Sunday, September 2, 2012

To Love the Unloved

Someone asked me the other day "Oh what do you do for work?" and I told them I work at a halfway house. Most people nod their heads and with a confused tone-of-voice say "Oh social work...?" And I explain my 35 second elevator speech of what it is that I do and who the women are that I care for.

However, today I had a different thought. I had a thought to tell the next person who asks me what I do "I care for and love women who don't necessarily want my love. They don't necessarily want it, but they need it so desperately. More than that, they need to love of Christ that has redeemed me and has given me a second chance at life." That is what popped into my head.

Theater lovers, picture this:
     The scene? A house full of 10-14 women (the numbers and faces change all the time) of women from rough, rough backgrounds. From broken homes; from traumatic lives; from chaos.
     Their appearance? They are overweight. They are underweight. Some are so tough and rough that you think you might get a scratch from bumping into them while you walk. Some are so broken and emotional that you feel like their skin is one giant band-aid keeping all the pain in their heart on the inside.
     Their costumes? Most of them wear white tee-shirts with their last names written across the top of them when they first come to the house. Then, their wardrobe evolves to pajama pants and oversized tee-shirts that boast the local sports teams. After a little while, they rummage through out clothing closet (full of beautiful clothes donated by our volunteers) and find outfits about five times too small. Most people can pull off outfits about three sizes too small, but these women choose clothes that are obviously painful to wear. They like the flashy stuff; zebra stripes, and hot pink, and black with sequences. I swear, this past Friday night, all I could see was hot pink, sequences, and titties everywhere. You have to understand, these are clothes that others have given away; they have deemed them unworthy to be worn any more, they have been put off to the side. It is almost appropriate that the women wear clothes that are second hand, that have been cast off, yet have some good wear in them, and have some luster, once you wash them off a little. These women are just like the clothes they wear. They have been cast off. They have been straight-up, flat-out told that they are not good enough, they are not beautiful enough, they aren't wanted, and they need to go somewhere else to get their act together. Do you ever wonder where people go to get their acts together? I don't. Because they come here, to the halfway house. First they go to jail because they haven't been able to get their acts together, and then they bounce around from one rehab program to the next, hopefully land up at a halfway house, and occasionally get themselves thrown back in jail.

Even after I describe to inquiring people where it is I work, I rarely tell them what it is I do: I love the unloved. Many of these women are my same age, yet we are worlds different. One woman is 29 years old and she has a 3 month old grandson and five children. I can't even imagine. She actually is my favourite and she even has the same name as one of my sisters. This woman is so remarkable to me, and yet still such a mystery. She is half black and half white, and two of her children are half Mexican. She speaks fluent Spanish, can turn on the black girl sass like no other, and also speaks my same dialect. It's amazing. You see, this woman has learned how to adapt. In linguistics we call it "code-switching" which means being able to take on the characteristics and speech patterns of more than one linguistic community. With these linguistic communities there is culture, and that is what must be code-switched. In her world, she doesn't code-switch--she survives in whatever way she knows how. When she first came, she was so gruff, and rude, and had a stone for a heart. She was hurting and her life was a mess and she knew it. Pretty much on a daily basis, we would get into some type of verbal argument. The only thing worse than an argument? The cold shoulder. Wow. When you are in a residential setting and you see someone every time you round the corner and they are giving you the silent treatment, woo, things get tense really fast! I had talked with my boss and with the case manager and we didn't know what to do with her because punishments weren't working.
     I remember one other time in my life when a fellow teammate of mine just hated me! She gave me the silent treatment, she made my life miserable, she always stole the ball from me and made me look bad on the courts. I remember telling my mom "I just don't know what to do! I've asked her what's wrong, I've tried to be kind to her, I've tried to play tough with her, and she is just mean!" My mom said that I needed to pray for her. More specifically, every time she did something that made my blood boil, my mom said I should repeat in my head "I love you, ." I thought it was ridiculous and wasn't going to work, but it did. I prayed for all my teammates, but I prayed extra hard for her. I even prayed she would get asked out by the guy she liked at the time (...oh high school...ha! that meant I was praying really, really nice prayers for her ha!). After about a month of her giving me the silent treatment, and me praying for her and repeating "I love you, ", I started to hate her less and less. I'm not going to say that I ever loved her, but the stress and anger towards her was completely gone. That crazy experience stuck with me, and I remembered the peace I was given by the Lord for choosing to love this teammate. 
      While I was having a difficult time with LMNOP, at the halfway house, I remembered how well my prayers and love worked back in high school. From the second week this woman moved into the house, I began praying for her and repeating in my head "I love you, " whenever she cast a hateful glance, or teased or belittled me. In time, this woman has made an amazing transformation. I cannot even describe how hurt and tough this woman was when she first came. Now, she has changed her wardrobe, she has changed her life, and most of all, she has changed her heart. I give God all the credit for this one, because I would have never thought that I could even love this woman. But God saw beyond that. Now, we are pals. She gives me driving directions, we cook food for each other, she tells me what parts of town to avoid and how I should look after myself, and I tell her which stores have sales, and how to make her buck stretch the furthest. It's amazing, it truly is, to think that a jailbird is someone I respect. 
     Loving people who don't always want to be loved, but who need to be loved, is a tough job. There are days when I shed tears of frustration, and of sorrow for all these women go through. However, it is so rewarding when you get a turn-around from someone who used to make your work environment super stressful, and now brings laughter to the house. The thing is, you have to reach out and be intentional. Even if you feel like "Oh they don't want to talk to me so why waste my breath?" you even saying "I hope you had a good day at work today" when they walk in the door may make them feel cared for. I have learned that people who don't want to be loved don't want to answer questions, so I talk to them, I don't really ask them questions. I don't ask "Did you have a good day at work?" because all they will say is "Alright" and walk away. But if you say "I hope you had a good day at work", they look at you, and think for a second, and then walk away. They sometimes smile and nod too...but not most of the time.

This song is my prayer today:

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Far Away...To the Island in Our Blue Bay

With all the uncertainty in my futurer about where to live, where to work, when to get married, and how to pay the bills, all I know is that an island in our blue bay far away sounds really, really enticing today.

It may also be because of this hot, sunny weather that we've been enjoying for the past three months or so here in E. TN. I dread the sight of falling leaves, because it means the cold is coming to get me! Autumn is nice, and 60 degrees is nice, and hammocking all cuddled up in blankets is nice, but...then...winter comes and that is not nice. At all. I don't know how my sister will survive her first winter away from Southern California...because she's in Pittsburg! Yikes!

Praising the Lord in the midst of all these future uncertainties, and praising Him for the lovely apartment I have now, and for all of the SO many blessings He has given to me! Like a car! (A mini cooper, to be exact.) He is good. He is in control.
And He is the one who makes those islands in blue bays far away.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Oh How He Loves Us

This song has popped into my head twice today, actually. The first time was because I was looking at my engagement ring and I thought to myself "Every time I see this ring I just think of how much he loves me." And then the Holy Spirit brought the though into my head "Oh how He loves you! How much greater does God love you than Aaron loves you?"

The second time I started singing it was while I was sitting on the front porch of the halfway house where I work. I am on staff, and get paid, but I feel like this place has become my second home. I used to live here full time when I was the live-in house monitor, and then it really was my home. But now, it is my second home. The atmosphere is not always the most put it mildly. There are many ups and downs in the women's lives that really effect them throughout the day. When they come home elaited or in a grouchy mood, it shows and you can feel a shift in the atmosphere of the house. Anyways, while the women were at a NA meeting, I have the house to myself for 1 hour. Do you know how rare 1 hour is in my little universe right now? One hour of me time? Of time to sit on the porch, eat chocolate pie that the volunteers from local churches bring, and to watch the cows graze across the roadway? Well...I get two hours of it a week. It was during that one hour tonight that I sang, out loud, the song Oh How He Loves Us. I felt the Holy Spirit wash over me in an instant and felt surrounded by peace and by God's love.

Totally the weirdest music video...but the music is beautiful. And the words are true. And for that, I am eternally thankful!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Hurry Up and Wait"

"Hurry up and wait" was a phrase my drama director always used to say. She'd say "The whole business of the theater is 'hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait'." I totally agree, and if you've even tried out for a play or musical, you would probably agree too.

Now, in this new chapter of life, I am to wait. To wait for a new home, life, last name, and even a new job.

I found this quote on one of my fellow blogger's pages today, and thought it totally fitting.

"It is not easy… to wait. Waiting is what the hunter does, and the poet and the slugger. He waits for the moment of inevitability and fate and then he swings, or shoots, or takes up the pen to put down a line. They don’t teach us to wait in America; they teach us to grab. But waiting is what we do when we are looking for something beautiful, when we are looking for an end to our sorrow. Nothing is infinite in life, not even sorrow.  Cary Tennis"

Another amazing quote from Charles Stanley: 

Monday, July 30, 2012


The title says it all, folks. Yep, I'm engaged!

Watch this video for the full story.

Monday, July 16, 2012


I had a summer school professor who taught high school English for her day job, and then was a PhD professor at UT by evening. She said she did a study in her class on heroes. I took a class my freshman year at CBU when I was in their honours program and it was called "The Study of the Epic Hero". Since it was a Christian school, we studied Biblical heroes as well as literary heroes. For some reason, I love heroes. I mean, isn't that what you are supposed to do? Love the hero and hate the villain? Last weekend I saw "Spiderman" (the new one) and loved it! Why? Its about a hero! Peter Parker is a convincing hero who is a-less-than-average high school boy who has an interesting past and a mystified future once he gets bitten by the spider.
A hero.

Jesus. A hero.

Randomly, this song popped into my mind this morning. I think I heard it on the radio once or twice before, but today the line "there he goes, a hero" were rolling around and around in my mind like marbles shifting across the deck of a topsy-turvy boat and leaving their wet-marks behind.

How is Jesus a hero?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Library

As I approach, a 30-something man holds open the door for me.
"How are you doing today?" he asks with genuine interest.
"I'm fine thank you. Quite hot today, isn't it?" I answer glibly.
"You from here?"
He chocolate brown eyes search my own as my ears instantly absorb his thick African-accent.
Images of Kenya run through my mind almost as quickly as dust that wild zebras kicked up swirls through the thick, Nairobi air.
" Yes, I am," I lie, not wanting to expose information to a man who 6'3" frame could snap me like a crackling stick, brittled by the Sahara sun.
"Oh you are? I'm not. I just came from Florida."
The "i" in "Florida" sounds more like "e" and I can't help but notice the way he searches.
He is a foreigner. For what he searches I am unsure.
A fresh start?
A friend?

I nod and hurry to the reference desk, hoping to avoid anymore interactions with one of Knoxville's newest residents.

A 20-something research librarian stands before me.
Silk straight light brown hair, shaped around her jaw. Lightly floral patterned green shirt set squarely on her small frame. Her left hand is adorned by a thin gold wedding ring fit with a simple, single solitaire diamond that says in a small voice "I am loved everyday of my life."
Scanners cheep and books are exchanged. Five books.

I wind through the linear homes of book.
Like the librarian's bronze-coloured flats with the small bow embellishment.
Like the printed words "G.A.P Authentic" on that man's hat. A stretch from "next-to-new" but certainly "used before".

Computer stations.
Four pine-stained chairs station "my table".

Eyes glance my way, then dart back to the texts, like humming birds in search of nourishment.
Something new.
Something new, they say.

"Viet Nam Veteran" on a hat of navy, and cheap, wooden crutches surround a man with a three-day-old beard.
Surrounding him.
Consuming him.
At least to me, that's all I can see.
I can't see the scars burnt onto his memory of scorching days overseas.
Or his seven grandchildren who barely know him.
Or his mutt-of-a-dog who stirs in his tiny home this very moment.
I don't see his naked ring finger that once told of the volume of love in his now-bitter heart.


The library.

I Could Have Danced All Night

Last night's song of the day: I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady

My love and I went on a try lovely date last night. First, we went to this new Italian restaurant called Savelli's (most excellent and highly recommended...has a great atmosphere, friendly staff, definitely a spot that is frequented by locals, and of course, great food!) and went swing dancing. The K_____ (city name) Swing Association hosts a weekly swing dance lesson + hours of DJ'ing of swing music.  I really am not good at any type of dancing, but I certainly love swing dancing! This was my second time attending the KSA's event and it was even better the second time around.

PS If you haven't seen My Fair Lady, and you like Aubrey Hepburn, speech pathology, accents, all things British, classic love stories, or just love fantastic movies, please do your self a service and check out this movie!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Am I Never Content?

I saw this picture today and it left me longing for snow. Even though I don't like cold weather, standing out in the snow seems awfully lovely today. My 108 year old house has an A/C unit, but its not the traditional kind that comes out the floor. Thus, it is expensive to run the A/C (can I get an amen?). It has been well into the 80s for the past two weeks (every since I returned from a cool 60-70 degrees California). I'm staring to get used to it, but it really zaps the energy out of me. This snowy wonderland enticed me ever so much that I actually was singing Winter Wonderland (the song of the day) while making dinner in a sweat. Enjoy a flash forward of 5 or 6 months and into the land of wonder. 


Friday, June 8, 2012

Song of the Day

Sometimes, we just need to be reminded how beautiful Jesus is!

Praying for my family far, far away right now and wishing I could be with them for my loving grandmother's, Blue Jay, memorial service and funeral today.

Thank you Lord that you stay the same and that you are the true beauty that we can always count on! Thank you for your creation of beautiful people who help point us to you, such as Blue Jay. Lord, thank you for the influence she had on my life, on my mom's life, on my family's life, and on the lives of everyone who knew her. Most of all, thank you, Lord, for your beautiful salvation! Thank you for the fact that "soon we will be comin' home!"

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

#48. Visit the Treehouse in Crossville, TN

     Let me just say, this might have been the most crazy, creative thing from the bucket list I've done so far! Take a look at this place, folk.

       Is it not THE spooky treehouse of treehouses? Well, in all reality, it wasn't THAT creepy, but it certainly was...mysterious. It is nine stories high and was constructed in the early 2000s. The builder had a vision from God telling him that if the builder would make this treehouse, God would continue to provide all the lumber and materials necessary. Inside the treehouse, there are stacks of raw lumber, and I would say he's going to continue to build! Crazy, right? 
     See the bell tower? There are iron/metal canisters that probably weigh 50 lbs each strung up in there. If you are brave enough (which we were...) you can scale the ladder up to the top and ring them! It was great fun, however I felt like Quaismodo and probably lost about 5dB of hearing capability! haha! 

     Regardless, it was so worth the 60 minute drive out to Crossville, TN. If you are looking for a spooky--err--creative date, fellas, take your girl here. There's a lot to see and explore and its a fun atmosphere. And its free! 

Date completed: March 3rd, 2012

#28. Fall In Love

Well, when it happens to you you think "Well, that wasn't hard at all to accomplish". However, when you are single, you feel like it's NEVER gonna happen (can I get an amen?). I am so thankful for how the Lord has brought "the boy" into my life! It is a miracle that he has been "hiding out" 2,200 miles away from where I was looking for him in CA. Now that I am in TN, and he is in TN, well...we found each other :-)

The song of the day is from the Annie Moses Band called "You Look Good in Love". This song is not on YouTube because Annie Moses Band is probably too tiny to get any type of online-recognition, but I certainly love them! As a runner-up song of the day, take a listen to this love song, country style.

Monday, April 30, 2012

what to do?

       Here's an interesting thought: the drab of winter makes the freshness of spring that much better. My boyfriend and I were talking this weekend about (among a series of other things) how glad we both are that it is spring. For us, as college students, it is practically summer as school is now out for me (and it's not even May!). I told "the boy" that I absolutely hated this past winter. There were long nights spent crying on my couch in my apartment feeling like winter would never end; feeling like the miles between myself and my sisters, and my parents, was growing farther apart with each tick of the deafening clock; feeling like I would never overcome one of my greatest flaws; feeling like I was so very alone in a culture that is supposed to be famous for its hospitality and sweetness; for having (yet again) an identity crisis and not knowing how to move on; for feeling like...winter would never end. Those were some rough days, yet, for some odd reason, I feel like they are mostly behind me. I have sought help; I have intentionally put myself into meaningful relationships where people know my pain and can help me through it; and I have lived one day at a time waiting for spring to arrive.
    So now, it is spring. In fact, spring is almost over for me. I have a month long break from school which will officially be my "summer" since I will be taking four summer school classes this year to finish up my undergraduate degree. This morning I thought to myself, "Self, what are we going to do for a month? It is so lovely and warm outside, you have dozens upon dozens of books to read, you have several friends in town, you have recently acquired permission to use a bicycle, you are moving to a charming house and out of your dreary apartment, but Self, what are we going to do?" I ask myself these questions not really expecting a response, and I have found one, but what I mean is who will I become over this next month?
      College is a strange and brutal organization because for three weeks straight all 27,000 of us are running off of 4 hours of sleep each night, more coffee than we care to consume, Cheeze-Its, and 40 minute trips to the gym. Then they say "Move out! Summer's here!" Ahhh...I can breathe. Time to relax. But wait, what to do?
     I have, for so long, focused on being a student and students study. I have studied the Bible. I have studied women at my church who lead godly and uplifting lives. I have studied our culture and the dynamics of what our society says we should be like. I have studied nature and colors and words and philosophies and education. I have studied. But now, not even with the end of the spring, but with the end of my undergraduate career, what to do? What to study? Is there anything to study, anymore?
     Recently I have found the answer is "yes". I have become a student of love. I study how to love because I have never loved in this way before. I study his habits and patters of life. I study is heartbeat and his fingerprints. I even study some material regarding his field of work and educational life. I have never had this type of assignment before, and yet, I gladly undertake it.

What to do? What to do? This summer, I will love.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Missing France

I first heard this song during my yoga class last week and haven't been able to get it out of my head since! I love how it is soulful, personal, and soothing all at the same time. French is one of my favourite languages and I love to listen to music in French and Spanish (probably because I have heard these languages the most; however, I do love Classical Korean music too...weird, I know.)

Take a listen for yourself and I hope you will get a sense of missing France today too.

Quelqu’un m’a dit (Carla Bruni) – translation

I’m told that our lives aren’t worth much,
They pass like an instant, like wilting roses.
I’m told that time slipping by is a bastard
Making its coat of our sorrows.
Yet someone told me…
That you still loved me
Someone told me…
That you still loved me.
Well ? Could that be possible?
I’m told that fate makes fun of us,
That it gives us nothing and promises everything,
When happiness seems to be within our reach,
We reach out and find ourselves like fools.
Yet someone told me…
That you still loved me
Someone told me…
That you still loved me.
Well ? Could that be possible?
Well ? Could that be possible?
So who said that you still loved me?
I don’t remember any more, it was late at night,
I can still hear the voice, but I can no longer see the face,
“He loves you, it’s secret, don’t tell him I told you.”
You see, someone told me
That you still loved me
Did someone really tell me?
That you still loved me
Well, could that be possible?
I’m told that our lives aren’t worth much,
Passing in an instant, like wilting roses,
I’m told that time slipping by is a bastard,
Making its coat of our sadnesses.
That you still loved me
Someone told me…
That you still loved me.
Well ? Could that be possible?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Small Request that Takes a Lifetime to Complete

I've been singing this song all day long, so it officially makes it "the song of the day".

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Smashing Dream

       There is a new TV show that I found online while looking for a lazy Thursday-night-in. Its called Smash. Now, I don't want to promote this show, because I've only seen the first two episodes of it, but from what I've seen, I really love it. It's hopeful and heartbreaking at the same time. It is "real life"...but it's TV. It feels like a fresh, new show that I've always wanted to watch.
       The song of the day comes from a song I saw on this show (although, I think it's been around for a while) called "Crazy Dreams". I love that we are allowed to dream...even if those dreams are so unobtainable, we can still dream them. My dream job would be a dancer on a cruise ship. I could listen to beautiful music, by in sync with perfect bodies, entertain thousands, all while traveling the world, soaking in the sun, and exploring far off beaches. Now, granted, I know someone who was a dancer on a cruise line, and trust me, that was probably her dream at some point in time too, but real life isn't exactly like that. There are hours and hours of rehearsal in the belly of the ship, there are sprained ankles that get you fired from 6-long-contracts, and there is sea sickness. However, it sounds like a nice dream. Am I ever going to have that profession? No. I am going to be a teacher for kids who probably won't even be able to count to 15 by the time they are twenty years old. I will sit indoors wishing I could go out into the sun, yet always getting out of school in just enough time to see the sunset (except for the spring and summer times). It will be hard, and tedious, and I will not have "nights and weekends free" like so many others I know that will. But, don't get me wrong- this is also my dream. I want to touch people's lives on a very personal basis. Yes, entertainment is...well, entertaining. Its fun and it gives you a good laugh, or draws a few tears, but you leave the theater and return to your normal life. The only thing the theater has ever given me once I've left it is a burning desire to be up on stage with them. I have taken tap dance classes, and voice lessons, and piano lessons, and even have had the chance of being in two musical theater productions (granted, one was my high school's end of the year production my senior year, and the other was with the same director but through a community theater venue, but they were still stages, they were still dreams come true).
       All this to say, it is important that you chase after your dream. If you have one, and it seeps through your to heart like red food coloring permitting a glass of water, then please, chase your dream. Because, hey, even crazy dreams come true.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Why to Live?

Sometimes on my toughest days I think "Why to live? Why should I keep living here on Earth when my heart is in Heaven? When some of my family members and friends and other people's relatives that I loved are there too?"

And then I hear a song. A simple song my mother used to sing from time to time. I have not heard it in years (probably 10 years to be honest). I heard it sung tonight (and sang it myself, actually) in a room full of people whom I have come to love. These people are genuine and they care. They "practice what they preach". They uplift others in the room because that's what we do- that's how we function.

So not if, but when, you ever ask yourself "why to live?" just sing this little song, and hopefully you will find the answer provided in the song the answer to your quandary.

Why to live? ...Because He lives.

It is only through Jesus that I can fight this pain. It is only through Jesus that I can fight this battle. It is only through Jesus that I don't give up entirely. Because He lives I can face tomorrow...I may be shaking in my boots and I may have tear-stained cheeks, but I will still live. I will survive. And I will continue to grow in His love and His light...because He lives.

Monday, April 2, 2012

My Ode to Sin

Straight from the heart, Sin, please leave me alone.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Springtime in Tennessee

Life is: enjoying the simple pleasures of spring.
New floral shirt.
The colour yellow.
Bare feet.
Blooming trees (ehh...allergies).
Bright streams of sunlight that cast glorybeams across campus and make designs on the carpet in my living room.
Bluegrass music!
Hammocking outside for hours on end.
Knowing you are so close to finishing your college career it makes you want to sleep for the next 5 weeks straight and wake up in time for graduation.

In honor of the day, some random students who are obviously in some sort of bluegrass band, decided to play songs outside for several hours. While looking around for a good spot to hammock, I heard them, and thought "ah ha! I've found my clump of trees for the afternoon!" Low and behold- one of the songs they sang "My Little Girl in TN". How fitting for me :)

Enjoy with the complements of the season: spring.
(This is not the group of students I listened to...but you get the picture).

Ridiculously Realistic?

And now, ladies and gentlemen, brought to you from Groupon, (yes, the company that gives you daily deals to your email): 

The Groupon Guide to: Underground Bunkers

The world as we know it could end any moment—probably because people aren't using enough oil so the earth's crust is filling up with it. Whatever happens, the end of the world will only be a new beginning for people who were smart enough to stock up their underground bunkers. Here are some supplies you’ll want in your apocalypse-proof lair:
• Dishwashing soap to clean off any animals that got covered in ash from the global fire so they are edible again 
• Handheld video games (brain-teaser games only!) 
• Three quarts of gasoline to keep grandpa’s heart running 
• Two sacks of raw grain to use as free weights so you’ll look buff when intruders from other bunkers break in and try to steal your sacks of grain 
• A bunch of different-colored cardigans—stuff them with newspaper and now they’re friends 
• A lantern for pretending it’s the sun and hoping it grows large enough to replace the sun we lost 
• Bunk beds for keeping sleeping family members all stacked up in an orderly fashion so you feel like you have control over at least this one thing 

After watching the Hunger Games this weekend, these ideas may come in handy ;) 

Monday, March 12, 2012


Do you ever have those unique dreams in between the snooze of your alarm? Totally happened to me today. And it was a very good dream...but I can't share it, because then it might be your dream too, and it was actually mine. The dream didn't involve rain, but it did involve mist, which is the closest we get to rain over on the dry coasts of sunny Southern California. I am normally not a fan of grey days, but today is an exception. It is like my dream has just continued once I woke up, because the weather in my dream is almost the same as the weather outside in East Tennessee today. While there isn't that deliciously smokey briny-air feel here, I guess I will just have to pretend that I can still feel the moisture of the waves on my smooth skin.

The song of the day is "I Think it's Going to Rain Today", by Madeline Peyroux. I couldn't find find a youtube link to this song (very upsetting), but you can search for it on Pandora if you would like. I love Madeline Peyroux and the smokiness in her voice. It is like I am watching the dying embers of a campfire while sitting on the shore on a chilly summer's eve at the beach all over again when I listen to her music.

Happy raindrops on a happy Monday morning :)

While you're at it, take a look at this awesome website of pictures of the inside of instruments!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Eyes and Words and Looks and Communication

I love the way Sam expresses herself! She is a wonderful photographer and has such an artistic view of life.
I second her feelings of looking around and wondering what the person I am seeing is thinking. I do a lot of signing, and with that, comes a lot of self-video tapes. I am very familiar with my facial expressions. ...especially when I laugh because I do it so often. I swear, I'm gonna be one of those unfortunate old ladies who has crows feet by the time I'm 27. Regardless, facial expressions communicate SO MUCH to me! I am good at reading people. I can tell when something is going on. This partially comes from hiding my own emotions and personal thoughts. Because I am a very expressive person, I have had to learn how to conceal my emotions off of my face. Recently, someone taught me the concept of having a "wordless conversation". At first, its a little uncomfortable. But sometimes looks and eye gaze communicate so much more than words ever could. You know the cliche "a picture's worth a 1,000 words"? Well, I think you could say "some facial expressions are worth an infinite amount of words".

Christian Culture

This was hilarious and I could not help but pass it on! It talks about being a Christian kid in the 90s. I totally got 10 out of 10 on these.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Literacy History

For my Reading Education class, we had to create at paper about our literacy history. I thought you might be interested to gain some perspective into my motivation as to why I want to be an English teacher for the deaf/HoH by reading this little snap.

   I suppose the first question to address is how I learned to read. However, this question of “how” is much harder to answer than “when”. I do not remember many particulars about learning how to read, although I do know that it is different than most people’s experiences. I was homeschooled from first grade through eighth grade. My kindergarten year, I attended my town’s local elementary school. I am sure that the teacher worked with us on literacy and reading, however, I feel like I already knew how to read in kindergarten as I do not remember any type of instruction in the classroom geared towards reading. Perhaps, however, I do not remember simply because it was a long time ago. In first grade, I remember reading many “Dick and Jane” books. They were simple and I could read them pretty quickly by myself. I have a younger sister and an older (both of whom were homeschooled all the way through high school). I remember having “reading time” when I was homeschooled and reading these “Dick and Jane” books to my younger sister.
   As far as reading history outside of school, I know that each summer we participated in our local library’s book contest. The contest was to see which child in the library’s reading program could read the most books in a eight- or ten-week span. I remember my older sister winning the contest three times. Since we were homeschooled, and the library was our main “hub” for learning, we went to the library to gorge ourselves on books at least one or two times a week. We had cloth tote bags and my mom’s rule was that we could only check out as many books that would fit in each of our reading bags. I think mine held about 25 picture books. As time progressed, I liked to read, but wasn’t crazy about it. It wasn’t until my seventh birthday that I fell in love with reading books. I am a horse lover and someone gave me the first book of a series called Pony Pals by Jean Bentacourt. There are 38 books in the series, and over the course of the next two or three years, I read every one of her books. I was obsessed with Pony Pals. This was my first introduction to falling in love with books and from Pony Pals, I began to branch out to other horse books. I loved (and still do) books in a series and cannot tell you how many different horse-book series I have on my bookshelves at home!
   In eight grade, I took a “class” (that was more like a honours seminar) specifically for homeschooled students on Classical Literature. We were required to read the unabridged versions of The Iliad, The Odyssey, and several other Greek plays/poems. I remember reading the first couple pages of The Iliad and not comprehending a word or what I was reading! My mom read the entire book aloud to me over the course of a month or so (bless her heart!). I distinctly remember thinking that I had “made it to the big leagues” and could read anything if I could finish The Iliad and understand it enough to have class discussions on it. I remember going to Barnes and Nobles with my mom on a special trip to pick out which book I would read next. I chose Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. If you are not familiar with the book, the abridged version (which is the copy that I own) is 896 pages long. In all honesty, I am probably on about page 500 and it’s been over eight years since I first started that book! It is a challenge for me and I pick it up every summer and Christmas vacation. (My curiosity got the better of me after about two years of reading it and I have familiarized myself with the story via the soundtrack to the Broadway musical, seeing several different movie adaptations, and talking with many people who have been in local-level theatrical productions of the play. Hence, I am less motivated to finish the book, but I know someday I will!)
   To this day, I still love to read classical literature and am currently reading A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. My early years spent browsing my local library’s shelves have greatly contributed to my love of reading. Additionally, I think that my mother’s positive view, and also practical encouragement of pushing us to read, also helped me see reading as an adventure that can take you anywhere around the world. I love to talk to people and see life from their perspectives. Reading allows me the opportunity to do just that.
   I know that my love of reading has influenced me in my decision to become an English teacher for Deaf and hard of hearing kids. Most deaf and hard of hearing (HoH) children are language delayed and therefore do not have good language skills. The average literacy rate for a deaf adult is said to be between fourth and seventh grade level. It is extremely hard to teach deaf/HoH children how to read and even more so how to fall in love with reading. I will definitely have my work cut out for me! I feel ready and capable to meet this challenge, however, since I have such a passion for others to be able to discover the magic of books and enjoy reading as much as I do! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

#51 California Christmas

I didn't actually write this, but it was what I would have written. It was at "my beach" and on my walking path for the afternoon. 

Sunset over Downtown LA.

Oceanside Pier on a clear, gorgeous day in Oceanside, CA (about 30 mins from my parents' house). My second visit to the beach within two days time.

Number 51 reads: "Spend Christmas in California" and that has now been accomplished! Little did I know that I would spend this Christmas in Puerto Rico *and* CA. By going to PR, I accomplished #4 from my list too: "visit a missionary while they are working internationally on the field". I was totally spoiled by weather in the mid-80s for about a month straight (...and to think this month was in December/January! Boy!) I had a fantastic trip home and became really spoiled and lazy. Some highlights:
--Girls shopping trip in LA with my sisters and cousin
--Meeting my second cousin, once removed for the very first time as a 5 month old (, she's my 2nd cousins daughter, 'case you were a little confused, there)
--Meeting my first cousin, once removed for the very first time as a 6 *day* old! Precious! (Which was #13: "hold a newborn baby [newborn= under 3 months old]")
--Getting to see my parents interact with their friends in their Sunday school class
--Hanging around the house in sweats all day and acting like I owned the place =)
--Playing on our new Baby Grand piano! Its beautiful!
--Talking the dogs (and Emmy) for walks to "the horses"
--Sunbathing (...yes, literally)
--Tea and scones with one of my very best friends in her new trailer as she is now a newlywed
--Sleepovers and dodgin' around Pasadena with Hayley
--Backrubs from sisters!!!!
--Spending multiple nights at Amanda's house (#21: "spend the night with my sister at her house in Los Angeles")
--Trimming the apple trees at the bottom of our grove and hearing the horses "neigh" and sheep freak out and "bleat" at 4pm because that's feeding time
[Okay, side note/explanation- I live on an avocado grove, not a farm. All these animals live at a summer camp on the other side of our closest neighbour's property. As a kid I was *obsessed* with horses and Amanda and I used to sneak through the corral fencing to go to the camps Saturday morning rodeos/end of camp-show-your-parents-your-skill-closer. We never went to the camp, but boy, we sure hiked around it! Haha! Terrible, I know.]

And lastly, but certainly not least (...why isn't it "leastly"...?)
--Three hour solo day with God at the beach. It was so unexpected, and so needed! Wonderful and beautiful at the same time. In reward, He gave me a *fantastic* sunset. See?

Goodbye, CA, for now.
I bought a one-way plane ticket going back to school in TN because I don't know when I will be returning to CA. Good thing I have 8 months to work it out! Trusting the Lord every step of the way.

Date(s) completed: December 18th, 2011- January 11th, 2012.