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10 Minutes Peace

    by Susan McGrath

December 31, 2005

I love catalog and on-line shopping! I live an hour from the nearest mall and have young children, so it's often the only way I can get anything new in my wardrobe for months at a time. (Have you even been clothes shopping, for yourself, with the kids along?)

My favorite catalogs are those that show only the clothing, no models. For me, it's easier to picture what I would look like in that gorgeous sweater or sleek pants. Sometimes I don't like what I picture, but at least my mind isn't seeing the model's body with my head superimposed!

But if you…  ( Click for more )

December 24, 2005

Have you ever wondered why God Almighty, Creator of the Universe, would first announce the birth of his only son, the Savior of mankind, to lowly, stinking shepherds?

Me too. I think it's because of who they were. They were simple people, humble, not the most popular at dinner parties. They took care of the sheep, really cared for them. Sound like anyone else?

And what did they do when they heard the announcement? They believed a bunch of heavenly beings singing from the clouds about a baby. Then after seeing him, they ran through the streets and told everyone. Scripture…  ( Click for more )

December 17, 2005

This is the second - okay, maybe third -year in a row that our Christmas tree has stood in the living room wearing absolutely nothing, completely naked, for at least week. Rather pitiful, my procrastination, not the tree.

This is the time of year we expect to see naked trees. But they're usually outside and a bit taller. They spill their colors and then hold a silent vigil through the cold and snow to erupt with new, green life in the spring. Those obviously are not the trees I'm talking about.

I refer to a well-shaped Balsam fir, fragrant with - well, with the…  ( Click for more )

December 10, 2005

When I was in grade school and junior high, I remember knowing the holiday season was really here when the Christmas episode of American Bandstand aired.

For those of you too young to even remember the show, if was a "dance party" with all the latest pop chart hits played while people danced to them. The artists were featured as well, although I later found out they lip synced all the songs and was greatly disappointed.

Anyway, the Christmas episode was great because the whole set sparkled with tinsel and balls and the dancers all wore their festive best and brought kids…  ( Click for more )

December 3, 2005
Is that how we picture him? A blanket covered bundle held securely in Mary's arms, usually looking more like a lump than a baby? Is he just an image wrapped up as neatly as a package, sleeping peacefully? Perhaps we must delve beyond that, to the wise child who taught the teachers in the synagogue, the loving man who hung out with rejects, or the chosen Messiah who hung in misery on the cross while forgiving those responsible. Christmas is the time we celebrate the birth of our Messiah, Jesus the Christ. Never mind that he was probably born in the spring, this is our set…  ( Click for more )
November 26, 2005

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).…  ( Click for more )

November 19, 2005

In their classes at church, my kids were given balloons and wrote on them what they loved.

My nine-year-old's balloon said "God, Jesus, parents, brother". My three-year-old was more practical. His said "candy".

Well, he was being honest, I guess. He has a habit of expressing things in the extreme. (I can't imagine where he could have learned that!) Most kids will say they love something like candy or a favorite book or T.V. show. But when it comes to something they don't care for, they tell you they don't like it.

My son will try new food or something…  ( Click for more )

November 12, 2005

The other day I was putting away my nine-year-old's new "church" shoes and noticed they looked really huge. Well, he did just make the transition from boys' to men's sizes. So I picked up one of my shoes and put them sole to sole. They were the same size!

Now I do not have dainty little feet by any stretch of the imagination or truth. After having two kids, my average eight-and-a-half's have grown a full size. Sometimes I even need a ten if the shoe doesn't come in a wide width. So to think that my son, who is NINE, has feet almost as big as mine is…  ( Click for more )

Recently in our small group bible study we were giving each other encouraging words as we took turns sitting in the "hot seat". When it was my turn, one group member told me that she really appreciated my dedication to the group. That I was there every week and willing to share.

I had to admit to the group that my dedication didn't always carry over to regular scripture study and prayer time during the week. And that I felt guilty sometimes leaving my kids with a sitter and a mess a home in order to attend the group study, even though I thirsted for it.

She then made…  ( Click for more )

October 22, 2005

I'm ashamed to say that last weekend I watched a marathon of shows about sixteenth birthday parties.

As I was cleaning around the house I turned on the TV and stopped on a channel where there were girls, trying to look years older than they were, and planning the most ridiculously extravagant birthday parties I, in my small little world, could imagine.

It wasn't just the use of money and the enormity of the event, but the attitude of these girls and the way they treated people. One kept telling her mother to shut up and stop trying to steal the show. Yes, I guess…  ( Click for more )

October 15, 2005

America is obsessed with ballgames. No matter the season, there is a sport in full swing and athletes being paid millions of dollars to chase, hit, pass or catch a ball.

We teach our kids to catch before they can walk, and to hit and shoot as soon as they can stand. Not that it's a bad thing. They need to learn gross motor skills! We want to see them score, be the star. Again, not necessarily a bad thing. But if it doesn't happen, how does everyone deal with it?

The point is, we teach kids that it's a good thing to want the ball. In one football movie the…  ( Click for more )

October 8, 2005

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 )

October 1, 2005

(This one is from last fall, but I felt led to "post" it again. Hope you enjoy it!)

When I was in college I belonged to a campus ministry group that tried to be visible to students. With a large university, over 20,000 students, it was hard to connect with people one-on-one without some type of conversation starter.

So "The Listening Post" was set up in the student center, where hundreds, if not thousands, of students would pass by each day. Obviously not everyone stopped. Some paused just long enough to find out what it was.

(What it was, consisted of a wooden post,…  ( Click for more )

September 24, 2005

Crime. Violent crime and people who are incarcerated for committing it. Big surprise, right?

But did you know how much it's gone up? Since 1976 (less than thirty years) the number of people in prison in the United States has increased 820%. Yes, there are three numbers there, not 82% -- 820%!

One in 138 people in this country are incarcerated for some type of crime. I wonder if these increases reflect how our children value themselves and others?

This increase was measured from 1976, but crime actually was on the rise a few years prior to that. Interestingly enough,…  ( Click for more )

September 17, 2005

After squinting and straining my way through distance reading and watching television for a couple of years, I finally decided I needed some visual assistance again. (I hadn't worn glasses since first grade and my brief stint with contacts in high school was sporadic at best. They were such a cool color, though!)

So I made an appointment with a good friend of mine who happens to be an optometrist. Who would have thought when we were lab partners in junior biology that she was actually retaining that stuff!

After some small talk and about half way through the exam, knowing…  ( Click for more )

September 3, 2005

When the twin towers fell, my oldest son was almost five years old.

He didn't watch the news unless he happened to be in the room when my husband or I were watching. He was in preschool - they talked about colors and good manners, not current events. Yet he knew something had happened and we felt he deserved an honest explanation.

I explained that some guys who were not very nice flew planes into the buildings. They did it on purpose because they wanted to hurt people. When he asked why, I replied, "They don't know about Jesus and how much he loves them."

I…  ( Click for more )

August 27, 2005

I love taking pictures!

Let me clarify that. I love being the one who takes the pictures of other people or things. The anonymous person behind the lens. Leave me out of the photo, thank you very much!

I just saw all the pictures my brother took on our family vacation. I'm in some of them. I didn't like what I saw.

Even though I saw all my pictures the week after we returned home, I was in very few of them. I managed to keep things focused on my husband and kids.

My brother was not so selective. He even has pictures of me after I rolled out of bed at…  ( Click for more )

August 20, 2005

Recently the famous Budweiser Clydesdale horses made an appearance in my hometown. They were promoted on the front page of the paper and people of all ages gathered along the "parade" route to see them clomp past.

They didn't seem to be in a hurry to show themselves on that hot summer day, but their theme song (you may remember it from an old beer commercial), "Here Comes the King", kept running through my head.

Despite the heat and delay, people waited on curbs and front porches, on lawn chairs and blankets for the majestic beasts to come into view.

How eagerly…  ( Click for more )

I don't remember being taught much of the theory (I mean, myth) of evolution when I was in school, but it's there in force now!

Perhaps because I grew up in a small, fairly conservative town, this was not something I encountered until high school. I still didn't have much with which to refute it, but I knew it wasn't true. I did not come from a rock!

Today kids are being confronted with this in kindergarten. I know, because I work in a kindergarten classroom and curriculum from counting to weekly readers deals with dinosaurs, which the kids love. But,…  ( Click for more )

August 6, 2005
I can't believe it's been twenty years! I've been frantically working to help put together a high school class reunion and none of us can seem to figure out where the time has gone. We're all busy with jobs and kids, soccer and PTO, paying bills and saving for dreams. The time slips past and when a marker appears on the road, like that 20-year reunion invitation, we have to stop and wonder what we've actually been doing all that time. Although the plans can be hectic, I look forward to seeing many classmates and meeting their families. This time we decided…  ( Click for more )
July 30, 2005

I love the photographs of Ansel Adams. (Probably the greatest landscape photographer ever.)

The contrast of the black and white is crisp and clean and allows the subject to be seen in every detail.

Having some knowledge of photography, I know this requires the photographer to understand light, the mechanics and chemistry of the camera and film (Especially in Adams' case, as most of his famous pictures were taken over a half century ago with large format film.), and the ability to frame the subject in a way that captures the necessary details and excludes the distractions. …  ( Click for more )

July 23, 2005

Have your noticed that some things never change?

The smell of corn growing in summer, Cut grass on a hot day (or a wet, cool one), The sound of insects through the screened porch, Sweet watermelon on a hot July evening, Hugs from people we love, Summer flying past, School edging into summer, The thrill of buying school supplies (without being thrilled about school), Scents of earth and air and water after a thunderstorm, God.

He is the same from everlasting to everlasting. He is the Alpha and the Omega -- beginning and end. He is God. He is in charge. He loves…  ( Click for more )

July 9, 2005

I hope you are all enjoying your summer. I've been busy with youth trips (getting wet on the river) and with my Bible Bowl team and family in Chicago (eating deep dish pizza and playing tourist) so here's an "old favorite" that I hope you enjoy again!

I haven't been to a circus in a long time, but the ones I did attend as a child never seemed quite as glamorous or daring as the stereotypical three-ring circus on TV or in stories.

Most days I feel like my life is a three-ring circus. I'm the Ringmaster who must keep it all going, announcing the death-defying…  ( Click for more )

I feel bad when I even think this, much less say it, but sometimes I dread Sundays.

Not because I don't want to attend a church service and worship the Lord and be encouraged and uplift others, but because of all the other things that get tacked on to my schedule because it's Sunday.

We seem to schedule our share of church dinners, meetings, rallies, and practices for Sunday afternoon or evening, and there are always family obligations. It seems, in our family anyway, we always reserve birthday or any other celebrations for Sunday afternoon.

And then there…  ( Click for more )

June 25, 2005

I used to take great pride in my car -- something instilled by my father and grandfather who constantly vacuumed and polished. My car was free of dirt and clutter inside and the outside usually got a bath on a regular basis and a good waxing a few times a year.

Of course, I wanted something "cool". My first car, though used, was bright red and had a good stereo. My first new car was sleek and black with a CD player (This was in 1990, so that was very impressive!)

Sadly, the family car has now become just that -- a family car. Simply a mode of transportation, cluttered with…  ( Click for more )

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