I will always cherish October as the month that I first started falling in love with my husband. The crispness of the air, the cawking of the crows, and the anticipation of the coming holidays all remind me of the days when we first got to know each other.
Our friendship began in high school through studying together and being in theatre together. I quickly started getting butterflies each time he looked at me with his gorgeous blue eyes or shared his thoughts with me about God and life.
While we were dating, we used to spend hours each night talking on the phone. I will always remember one evening in particular when he told me he had heard a song, and that it reminded him of me…
“I think that possibly, maybe I’m falling for you
Yes there’s a chance that I’ve fallen quite hard over you
I’ve seen the paths that your eyes wander down
I want to come too
I think that possibly, maybe I’m falling for you
No one understands me quite like you do
Through all of the shadowy corners of me”
As the years pass by, I feel increasingly grateful for the boy who shared that song with me that night, and for the strong, kind, intelligent, and gentle man he has become. And the longer we are together, the more I thank God for someone who understands “all of the shadowy corners of me” and who has chosen me to love and to cherish. And I look forward to falling for him over and over for the rest of our lives.
I lace up my spikes with unsteady hands and make my way to the starting line. Girls with uniforms of all different styles and hues repeat their rituals—jogging in place, jumping up and down, stretching their calves—as calls ring out from the announcer and echo across the stadium.
At last, the time comes: “Girls, find your starting places.”
I shuffle over to my lane, carefully position my feet, look ahead, and take a deep breath. As I wait for the next words of instruction, I face a barrage of questions: Why am I doing this? Is it really worth it? Will I be successful, or will I fail?
As a cross country and track runner in high school, I experienced this scenario more times than I can count. At the start of each race, I remember doubting myself and my abilities, fearing the exhaustion that would soon overtake my body, and questioning why I was passionate about running.
Although I am no longer a competitive runner, I can completely relate to my high school self as I approach the starting line of my second year of teaching. With the first day of school only a week away, I find myself asking all the same questions I used to ask myself before a race. Why am I doing this? Is it really worth the effort? Will I be successful, or will I fail?
Before beginning my first year of teaching last year, I was nervous because I had no idea what to expect. This year, I find myself nervous because I do know what to expect – the unmotivated students who choose to fail time after time, the mornings spent worrying about what to teach and how to teach it, the nights spent praying for hurting students, the paperwork that is always waiting to be completed, the nervousness before giving a test, the tired feet, the weary heart, the feelings of failure and incompetence.
But, just as I stood at the starting line back in high school and remembered the glory of the finish line, I can’t help but remember the beauty of my job – the mornings with students already waiting outside the door to ask for help, the inspiration I find in my students’ passions and dreams, the celebrations of students passing a test or doing well on a paper, the times when students realize that literature is more than reading old stories written by dead people and that writing is more than simply words on a page, the laughter filling my classroom and the hallways, the appreciation, the encouragement, the fulfillment.
As I wait for the next words of instruction, I face a barrage of questions: Why am I doing this? Is it really worth it? Will I be successful, or will I fail?
Before I have time to answer, I hear “On your marks….Get set….Go!”
And all the fears racing through my mind seem to vanish with the smoke of the starting gun as I determine to do my best in this race and consider that a success.
When Tanner and I got married, we didn’t spend much money on decorating our apartment. Most of our furniture was either given to us or ours before we got married, and we haven’t done much with it since. I recently stumbled across this dresser makeover and was inspired to add a new touch to my own dresser.
I had this dresser from Ikea in my bedroom from before we got married, but it is one of the pieces of furniture we had that fit relatively well into our style – clean and simple. Unlike the dresser at Smitten Studio, mine was already white, so I just wanted to add some sparkle (literally and figuratively) to our knobs. I had some left over metallic gold spray paint from some decorations I made for my wedding last year (see here), and I also gathered some extra materials I had lying around to help make the painting process easier.
knobs (of course)
styrofoam (or a cardboard box)
I placed each knob onto a toothpick to make them easier to handle while painting. While my idea worked really well for the knobs, I unintentionally gave my left thumb a new coat of nail polish, so you may want to use gloves. As I finished each knob, I simply stuck the toothpicks in the styrofoam to let them dry without having to touch them or rest them on anything. And here are the finished results! I was pretty satisfied since I spent no money on the materials (although even if I had, it would have come out to less than $10), and it only took about 15 minutes. What are some simple makeovers you have done that made a big impact?
When I was younger, my definition of art was very limited. I only appreciated artistic expression that I could relate to or that I was attracted to. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to value many forms of art, whether modern or traditional, abstract or concrete, functional or avant-garde, even if it doesn’t align with my personal aesthetic. I now realize that art is not so much about the product, but about the process and the passion. I see beauty in so much around me.
However, despite all this beauty that I have witnessed in this world, nothing is more stunning to me than the beauty of nature.
I recently had the opportunity to travel to Colorado, which I have never before visited in the summer. Everywhere I went, everything I saw, emanated beauty. I can’t help but agree with Thoreau that nature is the greatest (maybe second, only to love) source of inspiration and beauty. In some ways, it seems unbelievable to think that of all the artists who have existed and of all the masterpieces that have been created, it is the oldest piece of art in history that I view as the greatest.
And yet, this all makes sense when I think about the Artist who designed this complex yet simple, mystifying yet tangible, and savage yet fragile piece of art we call earth.
PHOTO CREDITS// CINDY HEARNE, TANNER HEARNE
For the encouragement to keep coloring even when I colored out of the lines,
For the time spent reading “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”,
For the willingness to look silly by joining in with my ballet class,
For the prayers spoken over me and with me every day,
For the sacrifices made to give me a private Christian education,
For the countless hours spent at the kitchen table tutoring me in geometry and calculus,
For the patience each time I made a mistake,
For the hugs each time I needed one,
For the dedication to being at my concerts, meets, awards nights, and performances,
For the treating me like your little princess,
For the forgiveness when I’ve taken you for granted,
For the example set for being a husband, a father, and a follower of God,
For the listening ear that is always available,
For the challenge to seek out the needy and serve,
For the wisdom that guides me through life’s decisions,
For the unconditional love and support
…I will be forever grateful.
I love you, Daddy. Happy Father’s Day.
As with many of the good books I read, this one was recommended to me by my dad. Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate is written by Justin Lee, a committed Christian and executive director of the Gay Christian Network. In this book, Lee recounts the story of his life with humor, wisdom, and humility in order to address one of the most controversial topics in the contemporary Christian church: homosexuality.
Lee grew up in a close and loving family who raised him in a Bible-centered church. By the time he was a teenager, Lee had begun to actively pursue a personal relationship with God and had committed himself to serving God; so much so that his peers at school gave him the nickname “God Boy.” Lee felt like he had all the right answers to questions about morality and Christian living…until he discovered that he was attracted to men instead of women. This discovery led to a 15-year long pursuit of truth as he struggled to figure out God’s plan for his life and for other people in the LGBT community.
What I loved about this book is that it takes complete advantage of the power of literature to place readers in contexts and situations that they would have otherwise been unable to experience. Rather than present chapters full of theology and debate, Lee simply shares his own story, allowing readers to draw their own conclusions. In the process he touches on some of the following topics: why people are gay, how to respectfully communicate with gay people, the role of the church in responding to the “gay debate”, God’s view of same-sex relationships, and more. As is common when reading good books, I ended the book with more questions than answers and more unsure of my beliefs than I was when I began. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with all of Lee’s conclusions, Torn is a powerful message that can’t help but change you in some way.
Read about more books on my bookshelf here:
A Faith of Our Own
My Lucky Life
They say the first year of teaching is the hardest. On the bright side, I think that implies that it is a year full of growth and learning. Here are just a few of the lessons that I learned this year that extend far beyond just the classroom…
1. Smile. A lot.
As small and insignificant as it seems, I have become aware of the impact of smiling. Earlier in the year a student commented to me, “You always have a smile on your face every day. I like that.” Even one of my administrators thanked me for always smiling. Even though circumstances don’t always encourage or allow us to smile, I’ve realized that smiling is a physical way of showing people, whether students or colleagues, that you are happy to be at work and that you care about them. And that is a powerful thing.
2. Listen before you speak.
I’ve always loved to talk. When I was little, I would talk so much that my parents would have to interrupt me and ask me to give my brother a chance to talk. However, I’ve come to realize this year that listening oftentimes sends a much more powerful message than speaking does. Ever since I began student teaching, I got into the habit of always asking my students how their day was going before beginning class. I take just a minute or two to hear the ups and downs, and listen to what they have going on. Again, this seemingly simple act apparently impacted my kids more than I realized. One student once told me, “That’s why you’re my favorite teacher. You always ask us how we’re doing.” Taking time to listen to people not only communicates how much you care for them, but it also makes the times when you speak even more powerful.
3. Forgive quickly and move on.
Working with kids of any age is difficult, but each age group comes with its specific challenges. In my opinion, one challenge of working with teenagers is that their immaturity often results in hurting those around them. Many of my students have made comments that hurt my feelings or have treated me in ways that made me feel insignificant and incompetent. In any situation or relationship that involves offense, forgiveness can be a challenge. I have been so blessed in my marriage relationship that my husband is very quick to apologize and resolve any problems. However, teenagers are typically not so considerate. If I were to have waited for an apology to forgive a student each time one hurt me, I would still hold many grudges. I quickly realized that in order to maintain a positive relationship with my students and to ultimately succeed at my job, I needed to forgive quickly and move on. Rather than treat offensive students or difficult classes based on how they treated me, I continuously made the decision to treat all classes and every student with respect, regardless of their disrespect towards me. In the end, I think the grace I showed them, even my imperfect grace, positively influenced not only our relationship, but their success in my class.
These three lessons are just a few of the many things that I learned throughout the year. I also learned the importance of balancing my work and my personal life, the power of God’s grace to use me even when I had a bad attitude, the impact of taking on extra responsibilities even when that meant more work, and the true joy that comes with fully investing yourself into the lives of students who come to trust you and care for you.