Adoption musings

Author's Notes: I'm not really sure what the point of this post is...it's just musings on our situation, I guess. It's not eloquent. I am a firm believer that God bring us into situations for a reason---I honestly think part of his plan for me is to relate to or reach out to others who might be experiencing something similar, and I do think blogging is a great way to fulfill this purpose. Oh, and it might help to watch the movie trailer before reading this post.

Yesterday my husband and I went to see the new movie, Life As We Know It. It was a cute movie that we both really enjoyed. It really got me thinking this weekend about our adoption journey. You'd think that this would be the only thing on my mind, but the truth is, I haven't had much time to just sit and process the situation. Actually---part of me thinks that I don't give myself time to process through it all because I don't want to find myself getting emotional over it. The past two years have been an emotional roller coaster--and I'm sick of riding it. So, I tend to avoid situations that would make me emotional.

Nevertheless, I took some time this weekend to think through our adoption "stuff" (I don't even know what to call what we're doing....). There are so many thoughts in my mind right now. Part way through the movie yesterday I started bawling just thinking that I might never be able to have biological children. Thoughts like this just creep into my mind every now and then. I don't think it's right to push them out, I think that I need to let them surface and then just deal with it...let the emotions run their course.

The movie also got me thinking about what a blessing it will be to adopt. To think that we could be parents to children who really need us is incredible. I have such a strong desire to raise children in a Godly home, to provide them with a solid foundation.

Though I want to fill my home with children, part of me is afraid for how our lives will change when that day does come. The couple in the movie struggled with adjusting to this new responsibility (as do most new parents) and had to sacrifice quite a lot. Don't get me wrong, I'm willing to make changes and sacrifices. But--a small part of me wonders, am I ready for this? Am I ready to give up some of my freedom? Am I ready to give up spur of the moment hiking trips? Will I be able to find a balance between my family and my career? There's a scene in the movie where Josh Duhamel's character is rocking the baby he just acquired, and stressed about his situation he sings a line from Radiohead's, Creep..."What the hell am I doing here? I don't belong here..." Though I know that I'd sacrifice freedom, hiking trips, and my career for the blessing of a child, I still worry about having those "what the hell am I doing here" moments. Parenthood seems to be a beautiful burden, for sure.

If you're a praying person---here are a few requests:

1. Patience---there are days where my patience really wears thin. I hate thinking that it might be another two-five years before we can invite a child into our home. So please pray that God would just calm my heart and help me to focus on what is good and holy; pray that he would use this time to refine me and cause me to experience true intimacy with Him.

2. The process/anxiety--we are early in the process. We sent off our initial batch of paperwork a little over a week ago and are waiting for the intake coordinator to schedule an interview with us. This is very new, so we are a bit anxious as we wait for the process to unfold.

Thanks for reading. We'll keep you posted as things start to unfold.


Fifteen Authors

I saw a note on a friend's Facebook page that said this:

"Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen authors (poets included) who've influenced you and that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes."

Because I love reading and writing, and because I am that nerdy...I created my list:

1. Jack Kerouac
2. Don Miller
3. Hugh Prather
4. Billy Collins
5. Ted Kooser
6. John Steinbeck
7. Harper Lee
8. Sandra Cisneros
9. Paulo Friere
10. Natalie Goldberg
11. The apostle Paul
12. Ralph Waldo Emerson
13. Henry David Thoreau
14. Herman Hesse
15. Tom Robbins

16. Anne Lammot (I know--the rules say 15, but I have to add this one!)

I haven't necessarily read all of their books, but these authors will stick with me for the rest of my life. Many of them hooked me on literature and writing, while some made me enthusiastic about teaching, and others took me deeper in my faith. Reading is so powerful!


Working Through Insecurities

I am an extremely insecure person. I like to think that I appear as a confident, strong woman who knows where she is going in life. But---the more I experience life, the more I realize I am not this person. I am more of an anxiety-filled dreamer who has no clue what she wants to do with her life! Here are a few of my insecurities:
  • Coaching---I have NO idea what I'm doing. I don't really know how to coach kids, and I don't know a lot about the physiological aspects of running. Though I really enjoyed my time with XC this year, I had a lot of anxieties during the season due to my lack of knowledge.
  • Teaching--I second guess myself a lot. Should I teach composition alongside literature? Am I inspiring my students to be active, considerate, and caring people? Should I be doing more with grammar? How can I teach writing more effectively? Am I too hard on my students? Questions like this swirl in my mind all day...
  • My role as a wife--There have been many moments where I have had insecurities about my physical appearance and moments where I've questioned if I really fit that mold of what a wife should act like....this is partly due to my lack of femininity.
  • My future--As I near the end of my master's program, I feel like I need to make a decision on what to do next. PhD? Keep teaching? Do I want to be a stay at home mom?
  • How I will be as a mom---Though we don't even have kids yet, starting the adoption process has made me stop and wonder---will I be a good mom? Sometimes I can barely handle my classroom, how will I be able to handle my own kids?!? Since we're not having children the "natural" way--will I have that motherly instinct that other women have?
It's numbing to think about all of these. It's funny because I'm actually typing this while sitting on the floor of the unfinished part of our basement---it's cold, dark, and gloomy, and it fits my mood perfectly. These insecurities have really affected me this year; they've caused me a lot of late nights. But---as I've worked through these insecurities, I've learned one thing: God is bigger than all of them. Incredible! Here are a few verses that have been a huge comfort to me in my time of anxiety--Hopefully if you're experiencing something similar, the verses will be encouraging to you:

"Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you." --Psalm 37:5

"So don't worry about these things, saying, 'What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we ear?' These tings dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don't worry about tomorrow for tomorrow ill bring it's own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today." --Matthew 6:31-34

"Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." --Philippians 4:6-7


Speaking (and living) with conviction

Author's Note: Sorry for my brevity in this post--it's also a little raw around the edges. Maybe I'll get to clean it up later. Thanks for reading!

A fellow teacher sent me this video and I really liked it. Though it's funny, I think it speaks volumes about a lot of issues. What comes to my mind first is: How often do we speak with conviction? I'd like to think that I do this often, but in the last few days I've caught myself turning my declarative sentences into interrogative ones. And now that I think about it, I tend to second-guess myself a lot in daily conversation. I don't speak with enough confidence. Now, there's a fine line to be drawn between speaking with conviction and arrogance. Nobody likes an arrogant person. But, what benefit is there in speaking with conviction? I often wonder, do people know what my passions are? Do I speak and live in a way that make my passions evident to all around me? I'm not sure that I do...(I'm not trying to have a pity party here, I am truly just thinking) It's time for me to buck up and really speak with and live a life of conviction.

The second issue that comes to mind is: bandwagons. It's so easy to jump on a bandwagon--be it in fashion, music tastes, choices we make, or speech patterns. But what are we truly gaining by following, by jumping on bandwagons?

Work Cited:
Mali, Taylor. "Speak With Conviction Poem." Tangle. n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2010.


Teachers Who Made A Difference: What's Your Story?

As I browsed my newsfeed on Facebook today, I stumbled across a blog post on NPR called Teachers Who Made A Difference: What's Your Story? The post asks readers to post a tid-bit about a teacher who impacted their lives. After reading through two pages of posts, I was inspired to write my own:

At times, high school was a bit rough for me. I was a free-spirited kid who resited any sign of conformity and sought creative opportunities. For the most part, I worked hard in my classes but there were only a few teachers that truly motivated me intrinsically: My 11th grade American Lit. teacher and Journalism teacher, Ms. Beecher; my high school choir director, Mr. Ritter; and my 12th grade Composition teacher, Mrs. Kluth.

Ms. Beecher used my free-spirited nature when studying Emerson, Thoreau, and Hesse and always pushed me to think deeper about topics. She noticed my passion for writing and encouraged me to join the newspaper staff---and then allowed me to try my hand at writing several different types of news stories. But the one moment that sticks out most to me is the day I walked into class crying during my junior year. I wasn't a crier, but it was one of those days that pushed me over the edge. Instead of ignoring me or telling me to go pull myself together, she took me out in the hall, gave me a tissue, and asked what was wrong. She listened to me---even though she had a class full of students, she listened to me.

Mr. Ritter was not only my choir director, but he is also my best friend's dad so I got to know him in a different capacity. However--what I admired most about him was his boldness. He was bold in his faith, bold in his teaching, and he always did what he thought was right even if it went against popular opinion.

Mrs. Kluth had a dry sense about her. She was a cut-to-the-chase, no-nonsense kind of teacher who demanded that each student work to his/her full potential. But she also knew when to let down her hair and have fun. We worked our tails off for her because we didn't want to let her down.

All three of these teachers have shaped me into the person I am today and have inspired me to be the best teacher that I can possibly be.


Simple Banana Bread

I love bananas. I love eating them after running, I love eating them on tortillas spread with Nutella, and I love them in smoothies. But I never seem to eat them fast enough; I always end up with 2-3 over ripe bananas sitting on my counter. We had no school today due to parent-teacher conferences this week, so I decided to use some of my time to bake. I absolutely love cooking and baking but hardly ever make the time to do it. When I get time, I relish it! Today I used up those over ripe bananas to make a tasty batch of banana bread using this simple, nutritious recipe:

  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour (I threw in about 1/4 c. flax seed with the flour for an extra boost of fiber!)
  • 1/2 cup splenda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 egg whites
  • 3-4 bananas (1 1/2 cups banana, mashed)
  • 1/3 cup applesauce (I cut up a small apple and pureed it to make my own applesauce)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (cranberries or chocolate chips might also be tasty if you don't have walnuts)

Orlando Bound

Next month I will be traveling to Orlando, Florida with a group of teachers from the Nebraska Writing Project's advisory board to attend the National Writing Project's annual convention. The convention is a great opportunity to attend sessions about teaching and leadership and to network with other folks from across the country involved in the writing project. As I registered today for my sessions, I realized how much I love teaching and being involved with public education. I am truly blessed to be doing something I love and to have so many chances to grow in my career!


Processing "Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith"

While gallivanting in Boulder last month, my husband and I visited the local Borders to grab new reading material when I stumbled across Anne Lamott's book Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith. I had heard about Lamott via a Don Miller book and had decided that I wanted to read something form her. So--I bought the book and it has occupied my nightstand and the desk in my classroom for a month. Usually it doesn't take me this long to read a book--but this book was different. I would go through moments where I couldn't put the book down and then moments where I had to put it down. The book was very unsettling to me.

My writing friend Erica and I had a short conversation on Facebook tonight about the book, and I mentioned that Lamott is an incredible writer who has the ability to engage, entertain, provoke deep thought, and write in a way that is honest---an honesty that stings a bit like peroxide on a scraped knee. Though the peroxide analogy may seem weird, it works for me because even though it stung like crazy when my mom put peroxide on my scraped elbows and knees, I knew that it was good for me--it was purifying. And that's how Lamott's book is---parts of it sting, parts of it makes me feel uncomfortable, but it's good for me to be pushed to think and reflect on how/if this book fits in with my belief system.

In a nutshell, the book is a bold account of Lamott's struggles with addictions, family, self-image, relationships, etc. and how she finds faith in God through it all. No doubt about it: she invites everyone--no matter their backgrounds--to experience her faith. I'm certainly no Bible scholar, but I think this is what Jesus wanted--to have everyone--even the least of these--to experience His father.

At the bottom of the book cover is a quote from the San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle, "Anne Lamott is walking proof that a person can be both reverent and irreverent in the same lifetime. Sometimes even in the same breath." In some instances, this is what I struggled with--the mix of reverence and irreverence within a page or even a sentence. Innumerable swear words, leftist political ideologies, and at times a wishy-washy view of God caused me to close the book. Because of this, I think that many conservative Evangelical Christians would dismiss this book as garbage. But her incredible way of crafting sentences, her pure honesty, and the way this book challenged me to question her theology and examine my beliefs always drew me to pick up where I left off.

All in all, I'm glad I read the book, and I'd recommend it to people who have an open mind--it's not for the faint of heart. If you're interested in reading another--more professional and much better written--review of an Anne Lamott book, check out the following link.