New poem

I wrote this poem in response to an article that appeared in the 6/15 edition of the Journal Star titled “Mooove over: Cows battle to be leader.” The article detailed a story about a tradition of cow fighting that takes place in Switzerland for a certain period of time in the summer and into fall where herds battle each other until one cow remains. This cow is crowned queen. Apparently this is a spectator event where people actually watch this thing go down. One line that struck me is “Natural leaders distinguish themselves in battle, where strength and determination are key.” This caused me to think: We humans encounter this type of power struggle on many levels. I’m not sure if it’s right, but it happens…just like this cow-quarrel. This poem is still a work in progress.

Locking Horns

I read a newspaper article today about cows in Switzerland
Battling to become the queen
9,000 feet above their familiar territory
They lock horns and fight until one winner is declared
While wine-sipping villagers sit by and watch
Claiming the act is humane
When the battle is over the village celebrates
And the cows are pampered with strings of petunias
As they are paraded down village streets
Led by the queen
This tradition that is hundreds of years old
Reminds me of our own struggle
I think we are all in a fight
A fight to survive, a fight for power, a fight to be noticed
And it seems like we are quarreling for an audience
People who have already declared their place in this world
Whether by just or unjust means
Who sip on wine and watch as races fall and rise
And in the end we are paraded through streets
Led by the queen
With all the pomp that a Swiss cow receives


NeWP: Week 1

My first week in the Nebraska Writing Project is over and I am about to begin my second week. I can honestly say that I enjoy this program. There are 18 people total, three facilitators and 15 Nebraska teachers ranging from 1st grade to college professors. Here is a typical day in the NeWP:

1. Free-write for 10 minutes
2. Meet with our permanent small groups to share a new piece of writing and receive feedback
(1 hr.)--this is probably one of my favorite parts. I truly enjoy reading writing from my group members and receiving helpful feedback to better myself as a writer.
3. One of the class members presents their EQUIP for 90 minutes. This is a project that we develop based on expertise we may have with a certain topic/issue (E), questions we may have about education or any other pertinent issue (QU), inquiry into an issue/topic (I), or problems we see or may have in our classrooms (P). I have to be honest, at first I was extremely intimidated and scared of this portion of the program. But after participating in the first week of EQUIPs and starting research on my own EQUIP, I am excited.
4. We usually break for lunch around 1 or 1:30
5. Afternoons are dedicated either to guest speakers who are experts on writing and teaching, time with small groups to inquire about professional development topics (I just finised reading "Writing to Change the World" by Lincoln author Mary Pipher), or writing time to respond to people or to post on the National Writing Project's E-Anthology (an on-line forum for all NWP participants to write and respond).

It counts as six hours towards my master's degree, but I see it as so much more than a requirement. I have already learned so much and have met many great people, it seems that Nebraska is full of great people :)

Until next time,

Fun at Branched Oak Lake

Last night Nate and I went to Branched Oak Lake near Malcolm with Amy, Pat, and Denelle to start a campfire and eat brats and s'mores...we ate way too much and had a great time :)

Havelock Charity Run

Above: Hannah, Celeste, Cassidee, and I reenacting our run :)
Below: The girls posing for a quick photo
During our first weekend in Lincoln Nate and I ran in the 3k race of the Havelock Charity Run. We formed a team with a few of our friends from high school and ended up earning $75 to donate to the Friendship Home of Lincoln, a shelter for women and children of domestic abuse where Hannah works full-time. It was a great time and we are planning to run it next year, hopefully the 10k :)


Fun with Denelle

These are some photos we took on Photo Both with our niece Denelle...she loves the goofy, or as she pronounces it "doofy" pictures :)



It's about 10:15 and I just got home from a run. I'm stinky, sweaty, and my legs throb. I ran on my own which ended up getting me lost...and it started raining as soon as I realized that I had no clue where I was. Coming to this realization, I quickly found the nearest street sign that read Beal St. I thought I was on Burt (which is where I wanted to end up). My glasses were quickly being speckled with rain drops, so I picked up the pace and headed up a well-lit street hoping to find someone outside. I had been running for about a block (it really seemed like longer!) when I finally found a guy working in his garage. He kindly directed me back on my course and it turns out I wasn't far off, I was back at the Nebesniaks within 7 short blocks.

Though tonight's running experience wasn't exactly the greatest, I will hit the road again this week. I can't help it. Running is just about the only activity that can clear my mind. I can start running with a headful of issues, but by the time I'm two minutes into it, I have forgotten everything. I tried to pay attention tonight to what I thought about while running and it was more difficult than I thought. I couldn't keep my mind focused on one thing. I drifted back and forth from thinking about the classes I'm currently taking to how I've developed as a person and I even imagined what my life would be like if I had or hadn't made certain choices. Running gives me the time to slow my life down and just let my mind wander. I value that.

I'm not a great runner. My mile time is nothing to brag about and I've never run farther than 3.5 miles, but I'm okay with that. Whenever I return home from a run, I always feel good, even if I am stinky, sweaty, soaked from the rain, and flustered because I got lost.


Masters Classes

Above: Nate getting a jump-start on one of his classes
Below: Our room that Amy and Pat kindly loaned to us for the next five weeks

As many people don't realize, teachers do not often get a typical summer vacation. Instead of going on elaborate vacations, many teachers use the summer to start on graduate or doctoral classes. So...Nate and I figured we would jump on that bandwagon. Nate is taking nine graduate hours in the course of five weeks that will apply to his masters degree in music education and I am taking six hours through the Nebraska Writing Project that will apply to my masters degree in English with an emphasis in education all at UNL. We start classes on Monday and are so excited...we even bought new pens, highlighters, notebooks, etc!

So, we are currently living in Lincoln where we are shacking up with Amy, Pat, Denelle, Miles (St. Bernard), and the unidentified Baby Nebesniak (Amy is pregnant :). We are VERY excited to be living in the same town (the same house!) with family. When we arrived here yesterday, Denelle showed us to our room. She said, "This is where you can sleep" (pointing to the bed), "and you can check your email right here" (pointing to the computer). It was so cute :) We love living out in the boonies, but really miss being so close to our family so it will be a much needed change of pace.

We are so blessed to have family who are willing to help us out so much. Thanks Nebesniak clan!!!


Worlds Apart

I had some free time to play guitar today...actually, I should really make more time to do it. I usually end up finding great Christian songs that lead me into a fantastic time of worship. God is so great...and I don't acknowledge that enough. This is a popular Jars of Clay songs, one of my favorites actually, and I realized that it is fairly easy to play. So, I've played it several times today to try and master it...Nate is probably sick of hearing it. But as I played it, I just was led to examine my life. And I realized that I can identify with many of these lyrics...I highlighted these in orange :) I have come to a point where I realize that I am at fault. Because I have not gotten what I want from God, I have a hard time believing. As I go back and read that last sentence I realize how selfish it is. It's so awful...but my faith has faltered because I have not received the desired results...I've questioned God, I've asked Him over and over...why? Why can't you just give me this one thing that I want more than anything else? I've cried, I've been sad and angry at God. And now I'm ashamed. I'm ashamed that I would question the will of God. The lyric "It takes all I am to believe / In the mercy that covers me" describes perfectly what I'm feeling...it takes everything I have to believe in the perfection of God's will and in His grace and mercy on selfish sinners like me. What I need and what I believe have become worlds apart (just like in the song). So I need divine intervention...I need God to take my world apart.

Here's a link to the song: http://www.playlist.com/searchbeta/tracks#worlds%20apart%2C%20jars%20of%20clay

Just click on the play button to hear it...

"Worlds Apart"
Jars of Clay

I am the only one to blame for this
Somehow it all ends up the same
Soaring on the wings of selfish pride
I flew too high and like Icarus I collide
With a world I try so hard to leave behind
To rid myself of all but love
to give and die

To turn away and not become
Another nail to pierce the skin of one who loves
more deeply than the oceans,
more abundant than the tears
Of a world embracing every heartache

Can I be the one to sacrifice
Or grip the spear and watch the blood and water flow

To love you - take my world apart
To need you - I am on my knees
To love you - take my world apart
To need you - broken on my knees

All said and done I stand alone
Amongst remains of a life I should not own
It takes all I am to believe
In the mercy that covers me

Did you really have to die for me?
All I am for all you are
Because what I need and what I believe are worlds apart

I look beyond the empty cross
forgetting what my life has cost
and wipe away the crimson stains
and dull the nails that still remain
More and more I need you now,
I owe you more each passing hour
the battle between grace and pride
I gave up not so long ago
So steal my heart and take the pain
and wash the feet and cleanse my pride
take the selfish, take the weak,
and all the things I cannot hide
take the beauty, take my tears
the sin-soaked heart and make it yours
take my world all apart
take it now, take it now
and serve the ones that I despise
speak the words I can't deny
watch the world I used to love
fall to dust and thrown away
I look beyond the empty cross
forgetting what my life has cost
so wipe away the crimson stains
and dull the nails that still remain
so steal my heart and take the pain
take the selfish, take the weak
and all the things I cannot hide
take the beauty, take my tears
take my world apart, take my world apart
I pray, I pray, I pray
take my world apart