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Getting Back To Getting Back

20 Jun

Man, time sure flies when you’re a first-year teacher.

miss you

I didn’t mean to leave this blog on such a dour note. Nine months later and I’m living proof that when I’m not immersed in something I tend to let it go. Quit the knit shop job and I stop knitting. Stop spending my days in front of a computer screen and I stop writing. Which many would argue means I’m not a real writer. In my mind it just means I’ve been exhausted.

Many people have asked me how I plan to spend my first summer of freedom since I graduated high school. It’s simple really. I want to get back to doing the things that I love: spending time with family and friends. Nurturing relationships. Playing with my dogs. Reading. Writing. Doing all the things I’ve had little time for since I started teaching in August. Crossing things off my 30 Before 30 list. (Spoiler alert: there’s not many left! I’ve been crossing off quite a few since August!) Living. Experiencing. Loving. Living. It’s gonna be a great summer.

One year of teaching under my belt. It’s been nine months of Big Giant Learning Curve. There’s been many successes. There’s been many things I’ve done that I want to do better. There’s been many nights celebrating triumphs and crying over fears. There has been oh so much more wine drunk. Many things I’ve learned that made me grow. Many moments that confirmed, for me, that I am I teacher; I need to be teaching, I love working with kids and helping them grow, and I’ve found a way to be in teen ministry and get paid to do it. All in all, I’d call this past school year a crashing success. As many things as I know I want to do better in the future, there’s been so many moments that have been awesomely amazing, that have convinced me that – as many personal ghosts as I’ve had to face – I am right where I need to be. Now, it’s all about figuring out the next step.

It’s awkward figuring out what to write after such a long hiatus. Do I try and do a wrap up? Apologize to my non-existent audience for being gone so long? Say sorry to my blogging friends that I haven’t kept up with their writing either? (Hi Cara, Katie, Adelle! Long time no read!) I’ve thought about doing all of that, and ended up thinking I should just do what I do: write what I’m thinking about, how I’m feeling, and not worry about the stream-of-consciousness of it all. Because I’m back to my roots: writing for me. Because I want to, not because I feel like I have to or like I have to produce content. I’ve produced plenty of content since August, just none of it has made it to this page.

So to reintroduce myself after such a long pause, A and I are good. We’re well. Thriving, even. He’s taking vacation next week to spend time with me on my summer break and I couldn’t be happier. I’m crossing stuff off my 30 Before 30 list, and have lots to catch up on, at least online. The dogs are happy dogs, I have more direction than I did a year ago, and I’m continuing to live an out-loud life with as much openness and authenticity as possible. Because, as busy as I’ve been, I still stand by life being too short to live it halfway.

Cheers, friends. See you soon.

In Honor of My Sister: An Elephant Never…Huh?

12 Jul

This is going to be a very random post today. You have been warned.

Do you ever have weeks, months even, where it seems like your life is full of busy without being full of content? That’s how I’m feeling these days. I know, I know, a REAL writer makes her own content. But lately it feels like my brain has been playing catch up.

::cut to non-sequitur::

I’ve been thinking a lot about my sister these days. The littlest one, The Child, the one getting married. The Child really likes elephants. Not in an “I’m obsessed with elephants and want to have every elephant thing in existence ever,” kind of way, but in an, “I have a loving respect for elephants, and enjoy receiving the occasional well-thought out elephant gift.” Sort of like me with birds.

She has a ridiculous fondness for elephant jokes. Kind of like me with dead baby jokes. (Hey! I told you I was morbid!) So in honor of her and all the thought she’s been taking up (fondly) in my mind lately, I bring you a plethora of elephant things that make me laugh, starting with The Child’s favorite joke, which may be my favorite joke of all time, and ending with one of my favorite things ever: a Looney Tune. You’re welcome.

To be told rapidly in sequence with a completely straight face. Until the end. Then you can be overcome with your own cleverness.

Q: Why did the elephant fall out of the tree?
A: Because he was dead.

Q: Why did the second elephant fall out of the tree?
A: Because he was tied to the first elephant.

Q: Why did the third elephant fall out of the tree?
A: Because he thought it was a game.

Q: Why did the tree fall down?
A: Because it thought it was an elephant.

best. cartoon series. evah.

A Morbid Tale: In Which Our Heroine Poisons a Stray

28 Jun

We had no pets growing up. Wait, strike that, we had a bird. When I was eight we took over a parakeet from a neighbor and I named him Nicki. It was the only pet we could have besides fish because my mom is horribly allergic to all animals with fur, and I wasn’t that great at keeping goldfish won at my elementary school’s fundraising fair alive. So when my mom found a stray dog wandering in the road I thought this was my chance to befriend a dog for real.

Hold up, let me back up for a moment. I was in fifth grade, and my favorite book was Where the Red Fern Grows. I thought that if I could only get around the whole ‘my mom will die if we get a dog’ thing, that the lucky canine would be the best friend I’d never had. I would read him books and dress him in my little sister’s clothes, and he would sleep at my feet like a living stuffed animal and lick my ice cream cones like that dog in Beethoven. My grandma had a dog, but by that time he was old and was not interested in listening to my books, much less being dressed up, and I only saw him once a week or so anyway, so he didn’t qualify as a doggie bff. So when this scraggly mutt wandered in front of our house and my tender-hearted mother took him in (and promptly locked him outside in the backyard) all I could think was, “This is it. My chance to have a real dog best friend.”

I totally ignored the fact that the dog had tags and my mom called the owners, who said they’d be by to pick him up in a few hours. It mattered not; this dog and I had a date with destiny.

Mom made dinner with chocolate chip cookies for desert, and we must have had people over because I remember there being a lot of talking and her not paying much attention to me. I only had eyes for that mangy dog, so the details about who was over are fuzzy. But I definitely remember the cookies. Dinner took forever because I couldn’t wait to get back to my doggie friend. I wasn’t allowed to open the steel-gated door (to say the street we lived on in SoCal was sketchy would be an understatement) to pet the “strange” (according to mom) dog, much less go outside and play with it, so I sat at the door talking to the pooch through the metal. To his credit, he was a great listener, though I didn’t want to take my eyes off him long enough to run and get a book to try reading him stories. I appreciated his attention, and wanted to find a way to show him how much I loved him. Yes, we had only just met, but I was convinced that we had a special bond with all the conviction an 9-year-old struck with puppy love is capable of mustering, and I wanted to do something nice for dog as a token of my friendship. So I gave him the second half of my cookie.

Yes, I broke the “don’t open the door or else” rule, but I was quick, and only opened it enough to stick the proffered cookie through the crack. Harmless, right? Just as Fido finished licking his chops, my mom came around the corner.

“Finished your cookie already?” she asked.

“No, I gave it to Dog,” I said proudly, hoping she would overlook my flouting of the door rule and praise my selfless generosity, offering me another cookie (or two) as reward for making the dog feel so at home.

So not what happened.

“You did WHAT?!?” shrieked my mom as she rushed to my side and peered tentatively out the door at the mutt.

“What’s wrong? He’s okay, he liked it!” I insisted, but mom kept looking at Pooch like he was a bomb waiting to explode.

“Christine Marie!” She scolded, “You can’t give chocolate chip cookies to a dog! It’s really bad for them, and makes them sick. Chocolate is doggie poison!”

My eyes filled with tears when she said this. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t mean to hurt the dog, I’d thought I was being nice. But as in so many tales from the Brothers Grimm, my token of friendship and undying love had turned out to be poison to the object of my affections. She watched the dog for a few minutes. Looking back, I’m sure she was trying to figure out how much to tell the (at that point, very tardy) owners, but I thought she was on a death watch. When she turned around with a big sigh to go back into the living room, I thought she’d given up hope. In reality I’m sure she was just being a good hostess and going back to her guests, but in my impressionistic young mind her melancholy parting said it was all over for my friend.

So I sat back on my haunches and waited for the dog to die.

~ The End ~

M.I.A.

21 May

Hello lovelies! I’ve missed you all so much!

Things have been crazy around here at casa de BiRL, so this is going to be a drive-by posting. It’s my first year being in charge of a lot of stuff, and I’ve had rehearsals, dress rehearsals, and then performances coming out of my ears for that last two months. One more week to go (at 12 hours a day) and I’m done! Whew! Little did we know we’d more from A’s accountant busy season to my end of the school year busy season. Well, we know for next year!

So what’s new….let’s see….

As of last night my baby sister is engaged to be married. Yay!

I’m exploring exercising at odd times due to a crazy work schedule. Yay!

I’ve had one heck of a time replacing my old workout shoes and the sports bra that broke on me last week, and they STILL haven’t some in. Boo.

My dogs won’t stop digging in the garden I’m trying to build. On the plus side, it helps with the weeding. Yay! On the downside they track mud into the house. Boo.

I have two updates for the 30 Before 30 List that I’m almost done with, and I can’t wait to share them with you. Yay!

One week from today A and I will have been married for six whole years. YAY!!!

That’s all for now! Sorry for the brief post, but I’ll be able to write more as soon as my brain comes down from four hours’ sleep per night.

What’s Saving My Life Right Now

9 May

Last night our worship service was on Romans and The Gravity of Grace. My favorite book from the Bible. I know it so well, and yet sometimes I am surprised by how new the words can sound when I need them most.

If God is for us, who can be against us?

My friend Katie wrote on her blog this week about what is saving her life right now. It’s a great read, go over and take a look. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Wasn’t that great? What would the world be like if we asked “what is saving your life?” instead of “how are you?” It got me thinking about how I would answer. How would I answer, now, when I need a little bit of saving?

Right now I’m holding onto hope, which we are promised does not disappoint. God promises that going through suffering will produce perseverance, which produces character, which leads to hope, which will not put us to shame. I’ve been through this before, all four stages, time and time again. So I know that His promise is good, just like Him. So when I find myself in one of those states, I can have hope. Because I know it is coming. Suffering produced hope, as promised, and that’s what I hold on to when the struggle still has hold of me.

His word is good, just as He is good.

“And we boast in the hope   of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings,   because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope   does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay  and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit,   groan   inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all.   Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died —more than that, who was raised to life —is at the right hand of God   and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God  that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Amen.

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