Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wif God

My daughter doesn't often bring home spelling words, perhaps because she studies them adequately at school, or perhaps because her teacher doesn't want to increase G's (like-mother-like-daughter) perfectionism by emphasizing the upcoming test. But the week my daughter did bring home her spelling workbook there was a good reason: God needed to send me a message.

Included with G's list of a_e words, I read the three sentences she'd composed to practice them and the second put me on the edge of tears.

Like mother like daughter; we make life hard for ourselves, setting standards we can't meet, focusing on our failures and life's "what-ifs". But deep down we know where we are: safe in God's hands. When we face new challenges--a first college lecture or a second grade test--we sometimes forget.

Then God comes near and spells it out for us again.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


Wow, I didn't realize it had been this long since I've blogged. My absence has nothing to do with a dearth of things to write about. The opposite in fact.

My first excuse is that since the beginning of October I've been teaching College essay writing for the first time. Thirty-three students. Ninety-nine essays to mark. Secondly, I blame Facebook--I release so much of my creative energy in 20 word bursts in my daily status updates.

But teaching and Facebook-ing don't explain everything; I've been doing both for years. The main reason is a felt need for privacy. I've experienced so many emotions, changes, and stresses that would have made for intriguing blog posts--may even have encouraged someone--but I don't feel ready to share with the world.

Saturday I went to a discussion on the definition of Mennolit featuring local authors Armin Wiebe and David Elias. Afterward David Elias told me that writing fiction is more truthful than writing fact. A few weeks ago novelist Sandra Birdsell told me the same thing. She said it was like putting a puppet on your hand: a character to hide behind while you uncover yourself in complete honesty.

I know what they mean. I want so badly to show you what's inside, but I'm tired of being vulnerable, of opening myself and my family up to criticism, advice, and gossip. I want to hide behind a character who embodies everything inside me: the fear, the humour, the sexuality, the insecurities, and the it feels to be in my skin, and somehow, through my fictional character, to have it all make sense, or at least: something beautiful.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

I'm every woman, even with a degree

Recently a pastor told me that she felt God called her to ministry without a masters so she could "relate to everyday women."

I have a masters, and I find the only thing it does is make others think they can't relate to me. People expect me to know more than I do. Sometimes they're intimidated about working with me. I teach Sunday school solo.

Other people's assumptions may make them less likely to approach me, but my education did nothing to my ability to relate to them. Yes, I may have written longer essay, but I've also experienced marriage, miscarriage, minimum wage, childbirth, layoffs, leaky water tanks, PMS, fender benders, and wrinkles - just like "everyday women". When I looked over the edge of my grandma's casket, I didn't think theological thoughts, I wept. And when I weedwacked my ankle, it bled.

Critical thinking textbooks, David Bergen novels, and Dr. Seuss' Foot Book are equally at home on my coffee table. I might read Habakkuk and Revelation more than most people, but despite my wall of commentaries and Hebrew lexicons, I often pick up my Bible and have no idea what I'm supposed to get out of it. I have never worn my grad cap to bed and dreamed of heavenly horsemen. I don't eat scrolls, or locusts.

I'm surrounded by way too much poop and toothpaste to ever loose touch with "the real world." So please, tell me about your rotten, smelly, grace-filled day. I can relate.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Operator, give me Jesus on the line

This morning it was so cute watching G. shouting at the breakfast table,

"God, if you can hear me...would you like to sleep in my bed with me tonight?


"Because you can if you want to!"

It was less cute when, after a few seconds, she said, "Oh. No answer. I guess you don't exist."

What happened to the "simple faith of a child" everyone talks about?

Why do some children see angels around their beds, feel divine hugs, and hear God whispering love in their ears, and others don't?

Friday, August 07, 2009

To be googled, or not to be googled?

I'm reading Gabrielle Roy's novel The Road Past Altamont. I've barely begun, but so far I'm most intrigued by the translator's introduction. Joyce Marshall writes that Roy believes:

"artistic talent is less a gift than a tyranny. In Street of Riches she depicts the artist as a lonely figure, constantly left behind, constantly running to catch up and show what he has found. The Hidden Mountain uses the image of the pursuit and the death of a caribou as symbol for the artist's life in which he is at the same time hunter and hunted, pursuer and pursued. Now she adds a further qualification, slave - or at least, servant - one who is not free even to keep his own thoughts for himself since they belong, in part at least, to others."

The lonely figure running to catch up. The servant. I'm not sure I get the hunted caribou part. If the artist is always left behind, how can one say she is pursued? But the servant part rings true. I've often felt like I wasn't free to keep my thoughts to myself. (Even when others disagreed quite strongly!) I'm not always comfortable with so many people reading about my life in magazines and blogs, but I want my words to encourage people. When I find the right ones I want to share them.

But with how many people? Right now my blog doesn't show up on any search engines. People find it through word of mouth. I've lost my hit counter so I have no idea how many, but it's a small group who leave comments.

I'd like my writing to generate more income, but I could only do with major traffic. (I tried posting ads here and after one year I'd earned 7 cents!)

Do I want to give up my privacy? Do I want the guy who had a crush on me at camp twenty years ago reading this? (Yes, I know who you are!)

Friday, July 31, 2009

Speaking in tongues

This summer my husband and I celebrated our 15th anniversary. Tony and I met at Providence College in 1991. My second year, we led the Communications committee together; I was the school paper editor, he the poster designer. I soon became interested in helping create posters, and Tony started hanging out more in the library. Thus began what the drama professor called "communications collaboration."

Our first year of dating was therefore, creative, playful, and highly entertaining. The intervening years have introduced some darker colours to the mix: unemployment, miscarriage, depression, and parenting stress. And the most exciting things we paint now are baseboards. But we take stubborn pride in sticking together, knowing that, while the mischievous smirks and longing glances are fewer and farther between, we're still the same editor/painter team that fell in love under the glowing light of the microfiche and first kissed amid the heady smell of tempura.

In Acedia and Me: A marriage, monks and a writer's life, Kathleen Norris cites a recent study that "monitored the daily habits of couples in order to determine what produced good and stable marriages." It revealed that "only one activity made a consistent different, and that was the embracing of one's spouse at the beginning and end of each day."

"Most surprising to Paul Bosch, who wrote an article about the study, was that 'it didn't seem to matter whether or not in that moment the partners were fully engaged or even sincere. Just a perfunctory peck on the cheek was enough to make a difference in the quality of the relationship.' Bosch concluded that this 'should not surprise churchgoers. Whatever you do repeatedly has the power to shape you, has the power to make you over into different person.'"

Norris comments, "So there...Let's hear it for insincere, hurried kisses, and prayers made with a yawn. I may be dwelling on the fact that my feet hurt, or nursing some petty slight. As for the words that I am dutifully saying - 'Love you' or 'Dear God' - I might as well be speaking in tongues, and maybe I am...Every day and every night, whether I 'get it' or not, these 'meaningless' words and actions signify more than I know."

Here's to many more years of hurried kisses!

Old colour photos by Ted Yee. Black and white wedding photo by Rudolf Klassen.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The devil I know

Last week I was in a frenzy to prepare a sermon, create a course outline, and arrange an interview. This week I don't even feel like opening a doc file. Someone once described me as a "rabbit driving stick shift." I'm either racing ahead or lurching to a stop and hiding in the grass. I used to think I was crazy; I've realized, no: I'm just a writer!

I've begun reading famous writers' thoughts on their careers. (Why didn't I do this sooner?) It's so good to know, for example, that Annie Dillard writes one page a day and says that's success. Or that she sees the thought that her work in progress is terrible or the thought that it is wonderful as mosquitoes to be swatted. But the biggest revelation came about the writing life came from Kathleen Norris:

"I am both an extrovert and an introvert, energized by other people, even crowds of people, but also content to keep to myself for days on end...My energy levels are set on high or low: I can happily juggle any number of activities or do very little. At my most sluggish, I experience a mild agoraphobia, which makes it hard for me to meet outside obligations, even to shop for bread or a quart of milk."

Oh boy, does that ever sound familiar! I'm not sure if writing attracts extremists, or drives sane people to extremes, but there you have it: they go together like long ears and cottontails. It makes sense: you go from the stress of the deadline to the exhaustion that follows, from the elation of being published to worrying whether you'll ever have another story idea as good as the last one. Write and cut, write and lose to a computer crash. One page forward, ten pages back. Up. Down. Up.

"Were I to approach an abba or amma asking for a 'word' to help me cope with the assaults of acedia [despair] on my soul," writes Norris, "I would likely be reminded that if I am especially susceptible to acedia, it is because I harbor within myself the virtue of zeal. That comes as a relief. It helps explain the extremism that lies beneath my more or less sane facade."

There's something freeing about making peace with your internal yo-yo. On the other hand, God may have something slightly less jerky in mind for my life:

Norris says, "One of my mantras is a plea from Psalm 51: 'Put a steadfast spirit within me.' I pray it, but I must admit that I don't always mean it. Would a more steadfast spirit deaden me somehow, or dampen the writer in me? This up-and-down, unsteadfast person is who I am; this is the devil I know."

We prefer the devil we know to the one we don't. But, when you think about it, there's only one of him; both devils are the same guy, and I prefer door number three. I've had the same fear of dampening the writer in me, but like Norris, I have to say a steadfast spirit sounds really good.

"To Edmund Bergler, the twentieth-century analyst who coined the term 'writer's block,' and once remarked that he had 'never seen a "normal'' writer,'" Norris says, "I can honestly reply: That's all right. I am not certain I have ever seen a 'normal' psychoanalyst."

I have no idea what sort of transmission their inner animal drives...but I'll bet the upholstery is nicer.

(Photo: Rabbit in the Dryer by Tim Moore)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The magic of tea

I had a little tea party this afternoon at three.
It was very small - three friends in all - just I, myself, and me.
Myself ate up the sandwiches, while I drank down the tea.
T'was also I who ate the pie, and pass the cake to me!

When I was a little girl I would set up tea parties with tiny plastic dishes. My dad (who was home all winter while his fields lay under snow and my mom worked as a nurse), or an unsuspecting uncle, or a collection of teddy bears would be invited to sip imaginary tea and "oooh" about its delicate aroma.

Last week I had my first tea party with tea and cakes made out of more than air and fairy dust (a less economical choice to be sure). For the first time I laid out the tablecloth and tea cups I inherited from my grandma this winter. (Oh, how I wish I could ask her who gave them to her and why! Did they remind her of a special occasion? Did she ever use them?)

I invited 7 women who have prayed for me, supported me, and laughed and cried with me through my difficult last pregnancy, Kieran's diagnosis, and my grandma's passing. This list of super models include:

My pastor's wife, who for the past 11 years has given me a weekly hug and the reassurance that I'm not as crazy as I feel, and a lot more beautiful.

My accountability partner from 6 years ago, who still meets me at Second Cup every couple months to talk about things I don't tell anyone else. So many times one of us has said something off the top of our heads that turned out to be a gift from heaven.

The friend who happened to be pregnant exactly the same times I was; she moved an hour away and still showed up at my door after my grandma passed away - just to give me a hug.

The mom who shares my love of cheesecake, ice cream, and strong coffee, and the experience of having a child intent on discovering a record number of ways to endanger life by the age of 2. Actually 3 out of 7 of the women I invited have a child with ADHD, meaning you can tell them all sorts of strange parenting stories and they don't flinch.

The single girlfriend who disagrees with me on almost everything, but has stuck with me for the past decade through thick and thin. I'll never forget the day I was too sick and pregnant to take care of Kieran or myself; she appeared at my door with white bread and real butter to make us grilled cheese sandwiches.

The mom who takes me for coffee, laughs, nods and totally gets it. She said once, I don't have a sister, but I have friends like you. And I say "ditto."

The prayer warrior who told me she woke in the middle of the night to pray for me. She sensed I wasn't sleeping sleeping well either; she felt God telling her to sing me to sleep. The only song she could think of was "O Canada" so she sang that!

Only four of my friends were able to come, but we had a lovely time. There's something about the atmosphere when you're sipping tea from real china cups and eating cakes sprinkled with flower petals and arranged on tiered, etched glass trays that makes every moment feel weightier, yet lighter.

Since I was turning "thirty-something else" they asked for my wisdom (even though they're all older) and when I couldn't produce any off the top of my head, they proceeded to share all the gifts they had received from me in the past: the encouraging words or smiles that came at just the right time.

I blessed them with loose leaf tea, homemade lemon cupcakes, and fine jelly; they blessed me with sweet words. I can't decide what was in my throat: one lump or two? I waited thirty-some years for my first teddy bear-less tea party and now I'm addicted.

Tea, anyone?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

I can't take away her irrational fear. I pray. Someone can.

Align Centerturn to rise

Before you walked
I dreamed
I had super power
to choose your path.
Wrong way!
I thought
I could call you home,
and if you ran,
I could catch you,
carry you home.

On the road where dark lies -
if I let you
stones and thistles
would send you flying
to soft grass,
warm arms,
I dreamed.

I didn't know
small hearts
and feet
harden fast,
fear makes warm arms race, soft grasses itch.
One witch rises over all fairy tales,
and hope doesn't rub off with bedtime kisses
no matter
how I press.
Come home.
Truth weights.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Image control

I'm very excited - we're able to book the cabin we enjoyed last year for another week this summer. We had wonderful weather last August, except for a storm the last night we were there. It took down a giant tree, but didn't stop T. and K. from going onto the water when it was all over, just before the sun set.

I've been going through a lot lately - I get calls from the school several times a week and I'm never sure which kid they'll be calling about. I think they're neck 'n neck in the "who's in trouble now" contest. (And there's always the question that goes with that call, "Is there anything happening at home we should know about?" What are they expecting - that I'll say, "Well actually, we've just started a crack/tarantula breeding/nuclear waste disposal business - do you think that's affecting the kids?" We're not, by the way. And jokes aside, I am incredibly grateful for the compassionate staff at the school, who would love me even if I did have a spider farm.)

My course is winding down now but it's been a ton of work (and fun). We're trying to get K. to fall asleep before midnight and stay asleep, but so far changing his routine and feeding him natural remedies isn't helping. And we're trying to decide what projects to do on the house this summer, while we're tired and grouchy, which really isn't a good idea. Marital finances and sleep deprivation do not mix.

At my mom's support group last night, some moms gave the impression that, since my kids had some supports that theirs did not, my life was rosy. I felt envied. Other moms mostly saw the stress. I did not have as many supports as they did. I felt their sympathy.

I feel the same way when people react to my home. Some people see my 35 year old bungalow for the first time and say, "How can you live here? It's soooo tiny." And others say, "How could you replace all your windows at once? I can't even afford to replace one."

Same goes for my spiritual life; I'm too squeaky clean for some, too messed up for others.

Pity. Envy. Pity. Envy. I don't want either. What I'd really like is to not have to do image-control by playing up my success to those who look down on me and then playing up my pain to others.

I want you to hear and celebrate the good stuff with me, even if you wish my blessings were yours too. To show empathy even if you don't understand my struggles, or think I'm handling them correctly, or that they're half as hard as your own.

Don't be quick to jump to conclusions about whether my life is too black or too white.

It's rainbow.

Which means there's been a whole lot of storms lately, but the sun is definitely still shining.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Resisting change on a cellular level

I'm allergic to change.

I know this because last month my husband switched cellphone networks. Just like that. Without drawing a pros and cons chart or talking about it for weeks or getting my grade one teacher's opinion. And I was so stressed I thought I was going to be sick. Surprise charges, disappearing benefits we'd taken for granted, disgruntled relatives who were no longer on the same network and couldn't call us for free and therefore would stop inviting us over for coffee - I thought of all the possible side-effects to this deceptively cheap and beautiful new phone. That week I dreamed my husband signed me up for dunk in a Hawaiian shark tank. Switching phones, watching sharks - both got a crazy reaction.

I used to like change. The first 18 years of my life didn't have enough of it. Same town, same bullies, same pressures, same long, cold morning wait for the privilege of standing in the aisle of a school bus. My bed and dresser traded walls every few weeks just to keep me from going crazy with the fixedness of everything in my life that wasn't made of arborite.

When we got married I didn't want to feel stuck anywhere (except with the same guy). We moved apartments every couple years and were always looking for new jobs. A few years ago when I was a pastoral intern I remember agreeing with the leadership books that said the greatest leaders are those who aren't afraid of change.

Now buying a can of paint triggers makes me shake. What if I hate the colour? What if I have to redo it or live with it for 10 years? After the first coat I can't sleep and I feel prickly all over. You move my arm chair to the other side of the room and I feel all upside-down inside. And don't even suggest that I might ever sell my house. God would have to do a huge overhaul of my insides before that would ever happen. (I realize he's good at that and gets a kick out of it.)

I don't like being so uptight. (My husband likes it even less. But thanks to my knack for chicken dinners and my sense of humour he's still here.) Worry takes all the joy out of new things. And we can't stop change. But I've finally created a life, a home, a garden, that I like - it's hard to think about letting any of that go. It really comes down to trust. Do I believe the Truth can set me free even when I'm bound to a 3 year wireless contract in a non-symmetrical living room?

Our house is currently embroiled in garage negotiations. We've been saving up for a garage for a while. But I'm scared we'll spend all that money and then hate it. It won't have the exact same siding as our house - what if they look silly side by side? Or what if it takes away too much of our yard space? Or we get laid off the year after we drain our savings? And if we spend all summer working on it how will that affect our relationship?

Or in the interests of our marriage, maybe we should use the money for a sunroom instead so we have a place to nurture our relationship that doesn't smell like Petro? (But that would require me to change the location of the bookcase and chair in the photo to make room for the doorway.) Better yet, I'll go live at my parents' house till all the renovations are done.

Maybe they'll let me rearrange the drawers in my old dresser.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A tribute to an amazing woman

My Grandma passed away Saturday night at 10:45. I was stroking her arm when she stopped breathing. What a terrifying and beautiful experience. I'll write about it sometime. Right now I'm too tired.

I was at the hospital from noon till 11 PM Saturday, at mom's planning the funeral Sunday, teaching College in Steinbach Monday afternoon, pick up T. then back to Steinbach Monday evening for the viewing, back to Steinbach Tuesday to do the same service again, drive to Boissevain and stay for night so we could bury her beside Grandpa and then do the same service a third time. It's good to be home.

Here is the tribute I gave. It was supposed to be for the viewing but I ended up doing it at all three services.

Memories of my Grandma

For 35 years my grandma was a presence in my life. She was there for all the big moments: the family birthdays, Christmases, graduations, weddings, and shopping trips to Grand Forks. But mostly she was there for the every day moments: the pea-shelling, TV watching, chicken wing and tater moments that don’t stand out and imprint themselves on your mind.

So I don't have a lot of story-like memories of Grandma to share because all our times together were so ordinary.

I remember little things like the “I’ve just spent 3 hours in the back seat of the car with my brothers and we’re finally at Grandmas and I’m gonna burst feeling” I got walking into her farmhouse at Christmas. Playing under her ornate wood dining table. Being afraid of falling down the laundry chute. Sitting in my scratchy new nightgown at her island in Brandon watching her make coffee. Following Grandma in her silly straw hat through the flax and canola flowers, protesting that “my dad doesn’t weed his field by hand.”

I remember riding overnight in the backseat with Grandma on the way to visit my aunts in Alberta. She folded my blanket under and wrapped it around my neck because she said that's how her own children had wanted to be tucked in. I still sleep that way.

Grandma and Grandpa stayed over for weeks at a time when my parents went on vacation. When I was little she’d always French-braid my hair for school because my mom doesn’t braid. Once she stayed over when I was a teenager. Grandma sat on my bed and listened patiently to my stories about the cute boys at school. And instead of telling me I was too young for boys or when she was a girl she didn’t talk about that, she leaned in close like she was about to tell me a secret and said, “Your Grandpa and I aren’t very affectionate in public but we love each other so much.”

Especially since she moved to Niverville 10 years ago, whenever my mom and I made plans at her house we both knew that meant Grandma had be there too. And if she couldn’t, then T. and I would take the kids to her condo to ask her to retell stories about her childhood and my mom’s childhood and how a little Aunt Sharon cut her own hair.

I will treasure the past few months of visiting her in the hospital. Sitting with my mom and her mom, who for most of my life have both been too busy creating masterpieces of garden flowers or baking flours to sit much at all, was a gift. I felt connected, a third link on a beautiful chain of varied-coloured gems. I'd already left the hospital but was called back in time to cheer her over the finish line and sing Happy Birthday to her in her new life. I was stroking her arm when her breath stopped. Since then I’ve found it hard to breathe.

I've had months to prepare for that moment as I've watched her go from sitting up in bed cracking jokes about my cousin Erica’s ugly toque, to squeezing my hand and smiling from her pillow as I told her stories about my week, to opening her eyes just long enough to whisper ‘I love you’ and then fall back to sleep.

One by one over the past 12 years I've said goodbye to each of my grandparents with a final kiss on the cheek and a tear-stained tribute. Now I feel like the last of the 4 walls sheltering my inner life has been knocked down, exposing me to the harsh wind. My grandparents were all deeply spiritual, fiercely loving (and hopelessly flawed) men and women that surrounded me with prayers, ice cream cones, birthday money, loud whistling, and hugs.

And for better or worse, Grandma gave me some of her sense of humour, work ethic, left-handedness, coffee-addiction, anxiety, love of books, hair that won’t go grey (I’m hoping), stubbornness, and servant heart.

I’ll miss having a place to go when the Niverville fair gets rained out. My husband Tony looked so cute in Grandma’s fuzzy bathrobe waiting for his clothes to dry.

No one sounds as happy to hear my voice on the phone as she did. And she’s the only person who can get this non-touchy-feely grandchild to hug at the end of every visit and say ‘I love you’ at the end of every phone call.

I’ll hold in my heart the way she believed in me and in my children. Even though she loved to remind me that I was a “little handful” (a mud magnet in white leotards), and even after listening to stories of my kids’ mischief, she always had this stubborn confidence that with love and prayer we would turn out just fine. She called K. her “special boy” and loved it when G. climbed on her bed. Her eyes sparkled every time she saw them.

But mostly I’ll remember the way she was always there. I may not have long, unique, or fascinating stories to tell about her, but I have moments, and the feeling I was very loved.

And the beauty of the ordinary.

In one of my favorite novels, The Martyr's Song, a dying man slips between our world and the spiritual kingdom, where he hears Jesus and all the children in heaven singing this song:

Sing, O child of Zion; Shout, O child of mine;
Rejoice with all your heart and soul and mind.
Every tear you cried dried in the palm of my hand;
Every lonely hour was by my side.
Every loved one lost, every river crossed,
Every moment, every hour was pointing to this day,
Longing for this day...You are finally home

Friday, January 30, 2009

Only a few days to say goodbye

I just got the call that my Grandma only has days to live.

I've known she was dying since September. I've had months to prepare as I've watched her go from sitting up in bed cracking jokes, to squeezing my hand and smiling from her pillow as I told her stories about my week, to opening her eyes just long enough to whisper I love you and then fall back to sleep.

Sitting in the hospital with my mom and her mom, who for most of my life have been too busy creating masterpieces of flowers or flours to sit much at all, was a gift. I felt connected, a third link on a beautiful chain of varied coloured gems.

Now her pain is so great and her breathing so irregular that the doctors are planning to sedate her. She may not wake up again on this side of heaven.

It is like the last of the walls sheltering my inner life has been knocked down, exposing me to the harsh wind. My grandparents were all deeply spiritual, fiercely loving (and hopelessly flawed) men and women that surrounded me with prayers, fudgicles, birthday money, and whisker rubs. (My Opa had the whiskers not Grandma!) One by one over the past 12 years I've said goodbye with a final kiss on the cheek and a tear-stained tribute.

My kids weren't here for the first 2 goodbyes and they don't remember the last one. G. was a baby and K. was only 3 when my Opa, my dad's dad passed away. I fear for K., who although his diagnosis lists "delays in nonverbal communication", has a heart language with his Granny that is all their own. He has never flinched or even seemed to notice the way the way she has grown small and faded or the medical tubes that make her one with the hospital bed.

He walks straight to her bedside, smiles and holds her hand and remains there for most of the visit. Because she is still his Granny.

But only for a few more days.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

How am I doing?

It's easy to say how I'm doing physically: I have a head cold, I didn't sleep well because the hamster cage fell apart in the middle of the night with a crash, and my cuticles look terrible.

It's not so easy to say I'm doing in life. What do I compare it to? The "Ghost of Sunday School Past" in my head tells me I should compare myself to Jesus. Not helpful. Compared to him I'm a worm.

I had my first day of teaching my new course on Monday. I think it went well. Considering it was my second time teaching. Considering I'm just learning how to use Microsoft Powerpoint. Considering I was very nervous and had a confusing morning of fighting with a printer and fielding calls from the kids' school.

I felt good about it because we got into some great discussions about meaningful issues. There were quite a few students that jumped in with questions and comments. They all seemed interested. But was that because I was interesting-strange or because I was interesting-informative? (They were taking lots of notes but I think some of them may end up in the professor-roasting section of the newsletter....)

My inner "Ghost of Therapists Past" tells me not to compare myself to anyone. I am me and that's all that matters. Still not helpful. There are many "ME"s. Nobody would want the "bath-robed, grouchy, couch potato ME of 10 PM" teaching them Hosea. Or the "giggling, recipe-swapping, parenting-horror-story-telling, out with my girlfriends ME."

"Professor Angeline" is only one part of me. She's like an outfit I put on with my suit jacket. But she's very closely related to "study everything I can about the Bible" Angeline and the "I love these students and want the best for them" Angeline. Those come naturally.

Unfortunately so does playing nervously with my whiteboard marker.