Tuesday, May 23, 2017

No Fear Worm

This is what I see every morning when I come down the stairs: Marcenivo holding a sign that says “No Fear” and a yellow worm shining bright in colorful, abstract forest.

The titles of these words, respectively, are “No Place For You Here” and “Worm Shining Bright In The Forest In The Night.”

The artists are, respectively, Fabio Napoleoni and Dr. Suess.

The print mediums are, respectively, paper and wooden puzzle.

The purchase places are Fascination St. Fine Art in Denver, Colorado, and Gallery of Fine Art in Wilmington, NC.

The pieces were framed, respectively, by Nick and Steve at Hobby Lobby in Sanford, NC, and by Deanna and Sandra at home with a frame ordered directly from the puzzle company, Liberty Puzzles.

Not much is the same about these pieces. And yet they both set the tone of my day:

Live with no fear, Deanna. There is no fear in love. And be a worm shining bright in the dark in the night. Even in the middle of the day.

May they set the tone of your day, too, friends. Let’s be fearless, glowing worms together!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thursday Night Thoughts From A Recovering People Pleaser

Before Texas Flip and Move, it was Rehab Addict. I still like Rehab Addict, but our DVR got reset and stopped recording it, so I haven’t been watching it recently. I actually didn’t know if they were still recording, but a quick Internet search revealed that they are…and that Nicole Curtis has had another baby…and some other really damning things about her.

As my mom and I scrolled through “The Truth About Nicole Curtis,” I read a bunch of really horrible things about this woman that I have come to admire via her TV show and Facebook page. Truth be told, Nicole’s philosophy of restoring old homes to their original glory has really influenced my thinking and changed the way that I think about restoration and redemption. So to read terrible things about her—her actions, decisions, personality, and life—was very disheartening…until I realized that if someone doesn’t like someone else—for whatever reason—then he/she can spin a tale to say whatever he/she wants it to say against whoever he/she wants to attack.

I am a recovering people-pleaser. Pin it on my personality type—or on being a preacher’s kid—but I am one of those people who cares a bit too much about what other people think. Years of therapy and a lot of prayer have nudged me out of the paralyzing fear that I used to live in, but quiet fear still lingers in my core—fear of disappointing, fear of not being liked, fear of making the wrong decision, fear of being questioned. Though logically I know that fear is not of God—I use the transitive property of fear here: If God is love, and there is no fear in love, then in God there is no fear—and though I know that living life worried about other peoples’ perceptions of me is no way to truly live—I, in all of my very human imperfection, still do it.

I think that this is part of the reason why major decisions are so difficult for me. I not only think about how a decision will affect me, but I think about how it will affect everyone else involved and how everyone else involved (and even people not involved) will perceive the decision. I know. This is somewhat egocentric. I know that I can’t control how someone else will react. I experience this all the time when my students love the songs I think that they will hate and hate the songs I think they will love. And it is crazy-making. But such is the reality of my life more often than I care to admit.

Friends: This is not good for someone going to graduate school for school administration!

Confession: I’m not sure why I’m going to graduate school. I know that God nudged me in this direction at 3am on a cruise ship in the Baltic Sea, but I don’t know what I’m going to do with the degree. School administration was never really on my radar screen. School music? Yes. Church administration? Yes. School administration? No. And yet...

I saw a sign on the way to work this morning that said, “God just wants your ‘yes.’” I prayed aloud, “God, I’m saying ‘yes.’ I just don’t know what I’m saying yes to.” Then I silently continued, “Will you show me what I’m saying yes to—and how it is that I need to get there? My yes is and always has been to you, your call, and your desire for my life. My yes is to your love, peace, and justice, and I want to live in those—with integrity—but I need you to clearly show me how to make decisions that are fair, just, right, ethical, positive, and life-giving and I need you to give me the courage to make those decisions—for myself and for that which I have been called to lead—because I cannot do it alone. I’m really bad at it. Because I’m afraid of making the wrong decisions and I’m afraid that someone will get mad at me. Ugh. I don’t even like the words ‘right’ and ‘wrong.’ But you know what I mean.”

This afternoon, I had the unique experience of sitting with a student who needed to be separated from his class during Field Day. He is an extremely high functioning autistic student who can tell you more than you ever need to know about dinosaurs and sea animals, and the super-sensory experience of Field Day had finally gotten to be too much. After a brief lesson on dolphins vs. porpoises, my student asked if he could draw with the sidewalk chalk. The teacher who owned the sidewalk chalk said that that would be fine, so off went my kid. He drew gigantic animals over the entirety of the sidewalk, so avoiding the drawings was difficult for a seeing person—much less someone who is blind! But my kid didn’t care about that.

When Stacey-My-Blind-Friend-and-Teacher stopped to talk to a colleague and landed right in the middle of an animal, my kid politely interrupted her conversation with an excuse me, waited to be acknowledged, and then proceeded to stutteringly, matter-of-factly- but without eye-contact ask Stacey to move off of his drawing. He was not trying to be mean, rude, or inconsiderate. He didn’t worry how Stacey would respond. If she would have gotten mad, then he would have gotten mad, too. Plain and simple. That’s how things work. My student simply stated his truth and desires and trusted the receiver to respond. As it was, Stacey gladly moved and immediately began talking to the student about his drawings, so he immediately began to share information about his drawings—that she could not see and that he could not know she could never fully understand. The whole situation made me chuckle. But then I realized just what an example my student had been.

Despite my best efforts to stay in people’s good graces—I’m a recovering people-pleaser, remember—I have realized all too painfully that if someone decides that she does not like me, then she can easily piece together stories slamming my merits, no matter how hard I have tried to please her or how determinedly I have tried to do the best thing. I know this. I have experienced it. I just hope that when it happens again—because it will happen again—I can look up with the certainty of how I need to react and then act with that certainty, just as my student acted today. I hope that I can look up with the humility to say yes and then follow where that yes leads. And I hope that when my character is attacked and my decisions are questioned—as teacher, minister, family member, friend, customer, or yes, even, administrator—that I will be able to keep moving forward, offering hope, restoration, and redemption, one house—no—one person—and decision—at a time.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Well over a decade ago, I had a monthly mail-sending schedule. I wrote and sent out approximately 7 letters or cards per week, offering words of encouragement to various friends and family members each week—but contacting my grandmothers each week.

Because I was writing so much, my brother and sister-in-law decided to give me my own font for Christmas. They gave me the paperwork. I completed a hand-writing sample and sent it all in. To Sweden. A few weeks later, I received an e-mail with my very own font! It’s called Deanna’s Hand. I was thrilled. I’m still thrilled!

A few years ago, as I was window shopping in Blowing Rock, I suddenly stopped in my tracks. My handwriting was in the window!!! Toms, the shoe company, had chosen Deanna’s Hand for its handwriting font in one, small window cling campaign!!! Seeing my handwriting in the window for all of Blowing Rock to see prompted me figure out how Toms had gotten my font. Well. It’s a free download. Anyone can get it. Just do a search. You can get it, too…along with tons of other free fonts that people have created.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. I have a small classroom library that my students can access during class. I had the idea to create the library during one of our Book Fairs and started my collection with a 2-book donation from a parent. In the annual post-Christmas book sale at Books-A-Million, I grew the collection with a bunch of animal, dinosaur, and interesting fact books that kids love. Then, during a classroom library workshop at school, I grew the library even more with donations from the school.

A handful of students expectedly wandered to the library and happily read its books during class. My philosophy is that if the kids are reading, staying out of trouble, and not distracting other students, all the while subconsciously hearing the music lesson, then it’s a win-win for everyone. What I didn’t expect, however, was that that same handful of kids would want to take the books home. At first that was fine. But then classmates started to realize what was happening and they wanted to take books home, too.

So one Thursday afternoon while being bombarded with students wanting to take home books, I just said yes, yes, yes, so that they would stop asking! While one of those students stood with me to wait for the teacher, he first grossed me out by turning to a page on how a tribe in one part of Africa drinks cow’s blood during the drought season. I literally gagged and almost threw up, but then he turned the page and I gasped! MY FONT! My font was in the book! An entire two page spread was written in Deanna’s Hand!

I started babbling and trying to find the words to explain to the kids that it was a font that I had created but they didn’t quite understand and thought I meant that I had literally written out the pages but I was so excited that they were so excited so by the time the teacher got there we were all just in an excited state of font-appearance amazement!

I stayed that way for a few days. And clearly I am still excited. Not because I get paid. Not because I will be famous. But because it’s neat to see your handwriting in print…and to think that out of the fonts in the whole wide world, someone thought my font cool enough to use in a book.

When I wrote my brother and sister-in-law to tell them my exciting news, they were excited, too! I shared with the rest of my family, too. And then we all celebrated. And shared in thanksgiving for the gift that keeps on giving.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Love And Heartache In Between

In January, I had the privilege of officiating my second wedding. The wedding actually happened in two parts: Part one was a private ceremony at the hospital while part two was the public ceremony in an old church in Wilmington. At the time, the bride’s father was very sick and wasn’t able to attend his daughter’s wedding, so we took the wedding to him. Both parts of the wedding were beautiful, but the unplanned hospital ceremony was particularly special. It was one of those events that I will always feel humbled and honored to have been part of.

While waiting for that Saturday’s wedding festivities to begin, I went to an art gallery that carries Fabio Napoleoni’s work. [Fabio Napoleoni is my favorite artist.] While there, I was introduced to the art of Dr. Seuss for the first time. I didn’t know that Dr. Seuss artwork was a thing, but evidently it’s a pretty big thing. The gallery owner planted a seed of investment in my mind but that seed lay dormant until Read Across America Week. For that entire week and for the next week after, I thought and prayed and debated between two Seuss works but in the end decided not to get either piece until I could see them in person.

Last week, after a long, tough fight, my friend’s dad passed away. The funeral was Saturday. Because I was going to be in the area again, I decided to stop by the art gallery and look at those two pieces. I’m very glad that I did. In person, I didn’t like either piece. In a surprising twist, however, I found another piece that I really liked and ended up coming home with it. Even now, as I think about the piece, I smile…because I know that this was the piece for me. Will it end up being as great of an investment as the other two? I highly doubt it. But that doesn’t matter. Because it has meaning. I will include the image here so that you can find your own meaning:

The CD player in my car recently messed up. After 17 years of rotating between 6 CDs, I guess it just got tired. It’ll still play one CD, though, so I’ve been pulling random CDs out of my bag of CDs. One of the CDs was a Carolyn Arends CD and one of the songs on the CD sang out the lyrics, “Love and heartache and in between, Life is made up of little things.”

From the love shared in a wedding at the foot of a hospital bed to the heartache shared at a celebration of life, life is made up of little things—letters and writing and music and art and laughter and tears and shared meals and jeans days and talent shows and palindromes and sunsets and walks on the beach and challenges not to waste the time we’re given. May you, dear friends, celebrate your lives of little things and may none of us ever take for granted our moments with the people we love.

Monday, April 17, 2017

This Is The Educational Me

Well, folks. If for some odd reason you’ve ever wondered about the educational beliefs that drive me, wonder no more. Here they are...

But before I post, I must say this: I’ve spent a lot of time over the past couple of weeks hammering out this “Leadership Framework.” I completed the assignment for a graduate school class, but I found myself struggling to focus solely on my work in the schools because church life is so important to me. In fact, Christian Education was my focus during my years in divinity school. And that’s where the tension lies. When I was in divinity school, I struggled to focus solely on my work in church because school life is so important to me. In both graduate degree programs, I have found my heart split...and trying to apply my learning to more than just what the courses are supposed to prepare me for.

Several people have asked me recently what I plan to do when I finish my current graduate degree. I find myself honestly responding, “I have no idea. I know I’m supposed to be doing the program, but I have no idea what I’m going to do with the degree.” And I don’t. But I’m hashing out my passions and beliefs and praying that God will reveal the way. I’m not overly concerned. But I am glad to be finished with this assignment :-).

Philosophy of Education
I believe that education begins when we are born and ends when we die. Whether the learning is ours or the persons’ around us, and whether it is mental, physical, spiritual, or emotional, education is what happens each time we are exposed to something new and forced to do something with or about it. I believe that education is a process. It is continuous. It does not always begin and end with concept introduction, rather it is more often grown with time, intention, and experience. Education is formal in schools and churches. Education is informal in homes and relationships. I believe that education is trying, falling down, getting up, and trying again. Education is learning to walk and then acquiring the stamina to use the skill for good.

Philosophy of Leadership
I believe that leadership is the person or group of persons who lead whatever or whomever is being led. I believe that strong leadership is the person or persons willing to lead by humble, active example. I believe that leaders should lead with purpose and integrity, out of a sense of personal calling, and that leadership’s purpose should not be personal gain but organizational, group, and individual progress. I believe that strong leadership fosters success through relevant feedback, timely encouragement, wise decisions, difficult conversations, and a growth mindset for both itself and those being led. As a result, strong leadership creates thriving, healthy, positive, and growing organizations, groups, or individuals.

Vision for Learners
Learners learn in a variety of ways (musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic, and existential) and at varying speeds and will be given the time, space, and opportunity to do so. Furthermore, learners will gain relevant, practical skills and knowledge to help them live as healthy individuals who make positive contributions to society.

Vision for Teachers
Teachers are experts in educational and developmental theory, practice, and learning. Life-long learners themselves, teachers will be knowledgeable of their content area and how to relate it to learners’ lives. Teachers will enjoy working with students and peers and be both leaders and team players as needed to foster a positive, safe, and healthy learning environment.

Vision for the Organization
The educational organization makes formal education possible. The educational organization will:
• Provide not only a safe, well-maintained building and recreational space but also a safe, orderly learning environment;
• Seek to be sustainable and environmentally responsible whenever possible;
• Supply both the technological and non-technological tools needed for learning and make those tools available and accessible to students and teachers alike;
• Create a positive organizational culture and climate by planning and investing in ongoing community partnerships and promoting healthy lifestyles by providing physical and emotional support systems for students, parents, and teachers;
• Center all actions and activities on shared goals and values;
• Celebrate accomplishments both big and small.

Vision for the Professional Growth
Professional growth is the cornerstone for professional success. Professional growth will:
• Be ongoing and provide opportunities not only for strengthening content knowledge and work effectiveness but also for strengthening self-awareness and intra- and inter-personal communication and understanding;
• Be relevant and meaningful and lead to proactive change in thought and/or action;
• Be a combination of what all stakeholders need to know to be on the same page and what individual stakeholders desire to know to be stronger and more effective in areas identified as strengths and/or weaknesses;
• Occur in the regular work environment and at special trainings.

Method of Vision Attainment
Attaining any vision or goal takes time, determination, focus, and patience. Vision attainment is a journey filled with ups and downs, successes and failures, bumps and bruises, efficient pathways and unexpected detours, and long hours of listening and allowing others to help navigate and lead. I plan to attain my visions by bunkering down for the journey, enjoying the ride with whomever I meet along the way, and doing everything I can to leave the wake of my path better than it was before I walked it.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Who Cares?

If you were at Antioch yesterday morning, then you heard a somewhat diverse set of music. We started with a modern praise song, led by the praise team, and then we went directly into a congregational rendition of “Victory in Jesus.” Next we moved to another congregational favorite of “Just A Closer Walk With Thee,” followed by a very unique, somewhat high church, full of intricate, sometimes dissonant harmonies, choral arrangement of “Abide With Me.” We ended with one verse of “Blest Be The Tie.”

While I was very pleased with the choir’s rendition of “Abide With Me”—it was tough and we had worked really hard to prepare it for worship—and while I always enjoy singing “Victory In Jesus”—after all, it was one of the title songs of my former band—and while the girls of the praise team did a good job introducing a new song—what really hit me yesterday was “Just A Closer Walk With Thee.”

As I was standing in the pulpit singing, I suddenly caught myself smiling and thinking, “Yes!! This!! I hope everyone in the congregation and the world is listening!! This is so important!! Did you hear it, people?! You just sang something HUGE!!”

And what was it that evoked double exclamation marks after every thought?

“Through this world of toil and snares,
If I falter, Lord, who cares?
Who with me my burden shares?
None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee.”

Did you catch that?! Really catch that?!

The world is full of toil and snares, speed-bumps and potholes, obstacles and heartaches, failures and heartbreaks, injustice and bigotry, judgment and condemnation, mean people and meaner people, and all kinds of other mayhem that will trip us up. With every feeling of safety. With every risk we take. With any attempt at anything at all, we run the risk of success or failure. And guess what? We’re going to mess up as many times as we get it right! We’re going to goof as many times as we reach near-perfection. We’re going to falter as many times as we experience clear-sailing! But…who cares?!

Really? Who cares?!

What does it matter?!

We’re still alive.
We’re still human.
We’re still able to move forward on life’s journey.

So who cares if we falter??
Really? Who cares?!

Because, in the end, the God who created us and loves us is the same God who never leaves or forsakes us—faltering or not. The same God who created the universe and offers redemption to the world is the same God who shares our heartaches and burdens—willingly surrendered or not.

I don’t know about you, friend, but this all makes me smile and sets a little part of me free.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

What We Can't Un-See

About a year ago, I found myself drawn to a work of art entitled “Rock With A Hole In Its Heart.” The piece was created by a local artist and hanging at the local gallery where Barb-My-Former-Art-Teacher-But-Still-My-Friend teaches classes on weekends.

The piece is abstract. The movement, the lines, the colors—or lack thereof—and the title all spoke to me. When I looked at the piece, I saw the hole in the rock’s heart. I saw a little person sitting on a rock looking at the horizon. I saw an elephant blowing water. Then Barb pointed out the outline of a woman, faceless, featureless, with the hole where her heart would be. It reminded her of one of her works from high school. That piece is called, “The Womanless Woman.” I have that piece hanging in my room. I also now have the “Rock…” hanging in my room. And guess what I see every time I look at it? Not the rock. Not the little person looking at the horizon. Not the elephant. But the woman: the image that I didn’t even seen until Barb pointed it out. Granted, I don’t mind seeing the outline of the woman. It’s not offensive. It’s just that I can’t un-see it.

I was talking to a friend the other day about a mistake I made many years back. I said, “If I could go back, I would probably not do it again.” I suppose that sounds weird, but I can’t definitively say that I would not do it again because I know that I’m who I am today because of the past—good or bad—and I know that everything that I know has been learned from what I have experienced, seen, and heard. I can’t un-know, un-see, or un-hear my life.

Sometimes I want to. Sometimes I want not to feel the sting of regret. Sometimes I want not to remember difficulty, hardship, stupidity, and grief. Sometimes I want to go back and change all things bad. But I can’t.

Thankfully, I can’t forget the good things either.

When I got into the car on Monday, Sara Groves started singing. As she sang, I realized she was speaking to me. She was pulling at some heart strings directly connected to the broken hearts of a couple of different friends—a couple of different people who, too, wished that they could un-know, un-see, and un-hear some things. And yet…we can’t. None of us can. Full, broken, or empty hearts. And somehow…that is okay. Somehow, we are all okay.

I saw what I saw and I can't forget it
I heard what I heard and I can't go back
I know what I know and I can't deny it
Something on the road, cut me to the soul

I say what I say with no hesitation
I have what I have and I'm giving it up
I do what I do with deep conviction
Something on the road, cut me to the soul

Your pain has changed me
Your dream inspires
Your face a memory
Your hope a fire
Your courage asks me what I'm afraid of
And what I know of love

We've done what we've done and we can't erase it
We are what we are and it's more than enough
We have what we have but it's no substitution
Something on the road, touched my very soul

Your pain has changed me
Your dream inspires
Your face a memory
Your hope a fire
Your courage asks me what I am made of
And what I know of love

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Maps and Puzzles

I first realized that kids were fascinated by maps when I taught at Erwin. I don’t remember what I was trying to teach, but I vividly remember standing in front of the map in my classroom and fielding question after question in rapid fire succession. I kept trying to steer us back to something somewhat musical, but I finally just gave up and answered my students’ questions.

Over ten years later—the world more technologically advanced than ever—kids still love maps. Not Google maps. Not Google earth. Not the GPS. But pull down, jump-in-fright-if-the-map-rolls-up-unexpectedly, topographical, political, geographical, continental, country, or state maps. In fact, the kids love maps so much that I have two huge maps permanently hanging in my classroom so that students can look at them whenever they want.

That being said, most kids—and I dare say most adults—are woefully ignorant when it comes to geography. I feel okay saying this because I, myself am woefully ignorant when it comes to geography. But. I’m happy to report that I’m getting better! And here is why:

I’m practicing.
And I’m practicing because I’m teaching.
And I’m teaching because the kids are interested.
The kids are interested in maps and the kids are interested in composers’ deaths and gravesites and the kids are interested in puzzles. Weird. I know.

One of the songs that I use as a springboard for a unit that focuses on basic geographical skills is “Hello To All The Children of the World.” In short, the song introduces the word “hello” in nine different languages from nine different countries: England, France, Spain, Australia, Germany, Japan, Italy, Israel, and Russia. [England’s and Spain’s languages, of course, cover America and Mexico as well]. As I’ve pointed to each of these countries on the map, I’ve learned where they are (not that they are overly difficult to find), and in the process I have paid attention to the countries around them. Not only that, I have watched a Little Big Shots video clip of Nathan-The-Four-Year-Old reciting all of the countries of Africa in under a minute.

So when I saw “The Global Puzzle” at Barnes and Noble last week, and the box challenged me to see if I could put together the puzzle without looking at the picture, I knew that I had to accept the challenge. With my mom. I don’t do puzzles without my mom.

My mom put together the border, North America, and Australia. Together, we sorted what we thought were the countries of Africa, Europe, Asia, and South America. After we sorted, we began putting together the continents. And it was hard—not because we’d sorted wrong but because we didn’t know where exactly the countries went on each continent! At one point, I gave up on country placement and moved to my puzzle forte: puzzle shape placement. Two hours after we started, combining both of our talents, mom and I had the world together. Now we will glue it together and I will take it to school where my students will think it incredibly fascinating.

There, I will add it to my classroom of real maps and globes—did I mention that I have seven globes in my room?—and I will continue in my attempt to teach my students basic geographical skills so that they won’t grow up geographically ignorant.

Now. Go find a map and locate a country about which you’ve always wondered. Then tell me about it. I’d sure like to know.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Corridor of Daggers

One of my friends has erased her finger prints by using so much hand sanitizer over the years. After being sick for the past few days, I’d gladly erase my own finger prints by way of hand sanitizer if it’d keep me from feeling like this again.

Maybe my tolerance for pain has lessened as I’ve gotten older, but I declare that I was absolutely miserable and felt a little like death at the height of this little bug on Thursday night.

It started Wednesday night with a sore throat. I jolted myself awake in the wee hours of Thursday morning and spent around ten minutes talking myself down from a panic attack of being sick, alone, and not able to breath. I woke up Thursday morning not feeling great, but I got up and got dressed because missing work is discouraged. The closer it came to leaving time, the more certain I felt that I really didn’t feel well, so I made the decision to stay home. I sent all appropriate messages and then went back to sleep.

When I woke up, I felt worse. And as the day progressed, I continued to feel worse. From no fever to a baby fever to a fever of 102; from a nauseous stomach to one that couldn’t keep anything down; from a sore throat to a sorer throat…I was not in good shape.

Different people had different ways to know that I was really sick: My mom knew that something was really wrong when I didn’t leave the house to volunteer for Harnett Off-Broadway; I almost always volunteer for my non-HOB nights. And my dad knew that something was really wrong when I didn’t have enough energy to let Bullet off the porch.

When I wrote Olga-Bullet’s-Real-Mom to ask her to take care of Bullet, she asked if I needed anything. In my fever-induced drunkenness, I asked for Gatorade and Ibuprofen. Sometime later, after a mystery Adam Sandler movie, during Home Alone 2, both of which I only saw bits and pieces because of said fever-induced drunkenness, Olga knocked on the door and delivered Gatorade, Ibuprofen, and raspberries for tea. She wanted to help her neighbor, and she did helped her neighbor indeed.

My fever broke sometime during the night that night. I was up and down all night—hot, cold, sweating, freezing, trying to swallow through what felt like a corridor of daggers. A good friend brought Lysol to the house on Friday so that I could disinfect my sick living quarters. I spent Friday resting. I spent Saturday resting—although I did move my resting position to the movie theatre to see Beauty and The Beast (which was very good) and then to Urgent Care to receive a negative strep throat diagnosis but medicine anyway because my throat looked so bad. I had to work yesterday, but every moment not working was resting. I had to work today, and go to class tonight, but in between I took a nap.

My throat is still very sore. The corridor of white daggers still there. For now I have all fingerprints. But if sanitizing my hands to avoid walking this corridor again is what I need to do, then I will be a glad sanitizer, disappearing fingerprints and all.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Snowy Sabbath

I like church. Really, I do. Please hear that. I like joining together with my community of believers and worshipping with the choir, praise team, and wider congregation. As messed up as the church can be, I like doing more through the church than I can do alone. I like church. I believe in the church. But I declare that sometimes it’s nice to have a day off from church.

I accidently woke up early yesterday. I think my body thought it was a school day. I saw that it was snowing outside but I left my alarm set for church and went back to sleep. A little while later, I woke up to the sound of the phone ringing and then to pots and pans being put up. In a state of semi-consciousness, I listened to the sounds of the kitchen and mused about how productive my parents were being so early in the morning. Then I looked at the clock. It was 9:15. My parents should have been leaving for church. At that point I literally said aloud, “Something is weird here.”

On the next multiple of five (I only get up on multiples of 5), I popped out of bed and went downstairs. When I saw my dad in his pajamas, I knew: Church had been cancelled. I asked anyway: “Was church cancelled?!” When he said yes, I cheered. I literally cheered. I clapped. I jumped up and down. Then I ran into my parents’ bedroom where my mom was working at her computer and I hugged her. As I squeezed her and rejoiced, she said, “You’re not supposed to be this happy about missing church.” Then she smiled at my excitement. Then I ran back into the kitchen, arms fully extended for a hug, and threw my arms around my dad and said, “Thank you so much” (although I knew that the decision was not completely his). Then I jumped up and down and clapped some more. Then I cried.

I was so happy and relieved to have a day off that I couldn’t hold back the tears. Then I volunteered to cook breakfast so that mom and dad could prepare for their visit to see my grandmother.

Last week was extremely busy. Six days of early mornings and very late nights with no down time in between takes its toll on an almost-40-year-old. This week will be mostly the same, just without the stress of preparing for Harnett Off-Broadway. Yesterday was supposed to be another work day. But with the blessing of the snow, the day ended up being a day off. It was rest for the weary. It was true Sabbath. And it happened because I didn’t have to go to church.

Swirly, dancing white
Calm silence nourishing souls
Peaceful rest, Sabbath

I like church. Really, I do. Please hear that. But I declare that sometimes it’s nice to have a day off.

God, thanks for a day off yesterday. Amen.