"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

24 February 2010

Pioneer Woman

I just discovered her blog a few days ago. I think she's quickly becoming one of my favorite people.

23 February 2010

Today I am CRAIG


Not subbing yesterday and today (the first couple days after a school vacation usually = no sub calls) means that I have ample time to work on my projects. I finished Baby Watson's gift a couple weeks ago and again, would post pictures if only I knew where our memory card adapter was. Nich's laptop isn't quite as savvy as mine, even though it's newer, and does not have a direct port for my memory card. I am now trying my best to finish Baby Josiah's quilt. The front, back, and middle are done, but seeing as it's my first quilt ever, I don't know about this basting and binding business.

I thought basting was for turkeys.

I'm not from here. I didn't even know what turkey tasted like until I was eighteen.

I'm also finishing up Baby Tiberius James Ryals' gift so that I can mail it to his grandparents in Ohio so they can deliver it when they head to Australia soon after his/her birth. And no, that's not what the baby's name really will be. Just his/her father's wishful thinking. :~)


When we first moved into this house, I wanted the house to look nice to Christmas, so we just shoved a bunch of boxes in the craft room/guest room closet. I needed a new journal last week, so I finally pulled out all the boxes and began going through them.

And found all my YA books.

Yippee! It's like Christmas!

So I've been reading through some of my favorites. In fact, I just finished Jacob Have I Loved (Katherine Paterson) this morning.

I love books. It's one of the several reasons why I wanted to be (am) an English teacher.

In my email this morning, I also found a heads-up from Borders about this book. I can't wait to read it.

I wish someone would pay me to read books. That would be a great job.


My friend Katie asked me recently how I liked our house. I'm LOVING our house. There's so much room, a huge kitchen to dance in with my gorgeous hubby, plenty of counter space for creating yummies, a fireplace to sit by during a romantic sushi dinner on Valentine's, and FREEDOM to run around in my skivvies if I wanted to.

Except it's too cold to run around in anything less than three layers of clothing.

But I'm loving the house. :~)

My friend Kim is a runner. And she loves running. I admire her. I admire her spirit. Her FB status today reads, "Word to the wise: don't run if the weather report says "wintry mix." You will get wet." Which means she did exactly that. Ran in this horrible weather and got wet. And is probably still smiling. 

She is inspirational. And tough.

I refuse to run in this weather. I will be yelled at by Billy Blanks instead.

Actually, truth be told, I refuse to run most days in the winter, even when it's sunny outside. It's still too cold.


Last night, at work, I had two customers who were having a blast shopping. They were laughing as they decided on what to put in a gift basket for a mutual friend and then what to get for themselves with the current promotions (Read: "free stuff" if you buy). :~)   

When they were ready to check out, I smiled and said, "You've been friends for a long time, haven't you?" They looked at each other, laughed again, and said, "It's been more... than thirty years!" It reminded me of that day Jess (mother of aforementioned Baby Ryals) and I went to lunch in the midst of my "Find a Wedding Dress in One Day" adventure. There were two women sitting in the booth across from us who asked us how long we had been friends. We told them about college, being engaged, etc. They had been friends for a long time, too. 

Friendship is beautiful. And although I'm lonely more often than not here and crave friends, I am grateful for the friends, 

the beautiful,
kindred spirit

friends I've already been given in my life.

16 February 2010

Be That Side

"There's an old saying that you can't have a war when one side doesn't show up. Be that side. DO WHAT YOU HAVE TO [in order] to address the situation and then walk away from the drama. Not only do you give yourself (and the problem) the greatest chance for a successful outcome, more important[ly], you protect your peace of mind – the most valuable gain of all."

- Cheryl Richardson, with emphasis and grammatical adjustments by yours truly

HOPE for Haiti with Wild Olive Tees

Check out our SISTERHOOD prayer blog for more information. 

15 February 2010

Presidents' Day

Is it President's Day singular or Presidents' Day plural?

Regardless, I feel about the day much the same way I felt about Veterans' Day. The president's not taking the day off today, is he? So why are 1 out of every 5 people I know taking off for Florida for the week?

Secondly, it really bothers me when people don't follow through. It has been on my mind since yesterday afternoon, when a friend ever so casually mentioned that she had been invited to go to the movies with a couple other girls and that she would "let you know" if she would make it to the surprise birthday dinner for one of our other friends. The dinner that has been in the plans for over a week. It irritates me on the basic level of just expecting people to keep their word, but it also bothers me because it smacks of middle school popularity contests: Sure, I'll make plans to do something with you ... unless something better comes along.

I'm trying to let it go.

It's hard.

Other than that, I've been indoors in my pajamas all day. I love that about having our own space. Don't judge me, though. I've been productive. I've cleaned up the kitchen from the mess we made yesterday, from breakfast in bed I made for N to the beautiful, fireside dinner he made for me.

I love my husband. I love being married to him.

I also have to tackle the laundry, but the dungeon is scary sometimes. Sometimes, I'm a pansy like that. Don't worry. I'll do it.  Mostly because I don't like to let things have a hold on me like that, but also because I don't want N to have to do it when he doesn't even get the week off.

So I'm going to go get my cup of coffee, start the laundry, mop the kitchen floor, and tackle some of the boxes in my sewing room that I finally extracted from the Dark Hole that was the closet in there. Hey, it was a convenient way to create some semblance of order before Christmas when we moved in.

T should be coming by with a cake soon for us to bring to the birthday dinner. She's driving the birthday boy, and a cake would be a little suspicious.

*Follow Up: T came over while I was mopping, and we hung out chatting for the afternoon. Midway through, several vehicles with sirens went whizzing by my street, and we walked out to see thick, black smoke coming out of a flaming rooftop down the street. Apparently, everyone got out, no one was hurt, and the fire was in the garage, not the main house.

I also now know that if I ever happen to find myself in an emergency situation requiring fire trucks and ambulances, our local fire department will not be the ones to rescue me. They arrive twenty minutes after the other three fire trucks (from nearby towns). The house would have probably burned down by then. Comforting, isn't it?

Dinner was fun; we got helium balloons for Z. At first, I couldn't find any that were remotely male-ish, and the guy at the store said to just give him butterfly ones. Then I was going to get one that said "It's a boy!" but thought better of it, considering you never know who you'll run into when you're out in public.  We all came back to our house afterward for cake and games. It was fun, we laughed a lot, and I think Z appreciated it. Even the part where he was sung to by the Applebee's waitresses.

**I would post pictures, but it seems we have misplaced our adapter yet again.

***My husband just called me a cheeky monkey and kissed me soundly. I love him.

14 February 2010

A Grievous Thought...

I was expressing to Nich today that sometimes, when I hear of girls (women my age) going out and doing things with each other, that I feel very lonely and left out, even though I'm not at all close to them. I then had this realization that even if I had friends, I wouldn't have time for them in my life right now. I work every week day until mid-afternoon, and the evenings/nights I don't work, I (or we) am involved in a ministry. Sunday is really the only day completely OFF, and we need that time together.

Is this where I am supposed to be, God?

From my journal, 02/08/2010

I woke up this morning strongly tempted to turn my phone off so I wouldn't be called for subbing. I wonder what this is doing to my heart, this constant exposure to adolescents who do not know me, who will only see me a few times in their high school life, some of whom don't think twice about insulting my ethnicity. There are days I very much enjoy, especially with middle school students, but then there are days like last Friday where I come away feeling like I just can't do this another day, like I wasted a lot of money and time at NYU getting my master's, like it wasn't worth getting certified.

It's nice to return to classrooms I like, though, and it's nice to be requested by teachers who like the job I do in their classrooms. I'm praying desperately that today will be a good day...

As I told the teens on Friday night, I know all things occur purposefully, even bad things, hurtful things. It grieves my heart that some of these students (not our teens, the ones at schools) are so deeply ignorant and say such horrible things, but maybe exposure to the simple humanity of the other (me) is a smidgen of awareness for them. My heart goes out to Charlette (a teacher I subbed for last week), who deals with them every day, tolerating their anger, their bitterness at life, their feelings to entitlement to taking out their volatile emotions on whoever they want to. May she know that what she does matters to YOU, Abba, even if these kids don't care. I was hurt and a bit angry on Friday that I had prayed for that eighth period class only to have the few horrid ones be so awful that I cried afterward, but now, I am thankful I prayed. I think it allowed me forgiveness for them much sooner than I would have otherwise been able to muster. Funny how God allowed me that grace going into it. It was a lesson in humility as well. When Charlette warned me about that class, I had thought, "How bad could it be? Especially after my experience at S.H." I had thought it couldn't be too bad, but it was.

Nich was incredibly sweet to me that day. I had called him after school to tell him about what had happened, to cry and tell someone who knows me, who would understand the depth of hurt. He came home to me huddled on the couch in the office watching a movie ... and he had brought me a gorgeous bouquet of roses. What a gift Abba has given me in my husband. I am grateful for him every day, and I am so blessed to be loved by him.

I am at B.L. today. It's strange how certain methods of relating work for some and not for others. Middle school students, especially sixth and seventh graders are great. They're enthusiastic, fun to have in school, and they think you're hysterical when you make jokes. They're cute, they follow directions, they're not surly.

High schoolers are more volatile. Some classes are fine, the average mix of teenage personalities. On the whole, they are normal, nice kids who come to school every day and do their work. Once in a while though, there's one kid, or maybe few, who just carries a chip on their shoulder and as a sub, you're an easy target for their angst. If it's just one kid, no big deal. Ignoring their antics usually works, or I simply eliminate the problem and let the administration deal with it. It gets more difficult when there are more of them, because then they are able to influence the entire class with their negativity.

Today, the principal came in to let me know to send any troublemakers his way. He also informed me that electronics are against school rules and that I shouldn't tolerate their presence in class. I smiled and thanked him, but at the same time, in my head, I wondered, "Does he think I don't know that?" It's not just a matter of enforcing the rules, it's also about not coming across as that awful adult, the one who doesn't care about the kids, whose presence is solely to make sure the kids obey. Although I don't see them every day, I want the kids I see to know that for that short time, I do care, that I want good things for them.

I dread ninth period today, and the four kids who the massive attitudes, though. The two girls with the snotty, "I don't have time to listen to you, so I'm going to talk with my friends" demeanor. The boy who would rather waste forty minutes of his life trying to stare me down rather than read so he won't have homework. The two girls who decided to have conniptions that day, and that boy who sauntered into class late last time, throwing his pass onto the teacher's desk, talking loudly despite the quiet classroom and disrupting the fragile peace that had just been established moments before his dramatic entrance.

The good outweighs the bad ... overall. It makes me laugh when they're funny, because they genuinely ARE funny, teenagers. They have beautiful insights and profound thoughts ... when they want to think. They use the most unusual vocabulary, saying things like "epic fail" or "sick" that make me wonder who comes up with these terms. They grow and change quickly in the seven years of middle and high school, and I hope and pray that they grow into adulthood gracefully, having some foundational knowledge of the bigger world.

This is why I want to teach, why I am drawn to this age group. This is why, despite days like last Friday, I keep going back, why I believe - why I have to believe - that teaching is an honorable calling.

02 February 2010

Collecting Our Souls Anew

"In time of sickness, the soul collects itself anew." ~ Latin Proverb

I certainly hope this is true, because this past month has been deeply saddening.

My grandfather died on January 10, 2010 after struggling with his heart for the past year or so. I find it incredibly difficult to live at such a great distance away from family at times like this. My heart mourns for the loss of my beloved grandpa and grieves the loss of opportunities for sharing. He never got to meet Nich. One of my hopes had been for him to be alive long enough to meet his great-grandchildren. He will never meet them either. My mom was on her way to Korea from Cameroon when my grandfather died, so she didn't find out until she landed. What heartbreak. Thankfully, she is with her family, and hopefully, that is balm to her soul.

A friend of mine has lost two men of significance in his life this past month. His father's godfather, a close family friend, died a couple weeks ago, and we just received an email last night saying his great-grandfather died yesterday. Please keep Zach's family in your prayers.

A local school district lost three teens in a car accident recently. Another committed suicide. Another district lost a young, well-liked coach and teacher to a heart attack.

Then, of course, there's the magnitude of damage and loss in Haiti. I won't say very much about this, because I could probably write an entire entry on just that, but here is a good place to check for real, reliable information and updates. Lexi and I grew up together in Cameroon (we have known one another since first grade). She and her husband Ben serve with Mennonite Central Committee just outside of Port-au-Prince, and their accounts are much more informative and accurate than much of what has been reported here (another reason why I don't watch the news here).

The stomach flu has been making its rounds in upstate New York, and Nich and I were hit hard the week following Excel (the annual Youth for Christ conference we chaperone in Saratoga). We had both been sick prior to it with cold viruses, and we are finally recovering.

For some good news ... We have agreed to chaperone another youth conference this summer, this time, in Louisville, Kentucky. This one is a week long (yikes!), over ten thousand teenagers plus their chaperones, with incredible speakers and seminars ... It only happens once every three years, and it is a wonderful opportunity for the teens to grow in their walk with God. Obviously, with over 25 kids going from our youth group plus chaperones, the cost is hefty. We will be taking a bus overnight both ways to save on hotel costs. The kids do a lot of fundraising in the three years in between in order to raise money for their trip, as well as collecting bottles, mowing lawns, raking, etc. To help with the cost for our portion, Nich and I have decided to write support letters ourselves. If you are interested in supporting us and our teens, prayerfully or financially, please let me know, and I'll send you more information.

Our young adult Bible study has committed to giving to MCC's relief efforts in Haiti as our next giving project. We've been collecting almost weekly since last year to help our African sister Coneilia build her house, and we have felt that the Lord has released us from that commitment as she is very close to having the total amount that was projected. I am thankful for these giving hearts, and I pray that they will continue to give as Jesus would.

Babies, babies, babies! There are many yet to come into the world this spring and summer, but there have been several in the past couple months! What wonderful reminders of the miraculous handiwork of Abba!

In other news, I've been staying busy subbing and working several closing shifts at Bath and Body. Subbing is wonderful and terrible at the same time. I am so grateful to be working after a year of being unable to do so, and yet, there are days when the kids are awful that I just want to come home and cry. Last Friday was such a day, and I came home and went to bed at six-thirty right after dinner. Overall, though, it is such a relief to not feel like we are as tightly bound to a budget anymore.

It's February already. With it, comes hope. I don't think hope starts when the snow begins to melt. I think hope begins when we begin to know that, although the worst of the winter is yet to come, it WILL pass. It always does. That's something I've been learning with God. The trials WILL come; He tells us that. He also tells us that He will help us overcome them, and on the other side, it is beautiful, and we are more beautiful for having made it through, sometimes gracefully, sometimes awkwardly.