Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I love you, friends

Today I opened my computer to write an insightful and creative something. I started with a new document and the dreaded beep of the cursor. So I ate a granola bar, and thought about how I should water my plants in case it didn’t rain that night. After I wiped the crumbs off my skirt, I sat down again and put my fingers on the keyboard, hoping for a flash of anything. A few ideas came out on the screen – all of them repetitive of smarter and “bloggy” authors. I kept thinking and moved my plant closer to the window. Instead of thinking of a witty phrase to start the post, I thought about the things we said last night as three women post graduate school. About how we still have a hard time looking past bad taste in art and how the church deals with sin. We had a good time telling stories and laughing about how time hasn’t stood still. Since we last laughed together one of us has gotten married, one of us is about to have a baby, and one of us has moved to Korea. Our reunion on my broken couch, talking over tea and cookies, reminded me that time doesn’t need to stand still to capture something creative.

Our stories keep moving past the square space of our graduate school days and we are happy. 

[Summer 2013]

Sunday, March 24, 2013

thoughts: teaching poetry

Some people like to teach poetry to freshman and sophomores. Some people have to teach poetry to freshman and sophomores. Fortunately for me, I am in the first group. Introducing gems like Ted Hughes and Donne brings delight to my soul. But will poetry bring  delight to my students? After much internal wrestling, I have decided that my primary goal in teaching poetry to my students is to help them understand why poetry matters. They are not English majors; this class may be the first place they may encounter Dickinson and Frost. I suspect that only a select number of my students will go home and curl up with T.S. Eliot, or tell their friends about how awesome class was because they learned how to find metrical patterns. No, my students will leave the classroom (at 5:25pm) thinking, "poetry is a lot of work." This effect is what I fight against. I'm not Robin Williams, but I can introduce poetry terms with enthusiasm, hoping that my students catch on like it's the Electric Slide.

Since the goal of our course is to write well about literature and to understand literature so as to gain understandings of life, I start my poetry unit with a Wendell Berry poem: "Suppose we did our work / like the snow, quietly, quietly,  / leaving nothing out." Berry highlights to my students how I want them to understand poetry and how I want them to understand life. I want them to come to a poem with full attention. I want them to come to a poem without presuppositions and with humility. Much like Billy Collins' "Introduction to Poetry" (which we read in our first unit as well), I hope that my students will come to a poem and hold it up against a light, finding lavish meaning. In this search, I think they will discover patterns and shout, "It's an Italian Sonnet" simply because they've spent time with the poem and have covered every word and syllable. I want my students to understand why poetry matters because I want them to understand why every assignment matters. Why every word they speak to their friends matters. I want them to understand the power of their voice. So I will be like the snow and cover as much poetry as possible, keeping quiet and letting my students uncover voices similar to their own.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Films Every Christian Should See

This list was inspired by Dr. Smith who has his own list and discusses it in class. Everyone loves a good list and I'm sure plenty of people have made this list, but it is a rewarding thing to suggest good art. So here it is...

Films Every Christian Should See

1. The Lord of the Rings trilogy
"Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."  Romans 5:3-5

2. Cool Hand Luke
“But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Matthew 5:38-40

3. On the Waterfront
“For the Lord loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.” Psalm 37:28

4. To Kill a Mockingbird
 "Oh Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart who does not slander with his tongue and does not evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend." Psalm 15:1-3

5. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
“When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.” Deuteronomy 24:20-22

6. There Will be Blood
“Moreover, wine is a traitor, an arrogant man who is never at rest. His greed is as wide as Sheol; like death he has never enough. He gathers for himself all nations and collects as his own all peoples.” Habakkuk 2:5

7. Doubt
“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” James 1:6

8. Schindler’s List
“And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian.” Acts 7:24

9. Dead Poet’s Society
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” Psalm 90:12

10. Les Miserables
“You shall not see your brother’s donkey or his ox fallen down by the way and ignore them. You shall help him to lift them up again.” Deuteronomy 22:3-5

11. Chariots of Fire
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it." 1 Corinthians 9:24

12. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
“You will forget your misery; you will remember it as waters that have passed away.” Job 11:16

13. Shawshank Redemption
“I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.” Isaiah 44:22

14. A River Runs Through It
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

15. Sense and Sensibility
“Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,’ and call insight your intimate friend.” Proverbs 7:4

Friday, February 15, 2013

a poem

His wildness is a kind of / wilderness with deep valleys & / high mountains that shape / the corners of His mouth. His / hands – the tender pardon / of comforted flesh make / straight the way of revelation. / He speaks and we witness glory / deep and raised in the wild.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dear Person

Dear Person-

Currently you are the size of a piece of fruit. You cannot see your Mother’s sewing patterns, watch your father play guitar, or read this letter. But you are there, and so I want to tell you a few things (which you will, of course, read later). 

Your parents are incredible people. Did you know that your Mother is already giving up rap music for you? Your Dad is working too many shifts to stay sane - just for you. Remember these things when you are rolling your eyes because your allowance “isn’t enough” and you beg to go to that awful rap concert. 

But this post is not about what you will want to do when you’re older. 

Even though I’m not your biological Aunt, you will call me Aunt because your Mother is my sister. And one of the deepest ties we fasten ourselves with is knowledge. I swear your Mom knows all the answers to Jeopardy (don’t let her tell you otherwise!) and she only says her paintings are “just ok” to avoid my excessive flattery. She and I used to spend hours together in complete silence, just learning. At times it was her making art, using matches and a board while I knitted or read a book, and other times she read while I organized or attempted to replicate a picture with paint. Your Mom introduced me to Wikipedia, so, unsurprisingly, she is my constant contact for random information such as, “how many ounces are in 4 cups?” or “how long do I cook (anything)?” This dates to our school days of short hair and belted jeans. When we knew little but learned much. Understanding the stuff of life seemed our primary object then—boys, art, soccer, books, and beyond. We always wanted to know

In high school, we had Greek as our last class of the day, but before that, during our free period in mid-afternoon, we would sit in the library and swiftly translate our assignments. Your Mother was better at it and always helped me when I was stumped or just translated too slowly. That library loved our chatter and our expanding selves trying to learn ancient Greek, hurried and in pencil. Those were the days we cared less about our looks and more about our activities. More about what we were doing – learning – and less about what we were planning to do. That probably sounds like normal teenage living, but our constant involvement matched our need to relate to one another and share experiences. It was with your Mother I had my first sip of wine (to help her “medically,” she said). It was with your Mother I learned how to body board and swing dance well. And it was your Mother who educated me on investing time in people instead of things. For all our knowledge, we wanted the most in this.

Perhaps that’s why I am writing to you, her unborn child, about your Mother and my thirst for knowledge, but also about our –and especially your Mom’s – desire to love others. You are going to be her ultimate work of art- her excellent translation. And just like the painting she never finished (which I hang in my old room for all to see), I am going to herald you a beautiful masterpiece. Because you will be the recipient of all her understanding, her activity, her love. Because you are known by her and because she will never stop learning how to love you.

Maybe that was the point of Greek class and painting. Maybe that is the point of all our learning.

Welcome to the family, dear one. I cannot wait to know you. 

-Aunt Lauren

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

DIY - Book Wreaths

These book paper wreaths are so easy to make! I made four medium sized wreaths for our wedding, and one large one. The four smaller ones took me 3 hours total (Includes making the cones and putting them together. I watched Pearl Harbor beginning to end...) and the large one took 3 hours (on and off time). I'm using the wreaths in my home now!

Here's what you will need:

-Glue gun
-Old book that you do not mind ripping up (I used a 70s edition of The Hobbit)
-Tape (Scotch transparent)
-Small binder clips

What you need to do:

-Rip out LOTS of sheets from the book. Try and get pages with more words (not new chapter pages)

-Start to make cones with individual sheets. Once you've made the cone, place tape around the bottom, securing the cone. Make different sizes. For smaller cones, just rip a page in half and make cones from the halves.

 {I made all of these in bed and watching Criminal Minds}

-After you've coned all those sheets, you are ready to glue!

-Decide on the number of cones how large you want your wreath.

-Take a portion of cardboard (I cut out squares from old boxes and inserts) and place the cones on it.

-Start by drawing a small circle in the middle of the square piece of cardboard. Make a dot in the middle of the circle. You will glue the first ring of cones (4-5) on that dot. Once you've filled in the dot, do the small circle. Work away from that circle, making each circle larger than the last. (Do not glue at first! Just see if you've made enough cones or need to make more!)

 {Should look like this}

-If you have the desired size, begin by using medium-sized cones in the center dot, and then circle. Put a dab of hot glue (low setting) where the tape is on the cone AND on the cardboard. Secure. Repeat until you have completed the first circle.

-Do not worry about gaps. You can fill them in once you've rounded out the wreath.

-Keep gluing to make larger and larger circles. Leave about 1/2 inch around the square cardboard. It acts as your mounting.

-Fill in gaps until the wreath is full the way you want it.

-Take the binder clip and attach it to the back of the cardboard and in the center (where you want the top to be).

-Thread string through the clip and tie a knot for desired length.


I added paper flowers to the center of my wreath (via Michael's for $3). Just use hot glue and whatever you want for the center. I suggest fake berries, flowers, or some kind of jewelry.

Here is the finished product!!!!

{Photo By Echard Wheeler}

Once you've made the are set! Just be sure to "map" out where the cones go so you do not have an uneven circle.

Put it up in your house or give it to your bookworm friend : )

First Week of Marriage

I am married to a man. I share my coffee creamer and the controlled temperature. We also share the difficult things like sheets, toothpaste, and bookshelf space. Funny how the small things are those that I notice. My time, money, and body are shared, but I barely notice. Being with my best friend is easy and making decisions with him can be easy, but noticing the small things makes this first week of newly wedded bliss … blissful.

I’ve asked a number of people, “When does the honeymoon phase end?” Asking this question is a sort of courtesy to my married friends. When we left our honeymoon I was fully aware that it was over and that reality was on the other side of the terminal. Being romantic is fun, but it is not a consistent reality. Nathan and I have rarely lived outside of reality (teaching and grad school = warped reality minus real time) as a couple. We’ve always focused our attention ahead and dealt with the present in a wise and *cough* logical manner. Praise God for fully functioning brains! When I was in high school I used to go around quoting C.S. Lewis to my dating friends reminding them that perspective is everything: “Being in love is a good thing but it is not the best thing. There are things above it and there are things below it.” That reminder follows me every day, smacking me in the face with the truth that love is a choice. So I’ve always known when the honeymoon phase ends. It was over when Nathan and I moved into an apartment, shelved our books, used the same toothpaste tube, and compromised sheet usage.