A Slice of the Twenty-first 3.21.2016

A bit of creative writing for you today, a small piece of some prose I’ve did a while back.

If you don’t know, I really love learning new words. I’m a bit obsessed with words, especially etymology. I do my best to learn a new word every day. Anyhow, I was pondering this one night and I came up with what you’ll read below. There is more, but I liked this chunk of it best.

Words

     Words are the most powerful thing mankind possesses. It’s not our armies, it’s not our money and it’s not our bodies. It is not any of the works of our hands. It is the swift flick of a key, a pen, or a tongue. It is our words.

       Words can topple nations. Words can condemn men. Words can command. Words can captivate the unwilling. Words can lead hearts astray. Words can set fire to the soul. Words spread faith. Words can transcend experience. Words can bring healing. 

        I know of nothing that is more powerful than that.

        I know that they are equally harmful as they are helpful, as uplifting as they are upending, beautiful as they are monstrous.

   My words are the most powerful part of me.       

     These are my words. 

 

 

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A Slice of the Twentieth 3.20.2016

I woke up at seven this morning. I hate mornings. I am not a cheery eyed riser. No, I wake with slug like precision, grunting and groaning with every shuffle.

I get dressed and ensure I am presentable enough for public view with a quick mirror side glance. I head out the door  to church. My brain is still cloudy with morning grogginess despite the 16 ounces of coffee I gulped faster than its heat told me I should.

The last song has been sung and the final adieu waved. It’s now time to head back home and time get to work on my paper!The weighted feeling has spread to my limbs. If it’s possible, I now grunt and groan with even more enthusiasm as I walk back through the front door of my home. To my surprise, there before me I see a pile of dishes that seems to be stacked to the sky.

Where did they come from!? My neighbors must have sneaked inside and left their dishes for me to wash! My mother did always tell me that there are certainties to life. Dishes must be one of them.

Okay, fine! I submit to my inner adult and plunge dish after dish into hot soapy water. Beginning crisp, clear and bubbly the water now looks like a ghoulish witchy brew. I cringe as I dip my hands into the belly of the beast. My fingers emerge as someone else. Once youthful and sleek they are now wrinkled and distorted, the hands of an old haggard woman.

Is it really worth the torture?

Finally! I have finished! Ah, what a feeling of relief sweeps over me. I can feel serenity trickling down through my body. Accomplishment wells up inside of me as I sit down at my kitchen table and survey the spotless and twinkling scape before me. What a beautiful sight! You know what!? I think I’ll have a celebratory hot chocolate.

Kettle, spoon, mug. . . OH, MAN! Here we go again.

A Slice of the Nineteenth 3.19.2016

…I’m a list person.

  • I like making them.
  • I like checking them.
  • I like marking things off of them.

^See what I did there.^

The night before my 28th birthday I made a list of ” 28 Epiphanies for 28 Years”. Seeing that I’ve had a lot of writing and reading to do for my master today (and it’s exactly 2 months from my birthday today), I thought I’d just share with you the list I made. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did making it.

28 Epiphanies for 28 Years

1. God cares about you on an individual level.

2. Family and your relationship to them will shape your relationships with others.

3. Family is important, cherish the time you get to spend with them.

4. Friends are the family you create for yourself in adulthood.

5. Choose your friends with discretion; you will help shape each other’s lives.

6. Independence is something we should all have.Learn to do things on your own.

7. Allow others to help you, especially when you don’t want the help.

8. Be okay with yourself, quarks most of all.

9. The church will always have faults, but it’s still the bride of Christ. Love it.

10. People will disappoint you, love them anyway.

11. Don’t shy away from a compliment. Accept it with thanks, grace and humility.

12. Use the people closest to you to help you make the BIG decisions of your life.

13. Never are your best decisions made solely by your own judgment.

14. Trust your instincts. If your gut tells you to step back take two paces, not one.

15. Learn to laugh at yourself.

16. Be brave enough to say, “I don’t know” when the answer is lost to you.

17. FIND a mentor and stick with them.

18. BE a mentor and stick with them.

19. Delight in small things; they make up the big picture.

20. Accept that you’ll make a lot of mistakes and vow to learn from each one.

21. Go after what you want, you’ll regret it if you don’t.

22. Quality is always paramount over quantity… in EVERYTHING.

23. Be honest, period. (Especially with yourself and God.)

24. Learn to recognize the most important aspects of your life (work isn’t first place).

25. If you find someone who gets your jokes and sincerely laughs, hold on to them.

26. Smile.It rights a lot of wrongs for others that you don’t even know about.

27. Think well of others even when your tempted not to.

28. Love the life you’ve been granted, not everyone has the same opportunities.

A Slice of the Eighteenth

So… As it turns out, I went to type my NINETEENTH Slice…and here sat my EIGHTEENTH. Apparently I forgot to hit publish last night! Oops! Well, here it is

“He smiled the most exquisite smile, veiled by memory, tinged by dreams.”

-Virginia Woolf –

To the Lighthouse

Several years ago in my British Literature class we were required to read To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. I do not recommend it (not my favorite read). However, I’m a believer that there is always some morsel of good in anything if you look close enough. In the instance of this book it was the quote, “He smiled the most exquisite smile, veiled by memory,tinged by dreams.”

 

Every time I read it I picture a boy-man standing on the precipice of his unfolding life. His expression holds a smile, one we’ve seen before. Having already faced some kind of hardship, his eyes being opened to the failings of this world it is therefore no longer a pure smile beaming with childish ignorance. Yet still he smiles and it is all the more beautiful because of this, for he smiles despite his circumstance and in expectation of his dreams. It is this smile which reminds me of how exquisite human existence can be.

 

I think of the quote often when I’m out and about. I see such a smile arise on someones face who isn’t aware anyone is paying attention. I see the dad trying to be a good provider and woefully exhausted from the execution of it, smile as his child tugs at the knee of his pants wanting to be held in his fathers arms. I see the exasperated and stressed teacher trying desperately to keep up with everything, smile when a struggling student makes even the smallest breakthrough. I see the insecure woman scared from a lifetime of not meeting the worlds expectation of beauty, smile as a man she loves assures her she is captivating.

 

These exquisite smiles, “veiled by memory and tinged by dreams”, make the day-to-day worth while. Some days are harder than others. Sometimes the veil of memories grows thick and hard to see through and the dreams seem too distant to ever be reached. Yet, somehow the sun rises each morning and a new day is at our door step. We stand up and face it, never truly certain of where it will take us. Yet, we still walk toward its setting sun with the belief that we’re not alone in our journey, that God knows what he is doing.

 

The Human existence is a strangely wonderful thing. Our troubled lives make our smiles all that more exquisite. As someone once said,””Fine jewelers know that the best way to showcase all of the facets of their gems is to place them on a deep, black background. Artists know that to highlight the sun, you must use the shadows. Mountain climbers know that you cannot enjoy the vista if you don’t endure the brutality of the rock face on the way up.” Consider this, what could be more like Gods image than a race that still loves through the pain, reaches out through the distance and stands through the storm.

A Slice of the Seventeenth 3.17.2016

Introvert defined: people whose energy tends to expand through reflection a dwindle during interaction. Introverts tend to be more reserved and less outspoken in groups. They often take pleasure in solitary activities.Trust is usually an issue of significance: a virtue of utmost importance to an introvert is choosing a worthy companion.

 

Now that we’ve got that out of the way lets move on. Sometime last year, I was watching Star-Trek Next Generation with a friend (yes, I’m cool, I know). There was an episode where a Vulcan Ambassador (for those who know not of the Vulcan…they are a hyper rational/logical extra-terrestrials who have evolved past the point of indulging in emotion) beams aboard the Enterprise to hold a diplomatic meeting with a reclusive alien species. The ambassador is well known and respected.  Immediately Jean-Luc (commander of the ship) notices something is amiss with the vulcan diplomat. Eventually it is discovered that the ambassador is suffering from an infliction of old age, he is loosing control over his emotions (something which is shameful to Vulcan kind) . In order to save the day Jean-Luc must mind-meld (the Vulcan process of transferring memories and emotions to another being) with the ambassador. Cut to… Jean-Luc experiencing how the Vulcan actually thought and felt. We see the ships captain suddenly incredulous that he should be so driven by his emotions and not his rationality and logic. Then even more violently he is sobbing like a child at the thought that is wife and kids never knew how much he truly loved them. On and on the emotions go, up and down. I relay this to you to say this, as I’m watching I think to my self, “man, maybe I’m part Vulcan”. That is to say, in my introverted nature I conduct my life in much the same way. The difference being I do not possess the skill of mind-melding so that others might experience the depth of my reliance on rationality and logic to which I cleave, and the haunting fear that it cloaks the breadth of my compassion, empathy, and love of others.
For most, it wouldn’t take more than a day of observing my behavior to ascertain (with little effort) that I am an introvert in the highest degree. Interestingly though, I would not say I have always been one. I believe my family and a few other’s who knew me well oh so long ago would agree that as a child I was very extroverted. In fact I was extroverted to the point of doing nothing less than tap-dancing on tabletops amid a myriad of strangers to gain notice of others.

If I were to take a stab at narrowing down when the transition from extrovert to introvert occurred I’d say it was somewhere around 6th or 7th grade. You know, when puberty and its resulting hyper self-awareness and self-deprecation came down like a tidal wave around me. Suddenly and without warning, I was always so certain I was being slandered when out of earshot for my shortcomings. I wasn’t pretty like her, smart like him, musically or athletically gifted like them. Afraid to impose on anyone for fear of making my flaws even more visible to my peers. Now I was much more comfortable in my mind and so I retreated into myself as though my thoughts were a sanctuary which could shield my from my ever-imposing surroundings.

Often I consider what my life might have been like had I remained an extrovert, if I had not retreated into myself. Who would I be? What paths would I have taken? What abilities would have developed differently? How would God have used me? Would I be happier? Would I be lonelier? Would I be essentially the same person?

Please, don’t misconstrue my words as those issued from someone unsatisfied or unhappy with their life. Everyday God shows me something, sometimes big sometimes small, that assures me how blessed I am and have been. In being an introvert God has given me great insight into many things. Finding so much comfort in reflection has granted me with the ability to find great meaning in small things, reassurances in unlikely places, the capability to deeply mediate on God’s word, and a strong sense for interpreting peoples character through keen observation of word and deed. All of these “introverted skills” have led me to greater things; finding and maintaing deep and lasting friendships, understanding the intricacies of scripture, developing a deep pool of emotion to draw from, taking joy wherever I find it, developing a purpose driven life. I enjoy and am unashamed of being an introvert.

I think I can speak (with relative certainty) on behalf of the introverted community at large and say the following is true of us as a collective. An introverts biggest fear, regret, uncertainty (and every other synonym for a state of contrition) is how they are understood and interpreted by those around them. How will others undertand our introversion? Will they think we are bored or above-it-all to speak, to interject into the conversation? Will they equate our lackluster enthusiasm for get-togethers with our level of care and consideration for them? Will our tendency to shield our true emotions be understood as contempt, arrogance, piety or worst of all indifference? Will be be abandoned after being consistently observed as unresponsive? Will our introversion be too large a wall to scale to truly get to know us?

Which now brings me to my final word, one of counsel to those on find themselves on either side of the fence.

If you are an introvert yourself I council trust. We all have a place in this world introverted and extroverted alike. We bring different but equally needed things to the table. Trust your instincts. Trust that there are those who will be patient enough to stick around and scale the wall. Trust that extroverts can have introverted friends (some of the best friends I’ve ever had were true to the core extroverts). Trust that an extrovert can respect and be empathetic to your introverted tendencies. Trust that worthy companions will be found. Trust that God can use your introversion. Trust.

If you are an extrovert I council patience. Be patient when the only thing you’re getting from an introvert is a shrug of the shoulders, or a nod of the head words will be forthcoming (sometimes in abundance) when you’ve proven yourself trustworthy. Be patient when the introvert continually declines invitations to gathering, eventually we’ll go despite our inclinations, for one we can trust. Be patience when developing a relationship, it’s worth it in the end (we do make very loyal and devout companions). Be patient when we are in our hyper-reflection mode, we may emerge with profound new perspectives that will be worth the wait. Be patient when it seems like they’re just not that into you, chances are the more introverted we become the more interested we are and are simply struggling with the risk of allowing ourselves to be more involved thus granting you access into our very sacred inner-world. Be patient.

I hope these words were both informative and instructive… and to hope above hope that they might have provided encouragement to any who dane to read my drivel. God bless you all, just the way you are!

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A Slice of the Sixteenth 3.16.2016

Todays feature image is from S.G. It is a close up of our cardinal compliment wall. Students in our building receive cardinal compliments when they are following the cardinal code well. That is that their behavior is in following with the general school rules. About a quarter into the school year I realized I was running out of room on our board. I had to pull of of the compliments off and start grouping them by 5’s to make way for more. This is still an inaccurate amount. I’ve got another handful sitting on my desk waiting to be taped up.

I will say that the class this year has done a great job of earning these compliments. They are kind and gracious students, with quick wit, and an incontrovertible sense of humor (they even think I’m funny, which is a bonus). All in all it has been a great year. One that I am sad to see drawing to a close. It has gone by so quickly, feel I’ve missed half of it. I have enjoyed this class so much I will be very sad to see them move on to 6th grade. But I know that they are leaving into great hands of wonderful teachers on the other side of the hall who will enjoy them just as much as I have!

P.S.- After this week…we have 9 weeks left!!!! Here’s to making them great!

A Slice of the Fifteenth 3.15.2016

Our featured image for today is by B.F. It is a photo of my class photo from last year

I was considering what I should write in regard to the photo and I couldn’t help but think that I can’t believe this was a year ago! It seems like yesterday. I thought perhaps I might comment on how fast years fly. I really liked this topic but I realized I had already written something similar for a college comp. class. Because I am a pack rat, wouldn’t you know, I still have it! So I’ve pasted it below. I hope you enjoy what my 19 year old self had to say!

 

“Going From Zero to Nineteen in a Heartbeat”


A concept, which was once foreign to my mind, is becoming increasingly clear, time fly’s by. Family and adults have always pressed upon me that time is fleeting. Now I finally understand, and its true, time is precious. At five, 60 seconds did not add up to a minute but an excruciating eternity, time seemed to be endless. Looking back, my life seems to have happened overnight. I have gone from zero to nineteen in a heartbeat.
I can remember the first time I realized the quickness of time. I had awoken from a long nights sleep and slowly sauntered into the bathroom. I preceded to carryout my usual morning activities. Grabbing my toothbrush from its hanging position on the wall above the sink, I squeezed a glob of the paste on its bristles. Then soaking it under some warm water, I griped it tightly and placed it inside my mouth. As I began to scrub, my gaze which had been focused on my hands activities, now shifted upward to view my groggy face dazedly stare back. But I did not recognize myself at first glance. Focusing harder on the face before me now I realized it was in fact my own. I released the toothbrush from my hand and directed all ten fingers toward my face to inspect it. Then it hit me! I was older now, today I was eight. The face of the child I once was had transformed over a restful night into the mature face I held now.
After that, time never slowed down it only got faster. Some memories play like a movie reel though my mind. They seem so tangible, as though I could pick up where I left off just by pushing play. For instance, Saturdays with my dad. I remember them being the only day of the week I did not protest to waking up early, I instead leaped from my bed. Almost before the sun rose, we would wake to a bowl of warm white rice drowning in a pool of milk with brown and white sugar. After slurping up the last of breakfast from the bottom of the bowl we ran to secure our favorite positions in the living room. When comfortable, the festivities began. The usual itinerary included; all our favorite cartoons till noon, lunch, usually a bit of wrestling and horse play, dinner, and bed. Nothing extravagant was needed to make the time pass, but it did. Perhaps faster than I would have liked. I do not even remember the day I decide I was too old for cartoons with my dad.
I’ve also noticed another phenomena of time, change is never far behind (if not racing ahead!). I can barely recall a handful of occasions my father has verbally professed his affection to me in the first 17 years of my life. The obvious are my baptism, other special events, and a hard time or two. This in no way caused me to doubt my fathers love for me, but generally, my father was not the publicly affectionate type. That all changed. From High school graduation to now my dad has taken every possible opportunity to inform me of his care. It takes a great deal of time to, as they say, teach an old dog a new trick, and it seems like no time at all that my father transformed into the dad I know him to be today.
There is always one place that you can be assured of times quick pace, the visible difference in the kids you once knew from the time you last saw them. After my first year at Ozark, time seemed unchanged in my mind. When driving home to visit for the first time, I believed I would see the same faces of those kids I had grown up with. Instead, Sunday morning rolled around to reveal to me a new generation. These young adults where no longer who I had played with. When at school this realization hit harder still with the arrival of a Graduation announcement of one of my close younger friends. How could she be old enough to graduate, let alone be on the verge of attending college!? Where did the time go?
It would be nearly impossible for me to tell someone today not to worry about time. How could I mutter such an obtuse lie to an unsuspecting soul! Instead, I find myself in the shoes of those before me grumbling what I once rolled my eyes to. I’m going to take every chance I get to let those youngsters know, time fly’s, and before you know it you’ve gone zero to nineteen in a heartbeat.