Planted.

Image result for quotes about being where you are meant to be

Hey beautiful people,

I have spent a lot of time on pages and in whispers talking about the exercise in beautiful heartbreak that teaching can be. Don’t let the Pinterest boards and Youtube videos fool you–it isn’t always pockets full of posies. Teaching is sometimes funky classrooms, 76 personalized handshakes (DAB!) and fun activities, true…just today, I ran “de-escalation stations” with my sixth graders and it was fun to watch them explore stress relief activities such as making their own bath salts and doing a basic 7 minute yoga routine. Teaching IS this. But teaching (at least for me) is also looming deadlines, absent assistance, frustration and what feels like abundant lack–of resources, of good news, and of progress. Sounds sanctimonious, but I sometimes feel like I am running solo on a treadmill and I cannot catch up to save my life. I look at acquaintances that teach in other districts where the biggest headache is parents lingering in the carpool line, and though I’ve committed (at least this phase of) my life to urban education, I flirt with the idea of a richer district, less jaded kids, etc. Then, I feel like an ogre. Its tight, but it’s truthful.

On days like this, however, I remember something that this woman named Didi said to me yearssss ago. I don’t remember the context, but she said something like “your words are divinely structured to bring peace and joy to people around you.” That’s literally one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about me–and it’s also a charge to make sure that what comes out of my mouth builds up and doesn’t tear down. Teaching brings with it some “cuss applicable moments”, as Steve Harvey would say–I’d be lying if I said that every word out of my mouth is “joy to the world”…but as Steve also said “God ain’t done with me yet.”

Image result for steve harvey memes

I don’t always feel planted–like I am divinely structured, firmly rooted in the thing I am supposed to be doing. Earlier this week, I sat in front of my Crew and ground out angry tears because they weren’t meeting expectations–it’s enough to make you question yourself sometimes. But today, I felt planted, twice. And when I feel God move, I have to share.

  1. A child at work had a medical emergency today, and it left a bunch of children feeling quite rattled and scared. I bent down to talk to a child who was in tears, and I heard another kid above me say “guys can we pray, because I’m worried!” Thus began a round robin of who was actually going to pray, since one kid turned into five…and finally one girl said “Ms. O, you pray, because we don’t know how.” Another said, “yeah, ’cause all I do is say grace!” So the five of us held hands and shoulders and we prayed for the young lady in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. My students know my beliefs, but I am careful not to dwell on them at school, lest I activate the church v state cries, but I’ve had students ask me to pray quietly with them before a test and now this–the fact that they know that they can ask this and I will respond means the world to me. Planted.
  2. A few teachers were sitting in my homeroom this afternoon, and we were talking-laughing-playing music–kinda lesson planning, etc. A friend FaceTimed me, so I alternated between talking to her, listening to my coworkers, sashaying in my seat to the tune of my music and answering emails. Suddenly, the one across from me said “I love your joy. You are so happy.” (or something like that)… It was so out of the blue and I was so taken by surprise that I pointed at myself and she affirmed that she was speaking to me. The funny thing is, I wasn’t doing anything in particular, but she saw something and called it out of me–it’s been bouncing around my head all evening. I can be joyful FOR others even when I don’t realize that I am. Planted.

The Bible says this about being planted–

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:1-3

I take this to mean that being planted doesn’t always feel great–there is digging and waiting and pruning involved, after all, but when you are planted in the right place and nourished by the right things, you will see rewards when rewards are meant to be seen. If the soil were completely wrong, then nothing would grow. That doesn’t mean that I’m supposed to stay in the same pot forever, but I have to trust that that Living Water hydrates even my dry seasons.

Basically, I bloom different.

Today, be thankful for being planted where you are–in the professions, the friendships, the places where you are. Search for the meaning. And recognize the divine structuring when you see it ūüôā

 

Image result for quotes about being planted

 

Love Language # 6

So I am staring down the barrel of the end of a relationship. Side note: be careful when you date a writer, because pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) is one heck of a catharsis. I am honestly at peace with the whole idea, and honestly I am thankful that I kept this one pretty close to pocket…it minimizes the fall out. But I’d been struggling with how to explain when the few people that DID know about *him* ask what happened. He wasn’t disrespectful. He had a romantic bone somewhere in his body. He loved the Lord, which is always my line in the sand. He is a great dad. He works hard and knows how he wants to grow his passion project to eventually be his main source of income. On paper, he was everything that I’ve prayed for and everything that I think I deserved, so what on earth was the problem?

The problem is that I never saw him. And I spent a large amount of time rationalizing and asking and begging and questioning friends (I tend to bounce things off of people because I am highly sensitive and I know this–thank God for sisters who tell you to chill!) I never felt like he was being dishonest or unfaithful, but as someone who LOVES quality time, I struggled to foster a connection with someone who was never around. Even when I came to that conclusion, something still nagged inside of me, though….and then I came across this post on Instagram from @messinabottle:

lovelang  who would have thought that a social media post would be the thing that would click?

The 5 Love Languages is a theory by Dr. Gary Chapman that has been around since at least 1995, but maybe longer in some form or fashion. Dr. Chapman asserts that everyone in the world responds best to one of five “love languages”, and by learning which your partner appreciates most and which one you respond to, a couple can practically and effectively love each other at length. These five languages are:

WORDS OF AFFIRMATION: This language, according to the website “uses words to affirm other people”. In other words, I know that you love me when you tell me–in person, through a mushy text message, on a post it note in my lunchbox. Cards are as good as gold. Tell me so I know it’s real.

ACTS OF SERVICE: This can be summed up by these sage words from Migos:walkittalkit In other words, talk is cheap. I need to SEE that you love me. Make me lunch, offer to take me out, drive me to catch my flight. Serve me somehow.

PHYSICAL TOUCH: I know that I am loved when I can physically feel you next to me. This could be hugs, kisses or…sectionalceiling.PNG…heh.

RECEIVING GIFTS: Buy me stuff. Gets no simpler than that.

and finally…

QUALITY TIME: The important thing here is not just hours logged, but the fact that the time is meaningful, undistracted and undivided.

koality¬†isn’t he cute? I can’t¬†bear¬†it. I’m here all week folks!!

One thing that Dr. Chapman also notes is that there can be different “dialects” of love languages, meaning that within the love language of Acts of Service, for example, there are fifty thousand ways for a partner to express his or her love. My primary love language will always be words of affirmation, however I have come to realize that quality time and physical touch are biggies as well.

Guess what, though? I think I have discovered a 6th love language–or maybe the one that makes all of the others possible. It all came from a conversation that I had today as I was driving to Philadelphia with one of my close friends. Her brother and a friend were asleep in the backseat and we were on I-95 for what felt like 200 miles…felt like the perfect time to talk. I mentioned to her that I wasn’t seeing *him* anymore, and how I wasn’t even all that upset about him specifically–and suddenly this popped out:

“I just really want someone to study me.”

I was taken aback by that thought, but it really does sum up what has bothered me about both platonic and romantic relationships in the past. Let me explain:

Scenario One: My grandmother is family famous for buying things at random throughout the year and designating them as Christmas gifts when the season hits. I am sure that this saves her the stress of a holiday rush, but it means that we sometimes (usually) get gifts that are random. In my case, this has meant the ENTIRE bath set of grapefruit scented Clinique (including talc) or 3 floral cardigans, size 3x.

Scenario Two: My grandfather got me a keyboard for Christmas. I have never played the keyboard. I have never mentioned wanting a keyboard. The keyboard is still in the box that it came in, and one friend has mentioned wanting to take it off of my hands but I haven’t regifted it yet for fear that my grandfather will ask me to play it randomly on a Tuesday.

Scenario Three: I told *him* at least eleventyseven times over the past 9 months that I wanted to spend more time with him. On each occasion, he agreed that this was a thing that needed to happen. It didn’t happen.

In each of these scenarios, there has been me, someone else, and a complete overshoot of how best to love me–and it boils down to being able to study the one you love like your favorite textbook and figure out how best to make them tick. That’s love language 6. The art of the study.

In my phone, I have lists with initials attached to them. These lists have favorite colors, scents, places, hobbies, musicians, etc. One list, titled S.M. has the color red, Boston Baked Beans, The Roots, anything sociology, superheroes and princesses, fo’ the kids. Another, marked MD, also has red–but it has Nas, blue, anything with elephants, sneakers, Skittles, earrings, etc. List TC has gospel music, vegan food and list AB has anime, a favorite brand of wine, nursing and dog paraphernalia. JUs list has Nigerian food,¬† macarons, recipe books, a favorite flower, and I just added a place in her town that she likes to get food from. There was a list that I’d started called DJC–that had the color blue, watches, music, certain cities, etc. None of the things on these lists were acquired through asking pointed questions. I have found that if you really listen when people talk, you will eventually get everything that you need to know–because everyone’s favorite topic of conversation is themselves ūüôā What I have also found is that people are used to not really being listened to–so when you take them to that local spot to eat or buy them an oil in a scent they love, they are shocked:

How did you know I liked this?”

You told me so.”

I think that what I am looking for–what I am missing– is people who compile lists about me–who love me enough to hear me and translate my love language. I am on a continual search for people that have SO lists and who go out of their way to show honor the way that I really try to be intentional about doing. That love language of studying people–their mannerisms, the songs they hum over and over, what makes their eyes light up–that is the one that makes the hugs and gift giving and rides to the store possible. It creates the “OMG I needed this!”s and the “How did you even guess?”s. It engineers the surprised reactions and the tears.

So yeah, I think that when I am in conversation with my Christian friends—my girlfriends–my searching for something real and we’ll know it when we find it friends–and the topic of love languages comes up, my answer from now on will be study. I feel that I am loved when the research spans pages and the results are tangible. I don’t think that this is too much to ask for, and I know that I love a God that goes above and beyond.

Yours in the waiting,

Steph ‚̧

 

I Dare YOU

Hello beautiful people!

I would like to start this post off by saying that I think that I am a loving person. I have gotten this far into my twenties and deep into some really awesome sister circles by following the Golden Rule that we all were overexposed to during childhood, probably on at least one Garfield poster:

 

garfieldIronic that Garfield is being used as the moral authority.

 

The rule, otherwise known as the ethic of reciprocity, is simply to treat others the way that you want to be treated. The hard truth, however, is that people are fickle. We have the best of intentions (sometimes), but we are only human, and we battle against things such as anger, resentment, jealousy, busyness, pride, and so much more. The hard truth is that sometimes we come across someone who challenges the freeness and openness with which we thought we loved. This person may be a friend who loves you with all of your heart. It may be a spouse or significant other who arouses all of that JUNK in you, the not feeling good enough, the wanting to know their every waking move for fear that they’ve found a better option–all those things that you thought that you were done with and healed from. Whoever it is, use them when they are presented. Use them as an opportunity to refine your love and make it more Christlike. I dare you.

For me, my person is my mentee. This is us:

sisses.jpg Check out my expression. I am IMPOSSIBLY cool.

Like I said before, I would consider myself, for lack of a more adult adjective: NICE. I think I am generous. I believe deeply in family and in friendships that value quality over quantity. I was never that girl that needed everyone to know her name. I prefer meaningful interactions, heartfelt words, and creative gestures. I revel in the random and the just because. Mentee here has often been the recipient of that. Everything that I have learned in 29 years, I pour into her 20 so that she hopefully can skip some of my aches and pains.

That girl up there? She is warm, and she is funny with an infectious laugh. She is principled, and she is open hearted. She is smart.

But does she challenge the way I love? Absolutely.

She does things that leave me scratching my head. She gives people¬†a 1000th chance who have messed her over 999 times. She makes decisions that I honestly don’t follow. And lately, this relationship has been the one that challenges my insecurity, with whispers along the lines of ‘girl, you thought you were doing something? Pssh. You’ve made no difference whatsoever.’ And its times like that where my love for her can be misconstrued and filtered through all of the crap that she has had to deal with and it comes out feeling to her like she is being attacked and judged and put down. It is then that I have to take a deep breath, step back, normally cry to¬†my own mentors, and…inevitably, I square back up. I rejoin the fight. I remember that when I¬†did the foolishness that I did, God welcomed me back and He didn’t even ask for an explanation¬†of¬†my stupidity. I show¬†her grace, and I do so remembering that¬†there is no way and no minion in hell that can keep me from loving her. It reminds me of a post I saw on Facebook that I related to my students at first:

kidslove

We all need to be loved. The strength and the ferocity of that love might differ from person to person, but the Bible clearly states that we are in need of some love that manifests in the fruits of the spirit.

This week, I dare you to be reckless with your love. I dare you to love on somebody that is making it increasingly difficult and to stick with them through their storm if for no other reason than the fact that Christ loved us at our most unloveable¬† and we can come to Him time¬†and time again bruised, broken down and dirty from the weight of the sins that we still choose to partake in while claiming to love Him–and in return, He offers us redeeming love. Grace.

I dare you to go out of your way for somebody. To love on someone that can’t offer anything in return, not even their heart. Love on someone who is so downtrodden that love itself sometimes seems like the most hopeless of causes, and feel free to come looking for me if the very power of your reckless love doesn’t make them bloom, however slowly.

I dare you to love using the fruits of the Spirit:

I dare you to be JOYFUL.

I dare you to be PEACEFUL right in the middle of an emotional Nor’Easter.

I dare you to show FORBEARANCE–in other words, be patient when they resist. And they WILL resist. Its what hurt people do.

I dare you to be KIND and GOOD to people this week.

I dare you to be FAITHFUL and stay in those trenches when everyone else has said “this is too much” and leaves shaking their head.

I dare you to be GENTLE–with both the person you are loving on AND with yourself. Baby, you deserve to be loved and understood with just as much of a soft touch as they do.

And I dare you to exercise some SELF CONTROL–to not snap when they snap at you, to not give up on them when things look grim, and to wait for the glorious unfolding that happens when someone feels secure in the calm waters of you.

Let me know how it goes, darlings. I’ll be waiting.

Be blessed,

StephTheScribe