Ted Kooser Sighting

I realize this post will elevate my nerd status to an all time high, but I just have to share this....

On Monday I enjoyed a little writing time at The Mill in downtown Lincoln. I was deep in thought about my thesis (more about that later), I looked up from my computer screen and saw....TED KOOSER! If you don't know---Ted is one of our most famous Nebraska poets. In fact, he was the United States Poet Laureate from 2004-2006...and I happen to love him. This year I read his poetry collection Blizzard Voices, his prose book Local Wonders (I read that one twice), and his guide book The Poetry Home Repair Manual. This man is amazing. The first time I heard him read was in Kearney, and I cried. Most people my age don't cry when they see famous people...that's usually reserved for crazed 13 year old Justin Bieber fans. When I met him a few summers ago at UNL, I couldn't even get words out of my mouth. I just thrust my copy of the Poetry Home Repair Manual in his knobby hands. He looked at me for awhile and with a sweet voice asked me what my name was and scribbled, "For Danielle" and then signed his name.

Soon after arriving at The Mill he settled in for some writing. I wanted so badly to go talk to him. In fact, when I went to refill my coffee mug, I walked towards his table and had all intentions of stopping to tell him how much I appreciate his sense of observation, but when I saw that he was writing, I let him be. He looked so peaceful, sitting hunched over at the two person table, writing---I didn't want to interrupt that. So, instead---I hurried back to my table, drank my coffee, wrote, and watched Ted Kooser from the corner of my eye.

He didn't stick around long. After about 15 minutes of writing, he put his notebook in his pocket and headed out the door. I left soon after. On my way to my car, I composed a poem to remember the moment. It's nothing spectacular, but it will help me to remember the moment I wrote alongside Ted Kooser.

Ted Kooser Sighting
Today as I wrote at The Mill,
Nebraska writer and former Poet Laureate Ted Kooser walked in.
He walked to the bathrooms and nobody took notice.
I couldn't believe it.
I wanted to jump up and shout, "Ted Kooser everybody!"
Instead I posted on Facebook that he had walked by me...
and I thought how funny he would find that.

A writer in disguise---camel colored canvas jacket
with brown corduroy elbow patches and faded blue jeans.
He sat facing the front window with nothing but
a pocket-sized notebook and a pen.

A friend recommended that I take a picture with him.
I wanted to tap him on the shoulder and say,
Sorry to bother you Ted---
(I'd call him Ted because Mr. Kooser seems too stuffy for this ordinary, old man)
but I just wanted to say I'm a huge fan.
But he looked so peaceful---
sitting alone at that two-person table, writing.

I watched him work
and wondered if he rose early this morning to write
in that little library shack of his
with Buddy, his English Pointer, by his side.

I never spoke to him--
I left him alone.
I watched, and wondered, and wrote
content just to be near this ordinary, old man.


Flatwater Music Festival

On Saturday night we headed to Hastings to check out the Flatwater Music Festival held at Prairie Loft. A few weeks back, I had spotted a flier hanging in the charming Backalley Bakery. I scribbled the dates down in my pocket notebook, and after doing a little research, we decided to check it out. I have to say, I'm glad we attended.

The festival was more than just a concert---they had an art show, local vendors (including Thunderhead Brewery!), and classes taught by musicians from the different performing groups. We saw signs for classes on clogging, hamboning, yodeling, mandolin, and banjo...how cool is that?!?

We only attended the festival on Saturday night, but enjoyed every minute of it. We caught the tail end of the bluegrass band Two Thin Dimes (amazing!), and listened to Spring Creek (another incredible bluegrass band) and classic country band, Bonnie & The Clydes. Another highlight of the night was spotting a baby raccoon on a leash. I became infatuated with this unusual pet and had to go pet it---so we took pictures with the adorable raccoon.

If you're a music lover, consider attending next year's Flatwater Music Festival in Hatings; you won't be disappointed!


"The Harrow And The Harvest"

Have I mentioned lately how much I love NPR? Well, today I love them even more because they have a preview of Gillian Welch's new album (her first since 2003) The Harrow And The Harvest scheduled to be released this week. Currently I'm sitting at The Mill in Lincoln, drinking good coffee, writing, and enjoying this new album immensely. Life couldn't be better right now.

Oh...and if you enjoy NPR as much as I do, you should consider donating to your local station as a way to say thanks for all the quality stuff they put out and to help keep the good folks in public radio going for many years.


Nate's new blog

My husband Nate is now the Senior High Repertoire and Standard's Chair for the Nebraska Choral Directors Association (an amazing honor...I'm so proud of him!). In order to reach out to other choir teachers in the state, he has created a blog on the NCDA page with posts that deal with music selection for high school teachers. He has a few posts up; his most recent deals with our experiences at the Flatwater Music Festival in Hastings, NE. Check it out!

Living abundantly and letting God be king

This weekend I visited Nate in Lincoln, and if we're in Lincoln on a Sunday, we typically hit up Grace Chapel. Here's why we love visiting this church: these people are real---they don't sport that Sunday morning facade that some churches or church goers wear like a cheap spray on tan for some special occasion. They enjoy intellectual activities---in today's bulletin there was a plug for a poetry slam in Omaha; last time we visited there was a book club going on that was studying Tolstoy. The worship is beautiful; the musicians are incredibly talented, the music is simple and consists of hymns gone indie and music for the more contemporary taste: Jeremy Riddle, Derek Webb, Caedmon's Call, etc. If they had a CD, I would buy it. I also love the sermons. Both pastors, Mike and Ben, dig into scripture in unique ways causing me to think about each verse in a way I've never thought of before.

Today the scripture we studied was John 18:28-40, and throughout the service I took 8 pages of notes in my little notebook.

My brain was spinning with new concepts or thoughts that I hadn't regarded in awhile. But the one idea that stuck with me the most is living abundantly. I've heard it many times before, but I'm not sure I know what it means. I think before we can live an abundant life, we have to know Jesus' purpose. And in the conversation Jesus has with Pilate in John 18, Jesus tells us He is a king with a kingdom that is not of this world and that he came to reveal truth. First--I thought, do I believe that Jesus is more than some inspirational teacher or a great leader? Have I made him my king? Sadly, I can't say that I have lately. If Jesus is a king and if he is truth, then he should have claim over every part of our lives----but somehow, I have withheld some parts of my life from him. I struggle with authority; Ben hit on this today in his sermon. He spoke about humans struggling with absolute authority because of the earthly examples we have of power gone sour. We've all experienced corrupt authority---perhaps a boss, a parent, a teacher, a political leader, etc. And once we have a bad taste in our mouth, it's hard to shake it. I think this is why sometimes I run from authority---why I resist it. But---if I am to live abundantly---to live a life of plenty wanting nothing more than a deeper relationship with my Heavenly Father, then I must learn to give Him claim over every part of my life---over my marriage, my family, my career, where I live, my struggles with infertility, etc. Amazingly though, the more I think about this---the more free I feel.

This post just covers two pages of my notes! I won't dive into the rest tonight, but I will be working more this week on letting God reign in every space of my life, on living abundantly.

Is There Value In Blogging?

Author's note: This is a long and slightly sarcastic response to a mind boggling comment I received from my writing.

"Blogging is just another thing that eliminate, alienates, and distracts real writers. Post and wait for the instant gratification and pretend to have written something, even if it's just a blurb on the the internet that will forever be forgotten."

Was a comment I received in response to the "Last hired, first fired" post I recently wrote. I'm not sure if this comment was intended maliciously or was simply insights---that's what's difficult about communicating via the internet; you can't read body language or hear inflections that reveal much about language. However, this comment really made me think about the value that is in blogging.

First----the term "real writers" is problematic. What constitutes a "real" writer? Are bloggers not "real" writers because anyone can do it? Is writing a sacred act that requires some sort of selection process? Do “real” writers have to write the great American novel? Is it a requirement for “real” writers to have poetry published in anthologies? Do “real” writers publish their work in journals and major publications? Writing is not always a glorious role filled with honors and accolades. Bloggers are writers simply because they write. There is value to writing--even if it’s only to the writer.

Second---I'm wondering how exactly blogging "eliminates, alienates, and distracts real writers." On a personal note, I have made a conscious effort to write for at least thirty minutes daily---I don't always stick to the schedule, but I try my hardest to guard that time because it keeps me centered, keeps me discovering, keeps me wondering, and hones my skills (in writing and teaching). I usually write in notebooks when my students write--then during the weekend or if I get to it during the week, I turn one or two of those writings into a blog post. And I don't feel it's been an alienating experience at all---in fact---it has connected me with MORE people---people that I'm not sure I would step out of my comfort zone to associate with (I'm actually kind of a shy person who has a hard time approaching new people). This blog has helped me to connect with educators, people in my church, with family, with others experiencing infertility or the adoption process. One reason why I write (especially about infertility and adoption) is to share my experiences so others don't feel quite so alone AND to inform people about these very real issues that affect many. Donald M. Murray writes, “We forge communities when we share who we are, what we feel, what we think; and writing allows a sharing beyond the room, even beyond our lifetime” (Why I Write). So has blogging been alienating for me? Absolutely not. I also think it’s worth mentioning that reading anything (books, essays, political stances, blogs, stories, poems, etc) with a closed a mind can be an alienating experience. I think it’s partly up the reader to determine for him/herself if a piece of writing will be alienating.

Now---this person also mentions that blogging "distracts real writers." I'm not exactly sure what this person means because I haven't asked for clarification. If anything---blogging has focused my writing by encouraging me to write consistently now that I have people reading my blog. Is it all good work? No. But that’s alright---writers have permission to turn out crap every now and then. Blogging has also focused my writing by forcing me to consider the needs of my readers.

The last comment this person makes is confusing (maybe I've just milled over it too long): Post and wait for the instant gratification and pretend to have written something, even if it's just a blurb on the the internet that will forever be forgotten. I'm not sure if this person is sorry that internet writing isn't always remembered, or if this person is simply being snarky about internet-writing and doesn't find it valuable, "real" writing.....but, here are my thoughts (of course, take my thoughts with a grain of salt because I may not be a "real" writer):

Writers don’t always write for satisfaction. Sometimes we write simply to keep up the habit. Not everything I write is pleasurable. It’s sort of like running. Sure, I enjoy running...most of the time. But I don’t always enjoy it...sometimes it hurts, sometimes I dread it, and sometimes I skip it. But I run because it’s good for me; I run because I enjoy the challenge---I like pushing myself. I write for similar reasons. I write so I can be a better writing teacher. I write because if I don’t, I might explode in emotion. I write to relate to others. I write to share my stories---to bear witness. Sometimes I write absolute crap that is pretty worthless even to me---I don’t pretend this stuff is good and I certainly don’t expect people to remember it; sometimes I dread the act of writing, and sometimes I skip it. When writing is like this (and it often is), it’s not instantly satisfying and doesn’t always need a response from readers.

Blogging is writing done on the internet, but this single factor shouldn’t cause us to devalue the genre. Is there mindless drivel on the internet? Certainly. Is some of it housed on blogs? Yes. But there is also mindless drivel published in books, magazines, newspapers, and even literary journals. Ultimately, we have the power to choose. If you find yourself reading rubbish, instead of leaving snide comments try something more productive: close the tab or put down the reading material.


June Hymn

I'm in love with The Decemberists. Not much else to say about them----the lyrics, the guitars, harmonica, violin, Colin Meloy's voice that pierces the soul---I just can't get enough. I broke down today and bought their most recent album, The King Is Dead (which features the talented Gillian Welch singing alto harmonies), and as a result, I have been writing all night. It's just that inspiring. I think the album will also be a fantastic running companion (though I didn't get to test that out due to the massive amounts of rain we've received today). Tonight I've been replaying June Hymn and can't wait to drive the 45 minutes to class tomorrow while listening to it. Here's the song---but don't forget to check out the lyrics below the YouTube video---true beauty. Oh...and after listening to this song, if you want more of The Decemberists, check out their Tiny Desk Concert just posted today!

June Hymn

Here's a hymn to welcome in the day
Heralding a summer's early sway
And all the bulbs all coming in,
To begin
The thrushes bleating battle with the wrens
Disrupts my reverie again

Pegging clothing on the line
Training jasmine how to vine
Up the arbor to your door,
And more
You're standing on the landing with the war
You shouldered all the night before

And once upon it
The yellow bonnets
Garland all the line
And you were waking
And day was breaking
A panoply of song
And summer comes to Springville Hill

A barony of ivy in the trees
Expanding out it's empire by degrees
And all the branches burst a' bloom
Into bloom
Heaven sent this cardinal, maroon
To decorate our living room

And once upon it
The yellow bonnets
Garland all the line
And you were waking
And day was breaking
A panoply of song
And summer comes to Springville Hill

And years from now
When this old light isn't ambling anymore
Will I bring myself to write
"I give my best to Springville Hill"

And once upon it
The yellow bonnets
Garland all the line
And you were waking
And day was breaking
A panoply of song
And summer comes to Springville Hill

Last hired = first fired

I've been a bit of a terrible blogger these past few weeks. But I have an excuse----for the past two weeks I've been immersed in writing, studying place conscious education, and thinking about how I can improve the writing instruction in my classroom and make it more relevant to students with an amazing group of teachers in this year's Nebraska Writing Project Rural Institute. This is my last course for my Master's Degree in English with a concentration in teaching--then it's on to my thesis (scary!).

As I work with a group of quality teachers, I can't help but thinking about RIFing (reduction in force) and teacher tenure. Earlier this week I woke up to NPR's Morning Edition and this article: In Teaching, Pink Slips Are A Way Of Life. The article featured one young teacher from the Los Angeles Unified School District who received a RIF notice this year. Due to budget cuts, the district (like many others in our country) is cutting staff. And like many districts, the LAUSD operates on a last hired, first out type of policy when it comes to staff cut-backs. So----despite being qualified, successful, and having made a difference in the lives of students (the reporter interviewed one of the young woman's students who seemed to be deeply impacted by this teacher) this woman will be let go simply because she was hired last in that particular department. Though it was 5:30 AM when I heard this article---and though I wanted nothing more than an extra hour of sleep and for someone to bring me a cup of coffee---so many thoughts crossed my mind:
  • That could be me. I am the last hired in my current district--and because I'm so young, I will probably keep that status for quite some time.
  • Will this woman stay in the teaching field? Or, like many others, will she grow weary of receiving lay-off notices year after year and pursue a more stable job, leaving teaching behind?
  • How many young, excellent, and driven teachers are we losing in education due to this "last in, first out" policy?
  • Is this "last in, first out" mantra what's best for students? Are we losing more quality teachers and sparing those who are less than quality simply because they have taught longer?
The reporter mentioned that many teachers feel "that ending seniority rights is not the answer." Part of me wants to agree--part of me wants that protection gained from years of experience----but another part of me (a bigger part of me) wants to keep the best teachers in the classroom and let the ineffective ones go in order to provide what's best for kids. But...this raises another question: How do we determine teacher effectiveness? We can't use test scores---we've already started to create a generation of teach-to-the-test robot teachers with no room for creativity and flexibility. This is NOT in the best interest of students. I don't even think we can leave it up to administrators to determine teacher effectiveness---they're people. And people are biased---the best teacher could still be let go due to a petty, personal grudge. Unfortunately, I don't have an answer for this teacher-tenure/RIFing issue. But I do know that there are significant flaws in the "last in, first out" policy. So, what are your thoughts? Any suggestions on how to change the world one education policy at a time?


Celebrating Men on Father's Day

I never really knew how important fathers and men were until I read Don Miller's book, Father Fiction: Chapters For a Fatherless Generation---a book about the impact of dads and what happens to kids when they grow up without one. I am grateful to have so many great father-figures in my life.

I'll start with my dad, Mitch. Though he's not my biological dad, he will always and forever be my dad. From the time he and my mom got married, I was his daughter---he's always been there for me; I know I can count on him for anything. From him I've learned to be an individual--to be strong and take crap from no one. He's taught me that nothing comes easy, and a little hard work pays off in the long run. Next, my Grandpa Kinzer. Though he's not a father to me, he is worthy of celebration on this day. I don't remember a game, meet, performance, tournament, or concert without my grandpa. He came to everything! I could always hear him cheering for me during races and games. My grandpa has also taught me to work hard, appreciate family, and have a little fun. Next--my dad, Dave. Though we haven't spent as much time together as each would like, I have learned an important lesson from him: to keep God at the center---to make Him my rock, to study His word and let it be a guide for my life. This brings me to another dad---the most important--my heavenly Father who has never and will never abandon me. Who offers me the greatest gift of all: grace.

Even though today is a day of celebrating our dads and father-figures, death, divorce/separation, absence due to military service, or the inability to have children make this day tough for some. And we should be sensitive to this---we should pray for those who struggle with this holiday. This brings me to my next dad....my father in-law, Denny.

This is Nate's favorite picture of him and his dad. Nate's dad died 18 years ago, so I never had the chance to meet him. But I've heard loads of stories, and I know his kids well enough to know that he was an incredible father. Even though I've never met him, I celebrate him today for being an amazing father to his three kids---for helping to shape my husband into the man he has become. I know that he would be proud of Nate.

And last, but not least...my husband. My husband is not a father---but has been a father-figure for so many kids. He loves our two nieces and one nephew like his own children, and he's been a strong male role-model for so many of his students. Today, a student of his wished him a happy father's day and said Nate was like a second father to him. I am so blessed to be married to someone who makes this big of an impact on kids. Though today makes me sad that I can't celebrate him as a father to our own children, it also makes me hopeful that we will one day have this chance.

This holiday is technically set aside to honor fathers, but I think it should be set aside to honor men. Fathers are not the only people who have an impact on kids---there are many fatherless kids (kids without dads or kids growing up with distant, uninvolved dads) who NEED a positive father-figure. Fathers or father-figures just offer something that a woman can't. Kids need dads or men who are willing to act like dads to teach them, support them, love them, help them grow, and lead them to Christ. So---thanks to all you guys out there who are fathering your own kids or who are providing a father-figure to kids in need.


New Idea...

My weekend mornings usually consist of waking up, making a big breakfast along with coffee, and putting on NPR and Pandora---these all keep me company as I read through the blogs on my Google Reader account, catch up on the weekly news, watch TED Talks videos, listen to podcasts from NPR that I may have missed during the week, etc. Most of what I read on the weekends deal with education---technology innovation, education reform, education policy, Language Arts education, etc.

Today I followed the same routine. I actually opened up my Blogger to compose an inquisitive post about the Anthony Weiner scandal you've undoubtedly heard much about---but somehow I got sidetracked and found myself reading Richard Byrne's Free Technology for Teachers blog. The most recent post featured a guest blogger from Scottsbluff, Nebraska---just two hours west of us. Intrigued by the closeness in proximity I have to this guest blogger on a major, award winning blog site, I followed a link to her blog, Nebraska Change Agent. After skimming through her posts and nosing around her blog, I found myself at a blog titled The Principal of Change created by a K-12 principal from Canada. I eventually had to tear myself away from the computer for a coffee refill. And as I refilled my coffee cup I thought to myself: I love this. I love reading work from passionate educators.

When I look around at other educators (including myself at times) I see so many frazzled, burnt-out, under-resourced teachers. I think one way to help with this is to provide teachers with a way to stay connected to one another and to resources that would help them. So, I had this idea: Why not use my enjoyment of gathering these resources as a way to help staff in my district? This morning I sent an email to my administrators and our tech. staff to see if I could create a blog that would gather K-12 technology resources, sources for professional development, information on education reform, etc. that is linked to our district's webpage. The great thing about blogs is they can be a place for virtual discussion as well---so it could also serve as a place for teachers in our district (and maybe even surrounding districts) to collaborate, ask questions, throw out ideas, etc. I'm waiting for the okay; if I get it--I will be sure to link the website to this personal blog just in case you're interested!



As I cleaned my kitchen this morning, I listened to my favorites station on Pandora--a station I created with all my favorite bands: Radiohead, Wilco, Crooked Still, The Weepies, Jenny Lewis, The Shins, The Decemberists, The Wailin' Jennys, etc. Suddenly I caught the faint sound of a melancholy acoustic guitar and beautiful female harmonies. The song playing was November by Azure Ray. The band was one of my favorites while in high school (they had a deal through Saddle Creek Records out of Omaha and I thought it was so cool that a band this beautiful could have ties to Nebraska; I'm not sure if they're still with the label)--I haven't heard them in quite some time. The song is beautiful and the lyrics are poignant. I played it at my last high school choir concert---all the seniors in jazz choir got to pick a solo song and sing it at our last performance for the year---I did this one. I barely made it through the song without choking up because it meant so much to me that year.

Here's a YouTube video with the song, and I've posted the lyrics below. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

So I'm waiting for this test to end
So these lighter days can soon begin
I'll be alone but maybe more carefree
Like a kite that floats so effortlessly
I was afraid to be alone
Now I'm scared thats how I'd like to be
All these faces none the same
How can there be so many personalities
So many lifeless empty hands
So many hearts in great demand
And now my sorrow seems so far away
Until I'm taken by these bolts of pain
But I turn them off and tuck them away
'till these rainy days that make them stay
And then I'll cry so hard to these sad songs
And the words still ring, once here now gone
And they echo through my head everyday
And I dont think they'll ever go away
Just like thinking of your childhood home
But we cant go back we're on our own
But i'm about to give this one more shot
And find it in myself
I'll find it in myself
So were speeding towards that time of year
To the day that marks that you're not here
And i think I'll want to be alone
So please understand if I dont answer the phone
I'll just sit and stare at my deep blue walls
Until I can see nothing at all
Only particles some fast some slow
All my eyes can see is all I know
But I'm about to give this one more shot
And find it in myself
I'll find it in myself


Adoption Frustrations

My phone rang about 15 minutes ago and the North Platte NCHS number came across my screen. I was hoping to hear something like, "Congrats! You've been placed in the pool with other waiting couples!"

Instead, I found that our caseworker is missing two important documents: a background check from our local police department (that, by the way, we dropped off two months ago to get filled out and sent in and apparently it hasn't been sent in) and our background checks from the child abuse registry (our caseworker has requested this information three times now and STILL hasn't received it from whatever agency deals with this paperwork). These missing documents are keeping us from being placed in the waiting pool.

For the past 15 minutes Nate and I have been playing phone tag trying to figure out how we can get the background check faxed to a place close to where he's at on campus at UNL (he has no car or bike with him today as he rode the city bus), then we have to find a place where he can get his signature notarized and then fax it back to the Ogallala PD who then has to fax it to NCHS.

When I hung up with our caseworker today I immediately started bawling. I hate crying, but I couldn't help it. I'm so tired of waiting on other people to start our family. I'm so tired of feeling like I have no control. I know some couples who have waited longer than we have and have gone through infinitely more than we have, so I feel bad being frustrated at the situation. But I can't help it...I am incredibly frustrated and feel that all my energy has been drained (and it's only 10 AM here!).

If you're of the religious persuasion, please pray for endurance for us to be able to handle this situation with as much grace as possible.


Preparing to embrace differences

During my morning reading and prayer time today I began thinking about our adoption. We have no clue where we're at in the process right now; our caseworker has been out of the office for the last week. We've been waiting to hear that we've been placed in the "pool" with other prospective adoptive parents.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I try not to think about our adoption out of fear that my thinks will turn into dwells and those can sometimes turn into anxiety attacks. But, I have so much downtime on my hands right now (I refuse to touch school stuff until July!) until my class starts up next week. It's hard to keep my mind from wandering to the topic. Perhaps I'm more prone to thinking about our adoption because I just started reading Adoption is a Family Affair: What Relatives and Friends Must Know. Our caseworker recommended that our families read it, but I wanted to read it first before I bought copies for our relatives. We're supposed to acquire a certain number of education points in a year, so last Saturday we attended half a training for foster parents and now I'm reading this book---it's hard to keep from dwelling on adoption with requirements like this. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that our agency requires couples to learn more about adoption as they wait to be placed with a child, but it's hard sometimes reading these books and attending workshops when there is no guarantee that we will become parents through adoption.

Today I was struck with panic as I thought that if our adoption does go through, our child could be completely different than us. I've come to accept that our child will not look like us---and I'm okay with that. But I don't know why I haven't thought of the other aspect of this---our child will not have our genes and therefore will have unique quirks unrelated to us. As I prayed I thought---what if our child has a learning disability and doesn't share my passion for reading, writing and learning? What if our child has not an ounce of musical talent? I know we will love our child unconditionally--even if he/she doesn't share our passions for music and learning. But ever since Nate and I married five years ago, I've had these dreams of what our child would be like: an active child who prefers playing outside to sitting inside watching TV, an inquisitive child who is a voracious reader and never fears to ask why, a child who shares our sense of humor, a singer who plays a variety of instruments, one who is not afraid to be an individual even if it means going against the crowd and one who craves fruits and veggies rather than candy bars (I realize that one is a long shot!). I know that many of these qualities involve nurture just as much as genetics. But who knows what kind of experiences our child will bring to our family. I've got to prepare myself for this.

If you're a praying person, you can be praying that God would prepare my heart to love whatever child He may give us. You can also pray that God would calm my soul as I feel it getting anxious as I wonder if or when we will become parents---pray that I would be embracing of God's timetable and willing to let go of mine (you'd think after three years I'd be better at this!).



As I went about my business doing housework today, I got to thinking about my husband and how great he is. Actually---great is an understatement---but a stronger adjective escapes me at the moment.

I am in awe by this guy. Here's just a couple reasons why (if I listed them all--this post would be insanely long):

  • His hard working nature---if you know Nate, you know that he works hard. He is committed 100% to his students and always tries his hardest to do what is best for them. It's really inspiring to me. Though he won't admit it, he's had great success in his job. Each year he's been teaching he's had students selected for multiple honor choirs and this week he was asked to hold a leadership position with the Nebraska Choral Directors Association. For the past two years he's been working on a Master's Degree in Music Education from UNL so he can better himself as a teacher. Not only does he work hard at his job, he works hard at home, too. Whether it's yard work, dish duty, paying the bills, etc---if it needs done, Nate does it. I'm so blessed to have a husband who shares in the housework load.
  • His support---I give him crap a lot for not being as sentimental as he was when we were dating, but he really is a sincere and supportive guy with a big heart. The past three years have been rough as we've struggled with the emotions of infertility. But Nate has never once made me feel like my emotions are too extreme or over the top, and he's always been willing to listen or hold me when all I can do is cry. He's also been so supportive with me this year as I've taken many steps (which inevitably means more commitments) to further my career. He's the one person in my life who I know I can count on 100%. Not only is he supportive of me, but I also see him lend this same commitment to his family. His mom, sister, brother, brother in-law, nieces and nephew are so important to him. Though we live far away and don't always get to be at every celebration or get-together---he tries hard to make sure these people know he cares for and loves them very much.
I am so blessed to have him by my side!

The Dharma Bums: Part II

Today Nate and I ventured to Lake Mac to enjoy the nice weather. He watched Avatar and I finished The Dharma Bums. Like I mentioned in an earlier post--I loved this book in high school because I wanted to be that wandering traveler that the main character is. But this time I liked the book for different reasons (though I don't agree with the Buddhism spoken of in the book, but that's a topic for a new post...).

A small part of me still desires to be nomadic. But even more of me craves the simplistic lifestyle practiced by so many of the characters in the book. Sometimes I am so of this world---I desire things more than I crave relationships with God and people. I sometimes strive for man's approval, and I am great at wasting time doing worthless activities. This second read really made me rethink how I live.

Another aspect of the book I love is the writing style. It rambles on and on switching from thought to thought with endless run-on sentences and lacks "proper" punctuation, but it all works. It fits with the rambling and traveling the characters do. Here are some of my favorite excerpts from the book:

  • "But let the mind beware, that though the flesh be bugged, the circumstances of existence are pretty glorious" (238).
  • "...see the whole ting is a world full of rucksack wanderers, Dharma Bums refusing to subscribe to the general demand that they consume production and therefore have to work for the privilege of consuming, all the crap they didn't really want anyway such as refrigerators, TV sets, cars, at least new fancy cars, certain hair oils an deodorants and general junk you finally always see a week later in the garbage anyway, all of them imprisoned in a system of work, produce, consume, work produce, consume, I see a vision of a great rucksack revolution thousands or even millions of young Americans wandering around with rucksacks, going up to mountains to pray, making children laugh and old men glad, making young girls happy and old girls happier, all of 'em Zen Lunatics who go about writing poems that happen to appear in their heads for no reason and also by being kind and also by strange unexpected acts keep giving visions of eternal freedom to everybody and all living creatures..." (98).
  • "Japhy [a main character] was considered an eccentric around the campus, which is the usual thing for campuses and college people to think whenever a real man appears on the scene---colleges being nothing by grooming schools for the middle-class non-identity which usually finds its perfect expression on the outskirts of the campus in rows of well-to-do houses with lawns and television sets in each living room with everybody looking at the same thing and thinking the same thing at the same time while" (38-39).
If you haven't read The Dharma Bums and are looking for a good summer read, pick it up. You won't be disappointed!