As a teacher of English as a second language, I consistently meet students from all over the world. The question “Where are you from?” is very common in my classroom. I myself am frequently asked this question after people learn that I speak Spanish. In both of these cases, a one word answer of a country or a city never seems to fully capture the essence and complexity of a person’s identity. For this reason, I was so excited about a project that my students worked on that quickly became a source of some of my favorite moments from this school year.
The project consisted of reading a poem entitled “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon, and using it as an inspiration for a personal poem. Instead of answering “Where are you from?” with an answer about a physical location, it involves sharing memories about different aspects of your childhood, heritage, and upbringing to represent where you are from on a deeper level.
Although my students were hesitant about writing poetry, and some were even resistant to sharing about their personal lives, I could not have been more moved by their final poems. Some of them brought tears to my eyes, as I learned so much about each student and all the things that make them unique. I also personally enjoyed writing my own poem, and reflecting on the different aspects of my heritage and family that have impacted and shaped me…
I am from picnic tablecloths on the living room floor,
from homemade play dough and wooden toys.
I am from the kitchen table
(solid, smooth, covered with eraser shavings and crayon marks).
I am from the honeysuckles blooming along the backyard fence,
The pecan trees dropping the pecans,
like treasures waiting to be found, just like my future dreams and desires.
I am from astigmatism and big noses,
from Carley and Reiner.
I am from the bookworms and the storytellers.
From you can do it, and don’t give up.
I’m from “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest,”
and prayers before bedtime.
I am from Driespitz and Valencia,
from arroz con leche and cream cheese dip.
From the books my mother read to me as a child,
the hours my father spent helping me with my homework.
I recently read the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling with one of my classes. Even though I taught this same poem last year, these lines caught my attention this year:
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run…”
Any time I read the word “unforgiveness,” I feel a small twinge in my heart, because I know it is one of my weaknesses. I struggle with pride and stubbornness, two traits that make it very difficult for me to apologize and admit mistakes.
However, I realize that conflict creates a chasm between people that, if rectified, can bring them closer than they were before the divide. I recently heard someone advise married couples to race their spouse to apologize anytime there is conflict. I think this imagery perfectly coincides with the lines from Kipling’s poem. What if, rather than sitting in that ominous silence after an argument and waiting for the other to speak first, we raced each other to be the first to humble ourselves and admit to wrong?
Tanner is the perfect example of this. As soon as anything even slightly offensive escapes his lips (which happens only rarely), he immediately apologies and asks for forgiveness. Ever since I recognized this humility in him when were dating, I was both convicted and inspired.
I aspire to continue to grow in humility so that in the unforgiving minute, I can learn to run the distance and close the chasm.
We have experienced so many adventures together in Poesy’s second year of life!
She made new puppy friends.
She celebrated the holidays.
She graduated from her puppy class and won a third place medal in her agility competition.
She gave a lot of snuggles.
And she took lots and lots of naps.
SEE HER FIRST BIRTHDAY HERE!
I am so blessed to be surrounded by talented friends and family. This week, I was invited by my friends at Hartt Productions to share a little bit about my wedding day. It was perfect timing, since Tanner and I just celebrated our second anniversary. Hartt Productions is passionate about capturing weddings through film to make each special moment of the day timeless.
“We strive to make every couple feel as though their film is a representation of who they were the moment they completed their vows and there is no better medium to relive that version of yourself than through one of our films.” – Hartt Productions
I was honored to design a rehearsal dinner invitation to go along with the wedding invitations I shared recently here. The bride asked me to incorporate the ribbon from the RSVP postcard, as well as more floral details. They are very sweet and simple!
Two years of going on adventures together,
Of being silly,
Of making each other laugh.
Two years of building a life together,
Of reminiscing about the past,
Of dreaming about the future.
Two years made richer and fuller every day
because of your love.
Happy Second Anniversary, Babe! I love you more than words could ever express.
P.S. Happy Anniversary to my parents and in-laws!
Thank you for your unconditional love for each other and for us.
PHOTO CREDIT// BRAD & REBEKAH PHOTOGRAPHY
I recently had the privilege of hearing Dr. Nabeel Qureshi share his story at my church, and I immediately knew I had to find out more. I was so excited to learn that he shared many more details in his book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity, and I read it as soon as possible.
In his book, Dr. Qureshi describes his upbringing in a devout Muslim family in America. He was raised to value integrity and peace, and he grew up learning how to defend his Muslim faith, particularly against Christianity. He was a high-achieving student in school, was a respectful and loving son, and passionately sought to serve Allah in all that he did. Throughout his adolescence, he was constantly seeking to share his faith with his peers and repeatedly engaged in discussions with Christians who had no answers to his criticisms of the Bible’s reliability, Jesus’ deity, and other issues of contention.
This pattern continued until Nabeel reached college and encountered the first Christian who was not rattled by questions and criticisms, but instead encouraged these questions and enjoyed discussing them. Over the next few years, Nabeel and David developed a strong relationship that motivated Nabeel to investigate his own faith in order to prove that Allah is the one true God and that Muhammad was his prophet. The more he researched, the more he discovered that many of his beliefs were formed on misconceptions or traditions that lacked historical evidence. And as he studied, he began to find much more evidence pointing toward the deity of Jesus and the authenticity of the Bible.
The beauty of Dr. Qureshi’s story is that he depicts the intricate relationship between logic and faith. He refused to base his faith merely on emotion and tradition, but pursued evidence and facts to support his decision. However, even once he determined logically that Jesus is the son of God and that he was crucified to bring salvation to humanity, he resisted Christianity. He states, “I knew that accepting Jesus would be like dying and I would have to give up everything, because for Muslims, following the gospel is more than a call to prayer. It is a call to die.” Ultimately, he beseeched God to show him the truth and finally accepted Jesus after God proved himself in an undeniable way.
I loved reading this book to learn more about the Muslim faith, to become informed about controversial issues between Islam and Christianity, and to study historical evidence that confirms the truths of the Bible. Most importantly, I was inspired by a story of a passionate pursuit of God that led to a life of sacrifice and devotion that has impacted the lives of many, including my own.
Read about more books on my bookshelf here:
A Faith of Our Own
My Lucky Life