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10 Minutes Peace

    by Susan McGrath

April 12, 2008

Dear readers: I posted this column about a year ago, but it seemed appropriate for this week. I have been struggling with what direction to take in several areas of my life and having trouble being still enough to hear what God has to say on the matter. I hope this will bless some of you as well.

My kids think some of my ways are pretty mysterious. My five-year-old can't figure out how I know when he's trying to sneak out the door and ride his bike without a helmet. My 10-year-old is awed at the way I can predict which of his friends he is going to use next as he pleads "but…  ( Click for more )

Now that school is underway and the weather is cooling a little, I'm getting that restless feeling -- I want to redecorate the house, or at least get out of the house since it doesn't look like the magazine cover I admire!

A couple of years ago I found another stay-at-home mom in my church who shared this feeling. We decided to start a group to combat our cabin fever/boredom/nesting instinct-which-can-get-expensive.

We called our group T.I.M.E.-out (Toddlers, Infants & Moms Encouraged). The group was free and open to anyone (we even welcomed dads and grandparents). We tried…  ( Click for more )

From a young age I was taught that tithes are what we give to God to show our love and respect. We are "obligated" to give back at least this much or we are not "good" people and certainly would not go to heaven. Offering time during Sunday morning church was the time we gave tithes. Okay, if this is sounding a bit legalistic and not very scriptural just give me a minute.

This is the way that giving was portrayed to me through songs and teachings in Sunday school, through watching adults give. I don't believe it was necessarily the message they meant to convey…  ( Click for more )

March 22, 2008

I don't know who is making the decisions to give five-year-old boys white T-shirts for every occasion and activity, but it must be stopped!

My son owns white T-shirts from baseball camp, his soccer team, his favorite shoes (Okay, I bought that one, but it was such a good deal!), and possibly even some I can't think of like superheroes and brands of chewing gum. The problem is not actually with the T-shirts, but with the combination of the five-year-old boy lifestyle and the color white.

No matter the stain treatment - and I've tried them all - some phantom portion of pizza,…  ( Click for more )

March 22, 2008

I don't know who is making the decisions to give five-year-old boys white T-shirts for every occasion and activity, but it must be stopped!

My son owns white T-shirts from baseball camp, his soccer team, his favorite shoes (Okay, I bought that one, but it was such a good deal!), and possibly even some I can't think of like superheroes and brands of chewing gum. The problem is not actually with the T-shirts, but with the combination of the five-year-old boy lifestyle and the color white.

No matter the stain treatment - and I've tried them all - some phantom portion of pizza,…  ( Click for more )

March 15, 2008

I consider myself to be a practiced storyteller, or at least an unbiased recorder of happenings. Between my journalistic training and my sentimental, creative side I should be able to share information without much effort at all. I love word crafting, I love to talk and I love to share positive experiences, so why am I not better at telling the story of Christ and sharing my testimony?

This question has haunted me for some time. I think of all the old hymns about telling "the story of Jesus" and of all the times I have delighted in sharing Him with a preschool class…  ( Click for more )

March 8, 2008

My sons both have two middle names because we wanted to include more family names than we could fit into the traditional first-middle-last process. I, personally, think it is really cool to have four names, but when I try to fill out paperwork for my children I often have difficulty because they don't fit the status quo.

Most forms that I fill out for anything - school, insurance, sports - have a line or a box for a "middle initial". The line will hold both initials, but not the box. I usually have to go with just the first initial. The real confusion came with an account…  ( Click for more )

At the point where things put off cannot conceivably be completed in a thorough and sane manner in the amount of time remaining, something I have dubbed "acrastivoidination" occurs.

In case you couldn't pronounce (don't ask me to do it) or even decipher that term, it's the collision of procrastination and avoidance. These two have been introduced and, in fact, are old friends in my house! Procrastination for me became a problem, if I remember correctly - and I don't always, when I had children. I was tired. They were needy. If I closed the bedroom door only my husband…  ( Click for more )

February 23, 2008

It seems I have been doing that a lot lately - crossing bridges. Heading for new and exciting adventures, sometimes unfamiliar and terrifying I tend to feel like Frodo on his journey through Mordor, knowing there is a reward for completing the task, but dreading the journey. My challenges don't involve saving the world from an evil wizard, but sometimes they feel just as monumental.

Anticipating a career change, seeing my children grow up more quickly than I am prepared for (the "baby" in Kindergarten and the elder in band and football), I wonder if I am really ready…  ( Click for more )

February 16, 2008

It's tax time again and many people still haven't recovered from overspending at Christmas. We may be feeling the financial noose tighten and counting the days until that tax refund shows up. (Or counting the days until we have to write a check to the IRS!) Money can so easily become the master of our lives and it is not a compassionate ruler.

I once saw a man interviewed about money. He was driving an old truck and wearing jeans and a flannel shirt. When asked if he felt rich he answered something like, "Sure. I have four dollars in my pocket and all my bills are paid." …  ( Click for more )

February 9, 2008

As I wrote out a "To Do" list the other day I was hopeful and even excited about accomplishing all the little things I had written, from errands like bank deposits and mailing gifts to cleaning my house and writing this column. Somehow, though, the determination and good intentions always get lost between the list and the actual accomplishment.

I used to be a big list person and felt so fulfilled when I was able to cross off my chores one at a time. Now, I guess I just get overwhelmed at the thought of all the work involved to actually complete my list. Oh, yeah - and…  ( Click for more )

January 26, 2008

My eleven-year-old son asked me the other day what the difference was between a command and a demand. I don't remember exactly what started the conversation, but I'm sure it involved complaints about unfair parental practices and ended with someone in time out!

I told him, only half jokingly, that a command is issued by someone in a position of authority, like a parent, who has the right to expect a directive to be followed. (Okay, I used words which were more kid-friendly, but you get the idea.) A demand, I explained, is something used by children or terrorists who are whining…  ( Click for more )

January 12, 2008

I had many seed ideas this week, but by the time I got to a point where I could write them down, I seem to have lost the point. A wonderful inspiration struck me as I was cooking dinner one night, complete with humorous anecdotes and scriptural references. It evaporated about the time we sat down to eat.

In a desperate effort to reclaim an idea I could pass off as original and pass on to others, I stood at the stove, visualizing what I'd been doing when the "a-ha" moment hit me. Nothing! I guess I my stomach was so focused on the food, that my mind couldn't retain the…  ( Click for more )

December 29, 2007

Our society proffers that the New Year is a new beginning, a time to make promises and resolutions about being a better person and doing more for humanity. I will lose 15 pounds and go the gym three times a week. I will volunteer regularly at the food pantry and my child's school. I will be a better wife and mother. I will . . . I will . . .

But it's not about me and it's not really a new beginning, but calling it that may inspire me to try to do something different, better.

For those in the Lord, every day is a new beginning. God never fails to give us another chance when…  ( Click for more )

December 22, 2007

I love the Hallelujah Chorus! This song joyfully exclaims many names of our Messiah: Prince of Peace, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, Wonderful, Counselor. These are but a few of the majestic names of our Lord. We sing of them at Christmastime, but often push them to the back of the study bible during the rest of the year. I have done studies on the names of the Lord and am always amazed at how diverse they are and how they pop up in scripture where I least expect them.

It is comforting to know that our God is not only three distinct beings in one - Father, Son and Holy Spirit…  ( Click for more )

December 1, 2007

It seems I can rarely get through a week in the Kindergarten classroom without inflicting on myself one of the most painful, most annoying injuries known to the world - yes, the dreaded paper cut!

The paper cut seems to be a cliche', something to joke about like Miracle Max in The Princess Bride: "While you're at it why don't you give me a nice paper cut and pour some lemon juice on it!" (Sorry, I can't resist quoting my favorite movie when the opportunity presents itself!) However, when you are the recipient of the paper cut it suddenly isn't funny anymore.

Even…  ( Click for more )

November 24, 2007

The cornucopia was a popular symbol of the Thanksgiving holidays when I was a child. I remember coloring them in school, with fruits and vegetables spilling out - they were pictures that covered the entire palette of crayons. Today that symbolism seems to have waned a bit, replaced by turkeys in ever pose and wearing any expression you can think of from humor to shock.

But the "horn of plenty", as the cornucopia is known, dates back much further than the first Thanksgiving and has its roots in fantasy rather than actual blessings. In ancient Greece, the god Zeus was…  ( Click for more )

November 10, 2007

Perhaps it’s my Type A personality, or maybe it’s just a mom thing but I tend to always choose the responsible route, do the right thing, push the fun stuff to the back of the closet.

Recently I had a paper due for a master’s class I am taking and I had put off writing it until the last minute. When I was down to less than 48 hours I began to look for excuses – laundry to fold, dishes and kids to wash, CDs to alphabetize. The more I thought about it the less I wanted to write that paper.

Finally inspiration struck: I was too tired to think clearly enough…  ( Click for more )

November 3, 2007

The following is a humorous look at the exhaustion that often creeps up on us as moms. Sleep deprivation, weariness, a bad case of the yawns - whatever you want to call it, this condition is detrimental to our ability to be the mothers, wives and women of God we desire to be.

Signs that you need to catch up on your sleep:

-the kids suggest McDonald's for supper and it sounds like a good idea;

-you fall asleep watching your favorite episode of (fill in your personal favorite);

-you are grateful for red lights because you can close your eyes;

-you're glad the bed…  ( Click for more )

October 20, 2007

Many of you may be caught up in the frenzy of the football season right now. I, though I have made the attempt, have not developed into a football fanatic. I have been caught up in some of the football dramas, however. I love the movie Remember the Titans, and the TV series Friday Night Lights caught my attention with a preview including the phrase "Clear eyes, full hearts - can't lose!"

I'm no expert to judge whether this philosophy is true in football but I believe that it does apply to out lives as Christ followers. We find several instances in the bible where the…  ( Click for more )

October 13, 2007

I love colors! Primary, secondary, muted, pastel - colors make life interesting.

My love of colors doesn't always get expressed in my everyday life, though. I'm always attracted to bright-colored clothing, but for some reason end up buying lots of muted pieces. I do a bit better with my accessories. I can claim a pair of lime green shoes with matching handbag, scarf, hat and gloves and I have some bright blue shoes which definitely draw attention. But one place I have learned to let loose with my colorful creations is in my home.

The bedrooms in our home would provide the…  ( Click for more )

October 6, 2007

In the high school I attended our mascot was the Panthers. We showed our pride in many ways: pep rallies, orange and blue T-shirts, and clever chants. But one of the most unique ways we showed pride in our school and our teams was initiated and, in fact, embedded in the very foundation of the school building when it was built in the early 1960's. A large Panther head with the words Pana Panthers surrounding it was inset in the tiles of the main hallway in front of the gym. Every student passed that way at least twice during the day, if not more often. Tradition dictated that we not…  ( Click for more )

September 29, 2007

In Kindergarten, we teach the kids to sneeze and cough into their elbows so they won't spray the entire class with the germ of the day. It also keeps those touchy little hands a bit cleaner.

As of this writing, some have not mastered the technique. This week our class used up two boxes of tissues and five kids were out with a stomach virus - and flu season doesn't even begin for a couple of months!

Strategically placed around the classroom, the teachers also keep several little containers of anti-bacterial hand gel or lotion to kill the rogue germs that do escape the elbow.…  ( Click for more )

September 22, 2007

I'm a sucker for infomercials. Embarrassed as I am to admit it, I can get inadvertently drawn into an infomercial and not only want what is being peddled, but be convinced that I need it desperately, can't live without it. Rather the point of the infomercial, I suppose.

Vacuums, exercise equipment, juicers, collections of 80's music - who knew so much was missing in my life?

I've only actually ever ordered one item as a result of brainwashing by an infomercial, but I've memorized lots of 800 numbers in anticipation! I never sit down with the intention of watching an infomercial.…  ( Click for more )

September 15, 2007

Each fall at our elementary school go we through fire safety rules and practice them. One the Kindergarten kids really take to is Stop, Drop and Roll. We explain to them that even though they might be scared if they are ever in a situation where their clothes are on fire, instead of running they must stop where they are, drop to the ground and roll around to put out the flames.

For some reason this mantra popped into my head during a particularly stressful week and I thought, "Why am I running from my fears and problems? I need to stop right where I am, drop to my knees…  ( Click for more )

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