St. Seraphim Choir

I was browsing on St. Seraphim’s choir website today, when I ran across pictures of all of us, taken a few weeks/months ago (can’t quite remember…:). It’s always weird to click on a page and suddenly see your face! Here they are, in case you want to see.

My friend, Jenny is on the bottom left in black. You’ll probably recognize her from other pictures she’s been in on this blog.

In this picture are my other two St. Seraphim friends, Karen (with the curly hair) and Heather, of which I KNOW you’ve seen lots of pictures:)

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I wanna go back to preschool!

Having worked at several preschools teaching piano lessons, I feel like I have come to see at least a few of the different types. There are your average “daycare” preschools, which are usually cheap and full of 20-somethings who are constantly yelling at the kids. Then there are “discovery” preschools, which are actually a more glorified version of the daycare preschools, only with more expensive toys and better paid teachers. Lest you think I’m joking, the one of these that I taught at had a “Hollywood” room with costumes and pretend video cameras, a 50’s “diner” that they ate snack and lunch at, a “Theater” room with a big screen tv, and an indoor jungle gym. Then there are the Montessori preschools, which are very expensive and are only focused on discovering the child’s unique strengths and abilities.

St. Peter’s Preschool program, I’ve found, is not like any of the above. It is not uncommon to see all 6 of them, trailing like little ducklings after Miss Annie, who used to be the secretary for the school but switched to being their teacher when the school couldn’t find the right person. Today, Annie was taking them all into the chapel to “sing songs to Jesus”, a fact which they were wildly excited about. Yesterday, they made bead jewelry together at craft time. The day before, Annie taught them how to make cookie dough. It was strangely fascinating to watch, and I felt as though I too was being drawn towards them as they crowded around the bowl, learning to crack eggs and measure sugar. I’ve also seen Annie play number and letter games using hopscotch, teach them how to “be fairies”, and play Charlotte Church for them as they’re napping. The school also has a bunch of tiny harps on which they have taught all the kids to play “Jesus Loves Me” in unison. As far as motor skills, Annie helped them learn both dexterity and service by having them shine Mr. Smith’s silver Civil War toy cannon. For recess, they catch bugs in little cases so that they can look at them up close.

Now, some of the more academically rigorous preschools could look down upon this and critique it, but perhaps its because they have missed the point entirely. School should be for teaching you to be a whole soul, healthy and balanced. So often, kids are infused early on with the idea that life is intended for the sole purpose of getting you to your next destination. Preschool is about preparing you for Kindergarten, grade school is about teaching skills for middle school, middle school about making sure you actually survive high school, high school for getting into a good college, and college for getting you a good job. What they end up passing on is a sense that life should revolve around accomplishment and evaluation. They train the actions without ever reaching the heart and teaching about the essence of life.

When and where are we supposed to learn about life, in all it’s innocence and simplicity? It’s easy to learn your ABC’s, but once you forget how to find joy in life, you almost never regain the ability. Done well, preschool can be the most valuable and formative part of one’s education, because it can either make or break your view of the world.

Perhaps we should all go back to preschool and never leave.

My Messy Desk

They say that how your desk looks is a reflection on the current state of your life.

So it begs the question: What has become of my life? My once clear and un-obstructed desk is now cluttered and full of reminders of all the work I need to be doing right now.

Then again, as you can see, it is cluttered with the Ipods of my students (which I did NOT confiscate, they are so that so I can upload the E-Book mp3 version of Longfellow’s “Evangeline” poem being read out loud), my Norton Anthology of Classical Literature, “Composition in the Classical Tradition”, and Crider’s “The Office of Assertion- The Art of Rhetoric for the Academic Essay”. I also have several coffee mugs, pictures of my husband, little sister and god-family, and tissues for my allergies (which have to be the one thing I HATE about Texas!). Oh, and duct tape and glue. Not sure what they mean!

Yup, that’s pretty much an accurate reflection of my life right now!

Reason #450 to love Texas

Maybe I should actually rename this: Reason #450 that I love living in the Bible Belt.

Do you ever have this experience? Where you are on your way home from work and your gas light turns on, but you have absolutely no motivation to go fill up? You say to yourself, “I’ll do it tomorrow, on my way to work” (or in my case, on my way to the carpool-pick-up-point).

But then morning comes and you take way too long in the shower and making your coffee, and all of a sudden its 6:45 (yes, AM, I get up EARLY now!!) and you’re running late.

This is what happened to me this morning. I actually had to drive myself this morning, because Bryan called last night to let me know that he was LEAVING at 5am this morning. Not waking up, LEAVING. This is not normal, he just has lots of relatives from Houston staying indefinitely with him, and can’t get any work done in the evenings, thus necessitating early morning work hours at school.

Anyways, there I was on my way to work, and I had no gas. When I say, “no gas” I mean, NO GAS. As dangerous as this was, however, I desperately wanted to get past a few heavily trafficked spots that only get worse the closer it gets to 8:00. So I set off, praying for the best. As I continued driving, the little line that says, “EMPTY!” rose higher and higher above my gas line, and a little sign on my dashboard that says, “REFILL NOW!” began to blink incessantly, as if pleading me to stop being so stupid.

But the minute I got past the bumper-to-bumper sections of highway, I was in a not so good area of Fort Worth. Regardless, I had no choice to pull over.

As a result of living in LA, I am usually pretty careful about where I pull over for gas. After all, in LA this is sometimes a life or death issue. So I was pretty nervous about having to pull over in this “rough patch” of Fort Worth, even at 8 in the morning.

I got out of the car, and immediately laughed. This run-down, sketchy looking gas station, in the middle of the poorest, roughtest section of Ft. Worth, had the Newsboys blaring from their overhead speakers. Inside the window of the station was a Jesus Freak sticker.

As scary as it is hearing “The Breakfast Song” and getting flashbacks to junior high, it was a nice change to hearing “ghetto-make-your-mama-cry” lyrics and worrying about getting shot.

Borrowing From the Present

I guess I haven’t told a lot of you, but at the very last minute I decided not to enroll for my class at UD this semester.

I arrived at this decision for a variety of reasons. First of all, looking at things from a scheduling standpoint, our semester will be particularly crazy this fall. I am not only dealing with 1 fulltime job and 1 partime one, but both Jesse and I are becoming very involved at church. Jesse “serves” at the altar every Sunday and teaches Sunday School, while I sing in the choir every Saturday and Sunday. That’s right, I sing in the choir! Not typical for me, but I love it. I’ve even started taking voice lessons for fun from a music performance prof at SMU. Jesse is also very busy as he is full time at UD along with teaching 3 classes at “Flexing Poplars”.

Add onto our “normal routine” the fact that we are moving in 3 weeks, are in Tim and Hope’s wedding, and have a god-child on the way in 2 months, and I suddenly realized I was crazy to be filling my ONE-NIGHT-A-WEEK-OFF with a 3 hour class.

And it got me thinking about the way I’ve lived my life thus far. As many of you know, I have always been a sprinter. No, not the running kind, the scheduling kind. If I have free time on my hands, I feel that I have done something wrong. For example, I graduated from high school in 3 years while playing Varsity sports year-round, maintaining a 4.0+ GPA, and participating on Student Council every year. I graduated Summa Cum Laude from college in 3.5 years while getting married, working fulltime, and going to Europe twice.

To say these things isn’t always a proud moment for me. Yes, I like to be motivated, but there is a huge part of me that has always envied those who were content to slow down, who weren’t terrified of the future. What I mean is that I was always so focused on my future goals that I was scared I wasn’t doing enough in the “now” to get it all accomplished. Sometimes motivated people are just frightened that if they slow down, they will cease to know which way is up or down!

I was convicted of this for the first time, sad to say, when I went to confession with my priest. Normally, confessions are meant to be private, but there is a small part of this particular one that I would like to share. I confessed that I had not felt merciful towards others in the least lately. When someone got in my way in the store, I would suddenly feel a small outburst of ferocious anger towards them in my heart. If someone cut me off on the freeway, I wanted to smash my car into their bumper, despite how little sense it would make. And, despite the fact that Jesse is almost always going out of his way to do things for me (he says he even plays a game called, “see how much housework I can do before Kelly notices”), the minute he messed up in the slightest I was incensed. “What is wrong with me?” I asked. “Why am I so incapable of showing God’s love towards others?”

Usually the priest doesn’t say anything until the end of your confession. Even then, sometimes they say little to nothing at all. This particular time, however, Fr. Joe said a lot. He started by saying that this type of “lack of mercy” is very common in someone who is so focused on the future that they cease to function in the present. They are so goal motivated that they are constantly living for the future instead of enjoying the now. As a result, they cease to really “see” the people around them. It’s very hard to have mercy when you cannot see people and their faults for what they really are.

Fr. Joe didn’t tell me that I needed to cut activities out of my life, he just challenged me to think about this fact. And it got me thinking. It seems that I am very often doing one of two things. A) I am borrowing from the future for the now. This is where my problem with finances comes in. I have gotten better, but I have always had a problem saving money. I definitely have the “I need this now!” complex that Dave Ramsey is always condemning. Or B) I am borrowing from the now for the future. I am so focused on my goals that I will make my life insanely busy and, if I dare say, miserable, all so that I will be one step ahead in the future.

And I’ve gotten so used to one of these two things that I have never learned to enjoy the present.

And it would be a shame, I realized, if I couldn’t learn to do that now, of all times. For the first time in my life, I LOVE my job. We also have wonderful friends available to us, a wonderful church that we are heavily involved in, without the responsibility of children yet. This is probably the happiest I have been in a very long time!

So the question doesn’t become, “Could I do a class too?” Sure I could. I somehow always seem to make time. No, instead the question becomes, “why would I want to ruin this time by being over-committed?” I need to remind myself that UD will be there, next semester, when I am not getting the hang of a new job or moving to a different city.

Please pray for me as I embark on this new experience of “living in the present” instead of borrowing from it!

The Test

About a few days ago, Brian (again, our principal at St. Peters) warned us that this Friday we would have visitors- ten teachers from a neighboring classical school, to be exact. Occasionally, they get Fridays off and use it as an opportunity to visit and learn from other teachers in the area.

So there I was, a teacher of only 2 years, leading a discussion first on Medieval Provencal Poetry and then on Book 18 of the Iliad, with 8 of the 10 teachers sitting there watching. And I was nervous.

My first class on Medieval Poetry turned out a little weird. There was an image in one of the poems describing someone’s heart being “submerged” by their love interest. I tried exploring this “submerging” image by asking them questions about what to do if you are supposed to save someone who is drowning. Apparently no one had ever taken a lifeguard class. Or if they had, it was a scary violent lifeguard class. Their solution to saving a drowning person was to knock them unconscious in order to restrain them. Yeah, not such a good idea!!

And then came by 9-10th graders talking about the Iliad. And they hit the ball out of the park. Whaddya know?! We were having a discussion about why it was the Greeks and Trojans were so intent on saving the bodies of their fallen comrades in connection with the type of dignity that Homer tries to restore to the soldiers by describing such gory deaths so beautifully. I had sent them home last class with a type of pull question to answer in their notebooks, basically asking them to think about the connection between soul and body.

I don’t know why I should have been surprised, but they actually went home and thought about it! And for a long time! So we ended up discussing it for the first 1/2 of class. The teachers who were visiting were completely shell-shocked and scarcely stirred the entire time. I don’t think they had ever seen a group of 8 high schoolers work so hard at a question before. It was a beautiful sight to see:)

Paganini

I was doing some research for my music class in one of my off periods yesterday and I came across two things that I wanted to share.

The first is a video clip of a violinist playing Paganini’s Caprice No. 24. In case you haven’t heard of him, Niccolo Paganini was probably the greatest violinist who ever lived. Some of the pieces he composed are virtually un-playable for anyone else. Even then, it’s still hard to find a violinist who can play them WELL. I used to listen to this song as a kid during my four years of violin lessons. Seeing this clip, ESPECIALLY the end, however, made me realize that listening to this piece and WATCHING it are two very different things! Again, I was overcome by how extremely difficult it is to play anything from this composer.

Also, remember back when I posted about a girl named Connie who was the Runner Up on Britain’s Got Talent and had a CD coming out soon? This is her first single- you will not believe that she is only 6!!!

Money

I just received my first paycheck today from St. Peter’s. I am going to go and do the Money Dance now.

“…….moneymoneymoneymoneymoneymoneymoneymoneyMONEY!!”

You so wish you could see this right now. You’d probably make fun of me for the rest of my life. But first paychecks are important, right?

Un-Labor Day

It was only a few days ago that we moved the Unruh’s out of our apt. into their new place about 10 minutes away. Luckily, it will only be a temporary separation, as we will be joining them in that apt. complex in less than a month. But it was sad nonetheless.

As we were putting their last things in the car on Saturday night, we started talking about just what this this last month says about the depth of our friendship. We had a LOT of things happen – Michael and Courtney moved across the country, Michael and I started brand new jobs as I was finishing my last 2 weeks of summer school- all while we shared a 1 1/2 bedroom apt. for an entire month! Sharing the bathroom ALONE with MIchael in the mornings was a feat (we both had to be OUT of the house around 7am) and yet there were no major hickups, no awkwardness uncomfortable silences or dirty glances or not-so-harbored feelings. There was one time that Jesse and I went down to use the fitness center, and once we came back we realized that we had not brought keys. And the Unruhs had gone to sleep. And we were locked out. Luckily they let us in after I threw rocks at our window from below, but that was about the biggest “annoyance” (on both sides!) if you could even call it that.

Seeing as I don’t know anyone else in the world that we could have standed living with in such tight quarters for a whole month, it was no surprise that we were all very relieved and glad to see all of each other at church the next morning, only a few hours after we had said goodnight. In fact, we missed them so much that we spent all afternoon at lunch with them, and then invited ourselves over in the evening to help unpack their kitchen.

This is how I helped:

As if that wasn’t enough socializing, only 48 hours after moving into their apt. Michael and Courtney offered to host a Labor Day barbecue for all of us and our friends. The house looked AMAZING, especially considering how little time they had to unpack, and it was a blast. Among us there were Katie, Clay and James Gaspard (who used to go to church with the Unruhs in Chicago and just moved here to Dallas as well), the Snells and their daughter who we knew from the Torrey program at Biola, and Heather and Josh Trant. Everyone brought their own meat and we grilled it out by the poolside.

I forgot to mention: Courtney, Katie and Jen (respectively) are all Preggos.

The boys grilling their meat, drinking beer, and talking about what I assume are important things:

Heather is sitting by the pool, cool and gorgeous as usual:

Elizabeth Snell’s fashion choices are adorable:

Here is Michael, practicing his soon-to-be fatherhood:

It is only due to God’s great goodness and mercy that we have such wonderful friends here, only a year after moving to a different part of the country. We cannot thank Him or enjoy this gift more.