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Monthly Archives: June 2012

jacktown

twilight in the delta. He made it & it was so, so good.

such a good weekend, full of friends & love & “real food” & community & swimming & catching up… with people & sleep. then, driving back to Cleveland  I saw the most beautiful twilight I’ve seen in a long time. rust red around the horizon, deep navy sky, crescent moon. as with most of the best things in life, pictures don’t do it justice.

I’m happy to be back at Delta State, but oh, I’m excited about moving back to Jackson. all my friends here are going off to new places, but I feel like I’m just coming home. you see, when I first went to college it took me a little bit to adjust to cafeteria food & dorm life. in the afternoons, though, I would mapquest new places to go in Jackson, scribble the directions on a napkin (this was before iPhones, kids), get in my car & go explore. some days I would just get lost on purpose & try to find my way back to clinton. I played in Fondren most of the time, but slowly the whole city started coming together for me. I learned where the good cheap food is, where Clinton Blvd turns into Woodrow Wilson, how to manage rush hour, & when it was better to just take Northside all the way back.

as beautiful as it is, this city has a lot of problems. there was the Melton scandal. crime rates aren’t pretty. the roads are so potholed that they’re occasionally just plain dangerous (ex: Fortification St). the school system is over budget & dealing with accreditation problems. “white flight” is a little better, but continues to be an issue. yet despite the multitude of complex issues she struggles with, Jackson delights me. I think it’s because her story is just like ours… beautiful, full of talent & resources. corrupted by the fall. & yet still spilling over with potential, the possibility of new life. (plus I think it’s cool that Starbucks & Walmart are practically nonexistent here.)

things are happening here. new businesses are thriving. there’s a farmer’s market that just opened right down the road from my house. I’m so excited about the pix/capri revamp. 43 of this year’s TFA Delta corps members are teaching in Jackson. local churches are stepping up & reaching out. I couldn’t be more excited to make Jackson my home for a little while & introduce 42 new friends to her. she’s broken, but oh, it’s evident that the Lord is working through his people to restore & redeem her, to buy her back. I’m confident that living & working here is going to teach me so much about the heart of God… & if I can have one fraction of his jealousy for this city, well, it’ll be a real good year.

p.s. here’s florence + the machine covering ‘jackson’ by johnny cash.
way better theme than that kid rock song.

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friday, friday

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storm clouds & sunsets & heat lightning. I think the delta is beautiful in the weirdest way.        Untitled

you would think every friday is a national holiday based on life around here. we have friday music & friday celebration meetings… it’s a good day for sure. thankful for rest. also, I’m thankful for the playdough that now sits on the tables in our meeting rooms. it really helps me make it through sessions sometimes.

:: week one of summer school is done! three more to go. institute began flying by for me as soon as we got kids in the classrooms. God has given me so much grace in that I genuinely like every single child in my classroom. they are spunky & fun & full of spirit. & I think they’re pretty smart to boot… no matter what their test scores say. it’s going to be a good journey.

:: the delta continues to dazzle & surprise me. I think it’s beautiful in the weirdest way possible. after this summer, I’ll have lived in the three most diverse parts of the state (coast, capital city, delta). so I’m going to feel like a Mississippi girl for reals.

:: speaking of the capital city… that’s where I’m headed for the weekend & I’m so, so happy. I miss my friends & my family & my church. life here is good even when it’s hard… but man, I’m excited to taste a tiny bit of home.

wild & wonderful

I could eat these all summer long.

I decided this week that my top three foods are avocado, cherries, & chocolate. cherries are finally in season again & they are so, so good.

:: the two cds I’ve been listening to nonstop since delta life began are ‘love & war & the sea in between‘ & ‘precious remedies against satan’s devices.’ they have both made my long bus rides much more beautiful & you should listen to them if you haven’t already.

:: I miss my church so much. I think church is about community & people & fellowship, not a service. so usually if I’m somewhere new for a short amount of time, I just don’t go. but it’s been a real long time since I’ve visited other kinds of Christian churches, so I’ve decided this summer is for experimenting. last week I was Methodist & this past Sunday I was Episcopalian. it’s real, real good to take communion & sing praise with God’s people, even if it’s in different ways than those to which I’m accustomed.

:: this short film makes my heart glad. watch it. kids are awesome.

:: Jim Eliot said, “live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” & I feel like that describes a lot of life at institute. God has been so faithful to give me not only strength & endurance, but a lot of joy & excitement that I was not expecting. even through getting up at 4am & filling out miles of paperwork & sitting for hours in a desk, I feel like I’ve been blessed with a renewed appreciation for the fact that this world is wild & wonderful.

:: and speaking of wonderful… tuesday is historically my favorite day. good things happen on tuesdays, guys. get excited.

where I’m from

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my high school English teaching team is doing this activity with our students on the first day of (summer) school tomorrow. & we each wrote our own version to introduce ourselves. this one is mine.

I am from sunshine & salt water,
from route 44 grape slushes split into multiple cups.
I am from a coast—the coast,
from the edge of a continent,
Mexico in my backyard

I am from the license plate game
& opening Christmas presents on the 23rd,
from Narvel & Nelda’s garden,
& from Grandma Elva’s quilt that sends me to sleep every night.

I am from Hannah & Joshua & Nathan & Rachel,
the oldest of five kids.
I am from “this is not a short order kitchen”
& “you need to find something to do to entertain yourself”
& “I’ll always love you no matter what.”

I am from waiting quietly in my bed for my sister to fall asleep
so I could turn on my light & read.

Speaking of reading… I am from books.
I’m from thousands of different places I’ve visited
on a million different pages.
I’m from Atticus Finch & Gone with the Wind,
from the Giving Tree in the 100 Acre Woods.

I’m from coloring in Sunday School,
from memorizing Old Testament trivia,
from “may his face shine upon you & give you peace.”
I’m from bread & grape juice,
from baptism & bedtime prayers.

I’m from Gulfport, Mississippi,
where I was born in Memorial Hospital.
I’m also from Scotland & England & Ireland.
I’m actually a little suspicious
that no one knows where exactly we’re from,
but someone told me that as a kid
& I’m sticking to it.

I’m from Saturday morning doughnuts
& watermelon all summer long.
I’m from that time my dad greased the pole of the bird feeder
so that when those pesky squirrels tried to eat the birdseed
they slid straight down instead.
That was a fun afternoon.

I’m from fire & flood,
from Ivan & Rita & Katrina.
That was not a fun afternoon.
I’m from mold & ash,
stale smoke & crumbling sheet rock.
I’m from all the photo albums destroyed by water.

But ultimately… if I had to be from just one place…
I’d tell you this—I’m from surviving & rebuilding,
from sticking around even after everything went wrong.
I’m from community & quiet love,
from standing side by side,
& watching broken things slowly come up
beautiful
once again.

(p.s. happy father’s day to the best birdpole-greasing dad around.
I love you more than a million!)

summer (school)

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the other day teach for america gave us free snocones. I think it was to cushion the blow that is institute… also known as TFA boot camp or teacher camp. whatever you wanna call it… one week down, four and a half to go! starting next Wednesday I’ll be teaching high school English. all the high school English people teaching this story grouped off to have “text talks” the other day, where we discussed themes & motifs in the story… oh goodness, it made me miss college, english classes particularly. a really good liberal arts classroom discussion is pretty exhilarating. & stories are awesome.

my summer placement school is in Hollandale (yeah, I had no idea where it was until a bus dropped me off there). speaking of buses, if you want to know a little bit about what the nitty gritty of institute looks like… every day I get on a big yellow bus at 5:55am & ride an hour to said city. right now the days there are full of classroom management sessions, writing rough drafts of lesson plans & vision statements, collaborating with our teaching teams, etc. but soon they will be full of students & lessons & teaching & (hopefully) learning. then we ride the bus back to Delta State where I temporarily live. (I realized monday that two hours a day times five days a week for five weeks = 50 hours of bus time. if I stay awake & listen to podcasts that entire time, I will be insanely informed by the end of the summer.)

life here is full and honestly, sometimes it’s stressful & overwhelming & no fun at all. but it’s also crammed with daily reminders of God’s deep, deep love & faithfulness. summer is good, ya’ll… even if you have to spend it in school.

p.s. if you’re interested in making my day, mail finds me at:
ruth ann broom / teach for america
delta state university
box b4
1003 w sunflower rd
cleveland, ms 38733

p.p.s. I just bought twenty stamps so there is a high probability that I will write you back.

mismatched

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a few weeks ago I went house hunting & this past week was the first bit of training for my Big Girl Job. so I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what kind of grownup I want to be. when I was in high school, I thought people in college were really old and mature. then I got to college & felt young & scared & lost… but I thought people who had graduated & were working seemed really put together. now I have a job & a house & I still feel about 15 years old. I am realizing that I might never feel exactly like an adult… but that doesn’t meant I’m not (very slowly) becoming one.

back in May when I went to the graduation before mine, I was running a little late so I pulled back my wet hair in a barrette & put on clothes that only mostly matched & hopped on my bike & peddled over. & I vividly remember thinking, today I’m supposed to grow up a little… I hope that I don’t lose this when I grow up. I hope I still don’t worry too much about things matching. I hope I still ride my bike and don’t worry about it making my hair messy. I hope I sometimes stay up really late even when I know better. I hope that, if I get married, I marry someone who writes things on the bathroom mirror that need to be erased real quick before kids come in the room. and I hope that, if I have kids, I sometimes put them in the car at 9pm and take them through the sonic drive thru in their pjs to order ice cream. (but only sometimes because sugar is bad for you and kids need sleep or they are awful cranky.)

basically, I think what I have realized recently is that, if you are not real watchful when you’re younger, it is incredibly easy to wake up & realize that you are living a boring adult life. and you know… it’s ok if my life is really hard. but I sure don’t ever want it to be boring.

(p.s. perhaps seemingly in conflict with this post, here’s a great article on why we need boring christians. I think it’s important to clarify that when I say I don’t want a boring life, I don’t mean I think your life is boring if you don’t move to Africa or start your own nonprofit or sky drive on the weekends. I think pursuing the Kingdom is the most exciting thing that anyone can ever be involved with… whether it happens in Kenya or at the kitchen table.)

a little bit of delta

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:: induction is over, institute is coming right up.

:: living in a dorm again is strange… living in a coed dorm is stranger. every time I walk on the male halls I feel like I’m about to get in big trouble. thanks, MC!

:: I finally got my school placement for the fall! I’ll be teaching elementary Spanish (K-5) at a small JPS magnet school in the greater Belhaven area. the school has special art, Spanish & music programs… pretty much a dream set up. I’m thrilled.

:: I’ve never met so many new people in such a small amount of time. freshman year of college has nothing on this. I am completely socially exhausted at the end of every day… & I’m a pretty social person.

:: it’s been really interesting to be exposed to the Mississippi that the media so often portrays. being from the Gulf Coast & then going to college right outside of Jackson, I’ve been exposed to the most progressive, urban parts of the state… yet when people from other parts of the country think of Mississippi, they immediately think farms & agriculture. I’m still kinda partial to the more urban parts, but there’s no denying that the Delta is beautiful in her own right.