Archive for December, 2015

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.


We cannot  attain the presence of God because we’ re  already in the presence of God. What’s absent is awareness. Little do we realize that God ‘s love is maintaining us in existence with every breath we take. As we take another, it means that God is choosing us now and now and now. —Richard Rohr


An elderly couple came to the door and handed my father a pamphlet.

“Are you seeking the kingdom?”

My father replies, “You don’t have to seek it.  I know where it is.  Right here. Right now.”

“We are talking about the kingdom of GOD?” pressing the pamphlet forward into his hands.

“Yes, you don’t have to seek the kingdom.  It’s here. You just need to pay attention.”

At those words, the evangelists turned and left.


Moments before this visit, Dad was reading W.H. Auden’s poem, For the Time Being. “And because of His visitation, we may no longer desire God as if he were lacking.  Our redemption is no longer a question of pursuit, but of surrender to Him who is always and everywhere present.”


What makes the paper whites bloom
on this cold morning? Opening
up like lace droplets
on the dormant garden?

Who tells the white pelicans
to go to convention on the lake?
A gathering of pruning, splashing,
fishing. Awkward grace
in a cloud of white.

A poem will come if you let it.
Sit with His presence for a while.
Moment by moment, we are here
to praise.

–Margaret Gibson Simon


Photo by Margaret Simon, all rights reserved.

Photo by Margaret Simon, all rights reserved.


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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for Tuesdays Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for Tuesdays Slice of Life Challenge.


sunburst Reach


My One Little Word for 2015 was Reach.  To be honest, I haven’t thought much about this word lately.  Why did I choose Reach?  I began the year with the image of an oak tree with outstretched branches.  I wanted to be like this oak, grounded in strong faith and reaching to new heights.  How have I done that this year?

Yesterday I took a walk in my parents’ neighborhood.  I have a new camera that I am playing with.  I learned that you can’t take pictures of birds when you are walking.  They flee.  But the clouds.  Oh, the clouds were amazing as the rainy heavy ones gave way to the light, the blue behind.  I took many cloud pictures.  (The one above I enhanced somewhat in Picmonkey.)

Where are those goals that I was reaching for?  They are illusive as goals tend to be.  I looked and noticed and was present to the moment of walking.  I captured this image.  This one is not altered.

winter red berries

Perhaps my reaching has become seeing, noticing, and being present to the given moment.  If a star cannot be reached, it can be your guide.  These last few days of 2015 seem to be pointing me beyond reaching, forward to a realization of who I am, right here, right now.  That’s not such a bad place to be.

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Poetry Friday round-up with Irene Latham at Live your Poem.

Poetry Friday round-up with Irene Latham at Live your Poem.

St. Nick visit

Merry Christmas Poetry Friday! My celebration began last night at our Christmas Eve service. St. Nick visits each year and tells a story to the children. He also leaves candy in their shoes that they left at the church door. Since it was 80 degrees yesterday, their little bare feet did not get cold.

On Christmas Eve Eve, our choir with some children tag alongs went caroling at two local assisted living facilities. We brought Santa along. I love this picture of Baby Jacques cuddling up to Santa.

Jacques with Santa

Tabatha Yeatts gathers names and addresses to spark a poetry exchange. I received a lovely package from Linda Baie in cold Colorado. She sent a poet’s set from our own Robyn Hood Black’s Etsy shop.

Poetry gift exchange

Linda crafted a black-out poem especially for me and mounted it on a Christmas collage. It’s lovely.

Christmas poem from Linda

passage home
round the lamp
beam each one in his own way,
making others idle
giving coats
strong enough
for bad weather.
lined on the inside with flannel,
every one did something
for the season

Friday, December 25th.
This day was Christmas;
all day long, and
a holiday dinner
Old Style celebrated
drank, ate

finished all
another answered
very well
magnificent light
carrying us
fine day

–Linda Baie

Winter Poem Swap 2015 smaller copy

May you and yours enjoy this day and always the blessings of Christmas Joy.

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Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Starlings in Winter by Mary Oliver; Chunky and noisy, but with stars in their black feathers, they spring from the telephone wire and instantly they

Source: Starlings in Winter, poem – Mary Oliver poems | Best Poems

I want to be light and frolicsome.I want to be improbable and beautiful and afraid of nothing,as though I had wings. copy

We received some rough news this week. A diagnosis. A good friend. A young mother.

How do we handle this cancer nightsoil in the midst of Christmas carols and wrapping and baking. Where is the joy? I am struggling to find it.

I found it on Facebook, of all places, where her neighbor set up a Caring Bridges site. There’s a picture of over 50 people gathered in prayer. I texted, “I am overwhelmed by what you are doing.”

“It’s hard to accept the love that comes with such a crappy thing.”

So I will find joy in the love. Love of my family, my friends far and near, and of God’s word made flesh.

Watch the light of the full moon tonight, this Christmas Eve, hold your loved ones tight. Because this moment is all we have. Merry Christmas!

candle light

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Slice of Christmas

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for Tuesdays Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for Tuesdays Slice of Life Challenge.

Jesse Tree in our church

Jesse Tree in our church

As I sit down finally to write my slice, I look outside. It’s dark, already! Today (Monday) is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. It feels like I snapped my fingers and the day was done. My list is long, and even though school is out, I don’t feel like there is enough time. This happens every Christmas. When will I learn to start early?

Pumpkin bread is filling my kitchen with the scent of something good. The Hallmark channel is on, and I am watching yet another holiday movie, a guilty pleasure. After two trips to the shipping place (they know me by name), I put the final packages in the mail. I finished the Christmas cards. And I replaced the burned-out string of lights on the stairway.

I am not telling you about losing my car in the Walmart parking lot… in the rain. I am not telling you about the failed gift to my students…plastic candy canes full of M&Ms = M&Ms on the floor. I am not telling you about burning my finger on the curling iron. Nope, not going to tell you about it.

I’m not telling you these things because they are minor and mean nothing. When the days shorten, and we are left alone looking out at the dark night, may we see the shooting star, make a wish, and let it go. Let it go! And Merry Christmas, everyone!

Our 2015 Christmas card: a sister selfie.

Our 2015 Christmas card: a sister selfie.

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Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

The last week before Christmas break is a bit like the end of school, exciting, crazy, rushed, and long all at the same time. On Tuesday, my students had a visitor. What a treat! Margaret George is a local artist. She designed a window on Main Street that was full of little things kids love. So I asked her if she would come and paint ornaments with my students.

Artists like Margaret live in their imagination, so they can be scattered and perhaps a bit unorganized. But not Margaret George. She arrived early. She had a box full of supplies that included a glitter globe. She even brought cups for water, plates for paint, and an ornament tree to hang them on as they dried. She thought of everything.

My students gathered around the table and were engrossed in paint and artful play for two hours. Margaret bought glittery gold reindeer ornaments at the Dollar Store. She covered the glitter with white gesso paint. This gave the students a new surface to paint on. And she brought glitter that made the ornaments look like they were covered in sugar. Today I celebrate the gifts of a local artist, sparkly glitter, and the magical days before Christmas.

painting ornaments

Emily reindeer

reindeer ornaments

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A Story in Haiku

Poetry Friday round-up with Diane at Random Noodling

Poetry Friday round-up with Diane at Random Noodling

Won Ton and Chopstick  is a cutie-pie story in haiku.  I shared it with my students this week and a funny thing happened.  They were compelled to read it chorally.  These short verses about Won Ton, the cat, and his new friend (maybe) Chopstick, the puppy,  are clever and witty.

Wonton and Chopstick

Won Ton and Chopstick by Lee Wardlow

When searching for a website, I came across this great activity for kids.  Wish I had found it sooner!

We  quickly figured out that it’s not so easy to write a story in haiku.  I tried a few drafts about my cat Mimi.

Bow tie mustache bites
at open faucet, waiting
for drip-water to fall.

Oh, that Christmas tree,
lights and hanging ornaments
a feline playground.

Rip, tear, gnaw, paw, rip
Ribbon scatters, glitter rains,
Here’s the cardboard box.

–Margaret Simon

Mimi Christmas Tree

Lynzee, first grade, and I worked together.  She’s been studying pandas for her passion project, so she wanted to write a panda story.

Two Pandas

Brother panda eats
bamboo leaves high on a shoot
Chomp! Chomp! Delicious!

The Unexpected Surprise

Brother pounces hard
wakes Sister with a Beep! Beep!
Then he runs away.

Mother Saves the Day

Sister yawns lazily
runs inside to Mother
who holds mug of warm tea.


Emily is in gifted art class.  She is working on a hero art project.  Her hero is Cynthia Lord who wrote A Handful of Stars.  This post tells why.

a handful of stars
all shades of blue and purple
blueberries fill page

patterns and designs
with stars,stripes,splatters, and dots
it’s a masterpiece

finalizing it
adding the stars on top
Cynthia Lord, proud


Madison, 2nd grade, chose Atlantis on Wonderopolis this week and made her poem into an Animoto video.







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