I’m In Your Corner

Sometimes life seems to make one big circle. Some people call it karma, especially if the circle comes around and kicks you in the butt, but I am not sure karma is the right word for it. Some may say it’s a coincidence when things seem to finally meet up and form the perfect circle, but I, for one, attribute it to divine intervention. And I love when it happens. It’s the moment where two ends that have been hanging in space for a long time meet, and there seems to be some sort of moment. For me, this moment looked like closure. That may sound weird, so let me start at the beginning, when this circle of mine first started to take shape…

I had a teacher in 4th grade that I will never forget. She was the kind of person you simply could not forget, but also her life story was such that it is impossible for me to ever forget her. When our paths intersected she was young, unmarried, and working at a small, private school in a very small town in the middle of nowhere. By no means could one qualify her life as glamorous, and yet I found myself so drawn to her, even at a young age. She was forceful, opinionated, direct, and passionate. If you wanted to know the truth about something, you would ask Ms. Hardman, because she would not hesitate to tell you what she thought, and so often she was right. Her personality was such that I gravitated to her because she was strong willed enough to put me in my place (mind you, I was only 10 years old and I already needed a strong willed teacher…) But beyond her personality was her teaching. Man, her teaching was something else. She knew how to motivate students. I remember one time we were studying the Civil War, and we were talking about generals and battles and such, and she came into school the next day with her personal collection of battlefield memorabilia that she had picked up on her last tour of Gettysburg. There were flattened bullets and other little artifacts, and I remember being in a trace. It was almost like I couldn’t believe the Civil War actually happened until I saw those artifacts. And then I was hooked. On history. On school. On learning. Another time we were preparing for the dreaded Presidential Physical Fitness Award (thanks, Mom), and all the students were gearing up to run the mile and do our sit-ups and whatnot, and she wanted to be right in the action, so she developed a sign for her door. She went and found ALL the Presidential Physical Fitness Award badges (there were like 10 of them) and hung them on a poster like the Olympic Rings with the words, “How bad do you want ‘em?”. She hung this on her door as motivation for all of us to do our best and earn those fitness badges. I won one every year (and I still have them). She used to always tell her students “it’s money in the bank” (she had a cliche for practically every occasion) or, her most favorite, “I’m in your corner”. She used this one ALL THE TIME. And she meant it. When she was in your corner, she focused her energy and effort on you and what you needed. She was the kind of person and teacher that I can say I strive to be.

Was. She was the kind of person and teacher that I can say I strive to be.
This is when the circle gets put on hold for 15 years.
She was the kind of person and teacher I can say I strive to be because she lost an unfair battle to lung cancer. And she wasn’t even a smoker.
She was diagnosed when I was in 5th grade, and she died when my younger sister was in 4th grade. Her battle was private, but it was still painful for me. She didn’t want her students to see her waste away from cancer treatment, and my mom respected those wishes, so we would sit in the hospital parking lot when my mom when to visit her. I don’t hold that against my mom, but I do wish I could have gotten closure. Time moves so fast when you are young, and it felt like mere days between her diagnoses and her death, and I never really got to tell her what she meant to me.

Then, a student of mine wrote this heartwarming post on Instagram the other day. In that post she said she was grateful that I was always in her corner.

When I read those words, I wept. The circle was closed. If my teacher was looking down on me at all, then she would see that her impact on me continued to the next generation of students. In that moment I felt like I had done justice to her legacy. I don’t know that my student knew how much those words would impact me, but I know God did. It was not coincidence that my student phrased her post the way she did. It was certainly divine intervention.

I Couldn’t Have Said it Better Myself

So I won’t. Instead I will quote Beth Ann Fennelly from her book Great with Child. The book was given to me by a friend, and because it is not a fact book on pregnancy but rather a personal account of pregnancy, childbirth and parenting, it was easy to get into during those first few weeks of caring for Eleanora. Fennelly is a poet and therefore very articulate. She has a wonderful ability to say things in such a way that they not only make sense but are beautiful. At one point in her book she discusses her reasons for choosing a natural childbirth. From the moment I knew we were pregnant with Eleanora, I wanted a natural childbirth, but if you had ever asked me why, I could not articulate my reasons in any logical fashion. And then I read Fennelly; she eloquently said exactly what I could not about the logic, and for me the necessity, of natural childbirth.

I feel like I should add a disclaimer here. This is not to say that a non-natural childbirth is any less of a birth, or that individuals who choose a different method of birth are any less or any more of a parent. This is simply a place for me to share some words that have become close to my heart. No judgement attached.

So here it is:

“So my decision to have a natural childbirth was only partly influenced by what wold be best for Claire. I was also thinking about the birth experience I most desired: to be fully awake and alive to the experience I would undergo, even though it would involve tremendous pain. I didn’t want to deaden the pain if it meant deadening the other emotions that would accompany the pain. I thought then, and still believe now, that being responsive and responsible to my experience would make it a better one…The way the medical establishment treats pregnant woman seems a metaphor for the way our industrialized, anesthetized culture treats all its citizens – we are offered drugs as the first solution. We become so used to the quick fix that any pain – sometimes even the pain of daily existence – needs to be numbed. Anesthetics, including the anesthetic of alcohol, are accepted as a sustained response to the waking world, a way of coping with daily life. However, ‘anesthetic’ means ‘without aesthetic,’ that is, without the skills to create the sensory impressions that make daily life meaningful. Continually ‘taking the edge off’ interferes with the job of all humans, which is to engage in the world in all its complexity and find meaning there. And this job description expands when we enter motherhood, for we become responsible for more than our own events and emotions. Our children look to us to observe and interpret the world for them…The interpreting role of the mother becomes particularly important when the child feels confused or fearful, such as when there’s a sickness or death in the family. We have to come to terms with these painful events, for our children will ask us to…So I can only say, both as a sufferer undergoing a transformative experience and as a person interested in interpreting the events in the world, a natural childbirth was the best for me. My decisions reflects a larger philosophy, I suppose – that we are obligated to feel what we’re feeling. I believe that understanding and articulating our suffering helps us understand and articulate our joy.”

“Great with Child”
Beth Ann Fennelly

I could not have said it better myself.

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The New Camp House. The Old Camp House.

The space that a church occupies has always meant something to me. I embrace the idea that as believers it is about collective worship and where we are collected to worship matters very little, but there is still something meaningful to me about the space we inhabit as a church body. Perhaps it’s because when I was younger, my school was a part of my church, so the places where I learned and dreamt and were scolded were the same places I brought my offerings before God and ate the bread and wine from the table. I could walk through that old building in New York and I could probably recollect a memory in every square inch of it. When I graduated and left my hometown, I remember taking a walk through that building. I stopped at all the spots that were important to me, and I remembered. It was closure to me as I paused, remembered, and savored each place and each feeling. I loved walking through that old building on Fisk street, and I would love to do it again, but I no longer need to physically walk through that building to be reminded. I can dance through that building on memories and still remember.

I will walk through the Camp House today. I will stop near the spot where Jon and I sat on the first Sunday we visited. I had a terrible attitude that Sunday, as I often have a hard time with change, and attending the Camp House was a big change for me. I will stop at the the place where Matt Busby told me with such excitement that his wife was pregnant, and I knew I needed to go find her, say congratulations, and become her friend. We are dear friends to this day. I will stop at the place where I approached a young couple who was expecting their first baby and chatted with them over the Evensong meal. Little did I know we would also become dear friends. It took a lot of courage for me to sit down and talk with them, but I received a rich reward. I will stand on the stage where many nights I would watch my husband work from a distance, and my heart will well with pride at the man he has become. I will also recollect how from that stage I received words of life from God’s servants as they preached and led us in worship. I will pause by the place near the stairs where my daughter received her first blessing over the eucharist. I will stop in the kitchen where I washed many a dish after preparing the Evensong meal. Strangely enough I will stop in the closet near the kitchen as I spent a lot of time there organizing the pantry and preparing for the Evensong meal. I will stop in the far bathroom where I read the pregnancy test that said we were going to be parents; I never know a bathroom could hold so much sentimental value. I will peek in the Mission Exchange as I have fond recollections of talking with wise friends about life in that space. I will stop at the sound board last. I will stand and remember what that sound board means to me. It is where my husband found his place in the church body. It is where he received accolades and praise for his talents which has encouraged him in his pursuit to be the best he can be. It is where he thinks, plans, hopes and dreams. The sound board is his home away from home. (I know that because it is often as messy as his actual home!)

Even though these places cannot come with me as we transition into a new building, their meaning and memory are forever etched on my heart. 1427 Williams Street will always be the Camp House to me. Even if they put an art studio in there, it will be an art studio in the old Camp House. That building will hold a special place in my heart. But my heart fills with longing and expectation when I think about the new Camp House. My daughter will be dedicated on that stage. She will receive the eucharist for the first time at that altar. My friends and I will deepen our relationships over tables in that space. My husband will grow as a man and as a sound engineer in that sound castle. I will receive the words of life from that pulpit. And I cannot wait.

Devices in the Digital Age

I have recently come to the conclusion that social media is designed to promote oneself. I mean, this is an obvious observation, but when one thinks about it, it is extremely unsettling. The self, the ego, does not need any help making itself more known. The self is made known through our language, both official and colloquial, dress, occupation, habits, music and novel choices and so much more. One reveals oneself, ones ego, through a multitude of facets in a technology free world. Is it truly necessary to make the self more known through emotional, both genuine and exaggerated, status updates, location check-ins, friend declarations, event attendances and the like? I would submit that this is far more damaging than one may realize. The more that one tells the world his/her comings and goings and who he/she comes and goes with and receives gratification through acknowledgement of those comings and goings, the more he/she comes to need that gratification. It is a terrible cycle wherein one cannot simply go someplace and enjoy oneself, one must go someplace and tell someone, anyone, a stranger event, in order to truly enjoy him/herself. The ego grows larger through promotion only to desperately need more and more gratification. For example, today my husband and I journeyed down a natural trail to a beautiful overlook of our city. While there, a group of young people gathered together at the edge of the overlook to take pictures. To watch their interactions revealed that they were oblivious to the beautiful natural scene around them because they were spending their entire time posting the pictures of the beautiful view to their social media pages. They missed the heart of their experience so they could gratify their ego through a small blue thumb on a bright white screen. Why are their hearts and minds and self not gratified through the beauty of the scene around them and the glory of the people they share it with? Why do we, a modern society, so badly desire that strangers, distant friends, past high school romances, and acquaintances approve of our activities, friends, pictures, and thoughts more than we desire to truly relish in the activities, friends, pictures, and thoughts that surround us? I fall prey to this need. I fear that we all do. There are so many benefits to social media, but are our egos equipped to deal with the conundrum that social media presents?

Call the Midwife

Television is a mysterious creature. It is often viewed as a vice whose sole purpose is to seek, turn to mush and destroy. Although this situation may be the case with a large percentage of the shows that are currently on the air (I won’t point any fingers….yet), there are a few shows, well really one show, that has in fact done the opposite for me. “Call the Midwife” is a gritty English drama set in the east end of London in the 1950′s. Although the show’s primary plot line is the strenuous, disgusting, dangerous and crazy situations that the midwives are faced with as they help deliver the next generation of East Londoners, it is not the overly fascinating situations that these midwives and their patients have to deal with that got me hooked on this show; rather, it is the reactions, interactions, thought processes and internal conflict of each and every one of the characters that makes this show a blessing to watch. Each character faces personal struggle, traumatic situations, loss and happiness in such a unique and refreshing way. The characters’ inward conflict that has been made visible by the nature of television reveals a strength and resolve that so many are lacking. At one point, the main character is given the task of caring for an aging, immobile man whose house arrest has led to unsanitary living conditions and therefore health problems. She struggles with the will to visit with him and care for his medical needs as his home is filled with foreign creatures and smells. Her challenge grows worse when she realizes that her patient has been moved to a government funded sight, and she is no longer allowed to care for him. Instead of feeling any sense of relief that he will no longer be her burden, she feels deep sadness as she knows he will not get the care he needs. She continues to visit him as often as she is able until the end (I can’t tell you the actual ending…).. It is her deep compassion that rises from a place of personal conflict that makes her so admirable. Furthermore, the characters take the time to speak with poise and purpose. The nuns who run the midwifing services are wise and thoughtful. They lead and guide the midwives by giving them words when they have none. Additionally, their actions reflect a deep concern for the well-being of the population around them. It is with grace, thoughtfulness, purpose, and selflessness that they interact with one another and the world. In one episode a young girl lives on her father’s fishing vessel the entire time he is at sea with his crew. In order to minimize the tension between crew members, they are given full access to her; therefore, she becomes pregnant. While the ship is at harbor in London, the midwives board the vessel in a hilarious scene and deliver the child. Instead of heaving judgement, condemnation, and scorn on the captain and his daughter, they bathe her in a loving compassion. They tend to her physical needs but also her emotional needs as they reassure her that she is precious and her child is beautiful. The scene would move any thoughtful person to tears (it moved me, and I never cry).
My heart is full when I think that there is hope for people to behave with such care and concern, and it makes my heart break to think that these ladies were the last of their kind. Some may say that “Call the Midwife” is a drama about women having babies (loudly too), and it is, but it also a beautiful display of human excellence. I no do not claim to be a t.v. critic, but this is one show that I can watch and feel challenged to live and treat people differently.

Homework

I made my students write a poem of self, so I figured I should join with them. Here it is!

On Coming to Another Town

Why does the parking seem to go in circles?
Who actually shops at a Piggly Wiggly?
Where can I buy a REAL chocolate shake? (Or a hard roll or a good bagel or real pizza)
Wait, barbeque is a food group, not an event?
Faculty and Staff, school is closed. Oh, and it is cold outside. That is all.
What football team do I root for? Well, what teams are there to choose from?
Why is everything (and everyone and every dog and every porch chair and every sweatshirt) orange?
Who would drive around with a big red “A” on their car? Don’t they know that stands for adultery?
How many miles, hours, minutes did I move to get here?
Where do I spend my time?
Where am I from?

Because I do not know where I am going.
Everyone. Because groceries stores serve the same purpose, whether their name is funky or not.
You cannot. No, really, you can’t.
It’s both. One invites people to a barbeque to barbeque a pig so one can have a barbeque sandwich.
Faculty and Staff, school is closed. Oh, and it is cold outside. That is all.
Easy out. NAVY.
Orange is the new pink. Oh, and something about a football team.
Not everyone cares about Nathaniel Hawthorne. Some people care about big tides rolling.
899 miles. 13 hours. 19 minutes.
On the riverfront. At the Market. At a carnival. At a festival. At an art gallery. On the riverwalk. In the
Museum.
TENNESSEE.

NDCS or HHS?

I do not look back on my high school career with fondness because it was a great and joyful experience (although it mostly was). In fact, my high school years were filled with the same pain and frustration that fill many of our teenage years. Instead, I find myself looking back on my high school career with great admiration because my high school did school well. I find myself reaching back into my teenage school years and pulling out ideas to implement into my own high school classroom. Teachers, administration and staff of Northern Dutchess Christian School, you completed an excellent work in me, and I know this because when I think about my current school, NDCS is always in the forefront of my mind.

When teachers at my school get together and talk about dress code for our students, I think about my own dress code and the benefits that it brought to our school community. I think about how it forced us to learn respect for ourselves and the way we look at school. It got us ready to learn by teaching us to care about ourselves and therefore our education. I believe in teaching students how to respect themselves because someone taught me how to respect myself.

Then, when I look around my classroom, I find weekly quotes, monthly calendars, and educational experiences built into my English curriculum because that’s how I was taught to learn and love English. I also find myself recommending books to kids or giving them my own personal copy of a great book because I so badly want them to love reading just as I love reading. I want to teach my students to love learning because someone taught me how to love learning.

I also will find myself plotting and planning field trips all the time. My high school years were marked by field trips. I remember each year clearly because of the trips we took and the memories we made. I do not care that it takes time and energy to plan a trip (more than I ever thought!) I care that my students will see and experience things that will shape their world and their memories and make them better students. I find myself longing to show my students the world because someone took the time to show me the world.

I recently decided that I needed to duplicate our Spruce Lake retreat for a small group of my NHS students. When I think back to the lessons I learned, the relationships I built, and the experiences I had at one weekend of Spruce Lake, I know I NEED to do this for my students. They need to grow in fellowship, in community, and in fondness for one another. Spruce Lake was not only educationally focused, physically challenging, and mentally stimulating, but it was a unique experience that taught me the value of creating community among students. I want to give my students the opportunity to create and value community because someone took the time to give me the opportunity to experience community.

Were all these experiences always great? No, but the principles remain despite the fact that high school students were just that, in high school, and were subject to moments of stupidity. My students will also suffer from those moments, but perhaps they will value their high school experience as much as I valued mine. I do have one benefit over them, though. My teachers were able tie all these experiences directly to Christ, and I have to bring them Christ discretely. Oh well, as long as they get Christ in the end.

Thank you, Northern Dutchess Christian School for doing school well enough to inspire me to teach and to give me the tools and ideas to make my students’ experiences as meaningful as my own.

Hey, Mrs. G, wanna sponsor Model UN?…

I am sitting in the advisor’s lounge at the Model UN Conference. Why? Because I am the advisor. I have to admit, this experience is a little surreal. It seems that not too long ago I was a student at a conference very similar to this (many, in fact). I remember the long car rides listening to the chaperones talk about adult things; I remember ignoring the person beside me in the car because they were being way too loud, and I wanted to sleep; I remember early mornings where we loaded the van and slept most of the way to our destination; I remember being the student. In order of my memories: Boston in 4th grade: Quincy Market, U.S.S Constitution, Ms. Hardman. Washington DC in 8th grade: Korean Memorial, Holocaust Museum, Nancy Aeirstock. Gettysburg in 10th(?): Pickett’s Charge, Intercourse, PA, Mom. NYC multiple times: National History Museum, Man of La Mancha on Broadway…so many people… I remember being the student. I remember eating where I was told, following the directions of the chaperones, and wondering what the adults did while I was having a blast.

Now I am the adult.

The adult.

Adult.

This seems to defy reason. You see, the problem is that I am still a kid inside. I get excited for early morning car rides, for packing my stuff for a long weekend, for being away from home, for going on an adventure. Perhaps this is why I am the advisor. Perhaps the sense of adventure that I felt as a student has not left me, thus I long to take my students on adventures that they will never forget. As I sit here, I wonder how I got to this place. I hardly know my students, and they hardly know me. I have never been to Model UN Conference before in my life; therefore, I am hardly the logical choice of chaperone for this little excursion. How is it that I am sitting here at 9:30pm after a 16 hour day waiting for my students to be done with a game of sardines? Oh right, because I remember being one of them, and someone has to make sure that they have the opportunity to make memories just as I was given the opportunity to make memories. It’s as though I am carrying on a legacy. Or maybe it’s something else. My mom used to live college life vicariously through me. Perhaps I am reliving my glory days of high school through my students. Either way, going on trips still makes me nervous with excitement.

I guess in that way I will always be a kid.

A kid.

Kid.

Oh, and by the way, while the kids are having fun, the chaperones are planning lessons and grading papers…seems like we got the wrong end of that deal.

Manicures for Americans

The name of my current nail color is Bittersweet. How ironic. Here I sit on the cusp of this once-in-a-lifetime experience that will prove to be bittersweet, and I went and painted my nails to match. How appropriate. I must state though, that my current situation has proven to be more sweet than bitter. (Although I think my nail color is the opposite mixture, being that it is a grayish-brown…) Many of you who read this may know the reason for my nail color, but others may be waiting with baited breath for the occasion that would require grayish-brown nail color.

My little brother will be inducted to the United States Naval Academy this Thursday. *insert cheers from the reader* This is a big deal for him (obviously) but it is a bigger deal for me. Well, at least a different deal. For him, going off to college at the Academy is the next step in a natural and progressive journey. I envy his situation in the next few days. He will have adrenaline, a competitive spirit, a little anxiety and anxiousness, and LOTS of excitement to pull him through. I, conversely, have memories and a past that hold me down. I have the memories of my little brother wearing my white graduation gown as a Jedi cape as he ran through the woods with a light saber. (It was aptly dyed brown for the occasion) I have memories of my little brother starving for 30 hours with me and serving a spaghetti dinner to benefit children in Malawi, Africa. I have memories of my little brother being little and leading me to his room to show me the newest addition of dirt to his collection. I have memories of my little brother sending me his English papers and asking me to look over them (which was an honor). I guess we both have memories, but mine will be walking across the stage at Annapolis with my little brother while his will be waiting for him at home with his dirt collection, his NDCS basketball jersey, and his plethora of stolen paraphernalia (nothing valuable, mind you). I know it will be hard, but I am anxious to see my little brother become a Midshipman, and I cannot wait for the moment that I get to swell with pride for all he has and will accomplish.

This is all real sweet, but the part that is a little bitter to me is the ending of an era. We (my siblings and I) have all grown up. We have all gone our separate ways.(which, strangely enough, brought most of us to Chattanooga) But, we will never be as we were. I know this is for the best, but my heart still weeps over the ending of childhood. I thank God for his blessings, his direction, his grace, his mercy and his healing power. I thank God for parents that provided me with a childhood that saddens me to truly leave behind. I thank God for moments that are bittersweet and enable me to take the time to say goodbye to the past and hello to the future.

By the time I get back to Chattanooga my nail color will have chipped and faded and so to will the bitterness of this experience. All that will be left will be the sweetness of growing up, moving on, overwhelming pride and the love of family. May God bless you, my little brother.

America

Sounds

The sound of the firetruck sirens grows louder as the truck sprints past my house on its way to the finish line. It does seem to mind that the sirens break through the calm and peaceful air like a lone cannon on a mountaintop. The firetruck has a goal, a mission, and its sirens are the sounds that will get it there. My house will always have the sound of a fire truck whizzing past. The sound of a dying muffler, because either someone wants it to sound that way or has no money to make it sound any different, is both familiar and soothing. This sound does not break through the air with the potency of the firetruck sirens, but it does a good job of disturbing the peace. My house will always have the sound of a dying muffler thundering past. The sound of heavy, thumping bass leaking out from the underbelly of a vehicle as it saunters down our road is also a sound indicative of our home. It would not be home unless someone’s bass was seeping in under the front door of our house. Sometimes the firetruck races the train to see who can be the loudest. (They cannot actually race because the train is always moving soo ssllowly, as if it has nowhere to be anytime soon) One time, several jets (as in fighter jets from the army) sent my entire house into a frenzy as they performed a ceremony in honor of a veteran being buried in the nearby cemetery. I thought the world was coming to an end.

The only sound that I never hear is the sound of the owl. When I was young, the owl was the sound of comfort. I would hear it through the paper thin walls of my tent as we were camping. I would hear it while I lay on my front yard with a book in my hand enjoying a spring day. I would hear the owl at night while I lay in bed anxious to fall asleep. The owl would help comfort my nerves. Whenever I hear the sound of an owl I feel comforted; I feel at home; I feel as though God is trying to tell me that he knows I need a little comfort in my life. Lately I have been needing a little comfort (full time jobs require a lot of energy). I have been needing a little reminder that God cares about me.

This morning I heard an owl.

The Biggest Roof I ever Saw

I have the biggest roof of all the people I know. Sounds strange, but it’s true. My roof covers me, my husband and my dog (and not just any dog; she is a very needy, very weird, very large rescue dog) Additionally, it provides a safe haven for my sister as she prepares to get married (what a blessing to be the center of all this wedding planning, preparing, and yes all the mushy-gushiness that comes along with that). Very shortly my roof will also protect my favorite youngest sister from the trials of moving to a new place with unknown people, places and things (there is NOTHING better than showing off my city to a new resident). Not only that, but my roof harbors two refugees an their way to a glorious future (these two girls are some of the most special people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, and I am overwhelmed that I get to share my house with them). Sometimes I sit and just soak up the blessing that washes over me when I realize that my roof covers so many different people in so many different stages of their lives. Not many people are able to provide a place of safety to so many beloved people. I am able.

God knew what he was doing when he provided a way for Jon and me to own this house. He was working on making a roof large enough to take in his prized sheep. My house is not just a house. It is a roof that covers the people I love and gives them a home to come home to. I am getting the warm-fuzzies just thinking about it…=)

A Little Bit of Everything

We dropped our first $800 at Home Depot a few days ago. It’s no wonder the store is able to stay in business; a new home owner needs everything, and everything is expensive. The daunting task of painting our new home looms on my horizon. Thankfully, I have a few people who are willing to come lend a hand as we prepare to get our new house all up to snuff. I have fabulous plans for lush carpets, gorgeous chandeliers and the like.(these particular extravagances may have to come in stages based on Home Depot’s ability to dig into our pockets for necessary items) Jon has been over at the house getting it ready for me to attack with paint. I am pretty sure he is loving having all these projects to work on, and I am loving having him around to get everything ready for me.

It seems as though this whole process is kind of surreal. It’s almost as though none of this is really going to happen until I actually move all of our life into the house. Then it might seem like it is for real.

I wrote the above post a few days before we were about to move into our new home, and as I write, that transition has been made. It took a lot of work to relocate our life from a tiny apartment to a home, but it has been well worth the sweat and aching backs (painting trim requires one to hunch over in the strangest positions.) All this is behind us now, and we are preparing to host our very first Thanksgiving in our brand new home. I could not be more excited (and a little nervous/overwhelmed). I have lots to do, make and get before the big turkey day, but let’s remember that I have always loved a good challenge. =)

On a different note, our church is doing a unique service on Sunday to mark the end of the church calendar and the beginning of Advent. It is going to incorporate art, music, and readings. It is going to be a very powerful (and unique) service, which is one reason I love my church so much; it’s like they mixed tradition and uniqueness into the same building, and they did it beautifully. I have never been in a church so rooted in the older traditions of the church. Advent has always been celebrated, but never really explained or put into the forefront or worship. I am so anxious not only to see the service on Sunday come together, but to see where this season of Advent is going to take me. I have learned so much about my Savior in these last couple of weeks, and I am anxious to celebrate his coming to earth over the next several weeks.

My final thought is very disjointed from the rest of this post, but I have been reading a book on how to become a better trainer for my dog (and an overall better person), and the author of the book, Don’t Shoot the Dog, made a mention of the use of reinforces in the modern classroom. The book was written in the 1980′s, but it is still largely applicable. In a regular classroom, a student who learns (or trains) faster is rewarded by sitting idly by for weeks at a time while the rest of the class catches up. This student is therefore being taught that working ahead, being a go-getter and the like only leads to boredom. Furthermore, the slower student is taught that being slow is ok, because the kids who work faster either get more work, or they are bored. What a conundrum! It was like a breath of fresh air to realize that someone else had noticed the same inequalities in the classroom that I have been pondering for years. My big question is, if this book was written in 1980 and there was a problem then, why has that problem no been fixed? Or at least the classroom modified so that a final solution might be found? I was reminded again why I have such a hard time with public schools…and I teach in them!

This post has no cohesion….oh well, I guess that’s allowed since it’s my blog….=)

The Innocence of a Child

John Boyne first captured my attention by introducing me to a young boy whose father oversaw the work at Auschwitz in a novel called The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Not only did the setting of the book capture my attention, but Boyne’s unique storytelling ability grabbed me by the throat. His ability to tell a story from the innocent perspective of a child enthralled me. Maybe because I remember those moments in my own life when I realized that my childlike perspective was flawed and that there was a whole world waiting for me to discover. I remember one moment in particular. My mother was shopping for groceries, and of course I was tagging along, making sure she got all the right foods. My mother used to pay for groceries with checks; in fact, she paid for most things with checks. Imagine that! So, this particular day I really wanted something (I cannot remember what) from the store, and my mom said she did not have enough money. My childhood mind had not yet separated checks and money. To me, checks and money were interchangeable currencies. Therefore, my solution was that she write a check. Problem solved. I saw the situation for its face value and procedded to make my judgement. My mother then took the time to explain to me the difference between money and checks. I felt enlightened! When I look back at the moment, I sometimes wish I could continue to operate in that pre-enlightenment innocence; how simple would life be! Although, I suppose there would be some unforeseen detriment….

Segway: I recently read a book, from the afore mentioned author, where the reader experiences every situation from the innocence of the main character, a ten year old boy. Noah Barleywater Runs Away is another of John Boyne’s books. It operates within the constraints of a child’s perspective, and yet again his ability to use the third person limited view does not disappoint the reader, even when the story rides on the coatails of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas In both cases, Boyne takes an ordinary child’s perspective and uses it to bring the reader to a world where situations are skewed, judgment is lacking, and innocence is everywhere.

In Noah Barleywater Runs Away, the reader is introduced to a ten year old boy who is clearly running away fom home but for an unclear reason. Noah does not take food, money, or any other type of provision with him on his journey, he is a child and has not thought of the unknown world that strethes out before him. The reader sees him encounter numerous oddities, none of which make much sense to the boy or the reader. Each town that Noah passes through on his journey away from home is not the town where Noah can settle down; instead they have trees that put up a fight when Noah reaches for an apple. That is not the sort of place a young by should live. Finally, Noah stumbles upon a toy shop where puppets, dogs, and donkeys come to life. Literally. The reader begins to understand that there is some sort of magical force at work, but Noah never acknowledges that magic. He simply sees things for what they are without questioning their actuality. Finally we meet an old man, a puppet maker. The old man tells Noah of his childhood, one where he has a cricket for a companion and a father he lets down. The reader’s mind should reach for the story of Pinnochio from the back of his or her mind. The boy, of course, sees nothing but a unique man with the most interesting of stories.

It becomes clearer to the reader exactly what is going on as the boy tells the old man about his mother and the true reason he is running away. The boy does not seem to think his reasons for running away are bad, but at this point, the reader should desperately want the boy to return home, and quickly. The overall moral of the story is only discovered toward the end of the book when the old man, the boy and the reader realize what it is that the boy must do: go home and see his mother who, although she has been acting strangely, is filled with love for her boy. The only way this synonymus discovey between characters and reader can occur is through the use of Boyne’s techniqe which allows the reader to have a third person limited point of view. He does not use this tecnique lightly, but rather as his main resource for giving the reader a true sense of innocence and discovery. Not only that, but the magical elements of the story are breathtaking. As the boy is learning about the old man’s past, doors speak, floorboards and refrigerators have feelings, and puppets turn into real boys.

Overall, Boyne’s novel is a refreshing piece of childhood for any reader, old or young. He captures the elements of innocence and discovery, all the while making the book a magical place to be.

Long Time Coming

You will have to forgive me if this post gets to be a little lengthy; I have discovered that I suddenly have something to write about.

It’s funny how I can go through weeks and even months feeling not much of anything (at least anything worth expressing through prose) and then in one week I have all sorts of emotions to poor into my writing. I think this inability to write has to do with several things: 1. the uncertainty that has thus far surrounded our house search. The turmoil of emotions makes it very difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is that I am feeling at any given moment. 2. The lackluster summer that I recently wadded through with only a few books to keep my feet from getting soaked with boredom provides little depth from which to pull any significant writing material. Thankfully, this has recently changed.

It would seem that God desires me to learn some valuable lessons from buying a house. Some people are able to sail through losing their house purchasing virginity without a single vexation (according to Property Virgins courtesy of HGTV) while others are forced to wrestle every step of the way. That has been me, well, me and Jon. We started real house searching in March of this past year. We searched through what seemed liked a hundred homes (that is probably actually an accurate number…) before we returned to one particular home that caught our eye. It has been the center of our attention since June. We have written several offers, received counters, made amendments, signed papers done a home inspection all to discover that this house was not to be. I ask the question: why? Why have we searched all over creation for a house where we can start our family only to find that it was not actually for us? I felt frustrated, upset, aloof, attached, and disappointed all at the exact time (hence why writing a post was such a daunting task)

This is why:
To remind me that
material possessions are only material
being a godly wife is the greatest challenge and blessing I could ever receive
“a home is four walls that enclose the right person”
contentment is not found in my surroundings but in my heart
finding joy is a both a challenge and a necessity
the only real requirement I have for the house we purchase is that Jon and I get to be there together…what other need is there for a house?
my attitude determines my outlook in life and vice versa..so it is essential that I do not neglect either of them.

These truths were all things I “knew” cerebrally, but I did not have them stored in my heart. God made the house buying process difficult because he wanted to remind me of the all the better things there are in life than the perfect house. It was only after the process that I realized just how badly I needed that lesson. I feel as though God has been watching me from a distance and decided it was time to pursue my heart a little more fiercely.

With all that said (finally, it seems as though that post has been a long time coming), it is time for the other bit of stuff I have to write about. It would seem that the next step for me includes graduate school. Previously my biggest obstacle in achieving my Master’s degree was finances. I have found a way to negate that problem, so I am anxiously looking toward a future of impossible parking, late nights, papers, lectures and the like. (that last sentence was not meant to be read with any sass; I am actually quite excited about returning to the halls of academia.) My goal is to be able to work as an inclusion teacher in a middle or high school. I have found that the standard classroom setting requires my attention to be divided into too many pieces. I long to be able to focus all my attention on everything that is happening in the classroom all at once. I have also found that I truly enjoying working with students one-on-one. I pay no mind to their ability level or where they “should be” according to state tests; the only thing that matters is my ability to focus their attention on the task at hand and enable them to succeed. Gosh is that a great feeling!

So here’s to a new adventure as a graduate student with a changed outlook on life…cheers!

This time last year….

This time last year Jon and I were searching for a church family, learning our way around Chattanooga, working around a few unpacked boxes, and missing NY (well, at least I was…)

This time last year I was brand new to Chattanooga, and I was experiencing some hefty amounts of homesickness. I wanted to be as familiar with Chattanooga as I had been with my hometown in NY. I wrote lots of posts about how things were different here, how I missed home, etc. Now I can look back at those posts and at that time, and I can realize the great and glorious changes that have occurred in my life for the best.
Jon and I are at a church where we feel useful, welcome and loved. I am surrounded by a group of ladies that are sweet, genuine and a joy to be around. They have taught me to knit and to paint, but really they have taught me to be confident in the woman I am; the woman God created me to be.
I have learned the true meaning of a church family; our church family embraced us and allowed us to use our gifts and talents to serve the Lord. I have learned what it means to be a Christian and not pass judgement on those around me. I have learned that the Lord always provides and that He knows what is best.

I have also learned more about Jon than I ever thought possible. I learned a little more about his faults (but mine were even more present than his). I learned about his gifts: sound engineering, serving WELL, making tutorial DVDs =), encouraging me when I feel like I have let him down, and loving me with all his heart. I have learned that we are a unique couple that no one else could ever replicate, and although we have our moments, we are loved by God, and He has a purpose for us and our marriage.

I have learned my way around Chattanooga! I have driven ALL OVER Chattanooga and I now know where all the good thrifts stores are and how to get to some of the most obscure places. I have a hair salon that I frequent, a dentist whose office has an urban feel to it, an OBGYN and an eye glass doctor with purple hair =)…which makes me almost an official resident.

I have done my time in the local public school system, and I am searching for a way to make my career something more. I have come a long way since June of 2010. Jon and I have come a long way since June 2010. This move was the best decision we ever made, and I could not thank God enough for the people He has so strategically put into place around us. Thank you to EVERYONE who made us feel welcome and who were a part of our first year in Chattanooga.

“What Just Happened?…”

I can count her ribs. 1.2.3.4.5.6. I can see all the bones in her butt. She walks on four spindly legs. Her gait is wobbly, and she is a little unsightly. I call her Izzy (for now). She is my new hobby. My new distraction. My new project. My new baby girl.

I met Izzy yesterday at her foster home about an hour away. When we pulled in the driveway, I could tell she had pep, even with her lack of nourishment. As we got to know each other, I realized that she was indeed a doll. Jon and I took her for a short walk, and although she walked crookedly, she kept pace, and although she was skin and bones, she had the strength to take me for a ride (thank goodness, she did not) I knew that we could provide her with a place where she could really show off her personality. Great Danes are known for being a little attention-needy. They are inside dogs that love to lie on any soft surface and sleep the day away. Great Danes may be large, but they are known for their gentle spirits. I knew that in our home she would get all the lazy time in the world and all the attention from me and Jon. It seemed like a perfect fit.

Jon and I spent about 45 minutes getting to know Izzy, and during that time it was pretty easy to see that she was a sweetheart that just needed a little love and affection from a caring set of parents. We brought her home with us the very same day. As Jon would say, “What just happened?” I do not think that either of us were really expecting to take her home the day we met her. Either that or we both knew she was coming home with us, we just did not let the other know that we knew what was going to happen….

It may not have been one of our “wisest” decision ever, but it sure is one of the most rewarding decisions in this season of our life. I can already see little nuggets of her true personality, and I can tell that she is just reveling in all the attention. My goal is to keep you all updated on our journey with Izzy via this blog. I will post pictures to let you know how her weight gain is coming along. We are excited to have her with us, and we can’t wait for you to meet her!

House Hunters

When we were living in NY, I watched this show called “House Hunters”. It was on when I was home, so it become one of the background shows of my afternoons. I would do schoolwork, or whatever else needed to be done, with this show on to protect me from the evil sounds that seem to creep up when I am by myself. The participants on the show seemed fairly normal. The host also seemed down to earth. The only thing that seemed a little abnormal was their ability to narrow their house search down to three options, make an offer, and then wait for the answer on their offer. All within like a week. I know that television often shrouds the truth in terms of time, but it still seemed as though people were able to make house purchases quickly. I began to think that this was how the process worked everyone. How wrong I was…

We have been searching for a house since November. We have put in three different offers on two different house, and we have walked through at least 100 homes. Yet I am still sitting in the living room of my apartment as I write this.

Why is house hunting so difficult? Sometimes I wish it were as simple as finding a secluded spot, setting up camp, and stalking a particular house until you had the perfect shot. Then, BOOM!. The house is dead and belongs to you. No. Instead, you are required to deal with people, and people are the most unreliable species in the world. People are late, people are mean, people have lives that do not revolve around you, people are selfish, stupid (sorry, it’s true though), stubborn, illogical and everything else you can think of. If I did not have to deal with people, I would probably have a house already. (That sounds really cynical…I usually do like people…just not when they are NOT helping me buy a house…)

So the moral of this story seems to be something to do with interpersonal relationships. Maybe God is trying to teach me how to deal with people a little more compassionately and not so aggressively. I think I am learning. I still harbor feelings of frustration, but I try not to let them show, and I try even harder to deal with them on my own time.

Regardless of the situation, the lesson, or the people, I really want a house…..

Because I could not stop for Death, he kindly stopped for me…

I just finished reading an excellent book, and I feel the urge to tell you about it. The Book Thief has been out for a little while, but I only just had the opportunity to surrender 8+ hours of my life to its contents. There are so many characteristics of the book that I could focus on, but to me, the best part was death personified as the narrator of the story. Zusak did a phenomenal job of giving Death life. His use of colors, textures and temperatures in his descriptions not only gave Death its persona, but provided the text with such a unique richness. Death’s role is not only to narrate the story, but to carry away the souls of those who perish. He waits for the right moment to sweep in, find the soul of the departing and carry it away. It is in these moments of finality that Zusak’s literary ability excels. Zusak gives Death a unique compassion for the souls he must carry away. Death feels for the humans who are left to wander the earth, and each soul has a color that makes it unique from another. It was exciting to see death given a personality, an honest one at that.

Zusak gives the reading another angle on death, impartiality. Zusak does not give death the qualities of God or Devil. Instead, he is simply the bearer of souls; the one who can see earth at all moments and feel for the people who are on it. Death is not mean; he is not the grim reaper. Rather, he is a spirit with human tendencies and blatant honesty. There could not have been a better choice of narrator for this particular story. Death hovers over the characters like a watch-dog, only inserting himself when called. I praise Zusak for his ability to transform death into a character.

I could say so much more…..but why overwhelm you?

Well done, Zusak.

Soul Music

I have never really understood the true meaning of Soul Music. It could have some sort of religious connotation, but I think I caught a glimpse of the true meaning of Soul Music at the Camp House tonight…..

Jon and I are here at the Camp House, as we are every Monday night, listening to Rick Rushing and his guys as they jam on their instruments. These dudes sure know how to have fun, lugging in their amps, electric guitars and whatnot. Rick could play to an audience of one and STILL have a blast, but this is all beside the point.

A few weeks ago an older lady began attending Blues Night fairly regularly. The music is loud (!) no joke, but she still comes out to listen. We are here until at least 10, but she still comes out to listen, bless her heart (sorry, I had too…..I won’t ever do it again…..) She seems like a sweetheart, although, I have never actually met her. She is probably 60 years old, maybe older, with a fabulous African-American gift for jiving to good music. I bet she was a heart throb in her golden years. She comes in with a cane, but she leaves it at her table. She makes her way to the dance floor and shuffles herself around with some serious rhythm. It’s as though the music gives her ability and youth that she did not have when she walked in the door.

I sat watching her for a good 5 min. Her hips still found the beat, her head nodded to the music, her shoulders bopped to the tune, she twisted and turned like it was going out of style, her fingers snapped to the beat of the drum, and her feet were in sync; she was on fire. She was all alone, jamming to the beat with no thought as to what other people thought at her attempt to embrace the Blues. She simply got up and DANCED.

We, the audience, were tickled with a chance to watch a woman thrive in her age as both Black and White listened under one roof to the rhythm of the Soul. We melted into an audience with one common thread: Blues. Suddenly there was nothing dividing us; race, age, socioeconomic status were all set aside; our souls were a little more united as we all smiled at this woman reveling in her dancing glory. We laughed as Rick changed the words of songs so that he was singing about her, and we all secretly wished that we could be in her shoes at that moment.

When I get to be 65, I hope that I can still grab my daughter and my granddaughter, head out on a Monday night, and get my groove on.

Oh, and this old dude had dreads down PAST his butt….no joke. They are awesome…not that I would ever actually get dreads….anyway.

My Classroom!

I start my new job tomorrow, but I was able to sneak in (not literally) and get a few pictures of my classroom before my students arrive. I still need to add a few of my own personal touches, but the teacher that retired left me well-equipped…so, here’s to the start of a new semester with new students in a new classroom at a new school!

This is the view from the door


This is the view from my desk


Look at all the books!!! (plus there are more shelves…)


There are two of these sweet built-ins


The best discovery of the day…..and EZ Grader! If you are a teacher, you know how awesome these things are….

Mushy-Gushy

Today is my hubby’s birthday, so I thought I should send out a little birthday post in honor of his special day.

Dear Jonny,
You are special. More specifically, you are special to me. You are the face that I can’t get enough of, the hugs that I dream about when I am sitting, alone in my dreary office, the smile that triggers joy deep inside me, and the man that I cannot live without. You are my inspiration to always do my best, my constant source of encouragement, love and support, and my best friend. You are the wave of relief that washes over me when I walk in the door and see dinner cooking, the sense of rest that I long for when I can’t make it to the door after a day of teaching because my bags are too heavy, and the feeling of love that I have whenever we are together. You are understanding, delightful to be around, and the joy of my days. I hope that your birthday is as special as you are. I love you.

Jess

Hodge-Podge

Preface
My brain is in a multitude of different places, so this post has no cohesion; it is simply a hodge-podge of thoughts and feelings.

I find updating my status on Facebook to be a tedious and tormenting task. I find that I have so much I want to tell the world, and only a minuscule status to convey it all in. I always want my status to be catchy or cute or unique in some way. I often hem and haw over just the right way to say the exact thing I am feeling. Then I get it all typed out, and I realize that no one cares. I mean, they think they care, but in reality they really do not have any deep desire to read my current mood divulged through pathetic, poetical prose.
I would much rather write an entire blog that reflects my mood whose link can then be posted as my status. That seems to make way more sense. Or maybe I just think to hard about these things.

I was reading on someone else’s Facebook status that New York has snow in its future. This makes me green with envy. It is currently very rainy and very dreary here in Chattanooga. I do not mind that the temperature is tolerable, I actually am rather enjoying that portion of the weather, but I do mind that the precipitation is the ugly stepsister of snow. Snow is pretty. It is pure, white, luscious and simply sublime. Rain is not. It is wet. It makes your hair look terrible, and it makes your shoes slosh around. You cannot turn it into a snowball, and it will NOT stay quiet; rather, it is as boisterous as it is wet…I guess you have to take the good (65) with the bad (melting like the Wicked Witch of the West).

I do have a few things to keep me going, though. I have Christmas music playing from my computer, and that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I also have peppermint double-chocolate chip cookies that are simply heavenly. Their maker deserves at least two pats on the back…oh, that’s right, I made them. =) These two things alone should give me the ability to press on through the afternoon.

On a very different note, I volunteered to cook chili for 70 people on Sunday. AH! What was I thinking! I wanted to feel like an important member of the church where Jon is serving, so I asked the pastor’s wife what I could do to help. She suggested that I cook. Mind you, I am not a very talented cook, but it sounded like a challenge, and I am not one to back away from a good challenge. I have been researching recipes, purchasing supplies, and strategically planning how to use all my pots efficiently. Just thinking about it makes the wheels in my brain turn, and that feeling is almost as good as getting high (my knowledge on the feeling of getting high is based solely on conjecture). The more I think about it, the more excited I get about the whole deal. I hope that this becomes a more regular way for me to serve our new community.

Oh, 11:11 I love you Jon. (thanks Nana and Popop)

I really need to go grade papers…..It should be a priority…Yet, here I am blabbing away…

Orange Lessons

(I thought I should let everyone know that fall is finally here. It is the middle of November, and the weather is simply perfect. The trees are still wearing their fall colors, and the earth is not as barren as I remember it should be during this time of the year. This makes me particularly happy.)

I have been dwelling on Christmas lately, not because I love the holiday, but because we need to make travel arrangements and such. Do not take me for a Scrooge, I love Christmas. I love what it stands for; I love the feelings of warmth and family that are bound to creep into my heart; I love having a special time of year to celebrate my Savior and the love that he stands for. But let me quite frank with you; I HATE the holidays. I hate the idea of giving simply because that is what is expected of you. I hate dreaming up a list of things that I do not need, but suddenly cannot live without because it is Christmas. I hate the stupid decorations that stores plaster their window arrangements with. The whole ordeal is simply horrific. Normal, not-crazy humans become store-ravaging, sleep-deprived, stress-laden monsters who cannot get enough of the “stuff” that comes along with Christmas. Whatever happened to simplicity? Whatever happened to the Holidays being a time of joy and of family? How can one have joy when he/she is stressed beyond belief over the ordeal of buying presents?

When I was a child, I used to get an orange in the bottom of my stocking, and I hated it. I got one every year, and every year I still disliked oranges. I could not understand why my parents would waste such a large portion of the stocking (which could be filled with candy) by stuffing it with an orange that would simply end up back in the refrigerator from whence it came. Then, one evening my mom told me the real reason for the orange at the bottom of my stocking.

A long time ago, people did not have the world at their fingertips. (Imagine: isolation, solitude, reflection, peace….such lost words and ideals in our crazed society) There were no grocery stores; therefore, there was no one to sell oranges. Oranges did not grow in the winter, so they were simply unavailable, EXTREMELY hard to come by, and expensive. Parents would buy oranges because their children needed vitamin C, and because it was a taste of summer during the dreary months of winter. Parents purchased oranges to give their child at Christmas because it was a luxury they would get only once a winter.

Imagine being grateful for an orange on Christmas morning. Imagine.

I began to love that orange. I would treasure the idea of simplicity that it carried along throughout that Christmas morning. This Christmas season (though it is not quite here yet), I have taken an oath of simplicity. I will be grateful for each and every moment with my family. I will treasure each meal we share together, each moment of solitude around a tree or fire, and every time of joy. I will not stress over gifts that will not last, but I will labor to be joyful. I will share my joy with others, and I will not be cross because I did not get that “thing” that I never needed anyway.

Simplicity.

Connections

It began as what seemed like an ordinary day. There were no terrible omens to warn us of the coming danger. In fact, it was as though we were bindsided. Blindsided by what, you may be asking. The loss of our internet connection. (I am currently posting from a bench at Chattanooga State as I wait to teach my next class.)
This was a tragic blow that I thought we would never recover from. Who can live without the internet these days? The internet is our connection to the world outside of our own. It makes us feel connected, important, heard and even understood. We are able to maintain friendships that are thousands of miles away and get directions to those far away places. The convenience and necessity of having the internet in our homes and at our fingertips is so ingrained in us that we cannot escape it.
Or so I thought.
Then one day, our internet connection disappeared. From under a rock somewhere our lives came bursting forth. Jon and I are now living in the same house in the same universe instead of parallel universes that converged for a short hello and a quick dinner. Instead of wasting time surfing the web and stalking people on Facebook, we linger at the table and talk about our day. I clean the house or make cookies or plan for my next class. It is freedom. I am able to access the internet when I need to, but I am rid of its death grip on my free time.
This may sound dramatic, but it’s the truth. I cannot tell a lie (even if this is my blog).
I even got rid of my Facebook account. (gasp!) So how you found this and are currently reading this is beyond me. Maybe you are not. Maybe my thoughts are floating around cyber space without a place to land. That makes me sad. I would rather think that someone out there is reading this and and has been inspired to free themselves from The Internet.

longing. again.

My mother-in-law posted this picture on Facebook today. I used to look at this view everyday. Oh, how I miss my old home!

Falling for Fall

My heart belongs to Autumn. Always has, always will. It began when I was little. Summer in NY was lovely, but I always held my breath for Fall. I loved watching the leaves change. I loved being able to hear them crunch under my tires as I wound up the little back road to my cute, little house. My heart would smile a little inside the first time we would go to Holy Cow and need a jacket to eat our ice cream. That was the indication that it was time to put away the summer clothes and haul out the winter gear. I loved opening my box of sweaters and scarves and remembering where I got them, and then thinking about when I would get to wear them again. I loved watching my dad make leaf piles and light the wood stove for the first time. I loved soccer games with a backdrop of foliage painted red, yellow, and orange.

I promised myself I would not do this. Long for fall, that is. I am here. This is now, It is is not fall. No matter how hard I close my eyes and click my heels together and wish that it was fall, it’s not. I told myself that even when I saw apple picking pictures on facebook and heard my mom rave about the crisp, fall weather that I would not fall for it. I do not have the emotional willpower to long for fall in the middle of 85 degree weather.

Yet here I am. Falling for Fall. Wishing that I were wrapped up in his arms, smothered with apple kisses. My heart longs for his chill, that short little reminder to be close to the one you love in case you get cold. Fall should be putting on his coat to greet me, the one with the tree that turns red on one side and yellow on the other. (That’s my favorite jacket and he knows it) But he’s not. I am heartbroken. I feel abandoned by Fall and all that we could have been. Fall has this way of tugging on the door of my heart around this time every year. Usually I am there, arms wide open and ready to invite him in. This year, I am not there. He is standing on the threshold of the seasons waiting patiently for me to open the door, even just a crack, so his leaves might get inside. But I am here. And this is now. And it’s not Fall. Come back soon! I yell out my window in hopes that he might try again soon. Come back soon and then I can let you in!

You see, I am hosting Summer still. Summer clings to me, and he laughs at me. Summer teases me with days that remind me of Fall, but are not him. I don’t mind Summer, but I need Fall.

Darn it.
I let myself get away from myself.
I have been clinging to a quote from Jim Elliot that I am sure he meant for a much more spiritual application, but he says, “Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living.” That is why I am not supposed to let myself long too much for Fall, because then I forget to enjoy what is right in front of me…..life.

And Another…

To Autumn
by John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,–
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

A Tribute to Autumn. (one of many…)

To Autumn
by William Blake

O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stained
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou mayst rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.

“The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust’ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather’d clouds strew flowers round her head.

“The spirits of the air live on the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.”
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat;
Then rose, girded himself, and o’er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.

Prevention is the best medicine

My brain has not officially collapsed, but I feel as though it will soon enough. I should entitle this post, ” 10 Steps to Preventing a Brain Collapse”*

1. Do not attempt to be perfect in every way. (I do this often)
2. Remember that everyone makes mistakes. (I do this often too, make mistakes that is)
3. Learn something every day. If you are unsure of something then do research until you are sure.
4. Drink 2 cups of coffee a day.
5. Be organized. Organization is my lifeline for preventing brain collapses.
6. Do not go back on your word. Stand FIRM, no matter how much you want to change your mind. Fluctuation is the surest sign of weakness. (that one is for the classroom…I am not sure that applies to everyday life)
7. Pray. Often.
8. Always move forward. Moving backward is negative in every possible way.
9. Learn something every day (did I say that already?…)
10. Eat, sleep, and be married.

* These steps are in no way a guarantee to avoiding the unavoidable moments when all of life lands on you at the same time, and no matter what precautions you have taken, your brain collapses anyway.

The Longest Day

Today is Labor Day, and although I usually find theme related posts or events a little tacky, I thought it would be appropriate to give some sort of tribute to a group of workers in upstate New York. This particular group of people remains relatively unknown to me, seeing that I only spent about 2 months in their institution. Nevertheless, I feel as though I am indebted to each and every one of them. The teachers, administration, staff and faculty members at The Stissing Mountain Junior and Senior High School deserve a little recognition for their patience, wisdom and courage on November 10, 2009.

That was probably the longest day of my life. I have lived only a short time, and I am certain that there will be days that far exceed this one, but for now it remains the longest day I have ever lived through. Although the outcome of the situation in Pine Plains makes the entire incident seem negligible, it was certainly not; especially for the people involved….

November 10, 2009. 7:10 am.
Phew! I’m on time. I hate being late. I need to make a few copies, and then I need to get my butt upstairs to meet my supervisor. I race upstairs, say my hellos and welcome my students into class. I am ready to begin my lesson on….well, on something (It’s ironic that although I remember that day like it was yesterday, I have no idea what I was supposed to teach….). I watch as my supervisor takes notes, and I desperately try to shake the shakiness in my voice. I am just about at that point in my lesson where the “teacher jig” begins and there is an announcement on the intercom. “Lock Down. This is a lock down, please follow standard procedure.” Wait, what is the standard procedure? Why didn’t they teach that in Student Teaching Orientation? I look around the room and the students are getting up and drifting to the back of the classroom. My cooperating teacher is closing the blinds, turning out the lights and locking the classroom door. She is awesome. Thank goodness for her. So, since this is a drill it will prob last 10 min., and then I can get back to teaching. I can omit these two sections from my lesson and my students will still get the gist.

20 min. later
Wow, Period 1 is going to be significantly behind my other classes. That is annoying. I hope my supervisor does not write a bad reflection on my performance. I had no idea she would be stuck in a lock down drill…maybe this isn’t a drill?

It has to be a drill. If I think for too long or for too hard I begin to realize that it is probably not a drill. So I occupy myself by keeping my students calm. They are oblivious. One of them is trying to silently slide Chapstick over to the other. A few of them have their heads in their knees and look like they are about to pass out. A few of them are twittling their thumbs waiting for something, anything, to happen.

what was that noise? My eyes search the room and they lock with my cooperating teacher. Her look does not reassure me. I thought it sounded like a helicopter and the more I listen the more convinced I am that it was indeed a helicopter. Why do they need a helicopter?

My cooperating teacher heard the noise, so she moves all the students to an even less accessible portion of the classroom. We are all up on a stage that is about three steps higher than the rest of the classroom, but it goes back further so the students are safer. I sit myself on the stairs, in front of all the student, with a clear view of the door.

As if seeing the door was a good thing. What would I do if someone came to the door? Then my mind starts to race. I think about guns, men in black with masks, I think about Columbine and the teacher’s voice on the 911 tape. my voice has to be calm and I need to be sure of what is happening, I can’t sound like I am not in control. Wait, nothing has even happened yet. My back stiffens, my ears are pricked; I feel as though I can hear everything, and yet I hear nothing.

I jump…someone is running down the hallway yelling, “Everybody stay in your classroom! Do not leave your classroom!” Their shoes are making terrifying noises in the hallway. Are they on our side? They were holding guns. There are guns involved; this is really not a drill I look to my right and one student is praying. The only thing I can think about is Columbine. I have NO IDEA what is happening.

If I had known, then maybe I could have waited patiently for the help that was on its way. Since I did not know anything, I was forced to wait in agony. I listened to every sound in case it was a gun, a person, an anything. My cooperating teacher was on her cell phone texting (that’s right, she had been teaching for 30 years, and she was texting….they call her “lightning thumbs.”) trying to see if she could gather some semblance of information. Nothing. The phone lines were jammed.

Then we started to get pieces of information, but none of it was credible. I was able to text Jon, but he couldn’t tell me anything. I felt bad for him. He was at work watching the news knowing that I was in that school building but unable to reach me. Yet, he probably knew the outcome of the situation before I was even out of the building.

2 hours later

My butt hurt. My back hurt. I was hungry. I really had to pee. I was not convinced we were safe, but nothing more had happened so my body relaxed.

Then a knock came to the door, my cooperating teacher answered and we were greeted by a SWAT team in full uniform with really big guns. They gave us instructions and escorted us across the field to the highway department garage. I must have counted and recounted the heads of my students a million times between the moment we left the classroom and the moment we reached the garage.

I thought the garage = safe. It was a kind of safe, but not the kind of safe where I felt that I could let down my guard. I was looking for familiar faces, and I was nervous when I didn’t see them. The tension among the student body was dangerously high. Students and teachers alike were hungry, irritable and nervous. Two fights broke out, and the police who were there to protect us from the outside enemy had to protect us from the worst enemy: fear and anxiety.

By this point in the day I had not ingested any type of nourishment since my yogurt and granola breakfast at 6:00 am. I had not been to the bathroom to rid myself of my morning coffee. I was still wearing my 4 inch high heels, and I had NO idea what the official story was. I had not been able to contact my family and I was concerned for the people that I could not find. What on earth had happened?

I began to gather news from other teachers. The principal had been held hostage by a former disgruntled student. The perp. had disassembled his gun, hid it under is jacket, walked in the front door of the school, asked to see the principal, went to the bathroom, reassembled his gun and threw our world into chaos.

3 hours later

The word was given to let the students back into the school so their parents could come and retrieve them. I waited until the last student left my room. Then we had a staff meeting. I remember sitting in that chair listening to the words of the principal but not hearing a thing. My eyes were glazed over. In that moment I began to realize what happened and what could have happened. The adrenaline was long gone and I was exhausted. I desperately wanted to see Jon. The meeting ended a little after 4 in the afternoon, but it felt like 2 in the morning. I got in my car and cried. I cried all the way home. When I got home, Jon hardly asked a question. He was simply glad to see me. I remember cuddling up on the couch with a glass of wine in my hand and my best friend beside me, thankful to be alive.

They can’t teach you that in college. What that is, I am not even sure, but I was glad it got me through.

I am indebted to the students of my Honors English 10 class who acted with such maturity in the face of such fear and anxiety.

The men and women of Stissing Mountain Junior and Senior High School kept every single student and teacher safe. I could not be more grateful to them for their strength and guts. Here’s to you SMHS.

serenity

These last couple of days have been jam-packed with stuff. Jonny was here visiting and classes started, which means a big change in my current pace of life. Furthermore, work has been slightly stressful, and although I will admit that I thrive on stress it is still stress and therefore takes a toll on one’s morale.

This weekend was my chance to re-group so that I could attack my Tuesday classes with renewed vigor and a fresh outlook on life. Today being the kickoff of to that weekend it was sort of crucial that it went well. Thankfully, it got off to a good start and from there progressed to amazing. First of all, I have been searching for a place to wash my car since we moved here. That was June. This is September. I normally wash my car twice a month. Can you imagine my anxiety? No, I guess you can’t, unless your mother cursed you with the incessant need to have a clean car. Mine did. My car washing dilemma was three fold. I needed a clean car but I live in an apartment complex without access to a hose. My parent’s house was my car washing station for the last three years, but now they are 900 miles away (seems like a long trip for a clean car). I therefore had to spend money on a clean car, but I did not have the desire to spend a lot and I had no idea where to go that would not force me to break my bank on a car wash. (wow, that problem was really like 10 fold…) This has forced me to search for a cheap, self serve car wash (the automatic ones are usually expensive so naturally I ruled them out) and today I thought I found one. Then I realized there were big cement blocks in the entry. And it was for sale. Darn. Option two: $6 automatic car wash…ew.(told you they were expensive) Then I went to the grocery store and on my way home I stumbled upon a $4 car wash with a FREE VACUUM!! I was a happy girl.

That made my day better than it already was, and then I made cookies, which also made my day amazing. Sounds pretty good right? Well, it gets better. Jon and I decided to go to a free concert on the river. The night was beautiful, 75 degrees with a slight breeze, just perfect. We walked across the river and parked ourselves on the giant steps. I was able to sit back, relax and watch a vast array of people come and go. (which is one of my most favorite things to do)

The first artist to perform was an acoustic guitar player, and he was phenomenal. The sound of his music mixed with the peacefulness of the scene on the water was one of the most relaxing evenings I have had in a long time. Do you ever think of those moments in a movie when everything is in harmony and an air of peacefulness permeates into your living room? I felt as though I was in that movie scene. The weight of life seemed to float away on the notes of the music and ripples of the river water. I walked away feeling refreshed and invigorated, ready to take on the challenges of life. Now That is a good day.

Roller Coaster

Teaching is like a drug. There are highs and there are lows. During the lows you work extra hard to get the high back. Or, I guess you could compare it to a roller coaster. That might be a bit more of an appropriate comparison. Regardless of what you compare teaching to it still consists of highs and lows.

Sometimes I look out at my students and I wonder what their brains are thinking. I wonder what thoughts are going through their heads, and it makes me wish I could read their minds so that I would know exactly what they need. I can see their eyes staring at me, and I can watch their writing utensils scratch something on a page, but I wonder if they are really getting it.

Regardless of whether or not they are absorbing the material, I sure do have a blast standing in the front of that classroom doing my “teacher jig.” The teacher jig consists of a series of hand motions, voice influxes, and serious pacing. I cannot stand still while relaying information, therefore I end up doing what appears to be some primal dance up in front of my class. I enjoy seeing them paying attention as my hands race, forming some kind of new and improved sign language….You see, even though I am not necessarily Italian, I sure talk like one.

My first week of teaching is under my belt and although I don’t think I am the revolutionary teacher I always dreamed of being, I do think my students will succeed. I fully intend to glean as much as possible from this first year of teaching. I think I will end up learning more than my students will!

ready, set, GO!

I wrote this on Saturday morning before I EVER taught a class on my own before…it went really well, but here are some of the thoughts that were going through my head that morning.

Saturday, August 28th, 2010. 6:15 am.
It’s dark outside. The parking lot lights are radiating their yellow haze through the bedroom window. There are few sounds. I can hear crickets and a few birds. These few sounds comfort me as I get ready for my day. Shower. Get dressed. Make-up (today’s a big day). Put bag together: computer, textbooks, photocopied syllabi and grammar tests, plan book, cell phone, wallet. Make lunch: tuna fish and pickle sandwich (my mother’s fault), a granola bar and water. Dry hair.Breakfast: yogurt, best coffee ever compliments of Velo coffee and my new French press. Put on shoes. Check for keys. And I’m off. Off to the world of teaching. Today marks the first day of my teaching career. My heart races as I think of the people I will meet. These students are going to become an integral part of my life at Chatt. State, and I am anxious to meet them for the first time. I am also nervous because sometimes I have this strange tendency to say things without thinking and then people think I am crazy…which is odd, because anyone who knows me can vouch for the fact that I am not crazy… It begins today, and I think I am ready, but only time will tell….

Pause. Refresh.

When I was 13 years old I started collecting Coca-Cola paraphernalia. I went to camp one year and come home with a huge, metal Coca-Cola window sign rolled up in my sleeping bag (it took me a long time to figure out how to get it home). Every time someone I know leaves the country I make them promise to bring me back a Coke bottle to add to my collection (I have over 30). Whenever it’s Christmas, or I have a birthday you can bet that there will be some tribute to Coca-Cola…and the sad part is, I hardly ever drink the stuff!

Needless to say, my kitchen has become a shrine for all of my Coca-Cola tchotchke. (you can thank my mom for that awesome word. Use it as often as possible; it’s one of those “feel good” words) Although some if it is unique and eccentric, a lot of it is just tchotchke. Instead of using real canisters on my counter to hold sugar and flour, I have metal tin Coca-Cola cans lined with plastic bags which are cute but not very, well…sophisticated.

So, it is with great sorrow that I will pass along some of my most treasured kitchen items (salt and pepper shakers in the form of Coke bottles, awesome, right?) and some other crazy stuff I have collected in exchange for a new style. This reminds me of the time that I bought my first pair of red pumps to wear to a school during my undergraduate studies. We were supposed to dress all nice when we went to observe teachers in action so I bought this pair of cheap red pumps, and well, I was hooked on high heels. From then on I loved a good pair of heels matched with an even better outfit. How does this relate to the kitchen? Well I bought this, um, thing to hold spaghetti in and it does not match the Coca-Cola stuff AT ALL, but I loved it. And now I am hooked on this new style. My only concern is which will end up being more expensive, the kitchen or the closet full of heels….

p.s. the kitchen redo involves redoing how I make my coffee, so if anyone has a coffee grinder and a French Press that they are not using, send them my way!

Memories

In order to combat the boredom/restlessness I have been feeling these last couple days I have taken up some old pastimes. I have been to the library at least twice this week, and have emerged with at least three books. The library is a fun place to be, I like to watch the people. The other day this little 12 year old boy was following me around the fiction section for a good 20 minutes. He was bored and I was glad he chose to amuse himself in the library. He asked me what kind of books I like to read and I was then able to suggest some titles to him. He was sweet and it made me feel kinda warm and fuzzy inside that he wanted to talk to me about books. But, I am getting off topic…Before we moved I strategically packed my scrapbooking supplies so that they would not get all discombobulated during the trip. I only recently unpacked them to see how they faired, and to put them to use. I decided I would finish up making pages for all the pictures I had developed. They included pictures from our family trip to Lake Placid for Christmas and our trip to Saratoga Springs with the youth group for Excel 2010.

I was really excited about finally putting these pages down, but what I failed to consider was how they would make me feel. I was sifting through all my pictures of the teenagers that Jon and I worked with in New York and I realized that I missed them more than I ever thought possible. I miss spending my Sunday nights in the church making them turn shortening into ducks and whatnot. I miss playing the garbage can game and murder in the dark. I miss making lesson plans and plotting how I was going to make them think about Jesus, even if they didn’t really want to. I miss trying to figure out how to tell them that Jesus loves them and wants them to live for him, not just in word but also in deed. I miss walking away from church knowing that my lesson failed, but that they would forgive me and let me try again next week. I miss the times when my lesson worked and we talked about what it means to be a Christian…I miss the teens themselves. The way they would make me laugh and make me cry. The way they could make me feel totally appreciated and like a total failure; at the same time. I miss our trips, our excursions to the City and our riots around town doing treasure hunts. I miss them. To all my youth kids, YOU GUYS ARE THE BEST!

The Shady Spot

Ever since we moved to Tennessee I have seen car after car tortured by the sweltering summer sun. These cars have peeling paint and melted rubber casings. They look tired, as though the sun has drained them of all their energy, shine and luster. I am not overly sentimental about my own vehicle. I have not named it, as some people often do. I always keep it washed and vacuumed, but that’s not for the car’s sake but for my own sanity. I appreciate my car and I try to change the oil on time so that it will last as long as possible. The only thing I am truly concerned about is the sun depriving it of it’s glory. I don’t want it to look sad and dull. Is that lame? Probably. But it’s such a pretty shade of blue…

The preservation of this lovely shade of blue has turned me into a perpetual shade seeker. It does not matter where I am, if I am going to park my car, then I need to find a shady spot. Finding a shady spot ensures that the paint will last a little longer and the air conditioning MIGHT work for the first 10 minutes of the car ride home instead of the usual 5. If I go to the mall or the grocery store I will subject myself to a long walk across the roasting asphalt to the front door if it ensures that the car is parked under one of those pathetic parking lot trees whose sole reason for existence is to make people like me feel a little better about leaving their car exposed to 100 degree sun and 115 degree blacktop (okay, so I made that up…I have no idea how hot blacktop gets). (oh, and at the grocery store there is this one spot that has shade all afternoon, the only downfall is a little sign that says: Beware of stray golf balls. Park at Own Risk…so I do)

I am usually VERY successful at finding The Shady Spot. The only time that I must succumb to the summer sun is when I am parking the car in front of the apartment; this happens everyday. You can only imagine my frustration at not being able to leave my car under the shady canopy of a tree while simultaneously being near my apartment. I thought about buying a portable umbrella to put up over the car when it was parked out front….well, not really, that would pretty funky. Jon made fun of me one day when I asked him to park four buildings down because they have a tree out front. He refused.

Then, just the other day, I discovered gold. Well, not real gold, it was in the form of a big oak tree in the back parking lot of the apartment. The lot only serves one building, so it is fairly vacant, and no one seems too concerned with keeping their car out of the sun’s rays so I have adopted a parking spot right under this big tree that shades my car for, get this, 85% of the day. 85%!! That’s awesome. I was so excited. The only downfall is that there is no walkway from the parking lot to the back door of the building so we have to go down this little sloping hill to get to the car; the other day I broke my shoes on my way down….

1,500

I currently have a 1,500 piece jigsaw puzzle covering the top of my coffee table and ottoman. I bought it the other day at Barnes and Noble when I went against my gut and bought a New York Times best seller, which failed to meet my expectations, forcing me to return the book, only to receive store credit. Since I was both leery of non-researched books and bored out of my mind, I turned to The Puzzle. What better purchase could one make to ward off boredom than a huge, colorful jigsaw puzzle? Exactly. Nothing.

I got home and determined that the finished puzzle would indeed fit on the face of my coffee table, so I unpacked it and set to work. It became very obvious very quickly that I had not accounted for the vast amount of puzzle pieces which compose a puzzle the size of my coffee table. It became imperative that I find additional methods for holding all 1,500 puzzle pieces. Therefore, I commandeered the top of the closest ottoman, and then I swiped this long wooden thing that Jon uses to hold his laptop. It was perfect for holding puzzle pieces….although Jon did not think so….

It has been almost a week, and I am still not finished. I will work on it for a few hours and then go do something else and come back with a fresh eye. That is my favorite part about doing puzzles. I could be searching for the longest time for that one piece, and as soon as I take a break, walk away and come back…I find it.

Sometimes I think this is the case with life. We search and we search for answers and reasoning to unreasonable things. We become frustrated with our surroundings and all the thought it takes to put the pieces of our lives together. Step away for a minute or two. Turn away from life and focus on other things, like the things of heaven, and suddenly life becomes a little less puzzling.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”

Pity Party

I am having one of those days. You know, the ones where you miss everything you ever left behind and you feel as though it is your right to sit around and whine about how pathetic your life is. I really hate these kinds of days, but every now and then they rear their ugly heads. Today I miss NY.

BUT

I have the best husband ever. He brought me to Olive Garden in honor of New York (long story), AND he helped me pick out a puzzle to entertain myself for the next three days…..that’s right, you’re jealous.

=)

Be Still and Know

In our new apartment we have a whole room dedicated to being an office and an occasional spare bedroom. The main piece of furniture is a large desk with an oversized computer monitor and Jon’s studio rig. So, naturally one would assume that work relating to the studio, or to Jon’s new business, would be conducted in this haven of technical equipment. Wrong. Instead he plants him-rather sprawls- himself on the living room futon hunched over the coffee table staring at his laptop screen.

I could not figure out why he would not work in the office. I mean, in our old apartment there was nowhere else to go, so the living room made a natural working space. It is quite the opposite in this scenario. You must realize that I LOATH the living room being used as an office. Hence the second bedroom. I tolerated this misuse of a living room when it needed to be done, but I was at the breaking point of frustration in relation to our new living situation (although, not rightly so since I was creating tension over something so minute, but I cannot change the past, so there you have it) so I asked him: Jon, why don’t you work in the office? Surrounded by everything electronic?

His reply: Because I want to work on the couch, beside you. Then we can be together and I am not all shut up in a cubicle.

Wow. Here I am huffing and puffing about rooms being used only as their name designates them, and he is concerned about being with me. Sometimes Jon blows me away with his ability to love me so genuinely, and even after I made him feel bad enough to lug his laptop into the other room and lock himself in there for 3 hours….

I feel so cherished to know that after almost three years of marriage my husband still simply wants to be with me…..I have to make an analogy, I feel it coming on….I can’t contain it……okay, here it goes. Maybe this is the way that God feels about us? Maybe we forget and sometimes take for granted the fact that our Savior simply wants to be with us. Our culture makes us think that we need to do something in order to show love and appreciation, but in reality sometimes we just need to be in the presence of the people we love.

“…be still and know that I am God.”

Posh

Today is one of those days that I wish was rainy and stormy so I would have a valid reason to lock myself inside with a good book. But, much to my chagrin, it is beautiful and sunny and I finished my book yesterday.

So, Jon and I went to the mall. I don’t really love the mall, but Barnes and Noble and Chik-fil-A are enough to tempt me (even if I do believe that chick-fil-a is corrupting American youth by spelling EVERYTHING incorrectly)

We wandered around for a long while, looking in store windows and whatnot. I was in a time warp for a good hour at the Barnes and Noble buy 2 get 1 free book table…success! I got three new books! Jon got this electrical thing he needed, so I have to say it was a fairly successful waste of an afternoon. BUT the mall makes me think. Actually, it makes me over-think. I begin to see all the things that are wrong with society, and I start to get judgmental. I see young girls with shorts to short and shirts to low, and the poor boys who are with them can hardly keep their eyes focused on anything else (and then I get mad at their parents for letting them out of the house that way)

I see parents giving into whiny kids about the cell phone they want and the clothes they can’t have. I see arrogant teenagers (who I am SURE don’t know when to use “your” and “you’re”), mothers who look like they are trying to be young again, and old couples who look lost in a world they are very unfamiliar with.

I walk past store after store that is trying to sell me, and every other deceived American, things we don’t need and never will need.

Stupid. The whole thing is stupid. I hate the mall. I hate being told what I need by having images shoved in my face. I hate wanting everything I can’t have, even though I only knew about it 10 seconds ago. It makes me selfish, self-conscious, overstimulated and very frustrated with the world. I hate who I think I need to be when I am at the mall.

I will take a rainy day on my couch in my pajamas with a good book ANY day.

Yet, I always go back. I mean, I was there today, and I knew it would irritate me. Why? I am fairly certain it has to do with my sinful nature. I don’t often blame things on my sinful nature, per se…..but in this case I believe that sometimes I simply want to have those things which the world can offer me. There is something inside of me that makes me want what I don’t have, and then it motivates me to go in search of whatever it is that I have lived 23 years without.

Grrr. Stupid sinful nature. It makes me realize how crucially important it is to fill ourselves up with things of the Spirit so there is no room for things of this world.

love.joy.peace.patience.kindness.goodness.faithfulness. gentleness.self-control.