Wednesday, November 23, 2011

it's that time of year

For as long as I can remember, the Priode family listens to Alice's Restaurant at noon on Thanksgiving Day. I mean it's such a long-running tradition that the one year the radio station was late, Dad definitley called them to make sure they were going to play it. I have a strange family.

Pumped for tomorrow with said strange family, some good porch sitting, rest, sweet potatoes and the beginning of the holiday season. 

Sitting here with the December Southern Living, Christmas in the Smoky Mountains on the speakers just feeling very blessed and thankful

Thursday, November 17, 2011

thursday things.

1. Daylight Savings Time is killing me. I am ready for bed at 6 o’clock every night because it’s dark. Not gonna work.

2. I am loving reconnecting with old (not age) friends lately. Phone dates with out of town friends have filled almost every day this week. 

3. I make myself sick at how much I say I’m busy every day. Everybody is busy. Grow up Melissa. Wah wah

4. I love Christmas and family traditions, but thinking about it right now makes me kindasorta panic. Not. Ready. 

5. Speaking of Christmas, I can’t decide if our family (meaning, me, mom, dad and Bethany) need to send a picture-Christmas-card this year. It’s funny to think about people putting our card on their fridge, BAM, two 20-year-ish olds in the middle next to all the young couples and adorable babies. Weird. So I think we should end on last years.

 6. I don’t really like wearing shoes, but I have 3 pairs that I don’t mind and therefore-wear them all the time. Sad news: they have all decided to fall apart at the same time. Crap.

7. Very excited about the 2 stories I’m working on right now. Stay tuned

8. Listen to New Old Hymns. Today. 

9. Weekends go too fast. But I am trying to take Sundays as a semi-Sabbath and just say no to stuff and rest. I recommend it.

10. This? Um, yum. That’s all.

{update. 11. Friends. Life tip. When it comes to floss, spend 2 more dollars. The 79 cent stuff is garbage. You're welcome.}

Thursday, November 10, 2011

unlikely lessons

I lead a small group of middle school girls who have a flair for theatrics. (I know right? Middle school and drama. Groundbreaking)

I spend close two hours with the group, normally between 4-6 girls, through the JustLead program at the Emerald Youth Foundation. I would like to think that I am imparting some great truth on them and molding their young minds weekly, but I think a more accurate claim would be that they are the ones doing the teaching. 

Week after week, they remind me of how much I cannot rely on myself for anything. I come to them straight from 8 hours of work, worn out, good and distracted, and thinking about going to my own small group after I leave them; most of the time I literally have nothing to offer. Which is why it’s ridiculous that I even think they are learning anything at all from me. None of it is from me. 

I was on a roll last night, reading Phillipians, talking about trust and friends and hoping I would get some kind of response. But instead of epiphanies, revelations or really any kind of indication they were listening at all, I am met with a total fabrication of the truth, told straight to my face. This is a recurring theme in our group, the bending-of-truth boy stories and the twisted tales of fights at school, but I still haven’t pinned down why. 

I don’t know if these girls think they have to stretch the truth of their young lives to impress me or if it’s to get attention from the rest of the group, but either way, I was immediately brought off my scripture-reading showboat and back down to Earth. 

Have I set impossibly high standards for their young, and sometimes nonexistent, faith? Have I found my own glory in the amount of conversation we engage in, instead of giving it to the Lord? Do I consider the night a loss if no deep questions are asked and the worksheets are left, forgotten on the floor? The answer is pretty much yes to all of these.

It’s about consistency that some of them don’t have in their family and unconditional acceptance that they don’t get at school. It’s about trust and openness and honesty. It’s not so I can feel good about myself and feel good about my ability to crowd-control a bunch of 12-year-olds. 

Those kids teach me that every week. They are so much smarter than me.

I just read a selection from Henri Nouwen's essay Hospitality and I was particularly taken by this passage:

"Hospitality means primarily the creation of a space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. It is not an attempt to change people, but to offer the free space where change can take place. It is not a technique to bring men and women over to my side, but to offer freedom undisturbed by dividing lines, It is not a call to drive my neighbor into a corner where he has no alternatives left, but to open a wide spectrum for options asking for choice and commitment...Hospitality is not a subtle invitation to adopt the lifestyle of the host, but the gift of a chance to allow the guest to find his own."

So between listening to the middle schoolers and putting Nouwen's words to work in my life, I have a lot to think about.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

two things.

be like the fountain that overflows, 
 not like the cistern that merely contains.

close some doors today. 
not because of pride,
incapacity or arrogance,
but simply because
they lead you nowhere

paolo coelho