Sunday, January 25, 2009

ornamental tradition

i awoke this morning to find the ground blissfully white. it made me want to drag all of the boxes from the basement labelled "christmas" and tinsel the room in merriment. considering we have yet to take our current decorations down, adding more would turn our house into the "christmasland" i recently saw on a lifetime movie, and the neighbors might think us a little insane. so i pulled out the boxes and began to take my share of christmas down in a surprisingly joyful manner.

when i was a young tyke, my grandma started what has become one of my most favorite aspects of christmas. each year since 1985, she gives each of us a wooden ornament. most of them are hand carved and hand painted and were discovered in some little store on one of my grandparent's many world adventures. i love the smell that wafts from the tin when the lid is peeled back. each ornament gets carefully unwrapped and turned over in my hands so that i can appreciate the corners of intricacies. when we were younger, my sisters and i would all put our ornaments on the tree in the living room, but since "growing up" i've yet to do so. i've always found an alternative spot such as door frames. this year, they hung from the fire place where, instead of being tucked into branches, they were on display for the whole world (all ten of them that came into our living room) to see.
the picture below contains my favorites. the bell on the far right is the very first ornament grandma gave me in 1985. the music note next to it is the 2008 ornament. the manger carving in the middle is actually from jerusalem! the angel on the far right is the one non-wood ornament amongst them. i love it's simplicity.

traditions are not something my family seems to do very well. other than grandpa always using pink frosting on cake and mom making lep cookies every year, we don't really seem to repeat anything for more than a couple of years. but grandma has been very sucessful in this tradition, and i love it so much that i one day plan to do the same for all fifty of my grandchildren.

grandma - thanks for making us a part of tradition. and go big red!

everyone else - yes, my grandma is tech savvy enough to read my blog. she even emails me sometimes!

Friday, January 23, 2009

men of the romantic variety and other various ramblings

work is really slow today. that NEVER happens. ever. so i thought i'd fill a few moments with some really random thoughts.

exactly one week ago, i changed my facebook status to read "reason #237 why it would be beneficial to have a man of the romantic variety in my life: i have a flat tire and the lug nuts are too tight." if i were to write that today, it would say "reason #238 why it would be beneficial to have a man of the romantic variety in my life: the dryer isn't working effciently and i really want my sheets to smell like they have been line dried anyway. " aka - i think there is something wrong with the dryer and i really want a laundry line.

i had coffee last night with some really fun women. two of them are from my new church. the other was someone to hopefully call a new friend. we met at this little corner coffee shop near the history museum. it's unique in that it has a bike shop attached to it. bikes and coffee.

one rant i've had for a while, but keep forgetting to get out in the open: those darn plastic coffee stir sticks. they don't work. the minute they hit the liquid heat, they bend thus not fulfilling their intended purpose on this earth. i don't even know why coffee shops by them. the wood ones, however, are great! at locations that choose to use these, i can actually taste the sugar in my coffee on the first sip as opposed to the mountain i get at the bottom of the cup when using the plastic stirrers. local locations that use the wood stirrer: kayak's and kaldi's (at least two locations). the place we went to last night goes a step higher - they use a good old fashioned spoon!

my grandpa came home yesterday from his third stint since thanksgiving in the hospital. what started as pneunomia ended up as half a lung removed for cancer. in an odd way, i'm grateful that his pneunomia landed him in the hospital as they then caught his cancer fairly early. my grandpa is an ornery old man (who is really very young). he doesn't like doctors, and he tried to get me to take his potassium pills for him when no one was looking. don't worry, i didn't do it. although i probably could have gotten some money out of the deal...

randomness and rants make me think of my friend jake. he and his wife are seminary students in denver. jake is one of my most favorite people so there are a lot of things i will always remember about him, but one thing that i was remembering recently was how he and his brother liked to play with words. they would often put the emphasis on the wrong syllable or say words backwards. quirky, i know. check out
his blog.

tonight is the annual covenant presbyterian church trivia night. last year the covenant christian school teachers table took a very close second (like 3 points close). as the pe teacher, i feel it is my job to not only encourage, but to evoke a competitiveness that will drive us beyond the close second to a victory! i can see it now: just as players dump icy gatorade over the heads of coaches, my trivia players will dump bowls of popcorn over my head in triumph. just kidding. the reality is that i'm really dead weight when it comes to trivia. i'm still hoping for a win.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

another first

first of all, let it go on the record that i blog to you today from the comfort of my front porch!

i had another first today. i went to court. not for me, but to attempt to seek some justice on behalf of a child, or rather, three children. i can't write about the case, but i can tell you that court was a very interesting place to be.

i arrived to find the sterile waiting room fairly empty, and made my way to a chair by the wall. thirty minutes later, i looked up from my book to find the room buzzing with lawyers, social workers, children, and parents of all sorts --biological, foster, etc. it was easy to put the book aside and just watch the happenings of the room. that is what i did, for the next three hours. not too long into my people watching, i figured out that there is a magical and powerful clipboard that hangs on the door to the court room. once your case name gets written on the that board, you know that you will get to enter the clipboard once the big bailiff guy calls your name. he called a lot of names, but never the one i waited for. why? because our name had yet to make it on the board. my supervisor came and briefed me on what would happen once we were inside. all i needed to remember was to say "no, your honor." i was pretty nervous about remembering the "your honor" part. two hours into this adventure our name finally made it to the clipboard, but it was dead last.

many of the people that had occupied the waiting area had been in and out of the court and were out frolicking in the beautiful afternoon. (well, maybe not frolicking. they did just leave court.) so i settled back into my chair with my book. the social worker on my case joined me and somewhat interruptedly began telling me useless stories. i gave her my book to read.

after three hours of sitting, the big bailiff guy called our case. i followed my supervisor into the room and kept saying to myself "no, your honor. no, your honor. no, your honor." we were all introduced and the three attorney's got to say their piece. i sat quietly and listened taking in the new pieces of information. i was listening intently until i realize there was a rather quiet, but yet distracting noise coming from the back corner of the room. not wanting to do anything that might get me arrested, i made a slow small move to get a glance at mr guy bailiff guy, asleep and snoring at his desk, in court! stuffing the giggles inside i turned my focus back to the person speaking and reminded myself of the words i would speak.

the "no, your honor" came out just fine, and we exited the room within fifteen minutes of entering. yes, three hours of waiting for fifteen minutes, a "no, your honor", and a snoring bailiff guy.

however, i must say that my court report was actually mentioned by the juvenile officer, and an attorney stopped me afterward and told me it was a great report. it's good to know the report is really worth something!

yet another "first" to cross off my if court was on my list of things to experience....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

i think what this guy says is important. don't read my blog today, read his. (but come back tomorrow)

change - monty hobson

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

top ten albums of 2008 according to me

thanks to kale and my guitar playing adventures, i've been thinking a lot lately about music that moves me. being the emotionally oriented person that i am, i connect with music that really speaks something to me; that reaches down and "strikes a chord".

the following are my faves from 2008. these albums weren't necessarily released in 2008, but rather, I purchased them or discovered them and listened to them a lot. below the album, i listed my favorite songs.

1. The Builder and the Architect -Sandra McCracken
Thy Mercy, My God
Rock of Ages

2. Ampersand - Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken
If Not for You
When the Summer's Gone

3. Vive la Vida - Coldplay
Strawberry Swing
Lovers in Japan

4. We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things - Jason Mraz
Details in the Fabric

5. Ingrid Michaelson - songs from a myriad of her albums
Album - Be Ok, Song - Be Ok
Album - Girls and Boys - Breakable
Single - Giving Up

6. Once - Soundtrack - Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova
The Hill
When Your Mind's Made Up
Falling Slowly

7. Twentysomething - Jamie Cullum

8. 19 - Adele
Hometown Glory

9. a random mix my roommate made for me for my trip to california

10. Sandra McCracken - Red Balloon
The Tie that Binds
The High Countries

i also "rediscovered" a couple of oldies in my stash during my move this summer that have become permanents in the rotation: Chicago: The Heart of Chicago 1967-1998 Vol II, and Hanson: Middle of Nowhere. yes, kale already informed me that listening to Hanson is "totally normal."

Sunday, January 18, 2009

finally finished

i finally finished my grad school month after i started it. i know, i'm going to have to get a little faster at writing these things when i actually start classes. since it took me a month, i thought i'd make it worth the time and post it on here in addition to submitting it.

"What motivated you to become an educator and how do you think your participation in Webster's MAT program will help you to accomplish your personal and professional goals?"

I cannot remember what initially motivated me to become a teacher. The desire has just always been there, like a childhood memory. Saturdays in elementary school were often spent playing “teacher and student” in my friend’s basement. In high school, I was a “cadet teacher” which meant I spent a lot of time grading papers and designing bulletin boards. I loved the mark of a red pen, the crinkling of fresh butcher paper, and the bit of extra attention from the teacher. During those same years, I had a conversation with an elementary teacher about the overwhelming numbers of students that needed individual academic help. As a result of this conversation, I started a program that paired high school students with elementary students in an academic after school program. Working with the students in this program opened my eyes to the idea that becoming a teacher was about more than red check marks and pretty bulletin boards. It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized its true depth.

It was the summer of 2000 and I had just finished my first year of college. I found myself in the heart of one of the most dangerous cities in the nation attempting to provide some relief in a local school and writing curriculum for a summer program. I entered the school to find an atrocity; too many students in one classroom, third graders that couldn’t write their own names, and very limited resources for teachers. These teachers didn’t have access to a copy machine and many were forced to provide supplies for their students. Stresses like these often led to apathy among the staff and situations where teachers would take to calling their students inappropriate names. I stood outside one day after one such incident, tears gushing, and vowed to become the teacher that would make a positive impact on students. I would not be apathetic, but contagiously passionate. I would empower my students to think, to explore, and to become lifelong learners.

Almost ten years later, I’m living in that dangerous city in the middle of a neighborhood that often evokes raised eyebrows. Living here has stirred up a passion within me for children from poverty, abusive homes, and neglectful parents. Teaching these children is not enough. I want to have a home with beds and clothes for them. I want to leave little surprises in their lunches every day. I desire to be the one that finds solutions for the third grader who can’t read because his school and biological parents have failed him. I want to be a justice seeker, a family, and a source of love.

A degree from Webster University will allow me to professionally serve the students in opening doors to the love of learning, specifically in the science field. Engaging this career that I love on a deeper level will enable me to open my home to children who will need it. I realize that what I would gain at Webster University would not only change my life, but be the beginning of life change in many children’s lives. I seek to include Webster University in this great adventure.

satisfactorily hungry

it's been one of those "phew" weekends, the feeling coming just after a week of doctor's visits, big deadlines, playing airport taxi, and being assistant mom to my friend's six kids while their dad is in peru. (i also had a flat tire due to the darn cold which i managed to change all by myself). it was one of those weeks where there were not enough hours in the day and the end of the day brought a tiredness so strong that sleep could not be avoided.

at first not having anything to do was driving me crazy as it's not often in life that i have just been able to relax, to rest, to just breathe. but then i realized i could pick up my guitar and just play without restriction of time. i discovered time for sitting on my porch, for reading the stack of books by my bed, for making random walks to the loop with my roommate (of course for fro yo). there's time for writing and for photos. time to reflect.

is it possible to be hungry for something and not know it until you start to feel some satisfaction or a little relief? i'm starting to think it is. it turns out this new church is hitting me in spots i had forgotten about. in places dry and withering. i thought i felt discontentment, but deeper than that, i was hungry for something. getting little pieces of it each week has only made me recognize that hunger. am i being satisfied? yes. but i still want more. and i hope that doesn't change. "satisfy me in the morning with your unfailing love" (Psalm 90:14). i want to be satisfied in way that leaves me wanting more so that the first thing i think of each day is to ask for more of His unfailing love.

i'm learning to love sundays again...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

a new kind of clown

last night, on a whim, my former roommate and i snagged tickets for "to kill a mockingbird" at the edison theater on wash u's campus. "to kill a mockingbird" is one of the great classics that i have never read. after seeing last night, i'm not sure why, and am somewhat saddened that no teacher or professor ever required it of me. atticus (the lawyer and father) tells his children to walk in the shoes of others, and i found myself transported from my seat in a theater to the little town of macom in 1935. i felt the fear and hatred that swelled in the heat of the summer. i wanted to hug atticus; to express how proud i was of him. tears of defeat rolled down my face, and my fists were sometimes clenched in anger.

i think there's just one kind of folks. folks. - Scout

the one pair of shoes i struggle to put on, even for a moment , are those of the angry mob. of the people that hated just because of skin color. quite honestly, of those that hated in general. i don't really know how to hate or maybe i just get all of my hatred out on fish and mushrooms. in all honesty, i've probably just never been provoked enough to hate. i can't pretend to understand the slave traders or hitler or the hatred behind the civil wars in africa or the guy down on etzel that shoots the other guy for being friends with the wrong people. in my mind and in my heart, people are people. folks are folks. they are affected greatly by what comes with their skin color, gender, religion, language, etc. it's important to include those characteristics when considering a person, but in a wholistic way without judgement and certainly without seething contempt.

They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions... but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience. -Atticus

sometimes i wonder if we can really affect change large enough to make a true difference. at some point enough countries got together and stopped the massacre of WWII, men of courage stepped up and said "folks are folks" and slavery is wrong, and people who believed in the power of hope and something greater than themselves moved to etzel.

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. -Atticus

as i write there is a group from the jewish community down the street protesting the upheavel in israel. a group of about fifty on a very public strip in a city in the middle of the midwest. will their voices really be heard? about one block from them is another group of people, masked and carrying signs against the church of scientology. will their presence saturday after saturday have any effect?

sometimes i just don't think it's enough and i want to crawl in bed, pull the covers over my head, and forget about war, a crashing economy, the drug deals down the street, the neighbors that got robbed.

"I think I'll be a clown when I get grown," said Dill. "Yes, sir, a clown.... There ain't one thing in this world I can do about folks except laugh, so I'm gonna join the circus and laugh my head off." "You got it backwards, Dill," said Jem. "Clowns are sad, it's folks that laugh at them." "Well, I'm gonna be a new kind of clown. I'm gonna stand in the middle of the ring and laugh at the folks."

my soul longs to be an atticus, and maybe i will be on a small scale. an atticus to one person. but i guarantee that there will be days where hope will seem just slightly out of reach, and i'll picture myself, just briefly, as a new kind of clown standing in the middle the ring, laughing. laughing.

Monday, January 05, 2009

in the spirit of the new year

the blog has now had a makeover. its fun to use some of my own photos to garnish the blogger plate. i thought the new look would be a great intro to my previously promised reflections of 2008. as i've spent the last week or so (really more like a month because i do most of my pondering around my birthday and today i am exactly 27 years and one month old) pondering this past year, the phrase that continues to run through my mind is "the best year of my life." really, it has been among the top if not THE top. the year really became about God revealing to me who i really am at the core which has been blinded for many years by the person i thought i was or was trying to be. the results of the revelation? all kinds of new stuff i would never do...and a nose ring as a reminder of a promise from the one who grants ridiculously gracious freedom. Some of the highlights from the year:

- 20 days in california
- a house
- not just one, but three photos recognized with one honor or another in a local show
- seeing my favorite artist (singer/songwriter) live--twice
-8 mile bike ride through oakland (even though i almost got left in the dirt, thanks josh)
-losing 32 pounds
-running not one, but two 5ks!
-backyardigans live with my little friends
-moving in with my really fun friend
-spending time with ma rohde
-dating again (don't worry friends, you would know if it were anything serious)
-spending new years eve out
-watching one of my highly uncoordinated, scared of the ball, cries at the drop of a hat students perform a pretty rockin' header during a game of soccer and then beam as she told me she learned that it didn't hurt from one of our more physically adept students
- a week long visit from the cutest nephew in the world
-giving my first iv talk
-staying at randy white's house...he and tina are just super awesome
-holding my friends' first baby
-being present for the wedding of a woman i admire greatly (j-lo)
-a ten mile hike with lady who knows how to have a good time on a ten mile hike (she really just has a good time anywhere)
-two words - fro yo

in place of a resolution (which i don't do), i'll just mention what i'm looking forward to in 2009:
-leading worship at catalyst with kale
-going to detroit (and canada) to see a friend unseen for two years
-starting grad school
-a new church (98% sure it will be windsor crossing -
- a broadway show (either annie or wizard of oz) with my two other little friends that didn't get to go to backyardigans
-kissing a few more pounds good-bye (or at least fat molecules...muscle weighs more than fat)
-two words - fro yo

Sunday, January 04, 2009

it looks like i'm having yet another sleepless night. the house is dark and quiet. the other inhabitants will awake in about five hours, about that time i will probably finally fall asleep. there's a lot to think about, and shutting my brain off is not something that comes naturally or easily. i just attended four church services in less than twenty-four hours. i guess i should go ahead and make the official announcement that i'm currently church shopping. this was not an easy decision considering i've been at my current church for almost five years and have not just been an attender, but have been initmately connected with several of the ministries. i've even been on the payroll. i noticed some discontentment about six months ago, but chose to sit on it for a while. then after being in the presence of an old spiritual leader of mine in october, i realized that i was aching for something i could not get at my current church. still, this church has a lot to offer. i value its mission and the way it is seen very tangibly among both the leaders and members. so i continued to pray for three more months. just before christmas, as i headed out to the parking lot after a sunday morning service, i felt this overwhelming sense that it was just time to move on. whether or not God was giving me permission or actually calling me away, i'm not completely sure, but i do feel a sense of peace. not wanting to spend a lot of time in the initial searching process led to strategically taking advantage of odd service times. i hit a 6:30 last night, and a 9am, 11am, and 5pm today. crazy, i know.

one of the churches i visited, i was very nervous about visiting as i know no one that goes there (except for one pastor of another church that attends this church on occasion so that he can get his fix of "rock out worship"). my marital status nor my dating status have changed which means i'm doing this church shopping thing alone. you would think that it wouldn't be an issue seeing as how i've done a lot of pretty major things in life "alone." (i put that in quotes because i always have supporters). for some reason, checking out this church, being the girl walking in looking like a freshman on the first day of school, finding a seat for one, and trying to connect to God in a place unfamiliar sent the butterflies soaring. a couple of songs in to worship i found myself overcome with peace and an ability to worship freely despite my initial feelings. this church is not the type of church that two years ago i would have thought i would be attending much less considering it as my church home. i will admit that even though God had worked on quite a bit of my heart in the last couple of years, i still entered this church building with doubts, and maybe even looking for things to be a little judgemental about (i'm so glad for God's grace!) amazingly, by the end of the service, many of the questions had been answered and the negative judgemental side had been warded off.

i thought i wouldn't know any of the music. thanks to my recent ventures in worship leading for work and my wonderful friend/guitar teacher/co-worship leader, i actually knew some of the songs. in fact, one of them was blaring from my mp3 player in the car on the drive to the church.

i thought this might be a church where people find it hard to be real. i've come to a point in my life where i cannot hide the truth, even when it is a crappy reality (although i'm usually pretty good about finding the positive). the guy who was leading worship was pretty transparent. he couldn't think of the next song they were going to sing, and he said so. he made some sarcastically funny comment about their transitions from song to song . it wasn't polished. he wasn't ashamed. and worship was really great. if being real, who you are in the moment (in an appropriate way, that is) is portrayed on the stage, it has to exist somewhere in the body, if not throughout the body as a whole.

as if the candidness of the worship leader and subduing of doubts weren't enough, God hit me with a sermon that i quite honestly hadn't been expecting. it wasn't anything profound or anything new really, but it perfectly paralleled the book i've been using for my devotions. in the hours before this service, i had read a portion of the book and felt so compeled to worship my creator that i actually got out my guitar and played all five chords i know in a pattern that somewhat (hopefully) resembled a chris tomlin song. i really didn't think i would have that feeling again the whole week, not to mention the same day. really, God, the same thing again? you're good.

part of what the speaker had to say revolved around silence and listening to God. while these were not the themes i found currently familiar, they still resonated; caused me to think. i actually went back to that church for their evening service tonight. same songs. same speaker. same sermon. i returned because i wanted to hear it pick up anything i had left when i walked out the door.

this is the third sleepless night i've had this week. one night was so sleepless that i was still awake when my roommate left for work at 6am. last night was fairly i think tonight will be. my mind is spinning...thinking, no analyzing, all of my church visits today. in the midst of all this thinking there is a part of me that really questions: am i really thinking that much? is there really much to think about? is this really a sleepless night or is it really the Lord trying to get me to shush and listen?

shush. listen.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

new year's resolutions

it's probably rather cliche to blog about resolutions, but since i've been asked about fifty times i thought i'd just tell the whole world (or at least all five of you who read this blog). the truth is, i don't make resolutions. when there is something in my life that needs changing or more discipline or there are new experiences to be had, i just do it. i don't wait for the new year, new month, or sometimes even the new week. (don't get me wrong, i can procrastinate with the best of them.)

in the spirit of tradition, i do like to reflect on the year gone by. it's a process i'm still in the middle of for 2008, but i will post my findings soon.

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