Monday, November 07, 2011

It's a Small Small World

There are some days when the world just seems to contract. Today I want to write poetry about it, but I can't somehow. I don't know if the smallness of the world is created by my getting older, or by my travel around the world, or something else. It is partly created by the internet. When one blog quotes someone from your hometown and and you "virtually" meet someone on facebook who just had dinner with your parents half a world away, it's hard to keep straight which world I actually live in. The two (or three) very distinct worlds have begun to blur. My students read books from my hometown authors and blogger authors in part because I have brought those books here, but also because of something else. This something else is the REAL reason the world feels small...

The body of Christ is all connected. Whether on this continent, or the next one over, or across a vast ocean, God's church is all knit together. We are, after all, one body. So, when all this small worldness seems strange, I only need to remind myself that it is a wonderful and supernatural thing in the world and begin to revel. So today, I revel in the day of small things... small worlds... worlds where the lips work together to smile, where the two hands clap together in praise.

469. Checking twitter more often to see my students update their thankful lists
470. A spinning glass with butterflies in orange
471. Coming home to a good dinner cooked by Molly
472. Teresa's house all decorated for fall
473. The smell of a curling iron heating in the cool morning air
474. Having a weekend  to rest and recover from illness
475. Crazy hair day and mismatch day at school
476. Words of life written on a student's page
477. Giving books away to people who will love them and read them
478. Eager faces earning prizes
479. Free meat from the neighbors--being reminded of sacrifice and what it really looks like: death
480. Beautiful Persian rugs
481. Not being in a war  zone
482. Frank Sinatra and Swing Music
483. Days full of cooking
484. Clean Ikea down comforter gift in the second-hand bazaar
485.Whole wheat flour and oatmeal in large quantities
486. Hospitality and love  from friends with coffee and pumpkin scones
487. Laundry smells
488. Reading aloud with the power off
489. Good friends visiting
490. Late nights chatting
491. Amazing Grace sung by a small group of Muslim and Christian students in harmony together
492. Prayers for breakthrough
493. Honesty that is convicting
494. Being uninvited from a party at the last minute
495. Super slow internet
496. Peppery beef stew
497. Time to fold laundry
498. Forgetting how to spell "laundry"

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Free Meat Day

This is the day where we, here in the Middle East, relive the Old Testament days and receive a black plastic back with random chunks of meat and bone. The holiday is called The Feast of Korban, literally feast of sacrifice. Some of our neighbors sacrificed something (a cow? maybe a sheep?) and drove around the neighborhood doling it out to everyone who answered their doorbell.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Everyone is Someone Else

Last weekend we had a costume party with the high school students. The costumes were lots of fun and the teachers who came were really into it as well. I think all the students had a good time and everyone was able to relax and laugh.

Doctor and Patient

The Little Bee is attacked and then rescued.

Jack Sparrow and a random pirate lady (me)

 Our local military contingent

 Dancing was the main activity for the evening. 

 My dear photographer student-friend and another student

 This is what teachers do at parties

Obama even came to our party. 
This guy was the biggest surprise of the night for the students, 
a former teacher flew in for a week.

 Our very own punk rocker signs an autograph

Bruce Springsteen

 What set of pictures would be complete without Mr. P and food?

 I'm still not exactly sure what was going on here... but it looks cool.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Girls basketball here is a bit of an adventure. There is such a wide range of talents and most girls have never played any organized sport at all. Fortunately, this year I haven't seen that we have and girls that duck when the ball is thrown at them. We all work hard and we all have a lot of fun. That's what I realized from the pictures I took the other day. They have a great time.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Maps of Greece!

This is one of my most recent projects. I made two wall maps of Greece for the 3rd grade classrooms. I may make some more (of other maps!) because I enjoyed the project so much.  I'm still an elementary kid at heart. I've never gotten tired of coloring in the lines!

Monday, October 17, 2011

O Giver... of good gifts...

O Giver of good gifts... thank you for the abundant graciousness you flood me with.

But God... some gifts are hard to handle at first...
                   Sometimes too wonderful to behold and overwhelming with joy they spill over
                   Sometimes hard, aching, uncomfortable... 
                                 where all I want to do is                   
                                                                       crawl in a corner
                                                                                             and hide 
                                                                                                   because one of my greatest fears is...  
                                                                                                                                           being a burden.

And I... forgetting that God is the carrier of my burdens,
                                                                                                         press on in my pride, 
             forgetting the cross and finding only my fear, 
                                                                                                    shut my eyes to pain and joy alike.
But God... through all my foolishness, forgetfulness, blind fear and failures...

                                                                             Giving and giving the good, again and again.

463. Sunrise through red-orange zinnia petals
464. Slow mornings alone with papers and books
465. Coffee brewing smell
466. Laughing hard over dying rabbit calls
467. Sweet baby smell on my hands
468. Young people beginning their own lists 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Yes and the No

This morning I saw the sunbeams fan out from behind the mountains and kiss the clouds so that they blushed. And when I found this poem, it felt like maybe Cummings had seen it with me.

e.e. cummings poem

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

It is unusual for me to like a cummings poem this well because as a teacher of lots of kids who speak English as a second language, I struggle to read anything with such poor capitalization skills without marking it all up with red pen.

But this poem captures a lot. I like the end of the first stanza where it says, "which is yes"... everything which is yes... Isn't everything "yes" in Christ? And then paired with the middle of the third stanza, "the no of all nothing". Isn't that where the "no's" come from? Nothing. C.S. Lewis writes in the "Screwtape Letters" that nothing is very powerful and that many people are led astray by merely doing nothing.
"The Christians describe the Enemy as one "without whom Nothing is strong". And Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man's best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is too weak and fuddled to shake off." ~C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, Letter #12
The battle against nothing is only hopeless to those who are without Screwtape's Enemy, God. But with God, we can have open ears and open eyes to see the great somethings that God has given us as gifts. How beautiful it is to see all the "yes's", to see all the birth, to see "the gay great happening illimitably earth".

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Versatile? Really?

So, I was nominated for something! This has never happened to me before! I'm not sure what to do with it exactly. Fortunately for me, there are rules from a joyful mother, who nominated me. Thank you!

According to her, I have 2 responsibilities: writing 7 things about myself and tagging 15 blogs with this award. I hate feeling conned into these sorts of things. What if I don't visit 15 blogs? I'm not the really obsessive blogging world type. My face to face life is pretty important and a bit more attention needing than the blog world. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy blogs. But I am nowhere near a faithful follower of more than 6 or 7.

So first, 7 things about me.

1. I'm not sure that my blogging is versatile. I always think that a versatile piece of clothing is one that you can wear with lots of different outfits, or a versatile person is one who can perform a lot of different jobs. But what makes a versatile blog? One that you can read when you are in different moods? One that goes with your outfit? I don't know. Or wait... I suppose this actually means that I'm a versatile person who has a blog. Well... I don't know about that either. Now I'm confused.

2. My least favorite job may just be emptying the dishwasher. I don't know why. It only takes 5-10 minutes. How can I procrastinate so much on something that takes so little time? I admit that I'm ridiculous.

3. I really love coloring. I don't mean drawing... I can draw a few things ok, but nothing realistic. I like coloring inside the lines. I find it relaxing. In this same category I like cross stitching because it is so ruled and ordered and repetitive.

4. I've always been a little vain about my feet. In a family full of ugly feeted people, I have lovely feet. So, I try to take care of them well to keep them that way.

5. Pumpkins make me happy. EVERY YEAR! Not carved ones, just the ordinary orange shapes... and anything else fall-ish. I think Fall in America is my favorite season... followed closely by Winter in America and Spring in the Middle East.

6. Plants and animals also make me happy. Some people say that I take too much pleasure in taking care of things without souls. I disagree. Soul-less things are far less responsibility.

7. I like watching Star Trek re-runs. Next Generation is my favorite.

Now for the tagging. I won't manage 15. But I'm sure the blogging police won't chase me down and arrest me!

1. Dragonflies and Kingfishers
2. The Empty Nest
3. Blessed to Be a Blessing
4. Mariana
5. Rants, Raves, & Random Thoughts
6. Dancing with Dragons
7. Timmyjimi

That's all for now!

Monday, October 10, 2011


You know, sometimes God asks us to give things up. They may even be good things. But I firmly believe that there is blessing in the sacrifice. I wouldn't sacrifice if I were my old self. But the old self is dead, and the decision to sacrifice came easily, although not without some sadness. I'm just waiting to see the amazing good that God brings out of it.

This week, Thankful for SO MANY THINGS!
442. A Surprise Wedding443. Time slowing with friends who are like family
444. Sunbreak joy
445. New dark brown bowls all smooth
446. The Yellow Tablecloth
447. Skype calls with old friends who use sports metaphors
448. 3rd grade portrait of myself
449. Braided playdough with marker spots that means love
450. Lanea and her learning to hug me from the front instead of sneaking up from the back all the time
451. Student eagerness to come to my home on a weekend
452. Sabbath day afternoon naps
453. Two wall maps of Greece for the classrooms
454. First sighting of fall pumpkins
455. Curried lentils
456. Sacrifice that God directs (because God will bring blessing!)
457. Student thankfulness lists
458. My teammate who is a noticeably more joyful and communicative person this year
459. Backrub machine on loan from a friend
460. A roommate willing to trade backrubs
461. Lunchtime conversations with students

Monday, October 03, 2011

Team Dinner

Every week we have dinner together as a team (those of us expat teachers at the school where I work). It's awesome. Tonight my housemate and I made breakfast for dinner: egg casserole, fruit salad, and muffins. We had a good time hanging out and fellowshipping together and got to hear about everyone's week and classes. There are so many wonderful things this week that I wasn't able to capture them all on my list, but here's a partial!

431. the smell of our fabric softener
432. Rereading a note from Ann Voskamp (I feel so blessed)
433. Molly making it back home
434. Morning time to be used well
435. Talking with Noor
436. Wall maps
437. BBC
438. Knowing people who make me feel safe
439. The first rain of the fall and the smell it makes in the dust (petrichor!)
440. Divine drawing of hearts
441. Sidesplitting stories

Monday, September 26, 2011

What? No Coffee?

It's been a crazy week. A really awesome good week. But zor full. So, some mornings basic things didn't get done... like I forgot to plug in the coffee pot. Oh sad. No coffee.

But I had some tea, so it was ok. =)
Today I am thankful for my good week. =)

415. Singing hymns
416. Katie chats
417. Sister chats
418. Cold water
419. Whole wheat bread
420. Peanut Butter on pancakes
421. Isaiah--so beautiful
422. My Redeemer who redeems the moments that I lose and the problems I've
423. Getting off a newsletter
424. Spontaneous divine appointments
425. Taking care of little ones at church
426. Early bedtimes
427. Finishing today's grading
428. Colored pens
429. Writing on the tiled walls
430. Pain that reminds me to pray

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Are you smarter than a 5th grader?

My Question: What action did God take to create the universe?
Her Answer: "He said the things on his mind and it just happened and it came true."

Monday, September 19, 2011

Random Ramble (a peek inside my brain)

Living in constant awe of God is the only way to avoid sin. By walking with God I see his glory and am in awe of it. When in awe there is a feeling, a knowledge of God’s supremacy and of my own smallness. If I am insignificant and God is great, what are my desires? And how can I follow anything but God’s will? And if I am in awe of God and walking with him I am filled by him and lack nothing. I will not need to run to any earthly pleasure to fill myself.

So often I numb myself. The emotion is too great and I would rather be a straight level-headed person rather than an expressive feeling one. But by numbing myself to what is around me, I also numb myself to God. How foolish.

Enough of that... time to awe.

401. Being tired
402. Music History Studies
403. Leisure
404. Concrete Blocks on my roof
405. Dinner with friends
406. Sharing the past
407. Sherlock Holmes BBC--hysterical!
408. Morning Chickens
409. Hose water and dust foot-prints
410. Overflowing water tanks!
411. How can I find God? Questions.
412. Kids who read.
413. Sleeping through the night
414. My beautiful rooster

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Groans that Words Cannot Express

How am I supposed to write something for the public that I can't even put in words myself? It is said that pictures are worth a thousand words. But sometimes they are worth more because they can say something that words can't. I wonder if that is how the Spirit prays for us... in pictures. No, it can't be that. God's words are powerful. His words "ARE" things. He says "mountain" and there is one. It's only we that have to speak in pictures. Even our words are images of pictures. And today I am wanting to say something that is so beautiful that it almost hurts. In some ways it hurts because it is so in-expressable. My pictures don't speak that beauty. Even they are inadequate. But what else can I do?

Monday, September 12, 2011


388. Seeing my students again--LOVE!
389. Being ready early... even if it wasn't really early
390. Aprons
391. Magical sunset evenings
392. Smooth dinner parties
393. Colorful pillow covers
394. Leftovers filling the freezer
395. Little child hugs
396. Teaching
397. Prayerful people
398. A Valley of Vision
399. Being alone
400. Never falling off of God's priority list

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Do you ever?

Have moments of knee bruising awe?
Have your mind blown by what God is doing?
Think you might have been dreaming too small?
Wish you had a tape recorder for life and play some moments over and over?
Yearn for specific people deep in your heart?
Feel privileged to have the love of your family?
Find yourself so completely overwhelmed that it physically hurts?

This week I am so thankful.

372. Sunbreaks and beautiful clouds on the ride to my hotel
373. "Comfort Seats" in Amsterdam airport
374. Gloria Jeans Coffee and Starbucks
375. Being allowed to check in early!
376. Seagull cries
377. Molly's notes on the wall
378. Air conditioning on in my house when I came in
379. The power going out 2 minutes after I arrive home
380. Dinner with friends
381. Cleaning out the freezer that has been off for 2 weeks full of food
382. White Tea and Green Pear scented candles
383. Not losing things
384. Tiffany asking for a hair band as I say goodbye
385. Beiong called Uncle Colleen by Tyler
386. The quiet of no power
387. Coffee (I'm sure this has been on my list before! But today I'm thankful for it all over again!)

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Weight

A lot of people are familiar with C.S. Lewis' Weight of Glory, and it's a great essay. But there are other things that I feel have the same weight... perhaps they are part of the same glory. Today, for me, I feel the weight of Joy. I think that so often I've thought that Joy was light... light-hearted... light-footed, a dancing leaping and laughing thing. It can be, BUT IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE!

There are heavy joys, like seeing a friend who's regained her hold on reality, like being free from a sin that you never noticed before, like having died to even a good thing you once held too dear, like being given the opportunity to see God revolutionize people's lives.

These are not giggles and skittles, daisies or puppies or orange juice. These things are dark chocolate, classical music, fine wine, flame-colored roses, lions, and wide quiet smiles. They are weighty joys.

359. Toasted Poptart Smell
360. Birthdays
361. Red Vines
362. Spontaneous iced coffee
363. Laurel's red teapot
364. Wall-maps
365. Weighty Joys
366. Old friends made right
367. Card games with my mother
368. Conviction, Confession, and Grace
369. Pushing my mom through pain
370. God uses our trials in the lives of others
371. Lloyd Alexander's books

Monday, August 15, 2011

On Being a Teacher...

Being a teacher has its pros and cons. You get summers "off" and you get to spend your time teaching kids to learn and think... these are just a few of the pros. I love it.

But there are cons as well. While you may have summers "off" they aren't really "free". I am still constantly thinking about my classes, students, and what I need to make ready. Then comes the part where you actually have to put it down on paper, and this takes a surprisingly long period of time, especially at the beginning of the year or when you are teaching a class you have never taught before.

All that to say, I have been living with Bach for the last several days. He's pretty fantastic. I've always known this, but I've been well reminded. The question then becomes, "How do I teach Bach?" Which then cascades and fractals into a myriad of other questions:

"Should I try to teach them to sing some of his harmonies?"
"Should I make them listen to him at home?"
"How can I make this more than just a homework assignment?"
"How can I teach them to love good music?"
"How much should I make the class self-led?"
"How can I teach the stories that make up the music?"
"Should I make them draw? Sculpt? Write music?"
"Should I offer extra credit?"
"How much vocabulary should I require them to know?"

I could keep going...

Whatever the case is, I love my students and am thankful for them... even in the summer.

346. Fellowship where you see God's hand working a pattern through lives
347. A friend who trusts me
348. Bach
349. Friends who drive a long way to see me
350. My students
351. Green plants outside my window
352. I can move my wrist and arm all around
353. I can cook
354. My brother Kevin's hugs
355. The smell of sandalwood soap
356. Socks
357. Strange books that make me think
358. Doggy fur