Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Learning From the Potter

So it is officially summer, has been for about a week now. (Well, a couple of weeks now.  You can see it's taken me a little bit to get this finished.)  It's nice to have a break.  I did get a bit emotional on that last day of school, but it didn't seem to be as much as I usually do.  I was so ready to be done as I said before.  Things ended well, and after going back the next day to finish cleaning my room, I was officially finally on my break.  Saturday was busy with graduation parties, and Sunday was church of course.  So Monday was my day to be completely knocked out...and I was!  My exhaustion certainly caught up to me, it's been a full year of constantly being on the go, constant struggles, constant emotion.  I was very thankful for a couple of days where I just chose not to think about anything or worry about anything, but just to sit back and relax a little.  Yet, my heart was still so heavy from sadness and stress from the past year.  Instead of time to be still and know that He is God, Satan was definitely taking this time and using my mind as his playground.  It was and is, a struggle.  "What am I doing wrong?"  "Have you forgotten me?"  "Why do I see other people getting blessed?"  "When will I get my blessing?"  "When will I see my prayers answered?"  "Don't you see my struggles...feel my pain...hear my cry...see the faith I'm trying to"  I had seen some great blessings, on the last day of school, not only did I get some wonderful gifts from my kids, but I also for some reason received a generous anonymous gift from people that wanted to be a blessing to me!  It was such an amazing surprise!  It was a huge blessing!  I had also been finding some great encouragement through my devotions.  Yet, in the back of my mind, the struggles and questions still rose.  It was hard to quiet them.
I had been invited to go hear a friend share what the Lord has taught and shown him through pottery.  I had been invited by him before, but had never been able to make it, but this time I did.  I was really looking forward to it and knew it would be neat to see, and would be such a help to me.  I sat with some other friends who were also there, they had been before, but brought a group of their church teens with them.  They warned me that I may need some tissues.  I did have a couple on hand, but sweet Natalie gave me her packet of tissues in case I needed more, which she figured I would. (She knows me well :)  Right from the start I was amazed at what I was hearing and needed my tissues.  The potter talked about where the clay came from, which I never knew, was the swamp.  But he started working with the clay to get it ready and as he did so, he was constantly pushing it down, applying pressure. He related that to our lives and how the Lord applies pressure to our lives as well.  The reason the potter does this is to help bring the impurities to the surface and get rid of them.  He related that to how the Lord works in our lives.  We don't like the pressure, it hurts, but it is a special time for Him to work with us and help us.  And though we may be screaming that it hurts and telling Him that we want Him to stop applying that pressure, He gently tells us just to hold on.  He is doing it because He knows the final outcome and how beautiful that will be.  He has a plan that goes beyond the pressure to something more useful, but He has to do this necessary part first.  Then the potter even said, this may be when we ask, "Why do I see others getting blessed and why am I not seeing blessings?"  Wow!  Just the things I needed to hear!  The potter then showed how he puts the clay on the wheel, making sure it's centered.  It takes some work to keep it centered because it isn't the natural reaction when the clay gets on that wheel.  The Lord works hard to center us, too, and to keep us centered in Him.  But then another part that I found so interesting was that when he started to make the pot, he mentioned that he needed to get into the heart of the clay.  He pushed his fingers into the center.  He said he had to get into the heart of it, so that way he could build it up.  Then he started shaping it, working on the inside and outside to build it up as much as he could.  The Lord gets into our hearts so He can build us up in Him.  Even through that process it took some pressure and some careful time.  Once he got the height he wanted he started to shape the pot the way he wanted to.  He said as he worked with the clay, he could picture what he wanted it to look like, he could see his plan for it.  That's the way the Lord sees us, though we can't see His grand plan, He knows.  It amazed me how almost precious that piece of clay seemed to the potter, he really took time and care with it to make it become what he wanted it to be.  It made me think of the Lord with me, He does care, all of these struggles are going to make me more of what He wants me to be.  I don't know what that exactly is, but He does, and that's why He is working hard, and though it may be painful for me, He is excited because He is starting to see His plan take shape in me.  The potter even mentioned some of the struggles we may face and totally got some of the ones I face.  He said we need to be careful not to be angry at God for things that Satan has done or is doing to us.  He even "scarred" the pot...put some design marks on it.  He said we may have some scars in our lives, but instead of being so ashamed of them,or trying to hide them, we should use them as a testimony to show others how good God is.  Those "scars" are what so many people are attracted to when they look at the pots.  The scars in our lives can attract people to us, so we can show them to Christ.  So many great lessons, and yet there was so much more that he shared and there were some truly deep moments, but they were all beautifully illustrated with this potter and his clay.  I was so touched, as were so many others.  What an incredible journey to see the Lord and His love for me illustrated in this way!  I was beyond blessed and learned so much that I will continue to carry with me!  It was wonderful and I plan to go again another time when he is giving his presentation nearby, and to invite some other friends!  I want to keep those reminders in my mind and hope others who need it will go and be as blessed as I was.  Here's the link so you can take your own little Journey to the Potter's House.  You can also find him on Facebook at

Lord, thank you for this amazing lesson from Dr. Ferris!  Thank you for giving him such wisdom and insight to relay this beautiful message to us in such a special way!  The illustrations were such wonderful learning tools, help me to hold on to them and not forget the things I learned, and that You wanted to teach me through this!  Thank you for loving me and wanting me to be beautiful for you, even if I don't always see it!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The End of an Era

I know the title seems pretty dramatic, but I really do feel that it will fit this post.  I have been a little emotional lately, and this may have a tendency toward that, so just a forewarning, you may not wish to continue reading as it may be more of an emotional post.  But I feel the need to put this out there.  I have been thinking of a couple of different ideas that I planned to blog about, but just never got my thoughts all together, or took the time to do a post.  It's been a little crazy lately.  As I sit here tonight, though, the night before the last day of school, I feel compelled to write some thoughts down.
As this year draws to a close, I don't find myself feeling the normal emotions of sadness for the year being over, reminiscing on the year and my class, I am feeling more of a sense of relief that this year is over.  I may get emotional tomorrow, but I'm not sure.  I'm so ready for a break!!  But then that's when another part of me kicks in and hates to see the year come to a close.  My friend Angie was here for part of this year, so it's sad to see it end without her, and next year will be a just a full year without her.  I hate not having her here to share this end of the year time, to see her son graduate from 6th grade to Jr. High.  To see her "kids" graduate.  Graduation will be terribly sad without her!  She has been around for my whole teaching career (all 16 years), and now she's not.  We would plan some times to get together during the summer to go to Olive Garden and do some shopping, Charming Charlie or Sparkle or wherever.  It was just special times with us and the girls.  I never did get to introduce her to one of my favorite places- Dave and Busters.  And this would have been a great summer to do that!  When I go back for my 17th year she won't be there to encourage me, give me confidence, encourage the students, new and old and parents to be excited about a new year and what God was going to do.  Her spirit will be truly missed, as it already has been, but now in a different way and time.
Then thinking of summertime (though I'm so excited about it), makes me sad to think that this is the first summer that I will be spending without my mom.  The past two summers were all about her.  The first summer just trying to do things with her,  trying to keep her mind stimulated, and making as many memories as possible.  Then last summer was just a busy emotional summer as I watched her go downhill so quickly, and I wanted to make the most of the time I had with her.  It wasn't easy and wasn't always fun, but we had each other.  This will be a long time without her, where it's just Bella and me.  Christmas is only two weeks and is kind of busy, spring break is only a week, and goes by way too fast anyway, but this will be a full summer of just missing her presence in my life.  School consumed so much of my time right away after losing her, so now it will be different as things come to mind from last summer.  This past weekend I had a dream about my pappy, too, which was so real, he was healthy and well and we were chatting away.  It was sad to wake up and realize it was only a dream.  Not only was he not here, but neither was mom.
Then on Sunday I saw my second "real" butterfly.  I have seen some of the little butterflies flying around, but Sunday I saw a yellow swallowtail butterfly.  Since I had a butterfly engraved on mom's casket, every time I see one, I think of her!  Then that same night, I saw about 4 fireflies or lightning bugs, and every time I see those they remind me of pappy!  We would go out on hot summer nights and try to catch one.  So it has been a bit emotional.  Then there were the graduation parties that remind me how quickly time flies, and how exciting it was at that age to have your whole life ahead of you, with so much to look forward to.
I also spent some time last week talking with who I call my "little brother" Marcus, reminiscing about his grandmother Julia Sims who passed away last week.  Yet another beautiful, strong woman the Lord chose to take home.  I called her Ma Sims and she was like a grandmother to me.  She was a funny lady and people could easily get on her bad side, but she seemed to have a soft spot for me.  She was a no-nonsense type lady, and I loved her spirit.  She had no problem telling boys or young men to pull their pants up or to turn their music down.  And they rarely got mad at her when she did.  I don't know if it was the head of beautiful white hair that they couldn't resist or her look that maybe made them nervous, or how she would share with them her wisdom and why she felt strongly about it.  She was good!  She would often say she didn't care if they got mad, she was on her way to heaven anyway.  I remember many Sunday dinners when she would sit at our dinner table with us.  I remember so vividly my dad coming up from being downstairs watching bowling bringing up some sodas for dinner.  He would see Ma Sims and ask her how she was doing.  She would look at him with a serious face and ask, "Why, you writin' a book?"  My dad being the wise-crack himself would say, "Yea, I am writing a book."  And without a moment's hesitation she would fire back, "Well, leave that chapter out then."  She was pretty quick with a sarcastic, sharp sense of humor.  She would get pretty heated about some things sometimes and would do some little turns in the chair and flip her skirt over her knee and hit it with her hand and quite enthusiastically share what she needed to say.  She was fun to watch.  I remember her coming over sometimes on Saturday mornings or other times complaining about her hair, I loved her phrase, "My hair is looking like a hoorah's nest." (Her hair was always beautiful!)  Then there were those people that thought they needed to do everything or who thought that things would not get done without them, and she would simply remind them, "One monkey don't stop no show."  And she would often remind people, "Payday don't always come on Friday."  She was one-of-a-kind! I haven't seen her in a while, her memory was failing her just like mom's was.  It was sad to think about, she was a nurse for years at Hartford Hospital and was sharp as a tack.  She always talked about sitting on her couch eating ice cream and watching the Red Sox, one of her favorite things to do. Those are some special memories of special times a while ago.  Then my parents and later on she herself would get sick and those times ended.
Then a few days ago I heard that Jean Stapleton passed away.  She was Edith Bunker from All in the Family.  When I heard that it just made me sad because we all loved watching that show.  I know this seems so random, but Mom, Dad, and I loved watching this together.  It just reminds me of those fun times.  Dad would crack up at some of the things Archie would say.  It once again it made me think of mom and dad and our times spent together laughing and joking, watching TV, or just whatever.  I miss those times!  It saddened me to think of so many things that have changed.  Actors, friends, family, family friends that have passed that remind me that this special era or time of my life has changed and is changing.  That has been hard for me.  If you've read other blog posts you know I'm not a fan of change.  Yet part of me hates that life is so predictable right now with nothing new to look forward to, same thing just about everyday, school, then home with Bella, or church, then home with Bella.  I know I need to be content in whatsoever state I am, but if I'm going to be real, I'm struggling with that right now.  It's nice to have those memories, but I do miss those times...good times.
Lord, You know this is a hard time for me right now.  I've been telling You about it. Some special people are gone and some special memories are locked in my mind as these people and times are no longer.  Help me to remember You have a hope, plan, and a purpose for my future.  I know my future is Heaven, but please help me to see things You have for me here too.  Help me through these times when I'm truly missing people and times that were so dear.  Help me to draw nearer to You during these times as well.  Keep me from hearing Satan's lies and help me to find my strength and delight in You.  Be near to me as I draw nigh to You.