Prelude to the Book Talk by Don Miller

This afternoon I beat the traffic and headed up to Baltimore to hear one of my all-time favorite authors speak about his new book and some other great things to be apart of, like The Mentoring Project.  It was well worth the $7 round-trip (says my GPS) to get there:)  I enjoy reading and devouring Don Miller's work, so excited doesn't truly describe how I felt earlier today.

He writes well and I was confident he would also speak well, so I arrived with my journal…and here's my prelude…

I'm sitting in a Presbyterian church.  It's pretty and uncomfortable.  My back's been aching too much today…after 8 days of being pain-free.  I thought this was gone, but I guess not completely.  Anyway, the pews in this church are hard.  Sure, there's pew-length-long foam cushions, but they don't offer much-plus they move.  I'm not complaining.  I'm just saying.  Leave me here long enough and I will surely find 300 things to critique…which is why I'll just amuse myself with my own writing instead…and I'll start reading Don's book for the 2nd time this month.  It's worth reading once a month, but twice during the first one for sure.

…This older gentleman in a suit keeps walking people down the aisle to one of the doors to the side of the stage.  I think he's taking them to the bathroom, since it's obviously the way to the rest of the building (the entrance was just the entrance).  I'm not feeling super well and want to know where the bathroom is, but I'm afraid that I already know.  So, what if I have to go while Don is speaking?

*I just realized that Colbie Callait is playing in the speakers.  I love that.  Do I need to explain why?  I mean, they could be playing Rebecca St. James, which would be fine, but expected.  I didn't expect Colbie. 🙂

Yea, so I'm nervous that I'll have to go while my favorite hero author guy is speaking.  Could I let him know ahead of time-or slip him a note as I walk past him to exit to the john?

Sorry, Don.  I really want to hear the whole thing, but the greasy pizza from Mamma Cucina's is not completely agreeing with my insides right now.  Believe me, it would be a ton worse if I didn't go right now.  You might just want to trust me on this one.

        Your Biggest Fan,

        The Cute Redhead in the 5th Row

One of the things that makes this church a little uncomfortable for me is that there's only one entrance/exit to each pew.  I can see that they were trying to conserve aisle space, but it's just so awkward.  I'm sitting on the end (due to said problem earlier), in the 5th row, and I know that people would love to take up more of this pew, but they feel weird asking if they can hop over me to sit on the other side of me.  I certainly cannot offer to move in through, not now.  

…And now my biggest fear is confirmed…"Sir, excuse me.  Can you point me in the direction of the restrooms?"  "Do you wanna go now?"  "No."  "Okay, you go through those doors, to the left, down the stairs.  Go down the right hallway, take the next left, do 16 jumping jacks and 40 pushups, and it'll be on the right."…or was that "up the stairs?"  Great, so not only will I have to disrupt my favorite author, just to go potty, but I'll also miss half the talk because I won't be able to find the bathroom!  Maybe I should ask for a map.  Or perhaps I should update my FB status right now to ask all of my Christian friends to pray that I don't have to go to the bathroom for the next 3 1/2 hours.

Finally-2 cool people just sat next to me.  The guy made a joke about the doors on the pews.  Did I mention that?  The pews have doors on them.  Do they not want people to leave?  Do you have to hand in your tithe before they'll let you out?  "No, ma'am.  I'm sorry…that was only 9%.  The pew door is staying closed until you cough up the rest."  Why do I feel like trying to be a comedian tonight?  And why do I sound so cynical?  I'm not really, I'm just super intrigued by this church…But I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that Donald Miller inspires me to write-good, bad, ugly-the guy inspires me to be real with my thoughts-even the ones that don't have a chance of coming through as super-holy.  Hmm.

Ah, we're so close to starting…

So there you have it.  My prelude.  These were my thoughts as I sat in the very pretty church, waiting for the man-writer of my dreams Donald Miller, to come out!

I have to do a plug for Susan Isaacs, too, though.  She had about 15 minutes on stage before Don came out, and she's just as gut-wrenchingly raw and honest as he is.  She's the female version of him.  I absolutely loved listening to her and truly look forward to buying her book, Angry Conversations with God, as well.  I am working on my honesty too-beyond, "Yes, I really do like your hair.  It looks great.":)  Susan will challenge me with this.  I encourage you to check out both of the books I've mentioned…and then read them twice.

How could I almost forget to mention this?  So I'm totally starstruck by this guy, for dumb reasons because I know he's just normal…but the whole time he's talking I'm all excited about the thought of getting my book signed by him, and I'm trying to come up with the best thing to say when I go up and meet him.  So what did I say?  I get to the table, 4 things in my head to choose from and…"Thanks!"  That was it.  My big moment to say whatever I wanted and I said, "Thanks!"  And I didn't even break out my camera.  :(

Contributing in the Name Of

In August of 2004, some "genius" decided that I would be a good candidate to teach 2nd grade in Detroit.  He had no idea what he was getting himself into by hiring me…and neither did I.  This guy held a couple of leadership roles at that first school when I was there, but basically, he was my boss.  Our school shut down and we all parted ways…but this school year, my former boss, Paddock (we go by last names at our school) came on as our Vice Principal.  This has been a very cool thing for so many reasons, none of which I will delve into right now.  But this is where I’m headed at the moment…Paddock’s father passed away the other night after battling with lung cancer.  I can see that it’s been a tough thing for him and his family to journey through.  For whom wouldn’t it be?  We were informed today that if we wanted to, we could make contributions to the American Cancer Society, in his name.  It struck a thought with me…

So Mr. Paddock passed away due to lung cancer, and they’d like contributions to something that could potentially help someone like him in the future.

If I passed into eternity, where would I like contributions to be made?  I haven’t come to my conclusion quite yet, but here are a few ponderings.

I love giving to missions (aka people who serve Jesus by serving others…well, that should be all followers of Jesus…but more specifically, those who are depending on others to support them financially and prayerfully).  That’s a definite possibility.

You can’t deny the fact that I love kids and teaching, so it would also make perfect sense if I wanted donations made to the school I work with, or for there to be a one time scholarship made to a current student of mine at the time (or even former student of mine). 

Also in light of my love for teaching and literacy, wouldn’t it be cool for people to donate books in my name to kids in poverty?  It would have to be tagged with my life testimony or something though…

Cancer has reared its ugly face in my family (most recently with my mom’s sister who was just told that she had cervical cancer and only a few months to live), so I could very well like to also give to the American Cancer Society.

What am I most passionate about that needs money?  I’m not ready to answer that question just yet, although to be honest, the book thing made my heart beat a little bit faster.  I don’t know though.  It’s an interesting thing to think about though, huh?

Searching for What?

I can honestly say that I’m in a searching mode.  This journey that I’m on has me searching on a few
different things…and I think I’m finally okay with that.  Phil and Emily, a couple of great friends of mine, have started a LifeGroup through my church, and we’re going through the book, Searching for God Knows What, by Donald Miller. 

First of all, this guy’s an absolute riot.  Here, check out the first chapter of this book.  I just did, and I’m in love with his style.  This is how I want to write!  (Although I probably won’t be attending any of those writing seminars like he mentioned in the chapter…go ahead and read it…you know you want to!)

Anywho, from what I gather, the general basis of the book is that knowing God is not formulaic, and he’s about to prove it to me-or rather just give me more solid reasons as to why I already think Book2that’s true.  Either way, I genuinely look forward to feasting on this guy’s words…and trying to pick up a few writing nuances along the way. 

Here’s a paragraph that captured me:

I know there are people who have actually gone from misery to happiness, but
they didn’t do it by walking through three steps; they did it because they had a certain set
of parents and heard a certain song and knew somebody who had a certain experience
and saw some movie then read some book then had something happen to them like a car
wreck or a trip to Seattle, and then they called on God and a week later read something in
a magazine or met a girl in Wichita, and when all this had happened they had an
epiphany, and somebody may have helped them fulfill what this epiphany made them
feel, and several years later they rationalized this mystic experience with three steps, then
they told the three steps to us in a book. And I’m not saying they weren’t trying to be
helpful; I bring this up only because life is complex, and the idea you can break it down,
or fix it in a few steps is rather silly. The truth is there are a million steps, and we don’t
even know what the steps are and, worse, at any given moment we may not be willing or
even able to take them and still worse they are different for you and me and they are
always changing. I have come to believe the sooner we find this truth beautiful, the
sooner we will fall in love with God on His terms, who keeps shaking things up, keeps
changing the path, keeps rocking the boat to test our faith in Him, teaching us not to rely
on easy answers, bullet points, magic mantras or genies in lamps, but rather in His
guidance, His existence, His mercy and His love.

On the Edge of their Seats!

So my coach, Susan, mentioned this book called Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke to my class, right before Christmas break.  I’d never heard of the book before, but she told my class that I would spend some time over my break to go buy the book so I could read it to them.  (How thoughtful of her!:)  Well, because I tend to like most of the things Susan suggests to me, I decided to do just that, and I purchased this (somewhat) enormous little novel to read to my kids.  It’s deeply rich red cover is kind of inviting anyway.  Of course, after I bought it I realized that she’d already ordered it for my classroom…we just didn’t realize it!  But oh well, one can never have too many books in a classroom…especially a teacher like me!Inkheart

By the way that she talked about the book, I was kind of antsy to get started on it, but I waited until the day we went back to begin reading it.  Everyday, now, I go to open this book and my kids’ little patoots are on the edge of their little seats!  This book is so fantastic that I can literally stop at suspenseful moments and pretend like I’m going to stop reading, every few pages if I wanted to!  And when I do stop…oh the groaning and pleading that happens!  It certainly tickles my funny bone in special ways, and as a teacher, I love that they love it when I read to them.  Reading to kids causes their own hunger for reading to increase dramatically, because they realize just how much fun it can be!  There’s no reason why they can’t steal away into their own little bookworm world on their own, outside of the classroom too! 

I would recommend Inkheart, but with supervision, and censoring if you so desire.  It has some slightly vulgar language during certain parts, but because I’m reading it to my class, I don’t actually say those words.  Plus, I have a couple boys who are reading it in my class, and they’re the ones that pointed the words out to me.  It was a great teachable moment to say, "You know, sometimes we come across things that we know are inappropriate for us to say or express, and we have to decide what we’re going to do with them.  What do you think?  Would you have the right to speak like that in class, just because I let you read a book that says that?…Right…so we have choices to make!  That’s all." 

Oh, and great news!  Next winter, Inkheart the movie will come out!  But if you are a reader, then please, please read the book before then.  While the movie looks good, I can already tell that the book will absolutely be better than the movie.  One more thing…this is the first of a trilogy of good vs. evil fantasy.  (Can’t wait to finish so I can read the next one!)

“Chase the Lion” Lifegroup

Tuesday nights @ 7 I get to spend time with a really awesome group of people at the Southfield Public Library.  They make up my Lifegroup.  Although I would have never just randomly put these people together to just "hang out", for some reason this group makes sense and is so great!  A couple of people were new tonight and a couple of people were out tonight…they were missed.  Put everyone together and it’s so much fun!

Tonight I started my group off with a KWL chart about fear.  KWL is a "before reading" strategy that teachers teach kids to do…write what you Know, what you Want to know, and then what you Learn.  I wasn’t too sure how my group of adults would take to my "classroom" strategy, but it actually seemed to go as well in our group as it does in my classroom!  Yay! 

Then we started off our book together-Mark Batterson’s, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy DayBrad actually51np15gza0l_bo2204203200_pisitbdp50
preached on fear two days ago, and it led perfectly into our discussion tonight.  (Thanks, Brad!:)  We had some great, authentic discussion, and it whetted my appetite for the discussions that we’re going to have these next couple of months, as we wrestle through this together.  It pumped me up! 

We ended our night by doing something that I used to do as a Discipleship Leader, back in college…and we did something similar a few weeks ago, too…we wrote to ourselves.  We wrote down fears that we have about our current life, and fears that we have about the future…things we want to overcome.  We sealed them up in labeled envelopes and I’ll return them in a couple months-or perhaps the fall. 

Community is built through times like these-or at least they start in times like these.  I thank God for Sylvia, Joi, Cheryl, Stacey, Mark and Don….and Jayne when she can make it:)

I may come back to jot some thoughts down about fear, as we go through this book together.  I already added some things to my "L" column on my chart! 🙂