Thursday, May 26, 2011

New site to stalk

Why are you here? Don't you know I'm hardcore now and have my own official site here.

You didn't hear the news? That's surprising because I'm pretty sure everybody is talking about it.

Quit stalking me here, and start stalking me here.

You'll find all the same posts and it's easier to read.

Kidding about the stalking thing.

Sort of.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Computer Confessions

I skipped church the past two Sundays. Last week my roommate assumed I was getting ready for church and came into my room to borrow a sweater. She laughed when she saw me grinning guiltily and still laying in bed in my pajamas. Then she returned the sweater four hours later and laughed harder when I was in the exact same spot in bed, still in pajamas, looking even more guilty.

In my defense, the sermon series has been about families and although I'm sure there have been some valuable nuggets of truth for me, I've yet to see much Scripture regarding how one should treat their cat.

Plus, I've been working on something. It's not like I've been laying in bed sleeping. I've been laying in bed cursing at my computer. And I turned on some Chris Tomlin so I wouldn't feel like such a heathen.

No. That was a lie. I just said it to sound more Christian. I didn't listen to any music.

So why have I been cursing at my computer?

Because I'm an idiot. Especially when it comes to computers. And I've decided to switch from Blogger to WordPress and I thought it would be easy and it is not.

If you are not a blogger, none of this will really interest you. All you need to know is you can no longer find me at Instead, find me here at

If you are hardcore about your blogging, you know why I switched. In my estimations 83 % of hardcore bloggers use WordPress. And I want to be hardcore. (sidenote: that was a nickname of mine in college- I'm glad it didn't stick.)

What inspired the move?

Are you really interested or are you just asking to be polite? Well, if you really want to know, I'll give you the short answer:

  1. I wanted to be more hardcore about blogging.
  2. All the cool kids seem to be using WordPress and I want to be cool.
  3. Blogger broke one day and pissed me off.
  4. I had a dream that night that I called up Blogger and told the president in a very sassy voice,"Well, now I've had it, Oko! (Oko was the president of blogger in my dream- In real life he was a South African student of mine.) You've pissed me off and now I'm switching to WordPress!" (I'm much sassier in my dreams than I am in real life.)
  5. I woke up and saw this internet friend had switched too and decided it was a sign.

So I layed in bed and googled "how to switch to WordPress" and those computer geeks made WordPress sound so simple and easy to use but allow me to speak for all non-computer geeks and just say, "No, boys. It is NOT as easy you're making it sound." And if you are a computer geek and you're a girl, sorry about the generalization. I'm nerdy too- just in other ways.

I bought some domain space and set up shop at crusading with katie. Problem was, I didn't really know what "domain space" was or what I had actually purchased. From what I understand, I now own a tiny piece of the Internet. Or something like that.

Time for my second confession. Well, third if you count the time I admitted to being called "hardcore." I spent an hour on the phone with a computer geek asking ridiculous questions. See, I followed the steps some random Indian man outlined on google. He even had a video and said, "this is a very simple procedure" in a thick Indian accent. He lied. It was NOT simple. I got halfway through step one and got stuck. And there were twelve steps. Aye curumba!

I finally gave up and called some guy at "" which evidently is not the dirty site I used to assume it was. I began our conversation with, "I'm sorry, but I'm an idiot." This led to an hour of me asking idiotic questions but not feeling self-conscious about it because I had warned him. I think he was extra patient with me because I sounded extra pathetic. Case in point, here was one of our conversations:

Him: Okay, now you're going to click off that page.

Me: Alrighty. And how do I do that?

Him: Um, click the little red X.

Me: Yep, okay. And where would I find this "little red X?"

Him: In the top corner.

Me: aha. I see it now. I warned you. I'm an idiot.

He was super helpful and helped me undo all the mess I had made on the Internet while trying to following the "simple steps" of the Indian man I found on google.

So now I have my own domain. A "domain" is that thing with the dot com if you are like me and are all, "Dude, what's a domain?" I kind of wish you could have heard some of the questions I was asking that poor goDaddy guy. I'm sure he had a good laugh with his computer-genius friends when he got off the phone.

No, actually, I'm really glad you didn't hear that conversation. It was embarrassing. However, notas embarrassing as the 9-1-1 call I made a few years back. I'm REALLY glad no one but the dispatcher heard that one.

A man had had a seizure and crashed into my parked car. I thought I was cool and collected when I put my hand up and yelled, "I'll call 9-1-1" just like in the videos. But then when I actually called, I started crying hysterically and saying things like, "You need to get here fast. He's really, really hurt like really, really bad."

Turns out I'm not as cool as I thought I'd be in an emergency.

So long story short, or actually, still kinda long, I've moved sites. WordPress has a cleaner and more simplistic look but you might think it looks a little too simple right now. I do too. I'm working on it, people. I just figured out how to close a page. Give me some time.

The move reminds me of when I switched from MySpace to Facebook even though I thought Facebook was lame and plain. I missed my funky backgrounds and music but everyone else was doing it and apparently I actually would jump off a cliff if everyone else did. (I mean, cliff-jumping is super fun- except for when you tear your rectum. A certain friend of mine did this and it was the highlight of my week, maybe month, hearing that story) However, while changing from MySpace to Facebook was a piece of cake, changing to WordPress is making my hair fall out. (It's either that or my shampoo but my hair is seriously coming out in clumps.)

To try and make my new site not look so plain, I made a header. It took me about four hours so you need to appreciate it. It probably should have taken about 15 minutes but again, I'm an idiot. We've established this already, haven't we? I'm working on adding other gidgets and gadgets to make it less "plain" but I've been overloading google with questions like, "What is a widget?" and I may be making a return call to goDaddy pretty quickly here.

If you're reading this on my old site, click here to go to my new site where I have my own domain and look official. If you're already on this new site, click here to read my new "about me" page or click on the top where it says "About." Yeah, it took me 2 hours to figure out how to get that "about" button to appear. At this rate, I'll never be going back to church. Just kidding, Mom.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Hot Yoga

My sisters and I have taken up yoga. Hot yoga, that is. The room is heated to 104 degrees which I love although sometimes I feel like I'm going to pass out. That's what exercise should feel like, yeah?

It is relaxing and excruciating and fabulous all at once. It forces you to focus and balance and sweat your brains out. But I think the hardest part for me is to hold in the giggles. Because, people, there are some strange birds in yoga classes.

Should you ever decide to try hot yoga, and I highly recommend you do, there are a few characters I must warn you about. I'm assuming these characters show up at all hot yoga studios throughout the nation and you need to be warned that they will be there and they will make you giggle.

1) The Speedo Man. Sometimes old and leathered, sometimes young and gay. Sometimes tanned and toned, they always make my day. I don't know why I started rhyming there but they really do make my day because they are just so ridiculous. This guy is putting himself out there...ALL out there and it's a bit distracting. Check that. It's very distracting. We're holding our bodies in strange positions and when I'm supposed to be focusing on myself in the mirror, I feel like a perv because I can't help but steal glances at his junk. Stop judging me; it's like a car accident- how could you NOT look?

2) The Snarky Lady. Aka "the studio b#%ch." We're supposed to be all "humanity is great" and "heal the world, make it a better place" but then there's one lady who looks peaceful on the outside but is a bona fide bee- autch on the inside. I happened to be next to her on my very first day. She scoffed when people didn't whisper softly enough and rolled her eyes so much I would have thought she was in the 8th grade if not for her dorky attire involving mens board shorts. I was terrified of pissing her off and had to turn away to do a shoulder-shaking laugh when the Speedo Man walked by her and a giant drop of sweat fell from his legs and splashed right on her face. He didn't even notice her fuming but I sure did. That's what you get, snarky lady.

3) The Sweater. Speaking of sweat, holy moly, some people have pores that are OUT OF CONTROL. And this is coming from me- an extreme sweater. Poor Heidi was stuck behind the sweater last night. They come in all shapes and sizes but this guy was a cross between Richard Simmons and Arnold (as in the former governor, not the cartoon football head). By the end of the session, it looked like there was a moat around his mat. His hair and body were so soaked that when he turned, sweat flew off and hit Heidi. Don't worry, contrary to how it may sound, getting hit by sweat isn't a normal occurrence. Just try to avoid the sweater.

4) The Circus Performer. Typically tiny. Typically Asian. Typically women. They will make you gawk and stare and feel a tad self-conscious as they move their bodies in ways no human ever should.

5) The European. You will know this person by their strange attire, strange accent, or strange social customs. Heidi nicknamed our European "the hawk" because she sits in the front and turns and stares at everyone else in the room. It is weird. Maybe this is normal in Europe but the rest of us are trying very hard to check everyone out DISCREETLY. Her open staring is unnerving.

6) The Jiggler. Bravo for coming to yoga but I'm not going to sit next to you or I will be very distracted by your jiggling body parts.

7) The Granola. You'll probably find at least 3 of these in each session. They are usually very pale, very peaceful, and very into yoga. The guys typically have hair too long that is tied back with tie-dyed hair bands and they aren't exactly "muscular." They often have odd patches of chest hair that I can't help but internally mock while I'm holding my tree pose.

8) The Loud Breather. If you haven't been to a hot yoga session, let me explain. You begin the class with five minutes of breathing. We're talking Darth Vader breathing. We're all supposed to breath like that so it's normal. But there's always at least one, typically large male, who didn't get the memo that after the breathing exercises, we go back to breathing through our noses. Dude, if I'm on the other side of the room, I don't want to hear your bedroom-breathing.

Anyone who has done yoga, hot or not, can you think of any other characters you find in these studios? Who did I forget?

Friday, May 20, 2011

I'm no magic computer

I've been having some issues with my teeth lately. Today I ate a cake pop at break and then popped back in my teeth before flossing. Big mistake. During the assembly, a colleague looked at me and said, " have some chocolate inside your Invisalign." Sure enough, I took them out to discover a thick layer of chocolate smeared across the front two teeth. Wonderful.

During the past two weeks when I've been eating, my top lip has been getting caught in a gap in my teeth. It's embarrassing. It kinda hurts and I have to stop talking and use my hand to physically "unstuck" my lip from my teeth. This never used to happen. But because of my "adult braces", my teeth have been shifting and where there used to be over-crowding and over-lapping teeth, now there are hill-billy gaps. Double wonderful.

Here's the crazy part. When they first took a mold of my teeth, this computer figured out exactly where and when and how my teeth would move. It knew exactly where all the gaps would be and where there wouldn't be enough space for teeth to move. So this computer knew that after exactly 7 months, I would need more space on my bottom row between two certain teeth. Not only that, it knew that I would need something like .06 millimeters of space between those teeth so my orthodontist merely had to get a sanding tool and sand away exactly .06 millimeters. Neat, huh?

Recently I visited the ortho, and as I awkwardly laid back in the plastic-covered chair, my mind went in a million directions. Well, not actually a million. More like three. First, I wondered about where to look. Then I tried not to grimace when Dr. Such-and-such accidentally sanded my lip making me bleed. I thought about saying something but decided not to because (A) I'm a chicken and (B) I couldn't talk at the moment since he had a power tool in my mouth. Plus, what would I say? "Excuse me, sir? I think you're sanding off my part of my face by accident. Can you please wipe up that blood running down my chin?" In this midst of this thought-process, I also about how God is like the magic computer.

He knows exactly how things will unfold in my life and exactly when. He knows when there will be "gap moments" when my lip will get stuck in my teeth and life will be a bit "uncomfortable"- when things won't "line up" perfectly like I think they should.

But He also knows that these gaps and seasons in life when His plans are still in progress and the end result is still unknown, are seasons that are completely necessary. In order to attain that "perfect smile," my teeth have to move and change and the gaps have to be there for a temporary amount of time. So I don't really mind the gaps in my teeth. In my life however,...I get a little bit antsy. "Come on, God. What's next? What are you preparing me for? You should probably close this gap up about now."

In this analogy, the gaps are created to enable the "future perfect smile" I'm paying the big bucks for. But in life, I'm not striving for a "perfect future." No, I'm striving for righteousness. And God is working and moving in my life to help transform me into the person He created me to be- not to give me everything I want or think I need since I don't even know what's best for me. Heck, I'm no magic computer- I don't know how my teeth need to shift. Only He does. Just as I trust the computer to know how and where and when change needs to take place, I need to be trusting God with the same things.

God knows when there will be seasons of "gaps" in my life and He also knows when there will be too much "crowding on the bottom row" and He'll need to intervene to create more space. Sometimes the ortho will pull a whole tooth to create the space but luckily, I already had a rotten one pulled and only need small amounts of space. Yes I know- it's very hill-billy of me. So I've had several teeth sanded and "slenderized" which is an uncomfortable process and makes me feel like my teeth were overweight.

This slenderizing is necessary in life as well. God takes that sander and sands away a little selfishness here, a little pride over there and creates the necessary room for me to grow. Unlike my orthodontist, He makes no mistakes. And like the unsightly gaps where giant chunks of apple like to get lodged, this sanding process is necessary for the perfect smile and for me to become more like Jesus.

Instead of a literal sander, God may use conviction, a trial, or a lesson to shave off something in my life that isn't pleasing to Him. But this conviction, trial, or lesson will come exactly when I need it. And it will only last as long as I need it. At times, He allows for exactly .06 millimeters of sanding in my life. No more. No less. He knows what I can handle and just what I need in order to move and change and become more like Him.

Just as the computer knew that after 3 weeks, 2 months, then 7 months, I would need sanding here, here, and here, God looks at my life and knows exactly when I'll need to learn certain things, struggle in certain ways, and endure certain trials. Just like my teeth moving, I can know that these periods are necessary, temporary, and coming at the exact time and exact strength that are needed to transform me to be more like Jesus. They are not random; nor are they arbitrary seasons of change or growth. And it's pretty dang comforting to realize my smile in His hands; my life is under His control.

And on the flip side, He also knows exactly when I'm ready to receive the good things in life, not just the gaps and the sanding. He knows when I'll need encouragement and reminders and He sends those in a multitude of ways. Lately, He's been sending them through my students.

It's no secret that I often wonder why God has me working at Valley. Don't get me wrong; I love my job. But it's pretty easy. I work with middle to upper class kids whose only discipline issues are tardies and copying homework. Gone are the days of teaching in a public school when kids walked into class without shirts or started fights when learning about Imperialism because, "that a$#hole won't sign my f$&king treaty!" I had a legit colonial war on my hands. It was kind of awesome.

Gone are the days of teaching in Mozambique when potential muggers would try to follow me home, when class would be cancelled due to rioting, and homework wasn't finished because the power was out in the whole city.

I loved the challenges that teaching in the public schools and a third world nation brought. And though I am so very grateful for my job at Valley, I often look around my little classroom and ask, "Why, God? How much longer do you want me here? How much longer will this 'gap' be in my teeth? I feel like I'm made for tougher stuff."

He first spoke through a group of three girls who brought me a present. These three went on the missions trip to Zuni but before the trip, they brought to my room this canvas they had made for me:
I waited till they left to cry.

God knew I needed to be reminded that I'm here right now for a reason. Some days I don't feel like I'm making an impact for the kingdom as I teach rich kids about gerund phrases and comma splices, but maybe I am. Cause these kids are going on mission trips to third world nations and are serving the poor when I can't. They're growing up and I get to play a crucial role in their lives, shaping how they think and view the world. And I'd like to think that maybe me talking about Mozambique and other nations has opened some of their eyes a bit wider. Maybe that's why I'm here right now.

This canvas hangs in my room as a reminder that though I'm not serving in Africa and though my job is sometimes a piece of cake, what I do is important- because pointing kids in the right direction is an important job.

The second reminder came yesterday. During lunch devotions, I was talking to my freshmen girls about how the safest place to be in the world is in the center of God's will. I told them how when I was 20, I quoted this line from my pastor when I told my mom that I felt God might be calling me to Palestine after college. She was not amused.

But after I said that, one girl raised her hand and said, "I don't mean this to sound the wrong way, Miss Hardeman, but why are you here?"

She motioned to all the flags I have displayed around the room and continued, "I mean, you love other nations. So why are you still at Valley and in America?"

My sister is reading this right now and is furious with this sweet lil freshman girl. But I found that my response was natural and it was good for me to have to vocalize the answer to this question that often plagues my subconscious. My response?

"You know what, I ask God that question about once a week. He doesn't always answer but He does make it clear that for whatever reason, He wants me here right now. So I'm staying."

Because again, I'm no magic computer. I can't see the big picture like He does. I don't know what this season of life is preparing me for, but I trust that my God is good and has it under control. And as long as I continue to seek His will daily, He'll make it clear when change is necessary. Paul says exactly this when he writes in Romans, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)

Ironically, the reason it is so hard for me to stay is because my life is so easy. I want more of a challenge. But I am confident that this "easy stage" is a "gap stage"- one that is necessary and temporary. I don't know how long it will last but I will be obedient and stay until He says move. And I will smile big and laugh hard and thoroughly enjoy this stage- confident that He is working in me and His plans are unfolding at just the right time.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Scraggle Punched

Yesterday I screamed at an old man in a wheelchair. I believe my exact words were, "I WILL hit you, old man!" Yeah. I know. Crazy. I get it. But don't worry- he couldn't actually hear me. Let me explain.

I had planned a pizza party for my team in my room during lunch. Lunch starts at 12:06 but stupid Papa John's couldn't have my pizzas ready until noon and my school is 10 minutes away. So you see my problem. I had a very small margin of error.

I walked into the place a few minutes before 12 only to discover that Sherlock here had left her wallet in her classroom. I begged the worker to let me give her an IOU and come back to pay after school. She wasn't having it. My groveling was making her awkward so I gave her a disappointed look and a heavy sigh and said, "Fine. I'll be back." And I ran out the door.

I flew to the car and while in the parking lot, a four letter word beginning with "S" flew from my lips. I got in, slammed the door, and did what any normal, frustrated person would do. I screamed as loud as I possibly could.

Have you ever done this? It feels remarkable.

Then I threw the car in reverse, ready to practice my NASCAR skills, but right at that moment, an elderly fellow with a neon hat and motorized wheelchair decided to cross the parking lot right in front of me. This is when I yelled. I wasn't actually going to hit him with my car. But I was having a bit of a crazy moment.

Our lunches aren't very long and it was inevitable that I was going to be late but at this point, every minute counted. So I zoomed back to school going 80 down quiet, residential streets, slowing just slightly at stop signs, and made it back to school in record time. Right as I got in the parking lot, I made a terrible discovery: my wallet was the car. It was sitting next to me, peeking out of a different bag. I know. So I screamed, "Noooooooooo!!! No! No! No! Noooo!!!" and whipped the car back around racing back to Papa John's like a bat out of hell.

I let loose another 4-second, full-throttle scream, punched the steering wheel and myself and then turned on the classical station to try to calm down. It sorta worked but then I sang an original song with the lyrics, "I'm an idiot" in my best opera voice and was still saying, "Stupid, stupid, stupid" when I pulled back into the parking lot. I ran from the car, literally cut in line, retrieved the pizzas and then ran inside Vons for the ice cream I had promised the girls.

When I say "ran", I mean it. No jogging. No brisk walking. I ran. Of course I had worn my obnoxiously loud, clickity clack high heels that day so please picture a very frazzled girl with very frazzled hair and crazed eyes wearing heels and running through the market with three tubs of ice cream under her arms. To borrow phrases from Urban Dictionary, I was a "hot mess" and looked as if I had been SCRAGGLE PUNCHED. This is not in reference in Scrabble or Fraggle Rock, although I do love both. Scraggle punched is defined as:

A term used to denote a disheveled appearance that often accompanies a series of misfortunes such as to constitute a "bad day."

ie- "Whoa, what happened to you? You look like you just got scraggle punched!"


"Man, the boss really scraggle punched your ass at the meeting today."

Isn't this fabulous? We needed a phrase like "scraggle punched" because "Whoa, you're looking disheveled today" doesn't have nearly the same ring.

So I got in line at Vons and there was only one person in front of me just finishing up. Finally- a break. But oh no. Of course this lone woman decides to apply for a Vons card right then and there. I watched her slowly write her name and address and pinched myself as hard as I could so I wouldn't scream. Then I switched lines. You can guess what happened. Murphy's Law told me to stay but I was nearly drawing blood as I sunk my nails into my forearm so I had to switch lines before I caused a scene.

Just one man ahead of me buying three bottles of wine. Should take 60 seconds. Tops. But of course he busts out his check book and proceeds to slowly write a check. At the grocery store?!? Who does this? Perhaps people who forget their wallets. When the cashier finally rung me up, I grabbed my goods and yelled, "I don't need the receipt!" over my shoulder as I flew out the door.

It ended up being fine. I got back to school with plenty of time for pizza and ice cream. As I was driving at unsafe speeds back to school, something I read a long time ago came to mind: We are how we react.

I don't know if it was a book or a blog or a sermon so I can't give credit to this sage but remembering that nugget of truth was like swallowing a spoonful of conviction. Bitter, unsavory, unwanted conviction. We are how we react. Not how we act.

Because it's easy to act properly when everything is going my way. When people treat me kindly and see my point of view and circumstances line up favorably for me, it's easy to be peaceful and pleasant. When life's all sunshine and rainbows, I can be a pretty joyful person. But times like these don't reflect who I really am.

Who I really am is revealed when the storms roll in, when life's all clouds and rain and flat tires and frustration. Who I really am is seen in my reactions to struggles and catastrophes and forgotten wallets.


It's easy to be patient with my students on days when everything goes as planned. But when the copier breaks and the projector won't cooperate and I haven't had time for breakfast...that's another story. It's easy to be kind to them when the world is kind to me- when there are tasty treats provided at break and I've had plenty of sleep and no papers to grade and hit all green lights on the way to school. But that's not a typical day.

And if who I really am is who I am when I'm reacting to the minor bumps in the road, I'm realizing that I'm kind of a bear. A beast really. The type of person who swears and yells at old people and screams at the top of her lungs.


It's like I give myself a written excuse to be a psychopathic jerk when things don't go my way- like I can stop trying to be like Jesus when life sucks or someone is rude to me or things just don't go as planned. But that's precisely the time I NEED to be like Jesus. Anyone can be cheerful on good days, but it takes divine ability to be cheerful to stranger when inside you feel like screaming, swearing, and pinching yourself till you draw blood.

So I failed the test yesterday. I failed to tap into the power God has given me to live differently- to live with joy and peace and patience and kindness- even when I'm frustrated, ESPECIALLY when I'm frustrated. But though I was bummed and disappointed with myself and my craziness, I was able to laugh and smile by the time I showed up to the pizza party because Christ was whispering to me in my Jetta.

I know it was from Him, from His Spirit that I just happened to remember the line: we are how we react. In the midst of getting "scraggle punched", there was my Savior gently reminding me who I am, to whom I belong, and how I'm called to live- how I'm called to react. I didn't get it right this time. But the cool thing about Jesus is that He forgives my moments of insanity and then calls me to do better, shows me how to do better.

The very next day I read this in Proverbs: "Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult." (Proverbs 12:16)

Okay, I get it Jesus. I was being a fool by losing my cool over something so silly. Truthfully, I do this a lot. Some people wear their emotions on their sleeves; I wear my annoyance. I used to think I was pretty good at hiding it but the other day I was asked the same question 17 times and was ready to explode when a student asked, "Miss Hardeman, why are clenching your teeth?" Oh, you can see that? Crap.

Unfortunately, I got a clear picture of what a fool looks like when he shows his annoyance at once. A fool screams and shouts and cuts in line and drives like a maniac. And although it is inevitable that I will get annoyed in life, I'm told to hide this annoyance and be cognizant of the fact that how I initially react to unfavorable circumstances reveals who I am. If I do this, if I hide my annoyance and pause and think about my reactions, not only do I save myself from looking ridiculous, I calm down rather than getting even more worked up and annoyed. See, Jesus is helping me to not look so stupid.

The double wammie comes in the second part of the verse: "the prudent overlook an insult." Hey Solomon, are you sure you didn't mean, "the prudent get irrationally pissed at someone who insults them and then trash talks them to all their friends till they all agree that the insulter is an idiot who should go eat poo pie"? I think it reads better.

But no, we're called to OVERLOOK an insult. Now there's a command that flies in the face of everything society tells us is right and true, of everything our human nature tells us is right and true. There's a command that is frickin impossible to obey without the help of God. Because it is certainly not in my nature to overlook when someone insults me. No, no. I am defensive and vindictive and just plain mean when someone insults me. And I think that's actually pretty normal. But Jesus calls me to a higher standard.

He calls me to overlook insults and hide my annoyances and be aware of the fact that I show who I am in how I react. He calls me to do this and He then gives me the strength and ability to do so- to live in accordance with His Spirit, rather than by my sinful nature.

I love that. I love how Jesus loves me even when I'm being a total fool but then He shows me how to not be so foolish...even on the days when I get scraggled punched.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Booger rules

I had the top bunk my freshman year of college which was fabulous but made some things difficult. Namely- getting into and out of bed. I had to climb on my desk, get a tight grip on the headboard, take a deep breathe, and swing my leg up while hoisting my whole body up and over. It was a process. I tell you this so you won't judge me as harshly when you read this next part.

So there we were, a few weeks into school. I had bonded with my roommates and the girls in my hall- so much so that about 5 of them joined me on my bed to watch a movie. Then my roommate Jenny looked up.

"Oh my gosh, Katie. Are those boogers on the ceiling?"

There was no way out. I could think of no lie.

So I blushed, I laughed, and then I came clean.

"Yes. Yes they are. But in my defense, it's too much of a hassle to climb down and get a tissue late at night and I can't fall asleep with boogers in my nose."

I learned the hard way that when you wipe your boogers anywhere other than a tissue, you must be more strategic than using the ceiling.

Some recent booger encounters have inspired me to write this public service announcement for all booger pickers in the world. (Which I'm pretty sure is everyone)

Booger Rules

# 1- If a tissue is available use it. Here's the thing: I understand that sometimes it's more satisfying to dislodge a crusty one with your nail than to blow it out. I feel ya. Sometimes I don't cut my nails for this very purpose. However, when looking to dispose of said crusty one, always use a tissue if it's available. This will eliminate much potential awkwardness involved in "booger disposal."

Also, putting a tissue over your finger and then still going in for the pick may be more sanitary and not seem as gross, but really, it looks just as bad as a regular pick. Plus, you miss out on the satisfaction of making direct contact with your nail. My mom used to try to convince me to pick this way but I'm not convinced. Everyone still knows you're picking your nose.

If you are in a situation where nose picking is highly frowned upon (see rule # 11), but you have a tissue. You can try to dislodge the booger with a good ol fashioned snot-rocket where you plug one nostril and blow hard out the other. But if that doesn't work, then picking with a tissue over your finger is too conspicuous and not really an option. Just let it be.

# 2- When no tissue is available, roll and flick to dispose of the booger. This dilemma is often faced when in an automobile. I prefer to roll down the window and flick my biodegradable booger out into the world but I was recently informed that this is not proper booger disposal protocol. According to my friend Amy, these "booger balls" as she calls them, will disappear inside the car and never be seen again. My rolling down the window to flick out a booger is apparently way too obvious- everyone on the highway knows what I'm doing when I roll down the window for a second and flick something unseen out.

However, I still think I'm okay with this. And when it's just me and my car and the freeway, I still roll the booger, roll down the window and flick. Who cares if these strangers know what I'm doing? But when there are passengers in my car or I'm in another car, I resort to Amy's rule and covertly roll my booger ball between my fingers and flick it onto the car floor, hopefully never to be seen again.

# 3 Be careful where you flick your booger ball. Although Amy assured me these booger balls completely disappear in cars, it must be noted that they DO NOT disappear everywhere. Case in point: Sophomore year the roles were reversed and Jenny was stuck with her boogers on the top bunk. I was on the bottom bunk and kept a tub of my sweatshirts on the ground beside my bed. Little did I know, for MONTHS Jenny and Lesley (my other roommate with a top bunk) were flicking their booger balls onto my sweatshirts! It obviously took me awhile to notice because Amy is right, those booger balls are hard to see. But there came a day when I did notice one chilling on my favorite sweatshirt.

A lot of strange things could have been heard from our dorm room that year. But one of the oddest was probably me yelling, "Jenny! Have you been flicking your boogers on my sweatshirts?!?"

# 4 If you can't roll and flick, be careful where you wipe. I understand that there are times when the booger consistency makes it difficult to roll and flick and create a flickable booger ball. If it's not crusty, but rather of the "gooey" variety, you might be rolling for a long time and still have that sticky booger stuck to your finger when you try to flick it. Where you choose to wipe this mess is crucial. We've seen that dorm room ceilings can lead to awkward moments. Here are some other areas you may want avoid:

a) The headboard of your bed. This is a natural selection. You don't want to get out of bed to get a tissue so you just reach your arm behind the bed rest and ta-da, problem solved. Here's the issue: that bed will not stay there forever. This was my designated "wiping area" for years in high school and I was a tiny bit appalled when my dad was helping me rearrange the furniture and scolded me for all the boogers now permanently stuck to the headboard. These suckers do not come off easily. I've since learned my lesson and keep a box of tissues on the nightstand.

b) Inside a book. Also a natural selection. You're lost in a world of hobbits or vampires or theological arguments and don't want to pause to go dispose of your gooey booger that you didn't even realize you were picking since you were so lost in the book. Don't be embarrassed, I've been in this situation many a times. In fact, I would guess that no less than half of my books have a booger lodged somewhere in the pages. The better the book, the less I want to put it down, and thus, the more boogers you'll probably find.

However, a problem arises if you are borrowing a book or if you plan to pass it on. I love sharing books and I'm not naive enough to think people won't notice a smeared green booger in the pages. Thus, the page you choose to wipe on is crucial. I typically go for one of those in the very beginning where there are random blank pages or a foreword that no one reads. I'm considering writing the publishing companies and suggesting they start including a "booger page" in the back for this very purpose.

c) Under a desk. As a teacher, I catch many kids with their fingers up their noses...and I teach high school. I see them looking around afterwards and I'm always very tempted to say to them, "Roll and flick or get a tissue. Those are your only two options." It is just plain mean and inconsiderate to wipe a booger in a spot where someone might not only discover it, but accidentally touch it.

I was eleven. We were in Mrs. Brown's 6th grade classroom. My best friend Megan and I returned to the our desks after returning from the accelerated reading class. Other kids had been in our desks. Ahmed had been in Megan's. I will never forget this moment. It was one of my favorite moments of life thus far.

Megan brushed her hands under her desk and looked up with an expression of complete shock and horror. The concerned friend that I am, I rushed to her side, "What? What's wrong?"

Then she held up her hand to reveal a GIANT, BLOODY BOOGER now stuck to her hand. I fell over laughing. Megan ran to get a tissue, cursing Ahmed all the way. It was perhaps the highlight of my elementary school years.

The lesson here is clear: yes, it will be hilarious when someone accidentally wipes your nasty, gooey mess on themselves, and it will be be a memorable moment for their friends, but YOU do not want to be remembered for this. You do not want people saying 18 years later, "Remember when you wiped Ahmed's bloody booger on yourself?"

Plus, it's just plain gross.

d) On your skin. I've never considered this until recently. I was talking about boogers with a student because that is part of the education process, and she told me that every morning she wipes a booger on her thigh. Apparently, that dries the sucker right up and then makes for very easy flickin. However, she warned that sometimes she forgets and looks down at her leg in first period only to notice said booger still chillin on her thigh. So, should you choose this method, you cannot forget to flick it before you go out in public.

# 5 Use your pointer finger to do the picking. I've found you will have best control and most efficient picking when using the index finger. Yes, the middle finger is longer but you risk looking like you're flipping someone off and drawing unwanted attention to yourself during this private moment. I've seen people use their pinky finger and frankly, I just don't get it. If you are a pinky user, please, tell me what it is that has motivated your choice. Is it simply because the pinky is skinnier? Do you have ultra thin nostrils that makes this a necessity? Inquiring minds want to know. You should know that you look plain ridiculous.

Also, please oh please, NEVER use the thumb. I know your type. You think you can casually wipe at your nose and dislodge a booger near the ridge of your nostril with your thumb and no one will notice. You are "above" nose-picking in public. Reality check: you're still picking your nose. Only now it's taking you much longer because the thumb isn't as efficient as the index finger.

Just today I saw a student using both his thumb AND index finger, getting both nostrils at once. Although I applaud his attempt to multi-task, this just looked bizarre. Please don't ever do this.

# 6 When in public, be quick about it. No lingering allowed. Get in and get out. If you can turn your back to your group, go ahead but make it quick. We know what you're doing.

# 7 Never eat them. Never. My brothers will advise you otherwise. They are both 26 and swear that eating their boogers all these years has boosted their immune system and kept them healthy. It's a lie. Sure, it's a convenient way to dispose of the booger- you don't have to worry about inappropriate wipe zones or rolling and flicking techniques. However, it's just plain gross. True, I love catching a stranger eating his own booger in traffic but please don't let that be you.

# 8 Never spit them at others. Perhaps this thought is utterly foreign to you. Unfortunately, it is not to me. Not only do my brothers eat their boogers, they occasionally spit them at others. Yes, to this day. I'm 28 and still find myself saying, "Da-ad! Trent and Travis are spitting boogers at me. Make 'em stop!" This is just plain wrong.

# 9 Only chase your family members with them. My earliest memory in life was asking Jesus into my heart. The next: my sister chasing me around the house with boogers on several of her fingers. I can still picture her blue nightgown and hear myself screaming, "Stop it, Heidi!!! Mo-om, Heidi's chasing me with her boogers!" Yes, I was a bit of a tattle tale. She later chased me with her warts. What are big sisters for if not to wipe their boogers and warts on their siblings? This type of torment is only okay within the family. Don't chase your friends with boogers. That's just weird.

# 10 If you're trying to be sneaky about your picking, newsflash: you're not fooling anyone. If you are in public and try to sneak in a quick pick and immediately follow this maneuver with a "nose scratch," we're on to you. Don't feel bad. I catch myself doing this at times too. It just feels natural. But you need to know that fellow nose-pickers know exactly what you're doing.

Also, let me clarify that I'm not proposing we begin openly picking our noses in front of each other. I admit that dislodging and disposing of boogers is a pretty gross/intimate process which only should be shared within the family. If you're a friend, no, I don't care to see how giant your booger is...even if it's shaped like the state of Florida. Outside of the family, we should still at least try to be somewhat secretive about our booger-picking. I mean, geesh, we need to have some manners.

# 11 There are certain situations in which it is NEVER okay to pick your nose. Job interview? You let that cliff hanger hang- even if they are looking down at your resume and you think you can get it with a quick swipe. The risks are too high of getting caught. First date? Nose-picking is for sure is a deal-breaker. Basically the first time you meet ANYONE you should probably keep your fingers away from your nostrils.

If you disagree with these eleven rules or have your own separate rules or amendments to add, please, by all means, do share.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Holy Benches

"Dogs get a period?"

This question was asked by a high school student while on the Zuni Reservation. A dog, which our fearless leader named Scout, had followed us back to the school and when I went outside to do my devotions on my "holy benches", there she was....with her period.

Only I didn't know that until she sat at my feet for a half hour getting her ears scratched while I read my Bible. She stood up and...surprise! Scout was on her period.

It was gross at first and then got hilarious as kids began to trickle outside and join me by the benches. I'd tell them to watch out for the pools of blood on the sidewalk and they'd cringe and say "nasty" and then one girl asked if Scout was pregnant leading us to wonder about Valley's Health education. It was an evening spent outside laughing, watching the sun dip behind the adobe houses, and petting poor Scout who had her period. It was a beautiful evening.

Ironically, I had been razzing one girl on the trip the whole time about how ugly "Rez dogs" were. She insisted she could see their inner beauty. I told her there was none and she shouldn't try to pet them. She found a puppy. "And him? Is he ugly too, Miss Hardeman?"

"Yes. Hideous actually. Not all puppies are cute. Now be sure to wash your hands thoroughly when we get back."

But Scout was different. She wasn't your typical "Rez dog" because she didn't look like she was dying or wanting to kill you. But rather, she was a beagle with a friendly demeanor and soulful eyes which led one girl to remark, "She's like Jesus in a dog."

Then when I wouldn't let them put out food and water which would prevent her from going back home, this clever student quoted Jesus and said, "But Miss Hardeman, I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink."

Valley students may not know how babies are made, but they sure know their Bible verses.

That evening with Scout and my Bible and laughing with students wasn't the first time I sat on the benches outside the school and felt contentment running through my veins. Because most of what I learned while in Zuni happened while on these benches.
I tried to get a picture of Scout but this is all I could get. Maybe she really was "Jesus in a dog."

This bench is a holy spot for me, a place on the planet where the spirit realm seems to dip down and mingle with the physical. God is near when I am on this bench. God is real when I am on this bench. God is good when I am on this bench.

There are a few other places, a few "holy places" if you will, (and you will because you have no choice) where I've found God ALWAYS shows up when I show up. Selfishly, this is one of the main reasons I was so jazzed about going to Zuni. I couldn't wait to get my butt on this bench. I had been in a weird funk with God- questioning Him at every turn- not longing for Him like I knew I should.

But with my toosh on the wooden bench as the sun rose on the first day, I looked around at the purple hues lighting up the sky, listened to the stillness of a sleeping reservation, and sighed- one of those deep sighs of complete contentment. I was back. And it was good to be back.

For some reason when I sit on these benches, these holy benches, God's voice is louder, His Word clearer, His power stronger. I don't know if it's me or Him or the benches but this spot is almost magical. His Word continued to be illuminating while I sat on the benches, but this year it wasn't just through His Word that He showed me who He is. It was through people. His people. His children.

The very first morning as the sun rose, I was reading in Romans 7 about the battle we face against our sinful nature. I read Paul's words about how:

"Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. (Romans 7: 21-23)

I sat there pondering this law of sin and then I saw a woman walking, or rather stumbling, my way. Just a few yards away from me a policeman pulled up. He questioned her about how much she had had to drink. She didn't know. Then he took her away in handcuffs.

The symbolism was not lost on me.

Here was a woman enslaved to her sinful nature and need for alcohol and she was literally a prisoner.

Alcoholism is a huge problem on the reservation as many people are seemingly without hope and fall prey to it's numbing effects. Paul, not struggling with alcoholism but with other sins, expresses this frustration with battling with his sin nature when he writes earlier in chapter 7:

"For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do- this I keep on doing. " (verses 18-19)

But right after he writes about this very real, very frustrating battle we all face, he says, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin." (verses 24-25)

This woman is not without hope. There is someone who can rescue her from her body "subject to death." Should she choose to be a slave to God rather than a slave to sin, she will be free.

This was the largest lesson I learned while in Zuni. God is powerful. He always wins. He has the power to set people free. But they must want it. He doesn't go around throwing His freedom on people who don't want it.

One must CHOOSE to be His slave and paradoxically, become free.

I'm not saying that woman just needed to convert and she'd be free from alcoholism. She needs AA. She needs motivation and accountability. But most importantly, she needs Jesus and His power. Paul writes next that "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who give life has set you free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:1-2)

I also happened to read the book of Ephesians and was reminded of who God is, what He's done, and what His character is like. I especially loved these verses which reminded me of the power we have access to in order to win the battle with our sinful natures:

"I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in this present age but also in the one to come. " (Ephesians 1:18-21)

God offers us power and freedom.

He spoke this truth to me every day of the Zuni trip and every time my butt was on the bench. I saw this power and freedom at work a few days later when I sat on the same bench next to a woman waiting for the AA meeting held at the school. She was 30 days sober. And she was very proud.

It was one of those surreal conversations. We talked about life and her battle and how she's finally breaking free from alcohol. It was fantastic.

The juxtaposition of someone trapped in sin verses someone freed was simply fantastic. And I have my holy benches to thank for this conversation. I have my holy God to thank for this lesson.

I also spoke with several children while I read on my holy bench. Their innocence pointed me to God. This is how He created us- not as cynical, jaded, judgmental people, but as vulnerable, innocent, joyful children. I suspect we'll go back to this one day. I suspect the layers of life's hardships and evils will be peeled away and we'll be like children once again.

I love this part of first John that says: "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:1-2)

I love that John admits that even he, the one with the great revelations, doesn't know "what will be." However, he does know that we'll see Christ and that will change us. I think that encounter will strip us of our oh-so-sophisticated human wisdom and leave us jumping for joy like little children.

However, one young boy I met while on the bench was not jumping for joy. In fact, his eyes were void of all joy and hope. This encounter broke my heart.

He had come with his cousin who goes to the school. There was fighting going on in the house so they retreated to the school until things blew over. His eyes were bloodshot and his body language communicated: "Don't look at me. Don't talk to me. I don't like you." But of course that didn't hold me back. Here was our conversation:

Me: Do you go here as well? I don't recognize you.

Him: Nope.

Me: Oh. Do you go to the public school down the road?

Him: Nope.

Me: So where do you go to school then?

Him: I don't.

Me: very confused Huh? Why not?

Him: I got kicked out.

Me: Of this school?

Him: Yeah. And the other one.

Me: too nosy for my own good Why? What'd you do?

Him: I never came to school.

Me: now even more confused But why not?

Him: Just didn't want to.

Me: So what do you do now?

Him: Nothing.

Me: Do you have a job?

Him: Nope.

Me: Do you want a job?

Him: Nope.

Me: What do you want to do when you get older?

Him: I don't know.

Me: Well, what did you want to do when you were younger?

Him: Nothing.

Me: Nothing? I don't believe it. Surely there was something you used to hope for?

Him: Nope.

I wasn't sure if he was lying or not. Surely he had silly, giant dreams when he was a kid- before the world stripped him of his innocence. But maybe not. I grew up in a world where just about everyone I knew thought that they'd one day be in the White House or on the moon or be playing a professional sport. We were taught to dream big. So dream we did.

But maybe this boy never did. It's a depressing thought.

This boy needed hope in a big way. He needed Jesus, the author of hope, in a very big way. I'd love to say I shared the message of truth with him, but I didn't. Instead, I offered him a tamale I had purchased from a street vendor and then silently prayed for him. He knows where to find Jesus. So I continue to pray that he'll WANT to find him.

This poor boy's lack of purpose and joy was juxtaposed with several other children I met while sitting on the bench- children who go to the school and may or may not be Christians but who still have hope dancing in their eyes.

One young boy I met while sitting on my holy bench, leaned real close to my face and then asked, "Are you wearing make-up?" I was and I was curious where this was going.

"I am. How'd you know?"

"Because your lips are covered in sand."

And sure enough, the biting winds had been picking up sand and throwing it in my face but I had refused to leave my beloved spot. I had on a thick layer of chapstick which, unbeknownst to me, had been catching loads of sand. The kids squealed with delight as they saw my astonishment and horror as I wiped the sand onto my arm.

It was on these holy benches that I taught two of the girls the farting song (mentioned in this post) and it was here that I took out my Invisalign much to the disgust of the little crowd waiting for their rides. It was here that I met girls who didn't go to the Christian school but were waiting for their Girl Scout meeting. And I realized talking to them how hungry they are for love and affection. This is precisely what this Zuni school does.
Here's the front of the school with Sam, the school maintenance guy, throwing out the peace sign.

Yes, they share the gospel with all the students. And yes, they learn lots of bible stories. But mainly they share Christ's love and affection. They offer these needy kids the attention they need. Now THIS seems like a wonderful way to share the gospel.

I am so inspired by the teachers who choose to live and teach here. There are no movie theaters or restaurants or shopping centers or Yogurtlands. WalMart is the highlight and that's a 45 minute drive. But they don't seem to mind.
Chelsea teaches the 5th and 6th graders. I spent one dinner laughing until there were tears with her and Ashley- two kindred spirits living and teaching in Zuni.

These teachers are doing something remarkable on the Zuni reservation. They are "standing in the gap" and "holding back the chaos of darkness" as Jeff, our leader often said. They are the unsung heroes choosing to live in a desolate land in order to offer hope to the hopeless. They are living and teaching among the Zunis, sharing their lives with them, so the Zunis can see Jesus and what He's all about.
I love what this school does. I love what it stands for and what it offers. And I really love the benches out in front.