Saturday, July 4, 2015

Praise Report on the Fourth of July: Family + Friends!


This has been an amazing week! 
Filled with milestones and blessings galore! 

I am so grateful to be keeping track of all of the goodness that is in our life. 

Yup. That's "Mr. Debbie" up above. He truly is the eternal optimist. This week we had the chance to start the week amid friends and family and we conclude it on the exact same channel. 

At the top of my list, and especially on the Fourth of July, I think of my dear hubs and all he has done for so many. We are pictured above last Sunday at our 'grand-niece' high school graduation slash family reunion. Allen doesn't think a thing of driving for 12 hours to attend such a significant event. Get in the car and go! He adores being surrounded by family. Me too! So great to reflect on what's important in life. 

Every national holiday, as I see the stars and stripes being displayed with pride I stop to appreciate his service of active duty aboard the USS John F Kennedy air craft carrier. Earlier this afternoon WonderBoy was reading to me from his book of individuals who serve, protect and defend. He found the picture of the air craft carrier and then went on to tell me about Grand-Dad's job. LUV that he is aware of the sacrifice made decades ago. Fills me with pride. 

You can read my previous thoughts about the Fourth of July here, under an earlier article entitled, "Freedom isn't Free." I have had a VERY long-standing appreciation of those who serve.



Last Sunday, at the driving midway point, we stopped to have breakfast with one of my friends from elementary school. We went to Bible School together. We sang songs of faith. We were both in Girl Scouts too! All of those early faith and character building groups. You might have heard us shrieking. You probably heard us talking at 87 MPH as we strolled the parking lot, trying to catch up on the last forty-two years of life. Thank goodness that the service was slow at this unnamed breakfast haunt in the midwest. We got in a solid hour before the eggs arrived. So awesome to visit the way back machine. Mom and dad: would you have recognized Jayne? {We were nearly neighbors!} HALLELUJAH! HUGS! 

We no sooner got to WonderPeep central, than we loaded everyone in the car for the first summer three generation #roadtrip of 2015! Destination: 
MAMMOTH CAVE! 
We had done our research and had reservations for tours and hikes. EXCITEMENT running high! A six hour drive can have quite a few sung renditions of, "I'm going to Kentucky, I'm going to the fair, to see a senorita with flowers in her hair!" 

No doubt this was some sort of penance for songs of yore. 
Having the GPS announce the arrival time, takes the edge off of the proverbial, "Are we there yet?" How fortunate to spend quality time together. 


Here we are for a planning cuddle the evening before the BIG adventure! 
How did we get along before Google searches? 

For two boys that LIVE for the Minecraft adventure, 
the thought of going underground in REAL life
delayed sleep in the manner of Christmas Eve. 
Did I mention that they were excited? 


I think one of my favorite things about being a grandparent is being able to follow through on promises and see the unbridled joy errupt -- when the promise comes to fruition. We've been talking about this trip for AGES! We've been looking online and talking through the details. We are true to our word. 
That means so much to them at this age. 
#PromiseKept! #BOOM! 


Our next day has memories just as amazing. 
Cloudy skies couldn't keep us from the fun. 
BUMPER BOATS? 
Since we were the only ones at the Fun Park, the peeps got an unusually generous amount of time to laugh their heads of!
AND SOAK EACH OTHER! 
Hearing them laugh so spontaneously is my fave memory. 

 


        

There were so many victories! 
Rock walls scaled! 
Chair lifts ridden over mountain sides!  
Backwards flips on the serious trampoline!

That would have been enough for one day......... but no. 
THE BIGGIE WAS SAVED FOR THE AFTERNOON! 

Yes. That's me bringing up the rear: wearing my helmet at the customary angle.

This adventure was like watching fledglings leave the nest.
They started as wee ones. They returned victors.
So much can happen in an hour. 

And ALL of that would have been plenty to have in a week. 

BUT NO! 
This would also be the week of our first anniversary of the Twitter chat I envisioned and launched. 
WE TRENDED! 
We were able to gather up very nearly $5000 worth of teacher gifts to give away in an hour. 
That gets people's attention. 
We had over 3000 tweets-in-an-hour! 
Our hashtag was second only to Women's Soccer. 

If I told you the DOZENS of hours I spend every week on #TeacherFriends you'd probably come to the conclusion that I had some ulterior motive or was just a tad bit eccentric. 
No. In one year, I have not made the first penny. 

What I have done is seen hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of teachers take a risk, jump into a new social media format and improve their professional skills. 
That my friends is worth it in the end.

We gather every Tuesday night. 
Here is our outline for the coming month. 


Yes. Those are some pretty heavy hitters in the educational world. 
It is a thrill to rub elbows with such contributors. 
My vision wasn't LARGE enough to have guessed what would unfold in a year!
I couldn't do this on my own. 
I have three fellow hostess' that help me keep the whole thing running like clockwork: Kim, Maggie and Kristen are each such a class act and ALSO willing to go above and beyond to improve classrooms around the country and well beyond our borders, too!  

Our little 'austerity-plan hotel' didn't have adequate internet to keep up with all of the awesomeness of our tweeting. So it was very fortunate that McDonalds had both a plug, a soft chair and wireless to share! Memorable. Memorable. Memorable!  


 There's sooooooooo much more! 
I hope to get back here to add some scripture reminders. 

~~ Debbie ~~

Monday, June 29, 2015

#TeacherFriends First Anniversary CELEBRATION + Prize Palooza!


PARTY! CELEBRATION! PARTY! CELEBRATION! PARTY! 
Milestones provide a moment to reflect on all of the growth and development that have come before as well as provide an opportunity to celebrate all the potential on the horizon. We have reached the first anniversary of our "Practice Chat" on Twitter! Who'd a thunk it? Time for a par-tay. 






A year ago, I was convinced that teachers would benefit from a supportive, warm/fuzzy hashtag that would encourage 'newbies' {we used to call them Twitter-Virgins} to tiptoe into the cybersphere for professional development and support. Shazam! I had no idea. I thought we'd gather for an hour. Once. 

Those first couple dozen participants had such fun that they begged me to moderate a week later. So there were two very informal chats in a row where I moderated with soft lobbed tweets and TCV's {Twitter Chat Virgins} learned to include our hashtag in each response. Bazinga. Game on! Support and motivation!!!

From that VERY first week I had the behind-the-scenes support of Maggie at "Maggie's Kinder Corner" and Kristen of "Kristen's Kindergarten" acting as hostess helpers. From the very beginning Kim Vij of "Educators Spin on It" jumped in with her insight and experience at Storify, to archive our time together! For fifty-two weeks we have collaborated. For fifty-two weeks we have worked together: YEAH TEAM! Hat tip! Hat tip! Hat tip! 




Almost immediately I realized that we couldn't just 'tweet amongst ourselves' and keep the chat vital and healthy. LIGHTBULB moment! Have a guest take the spotlight! 

#TeacherFriend factoid. Our first guest was Barbara Greuner sharing the excitement of her newly released book on Character Development. She was a hit! The concept was a winner! We've had FIFTY guests since then! Dignitaries and peers! Bloggers and celebrities! Available at a click! 


Tomorrow night, the speed is likely to be something similar to lightening. 
Just sayin'...... 
So I thought it would help you keep up with things 
if you knew the questions ahead of time. 
Think of this as an "open-book-chat." 

The only thing you have to remember is to use our hashtag: 

#TeacherFriends 
in every tweet.... so that we can see you!


There are soooooooo many prizes this week! 

Every week we have a Google Doc that is tweeted live beginning at 8:30. 

You need to go TO the Google Doc and enter your contact info. 
YOU ONLY NEED TO ENTER ONCE TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR ALL PRIZES! 






















NOW FOR SOME TECHNOLOGY! 






There are still more prizes!!!! 

I will keep uploading them all night long! 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Praise Report! Plans to Prosper you and Give you Hope!


My heart is always full as I begin to reflect on all that has happened in the previous week. This week is no exception. My heart is indeed very full. So much happens in a week. Or a month. 

We drove north on May 27th, arriving in Sister Bay just in time to be greeted by all of our growth and blooms. We expected to live in our northern haven until mid-October, before returning on our southern snowbird jaunt to palm trees and ocean spray. 


INSTEAD. Exactly a month later, today on June 27th we drove out, headed south, away from our little haven for the last time. Our heads and hearts are still spinning. 

A lot can  happen in a month. 
We sold our haven. 
Unbeknownst to us, it had been admired.

The power of prayer in tangible. 
We had asked for your prayers of support. 
Little did we know how we would prosper as a result. 
How our prayers would be answered. 

In case you missed it. 
We sold our place without it ever being on the market: 
At a time when two of our neighbors have had their condos on the market for over two years. 



11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 

Hope and a future! I'll take that!


Needless to say, driving away today was bittersweet. 
All of those incredible memories: sunsets, daisies, corn-on-the-cob, quilts, cherries, concerts, festivals and fireworks are stored happily in my heart and here, too. At this minute, we are in the car headed to IN, then OH and on to KY over the coming week... and ultimately, after the holiday Fourth, we will return to our beloved peninsula.... only this time we will be 'visiting' as renters. I'm willing to bet that the cherries will be sweet, as will the festivals.

Here's the first image as we started south. 
Ephraim. 


After so much rain, the sun appeared to tease us, 
 but offered a happy temptation to return.

When people look at us cross-eyed? 
I have a four word response: 
"It's a God-thing."

The verse from Jeremiah rings with absolute truth. 
HOPE and a FUTURE!  


“Let us not become weary in doing good, 
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9)

So this month has been all about taking action! 
Boxing up our worldly belongings. 
Cleaning the place up. 
Being grateful. 

On to other news in this grateful week! 
 Everyone's had a-maz-ing news! 

I started this whole use-the-blog for transparency between faith and life, as a result of our oldest daughter's sudden plunge into the world of divorce and a custody battle. 
Pray on faithful people. Pray on. 

Sad to say, a very public attack is taking place on FB of all places.
As I type! 
Many people pouring oil on a fire. 
I will stick with the Bible at a sad time such as this.
I'll spare you the details, after all it is public. 
Such true sadness. Divisiveness. Sorrow.  

"Vengeance is mine says the Lord." ~~ Romans 12:19

"For it is indeed just of God to repay with affliction those who afflict you and to give relief to the afflicted." ~~ 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7

"Thus I will punish the world for its evil, 
And the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud, And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless."
~~ Isaiah 13:11

"Assuredly, the evil man will not go unpunished, 
But the descendants of the righteous will be delivered." ~~ Proverbs 11:21

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And on a THRILLING CONCLUSION! 



Sarah received INCREDIBLE news this week! 
She has been slated as a speaker at the national Younique convention! 
She started in November and is speaking in AUGUST!
"Like a duck to water." 

{{{Yes, mom, she has a streak of purple in her hair.}}}

She has been able to keep her head up! 
She has been able to find income and promise! 
She has found support and encouragement.
She is building a business!  

#MoreThanMascara INDEED! 

I LUV getting off the phone with such exciting news. 

Our second born-brown eyed wonder, just called with her own amazing news! 
She is playing at the Kennedy Center tonight! 
WITH THE NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA! 

I am so proud of my daughters.
They are each independent contractors. 
Each building their own business. 
Each making their way in the world.  

They make decisions daily that a mother can be proud to share! 


Can you find Noelle? We got to be in attendance at the Kennedy Center the weekend above, when she received her doctoral degree!!! It is such a thrill to have children who are capable and apply their abilities to improve the lives of others. 

---------------------------------------------------

Truth be told. Challenges are still very much part of the story. 
I work daily at forgiveness in the face of the unthinkable. 

This week I saw that Depak Chopra is sponsoring a national day of meditating on the topic of compassion. I will be working personally on this topic for the rest of the summer. 

COMPASSION. FORGIVENESS. COMPASSION.  

This verse seems a fitting conclusion tonight: 

Matthew 5:44 - But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you.

A friend just sent me this passage: 

Exodus 14: 13 + 14

  Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day.  Genesis 50:20.  

We have had discord since the beginning of time. It is good that I have friends who can share their favorite passages with me, as I am no Biblical scholar. Finding these passages at this exact juncture tonight are a demonstration of God's love and making the evil work unto good. YEAH GOD! 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

One of the developments of the last year for me professionally is to have launched a Twitter Chat that has been a wild and crazy success! We are approaching our first anniversary. FIFTY TWO chats on making schools better places for teachers and students. 

There will be amazing prizes this week. 


I couldn't do it without the support and encouragement of my three fellow hostess' and all of their dedication and commitment. Cream always rises to the top. This is just another example of hard work and dedication making a daily difference in the lives of others. 

We have had amazing individuals contribute their time and expertise in the pursuit of excellence. I am so happy to have my name associated with these incredible educators! 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

#TeacherFriends Twitter Chat on Brain-Based Teaching with Dr. Ellen Weber


TUESDAY TUESDAY TUESDAY! 

You've got it! TWITTER CHAT with your............. 

#TeacherFriends! 

Where else can you have professional development in your pajamas, with your favorite beverage of choice? Twitter is THE place to be to have a 24 hour hotline to your peers and the brain-trust of professionals that inspire us all! 

TONIGHT is the final chat in this our first, inaugural year of the practice-chat that tries hard, dare I say harder? We have blossomed into something truly incredible. Little did I realize a year ago, what would happen in response to my wanting to bring a few of my teacher friends into a larger world and PLN. 

Tonight is an INCREDIBLE opportunity to chat first hand with Dr. Ellen Weber, on brain based teaching. Her passion will shine through every one of her tweets. I know it! I've been talking to her about her motivation. 


That is the outline for the hour long chat!
Now: we're like an OPEN BOOK TEST!  
We have a total of five questions for the share-and-tell session. 

Participants LUV when you have visuals to share. 
Twitter by nature is rather text heavy. 

Having visuals breathes life into the chat! 


Come and ask your questions. 
Come and share your insight. 
Come and learn how to use Twitter!
Come and lurk. 


As always. We will start at 9:00 PM EST for the formal chat. 
We will begin gathering at 8:30 for the EarlyBird warm-up of the evening, where true newbies are welcome to tip-toe into the Twitter waters and learn the ropes. 

As always. 
There will be prizes!!! 
What better way to motivate educators? 


BTW! NEXT WEEK is our FIRST BIRTHDAY PARTY! 
When I say there will be prizes, I KID YOU NOT! 

OODLES of SERIOUS prizes next week on June 30th.
Just sayin'...... you might want to set an alarm for every Tuesday this summer. 
We have surprises up our sleeve! 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Praise Report! Father's Day: Families, Fragility and Faith

Families. Fathers. Faith. Foundation. Fundamentals. 




Writing on Father's Day in 2015 about fathers and fathering is fraught with an immense array of emotions for me -- the mixture of which I wouldn't wish on anyone. I stare at the screen blankly as to where to begin. Or how. How candid. How honest. How real. #TooReal. What to share? How. Father's Day 2015. Indeed.

I've worked hard to develop a happy polka-dotted persona that brings smiles and enthusiasm to children in the classroom. A very thin veneer covers my own brokenness, but perhaps candor will benefit one reader. So I'm going to plunge in.... and dig just a little deeper. 


Shown in Old Red with Cream lettering

I bet you've seen the plaques and tshirts. The admonition: "Remember as far as everyone else is concerned, we are a nice normal family." Or even more to the point: "We put the fun in dysfunction." Norman Rockwell? Yes. No. Partly so? What if we peel back a layer of the onion in the hopes of being supportive of those in their own quagmire.   


Shown in Old Yellow with Black lettering 

Father's Day. For me? This day brings the double edged sword of the deepest gratitude possible cobbled together with utmost sorrow and despair. How candidly do I share on such a personal level? With the entire known cyberverse? Plunging in. Let's start with the deepest of gratitude. Foundation. Beginnings. 


On a cellular level, before my actual memories begin there is evidence of the great depth of my father's love for me. There exists documentation of every child's dreams: time and attention from superman. My daddy played horsie with me. See. Look at his smile. Photographic evidence for all time. My daddy took us to the beach. See. My daddy was there for me. As the number two child in the mix I'm sure I was trying harder at that point, but as the first princess I know I had his undivided adoration.

My dad took us fishing on grandpa's farm. My dad took us camping. My dad sent us out to scour twigs and tinder and he lit the campfire and we sang songs and we roasted marshmallows and we worked together to pump the water for our canteens. Remember the word canteen? We had a canteen! Dad's filling the canteen from our effort. We went camping. My dad built a car-top carrier to haul the tent and the sleeping bags and the mess kit. Remember mess kits? I do. These photos may be in black and white, but my dad was there for me in real color. For us. There were adventures and road trips. There are memories as a result and I am grateful. 


Thank you dad. Thank you for being there from day to day and year to year and decade to decade. Thank you for reading to us. Thank you for taking us out into the wide world with a map that folds and the determination that we would find our way there. Thank you for the example that when we were lost we could find our way back to being found. Thank you for attending my awful elementary school beginning band concerts. Thank you for all of that encouraging and supporting and being there and your insistence on my doing my best. Thank you for insisting that I practice. That I work through challenges. That I edit. That I stick with things when they were hard. That I enter the science fair. That I try out for the school play. {Remember that time when the mice ate my paper mache solar system constellations model? You were certain there was time to patch it back together. You were right.} That was good training. 


Dad. Thank you for holding me up in prayer when my world fell apart. To utter ruins. Thank you that when I thought I had embarrassed you the most, in the midst of my marriage vows disintegrating, you stood there in your finest fathering hour and held me up. Literally. You provided for me again. Literally: in my adult-hood when all that I knew fell to ruins you extended your support. Your checkbook. And you prayed. And I knew it. You believed in me when I had lost all my bearings. I didn't know that I was capable of finding my way back from being so very, very lost, but your believing in me somehow made it happen. Your belief was the beacon out of the darkness.

"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Romans 5:2-5

There was that chapter when all that I knew and believed in about my marriage and the father of my children came crumbling down around me. That chapter when the organized church utterly failed me. I learned up close and personal about politics in the church and I was dismayed as I experienced betrayal and deceit. Starring in my own reality show. The world's tectonic plates shifted below my feet. All that I held dear proved to be a sham. Yet, dad. Somehow your quiet example led me out of that utter darkness creeping toward a new chapter. Faith in the midst of reality. My Heavenly Father and my daddy were ALWAYS there for me.

31 If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

My paper mache solar system could be patched. Not perfect. Pieced back together.

So it was that I entered into that chapter as a single parent. That chapter of swapping my beloved daughters on alternate weekends. That utter despair portion of contemplating Father's Day is very real for me. The driving away in an empty car to spend the weekend on my own. All of those tears. Mine. The girls. Attempting to pretend that all would work out when all was so very very fundamentally wrong. So public the horror of it all. To be the source of gossip of so many of the congregational members. Pastor's wife no more. Across the street from the seminary: of all the settings on this Earth. This would all unravel on Main Street? #TooReal. Strife. Attempting to parent in the face of every broken promise possible. Supporting our three mouths on my preschool salary. Ramen Noodles. Tears. Incredulity as more and more details surfaced. Prayers. Prayers. Prayers. We put the fun in dysfunctional. Indeed. That is a New York Times Bestseller's worth of dysfunctionality.

I was determined that the three of us would have memories of our own. So I was the one to take the tent in the division of worldly goods. I would be the one to take us camping. To pitch the tent complete with the hamster cage and to unfold the map that took us to Mammoth Cave. Fitting destination. GAPING HOLE IN THE GROUND. I knew a little about determination. I knew a little about perseverance. I had been trained. Life went on. 

"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."  Romans 8:18

Enter Allen. A new chapter. A man capable of planning. A father-figure that could design and build and teach those little girls things.  He took them to the slopes. He coached their teams. He built an ICE SKATING RINK IN THE BACK YARD!!!! It had never once occurred to me that you could have an ice skating rink in your back yard.


He is not their father by biology. He is and has been their father in reality. Day by day. Year after year. Decade to decade. He was there at every one of those milestones. He attended that band concert. Allen bought that first oboe. He is the one that witnessed the handing of her doctoral degree. He is the one that paid for cheerleading camp and all the pompoms, the hair bows, the shoes and the calculator. He is the one that paid for braces and wisdom teeth, too. For prom dresses. For adventures. To that fact I will always be as grateful as gratitude is possible. To know that a man that is NOT 'related' to your children, can step up and step in and love them over decades of time? That is a gift from heaven. And so on Father's Day I think of his contribution to my children. The tears are genuine. 


It is good to remind myself in the year of 2015 that goodness triumphs over evil. It is good on Father's Day to search through photos for the concrete evidence of how love prevails, even over the darkest of the darkness. 

We are a broken family. Make no bones about it. Father's Day was fractured way back in the nineties for me. The father-of-my-children went off the rails. Father's Day. It has been pieced together over the years, but it always a day that entails broken promises.

Fast forward. 2015. Our three WonderPeeps are the subject of a custody battle. Today. Father's Day. BROKEN PROMISES. In more than one generation. Sorrow. How do you answer a six year old that asks what custody means? 

This year Father's Day conjures every emotion possible. EVERY emotion. 

Yet we have promises. 

23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23



"Vengeance is mine says the Lord." ~~ Romans 12:19

"For it is indeed just of God to repay with affliction those who afflict you and to give relief to the afflicted." ~~ 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7

"Thus I will punish the world for its evil, 
And the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud, And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless."
~~ Isaiah 13:11

"Assuredly, the evil man will not go unpunished, 
But the descendants of the righteous will be delivered." ~~ Proverbs 11:21



So now our daughter is working to keep body and soul together and provide for her children. We are the ones to stand behind her. Offering support and encouragement. In real and intangible ways. 

When we say that she owes her sanity to the Younique cosmetics company, we do not exaggerate. We are grateful that she has the opportunity to use her unique skill set to the benefit of their day-to-day expenses. The hashtag #MoreThanMascara resonates at a very deep level. The child enjoyed playing beauty shop, since she could hold a brush. 



The two of us have an unusual camaraderie this season. She takes the photos and I put them together for her. Her team is growing and on down the line in a decade or two she will be able to look back and tell her own story. "Her mess will become her message." In the very real, genuine day-to-day? It is important to share the products and the opportunity and pay the bills. 




She's good at this. She has to be. She's motivated. She has bills to pay. 
#MoreThanMascara = Pay the bills.  

So that is the tip-of-the-ice-berg for this week's Praise Report.
Father's Day. Complicated.  
In real time. We are surrounded by empty boxes. 
This is our last Sunday in our sweet haven-home for the last 10 summer seasons. 


Did you hear? We sold our home. The one that is NOT on the market!
If you missed last week's praise report. It was a hum-dinger. 

I know I lead a pretty amazing life. 
Prayers really do get answered. 
All I can say? 
"It's a God-Thing."

Our efforts over at WobbleSeat.com continue to see increasing interest. 


Every week has blessings and promises. 
I am so very fortunate to have my father at the helm. 
Through the unbelievable and the unimaginable, 
he has held true and for this I am eternally grateful. 

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!
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