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acción de gracias

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I taught my kiddos how to say “thanksgiving” in spanish last week. acción de gracias. loosely, directly translated it means “action of thanks.” I like that. & here just ten of the dozens of things I’m super thankful for.

one :: a good place to work & lots of challenging tasks. even when I’m stressed out & overextended, I’m so, so thankful to work at a job that’s never ever boring. my students brighten every single one of my days. & I’m thankful for the support & wisdom that comes from colleagues & TFA.

two :: a big, loud, beautiful family, made up of wonderful siblings & wise parents.

three :: fellowship. close college friends who all happen to have stayed in town. new teacher friends who understand my life. a good, good roommate.

four :: a boyfriend who plays music & makes ramen & drinks black coffee & consistently lives in a gentle & understanding way with me.

five :: jenna’s & my cozy house w/ a working heater & random furniture, full of pictures & recipes & parties & joy.

six :: a body that can run & jump & swim (even if it’s pretty bad at ballet).

seven :: words & books & writing. animals don’t read & write. we do. words have power & meaning & beauty. I’m thankful for the privilege of wielding & weathering them.

eight :: this great big beautiful world in which we live, full of sunsets & secret trails.

nine :: church… familiar faces, folding chairs, the lord’s prayer, & an invitation to take, to eat, drink & remember.

ten :: & of course, always, more than anything, I’m thankful for grace. I’m thankful for grace at work, grace in my family, grace between my friends, grace from david, & ultimately… grace from the holy yahweh god who is constantly proclaims over me “YOU ARE LOVED“… even when I least deserve it.

 

tangles & time management

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“ms. broom, how come your hair looks like that?”
“like what?”
“you know… like you didn’t brush it!”

it was a three day school week & I was thankful. it’s been full, full with work still… a bake sale for Make a Difference Day, grading 150 tests, professional development, painting a voting booth for election day… you know, elementary school teacher stuff.

but it was also full with non work things. watching the sandlot for the first time. seeing a sweet friend get married. homecoming festivities with the entire family! pizza + $5 movie sunday funday with hannah & wilson. & then thursday night was a birthday party for emily & brandon & derek. so many beautiful friends from college life… they stayed late, eating & tossing our globe around & talking about life outside of the bubble.

life is so very full. & I just wrote out this week’s schedule on our white board & it’s already crammed. sometimes I wish I could take a week long sabbatical. or quit something every thursday like bob goff does. but I’m trying to dig in deep & enjoy this season. thankful that, for the most part, the things that keep me busy are joyful & meaningful. here’s to finding that elusive balance between rest & productivity… because God is glorified through both.

love, part 2

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yesterday was one of those days where I was just kind of in a mood. raking leaves gave me a full blown allergy attack. then I took a nap that left me feeling worse, not better. I was fussy & it was one of those days when I just wanted someone to make me feel better.

that happens more often than you would think. I’m in a bad mood or someone hurts my feelings or I do something wrong at work… & I’m off looking for someone to make me feel better, to say something nice. someone to have coffee with. someone to love me. & sometimes it works. but most times, even after good talks & lunch dates & encouraging text messages, that desperate little place in the back of my brain gets bigger, not smaller. because, let’s face it: lots of times other people just don’t satisfy us the way we want them too. I have wonderful, kind family & friends… but many times even their best attempts at love & comfort leave me feeling empty, searching for God knows what.

a little while ago I wrote about being loved by God. & if accepting even his perfect love is hard, then man… loving & being loved by deeply imperfect humans is even more frustrating. you try to love other people but you don’t know if it’s working and despite your best efforts.. they probably don’t always feel loved by you. and you definitely don’t always feel loved by them.

by my bed there’s a rumpled purple post it note with some words from a donald miller book. it says, “we’re not going to get the kind of love we really need from each other. we’re going to get it from God, in heaven.” that statement made me kind of upset the first time I read it. I’m an idealist & I don’t like the idea of incompletion. but as time has worn on, this idea has gotten down inside my skin. when I let go of the idea that I can receive ultimately satisfying love down here from other humans, it frees me to take joy & pleasure in the love that I do share with my family & friends, instead of gaming & calculating & forever being disappointed.

& I know this for sure: when I dwell in the unconditional, glorious love of God–even if only through a glass, darkly–the places where humans leave me feeling empty become less devastating. & I know this too: although it’s sometimes unsatisfying & frustrating–my family & my friends & I all love one another deeply. our love is imperfect. but it is good. it’s not enough. but maybe it’s not supposed to be.

fire & flood

my sister & I agree that this is our very favorite picture of our parents. in 2005, their anniversary fell a couple of weeks after hurricane katrina. we had nine feet of water & zero power. & we were in the midst of mucking out a basement, deciding what to clean/what to pitch, & setting up a pretty cool cookie sheet looter alarm. restaurants weren’t open for fancy dinners & candles were more necessary than romantic… but my mom drove up to the house to see the largest card she’d ever received– in the form of this huge sheet of plywood.

like I said, this is my favorite picture of my parents. but my favorite story about my parents happened years before this picture was taken. they had four kids under five years old… & one night, around 2am we all got the stomach virus. one kid after another started vomiting. my parents rolled the sick child out of bed, changed clothes, pulled off the sheets, & stuck him back in bed… just in time to get to the next puking kid’s room. after they finally got us all settled back in, they took the pile of sheets out to the backyard & started hosing them down… & then my mom says they just looked at each other & burst out laughing at the ridiculousness of the entire situation. ever since they told me that story, I’ve adopted that as a life goal: if I get married, I want to marry someone who will laugh when everyone throws up in the middle of the night.

I think my parents would tell you that their life together has been full of beautiful storybook things… family reunions & wonderful Christmases & fun vacations. but thrown into all that has been there a flood & a house fire & financial uncertainty & relational heartbreak & a host of other things that weren’t exactly how they would have written them. I’m thankful that, instead of giving up or breaking down, my parents have kissed in the hurricanes & laughed at the vomit. their life together has been marked by the graciousness of a good God… & it has taught me more about patience, consistency, faithfulness, & quiet love than any relationship book I could ever read. happy anniversary, mom & dad! we love you.

labor day

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david & I left after school friday to spend the weekend with my family + this family. after six hours of dubstep & Disney (ok, only a little Disney) we got to georgia. it was a weekend full of good things… time with some of my favorite people, riding bikes, swimming, ultimate frisbee, mini golf, & meals together. & the sky on the way home was pretty glorious, too.

p.s. thanks to david, hannah, mom & nathan for most of the snapshots here.

a little bit of august

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Untitled       & these are a few of my favorite things.

Untitled        king of the jungle.

sleepover with the dennis kids. david is home from alaska. trying to put my house back together (it’s going pretty slowly). beautiful little kiddos coming up to me in the hallway & shyly whispering ‘hola senorita.’ goodbye party for some of my favorite people at koinonia. oliver in town on the way to south korea! splitting cheesecake with helen. surprise dinner with mom & sister. secret trail adventures with david. lesson planning. labeling 287 popsicle sticks. nap time.

life is so full. I might be the teacher, but I have a lot to learn about margin & balance & what’s important. a lot to learn about trust & rest. thankful for the God who teaches… gently, faithfully, persistently.

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!)