Currently: es noviembre

Current Books: This weekend, I finished Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig and The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner. Gravel was absolutely heartbreaking. I started Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas last night, and I have the newest Louise Penny book, Glass Houses, to start this week.

Current Playlist: Mostly audio books, but I also just finished listening to an Amena Brown album.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Oreo cheesecake from Burger King… I get them after class some days.

Current Color: Deep purple

Current Food: Burger King on class days and whatever our cook makes for lunch on work days (I work at a daycare).

Current Drink: peach passionfruit refreshers

Current Favorite Favorite: Open mic nights in Tupelo

Current Wishlist: I might want an Apple Watch. I can’t decide. I’d really love a shuttle service from my door to my college next semester. Parking there stresses me out. LOL. More realistically, there are a bunch of books on my wishlist, as always.

Current Needs: I need to get my weekends to be more productive. This semester, I have gotten most of my homework done during the week, and my weekends should be spent doing housework, etc, but I mostly turn into a sloth at 6pm every Friday.

Current Triumph: I completed my verse novel, and I have been ticking items off the to-do list for transferring to Memphis come January.

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: Mostly life logistics, trying to make everything fit, etc… I mean, aside from racism, mass shootings, rape, and all of the other stuff that keeps me frothing at the mouth on a regular basis.

Current Indulgence: Single serve mug cakes

Current Outfit: Black Jordache skinny jeans, purple sweater, purple boots

Current #1 Blessing: My husband. He does so much with the kids and the house, and not feeling all that crappy gender role pressure that exists in so many marriages makes being in school a billion times less stressful.

Current Quote: “Something so hard can be so easy if you just have a little help. In the right place, under the right conditions, you can finally stretch out into what you’re supposed to be.”  ― Hope Jahren, Lab Girl

Current Photo:

Photo Nov 05, 1 55 24 PM

New favoite dress

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Review: Box of Awesome Things

Last year, I did a few posts reviewing picture books, since I am spending a lot of time reading to preschoolers. Along those lines, I found a neat matching game that I took to school and shared with my students.

A Box of Awesome Things Matching Game

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Matching games are pretty timeless in general. It helps kids learn to take turns and sharpens their memory. I found that using all of the cards was a bit overwhelming at first. If I picked just a few matches and mixed those up, it was easy to teach the kids how to play.

What I love about this set of cards is that they are different than the typical kids’ matching game. It’s not cartoon animals or the alphabet. The objects are a little odd in some cases, and kids love odd. Odd things make them giggle.

Here you can see a few of the awesome things the kids get to match from the box:

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“Magnets” and “Science” also made the cut, and I love that because I try to teach my students to care about science and we have a whole set of magnet toys in the classroom.

These illustrations are fun and simple, and I adore them.

 

*I RECEIVED THIS ITEM FROM BLOGGING FOR BOOKS FOR THIS REVIEW.

Take a Knee

Recently, I sat in the bleachers for a high school football game. My son was on the field, and I was pushing past my dislike of sports and humid Southern evenings to watch him play. He loves the game, and I love seeing my kids follow their passions.

So, there I sat, trying to follow what was happening in the game, when a whistle blew and coaches walked onto the field. A moment passed and then all of the players on both teams knelt down. An injury was announced. A player on the opposing team was hurt. I watched my son and the other boys wait silently on one knee until the player was helped off of the field.

This was a familiar experience. Over the years, my sons have played a few sports and I recognized this show of respect being given to the downed player. It didn’t matter that said player was on the other team. Yes, that team showed up on the field with the sole purpose of winning, of taking a victory at the expense of my son’s team. That is how football works. However, a hurt person is a hurt person, and no one will dare cheer for his fall. They will show respect for his pain.

As debate and outrage fly due to the current NFL players’ “take a knee” protest during the national anthem, I thought about that scene on our high school football field. I know many will disagree with me, and I am okay with that. I’ve grown out of the need for everyone to see things my way, but I believe our country is injured. There are injured individuals in our ranks and the nation as a whole feels more broken with every passing day. When there is an injury, the most respectful action an athlete can choose is to “take a knee.”

This morning, I watched a group of NFL players doing just that. As the anthem played, not one of them laughed, joked, or even talked. They held the same air of respectful silence as every person who chose to stand for that same anthem. But our country is injured, and these men took a knee. There are plenty of reasons for our black brothers and sisters, our fellow countrymen, to feel that this nation is the opposing team, that the flag we stand for stands for their defeat. Still, they took a knee.

I can respect that.

I can also respect that there are men and women who lost loved ones to war, and some of them feel differently. Thinking of this made me curious about how we are supposed to respect the flag. See, there are things common in America that I have always felt disrespected the flag. It turns out, I was right about those things.

If you are truly interested in how the American flag should be treated, check out the Flag Code.

Here are a few interesting bits from the flag code (under the section “Respect for the Flag”) that show just how little respect for our flag Americans actually have, whether they stand up to salute it or not…

  • The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
  • The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery.
  • The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever.
  • It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard.
  • No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform.

 

I know many people and businesses that violate the flag code on a daily basis. I know plenty of military personal who violate the flag code regularly. These direct violations of flag code are part and parcel of daily life in America.

In the end, I am grateful that these athletes have chosen a respectful, non-violent, method of protest. They have chosen the path of Martin Luther King Jr. and Ghandi and others before and after these great men. I have my own issues with professional sports and our country’s screwed-up priorities when it comes to paying athletes versus teachers, first-responders, etc… But I refuse to dehumanize these men who have chosen a respectful way of demonstrating their pain and the pain of their people and their nation.

 

A Review: Start Where You Are

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I am a little bit in love with the style of this artist, Meera Lee Patel. I got a set of her notecards last week, the Start Where You Are notecard set, and I have already sent three or four of them. They are just gorgeous.

A couple of these cards may never make it to the mailbox, instead landing in tiny frames on my walls. I am making a concerted effort to hang art on my walls, art that I love. I want to surround my family in beauty in more than one way. I think what our eyes see on a regular basis affects our attitudes and moods.

Sending cards in part of that. I have always loved greeting cards. I am a sucker for a funny/sarcastic card and spend too much money buying them for birthdays, etc. Lately, I have been more drawn to watercolors and meaningful quotes, cards that double as art and could actually hang in someone’s house and fit the decor, if they wanted to use them that way. It is like tucking a ray of sunshine into an envelope and gifting it to a friend.

At least, that is what I hope it is like when I write a short note and lick the glue to set the seal.

The artist for these cards has all sorts of books and other items available on Amazon. I am very tempted by her Start Where You Are journal. And her website is full of gorgeousness.

Anyway, these cards or some others, send someone a little note this week. It will make them smile.

 

 

*I RECEIVED THIS BOOK FROM BLOGGING FOR BOOKS FOR THIS REVIEW.

Give Me Humility and Give Me Grace

Today is the anniversary of the arrival of the Dutch ship that brought the first African slaves to America.

Most likely, I had an ancestor on that ship. I know my ancestors were Dutch and worked for the Dutch Trading Company. I love learning about my Dutch heritage, my family heritage in general. I don’t love this though. It sits heavy on my heart.

My ancestors were not southern. They did not own slaves for their plantations. I feel like they were worse. They sold human beings. By bringing this first ship to the “new world” they forever altered the course of not just this country but many African countries.

They abandoned their humanity when they chose to dehumanize others.

I’m sorry for what they did. No, I wasn’t alive then. I didn’t do it. But my family line benefitted from that ship and all of the others that followed. And I’m sorry for that.

I believe in the concept of corporate sin, the sin of systems and people who benefit from and do not work to change those systems. I believe I am guilty of these sins. Most of you know that I have struggled with my faith over the last few years. I have struggled with the church and fundamentalism and all sorts of issues. I have also questioned sin, what it is and how it can be dealt with.

I never questioned repentance, because the need to make amends is deeply imbedded in my spirit. I feel the weight of my own personal wrong actions and the weight of the injustice this world bathes in every day, whether we are discussing racist systems or world hunger.

It is so heavy.

Recently, I set a book aside and paused a podcast. My soul was screaming for a break from this year’s theme (2017: Peace and Justice). I just wanted to not carry this burden for a while, to set it down and read something fun and listen to something light-hearted and watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix. I did take that break to some extent, and the entire time, I was aware that it is my privilege that allowed me to take a break from these things. People of Color cannot take a break from racial injustice. LGBTQ+ people cannot take a break from being judged and treated badly. I can take a break because I am straight and white.

Instead of relieving the pressure, my so-called-break convicted me to my core.

Jesus, help me use my privilege to work justice for your people, ALL OF YOUR PEOPLE, and your world. Help me to pass a different legacy to my children and all of the descendants who follow me. And when I am wrong, when I cling to my own privilege, to the systems that benefit me while hurting others, give me humility and give me grace.

Currently: es agosto

Books: My main read is How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny. I have been plowing through her books for a few months now. I am also nearing the end of a short story collection by Philip K. Dick, and I returned to some Neruda translations. I copy these out by hand so they are a slow read for me, but it is very helpful to my Spanish learning. I am reading The Myth of Equality: Uncovering the Roots of Injustice and Privilege as part of my peace/justice focus in 2017. It is enlightening and heavy and breaks my heart/makes me angry. I am slowly creeping through The Poet’s Companion by Kim Addonizio. It is really good. I am moving slowly because I stop to write.

Current Playlist: I just finished listening to A Man Called Ove and am binging the What Should I Read Next podcast.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: I can’t think of anything. Even my Starbucks indulgences have all been on gift cards lately. I guess I will go with eating out between class and work sometimes.

Current Color: Bright blue

Current Food: the smokehouse brisket from Firehouse Subs

Current Drink: I order a frappe at Starbucks but change the specifics so I get caramel and toffee. It’s supposed to taste like butterbeer. I love it.

Current Favorite Favorite: Louise Penny. Her books have become my comfort reading lately. I can disappear into Three Pines and have a bowl of cafe au lait in peace.

Current Wishlist: I wish the art and photos I want to have framed and hang on my wall would just magically be framed and hung on my wall. The motivation to make this happen is eluding me right now.

Current Needs: Since summer classes are over and the slower pace of fall semester has set in, I need to make a dental appointment, an appointment for my yearly check-up, etc…

Current Triumph: I was selected to participate in an “UnSlam” poetry competition at the Ink Festival in Tupelo next month. I have memorized the two pieces I want to perform. I am nervous about doing well and taking the stage alongside some really amazing talent, but I am also super excited. Spoken Word is part of my dreams, and I can’t believe I am really doing it.

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: My own fear… my own anxiety… and also the spider bites on my leg. Not dangerous bites, at least, but they are painful and have made me ultra anxious about spiders.

Current Indulgence: I’m sitting here on the sofa, typing this post, when I should be reviewing my Spanish notes from last semester.

Current Outfit: I’m wearing jeans, sneakers, and one of my Honduras tees.

Current #1 Blessing: I am 100% finished with math classes. I passed Beginning Algebra, Intermediate Algebra, and College Algebra. I didn’t just pass them either; I made As in all three classes.

Current Quote:  when i had / no friends / i reached inside / my beloved / books / & sculpted some / out of / 12 pt / times new roman  -from The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace

Current Photo:

Photo Aug 10, 2 30 27 PM

David got braces!

The Skeptic Wrestles with Human Sacrifice

There’s a worship song we sing at church that I change one word in. I doubt anyone notices, but I say one word different when I sing that song. I will tell you in a bit what word I change.

Growing up in church, I was always taught that Jesus died for my sins, for the sins of everyone. Specifically, I was taught that God sent Jesus to die for our sins so that God could forgive us, that God needed the sacrifice of Jesus in order to forgive us. And I accepted this as “the good news” until very recently.

Here’s the thing. I still believe that Jesus died for our sins. It’s the details of that belief that have changed. I no longer buy the “God could not forgive us without a perfect human sacrifice.” Isn’t this the same God that told Israel, through the prophet Micah, that he was fed up with their sacrifices and rituals and wanted them to act justly and do good and walk humbly with their God. Didn’t the ritual of human sacrifice usually get applied to the “pagan” nations the Israelites were supposed to be different from? So God went from fed up with the emptiness of sacrifice and hating the entire concept of human sacrifice to requiring his own son be murdered before he could forgive us?

Apologists, stand down. I do not want to argue that theology. I know the arguments already. I have argued the arguments and truly believed them in the past. I just realized one day that the God I believe in, the God I have experienced through the Holy Spirit and the life of Jesus is not this human-sacrifice-demanding God. God loved us and made is in the holy image of relationship. We are the ones who tear ourselves away from that relationship. We are the ones who refuse to forgive.

We refuse to forgive ourselves.

We refuse to forgive others.

We refuse to forgive God.

Sin, to me, is this refusal to forgive, this refusal to see outside of our own selves, our own needs, the way we think things should work. This is especially true of the church, where Jesus is supposed to be the model for living, but instead we look a whole lot like the people shouting “crucify.”

How many men and women marched with Nazi flags in Charlottesville yesterday and went to church this morning?

That is sin.

I believe God did send his Son to us. I believe he sent Jesus to show us another way, the way of love and humility, of mercy and compassion, of integrity and abundant life.

But God created humanity and knew the evil in our hearts. He knew when he sent Jesus that we would kill him.

He knew.

It was our sin that killed Jesus. The sin of humanity: arrogance, closed-mindedness, cold-heartedness. Sin put Jesus on a cross.

You see, I don’t believe God demanded a human sacrifice before he would forgive us. I believe we demanded a human sacrifice before we would believe he forgave us. Because we see God through the lens of our own sin, our own nature. And we don’t want to forgive those who hurt us. We want them to pay for what they did, so of course we’d expect God to demand we pay for what we have done.

God knew this. Jesus knew this.

So we were given what we asked for.

Thousands of years ago, Israel demanded a king. God told them they did not need a king. They had God. A king was just going to cause them problems. But they insisted, and God appointed Saul king of Israel.

God gave the people what the people wanted, what they believed they needed.

We are the ones who needed a human sacrifice, a grand gesture, a miracle, a sign… And so God gave us what we believed we needed. Jesus came and showed us another way to live and submitted himself to our sin, took it on himself and let us mangle his body.

Today, we mangle his message.

We teach people that they are worthless, horrible, not worthy. We teach them God had to have a blood sacrifice in order to love us again, and that just doesn’t fly with me.

God created us and said that we were good. God already loved us. God always loved us. We are the ones who ran away. We are the ones who could not forgive.

The line I change is about Jesus dying on the cross. It says that “the wrath of God was satisfied.” When I sing this song, I sing, “the wrath of man was satisfied.”