"Snippet" -- a small piece or brief extract
Today was a challenging day. Schools (along with everyone on the planet) are being called on to do some fairly extraordinary things. Stress levels are high and that can bring out our base, selfish, human instincts -- the ones where we look out for ourselves -- and no one else, the ones where we take offense when none was meant, the ones where we throw everyone else under the bus for our personal benefit. There is such a need for compassion and grace -- maybe now, more than any other time in my life. And yet, we tend to gravitate to the opposite extreme in times of stress. I came home venting, eating ice cream, stressed and frustrated, put a dollop of Baileys in my afternoon coffee and came upstairs to my place of solace, and felt more at peace.
I was excited to have received a little package in the mail today -- some adhesive tabs for my writing journal. The one I'm using is almost full -- of anything and everything --for the last 4 years. There are some things I want to keep coming back to, so I wanted to mark them. As I settled into the WordSmithery with my new adhesive treasures and my writing journal, I found this poem I wrote 4 years ago as part of the Teachers Write Program with Kate Messner. It spoke to me especially today in the midst of so much chaos in my personal little world -- with talk of a Cat 4 Hurricane coming for part of our country, wildfires raging in another part, yet another part that was devastated by storms over the last few days -- with racial turmoil and upheaval high, with Covid/Corona wreaking havoc on everyone's heart. . . . it spoke to me. Then I spoke it aloud. Now I "speak" it here -- hoping it will speak to you and you will speak it in your heart or aloud, that you will share it and others will speak it and we will change the turmoil into peace by being "only one" . . .
I am Only One
I am only one, but I am one.
Father, help me be one --
That smiles at the one who needs a smile.
Help me be one who lends a listening ear.
Help me be one who reaches out with a hand of help -- not condemnation.
Help me be one who shines with the light of Jesus --
One who shares His vision,
One who shares His love for each soul,
One who speaks truth with love and compassion,
One who is willing to STAND!
Stand with those who are alone.
Stand for those who are marginalized.
Stand beside those who are hurting.
Stand firm in truth and justice.
Stand up to those who would take rather than give.
Stand up to those who glean pleasure from another's pain.
Stand up to those who base their judgements on a person's skin color --
or their profession.
Stand up to those who divide.
Stand up to those who choose evil.
Father, I am only one, but help me be the ONE
That can make a difference today.
Note: This was my entry for last year's NCRA Young Author Project in the "Forever Young" category. The theme was, "The Power of Words" My entry, and others from across the state have been published in an anthology attesting to the power of words.
I am a logophile -- a lover of words. My favorite games are Scrabble and Boggle and Scattergories. I love the song “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” -- (and no, I didn’t even have to look up how to spell it). . . . it resonates with me...having a word that is just right when you don’t know what to say. Words have power. Some have power when they roll off the tongue -- you feel it to the core of your being when you say, “superfluous” or “meticulous” or “serendipity” or “paradoxical” or “zephyr”-- the power of words well-spoken -- just right for the occasion. Some words have power in the meaning -- they are deep and life-changing: love, betrayal, acceptance, loyalty, and trust. The power of some words come from the speaker and their abilities, their charm, their magnetism -- for good -- or for bad. When Hitler spoke -- or Martin Luther King Jr -- people listened to their words -- and there was power in them -- power in words well-crafted, framed and embellished by a powerful speaker, lilted, tilted, and crescendoed at just the right time in just the right way -- eloquence. Poets and authors -- gifted with mellifluous words that drip off the tongue like so much honey -- have long since and will forever more draw us to anger or tears or fear or love -- just by their words. A word, spoken in anger and frustration can ruin a friendship. Another word can just as easily build one. Words are the DNA of life -- the building blocks of careers and relationships and stories, passed down from one generation to the next -- the genes of literacy.
Even God used words to create something from nothing -- “Let there be light.” -- and there was light. Such power flows from tongue and lips and teeth. Such power resonates from heart and head. With great power comes great responsibility. That is why the scriptures say to guard our heart -- because everything flows from it. That is why the psalmist says, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” I don’t know of any greater prayer. It has been weighing heavy on my heart -- to make my words count -- to make them encouraging and positive. If, indeed, the Creator shared his gift of words with me, the least I can do is to use them in ways that will make Him smile and make a difference for good in this world, because words have the power to do just that!
This photo was taken when our house was still in the city limits, being used as a real estate office... major highway out front, gas stations, drug stores, fast food and a Chinese restaurant surrounded her here. In fact, a Wendy’s fast food restaurant now occupies this lot.
Last week I shared a bit about our old house. When I set out to write last week's blog, I had originally intended to write about our experience relative to one of my favorite picture books, THE LITTLE HOUSE by Virginia Lee Burton. It wasn't always a favorite book. I only encountered this one as an adult. It has always been one of my husband's favorites, though. Now it is very special to both of us because of our experience with our own "little house".
Like both of the houses in question, the book is a classic and nothing new. . . The copyright is 1942. If you'd like the read the biography of author, Virginia Lee Burton, here is a link to an excellent brief bio from an educational publisher. She was an amazing woman who was good at so many things. http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/features/mike_mulligan/biohome.shtml
The book begins, "Once upon a time there was a Little House way out in the country. She was a pretty Little House and she was strong and well built." The same is true for our little house. When she was originally built in 1882, my hometown was still developing. We had a courthouse near our little house, so she would have been part of a small town of the times. She was a Victorian farmhouse, built for a family.
In the book, the city begins increasing and encroaching on the little house, and the same happened to our little house as the population and the town grew up around her. Pretty soon, she is surrounded by buildings that blot out the sun, and she missed her country life of bygone days. Our own little house was surrounded by traffic and buildings as well as she sat in one of the main thoroughfares of our still-small-but-not-as-small-as-she-used-to-be town .. . .
Then the book reaches a major turning point, "Then one fine morning in Spring along came the great-great-granddaughter of the man who built the Little House so well. She saw the shabby Little House, but she didn't hurry by. There was something about the Little House that made her stop and look again." When we found OUR little house, she was serving as a real estate office, and in fact, had so served throughout my years in high school. Although I had been inside maybe once or twice, I think, that day after it was placed "for sale to be moved", just like the great-great-granddaughter, I saw something in the house that was special.
Then, in The Little House, the granddaughter and her husband inquire of the Movers if she could be moved. They said, "Sure, this house is as good as ever. She's built so well we could move her anywhere." And the same was true for our little house as well. So both houses were jacked up and put on wheels. In the book, the Little House moves hours away. In our case, it was only about 8 miles, but it was still quite the adventure!
The book ends with her re-establishing herself in the country, getting a facelift and enjoying her new quiet, peaceful life in the country. She is painted a "lovely shade of pink." We chose lavender instead :-) And while it's been long in coming, and there is still much work to do for our little house to be everything she can be, I hope, like the Little House, she is smiling happily, watching the seasons come and go, being lived in and taken care of.
If you don't know this book, you are missing out on a classic. Yet, no matter how old the book or the house are, they still have an intrinsic value that in unparalleled and I am thankful to have the book -- and the house -- as a part of my life.
You can listen to a read aloud of the book here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7D-UnakYw7A
OR, you can
Purchase the book from your favorite independent bookstore, or here: https://www.amazon.com/Little-House-75th-Anniversary/dp/132874194X/ref=asc_df_132874194X/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312680791333&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=12870730653959576604&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9010090&hvtargid=pla-527476992433&psc=1&tag=&ref=&adgrpid=62255331975&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvadid=312680791333&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=12870730653959576604&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9010090&hvtargid=pla-527476992433
This was when they situated our house onto the lot on the farm. By this point, the roof had been restored, foundation was complete and we had pressure washed/scraped and were just getting ready to start painting. You can see a bit of the lavender on the upstairs dormer.
I've been a teacher of K-3 students for over 20 years; I'm also a writer of poems, short stories, devotionals and picture books. I'm wife to an amazing husband and mom to Sparkles, Mocha, and Rusty -- our feline fur babies . I love reading, writing, singing and listening to music. I enjoy nature, Bible study and spending time with friends and family!
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