Tree trimming tokens

As I unwrapped my Christmas ornaments, memories inundated my mind.  The yellow taxi cab with a Christmas tree strapped on the top of it was from a visit to my brother-in-law who lives in New York City and the delicate gold metal cutout of a ship from a visit to the same brother-in-law when he lived in Boston.  The fragile white starfish prompts scenes of our fabulous family beach vacation to Gulf Shores. 

Perhaps the most meaningful are the personal ornaments I received as gifts.  My kids created several as they were growing up and thankfully their teachers included their pictures on some of them.  Each passing year these become increasingly valuable.  

Teaching Is a Work of Heart

My profession as a teacher lends itself to receiving Christmas ornaments as gifts.  However, I don’t believe they are as popular as they used to be. My favorites are the ones with a handwritten name.  If it was on a card, I usually attach to the ornament.  Tonight, I unpacked this one: 

The back is best, though.  I had only been teaching for two and a half years when I received this.  How I wish I could time travel and reteach those students!  And yet, she said I was a great teacher.  Maybe she was told to write that, I don’t know, but I do know it has been a treasured part of my Christmas tree ever since.  

This Christmas, perhaps instead of giving things, you could give some words.  Positive words.  Kind words.  Encouraging words.  Words of gratitude and words of love.  Most of all, true words.  You don’t know how long someone will keep that card or note.  Don’t flatter or exaggerate, just honestly write.  It might be the most treasured gift you can give. 

Better watch out, better not cry

🎝 You better watch out, you better not cry! ♪

My last Christmas program in 2013, the year I decided to call it quits.

♪ Better not pout, I’m telling you why. . . 🎝

Mrs. Morgan’s coming to school!

She’s making lesson plans,

And checking them out twice;

Gonna find the right standards

To teach them oh so nice.


[CHORUS]   You better watch out,

And follow directions,

So you can earn Tiger Tickets,

For your collection. . .

Mrs. Morgan’s coming to school!


She sees you when you’re reading,

She knows when you do math,

She knows if you’ve been working, 

So you better get right on task!

She sees you in the hallway,

She knows when you walk straight,

She knows if you’re on third block,

So your line better look so great!


She’s grading papers now,

in the middle of the night.

Recording all the data,

So the growth will be dynamite!


You better watch out

And follow directions

So you can earn Tiger Tickets

For your collection

Mrs. Morgan’s coming to school!!

Never say “never”.  This was one of my first major lessons in parenting that I’ve never forgotten.  It’s a good motto for life as well.  I wasn’t sure 3 years ago if I’d ever be in the classroom again.  Yet, thankfully, here I am.  (More on that topic coming soon).

I began to write this little tune many years ago, but this year I had the pleasure of adding new lyrics and performing it at our Teacher Talent Show.  I had sung it to my students, and they weren’t too impressed.  When I sang it this afternoon, I felt like a rock star.  I had been singing to the wrong audience.

Maybe you have been singing to the wrong audience too.  I’ve been trying to really concentrate on the only audience that matters:  my audience of One.  The One.  The King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  My Savior, my Father, my Jesus.

I hope this Christmas you can sing and perform for the only One that matters.  Merry Christmas!


A Donkey’s Tail

I’m sure you’ve read the account in the Bible of Jesus’ birth, but I’m an eyewitness to the entire thing and not even mentioned!  

A friend’s donkey named “Abe”.

Today I’m setting the record straight.  I’m Joseph’s donkey.  A beast of burden is what some call me because I can handle heavy loads on my back.  My kind are known for their stubbornness, but I’d like to call it “cautious steadfastness”. We’re not easily startled and often have a calming effect on other animals.  

I’ve helped Joseph with his carpentry work for many years. Unlike horses, who are symbols of war and wealth, donkeys are the working man’s beast.  

My surefootedness on mountainous terrain made me a great companion for long journeys, like the one Joseph had to take his soon-to-be-wife, Mary, from Nazareth to Bethlehem for a census, which also fulfilled the prophecy of Micah (5:2) that said the Savior would be born in Bethlehem.  

Roughly a 90 mile journey, Joseph did not choose the direct path.  My guess is he did not want to go through Samaria and take his beloved Mary who was carrying the Christ child across dangerous territory and very hilly terrain.

Instead, Joseph led me southeast through the Jezreel Valley and further east to the Jordan Valley.  Sometimes Mary walked, other times she rode on my back.  We continued south to Jericho, then proceeded up through the Judean Desert to Jerusalem. We only traveled during the day and the sun beat down on us. It was slow travel, but my master made the journey bearable.  He and Mary talked about their uncertain future.  Just when it seemed they might be down, one of them always mentioned their certain God.  Joseph said, “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is with us. He told Jacob in Genesis 28:15, ‘Remember, I will be with you and protect you wherever you go, and I will bring  you back to this land.  I will not leave you until I have done all that I have promised you.’”   

Mary seem to ponder this in her heart and never complained.  Joseph was quick to make her ride me instead of walk onward to Bethlehem.

When we reached Bethlehem about a week later, we were all weary of moving.  There was no lodging to be found.  So, we camped out together, just as we had while traveling.  It was certainly not the ideal spot, especially when Mary began to go into labor.  

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the cries of birth, but my huge ears heard the moans of pain first.  The others in our group soon woke to wails and cries.  I did my best to calm everyone down, as my nature. It seemed to go on forever and intensified each hour.  Suddenly I heard a different type of cry, a high-pitched bawl, followed by a sweet and long lasting peace.  

At the time, I wasn’t quite sure what had just happened, but I now know that the world had been changed forever with that cry.  The Savior of the world had just been born to an unassuming couple who was obedient to the Lord.  

Joseph later appeared with the baby wrapped in cloths.  He held the child close to him while he searched for somewhere to lay him down. The manger I was using soon became a crib for the child.  I looked down at Him as my heart filled with love and admiration that I had never felt before.  

Later my heart sang and worshipped with the angels that came to proclaim, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”  


Cars, warning lights and Christmas . . . Part 2

Image (7)Last week I shared how my car’s oil light kept annoyingly beeping, warning me of impending danger and I asked for your thoughts.  As expected, many were surprised that I was still driving the car.

“They don’t call them idiot lights for nothing,” one friend wrote.

Point taken.

As I wrote that post, I was actually thinking of the holiday season.  Weird, huh?

Maybe not.   I just wondered if I can ignore the loud shrill warnings of my car, are there other warning signals that I am ignoring, especially at Christmas?

Most reasonable people would call me crazy or stupid for driving my car without getting to the bottom of the cause of the warning light.

Yet, some of those same reasonable people ignore holiday warning lights in their own lives, just as I have at times in mine.

My point is to show that the same people that wouldn’t dare drive a car on a warning light many times drive their lives past that point.  Especially during the holidays.

Stress can be your body’s warning light signalling that something isn’t quite right.  If you keep driving on the warning, you could possibly be headed for a very costly malfunction.

The American Psychological Association (APA) states, “Stress that is left unchecked or poorly managed is known to contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and suicide.”

Unfortunately our bodies don’t have a “check brain” light, but they do give out warning signs.  The following are a few listed by the APA, but you can read the entire list here.

  • Headaches, muscle tension, neck or back pain
  • Upset stomach
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite or overeating “comfort foods”
  • Increased frequency of colds
  • Memory problems or forgetfulness
  • Short temper
  • Anxiety

Have you experienced any of these during the holidays?  The demands of trying to find the perfect gift for your loved ones or perhaps the lack of money can cause these warning signs.  Maybe you’ve overbooked yourself:  parties, family get-togethers and church functions are back to back.

What’s the cure?  Much like the warning light on a car, the first thing you should do is STOP.  In other words, pull over and rest.

When you are relaxed, then decide how to simplify your holidays.

I have found a few articles that might help.  One blogger writes Three Steps to a Simplified Holiday, another article tells how to truly focus on what matters and finally, another blogger tells some practical steps to Keep It Simple Santa.

Whatever you do, remember YOU are the driver.

 The Lord replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you.” ~ Exodus 33:14 NLT


 Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.”He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.  ~ Mark 6:31 NLT


 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33 NIV


Cars, warning lights and Christmas…Part 1

photo (9)When you look at this picture what thought or thoughts immediately comes to mind?

  • STOP the car!!
  • Why is she still driving?
  • What is wrong with her car?
  • Why is she taking pictures while driving. . . and. . .at night!?!?

Any and all of those may have been your thoughts. I will try to answer some of them.

I drive the car even though the “STOP” warning light and “OIL PRESS. LOW” light beeps, sometimes several times during a normal car ride.

I have no idea what is wrong with my car.  I’ve checked my oil.  It seems to be fine.  So until it quits running, I will keep driving.

Would you mind sharing YOUR thoughts about this picture here?  I’d like to use them for Part 2.


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