Monday, August 27, 2012

Enchanted Bluffs

This afternoon as I was grading papers, one of the maintenance guys came in to clean my classroom. If we see each other I practice my Spanish and he practices his English. Usually the conversations are brief and full of confused laughter. But we communicated somewhat clearly between a mixture of Spanish and English.

It's amazing how much of a blessing these small encounters between other people can be. I have been amazed at God's faithfulness to put people in my life here in Panama who have made this place seem like home already.

Of course, I miss my friends in little Cedarville and Tennessee, too. I am teaching Cather's "The Enchanted Bluff" tomorrow in my American Literature class and was reminded of the sweet memories friends share and of hopes and dreams.

This summer, my friend Katy and I spent many nights on the roof, our feet resting on the sun-baked roof still warm from the afternoon. We talked about our hopes and dreams. Of teaching, of living in Seattle someday, of following God with all of our hearts. In a way, that little roof on Main Street became my Enchanted Bluff, where I dreamed idealistically about the future. Often, those dreams did not match up with God's, but as I learn to guide my heart towards His, I hope that soon my dreams will coincide with His plan for my life. Not because I want all my dreams to come true, but because I desire my heart to grow closer to God's so that my true dreams are in step with His plan.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Some Mornings

 Some mornings I wake up and think, “I live in Panama!” And then I think how crazy this is and how surreal. But most days it seems pretty normal. I live, work, and hang out with people just like I did in the States. The culture is different of course, and everyone speaks Spanish. Instead of saying “hello,” we say “buenas” to people we pass in the hallways and in the streets. The traffic is very intense. Panamanians are usually laid back about time except when they get in a car. Suddenly everyone is in a huge hurry to reach their destination.

The little subdivision I live in called Clayton or the “Ciudad de Sabes” (City of Knowledge) is green and lush with palm trees and tropical plants. It rains almost every afternoon around three – just in time for school to let out. The birds that I hear each morning as I get ready for school sing different songs than the ones that sang outside my bedroom window in Ohio. Small animals called “Nueches” that look like a cross between a rat and a rabbit run around our little neighborhood. I think they look as bizarre as a platypus.

The school is much like schools in the States, except of course, the students are bilingual and it is normal to hear conversations in Spanish before class begins and in the hallways. I teach English 9, World Literature, American Literature, and Creative Writing at CCA, and I love it. I love the mix of cultures, interacting with teachers and families who are some of the most loving people I have ever met.

I could go on about life in Panama, about the trip to the beach, shopping, food, and little accidental escapades, but I’ll save those for another entry.

As my students say: Yolo – You only live once. Make the most of it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sense of Change

A few days ago I was reading an essay by E.B. White that I had read for a class in college a few semesters ago. White writes,

"The only sense that is common, in the long run, is the sense of change - and we all instinctively avoid it, and object to the passage of time, and would rather have none of it."

I dislike change, and I found my heart agreeing with White. This summer has been a summer of change, but it has been good change. I graduated from college in May and am embarking on my first teaching job as I write from the Atlanta airport. I'm flying to Panama City to teach literature and language arts at an international school.

I told myself I did not want to teach overseas again after Vietnam, yet, here I am. Clearly His plans are not my plans. I should have learned by now not to plan out my life, but I do it anyway. But He is faithful and I am excited for this new part of my life to begin.

Here's to travel and to hard work!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Lovely Things.

Over spring break I read poetry. I pulled my mom's anthologies off the shelf and sprawled on my bed in the afternoon sun and read. I read Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, a little Poe, some Wordsworth, and Carl Sanburg. As I was flipping through the pages a little blue paper fell out with Sara Teasdale's "Barter" written in swirling cursive. My high school English teacher my senior year had written out this poem, made copies and given it to us near the end of school one spring day. I remember she talked a bit about it, reminding us to hold onto beauty, to hold onto beauty even when life grows difficult and taints or perspective of beauty and truth. Lying on my bed in the sunshine, safe at home, away from work, it was easy to see the lovely things in life -- sleeping late and drinking coffee, afternoon trail runs, evenings with friends, mom's homemade meals. But coming back to school and student teaching days, working most evenings, has made it difficult to remember Sara Teasdale's words that "life has lovliness to sell." This week as the days grow longer and people spend more time outdoors, I've tried to remember to look for and appreciate the lovliness. Lovliness like driving down winding highway 60 to have pizza with a friend, running through town as the sun begins to set, seeing the trees grow a deeper and deeper green, and watching the fog burn away as  I drive to school each morning. These small moments remind me to give all I am "for one white singing hour of peace."


Life has loveliness to sell,

All beautiful and splendid things,

Blue waves whitened on a cliff,

Soaring fire that sways and sings,

And children's faces looking up,

Holding wonder like a cup.

Life has loveliness to sell,

Music like the curve of gold,

Scent of pine trees in the rain,

Eyes that love you, arms that hold,

And for your spirit's still delight,

Holy thoughts that star the night.

Spend all you have for loveliness,

Buy it and never count the cost;

For one white singing hour of peace

Count many a year of strife well lost,

And for a breath of ecstasy

Give all you have been, or could be.

-Sara Teasdale

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


(This really won't be a proper blog post because I'm too busy living and don't want to be on here long. But I thought I should update).

I'm knee deep in spring break and loving each minute.

Today I did a little lesson planning and a little reading of poetry, and will leave you with this:

"There are lives I can imagine without children but none of them have the same laughter & noise."

Saturday, February 25, 2012

All about (or a little) Hippos.

This week was only four days long because Monday was President's Day, and I was grateful for a short week. My teacher, Mrs. J- was out all week because of the flu, and so I became responsible for all the little things I never realized she did for me. I took attendance and learned how to send the sheet to the office. I learned to write many many lists of students who needed to complete make-up homework, students who were tardy, students who needed work to do during in-school, students who needed extra help, students who needed to spend time in the guidance counselor's room...and on and on.

And I took calm breathes and plunged in the days, hoping I was doing something correct.

Currently, my students are finishing up their research unit, and yesterday I brought home a large and (I'll admit slightly depressing) stack of papers to grade.

I had my students write their reports in little blue paper books so at the end of this project they can take home a book all about the animal they researched.

One of my students cover reads, "All about Hippos" by H-.
The pages are set up carefully:
Page 1 : Introduction
Pages 2-4 : three main points and supporting details (each point goes on a separate page)
Page 5 : Conclusion
Page 6 : Works Cited.

It sounds simple, but it's been a long and tiring process for all of us,  I think.
I only have one week left at the Middle School, and I will miss these children and the teachers. It has been a wonderful experience.

But I'm glad it's the weekend.

I did laundry, went for a run and made these breakfast bars this morning....happy Saturday!

Breakfast Bars
(adapted from a recipe on Pinterest)

1.5 cups oats
2-3 ripe bananas
1 cup applesauce
A handful of raisins
About 1/2 a tsp. of cinnamon
A handful of cinnamon chips (optional)

Bake for 350 degrees for 30-35 min.

Next time I'm going to add nuts and and maybe coconut.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Old and New

Valentine's Day has come and gone in the 6th grade hall at the middle school, and I am left with many Valentines and candies on my desk.
I remember Valentine's day being a big day during school, even in High School, and Tuesday was the same for my students. They dressed in red and pink and had an excuse to eat way too much sugar...and the cafeteria ladies made chocolate cookies with pink M&M's peeking through.

But I celebrated Valentine's that evening with friends (old and new) eating authentic Indian food with our fingers (it's cultural apparently) and baking double chocolate fudge brownies.

I'm thankful for reasons to get together with friends. I hope your Thursday has been wonderful and full of ordinary beauty.