Saturday, February 28, 2009


When I think of Lent, I think of the cafeteria menu in Wapato -- fish sandwiches on Fridays during the six weeks before Easter. I don't remember any significance to the season before Easter until just a few years ago. It has never been a big deal to me. This year, I decided to give up peanut butter. This may sound silly, but I eat quite a bit of it... in my oatmeal at breakfast, with some celery for lunch, on my ice cream at night. I was going to give up sweets too, but didn't want to take away every good and tasty thing.

Then, this morning, I was reading Lauren Winner's "Girl Meets God" and came across her reflections on Lenten. She writes that her pastor "had spoken of the need to give up something that was truly important to you. To give something that was really truly yourself. He had encouraged us to remember what it was like to receive gifts from friends. So much of what made the gift meaningful...was not the gift itself, but the spirit in which it was given. Say your friend has a beautiful green sundress. You have liked and admired that sundress for months. She gives it to you. If it's just a castoff -- she has eighteen others just like it, so giving it to you is no real sacrifice -- the whole exchange feels a little anticlimactic. But if your friend loves that dress too, loves it dearly but wants you to have it because she knows it will make you happen, then you are thrilled. The dress takes on a whole new meaning. 'I want to encourage you to give something to God that really matters. Something you really love. Something that is hard to do without' (he said)."

She then goes on to tell of his challenge to her to give up reading -- a pastime that was much more than a pastime for her. As I read that, I got one of those deep-in-my-gut ideas that is more than idea. It is the voice of God. I don't want to sound overly spiritual about it -- it could have been just an idea, but I had a fairly volatile response to the idea. Tried to write it off as me being over-zealous. Thought of all the things that could happen if I actually followed through on the idea. Tried to justify reasons to ignore the idea. But after sitting with the idea, I feel it is something I need to do between now and Easter.

I need to give up going to the Y.

I know that seems silly. Many people would look at NOT going to the gym as anything but a sacrifice. I'm not trying to say I'm some sort of super fit athlete, but as I pondered this Lenten decision, I realized just how much value I place in that slice of my life. How much justification I derive from the amount of calories I burn, how much affirmation from the guys who make a point to talk to me on the fourth floor, how much time I spend there in a given week. I'm sure there are more reasons why God has asked this of me during this season; I don't know what they all are, but I hope to understand more by mid-April. Nevertheless, I won't be Y-ing for a while. I still have a training plan for the 10K I'm running at the end of April. I confess I am very afraid that I will gain a bunch of weight if I don't go to the Y. So I lay that fear at the feet of Jesus and walk forward into this season.

And maybe I'll lay off the cookies too.....


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The end of February

I was scanning through my list of regularly checked blogs and mentally berating those who haven't posted since December 10th (...mmm...cesar) when I realized -- Sweet Sassy! -- I haven't posted since November! Hello, pot? It's me, the kettle. You're black. So I shall take a few of the minutes I have this afternoon (as I have skipped the Y and am realizing how much time I would have if I simply didn't work out) and update the blog!

2009 so far is one consistently moving river of mostly goodness. Christmas was fabi (how could it not be with a hat like this one?), New Years vomitous (I had the stomach flu on December 31, so no ringing in the new year for me), and I had a date on Valentine's Day. (Now now now, everybody, don't get too excited -- it didn't go well as he spent most of the time talking, hardly asked me anything, and had a bull-esque nose ring... I don't mind body piercings in general, but when you're pushing 40, take them out.)

I still love my job, though I am in the part of the year when I always say to myself, "I gotta be more strict in September." But every September comes and I'm still a jolly lass and I create another set of classroom climates that are wonderfully affirming and delightful but sometimes less than academically productive. What do I teach these high school yahoos anyway? Well, by now they should know that some adult loves them, even if that adult is their somewhat random English teacher. We are finishing up the 2nd trimester, which means Romeo & Juliet for freshmen and Mark Twain for juniors. I'm looking forward to next year, when I will have some more experience with the American Lit curriculum. I've gone through it all chronologically this year and may try thematic units next year. Hmmmmm..... who knows? Not me. One season at a time -- I can barely think past Finals in two weeks.

Franklin Hill Foursquare Church continues to move forward. (The picture below if of our "Revivify" skit that Lisa Jean wrote. It was SO HILARIOUS!!! My character -- Lola Tina Nataturlova -- loved the Revivify Yogurt, even though it had some negative side effects. We had fart noises and everything!) Our middle school ministry team has both shifted and grown -- shifted in that Tracy (the guy who was originally hired to be the youth dude) has been transitioned into other areas leaving me in charge of middle school club (GULP!). But we've grown too, as two of my high school kids help out every week and my friend Jeanne has started helping too. I also volunteer at high school club on Wednesday nights, and thankfully Cesar runs that bad boy. I just show up, give kids rides, and run an activity or two. We had twelve kids last week after a month of averaging six. It is a faith-building/testing thing to be sure because I can get very caught up or distracted or discouraged throughout the whole process. I don't really like being in charge as I don't remember details, am not great at delegating, and am constantly afraid that I am going to screw up the whole operation to high heaven. But I'm dealing with it. I'm still on the teaching team, though my times "on the mound" only come up once every twelve weeks. I really enjoy serving in that way, though I do have to remind myself that I enjoy it. :-) My last topic: Is Jesus the Only Way? Yeah -- cover that in 30 minutes.

Hmmmm..... what else.... oh! Spring means Boomerang travel, though this year it is decidedly less than every year past. I'm only working two conferences this year; the least I've ever done before is four. It is quite bittersweet. I had a great time in California at coaches weekend. How I LOVE my Boom Boom peeps. The WA conference was small and wonderful, but it was hard for me to be away. I missed my students, my club kids, and the stability of my regular life. However, I also miss seeing lots of the coaches throughout the spring, but I am glad I am not getting on lots of planes anymore. The allure of solo travel was driven from me during the Year of Nine Conferences. :-)

Travel with others, though, is very much on the horizon. Joe and I are planning a trip back to Indiana over spring break. I am stoked! We'll get to see Lyndsey in a musical and I plan on visiting tons with Yemi and Becca and Jeremy and Mindie and my family and the Michigan/Illinois Boom Boom peeps. Oh good times! And it really is almost upon us. I planned out the weeks between then and now for my advisory kids and was amazed at how little time is left.

I could go on and on about the other details of my life: the joy of getting invited to wrestling matches by my students, the utter contentment of Erin Lindsay falling asleep in my arms, the challenge of maintaining a faith-filled, faithful heart-attitude about the size of my hiney and my perpetual singleness. But it is 5:30... I gotta go pick up some kids and hang out with some middle schoolers.

with love and joy and the promise of spring -- marah jean