Sunday, October 18, 2015

Better Things Are Ahead

My Grandpa Gesch died this summer. My dad's dad. I haven't been able to write about it or talk about it much, because it hurts to think about it for too long. I know that avoidance is not the best way to deal with death, but it's unfortunately the method to which I'm drawn. Those two, Grandma and Grandpa Gesch, are pillars in my life. Protectors and leaders and spiritual giants that raised me right along with my parents. Carpool drivers and babysitters, devotional readers and scrabble game players, they are forever a part of who I am and who I want to be.


One of the most routine memories of my grandparents is one of the sweetest for me. I played soccer all through my childhood for my town's team. I was the only girl on my team for my fourth grade year, and loved meeting all the neighborhood kids that I didn't get to play with at school. Being somewhat of the odd one out who attended Christian school a town away in Oostburg, I had to take the bus home and get a ride to soccer practice each week while my parents were working. I'd hop off the bus, bike or walk a few blocks to Grandma and Grandpa's house, and sit down at the table where a stack of oreos, a glass of milk, and my two-person fan club awaited me. They'd ask about my day, update me on their walk to the post office, and generally just chat about life. I'd often lose focus and forget that an oreo was soaking in the glass of milk while we talked, so Grandma would go fetch me an extra cookie to dip in and save the other that had floated to the bottom on a rescue mission. After that, I'd change into my cleats and Grandpa would drive me to practice, with a hearty "Go get 'em!" yelled out the window as I sprinted out to join my team on the field.

I think of all they went through and all they accomplished, all the people they had in their lives, and here they were interested in a chat with me, a regular old 10-year-old kid, over a stack of oreos and a glass of milk. That's why I loved our weekly rituals so much; to them, I was worthy of stopping the day for their full attention. They helped me learn how to make people feel important.


When I think of my grandparents I think of puzzles, board games, a never-ending-scrabble tournament (Grandpa always quick to point out that Grandma was way ahead in the standings), and a two-a-day program of reading the Bible together. I think of kindness toward one another and a marriage based on true friendship and simple joy. I think of five brilliant boys that turned out to be my dad and uncles, how they raised the perfect guy to be my dad one day.

I think of being friendly to everyone because it's the right thing to do, and taking the higher road even if others choose to dwell in mires of gossip and judgment. I think of correspondence and encouragement, support and involvement. I think of musical talent, appreciation of nature, time spent in the workshop, and praying in German before lots and lots of meals spent together. I think of interest in other cultures, languages, and just a pure love of people. I think about a love of learning that never stops for an entire long lifetime.

I think about positivity and gumption and constant joking around. I think about that unending energy paired along with a slant towards understanding sadness and loss, too. My grandparents taught me that it's okay to have both sides of that coin very much alive in your life. I learned that it's okay to be a walking contradiction sometimes in that way. They were the first to teach me the lesson that as a follower of God you don't need to have it all together. They taught me one of my favorite truths in my life: that it's okay to not be okay. You don't need to be flawless on your own. God's grace is enough for it all.


I think about daily faithfulness and love and prayer and hard work and discipline and joy and family. All those good things.

I am such a blessed person, to have these themes as a part of the legacy I inherit. I consider myself to be so rich in all the best things: people, heritage, and faith. This is what I owe to my Grandpa and Grandma.

I don't know what heaven will really be like, but one of the cheesy things that I like to imagine is a kitchen table on linoleum flooring where my two grandparents are back at their rounds of scrabble, shared meals, and daily devotionals. When I'm extra cheesy, I like to imagine a spot saved for me with a stack of oreos and a glass of milk.

I don't know if God created heaven to be like that.

I do know this: If it isn't like what I imagine, He will have designed it to be something even 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Don't Let It Be

October can be hard. It can be, if I let it be. (Spoiler alert: I tend to let it be hard.)

In my lowest moments, I begrudge the rest of the world and their Pumpkin Spice Lattes, crunchy leaves, and comfy knitted sweaters, while I'm getting a little too anxious about the first quarter ending, my progress reports and grading getting finished, and finding myself again exhausted after the first few months in a new classroom in a new school. I'm exhausted with my job, but I'm also exhausted with myself, too. I tend to feel a little weary of my own lack of discipline, my own insecurities, and my own tired mistakes. For some reason, all of that hits me in October. And here we are, right in the middle of it.


And yet, here in the midst of a hard few weeks, I've had so many sweet moments. So much joy, too.

I think of (my first time!) visiting ArtPrize, led around by the best tour guide on earth (none other than THE Liz VanDrunen). I think of a good-natured husband, who actually shows interest in my art nerd interests and picked his own favorites out of the bunch right along with mine.

I think of reunions and a few weddings in the past month that just were full of happy moments and well wishes to fantastic couples. Beautiful wedding days, and, again,  good times with the one I married a little over a year ago.

I think of little notes from my kind, thoughtful, and happy kids, who remind me that I'm a good teacher after all.

I think of how I started playing volleyball again, and with that, remembered all over how much I love playing a sport with a team. Even if it is in the B league. (And proud of it.)

I think of coworkers that have been way too nice to me, helpful beyond their job requirements, and graciously accepting of my learning curve while I figure it all out.

I think of a small group and mentors at church, and how they are slowly but surely shaping my view of how capital-G-Good God's family is.

Hmm. When I put it this way, October doesn't seem so bad after all.

I think the slump happens because I let it exist. I think I won't let it be hard anymore. I will just let it be what it is: a beautiful and hard mix of busy-ness, a change in life pace, and full of reminders of connections and relationships that mean the world to me.

I'll be saying that to myself: Anna, don't let this season be so hard. Let it be all the good stuff that it truly is. Now go change into a cute sweater and whip up some hot chocolate, please and thanks.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Stuff Students Say: September Edition

The first month at Timothy is done! I'm adjusting, learning, but still totally the newbie. I'm loving my kids, their families, and of course my coworkers already. God's faithfulness still proves to be faithful, even through some changes! Huh. Who woulda thunk. Here are just a few gems from my kids this month:

(During the first few days of school, when I was going over routines for the bathroom procedure.)
Me: We use one pump of soap, wash our hands all the way, and then come right back out so another student can have a turn.
Student: Also, remember to tell the class not to poop on the floor. That happened to me once. It wasn't allowed then either.

Mrs. Whartnaby I know all about DNA and what it is. It's what makes you feel like yourself.

Student: Do you have any extra spoons?
Me: No, I'm so sorry. All out.
*Student proceeds to eat a yogurt and granola parfait with his fingers.*
Me: Ummm. Maybe not how we eat yogurt.

Student: Oh my goodness! In other countries, they worship idols!
Me: Well, you know that we also have idols in this country. Lots of them.
Student: Nope. Because there aren't altars and statues here.
Me: But we put things first before God in our lives, like money and popularity and toys and things. So those kinds of idols are all over. And we probably have more of them than most places.
Student: WOW you are smart! You know the Bible! 

Me: Wow, I'm loving these observations I'm seeing. Great work, scientists!
Student: You know, I've been a scientist since kindergarten. I made a lava lamp in kindergarten and that started it all.