Tuesday, September 22, 2009

First Day of School

I looked across the classroom into a sea of faces. The first day of another school year; my first year back after a year's hiatus, had me treading water with four never-before-taught upper grade classes in three never-before-taught grades.
As we began our lesson I asked the students to pull out their notepaper. One student blankly stared back at me; no paper in sight.

"Do you have your paper?" I asked.

"Yes." he said.

Still no paper emerged.

"Do you have it with you in this class?"

He shook his head no.

"Why didn't you bring it with you?"

"I actually didn't think we would do any work today."

Silence followed. After all, what should one say to that?
Thankfully, for both of our sakes, I did not say what I was thinking.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Happy Sweet 16!

We put together photos of the birthday girl to share with everyone.

A Birthday Blessing

Happy birthday to my first born child.

It is almost impossible to believe we are here,

celebrating your sixteen years

and yet it is equally as difficult to think of our lives before you.

What a joy you have been to us.

You've grown so lovely

and I catch myself


little hands and funny moments;

"just one more book mommy,"

and I stop and breathe deeply.

You are the best of Dad and me.

We are so proud of you; the lady you have become.

You are our treasure.

We would love you even if you weren't exceptional;

But you are - you are so exceptional.

You are not afraid of hard work;

It will serve you well.

You know how to weather adversity,

it will serve you even better.

You know who to go to

when the winds blow hard.

And they will blow.

But you already know this.

You have learned to see what faith has promised

and to trust,

not with eyes,

but with soul and to believe.

You are careful with your friendships;

A true and faithful friend.

In 16 years I have never heard you speak unkindly of a friend, or a teacher.

Not even once.

You do the right thing even when it costs you.

And in many cases it has cost you,

but you do it,

because it is the right thing.

Hailey, we celebrate you on this special day;

the day of your birth.

You have blessed our lives.

We love you and we are exceedingly grateful to our Lord, Jesus Christ,

who called you out as

His own,

And gave the gift of you

to us.

May you continue to grow in the knowledge

of the One

who knows the number of the very hairs on your head.

May you be a perpetual blessing;

a living gospel to all.

Happy birthday our darling daughter,

in whom we are well pleased.

We threw a surprise sweet 16 birthday party for Hailey. Here she is arriving at the house with her good friend, Charis and realizing that something is up.

Here are our wonderful guests. We tried to keep things fairly small - about 35 people. Those who came were people who have ministered to Hailey and had an impact in her life in some tangible way. Of course, some were not able to be there - separated by distance, but their impact in her life is felt nonetheless.

After cake, we had a time of blessing, funny stories, and well-wishes for the birthday girl.
O'Connor Griffith and Jordan Ghiglia (seated) share a funny story memory.Charis Bolander wishes Hailey happy birthday and speaks blessing into her life.

One of Hailey's teachers - Alex Trochez, encourages Hailey and shares how she has blessed others.
Corey McEachran, Hailey's 6th grade teacher, shares funny moments.Eric Devries, Hailey's former teacher and principal, also blesses Hailey with his words.
One of the sweetest moments of the evening came from Gill Walsh, family friend, who said if he had a daughter he would want her to be like Hailey.

What a wonderful evening, full of love and laughter - and yes, some tears from mom and dad too. What a blessed people are the children of the living God. We celebrate with intention and the ones we love gathered around to rain down blessings into the life of our girl.

Happy birthday my sweet girl!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

San Juan Island Adventure

One last glorious summer trip to hang on to during the months of sweaters and all things downy, turned out to be one of our highlights of the season. Three families planned together for a San Juan Island tour. We packed bikes, coolers, cold weather, hot weather, and rainy weather clothing, all jammed into suitcases way too small.

Our kids were excited.

The grownups were excited.
(Scott Griffith, My sweet hubby - Jim, and Brian Bowe)
(Our fearless leaders)

We found a perfect place, large enough to fit all of us with a beautiful park-like outdoor setting to boot.

Our bike adventure began in the early morning hours on a ferry headed for Lopez Island - and the great unknown.

(Here I am in the blue shirt with my good friend, Tonya as I get ready to do some biking.)

Now, I feel it only fair to tell you all that I am not a biker. Worse than that, I am a shirker of a non-biker. I had every intention of biking this summer, but did I get my bike legs ready for the long awaited trip? Nope! I lived in utter and complete denial of the impending bike trip. Actually, I should say I looked forward to the trip - it was just the actual biking part that I disregarded. I have thought back over this. What was I really thinking? I am a fairly planned person, but when it came to this trip and doing something I really didn't want to do - like get in shape for a difficult bike trip - I wimped out. I guess I figured I would just do my best and that might get me through. Well, unfortunately for me, it just didn't work that way.
(Thankfully, others also had to walk their bikes up a few hills).

I rode my bike for a short way and then encountered the mother of all hills. I absolutely could not get up that stinking hill. I not only had to push my bike up the hill, I had to sit down on the side of a busy highway because I thought I would throw up. Not my greatest moment.

At one point, while my head was on my lap as I sat on the side of the road, I think I spotted a pregnant woman who biked past me, pulling her toddler in a trailer behind her.

Small children were biking circles around me.

I decided I did not want to go out like that. After the nausea subsided, I had my husband, who was driving the truck, drop me off - away from my biking group - I didn't need any more humiliation, thank you - and I was determined to end on a high note. While I never made it around the island, or even anywhere close to that, I did get back up on my horse (bike) and tackled another hill or two; not as big as the one that took me out, but still a stretch for me. I will never forget cresting one of the hills and feeling the wind and the thrill of just sailing down the road - it was wonderful -

the downhill part.

Now I know there is a deep spiritual lesson here - but I am quite sure you can make the connection yourself, so I will not belabor the point. Let's just say there should be no doubt that God has a sense of humor and believes in the laws of natural consequences. If we look carefully enough at the day to day situations we encounter we can make spiritual connections that are abundantly clear and full of meaning. After all, daily living is spiritual - so the connections are an outflow of our lives.

'Nuff said.

I happily drove the "sag wagon" the rest of the day!

Despite the difficulty I had with the actual biking portion of the bike trip, it was one of the highlights of our summer.
(Here is our group at the end of the 35 mile Tour de Lopez loop!)

We enjoyed exploring the islands, hitting some estate sales, and browsing the local bookstores. Our boys tried their hand at crabbing. They were able to catch a few that we brought home and cooked. Here they are with a starfish they found.

We played badmitton, croquet, and horseshoes. And my favorite - speed scrabble (bananagrams).

We took a trip to Mt. Constitution and the weather was spectacular. We could see for miles.
(Tonya Griffith and Sara Bowe - from the top of Mt. Constitution)

The trip made me thankful for dear friends who were willing to carve time out of their busy schedules to drink in life; together. We played hard and made memories that will last a lifetime.

This is the good stuff.