Friday, January 28, 2011

A Weekend Wish

My head and heart are full as I quickly sit down to write this morning before I head off to work.

Yesterday was a big day.  We had the privilege of having director Tom Shadyac and several of the prodcuers of his film "I AM" come to our Student Council class when we combined with one of my co-workers classes to see one of her incredible lessons on people and genocide and what each of us can do in other's lives.  Then last night I attended the only high school screening of the film.  You know who he is, right?   The guy who directed Bruce Almighty, Liar Liar, Ace Ventura, The Nutty Professor..... To sum it up, Tom had a near death experience and realized there was something wrong with the picture he was living in, and set off with film crew to ask today's most prominent minds in science, philosophy, and religion two questions "What is wrong with the world?" and "What can we do about it?"  The film chronicles his journey and his findings, and, full of sciency stuff that was actually really interesting, resulted in these thoughts: People are meant to be connected and compassionate.  What's wrong with the world?  I am.  What can we do about it?  Believe in the power of one.  Desmond Tutu in the film says that we are all just drops of water that when put together, form the sea.  Small acts of compassion and connectedness can lead to big things.

Wow.  Yes, Tom Shadyac.  I am with you.  **

Today I leave for our Student Council Retreat.  These, by the way, are my kids.  They are incredible.

And somehow I planned a retreat that basically Tom Shadyac just kicked off for us.  Somehow makes sense, I guess, since these ideas are essential in good leaders.  We're going to be talking about how leaders have to be committed to take the road less traveled sometimes, how we have to know ourselves and be confident in ourselves to be able to take that road.  We'll learn about needing heart and logic as leaders (which the science showed in the movie to be true), and talk about the distractions that meet us on the way.  Lastly we'll talk about how the small things can make all the difference, especially if you have a team of people on your side.

I'm excited.  I'm tired and it hasn't even started yet.  I didn't make it to bed before 11 any night this week, and I didn't even come home until after 10 the last two nights (yes, I was at school from 6:30 am to at least 10 pm).  But I love these things, and I am continuously affirmed that working with these kids is what God wants me to do.  See, I can't talk to them about God, but I can teach them indirectly. I can teach them to do life well and model for them what I really mean, and hope that somehow the seed is planted.  And I can have fun doing it!

Pray for us this weekend, if you get the chance.  My mind is turning the ideas of the film and the retreat around and around and loving some and getting stuck on some - knowing that, fearing that some kids (and some adults) will miss the Reason we're all connected and need to show compassion and love one another.  Still, I believe in the concepts, and my reason doesn't have to be made public there, it just needs to show in my actions.

May your Friday and weekend be thoughtfillled and blessed.

** Disclaimer** There were several scientific concepts that I want to do more research on, because they didn't seem contradictory to anything I believe in, but without furthure information, I couldn't be sure.  I'll be interested to hear your thoughts if you get to see the movie when it comes to theaters soon.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Coffee Company and More

Starbucks Caramel Macciato in hand (it's what I drink in the off-season of the Gingerbread Latte when I still have gift-card money left over from Christmas), I am ready to blog.  I have a lot of stuff in my head and in my heart, which means inevitably this will be a post full of randoms.  Ready?

This week has been full. 

We're back in the swing of things at school, and I'm really trying hard to stay on top of things (and already falling behind), but also to make sure that the way I'm teaching is better. 

I haven't been sleeping that well, mostly to the fact that Husband has been working nights and crawls into bed at about 4, right before I get up at about 5:15, and the weird dreams I've been having.  Last night's was an odd mixture of mostly good, kind of weird, and a little unsettling, but.... I re-wrote the ending to make it all good in my head.

Last week I heard that a former youth group kid of ours, Brad, who had a muscular condition that affected his respiratory system and more, was in the hospital and things weren't looking great.  Wednesday we heard first that they'd removed the breathing tubes and, shortly thereafter, Brad went to be with his Jesus.  Both my good friend Dawn and I posted for him, if you'd care to read.  The service will be Tuesday, and I expect it to be just as much a celebration as anything, since Brad is finally healed.
Husband goes away with the youth group today for the long weekend for our annual retreat.  (A few years ago this retreat was one where we had some of our favorite memories with Brad.)  It's the first time in seven years I won't be going, but because I have offiically stepped down as a leader at this point (you know, I was trying to create some balance in my life), it makes sense that I am not included.  I cried, and let's just be honest: I'm going to have to pray that God will remove my feelings of jealousy.  A few weeks ago I was on the phone with my friend Brooke telling her about how disappointed I was and how, to top it all off, it meant that I would be home alone for three nights and almost four days.  Joking, I suggested she drive up from Texas for a visit.
A few days later she called to say she was coming!  I expect to get a text sometime this morning to say she's on the road and then, this evening, she'll be here!  Brooke is my best friend from college.  We haven't lived in the same place for 6 and half years, but she's just one of those friends, you know?  It's going to be great, and I think I probably won't remember that I'm missing the retreat.
I was just reading Rachel Anne's Small Thing about Starting Over.  I love how each morning it can be as if God gives us a Restart button.  What happened yesterday is gone, and today is a new day.  I'm a fairly stubborn person, so sometimes I cling to what is and insist that I can make it work..... but to restart- well, sometimes something even better can come from that.  I've seen it many times, yet I still cling.  Oh, sinful stubborness.

Don't worry, I'm nearing the end of my ramblings.  Husband came home the other night with a belated Christmas present for me - a Nikon Coolpix camera.  I think I've mentioned in about 100 comments (okay, slight exaggeration) on other's blogs in recent weeks that I want to get a pocket-sized camera I can have with me at all times, because I'm always missing out on pictures I see and want to take.  Wish granted!

I haven't had the chance to take many great pictures, but last night Husband and I went to my new favorite "fast-food" restaurant, Garbanzos, to have a little mini date night before he left for the weekend.  They're not great photos, and I look awful,  but, in the interest of sharing, here you go.

an unassuming building filled with scrumptiousness inside.

oops, forgot to unzoom from earlier, and we were walking.

Hmm.  Not my best picture ever, but I was excited!

Husband going in for his first bite - he wasn't sure what he was going to think, but he ended up liking it!
 My pita and falafal. 
Turns out my camera has a food setting, but I didn't discover that until after I had eaten every last bite.

 A quick shot of us by the Garbanzo beans as we walked out.

Just for fun, Ginny when we got home.

Happy Friday from a Rambling Beth.  

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dear Brad

Dear Brad,

I can't help but be sad when I think about how much you'll be missed around here.  It's been a while since I've seen you, but I will never forget the many Sundays where you cheerfully stood greeting me as I came in, even though it was nearly impossible to stand.  The youth group nights where you sang, prayed, and even played games blessed us all.  You taught both adults and students alike how to be joyful and content in spite of difficult circumstances, and reminded us that in the big picture, our lives were relatively easy.  You listened with care and, although you didn't speak much, were wise and worth listening to you when you did.  And I've never laughed so hard as the time we passed the pigs all together and you pretty much kicked our booties at it.  You know, Brad, we roll pigs.  When I think about how much you'll be missed by everyone who was blessed to meet you, I can't stop the tears from welling up in my eyes a little.

Yet I also can't help but smile when I imagine you running, jumping, leaping, dancing, exhaling, and inhaling as you never have before.  I know Heaven is full of people being blessed by your enthusiasm as you finally feel what your body was made to do, feeling for the first time the freedom that comes with being 18.  The joy I feel for you is endless.

You fought and lived well, friend.  And while we miss you, we are thrilled for the Life you now live.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Do you believe in dreams? 

Bed of Dreams, Kathy Ostman-Magnussen

I don't, really. 

I think they're a bunch of random images from our subconcious blended together in our imagination to form who knows what.  I often remember dreams, at least for a little while.  I suppose that makes me a light sleeper, since you have to wake up during the dream to remember it?  Normally my dreams make little sense, but are pleasant and interesting.  I have dreams that take place in recurring situations.  If I dream about my home, it's always the home I lived in from 2nd- 7th grade, but with some weird twist - usually the bathroom is not the bathroom but some other room.  If I dream about school, it's never the school I work at now, but a composite of the different places I've attended and worked over the years.  Most of the time I wake up and think, "that was nice," or sometimes, try to go back to sleep and pick up where I left off.  You know, to get back that warm, fuzzy feeling of happiness.

I don't have bad dreams very often, although when I do, I usually try to "re-invent" the ending of the dream - you know, close my eyes, half sleep, and will the dream to change.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  The worst dream of my life was a few years ago, and it was so vivid and so awful that I don't even care to tell you about it.

The last week or so, though, I've been having some weird dreams, and not ones I love.  The first one involved me ticking off some guys who then starting beating the crap out of my dog. I woke up seriously upset by that one and had to cuddle Ginny for a while to settle down.  The next night I dreamt of snakes - and I hate hate hate, double hate, loathe entirely snakes.  And in this dream, Ginny and a little tiger I had for some reason were tearing about the snakes.  This morning I woke up after having a weird dream where good friends of ours (not people I actually know in real life, but friends in dreamland) went through a big trauma I don't feel like typing, either.

My mom says maybe I need to pray.

It reminds me of a summer morning several years ago when I was working at an English camp in Spain.  There were five of us 20-something girls all working there who had become quite close.  One morning I woke up after having a dream I can't remember anymore, but with a distinct heavy feeling that I couldn't shake.  I got up early and sat on the couch reading the Bible and praying and, as I did so, a clear sense of peace began to wash over me.  Later that morning when I got to camp, the girls and I were talking.  Four of us had all experienced the same thing - a foreboding feeling that was almost tangible - and we had all immediately dropped to our figurative knees to spend time with the One.  And we all were calmed. 

Now, I don't know what that was about, but I do remember it was powerful.

And so, while I don't really believe in the significance of dreams meaning anything, I do suspect perhaps I should get back on my knees again. 

Hopefully, tomorrow, I'll wake up wanting to go back to sleep to continue the warm, fuzzy feeling, instead of anything else.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow Day and My Living Room

A Snow Day. 

A little miracle, a great gift from God. 

A day where I can relax a little and work on things that will help me not fall behind. 

A day to wake up at my leisure (ummm.... 7:15), drink a couple cups of coffee, and read a while before, again, at my own pace, get some things done.

And a Snow Day here?  Well, today the snow has stopped falling (it snowed through the night and made the roads awful), but now the sun is shining brightly and the snow sparkles as if laden with an inset of thousands of tiny little diamonds.  It's quite cold, which makes a cup of coffee or hot cocoa and a fuzzy blanket all the more appealing, but, if I were a child, I would find the nearest hill and go sledding, for it is the perfect weather.

Oh, Snow Day.  How I love you.

And, as promised, a few pictures of my living room, which is still pretty and cozy and lovely

 My living room. The rocking chair used to be on the other side of the fireplace, and we had an old, ugly, uncomfortable arm chair that didn't go with anything in the house.  I hate losing a seat, but I really hated that chair more and feel immensly better that it made it's way to Goodwill.


My mantle, newly decorated.  It was much more cluttered before and quite colorless.  The pottery vase on the left I bought with a gift card to the Pottery Barn, the flowers, "C", and heart sign (that says "amore") are from Hobby Lobby, and the wrought iron candlesticks are from Goodwill (those I've had for a few months).

The built in bookcase, with some new arrangements.  A while back I painted it to match the wall in the living room, and, inspired by E over at Me, Myself, and E, I started searching for gold and red books.  The baskets I've had forever, and the Willow Tree angels are a favorite item of mine.

One of my favorite shelves. The milk can also came from Pottery Barn - it was on sale for $4! - and the flowers from Hobby Lobby.  Everything else I already had.

Soon to come, pictures of a new shelf I bought that is going in my kitchen, finishing off a blank wall I have been working on since the kitchen was fixed.

May your day be lovely!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bye Bye Christmas Decor, Hello Lovely House

Don't get me wrong. My house was very lovely with all my Christmas decorations.  In fact, it was downright the best I've done yet.  I wanted to stay home every day and just stay in my Christmas house.

Alas, Christmas is officially over, and, with a semi-free Saturday, I knew it was time.  Time to pack up the ornaments, take down the lights and the garlands, put away all the cute Christmas knick-knacks.  But when I put away Christmas last year, I was faced with what felt like a very bleak and blah living room.  (Isn't it interesting how I didn't realize that until after Christmas went away and after I started reading blogs like the Nester's? - my eyes were opened.)  It was so blah, in fact, that my husband went to Home Depot unprompted and came home with paint and painted a wall.  (Which, incidentally, I thought I would hate, but love.)

This year I knew I would feel the same way after Christmas, despite my still-painted wall.  So I had a plan.  I had a Pottery Barn gift card and a few Hobby Lobby gift cards and, before I even started packing up Christmas, picked up a few pieces that made me excited to arrange.

This morning I got up and started packing.  Within a few hours, Christmas was back in the storage closet and I had dusted and vacuumed the living room and dining room.  Next came the arranging.  I got rid of an ugly arm chair (Husband took it to Goodwill) and I rearranged things on my mantle and shelves.  I tided the kitchen and made the main floor neat and clean. 

After dinner you better believe I'll be sitting on my sofa in my fun living room, not missing my Christmas decorations at all.  Until about October, of course, when I'll start wishing for them again.

Oh, and why are there no pictures?  Because Husband is at the grocery store and the camera is in his truck.  Pictures to come soon!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Individuals and Teams

Usually I don't get that much out of professional development days, but this morning we heard a speaker who made me think, both about education and about life.

Consider these two pictures:

His point was that, as educators, we often are like marathon runners.  We're working hard and we're doing our best, but my success is not dependent on anyone else's success nor my failure dependent on anyone else's failure.  Another's success is not dependent on my success, nor their failure dependent on my failure.

Yet, in his opinion (and the opinion of many distinguished educators and educational researchers), we should be more like the members of a crew team.  What each individual does matter to the success of the team.  My failures matters and affects more than just me.  Research shows that students achieve more when teachers are working collaboratively as a team, instead of closing the doors to our classrooms and operating as a one-person show. 

I can't help but agree.  I know our department would truly benefit from us working as a team, since each level of Spanish directly affects the next level.

But as I've been marinating (yes, marinating) on this thought all day, I realized, isn't this true for life too, especially with what I believe?

I don't think we're meant to go it alone, but rather to live and grow in community.  Running the marathon is great, and we're working hard, but maybe we're not working the best way.  Maybe we're created to row together, to work as a team. 

What are your thoughts?  I'd love to hear them!

For Edie, a friend I didn't know until today

This morning I got up earlier than I meant to, but now I know why.  I decided that, with the extra minutes I had, I would dive back into blogland, a place I haven't truly been in months.  I myself haven't blogged much at all for a semester, but I can't remember the last time I read others or commented.

But this morning, I read.  And several of my blog friends were posting for Edie, on her birthday. 

Curious, I went to Edie's blog. 

life in grace

A few of her friends hijacked her blog and wrote a post inviting all and any who have been touched by Edie and her blog to share some love with her today.  By now you're catching on to the fact that I have never read Edie, so it's a bit illogical that I am writing a post for her.

I went back a few posts on Edie's blog.  And then a few more. And before I knew it, several minutes had gone by, I had read several of her posts, and I was almost in tears.   You see, if you go back to a 10 days or so before Christmas, Edie had a beautiful post about how she was decorating her house for Christmas, how she was reading John Milton's poem, "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity," how she was thinking deeply on advent and what it meant.  Included are beautiful pictures of her mantle in her lovely home.  Then there's a post on award winning (and most likely, extremely bad for my resolution to eat healthy) fudge.  A few more posts mixed with what is clearly Edie's style - light hearted blended with deeply thoughtful. 

And then the first post, where her friends posted a prayer, and stated that all of Edie's family was safe.

Because Edie's house, the Tuesday before Christmas, burned down to the ground, completely.  Then I read the post where Edie talked about the journey of that week, and of Christmas, and I couldn't believe it.  For Edie, who is most certainly heartbroken, shaken, and overwhelmed, continued to make clear that she serves and loves a God in whom she believes whole-heartedly, One who protected them, even the dogs, and One who will continue to provide.  And I cried. 

Today is Edie's birthday.  And although I just "met" her today, I could not help but to post a birthday tribute, because, in one half an hour, my life is already changed by reading her stories. 

May this year be what it needs to be, Edie.  May you and your family continue to find healing, and provision, and may the Lord who is merciful and full of grace make His face shine upon you, so that you may know His deep and everlasting love and peace.

Happy Birthday.
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