What My Yearbook Picture Doesn’t Show

The new principal strongly suggested that we take our picture.  He is very passionate about yearbooks.  Something about the lasting impression we can potentially make in a year and what will others remember when they find our portrait in the midst of all the others?  This is my third year at this school and my first picture as a teacher.  I found a sheet of copies of my portrait in my mailbox at school and when I run into a senior student who was in my class last year and is on the way slowly back to class, I expose them laughingly saying, “I look so crusty!”  He laughs too and clutches them with precisely the sort of awkwardness I have learned to ignore.  “You look like yourself.  You’re not getting these back,” though I do as I reach for the door of my classroom and wave him off to Math.  A few of my peers are in my room.  I show them the sheet of me’s.  We comment on the size of my eyes and whether or not one looks larger.

What this picture doesn’t show: I left before the final bell rang.  Right out the front door of the office.  And I didn’t even tell anyone.  My duties technically end a half hour after the bell though most days I stay until 4:30 or 5:00PM.  But this day the walls are thick and the walls and the walls and the walls and who thought of a building with no windows?  I never knew light could feel so much like darkness in its heaviness.  I never knew caves could be so bright.  Sometimes when I leave the 200 building I feel like I’m emerging from a hole.  My eyes take minutes to adjust.  My fingers tingle from the heat that melts their frozen tips.  So I leave and walk out of the office around the perimeter of the school campus because all exits closer to my car are locked until 3PM and it is 2:52 when I leave and the further I am the faster and faster I walk.  My shoulders relax a bit as I spot my car in the distance and when I reach it I tug on the door handle for a good minute until I realize that this is not my car.  I look around and find Chance my Honda mocking me from the opposite row.  I get into my car and quickly back up and drive out of the parking lot which is already packed with early parents, ready to peel out of the place as soon as their pupil slides into the back seat.  I press on the gas as I exit the school zone.  My heart races a little.  The time is 2:58.

What this picture won’t show: I yelled at them today.  Sometimes we trust God with big things like our souls and deny him things as insignificant as 2nd hour, Reading Class during a lesson.  I denied my body breath this hour.  I felt it, the breath, suspended in my chest, pounding on my lungs, asking for release.  The muscles on my back tightened; my brow distorted the front of my face.  Rest and release were the last things from my mind.  Instead, I spun.  My mind swirled with the voices of a few in the back row.  Are they two who are talking?  Are there ten?  Are they all?  And I add to the noise, my own voice swirled into, colliding and silencing the others.  “Why is there talking?”  I yell.  Tiny, creaky.  Like a teapot whistling.  My anger a mere pocket of steam pressed through a small hole.  A lecture follows.  Short.  Forgettable.  But the heat from the whistle bubbles inside me.  I take it with me.  It simmers.  My energy drained; my brain powers down to low battery mode.

What this picture can’t show: When I stay late, so does she.  “I know, I’m tall,” she says when I use tall as an example of an adjective, “But why does no one ever shut up about it?”  When I stay late, she works on her credit retrieval on the computer so she can reach her goal to graduate at the end of the school year.  Her friend stays late, too, and visits with me.  We talk about self-expression, Brazilian-Japanese people and assimilation.  We talk about frozen salsa, my younger brother’s love of frozen fried foods and the things we all lose as we make a foreign land our home.  They leave before my batteries die.  Some kids recharge me.

A more accurate, inaccurate picture: When I tell her that she should start looking at colleges, she tells me, “I don’t know what I want to be.”

“Neither do I,” I confess, during my lunch I scroll through job searches and imagine my life in another place.  I hope for windows. In the middle of my daydream, I remember this graph:

disillusion

“Do you want to go back to school Miss?” she asks, “don’t you get tired of it?”

Her friend gestures to the whiteboard covered in marker.  “She is in school.”  We laugh.  “For her, it never ends.”

 

Visit our Pottery blog

This is an invitation for you to visit and follow our new blog. My husband and I want to share our pottery with you so please check out thekingandtheflower.wordpress.com to see more of our work and read about the clay process. We will be adding more pictures soon. You can also check out our etsy or contact us through the site to purchase our pottery.

When God Speaks Through His Word and Our Art

The bold black ink on white canvas caught my eye.  As I walked under the shaded outdoor patio of Elevate coffee, I noticed a girl tracing the penciled words with a thin brush; “Wow, that’s beautiful,” I said.  I took a closer look; the canvas read, “For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content”.

“Can I take a picture of it?” I asked.IMG_0644

She said yes and I clarified, “I’d like to show it to my husband.”  The phrase sounded pleasant though unfamiliar and I smiled.  I stretched out my hand and introduced myself.  My new friend’s name is Jasmin.  I promised her I would return to see the finished product.

God has done this before.  Once before Asa and I started dating, I was looking at his pottery on the shelves at Desert Dragon.  He had carved around his vessel the words: “Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”  The Lord had been speaking these words same words to my heart.  He was using them to make me desire holiness and freedom from sin.  Now, Asa and I had barely talked at this point.  In fact, I had seen him throw and had not appreciated his work.  It wasn’t until I saw his carved pottery that I realized how talented he is.  A couple days later, I apologized to him, “I’m sorry, but I totally underestimated you,” I said.  He smiled and proceeded to win my heart and marry me months later.

But the point of my story is that God speaks to us often through His Word and moreover, through art, which I love.  When I saw Jasmin’s canvas, I saw God’s faithfulness.  I know I can trust him.  Despite the fact that, last night, my husband and I talked about silence, uncertainty and money, I know I cannot falter in my heart when it comes to God.  Because he told me, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me”.  He reminded me of his Word last night.  And then, there it was today in black and white: “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content”.

Inside of elevate, I found a friend from the ceramics studio.   “I just saw Asa last night at the studio!”  Heather hugged me and congratulated us.  We sat on the couches near the window.  On the other side friend continued working on her lettered canvas.  I felt in my heart something/someone say, “That canvas is yours.”  I continued to share pictures from the wedding.  My friend and I chatted for a while until I finished my Mocha Frappuccino and she needed to leave to pick up her kids from school.

I returned to my new friend Jasmin on the other side of the glass.  She was sitting with her finished canvas and her boyfriend, Washington.  I asked her why she picked that verse in particular.  “Sometimes God speaks a verse into my heart for that particular season of my life.  This is a time of transition for me and I felt like this verse spoke to that.”

“I love it,” I said.

Washington handed me the canvas, “It’s yours.”

Dear Lord Jesus, I always underestimate you.  I pray you continue to show me your faithfulness through your people, your Word and our art.  Thank you because you are not silent.  Give me ears to hear and eyes to see.  In your name, Jesus, Amen.

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13IMG_0648

Wrecked by Mercy

If Santa Cruz were a woman I would be extremely jealous. When you hear Asa talk about her you’d that think he’s in love. And who wouldn’t be? The place is tucked between the mountains and the waters. I ran along the coast every morning while we visited and after I got used to the ocean breeze, I realized how beautiful it was. The surfers were paddling towards the waves. I could smell the salt of the foamy water or else the drop that rolled down my neck. I took off my sweatshirt, as the sun rose higher on the bright blue canvas. I could love this place, too, I told Asa when I met him back in the car. He smiled.
I’d pick you over Santa Cruz any day, he’d later tell me. And it’s probably the nicest thing I’ve heard him say yet.
The truth is neither of us wanted to leave. We’d had a great time exploring and spending time with Asa’s family that we decided to leave later than we had planned on Saturday. We’d fuel up on coffee, take turns napping and arrive in Phoenix with time to rest before Asa had to work on Sunday evening. We left around 8pm.
Asa took the first shift. He drove several hours before stopping for gas, coffee and a 5 hour energy. Sometime around the sixth hour (halfway through our trip), I suggested we switch soon. I was wide awake and watching a movie called “Me, Earl and the Dying Girl” on Asa’s laptop. I don’t remember where the movie left off when I felt the bump as the car went off course. I remember it like a dream and a funny thought, this must be what it feels like to be inside the dryer. I fiddled with the handle but it wouldn’t budge. And then it was cold, and I was climbing out from the drivers side. I shivered.
Asa later told me that we both walked out and over the hill where the car had rolled. My glasses had been lost in the wreck and a blood vessel had popped in my right eye. That’s probably one reason why I don’t remember much. I wasn’t responding well when the paramedics came. I kept asking the same questions: what happened? Was I driving?
I woke up in a hospital bed. Asa was standing in front of me holding Kilo, our dog. I think I can say that now: our dog. Because I love this dog like it’s mine too. Other than Asa, its the only other mortal creature who shared that experience. After the accident, Kilo was ejected THROUGH the shattered window. When Asa called his name he came strutting out of the bushes. Not a bruise on his little Maltese body. How did you get him inside the hospital? I asked. I begged and pleaded, Asa answered. He placed the dog beside me and Kilo cuddled close to me. Asa showed me a picture of the car. He was near tears. I don’t remember feeling tired, he said; I laughed (it must have been the adrenaline because everything was funny) and told him it was ok. We’ll make a whole bunch of pottery and sell it as a fundraiser, I suggested. He apologized profusely. We’re alive, I said, it doesn’t matter (and I meant it). I’m alive. You’re alive. God’s mercy is so big. Mercy trumps justice…isn’t that what it says? I asked. I wasn’t sure. And I’m still not sure if I’ve misquoted.
I’ll be honest: I’ve grown lazy in my relationship with God. It takes effort to do what he asks. But you know what? God is faithful. He’s not like me. I still feel like I made the whole accident up. Like it was a nightmare. We rolled three times. My eye and my ribs are still healing from the bruises. My Nissan Juke is totaled. But you know what? God spared our lives. And showed us his loving kindness afterward.
We were quickly dismissed from the hospital in Santa Clarita and a cab driver took us to a motel where we were to spend the night. When that motel and several others refused to take us with Kilo, the driver named Jake offered his own home to us. He took us to his family’s house and gave us blankets and pillows to sleep in the couch.  In the morning, we woke up to a warm meal. I will never forget the kindness and care that his family showed us. Jake’s girlfriend even gave Kilo some doggy size hoodie’s. I’ve never been the kind of person to encourage this sort of behavior, but after seeing the little dog in a hoodie it just sorta made sense. So that’s how we became one of those couples that dresses their dog.
Anyway, thankfully, Asa’s dad drove the six hours from Santa Cruz and picked us up. He later drove us back to Phoenix. My dad came to visit last week as well. Thanks to him, I’ve quickly found a replacement vehicle.
But thanks to God, I live. And more so now more than ever do I understand that I’m alive due to his mercy and grace. I pray that He teach me to recipricate the love that He has shown me and Asa and even Kilo. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

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Things I learn as I teach: Authenticity

Deer season

I found this comic while seeking material for my Tuesday lesson on humor and literature. My students loved it and chuckled at the ridiculousness behind pretending to be something we aren’t.

Authenticity is one of those buzz words that keeps coming up during my time at TFA. Students will see right through you, experienced teachers say, don’t pretend to be something you’re not.

What does it mean to be born again? Again and again I’ve prayed to God make me genuine. I want to worship in spirit and in truth. I want to be the real thing. I don’t want to pretend to be something I’m not.

I ask my students, what’s at risk? They say, life. The silly disguise won’t work. We laugh. The deer could die, they say. And I shudder.

Lord, let me be found in you. My disguises won’t save me. Only in Christ is there mercy. Only in you there is safety.

Teach for America Day 2: Unexpected Adventures in the Phoenix Sun

My TFA Experience

Sacaton Red-on-Buff decorates the pottery of the Hohokam people Sacaton Red-on-Buff decorates the pottery of the Hohokam people

 

Day two with TFA and AZ is sizzling. 102 degrees and rising. But I love the sun and we just got back from the Pueblo Grande Museum. We got to look at some clay artifacts. Ceramics has a very special place in my heart so I’m still giddy from looking at Hohokam art.

After exploring the museum, we also got the opportunity to hear from three wonderful speakers about ethnic and cultural diversity in Arizona and immigration. As future teachers and leaders, we are encouraged to educate ourselves on the subject and offer students a platform to tell their stories as well as open ears to listen and learn from them. One of my fellow corps members commented that issues with social class and inequity transcend race. Often times we are all working and hoping for the same change. Communities…

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Teach for America Day 1: Meet the Family

My TFA Experience

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This is my lovely family or small group for the 2014 TFA Induction/Institute. As part of a much larger group and an even larger movement, we are Teach for America Phoenix Corps 2014. During the next few weeks we will be learning what it means to be a part of TFA Phoenix and part of the restoration of our American education system. Yesterday induction kicked off with a pizza dinner at our fearless leader Meagan’s house. I hope that as a TFA family we can provide support for each other as we navigate through our TFA experience. Our journey ahead holds many challenges but I am confident that we are all willing and able to face the giants. Stay tuned and welcome to Phoenix!

20140528-053111-19871751.jpg My name is Daisy by the way, and these mountain rock my socks off!

Wicker basket Deja Vu: Settled into my dorm-room at ASU

I must remember to never take this landscape for granted I must remember to…

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