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Your Mom or Dad Might Be Angry and Annoyed With You, But God is Not

Knowing that God is the best-est, most loving father, beyond our earthly imagination, will not be relevant to us – will only be a nice theory and thought – if we do not know that God is real. So, before you read the rest of this or listen to another message somewhere else, if you are not sure that God is real, I would challenge you to take time to know his reality.

…if you are not sure that God is real, I would challenge you to take time to know his reality.

If you sincerely want to know his presence and reality, then simply take a moment to ask God to show himself to you in one way or another. Your prayer doesn’t have to be religious, fancy or cliched. In fact, a sincere mumble will do just fine.

Or, go close yourself into a closet, or someplace solitary and private, and imagine that God is there with you. (I know you might be thinking that you are trying to get away from imagination, and that you want reality outside of your head. But, I would challenge our thoughts about imagination. Imagination DOES exist in our world – it is a reality – and so it is not entirely useless or illegitimate.) Anyhow, if you need to, set up an empty chair, close by, next to yours, and imagine that God is sitting there with you. Again, I know you want to know that God is real, and you’d rather maybe see him before you begin talking with him. He might physically show himself to you, but more than likely, he won’t. So, you just have to believe – with the little, but very real – faith in your heart, that God is real and there, and begin.

If you already know God’s reality, then you need to know at all times that the God you are interacting with is not angry or annoyed at you. On that first night in Evansville, Indiana when I prayed, I kept condemning myself because that’s all I really knew how to pray and all I knew about God. I fear that many of us approach God with thoughts primarily about ourselves and of how annoyed and angry God must be with us. If that’s you, when you pray, instead, try to clear your mind of thoughts about yourself, and instead fill your mind with thoughts of who God is according to his word.

…you need to know at all times that the God you are interacting with is not angry or annoyed at you.

First of all, he is Jesus Christ. When I approach God, I always have Christ and who he is – as presented in the four gospels – in my mind. Of course, you will have to take time to read those gospels for yourself and note his consistent and repeated character traits. Once you have taken the time to do that, you will be able, during your prayer times, to easily focus on who he is and what he does.

Next, I also recently have begun to do quite literally what Jesus Christ commanded us to do, as it pertains to prayer and approaching God. For one, in the gospels, Christ’s disciples asked him how they should pray, and he told them how to do it and what to say. In that prayer – commonly known as the Lord’s prayer, but what I call the disciple’s prayer – the first thing is to acknowledge our heavenly father, who is hallowed, set apart, like none other.

To acknowledge God as our heavenly father, like none other, is actually quite a loaded acknowledgement. It means, first of all, that he is not like any father on the earth. But at the same time, we can get an idea of what God is like by observing our fathers. But, not just our fathers, but also our mothers, because God created both male and female in his own image. (Read Genesis, chapter 1, the entire thing. But more specifically, verse 27.) Thus, if we want to get a fuller picture of what God is like, we don’t just observe our fathers, but also our mothers. So, besides God being a protector and provider (common fatherly tendencies) he is also our comforter and nourisher (common motherly tendencies). And he is infinitely MORE than our fathers and mothers, though, because he is heavenly, and they are not. Thus, he is creator, healer, reviver, savior of our souls, forgiver of our sins, and so much more. He can get into every part of us that our mothers and fathers cannot get into.

There is much to say about who God is, but one last point that I will make is that, whatever God requires of us, is the standard of his own morality and personality. Thus, when God told us how to love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, he is telling us about the same kind of love that he loves us with. (Besides that, he also IS love, according to 1 John 4:8, and so we can conclude that he IS and does all of the things described in 1 Corinthians 13.) Also, when we are told, in Galatians 5:22-23, what should come out of our lives as a result of the Holy Spirit living in us, we have to understand that God’s standard for himself is the same. Thus, God himself (who is the Holy Spirit anyway!) emanates love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

…whatever God requires of us, is the standard of his own morality and personality.

When we really know who God is and what he is like – when we really know God’s love – it helps us to receive, either directly from him or indirectly through others, his love, gifts, blessings, patience, encouragement, comfort, correction, etc. And consequently, we will also be people who show the same kind of love toward others. As we allow God to love us, we will be able to love others in the same way, and fulfill the “new command”..

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Jesus Christ (John 13:34-35)

You’re Allowed to Express Your Emotions

On my first night at Olive Street, I took full advantage of the closet. Earlier that day, my new housemates had given me the tour of the little blue, shotgun style house in Evansville, Indiana, and the tour had included the closet. The girls had prayed over it, and the entire house, before moving in. On the wall of each side of the opening of the closet – which had no door and opened up to the space that was given to me as a bed “room” – Katie had placed her oil coated hands for anointing.

“Look here,” they had pointed, with clever smiles and proud excitement, to the handprints that her hands had left. “See the hole in the middle of the palm print?!”

They didn’t say it, but I understood why they were pointing that out. They were excited because it had looked like Christ’s nail-pierced hands, and they had specifically prayed and anointed this closet to be a prayer closet – a place to meet and talk with Jesus Christ.

On the opposite side of the opening of the closet was a small window. Then, on each side of the closet was where my housemates had hung their clothes. And finally, in the center of the closet, and pushed back against the window wall, was a small, very flimsy, foam couch. At around 10 PM or so of that first night, after we all had gone to our rooms, since my pursuit of Christ was what I had moved to Evansville for, I went into that closet and kneeled in front of that flimsy couch and put my head down as if Christ’s lap was there. Immediately, my pent-up tears began to flow. I had never had a dad who encouraged me to lay my head down on his lap and just cry. I am certain now – experience gives me speculation – that most people didn’t, and don’t, have a dad like that. But, I learned that night that Christ is a dad like that.

As the tears flowed down my cheeks, so also flowed out of my soul all the toxic pressures and mindsets that had accumulated inside of me in my 20 years of life. This moment was different from all of the other times I had sat in a lonely place and talked to God, because I had absolutely no agenda except to meet Jesus Christ. I wanted to know him for real. I wanted to know his reality. I wanted just actually him, and who he really is, aside from what I had heard or known about him from other people. And, I had the sense that he was really there.

Really, I didn’t know how to talk to God, though. Based on my religious and church-going upbringing, I thought I did, and so, I began to condemn myself, say I’m sorry and not worthy, and had thoughts about how bad I was. But then the Holy Spirit took over, and instinctively (instinctively?), I began to hush my thoughts and repeat the name of Jesus Christ to myself over and over again. As I repeated his name, I imagined him dying on the cross. It wasn’t a very meaningful thought to me. It was just what I knew most of all about him – that he died on a cross for my sins – and so that was the easiest thought for me to have when I repeated his name. (I want to think, also, that my housemates’ earlier excitement about the handprints had subliminally made an impression on me.)

A couple years ago I wrote a poem that captures the soul-work that happened in me in that closet that night. I affectionately gave it the title it bears because it is the foundational moment of my life in which I learned to focus my affections on Christ. It was the moment that I learned to worship him – to give him all my attention and emotion and meditation – which is key to living a life free from sin and misaligned affections:

I Found Freedom in the Closet

Jesus. Jesus Christ. Jesus.
I repeat his name over and over again in my mind.
Condemnation arises and I fight it with the name of Jesus.
Jesus. Jesus Christ. Jesus. Jesus. 

Jesus Christ, hanging on a cross, bloody and clinging to the joy.
I repeat the image over and over again in my mind.
Flashes of my stupidity arise and I fight it with Jesus on a cross.
Jesus Christ, hanging on a cross, bloody, suffering, clinging and fighting for the joy of me. 

Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, hanging on a cross, hurting and fighting for the joy.
I repeat it over and over and over again in my mind.
He is all I want. He is all I need. I fight it.
I repeat it over and over again in my mind.
Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, hanging on a cross and hanging on until his last breath, because of the joy. 

Jesus Christ. Jesus, hanging on a cross, breathes his last breath.
I repeat it and my mind stills.
Jesus Christ hanging limp on a cross.
And I sleep. I have found the one my soul needs – he is all I need – and I sleep. 

Jesus Christ. Jesus. After three days, he breathes in joy.
After three hours I awake to thunder.
I awake to the thunder of his gentle voice and his joy.

Accepting and worshiping Jesus Christ is key to living an abundant life. Accepting and worshiping Jesus Christ is key to being able to do the works and have the affections that God originally intended for us to do and have. As I focus on Christ as he is presented in the Bible, as I talk with him because he is real and alive, as I ask him for the Holy Spirit to fill me because that is what he told us to do in the Bible, and as I do what the Holy Spirit leads me to do, I begin to have, and continually have, the affections he created us to have. I begin to do, and continually do, the things he created us to do.

My affections and works may happen immediately and without human assistance, or they may happen over time and with counseling and teaching. However it happens, though, the beginning of it all is simply setting aside time and attention to be alone with Jesus Christ.

How to Be Reconciled to the Gender God Created You To Be

One night when I was a child, I laid in my top bunk bed, cuddling with one of my toy stuffed animals, and begging God to change me into a boy. I wanted to be a boy so badly.

Boys could conveniently pee at a park, behind a tree, standing up. Boys could belch and fart and it wasn’t perceived as taboo. Boys could go fishing, hiking, hunting, do other rugged outdoor things, and freely run around and play sports. Boys seemed to be allowed to have so much more fun and do so much more than girls could. Stereotypically, girls played with dolls, cooked, cleaned, stayed home and didn’t go to work outside, took care of babies, and wore clothes that revealed their hineys if they didn’t sit properly or if they tumbled and rolled around on the ground or down hills.

When I prayed for God to change me into a boy, I fully believed that when I woke up the next morning, if he didn’t turn me into a boy completely, that I would at least begin to see some changes in my body. When I woke up, of course, I didn’t see any changes. But, I imagined that there must have been something going on, and I just couldn’t see it yet. There wasn’t, obviously, but there was definitely something going on in my mind and soul.

I was confused about and discontent with what God created me to be – I didn’t have those specific thoughts back then. But, that is how, in retrospect, I would describe my feelings. And, it was like this, I think, for several reasons.

First of all, I was heavily influenced by my male cousin. He never did or said anything to influence me, it was just that he was the same age as me and a great playmate. Also, since he was the older boy in his family, he tended to lead and dominate. And I, being the youngest in my family, tended to follow, be clingy, and not have any preferences or interests of my own yet, and so I just took on the same interests and preferences as my cousin.

Another reason I believe I was discontent was because I was athletic, and mechanically and technically inclined, which were all stereotypically boyish traits – and everyone knew it – and so that made me feel like I should be a boy.

And finally, while my parents never discouraged me from participating in sports or technical activities and while they never spoke of those types of activities as boyish, the culture I grew up in did, and my parents just didn’t have the perception, knowledge, or language to talk with me about these things in order to counteract the culture’s stereotypes. They didn’t know how to encourage me to be the kind of girl God created me to be.

Being a girl was not a celebrated role in my environment growing up, and I had no idea that you could be a girl and do a lot of things without it being a stigma.

If I could go back in time and help my parents raise me, one thing I would encourage them to do would be to talk with me and my siblings periodically and randomly about how it was good to be a girl or a boy. Also, I would encourage them to talk with us about how it was okay for girls to play sports, build things, and program computers, and how it was okay for boys to cook, play with dolls, and be emotional and social.

Things my parents did that I wouldn’t change, would be how they weren’t overbearing and overwhelming about gender and gender stereotypes. Also, they didn’t present any other options to us, because they were believers and believed God’s word, and there were no other options. Furthermore, they continually followed Christ by going to and taking us to church, and signing us up for VBS, church summer camp, and church youth group missions and summer trips. They also taught us about following Christ by directly introducing him to us, and also with their integrity and lives, and by giving us consequences for sin.

My parents did a lot of other things that I wouldn’t change. They did the best they could in their time and with the resources that they had – as we all do in raising up our kids – and they left and trusted the rest to God. That’s the big, big, big thing they did that I wouldn’t change, and that I would encourage all parents to do: do the best, and leave and trust the rest to God.

On another night as I was laying in my bed, when I was 16 or 17 (I was on the bottom bunk this time, because my big sister had moved out), I had just finished reading some or all of A.W. Tozer’s book The Pursuit of God. And, for whatever reason, in resolve and sincerity, I prayed to God to make me the woman he created me to be. It was going to be a process, I knew. But I also fully believed that I was going to become the woman he created me to be.

And since that time, because God is real and good (even though I didn’t fully know him like that back then), I haven’t been the same and I’ve always been, as I’ve kept on pursuing God and allowing him to work in my mind and soul, becoming the woman he created me to be. Not the woman that society expects me to be, but the woman whom God uniquely created me to be.

What I Will Teach My Girls

It is good to be a woman.
I will tell it to you again:
It is good to be a woman.

Softer voice – fluty, soprano 
distinctness cuts through darkened mind.

Strong voice crumbles flint-faced, war-set 
stubbornness to break down and cry. 

Lively voice jolts a dejected 
runner to pick pace, run to finish line.

Mom’s voice spoke up in defense when
the accuser cut down with lies.

Mom’s voice cheered loudly in the stands
to remind the athlete she’s by her side 

It is good to be a woman.
We need to hear it more and more:
it is good to be a woman.

Soft, sinuous body – vine-like, 
curving, coiling her way to life.

Warm body enfolding anxious,
growing, in-need-of-healing mind.

Solid body thwarting punches
until fury fails and fades to quiet.  

My sister, Liana, a vine, 
adorned my heart with her smile.

My sister taught me to Swing,
bringing my stiff mind and body to life.

It is good to be a woman.
Will you help me say it out loud?
Yes: it’s good to be a woman.

Blue is the Apple of My Eye

Dear blue, cool to my eye,
painting the sky:
You make me want to fly
in a Boeing 747 across the big blue
ocean to Sverige with the yellow cross
piercing through flying, waving blue.

My first car was blue. At 16, I
prophesied I’d have a blue car,
and that it’d be, instead of a Plymouth Horizon,
the type that Dad had bought Liana and Justin,
a Dodge Omni.
(O, yes, I had to be different.)

And I suppose I have to be
different in having you as my favorite color.
Stereotypically, you are for boys – for men,
and I can’t figure out why it’s that way anymore
than I can figure out what is a man, who maybe
really is rather like the sky,

which to me seems soft, and is always
a welcome sight signifying the warmth of the sun,
and yet is a clear and vast protection from
getting burned.
You are the cool that keeps me from
overheating, and getting burned.

And I must confess
that the shallow reason I wanted
to teach at the school I’m at is because
of you, blue. My every working day
is filled with you:
Mustang (Carolina) blue.

O, blue, the color of my life,
the apple of my eye:
I want to fly
up to the sky, surround
myself in you, and
pierce through, cut out a piece of blue.

The writing challenge from Teach Write for the month of February is to write a love note everyday to something we love. I may not write a love note everyday, but I may try to write a love note in the form of a poem once a week.

Teach Write is a community of writers who teach and practice writing in order to become better teachers of writers. If you’d like a community to support you in your writing journey, whether you’re a teacher or not, I recommend the Time To Write workshop, or any other workshop offered through Teach Write.

Dear Gramma,

Well, this week passed with… some difficulty (because there will always be some level of difficulty in life), but God is our helper and he is getting us through. Actually, what I was going to write at first was “this week passed without a hitch”, but then I realized that it’s quite silly to say that because, as I wrote in parentheses, there will always be some level of difficulty in life. But, there was no major external, physical difficulty for me in my life this week – except for maybe getting out of bed while the owls are still hooting each day and heading to work.  

I suppose the only other difficulty is that I have honestly been struggling to really connect with God this week. But, I just keep praying little, little prayers of feeble faith here and there (because all it takes is a mustard seed of faith), and I know God hears those, and I have noticed strength and motivation here and there. Last night and this morning, especially, when I “plugged in” to prayer meetings with my church, I felt very much lifted, energized and encouraged to carry on, and most importantly, to keep feasting on Christ for strength. So, although that has been difficult, God is good and faithful, and as I said, I know he is our helper and is getting us through.

A few of my favorite things this week have been the following: reading several different books, bribing my children to speak life-giving words to one another and resist speaking nagging words, getting back into my running routine, watching a bit of the presidential inauguration, and laughing at Bernie Sanders memes (and my mom’s Facebook meme about women’s haircare versus men’s haircare).

Currently, the books I am reading are Rethinking Sexuality: God’s Design and Why It Matters by Dr. Juli Slattery. Also, I am reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (which is the first Harry Potter book). One of my neighbors actually got me into this – he said it’s pretty much a part of the culture now, and so I decided that, as a language arts teacher, I really probably ought to read it so that I understand when others allude to it. Furthermore, I am reading a book called My Life As An Ice Cream Sandwich by Ibi Zoboi, which is a middle grade fiction novel, and a high interest book for students. And lastly, I am reading a memoir by Kristen Iversen called Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats – this one actually looks like it’s going to be a great mixture of narrative and informational text. This will be a perfect mentor text for the writing challenge that is coming up for my students. I am thinking that I will probably read aloud a few excerpts of the book in order to show them the kind of writing that will be expected of them.

Anyhow, aside from reading and teaching this week, I’ve also been trying to get my children to speak good, positive things to each other. They got on my last nerve early in the week – and on each other’s last nerve – and, thankfully, since we had been talking with them about “the power of life and death are in the tongue”, I was able to bribe them and challenge them to practice not nagging each other and instead speaking life-giving words to one another. I know that external rewards won’t ultimately change their hearts, and that’s why I also encourage them to pray and ask God to help them. But, I am also hoping that they will notice the difference in the atmosphere and that will stick with them and motivate them. For this week, I especially focused on the girls. I bribed one with candy and the other with a Starbucks frappuccino. The bribing just might continue into next week and include the boys.

Well anyhow, I am tired and will close this letter for now. I hope you all had a great birthday week and a good visit with family.

Love you and miss you.

Dear Gramma,

Mom reminded me last week that it’s your birthday today, Sunday, January 17th. Happy Birthday! It was really good to see you and Grampa on Facetime last night during your birthday celebration. It was great to see everyone. I wish I could have jumped through the screen and teleported to Aunt Michelle’s living room to be there with you all. (Or at least spend more time online with you.) It’s always good spending time with everyone. I am especially longing for it lately. I’m tired of being socially distanced.

Having the tendency to be introverted, I normally wouldn’t mind the social distance. But, this is too much. This introvert needs energy from others at times, and when I need it and it’s not freely available, it makes me realize that this pandemic has been having its way for too long.

During the Fall semester in my classroom, there was a day when I went around to each of my in-person students to check on their work. In my closer-than-usual-in-a-pandemic interactions with them, and the energy and joy that I felt later, it made me realize that human interaction really is good and that my students are wonderful people. At the same time, though, I don’t think I would have realized this if we hadn’t had this huge slow-down, shut-down, cut-down-the-hours-at-Walmart pandemic. (Do you know, our Walmart stores all around here are closed at 10 PM these days?!? Is it the same there in Nebraska?)

Honestly, I am not happy about the deaths, job loss, and business shutdowns that this pandemic has produced, but I am happy for how it has forced us to slow down. This school year, I have only had, at most, 15 students in my classroom at one time, while all the rest are at home. I haven’t had to manage the attention, whims, and talkativeness of 35 to 40 students in a small space, all at once. Before this time, because of crowded classrooms and impossible expectations from administration, human interaction for me was very stressful. And students were really starting to get on my nerves… not because I didn’t like them… but because there were too many of them and because of the pressure coming at me from every angle. But this school year, a lot of pressure has been lifted, and I honestly hope we never go back to the way things were in certain areas in our society.

This week, in our county, all the students are being forced to stay at home and do school online again, because there is a shortage of substitute teachers – because teachers are getting sick. But, teachers who are not sick, will still go into school buildings and teach online students from their classrooms. I am not happy that the students that I DO have in-person this semester will be at home, because I do enjoy having them in my classroom. But, at the same time, THIS WEEK, I kind of am relieved that they will be at home, because of the heightened political tension, and personally it takes some stress and pressure and worry off of me. I don’t think anything terrible will happen, but it still gives me relief somehow.

I have a feeling that I will be lonely this week, all boarded up in my classroom by myself. But, I bought an electric tea kettle and tea paraphernalia for my classroom last week. I bought them so that I wouldn’t have to run out to get tea or coffee, or walk down to the weak-powered microwave in the storage closet at the end of the hall to heat up water. But, I realize, too, that this week at least I will have the comfort and company of tea in my classroom, and if I make an effort at some Facetime calls to loved ones, (and if I make a different kind of effort to hear from the Holy Spirit), that ought to help to stave off the loneliness. (I think you all may just be one of the ones I call this week during a planning period or a lunch block.)

Well, let me close this letter for now, until next time. Once again, happy birthday, and I love you so much!

I’m Going to Put in the Work

I am going to sore muscles, leg aches,
worn down Brooks from pounding up and down my neighborhood streets
on most days of the week in preparation for running a 5k in at least 30 minutes.
It may or may not happen in February, during my school’s annual
Stampede in the Park that supports the cross country team.
We’ll see. I’m going to put in the work.

I’m going to my kitchen table, Dunkin’ Donuts,
or my favorite seat on the firm couch, for Time To Write
a letter to grandparents, a poem, a few paragraphs of my fairy tale, and spiritual encouragement, at least once a week for each of those.
I’m going to growing my audience, because I just want to write, and for it to make a difference in someone’s life. I’m going to put in the work

I’m going to consistent quiet mornings, and moments whenever I can,
with black coffee nearby and Bible notebook in hand.
I’m going to “Our Father in heaven… your kingdom come… give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts… and deliver us from the evil one” because all needs are covered in this prayer and His is the glory forever, and with Him, I’m going to put in the work

I’m going to free my hummingbird often – that freedom-loving male –
and call my friends, instead, when I need to lament,
and we’ll go for a run, a walk, a climb, and let all our woman-energy out.
And I’m going to snuggle next to the little ones – who are not so little anymore,
with our own bought copies of Dogman, The Wide-Awake Princess,
Unofficial Minecraft graphic novels, Teen/YA, and books galore, and
read aloud with crazy voices, because kids who have books in their homes and parents who read aloud, do well in school. I’m going to put in the work.

I am going all out with independent reading, student interest and their goals,
because autonomy is motivating, and I need motivated, interested students
who will actually learn something and grow because they want to. I’m going to meet
the minimum requirements – squeeze them in somewhere – and spend the majority
of my energy interested in their lives and what they’re interested in.
I’m going to show them my own writing, reading, and struggle, and
give real feedback, answer their every question with patience – Holy Spirit help me – with smiles, and reply “my pleasure” to their “thank you”. I’m going to put in the work.

I’m going to put in the work each day, because I’m learning from running
that when I put in the work, step-by-painful, tedious step, that
at the end of the day – at the close of the year, I will be stronger, faster,
I will have the product I was working toward because
I decided now that I’m going to put in the work.

The above poem is in response to Teach Write’s Time To Write January 2021 challenge. The challenge was to write a poem in the same spirit as George Ella Lyon’s Where I’m From poem. Instead of writing about our past and the stuff we are made of, the challenge focused on Where I’m Going, and challenged me to think about my goals for 2021 and beyond.

If you’re a teacher of writers (or a writer… you don’t have to be a teacher) and you’re looking for a supportive group of other writers to encourage you along your writing journey, check out Teach Write.

Prayer in Real Time

Amidst the prayers that seemed to me
all over the place, at least there was one
prayer that I could pray, which, was to stay –
to remain focused. I could at least focus on that prayer.

And I focus on it now, as I carry on from
an intense battle. I offer up my meager prayer,
knowing that all it takes is a mustard seed
and I don’t have to muster strength.

Help me, Father, to carry on in this momentum
of depending on you and in expectation of nudges
from you on a daily, meal-by-meal basis, because
just as I need food and water, I need your word and life.

Help me to focus. Help me to carry on in this momentum.

Dear Gramma,

Sunday, January 10, 2021

So, I want to make a habit of writing in order to catch you up on what’s going on in the Oyerinde world. Or, if that’s too boring, to let you know what’s going on in my mind – which could be more exciting than the reality of my life.

I was told that you like to read. Since I like to write, and you like to read, then I thought we’re a perfect match – except that I like to read, too, and would love to read something from you, too, every once in a while. (I did enjoy reading your letters you used to write and send.)

Speaking of writing, I joined a writing group in October last year, (which I think will really help me to keep up writing to you). It’s a teacher writer’s group. We meet online through Zoom for “Time To Write” several times a week. It’s a group that is mostly made up of teachers, who teach writing, and who are trying to be better writing teachers by being writers first. Us writing teachers tend to neglect our writing life, and that’s no good, we’ve discovered. How can we really teach writing if we ourselves don’t write?

Some arrogant, spoiled and irresponsible people in society like to say the following about teachers: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” The thing is that “those who can’t”, actually can, but it’s just that we have to make a living, because we have ourselves and a family to support – we can’t be starving, irresponsible artists, divorcing our spouses and abandoning our children, bumming off of our parents and social security.

And so the thing is, is that as teachers, it’s hard to find time to write. So, that’s what this group is for. It’s a group where (mostly) teachers meet together for a time to write… and that’s what it’s called, too: Time To Write. We don’t just write, though. We set goals out loud, encourage each other, and get ideas and challenges from each other. Being a part of the group costs money every month (because we CAN pay money, because we have JOBS, because we are RESPONSIBLE), and so there are other perks. But, these are the only ones I’ve taken advantage of right now.

I am looking forward to being a part of the group for the next six months – I have committed by a subscription. So, I imagine that I’ll be at Dunkin’ Donuts or at my kitchen table every Saturday morning for the next six months, from 9:30 to 11 AM. (And then probably tap, tap tapping away at the keyboard, somewhere in my home, at various other times throughout the week when we meet.)  

Because of the pandemic, as I’m sure you know, there are not a lot of places open to the public for sit-down dining. Dunkin’ Donuts is one of the rare places open around here, and so I’ve been going there on Saturdays. It’s not ideal, as they have their annoying “Dunkin’ Radio” playing way too loudly, with all kinds of cheesy and obnoxious advertisements playing in between contemporary radio hits. But, I’ll take what I can get when I need to get away from the kids, so I can focus.

I would normally love to go to a nearby local coffee shop called Alcove Coffeehouse. (Mom and dad discovered it when they visited here one time, and they got me hooked on it.) But, they are not open for sit-down dining at this time. (I hope their business can survive through this pandemic. I suppose I could help them by at least going to pick up a coffee and bringing it home.) It’s a nice little coffee shop, overlooking a serene little lake, and offering a quiet, social and study atmosphere along with locally roasted coffee and other miscellaneous breakfast and lunch items. I do miss going to that place.

I miss being able to freely take the kids to different places. We had been going to the indoor trampoline park, the public library, and other public places before the pandemic. For now, the only outings we take are to the different nearby outdoor parks and to church. I sometimes take one or two of the kids with me to the store, but I don’t take all four of them because they’re hard to control and it stresses me out. I’m kind of a pansy and don’t have the energy or the gumption to beat them into perfect orderliness.

Anyhow, I am going to stop here for now. I hope I’ve not made you bored with my thoughts.

How’s the weather? Do you get out much?

I miss you and Grampa, and I’m hoping and praying for a chance to come visit you again soon.