Family: By the Bedside


Note: Recently in class,  I had my students pick a drawer, shelf, box or cabinet about which to write. I wanted them to think about why it was their favorite and know what it contained. Why was it special? That sort of thing.

Many times I will write alongside my students so they can see me responding to what I ask them to do.

Here’s what I wrote.

I don’t know that I’d say it was my favorite but  I’m going to write about the drawer in my sister Karen’s nightstand.

Karen, one of my two younger sisters, and I spoke frequently on the phone and our relationship was a close one even though we lived seven hours apart.  However, it wasn’t until I cleaned out this drawer after her passing that I realized how much more alike we were than I had previously thought.

First, I was almost unable to open the drawer because of its scattered contents and their precarious positions within. But when I pulled it out, I immediately saw more writing utensils than any human should be allowed to have! Aside from the fact that she simply loved buying office supplies, she wrote regularly in personal journals. She wrote notes to people. She simply wrote.

My drawers – as well – are filled with pens, pencils, markers, colored inks.

Next, I found notes and handmade cards from her boys. You’d find the same type of  “tucked away treasures” in my drawers.

Then I observed a collection of miscellaneous electronic cords – for phone chargers, cd players, etc.  Oh yeah, and scissors! Very important. Where there is paper there should always be scissors. Besides moms must always be prepared for cutting price tags off new clothing, using them as a makeshift screwdriver and slicing through cellophane wrapped purchases.

As I dug more deeply –  beneath the receipts and other items – there were her devotional books and a Bible, special items that were part of her daily reading.

As I removed these items out, I organized “the keepers” on top of her dresser.  I took the various writing implements and traveled to the kitchen, where I tried to cram them into a large clay pot on her kitchen counter.  It was brimming with like items and had reached its maximum capacity well before I had emptied my hands. I was unsuccessful wound up stuffing them in another nearby drawer.

You might think it odd to relate to the stuff inside a drawer but looking inside it was like having her here again.

And I loved it.

Just wondering: Is there a favorite box, drawer or cabinet in your life? Share your story. I’d love to hear it.


FAITH: Looking for Loopholes



It was time for me to decide whom I really believe.

He nudged my spirit this week. I was still in bed thinking through the day’s anticipated events. A personnel changeover in my department, another way lengthy and time consuming online class project, coordinating ticket and candygram sellers for a middle school dance (can you say loud but fun?).


I almost wanted to go back to sleep after making my mental checklist and then….

He nudged my spirit.

For many, the Bible verse in Romans chapter 8 verse 28 is a very familiar one. It states, “All things work together for the good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.”

And then I heard it.

“Well, Cheryl,” the still-small voice said. “Is it true or not?”

I was shocked. Between waves of grief from my sister’s passing late last year, to more professional changes and demands I could ever have imagined, I thought, “Why are God and I having this conversation? Of course, it’s true….except….”

And that’s when I realized I wanted a loophole. A “fill in the blank” for the scripture. One that might go something like, “I can do all things through Christ – except EDE 4302 Instructional Management – which gives me strength…. “ or “I can do all things through Christ – except take on administrative departmental responsibility – …” You get the picture.

And then I heard it again. No, not an audible voice, but one I knew was meant only and specifically for me.

“Is it?”

It’s NOT an open ended question!

And then I realized I was at a crossroad of intellectual agreement and faith. If I simply agreed intellectually – I could go on my merry way, work as hard as I possibly could and pay the consequences (in weight gain, in stress, in the “watch how busy I am envy me look”, etc.) OR, I could see down that road, see that what my wonderful work ethic was great but not enough. I could take comfort in what natural affinities I have for teaching kids to write and realize that with an upcoming show and other major events in the next months, I could easily crash and burn. I could be so busy that my about-to-graduate youngest son might forget what I look like.

To be honest, I didn’t like that view.

So, I’m on a spiritual and very practical precipice … and I decided to make a declaration. Of course the whole world is interested in my Facebook status updates, so naturally I posted it there.

I decided that Romans 8:28 did not have a fill in the blank for exceptions, that God’s word was enough whether or not I could see the outcome of future events, like or dislike the outcome of said future events, etc.

“Yes, Lord,” I said after realizing what He was asking. “It’s right. You’re right. And I’m glad.”

Just wondering: Have a story you’d like to share? Feel free.