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lizzy mccall margaret

Being loved.

 Published originally in March 2013 when Margaret was in the 9th grade and I was teaching at a local community college.

I'd just finished teaching last night when my youngest child arrived. We had an errand to run so her brother dropped her off at the college to save us time. I introduced Margaret to one of my students who was still hanging around in the hall.

"Margaret, this is Zach*, a student in my class."

Margaret responded as she always does to new people: blushing, she gave a quick nonsmile as she began her escape.

"Hi Margaret, I'm Zach." The student spoke to her back. We were already walking away when the student added, "You have an amazing mom!"

"Thank you!" I responded to Zach, then linked my arm with Margaret's and joked, "Don't you wish you had a nickel for every time you've heard that!"

"I'd have a nickel," she said (smarty pants), "No wait, I'd have a bunch more than that. My grade** loves you. Even Ethan likes you. I don't know why he likes you."

(Evidently getting Ethan's approval is an accomplishment.)

So yesterday, as I lay down at the end of my day having forgotten to blog, I felt grateful to be loved. It is so very nice to be loved.

*Students name and identifying details have been changed.
**"Grade" refers to the 15 or so students in her grade at church, not the 400 or so in her grade at school (something to work towards I suppose).
elections voting america

10 things I Love about Elections

A lot of folk fought and died for this right we enjoy. Make sure you thank them by voting today!

Published initially on: Nov 10, 2012

Top 10Things I Love about Elections in the USA

  1. I can vote for whomever I choose. I can vote for the Democrat, the Republican, the Independent or the Communist. I can vote Green. I can vote Libertarian. If I lived in Alaska, I could vote for the Alaska Independence party. If I lived in New York, I could vote for the Marijuana Reform party. And wherever I am, I can write in my daddy's name if I want. I love that.
  2. I've never feared for my life when I voted.
  3. No one has ever shot at me when I went to vote.
  4. I love that I can say whatever I want about candidates. And no matter how idiotic, unfair, or uninformed my comments, no one will be dispatched to my door from the US Armed Forces.
  5. I can take underaged future voters to the polls and they can practice voting. That's just how much we value voting in this nation: there's a system to educate our children on the process. I love that.
  6. I have a choice. I can vote or not vote. Either way, it's my choice, not the government's.
  7. My candidates have won, and my candidates have lost. Laws I disagree with have passed; Laws I believe in have failed. Yet, I still have hope. Sweet.
  8. I could picket elections sites carrying "How Dare You Vote?" signs. As long as I follow laws that protect the rights of the voters, I could do that. The government will not harm me or my family because of my actions.
  9. I love that I don't always get my way. I love that, because I'm not always right. I love that my voice is not the only voice that is heard. Takes the pressure off, don't you think?
  10. And I love, I totally love, that nothing is permanent. I get to vote for my governors and presidents every four years, my senators every six, and my representatives every 24 months. Local elections happen even more often than that. So what if I lost this go around? I get another chance. And I just really, really love second chances.

America. It really is beautiful, isn't it?

Gratitude: Memories

"My, how things have changed," I said last night as Margaret ran screaming from her brother, trying to avoid his nightly effort to give her a hug (his persistence very likely tied to her resistance). She careened into her room and closed the door just in time to escape his embrace. The exchange lasted only a few seconds, but it took me back to a much earlier incidence.

Back when Margaret was a preschooler, I read some parenting book that suggested that telling children their own stories thinly veiled as fiction helped them to work out worries and concerns. I made up stories about a little girl Margaret's age named Mary, who lived in South Carolina, not North, and had an older sister and brother. Whenever Margaret would get in trouble at school, Mary did too. When Margaret experienced disappointment, so did Mary. So when Margaret's brother was about to head to kindergarten, well naturally, Mary's was too.

At that point in her life, Margaret positively adored her older brother. He was her favorite playmate, the one who tipped her overflowing giggle box time and again. The thought of him being gone all day and away from her was just about more than she could stand.

"Margaret," I told her one day at nap time, "Mary's big brother is going to kindergarten next year." Margaret was settled in my lap, sucking her two middle fingers, her beloved pink blankie draped over her shoulder, Bear-bear tucked under her arm. Upon hearing this remarkable news, she turned to me, her eyes wide.

"My brother's going to kindergarten too!" She said, acknowledging the incredible coincidence.

"He sure is. How do you suppose Mary feels about this?"

She pulled her fingers from her mouth momentarily for her one word response. "Bad."

"I bet she does, Margaret. Can you think of something that would help Mary feel better?"

Margaret was in no hurry to give her answer. She thought for a minute or so, then solemnly declared, "She should go in her room, and cwose the door, and cwy and cwy, and cwy."

Memories. May I never take them for granted.

Gratitude: A Humble Servant

fbcmarionOccasionally, I teach a Bible study class at First Baptist Church of Marion. Every time I teach this class, I am blessed by the leadership of Mr. Z. Mr. Z opens the class with announcements and prayer. It takes him maybe five minutes; impressive on its own, by the way, since many Baptists have been known to stretch this task out to fill up the entire Bible study hour.

I've been teaching there for the last three weeks and have one more Sunday to go in this study. Two weeks ago, our numbers were low--folks out of town, threat of ice and snow, and such--but this past week the class was alive with energy and enthusiasm as members welcomed each other back into the fold. Mr. Z stood behind the podium, looked around at the room full of joy, them looked over at me sitting on the front row.

"Listen to that," he told me, his expression peaceful, but radiant. "Isn't that a joyful noise. I hate to ask them to stop, it sounds so good."

The class quickly quieted, as they always do when Mr Z stands. He welcomed them, got updates on prayer concerns, and made a few class announcements.

"Well," he said, moving right along, "If there's nothing else, then, I'll open us up with prayer and turn it over to Aileen."

Mr. Z has prepared for this moment, his prayer written in longhand on a slip of paper larger than a bookmark but smaller than a legal-sized envelope. He bows his head and begins. As he prays, I feel the Spirit fill the room. His heartfelt, divinely inspired words speak to local concerns, global issues, and the church universal. It's beautiful.

But that's not all. When Mr. Z prays,his words reach into my soul, touching the tender parts of my heart, the vulnerable places that yearn for understanding, hope, and grace. When Mr. Z prays, I get to know God better. And that makes me so grateful.

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My Computer: Faster than a file cabinet and a Royal upright

imageI learned to type on my mother's Royal upright: a typewriter that doubled as a mechanical personal trainer: strength training and cardio-workouts with every use. No doubt it was one of Royal's best at the time she bought it; but when I was using it 15-20 years later, it was not what you'd call cutting edge.

Do you remember how they worked? You punched (literally) the letters on the keyboard which caused a chain reaction to occur. The key was attached to a little rod which ended with a metal letter stamp that corresponded to the letter on the key. When you punched the key, the stamp arose just as the ink ribbon did. The stamp collided with the ribbon on the paper before slapping back down into the machine to make room for the next letter's approach. If you got going too fast, the rods would crisscross and you'd have to stop and untangle them before proceeding. Now before you could do any of this, you had to load paper into the machine's carriage--a roller that moved the paper along at your keystroke pace. As you typed, the carriage would move the paper forward letter by letter. Once you reached the end of a line, you reached up and activated a lever on the roller which advanced the paper, released the tension, and allowed you to push the whole mechanism back to the beginning of the next line of text. (An activity which was, at least in my mother's advanced machine, accompanied by the sound of a bell--an encouraging little ring that I miss in the typing options of this millennium.)

It would take another whole blog post to recall for you how we corrected errors, made carbon copies, or--what a horror!--changed the tab stops. But suffice to say, that my computer is considerably more efficient. Plus it weighs a lot less, takes up less room, and the keys almost never get tangled.

So today, I'm thankful for my computer. And my ipad. Even though I don't work up a healthy sweat using them, I also don't have to replace their ribbons, so it's kind of an even exchange.

But you know what? I'm also thankful for that Royal upright. And for my mother who taught me how to use it (so what if she threatened bodily harm if I ever changed the tab stops).