Friday, December 30, 2011

Reggio Emilia, Italy (Tour + Ideas)

photo of: Collage of Reggio Emilia Photographs taken during field trip visiting Italian Early Childhood Centers

REGGIO, ITALY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I just realized that I s-t-i-l-l have oodles of photos of my field trip day through Reggio that have never made it to the light of day. It seems a fitting way to conclude the year... remembering highlights from this spring.
A day of delight! A dream come true!! Pinch me!!! A day in: REGGIO!!

photo of: Reggio Emilia Countryside Photo Collage

There's a Three Stooges sort-of-Debbie Clement story about my day in Reggio and our getting seperated and totally lost from the caravan of vehicles playing crack-the-whip in European traffic circles. Happy ending!! 
We eventually arrived at the pre-arranged school, late and crazed, but in the nick-of-time for my performance!!

Here's what the drive looked like from Vicenza to Reggio... rolling hills, farms, small villages.

photo of: Reggio Emilia Province field trip to Childcare Centers

Maybe I need to back up, just a tad, for all you newbies just landing here for the very first time. WELCOME!! I'm a "music-lady" evolved into a picture book author + illustrator. Have guitar will travel.

My newest picture book is entitled "Red, White and Blue" and is a patriotic tribute to our country based on a song I wrote immediately after 9-11. As a result of my book, I was invited to Europe to tour four US Army bases across Germany + Italy. The special tour was arranged to sing with the children of our troops stationed abroad and present staff development workshops. 

Our base outside of Vicenza Italy is about 90 minutes from Reggio. Arlana Young, the brilliant organizer of my tour was able to create an opportunity for her staff + MOI to tour two sites in Reggio -- in exchange for my presenting a concert for the Italian children.... there ya have it, the Reader's Digest version!

photo of: Reggio Emilia Countryside Photo Collage

My first misconception about 'Reggio' was my initial thinking over a decade ago, when I first began hearing the phrase 'in the Reggio style' was that Reggio was A school, A building. Quite some time ago I learned that it was more of an 'approach' that originated in Reggio Emilia. What I still didn't realize until getting to Italy, is that Reggio is not A village, but rather its A PROVINCE -- as in an entire geographic region! The two centers, that we toured and observed, were over an hour apart from each other. REGGIO is spread out -- much broader geographically than I realized until our actual arrival. Yes. ARTS!! Yes. COMMUNITY!! Yes. Adult-Dedicated Artists in the midst of children. YES!! REGGIO!!!
Let's start with our arrival to the brand new building of the state-run child care program.

This AWESOME fence with the bright colored pencils greeted us bordering the sidewalk up to the entrance.
I had to peek thru the little gap in the fence to grab the pic of the playground.
Everything: brand sparkling, shiny + new.

photo of: New Childcare Center in Reggio Emilia Italy

Here's the towering + brilliant entry-way. Two stories high.
Covered with professional enlargements of original children's drawings.
I just LUV LUV LUV that they have the original child's drawing taped right to the wall!! 

photo of: Reggio Emilia, children's drawings in Reggio Italy, enlarged children's drawings
Can you spot the child's drawing taped to the wall? (It's just to the lower right of the big painted heart.)

I have a previous post with several other additional examples of the children's art, turned into two story murals...... click back here to see the amazing school bus and others.

Here's another example that hadn't been in the previous post.
This is the original drawing, taped to the wall -- right beside the enlargement.  

photo of: Reggio Emilia Child's Drawing for Enlargement by professional artist

photo of: Reggio Emilia enlarged mural from child's drawing

These paintings are 'subtle' in their coloration, but large in their presentation!

photo of: Reggio Emilia child's drawing for enlargement
photo of: Reggio Emilia child's drawing for enlargement

Here's a brighter selection:

photo of: Reggio Emilia child's drawing for enlargement

Taking the speedie-quick-time tour (since we were so late, since we were so lost)

the first thing that I noticed in the hallways, was the sheer number of photos of the children engaged in a variety of activities.... and ALWAYS labeled!!!
photo of: Reggio Emilia light table, toddler sensory exploration in Reggio
I get the words: giochi, diversi, materiali, farina + luminosa. I get their engagement!!!

These are obviously photos of little ones exploring at a light table.
This collage of photos was under glass in a display case. 

Don't ya just LUV how everything is labeled?
Even if you can't read or understand Italian, it's awesome -- isn't it!
photo of: Reggio Emilia children explore sensory materials on light table

photo of: Reggio Emilia children explore sensory materials on light table
Isn't farina like grainy cream-of-wheat? Look how amazing the work!

photo of: Reggio Emilia Art project: collage of four seasons
As you might imagine, I was keen on taking as many photographs as possible of the children's artwork on display. What you are seeing is reflective of a spring day, in April, of the work created by wee-wonders up thru early school aged students. I LUV how they have so many collage pieces. These next 'shape people' are full of up-cycled bits and bobs of stuff. They translate easily.

photo of: Reggio Emilia Assemblages for SHAPES as people -- using recycled materials

These glorious nature-walk collages were presented in box lids -- creating a shadow-box and frame all in one. 
photo of: Reggio Emilia nature collages in shadow box: art project

Our visit was right before Easter and there were numerous 'Easter Egg' collaborations. This one was huge -- from floor to ceiling and displayed on the hallway wall bulletin board. 
photo of: Reggio Emilia Art Project for Spring, Easter Egg collage
Reggio Emilia Spring Bulletin Board of Happy Scraps

photo of: Reggio Emilia Images from Gross Motor Play space and napping cots

photo of: Reggio Emilia Toddler Communication Board for Parents

photo of: Reggio Emilia Art Materials Organization System
photo of: Reggio Emilia map of Italy from painted handprint images
I think this is going to take several more days to unwind all of the rest of the pictures and my observations from one incredible day.... stay tuned. I'll stay focused on Reggio for the next couple of blog installments. Focus! 

Prego!! {Prego: my one Italian vocabulary word which indeed means 'you're welcome' and was the singular most repeated word we heard in our ten days in Italy} 

In the meantime you're welcome to dig through the ten earlier posts already cataloged from this spring by clicking right here. Use the tag REGGIO EMILIA and you can root through all 18 posts. I've attempted to give you the highlights in this post, but if you're really interested you'll want to dig a little deeper. Not to be missed are the toddler murals with photos embedded within the open ended paintings and the 'sensory' garden. 

-- Debbie -- 

I have included this post in the Link-up of all things 'light-box' at Teach Preschool.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Black -n- White Fun!!!

You know that I like happy colors, right?

Do you know how much I like black + white?

The straight edges are little boxes for lamps, that I photographed in a gift shop this afternoon.

The 'looser' flowing stripes are t-shirts and tank tops that I grouped together in the same shop.
I was having a ball.

Then I spotted a few polka-dots.

It's been a good day!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Color Theory Hand Prints


Do you see how this was accomplished?
Two children needed.
Two primary colors of paint -- one color per child.
The magic happens with the thoughtful 'application' of those painted hands + the cooperation (over-lapping) of the partner handprints.
The children have to patiently 'apply' each of their painted hands according to some adult direction (so that the paint mixes.)
Placing their second hand 'over-top' their partner's hand print.....
makes for the magic transformation!!! 

These beauties were on display in the hallways in New York during my two day residency earlier this month. The beauty of being 'on site' for two days is that I really had enough time to take a look in the individual classrooms and go up + down the halls to see the work that had been produced prior to my arrival and 'document' it to share back here at blog central. 

The perfect combination of enough space available on my memory card, with enough battery power in my camera and just enough minutes to run like a wild-woman, through the building during every 7 minutes transition between my concert performances with the kiddos, allows me to share what I saw...... and I saw a LOT!!! 

This lesson is an absolute cake-taker!!!!
                        Here's another example:

I speak a lot on the importance of 'delayed gratitification' in my presentations to educators.
According to my dear friend, Dr. Pam Schiller, children who can 'delay-their-gratification' are demonstrating the number one predictor of lifetime success. That old expression "patience is a virtue" has statistical validation according to the research experts.  

This 'project' is the perfect example of a project to help stretch a young child's ability to 'delay gratification.' DAP in action!!!!! (that's Developmentally Appropriate Practice.) Given a young child and paint on their hands -- with an empty piece of white paper nearby -- what is the natural inclanation of a young child? TO GO WILD!!!!
                 Painted hands + empty paper = let me go!!!!!!!!

With this project the teacher is asking the child to 'control' all of that excitement and anticipation and enthusiasm to participate in a shared learning, a shared demonstration -- with an exciting outcome in the process. Learning to control our enthusiasm and direct our excitement is the hallmark of growth and the foreshadowing of success. I LUV this lesson!!!!

Let the Linkie-LUV begin! I shared this first over on Thrifty Thursday's linkie party!
This post is also over at TGIF's Linky Party #10!!!

***I'm now adding this post to our very first, ever LINKIE Party over at PreK+K Sharing, our collaborative blog, now hosting a monumental array of ideas on: ALL THINGS PAINTING!!Just click on our button below -- to be transported over to the exhaustive selection of ideas using paint! Come get inspired and add your articles as well!!!

PreK + K Sharing

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Doctor is IN!

How's this for a dramatic-play learning center?
Print-rich indeed! LUV it!!! Just needs the kiddos!!!

Looks like our friend there has had some surgery or needs some -- I couldn't decide which?
Clever attention to detail with the movable sign and the "Doctor Duck" book handy-dandy.

(From my two day residency earlier this month..... thought you'd get a kick out of this one!)

If we're going to prepare children for the bigger world around them, the world that is ever changing, one of the easiest ways is to enrich their early world with 'dramatic play' opportunities. Times for them to 'try on' different roles, different hats.... to PRETEND!!!!

I grew up in a world of make-believe and pretend. We grew up in an era where we threw a blanket over the dining room table and it became a submarine -- because we said so. We didn't often have props for our dramatic play. That blanket and our imaginations were the key!

I grew up in a 'black and white era' -- the photos of my childhood are all in b+w. I tell the students on my author visits that I grew up before color was invented! That's pretty accurate!!! Here I am in my very best 'pretend' a.k.a. "dramatic play" costume.

Little Debbie immersed in dramatic play!
That's me in my mommy's shoes and wearing her hat and gloves -- let's you know just when I grew up! The glove era!! I'm ready for an adventure. I credit my rich formative years with giving me the imagination to choose to begin writing and recording original children's songs at the age of 40. I credit my rich imagination with giving me permission to begin writing a blog at the age of 51!! I can't wait to see who I am -- when I grow up!!!

I work hard here at blog-central to bring you glimpses of my creative process and the amazing sites I see during my school visits and travels. I just did a whole review of my time in Reggio Emilia, Italy! Click right here if you'd like to see the catalogue of those posts. I work EXTRA hard to bring color to your day. Please come back often. Or pop over HERE to see my collection at Pinterest if you really want inspiration!!! (I now have 2,572 followers of my colorful, visual collections. I've done a lot of homework for the ECE community -- take advantage of it!)

My latest brain-storm on behalf of the ECE community has been the launching of our BRAND, NEW Collaborative blog over at PreK+K Sharing. We have over 30 amazing authorities on all things Arts, Mental Health, Classroom, Special Needs and Parenting; authors, bloggers, teachers and performers contributing a new 'article' once a month -- so you have brand new ideas and inspiration on a daily basis!!!! You must check out this newest resource! You are entitled to a FREE Mp3 of one of my songs by following this link to my article on childhood obesity.  

All this talk of 'pretend' seems like something Charlie Brown and Lucy would appreciate.

Speaking of Charlie Brown....................

I saw this image in the morning paper while on our cross-country trek, earlier this month.
We really haven't figured it all out yet, have we?

We need more voices advocating for children, for their precious early years.
We need more voices clammoring for resources to be focused on these without a voice.
We need to give our VERY best to children in their foundation years.....
Giving them plenty of opportunities for dramatic play and all of the other basics!

It's time to speak up -- where ever + when ever you have the opportunity!

*****I've added this post to Deborah Stewart's linkie on Dramatic Play over at Teach PreSchool. Click here for a ton of inspiration + ideas.

Monday, December 26, 2011

New Years Resolution Preview

These days to wind up the year are golden in my life. 
As long as I can remember this has been a week of 'vacation.' A week of hibernation. A week of reflection. A week of planning. A week of joy. Pure gold.

All through school and then college, and then teaching and even now -- as a small business owner (author/illustrator/music-lady) this has been a week of break. A week of vacation. A week of reflection. Finals complete. No papers to write. No presentations to make. Choose an era. This week has always been filled with a 'break-from-routine.'

All of the memories of the celebration captured in my heart. Some years had movie-marathons in pajamas. Other years there were fires in the fireplace after watching the girls ice skating on the backyard skating rink. A couple of adventures to warmer climates. Always a week to look forward to, to ponder, to savor, to restore + rejuvinate.

DeLorean Time Capsule: Noelle + Sarah Olympic preparation

So here we are again. 
The presentations are complete. The concerts are finished.
A week of pure gold!!
Now it's a week of planning.
A week of looking forward.
A week of consideration.
A week of goal-setting.
A week of resolve. 

I've learned so much in the past several months about the world-of-blogging.
It's going to be fun to move into a whole new year with an infant set of new skills, willing to grow.

So what will my resolve for this new year involve?

This week, TODAY, I have begun my next picture book!!!!!!!!
It seems reasonable to think that I could get one quilt per month accomplished.
Sixteen months = sixteen quilts = thirty-two pages = one picture book.

While I sit here with the potential of every possibility hovering brightly.........

How about some more specifics:
  • Be grateful, be appreciative, express thanks!
  • Look at my day from a "pinning-perspective"
  • Write my blog posts from a 'resource' perspective
  • Drink more water (aim for increasing intake weekly)
  • Eat more 'whole' foods: read VEGGIES
  • Put more snail mail into mail-boxes
  • EXERCISE: be diligent, be ruthless, dare I say, "Just do it!"
  • Follow up with seeds planted: make more lists
  • Take more pictures!!!!! Get some clip-art! Put it together!!!
  • Connect to more bloggers, more cyber resources, continue to learn
  • Contribute to our collaborative "PreK+K Sharing"
That's my Debbie's Dozen Resolutions
I've gotten into this list-making mood, prompted by a linkie-party!!!
It's taken HUGE HUGE HUGE amounts of risk growth, to put this out there for the whole world.

Pop over to "Live, Love, Laugh Everyday in Kindergarten" to see what others are planning. 

That's the motivation of the linkie party!
I've also added this to the Blog-a-holic Janurary Linkie party!!

Shhhhhhhh. Don't tell, but my lucky thirteen is to open a 'store' at Teacher's Pay Teachers.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Missin' My WEE Wonders

This is my first Christmas to be geographically apart from my Wonder-peeps. Needless to say, I've been missin' them like crazy all day. I probably didn't need to tell you that, did I?

With the powers of Skype we were able to 'scrumble' each other through the computer screen -- which is no where near as much fun as scrumbling in person. (I probably didn't need to spell that one out either, did I?)

To keep myself busy I decided to spend time searching thru photos.

This is probably the point where you chuckle to yourself and say something profound like, "The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree, now does it?" Fun times, indeed!!! Could these people be related to me? Ya think?

While I'm reflecting on my family, strewn across the entire country.... I'm proud to report that I remembered to take pictures just days ago when we gathered together in Georgia with my parents, sister Rebecca's family and Noelle + Zac (our daughter & SIL.) I'm going to include those snaps for my immediate family's enjoyment. Feel free to look over my shoulder while I get them organized here in my scrapbook.

Mom, Dad, Zac, Noelle, moi + Allen

Dad, Mom, Zac, Ramon, Noelle, Justin + Kelly

Do you remember that my niece Kelly married the dashing Ramon this summer? That's my nephew Justin, Kelly's brother -- home with us this season from his teaching responsibilities in Portugal. So this photo showcases 3 of my parents 5 grandchildren -- on the couch -- and the two adoring spouses perched behind their leading ladies.

Most of the above plus sister Rebecca, Allen is photographer
Justin + introducing Joana

The timing of this extended family rendez-vous was centered around our having the opportunity to meet Joana. At the time that I took this photo, I was still sworn to secrecy. At this moment everyone but Joana was aware that Jusin had an engagement ring in his pocket and was about to pop the proverbial question. They met in Joana's home country of Portugal -- and this was Joana's first trip stateside. Her English is amazing, which is terrfic, since our Portugese is non-existent. She was doing well to keep up with all of the who's whos, let alone the family antics. She's from a small family.
Everyone from above plus Dale, my BIL, front right happy smile.
Wallace family, not making traditional bunny ears, but rather reindeer antlers

What finer American 'institute' to introduce Joana to than Cracker Barrel?
Justin, Noelle, Kelly, Joana, Zac (photo-shop Ramon into snap)
All of us were acting as though we had swallowed the proverbial canary..... it was so hard to keep from smiling tooooooo brightly, since we were all 'in' on Justin's secret. I'm happy to report that she said "YES" and I am now at liberty to share 'the rest of the story' here with my extended family. Happy times!!!!

The blessings of the season are profound. The depth + true meaning of the season are amplified thru the prism of being with and being separated from those that we love. Go scrumble someone that you have within arm's length.... and then be very grateful that you can.

Here's a 'review' photo from last Christmas, when we had both daughters, both SILs AND the WonderPeeps all together in one spot. This is the most recent 'Four Generation' photo that we have. A true treasure!!!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like.......


 You know how I feel about imortalizing hand-prints, right!
How about a handprint wreath?
What a great way to incorporate EVERYONE into one project!
LUV collaborative projects!!!

A 'sweet' candy cane, open-ended, always successful.
1. Red construction paper cane base
2. Tissue papers: red + white to 'glue' randomly

Candy Cane Collage

Looking for fine-motor fun for next year?
Be sure that you pin this image as a reminder!!
This tree project above could easily be adapted for younger fingers, and instead of 'cutting' snips to brighten the tree, they could be torn bits.
++++ Speaking of hand-prints and how 'handy' (LOL) they are for creating projects to keep FOREVER........
Click back here to see more examples of the hand-print 'snowflake' ornament idea.

                                     Consider making an instant 'heirloom.'

Friday, December 23, 2011

Blue Christmas: Re-Run

One of the best things about the 'discipline' of keeping a blog, is that it really does become a chronicle of your journey. I've been wrestling with what to post today. My last entry has already climbed well into my Top 10 list, because it is just the type of 'content' that teachers are looking for: Graphic Organizers + Foldables = HOT commodity! It's taken me months of 'learning' to figure out how to create such a post. If you came here today hoping for more of the same, another teacher grand slam -- turn back now. Flee. Run for the exit. The pendulum is about to swing.

If your life is set in the midst of a Martha Stewart-Norman Rockwell sort of backdrop, click away now and head to your nearest up-beat blog address, one chock full of recipes with cranberries, family crafts with cinnamon, and grandiose pine swags of decorating ideas complete with tinsel tutorials. My writing today is about to get real. [I promise that the next post will swing back to happy-happy + upbeat joy, so please do indeed come back.]

BUT. If your life is not of that glossy magazine-ilk. If you have troubles. Or issues. Or conflicts. Or frustrations. Or challenges. Or bad news. Or divisiveness. Or struggles. Or loss. Or heart ache. Or concern. Or agony. Or wounds. Or questions. Or searching. Or good-byes to articulate. Stay tuned. You've come to the right spot.

I am going to re-post my entire entry from exactly two years ago.... I'm not sure that blog-experts would approve of such a cut & paste, but that's my plan. It's an old post that hardly any one read back then, because I had no readership really. Be fore-warned: It's a strong post. I wrote it right before my second diagnosis of Breast Cancer -- which makes it all the more poignant reading it now. [CUE: Heavy-duty fore-shadowing, indeed... I wrote the original post exactly one week before the mamo that sent everything into tail-spin, the sequel.] 

I only keep one blog. Consequently this one's a patchwork quilt of my time as a survivor of various life 'train-wrecks' punctuating an overall life of contribution, creating and caring. One side of my world informs the other. But today I pause to acknowledge that life is not just one big long parade of polka-dots and smiles. Planet Earth.

It's been a long two years. A second diagnosis of early Breast Cancer. Bilateral Mastectomies. Complications (you don't even want to go there with details lets just summarize by saying) INFECTIONS. Fired my surgeon. Got new specialist, new hospital. Frozen shoulder. Months and months and months and months and months of painful physical therapy to be able to lift my dominant hand over my head. Lymphedema (again in the shallow end of that pool, too. I have much to be grateful for on the BC continuum.) Kinesio-taping for months on end. Lymphedema sleeves and gauntlets -- stares and insensitivity from waiters and miscellaneous total strangers -- oh, and pain, did I mention pain? -- and a constant revolving door of medical appointments. That was the year of 2010.

FLASH-FORWARD. 2011. This was the year I lit a candle on Easter in an Italian cathedral. Truly. In. Awe.

Duomo di Milano, Italy: Easter Candle Prayers -- Mine lit for the CURE
Tonight. I just read that one of my dear "Team January" surgery-sistahs received the news earlier today that her BC has metastasized in various places through-out her body. Stage IV. [There is no stage 5.] She is a HUGE influence on our team -- because of her brilliant support from her medical training she informs all of us, but more significantly her impact on us is because of her enormous heart, kindness and sense of humor. She's young, with her first born daughter's wedding on the horizon. Tonight I also read of another Team January member who received her prescription for anti-depressants earlier today. Are the two related? You do the math. Mets are everyone's worst fear. TAK (pseudonym) received the news today. The news NO one ever wants to hear on December twenty-third. Falalalala-lalalala? Really?!?!
It was TAK's announcement that jogged my memory about my earlier post: "BLUE CHRISTMAS."

My Angel "Saint"creation, forever watching-over-me
It's a tough road. This post is dedicated to all of my BC sisterhood familyhood. [I miss my dear friend Saint so very much. Whole families grieve, not just we sisters.]  My earlier writing which follows this ever longer-intro, is probably all the more appropriate now, than I realized it would be when I wrote it two years back. Perhaps this will be my annual Dec. 23rd post? Something in the vein of a "Yes, Virginia tradition."

Certainly there is pain beyond BC. I dedicate this particular post to everyone who is hurting, like my grandma-friend who has just received the news that her unborn grandchild is not likely to survive being born. Yes, this post is for everyone who has lived thru the fires of this life (the actual burning down your house kind with a lengthy ICU stay as my brother experienced this year + the try-your-soul, refining types) the tragedies, the set-backs --  all of which become magnified at this time of year in the face of the Hallmark Channel's non-stop happily-ever-after of sappy-endings marathon.

Light a candle. Say a prayer. You are loved through-out this human soup of life's experiences. Loved with a power only imagined and possible by a Creator capable of sculpting both the Grand Canyon and the daisy. You are loved. You are loved by a Maker that harnesses the power of an infinite universe of twinkling stars to the specificity of a sand dollar washing up at your feet as you walk the relentless and thundering surf. 

You are loved in the midst of it all. That to me is the miracle of this season. We can lift one another up by listening, by being available, by caring, by our mere presence being the present.... even when there are no words, or perhaps especially because of the times there are no adequate words. Whether with a hug in person or a message through cyber space, we can impact the lives of others. I offer you my experience as an example of the goodness of grace abounding. I 'sit' in solidarity with those experiencing blue. There is indeed strength in tears, but especially in blue tears.

Dec. 23, 2009
What a blessing. What thoughtfulness. What consideration.
Tonight our church hosted it's first ever "Blue Christmas" service.

It was soft.
It was deep.
It was compelling.

The chancel was darkened except for blue lights illuminating the altar and numerous simple white candles twinkling. The music was presented by a trio, accompanied by piano and acoustic guitar.

It was quiet.
It was moving.
It was healing.

The poinsettia tree was already in it's place of honor, but the focus was much more subdued and it literally stood in the shadows.

The readings selected spoke of 'seasons: a time to weep' and 'deep speaking unto deep.'

It was a blue service. For those grieving, for those in the midst of loss. For those having a difficult time embracing the traditional ebullience of a hyper-over-produced Christmas, which can be a criticism for even the church.

It was a blue service. For the lonely. For the broken. For the forgotten. For the exhausted. For the searching. For the despondent. For the struggling. For the weary. For the lost. For the displaced. For the angry. For the frightened. For the drifting. For the seeking. For the depressed. For the hurting. For the fractured. For the aching. For the mourning.

The pastor spoke of the strength and value of tears -- especially during this season. He addressed loss. He spoke of 'missing gifts' when a loved one is no longer in our midst. He preached about being brought to your knees with questions and searching hearts..... how such times may be when we are most seeking answers and ready & available to listen.
He spoke of consolation.
He spoke of lighting your candle against the darkness.
He spoke of yearning.
He spoke of sorrow.
He spoke of heart break.
It was tranquil.
It was serene.
It was peaceful.
It was very possibly one of the most meaningful worship services I have ever attended. I sat there thinking what a gift for our congregation, for our community. I sat there with tears streaming down my face for most of the service. Gentle tears of acceptance. Gentle tears of peace.
It was gentle.
It was at the same time hopeful.
It was powerful.
Strength from weakness.

As we walked across the dark parking lot on our way to the car, I was thinking how I could possibly convey the simplicity, the majesty and the ringing truth.
This season is so hard, for so many.

I wished that every congregation would host such a service. A 'blue' Christmas. I was thinking of a picture to post here, on this thread. A single candle?
Just as I was considering the options I saw the license plate on the car parked next to ours.
I pray that you will embrace your survivor-hood status and that the season at hand brings answers as you seek -- sometimes on your knees, sometimes while sobbing, that you are loved with a depth beyond your understanding. I pray that you know that you are never alone. I pray that our community offers you strength. I pray that this season offers you a moment of reflection. I pray this season brings you hope -- even in the broken-ness which is ours.

Strength and courage.
Strength and courage.
Strength and courage.

Thank you divine angels for leading a worship committee to have the insight to create an entire service of dignity and quiet for us to collectively mourn our losses. May you bring comfort and consolation to those who are in need here in our community. May we raise one another up, by sharing our losses, our sorrow, our weariness..... dividing it by our sharing it. May you shower us with the gentle healing of our acknowledging our blueness and may that healing give You glory.


Strength and courage.
Strength and courage.
Strength and courage.

[I originally wrote this post to go on the Stage IV thread at BCO in the Discussion Boards in a section entitled "Women of Faith" -- and I copied and pasted it from there into my blog.]

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!
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