Tuesday, September 27, 2011

To Leave a Legacy

I've never been much of a Nicole Nordeman fan (which is pretty much illegal for me to say because she's from my home town and hit it big when I was in high school), but this song pretty much sums up what I'm thinking at this moment.

See, pretty much half the world has been posting over the last few weeks, and especially the last few days, in honor of Sara.  Sara struggled with chronic illness and has been home-bound for years.  Over the last few weeks, her body began shutting down.  And on Saturday, Sara went to be with Jesus.  I'd only started reading Sara's blog a little while ago, but was immediately drawn to her.  She's funny, courageous, passionate.  And she's currently free of pain, which is the best part of the whole thing. 

Seriously, though, if you wander through the world of amazing Christian bloggers, you'll see post after post after post after post dedicated to Sara and to the legacy she's left us all.  (An IRL friend of mine posted beautifully on the subject here... you should read it.)  Each of us has been challenged to Choose Joy and to live in such a way that reflects that joy, no matter the circumstance.  Her reach has been widespread, her legacy large.  I can't help but wonder if she had any idea.

I've known a few people who are legacy leavers, most notably, in a personal sense, my grandmother.  She passed away nearly nine years ago, and I still cry when I miss her.  Anytime anything big happens in our lives we wish she were here.  She was the best. I mean, literally the best.  The best grandma, friend, mother, cook, wife, homemaker, researcher.  The best.  And we still miss her.  My mom has often said she hopes that her legacy is as strong... to be that missed that many years later?  Grandma was a legacy leaver.  She didn't have the wide-reach Sara did, but to me, to my family, it was just as important.

And as I think about this women (and a few others I have known), I can't help but wonder....

Am I leaving a legacy?

Is what I'm doing with my life, my time, my work, my thoughts, my efforts, worthy?  Will it matter to someone deeply, to my family, to my friends?  Am I living well?  Do I show others how to Choose Joy, to choose life, to choose faithfulness? 

I, like Nicole Nordeman, want to leave a legacy.  I can't help but to think of anything else as I read post after post on Sara, and she reminds me of others who have gone before her.  Someday, I too, will go.

What will have I left behind?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Life on a Sunday

To wake up on a Sunday morning, without an alarm clock, but simply because it's time to wake up, is perhaps one of the most delicious feelings ever. I'm sure all of you who wake up with me before 6 am every day agree, don't you?
I had a restless night of sleeping - no matter what I did, I just couldn't seem to stay sleeping for longer than an hour - but I still felt rested when I woke up. Husband was on worship team this morning, so he was gone by the time I actually got out of bed.

With a cup of re-heated coffee in hand, I quicky cleaned out the fridge and freezer, a task I'd been meaning to do for over a week. I confess that there were some tupperwares full of nasty tucked in various corners.  Let's just say that I had to take the trash out right away.  I loaded up the dishwasher and set it to clean.  I ran a load of laundry and then hung it up to dry - our clothes dryer has been on the fritz for a few months now, so I channel my inner Spaniard and line dry my clothes in the basement. 

After getting dressed (and, I think, looking pretty dang cute), I headed to church for the early service, which I almost never do.  I wanted to be there just in case a friend showed up.  Our first year of marriage, Husband and I carpooled to work with one of his co-workers, Mike, every day, (I was car-less due to totalling my car two weeks before our wedding, and the friend was car-less due to the fact that he'd been in jail for some drug and alcohol-related things), so we got to know him pretty well.  Over the years, Husband has stayed friends with Mike, walking with him as Mike became a dad, went back to jail, and more.  Last week, Mike called asking for the name, address, and number of our church, because he wanted to give it a try.  This is the first time Mike has expressed any interest in going to church at all, so I wanted to make sure he know at least one person in the congregation.  (Husband was on-stage behind the drums.)   Both Mike and his mom came, so pray with me that they'll come back again!

I came home and did a little work on the agenda for our Student Council retreat - it's this coming weekend, and I hadn't even started on a rough agenda yet.  I'm pretty excited for it, even with just my tentative outline.  This group is fantastic, so it's going to be amazing.   We'll be up in the mountains, away from cell phones and noise and distractions, with the aspen trees changing from bright green to glimmering gold.  It's going to be lovely.

When Husband got home, we headed out to my family's house in the forest for a little homemade pizza lunch.  Ginny came with us and played with the "big dogs" for a long time.  They're two Siberian Huskies, and when she comes over, all three can be seen tearing around the backyard at breakneck speeds.  Ginny, when feeling slightly overwhelmed, lies down with submissively until she's "fooled" them, and then gets up and runs as fast as she can again.  (Currently, Ginny is completely sacked out, having been worn out from her play time.  I know the big dogs are the same way at my parents' house.) 

Ginny, right now, seriously worn out.
An old picture of the Huskies, but at least you get to meet them.

Mom makes the best homemade pizza using dough from Whole Foods.  Seriously, if you haven't tried their multi-grain dough, you need to.  It's amazing.  She gets the crust crispy, tops it with the most delicious veggies, adds a few pieces of pepperoni to bring out the flavor, and, without even realizing it, we're eating an incredibly healthy, delicious pizza.   Mom mentioned today that she'd love if it we someday moved out there near them.  She said they would respect our privacy - well, she'd teach Dad to do so.   Sister, Husband, and I all laughed hysterically... poor Dad... he's the best dad ever.  I bet if we ever decide to sell the townhouse, we could be easily convinced into looking near them.  It's a lovely area, with soooo many beautiful pine trees.

After a quick stop by DQ to get a blizzard for later, Husband and I came home.  We each took a quick "nap" - his consisting of actually sleeping, mine consisting of reading a book, and then he headed back to church to get ready for youth group, where he is a sponsor and the youth worship team leader.

I'm now parked on the couch, my usual Sunday evening spot, with laptop in place, working on the content for my online class.  Last year I had to create the class from scratch, which meant I spent a minimum of 10 hours a weekend on the computer - it was misery defined, and I hated teaching the class.  This year I'm just tweaking what I already had, improving it, adding to it, and overall, enjoying it much more. I actually have time to grade the work and give my online students meaningful feedback in a timely manner.

Anyway, that's my Sunday.  I hope to finish the work (depending on of I let myself get more distracted or not) soon, and then get to do a few "getting ready for the week" things.  And then off to bed, to hopefully sleep peacefully until morning.

Friday, September 23, 2011

I Forgot...

... that singing makes me quite happy.

I can't remember the last time I just sang, with no one listening, just for me, until just a minute ago.

When I was in high school I used to get home before anyone else in my family and I would walk around the house singing as loudly as I wanted, with music, without music, to whatever song was on my heart.  I perfected a soulful rendition of Amazing Grace.  I went through a Celine Dion phase.  I always loved singing along with Ella Fitzgerald.  But I just sang, for me, with no one listening. 

Singing during worship time at church is almost always my favorite part of the service, especially these days, as our worship team has really started to come together and do some great things musically.  But I don't always make it to church, so I don't always get that outlet.  In college I quit singing at church for a while, anyway, because I decided I was singing too much for me and not enough for God.  So now I still sometimes stay quiet, when I realize I'm thinking about if I sound good, instead of thinking about what I'm singing and to whom I'm singing.

I used to be car singer, but these days, I'm either on the phone when I drive (not texting, talking) or listening to a sermon or something talk-y on the radio.  I never remember to bring my iPod and play sing-along-with-me songs. 

And most of the time, I'm at work or with people, so I just don't get a chance to sing.

This morning I'm in my classroom working.  I have all the flourescent lights off, the blinds open, and the lamps lit.  There's a pumpkin spice candle on the candle warmer, the scent creating a sense of fall and warmth.  Pandora is playing a channel of mellow, beautiful, soulful, songs, and I'm working.  Tidying, lesson planning, being productive.  The atmosphere, if I do say so myself, is pretty darn peaceful, fun, amazing.  A song came on, one that I used to car-sing quite frequently, and, without realizing it, I was singing.  It was automatic.  After a moment, I stopped working, stopped moving, and just sang.

And it made my heart happy.

Strange how I forget that singing is healthy for my heart, and that I don't take the time to do it more often.  Why do I talk on the phone in the car, when I could sing? I need to remember this.

It was just one of those moments where I felt this pure, inexplicable joy.  I had to share it.

Do something that makes you happy, today, even if just for a few minutes.

Disclaimer: I am not saying I am an amazing singer, although I'm not bad either.  I just love singing.

And, just because I can, and I apparently feel the need to be a little humiliated, please enjoy this video of a student and I singing last year at an Acoustic Cafe.  I screwed up, but we laughed, and moved on.  Something about those high school kids freaked me out.  :)  Clearly it's a cell phone video, so the quality is atrocious.   Enjoy anyway.

Friday, September 16, 2011

On my Mind

There's a lot.  And I can't write it all, especially because my students are about to walk through the door and I have to switch gears to vocabulary games on a Friday (because grammar rules would just even be too much for me.)

I'm thinking about the future, and what it holds.  A lot of things.

I'm thinking about living now, on the journey, and not just looking for the destination.

I'm thinking about Sara and her journey Home, and how so many people have, even just today, been impacted by her life, and her challenge to choose joy.

I'm thinking about priorities.  I just read a post that created an acronym for joy: Jesus, Others, You.  And thought how I live a little like Others, You (as in me), Jesus, and how that should probably change.  Okay, not probably, definitely.

There's more.  But the students just started walking in, so... more from me soon.

Friday, September 9, 2011

5 Minutes on a Homecoming Friday

Today we're supposed to write about connecting in real life.  Well, today is Friday of our Homecoming week, which means in about two hours, the whole school will traipse upstairs to our gymnasium-converted-theater for our Homecoming Assembly, a big deal with games, costumes, and props, all put together by my wonderful Student Council kids.

This week, more than even a normal week, they are with whom I am connecting.  They are this group of 45 amazing, talented, super involved, passionate teenagers who are desperate to make this school a place where people feel welcome.  I've spent hours talking and listening as they figure out how to try to engage people, how to reach the unreached, how to get people to laugh and enjoy being at school.  Then hours as they detail their lives, their over-committed, complicated, high-pressure lives, and try to learn how to find balance and joy in all the things they do. 

It's these students that are my mission - not necessarily an evangelical mission, since I'm a public school teacher - but my mission nonetheless.  They are passionate about all they do, and I am passionate about them and their growth as people.   I feel called every day to be here with them, giving of my time and my life to spend with them. 

And I learn more from them than they know.

And now, my five minutes are up, and I have to go upstairs anyway to get ready for this big dang deal of an assembly.  More to come from me another day when Homecoming is over and I've gotten some sleep.

May your day be full of real connections!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mad as a Hatter

It's Homecoming Week at our school, and today is Mad Hatter Day.  Turns out Husband has like two or three of this style of hat in a "keepsake" box in the basement.  Apparently, he says, he was a nerd.   Either way, it worked out for me as I got to borrow this ridiculous hat.  I can't teach in it, though - it distracts even me.

Homecoming Week is early this year, a mixed blessing.  We've been working our tails off in Student Council (I have an AMAZING group of students this year, I can't even begin to tell you), but when it's over, we'll have most of the semester to still do some amazing things.  If you don't remember, our StuCo is a class that does a lot to develop leadership in our members, as well as serves the school in many different ways, events being one of them.

Our theme this year is Through the Looking Glass.  We're combining the book, the Disney movie, and the new-ish Johnny Depp version as our sources of inspiration.  Each spirit day focuses on something from the movie - Mad Hatter Monday, Quarrel of the Queens Wednesday (upperclassmen in white, lowerclassmen in red), Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee Thursday (twin day).  Regular school spirit day on Friday. 

This afternoon we have our Powder Puff football game - the girls are all proudly sporting their jerseys.  One poor girl wanted hers to say "C-Rock" as her nickname, but due to illegible handwriting, says "C-Rack."  At least it doesn't say DD, was all I could think.  (ha.  Sorry, that was a little bad of me to actually write.)  We have official officials so no one can say the game was rigged so that seniors would win.... but they will.

After the game we'll head over to where the bonfire is set up to take place.  We're shooting for no rain tonight, even though it's predicted.  Join me in saying a little no-rain prayer, please, because we'd have to cancel the bonfire completely, with no chance of rescheduling.  Why students like to stand around a large fire and listen to music and talk I've never understood.  Oh wait, it's because it's like out of a movie, the epitome of being young.

Thursday night we'll come to set up our assembly.  Stages, decorations, and sound system will be brought to the gym as we change it from a basketball court to a theater.

We'll put on a huge assembly on Friday, complete with props and acts, and then announce our royalty winners on the red carpet at the Homecoming football game halftime show.  They'll ride in on golf carts, receive roses, sashes, and be escorted out onto the field.

Saturday we'll show up bright and early to start transforming our cafeteria and gym into Wonderland.  We'll use props, gossamer, and glitter.  So much gossamer and glitter.   The DJ and his massive light and sound system will come in at about 5:30 to set up, and then, after re-hanging a few fallen down decorations, I'll wait for students to come and ooh and ahh over how nice it looks.  Of course, there will be a few grumblers, but I'll ignore them.  Sometime after midnight (more like 1), I'll fall into my bed with visions of decorations, dancers, and dresses in my head.

Oh, Homecoming Week.  Love it, but it's clear why Mad Hatter Day fits me well.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Breeze of Fresh Air

It's been hot here.  I mean, not Arizona hot, but hot.  We've had more than 30 days with temperatures over 90 degrees, a record for us.  And in a house with no AC, well, it's been hot.  One day earlier this summer I noticed that my thermostat read 85 degrees.... and it was still cooler indoors than out. 

It was almost a relief to go back to school, because my classroom is notoriously freezing - I've worn a sweater inside nearly every day and taken it off as I leave the building and get into my hot hot hot car.  Most people I've talked to, even the warm-weather loves, are ready for a change.  It's just been too much!  You throw open all the windows in the evening and get the fans going, hoping to circulate the cooler air outside into the house.  It works some, but when you wake up in the morning, it's still warm.  You've completely kicked off the covers in your sleep.  The temperature is already quickly rising.

When I woke up on Saturday, though, I was chilly.  And when I got out of bed, I was cold.  The temperature had dropped significantly and it was windy and chilly outside.  With jeans, a t-shirt, a hoodie on I ventured outside at about 9 to run some errands, and relished the goosebumps accompanying the fresh, chilly air.  All day it stayed cool.  My dad, sister and I went to our first football game of the season (go Air Force!), and inside the stadium, with the breeze diminished, we shed our jackets and basked in warmth, but didn't melt.

It was as if fall was peeking it's head around the corner, letting us know it will soon be coming, bringing all of my favorite, lovely things with it.

This morning it was again refreshingly chilly when we woke up.  When I realized the temperature was only supposed to be about 70, I put my skirt back in the closet and put on a pair of dressy jeans and a sweater to head to church.  Lovely.  Heavenly.  Joy-bringing. 

I just needed that chilly, fresh air to clear out my senses and the feeling of staleness in my house that comes with teh heat, you know?  It's refreshing, and almost healing, in a way, to feel the crisp breeze through the window even as I type. 

God is always, always reminding me of His ways, it seems.  I could explain what I mean, but I think you get it. 

Sometimes you just need that breeze, that breath, of fresh air.
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