Jesus= Awesome

It's late on Christmas night and Nate and I just finished reading Matthew's account of the Christmas story as well as the first 15 or so verses in John. As Christmas approached this year I found myself drawn to both Luke and Matthew's account of the story and of Jesus's early life. Each time I read about Jesus I am captivated. It blows my mind that He was so full of unconditional love when He knew that He was here on Earth to die for sinners like me. In the words of Dave Matthews in "Christmas Song" He was here "to shed a little light on this darkening scene." I know that I am not worthy of His grace, but nonetheless, He has offered it to me. I got some pretty sweet Christmas gifts this year from my family, but grace is the best gift I could ever receive.

Anyway, it's getting late, but the song I mentioned above is a beautiful song that reminds me of how awesome Jesus is. If you have a few minutes to spare, check out the song by clicking on the link below. I hope all of you reading this had a blessed Christmas and stayed safe and warm!

"Christmas Song" by: Dave Matthews
She was his girl; he was her boyfriend
She'd be his wife and make him her husband
A surprise on the way, any day, any day
One healthy little giggling dribbling baby boy
The wise men came, three made their way
To shower him with love
While he lay in the hay
Shower him with love love love
Love love love
Love love was all around

Not very much of his childhood was known
Kept his mother Mary worried
Always out on his own
He met another Mary who for a reasonable fee,
less than reputable was known to be.

His heart full of love love love
Love love love
Love love was all around

When Jesus Christ was nailed to his tree
Said "oh, Daddy-o, I can see how it all soon will be
I came to shed a little light on this darkening scene
Instead I fear I've spilled the blood of our children all around"

The blood of our children all around
The blood of our children's all around

So I'm told, so the story goes
The people he knew were
Less than golden hearted
Gamblers and Robbers
Drinkers and Jokers, all soul searchers
Like you and me
Like you and me

Rumors insisted he soon would be
For his deviations
Taken into custody
By the authorities less informed than he.
Drinkers and Jokers all soul searchers
Searching for love love love
Love love love
Love love was all around

Preparations were made
For his celebration day
He said "eat this bread and think of it as me
Drink this wine and dream it will be
The blood of our children all around
The blood of our children's all around
The blood of our children all around

Father up above, why in all this hatred do you fill
Me up with love, love, love
Love love love
Love love was all around
Father up above, why in all this anger do you fill
Me up with love, fill me love love love
Love love love
all you need is love
you can't buy me love
Love love love
Love love
And the blood of our children's all around


December happenings

December is cRaZy!!! It seems like this month has been so stressful; I've come home many nights and have been so mentally and physically exhausted. Oftentimes it's been a struggle just to get out of bed in the morning--BUT this month has had quite a few high points. Here are a few of them:
An ugly sweater party...

Little suprises from my husband...on Saturday our school hosted the ACT and my room was used as a testing room so all of my posters and bulletin boards were either covered up or taken down and my desks were shuffled out of order. On Saturday Nate went into my room without me knowing to re-organize it and while he was in there he left me this huge parfait dish of candy and a sweet card. Then today as I was bragging to the secretaries about how my husband did the grocery shopping for this week and has even made two meals so far, I spotted a beautiful bouquet of flowers. To my suprise they were for me from Nate!

Great happenings at OHS...this week I found out I was awarded an $1100 grant that I had applied for earlier this year from the Mid-Nebraska Community Foundation. The grant will go towards the purchase of digital cameras and video recording equipment to use in my classroom! And--tomorrow we are having a large Christmas dinner during the lunch period. We'll set up banquet tables in the gym and have ham, potatoes, and the teachers all bring pies and salads. Nate and I spent tonight making turtle pumpkin pie and a salad that didn't turn out so hot. I'm SO excited :)


Driving home along HIghway 30

This is a poem that has been revised three times that I wrote on a drive from Columbus to Ogallala early this semester. All of the place conscious reading we did in my class caused me to think about the fate of small towns; this poem is a reflection of that.

Driving home along Highway 30

As I drive down Highway 30, through Silver Creek
I see the meat locker my Uncle Richard once owned.
The Silver Creek Locker sits along the edge of the highway
with butcher paper covering the windows
that have been damaged, I assume, from rocks
thrown by bored teenagers.

This run down, dirty-white building
used to be a major business in this town of 399.
I remember walking in the door, the smell of salt
tingling my nose, my hands shoved deep into
the pockets of my hand-me-down Levi’s
in an effort to keep them warm.
My Uncle Richard, in his blood spattered apron,
would emerge from the back—
a place I would never venture
because my wild imagination already gave me a
vivid picture of what laid behind those swinging doors.

My younger brother and I would suck on Lollies
while dad and Uncle Richard talked about fishing
and mom and Aunt Betty discussed all the latest gossip.
Aunt Betty was a hard working Polish immigrant
who still had a bit of an accent from the old country—
and it fascinated me.
As I drug my teeth in the sweet-tart sucker
I listened to her speak,
imagining what her life was like when she was my age.

Today as I drive through this tired, old town
I notice that many businesses look like the Silver Creek Locker and
I begin to grow a little sad—
sad that what my uncle worked so hard for is now gone,
sad that this seems to be the fate of so many small communities.
And as I sip on my Grande Americano from Starbucks
I regret that I did not stop at one of the mom and pop
shops that line Highway 30.

Finding a moment of peace- revised

As many of you know, I'm taking two graduate classes right now through UNL. One of the classes--Place Conscious Teaching--is winding down and will end in the next few weeks. This class has been a bit of a struggle. To be specific, the weekly place conscious writing (writing about our places) we did during the second unit was the most difficult part of the semester for me because I don’t feel connected to any place. I wanted to get the heck out of my hometown, I never felt settled in Lincoln, Kearney was nice—but I was a transient college student who was always moving, and Ogallala still feels foreign. So, this essay is my attempt at reflecting on this. I wanted to write at least one piece about the place I live, but it was so difficult because I don't feel connected yet. Sometimes I wonder if this lack of connection is derived from a combination of the isolation we're experiencing, the adjustments we're still making, and the long hours we put in at our teaching jobs. It's interesting how many outside factors can influence a person's sense of place. I posted an earlier version of this back in October, I believe, but here is a more polished version:

Finding a Moment of Peace

About a year and a half ago my husband and I moved to this small town—the Cowboy Capital of Nebraska, Ogallala. Because my husband had never lived in a small town before, we thought it would be a great new adventure. As we drove west down Interstate 80 in our rented U-Haul I marveled at the changing landscape and began to envision myself in a peaceful town filled with people who stopped working at 5:00 and then went home to relax with their families for the rest of the evening. Though we were moving far away from our friends and families, I thought the distance between us and them would bring my husband and I closer together. I hoped this new community would help me to feel settled. We had lived in three communities in a span of three years and never had the chance to set down roots...I was sure this new town was just the place for settling down. At the time, I thought our move was quite romantic.

It’s been a year and a half and the romance of living in a small town has worn off. Today I’ve already put in about twelve hours of work, two hours of homework, snuck in a thirty minute argument with my husband about how our families never come to visit, and I’ve managed to squeeze in a few hours of family time…really, it was two hours spent in front of the TV, but we claim it as family time because we sit on the same couch while we watch TV. Lately I’ve found myself growing disappointed that my town is not like the town I envisioned when we moved out here. I don’t remember the last time I was done working before 6:00 or even 6:30. And I certainly haven’t had every evening free to spend with my husband. Though living out here has brought us closer together, being so far from family and friends has raised another set of issues we weren’t quite ready to face.

Life seemed much easier when we lived in bigger cities like Kearney and Lincoln. I wasn’t constantly grading essays, filling out the endless amount of paperwork that comes along with teaching, and I certainly wasn’t up until all hours of the night worrying about how I could teach more effectively. We were also within a few hours from our close friends and family and could visit them often. Though I was newly married, finishing school, and working as much as my schedule allowed, I managed to have more time and less worries. Ever since we’ve moved out to this small southwestern Nebraska town I’ve felt bombarded.

Tonight, I am wondering how I can feel so stressed. This town really is peaceful. Everything shuts down at five-thirty, there are only two options for grocery shopping, and I only have a short half-mile jaunt to my spot where I can sit and look out over hills covered in wild grasses. I remember the first time I found this place. I had had a terrible day of school and was feeling like a worthless teacher. So I laced up my sneakers, grabbed my dog, and took off down the gravel road that runs near my house. I had never run that hilly road before, and though it was unfamiliar, I kept running until I reached the top. I leaned over to rest my hands on my knees so I could catch my breath. After a few seconds, I stood up straight and was greeted with the most beautiful view. I was looking out over the northern outskirts of Ogallala where hills roll and grasses sway calmly below a pink-orange sky. I stood there, looking out over the town for what seemed like hours. After awhile, I noticed that my breathing became slow and regular and I was aware that my chest was rising and falling in a natural rhythm. I looked down at my dog that had also grown peaceful during our time on the hill. He lay on the gravel road with his eyes closed, but his head was held up like he was meditating, the breeze blowing through his scruffy Terrier beard. As the sun sank below the hills, we turned to head back home and I felt a sense of peace come over me. It was the kind of peace that you feel only when you know you’ve experienced something beautiful and rare. I think it was then that I realized that even though my new life out here was going to be a whirlwind, I was okay.