Wednesday, October 29, 2008

the unexpected in forgotten purses

Last night, I went to Barnes and Noble to hear author, Joan Holub, read and talk about some of her books. It was so cool sitting on the floor, surrounded by mostly toddlers and preschoolers and hear her explain the process of how books get published. One of her books, BooWho? was one of her first books, and she showed us the "Dummy," which was the product she sent to a publisher. She illustrated this book as well, and all of it was just on plain white paper with the story typed and the pictures were not in color. Then, she showed us what the book looks like after a publisher prints it; none of the pages are folded- they look like posters, and Joan can look through and make changes needed. Then, the final editing process is sent back to her, and the book is folded into pages, but there's no official cover. Here is her last chance to look and check for mistakes. Then, it becomes a book! I was surprised to find out she's written around 120 books for children! Her range spreads from humorous fiction to nonfiction books, including informational texts about famous painters and also answers to questions like, why do dogs bark?

While Joan was still reading, I quietly left and headed back home. But, as I was driving home, I realized I couldn't find my purse. After looking through my car (which was filled with library books, CDs, games, yeah, i need to clean it out) I realized I left it at Barnes and Noble. So, I returned to the children's section and what luck! Joan was still there talking with one of the store clerks. I got to talking with both of them about books and how Joan gets her inspiration. She told me that she used to just illustrate books and then she started writing and illustrating. Now, she mostly just writes. I was really interested hearing her thoughts about KnuckleHeads, the book that made me want to come to her reading in the first place. This book is so cool, it's a take-off of different fairy tales, but each character is a hand or a foot! Handerella was so funny because the whole story has all these funny puns about hands, and I was definitely laughing in the store while reading it! Joan told me that she would look up, "hand," in the dictionary and see all the different words associated with it. She got many of her puns from that dictionary. And, the best part is she agreed to come to my classroom when I start teaching again! How amazing to let my students interact with an author who grew up as they did and learn how to become an author or illustrator if they want to!

She was so nice and friendly, and for once, was really thankful I forget things! Or else, I never would have had this chance to get to know the store clerk, Linda, a creative, original lady who was so genuine and interesting. And, of course, a chance to meet Joan Holub!

Friday, October 17, 2008

I Bless the Rains Down in Africa...

The rain falling on the roof accompanied by Andy McKee's guitar singing, "Africa" took my mind by the hand to a memory of my mom and me raking acorns off our lawn. If you don't get the acorns off the ground, they'll destroy the grass. We had freshly seeded patches of grass that desperately needed the rain to nourish the soil instead of saturate the acorns. Then, when the rain comes, the droplets dive deep and quench the thirsty roots. I think my favorite time is to get up early after a huge rain. The ground is soaked, and there's usually a fog hovering in the air. I inhale the sweet smell of grass mixed with fresh water. Everything has been cleansed and given a spirit of newness. Thinking about my own life, I feel like I have am going through this cleansing. Recently I feel like I have been hiding from God, afraid of presenting myself with all this dirt on me. Ashamed, I have run and tried to avoid him, creating this wall around me. But, like the rain making its way deep into the earth, God's truth and persistent love has broken into my wall. I want so much to be washed clean, ready to learn and run after him. Be taught and transformed so I can become more like Him. Learning so much about starting over, starting fresh. Wanting to stop believing lies and eventually return to what I have been called to do. So thankful for grace. For the sweet morning of newness.

Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me
Hallelujah all my stains are washed away, washed away
-"Grace Like Rain" Todd Agnew

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

nothing like waking up to the sound of...airplanes?

One great thing about living in Cary again is being closer to friends and family. Amber came up this past weekend and we went camping at Umstead Park. I think part of the reason it was such a great trip was because it was so random. I love how Amb and I just decided last minute to camp and got there, not even knowing if the ranger would let us in. Such an adventure! Driving around in the dark, laughing at the craziness of everything and hoping we could somehow find a site...making smores and building a huge blaze in the middle of Raleigh. I don't know, it was just really fun. Being out in nature, completely relaxed, not caring about common necessities. Anyway, the next morning, we decide to go bike riding, and we bike on a trail around Umstead a while and came out at Reedy Creek Greenway Trails. We looked on a map and saw that the trail could take you all the way to State Campus. So, we just looked at each other, smiled and said, Hey! Let's Go! It ended up being this 20 mile long bike ride that was so crazy because it was so spontaneous. But, such fun! Being out in the sun, but right there in the city of Raleigh, having a blast.

I started thinking about maybe that's what life is like sometimes. I mean, you'd expect to camp and bike in a place like Boone, or Asheville. The atmosphere is much more catering there...but then here we are in just a common city, and we're experiencing life, on this random, crazy adventure none of us had planned. This reminds me our relationship with Christ. It's really easy to think about meeting Him in places like Camp Cedar Cliff, where the atmosphere almost shouts that you will draw near to Him. But what about the common areas? What about the times where life is just "life." Are we seeking after Him? Expecting Him to mold us, take us on this journey where He will teach us incredible things? Are we ready to just go?