On Oct. 17, I sustained a concussion when a metal fence collapsed on me. It brought with it a guy who was about a foot taller than me. It was a freak accident, but one that landed me in the hospital. I don’t remember much of the first week of my recovery. I slept while family members and friends took care of my children. I missed two weeks of work, which was probably the hardest part.
I don’t work an ordinary job in an ordinary place. I have the honor of being a Catholic school teacher at St. Joan of Arc in Aberdeen. My work is my second home and everyone there is family to me. While I stayed home and rested, other teachers and teachers’ assistants arranged to cover my classes so that the students were still getting their weekly does of art. They even planned on staying with me when I returned. Some of my school friends even helped me with getting Collin to and from school. One day he came home and said, “Everyone misses you mom! Especially me.”
Some teachers had their classes make cards for me. Some were funny, like the drawings of me that Lizzie and Seeley made for me. Others were beautiful, like the sweet scribbles annotated by our thoughtful pre-K teacher or the Halloween-themed card created by my student Roman, who is a cancer survivor.
One 8th grader made a tie-dye card and signed it from her entire family, with who I'm blessed to share my school and church life. Every picture and every message made me want to be back at school. Over and over again, I received messages that teachers, students, and their families were praying for me. How blessed I am to teach in a place where prayer is always welcome.
When I returned to school, I felt like an Olympian returning home for a victory parade. I was met with a receiving line of hugs, the first of whom was from my principal, one of the most caring and understanding people I've ever met. Even the big kids were glad to see me. One first grader wouldn’t let me go.
“I’ve missed you for years and years!” she shouted.
“Shh!” another girl said, “Her ears are very sensitive.” (As it turned out, our kind new librarian had talked to all the classes about my symptoms.) Even though I have a headache most of the time, I’m seldom bothered by the noises children make. In fact, the Kindergarten class sang a beautiful song for me. “It’s melt your heart,” a little girl said. It did.
“How are you feeling?” an upper school teacher asked.
“I’m getting there,” I said. (It’s my go-to response. I hate to complain, so I think it’s a nice way of saying “I’m not at my best, but I'm trying.”)
“I know you’re probably getting tired of us asking, but we do it because we love you!” she said.
I was definitely feeling the love, but I was feeling something else, too: mercy. All of these kind deeds were acts of Mercy, which is especially important as the Year of Mercy draws to a close. There will always be time to pray for the sick; to sing to them; to send cards, letters, and artwork; to help ease their transitions back to school; back to work; and to God’s kingdom.
November 02, 2016 05:17
By Robyn Barberry
My boys and I suffer from both dry, sensitive skin and even drier, complicated hair. Typical, drug-store brand skin and hair products only make our problems worse. For years, I’ve struggled to find a company that makes soaps, lotions, shampoos and conditioners that offer us the gentle, yet rich moisture we need. I also prefer to use the least amount of chemicals on and around my kids that I possibly can, sticking to natural ingredients. Oh, and I’d like to do all this without breaking the bank. (Three kids can go through a bottle of bath wash pretty quickly!)
I stumbled upon Shea Moisture
’s Olive & Marula Baby Head-to-Toe Wash & Shampoo back in January in the Target clearance rack. I was killing time waiting for a prescription, so I read the label, and found myself impressed by the natural ingredients that were in it, like avocado oil, jojoba, and, of course, shea butter. Equally impressive was the list of all the yucky chemicals that weren’t included in the product. I unscrewed the lid to see what it smelled like. (Sometimes natural products have a funky, overpowering incense-like scent.) It had a fresh, green tea aroma that would work for any member of my family. Next, I looked up product reviews on Amazon. It had a high rating and only a few people claimed the fragrance was too strong. So, I bought the twin-pack of Head-to-Toe Wash & Shampoo and Head-to-Toe Lotion for $15.
Fast forward three months and I want to shout from the rooftops about the dramatic changes Shea Moisture’s Head-to-Toe Wash & Shampoo and Lotion have made for my boys’ skin – and mine. Winter is especially damaging to our skin. We often find ourselves broken out in eczema. Sometimes our skin cracks so much it bleeds. But, we managed to get through this past winter with skin that was toned, even radiant, thanks to Shea Moisture. In fact, the Wash is so effective, that I only need to use the lotion once a week.
I found that Walgreen’s also carries Shea Moisture products and that periodically they run a buy-one-get-one-50% off (or even FREE!) sale. I stocked up in February, and Yesenia, the beauty advisor in the Aberdeen store, suggested I try She Moisture’s hair products. I have a frustrating mane of elbow-length naturally curly (more like frizzy) hair and am always on the look-out for new products to help me tame the beast. I tried Shea Moisture’s Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo, Conditioner, Curl Enhancing Smoothie, and Frizz-Free Curl Mousse and developed the perfect formula for soft, strong curls that shine without crunching or flaking. I’m finding I wear my hair down far more often than I usually do. I can’t believe I’ve been battling for three decades without this stuff!
My favorite Shea Moisture product has got to be the Raw Shea Cupuacu Mommy Stretch Mark Intensive Repair Oil. I managed to get through my first two pregnancies with minimal stretch marks, thanks to Palmer’s Cocoa Butter, but when my 3rd-timer, 12-pounder occupied my belly, no amount of moisturizer could protect my skin from the damage of carrying that monster of a baby. Fortunately, between that pregnancy and this one, my skin has improved. But, I can’t help but wonder how much better my abdominal skin could be if I had discovered Shea Moisture’s Mommy Stretch Mark Intensive Repair Oil a little sooner. Here I am, nearly seven months into my pregnancy, and my belly is as smooth as it was before I discovered I was having my fourth child. She is also shaping up to be a monster baby, but it looks like my belly is going to escape largely unscathed, thanks to Shea Moisture. (Sorry, but I'm not including a picture. I'm very modest. You'll just have to take my word for it!)
By far the coolest thing about Shea Moisture, is the story behind it:
Sofi Tucker started selling Shea Nuts at the village market in Bonthe, Sierra Leone in 1912. By age 19, the widowed mother of four was selling Shea Butter, African Black Soap and her homemade hair and skin preparations all over the countryside. Sofi Tucker was our Grandmother and SheaMoisture is her legacy.
Shea Moisture is fair trade, organic, sustainable and free of animal cruelty. I like to purchase from ethically-minded companies like this, particularly those that use nature as a source for solutions to human problems. You'll pay a little bit more than you would typical brands, but it lasts a long time and you're paying for quality. Besides, I think it’s what God would want us to do.
You can find Shea Moisture in most drug stores, usually on a top or bottom shelf, or in an ethnic skin and hair care section. I only discussed the varieties that work for my family's skin and hair needs, but they have something for everyone! Try it. I’m sure you’ll love it!
April 26, 2016 04:36
By Robyn Barberry