Tag Archives: Mississippi State

LSS: Share blessings all around

“You need a house blessing,” my dear friend and college roommate told me over the phone a few weeks ago.

I didn’t know quite how to respond.

I had been telling her what a mess my house was, that my girls and I were up to our elbows in busy and how I needed to be somewhere else in 40 minutes. Either she was missing the point or I had misunderstood.

“What did you say?” I asked.

And again, she said, “You need to bless your house.”

Bumfuzzled, I kindly said, “What in the world are you talking about?”

“Just set the timer for 15 minutes and make everyone in the house help clean,” she said. “You’ll be amazed how much you can get done with everyone participating. You’ll bless your house.”

No holy water required.

As she finished explaining, I set the timer, muted the phone for a moment and told my girls to get busy cleaning.

This blessing was all about focusing positive energy to make a situation better. I added one rule. No one could stop moving until the timer went off. And the movement had to be swift.

We cranked up the tunes and blessed our house for 15 minutes.

No, we didn’t get things spic and span in that short while. As my husband pointed out, that would require something a lot more intensive than a blessing. However, our fast and furious 15 minutes helped us to make a noticeable dent.

We got the table clean and sparkly. We got the dishwasher unloaded and loaded again. We cleaned the sink and countertops and swept the floor. We got a load of laundry on to wash and all shoes out of the living room. We did a paper sweep of the house looking for all trash and the garbage out.

It wasn’t clean, but it was better — and sometimes, we have to settle for what’s possible. That short span of time was a great lesson on working together, a focused effort and making a difference. We made a game out of it to see just how much we could get done in 15 minutes.

Truth be told, we all had a better perspective once we were done — even my 14-year-old daughter would admit it. The tiny dose of housework triggered something in both of my daughters that let them know cleaning wasn’t something to dread. It was almost fun.

Like a Thanksgiving cornucopia, our lives and homes are overflowing with bounty and blessings. Ironically, it’s often all the blessings of our lives that lead to so much energy required to keep our homes neat and orderly.

During this season of counting our blessings, I encourage readers to make a Thanksgiving List. I started making Thanksgiving Lists just last year. It’s a list of personal memories that I’m grateful to have had. Last year, I explained that the list be as long as a person is old. For example, if you’re 37, you have a list of 37 memories — but the memories don’t have to correspond with a specific year. Thanksgiving Lists aren’t that stringent. The memories on a Thanksgiving List can come from any year.

The thought required to make the list is a great exercise. I challenge you to try it this and every Thanksgiving. Reflecting on the blessings of life is healthy. Just like taking time and energy to bless your home is good — or taking time and energy to share blessings with others increases our own.

While you’re counting your own blessings, make a pointed effort to share some with others. In fact, I challenge you to see how many ways between now and Thursday you can find to bless someone else’s life. Remember, it’s easy to bless the lives of people we know and love. The challenge is blessing the lives of the people we don’t know at all.

Jan Risher’s column, Long Story Short, appears on Sundays. She’d love to hear your experiences of sharing blessings this week. Email her at jan@janrisher.com.

LSS: Separate bits, bags and earrings always on

Every time I type the word separate, I actually say six little words. They are the very words Dr. Mary Ann Dazey said to me when I learned, once and for all, how to spell that word correctly.
There is a rat in separate.
She said those words and then turned around to the chalkboard and pointed to a rat in the middle of the word.
“And that’s all you need to know to spell that word correctly forever,” she said.
Given my life of confusion over such, as a senior in college, I hung on her words and changed my wicked ways. Dr. Dazey was one of those rare professors willing to open her heart to her students and embrace them with love and knowledge. She taught me much more than how to spell separate, but that mundane morsel reminds me of her and the joy she shared in the learning process.
By the way, Dr. Dazey often quoted poetry at random moments, Shakespeare mainly.

Every time I stand in front of a group of folks and the time comes for us to move as a group to another spot, I find myself saying, “Gather your bits and bags and let’s go.”
When I hear those words coming from my mouth, I smile and think of the first time a teacher said them to me.
Ovid Vickers taught my first college class. On that summer morning, I was feeling what I consider to be reasonable jitters. I had graduated from high school the day before. (No time to waste in starting college.) Mr. Vickers walked in the room and began to call roll. He enunciated each syllable of every name in an exaggerated way that made me smile. Sometimes, he would call a name and then stare in silence for a few seconds at the person who raised his or her hand. Toward the end of the list, he called my name. He paused, looked up at me and said loudly, “Who’s ya daddy?”
It was the first thing he had said other than calling names and caught me completely off guard. I told him my father’s name, and he said, “Yep, taught your daddy and your mama too. I remember when they met,” and then went on calling roll.
I was completely under his spell. I found nearly everything he said noteworthy. When one day we went as a class to another place on campus, he said, “Gather your bits and bags and let’s go.”
Of all the brilliant things he said, that phrase doesn’t even rank, but to this day it makes me smile and re-live for just a moment the excitement of learning new things.
By the way, Mr. Vickers often quoted poetry at random moments, Theodore Roethke usually.

Every time I’m out and about and realize I’ve forgotten to put earrings on, I am mortified. Fashion faux pas rarely rattle me, but earringless-pierced ears are different. That’s because Mrs. Donna McLean told my junior high school English class that if you have pierced ears, you should never go out in public without earrings.
Like the other bits of English-teacher wisdom, that nugget stuck. In a small Southern town, Mrs. McLean was out of the ordinary. She was from California. She spoke using a different syntax. She was like an entertainer on a stage and could have sold tickets (at least to me) for English class. Her love of language added fuel to the fire of my own. She made me think and encouraged me in ways that make a positive difference in my life to this day. She helped me believe in myself. Her ideas expanded my mind, and her class made me a better writer, student and person. Earrings can’t compare to what she taught me, but they are my daily reminder of Mrs. McLean.
By the way, Mrs. McLean often quoted poetry at random moments, Robert Frost primarily.

Separate bits, bags and earrings. Concrete moments that remind me of what great teachers have thrown my way. Gratitude abounds.