Maneki Neko

Good morning!

We went to dinner the other night at P.F. Chang’s. We often sit at the bar so we can watch the current sporting event as we dine. Plus you get much better service.

In the middle of the bar facing the front door is a ceramic cat. I’ve noticed it there before and always wondered its purpose. Is it some type of Asian liquor? Is it a cookie jar? Or is it simply a decoration?

I finally just asked Erin, our waitress. She was more than obliged to give me the full rundown. Maneki Neko, the lucky cat, is part of P.F. Chang’s culture. Every P.F. Chang has a large Asian style ceramic cat which is holding one paw up. The lucky cat is a symbol of wealth and luck, and many Asian businesses use it in hopes of attracting customers and wealth to their location.

Each location also adds a little local flavor to its enormous mural above its bar. Tulsa’s has a scissor-tailed flycatcher, their state bird represented.

I’m not a big believer in luck. I choose faith. In fact, the only cat you’ll find around my home is a black one. And most people don’t find them to be too lucky when they cross their path. But I couldn’t be more blessed with wealth and luck since we inherited ours from my father-in-law. Of course, wealth to me means health and happiness much more than monetary dollars.

How about you? Do you believe in luck? Or faith? There’s an awful lot of both casinos and churches in Oklahoma.

I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer my needs to be met by God’s riches in Christ Jesus over the luck of a ceramic cat any day!

But I do love their sweet chili brussel sprouts!

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:19

Love and laughter,

Sandy

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The Name Says It All

Good morning!

Boudreaux’s Butt Paste.

My youngest daughter recently had a baby. She asked me if you need to put diaper rash cream on your baby’s bum every time you change them. I told her no, just if they are red or irritated or have a rash. She then went on to tell me his dad was using her face cream on their baby’s bum. Every time a diaper was changed.

I told her I’d pick up some diaper rash ointment for them.

A trip to CVS pharmacy, and I delivered a large jar of none other than Boudreaux’s Butt Paste.

There’s nothing finer to heal a baby’s behind than Boudreaux’s. Not to mention its name has a catchy ring to it.

It’s made quite the name for itself. It gained it’s popularity from being recommended on Oprah Winfrey’s television show. Brad Pitt spoke of its miraculous healing powers on two of his children’s diaper rashes. It’s even a NASCAR sponsor. It’s name, Butt Paste, can be found on the rear quarter panels in giant red lettering. It can also be found on other skin parts than just bums on those much older than babies. Those with chapped lips, psoriasis, shingles, jock itch, and acne also sing its praises.

The name says it all.

Just like Jesus. The name of all names.

Boudreaux’s Butt Paste may heal, but the name of Jesus saves!

Try some today for whatever ails you, skin wise. But turn to Jesus for the name that truly says it all!

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12

Love and laughter,

Sandy

Last Days

Good morning!

Last night I wrote up my final week’s lesson plans for this year. I wanted to end the year on a good note. We just have three short remaining days left together.

I wanted to review this past year’s standards in a fun, meaningful way. I wanted to offfer closure. Goodbyes.

Last days.

I saw it as a time to reflect on what they’d learned, and celebrate their successes as they promote to 5th grade. And to say our good byes before I gently nudged them on into their futures.

Many teachers do not see it the same. It’s a countdown to the finish. Many students and teachers alike have checked out mentally these past two weeks that we are making up from the walk out. The teacher next door to me is more of a placate and vegetate kind of guy. His class often watches movies or listens to music or plays games on their chromebooks.

I teach in a Title 1 school. Poverty runs rampant. We may be the only healthy relationship these students know. I try to offer an example of consistency and order in some of their otherwise chaotic lives. I believe in respect and order and routine in the classroom mixed with equal parts of love and fun.

My last week is more about celebrate and appreciate. We are having a pizza party in math tomorrow as a celebration. For all 25 of my students promoting to 5th grade with a little hands on fractions. What better way to learn what 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 8/8 is than a pizza? For many, pizza is a rare treat. One that I can afford to provide them.

We will then move on to evaluate and stimulate. Writing Wednesday lets them get to grade me! Time to reflect on the bests of the year and critique me! Then they’ll fill in the blank of a simile or metaphor, “I am like a___________because_____________.” I plan to give their simile to their next year’s teacher as a sample of their work and personality. Then comes the math games. An outdoor scavenger hunt Wednesday with 10 math problems over 4th grade math standards as a review. Then outside to find the numbers they wrote as answers taped to rocks, trees, etc. Each number has a corresponding shape to review such as trapezoid, parallelogram, rhombus. They will draw the shape next to their answer on their paper. Prizes will be rewarded to those who complete them correctly. Thursday offers more of the same.

Before they leave, I have prepared a packet for each of them with the alphabet in cursive to practice (something schools no longer teach, but I do) as well as their multiplication facts, a book of their choosing from my library to stay fresh on reading through the summer months, and a little personalized note on what I will miss about each of them.

Last days.

Many think we’re in them. And I’m not talking about school here. I’m talking about life.

Now is a good time for us all to reflect on and evaluate our own lives, and make the necessary adjustments to live more Christ like. Now is the time for us all to celebrate the last days that Christ was on this Earth as a living example for each of us to pattern ourselves against. These last days are certainly a promotion none of us want to miss!

May this week bring last days to all that are joyous and engaging!

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty for people will become lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful and unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 1 Timothy 3:1-5

Love and laughter,

Sandy

In Memory

Good morning!

It’s Memorial Day! It’s officially summer. Kind of. Not on the calendar, but at the cemeteries, the lakes, the pools, and the schools!

Hot dogs abound!🌭

Today we honor our dead. Both our personal loss and our war heroes. Cemeteries near and far are decorated with bright floral arrangements and U.S. flags flying. It’s a beautiful sight to see!

We honor our war heroes with tribute at the cemeteries, on the television channels, and by closing many places of business.

One war hero outshines them all. He fought the greatest fight of all. The greatest battle in history. He died on the cross. His name was Jesus. He died not to protect his country, but all mankind. He died for you and me. For the forgiveness of our sin. No American flag flies over his grave today for he was not an American. He stood for all peoples. A cross symbolizes his bravery. 🕇

As you celebrate this holiday today, one we celebrate for many different reasons, don’t forget to pay tribute to the greatest war hero of all. Thanks to Jesus, the battle’s already won. Satan is defeated. No tanks, no air squadrons necessary, just an old wooden cross.

Here’s to the many wonderful memories we all share with loved ones lost. Today may they be made fresh and anew upon your heart. Until we meet again. Thanks to Jesus. ❤

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved son. Colossians 1:13

Love and laughter,

Sandy

It’s Never Too Late

Good morning!

Fill in the blank.

I’m a full grown adult, but I still don’t know how to…

Ride a bike? Swim? Balance a checkbook? Play chess? Use a smartphone? Travel abroad?

For me it would be, play the guitar.

I bought one. Left handed, of course. I even bought the Groupon for guitar lessons. And I went to the first one. But then life took over, and that little voice inside my head said, “That’s stupid! You’re too old to do that! You can’t sing, why would you want to learn to play the guitar? “Just because!” would be my answer. Because I know how to read notes. Because I took piano for years as a child. The guitar has always interested me. But no one knows that about me.

What is it that you do not know how to do, but would like to?

It’s never too late!

I just learned how to be a special ed teacher!

You, too, can learn your heart’s desire with a little belief and faith in yourself. The sky’s your limit! For many of us, especially those of you my age or older, now is the perfect time! Your children are grown! You have an empty nest. Many of you are in retirement with free time on your hands. Don’t give up on your dreams! Shoot for the stars! Aim high! Dust off that bucket list, and follow your dreams to the desires of your heart. You can goigle jyst about anything there is to learn.The Bible tells us God wants to grant the desires of our heart to us. All we have to do is delight in him.

I can’t wait to see what the next chapter unfolds in my life. And I’m just excited to see what God has in store for you!

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalms 37:4

Love and laughter,

Sandy

Arrr!

Good morning!

Ahoy!

Arrr!

In pirate talk, that means, “I concur.”

Our last fourth grade CKLA reading unit is Treasure Island.

We are doing all kinds of fun pirate activities in my classroom to end the year on a memorable note. Following a pirate treasure map to find a treasure hidden within our school. Learning our own pirate names. Writing about if I were a pirate.

Besides, who doesn’t love a pirate?

For the record, my pirate name is Mad Patch Jackson.

What’s yours?

I had to laugh. I had eye surgery last week and had to leave the hospital with my eye patched. I believe that should make me a real live pirate. And this little worksheet has made it official.

Today I’m back on my way to OKC to visit the surgeon. I’m no longer wearing an eye patch. This time as Mad Patch Jackson, teacher by day, pirate by starlight.

I can’t wait to watch my students on their search for hidden treasure when we all return on Tuesday. I’ve hidden clues and a treasure (if you consider candy, plastic jewelry, and coloring pencils and markers a treasure) around the school for them to find.

Do you know what other treasures we hide?

We hide God’s word in our heart. Like hidden treasure.

We may not be able to take our earthly treasures with us when we leave this world, but we can keep God’s treasures, his word, in our hearts. No one can take that away.

Here’s to God’s word. The best booty (treasure) there is!

I have hidden your words in my heart that I shall not sin against you. Psalm 119: 11

Love and laughter,

Sandy

Truffles in Tuscany

Good morning!

My daughter and her fiance just recently returned from a trip to Italy. The photographs that they captured there were absolutely breathtaking! From the Tuscan landscapes with its vineyards and rolling hills to the seascapes of the Mediterranean Sea to the Vatican with its art and history.

Under the Tuscan Sun was always one of my favorite movies. I love Andrea Bocelli. Italy to me is just so romantic!

I want to return to Italy myself someday. With my husband. And I can now wait patiently for God’s perfect timing because my daughter brought me back a little piece of it herself. To tide me over.

Truffles and Tuscany.

They brought us a beautiful coffee table book on Tuscany, a bottle of its wine, and truffles! Truffles, dried truffles, and truffle oil! I can’t wait for my new kitchen to be complete, so I can try them all! I’ve wanted to try truffles, the fungus kind, for quite some time.

And she brought back for herself a gorgeous new engagement ring! And plans to return to Italy. Perhaps as her wedding venue? It doesn’t get much more romantic than that!

Who ever thought of combining the beauty of Tuscany with a fungus? Yet these strange fungus are considered one of the finest, most expensive delacacies around! And found in Tuscany, amongst such beauty!

Not everything of beauty is recognized by the naked eye. Some beauty comes from sight, some sound, some taste, some smell, some touch.

Look at Christ. Scripture tells us he was nothing to behold physically. Yet there is no one more beautiful than he.

Here’s to beauty. The physical. And that which we feel in our heart. May it continue to touch each of us in its many ways to move our souls.

Here’s to the best! Truffles and Tuscany. And Jesus, who created them both!

Thank you Lauren and Dexter for our outstanding gifts! You outdid yourselves! You’ve always been the best gift giver ever! I love you!

There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. Isaiah 53:2

Love and laughter,

Sandy