"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

29 December 2010

Slowing Down in Spirit

When I threw out my back several weeks ago, both my chiropractor and Nich gently reminded me that I needed to listen to my body and allow myself to be okay with not accomplishing as many things in a day as I was accustomed to doing.

That was a hard lesson for me, to realize that by trying to be "efficient" and "productive," I could actually contribute to harming myself and/or the baby. And I think I only partially learned the lesson -- to slow down physically -- and didn't fully embrace slowing down in spirit.

Currently, one of the nicest aspects of life for me is sleeping in until I am woken up by my husband's kisses in the still-dark of the early morning as he heads off to work. (I used to wake up and get out of bed when he did, even on days when I wasn't subbing, so that I would feel "useful." Now, I try to go back to sleep until he wakes me up to say goodbye for the day. I love our brief but sweet talk and then watching out the window to wave to him as he drives off to work. And now that it's not pitch-dark anymore when he leaves, I enjoy the few quiet moments afterward in the rosy-orange of the dawn.

I've been missing seeing most of this as a blessing until now, because I've felt I needed to do-do-do at the same pace I always have, especially when I've had no subbing job for the day. I was raised on the principle of works-oriented accomplishment, and I learned my lesson well. But I'm beginning to realize that perhaps the best way to grow this life inside me is not exactly the same as the way I tackle most of the rest of my life. "Full steam ahead" probably isn't necessary -- or good. Now that I have decided to stay home for the last month of this pregnancy, I'm learning to cherish the moments given to me.

Looking out the window today, I watched as hundreds of birds -- little ones -- flew across the sky where blue met the pink and orange of the sunrise. I must have watched for a good ten to fifteen minutes. I am not by any means a birdwatcher, but there was something special in seeing them this morning, in having the time to watch them, to be aware that this slowing down is indeed a blessing.

26 December 2010

"A Journey Not My Own"

I had this poem up on my bedroom walls during my college years to remind me that I wasn't -- and didn't need to be -- in control. I've been sorting through old papers and journals, deciding what to toss and what to keep, and I came across a copy of the poem. Talk about perfect timing. I've been struggling lately with a bitter spirit towards people -- mostly strangers -- who treat me poorly, whether small offenses or big ones. Like the really mean customer who treated me like I was an ignorant idiot at my retail job. Or the principal who didn't bother to hear my side of the story before making a judgment call. Or the couple who pulled through into a parking spot that we had been waiting for for five minutes. I get angry, think and say things I know are not at all loving or godly, and I seethe about it.

I've confessed these things to my husband, and as always, he encourages me to pray and give it to God. And from time to time, he calls me out on my attitude towards these kinds of people and reminds me to not stoop to their level. But boy, sometimes it sure is easier said than done.

I would say that overall, I trust God. When we learned of the cysts in our baby's brain at our first ultrasound, I prayed for trust -- and He gave me an overwhelming sense of peace about all of it. I trust God with our future, even though I have no idea anymore what that will look like, a year from now or five years from now. I've learned to quit planning. :~) I trust God with my family, because I know my baby and my husband are His first.

But I still need to learn to trust God with the more abstract things. Like extreme poverty. Injustice. And child prostitution. Entitlement. Selfishness. Prejudice. I have found that I struggle with trusting God when it comes to this broken world, and I too easily forget that He loves this world, cracked as it is, and that I am part of its brokenness. I forget that part of the promise made in the chorus of the song "Here I Am, Lord" is to hold His people in my heart -- even the ones I don't like very much.

Here's the poem. May it bless you as it does me, and may we encourage one another in our journey with God to find that joy we'd never known.

"A Journey Not My Own"

As a youth with plans and dreams
I set my course ahead
I owned the world and all its worth
Not following -- I led.

I often sought new travelers
And helped them find their way
So strong was I, they did not know
My vessel was of clay.

Not one was more prepared than I
For raging storms at sea
But I ignored the small leaks and cracks
Within that vessel -- me.

I drifted in deep waters far
Away frm those I love,
Convinced that I was all alone
And God somewhere up above.

And in the darkness of my sea
I heard a soft voice say,
"I'm by your side to mend your ship,
My precious one of clay."

It's then I realized
Though God was at my side,
I was the one who chose the course
With all my senseless pride.

I now have found an inner peace --
My journey's not my own.
With Jesus at the helm I have
A joy I'd never known.

22 December 2010

Mulled Apple Cider for Christmas

One of the things I like about the newsletter we get from our health insurance company is that they always have good, healthy, seasonal recipes on the back. This winter, it's a recipe for mulled apple cider that I thought I'd share. I may just have to make some myself. It sounds yummy.

1 half-gallon fresh apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks (1 tsp ground cinnamon)
1 tsp nutmeg
2 whole cloves (1/2 tsp ground cloves)
2 T light brown sugar
zest of 1 orange

Pour cider into a saucepan or slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients and mix gently.

Saucepan: Bring mixture to simmer over medium heat, then cook on low for 20 minutes.

Slow Cooker: Cover the mixture and cook on low for 2-3 hours.

To serve, pour the heated mixture through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth into mugs.

Serves 8.

21 December 2010


What do you think of when you look at this picture?


Once in a while, even as a substitute teacher, I have moments when it all seems worth it. Those moments are few and far between, but they do still happen. I had several of those moments yesterday.

My favorite school where I sub is the middle school here in our town. The teachers who request me are incredible, they leave real lesson plans for when they are gone, the kids are fantastic overall, and the general atmosphere of the school is positive. I thoroughly enjoy being there every time, and apparently, I'm there quite often, because one of the boys said to me yesterday, "You're here a LOT" and then followed that up with, "And that's a good thing!"

This is the school where kids will say, "Yay! You're here!" when they see me as they pass by the classroom door and I know it's not just because they don't want to do "real work" (which is generally what happens at most other schools when teachers are out). They know me by name, they come hang out with me during lunch, and if they don't have me that day, they'll stop in to say hi anyway.

It's also nice to hear from the teachers that the students really like it when I'm there, too.

Well, one thing stood out to me yesterday, and I thought it was so neat and out of the ordinary that I felt compelled to share. Last Friday, I was subbing for the math teacher on the team of teachers for whom I regularly sub. One of the boys, N, who is a great kid but a bit distracted often, was having a hard day. He didn't want to do any work, and he was being belligerent about it. To top it all off, he was talking back and being a bit sassy. I didn't kick him out because I know he's not normally like this (another perk of being at the same school often is that you get to actually know the kids), but I did leave a note for the teacher.

Yesterday, I was subbing for the social studies teacher on the team, and N had me later on in the day. He stopped by at lunch and said, "I'm really sorry for the other day, Mrs. G. I promise it won't happen again, and I apologized to Mrs. S, too." I smiled at him and told him that I appreciated his apology. I'm pretty sure he had been told to say he was sorry, but I also knew he probably did feel bad about it. Well, apparently, the verbal apology wasn't enough for him, because after his class in the afternoon, he came up to me and handed me a folded piece of paper. I asked him what it was, and he just smiled and left.

Here is what it said:

Dear Mrs. gillory

I am sorry for all the times in the past that I have been disrespectful! I have enherited a little ADD from my dad and have trobule consortriating. Im sorry, I will try my best to be as respectful and helpful during my classes. Just so you know you are my favorite sub! I would rather have you than any other substitute. I apoligize to you and Mrs. Siracuse.


I just thought the entire thing was so nice and sincere, that I wrote him a note back. Most kids couldn't care less that they're disrespectful, and most teachers and administrators really don't care how their students treat the substitutes. I was thankful for this little moment on multiple levels yesterday.

So there you go, a positive glimpse into my world of substitute teaching!

17 December 2010

"Christmas This Year"

I just had to share one of our newly discovered favorites from this year. So here it is. See if it doesn't brighten your day.

And really listen to the words.