and for your theater amusement...

i have just finished teaching through the structure of a greek tragedy using oedipus rex with the middle schoolers. and i have to say that there is NOTHING quite so entertaining as reading through the classic play oedipus rex with middle schoolers and seeing the light of understanding come on into their little eyes when they understand the climatic moment of the play. 

so i have collected some little funny oedipus moments to share with you here. because i can't really share them with middle schoolers...

and here is an actual activity we will be doing in class... comparing oedipus rex to frozen and finding all the elements of classic greek tragedy that they both display... (and i may have made up the last element of tragic form, but it was too good to leave off the list...)

my BEST yes...

i can't wait to have the time to read this book by lysa terkeurst (who btw GREW UP IN TALLAHASSEE and we went to the same church growing up. i think i knew her. i am sure she remembers me. ha.) but i have read a couple of excerpts from this book and lots of GREAT quotes (so it is almost like i have read it, right?)

i have been thinking about how everything just FELL INTO PLACE for me to work at raa this year. and how MUCH i am enjoying it. it is overwhelming. exhausting. at times frustrating. but gloriously invigorating. it was a wise decision. though it really wasn't much of a decision as it was A HUGE OPEN DOOR that i couldn't ignore. God has a way of treating me like the village idiot (praise Him for His wisdom.) SHUTTING doors that i try to walk through that aren't for me AND SWINGING WIDE THE DOORS that i am to walk through. and sometimes even kicking me through those WIDE OPEN DOORS...


“The one who obeys God’s instruction for today will develop a keen awareness of His direction for tomorrow.” {Lysa TerKeurst, The Best Yes}

i don't feel like i have been particularly faithful in the area of obedience. but perhaps the few and far between times that i have obeyed His instructions (and the times when He has blatantly shut doors in my face and i haven't complained TOOOOO loudly) have led me to a more keen awareness of His direction... or maybe He is just still treating me like the village idiot and putting me exactly where i am supposed to be for this season.

and i am certainly trying out a new word these days to other things... i simply have to say "NO" to a lot of other "good things". like writing skits for our children's pastor at church. who i dearly love. but i just had to say NO. or to being a life group leader. again, a NO. or drama ministry which is opening up at our church. again, a NO for me. or to really great photography opportunities. or weekly Bible studies with great people. or even just afternoon coffee dates with friends (though i have managed a couple of those.)

“Find that courageous yes. Fight for that confident no.” {Lysa TerKeurst, The Best Yes}

and i am getting better at that "confident NO." slowly. but surely. and part of me rejoices every time i say it and know that i have said it so that i have the energy, time,  and sanity to be able to have the BEST YES. i don't want to miss the important moments (or the little moments that might not seem important but are of ) maxx's senior year. or rosie's freshman year. or my 25th year of marriage... 

“A Best Yes is you playing your part.

If you know it

and believe it,

you’ll live it.”

{Lysa TerKeurst}

i truly feel like i am "playing my part" by teaching at raa (and since i'm teaching theater classes that is even more poignant considering the "playing my part" line.) so even though i am not blogging a lot these days... or cleaning my house... or saying a lot of other "yeses"... i am playing my part. i know it. and believe it.

and here are a couple of other GREAT quotes from the book (that i haven't read)...

“My imperfections will never override God’s promises. God’s promises are not dependent on my ability to always choose well, but rather on His ability to use well.”

(whew, isn't it good to know that God's promises are NOT dependent on my ability to choose well. cause i have a LONG history of NOT choosing well, but Him using well...)

“Saying no isn’t an unnecessary rejection. It’s a necessary protection of our Best Yes answers.”

“It’s not the activities or accomplishments we string together that make lives well lived as much as it is the hearts of wisdom we gain and use along the way.”

{ lysa terkeurst's the best yes}

another dream job...

for 20 years i have had my “dream” job... a full time wife & mother. granted with a lot of other side gigs also... photography jobs, graphic design stuff, some part time teaching jobs through the years. but my main job was running the “marshall family nonprofit division”, trying to keep three at risk youth (& their at riskier parents) off the streets. & sometimes i did a good job. & sometimes i slacked on the job. but let's not look at the outcomes too closely. the story hasn't finished being told yet. on any of us...

but the writing is on the wall. the jig is almost up. the frost in on the pumpkin. my position is being fazed out. little bit by little bit. & to tell the truth there are a lot of things that i do that these three incorrigible youth need to be doing on their own. LIKE PICKING UP THEIR OWN TOWELS & PUTTING THEIR DIRTY DISHES IN THE DISHWASHER. & it might be a good thing for their chief dishwasher & towel picker upper to have something else to occupy her time...

& so in typical God fashion (which is to treat me like the village idiot that i am & take me gently & lovingly by the hand & lead me into the NEXT thing He has prepared for me) a new opportunity... a new adventure has opened up. & i have jumped in with both feet. 

i have been offered a position teaching drama at raa middle school. a performing arts magnet school. & what you may not know about me is that when i was a overly dramatic teenager myself, i used to tape record (yes, cassette tape record) the entire audio portion of the television show FAME & then act out the show in my room. & who was i most often portraying in these renditions of that classic television fare... i was always the teacher. usually debbie allen the dance teacher (only because she was in every episode.) but i did love mr. crandall the drama teacher. & the show where the students & faculty are singing their goodbyes to him (in the song starmaker) was one of my favorite shows EVER. when i looked it up on youtube & watched it before linking to it here, i remembered EVERY word. & sang along. & i can't remember my own kids' cell phone numbers.

i fully expect my own drama students to write ballads to sing to me... 

so that has kind of occupied my summer. studying for the certification exam. & now preparing to re-enter the classroom. after a 20 year hiatus. i am super excited, giddy, & slightly nauseous. it is going to be a bit of a lifestyle change for me. & my family. a lot less freedom in my daily schedule. & a lot more discipline needed to get everything done. but i do so love a new adventure...

with us in the fire...

from tim keller's new book...

If you believe in Jesus and you rest in Him, then suffering will relate to your character like fire relates to gold. Do you want to know who you are – your strengths and weaknesses? Do you want to be a compassionate person who skillfully helps people who are hurting? Do you want to have such a profound trust in God that you are fortified against the disappointments of life? Do you want simply to be wise about how life goes?

Those are four crucial things to have – but none of them are readily achievable without suffering. There is no way to know who you really are until you are tested. There is no way to really empathize and sympathize with other suffering people unless you have suffered yourself. There is no way to really learn how to trust in God until you are drowning.

But God is with us in the fire. He knows what it’s like to live through the miseries of this world – He understands. He is near, available to be known and depended upon within the hardship. He walks with us, but the real question is – will we walk with Him? If we have created a false God-of-my-program, then when life falls apart we will simply assume He has abandoned us and we won’t seek Him.


(i wrote this post back in november. i didn't finish it. i still don't think it is finished. but it is done enough for now...)

this has been a rough fall. (ha. the joke part of that you won't get for a little while. come back to it later. then you will laugh...) 

first, my eldest leaves for college. she is doing well. i am doing well. most of the time. some of the time. then something will hit me (again, another joke that you won't get for a while. wait for it...) and i will remember that she is gone. and isn't coming back for a long time. and that it won't be the same when she comes back. it's just hard. somedays more than others... 

then i had a little car wreck. really it wasn't much more than a fender bender. on my way to sub at the middle school. i was turning left. and someone was coming a bit too fast and we crashed. and it was my fault because i was turning left. the insurance company totaled my car. because it was old. and lots of miles.

so i have a lovely new (to me) car. a 2010 honda pilot. i love it. but i don't love that our insurance costs went up. and that this car cost more than the insurance settlement.  

in the middle of all this i thought i had an inspiration for what i was supposed to be doing career wise. our church has adopted a school and i wanted to offer to work in the classroom doing my shakespeare curriculum and do what i did in the school that i taught in back in atlanta. the school that i developed this shakespeare curriculum for had the same kinds of low scores on their language arts tests and the curriculum was precisely written to help in those areas. so i was so certain it was a match of my skills and a need and maybe a way to get back to teaching... i prayed that God would open the doors if it was the right timing. but that door was closed. the principal set up a meeting with me but then wasn't there at the meeting time and then just didn't return phone calls or respond to emails about me coming into the school. it was very disheartening.  

and then i get a call to do some more subbing. a few days in a drama classroom! i did one day, LOVED IT, and then that night took a nasty tumble in a parking lot and broke my fall... with my face.

yes, i broke my face. the optical floor (bone under my eye to be exact). and i had a few days of double vision and am now going on a week of looking like i lost a bar fight. 

now do you understand those "fall" jokes back in the earlier paragraphs? ha ha.

not really terrible suffering. but it has just been one hit after another the last few months. there are days when i don't have enough to do and then days when my calendar is filled to the brim and i can't seem to make things even out. there are days when i am satisfied with still being at home and think it is the most important thing i could ever been doing and days when making one more meal or cleaning one more toilet seems to be more than i can handle.  

and i don't know what to write about. or why i bother to write about anything. so i haven't been writing. have you noticed? 

but i have been listening. to sermons. to my prayers. to God. to music. 

like this song...

Your ways are higher than our ways
And the plans that You have laid
Are good and true
If You call us to the fire
You will not withdraw Your hand
We'll gaze into the flames and look for You

millie her friend ellen when they were here for spring break. at our new fire pit...

millie her friend ellen when they were here for spring break. at our new fire pit...

so these days you will find me gazing in the flames and looking for Him. He has not withdrawn His hand. i know that much is true. even when i don't know much else...

isaiah 43:2 ...when (not if but WHEN) you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

a severe mercy...

i would like to start writing more about the books i read and love. so we can start with this one...

which was my february book club selection. and i listened to it from audible. i was heading up to nashville (an 8 hour drive) and thought that if it was on audible i could listen on the drive. and by golly, it was being released on audible THE DAY BEFORE I LEFT TOWN and it was 8 hours long. that seems a little too coincidental to pass up. it was a good book for me to listen to because it was difficult to get into at first. i didn't like the author very much (though when i meet him in heaven i will be his BFF since he & c.s. lewis were pals.) he seemed a little pompous (which he won't be in heaven, right?) & he seemed weird (& that is coming from ME.) and had i not been totally vested (i had bought it on audible) and had 8 open hours on the road ahead of me, i might have given up on it. but i am glad that i stuck with it. because there were some precious thoughts in it that have stuck with me. PLUS there are letter from c.s. lewis to the author in the book. so there's that awesomeness...

my BIG takeaway from this book is the distinction that jack makes in a letter to sheldon vanauken between "fortuitous" & "significant". mostly because i LOVE to use the word fortuitous in a facetious way. as in when i run into someone & they have JUST the piece of advice that i need to hear or say something that makes my day better. i will then say, "how FORTUITOUS that i ran into you." meaning NOT fate, but a loving & personal God who directs our every move. for in Him we live & move & have our being. but lewis takes these these moments & calls them what they are (& i shall also forthwith employ this word that he uses to describe them accurately). he names them SIGNIFICANT. because they are SIGNS that God is with us. that He is directing our paths. that He sees. He knows. He cares. 

"My general view is that, once we have accepted an omniscient and providential God, the distinction we used to draw between the significant and the fortuitous must either break down or be restated in some very much subtler form. If an event coming about in the ordinary course of nature becomes to me the occasion of hope and faith and love or increased efforts after virtue, do we suppose that this result was unforeseen by, or is indifferent to God? Obviously not. What we should have called its fortuitous effects must have been present to Him for all eternity. And indeed, we can't suppose God saying (as a human artist might) 'That effect, though it turned out rather well, was, I must admit, no part of my original design.' then the total act of creation including our own creation (wh. is going on all the time) meets us, doesn't it? In every event at every moment: the act of a Person dealing with persons & knowing what He does."

& therefore how SIGNIFICANT that this book became available on audio right as i was about to take an 8 hour trip. & there were so many other SIGNIFICANT things that happened on my trip to nashville. He is always involved in every act of creation. & every act of re-creation as well. 

though vanauken does give this caveat... “Signs must be read with caution. The history of Christendom is replete with instances of people who misread the signs.” 

which will probably mean me. since i tend to be the village idiot. but i do see SIGNIFICANCE in so many things that God has sent my way in the last few months. in people. in books. in movies. in songs. many occasions of building my faith, hope, & love. but mostly in building my trust that He knows what He is doing. & that it all is going according to plan. not quite my plan. but His plan. which will prove to be the BEST plan ever... right? 

here are a few other SIGNIFICANT quotes from the book...

“The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians--when they are sombre and joyless, when they are self-righteous and smug in complacent consecration, when they are narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths. But, though it is just to condemn some Christians for these things, perhaps, after all, it is not just, though very easy, to condemn Christianity itself for them. Indeed, there are impressive indications that the positive quality of joy is in Christianity--and possibly nowhere else. If that were certain, it would be proof of a very high order” 

“It is not possible to be 'incidentally a Christian.' The fact of Christianity must be overwhelmingly first or nothing. This suggests a reason for the dislike of Christians by nominal or non-Christians: their lives contain no overwhelming first but many balances.” 

“…though I wouldn’t have admitted it, even to myself, I didn’t want God aboard. He was too heavy. I wanted Him approving from a considerable distance. I didn’t want to be thinking of Him. I wanted to be free—like Gypsy. I wanted life itself, the color and fire and loveliness of life. And Christ now and then, like a loved poem I could read when I wanted to. I didn’t want us to be swallowed up in God. I wanted holidays from the school of Christ.” 

“In my old easy-going theism, I had regarded Christianity as a sort of fairy tale; and I had neither accepted nor rejected Jesus, since I had never, in fact, encountered him. Now I had. The position was not, as I had been comfortably thinking all these months, merely a question of whether I was to accept the Messiah or not. It was a question of whether I was to accept Him--or reject>. My God! There was a gap behind me too. Perhaps the leap to acceptance was a horrifying gamble-but what of the leap to rejection? There might be no certainty that Christ was God-but, by God, there was no certainty that He was not.” 

“That death, so full of suffering for us both, suffering that still overwhelmed my life, was yet a severe mercy. A mercy as severe as death, a severity as merciful as love.” 

so that's my review of A SEVERE MERCY. a difficult read. but a SIGNIFICANT one for me.