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10 Minutes Peace

    by Susan McGrath

June 18, 2005

When I was in preschool and grade school my brother and I had a house and a school bus from Fisher-Price filled with what we called "Little People". (I don't know if that's their official name.)

Later we added a farm, parking garage, a castle and Sesame Street to the collection. Then a tree house with "imitation" little people. They even had their own amusement park later a year later! (My best friend in grade school had a real "Little People" McDonald's with food trays and a drive-thru -- and I'm still jealous!)

In case you haven't figured out what…  ( Click for more )

June 11, 2005

Answer the five "W"s -- who, what, when, where and why. That's the rudimentary formula for good reporting. Then you learn to snag the audience with catch-words and phrases, attempting to be fair and accurate and fitting it all into the allotted space. (Which is usually about two columns shorter than you need.)

These are just a few of the lessons I learned in journalism school. I also learned how to meet deadlines and deal with massive quantities of stress. I did not master drinking coffee or smoking, which I was told is a must to be a successful journalist. (Perhaps that's…  ( Click for more )

June 4, 2005

Do you ever feel like something great is waiting just around the corner?

If you can only get past the drudgery of today, tomorrow will be exciting. You will ooze beauty and confidence from every pore. Your family will put their dirty clothes in the hamper and not on the floor. Well, we can dream, can't we?

But that feeling of anticipation is just there sometimes. Perhaps it's longing for a different setting. Wanting a better life. Just hoping for something new and exciting. But it's there.

This time of year it grows as the days grow longer and the flowers…  ( Click for more )

May 28, 2005

Although I think they have more sophisticated names for them now, most of you know what I mean if I talk about a "Pep Club."

Those would be the kids who wear the team colors (sometimes painted on their faces and in their hair) and cheer madly for their team to be victorious. They are usually led by very outgoing and personable people, like the junior class vice president/class clown. Someone who is just naturally happy.

Once in awhile you come across someone who is past their high school years, but still exudes that joy -- that Pep Club Captain mentality.

I remember…  ( 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).…  ( Click for more )

May 14, 2005

In my kitchen hangs an antique picture titled "The Little Gardener". My great-grandfather won it as a prize for selling garden seed over one hundred years ago when he was just seven or eight years old.

I had never noticed it in Granddad's home. But after he died, my grandfather brought it home and hung it in the family room. From that time on I always told him how much I loved the picture and that I would like to have it someday.

I've never learned anymore about it. The frame is likely as old as the picture, the glass wavy. A young boy wearing overalls and a straw…  ( Click for more )

May 7, 2005

Do you ever just want to roll around in it?

That self-pity, discontent, anger and indignation?

It's been one of those weeks! Your children are the worst-behaved on the block (or in Sunday school), your husband discovered termites in the family room and you can't find the library books that were due two days ago!

Though not earth-shattering, these irritations on top of all the everyday stresses and imagined failures just make you want to yell and whine a little, "It's not fair! Why don't my kids listen to me? Why won't my husband (fill in the…  ( Click for more )

April 30, 2005

A kindergarten teacher I work with makes a scrapbook for each of her students at the end of the school year.

Included among "letters to mom", handprints, drawings and achievements is a class picture with this message,"I am returning your child to you after nine months of learning -- a couple inches taller, a few pounds heavier, more confident and prepared for his next step in life."

It goes on to say that after so much time together, they will always be a part of each other and if someday, years from now, they meet on the street, they will both smile and get a twinkle in…  ( Click for more )

April 23, 2005

As a thirty-something mom, I sometimes feel "this is my life"?!

Maybe I'll never go back to school for that master's degree or get an exciting job or travel to the British Isles to research my heritage. Some days it's hard to plan past ball practice and supper, much less career changes and years into the future.

Besides, I'm supposed to be planning for my children's futures' right? I'm supposed to be settled into whatever I'm doing for life and be content with it. Right! I still haven't decided what I want to be when I grow up! …  ( Click for more )

April 9, 2005

I've heard poems and songs about life being a tapestry. A beautiful work of art which tells a story through brilliant colors and detailed pictures.

Imagine how much time and effort it must take to weave a tapestry, especially at their height of fashionable decorating hundreds of years ago. The planning and knowledge needed to create such a work of art was unbelievable.

A person of wealth would decide they wanted a tapestry to beautify a certain room (as well as cut down on the drafts) and they would hire an artist to sketch or paint the theme of the tapestry. Often…  ( Click for more )

March 26, 2005

You've probably heard the song " Romans 16:19". Maybe it's been chanted by your kids or you've attended a youth rally or church camp where it was sung. It basically quotes the verse (with a lot of silly motions and sound effects thrown in, which I will not attempt to duplicate here).

"Be excellent at what is good, be innocent of evil, and the God of peace will soon crush Satan underneath your feet."

God wants us to be excellent in all that we do. And he wants us to do everything for him. He expects the best. Why shouldn't he? He's God and he made…  ( Click for more )

March 19, 2005

The Gospels tell us that in the hours before Jesus' death, as he hung on the cross in agony, darkness came over the whole land -- the sun stopped shining -- for about three hours in the middle of the day!

Isn't that spooky? I've read several explanations from scientists: It was a total solar eclipse. It was a cloud of volcanic ash which traveled from an eruption thousands of miles away. (This, by the way, also explained the earthquakes at the time of Jesus' death.)

Now, if God wanted to make it dark by using his natural resources, he certainly could.…  ( Click for more )

March 12, 2005

Every year before Easter Sunday, sometimes only days before, a cloth shroud is draped and a crown of thorns hung on the large wooden cross at the front of our church's auditorium.

It is supposed to be placed there a month or so before Easter, but sometimes, amid busy preparations for the drama or sunrise service, it is forgotten until the last minute.

(And no wonder! The box in which it is stored must first be located in whatever closet we stuffed it into last year. Then someone must iron the yards and yards of fabric in the shroud and carefully place it - with the…  ( Click for more )

March 5, 2005

Many of us have saved mementos in a shoebox, tucked into the back of a closet. They might be souvenirs of a childhood vacation, love letters, or pictures, but they represent something we love.

Based on this idea, Hallmark even came out with a line of greeting cards called "Shoebox Greetings". Something they apparently thought everyone could relate to.

Whether love letters saved or greeting cards sent, in both cases they are enclosed or packaged and sealed to be opened later.

As a congregation our church has taken on a shoebox project for the last few years. Through…  ( Click for more )

February 26, 2005

I used to hate going shopping with my mother when I was in grade school. I loved picking out new clothes or looking at books and records (Dating myself there, aren't I?), but when it came time to tag along while she looked at things -- BOOORING!

She could spend what seemed like hours looking at and trying on clothes. Boring Mom clothes. Nobody cared if their Mom was fashionable, did they? Then she would want to stop and look at things like bedding and cookware or clothes for my brother!

Once I got to junior high, I would beg to bring a friend along and we'd go off and shop…  ( Click for more )

February 19, 2005

I watched a couple on a talk show recently who purified the air and water in their home to give their two-year-old daughter "the best start" she could have. They also refused to immunize her and would not allow her to eat any animal products (dairy or meat).

The mother had never been away from her for more than two hours at a time and even the grandparents had not been allowed to watch her until she was well past a year old because something might happen to her. She was still nursing and was sleeping with mom while dad slept on the couch, because that was best for her development. …  ( Click for more )

February 12, 2005

Working with teens I see lots of fashions -- some in open defiance of common sense. (Heeled boots in the ice and snow; coordinating ensembles of shirts, sweaters, jewelry, and open-toed shoes for an extended outdoor event; or my favorites, curling irons and mascara on a canoe trip.)

Around age 25 I began to let the fashion slide if it interfered with comfort. By the time I had my first child a few years later, comfort was the number one deciding factor in most everything I purchased.

How I looked still mattered, but it was no longer as important as being able to walk without…  ( Click for more )

February 5, 2005

My husband enjoys watching the British parliament on C-SPAN. The members are remarkably animated, though usually good-naturedly.

Shouts of "Here, here!" are often heard and there is much poking fun even during serious discussions and at important officials such as the prime minister.

I can't help but contrast that with our congressional proceedings in the United States, where often most of the seats are empty and no one seems to be passionate about the discussion, muchless enjoying themselves.

I'm afraid I have been guilty of this in my Christianity. Going through the…  ( Click for more )

January 29, 2005

I read a quote from Gandhi once that said, "It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important." He added that it may not be in our lifetime that any fruit will come from our actions.

This is hard for me because I am goal-oriented and even more results-oriented. It's even harder to accept in the Christian life, as I want to see people come to Christ and grow in spirit and wisdom. Then I want to see them bear fruit.

But God has his own growing season and it's not on our human scale. When the numbers don't increase in our youth group, I have to rein myself in and…  ( Click for more )

January 22, 2005

I use a lot of time, energy and money on things that really don't matter that much. I'm recognizing that more each day, and trying to revise more, but I still like nice things and I like things done nicely.

I don't live lavishly, but I could live much more sensibly and frugally and my resources could benefit so many others. I don't live in a mansion or drive a new car or carry designer handbags -- not the really expensive ones, anyway. But it's not just my monetary resources that could be redirected for God's glory. My time, energy, prayer and encouragement could be spread around…  ( Click for more )

January 15, 2005

Parenting experts tell us that we shouldn't be friends with our kids. We can't be the authority figure and the loving disciplinarian as well as someone they pal around with as they would their peers.

I have to agree with that, for the most part. Friendship, perhaps, can come later when they have grown up and even become parents themselves.

But there's an exception to this rule. God.

I recently read a devotion about God wanting to be our friend. This wasn't a new concept for me, but thinking of Him in the many different roles at once was rather daunting.

He is our…  ( Click for more )

January 8, 2005

A boy in my kindergarten class was answering questions for the teacher for a quarterly progress report. By mid-year the kids are supposed to know the days of the week the months of the year, seasons, etc.

When asked what the seasons were he answered, "Basketball, football, soccer and hockey." I guess we know what the emphasis is at his house!

My favorite season is fall -- I love crisp cool air and falling leaves. My kids love summer so they can be outside for hours each day. We all have our favorite season of the year.

But not many of us, when asked our favorite season,…  ( Click for more )

December 18, 2004

Disclaimer: You would expect this (or I would anyway, if I were reading it) to be a Christmas-oriented column. However, that's not what inspired me this week, and since I wrote about holiday things the last two times, here's what I have to offer.

My three-year-old has developed a large ego. A couple of week ago he put a bucket on his head (a hat in his mind, I suppose - hey he's got a weird sense of humor), marched into the living room and told his grandpa, "I'm in charge of the weather!"

Whether he came up with this idea on his own (probable), or had it put into his head…  ( Click for more )

December 11, 2004

My kids love to look at Christmas lights. My three-year-old gets excited every time we come down the hill and see the neighbor's house with blue lights lining the roof and candy canes in the yard. The "blue house" is his favorite!

We've see some spectacular displays over the years. From parks with every fairy tale and cartoon you can think of cut out in cardboard, painted and lighted with a rainbow of colors, to the living, working village of Bethlehem, complete with armed Roman soldiers who arrested and jailed unsuspecting members of the group. (Including a few junior high boys…  ( Click for more )

December 4, 2004

It's Christmas time again. A time when we see decorations of every size shape and color. Not only fun holiday items such as Santa and Christmas trees, but even nativity scenes get tweaked a bit.

Most of us have a little porcelain or wooden nativity set we put in a place of honor each year. The kids may have their own set, made of stuffed people and animals, resin, or even plastic ones modeled after cartoon characters or animals.

We have a church in our town which has a living nativity. I love seeing what it might have been like for Jesus to come into the world. And I have…  ( Click for more )

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