How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Cards)

 

 

 

 

 

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My sister took these pictures and I really love them. However, we couldn’t get the watermark removed because we were out of school and the photography software was nice and locked into the lab… so, the Christmas cards failed… Hope you like the pictures, though! 

 

legs-up-the-wall and jesus speaking

I am NOT a meditator and I am not a very focused pray-er. My brain does somersaults and cartwheels and starts singing random songs (mary had a little lamb little lamb little lamb jingle bells jingle bells jingle all the way oh what fun I’ll be hoooooome for Christmas youuuuuuuu can couunnnntttt on meeeeee!!!!!) (being a music teacher is grand) and I cannot focus for any length of time without a musical number interruption. Lately, I’ve been sticking to my guns about my yoga practice, mostly because my doctor has been booked up during my available times and I absolutely know that no legs-up-the-wall tonight means no sitting in a chair without gnashing of teeth tomorrow. So I have been doing this thing every day. It isn’t long and it isn’t impressive- it just is what my spine (and my heart ) needs from day to day. I’ve been trying hard (my TCM doctor would say, “stop trying. just do.”) to set my intention on Jesus. Sometimes I can focus for real and I can really slow down and hear him speak. This is growth for me because I am a really good talker and not so good on the listening front. Want to know what he said to me the other day while my legs were in the air? 

“I know your desires better than you do. I know what you really, deeply want. What you think you want is not really what you want. I know this because I made your heart with all of its desires in place. Katie, I know you. I will give you the true desires of your true heart as I know it and made it to be.” 

So when I turn off the broadway show in my head and stop the mental twirling, I can hear him and what he says is good. I believe him and I’m writing it here so I can come back and read it when I forget. Thanks for yoga, Jesus. Thanks for knowing my heart and giving good things. Thanks for giving hard things that make me break enough to stop and listen because I’m desperate and I need you. 

 

Jesus Loves Me

Every time I think about writing, I change my mind. I don’t want to sound like someone else when I write. I don’t want to copy or steal someone else’s voice and, to me, I always hear someone else’s influence in everything I post. Maybe it is because I want other people to actually want to read my words and I know what I like to read and assume that I need to “fit a mold” to attract a base of readers… to ultimately make friends… to have someone care about what is on my heart. To have a purpose outside of simply being who God made me because I am convinced that that in and of itself is not truly enough. It’s basically the same as comparing myself to the prettier girl in the room: if I were only more like her. If my teeth were perfectly bleached and my hair perfectly dyed and cut. Oh, and if my skin were always remarkably smooth and clear. Hahahahahaha! It’s not in my genes. 

Why am I so discontent with who God made me to be? He says that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” and that should be enough but it isn’t. Deep down, I guess I don’t believe it. Every single thing I do is for affirmation… so someone will justify my existence with a complement. I sing, “Jesus loves me this I know” with my 5 year old class and I am amazed that I still do not “know” it. Those confident little hooligans know it! (I hope they know it forever and ever and remain confident always.) 

I think I was 5 years old when I wrote my own verse to “Jesus Loves Me” while waiting for my mom to come tuck me into bed. I remember the creative process of putting rhyming words together and being a little bit nervous to share it with my mom. She affirmed me so well and we used to sing my verse along with the rest of the song as if they really went together. My verse goes:

“Jesus is the King of All, He will help you when you call, if you take the time to pray, He will help you in the day.” (I remember changing the words to “every day” because my 5 year old thought process led me to realize that, if He is King of All, he can help out at night too…)

I know now that the theology of “if you take the time to pray -THEN- He will help you” is not exactly the best, most grace-based theology, but it makes sense to a kid and it isn’t exactly inaccurate either. I shared this verse with my 5 year olds on Monday at class and one of the girls who insists she knows all the verses said, “Did you make that up?” with a load of suspicion in her voice. I told her that I did when I was her age. Oh my word, that confident (and yes, a bit rude) little girl said, “You did not make that up.” As in, I knew that a long time ago and you didn’t and you’re wrong and I know better than you. You want to know something silly? She hurt my feelings. A 5 year old kid hurt my feelings. This really, really is a deep heart issue for me! Out of the mouths of babes… Man, I learn things from my kids. 

I am so grateful that I am a teacher. Sometimes it takes these whaps upside the head to remind me that I am in a very edifying place. Oh, and Jesus loves me. 

Identity Crisis

I am in the middle of an identity crisis. I feel like I know who I am supposed to be, but I am not her yet and I don’t know exactly how to become her. I was doing some Jesus-Focused yoga the other day and just totally melted down when I realized I was working on my hand stands just to impress people. To prove to other people that I am strong. You know what seriously sucks? I was sooo in pain for the next week… all because I was trying to prove to other people (who weren’t even in the room) that I. AM. NOT. WEAK. 

I feel like I am supposed to be this dynamic person with lots of success- or at least a lot of talents and gifts that, while they may not make much money, are artistically worth the belt tightening. But I am actually a self-absorbed perfectionist who deeply desires real, raw community with other believers who will love me anyway. I had that community at Eastman and I am longing for it now. Those friends who know the real me and I know the real them… who aren’t going to shun me if they find out about my darkest sin. My husband is this way. He shows me unconditional love and grace and isn’t scared away by the sin in me. But, I am missing having those soul-sisters I had next door to me or down the hall or across the street, only a practice room away. Those four years were the only years in my life where I felt truly embraced by a tangible community for EXACTLY who I am. Now I don’t think I will ever be complete without that. They always reminded me of who I am in Christ. They loved me when I was unlovable and showed me grace and mercy over and over and over. I love those people. 

I’ve been reading other blogs lately about things like reclaiming body image and finding the passion God gave you to do justice in this world and other such bold and feminine things. One of the posts that jumped out at me was about community and knowing who your crew is. Knowing who has your back at the drop of a hat, no questions asked. I have them, but they live so far away! We can’t just go get lunch at Java’s anymore… we can’t just knock on each other’s door when something is heartbreaking or life-altering or dream-making. We can call each other for the most part, but the phone is not the same. I just hope they know how much I love them and miss them. (Erin, I know you’re reading this, sister. I miss you and am so thankful for you!) 

I have felt shattered since my freshman jury and I have expected God to glue me back together. Some things are better and some things are the same. 

I miss making music. I hate that I can’t just play my clarinet when I want to. I miss it so much. I don’t know who I am without it and I’m trying to prove to everyone that I am someone. That I matter. I really want to stop trying to prove myself and just rest in Jesus, but I don’t know how. 

Obscure, Small, and Unimportant

“And though she be but little, she is fierce.” I feel like I get that Shakespeare quote tossed in my direction a lot (usually when someone is making fun of me for being really intense about life). I do not feel fierce lately. Only very, very little. I feel embarrassed by my weakness and insecure even in my strengths. Performance oriented? Um. Yes. What is my degree in, after all? I always feel like I am on stage… like my whole life is being watched and judged. This is a dreadful predicament and I really would like it to stop. Rest is a theme. It keeps popping up like God wants me to really listen and really let go. I do not want to let go because I am going to fall and I’m not sure if he will catch me. Well, I am sure he will but I really don’t like the actual “falling” process. I’m afraid of heights and I would not skydive for less than a million bucks. There is a major situation in my life right now that involves not only letting go but actually jumping off of a cliff. I went rappelling once and almost died of a heart attack. This just ain’t my thing, Lord. I like my feet firmly planted on the ground. Literally and figuratively. I’m not a “let’s go base jumping for fun” kind of chick. And yet, jump I must, into a painful and very unwelcome situation. Ty will be jumping too and he’s not any more excited about it than I am. I feel like we are in a slow motion “3,2… and finally here it comes 1!” countdown. It’s super fun. Not. 

I’m an angsty lady right now and I’m wondering if I can channel my inner Sylvia Plath to become famous and make some money… 

No, but really. I had a long talk with God yesterday where I felt him asking me if I could be content to be obscure and relatively unknown to anyone outside my own small circle of friends and family. This is rough for me because I want to change the world and I want to be on stage. I want people to read my words and listen to my music and be inspired because I want my life to mean something- big. To really make waves. But really, I want to follow Jesus and sometimes the people with the “obscure” lives that don’t look like much to the world are the people whose grandchildren someday say, “Wow. My grandmother loves Jesus. I want to love Jesus too.” I guess, ultimately, at the end, that is what I want. 

So, yes. Jesus, I can live a life that seems like nothing to the world if it is truly going to be used by you… 

I’m going to keep fighting it, but hopefully this wrestling match between me and God can end soon with him winning my heart and my will more fully and completely because that is where peace and fulfillment will be found. 

“Though she be but little, she is fierce.” Yep, I fiercely fight for what I want against what my heart knows is best for me in Christ. Maybe if I just let myself be little… 

I become less, He becomes more. This is Truth. 

Crazy Catch-up Concoction

I feel very uninspired. I’m putting all my energy into teaching- about 40ish hours a week of solid teaching and then you add the administration and the driving and I am one busy lady. It’s crazy! 

I had a TMJD explosion about 2 weeks ago and was at that point of, “I absolutely cannot do this.” Then, the Lord made a way for me to get in to see a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) Doctor at a clinic down the street from my apartment, and I have been feeling oh so very much better. The doctor is amazing and is so kind and has an awesome sense of humor. He doesn’t mind all of my questions and likes to teach me more about how to manage my pain. I love learning so much and I love it when doctors explain themselves! I want to know what they are doing to my body (it is mine after all) and what I can do when I am home and at work to care for myself. I’m taking loads of antioxidants and (drumroll please) I have gone gluten free which is totally crazy and scary because so much food has gluten in it and you never know where it might unexpectedly turn up… like in the delicious looking caramel nut latte I ordered midday yesterday when I had a load of teaching left to do and needed caffeine. Welllll, the caramel color (ew anyway) had gluten in it. Then I thought about it and realized that consuming genetically modified corn processed into syrup combined with gluten, milk, and caffeine was probably the worst thing I could possibly do for myself and I dumped out the latte. That took so much self control, but I am so glad I did it. I know my body pretty well and just a couple of sips of that junk made me feel gross… Ick. But still, it was really disappointing… I’m pretty emotionally attached to my food and it is really hard to know that there are so many things that my body just can’t handle. 

This post is going to be so disjunct. I apologize. 

Yesterday was such a long day… I am a classical musician through and through and I absolutely loathe the Texas band system. Loathe it, I say. Teaching kids the same dumb music over and over and over so they are uninspired and frustrated = the way things are generally done here. All Region and All State and UIL and marching carry so much weight and the kids become the sacrifices on the alter of the TMEA gods. Or so I feel. I feel like my job hangs in the balance if I don’t adhere to the system… but I was educated very differently and the way I grew up musically made me love music deeply. The depth and color that my music education brought to my life is too important to not pass on… but how? In a system that is all about right and wrong and mathematical precision in music making, how do I fit? 

At Eastman, I was actually taught straight-up that the way we approach music education in Texas public schools is dead wrong. I am very loyal to the system I was taught because I have seen it work. Children not only grow up loving music, they are AMAZING musicians, when they are given the opportunity to explore their instruments without the pressure of learning to play 2 etudes perfectly by such and such date or else and by the way you better know all your scales three octaves by the time you are in eighth grade or you are a slacker. Heck, the poor kids are 12. As I was grappling with my conundrum again yesterday, I looked down at my student’s music to see a page of notes between she and her friend on the opposite page. Most of it was just middle school giggly gibberish. However, at the bottom of the page was very clearly written, “Oh $#!+ !!!!!”  I teasingly (with some simultaneous gravity) told the kid, “Oh my word! That’s such bad language!” She looked shocked and said, “No! Mrs. Whaley that says ‘Oh snit!'” I let her think I believed her for a second and then gave her the “teacher glare” and said, “Um. How dumb do you think I am?!” She laughed and my day was made. Oh my word, she’s funny. I didn’t judge too harshly. That’s an easy word to slip out when you’re practicing clarinet……. (; 

And in keeping with the super hectic form of this post, if you are looking for a great daily devotional, check this out: shereadstruth

 

Back At It

Aledo today. Love those kids. Need EXTREME patience for a few. Got to share Jesus with one who knows Him and wants to know Him more. 

Jaw is killllling me and I finally got humble and put up a prayer request on facebook. 

Lord, you’re doing things. You are so good. Give me strength through the pain and patience with my kiddos. 

Going to sleep to do it all over again tomorrow! Hope to write more Wednesday evening.