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The church gathered to worship last Sunday, and I enjoyed everything about it, including the singing.

The young man who led us had chosen some wonderful songs of praise, and once or twice I had to find a tissue for brimming tears. (And I found one, thank goodness. On occasions I’ve been reduced to using the hem of my jacket or long skirt.) The sound of the congregation singing was not what moved me; much of the time I could barely hear the people around me. It was the words we sang that moved me.

I pay attention to words.


Many of my students wrote wonderful essays, essays that blessed my life. Joel wrote one of them. He had come back to school on a Sunday afternoon with five dollars in his pocket and remembered he had not yet tithed on his fifty dollar pay check. He was happy that he had just enough in his pocket to give to the Lord, but he was worried because the school does not offer Sunday evening meals, and he knew he had no way to eat anything until the next morning. He knelt by his bed and prayed that God would take his offering and help him not snatch it back to combat his hunger. Before the night was over, our almost hilariously generous God supplied my student, through several different means, more food than he could possibly eat. His testimony of God’s goodness and care moved me, but what moved me as much was his offering to the Lord.

I read that and began to think a lot about kneeling before my bed with a sincere offering of my own.


As I mentioned in “Moving On,” my last blog, I actually cried when I told the academic dean I was going to retire from Ozark Christian College after more than a quarter century of teaching there. In the two years of winding down that followed, I experienced recurring moments of sadness as I taught each of my courses for the last time.

In a way, the last semester of British Literature was sad every single class period. I had a wonderful group of students, including three jocks, two who liked me quite a bit and didn’t hate the poems we studied, and one who hung on for dear life the entire semester. Along with these three were many other students, several of whom enjoyed class. I loved them all.


I taught English courses at Ozark Christian College for many years, and retiring last year was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I loved the subjects I had taught with great enthusiasm, and I loved my students. Naturally I had to mourn.

Mourning is how I began a non-fiction book that College Press, a local publishing company, asked me to write twenty years ago. Framing a Rainbow is a celebration of parenting, but the first chapter is called, “My Heart Hurts,” a phrase my older daughter Stacey coined the summer after she graduated from high school. She said it when she, her sister Leanne, and I  spontaneously formed a group hug at the close of an annual camp for highschoolers we had always attended together—they were campers, I was on staff. We immediately adopted the phrase and have had several occasions to use it through the years.