Tuesday, May 29, 2018

I do not give up when...

There are two weeks left of my second year as a high school ESL (English as a Second [or Third or Fourth] Language) teacher at a small charter school in Minneapolis.  In this role, I daily have the opportunity to live out my greatest joy as I interact cross-culturally and welcome recently-arrived students and families to their new home, helping students acquire the language they need to share their stories and knowledge and ask good questions.

To finish up a unit on money and markets in my newcomer English class, I recently assigned a reading called Tom, the Banana Seller from the African Storybook, an online repository of picture storybooks in African languages started by my TESL patron saint, Professor Bonny Norton.  In this story Tom goes against cultural norms and sells his bananas in a market where previously only women sold goods.

While reading the story we discussed the pictures and looked up or acted out unfamiliar words.  "Give up" was one of these words.   After asking some text-dependent questions, I asked a personal connection question: "In your life, when did you not give up?  You have problems, but you do not quit...you keep going?"

Here were some of the responses students wrote:

I do not give up when I have low grade.

I do not give up when I don't understand math.

I do not give up when my mom go Ethiopia.

I do not give up when I speak English.

I do not give up when my father died.

I do not give up when I sick.

Reading their responses tonight got me thinking once again about all these students have experienced in their short lives and the myriad of daily stresses and blessings that fill their days here.

I hope their courage gives you heart for whatever you are facing.

Do not give up.

-Ms. Kadie 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

When Wedding Fund Turns Adventure Fund

Oooh...that last blog was a bit painful to reread.  Many things have changed since then, though some things have stayed the same.  I still live in Saint Paul, but with a different roommate from college (all three of us get together on Thursday nights though!). I completed year one of my grad program to get certified to teach K-12 ELL and will student teach this spring.  I own a fish.

A couple months ago my love story imploded.
(Couldn't think of a smooth transition there. Sorry.)    

 A card I received exactly when I needed it
Through challenging circumstances and what seemed to be the same conversation over and over again...thoughts of calling off the wedding and ending the relationship resided only in my mind's shadows, but they dawned bright as my imagined future loomed gray, devoid of peace and trust, and not brimming with the life I wanted. 

Some truths have emerged from the aftermath of heartbreak.  

The hardest thing you can imagine doing is what you have to do.  This truth struck early...day two in fact.  This truth gets you through telling your mom and the mom you would have called your mother-in-law how things ended, how wedding arrangements will be canceled and family and friends notified.  This truth gets you through cutting off all contact with a man you loved deeply, a man you made plans with, dreamed with.  I can't count the number of times I have embodied this truth since the beginning of May, at times clearly marching towards my green light and at others fiercely clinging to a whispered mantra "You can do hard things.  You can do hard things.  You can do hard things."   

Journey with your grief.  The ending of an engagement is a unique grief.  It's not only the loss of love, but the loss of dreams and hopes.  And it lacks the finality of death.  I listened again to this Upper Room podcast about lament in the weeks following.  Sheryl encourages listeners to "journey with your grief," to commit to the whole process of death, burial, and resurrection.  Maybe it's the forward movement implied in "journey" that gave me hope when I was afraid of my sadness, confused with my anger.   She says "There's no growth without change.  There's no change without loss.  And there's no loss without pain."  I felt like I was starting on the "pain" side of the equation and desperately hoping for this experience to grow me into someone better and not worse.  Now, I ride out the waves of grief.  I don't fear sadness. 

"Only anguish leads to life, only grieving leads to joy, and only embraced endings permit new beginnings." Walter Brueggemann (2001)

This blog won't wrap up like a perfect 3-point sermon.  Or maybe that is the third truth: I'm still in this.  Not too long after our ending, I was trying to make sense of what happened (really, I was trying to control my pain) and already trying to figure out why this had happened, what was I supposed to learn, and how was I supposed to change...all while I was still very much in the midst of it.  I feel like I was dumped on some foreign planet and I have no idea what to do.  But...I'll figure it out as I need to.  Shelter?  Check.  Food?  Check.  Friends and family that rally when needed?  Check. 

Now, to the title of this blog.  I know the responsible thing to do would be to take this money and put it towards my student loans.  But Responsible Kadie is taking a three-week vacation (literally) to Romania to hear Gratiela laugh, spend as much time in the Bates' kitchen as they'll allow, enjoy all the soup I can, and take in the unique beauty that is Romania.  I plan to fall in love all over again.  In a surprising moment of panic, I recently asked my mom "Romania...what if it's not the same?"  She wisely asked "Well, are you the same?"  No.  No, I'm not.  And this is a good thing.  

"You are partnering in the ongoing creation of your actual life, which is endlessly unfolding, artfully constructed, and filled with hidden beginnings that sometimes flow out of unexpected endings."  Steve Wiens (2015)


Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Golden Year

Last year on November 29th, I celebrated my golden birthday.  This year has been full of exciting changes and beautiful developments.
So...sit back and enjoy a hot drink with me as I share some highlights:)

 November 2014 saw me continuing to enjoy my lovely life in Sioux Falls.  I was working at Lutheran Social Services Center for New Americans as an adult English instructor for immigrants and recently resettled refugees.  I loved my supervisor, coworkers, and learners.  Work, along with Friday night family suppers and Sunday morning church, created the rhythms of my weeks.  Oh, and running:)

Then, in the spring a coworker shared that they were applying to Minnesota State University-Mankato's initial teaching licensure program in ELL and Masters in Teaching program...and I decided to apply, as well.  I really feel like sending in my application and references was like walking through a door...and I had to keep going no matter where it went.

During the spring I was also a beneficiary of a Match.com scholarship from Holly Becker, my mother:)  A good-looking and active young man (who I would later learn was also kind and thoughtful) asked me out and made the trek from the Twin Cities to Sioux Falls for our first date early June.

And it went well!  (I wasn't impressed with my ability to form complete sentences that first meeting, but Jeff didn't seem to mind:)  A couple more visits, a road trip or two, meeting the parents (and my brother and sister)...and lots of texts and phone calls later...I was pretty sure I loved this man.

So...when I learned how many credits I'd be needing to take per semester at MSU due to none of my TESL classes transferring [insert sad face] and how easy it was to transfer to the Edina cohort in the Cities...I chose to set off on a pilgrimage north at the end of the summer, leaving a lot of known for a lot of unknown.  
Post-packing picture time

Living with a friend I studied abroad with in Costa Rica!

Started grad school
In late September, I was hired as a Check and Connect Specialist at Columbia Academy middle school, where I get to build relationships and academically support the students.  I am learning much and am enjoying the daily challenges and hugs. I have been able to observe ELL teachers at the school and feel I couldn't be in a better place as I pursue my studies in education.

And Jeff...well, the proposal and acceptance all happened over a bowl of really good soup, as all good things should.  I am excited to live life beside this man, not only for his cooking skills, but because I see God's goodness through Jeff.  

As I write, my chamomile tea is steeping, Jeff's on his way over, and I have several chapters to read before Monday...all pretty typical these days...and all absolutely perfect.  

Thank you for this life, God.  
Thank you for hearing whispered prayers and silent longings.  
Thank you for family and friends who always bring me a whole lot of good.
Thank you for seasons, for showing me how to let go and ride out waves of change.

Lead on, God.

With a heart set on pilgrimage,