Friday, March 25, 2011

Lesson 44: For Four--Fore!

Here is a special one for Sam's fourth birthday on March 27th.  And how diabolically perfect is it that I happen to be at blog post 44?  So, for four I am screaming, "Fore!"  The on line dictionary worded the perfect definition for "fore."  Don't think in terms of golf though, think Sam-- "Fore!" is shouted as a warning during a golf game when it appears possible that a golf ball may hit other players or spectators.  Perfect.  Kids at Milestones Early Learning Center, take cover.  Here come Sam's fourth year--FORE!  He's been known to throw a few chairs every now and again.

Sam has been the comic relief of this blog, and I thank him for that.  When I took writing classes in college from my favorite professor, Roger Solberg, he used to tell me it is all about balance.  You have to have laughter where there is pain.  That is why Shakespeare used comic relief, and why the LOST writers included Hurley.  After I've written too many serious and thought provoking blog posts, I always insert one about Sam for the good of the order.  They always seem to bring the most responses from people.

I've told you stories of the potty training, the stubborn streak, and the famous one liners.  But I haven't given enough cyber space to what a wonder my boy is, and how thankful I am to have him.  Even with the girls, as happy as I was with the two of them, I always felt like there was someone missing.  I was not actively seeking another child by any stretch of the imagination.  So it was a blessing when I found out I was expecting him.  Especially so as I had just recovered from a miscarriage and was feeling that emptiness one feels after having one.

Sam's birth day was one for the record books.  I fought long and hard to get that baby out on my own.  I was bound and determined to do it with no drugs this time.  I was toughing it out.  I even tried bouncing on that birthing ball, something my friend told me sped up her labor lickety
split.  All it really did for me is bring on harder labor pain while sitting on an unsteady, rubber sphere.  I haven't been able to look at a yoga ball the same way ever since.  

My sister Karen could not wait for this last hurrah.  At 36, it was clearly going to be my last baby, so she wanted to be with me to relive the process one more time.  I heard her and smelled her before I even saw her.  I was laboring in the bed when I heard the tell tale clickety click of her high heels and jangling Silpada bracelets coming up the hall.  She  
was already chattering away to the nurses.  Upon entry of the room I smelled her perfume and something else.......  In a sing-songy voice she exclaimed, "I brought Starbucks!"  She had a four pack carrier and gave one to Louie, two to the nurses, and kept one for herself.  She pulled up a chair, grabbed my hand, and started her coaching.

The early morning turned to late morning, then to early afternoon.  As the later afternoon was creeping upon us, Eloise was giving out, but baby LaFuria #3 was content as ever to push the other way.  An omen? Perhaps.  The pain was intense and the room started to gray around the edges.  Voices started to sound far away and I was getting tunnel vision.  I remember praying to Jesus out loud.  Karen must have overheard me, because the next thing I could see was her face inches away from my own.  It sounded like she was talking in a bucket.  She said to me, "Do you SEE Jesus?"  I think she was the one who really got the show on the road.  Remember this--when you are too weak to advocate for yourself on your own, have your sibling do it for you.  They have a way of making things happen.  Within minutes I was down for an emergency C-section and my bouncing baby boy was born on March 27th at precisely 3:27 pm.

They say that everyone needs a Bible verse to adopt as their own.  I'd tell you mine, but I can't, because it is my password for everything.  Some people are lucky and have a cool name like John.  If your birthday was August 28th, then you could adopt John 8: 28 to be your verse.  I thought, "Cool, Sam will have a Bible verse from the Book of Samuel.  Neat."  Later that week when I looked it up there was no verse 27 in the third chapter of Samuel.  But I was in luck!   There are two books.  I checked out the second book, and as with most things with Sam, I wished I hadn't.  Here is the verse:  2 Samuel 3: 27--Now when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into the gateway, as though to speak with him privately.  And there, to avenge the blood of his brother Asahel, Joab stabbed him in the stomach, and he died.  NICE!!!!!!!!

In the above photos you'll see Sam during some of his finer moments.  He loves football and didn't seem to care that the Steelers lost the Super Bowl.  He only wanted Jack and his friend Adam to try to tackle him.  Much to his father's pleasure, Sam loves to fish and happens to be a left handed bowler.  You can take Sam anywhere, from a playground to a party to the church preschool, and he me makes friends.  He is friendly and open with people, which was in stark contrast to his older sisters.  For years people made fun of me as each was stuck to a leg much like a barnacle would be on a boat's bottom.  And mine at the time was about the size of a barge--that's what having kids does to a person. 

You will also see that Sam does not like to dress up in formal attire.  He prefers jerseys to neckties and that is fine by me.  You will also see him crying over a pull up.  If you look closely, Eloise played another dirty little trick on her son.  I told him he is getting too old for pull-ups and he needs to get up at night to go pee and not pee the bed.  He of course, was not too keen on this.  So I did what any good mother would do.  Bought him his pull ups again, but told them that the only kinds they had for four year olds were pink, had Dora on the front, and the backs were covered with hearts and flowers.  I know, mommy issues.  It explains a lot.  But my response to you all is "FORE!" because that was a 200 yard drive for me. 

4 cheers for four!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Lesson 43: What Words Can Be Worth

Wow!  Wow! Bing, boom, bam!  Two posts in a row for Eloise.  But let me tell you, readers, this one is really worth the review.

Eloise is a huge American Idol fan.  In keeping with family tradition, I too am a lover of music and look forward to the live performances and variety of music the show offers.  What I really enjoy about American Idol, however, is a good Cinderella story.  I love to see young adults plucked out of obscurity and brought into our living rooms each week.

This season there was a very touching story of a man named Chris Medina.  Most will remember him as the young man whose fiancee was hurt in an accident and left brain damaged with what doctors deem "permanently disabled".  Despite her injuries, Chris continues to stand by her, care for her, and love her as he did before the accident.  Unfortunately Chris did not make the Top 24 and was eliminated from the competition.  It brought judge Jennifer Lopez to tears.  I was sad to see him leave, as I loved his singing and wanted to continue to follow his story for some reason.  Eloise found herself really pulling and praying for these strangers she never met.

Today I was shopping on iTunes beefing up my Idol 2011 collection of songs.  At the very bottom of the idol offerings was a single by Chris Medina.  I have never seen a song released as a single on iTunes under American Idol from a contestant eliminated so early in the competition.  You can find it by scrolling all the way down to the bottom and it is on the left side.  Invest in it. It will be the best buck twenty nine you ever spent.

The Cinderella stories on Idol are meant to be about the singer.  The real Cinderella in this case is Medina's fiancee. She has found her handsome prince, her knight in shining armor, a man noble enough to live up to his word---a very rare find today.  That is what this song is about.  It is called What Are Words. 

Words are certainly important when you stand by them, as in this case.  I write lots and lots of words on this blog and I try to stay true to them, but it is hard.  But I remind myself that I am perfectly imperfect and to give it my best shot every day.  When I am weary and defeated, I will listen to this song and watch this video and be reminded of what words can really be worth. 

Apparently someone in the business was also touched by the story and wrote a song for Chris to sing.  A day after the elimination he was contacted, and a day after that he was in the sound booth recording the above posted song. 

To the fiancee from Eloise:  He's a keeper, beautiful stranger.  Best wishes and I will continue to pray for the two of you.  God certainly works in beautiful ways, doesn't he?


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Another Lesson 42: The Key to all Things is 42

I wish I had a dime for every time someone said to me, "You should write a book."  

"Oh, pshaw!" I humbly say while batting my hand at them and glancing away.  I am not looking away because of my bashfulness.  I break eye contact because I am lying to you and my eyes are very telling, so I am told.  Yes, Eloise has been fooling you.  I have written a book already--two actually.  A pair of never been published works....and I am about to tell you about them.

My first "book" I titled The Chicago Chronicles.  It was a non fiction account of a weekend trip my family and I took to Chicago to visit our friend Stew many years ago.  There were several of us who went there and Stew showed us his pride and joy city and we had a great time.  My sister and her husband were living as newly weds overseas in Indonesia at the time and she missed the trip.  I felt bad she missed out on all of the fun, so I wrote about the trip, each chapter about one of the people I spent the weekend with and sent it to her.  Mom, Dad, Louie, etc. were the names of the chapters.  Karen and Steve loved it and shared with me that it brought them laughter and joy at a time when they both were very homesick.  They wanted someone else to share discussion of it with and asked if I had given the other people copies.  I hadn't considered that because if you know my sense of humor, I tend to slide in my fair share of snide remarks and I feared that someones feelings would get hurt.  After some more pushing from my sis, I finally obliged, but rewrote a "kinder and gentler" version of each chapter that went to the recipient.  Mom and Dad got a tamer version of their chapters and the full version of "Louie."  I made my husband look like a super hero in our copy, and gave him the full brunt version of his in-laws.  I am a bit scatter brained by nature so imagine me keeping all of those copies and making sure each was distributed to the right person.  Hence, there are no copies in existence today.  My computer had this nice function even back then called the "delete key."  Bye bye.

My second book was probably a best seller.  It was called Misunderstood and is the story of our journey with Autism.  Each chapter was named a "mis" word:  Mistaken, Misguided, Misinformed, Misfits, Misery, etc.  The last chapter I rewrote recently.  I titled it Miss Understood.  It was Natalie's story, Natalie's journey.  In the beginning she was Misunderstood and by the end she was Miss Understood.  It truly is a work of beauty just like she is.  So why haven't I pursued publishing, you ask?  Because as my mom's friend Pat always says, "It is lonely in the ivory tower."  Surely I'd be perched high up in it, reading my book all by myself because I wouldn't have a family member left speaking to me nor a friend left in the world.  It is a raw and true account of our journey and sometimes when you lay it on the table like that, it can be ugly.  I tried to even tame it down once and the watered down version paled in comparison to the original so I best left it alone.  Yes, I have it and yes, it is hidden in my super secret place.  Upon my untimely death my sister will be rushing over to dig through my stuff to publish it posthumously. 

But surprise!  All good things come in threes for me.  I have three children.  I was born on the third day of the third month of the year.  My favorite beer Rolling Rock has that mysterious "33" on the label.  And most of all, the third time is the charm.  I've been working on another book, my third attempt.  I think this one is pretty good.  I've been hacking away at it now for a couple of months. 

I am not going to give you much, but just enough to make you curious.  I'm releasing the first page of chapter 1 and looking for your feedback.  My readers would be my best editors anyway, right?  The story is called The Key.  It is written about my 10 year old daughter Ellen and her relationship with her mother and her grandmother as she tries to sort out the key to life on her journey through middle childhood.  Read it as though Ellen is speaking to you and it will make the most sense.  It is written below in blue: 


My mother has "things" for lots of things.  She likes numbers because she says they are all "significant" and that I will figure it out someday.  She also likes to say random things that really aren't random at all because I know she is doing it to make me think.  But mostly, she has a thing for keys.  It's kind of a love-hate relationship of sorts.  How my mother behaves at any given moment usually surrounds the knowledge of where her keys are.  She loses them daily.  I hear her tirade about to begin now:

"UUGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!  WHERE are they!  OK everybody!  HELP ME!  WHERE did I put them?  I just had them in my hand!  I was standing here with them IN MY HAND!  I didn't even move ten steps! The stupid cat distracted me and now I lost my keys!  Now I am going to be late for work!  All because of that cat!  Everything always falls apart for me on the last step!  Ellen, get your butt in here and help me look or I am going to unleash my full fury on every living thing in this house!!

Time for me to go, I guess.  Onward to the kitchen I trod only to find an all too familiar scene.  My mother, a classic beauty in her own right, is a flurry of motion, skirt swinging in her futile and frantic twirls, arms waving wildly, and her long, wavy hair flying every which way. 

"Mom," I say softly.  The tirade continues.

"Mom!" I say again with a bit more oomph.

She stops and looks at me and everything is silent, almost like entering the eye of a hurricane.  "They are around your neck."

My mother is a teacher, the Enrichment teacher for the program at my school nonetheless.  So she is both my mother AND my teacher; the one responsible for expanding my mind and broadening my horizons.  If the school only knew how absent minded my mother really was, they never would have hired her in a million years.  The principal actually bought her a lanyard to hang around her neck to attach her keys to, because she's lost the keys to the school so many times.

"Oh, for God's sake, Ellen!  What is my problem?  You think that after all of these years of teaching I'd finally be able to leave for work in the morning without all of the drama.  It's all your aunt's fault!  If she wouldn't have left me with that stupid cat that just won't die............."

Mom's voice drowned out as she left the kitchen, went into the garage, got into the car and drove away.  Looks like I'll be catching the bus again.  She forgot me.  I was supposed to ride to school with her.  I can always walk over to my grandparent's house, because they live next door to us.

I slung my new polka dotted book bag over one shoulder and decided to walk the fifty yards east to see what my grandparents were up to.  You don't even have to knock at their house.  You are allowed to just go right in.  It is not because they are cool though.  It is because my grandma is hard of hearing and she couldn't hear the knock anyway.  I always try to make big movements so she can see me, but I seem to startle her every time.

"Grandma!  Are you home?"  I make big swinging movements with my book bag to see if it catches her eye.  Nope.  She is standing in the middle of her kitchen smoking a cigarette, glued to the TV which is turned up so loud that it is vibrating.

"Oh, crap Ellen!  You made me jump!   Did your mother forget you again?"
The story is a work of fiction, but I am sure those of you who know my family can see some similarities in some of the characters to people you know. 

Are you curious as to why I titled the blog post ANOTHER Lesson 42:  The Key to All Things is 42 ?  Good.  Mission accomplished.  Eloise got you thinking.  This will be answered in the book somewhere, because just like in the second sentence, She likes numbers because she says they are all "significant" and that I will figure it out someday.  I am strikingly like the mother in the story, classic beauty and all.  And I too believe that you, like Ellen, will figure it out someday.  But you'll have to wait a little while.  It is still a work in progress.  But you know that famous saying, good things come to those who wait.  The Key will be worth waiting for.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lesson 42: My Kind of Perfect

We are all perfectly imperfect.  That is my profound thought for today.  It must be the 40 thing and it took me four decades to finally get this.  It was the message God wanted me to put on the blog for this week, I believe.  I found this song on Saturday night and the next morning at church the sermon was just about that--perfectly imperfect people.  I get it, God.  This is what you want me to write about.  I got the message and I will share it with others.

Our pastor was on vacation and a beautiful girl from our church wrote and read the sermon.  She opened by citing examples of imperfect people who did great things: Moses with his speech impediment, David--an adulterer, and Paul--a persecutor.  Her message to everyone was that we can't wait to come to God after we've cleaned up our problems.  We go to Him today, with all of our shortcomings in tow, and He loves us anyway.  "I can work with that," He says.  What a comfort.

I feel for my kids, as do many of you, growing up in a household of two teachers.  I have heard many a time that we are "too hard on our kids."  I don't think that is the case at all.  Disciplining and staying on top of your children by watching how they behave and what they learn is a natural and God designed part of parenting.  We set the bar high at our house and expect our kids to fall every so often in trying to reach it.  Goals are certainly attainable, but perfection is not.  If you don't believe me, just look back at any blog post with Sam as the topic.

The song posted above is from one of my favorite American Idol stars.  Let me introduce you to my future son in law, everyone.  This is David Aruchuleta, the 21 year old talent who was the first runner up on Idol a couple of years ago.  I have David all picked out for Ellen.  The girl he is singing about in his song is her.  I am sure of it.  The catch is they just haven't crossed paths yet.  In truth, he actually met her once.  Too bad it was in Pittsburgh at the Mellon Arena with thousands of other screaming fans.  You know how shy Ellen can be.  I think she got overshadowed by all the teenagers and she was a mere 8 years old at the time.  All in due time though, Ellen.  I'll keep the faith.  My daughter is only ten--probably too young to be thinking about this arranged marriage to someone eleven years her senior, but it does take time to plan and save for a wedding.  I recommend watching the video now, then returning to this post to read the rest.  You will see why this young man is so special and why I love the song.  He's my kind of perfect.
Yeah!   You're back!  I could feel the vibrations as you were tapping to the rhythm of the music on your keyboards.  I loved the song, especially its title.  But what I loved the most was the little interview piece in the middle that shows what kind of a person David Archuleta is.  Perhaps it is his youth.  Maybe it is his good Mormon upbringing showing through.  Or what it he is just fulfilling his God given gift by singing and sending messages to all of us through his voice.  No matter the case, David is sending us a message not only with his song, but with how he handles his stardom so responsibly.  Not like, well, er, um, hmmmm  Charlie Sheen, let's say.

It was when David spoke the word "message" during that interview that pricked up my ears.  He stated that he wanted the songs on this album not to be generic, but to tell a message.  David wanted to make sure what he said mattered to people.  What a positive and upbeat statement to make to all of us.  I will mimic him in this blog as well.

So here is Eloise's message for all of you:  we never have to try to be perfect.  However, we need to remember that what we do, what we say, and how we live matters.  Your actions make a statement to the world as to who you are.  Are you sending a good message or you just living a generic life?  Are you behaving the way God wants you to?  Could someone please forward this to Charlie Sheen?  In summary, we just have to do the best we can each day with the gifts God has given us.  He doesn't care if we are perfect, because we are all perfectly imperfect.  We are His kind of perfect. 

According to Eloise's calculations, you all will be receiving wedding invitations in the mail in the year 2029.  I'll send the "Save the Date" refrigerator magnets next week.  Don't miss it because the music will be outstanding.  Tennessee Back Porch should be well into retirement by then, so David can bring in his peeps to help celebrate.  I can't wait to see who is on this guest list.  Slovenians, it may be a bit early to book your ticket, but keep watching for those deals.  They come up every now and again.  Don't let a good one pass you by.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Lesson 41: Two Little Ships Reach The Port of Call

Thank you to everyone who sent birthday cards in honor of my XL birthday!  I can honestly say that it was the most fun I've had in awhile watching all of the cards pour in.  87 arrived by mail as of this weekend and I received another 37 from school from my students and friends.  Click on the link above and it will take you to my picnik slide show.  I have snapshots of my favorites with captions included.  A lucky few of you will be receiving prizes in the mail.  Watch for an envelope to arrive from the Lamp Post.  Think of it like watching for the Publisher's Clearing House Prize Van to pull into your driveway.  And for those of you procrastinators who didn't get my card out in time and are pouting, I'll quote Ed McMahon, "You can't win if you don't play!"

I will remember my birthday as bittersweet as it truly marked a milestone in my life.  On the last day of my 30's I experienced two deaths within hours of one another.  Both my mother in law and my friend, neighbor, and collegue Myra went home to be with the Lord on that day.  Thinking about life and death on the same day left me sleepless for much of the next night.  I was awake as I watched the clock turn to March 3rd and felt a mix of emotions as it happened.  I was sad for the people I had lost, but was at peace knowing they were in a better place.  I stepped into my 40's with the confidence that I will see them again someday.  I do this because I have faith in my Lord and I believe. 

I was reminded of a poem that Maria Shriver read at Tim Russert's funeral a few summers ago.  For you Slovenians who may not be familiar with American News programs, Tim Russert was the NBC Chief White House Correspondent and Political Analyst.  No one could interpet the tangled web of American politics and put it into understandable terms for the American public like Tim Russert.  I never cast a single vote without thinking first about what Tim had to say.  Mr. Russert died of a sudden heart attack while working at NBC studios.  His death left a huge void with his NBC family as with all his viewers.  Since, I have not found any other analyst that I trust as much.  I miss him terribly as I am sure many others do.  I am sure this poem has been read at other funerals, and the author is unknown.  However it is with Tim Russert's funeral that I connect this poem to.  It comforts me today and I would like to share it with you.  Here it is: 

The Little Ship

I stood watching as the little ship sailed out to sea.
The setting sun tinted her white sails with a golden light,
and as she disappeared from sight
a voice at my side whispered, "She is gone."

But the sea was a narrow one.

On the farther shore a little band of friends had gathered
to watch and wait in happy expectation.
Suddenly they caught sight of the tiny sail and,
at the very moment when my companion had whispered,
"She is gone,"

A glad shout went up in joyous welcome:
"Hooray!  Here she comes!"

I bet as my mother in law and my friend reached the shore on the other side, they turned and looked back and saw me waving and blowing them kisses.  I am sure they could tell who I was because I was the one wearing my 40 glasses, party hat, and was holding a cluster of black balloons.  I hope I gave them a chuckle. 

See you in another life, sisters.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lesson 40 XL: This Little Light of Mine

Today is my birthday.  My XL birthday.  Not as in extra large, as in Roman Numerals.  Now some of you weren't paying attention in third grade, so I will explain.  X is ten and L is 50.  NOW PAY ATTENTION!  When the little letter comes in front of the big letter, that means SUBTRACT, not add--that's too many years for Eloise.  So Karen, get your bedazzled calculator with the faux-gemstone keys.  Press 50 - 10 =.  The number that shows in the rectangular window is my age.  Eloise was born on the third day of the third month in the year 1971. 

My real name, not my pen name, means "shining light."  I've known this since third grade when I needed to learn it for a school assignment.  See, I was paying attention when I was eight.  I've never forgotten it and always liked it.  But now more than ever before does the meaning of my birth name seem all the more fitting as I am keeper of The Lamp Post Dharma Station and write the blog Lessons From the Lamp Post.  For this reason I will dedicate this blog to the light and all that it means.  How perfect is it that I can make such a connection on the day of my birth, 40 years ago today?

In the beginning, way back to the birth of all things, the world as we know it was this big, empty, formless blob.  Then all of a sudden God said, "Let there be light!" and there was light.  Kind-of-sort-of like my birth.  When we leave the womb and enter the light, we are born our physical birth.  Your lamp is lit however,when you are spiritually born, which is something really worth celebrating.  It marks when you make a choice to step into the light.

If you really go deep here, which Eloise likes to challenge you to do,  ponder this:  light itself is invisible, yet everything is invisible until light strikes it.  That reminds me an awful lot of God, how about you?  God is invisible, but when we stand in His light, we can see.  Our eyes are opened and we see things in our world from a whole new perspective, a whole new light. 

I had a guest speaker at my church a few summers ago and I can't remember the gentleman's name.  I know that he wore a blue sport jacket and had a soft, soothing voice.  I am not good with names.  My brain is so full of friends and family and students and parents and sports stars and musicians and heroes that some days it seems like I can't put one more name in my brain without another one spilling out.  My sister Krissy, I mean Karen (see, there I go......) has a mind like a steel trap and can recall names and faces from high school with complete ease.  My mom knows every person's birthday in the whole wide world, and good old dad is great with dates.  But me, what am I good at?  Making connections I guess, and remembering the "big stuff" more than the details.  It wasn't this man's name that stayed with me, it was what he said.

I remember this kindly gentleman speaking about his missionary work in the darkest corners of the world.  He went to places of extreme poverty and hopelessness and spoke to the people about the Lord.  He brought slides with him of the places he'd been and projected them onto the wall of our church.  I am always amazed and taken aback by how some people live in our world today.  Those images of the people in the faraway places are burned in my brain.  I prayed for them that day, and continue to pray for all people in extreme need every day.  The man admitted that he sometimes would get discouraged and felt like giving up because the need was so overwhelming and the situations so desperate. When this would happen to him, he would pull out his wallet and dig for something he had tucked away deep in the well-worn and folded leather--a tiny piece of a mirror. 

He told us the mirror was to remind him that he was not the light, but a reflection of the light.  It was his job, his purpose,  to reflect the light into the darkest corners of the earth.  He could physically illustrate that with the tiny piece of mirror and did so for our congregation.  He pointed to the shining light from above on the church ceiling, tilted the mirror in such a way that it reflected the light onto the dark corner of the church where the wall met the carpet.  He kept repeating, "I am not the light, but a reflection of the light", pushing his point home into our hearts.

As the Lamp Post keeper, I must remind you all of this:  I shine the light from my Dharma Station, but I am not the source of the light.  So when you praise me for my writing ability, and send me messages about how I touched your heart, made you laugh, or inspired you, I must humbly pass that glory on to God, because I am not the light, but a mere reflection of it.  We are all reflections of the light and it is our job to reach those dark corners of the world.  We don't have to travel to a country we can't pronounce to do it.  We can do it from wherever you are at the moment, because we are surrounded by plenty of darkness.  I can do this through my everyday actions and also through writing posts like these on this blog.  As a birthday gift to me, do this:  allow your lamp to be lit, and let your light reflect onto others.

This reminds me of one of my favorite Bible verses found in Matthew, chapter 5, verses 14-16.  Jesus told us this:  You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.  When your light is lit, you won't be able to hide it.  Others will see it when they look into your eyes and see the sparkle.  When you reach out your hand to grasp theirs they will feel the warmth you radiate.  They will see your glow when they are in your presence.  You are not the light, but will be a reflection of His light.  How wonderful.

Therefore on my birthday I give thanks to God for my 40 years here on earth.  I also thank my parents for giving me life, security, and love.  But most of all,  I am thankful to them for choosing my name which means "shining light." I've heard the stories and know they always liked my real birth name, but I believe God must have whispered it in their ears because he had a plan for me 40 years later.  He knows how I find great satisfaction in fitting things together, so He knew my birth name would be a perfect choice--"shining light" for the Keeper of the Lamp Post. 

Slovenians, you are curious aren't you?  You really want to know what my real first name is.  Don't ask me right now because even I have forgotten it a couple of times lately.  I have been so taken up with this blog writing that recently I signed Eloise Hawking instead of my birth name on things.  The guy at Film Fest Video in North East didn't catch it when I signed for my videos.  The crew at Milestones Early Learning Center may have caught the wrong signature on their check for Sam's tuition though.  They probably would have figured that Sam finally pushed me over the edge and I had gone insane, so I ripped up that check and wrote a new one. 

Slovenians, you are reading this blog, so obviously you have access to the internet.  Check out my good friend, Mr. Google, and with a few words in that rectangular box, you should be able to narrow my name down to about 5 possibilities.  They are all forms of the same name and all pretty if you ask me. 

For the rest of you, your assignment from this teacher is to find your sije svetloba.  And in case you aren't good at piecing together context clues, the above italicized words are "shining light"--in Slovenian.  Find some way to light your lamp and put it high on a hill for all to see. 

Enjoy the song This Little Light of Mine by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.  It is one of my favorites.  This version with the full gospel choir in the background puts it over the top for me.  Don't be afraid to stand up, clap, and sing along with it at the top of your lungs.  I hope it becomes not just a catchy tune that you find yourself humming today, but a song you put in your heart.  I hope you remember the message from this blog for many years to come, just as I remembered the man who came to my church, even if you forget the name Eloise.

Have an XL sunny day, everyone!