Monday, July 24, 2006

Three Times Equals God Talking

I have a rule that was established early in my life... When I was 17, I had a wonderful mentor, Diane, who told me, "If you hear it once, listen... If you hear it twice, listen harder... And, if you hear it three times, it is God talking. You better do whatever you heard." This has become a hard and fast rule for my life. There are times when I can follow God's guidance without having to hear it three times. I celebrate the times when I "intuitively know". However, I am certain there are things I have heard more than three times, but I wasn't listening. I imagine God tapping Her foot and shaking Her head during those times.

Yesterday, at church, I had the opportunity to meet the wonderful Reverend Leo Booth, known to many as Father Leo. Father Leo was raised Catholic, became an Episcopal Priest and later became a Unity minister. He also works closely with persons suffering from alcoholism and a host of other addictions. I was able to spend a little time conversing with Father Leo. What a blessing! I shared with him that I had been taking the Unity Today course online, with the ultimate goal of becoming a Licensed Unity Teacher. He listened intently and said, "Now, why wouldn't you want to be a minister?" Father Leo is originally from England. Perhaps his accent is the thing that makes his words sound so much more important. Later, when I was bidding him good-bye before Reverend Christy (our minister) took him to the airport, he again said, "I think you want to be a minister."

The thing that Father Leo, or anyone else for that matter, didn't know is that this summer while teaching Yoga, I really had a sense that I am supposed to do something else... Something to enhance the spiritual development of people here on the Gulf Coast. It would be wonderful to have some type of wellness center to support people of all faiths. The thing I know for sure is that teaching in a public school is indeed rewarding, but there are moments I have clearly seen that the solution we are seeking in education is a spiritual one... American education is attempting to fix all of society's ailments, and failing miserably in its attempt. Schools are responsible for academic achievement of all students. We have implemented character development programs, parent outreach programs, and most recently, the state is pushing for fitness and wellness programs because our students are too fat. Schools are trying to fix all of society's problems. But, what if society's problem is that of spiritual ailment?

The thing I know is that while the statistics don't show our schools as successful, I received a letter from a former student. Michael was in my resource class during his 4th and 5th grade school years. He is now living in Maryland and is performing well in all regular education classes. At Danielle's registration at Gautier High School, I was approached by a young man in an ROTC uniform that inquired, "Aren't you Ms. Maxwell? You were my favorite teacher." One at a time, I have been able to make a difference. That's because Spirit touches people's lives. God makes the difference. I try to bring a level of love, acceptance and honor to each of my students. If I'm successful, then God has worked through me. However, I am limited with what I can say and do in public school. What would it be like if I were able to work with learning disabilities by teaching students meditation to work through mental blocks? I do teach some meditation strategies, but again, I walk a line with regard to the mention of God. Then, understand that I am in the deep south. Most people here still regard God as the man in the big chair up in the sky with the long, flowing white beard. Any idea that threatens that idea is sometimes not met kindly.

So far, though, I have been presented with wonderful opportunities to "minister" to children, even in the absence of being a formally trained minister. My position as an inclusion teacher, my Summer Scholars Yoga class, my position as a Unity Sunday School teacher, and my role as Mom to two lovely daughters with significant health challenges have all afforded me opportunities to teach children ways of becoming aware of the Christ presence within. Further, every experience allows me a choice to draw closer to God, becoming more willing to listen and follow the guidance I'm given. Whether or not I always hear or follow is another matter altogether.

The main thing that is different about me today versus a few years ago is that I am willing. I want God's will in my life today. I'm no longer afraid of anything God has in store for me. I know that I will be given the strength and wherewithall to do whatever I am called to do. So, I hear it once... I listen. I hear it twice... I listen harder... I hear it three times, and it is God talking. Only once in a while do I respond, "God? You can't be serious! O.K. O.K. I'll do it."


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bring It On Home

I've just awakened from the most wonderful dream. Or, perhaps, I've had an awakening because of a wonderful dream... In my dream, I was lying in bed sleeping and God was singing to me. He/She was singing the words in the chorus of Little Big Town's, "Bring It On Home". I awoke feeling so loved and comforted. Here are the lyrics:

You've got someone here
Wants to make it all right
Someone to love you more
Than I have right here
You've gotta bring it on and I'll hold you tight
A hand to lead you on through the night right here
I know your heart can get
All tangled up inside
But don't you keep it to yourself

When your long day is over
And you can barely drag your feet
When the weight of the world
Is on your shoulders
I know what you need
Bring it on home to me

You know I know you
Like the back of my hand
You know I'm gonna do
All that I can right here
Gonna lie with you
Till you fall asleep
When the morning comes
I'm still gonna be right here
Yes, I am
So take your worries and
Just drop them at the door
Baby, leave it all behind

When your long day is over
And you can barely drag your feet
When the weight of the world
Is on your shoulders
I know what you need
Bring it on home to me

Baby, let me be your safe harbor
Don't let the water come
And carry you away

When your long day is over
And you can barely drag your feet
When the weight of the world
Is on your shoulders
I know what you need
Bring it on home to me

Oh, bring it on home
Oh, bring it on home to me
Home to me
Oh, bring it on, bring it on home
to me

You've got someone here wants
To make it all right
Someone who loves you more
Than life right here

I plan to purchase this CD as soon as I can. It has to be significant when God sings to a person. Or maybe God is always singing, and I had to be asleep to hear it.

Yesterday, I was talking to my friend, Amy, about privacy versus secrecy. I have heard a saying in my traveling circles, "You are only as sick as your secrets." My mom always says that we need to get secrets out in the open so God's light can shine on them and reveal the Truth. Obviously, I don't have many secrets. I broadcast my life on a blog. But, I do have things that are private... Things I only share with close friends. Other things I share, people probably wish I only shared them with close friends! I'm usually just right out there.

The secrets I harbor are the ones in my thoughts most of the time... These are the things I usually feel guilty for thinking. Sometimes my thoughts can start feelings that run off in all directions. Most of the time, it stops there, but sometimes it flows out of my mouth to others. I do believe all of the Biblical references with regard to the power of the tongue. Jesus said something to the effect of: It is not what you put into your mouth that defiles you (referencing eating certain foods considered unclean), but what comes out of it in the form of words.

Even more than that, though, my thoughts can make me crazy... Those secret desires, secret resentments, secret shameful ponderings... Most of the time, I just share them with the people I trust in my life. But, I need to make sure I'm going God daily with these secrets. Afterall, He/She knows anyway... "When your long day is over, and you can barely drag your feet; the weight of the world is on your shoulders. I know what you need. Bring it on home to me." O.K. Thanks, God.


Saturday, July 15, 2006

Shopping in the Dark

Wednesday, I went school shopping with the girls after Sarah's follow-up visit with Dr. Sindel. We visited numerous stores and got lots of clothing that can pass for uniform. Our school district requires a dress code. Khaki and navy pants, along with polo shirts in red, blue and white primarily describe what the girls must wear to school each day. Personally, I don't believe in uniforms. I could care less what the kids wear. I just don't want to look at anyone's thong or butt crack while attempting to instruct my class. Still, it is a requirement of our district, and I teach my girls to follow the rules, even if they are stupid. Well, actually, that isn't entirely true. I teach my girls to know what the rules are so that they might know how far to push the envelope. I mean if "rules" are blatantly wrong, like discrimination or animal cruelty, we stand firmly against those societal rules. But, if something is simply an annoyance, we try to work within the system. I have also taught my girls, (and sometimes this has come back to haunt me), that good kids can push the uniform code more than badly behaved kids. This might be unfair, but it goes to basic teacher-nature... The girls are well-mannered and do what they are asked to do. Given that, they are generally allowed to wear clothing that fits the basic color and style without too much hassle. Thus, our shopping experience usually involves going to various stores that do not sell the approved uniform brands.

We visited Parisians first. The girls informed me that Kristine, their step-mom, takes them there all the time. So, I weaved in and out of very lovely clothes for about a minute and a half before spotting a pair of jeans that cost $140. The next blouse I spied was $90. I cautiously crept over to a beautiful sundress and looked with one eye squinted to see a pricetag of $260. At this point, I think I began to hyperventilate. I was praying to click my heels together three times and be magically transported to a T.J. Max. Alas, when I opened my eyes, Parisians still surrounded me. I instructed the girls to keep their heads down and run stealthily through the store as not to be tempted by anything before we made our way out into the mall. Thankfully, as we exited, there was a Payless to the left. We went in and browsed. We didn't purchase anything, but it calmed me down a bit, so I was able to continue on the shopping venture.

Next, we went to J.C. Penney's, which always has a good selection of khaki pants. We were able to buy several pairs for both girls. I still felt entirely confident at this point. J.C. Penney is within my realm of experience. I'm comfortable. I shop there for myself. Nice, fashionable clothes, at nice affordable prices... Maybe they should contact me to do a commercial.

We left the safety and comfort of J.C. Penney to venture into the rest of the mall. I visited The Children's Place with Sarah, which left me feeling nostalgic for a time when I could dress my girls in cute little clothes, as long as they didn't itch. We went to Aeropostle, which has hip, cool clothes that are not exactly my style, but the girls love them. Then, we made our way further down the mall toward Abercrombie and Fitch. I have been in there before. It is a weird shopping experience, but nothing compared to Hollister. We arrived at Hollister before Abercrombie. Kacey, Dan's friend was with us and she said, "Oh look, it's Hollister!" Dan replied, "Where?" I could understand Dan's question since the storefront had no name identifying it, with the exception of a partially covered name behind a large palm-type tree and two ratty-looking chairs in the store entry way.

"What's Hollister?" I inquired as I walked up the steps into the store. Immediately, upon entering, I had to stop and stand still for a moment. Mind you, I wasn't struck by the majesty of the clothing displays. My eyes had to adjust to the dark. I thought for a moment I had accidentally entered a nightclub, but the lack of cigarette smoke tipped me to the fact that this was something different all together. The only illumination shining came from spot-lights strategically placed around the shop. The spot-lights focused on ratty, torn clothes. The shirts are three-sizes smaller than the size on the tag. The shorts for girls are beyond short. They could best be described as cotton bikini underwear. As I gained my bearings, I realized I was in a surf shop. I'm a Florida girl! I am familiar with surf shops! Numerous visits to Ron Jon's are memories from my youth. I fondly remember this little skirt I owned that was probably obscene for its time. It was a peach Jimmy Z wrap skirt that hooked by means of velcro at the waist. We had vans... We bought blocks of Sex Wax to chew in lieu of bubble gum. I know about surfing. I dated surfers. My brother was a skater. So, this was the modern-day surf shop. I should be in my element. But, gosh it was dark. I looked hopefully around and noticed that the girls were all thin and blond and beautiful. Dan and Sarah fit perfectly. I looked down at myself. I was wearing a sheer gypsy-style paisley shirt and crop pants. When I purchased the shirt at Sears, I thought it was really groovy. It expressed my bohemian tendencies. As I looked down at my shirt in Hollister, though, I was reminded of someone's grandmother. Slowly, a horrible realization was beginning to dawn on me. I'm not that young bikini-clad girl that strolled Cocoa and Daytona and occasionally rode in small waves on my boyfriend's surfboard. As the moment of clarity further descended upon me, the young, hot twenty-something boy sauntered over to me. I perked up momentarily until he asked, "Ma'm, can I help you find something?" I looked down at my grandma-clad body and humbly mumbled, "No, Dear... I'm just looking."

On a brighter note, Sarah's visit went well. Her lung functions have improved after two weeks of I.V. antibiotic. Her line was removed yesterday. We had a rougher time with this I.V. therapy because her mid-line went bad last week and we had to visit the E.R. to have a regular periferial line run. Still, she was able to finish her therapy. Dr. Sindel said she isn't as healthy as the PFT indicated in April, but that is somewhat of a blessing. She didn't qualify for the TIP study that Dan is currently enrolled in because her lung functions were too high. Now, Dr. Cowan is going to try to requalify her for the new drug study. We are excited and grateful for the possibility. Sarah is also more willing to participate in the study since she has seen what a great thing it has been for her sister.

Speaking of sisters... I would like to ask everyone to hold visions of perfect health and wellness for my dear sister, Micki. I don't want to say anymore at this time, but if you are reading this and you pray, please just take a moment to hold my sister in love and light.

I am taking an online class called "Unity for Today". It has been wonderfully enlightening. I would eventually like to go on to become a Licensed Unity Teacher. That means a lot more spiritual development on my end. I believe that God can use me... Even if I am just a grandma-shirt clad lady cruising surf shops in the dark.

~Namaste'~ Christy

Saturday, July 01, 2006

A Need for Cloning

I was thinking yesterday that when I grow up, I want there to be two of me. So often, I just need to be more than one place at a time. I have so much to do. I have so many people I need to interact with in some way. The people in my life need me at all times! I am just so important.

Wednesday, I took the girls to CF clinic. I wasn't prepared for Dr. Sindel's verdict of I.V. meds for Sarah. We have all had a little cold and there had been a strange virus running around Summer Scholars. Still, I didn't think she was really that sick. However, after doing a pulmonary function test (PFT), and finding that her lung functions had fallen off significantly, he wanted to hospitalize her. Well, upon reflection, and after Sarah burst into tears, we decided to run her mid-line as an out patient procedure and do I.V. meds at home. This was an excellent plan. The only problem was that I was teaching Yoga, and the final day of the class was Friday, the same morning Sarah's mid-line was to be run. Parents were scheduled to come and participate in Yoga with their children.

I really needed to be with Sarah. I always stay with the girls when procedures are done. You see, I provide a spiritual, calming influence to soothe and nurture them through the trauma of the procedure. It's what I do. It's my role as CF Mom Extrodinaire.

But, I also really needed to be at the last day of my Yoga class. I knew that Kenna could handle it. She really did a wonderful job helping me teach the class. The point was that I needed to be there for the last day to provide some closure, not just for the students, but for me as well. The first week of Yoga, we focus on getting in touch with our own Divine nature. It is very much an individual process. The second week, we explore our connectivity to one another... The fact that as each of us has a spark of the Divine, we are truly One in Spirit. We had entered the journey together and I didn't want to end abruptly by just not being there on the last day.

I was in quite a quandry. I had no clear direction with what to do. But then, there was Dave. He is in grad school this summer, but he didn't have class that morning and was able to take Sarah to have her line placed. I wasn't sure he would be able to do it, since he is her step-dad. Generally, I sign all the medical paperwork. But, as it turned out, that really didn't matter. Sarah is fortunate enough to have four parents and I'm sure any one of us could seek medical care if we needed to do so. Still, don't miss the point. Remember, I needed to be there. Sarah needed me! She needed my calming influence... My "visualize yourself on the beach... relax and know that you are One with the One" treatment. Dave, while I love his discipline and sometimes autistic craving of routine, is not lovey, touchy, feely about things. He is more apt to say, "O.K. enough of this crap. Let's suck it up and get on with it."

Reluctantly, I decided Dave should take Sarah and I should attend my last day of class. I was a little preoccupied in class until I heard from them. Dave called to tell me everything went fine and they got the line on the first try. I was able to finish my class and clean up afterward. It was very anti-climactic. I spoke to Sarah and she said she did fine... Didn't even cry.

Kenna called last night to see how Sarah was doing. She said, "Hmm... Maybe you learned a lesson that maybe they can handle it without you." Ha! Don't be ridiculous. Of course they can't handle it without me. But maybe, just maybe, I'm not as important as I believe myself to be. Maybe if we are truly One in Spirit, there doesn't need to be more than one of me. Surely God can work through Dave and other people who don't do things the way I do. Perhaps that is what it means when God is described as Omnipotent and Omnipresent. God works through all people together, using each person's unique gifts and abilities for good.

Danielle is doing very well on the new TIP therapy. Her PFTs are higher than they have ever been. We are very excited about this new delivery method. I hope approval goes quickly through the FDA.

Perhaps all things are working together in ways that I don't understand. And, maybe I am understanding that I am important, but not so important that there needs to be two of me. Sometimes I think it might be O.K. for God's other children to step in and work together.