Friday, October 30, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Note of Grace, part 1

God met me today in the pit. I had sunk to a new low in my feelings, discouraged and nearly at the brink of giving up the weight loss. I had convinced myself that I am doomed to be fat the rest of my natural life, and that God gave me talents somewhere other than as a longterm "loser" and that, in the whole scheme of things, the size I am is better than it was six months ago, so just be thankful for that...and just maintain status quo, if God wanted you to be slim, He'd make this a lot easier, blah, blah, blah .

Well, at first I thought I was the only one talking to myself. But then, I thought, "No! This doesn't sound like what I've been saying to myself since April. This is defeating and I've got to hang on to truth. I CAN lose weight. By God's grace, I can!"

I knew those other words were lies from the enemy, the way he counterfeits truth by throwing in just enough Christianese to keep us Christians from immediately recognizing what's happening. I'm talking about lies such as "just be thankful" (as if thankfulness and perseverence are mutually exclusive) and thoughts such as "if it's too hard, it can't be of God. God's all about gentleness and ease." Wait, since when is gentleness synonymous with ease? Oh, Satan's subleties.

I remembered the note I had put in a student's mailbox yesterday. "I see that you are persevering with God's help. Thank you." And then it was as if God was putting a note of grace into my thoughts, my mental mailbox. "Perseverence is not just for them," He wrote.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I feel like I'm going to wake up and realize it was all a dream.
One very, very, very good dream.
My life, from childhood to present, was all a dream,
and the bad parts were redeemed, and the good parts live on
in my children.

I will wake up and realize how good it was to be silly
with my children,
to listen to my husband tell me about work, even though I scarcely understand his professional jargon,
how much I loved the rhythm of our days and evenings,
and how I adored the warmth and softness of one loving dog
beneath my feet at the computer in winter,
and how I loved God more each time I realized His love for me
in the kitchen, though it seemed thankless and mundane too often...
in the car...when He protected me from things I never even saw coming...
in church...when I took the preaching and the people for granted...
in the bathroom...when I realized the difference between health and illness...
in the ER...when I begged God to bring my baby's fever down and give me peace when the doctors had no diagnosis...or when I wondered if this child might lose his eyesight or walk with a permanent limp...
in the basement...when I folded laundry and thanked God for my mom's example of being grateful to have people alive to dirty the clothes she just folded...
in bed...cuddling with a husband whose grey hair is soft and silky, just the way I like hair to feel...or snuggling with a toddler who tells me I am "Comfy Princess" and he wishes he could marry me...

and in a thousand little grace notes of light, I live this life
as if in a dream
and wonder if it's too good
to be true.

But then, the dog poops on the rug, the alarm clock rings, the raw chicken spills all over the inside of the fridge, and I realize it's not a one-hundred-percent perfect dream, but I'd rather redream it with a chance of poop and salmonella than to wake up.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Feeling the Squeeze of Sickness: Addendum

Addendum since yesterday: And how could I forget? My own son, Ben, has had a nasty cough, with aches and general malaise for a week. Stayed home from school twice, which he almost never does.

Like almost everyone, I suppose, sickness and disease are all around and up close.

Please pray for my Uncle Norman. He turns 79 this week and is recovering from quadruple bypass
surgery. My dad will fly out Wednesday, thanks to my sister's generous free ticket, and be with his adored brother for nine days.

My BIL, Trip, has contracted Valley Fever and has pneumonia in one lung. He is covered in a rash.
Can't get out of bed.

My co-worker in the hospital with stomach virus.

Another man is fighting for his life with lung infection, medically incurable

Our God is able and I am desperate. Great combination to recognize.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Marry a Good Speller: It Just Might Save Your Life

I found this hilarious 911 call posted on my friend Kathy's blog, which she got from Girl Talk.

The post gave me reason to be thankful that I married a good speller. Just in case the day ever comes when I'm seriously attacked by a warthog and am not A-OK, I'm glad my street it as easy to spell as "O-a-k."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

History Class on the Playground

If I get permission from parents to post their kids' pictures on my blog, I will. I took my camera to school today for photos of them learning about ancient Egypt. I had them take their sketchbooks to the playground and each one had to draw a certain Egyptian god, goddess, or pharaoh. We talked at length about what a great vizier Joseph was, and all the jobs he'd been given as second in command. "He was a busier vizier than most, "I remarked, which solicited groans from a few, and landed the rest an easy A. (Just kidding.)

We talked about King Tut. Did you know that he himself did nothing great during his short reign? I did not know that till this week, as he has never really interested me before. Come to find out, he became king at age 10 and died at age 19, poor thing. What he's remembered for came centuries later in 1922 when archaeologists found his tomb. His grave had been robbed, but his mummy was still there. (Didn't find his daddy.) From the things that remained in his tomb, we know a lot about how pharaohs lived and died. I commented that 1922 was a revelatory year for archaeologists, as the students should recall from our previous chapter. It was the same year that the city of Ur, from whence came Abraham, was unearthed by Sir Leonard Woolley. (Ur was un-ur'thed, not Abraham; did I make that clear?) Ur was in modern-day Iraq.

Tell me now, since a corny riddle has been swirling 'round my head, if it is original or if you've heard it?

Q: What did the ancient Egyptians have in common?
A. They had Tuthenkamen.

If I Were the Teacher for a Day

Last week I gave my fifth and sixth graders a choice of three writing prompts. They had 15 minutes for this creative assignment. One of the topics was "If I Were the Teacher for a Day." Thought you'd enjoy what one boy wrote. Here's the rough draft.

If I were the teacher for a day the students would have 30 seconds of work. Then we would have recess all day. The students would be able to play tackle football. When they get dismissed I would take them all to Mcdonald's to eat. I would have no rules and nobody would go to the principals office. If anybody hurts somebody, I would make them sit out of recess for 10 seconds.

I made minor corrections on his paper, and wrote, "Where is the wisdom in your fantasy? :) "

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Crab cakes, buttered egg noodles, peas, and artichokes tasted great going down last night.

Unfortunately, they did not have the same appeal coming back up. At "three a.m. in the morning," (as the overkillers around here say), I thought food poisoning demons had
attacked me. Thought it'd all be over and done with in one swell foop, but they came again at 3:30. They laid a warm heat over my head, too, and a chill pack on my legs.

So I think I have a stomach bug.

Thanks to my co-worker, Cheryl, who subbed for me, I have enjoyed blankie time on this 70 degree day.

Monday, October 19, 2009

"Honor everyone."

Camped out in First Peter, I read this short verse two days ago and have been pondering it since my initial journal entry of thoughts.

It's 1 Peter 2:17 that says, simply, "Honor everyone." (ESV) It's in the context of honoring others (vs. 16-18).

I have my thoughts, and haven't sought a commentary or a pastor's further insight into this verse. I like to meditate on scripture a lot first, and ask the Holy Spirit, and then go to humans.

On this verse I'm at the "ask humans" stage of questioning. Honoring those who live wisely and wholesomely is pretty easy. However--and everyone can think of at least someone to whom this next question applies--

how do you honor someone who, over and over, lives foolishly and dishonorably?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Opinions, please

Still in the dreaming phase
of a family room makeover,
I'm scouring the internet
for inspiration. I like the fireplace, huge clock and all.
(I'm a clock afficionado. Doesn't guarantee I'm punctual; it's merely something I've always liked. Tick tock.)

On the hunt for a fireplace
to be built in our family room, I know I want stones in this color palette. What do you all think of these fireplaces overall?

I am really wanting to do something similar with the built-ins (but stained wood, not white). I'm digging that leather wing chair, too.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Daybook Post Tonight, 10.17.09

My Simple Woman's Daybook entry, AKA my Saturday evening post.

Outside my window...

it's raining, cold, and dark.

I am thinking...
about how much I appreciate the way my children befriend people. Ben invited guy from UB (Univ. of Balt) over to study this afternoon. The guy had a minor but scary car accident on the way here. He's fine now, and I invited him to stay for dinner. He said "yes" and seemed to enjoy the steak and potatoes. He is a very polite young man.

I am thankful for...
my warm home.

From the kitchen...
lingers the aroma of garlic and fresh baked bread.

I am wearing...
purple sweatpants and a purple Polo. It's my best impression of Barney.

I am creating...
less cluttered space. Today I tackled the biggest eyesore of them all--the bookcase in my kitchen. After all that bending, stretching, and cleaning, "I sore!" but happy in this feeling of serenity and accomplishment.

I am going...
to apply a heating pad to my achey-breaky back.

I am reading...
too many Facebook posts. I knew I'd be a sucker for that social network.

I am hoping...
to get my sister and mom to help me throw a party for my dad's 75th birthday next month.

I am hearing...
from the Lord that I need to open my eyes to the needs of others more often.

Around the house...
are myriad candles burning. Vanilla in the bathroom, snickerdoodle in the kitchen. I guess two doesn't constitute a myriad, huh?

One of my favorite things...
is having impromptu dinner guests like we did tonight.

A few plans for the rest of the week...
Do I have to answer that? I'm all planned out, thank you very much.

A picture thought I am sharing... This is a picture I took last year in late October through my bedroom window. It's a scene I look forward to waking up to again in a couple of weeks.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Proud of my Ben and Sarah

Yesterday was quite eventful in the lives of Ben and Sarah.

Ben was hired by a Christian accountant who runs his own business. He saw that Ben's personality and test results were unique for bean counters, and his youth puts him at an advantage in marketing via technology. I am so thankful to God for putting him on a career path he's pursuing. His strenghs are his outgoing personality and his sales skills. He's been making great money selling Ravens jerseys lately.

Sarah finally got her Praxis scores back. The Praxis is a state test as a qualifying mark for teachers-to-be. She scored well above the national averages in reading, writing, AND math. She could hardly believe the highest of those scores was in algebra. "I can just SEE God in this, Mom! I mean, you're talking to someone who cried every night over algebra homework! Did you ever think I'd get higher in math than in reading? And I bet you're proud that I did so well in grammar, too, huh?"

I told Joel to see if her head was swelling as large as the loaf of bread we had rising nearby. He said her head was bigger. But I was just teasing. I am very proud of her.

It's time to celebrate the goodness of God once again!

Kitchen Komedy

It doesn't take much to amuse me. Last night I made a soup that was half storebought, half my add-ins. I thought it was broccoli- cheese soup frozen in a bag I got from Chesapeake Traders, but it wasn't. What appeared to be broccoli at 32 degrees was really jalapenos. Cheese queso dip--about two pounds of it!

So as it thawed, I cooked broccoli, then combined the two in a big pot on the stove. Next I convinced myself we needed protein in it, and quickly cooked three chicken breasts (also from frozen state which, save for the label, could've passed for tilapia. Thank the Lord it wasn't.)

The cheese "soup" was still too spicy, so I added in a jar of alfredo sauce and a lot of shredded cheddar. Perfect! And all day a loaf of bread from frozen state was thawing and rising on the counter. (A loaf I bought for fifty cents at BB's!) There is nothing quite like fresh bread. As it rose, I even had the privilege of telling Joel, who was curious about what made bread rise, about sin and how it leavens the whole lump. Anyway, bread is very comforting on a cold, grey, rainy, child-sick-at-home-resting day.

When all was said and done, I had a soup we all wolfed down , alongside a fruit salad and warm, golden bread.

Ben asked, "What is this soup?"
I said, "Well, I call it--"
He interrupted, "Uh-oh, here comes something corny."
I started to chuckle. "I call it Broc, Squawk, and Block in a Crock."
He grunted.
I started to explain, "Broccoli, chicken--."
He groaned, "I get it, Mom. I get it. I don't need it spelled out."

I don't know why that cracks me up. It just does. Do I need a life or what?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Credit for The Simple Woman's Daybook Idea

I felt both hurried and lazy the last time I posted my Daybook entry (below). My apologies to Laurie who wasn't sure where I got the idea. It was not an original thought, so I should've gone the extra mile by mouse to find the link.

I gave credit the first time I posted, but should have gone ahead and referred readers to the link again. Here it is. It's a wonderful way to jumpstart a post if you have writer's block, which I seldom do, but one that I appreciate nonetheless as a pleasant prompt.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Up and Down

My emotions have been tossed like a salad this week. Up, down, up, down. I'm not saying "rollercoaster" where the highs are astronomical and the lows are pits of despair. But my emotions have been lifted easily into the air like lettuce and shredded carrots, and dropped like olives and boiled eggs to the bottom of the bowl.

Down: It's been a more difficult week at school than usual, emotionally and logistically.
Up: Our Middle East party was attended impromptu by the grandmother of a student who brought meat pie (a popular dish in Turkmenistan, his country of research). The grandmother was quite impressed with all the students' oral and visual presentations. (So was I.) Two boys and one girl dressed like Muslims. So cute. One boy kept pronouncing "hummus" with a long "u." I let it go during his presentation, but told him at our mini-feast that humus is dirt. Did he want me to pass the dirt?

Down and up: We visited my 30 year-old nephew in the hospital last Saturday two days after his aorta surgery. While he was up and about when we got there, he has not been released yet due to slow healing. More upsetting to me than his physical condition, though, is his spiritual state. Wow, the man is so deceived and needs Truth, which we shared clearly, but wonder the influence we had, given the medley of meds he was on. It was quite touching, though, to hear him say, "Aunt Zo and Uncle Paul, I'm really glad you came. You were the first people I wanted to see when I came out of surgery."

Down: Two weeks ago my husband said we'd probably just have to wait till the kids were out of college to buy a new carpet and furniture for the family room.

Up: Saturday, though, we drove up to Morgantown and found a gorgeous leather sofa for $600 less than the one we loved at Bassett. We haven't bought it; will we? I refuse to believe it till I see it anymore. And while we were at it (at the furniture mall) Paul was game for replacing the wobbly kitchen table and six chairs-- and said getting a carpet would be "no big deal."

Up: On Sunday afternoon I went to my parents' home to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, which is called Sukkot. For the past few years, they've been putting up (on their deck) a collapsible wood booth that Daddy engineered. My mom and others decorate it with corn stalks and harvest fruit, both real and fake. This year they invited my family and several of their neighbors. I was the only one in my immediate family who was keen on going, and I was keen mostly on seeing my folks whom I obvsiouly don't visit often enough, which is sad because they live only fifteen minutes away.

Down: I almost cried, in fact, when two different neighbors of theirs, when I introduced myself , said "Oh, I didn't know they had more than one daughter. I only ever see the one. Where do you live, out of state? " And when I told them where, it was even more awkward. I could go on, but I won't. I just feel the clock ticking away and the only time we're together is to celebrate something. I want to be part of a family that just "does life" naturally, not needing something on the calendar to bring us together. But then again, it's not just my side of the family. Paul doesn't see his family except when there's a wedding, heart surgery, or funeral, so maybe I shouldn't bemoan the unique sense of disconnection I'm feeling. Can anybody else relate?

Up: My little boy asked me to snuggle with him when we got home from school yesterday.
Down: He was feverish but cold.
Up: I offered him a heating pad for his cold body. He said, "No, thanks. I don't need a heating pad. I have a warm head."

Down: I felt like a loser of a mom by comparison to the women being honored by their daughters at our ladies' meeting last night.
Up: I sat next to my daughter who has turned out to be a lovely young woman in spite of my parenting. God is truly a Redeemer.

Down: I had a dream my husband was operating on me. He anaesthetized me to do heart surgery, but while he was at it, he reconstructed my bladder and sewed my jaw shut. Hmm.... I told him about the dream this morning when we woke up. "Don't get any ideas, " I warned him. Then I got up and skipped to my loo.

Up and down: I am staying home today to care for my sick boy and to clean parts of the house that have started writing messages to me in the dust and clutter. Messages like, "I can't breathe" and "Please give me oxygen." I'll be up and down all down, physically, caring for my son and my home while the rain comes down outside and I sing to lift my spirits up.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook 10.6.09

Outside my window...
dusk has turned to dark. It's cool enough to be called a fall night, but warm enough to want to leave the windows open a crack, and just listen. Crickets chirp. Now and then a car passes by. I can tell the age of the driver by the presence or absence of a drumbeat.

I am thinking...
about how I thought on Sunday that maybe I'd missed my calling in life, only to realize that I haven't missed it, I've just not been looking for opportunities by holing up in my church and home and school instead of
praying to share with people who have narry a clue about Truth.

I am thankful for...
the rich deposit of God's Holy Spirit in me in the form of Jesus the Word, and the Bible.

From the kitchen...
came a peanut butter and jelly sub for everyone's lunch today since I haven't bought regular bread in an embarrassingly long time.

And also came cereal for dinner since Paul's at a business dinner at the Wine Market with a client from Greenwich. All I can say is, "I hope he brings home leftovers."

I am wearing...
a brown polo and black capris, my wedding rings, a peridot ring, and
my spectacles. I've been in a black-and-green mood all day. That's a good thing, in case you're wondering.

I am creating...
in a little while...a rubric for the writing assignment and oral presentation my students will have to produce for next Tuesday. They each have to write and tell us about a Middle Eastern country they've been researching. I learned today what a rebab is, and started to crack a joke about loving rebab pie, but I restrained. I don't think they would know the difference between rebab and rhubarb anyway.

I am going...
to floss my teeth tonight. I can be abscessive-compulsive about that.

I am reading...
A Faith Worth Sharing, by C. John Miller. Easy reading on evangelism from the pen of one who makes it sound effortless.

I am hoping...
my parents have a happy 48th wedding anniversary on Thursday. "If ever two were one, then surely they."

I am hearing...
the gentle hum of Sarah's aquarium and the panting of my dog who loves to watch the fish swim. It's so enchanting to watch her watch them.

Around the house...
are stenches I can't quite pinpoint, let alone obliterate.

One of my favorite things...
the scent of men's cologne that wafts through the upstairs after Paul, Ben, Stephen, and Joel have had their showers. Yes, even my second grader loves Adidas Curves for Men.

A few plans for the rest of the week...
mainly to look less like a Chia Pet and more like a beauty queen for school pictures on Thursday.

A picture thought I am sharing...

See this little "waterpark"? It was at the resort where we stayed at Myrtle Beach. This part of it is only about a foot deep. However, the sidewalk around it is about 18 inches high. I have a depth perception problem to start with, so picture me judging it to be 12 inches deep. Total. I didn't land as soon as I expected, hence winding up backside down on the concrete, in the water. Sarah (whose foot is pictured) got the laugh of her life. Then, I stood up and started to stroll casually to the opposite end for a cooling off of the topside of me. That's when I misjudged something more: the concrete base of those huge metal poles which is cleverly camouflaged under the water.
It's about 12 inches high.
So is my shin.

Penned by Zoanna
Labels: misc

Better than a Paycheck Could Ever Be

After school today, one of my students came up to my desk and said sincerely, "Mrs. Zubrowski, I just want you to know that I'm doing pretty good in grammar now." (I smile at the irony.) "I never understood it before. I've never been good at it till this year. As a matter of fact, I've been praying for a good grammar teacher since kindergarten, and finally got one."

I wanted to hug him and cry. I looked him in the eyes and said, "It makes me happy to hear that, and I'm so glad you understand grammar better. Thank you for saying that to me."

"Oh, I'm not just saying it," he added. "It's true!"

for Tuesdays Unwrapped-----------------------------------

Friday, October 02, 2009

5 Words Meme

Upon request, Krista sent me five words as a writing prompt meme (not that I usually struggle with verbal constipation; I was more curious than needy, surmising what five words she might think to send me). When I asked "why these five?" she said she thought I'd either have a lot to say about them, or she had no idea what I'd say.

In the order in which she wrote them, I will respond in a stream-of-consciousness way. No real organization. (My excuse? It's Friday night. The first syllable of that word is "Fried" as in my brain's condition right now.)

1 BOOKS ... I love the sound of the word "books." Only positive images come to my mind. Hearing my mom's voice read to my sister Rachel and me at naptime when I was three. Watching my dad take posterboard, markers, and a copy of Yertle the Turtle to create a children's sermon on pride. Smelling the brand new pages of brand new books when the Abingdon library opened . Smelling the musty old pages of Grandpa's Baptist hymnal whenever I dust them, and get the feeling of touching the hands that held the very same book and sang the same beautiful anthems to the same wonderful God. I grew up with parents who highly valued books. My mother was never what you'd call a "shopper" of clothes, shoes, and trendy household goods, but she could spend hours upon hours in a bookstore. I worked for a summer at a Christian bookstore, as did she. My son, Stephen, it just occurs to me, is a third-generation Christian bookstore employee. Much as I love books, I don't have as much of a problem parting with them as some folks do. This summer, when I decided to alphabetize all the books in the basement by author's last name, I heeded the Lord's prompting when tempted to hoard even such valuables as books: tithe on them (as in, give away ten percent of them).

2. ADVENTURE is a word that conjures up feelings of excitement and fear and wonder and energy. When I think of adventure, it involves a modicum of mystery: Where exactly is Vladimir, Russia? Will my room in heaven have all the flowers my mind and heart can ever want? How can I make grammar NOT boring to fifth and sixth graders in such a way that they "get it"? What will I look like when I'm 80, if I'm still alive? What if Plan A doesn't work out? I'm excited about Plan B. It always works out, and sometimes is even more fun that Plan A.

"Adventure" makes me remember Great Adventure, a theme park my friend
Cindy and her sister Sondra invited me (and my older sister) to when I was in seventh grade. It was one of the most fun days of my entire life. I splurged on a stuffed frog at the end of the day and had a bunch of people at school sign it. How many other people can say they've owned an autographed frog?

3. BABIES... Nothing says "Made just for you by Jesus" quite like a baby. No two alike, not even identical twins. I loved being pregnant with my babies, an unspeakable, unmatchable, unquestionable pleasure of being Woman. Never has joy been so great as when I felt a baby kick inside my womb. Never has a sorrow been so deep as when the doctor said, two different times, "I'm sorry, there is no heartbeat."
I can't write those words without crying, and it's been ten years since our second loss.

I didn't think I could ever love a baby as much as I loved my first baby, Ben, and when I got pregnant with our second, Sarah, I begged the Lord to give me as much love so that she wouldn't feel deprived. I think He laughed; it was an absurd request, thinking back now. Of COURSE, as surely as the sun rises and sets, I loved all my babies, and would love a hundred and twenty babies if I had them (though I'm glad God chose a much more manageable number for me).

I'm looking forward to having grandbabies. In fact, I find myself wondering what they will call me. Paul wants to be PopPop. I know I don't want to be Grandma (sounds so old ladyish) or Granny , but would love a completely unique name from my grandbabies, something one of them creates for me from baby babble. "Priddy Gammy" would do!

4. CHANGE--I am just about evenly split in my knee-jerk reaction to this word. Having lived in 13 houses by the age of 11, I adapted quickly and rather easily to change. I have lived in the country, the city, a small town, a college dorm, in the 'burbs, at the beach, in a duplex, in single-family homes. I have lived on food stamps and have dined on gourmet food. (I much prefer the latter.) After 21 years as a single, I got married and the change to wife was a lot harder than I imagined. But the change from not-a-mother to a mother ? Totally unprepared for that. To be responsible for another human being 24/7 changed me profoundly. The starkest revelation was that I hadn't changed fundamentally; I just couldn't hide the parts of me I had always been able to hide before: the ugliest, most selfish me. But then again, changing diapers and
hearing my babies coo and seeing their luminous smiles and gazing upon their blue-eyed beauty for lo these 21 more years, has been an uncomparable experience. I am ready to die, for I know my Savior and have been a mother. Those are the two deepest joys of my life.

5. PUNS -- For the most part, people think of my jokes as the first two-thirds of the word "pun." I can't help it. My husband calls it Dauber humor. I call it Kansas humor. I have no concept of living a day without puns. It would be an adventure, a real change, an idea to baby, something to put in the record books. Punless Zoanna. Unthinkable! (But worth a try, perhaps?)

Anybody else like to write on 5 words? Let me know in the comment box.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Matt is in Surgery

The surgery scheduled for yesterday was postponed to today.

My nephew, Matt, is undergoing open heart surgery as I write this. Please pray for him and the whole family.