to believe it? You bet.

Is his story the most important one and the story where I should focus my attention? Absolutely not.

And maybe that’s the best takeaway I could get from this book.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Northwoods Funnies

**In the interest of full disclosure, there may be some slightly inappropriate content at the end of this post. My children have seen these pictures, but you may not want yours to see them. Just sayin'. And I promise this will be the last time anything like this ever occurs on this blog again.**

This is the post about our sabbatical that could practically write itself. As we spent time getting to know the Northwoods, we started to notice some pretty, shall we say, interesting, sights. Coming from the land of the A-type personality where every "i" is dotted and every "t" is crossed, it was refreshing to spend a little time in a place where that kind of thing doesn't much matter. 

At all.

Our journey begins on a road. A single road with not much else around it. B and I were driving to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan one day (lest you think that was a far trek, it really only took about 45 minutes to get to our destination) when he looked down and saw this on his GPS:

You know you're in the middle of nowhere when your GPS shows no other roads . . . or landmarks . . . or even a rest stop for goodness sake!

As our journey continued, we drove through the town of Watersmeet, MI, a welcoming sort of town. 

But what struck us as so funny was that this is the only place in the world that is actually PROUD to be called the Nimrods! In fact, it's plastered all over town--even on the side of the high school.

Go Nimrods!

Of course my husband had to research the meaning behind the word Nimrod thinking that for sure there had to be something more to the pride these people had in their name. I could have told him a Nimrod was a dolt, a dufus, a dummy, but no, he had to go and prove me wrong. The original meaning of the word was a mighty hunter, but these days, thanks to popular culture, most people think of a Nimrod the way I do.

They might want to consider a name change. Just sayin'.

On our way up to the U.P., we passed a sign that made my head turn. In fact, I saw it for a brief second, but wasn't really sure I had seen what I thought I saw. If I had really seen what I thought I saw, this was for sure going to be blog fodder for quite some time.

So on the way home we looked and looked and finally found it--the sign that made us laugh until we cried.

As my husband said, "Because you just can't get any better than pizza and chips made by a ho!"

Just in case you're wondering where you can get such delicious delicacies by such highly specialized chefs, you'll find your "ho-made" wonders at a place called Buckshots Saloon.

Reservations accepted.

Finally (and here's where you might want to shield the eyes of your children), on our way to dinner one night, we were driving down the road when we drove past a bar which, I remarked, was usually quite crowded. "Hmmmm. Must be good," we both mused.

As we came a little closer, we saw an unusual sight looming from the back of a pickup truck in the parking lot.

We were driving quickly past, but suddenly our heads shot around to take another look. For the second time on this trip we found ourselves wondering, "Was what we think we saw really what we saw??"

My quick-thinking hubby laughed and said, "Wait a minute! What was that? I've gotta go back and see this!" So he turned the car around and drove past the bar a second time.

We drove into the parking lot to get a better look (and to get a few pictures) and found this:

But the best part was that I wasn't the only person taking pictures that night.

There's just nothing more to say about that.

We loved our time in Northwoods. And we thank them all for the many moments of hilarity.

"And much, much more."

So let's speculate. Where would YOU put a sculpture like that? Where do you think it was going?


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Your Sabbatical Questions Answered

You had questions. I've got answers.

Let's get to it, shall we?

Richella asked:  "Where did you live for the month? In a cabin on that gorgeous lake? In a lodge? In a cottage? In a tent (I think probably not)?" 

Ha! A tent! Perish the thought! Actually, Richella, we stayed here.

This two bedroom, two bath cottage is about 10 feet from the water. There was no air conditioning (none needed except for about two of the days), but all of the windows opened up. We left the windows wide open most of the time, so in the morning we woke to the sound of the water lapping the shoreline.

And this was our view. Every morning.

Except for one morning when we woke to basically whiteness. Fog was everywhere! You couldn't even see the water at all and the sound (or lack of it) was surreal. That was an interesting morning.

Speaking of mornings, Glenda wanted to know if I slept in or watched the sun come up over the lake. Well, in northern Wisconsin the sun comes up awfully early. We're talking 4:45 a.m. And there was a skylight in our bedroom, so by 6:30 or 7:00 I was awake and ready to go. And even at that early hour, I had already missed the sunrise!

"What was the weather like where you were? It's been hot as blue blazes here; I'm hoping you were in more temperate climes." Sorry to hear about your heat, Richella. You should head north. Seriously, we had the best weather and I've got the tan to prove it. Except for the week my parents visited us from Arizona (I think they brought their hot weather with them), the weather was between 70 and 80 every day. It was a little humid, but no big deal. And at night the temps would go down to about 50, which is perfect for sleeping.

And the best part? Hardly any mosquitoes! We brought all kinds of bug spray with us, thinking that the Wisconsin state bird truly was the mosquito, but we really didn't need it. I think I used bug spray maybe twice.

Glenda asked: "Did you read anything fun?" Oh yes, but my reading was really across a large range of topics. Some was research, some was for fun. It was such an eclectic mix that I'll just list it out for you here.

1. "The Courage to Teach" by Parker Palmer. (Just getting ready for my next big adventure.)

2 and 3. "The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag" and "A Red Herring without Mustard" by Alan Bradley. These are the second and third in the Flavia de Luce series. The first was "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie." Oh how I love Miss Flavia!

4. "In the Woods" by Tana French. No comment.

5. "Give them Grace" by Elise Fitzpatrick.

6. "Heaven is for Real" by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent. A friend handed me this book and said, "Have you read this? Here, I'm finished. Read it." So I did. It didn't take long, but it will stay with me much, much longer. Still thinking about this one.

[edited to add: 7. "The Red Queen" by Philippa Gregory.]

(self-incriminating photo of me reading)

You know what I didn't read? Blogs. No internet (unless we drove to town).

Here's a great question from Genda: "Learn anything new about your husband?" Hmmmm. I'd have to say yes and no. No, because it's not so much stuff I learned, but yes in that I needed to be reminded of a couple of things. Like how much he loves to be outside. I'm telling you, my husband was in his ELEMENT out on the lake. He'd get up in the mornings, throw in a line or twenty, come in for breakfast and then head back outside. He was like a little boy. "Bye Mom! I'm going out to play!" and zoom, the back door would slam and he'd be gone. He also loved paddling his little boat around or taking long bike rides. My guy was happy! (I'm thinking through another post about stuff I learned while on sabbatical, so maybe I'll write more about this later on this week.)

Last question: "Did you cook simple meals or more complicated ones?" Glenda, my dear, the most difficult meal I cooked was steak on the grill. We definitely ate out too much, but when I did cook, the meals were ridiculously simple. Whatever we could grill was pretty much our fare.

So, you can see that relaxation was the name of the game on our sabbatical. We did a lot of driving around and exploring, too, which brought us to tears in laughter sometimes. Come back tomorrow for a glimpse into the more funny side of life in the Northwoods.

Linking up with Amanda at Serenity Now--Weekend Bloggy Reading.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sublime Sabbatical

Well, folks, we’re back. After four weeks in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, sitting by a lake and simply enjoying being together, we’re finally back to reality.

(And just to make sure, I took a trek to Target this morning and got a swift kick of reality right in the keister. But I didn’t even glance at the school supplies aisle. That can wait.)

So how do I do it?

How do I condense one happy, relaxing, fulfilling, sunny, joyful, memorable month into a blog post?

I’m not sure I can, but I’m willing to give it a try. Let’s go for one of the good old essay-starter standbys—the dictionary definition.

Sabbatical: "any extended period of leave from one's customary work, especially for rest, to acquire new skills or training."

Let’s “unpack” this term, shall we? (And while we’re at it, let’s also agree never to use the term “unpack” again. K?)

Any extended period of leave . . .” One month could be considered extended, dontcha think? Especially since I’ve never spent a month away from home with my family, ever. Other than the summer I spent at Oxford as a college student, I’ve never spent a month anywhere.

. . . from one’s customary work . . .” My husband, I think I may have mentioned, is a business man which makes the sabbatical concept even more unheard of. You should have seen the looks we got when we told people we were going on sabbatical. “Really? But he’s not a pastor,” was usually the response we would get, along with the quizzical looks and head scratching that goes along with the utter confusion on their faces.

Nope, my husband is not a pastor or a missionary or anything having to do with that line of work. He’s just a guy who works hard at his job (for a great company which he is never allowed to leave, I might add) and sometimes spends long hours at the office. He also works hard at some of his volunteer responsibilities at our church and for a mission organization. Let’s just say that this guy gives a lot of himself to others, so to spend some extended time doing things quite unlike his usual, is, in itself, a gift.

. . . especially for rest . . .” Ahhhhh, rest. Now that’s what a sabbatical should be about. And rest we did. We did everything we wanted to do—spent time with our parents, our kids, and good friends—but mostly we just rested. I can hardly wait to hear the reactions of the people at work on Monday when they see B. He looks like an entirely different person—tanned, long-haired (although that will come to an end before Monday), and completely and utterly relaxed.

. . . to acquire new skills or training. . . .” Would fishing be considered a new skill? How about driving a boat? Or tanning on a dock? Because that’s pretty much all my husband learned how to do. (O.K., to be fair and because I know he’ll call me on it, he already knew how to fish.) The main thing I think he learned, though, was how to relax. How to really and truly pull himself mentally out of the game and to fully invest himself in just doing nothing.

So we’re home now. It may take some time to process what this all meant to us, but maybe it could best be described in terms of an experience I had earlier this week. We had a perfect, and I do mean PERFECT, day on Wednesday. Some friends had come to visit us for a couple of days and the weather was absolutely gorgeous. We had rented a pontoon boat for the day, so we spent several hours on the water, enjoying the scenery, watching the eagles float overhead, fishing a little. As the day was coming to a close and we skimmed across the water toward home, I found myself getting completely choked up. Thankfully I was sitting in the back of the boat so nobody could see me, but I couldn’t help crying just a little. Here I was with people I loved, doing something I love to do, on a perfectly beautiful day. God’s goodness to me was overwhelming; I just couldn’t take it all in. The gift I had been given was impressed upon my heart, my mind, my soul, and I knew I would never forget it. I probably looked like an idiot, but through a few tears, the only way I could express my gratitude was to look up at the perfectly cloudless blue sky . . . and smile.

Overwhelmed? I am. Blessed? Oh yes. Smiling from head to toe? Definitely.

I have so much more to tell you and lots of photos to share, but I’ll get to that next week. It’s so hard to know where to start and how to “unpack” it all (kind of like all the dirty laundry in my suitcase—ugh). Maybe it would be easier if you asked me some questions and I’ll answer them. Just leave a comment or a question you might have about our time away, and I’ll try to get to them next week.

Until then, I think I'll go take a nap.

This post is linked with Richella's "Grace Imparted" party. You can read more stories of blessings over there.