Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I really don't know clouds at all...

So, I was talking with the Lord this evening about something I am struggling to get through. It's one of those struggles that is familiar to the Lord and I, and it's often the same conversation: But Lord, this is a mountain. How will I ever climb it? I can't see how in the world you can ever help me. I mean, I get better and make strides and then blammo, I slide back again...and usually am worse than I was when I started. I just don't see how this will ever work... and blah blah blah.

But tonight, I felt like the Lord spoke this to my heart:

I see it from the other side.

The other side?

I felt like He reminded me of how, whenever we walk through something tough-- an exam, a relationship problem, an irrational fear, childbirth, etc.-- and we come through it fairly unscathed, when we look back on it it doesn't seem so bad. Because we know the whole story from the other side. We know that the things we were afraid of happening just...didn't happen. Or they did and it was alright after all. He was there with His righteous right hand to support and guide us. That whole "hindsight is 20/20" line.

He sees our problems from all sides. He knows the end of the story. Now, if we'll only trust Him.

Sometimes, that part-- the part that would make the whole thing cake-- is the hardest part of all. So we cry out for more faith, right?

I'm so glad He knows how it all works out. He's trustworthy.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


After giving instruction on sonnets and rhyme scheme, students were instructed to write their own. Overheard from a couple of kids talking quietly near my desk,

"Okay. What rhymes with 'Aspergers'?"


"ooh-- that's good."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Found Poem

So, I'm doing "found poems" with my class from hell tomorrow (they've gone from "dream class" to "people with the poopiest attitudes I have ever seen" class) and I am so excited. They drive me nuts, but I do like them individually a lot and there are some truly brilliant kids in there. Anyway, here's my found poem taken from listening to America's Top Chef while I was putting together my lesson (I broke my own rule-- no TV while studying).

The judges' least favorite
We’ll start with you
Drunken, magenta, decisions and
we both we both we both.
Sauerkraut, mixed with dreams and plates,
Wanting and words and beer.
From now on, from now on,
Up here

We both like cheese,
She gestured with her hands
We have sore issues,
He sighed and laughed and held her
Future in his hands,
On his plate
It was a train wreck.
The asparagus was just there.
The bread was toasted.
The concept…
Sexuality and bread.
Finesse and executions
She said thank you and sent them away.

The chairs were hard and
They sat down with their beers
And mocked the judges,
All magenta in the face,
Downplaying and introducing and
This is the toughest challenge we have faced yet.

Which is more important? Asparagus or rules?
Cheese or fish?
Laughter or money?

Taste-wise, I would have chosen the beer.

I think we have our decision.
Send them back in.
Pack your knives and go.
She said thank you and left,

Taking all her words with her.

Something interesting that I noted while looking up some info on the found poem form was that the poem is similar to the Pop Art of Duchamp and Warhol-- taking images (here, words) that are put out there for one purpose (commercial, advertising, etc.) and changing them into something else. See Duchamp's Urinal---->

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Note on myspace

(I posted this on my myspace blog, which I never post to)

So, I only occasionally check myspace now. Facebook feels safer, cleaner, etc., but I leave this open because it has reconnected me with so many awesome old friends and I want to keep that open possibility-- but it's funny over here.

People drop/pick up/block/unblock all of the time, and it's one of the most passive aggressive, insta-tantrum-with-few-consequences things I have ever seen. And I hear about it from my students so often- hearts broken, people angry, posting mean things on each other's walls or gossipping about people's walls/blogs, etc. It's amazing to me how much a part of their (our) culture it has become, and how getting dropped from a friend's list is like being dumped-- by a friend. Crazy.

I remember in high school I turned into a serious, serious wench to one of my two closest girl friends. Don't ask me why-- I honestly don't have an answer. Years later I was able to apologize to her, but that friendship will never be the same and it's alright, but the thing is this-- it simply ceased to exist, that friendship. There were no fireworks (well, there was one awkward conversation in a bathroom, but other than that, nothing), it just...stopped. It wasn't "official."

But if the same thing happened today? Oh my gosh. It would be all over our friends' myspaces. What I couldn't do to her face, I might have done by silently dropping her from my friends' list. I might have blocked her from seeing my pictures or reading my blog. I might have left weird comments about her on our mutual friends' walls. She might have done the same to me.

I know I'm not discovering anything new-- this is all over the press and parents are so aware of cyber-bullying and stuff, but it just occurred to me that this behavior isn't limited to the teenagers!! OH the stories I've heard.

Plus, I think I have at least one friend on here who stopped taking her medication. Enough said.


Middle of the night, thinking of Antigone and do-overs.

Isn't it amazing that we aren't locked in to our mistakes? To our ill-conceived ideas? To things we forgot or could have done better?

And yet... it occurs to me that as a teacher, not one kid experiences a "throw-away" year, though I have been looking at this year-- the first year in public school-- as that in some ways. I spent too much time on this thing and not enough on that. Or I should have sped up this one piece of literature for the sake of getting to another one. Or I should have concentrated on this element of English as opposed to another.... I am stymied by the looming monster of Standardized Testing every time I turn around and I wonder how some teachers feel free to "specialize." I'm crappy at teaching grammar, but it's an unavoidable evil and I have avoided it better than most. I have conquered it, defeated it, wrestled it to the ground and told it to shut its stupid mouth. Grammar is not the boss of me.

But my kids need it desperately, and I wonder about my own experience. Caroline remembers all of her English teachers from high school and everything they did-- and, for the most part, we had the same teachers (though I was, what, four years ahead of her?). But I don't remember any of it. Today, she cocked her head to the side when I acknowledged having Mrs. Huey, but no recollection at all of having read The Pigman. All I remember is hating A Tale of Two Cities (shhh... don't tell anyone. Cardinal sin admission for an English teacher) and where I was sitting. Don't get me wrong: Mrs. Huey was one of the sweetest ladies I ever met and I liked her a lot. I was just bored out of my mind in English. I told Caroline today that the academic classes I really remember-- that is, remember doing things specifically-- were Latin, Civics, doing writing journals for Ellington and... maybe a Creative Writing class with Cope. I LOVED my English teachers personally, but the major connection I made in classes was with the teachers and other students. Mrs. Krueck had something about her...when I walked into her classroom I felt that I was on my own turf, for some reason. Felt accepted and liked and even a little bit in cahoots with her. Same with Korb for some reason, even though he irritated the mess out of me. There was just something cool and smart about him and his gigantic medallions and black turtle necks and never-ending battle with the teacher next door (they would catch flies and release them into each other's rooms).

I guess what I learned from them was that teaching was a one-man show, with all of the attention on you all day. And that teachers could have all different personalities. Quirks. They stood out as completely different from everyone I had ever known. It was about them more than about the subjects they taught. I'm glad I wasn't drawn to a single math or science teacher or I would really, really be suffering from an inferiority complex, trying to teach math or science somewhere and hating it. Because I suck at math and science.

Anyway, I want to try to make Antigone happen for one of my classes and it's only occurring to me at nearly 1:30 am and it is occurring to me that it will be good to have a summer to plan. If I'll do it and not just talk about it. I'm looking at next year as a clean slate; a fantastic re-do; a time to fix what I messed up on this year-- and my prayer for the guinea pigs currently taking up space in my room is that they would benefit from the things I did manage to teach them. That they would be able to use those tools-- an increased ability to think critically in classroom conversation, increased comprehension through discussion, a working understanding of theme and images and motifs and symbolism, the sound of their own voices in the classroom over that of a lecturer, etc.

I want to figure out how to do what my teachers did with me, what I did while working with youth in ministry, and what happened in the studio while also teaching those things that are vital to their test scores. I want to bring art and interest and color to the classroom while also helping them to want to reach for what they see. I tried it this year and will keep trying for years to come, I suppose. Every year a sort of do-over. A do-oeuvre.

Alright. Time for bed. Hope my kids went to bed hours ago....

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Home again...

So it looks like we'll be calling this beautiful place home for a bit longer! The nuts and bolts of the deal fell through in the final days before closing and we have total peace about it. We were praying that the Lord's will would be done, and that included the finer points on some stuff that needed to be fixed after the home inspection happened-- and we can always, always trust the Lord! I'm a little disappointed-- the yard at that house was incredible; the past owners were amazing gardeners. The floors were original hardwood and absolutely beautiful. The windows were large and let tons of sunlight in.

But even though it was really cute, it wasn't the "house of our dreams" and we knew that from the start-- it was just a beginning. I'm grateful for what we learned-- neither of us has ever bought a house and it was really interesting to learn about the process-- and also grateful for more time to save more money for a downpayment. I'd LOVE to do like Dave Ramsey advises: pay for the whole thing up front. I don't see that happening any time soon, but would be great to save up for 20% of something. One thing I've learned this year is that I'm a great saver. Working for a non-profit for so long (where we raised our own personal support), I never thought about saving. Didn't save a dime during my 20's. Spent the first part of my 30's in college and graduate school. Am finally able to save and I find that I really like to do it. I know-- I sound weird.

Anyway, off to candlelight for Pathway East Emmaus Walk number... I can't remember... but one of my sweet friends is on her walk this weekend and I can't wait to see her shining face!

Thanks for praying for us and for the notes of encouragement-- this is what was meant to happen and we're both completely sure of that. Thank Jesus for taking such good care of us all!!!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Maybe, maybe...

**Update: Still no word. We're waiting to find out if some repairs will be made-- but we're totally at peace either way. Just praying for God's will and that everyone will come out a winner! The owner is a really good man and we want him to benefit from this sale as well, so we'll see! Thanks for the notes! We'll let you know as soon as we know something!***

So, I'm posting two pictures of the house we are thinking of buying.
It's nothing crazy-- it's small, very old-school-- totally reminds me of the house I grew up in, which felt crazy when we were walking through it.

Anyway, there are all kinds of cool things we could do with it-- and not much we really HAVE to do. The owners have taken amazing care of the place. It's in a good, stable neighborhood and we have some very dear friends who live there-- well, they are at the waaay back of the neighborhood, but it's cool to know they're back there!

We should know something later this week... I'm nervous like crazy. We're praying. Lots of praying.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Dear me....

Dear Samantha,

It's after 1am again and you're worrying...again. Why, oh why, do you wait until the middle of the night to worry? I have to tell you, it's a good thing that it's Spring Break because you'd be toast tomorrow if you had to go to school! Oh my gosh, you have to get some sleep, girl.

And you have to quit worrying.

I've been watching you for a long time and I have begun to notice a pattern--you're starting to get it, too. Here's what happens when you get stressed out:

a) You think you're dying again. Every time. Today, it was the routine mammogram. Next week you'll be researching the benefits of lobotomy. Or not. Thankfully you've learned to NEVER research anything medical online. NEVER. At any rate, fortunately today's outward example of your inner fear was covered by insurance. Our shelf of unused vitamins are testament to previous bouts of fear induced by...fear.

b) You pick petty fights with your boy Don, one of the best guys around. And generally, he doesn't take the bait. BIG bonus in getting him for a mate. Doesn't get angry easily. Also doesn't take well to being yelled at in the yard. That's another thing I've watched you do: you get scared and you'll take that fight outside. Poor guy didn't do a thing.

c) You eat. Or get completely nauseated. 'Nuf said.

d) You stay UP. You will lie there on those perfectly miraculous sheets (the ones that everyone in the family, on Don's side, has-- the ones we call "weekend sheets" because they are only safe for mornings when you don't have to get out of bed. Luxurious.) beside a sweet husband and toss and turn and get up to watch 5 hours of TLC. Or Discovery. Anything. Fortunately for you, insomnia is the last thing that hits you-- some people live like this.

Samantha, please try to practice what you preach: trust the Lord. You have prayed repeatedly over all of this stuff. So all the money you've been saving is being [what you feel is] frittered away. You finally HAVE it. You can pay some stuff off. You can use it toward a house... toward past due medical bills...toward student loans. And don't give me that line that this list is making you tired. You have a great job-- paying for this stuff is just part of the wonder of it all!!! What you do when you aren't spending your money is what counts, sister. Relationship. And God has blessed you richly, right?

So I need you to go back to bed. Yay for you that you just paid an enormous amount of money on a student loan-- don't fret. Someone will help you figure out that hot mess (as the kids say) tomorrow. Lock you into some 30 year consolidated thingy. Make your payments less than something like a million a month. Don't worry. Don't worry. Don't worry.

Go back to bed and put mammograms and (ouch) aching...chests... out of your mind. You and I both know that there was nothing there. That you do this every time.

Go back to bed and thank sweet Jesus for setting you free from smoking, and even the desire. Thank Him that it's not what you reach for and haven't in, what, 12 years?

Go back to bed-- you did your quickie budget, finally. MONTHS after Ramsey told you to do it.

Go back to bed and say hush to the thoughts that would rear themselves up in the face of God and say, "Ha! I'm bigger than you." They are shadows on the wall cast by mice. You sought the Lord and He opened doors, and the if/then principle applies to this: "Unless the Lord builds the house they labor in vain to try at all, building anything not according to His call." If that is true, if the Lord does build the house, then the labor is not in vain.

I have noticed that you do these things, but I have also noticed that you eventually get it back on track. You're growing up, I suspect, at last. Breathe deep and ask the Lord to calm that pounding in your chest-- He will provide as He always has. He already has provided. Don't you see? Does He ever change? Nuh-uh.

And anyway, weren't you meant to be seeking first His kingdom? Seek it sister.

And go to bed.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Seeking first the Kingdom

Jesus was a wild man.

I'm so happy to follow Him today, but sometimes-- often-- I wish I could have been among the ones who followed Him and knew every expression on His face, the sound of His voice, His weird personal quirks...then I think of how they died and I realize it is very good to be content...

I'm thinking about a lot of stuff, but one of them is the most amazing way the Bible relates to itself over and over, like one massive teaching. I've been thinking about Hannah for a few weeks and this afternoon had a fantastic conversation with my old friend Kenny (Peavy) and I was convicted and inspired. Tonight, I sat and studied for one teaching on (don't laugh, you seminarians) The Kingdom of God, and for hours have been going back and forth between the story of dear Hannah and her faithfulness in prayer and Jesus's constant direction in a thousand ways to seek first the Kingdom-- and then left a million bread crumbs to it, leaving it as mysterious as it ever was, and yet somehow...simple. It's inside you. It's at hand. It's near.

"The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation," Jesus said," nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:20, 21).


The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon them, so technically speaking they did not have the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit yet...so what was Jesus referring to? Was he referring to their devotion to Him? Another translation reads "the kingdom of God is among you" and this would make sense, too, because it relates to the power that comes when we walk in agreement together and the beautiful way the bible over and over again tells us that He delights in our unity-- that He inhabits the praises of His people, that when two or more of us are gathered, He is there, etc.

Anyway, there's more. So much more. Jesus goes on to talk about not trying to pin HIM down either ("Men will tell you 'There he is!' or 'Here he is!' Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first He must suffer many things...").

But it's late and I must off to bed.

And I am recommitting myself to praying FIRST for His kingdom.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Going green

Or rather, sort of a mucous-y yellow color. Yellow green. Snot green.

This is the time of year when we southerners forget about washing our cars. Everything is covered with pollen-- shameless evidence of the great fertility dance nature is doing all day long, right in front of our eyes. Children walk about congested, eyes and noses runny with plant sperm, while the trees begin to turn a green that can only be described as verdant, fairly pulsing with newness. Cherry blossom trees are exploding in color and azaleas are beginning to peak their pink, white and red blossoms out of thick green shells...it's lovely this time of year.

But I'm ready for those April showers. So my car can be cute again. I am so shallow. Rain dance anyone?

I'm headed into that most dreaded of seasons: two pieces of Shakespeare at once. Yes, yes. I LOVE talking about more modern novels-- Lord of the Flies, Night, Separate Peace-- oh my gosh, they were wonderful. And on the other side of Romeo and Juliet is To Kill A Mockingbird (seriously, how fabulous is my life? Every day is book club. Well, a book club where all of the other members are hostages, but still), so I have that to tide me over. But Shakespeare...ugh.

Now, if I were teaching Tempest... we endured that, what, three times in grad school? Hilarious. Anyway, I love watching Shakespeare, love reading it on my own, but I suppose I just feel... I don't know. I feel good about getting kids excited about more modern readings, but feel really bad at talking them into liking the language of this author. I wish that there was some sort of secret to opening their minds to the language. So many people have written so many books with this dilemma in mind... Refer them to songs, to verse, to modernized versions which employ Elizabethan language coupled with current costumes and situations.... but I HATE the DeCaprio version of this play. Ugh. Too violent. Though I will likely look at it at some point...

And at the same time, I have agreed to do Midsummer Night's Dream with my other class.... Ugh. The teacher who talked me into promised to coach me through it one afternoon-- we're hoping to take the kids to the Renaissance Festival along with it. I don't even know if I spelled Renaissance correctly.

Anyway, off to bed.

House stuff still in process. If you're reading and you're a prayer, please throw one up for us (hm. interesting image, that).

Meanwhile, check out this FANTASTIC Romeo & Juliet poster from Georgia Shakespeare Festival ---->