Tuesday, April 3, 2018


Four girls around the table. One
They read aloud their stories that they'd
(so it looked like poetry).
Perfect punctuation, organized thoughts, chronological order.

Here's my title. Line break. First this. Line break. Then this. Then - line break- that. Line break. In conclusion. The end.

A notch here,
a note there
with my purple felt tip pen.

I pause each time. 
This is prose.
It's prose. 
It sounds like prose.

Now I know free verse poetry can be anything. It can be broken prose. It can tell a story. It's free. It can. Technically. I can free verse poem like this. It's fine. 

But- I object- once more, please let me.

Prose runs through the body in neat, tight veins. It branches from the heart. It nourishes the brain. 
Poetry flows out of cuts
runs down the skin
pours out
It drips
or gushes
or spirts.
It leaves stains. 

So I'll strain and stain their papers with that
purple felt tip pen.
I'll let them settle for perfect packaged poems because
I think poetry comes with scars
and I'm glad they don't know yet what that's like.

Monday, December 21, 2015


Teachers pour everything into their kids. Their imaginations, their money, their voices, their encouragement, their patience, their thoughts, their information, their creativity, and their energy. Pour 'em on in.

I am the most imaginative, the most rich, the most eloquent, the most encouraging, the most patient, the most thoughtful, the most informative, the most creative, the most energetic I've ever been... but the only people in the world who get to see me that way are fourteen small children. HA!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Matthew 5:5

Humility is not a result of comparison to others; humility is a result of comparison to God.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


School ends this Friday. Two days left. Today, I logged my 100th hour of student engagement- intentionally hanging out with students outside the classroom. Mentoring or just being an encourager. That averages out to 5 hours a week. 

I had a thought. If I was paid for that extra time, I'd get a $725 bonus check. But we aren't paid to hang out with students. We are encouraged to do so, so that we can help motivate them to graduate and move forward in life. Getting to hear their stories, frustrations, and thoughts are worth more than money. They are priceless children of God. Their lives have often been hectic, tragic, and complicated. They are both interesting and heart-breaking. Homelessness, addiction, molestation, divorce, murder, prostitution, pregnancy, poverty, abandonment are words that widely sweep over their situations. At least one of those things have impacted them. Anger, rebellion, and depression have oppressed them. Many have been labeled with disorders and impairments- sometimes I wonder how many of those things are spiritual oppression. I pray, knowing that for some everything- EVERYTHING- would have to change in order for them to move forward. 

I've changed how I pray for them (and myself) recently. I still pray for better jobs and better relationships and better habits and better situations, but that is not the central prayer. I have experienced many of those betters, but I am still nothing without Christ. I can have everything, but still feel hopeless without Christ. Why would I pray that they only receive more money? Money can be exchanged for many things of value, but Christ IS everything of value. And, ironically, He can provide everything, including money. 

Why pray for patience? Give me Christ. Why pray for a peaceful classroom? Give me Christ. Why pray for diplomas or healing? We need Christ. And in His outpouring, He will discern what we need: maybe patience or peace or achievement or healing.

When there is conflict, when there is chaos, when there is failure, when there is pain... there can still be Christ. Those things can lead to Him. Once led to Him, the things that truly need fixed will be fixed. I have to trust that everything else will be carried on to perfection when God sees fit.

I want so many things in my classroom. This quarter, I have seen few of them. I have been disrespected or cussed out almost every day. I have been lied to and taken advantage of; I have cleaned up nasty messes and had kind, patient words shoved back in my face. I don't want these things. But Christ said this would happen. That's encouraging to me: that means I'm doing something right. Something Christ might do if He had studied education instead of carpentry. 

This semester has been an academic nightmare. I would call us failures. I would call myself a failure. But, knowing that the only thing... The only thing... The ONLY thing that matters is loving God and loving people... I am not allowed to claim failure. I know our love has not always been recieved or noticed. I know our love has been self-conjured sometimes. I know our love has been overshadowed by frustration or mismatched priorities. I also know God has shown through us,
Despite our many shortcomings. He has worked, even when we have not. He is moving. 

A student told me he doesn't know what he thinks about Christians, but the people at the Crossing seem to actually act like Christ did.

A bright agnostic student with a difficult past met God and began requesting Scriptures and themes for family time discussion.

A student struggling with deep anger found peace in God's embrace during a retreat and realized He was different and more meaningful than drugs.

I have only seen a handful move actively toward Christ, but I have seen them change as Christ interacted with them.

A student who consistently broke the rules (and the law) became cautious and disciplined. 

A student who planned to drop out decided to stay, work hard, and be an encourager to the teachers.

Students with histories of fighting have clenched their fists and kept their noses clean. 

Students with histories of cussing out teachers have become respectful and helpful allies in the classroom.

I could probably go on. Little anecdotes and epic moments pepper the semester, often hidden beneath piles of paperwork, exhaustion, oppression, and complaining. But they are there. Christ is at work. And He is what matters.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Bucket List

I found a bucket list that I wrote 6 months ago... It's a little abstract. I don't know how I'll check some of them off. But it's a happy list.
  • Write a book
  • Make a favorite piece of clothing from scratch
  • Finish a quilt
  • Create a sculpture I'd like to display
  • Win an award for teaching
  • Watch God heal Graham
  • Speak in front of an incredibly large group of people on behalf of God
  • Visit beautiful places and have time to be thankful and in awe of Him
  • Reach a point where I am not even a little embarrassed about my faith in God and his centrality in my life
  • Fill a recipe book with delightful things Matt and I like

- Grow our own vegetables and herbs
- Rid our diets of sugar and processed foods
- Make my own detergent and soaps 
- Watch less than half an hour of screens a day


Marriage is like moving to a small island with another person. You can be visited and you can travel, but at the end of the day, you're alone with one person. At the end of the day, at the beginning of the day... probably in chunks in the middle of the day as well. You have jokes about building the house on the island and how ridiculous that was, but now it's done. You have jokes about the tide coming in and ruining the lawn, which is never funny, but it's a fact you decide to treat lightly. People can visit and tell you how nice the house on the lawn seems or how bizarre it seems. They're right, but they'll never experience how nice the house on the lawn is or how bizarre it is. Just you and the one person. The two of you get it. You take sort of a step away from everyone else and a step towards just the one person. You're both more isolated and more connected. That's what marriage is like. At the beginning, this is what you'll feel. I don't know about the middle or the end.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The joys of August

My co-workers now call me "Piles" because I leave stacks of paper everywhere as I work. 

On an ordinary Thursday, Matt and I drove to Ivanhoes to eat ice cream before returning home to make dinner. Dessert first.

It's been raining all day. The summer has officially hidden itself beneath late spring and early fall for three months. I still prefer its mild identity crisis over winter's bone-chilling wrath.

I figured out how to make broccoli cheddar soup and I'm very proud of myself.

Last night I ate strawberries and s'mores.

Lightening bugs.

Dinner time is often peppered with a couple episodes of Seinfeld.

A student lent me an excellent book that I've almost finished. Matt reads about the non-fictional World War II and I read about the fictional Civil War.