Thursday, April 29, 2010

Loving Others

Journal for Christa—

Years ago—more than what I’d like to admit—I was having quite an issue with a parent of one of my students. He didn’t like what I taught, how I taught, and I doubt seriously if he liked me—at all. It was kind of a bad situation. So, at care group one Sunday night, while Pastor Mark was cooking hamburgers, I asked him for advice on how to deal with this difficult man. His response to me was to say, “You need to love that student and that parent more than you love yourself.” Humph. That really wasn’t what I was expecting. I didn’t even like the guy. He was mean. And I surely didn’t like him more than myself.

Loving others more than myself—what a better place to practice that concept than in a family—

Today, right in the middle of a Harlem Renaissance poem, a student raised her hand and stated, “Mrs. Borkert, this is a little off topic, but what does being a family mean to you?”  (It was rather “off topic,” and an assignment for another class, probably her next one.) I was kind of stumped, standing there staring blankly…25 of them staring back. I don’t know what they were expecting. Then I said, “A family is where they love you, whether you deserve it or not.” I don’t know why I said that. I could have said a million different things. As I’d stared blankly at them, I thought I should say something profound, something that would capsulate the very strong passion I feel about “family.” But, that was all that came to mind.

“A family is where they love you, whether you deserve it or not.” I think of all the things I’ve said and shouldn’t have, but my family loves me anyway. I think of all the children gifts of love, from flowers picked in the yard to a tape Mel made for me (which I still have, by the way, Mel), Mother’s Day cards, poems, notes. And there were things we did for them: encouraging words after lost wrestling matches, lost loves, lost dreams, and late night talks.

So, maybe it is true, “a family is where they love you—where you know they will always love you—no matter what, no matter when, no matter where; because in a family, you learn to love others more than yourself. There really isn’t any better place to learn that.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Journal for Christa—

The charge on Discover was $12.00. I asked Jay what it was. He couldn’t remember. (I rarely order online.) “April 2nd. Right after spring break. Was it something you ordered for the ponds?” There was a phone number, and since he was next to the phone, I said, “Call this number.”

It turned out to be a “subscription” we weren’t aware we’d subscribed to. Jay canceled it and requested our $12.00 back. The voice on the other end was friendly and compliant to return our $12.00, as he should have been, since skimming through previous online statements, I discovered we’d faithfully paid $12.00 for the last 15 months!

I started to think about how much money that was and what a waste. The more sobering thought was that if Jay hadn’t been sitting next to the phone, we could have paid them for the next 15 months—or longer.

So, I decided to consider the times things should have cost me and they didn’t—like when I was speeding through Oklahoma, and the nice policeman gave me a warning instead of a ticket.

Sometimes things in life just happen. This week because of a volcano—that someone in Iceland should have given far more worldwide consideration to before naming it—Joel, Kim, and the kids have been stranded in Madrid, Spain—for starters. Their plan was to train it to Barcelona yesterday afternoon. Since their Facebook page has been silent these last 24 plus hours, I only hope that they are closer to home and not much worse for wear. I’m just glad mostly that they are together.

And when things in life happen, perhaps that is the most important—to be together. People can withstand a lot of trouble by being together. Sometimes the pressure can get intense and cause us to fuss at each other, but really we ought to be glad we aren’t alone.

I’m hoping when I check Facebook tonight, Joel or Kim has posted, “We’re home!” And, when Jay and I traced back our “subscription” to the online purchase made, it was something we’d ordered together. Even that was kind of nice.

P.S. (Joel and Kim are home, and life is good.)

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Journal for Christa—

I stopped by Mardel’s a few weeks ago to pick up a book, but as I walked over to the books, there knelt Rachelle, weeping in the grieving section, fingers skimming over the open pages of a book from the bottom shelf—so very alone in a public place.

Loss is something that people, for the most part, experience alone. Not to minimize the care and prayers of others and even the assurance that God is in control—loss is still a very lonely place. Because we’re each different, it seems we must each find our own way through the darkness, and it’s often a lonely trail—especially at the beginning.

Sometimes loss is so great—far greater than we thought we could ever bear. It wakes us in the night; it torments us there. It haunts us by day. It is ever present. And yet so often, nobody knows. And we feel so very alone.

So, what do we do? I don’t know what we do—we just get through—one day, one moment, one breath at a time. Loss cannot be ignored; it must be realized. It’s far better to weep in Mardel’s among strangers than to “gird up one’s loins.” (That’s an old King James way of saying, suck it up and carry on.)

Then eventually, there comes a time to set loss out of the forefront, but for Rachelle that is not today, nor tomorrow, or the next. Loss is, indeed, a lonely place, yet it is also a shared place. Remember that shared loss builds strong ties—and shared comfort.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Journal for Christa—

I’m friends with a lot of young moms on facebook—single moms, married moms, working moms, stay-at-home moms. But one thing I’ve noticed is that for the most part young moms are enjoying motherhood. I find a lot of pleasure in their joy of their children and the care and seriousness with which they approach their role as mother.

Being a mom isn’t always easy. Just watching Callie for 20 minutes on Skype can make me tired the rest of the day. Callie plays hard, imagines hard, and bosses Elliott a lot. She’s a happy little whirlwind everywhere she goes. Children make you laugh, make worry, and make you grateful they are in your world. They also make you tired.

But, God knew what He was doing when He gave us children. Nothing else quite takes us beyond ourselves and teaches us to be unselfish. Nothing else helps us to just persevere when we must, because we simply must.

For moms there are easy days and frustrating days, but remember that each day is a good day. Some would tell us that “mommying” is insignificant, and other activities are more rewarding or beneficial. Those are lies, and the moms I read on facebook illustrate to me that they know what is true. 

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Journal for Christa—

I’ve been reading “girl” books—not that I’m into girl books. I don’t think I really read “girl literature” when I was a young girl. But, having been told I am possibly scheduled to teach a girl’s Bible class next year, and having the advantage of a son in youth ministry, I got some names of books—girl books. Tonight I’ve been reading about make-up. I just never really thought so deeply about make-up before. It’s caused me to reflect on my own experiences with make-up. 

My first experience was a matching nail polish and lipstick that my mom bought from the Avon lady. I was in the sixth grade and delighted with my fancy looking nails. Mr. Stratton was not. I distinctly remember his calling me up to his desk during math. After looking down at my fingers, he proceeded thus, and I quote: “Mrs. Uptogrove and I do not approve of young girls your age wearing nail polish. You are not to wear it to school.” Make-up and I did not get off to a good start.

But, the following year, I entered junior high, where blackest black Maybelline mascara and I became hard and fast friends. I do have eyelashes, but if it weren’t for Miss Maybelline, the world would never know.

At some point I didn’t wear make-up for a while. All I did was birth and care for babies, so what was the point? During a hard time for me, Jay suggested that I start my day by putting on my make-up, even though I wasn’t going anywhere; and it did make me feel better. Our pastor at the time, Dr. Martin, used to say (regarding make-up): “Even an old barn looks better with a coat of paint.”

Having taught in the Springs for over 20 years, I rarely go anywhere (and I do mean anywhere) without seeing a former student. Therefore, I don’t go out without my mascara, normally. One spring morning last year, I went to Lowe’s with Jay to help him get some wood. Wanting to beat the crowds, it was 6:30—AM, I went (almost) the way I’d crawled out of bed. Once there, Jay procured the help of a young worker. When he arrived in the wood aisle on a forklift, he smiled down at me and said, “Oh, Mrs. Borkert, how are you? Are you still teaching English?” And there I stood—in Lowe’s—at 6:30—on a Saturday morning—paintless.

Sometimes, I wonder if I’m cut out to teach this class. Maybe I’m out of touch. Maybe I have too many issues of my own, including make-up. But then, maybe other barns just don’t need much paint yet.