Sunday, December 16, 2012


 A Comment in response to the Boston Bombings:

 Dear Readers,

I add on to an earlier post I wrote soon after the killing in Connecticut. Reading the events of today, with the two bombs planted and detonated for the purpose of causing harm, fear, injury, and death directed at random people enjoying a well-known event, make me want to revisit this writing of mine about school shootings and the dangers that threaten our security as people in America. I wrote it during a passionate moment when I was considering the nature of the times in which we live.  We aren't in Kansas anymore.  We must wake up.  None of us will enjoy a sense of safety if evil is allowed free access to ferment and grow, especially if good things and wholesome concepts are not a part of who we are as a people.  I want more for my children and grandchildren than to live in fear or where life has little value, where it is not considered intrinsically of worth.  Of course, I do not know who placed the bombs at this time, so no conclusion can be wrought in this writing.  It may not fit the circumstances....but, I believe it is worth repeating anyway.

My thoughts and prayers to each and every family impacted by today's horrific bombings, and for our nation with its loss, during its time of need.

May God Bless America,
Norma Brumbaugh Wieland
April 15, 2013

 A Comment
Three days ago a young man went on a killing rampage at an elementary school in Connecticut after killing his own mother.  As I watched President Obama say the words we all were thinking, I had to agree, it's happening all too often.  Something is terribly wrong.  Last night I penned the words that follow for a facebook post.  We must force ourselves to look at the bigger picture, to see what is becoming a reality in our society.  There are many reasons that people do these horrid crimes against humanity.  One can't lump them in a tight group.  But it can't be just mental illness or access to guns. Here is what I wrote last night.

Lockdown two-cents: A year ago I went through a lockdown at the school where I taught. A shooter was on the loose. It happened at dismissal time. We were told that the school was going into lockdown mode. I called a couple students back who had just gone out the door, and I initiated measures to protect my students. The kids thought it was a practice drill, but I thought it was legitimate because of the timing. A few minutes into it, one student asked me, "Do you think this is real?" I said, "I think it may be." Soon another child said, "Do you think we will go to heaven today?" We didn't know what was up for 45 minutes until the Superintendent came into our classroom and escorted children one-by-one to their parents. It had been a nearby shooting, at a taco truck down the street from the school, the gunman at-large, his home across from the school. Scary stuff.

Yesterday I was making a connection. In other countries the shooters, destroyers of innocents, come in the form of suicide bombers. In our country, it's the young adults who've been raised in a country that glorifies death, often called "the culture of death." We are short-sighted when the news people think it's just about gun control. I've seen evidence that our children's minds are being influenced in a trend toward violence. Three years ago I started witnessing something new in my classrooms, while I'd be teaching a lesson in a small reading group, Ks and 1st graders would point with their fingers and sometimes make shooting noises at random times during a lesson, pointing at other kids or at me. It didn't matter what group. In the past I was used to seeing children pick up sticks at recess play to use as weapons (although we would stop them) which one would come to expect, but now shooting was so automatic in their video-game-focused minds that it would spill out at all-too-frequent moments like an automatic extension of themselves. Some children could literally not stay awake in class because they played their game systems long after their parents were asleep. I think, the entertainment business has a lot to answer for...but no one talks about this, only gun control. 

Meanness is in, in case you haven't noticed, another common denominator in movies and in the whole area of bullying. In bully-prevention courses we learn that the bully does not see the targeted victim as a person, they are seen as an object, an animal or less. If we want to look even closer, it has become socially acceptable in some areas. As a nation we kill...we've made it legal to kill the unborn...the so-called unwanted...and in extreme cases...the living who have no voice or value. I'll never forget the images of a woman starving to death when she was denied hydration and nourishment, and we as a nation watched this for almost two weeks, every day I wondered how much longer she could last, and ultimately, the judge and doctors turned their back on her. Do you remember this? I changed the wording in my Will because of that travesty of justice. What is the message to our children, to our citizenry? I am angry in a sense, we need to wake up and stop being so blind.

SOOOO a solution....Let's make our communities and nation into a "culture of life." Let's show that everyone has value, intrinsic value because they are a person and they matter, that we care enough to encourage healthy experiences. We need to help people in need. We need to want the right things for our children. We need to teach about a higher power, a loving God. Why? If we take this even further, we can step back and see that a lot of this violence also relates to our distancing from God and His teachings. Without moral teachings or constraints, or a better reason for doing right, people can do dehumanizing actions towards other humans. I think we need to reverse this trend. Encourage the thoughts embedded in the Ten Commandments, that anchor a life in the ways of gracious living and culturally sound principles, in such a way that they are understood in the inner recesses of the human soul. I know it won't eliminate wrong but maybe it would help, and just maybe, there could be a few less innocents lost in our schools or public settings.

Norma L. Brumbaugh Wieland

Author:  The Meeting Place:  Moments with God at Lookout Point

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Men of Issachar

Men of Issachar

In scripture we sometimes find nuggets in the midst of lists of names.  Such a gem was bought to my attention a couple of days ago.  Amongst a list of the warriors who served King David is this verse:  "And the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do' the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their command."  I Chronicles 12:32
My good friend shared this passage from the Bible with me.  His comment, "What is different about these men of David is, unlike any of the elite warriors they were part of, these men had insight into how Israel should function in light of the times they found themselves in. Today we need Christians who live in the same understanding manner.  Not reacting but wise."

I quite agree.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Deed is Done

I think of the road less traveled.  Like Robert Frost, I have come to the fork in the road and am venturing on a path less certain, more fascinating and sure-to-be more adventurous.  Leaving the safe secure path of finishing my career as a teacher in a small school district, is a major life-changing decision especially since it is not a fiscally smart step for my future life.  I have said to my friends, this will either be the best decision I've ever made or the worst.  One can only hope it is the "best". 

Many factors came into play that made this a decision that took at least two years to make.  I think back to my frustrations and discontent with my daily employment situation.  As much as I tried, it never was what I wished it to be or thought it could be which is not a good thing.  Yet, I am not one to believe work has to be rosy to be right nor that God only gives us the positive, for that is not a realistic appraisal of
the human experience.  But, a growing unrest has been decidedly gnawing at me, a voice that wouldn't be silenced day in and day out.  Also, there is an eagerness to chose a different path before the years become too many and the age-factor impedes the possibility.  I don't think I'm a Grandma Moses.

As I write this, I am weary, tired, and exhausted.  Depleted, may be the operative word that fits exactly as the perfect adjective describing my condition.  Why would anyone want to continue in such a state?  Invigorated, is the word that I hope will be the adjective to describe me as I seek a new direction and sense of person-hood.  There is so much in me that wants to learn and do and write and be, and hopefully when that person is released, it will be without drawing too much attention to myself in the process.  It's really not about me, for most of it pertains to being a better servant to the God I love.  How so?  I'm glad you asked!

One must be spiritually, physically, emotionally, and intellectually fit.  Some of these areas I've neglected. Others I've had little time for.  And a couple of them I've been cultivating, the seeds have been planted, sprouted, and are growing, hopefully to maturation in due season.  Much more needs to be done of course, and the time seems short.  Besides the pursuing of these areas in my life, I want to laugh more and fill my life with joy and beauty.  I'm tired of being so serious and boring!  How?  In my way of thinking, I think the first step is to let negativity go, next-to seek the greater good, and then-mix it with finding wonder in the little things of life.  In the spirit realm, make "ask", "seek", and "knock" a daily vital part of life.

There are some dreams that come with this new venture on the road of life.  I'd like to spend a month cloistered in a retreat that follows Ignatian Spiritual Exercises.  Although I'm not catholic, I believe God could use this time in spiritual prayer and supplication to turn me inside-out in a positive way.  Another area I'd like to pursue is theophostic training to help me become better equipped for spiritual counseling, a technique where God does the revealing and healing and the counselor is the praying agent who comes alongside and supports.  I have found that people open up to me and trust me with their issues, yet I have a need to know how to better assist those who talk with me.  What else?  Spend a few weeks in Colorado with my grandchildren and kids every few months >>> Heaven!!!!  Take some time for my friends>>>YES!!!  Start working on a healthier me. :)  And watch more fun movies with Glorianne, and take more scenic trips just because I want to.  Most of all, developing the areas that are in my heart and blood, both in writing and service.  

Let the adventure begin!!!

Friday, April 27, 2012

The writing of a poet

It's Friday night. As I was listening to two poet laureates speak about their craft,  they spoke the language of ones' who see life through a different lense; a prism through which the world is seen in an a sundry of parts that make the whole, I felt my thoughts tug, in recognition of fellow adventurers who love to write the thoughts of the world in little splashes of light or in puddles of darkness, looking at the substance of small acts and beauty in the ways that touch and move like those of a graphic picture on a canvas of words. 

Some of my best poetry is not the kind one reads at events, or at least not for me.  The thoughts that reach out come from a place lost in the richness of time and depth of feeling. Last summer, while watching my daughter and her husband and my only (at the time) grandson drive out the driveway on their way home to Colorado, another title played in my mind, the poem I wanted to write. It would be titled "Missing Titus" the 'alone feeling' of knowing you won't be with your grandchild or those precious to you for a long while. I've written poems about love and love lost, God and the morning dawn, the unborn begging for its humanity before it might be aborted by its mother, the inner pain of a friend who struggles with depression in the face of a deep faith of God that keeps her despite the darkest of times, and poems of delight that express the joy of seeing the natural things of intricate loveliness. 

Many times I find myself sitting, looking like I am doing nothing, when in reality, my mind is full of thoughts I am sorting to make sense of the details, wondering where God is in the moment I am pausing to consider. I once said to a friend, that I am an observer.  It is true, and it is frustrating as well, especially when there is so much living to be done. At times I want to quit teaching the three Rs and open my students to the world of sweetness. I used to read poetry to my students, to help them see what I find so beautiful. But alas, I find it seems to have taken a backseat to more pressing instructional mandates. It's unfortunate. There is something so exceptionally beautiful in selecting just the right word to complete a word picture of thought.  Time.  I am more aware of time these days. Time is precious. I will conclude these thoughts with a poem I wrote a couple of years ago.


Friendship flower began
     to bloom one day
After careful nurture
     along the way

She unfurled soft petals
     in gentle loveliness
Her sensual fragrance
     exquisite in delicateness

Dainty friendship flower
     embrace the white light
Glisteny dew of love's first kiss
     tear-drops in endless delight

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Symptoms of Inner PEACE

From the late, Jerry Dean, my brother-in-law who embraced sobriety and found God to be enough. I can say, he lived up to the words in this writing that he shared with me. I am not sure where it originated, to give it proper credit.


1. A tendency to think and act deliberately, rather than from fears based on past experiences.
2. An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.
3. A loss of interest in judging others.
4. A loss of interest in judging self.
5. A loss of interest in conflict.
6. A loss of interest in interpreting the action of others.
7. A loss of ability to worry.
8. Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
9. Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.
10. Frequent attacks of smiling through the heart.
11. Increasing susceptibility to kindness offered, and the uncontrollable urge to reciprocate.
12. An increasing tendency to allow things to unfold, rather than resisting and manipulating.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Not Alone

Have you ever felt like you were pushed up against the wall and there was no way of escape? I don't like the feeling. As I lay awake this week into the early morning hours contemplating my misery not knowing the best way to deal with an impossible (at least it felt impossible) situation. I felt full frustration and anger with that which I could not change and do not have the resources to alter.  It felt like an impasse, me against my foe (which I won't take the liberty to tell you!). But, as always, a break-through came eventually. It involves something I will call "surrender".

 Many times over I have come to places in my life when I have been literally overwhelmed, too anxious or weary to deal with a situation, taking me to a place where I have had to fully trust in God to get me through it.  Every time it is different than before, not only is the situation different, but my dependency on God alters in some way.  No two experiences are identical. The curious thing is, as a result I will feel a sense similar to that of the lightning of a load; a burden, or care, its darkness being lifted and peace entering as it flees. It is one of those things which can be explained but is not understood until once experienced.

As a timid person, I have had many fears. But the hardest things for me are those things which come my way uninvited, things that I don't think I can surmount the obstacles. For other people, they have their own set of challenges. I think our Father God must long to hear us say, "Father, I can't do it.  Help me.  I need you, I can't do this but I know you can. Show me the way and help me.  I can't do it without you. I ask for wisdom, strength and your help.  I love you." It is the cry of a child in need of a parent. The parent is gentle, wise, and all-caring.  How glad I am for his gift-love to me, and that I am not alone in the time of difficulty.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

As morning guilds the sky

As I write this, I am watching the sunrise from my kitchen window.  It is God's greeting to me this morning.  I love sunrises and sunsets, They have their part in making a day into a moment of transformation and transfixion.  Last night I was walking outside as the sky morphed from blue into a blend of pink-purple softness.  God's adieu to me. Lovely!  But, now it is a new day.  The sunlight as it emerges in subtle whisperings infuses light into our lives and cheerfulness to brighten our hearts.  
I think of two fields with acres of sunflowers I passed each day on my way to work this fall (I live in the country).  One particular field was stunning.  The sunflower heads were raised to the morning sunlight in a sea of yellow happiness.  I wish I had stopped long enough to take their picture.  Right now in my viewing, there are pink strata lines of clouds across the baby-blue sky, below these pink strips is an orange-yellow outline above indigo-tinged mountains.  Ebony English walnut trees are reaching to the sky in ghostly silhouette images in front of this panorama; a magnificent pine tree rises above them all as it points to the heavens. Gorgeous!    
Often a mixture of songs will play their words in my mind as I look at the morning light opening up in its radiance.  It is a nice way to get pumped up for a new day.  This year I've spent many mornings leaving for work in darkness just as the sun was beginning to come up.  As While driving south I would watch as the sun rose from a nothingness into a full pulsating yellow-oranged orb.  Beautiful.  As delicious as savoring a yummy chocolate when you're on a diet, making the day a bit brighter and better.  I'd say to myself, I would have missed that if I didn't go to workIt has been a stressful school year for me, so I've looked for the little things to celebrate.  It is a beautiful day in God's kingdom.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ya gotta be flexible . . .

A couple of weeks ago I was thinking about students I have taught over the years, experiences with children and colleagues.  For around ten years I taught reading as my main contribution in the field of education.  At first it was small reading groups from first, second, and third grades plus the business of directing the instructional aides on site. I chose my own curriculum.  Next it was the addition of a fourth grade block of English Language Arts instruction using the Houghton Mifflin reading series for 12  remedial students who had reading challenges, in addition to my regular reading groups.  That year I learned a program called Phonics for Reading which I implemented to help these students receive instruction where there were gaps.  

Next, fifth and sixth graders  were added into my schedule for me to teach English Language Learning strategies using another program called Santillana.  A couple of years later I found myself teaching a scripted program called Corrective Reading (Reach) with groups of 4th and 5th, and 6th -8th.  This was my biggest challenge yet.  With 45 children in the program, we rotated them every two weeks.  It was during this time that I uncovered some strategic bullying going on amongst some students.  This was dealt with immediately by the administration and caused some consternation and anger on my students part with some of it directed at me.  But I weathered the storm.  My first experience teaching kindergarten  was also last year when I taught two programs new to me, Writing Without Tears-penmanship and K-PALS, a phonological program.  

This year is a turnaround for me with straight fourth grade and several new programs to implement:  Treasurers reading series, Kevin Clark's Sheltered English Instruction, Olweus Anti-bullying program, Peaceful Playgrounds, and EDI learning strategies, Accelerated Reader to boost reading... and the beat goes on.  I am getting more and more computer literate and have learned how to enter students grades in an electronic grade book system and am now asking and reporting absences on line.  This is my first year teaching students who are at grade level in eight years.  Most of my career has been in the realm of remedial instruction.  

Right now we're in the middle of writing California Mission Reports and learning about minerals and rocks.  My students have high interest in these subjects.  They are an energetic group.  I'm catching on to how fourth grade works and am seeing some successes.  My students are second language learners except for two students  I do miss teaching my favorite subject, reading.

Well, if I am a little tired or stressed, now you know why.  But, it still is a worthy occupation.  

Saturday, January 14, 2012

To be or not to be-Being whom we are meant to be

A common thread has been running through my reading these past few months.  Interestingly enough, it is in tandem with the path that I am taking that is yet to be explored and is just opening up.  Not every book I've been reading has been of my selection so it is rather curious that they are converging on the road less traveled.  Last night I returned my attention to reading the book, Find Your Strongest Life, by Marcus Buckingham, a read my Book Dinner group is working through, and found that once again another author is speaking to the issue of calling although in a completely different way and without using the word for it is primarily a secular work.  The author suggests that when we are doing what we were created to do, working in our strongest areas, we will be energized instead of depleted.  

By looking at ourselves objectively and identifying those things on the "+" column which are those things which bring us peace and joy, but identifying on the "-" side, those things which drain us and keep us feeling like we're working so hard all the time, we can slowly determine what it is that we really should be doing.  Even though we may be functioning especially well in other areas in areas of employment, they may fall short.  Personally, I can understand this because I am living the personal struggle of being good at my craft in teaching yet desiring another direction that would free up my time to contemplate and write and enjoy life a bit more than I am now.  I suppose the difficulty rests in having the need to support oneself.  

I mentioned in a facebook post awhile back that Os Guiness wrote a book that talks about "Calling".  He said we all have a calling and we all have a purpose for which we were created.  We will not be contented nor fulfilled until we are right where we should be in God's beautiful purpose for our life.  That is also the premise in The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren which has reached many people with the simple truth of the meaning of life, more specifically, the meaning and purpose of every individual life.  The minister of my church flock often says it this way, we should be in the center of God's big will for us.  

It is hard to always know these things or to even take personal inventory of our life for we do much to please others and to fulfill commitments and obligations.  Buckingham encourages people to keep a notepad handy and throughout the week write down each activity which makes you feel strong/happy when you are doing it and conversely, write down each thing that you do that seems tedious or draining (even if you're great at doing it).  In this way you can start opening up to expanding on the things that are your personal bent  and maybe even your destiny.  As a person of faith, I believe that in it all there is a will of God that is shaping and helping us become whom we are meant to be.  

Friday, January 6, 2012

dreaming on

Many of us have dreams that we hope will be fulfilled on some beautiful day.  My dreams are never about money.  In fact, money doesn't drive me or beckon me.  It is the other things in life, like looking at a beautiful sunset, taking a walk at dusk, talking with a good friend, or seeing someone smile who often seems sad; these are what pull at me.  My dreams are in the dream category not in the goal category.  I like goals but I think I'm too creative at heart to be bound to a plan or an outcome.  But there are dreams in my life, good dreams, happy dreams, hopeful dreams, wishful dreams, and sweet dreams.  

"Sweet dreams." These were my closing words to my children after I prayed with them.  I always liked the sound of those two words joined together sounding like a warm embrace.  If dreams could come true, I would live on an open area sort of like a down-scaled manor.  There would be a little chapel located somewhere on the land where people could come and pray.  Pathways would lead between trees and over ponds with verses carved on posts and an occasional statue to grace a reflective pool.  There would be Friday night sing times in a room full of people or around a fire while we would gaze at the night sky and listen to guitar music.  It would be a place of healing and love where anyone is welcome.  The menu would be healthy food, not fancy, just warm and wholesome.  If you've ever been to Lord's Land, it would be sort of like that.  

Sweet dreams enrich our lives and sometimes they just may come true.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Life in Reverse

Life is better understood in reverse.  I read that somewhere recently and I couldn't agree more.  It seems rather odd that we must live life before we gain understanding even when we have attempted to be wise and prudent.  My life has not been very much like I expected it to be four decades ago.  But as I look back I see it more clearly.  

One of the pleasant results of going through times of difficulty is that I know at this stage of the game that the hard events will grow me as a person if I chose to let them. They grew me during those times I chose to suck it in rather than follow the path of self-pity or giving into a spirit of the whine.  

Looking in the review mirror, I can see that taking the high road has always been the better option. This has been true even when it may have looked like something different to others weighing in on the subject.  We all make mistakes and we all do foolish things at times.  I don't like it when I'm a fool.  It can be wasted effort when I head a wrong direction with something.  However, every day one makes new choices and purposes how to use the next twelve hours--for the good, better, or best.  

In spiritual living, the person ends the day by looking back at how they used the day.  My Pastor says to look for where God is in what we do and in what problems we face, in each and every situation.  Was God in this? I think that's advice to pay attention to.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A New Year

"But this is not the day."  As it is well-spoken in Return of the King, the age of men is not finished.  This morning my Bible opened to Zechariah 14.  As I read about the return of the King, I was picturing it in my mind's eye, how it looks.  
"On that day there will be no light, no cold or frost.  It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime--a day known to the Lord.  When evening comes, there will be light.  
On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter.  The Lord will be king over the whole earth.   
On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name."

My eyes often fill with tears as I read scripture, which happened this morning when I read those words.  In 2012 we live in a shadow for the earth is not as it should be.  It writhes under a curse.  I grow impatient, tired, wishful, and stressed when I'd rather be hopeful, cheerful, happy, content. I know I am not alone, I have many sisters and brothers who struggle with the endless cycle of life.  Yet, we must let go of our weariness to look up toward the King of the earth.  From Him we receive a life-giving source of strength and beauty.  The things of this shadow-land are growing less important to me as I realize their lack of worth, their empty reward.  Things of earth are not the source of my happiness for they do not have the capacity to satisfy my deepest wants and innermost desires.  What I love most is not of this earthly realm.  In Him I find full satisfaction.

This is another important year in the life of our country.  It is an important year in the life of all those whom I know.  It is important for each of us, for we will make many decisions and choices that will decide our future moments and years.  I tend to focus on one area as my New Year's resolution.  I realized today what it must be for me in 2012.  And it is a good thing for me to do this.  I am wise enough to know that I will not achieve my goal and strong enough to know that I cannot do it without God's help.  Yet, in the pursuing of it, I will learn and grow and be more than I was in 2011.  This is the day to draw courage and live bravely, to be more than we were yesterday, to put our hope in King of kings, and Lord of lords.