Saturday, September 11, 2021


 Twenty years ago, in room 305 at East Lincoln Middle School, I was teaching. I don't remember the lesson. I remember the knock on the door and Mr. White from the classroom next door signaling for me to step into the hall. He told me a plane had just hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center. I remember thinking what a terrible accident that was and thanked him for letting me know. Then, I went back to imparting fascinating facts, which I cannot remember today, to my sixth-grade students. Soon after, Mr. White was at my door again. This time his face was pale and his eyes held terror. "It wasn't an accident. Another plane just hit the other tower," is all he was able to say. Again, I returned to my students. I wonder if they noticed the distraction and tension in my words. Those innocent children had no idea of the blow that our country had just sustained. Did any of us really absorb it? An announcement from the intercom jolted me instructing us to check our email. The message from our principal was to carry on calmly and not have our televisions on with students in the room. I only hoped the elementary school five miles away was following the same directions. I did not want my baby girl to see the images of planes smashing into buildings, fire, smoke chasing people down streets, and ash raining down as she sat at her little first-grade desk. I wanted nothing more than to go pick her up and protect her from evil and harm. However, I had my own classroom of trusting eyes relying on me to stay focused and carry on. Classrooms began to empty as horrified parents rushed to pick up their children. 

For days and weeks, we watched the news footage of the collapsing buildings, the fractured Pentagon, the scorched Pennsylvania field. We watched as search teams dug through the rubble looking and listening for signs of life to rescue. We cheered at the television screen when someone emerged. I remember the faces of the first responders as they tirelessly trudged ahead with the mission of saving lives. I remember skies, once filled with planes, being quiet and still and empty. I remember scouring shelves looking for an American flag, only to discover yet another store was out of stock. The sense of patriotism and unity was like no other. People stood in long lines to donate blood to sustain life in victims. But, we were all victims. Our security was stolen. We were raw and vulnerable and uncertain about what would come next. But, we were Americans. While hurting and grieving losses, we were proud and resilient, and united. 

What if we honored the ones whose lives were taken that Tuesday morning twenty years ago, by rekindling that spirit of September 12th? What if we looked out for our neighbors with no regard for the color of their skin, the accent in their voice, their vaccination status, or any number of things we allow to divide us? What if we each try hard every day to live up to what we pledge? What if we really became ONE nation under GOD? What if we stood indivisible? Would there be liberty and justice for all? Don't you think it's worth a try? 

Monday, August 9, 2021

Lesson From the Ocean

"Be still and know that I am God..." Psalms 46:10

I love to walk on the beach! What feels like a chore or exercise at home is easy and peaceful there. I could walk for hours. However, recently I took the time to just sit. Lounging in a chair away from the surf, up near the dunes, there was no breeze. So, I took my chair and placed it in the edge of the surf where the foaming water could lap at my toes. It was there that I noticed something new. A sound I have never heard, even after all my trips to the coast. I heard the usual roar of the powerful waves crashing just beyond the foam. The familiar swoosh of the waning waves rushing toward the shore was audible. However, quietly sitting still, I heard a new sound. As the waves fizzled out at the shore and the water was sucked back to the sea, that water became a symphony of clicks and crackles. The soft popping noise blended with the various tones of the ocean orchestra already performing. It was a perfect addition to the music. A light, happy, hidden melody to soften the powerful, obvious rhythm we all hear. But, I had to sit and be still. When walking the next morning, I tried to hear those undertones. Even leaning down, I could not hear them. I had to lower myself and sit with the waves to hear that special new staccato sound. It made me wonder how many times I miss unique, special moments...God winks. How often do I walk right through an experience, were I to sit with God and be still, would provide a special moment or needed lesson?

"Lord, slow me down and help me carve out time to just be still and know that You are God. Thank You for allowing me to be Yours. May I never take it for granted."

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Distanced Together

 Distanced Together

I miss you, my friends

while we are distanced together.

But, there are things we can still share

to make each others' days better.

An email, a prayer,

a text, a call, or a note,

a scripture shared from the

book that God, Himself, wrote.

My mask may be hiding

the smile that I wear.

But, I pray that it doesn't stifle

the way that I care.

Monday, August 3, 2020

"Lions and Furnaces and Faith, Oh My!"

My last blog listed lots of things I missed when school moved out of the building in March. As we prepare to return school to the building in a couple of weeks, I wonder how many of those things will return. How many things will return, but look different? How many things will be changed forever? Fear, uncertainty, doubt, and anxiety all burrowed into my soul and tried to take root. But, then God! He showed up in a sermon from the book Daniel. Yes, the Sunday school stories from your childhood about the guys in the furnace and the lions. In both accounts, people of God were told to do something that went against the will of God. Punishment for disobedience to the orders was death. Well, at least that was implied. Being thrown into a fiery furnace or a den of hungry lions would normally lead to immediate death. But, then God!

The men who refused to bow to a gold image may have been afraid. I mean, they were human. However, they did not let any fear within them control their actions. Responding to the king, "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up." (Daniel 3:17-18) Whether on earth or beyond, they knew God would hold them. This reminds me of Romans 14:8, "For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die we are the Lord's." Daniel had the same mindset when faced with the lions. (Daniel 6)

You may be wondering what going back to school has to do with a furnace and lions. I certainly do not equate returning to in-person teaching with being thrown into a furnace or a den of lions. I am not really afraid of catching the virus and dying. However, there are fears. Real ones. Legitimate ones. Ones that need to be acknowledged. In acknowledging them, however, I have allowed them to consume me. But, then God...showed up in a sermon and reminded me of some lessons for times of crisis and fear.

First, crisis does not create faith, but it can reveal it. What am I revealing about my faith in God through my reaction to this crisis called COVID-19? Recently, the answer to that question would be...nothing good.

Second, crisis can bring out the worst in people. Throughout this pandemic, opinions have been voiced and hatred tossed around like confetti. Sadly, I have voiced and tossed my fair share.

Third, if we allow it, crisis can turn our thoughts upward and inward, causing us to meditate on God's word and His promises. In doing that, here are some reminders I have found that I am choosing to remember. Maybe they will help you when your vision becomes clouded by fear and anxiety and your focus shifts from The One who holds your future.

Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (This is not situational...WHEREVER!)

Psalm 62:8 "Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us." (Again, not ALL times!)

Psalm 94:19 "In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul."

Isaiah 41:10 "Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord, our God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you."

2 Timothy 1:7 "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

Romans 8: 28 "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."

Romans 8:37-39 "Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor thing to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Philippians 4:6-8 "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things."

I, like those men facing the furnace and the lions, know fear. If I am being completely open and honest, I must admit to having a mild panic attack recently when the fears and anxiety swirled in my heart and mind and tried to drag me under their dark waters. But, then God! He threw a life preserver, in the form of His word, and pulled me out of the vortex. Will I be tempted to again dip my toes in that icy, dark water? Of course. So, I will keep His life preserver close by and call on my rescuer in prayer often.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Things I Miss

The date is April 26, 2020. It is a sunny Sunday afternoon and I should be preparing to go to school in the morning. However, school is no longer a place to go. School is a thing to do...from home. March 13, 2020, was the last day of public school in North Carolina for this school year. The Coronavirus and COVID-19 have us under a "Stay-At-Home" order. I am not clicking the keys to start a conversation or debate about the situation. Today, I simply list things I miss. Things that I pray I will never take for granted or complain about again. Things that help make me who I am. I miss:

* the morning drive to work listening to praise music, seeing the sun turn the sky pinkish-orange as it wakes up the world in my rearview mirror.

* watching students carefully clip the flag onto the rope so it can begin its ascent to the top of the pole where it will greet everyone with a wave.

*saying good morning to students on the front benches with sleepy faces because they must be dropped off early.

*the sweet girl who arrives early intentionally so she can use school WIFI to do homework.

*the beep as I scan my badge and the click of the door lock releasing allowing my entrance to the day.

*stopping to fill my cup with ice water and being grateful for little things like the ice machine for which we waited so many years.

*the friendly smile and warm greeting from our custodian, Frank.

*the chatter and laughter of staff greeting each other.

*my little lamp that sheds warm light in the corner of my classroom when the overhead lights are just too much.

*writing the date on the board each morning.

*updating the "I can..." statements with hopes that they can!

*Monday morning gym duty with sleepy-eyed students who perk up when they tell me about their weekend.

*the way my teammates and I show up in matching clothes without planning.

*the way we finish each other's thoughts and statements.

*lockers slamming, kids laughing, books dropping, chairs sliding, and hard-to-hear announcements.

*patting kids on the back and giving high fives and fist bumps.

*standing to pledge allegiance to the flag and then take a moment of silence to pray over us all for a safe day.

*taking attendance by looking around the room at real faces instead of checking a Google form that has no face.

*the kid who always has a story about a go-cart or truck he and his brothers are working on.

*the kid who needs a hug when he arrives, even if he's late and I'm teaching. He gets a hug. I miss those hugs that before seemed a disruptive annoyance.

*the kid who hates hugs but will "tell" me good morning with a small, sideways smile and a nod.

*my glitchy SmartBoard with its many white spots that we lovingly refer to as "indoor stars."

*hands waving in the air with eager answers.

*waking up that sleepyhead and teasing him about staying up too late.

*co-teaching with my inclusion partner.

*the way a face lights up when they "get it!"

*kids working together to problem-solve.

*seeing the natural leaders growing in the groups.

*the kid who needs to go to his locker every day before lunch to get the Oreos he forgot again.

*the sunshine hitting my face as we cut through the courtyard to lunch for a brief moment of warmth and fresh air.

*downtime at lunch with my friends.

*cafeteria corndogs and fruit crisp.

*the music playing from the kitchen to give us all a lift in the middle of the day.

*the hustle and bustle of "pack up/chairs up" time.

*the suddenly quiet, empty halls scattered with water bottles and abandoned pencils once students leave for elective classes.

*slowing down runners as they burst through the doors to the bus lot and the hugs a few of them give after they slow down.

*the music playing while I work in my classroom to prepare for the next day. 

*walking to the car in the afternoon, hearing student-athletes and coaches on the fields.

*glancing at the rock to see if anyone is celebrating anything. 

Most of all, I miss my students! All of them! I pray that they are healthy and happy and not stressing out about anything school-related. I want them to know that they will be just fine. They will go to seventh grade and later onto high school and then will continue to follow their dreams. This is just a speed bump on the road of life. We will all get over it and be just fine! We have not hit a wall that will stop us, just a bump to slow us down a bit. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Gonna Build a Big Fire

What a great lesson tonight from Chad Martin at Lake Norman Church of Christ!  He asked us if he were to build a big bonfire would there be anything in our homes that we really need to get rid of.  Hmmm?  Well, yeah!  I'm not really sure our video collection reflects the image we want.  No, let me rephrase that...I know our video collection does not reflect the image we want.  And I'm sure there's some music somewhere in the CD collection and maybe a few books...the list goes on.  Most of what comes through the television should be thrown in the fire.  Why is it that we will sit and listen to/tune out language coming from the television speaker that we would never allow a "real" person to sit on our couch and use.  We would ask them to watch their language in front of our children.  It's time to get real about the junk we watch and listen to and pass off as no big deal.  Proverbs 23:7 says, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he."  So, the next time I'm watching something on television or thinking about seeing a movie, I hope I will ask myself, "Would you watch this if Jesus were here?  Well, isn't He here?"

Gonna build a big fire
To toss my trash in
Gonna rid this house of the world
And fill it up with Him!

Call me a radical
Call me what you will
But it was pretty radical
What happened on Calvary’s hill!

I wanna grab those movies,
Books, and CDs
Throw ‘em in the fire
And set my heart free!

I wanna get my house ready
For God to move right in
Send the devil packing
With his evil and his sin.

Lock him out
And bolt the door
Tell him he just ain’t welcome
Here no more!

Melissa B. King   1/26/14

Monday, October 14, 2013


God, do my seasons sadden you?
As my branches grow weary and shed their leaves
do you wonder why I
don't more strongly to you cling?

When the snowdrifts of worry
pile up around me
Do you wish I would look
toward the Son and see...

Spring is coming soon
fresh and new?
You will help me grow,
stretch, blossom, and renew.

When my spirit falls
and winter settles in,
lift my eyes to your Son
until it is summer again!

Melissa B. King
October 13, 2013