Monday, March 25, 2013


We don't imagine bad things happening to us. Illness, death, accidents and loss are anecdotes in a sermon or stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul XVII. And there isn't much to prepare us when the bottom does fall out, because tragedy is an abstract fear until it is all too palpable.

I knew early in our relationship that Joe will be an amazing father. Perhaps even earlier than I knew I wanted to marry him. So even more than my desire to be a mother, I wanted (want) Joe to get to be a father.  When we found out I was pregnant in December, the joy was overwhelming. Truly overwhelming, in the best way possible. I couldn't wait to be a parent with the man I look up to and respect more than anyone. I would lie in bed and think about the little peanut, praying for each little toe and finger I knew I already, we already, loved so much.

But a few weeks later, we learned we would never meet that peanut. And that love would become the sickening kind you feel when you lose something. A silent ultrasound at the ER was one of the worst sounds  we've ever heard and it broke our hearts.

Being told you've lost a baby is a fear every woman has. We know, if nothing else, we have that one thing on men, I guess, and we are specifically designed to do it. When we can't, it's a biological gut punch. And it seems to be the worst thing imaginable. And it is, because I would never have imagined there was something harder than hearing I'd lost my baby.

The doctor ordered a D & C as opposed to waiting to pass the "tissue" naturally, which could take two weeks. And yes, "tissue" is the cold, clinical term that I kept hearing to refer to my lost peanut. I agreed with the surgery because I wanted to grieve and be sad, but to be moving in a direction away from this as soon as I could. Two weeks of waiting for my body to painfully expel something sounded too gruesome for me.

In an episode of Friends, Rachel says, "I really thought I just hit rock bottom. But today, there's rock bottom, 50 feet of crap, and then me."

I couldn't find her saying the quote I used,
but this sass will do. 

50 feet of crap farther than rock bottom, it turns out, is being told you had a cancerous pregnancy.

My "condition" is called a molar pregnancy. It is a rare freak fertilization malfunction that results in a tumor that eventually kills the cells trying to make a baby while still mimicking a pregnancy. Pretty rude, right?

I told my doctor she needed to repeat herself because I had just hallucinated she told me I had a tumor.

" You probably don't have the tumor anymore. We most likely got it all in your D&C, but you'll still need to wait 6 months to a year to try again. You will get a blood test every week till your hormones are normal again. If they don't get back to normal, than you'll have to do some chemo. But it's light chemo."

A series of explicatives ran through my head and thankfully not out of my mouth. Vomit, though, did almost come out of my mouth.

The doctor explained everything again and said I was lucky that I was getting to keep my uterus, "that's the silver lining."

That's the silver lining? That's what I am supposed to tell my 24 year- old self who is facing chemo and being told to wait 6 months to a year, that at least I get to keep my uterus?

The suffering seemed relentless.

After calling Joe, who was already on his way to Florida, I spent the next few days in the same pair of sweatpants watching a  Criminal Minds marathon. Polly rarely left my side-- proving dogs are the best things ever.

Fictional friends 
 I began  wandering around the house one day in between episodes. Polly followed me, curious as to why I left the bedroom, I am sure. I found myself in the room, the one that was supposed to be the baby's room and I thought about all the plans I had already bookmarked in my computer to decorate the room. And all the cute, tiny clothes I was excited to buy. And all the nights I has planned on Joe and I staying awake, taking turns feeding or holding or just staring at the little person who was supposed to live in there.
Real friend.
Yo, mom, I am fine with staying in bed
all day. 

And it was that nondescript day to the rest if the world  that I realized I had been asking God the wrong question.

I was determined to not be bitter or resentful with God. And I was doing a decent  job. But I wasn't praying the prayer I needed to be praying.

I had been asking why instead of asking where.

In Matthew 4:19-20, Jesus comes to Simon and Andrew in the middle of their work day and tells them to follow him and they will become fishers of men. Matthew 4:21-22 has a similar response but I love the syntax of James and John's actions. The bible says, " He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father, and followed him." It's all one sentence, it's one fluid motion separated by commas so you see that John and James  have no hesitation. They don't even think about it long enough for the bible to document periods; they leave their job, their father, and they go.

When Jesus says, "Follow me," it isn't a conditional statement. He doesn't say, "Follow me at your convenience," nor does he say, " Follow me only as far as you are comfortable. Only in leaving our metaphorical boats or even real fathers or families, and asking, "Where to?" can we fully receive and embrace God's love for us. And we wonder why people are unsatisfied in their faiths; because merely liking Jesus isn't enough. Simply accepting Christ in words or even prayer does not a disciple make. We have to get up and go where he calls us to be.

The where just may not be where we wanted to go.

By now, we've all experienced mishaps with autocorrect on texts. There are even blog sites dedicated to these sometimes very embarrassing "corrections." My phone gets hooked on autocorrecting " I love you" into " I live you."  It's not as silly or embarrassing as the " something" coming out as "some thong," but it is a message that has made me stop and think. Do I love Christ, or do I live him? Saying I love him is awesome and important, but he is asking for more than words, he is asking that we live our love out.

Actions speak louder than words, right?

Not a very delicate piece
of jewelry. 

During the French Revolution people wore guillotines as jewelry. Sounds gruesome. But then I think of how many different pieces of jewelry I own that have a cross on it. A symbol we have attributed to purity to holiness and to salvation is actually as gruesome as a guillotine. A cross, The Cross, is all of those nouns, but it is a sign of suffering.   

My suffering seems, at this point, to be not letting up soon. My hormones have not dropped as they were supposed to and I could have another D and C, bumping us back another 6 months. If the surgery doesn't work, I face "light chemo, " which sounds oxymoronic.

This is my cross to bear now. This is my battlefield, and I am fighting for more than my health or my motherhood, I am fighting for God and His promised Kingdom. Because right now it would be totally socially acceptable to break down and curse my Lord. In fact, it would prove the points or reasons non- believers cling to. But even " the demons believe" (James 2:19) and God hasn't abandoned me, so I will not abandon Him.

Being close to Him may bring you to uncomfortable,  socially compromising, and challenging positions, but those are just your mission fields. You don't have to go to a remote village in a third world country to be a disciple. Your mission field may be closer than you think. Like next cubicle over. Or the lady next to me in the hospital waiting room. We have opportunity to worship God and serve Him in our most average and everyday lives. So while we may feel worldly suffering, we should look to the path that allows us to be a light in a place of darkness.

I feel closer to God because of these past few months than I ever have before.
I am devastated to lose a baby Joe and I already loved; but in that loss I have found a greater understanding of God's love. He sent His son to die for us, if anyone knows that grief, it's God.
I am afraid of cancer and chemo and being sick; but I am more afraid of becoming bitter and resentful when God is asking me to take on a new ministry.

I know if I relentlessly pursue God he too will relentlessly pursue me.
I've spent time mad at God. I asked Him to follow me and my rules. Other major world religions involve our reaching to god or to a state of holiness. In Christianity, God reaches for us. His plan is so much more important and awesome than mine, and yet he reaches for me and "calls me by name" ( Isaiah 43:1)  and offers me a spiritual life I don't deserve.

Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3 that humans cannot do to go to heaven, we have to be. Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin (Old Testament scholar) asks how can he change, how can he become something he's not?  Jesus has the perfect opening to tell this educated, knowledgable, doing man, the man that wants to know what to do to go to heaven but yet comes to Jesus at night so as not to be seen-- our state of being cannot be changed by anyone but God. God opens our hearts and changes who we are and who we are to become. Acts 16: 14 we get that exact active wording with Lydia, " The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul." When we pursue God, He will open our hearts, He will tear down the walls we've built, He will provide us with His love and the path He wants us to take to show more people that love.

My battlefield, my mission field, right now is not one of comfort or contentment.  But then this wouldn't be a mission field. I wouldn't be given the gift of suffering that will allow the Holy Spirit to work through me to plant seeds in other people's lives. I get to be a witness to Christ in the way He wants, nay, He trusts me to be.

Christ is asking me, giving me the opportunity, to follow him. It is my faithful duty to leave my comfort zone and simply say, " Where to?" 

*For a more formalized study on following Christ, I recommend the Clear Creek Community church app the "Complete" study. For reading on this, Follow Me by David Platt and Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. Also Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"You Live for Fashion!"

Current InStyle
The title comes from an episode of Sex and the City called "The Real Me" and is spoken by Charlotte York to Jen Savery, I mean, Carrie Bradshaw. 

The September issue of all fashion magazines is the largest of each calendar year. Vogue's September 2007 Issue weighed nearly 5 lbs. The current InStyle for this month is 652 pages. Fall is, as you learn flipping through pages showing how to wear cheetah print boots and burgundy skinny jeans, not for the fashion fearful.
InStyle is my favorite magazine.* Colorful, well organized, diverse pieces and smart pairings for real women, it sings a seductive siren song of all the things, literally things, missing from my closet and therefore, a higher quality of life.

But does owning -------- (insert current item of lust) actually improve my quality of life?

2007 September Issue 
The ad below unapologetically flaunts what all ads, what all secular culture tells us-- this will fill your void, this will satisfy your desires and longings and you will never be the same after.

I admit that I have fallen for this trap far, far more than I would like to admit. And if you've seen my closet you'd think I was filled up by now.  I own more shoes than anyone I know. I am talking Toto, we aren't in double digits anymore-- but than why do I keep looking at fashion magazines?

Because fashion can quickly become my idol and, thus, my sin.

Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Cheif of Vogue. Oh, you devilishly stylish
woman, you.

When discussing my long hiatus from blogging with a friend she suggested I write more just about food and clothes, less about "your life. I mean, I really like what you wear and when you talk about food." She did not mean this to hurt my feelings or to say my life isn't important, but let's be honest-- if all I am good for is fashion and food, it isn't.

That void I mentioned earlier, the one people try to fill with a purse or a drink or a one night stand or a bit of gossip, can only be filled and satisfied by God. We are guilty of becoming "culturally Christian," meaning we choose social practices that seem Christian, but we end up becoming judgmental and  complacent. Our idea of morality is defined by comparison. Good is subjective to what it is being compared to. Francis Chan really nails this one on the head in his book Crazy Love. We accept and even embrace our sins so long as we aren't "as sinful" as someone else. Abstaining from drinking, cussing, premarital sex, murder, drugs are not what make us Christians. Only through recognizing (read: loving as He did, talking about, praising, living as an extension of Him, loving, loving, loving, loving) Christ as our savior are we actually Christians. I have let myself shop because if that's my weakness, it's really not as bad as making alcohol or sex or drugs my idol. I don't intentionally hurt anyone, so what's one more pair of shoes?

If I am not wearing my faith as prominently as the red soles of my Christian Louboutins, I am the worst kind of sinner of all. St. Augustine, who was quite the partyboy, wrote "Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet." Translation in modern vernacular: Lord make me sinless in your eyes.... unless sinless means seeking your glory before my selfish desires, than in that case maybe just kind of sinless.

Those red soles are among the most brilliant marketing
 techniques in fashion history 

The Chic-Fila controversy aroused emotional reactions from all different sides. People who side with the franchise lined up to buy chicken sandwiches and those who disagreed, boycotted. (By the way, I am remaining impartial on the topic, this is to prove a much bigger point.) I saw a picture in Facebook that had a caption reading something about there have never been that many Christians lining up to volunteer at a homeless shelter or food bank. My thought process here was 1) That was a rude caption, especially considering the controversy surrounds equality and rights and my faith is a reserved right 2) At the same time, that people had more to say and stand up for over a fast food restaurant than they do for their faith-- no amount of chicken sandwiches will outlaw gay marriage, nor will the plummet of chicken sandwiches sales legalize gay marriage.

When asked if I am a Christian, I am not being asked if I eat at Chic-Fila or or if I own cross jewelry or have a fish bumper sticker or if I even go to church (My list inspired by Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman).

I am being asked if I love Christ and if I live to glorify God. 

I like love hearing people say they love my outfit. It totally validates the time spent picking it out and making sure I have the right balance of color, texture and coverage. What this really means is I need to spend more time being a Christ-like example in an ever-darkening world than I do selecting my clothing ensembles. 

John 20:15 (NAS) Mary is searching for Christ Easter morning. Before she recognizes him, he asks, "Whom are you seeking?" When translated into Greek, seek is synonymous with crave. This conjures not only images of delicious cupcakes, but all the material things I have saved to my Shopbop WishList. 

So here is the challenge to myself: No shopping in September.** None. Instead, working on making God what I crave.

What do you crave? What do you fill your life with?

* I enjoy Vogue, but there are more ads than content in most issues. Ahhh, the symbolism. 
** THE  fashion month. As in, fashion's birthday...basically. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Phamily Time

Polly and I have made the journey to the land north of the Mason Dixon. These are our stats thus far:

Times I have been told I have an accent: 2 (False, in my opinion)
Times Joe has said he is glad that I am here: 100
Times that I have gotten mad for forgetting some article of clothing: 28
Bowls of Cinnamon Toast Crunch I have eaten: 11
Friends I have made: 12
Friends Joe has made because of me: 12
Laps Polly has run around the fully carpeted apartment: 22
Time Polly has been waking up and, thus, woken us up: 6:32 AM
Times I have introduced myself as, "Jennifer Wegmann, I mean, Savery" : 3
Days it took me to find Target: 2 hours after landing in Philadelphia
Times I have told Joe how thankful I am that I can be here: Not enough

My new friends and I hoping the grass isn't too wet

We participated in Family Day, which is geared more towards those who actually have more than 2 people in their family. Two other players' girls and I stood around joking about needing a prop child to fit in. It was precious watching all the kids in their uniforms run the bases, fall down, run the bases again and then jump on dad. Christmas card photo op if I ever saw one.

Joe's mom asked if I was doing well. His response went something like this, "Well, she got us on a triple date; tonight she is going to a wives' dinner; we are modeling in a fashion show. She is doing pretty well."

And, yes, we are in a fashion show. A charity one, not a legitimate one. My dress is gorgeous and fun and my shoes are bejeweled Christian Louboutin's with all the colors of the rainbow.... and they match Joe's shirt. I am sure he will make his multi-colored shirt very handsome, and if nothing else my shoes will make anything near it look good. Trying on the clothes was enough fun for me. Big thanks to Neiman Marcus and the Shane Victorino Foundation for the event and letting us have big girl dress up day.

My beauties. Move over, Cinderella. 
As tenuous as our position is here, we are thankful for the many modes of kindness people have shown us. If the rain and the cold weather can go away, I will be even happier!

Different jersey sizes? 

Here and already leaving soon. Joe played in Baltimore over the weekend so I came a little further south to visit a friend. In Baltimore, the hotel gave Polly a doggie bed and bowls and treats. Not 5 minutes after we got in our room the door rang with comforts for the princess. Must be nice to be so cute, huh?

I have a friend's wedding next weekend in Mississippi (sweet tea, anyone?). I am over the moon excited to see my friends next weekend. I know they will all agree when I say that all time has done is make us more appreciative for the friendships we have with one another. And what better way to reunite than our friends big Southern wedding? Stay tuned for the prodigal daughter to return to the South.....

I know, this is cheesy, but we will appreciate it in the future. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Don't Mess with (me when I am leaving) Texas

I move very, very soon. My messy mid-packing apartment is a constant reminder of the rapidly approaching departure. Currently, we don’t know where exactly I am moving to; this includes both city and type of residence. Joe has bounced up and down and then up and then down again and then back up this season enough that we haven’t settled on what we should do about the roof over our heads. Polly says she isn’t worried about it.

We totalled up how many miles I have traveled this year thus far: 18,000 miles between January and today. The world is 24,0000 around so I am almost guaranteed to have traveled “around the world” by the end of the season. To those of you who have jobs like George Clooney in Up in the Air, you have far more patience than I. 

Can you imagine if Clooney sat next to you on a flight?
I might not get off the plane.
Oh, come on, even Joe might stay on the flight next to George!

Things I will miss about Texas:
Good Co. barbecue 
Goode Co. on Kirby
Dr. Pepper
My familyPeople saying Coke, but really meaning any carbonated beverage
Cowboy boots in a non-novelty way
The Guadalupe River. By the way, this is my first summer in 4 years to not be working at Mystic and my first summer in 16 years to realize I can't go back and work there.... or be a camper.

The Guad at Camp Mystic's Waterfront

My friends
The Galleria
My church
Finding any item of clothing you can imagine can, in fact, bear the Texas flag
I think my sister owns one of these
shirts. They have
the real thing too, if that's what you're
looking for
The Rodeo
St. Arnold’s and Shiner Light Blonde
Swimming in October
Texas Country Music

In honor of my hiatus from Texas (as if four years of college were not enough), I am going to write a few little vignettes about the Texas I know, the Texas that has been created around me and the one we so love to romanticize when we have to be away.

Water from the sprinkler turned to steam on the concrete. Everything was wet and hot. Even the cars’ hoods looked like water as the heat rippled over them.  Somewhere in the distance an ambulance drove by, its siren’s tone getting lower as it passed. Zoe played in the soil with naked Barbies. Her toddling sister slept inside, her hair curling on her forehead from the baby sweat. Later their father would come home with his dry cleaning and golf shoes. Later they would eat Kraft macaroni and cheese and drink milk from cups they bought at the circus. Zoe’s was a pink elephant. Its trunk was the handle and it had long black eyelashes. She made the Barbies do the splits and tried to make them hold handstands in the grass. One of the Barbie’s hair was brown, which meant she wasn’t really a Barbie, but Barbie’s friend Susan. Or Brenda. Some name that was not Barbie and did not have an “i” with a heart on her box. A boy rode his bike, without training wheels, down the street. Zoe wanted her baby sister to wake up so they could fill up the inflatable pool and make the Barbies, and Brenda, go skinny dipping. Zoe liked to go under the water and open her eyes. She could see the pebbles and sticks poking at the bottom of the soft plastic pool and her hair stuck to her face when she finally came out. Her mom did not like it when she put her face under. Her mother, now, was moving the sprinkler to make sure her begonias and monkey grass got enough to drink. It had been many days since she watered the plants so much of it was dead. Little brown buds fell off and ran in streams to the hot, wet street.

The second canoe was smoother than the first. The Guadalupe water was still and green before the dam and we could see turtles heads pop up and the outline of their shells. Sweat prickled on my back like the insects that landed on the water. Their legs twitched and spasmed, then they flew to another spot. Or went to the tall grass on the road side of the river. I asked West if he wanted to turn back before the dam; he said no. We didn’t talk for a while after that, just listened to the sound of our paddles dip in the water and scrape against our old metal canoes. Sometimes my Dr. Pepper cans rattled by my feet. Sometimes West was so silent I could have sworn he was a Hill Country Indian. His bandana was tied around his head and his shirt, long discarded, was tucked into the seat of his shorts over his butt. He stopped paddling and looked at me while he took a drink from his water bottle.
“You’re doing a pretty good job there,” he said to me.
“I like the river.” He smiled but didn’t say anything and went back to his silent paddling. West’s back was burning and I was sure that mine was red, too. Later we would have to take turns putting cold aloe vera on each other’s backs. West would tell me to put it on my hands first before rubbing it in. I wouldn’t say anything. And maybe he would pat my shoulder as a way of telling me he was finished. The dam was upon us. We had to pick up the canoes one at a time and walk them down. Though the water was more shallow, the river floor was clay and dipped down in tubs. West got a leech on his forearm. He pulled and flicked at it till the leech fell off.
“So do you have to suck the poison out?” I asked.
“No, that’s snakes. This will just need to be cleaned. Plus, if I was bitten by a snake, you would have to suck the poison because I would be too weak.”
“I would do that. For you.”
“I know.”
The current moved us for a while without having to paddle except to stay straight. We would need to turn around soon to make it back before dark. Or we would just stay on the river till the breeze picked up and the water turned black beneath our canoes.

They sat on top of the picnic table with their feet on the bench, just like they had done in high school. They’d eat cafeteria yogurt and talk about their days, uniform skirts tucked between their thighs as to attempt modesty. They had on jeans and boots so there was less balancing involved now. There was also no yogurt, just some beers in plastic cups and a poorly sugared funnel cake. Marcy wore a push up bra that night and it was riding up her back and she was certain one of the straps was twisted. When she got dressed she looked like a sexy cowgirl, she thought. But now, sitting next to Allison and a few hours into the night, she felt like she had tried too hard. You could tell she had tried to look like a sexy cowgirl, and what she really was was a sexy cowgirl’s overly primped friend. Allison, who did not own a push up bra, wanted to get a cinnamon roll and maybe ride the ferris wheel. They got up to find the tent with the cinnamon rolls, but there was a cluster of high school students flirting and laughing too loudly. Marcy suggested they still wait in line, but Allison said she changed her mind about the cinnamon roll and she just wanted to go sit and watch the ferris wheel and finish their beers. Marcy had wanted to finish her beer in line with the high schoolers, but followed Allison back to the picnic table that now had two Hispanic boys playing with one of the prize stuffed animals. It looked like a squid. Marcy almost made a joke about things that look like squids; she decided against it though.  They watched the boys play for a while then looked back wordlessly at the blinking lights of the ferris wheel.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Heels Were Made for Teaching

Bookshelf at Shakespeare and Co. in Paris, France
One of my study abroad trips in college
“Wait, what do you mean ‘Free Read Day’? I don’t get it." This was the general response from my students when I told them to bring a book, no iPads, Kindles, eBooks, magazines or comics, to read in class last week. (Note: A student brought Captain Underpants and actually tried to make an argument as to why he could read it as a junior for Free Read Day. A book that comes with stickers is not going to fly for Free Read Day.)

This face would probably shock
my students
When they were unable to bring a book to school, I let them borrow some of mine.  
I shocked my students with the fact that the books I gave them were not 17th century poetry or written in Old English. The books I gave them were by modern and contemporary authors with some elements I know they weren’t expecting (“Uhm, this book says the word ‘beer,’ is that okay?”*) and with endings they certainly were not anticipating (“Why does he just walk away? Why did she still love him?”**). But I loved that they were holding books from my personal library, with my old notes and scribbles in the margins. I know they felt like they were looking into my diary or something, and in a way they were, by my diary as a reader not as a writer. 

Student A: “Are we going to find notes to ex- boyfriends in here?”
Me: “Would I still have the book if I wrote notes to other people in them?”
Student A: “Guess not.”
Me: “Besides, I would never let an ex-boyfriend keep my books.”
Student B: “ Wait, You have ex-boyfriends?!”

This is the same reaction to my having a doctor’s appointment, as though we, teachers, do not go to doctors or get sick or leave the school campus for anything. Did I think that about my teachers? I guess to some degree I did, but when I came back to school after the doctor they were very inquisitive then as well.
Student A:“Are you sick?”
Me: “Nope.”
Student B:“Are you getting sick?”

Me: “No, just a check up.”
Student A again: “Were you faking sick?” 
Student B:"I bet you were faking."
Me: “Okay, time for a pop quiz.”

With this year winding down I keep wondering if I have made any impact on them besides my clothing-- which is still commented on daily (“I don’t think you have worn the same shoes twice,” said a male student to me. “Yes she has, she wore those before Christmas break. That is two times this school year, gosh, you idiot,” said a female student in my ‘defense.’)
But I think about my most influential teachers, the ones that made me want to be a teacher; I wonder if I have done even half of that, a third of that, for my students. I know they will not leave my class dreaming of being an English teacher. I know they will not go out and buy every Barry Hannah, Miranda July, Mary Karr book they can find.*** I know that they don’t think Shakespeare is cool or that Old English is easy. But I want so badly for them to think something, to learn something and most importantly, to feel something. That is what reading and writing does that no other subject really can, it makes you feel. I want my students to have read something, even if it was just a page and the rest was Sparknoted**** I hope they read it and had to look inward at themselves in a way they hadn’t before. We have talked about pride and greed and lust and love and death and creation and isolation and abandonment and fear-- oh goodness have we talked about fear. The most fearful thing, after all, is that someone can look at us and see us for who we truly are. Reading is that, it forces you to look inward. I want them so badly to have studied these themes and thought, I know what he/she feels, I have never killed anyone to become king, but I know how it feels to want something you can't have or I know what it feels like to be alienated, I know what it feels like to reach out and have no one reach back-- I didn't know other people ever felt that way.

I personally fear that I did nothing but show them how to write a proper thesis statement and insert page numbers on a Word doc.

A student from the other 10th grade teacher’s class said that all we do is color in my class. He said this to two of my girls who are not making very good grades and that all they have to do is stay in the lines in my coloring books and they will get an A. My teacher friend teaches the class that this conversation was taking place in. She said the girls stood up for me, but mostly for the rigor of my class.
“It is, like, hard. Like, we really have to read and learn stuff. She grades our essays hard and she makes us like, go deeper”
“Yeah, you don’t even know. It is a hard class and we are trying really hard to make good grades. It is hard.”
The girls also told me about this the next day. We joked as a class about if that was actually the case, than they should all have made A’s on the test I just handed back, which they did not.

Being the young, new teacher I am an easy target. 
Being the young, new teacher means I will quip right back at you. 

My teacher friend said I should come meet this boy, the naysayer/hater, so I did.
Teacher Friend introduced us: “Boy (name omitted to protect his identity), this is Mrs. Savery. She wanted to meet you.”
I smiled big, gave a firm hand-shake and said, “Hi, Boy. I hear you really want to come to my class to color.”
He looked at me wide eyed and shocked, “Uhm, no.”

“Really? I think you should just stop by sometime. I have plenty of extra coloring books if you want a break from Mrs. Other 10th Grade Teacher’s class.”
“I like Mrs. Other 10th Grade Teacher’s class.”
“Oh, that’s great! I will let her know. But in case you need a break from all of your learning and test taking, I have all of the Crayola crayons you can imagine and we don’t even have grades. Just stick figures.”
Still shocked and stammering he said, “Oh, okay.”
“Okay, great! Well, come by sometime. It was so nice to meet you!”

My girls, who were listening from the hallway, all hugged me after like it was an episode of Saved by the Bell and I had confronted the bully. They thought it was, like, so awesome. Which it kind of was.

(Boss, if you are reading this, please don't fire me. I was standing up for my students! I was standing up for literature!)

What was even better was that the next day a few students stayed after class to tell me how much they had learned this year and what a good teacher they thought I was.
“I would take your class every year if I could. Even if there was a coloring class, I would take yours instead!”

What did we learn from this, class?
We learned that teachers talk. That you shouldn’t talk about what you don’t know.  That maybe I have done something for my students.

And don’t mess with the teacher in the red-soled shoes.

*Reading Larry Brown's Big Bad Love; which is not, in fact, about love being big or bad. Well, maybe a little bad.
** Reading "Up In Michigan" after I told them that Gertrude Stein told Hemingway it was the cruelest story she had ever read. And it is pretty cruel. So of course, they wanted to read it.
*** All amazing authors, very contemporary and not for everyone.
****Sparknoted: a verb meaning read the first and last page of a book and used Sparknotes for the rest.

Friday, April 20, 2012

"Never go on trips with anyone you do not love"

 There is a scene in Ernest Hemingway's novel A Farewell to Arms in which the main character, Fredrick, has a conversation with the priest while he is injured in the hospital. Fredrick tells the priest he does not "love much." To which the priest responds: 

"Yes," he said. "You do. What you tell me about in the nights. That is not love. That is only passion and lust. When you love you wish to do things for. You wish to sacrifice for. You wish to serve." 
"I don't know love." 
"You will. I know you will. Then you will be happy."
"I'm happy. I've always been happy."
"It is another thing. You cannot know about it unless you have it." 

Though this is not my favorite Hemingway book*, this scene certainly strikes a cord to any reader. Those who love know, those who do not, won't until they do. 

Another favorite quote of mine is in this novel (I promise this is not a literature lesson, so bear with me): "The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places." 

I once told Joe I knew I wanted to marry him when my plans changed because of him. Whatever silly timeline I had come up with, whatever check list of life accomplishments I had before him, changed when he came into my life. 

Such an attractive couple

And plans have changed again. Next fall I will not return to teaching full time; I will travel with Joe and take care of our marriage full time. I have loved teaching in the way you love things that make you struggle, that break you and make you stronger, and I hope to one day come back to the classroom full time. But for now, my family (however small it is) has to come first. 

But God is good and were we are needed he will find a way to have us there. My boss came in my classroom two days after I wept in his office about how I couldn't teach next year and offered the creative writing class to me through an online course-- I didn't even hesitate to say yes! There will be a presiding teacher to basically administrate the class, but the syllabus, grading, teaching and instruction will be "mine." The Lord has lead me to this school and has a purpose for me here, one I am even more certain of now that we are able to make an arrangement that satisfies all of my roles. 

At Camp Mystic for Girls**  there is always a Sunday we talk about putting God first. It is visually demonstrated through a giant fish bowl, rice and some golf balls. When we put worldly things first, represented by rice, God's will doesn't always fit, shown by trying to fit golf balls in the already full fish bowl. But putting the Lord first, meaning the golf balls, the rice sifts through and the Lord provides. I guess I forgot this in all my crying over what to do about next year. 

                                 Put your golf balls in first and your rice will fit, too. 

One of my favorite camper photos ever       

Photo Ode to Mystic 

**I went to Camp Mystic since 1998, with a hiatus between 2005-2007, quickly to return to be a counselor. Aside from my parents, I don't think anything has been as impactful and formative as Mystic. The river, the Hill Country, the tradition and the people make you renew your spirit and your body like nothing else can. God's hand has made Mystic as a place for girls to find their faiths, walk in hope and grow in love. 
Camp Mystic Dance 2011; sister and Rita 
Asking campers to back up so I can do the worm
at a Mystic dance party 

A little HBR
That's horse back riding to those of you who have never
filled out a Mystic Activity Card 
Reading at Mystic on CC Day, aka best day ever.
Yeah, I am a freak, kind of. 

My Mystic friends and the directors, Dick and Tweety at my wedding.
You don't go somewhere for 12 summers and not get attached to some folks.

* Read Hemingway's short stories or A Moveable Feast or The Sun Also Rises.  A Moveable Feast is a collection of short memoirs about his time in Paris. Better yet, read it in Paris. You'll never be able to stop loving the city. The title of this post is a quote from A Moveable Feast, and I couldn't agree more. 

UPDATE: Since this post went public Joe was called up to the big leagues again! Another player is injured, so there is no telling how long he will be there; however, it is nice to know that he is the next guy in line when something like this does happen!