Saturday, August 30, 2014

My Heart is Happy

I am beaming. Here is our wedding video. I've only watched it 17 times, NBD.

(Thanks to Josh Kappers for being such an awesome videographer and capturing this day for me!)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Third Round

Hi friends!

That greeting sounds cheery, because I partly am, but I hope you also sensed a dash of nervous panic, because there's some of that going on in my voice too.


Tomorrow is the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL. It is a special one to me. It is my third year in this teaching profession, something I never envisioned myself doing, say, 5 years ago, but am now so invested into it. God brings me to new places in the strangest and best of ways. I am at a new school, too.

This place, Calvin Christian School, only a month into working there, has become so special to me. It's a Christian school that doesn't run and hide from this world, but bravely stays put in its roots, making the ground where children meet and play and learn to be something I consider almost sacred. Real life is messy, and I think this place embraces that in this continual effort to make our way as Christians in a broken and beautiful world. I hope to contribute to it somehow, if only God will use me.

I'm honored to be a part of it all. 



The old building surely shows its age, but I love seeing the crazy dedication of my colleagues to transform it into a kid-friendly, inviting place. My room has been my second home these past weeks, hosting me for more waking hours than my apartment. It is ready for kids to come through the door and I have high hopes for it in the coming months. Check out some photos, and then come stop by to say hello to Mrs. Whartnaby if you can :)





A teacher friend gave this to me for my school year. I'm a sucker for a bunting. 


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Every Life Matters

Read that link. My heart hurts. And I don't have the right words to say, so I'll borrow some really true ones from the author of that article:

"Michael Brown was a good kid, by accounts of those who knew him during his short life. But that's not why his death is tragic. His death isn't tragic because he was a sweet kid on his way to college next week. His death is tragic because he was a human being and his life mattered. The Good Kid narrative might provoke some sympathy but what it really does is support the lie that as a rule black people, black men in particular, have a norm of violence or criminal behavior. The Good Kid narrative says that this kid didn't deserve to die because his goodness was the exception to the rule. This is wrong. This kid didn't deserve to die because he was a human being and black lives matter."


Monday, August 18, 2014


Now I love Brian for many reasons. I guess I learn new reasons every day or so, little things that pop up and teach me about the guy I married. Not that I didn't know about Brian's convictions before Sunday, August 10th, but that day reminded me yet again of my husband's character. It's one of the best things about him.


Now, before I begin, I need to note that my principles aren't quite as strong as his sometimes. I tend to get too easily bogged down in the people pleasing thoughts, areas of gray, and the what-will-people-thinks that go around in my brain, while Brian's world is much more black and white. This is the best when it comes to his faith.


I love Brian's simple faith. I say simple not to imply a juvenile, shallow, or misinformed kind of faith in God, but in a wholehearted, keep-the-main-things-the-main-things kind of way. He is one of the most thoughtful, complex, and articulate people I know, but wants with all his heart to follow Christ in the basic and best of ways: Love God and Love Others. He wants to be obedient. He wants to act correctly. He finds contentedness in the daily plodding of the Christian's life. And he would hate to know that I'm writing all this about him because he is not one to cherish the center of attention like this. But I have to write it, because this kind of simple faith and strong character is such an example to me. On August 10, Brian stepped forward in obedience to a command that Christ has been calling to his heart for a long time now: Repent and be baptized. He had this opportunity to make a public statement of faith along with his brothers and father on the same day, and I could not have been more proud of him. I come from a long line of infant sprinklers, not adult dunkers, so this whole concept was brand new to me and a subject I approached tentatively, not sure how I felt about it or how to understand it. And yet, watching it happen was an amazing experience I will never forget. 

I felt so full and humbled and glad for the one I married, and so thankful and overwhelmed by the One who saved us. Praise God.


Sunday, August 10, 2014


We went to see a cheap movie at the old school theater that shows out of date films with Karley and Sam this weekend, and naturally we chose the gaudy, ridiculous Transformers: Age of Extinction. The premise of this one was literally built on the concept of a theoretical mineral called Transformium. No, really.

I equated the experience of watching the Michael Bay film to the sensation a child diagnosed with severe ADHD must have when locked inside of a rotating kaleidoscope for 157 consecutive minutes. The movie kind of went like this:


...cheesy throwaway tough guy one liner...



...another one liner to conclude "character development"...


Throw in some gratuitous shots of Mark Wahlberg's out of control biceps and that random blonde hot girl's mile-long legs (How ever DOES she manage to reapply pink lipstick in the middle of an apocalyptic robot uprising? Amazing...), pepper with a pot-bellied autobot manifestation of John Goodman, top it off with a fleet of freshly-tamed dinosaur-robot-dragons, and you have every 12-year-old halo addict's dream come true.

That, or our Saturday night. Brian and I are now sitting in our quiet apartment staring at nothing, just to detox.

Saturday, August 9, 2014


These days I'm getting fingerprinted and renamed, unpacking and setting up, learning new curriculum and coworkers. I'm waiting in lines, filling out forms, and catching up with friends for the last few times before the new school year starts and it's all kind of hit me like a hurricane. Devotions, cleaning, and exercising have, of course, all been pushed aside (as I am so easily self-persuaded to do). Why the rush around like this, the false impression I give myself of self-importance to the point where I am out of touch with who I am and what I'm doing here? Maybe it's a first world problem, being caught up in a lot of schedule-y nonsense that keeps the main things from being the main things. I cringe at first-world-problems, that in my comfortable life I trip into a shallow view of the world so easily, but Jesus wasn't joking around with the bit about the camel and the eye of the needle, I suppose. I believe my comings and goings to be so earth shattering that I forget a trip to Target is a luxury and a meal at Chipotle is a delicacy when I really think about my life. Yet here I am, drowning in schedules and getting ready and running around.

And that's when it hits me.

Ah. Yes. Silly me. Psalm 46:10 of course.

The solution to my chaos? I need only to be still. 

In that stillness, I need to order my life after One who ordered the universe into existence before I  ever ditched a workout, ignored the laundry, or neglected to read the next passage in my Bible. Jesus Christ is Lord, and so it's all Good. God has it under control, and He has me. So my obedience is what comes next, naturally. Now the hard part is to just practice this sacred art.

Of Being Still.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

On Being a Gesch: An Ode to my Last Name

Yesterday I sat in the Social Security Administration office waiting in line for 3 hours. This was the first step in changing my name over to Brian's, a step important to both of us when it comes to getting married. At first, I went with the idea of Anna Kathryn Whartnaby as my full name, dropping the old last name and replacing it with the new. The moment in our wedding when my hand was transferred from my dad's to Brian's to go up to the altar was the bittersweet picture of this. As I thought about changing my name, though, I couldn't let it go completely. I had to keep Gesch in there somehow, not as a hyphenated thing, but as my new middle name. So Anna Gesch Whartnaby it is. I had to keep it, because being a Gesch is a special thing. I'll try to explain.

Dancing with the guy who gave me the name in the first place. 
This is not everyone's experience in my family, it is solely my own, as I have the particular brand of Gesch-ness influenced by my parents, grandparents, siblings, and geography. There are so many things that go along with this title at the end of your name, and when I think of being a Gesch, I am so proud to be one. Here is a little bit of what it means to me.

1. When you are a Gesch, you have to know that you are pretty quirky and high strung. It's just one of those things that go along with the territory. You and your people are weirdly talented, but kind of like purebred animals, also a tad temperamental and nuanced. I have family members who are brilliant jazz pianists, historians, pigeon-raisers, writers, singers, trumpet players, artists, bow hunters, bicycle fixers, self-taught craftsmen and carpenters, hunting outfit guides, and a lot of preachers who never went to a day of class in a seminary, yet are delivering theologically layered sermons with the best of them. Walk into a room of Gesches and the subject of conversation can be anything from Shakespeare to shotguns, and you can believe there is a lot of incessant foot tapping, finger fidgeting, and coffee sipping as the debates or rants ensue. We're all just a tad uptight. 

2. When you are a Gesch, you have strict parents. It's just how it is. You hate it at 16, but are pretty grateful for it later on.

3. When you are a Gesch, you are painfully early to everything. You are overly punctual. Of course my wedding started 5 minutes early. My dad, meeting my mom and I at a restaurant for dinner a few weeks ago, showed up 45 minutes before the meeting time we agreed on and hung out in a booth, greeting other patrons and making conversation with our server. A Gesch tends to make friends with the custodial staff at various places of worship and business, because those are the only other humans present in these locations at such ridiculous hours. Gesches spend large potions of their lives waiting around awkwardly for things to begin. But it's okay, these kinds of lessons in delayed gratification build a lot of character, a virtue also incredibly important to the Gesches.

4. When you are a Gesch, you have learned from your family to be faithful and loyal. They stick with their local roots, spouse, family, and church. Of course we are not always perfect just like anybody, but this little area is very important to the clan. 

5. When you are a Gesch, you are a communicator. My grandma was famous in far off countries throughout the world for writing letters to missionaries on a consistent basis. We all tend to write in one way or another, and we definitely have the problem of talking too much. This means large vocabularies, stimulating discussions, and opinionated children articulately lobbying for later bedtimes (guilty as charged; I think the Brian Gesch clan's offspring was particularly strong in this area). It also means a necessity to do the whole foot-in-mouth thing every once in awhile due to the lack of filter between your brain and your mouth. Please forgive us, for we Gesches mean well. 

6. When you are a Gesch, you tend to get emotional in old age. We are a sentimental bunch. In my case, "old age" is the ripe, ancient year of 24, because I get teary-eyed every time I talk about my grandma, say goodbye to my parents, or hear Edie Ritsman sing anything in church.

7. When you are a Gesch, you are part of a friendly, handshaking crew. You meet new people all the time (probably other people who are early to events) and are well versed in the art of Meeting New People. Gesches bombard New People with talking too loud, enthusiastic yet random inquiries into cultural heritage, and invitations to Thanksgiving dinner celebrations so that other Gesches may Meet the New People.

8. When you are a Gesch, you sing. This is not optional. There is no question of whether or not you participate in church singing groups and choirs, it's just sort of assumed with your name that you will. You can always count on a Gesch to belt out the favorite hymns.

9. When you are a Gesch, you are sarcastic and witty. You laugh a lot as a Gesch, but it's a hard-achieved humor, one you have to work for. No easy laughs. Not much is easy-going in the life of a Gesch, but it is worth it to be present for a brilliant joke cracked by Uncle Jeff. 

10. When you are a Gesch, you're probably a teacher, married to a teacher, a sibling of a teacher, or born of a teacher in one way or another. All of those categories happen to apply to me. Being a Gesch means loving to learn and loving to help people learn. It means an odd talent for trivia games, episodes of Jeopardy, and any other form of quickly generating information. It also means having so many random and useless facts up in your brain that you have a hard time remembering other things, like where you put your keys. Or whether you turned off the oven. Things like that.

So that's why I couldn't let go of my wonderful last name, not altogether at least. I will always love the book hoarding, coffee stirring, muskrat trapping, small town loving, churchgoing people who raised me and the values they instilled in my life, no matter how quirky that might make me. I look forward to seeing what it means to be a Whartnaby, and even helping define what that means in our own family unit with Brian and I. When I look at my name, my whole name, I will still get to see Gesch right there in the middle. And I am very proud of that.