Ogres are Like Onions: Life with all of its Layers


It’s been one of those weeks, and it’s only Wednesday.

When I write, it’s usually an expression of my own faith or an effort to encourage someone else. Other times, I just need to spill out in ink whatever has been sloshing around in my heart.
Today, I’m writing because I need words of life and hope like I need to breath.

I’m missing family and aching for rest.

That test they call STAAR isn’t at all bright and shining.

Then there’s the unexpected hospital visit and the people that, well … say what they say and do what they do.

It’s the threat of failure. A cough that irritates like an incessant woodpecker. A lengthy to-do list and no energy to attack it.

But life has layers, and these are just surface situations. It’s hard NOT to look at the obnoxious stuff right under your nose, but there is more to be uncovered if you’re willing to peel.

Today, in totally un-Mrs.-Chapman-like fashion, I went to school slightly unprepared.

Nagging cold + 2 practice STAAR tests + baby in hospital = teacher who can’t bring herself to stay the extra hour after school.

I say slightly unprepared, because I did find a few minutes yesterday to scroll through the section of Pintrest that teachers call home. I found a strategy called “close reading” that I thought would benefit my students, so I emailed myself a few links and made mental notes of what would normally end up in my lesson plans.

Close reading is a technique that teaches kids to dig deeper–past surface-level details, in order to discover layers of meaning.

This morning, I wrote the definition on some chart paper and asked my 4th graders to tell me what is meant by “multiple layers of meaning.”

After a few answers like …

“It’s reading more than one book!”


“Oh, that’s when you read something three times instead of just once.”

… I had an epiphany and decided to turn to the movie “Shrek” for help. 


We started to talk about how Ogres and onions have layers, and fifteen minutes later we were getting somewhere.

“Like … how you can’t judge a book by its cover!” one student shouted, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

“YES! I replied … and you have to dig deeper to understand what an author is really saying.”

A week like mine can have me thinking about life the way my students were talking about Ogres:

Stinky … ugly … rude … bald … green … with nasty teeth and earwax that sticks out (LOL!)

But Ogres have layers, and so does life. Sometimes you have to dig for what’s meaningful.

Onions can make you cry. Life too! But if you just begin to peel, you’ll find sustenance and something to hope in.

My family that lives far away? They know how to pray, and they do it faithfully. The people that live closer have become nearer to my heart, even as I’ve learned to lean on them in new ways.

When I feel like I can’t DO another thing, my sweet husband rushes in like Lancelot to save the day. And STAAR tests aside–one Shrek “light bulb moment” brightens my day faster than a thousand correct test questions.

My little Olivia–home from the hospital and sounding more like herself–she’s enough to pull anyone’s head out of the sand. She reminds me that a cough and a worry are nothing my Jesus can’t handle.

He is, after all, the only layer that matters.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”–John 16:33

6 comments on “Ogres are Like Onions: Life with all of its Layers

  1. Sandy Finley

    I love you my precious Holly!


  2. Amanda Brand

    Once again you bring to words such truth that is an inspiration to us all! Thank you for faithfully using the beautiful gifts God has given you! I see such grace through you sweet friend! I’m so thankful Olivia is home! Love you bunches!


  3. Well said Holly!


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