Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Chat between Jonah and The Whale

This was written for my grad class. And I liked it, so I'm posting it here for your reading pleasure:

“This predicament is all your fault, you know,” said the whale matter-of-factly. He didn’t usually consume humans, or other sentient being for that matter.
“How is this my fault? I’m pretty sure you swallowed me,” countered Jonah.
The whale sighed. “I just did what He said. If I had my way, none of my food would talk back to me.”
“What He said? You mean God?” Jonah asked.
“Of course. What other He could convince me to swallow the likes of you? You’re a rather unpleasant fellow.”
“This is a rather unpleasant circumstance!” Jonah whined, trying not to breathe the foul stench of the whale’s digestive system.
“I’m not an optimist, but even I can see the positives in this.”
“Do tell.”
“No one could have survived that storm. We’re far from land. You couldn’t have made it to dry ground even if you were Michael Phelps.”
“Michael Phelps? Who’s that?”
“A really good swimmer. He’s not alive yet.”
Jonah’s curiosity spiked. “Alive yet?”
“Yes. He’s yet to be born. A couple thousand years from now. If you listened to God, He just might tell you some things.”
Jonah sulked. “Are we playing the blame game again? Are you saying if I listened to God, I wouldn’t be here?”
“Something like that,” sighed the whale, growing tired of his talking stomach.
Jonah thought for a minute. Maybe the whale was right. Maybe if he had listened the first time, he wouldn’t have ended up on that boat in the storm, and eventually, in this lecturing whale’s belly.
“Perhaps,” ventured Jonah, “I could have been more obedient and spared us both this awkward encounter.”
“But you didn’t. And now you’re here. Safe.”
“Safe. Safe from drowning, safe from hungry creatures. This could be a blessing in disguise,” suggested the whale.
“Perhaps.” Jonah felt his heart soften. Maybe God was protecting him, even though God had every right to abandon him in the watery depths.
“What is it, most unlikable talking supper?”
“I think God’s still going to use me. He wouldn’t have sent you if He didn’t have plans for me.”
“You’re a smart one, Jonah.”
“And,” Jonah continued, “I think I’m ready to be obedient. And I’m thankful, even though this is the nastiest of circumstances.”
“Hold on,” warned the whale. “Things are about to get a bit nastier.”
Before Jonah could speak, he was violently propelled from the whale’s insides and onto the shore. He tumbled in the sand, covered in seaweed, whale digestive juices, and other equally gross things.
“Dry land,” Jonah chuckled to himself, his hands clutching the sandy beach.
“Whale?” He looked out to sea, but Whale was gone. “That ornery fish. He knew all along. God, you’re pretty amazing. Where to next, God?”


Monday, August 25, 2014

A Stranger Named Earl

(I'm trying to be more consistent with writing, so the writing prompt for today was "write about the kindness of strangers." What follows is a snapshot of an event that actually happened. Here's to Earl. :))

I didn’t know you, and you didn’t know me, but you pulled over when you saw my car stopped on the side of the road. “Do you need help?” you kept asking. No, no, I wanted to say, I’m fine, please go. He parked behind me. My heart started to thud rhythmically like an alarm, the words “stranger danger” throbbing in my ears. Turns out you were harmless. We both looked under the hood with furrowed brows, neither of us really knowing the problem. I doubted your knowledge of vehicles, but gathered it had to be greater than mine. I think our look of serious concentration could have fooled passer-bys into mistaking our confusion for intellect.

You waited with me until AAA came and towed my car, even though you didn’t have to. We made small talk about how nice the weather was in November, how it could have been much colder and much more uncomfortable to wait outside. You told me about your daughter and her schooling. I told you about my long-distance relationship and you murmured knowingly as I shared my love life. We talked about Thanksgiving feasts and good food. I had never heard of half the things you enjoyed eating, but I nodded in cordiality. I was brave enough to share my name with you. “Earl,” you said. “Nice to meet you, and thank you,” I said. I couldn’t thank you enough. Surely you had somewhere to go. No. You wouldn’t leave me waiting alone.

AAA came to tow my car and my ride arrived shortly after. “Thank you, Earl,” I said. I was a few hours behind schedule that day, but the day had pleasantly surprised me despite my car’s disrepair. Every time I pass the gravel shoulder where I pulled off in a panic, thinking my car was going to die any second, I think of Earl and say a prayer for him and his family.

We need more Earls in this world.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Silent Masquerade: Unmasking Depression

Depression. It’s a word hardly spoken but a condition deeply felt by many. According to, about 20 million people in the U.S. deal with depression every year, and 25% of young adults will have an episode of depression before age 24. If depression is so common, why don’t we talk about it more? Why do we act as if those who struggle with it are flawed, or carry a contagious virus?

The answer is simple: the topic makes us uncomfortable.

If we haven’t dealt with it, we have no idea how to relate to those who suffer, and even if we have experienced it, we’re reluctant to be transparent with others who could use our words of comfort. We’re afraid. We’re afraid of being uncomfortable and we’re afraid of how others may perceive us when they find out we have struggled with depression, or, even worse, are currently struggling with depression behind a smiling face. We fear rejection, and so the masquerade and silence continue.

The silence must end.

Christians are not spared, nor are they any less “Christian” for having dealt with depression (take David’s pleading Psalms and the life of Job for example). If anything, I would argue that dark times in my life have made me more loving and understanding towards others while deepening my relationship with God. Often pain is required to drive us back to the foot of the cross and remind us that our Savior is all we have and all we need.

I remember when one of my relatives went through a tough time in her life and had to take psychiatric medication. It weirded me out. Would the medication make her act differently? Would she be herself? I’m happy to say, that her trials made her a better person. She grew in God and developed healthy self-esteem and good habits, both spiritual and physical. My apprehension grew into admiration. I admired her for the strong woman she became through her trials.

There’s so much I could say about depression. I could tell you that that you can be biologically inclined towards depression (like a hereditary disorder). I could tell you that not taking care of yourself, such as not getting enough sleep and not eating well, can add to the possibility of depression. I could tell you that not controlling your emotions and letting them control you will lead to dark times. I could even say that God is not punishing you when you’re depressed and He hurts to see you hurt when you’re struggling to make meaning out of sadness.

But none of this helps when depression has taken control of your emotions, your mind, your body, and your spirit, because depression has a nasty habit of hijacking your life. When the body fights physical pain, the mind is free and able to think above the circumstances. But when the mind is ill, when serotonin levels in the brain dip below normal, the mind flounders like a fish on land. The mind is clouded, and the one organ that controls all other organs and responses (the brain), is spinning out of control.

If you’re facing depression, you have to be open to getting help. You may need to take medication, go to counseling, and through iron will, over-ride your hijacked mind. As soon as you can, you need to start doing the right things, even if you don’t feel like it. You need to exercise, eat healthy foods, make sleep a priority, and embrace relationships and transparency with those you trust. And you need to go to God daily, and moment by moment. You need to embrace His grace, and you need to be gracious and patient with yourself. Be patient with the process. Believe that things will get better, because they will with time. Believe too that you matter and God cares about you immeasurably.

What if you’re not facing depression, but know someone who is? Be patient with them. Pray for them. Let them know you’re always there for them if they need to talk, or just need someone to hang out with, but don’t pressure them. Keep tabs on them, and encourage them to get psychiatric help if necessary. The brain, like any other organ of the body, can get tired and overwhelmed and sometimes needs a little extra tender loving care.

I pray that you seek God’s face wherever you may be right now: in a valley, on the mountaintop, or somewhere in between. I also pray that if you’re in the midst of a “mountain-top” experience now, that you not forget those in the valleys. Take time to stop and help your brothers and sisters in Christ as we are all loved by the same Father.

May God’s peace and love calm your hearts and minds,

PS: I like to repeat this verse to myself when I start to feel worried and stressed, to keep myself focused on who I am in Christ: “For God has not given us a spirit of Fear, but of Power, and of Love, and of a Sound Mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7, my emphasis added)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Peaceful Surrender: Discerning God's Will

In light of our prayerful journey in re-launching Lift Your Voice ministries, I thought it would be a good time to write on a topic I've been meaning to write about for a long time, namely, God's will.

Confession: I am a perfectionist and am afraid of making mistakes, especially making wrong decisions.

Because of this, I have lived in paralyzing anxiety over how to handle situations in my life. I would pray, but not hear an answer. I would read the Bible, but find no clarity. What if I made the wrong choice? What if I missed something God had for me? What if...? I could question my little life choices until the cows came home. Thankfully, my anxiety has improved along with my faith through, you guessed it, trials and struggles.

I discovered a key component to discerning God's will in a previous relationship. I had been praying before the relationship, and praying during the relationship, but I didn't know if it was "right." By this time, I was in my early 20s and I didn't believe in casual dating. I was dating to found a spouse, a life-time partner and companion. I was greatly conflicted, because my emotions and logic were tangled in a lovely mess. Part of me wanted to tell my brain to chill, while the other part of me wanted to tell my heart to quit interfering. People always say "listen to your heart," as if the heart and emotions are trustworthy. God himself speaks on this in Genesis 8:21, stating that "every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood." I continued to live in doubt, doubting my choices and doubting what God had for me.

Somewhere along in the relationship, I talked to my parents over my dilemma. My father wisely said to give it to God by praying "Lord, if this is your will, bless this relationship. If not, take it away. I give it to you." I was confused, because I thought I had been praying that. I realized my mouth had said the words, but my heart and my soul had not backed those words. When I finally became desperate and no longer cared if I lost the relationship, I prayed, "God, I want your will. Please bless this or take it away. I don't need him God, I need you." True to God's promise that He answers prayer, the relationship ended within the next few days. It hurt, I cried, but I had never been more at peace or more sure that I had made the right decision.

Ok, Jane, you're saying, that's all nice and your love life is fascinating, but what does this have to do with finding God's will, and why are you sharing this now?

Excellent question!

After that relationship ended, my new life motto and prayer was "Bless it or take it away." That simple. And it was liberating. I learned in my single months that God is not an eight ball you shake for answers nor a genie who gives you whatever you want, but a loving Friend and Father who gives you what you need. I learned that God wanted very little from me, that all He desired was a close relationship with me and that I love others as He loves. Love God, love others. Seek to please Him. It wasn't a matter of a checklist, or simple yes and no's. It was a daily walk with God. It was freedom to choose within His will, too. As long as I was in prayer and seeking His face with my hands not grasping onto anything, claiming things as my own, God would not steer me wrong. Things and people could pass in and out of my life without me fearing the outcome, because I was not in control, and that is a wonderful place to be.

In light of Lift Your Voice ministries, my prayer is the same: "Lord, bless this ministry by providing the things you know we need and bringing people into our lives that will help us and encourage us along the way. This ministry is yours. If this ministry is not your will, withhold your blessing, and take it away. Though we feel this is right, we want what you know is right. We trust you, Lord. Amen."

May you live in peace as you seek God through a relationship with Him and allow him to "bless or take away" things in your life.

God's peace be with you,

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

One of my absolute favorite poems

[in Just-]
By E. E. Cummings
in Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and




balloonMan whistles

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Freckles (an original composition)

Caramel-colored sprinkles scattered across

warm, porcelain ivory, as if God

breathed across shimmering glitter-dust,

asymmetrical constellations flung

across the peach-toned sky of

your elegant nose, regal cheek bones, majestic brow,

leaving you



Home school, private school, public school? Let me be honest here:

Today's blog post is from a discussion board response I wrote to one of my peers who greatly supported homeschooling his children. These are my thoughts, my opinions, and I am in no way saying the view I hold should be the view held by everyone, but please read:

I found your article very interesting, since I have struggled with varying opinions on home school, private school, and public school education. I admire that you home school your children, and I understand the reason why many parents choose this route. I found it interesting that the main reason parents in the study wanted to home school their children was to focus on "strengthening the relationship with their child." I think this is noble, and a good goal, but I think it could be unhealthy. For instance, I am an only child. My parents, when we moved to VA and I was about to start going to my county's public schools, contemplated the idea of homeschooling. At first, I thought the idea was kind of exciting, but we didn't dwell much on it and I ended up attending public schools. I am a Christian, and I come from a Christian family, and though my family believes in having close ties, I do not think keeping me home would have been healthy. For one, I'm almost "too close" to my parents, since I'm an only child, and because of that, I would have a hard time viewing them as my educators and not my closest friends (which they are) or my mom and dad (which they will always be to me, no matter how old I am). Also, I went through a very opinionated phase in high school that would have made teaching me very difficult. Sending me to school outside of the home was beneficial in that I saw the teachers as authority figures and not my buddies. I also think I studied harder and performed better academically because of the academic competition; I knew I was capable of good grades, and I wanted to prove myself. In a nut shell, I don't think I needed to strengthen my relationship with my parents. If anything, the attachment needed to be cut and I needed to experience the world of public school in order to grow and learn, both academically, personally, and spiritually.

You ask, "Is the public school system a hostile environment for Christian children?" I am not a parent yet, and I can only form an opinion from my own perspective, but I would say yes and no. I recently was married this summer to a wonderful man of God. We do intend to have children, and we have discussed the options for educating them. He is studying to be a youth pastor, and, as this course alludes to, I'm studying to become a teacher. We have come to the conclusion that we will send our children to public school for multiple reasons, with one of the main reasons being his future career. What kind of message does it send to the students of his future youth group and their parents if we, as spiritual leaders of their children, are concerned to send our own children to the school their children attend? How can my husband preach on "being in this world and not of it," on "being salt and light," if we keep our children from the world instead of teaching them how to confront the world and change it?

I very much respect your decision and the reasons for your decision. Like I said, I'm not a parent yet, so I may change my views on educating my children when that time comes. I did want to comment on one of your statements: "God is not welcome in government schools, and therefore they lack the values and moral character development that you can achieve from Christ-centered education." I feel that though God is not publicly allowed or accepted in public schools, His presence still resides in individuals. Not all public schools are equal, and some are more traditional, some have more Christian teachers and are more accepting of Judeo-Christian beliefs. I think, as the reading of this course has shown us, we are called to be a city on a hill for our students (as teachers). And as students and parents of students, we're to encourage them to do the same, not pull them out of an environment that so desperately needs to hear about His love and hope.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Results: I'm Me

Lately, I've developed a quiz addiction. Actually, I had it before, but buzzfeed makes it super convenient and answers your deepest questions like "Who is my author soulmate?" and "What decade should you really live in?" (for the curious, my results were Thoreau and the '90s). But before that, I enjoyed taking personality quizzes/tests. I did it mostly because I found it interesting, and also to "find" myself. It's as if I wanted a label for my behavior, something that allowed me to say, "why of course that's why I do that! I'm (fill in the blank)." But all the quizzes, though some were legitimately enlightening, led to the same conclusion: I don't fit in a mold.

Often I feel so many mixed up and opposite emotions, and I wonder, "Is this normal? Can I chalk this up to being a woman? Oh, I'm not PMSing...maybe it's not hormones..." How can I both love and dislike being around people at the same time? How can I hate clutter, but not be very good at organizing? How can I love logic and reasoning, yet love the artistic? So I took the quizzes: "Are you an introvert?" and "Are you left or right brained?" And well, I broke the quiz, so to speak.

Turns out, I am an introvert and an extrovert. I always called myself and extroverted introvert, meaning I am a friendly and sociable hermit, if that's possible. "They" label it as "ambivert," kind of like being ambidextrous I suppose. I guess that's kind of cool, unless one tendency decides to kick in suddenly...

Me: Wooohooo! I love get togethers! I'm going to schedule all kinds of social activities this week! Gosh, I love people!
Me...two days into the week: Ugh, people! I don't want to see any people...ever one talk to me, please.

Then, everyone is rather confused, including myself. Is she being flaky? they wonder. No...I just randomly need to be a hermit.

The other quiz I broke: Are you left or right brained? Now, this one I really wanted to know an answer to, to explain my OCD tendencies and need for organization and a feeling of control. But, turns out I use both sides of my brain pretty much equally. Well darn. I'm not a pure artist, and I'm not a pure logical nerd (I use nerd lovingly, I don't think being a nerd is negative in the least). So, I'm an artistic perfectionist? I'm does that work?

Well, it looks like this:
"Why is the house such a mess? I should tidy it up..."
"No, I really want to just read a book and do a craft..."
"Lists are the bomb! I love lists..."
"Mmmm poetry is so wonderful. Why does anyone ever complain about its ambiguity?"
"Will someone please give me a black and white answer, RIGHT NOW?"
"I think I need to doodle..."

See, it's weird.

But you know what, it's me. And, it's good. I understand introverts, and I understand extroverts (well, I understand extroverts a little less so). Also, I appreciate art and order, and I understand the more abstract while appreciating organization. What causes me such conflict, is that the logical side of me can't put me "in a box." I can't label myself, and I don't like "grey" areas. So type A... But God created me. God created me LIKE THIS. I'm one of a kind, a precious daughter to a King, and I don't need to figure out "who I am" from a quiz. I'm an artistic/organized/OCD/hermit/people-loving/reader-writer. That's my type :)

Learning to love me,

Thursday, February 20, 2014

5 Things I've Learned (and reaffirmed as true) after 6 Months of Marriage

Now, I'm still learning, so don't interpret this to mean I've "arrived" or have some super, deep wisdom beyond my years. No. It's more like the things I knew to be true, I found out really are true, and the things people said were true that I doubted, well they were true too. And there were also things that I discovered to be true for myself and my marriage. Here's just a few marriage insights and tips:

1) Never go to bed angry
I thought this was cliche. Before I got married, this was the most resounding piece of advice I heard. It didn't really make sense to me...until I got married. It's much better to lay it all out in the open, "fight it out" (a fair fight, mind you), and come to some sort of resolution, than try to sleep with a bitter and resentful heart. It's just no good. It's better to stay up and find a "fix."

2) Be patient with your spouse, and yourself
People don't change overnight. Most likely, you and your significant other are not perfect (shocker). When you put two people together in the most intimate relationship God created, sparks are going to fly, and not always in the positive sense. Remember 1 Corinthians 13? What's the first line? "Love is patient..." Your spouse is going to hurt you, offend you, annoy you, etc... You are going to hurt, offend and annoy him/her. Your even going to hurt, offend and annoy yourself!!! Have patience, know that marriage is an intense learning process, and remember you both submit to the best Teacher.

3) You find what you're looking for
My husband pointed this out to me, kindly (what a man), and it's oh so true. I'm slightly OCD and very detail oriented. I hyper-analyze people's motives and intentions, and tend to read into things. I also notice anything that is less than perfect in my environment and those I'm closest too. And it's not fair. For every "flaw" I find, my husband has 10 other shining qualities I fail to see. Finding flaws does two things: discourages/hurts your spouse and hurts you. Nothing can be perfect, so you'll never be satisfied.

4) If one person wins, NO ONE WINS!
I cannot stress this enough. Marriage is a union of 2 imperfect people with very different views on life. Compromise is essential if you want to survive. If you win your battle, making him surrender to your demands, you both lose. Marriage is teamwork. In a book I read, it pointed out ways to resolve conflict. You can find a mutual compromise, you can agree that your spouse is right (or they agree you or right), or you decide the issue can be confronted later (a not now approach). Whatever the situation, waving the white flag is more noble than going down in the heat of battle.

5)Never forget the Love Triangle, EVER!
It's you, your spouse, and God. God is the glue that binds. Your love for each other is only as strong as your love for God. C. S. Lewis quote: "You cannot love a fellow-creature fully till you love God." You can't. The strength of your relationship depends on your dependency on God, both as a couple, and individually. Never sacrifice your own quiet time. It's paramount.

I have so many more thoughts, but that's all I've got for now.

Learning to Love,
Jane Rochester

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Hide and Seek- Poetry in Lyrics

This is not an original composition, but rather the lyrics of a fairly famous song. I just wanted to post them. The lyrics are pure poetry. She has such a unique way of describing things! (Who would think of saying "crop circles in the carpet"?!)

"Hide And Seek" by Imogen Heap

Where are we? What the ... is going on?
The dust has only just begun to fall,
Crop circles in the carpet, sinking, feeling.
Spin me 'round again and rub my eyes.
This can't be happening.
When busy streets amass with people
Would stop to hold their heads heavy.

Hide and seek.
Trains and sewing machines.
All those years they were here first.

Oily marks appear on walls
Where pleasure moments hung before.
The takeover, the sweeping insensitivity of this still life.

Hide and seek.
Trains and sewing machines. (Oh, you won't catch me around here)
Blood and tears,
They were here first.

Mmm, what you say?
Mm, that you only meant well? Well, of course you did.
Mmm, what you say?
Mm, that it's all for the best? Of course it is.
Mmm, what you say?
Mm, that it's just what we need? And you decided this.
What you say?
Mmm, what did you say?

Ransom notes keep falling out your mouth.
Mid-sweet talk, newspaper word cut-outs.
Speak no feeling, no I don't believe you.
You don't care a bit. You don't care a bit.

(hide and seek)
Ransom notes keep falling out your mouth.
Mid-sweet talk, newspaper word cut-outs.
(hide and seek)
Speak no feeling, no I don't believe you.
You don't care a bit. You don't care a bit.

(hide and seek)
You don't care a bit.
You don't care a bit.
You don't care a bit.
(hide and seek)
You don't care a bit.
You don't care a bit.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Lessons Learned in Living a Frugal Life

Living on a tight budget and "pinching pennies" has its benefits. These include not taking things for granted, character development, excitement over the "little things," and thriftiness. Here's a list of things having a tight budget has taught me:

1. NEVER turn down free food. So and so invited you over for dinner; your answer is YES. "Would you like a take out box for th..?" YES!!!! "He's throwing a party and..." "Will there be food? If yes, then I'll be there!"

2. You really don't need new clothes. And if you need "new" clothes, you should hit up the Goodwill nearest you. A good deal is worth the hunt.

3. Getting WATER every time you go out for food saves you money, and is healthy.

4. GAS IN EXPENSIVE!!!! So, don't go places unless you have a clear purpose in mind. Or, you know that someone will help you split the cost.

5. DIY will save your life. You can decorate your abode for much cheaper and give gifts without cringing as you swipe your card. Handmade over store bought for everything, if possible (and if actually cheaper).

6. GENERIC IS GOOD. I didn't really focus on buying generic brands until after I got married. Honestly, I don't really taste a difference in most of the brands, so unless it's something particular, I'll save the extra cents. Everything adds up.

Ok, that's all I've got for now. Grad school homework beckons, but feel free to share your own "frugal" tips!

Livin' frugal,

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Confessions of a Future English Teacher

I'm nervous. Notice I didn't say I was scared. I've learned to not say scared because fear creates anxiety. I'm more a mixture of excitement and jitters over the unknown when I think about the possibility of being an English teacher to a classroom of real students, real kids just like I was. I hope to teach high school. The more I read my educational textbooks for grad school, the more I realize that "good teaching," or rather "effective teaching," is a challenge. I applaud you if you are a teacher; it takes work, sweat, ingenuity, and determination. And, it takes knowing your material. I think that part makes me the most nervous. Here are my confessions of why I'm nervous (not afraid, because fear is not an emotion that cannot be resolved) of being a teacher:

1. I look like I'm 17. Will I look my students' age? Or worse, younger than my students??
2. How can I not look 17...where can I invest in a pair of comfortable heels? What kind of haircut says "professional" yet is still "me"?
3. My wardrobe is very unprofessional. Let me rephrase that: my wardrobe says "I belong to a young college student who has fun with what she wears and enjoys thrift shopping, and also hates the idea of institutional or office related work." I need to fix this...
4. I've been there, and I'm nervous to go back. I was in public high school. Kids are obnoxious, teachers are not much better. The maturity level of the teachers and students these days is depressing. Once again, I worry I will be the over-achieving, "non-experienced" prude I was in high school, but on the other side of the desk.
5. My family has been there: My mom and three of my aunts have taught in public school systems. I've seen the under-belly of the beast. It can be pretty grotesque.
6. MAJOR CONCERN: Though I love English, can write a mean essay, can analyze the snot out of a poem or novel, and can read a book for hours as pure pleasure, GRAMMAR MAKES ME NERVOUS. Grammar was never my thing. It's too much like math, in a way. I don't understand the rules, and I don't know how to explain WHY we have the rules. Help!
7. I am not relatable (apparently my word check doesn't think that's a word, ha). I grew up in a Christian home with an intact family, earned straight A's, was not a social butterfly, was clueless to most of the drama going on around me, and I wasn't very well-rounded.
8. I am an English snob. There! I said it. If you don't love books, if you don't care about proper spelling, if you don't cringe over how AWFUL your writing is, then I don't understand you. This is going to have to change if I am going to be a good teacher, quite obviously. But it will be hard.

But, on the flip side, these things could be positives.

1. Yes, I look young. But maybe that means that some of my students won't be afraid to approach me. After all, I'm only about ten years older than them and I haven't forgotten how hard being a moral and academic person was in school.
2. Maybe I should just be myself. And, having a new look, a "professional me" could be fun!
3. Shopping is fun. Time to go to the mall! (or Goodwill; they have clothes you could wear as a professional)
4. and 5. Yes, it's ugly at times. But why should I be afraid? I know who I am. I know who holds my future. I've grown from the frightened high schooler I was, and I hope that I can bring about positive change, if not in my entire school, then in individual lives I touch.
6. Well, I gotta learn sometime! Incentive to learn grammar, noted. :)
7. I forget that there are still kids like this in public schools. They need an encourager. They need someone to tell them they're not weird, and that opening up a little to others could be good :)
8. I need more Jesus. You cannot teach without a humble heart, and you certainly can't shove your love for a subject down a student's throat with THAT attitude.

Phew, challenge accepted, though it be daunting.

Preparing to face the world with Jesus, the ultimate Teacher,

Friday, February 7, 2014

Hello, Grad-school!

As some of you may already know, I started taking online graduate level classes this spring in hopes to obtain my MAT (Master's of Arts in Teaching) within the next few years. At first I was hesitant: New wife, haven't been in "school" mode in awhile, work...but then I realized if I didn't take this opportunity, I'd be ridiculous, for many reasons. My tuition is free, this is a great time before we have kids, I work part time so if I juggle things right it's not overwhelming, and I want a real job. I'm very tired of retail, and I want a job in which I can use my undergraduate degree and interests, namely teaching English. Right now, I'm halfway through my first term of grad school and almost done with two classes. Though it's been stressful at times, and A LOT of reading, I'm feeling optimistic and blessed overall. :)

More on exciting grad school life to come!


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

You Know You're a Bibliophile ("book lover") if...

1. You always console yourself that you can fit "just one more book" in your collection.
2. You often rationalize a book purchase, like this: "I'm buying knowledge; books aren't splurging; they're a necessity!"
3. You freak out, in a good way, when you find that book you want at a place like Goodwill or a used book store. It's like a treasure hunt.
4. You smell used books. Sometimes they smell like Granny's perfume, an old attic, or just like pure, straight up knowledge. And other times it's obvious the book belonged to a smoker. Ick.
5. You have a list of "to-read" books, and it depresses you that the list gets longer and the time you have to read them gets shorter. WHERE'S THE TIME??? DOES NO ONE KNOW I NEED TO READ THESE?! (my feelings there)
6. You ask for Barnes and Noble gift cards for birthdays, Christmas, and any other holiday.
7. You sometimes just like to stare at your book collection.
8. You may have enough books to start your own library, you know, with a check out system and everything.
9. You bring books on vacation because you know it's the only time you may have to read them.
10. You "accidentally" open up the book you're reading to where you left off, and find yourself still sitting in the same possibly uncomfortable position you started "guiltily" reading hours later. (guilty, because you know there are dishes to clean, laundry to do, and homework, etc)

My confessions,

Monday, January 27, 2014

Real. Beauty.


What is beauty, and why do we care so much to attain it? A few months ago, I sent out a survey through facebook asking anonymous questions about beauty, and many of you (the majority) said you had struggled with issues of self-image. I was surprised with the results. I suppose, if we're all honest with ourselves, there's that one thing that if we could change about our body, we would. If my hair was teeth less face less prone to acne...etc But you know what? Those things will not make you more or less beautiful.

After mulling over many of my own thoughts on beauty and watching some very inspiring clips on real beauty, I decided this blog post was overdue. A break from my ramblings. Take a minute and watch these two videos. Skip to the second one if you've seen the first.
(many of you have probably seen this one, but just watch it again)

I'd like to make some points on this one. Notice, the movie is sped up. HOW LONG do you think she sat there while they did her hair and makeup? (ahem... a long time) And, when that was done, she was beautiful, was she not? somethings just weren't right. Her eyes needed to be bigger, her neck longer, her eyes lower set on her face, her facial structure less wide... TA DA!!!! Photoshop and layers of makeup and hairspray have created a bombshell! THIS LADIES, IS NOT REAL BEAUTY, and I love that Dove is promoting awareness of healthy self-image.

Take a look at another video inspired by Dove's.

Ok, here's a girl, probably in highschool or early college, proving the same point. She was beautiful before. She was the "world's" beauty after.

I was going to post one more video because I was so inspired by it, but it's rather lengthy so I'll describe it instead. In this video, highschool students in an art class were challenged to take selfies of themselves that were not "flattering" according to the their definition (or society's). Each girl had something they disliked, their poofy hair, their face structure...things they tried to hide in their selfies to look "beautiful." The teacher had them take REAL selfies, daring them to expose their "flaws." Afterwords, an open-house event was held where all their selfies were on display and people could view them and add comments with sticky notes. Real pictures of real girls. People left notes like "nice smile," and the girl with "poofy" hair was complimented on her hair! The girls grew to realize that their so-called imperfections made them unique and individual. The girls also got their mom's on board, which proved that even women still have insecurities and girls absorb their mothers' insecurities growing up. The video can explain it better than I can, so take the time to watch it if you'd like :)

This is very much worth the watch:

So, I must ask, what's robbing us of our beauty? What lies are we telling ourselves? What things about ourselves prevent us from embracing who we are? I'll confess: I've lied to myself and I have things about myself I don't always like. Here's my list.

-I'm pale (I've been told this multiple times)
-I still have acne occasionally, and I'm not a teenager.
-My hair has a mind of it's own
-I have a boyish figure (aka, not much curves)

Ironically, the same things I complain about, I applaud in others. Me talking to myself, "look at her fair skin! It's so classy, so vintage, so romantic looking... Wow, I love her hair! So natural and care-free, loose curls, so artsy!...She has a great body, the kind that would look good in anything, very thin..."

WAIT...Jane? Have you checked out? YOU have fair skin, YOU have that kind of hair, and YOU have that kind of body shape.

I once did a week-long makeup fast, as a challenge. It was hard, really hard at first. What I realized the most after the week's end, was that I cared more about how my face looked than others. No one called me out and said, "Girl! You look like death! Where's the blush?? And your mascara?? Are you crazy?" Actually, that's what I TOLD MYSELF. The week had shown me that makeup had taken a little too high of priority in my life, though I still use it in moderation, but not to make myself look like someone I'm not.

This all brings me to my final idea. Since most of us have twitter, facebook, or instagram, what if we started taking real selfies? Like "Jane in the morning, ready to tackle the day. #nomakeup #nofilter" Or, "Me with my natural hair." I think we should start a trend, and hashtag it to start a movement.

I challenge you ladies, to take real selfies that make you vulnerable, allowing yourself to embrace your "flaws" and showing your real self, whether that be no makeup, frumpy hair, or whatever, and hashtag it #realbeauty and share it on your social network sites.

Do it.

I'm there with you ladies! Let's change the media by flooding it with real people with real smiles and real joy.

PS: Have you ever noticed how un-beautiful models are? Where's their smile?

Love to my ladies,
Jane Rochester