Jennifer Dukes Lee

The Importance of Finding Your Zone of Proximal Development

Knowl-edge • noun: information, understanding, or skill that you get from experience or education. The first part of this series focused on mental wholeness—how to achieve it and why it matters. That constitutes the M in the MAPS acronym. The next section focuses on the A—academic and artistic wholeness. There’s no Growth in the Comfort Zone “Ewww! That’s gross!” one of my students said as she sliced along a herring’s lateral line with a sharp knife. I noticed that her…

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Just Journal Your Way to Mental Wholeness!

jour-nal • noun: a book in which you write down your personal experiences and thoughts. Yesterday I defined the term ‘mental wholeness.’ For the next few days, I’ll share ways to yourself as you seek mental wholeness. Bad Beginnings The Diary of Anne Frank inspired my first attempt at journaling. I decided that I, too, would write to ‘Kitty’—after all, my regular correspondents, my older cousins, suddenly had no interest in writing letters to a snotty younger cousin once they hit their…

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Overlooking the Plain is Overlooking the Plan

A Plain Bird I spotted a bird sitting on the curb across from my house as I headed out the door for a run. Never one to miss a photo op with a bird, I ran back inside for my camera. I thought that perhaps the resident juvenile Cooper’s Hawk had dropped by for a visit. Focusing the lens, I called out to my youngest daughter. “Sarah!  It’s not my hawk, it’s a roadrunner!”  We took turns looking through the…

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What the Tangle of Texas Traffic Taught Me About Church

To all my Texan friends: I apologize in advance for anything I say that may sound as if I don’t like Texas or Texans. Please bear with me. I love Texans and any state that provides two new birds per day for my life list is an awesome place! Starbucks on the Right The first time I drove through a Texas city, I saw a Starbucks off the freeway. “Perfect!” I thought. “I need a late afternoon pick-me-up. I’ll just…

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Birder’s Paradise? Or Birding in Paradise

Texas in the Summer I clutched the dripping Gatorade bottle with one sweaty palm and unscrewed the cap with trembling fingers. They might call Texas a birder’s paradise, but it felt a little more…hotish, shall we say? For the past three hours, I had wandered the trails of Resaca de la Palma State Park—on a toasty 98˚ with 80 percent humidity July day. Most people enjoy the World Birding Center parks in the fall or spring. The weather turns balmy…

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The Story of the Humble Milkweed and the Mighty Monarch

First the Monarch This post is prompted by the community I discovered at the Five Minute Friday Retreat this weekend. Thank you, each and every one of my new in real life friends! Egg. Caterpillar. Pupa. Butterfly. Metamorphosis. Ugly words, some of them. None of which describes the beauty of a monarch butterfly—orange, black, graceful, dancing, enduring, migrating. I first heard the story of the monarch the year I turned ten. Bursting outside the hot house into the hotter North…

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The Surprising Way to Find Comfort

Comfort, the Verb I step around the counter into my daughter’s kitchen and start fixing breakfast. A minute or two later, I hear an inquisitive “Bah?” from the living room. “Bah!” I answer. “Ahw!” The thunks of hands and knees on the wood floor increase in pace as Abel uses ‘echolocation’ to find me. I glance over and see his strawberry-blonde curls. His head bends down in concentration as he crawls into the kitchen, sits up, and turns in a…

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Rug Burn, Aching Joints, and other Hazards of Play

How to Play with a Baby “What happened to your knee?” my daughter Laura asked. I glanced down and noticed a red, raw spot on my left knee. “Carpet burn, I guess,” I answered with a shrug. “Abel and I have been racing up and down the hallway.” “Oh, you poor thing!” “Naw,” I replied, “anything to hear his cackle!” Therein lies the truth. I’ll do anything to get a two-toothed grin, a chortle, or a cackle out of my…

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To Receive a Blessing, be a Blessing!

Confession Time In the effort to practice full disclosure, you should know that I think of myself as a rather selfish person. I get single-minded in my plans and goals. Often, I only want to do something if I can see how it will benefit me in some way. I worry more about the blessing I might receive than blessing other people by showing up. I don’t enjoy visiting extended family members because I can only see the negative: The…

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How to Rejoice in the Parched Places

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Isaiah 35:1 Lessons from the Dry Land We moved from Bozeman, MT to Holbrook, AZ almost five years ago. I confess I still miss the snowstorms, the months of cold weather, and the luscious flowers in the spring and summer. Maybe the native Montanans call it God’s country because they, like I, always feel a little closer to God in the wide-open spaces and majestic…

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