Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Rule Breaker (unintentionally)

I am usually the last person to break a school rule. I always try to do my best and cannot be laid-back about school policies like the dress code.

I'm not a born rebel.

But apparently I'm just too absent-minded to stay on top of all the rules.

One of my reading classes actually meets at an elementary school, to acquaint us with a normal school setting. No one needs this more than I. Being raised in a homeschooling family meant that I never did step foot in a school until my college days began in 2009. Since then I have observed classrooms for some of my college courses, but am still not as comfortable in a school as most of the other students seem to be. Because it is still so new for me, I also cannot feel casual about school policies.

My first day of my reading class at the elementary school started off in a hurried frenzy. I rushed to the car, towing my brother along with me, because he needed to get to his college class before I did. In the car I asked him to look over and read aloud the procedures for my class. My heart just stopped when he got to dress code rules. Right there on the list: No jeans. Horrified, I glanced down at my pants. Not only were they jeans, but they were skinny jeans. There was no time to change, so I just had to look down ashamedly when the school greeter said, "And next time, no jeans. We follow school dress code here."

Yesterday I ran a booth for the Student Reading Council at my university's student organization expo. More on the SRC later. Two other booths were beside me. One was a sorority that kept stealing my potential members. Grrr...haha just kidding, they seemed like nice people. Really. The other booth was an Indian club. They were doing henna tattoos for free, and I just adored the look and even the smell of henna (some people say it smells a little like fennel). I got a huge tattoo that covered my hand.

This is what the henna looks like wet.

It took about an hour to dry completely. Once the henna paste dried, it crumbled off and left a stain behind that was bright orange. It did not look good on my skin tone. I didn't even take a picture of it. But then, magically, in the morning the stain darkened to a much more appealing brown color.

It should last about 2 weeks, I think.
But I was forgetting something...once again. The next day (today) was going to be my elementary school day. And school dress code requires that you cover up any tattoos. Yikes. So I tried to put on my longest sweater, and hoped for the best.

Maybe I should've gone with gloves...
If they did notice my tattoo, no one at the school said anything to me about it. But I still wonder, does it really count as a tattoo? I mean it's really a cultural symbol for Indians. My mother was raised in India, and that has to count for something right?

So I'm not a rule breaker. Not really. I'm just too forgetful, and therefore shouldn't be held accountable for my actions. Let's hope the school board sees it that way.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Undercover Food Critic

A few friends and I discussed over lunch one day how we should pretend to be food critics with clipboards in tow, just for a lark. We could just act the part and not actually say that we are food critics. I bet we would get better service and it would be a lot of fun in the process. A real win-win situation.

Until we find a time to get together, I decided to have a little foodie adventure on my own.

Instead of running into the Jack-in-the-Box after my morning class, I stepped into a little Greek deli/cafe. I had absolutely no idea what to expect, except that I had heard that gyros were similar to schwarmas, and that was what I really wanted for lunch.

As my eyes adjusted to being inside, I discovered I had walked through the side door, and all of the customers at the tables were blinking at me. I was so clearly a newbie to this place. Since no one came up to greet me, I made my way to the back of the deli, where an old Greek man sat behind the counter. I stood idly for a few minutes, trying in vain to read the lunch options on the whiteboards, but it was all Greek to me (sorry I couldn't resist). Finally a young waiter handed me a menu and asked me what drink I'd like. Then the old Greek guy called to me. It was my turn to order.

I already knew I wanted a regular Gyro with all the beef and lamb and goodness, so that's what I ordered. In a thick accent, the Greek man said "Hero?" I said, yes, I'll be eating here, not to go. He said "What did you want?" I answered him with a puzzled face, I want the first sandwich on the menu, the Gyro. Again he said "Hero?" At this moment my face flushed a bright red (well, it felt red, for all I know it could have flushed green), Oh I'm pronouncing it wrong, I said. I'm so sorry. Hero, hero, I said aloud to erase the times I said gyro (like gyroscope). The Greek man just smiled broadly and continued filling out my ticket.

At my table I got a good look at my surroundings. Gorgeous bright blue colors were everwhere. Magic carpet canapies lay draped under the florescent lights. A huge seaside mural faced me, and took me to a little spot in Greece. Behind me, there were shelves and shelves of wines and whole foods and spices.

Almost a proper panoramic

The lamb and beef gyro was very savory. The yoghurt had just enough punch in the seasoning to complement the sandwich. As a side you can order fries, a salad, rice or one other thing I can't remember. I ordered the rice, which came mixed with shredded carrots. A wonderful combination with the gyro.

After eating, I wanted to complete my tour of the Greek Deli with a look into the restroom. Honestly, I was disappointed. It was clean enough, but it lacked a cohesiveness with the dining room. I think the restrooms are the best place to hang themed decorations that might not be classy enough for the dining room. I think a blue and white paint job with some cheesy Greek knick-knacks would have been perfect. Instead, the bathroom was a dull mauve color with a framed picture of teddy bears.

Other than that small detail, I loved this place and would go again. Next time I would go with someone, as this is apparently not a place at which you eat alone. The young waiter asked in a surprised tone if I was eating alone, and even looked behind me for my phantom date. Then I noticed everyone else came in to eat with at least one friend.

Here's a picture of their place. If you can't tell where it is and would like to eat there, leave me a comment, and I'll let you know.

Hipster Moment of the Day #1

Today I had a hipster moment. Before you skip to the next blog post, let me explain. I like some words, phrases, bands, and trivia that most people don't care to know. And that's okay. Growing up in Africa, I wasn't aware there was a label for being different. Apparently I was a hipster before I even heard of it.

Probably before you heard of it too...Just saying....

Annnnyywayyy... From time to time I will say stuff that is so obviously hipster-ish (sp?) to my boyfriend and everybody else except me, that I laugh at myself as soon as I realize it. When this happens, I'll find a meme to share the moment or just make one myself...

Because reposting memes is too mainstream... Okay I'm finished. 

Without further ado... here is my hipster moment of the day.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

First Day Fashion

Since seeing this funny photo I wanted to put my best fashion foot forward on my first day of class. I absolutely love the trends that I've been reading in the InStyle mag. Each of the details that I point out in my outfit were inspired by the new fads of Fall. To begin with, I went for a black and gold theme. I am not usually a fan of gold, but I wanted to try something new.

This is the first time I've worn a dress to class. I went with black sandals rather than heels to make it a little more casual.


          Both the cat and I are posing with our backs to the camera.

I love this pattern, because this season they are wearing leaves instead of flowers.

Now for the gold portion of this black and gold theme. I went with small accessories for daytime. I matched gold hoops with a tri-heart ring and a gold-colored teacher bracelet that has different charms (apple, schoolhouse, pencil, etc).

I waited to do my makeup until right before class. I smoothed my hair into a low side-part ponytail pulled slightly to the side, a style that can be both casual and classy. I kept my makeup simple. After applying foundation, I chose a stand-out red shade of lipstick (Loreal, Real Red #301). It is a truer red in person than it shows in this photo. I would have added mascara, but since I could not find mine, I went without. Always be thoughtful when choosing to accentuate either the eyes or the lips. The rule of thumb is to pick one to put on display. For a fun night out, one can always experiment, but for class, I decided to play it safe.

Have any new Fall looks inspired you to try something new?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Bit of a Fright

I usually like to make plans and then do something completely different so that I can feel prepared and spontaneous at the same time. It's not quite as fun when my plans try to change all on their own.

I bought my textbooks online weeks ago, like a good girl, to ensure their arrival before the first day of class (August 27th). So this afternoon I drove to my university, hoping my books would be there waiting for me. The bookstore clerk was very obliging, and promptly handed me my textbooks. I counted them in their mailing bag, yep, 5 books. Then, unable to wait until I got home, I eagerly unwrapped my books like early Christmas presents. Every one of them seemed to be welcoming me and promising to be helpful even later in my teaching career.

I started walking towards the exit, sighing contentedly and with relief at being so ready for my classes before the first day. Then an Anthropology bulletin board caught my eye. Approaching me with a friendly look in her eyes was an elderly lady. "Are you an Anthropology major?" she wanted to know. I told her my brother was the Anthropology major and that I was studying education for elementary students. "Oh I'm the head of that board." she replied, "What classes are you taking?" Then her forehead furrowed as she saw my class schedule.

"You're not supposed to be taking that class."

To which I responded with my classic wide-eyed doe-in-the-headlights look. I was sure I had the right classes. They were all prescribed by my adviser. How could he get it wrong? I can return my books, but what classes would be open now? Stunned panic.

"This class is only for specialists in grades 4-8." she continued "No this is not right at all. So what you have to do is go to the School of Education and make them sort it all out."

"Are you sure it's not right?" I asked timidly. She blinked at me. "Well unless you're some kind of specialist."

"I'm an EC-6 Generalist with a Concentration in Reading" I said, carefully measuring my words.

"Oh, okay, well in that case you're fine. Sorry for the scare. Good luck, bye-bye."

Thanks for the mini heart attack.

Despite that little hiccough, I am all set for the new semester, textbooks and all.

In honor of all these shiny new books, lets play a little game: 

Question: What's the difference between these two books?

No cheating and looking down...

Answer: One is a textbook and one is a fashion magazine! 652 WHOLE PAGES OF FALL FASHION!! Squee! You don't even know how excited I am to tear into this mag!

With these textbooks (and fashion instructional aide), this Fall should be the best semester yet.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bad Bread

Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain...
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
Psalm 127:1-2

In church on Sunday, the speaker, a peer of mine, shared this passage from Psalms, and it totally pierced me. I have a bad habit of doing lots of work for God, but I forget to do it through God and with Him. It isn't like I am insincere; most of the time I really do want to help people for the sake of helping them. But I forget that I am not supposed to do it all in my own strength. God has to breathe into all of my projects and give me the support to do what He wants.

The second verse of Psalm 127 especially touched me. Whenever I feel myself failing in my enthusiasm for God and His work, I tell myself that I just need to work harder, sleep less, deprive myself of daily needs, in order to fit everything in. This verse says it so perfectly, we do all of those things in vain, because God's always right there to bring relief to our souls.

Eating the bread of anxious toil... this is a tough addiction for me to quit. I keep coming back for the high of being totally busy out of my mind. I don't know why, but I find myself looking for ways to stress myself out. As if God will look down and see me running around, and say, "She looks busy, so she must be doing a great job." But driving myself dotty will not make God happy. He does not want to see us prove ourselves capable. He wants us to admit that we need Him and that we love to rely on Him, the Bread of Life. But relying on Him means giving away some of my control of the situation to God.

Oh, control
It's time, time to let you go

Perfection has a price
But I cannot afford to live that life
It always ends the same; a fight I never win

Oh, control
It's time, time to let you go

I'm letting go of the illusion
I'm letting go of the confusion
I can't carry it another step
I close my eyes and take a breath
I'm letting go, letting go

Oh, control
It's time, time to let you go
Excerpts from "Control" by JJ Heller

I have struggled with giving control back to God in my projects, relationships, and my future, all throughout my life. I want to learn from my and others' mistakes, but that does not seem to be something I'm good at. And that's okay. I fully believe I will learn this lesson again and again. I have come to a place where I understand that it's alright that I cannot completely fix parts of me. What I can do is continually let His love wash over me, and find ways to let Him shine through the broken cracks of my mistakes.

Lord, change my diet from the bread of stress to the Bread of Life.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

In the Beginning...

I love the Action Bible's dramatic beginning. "In the beginning...there was nothing. Except God." Isn't that wonderful? Operation: Action Bibles went into effect on Tuesday. Praise God and thank you all for your gifts and prayers. I was able to buy 12 Action Bibles to use in the weekly Bible study at the local after-school program. The children oohed and ahhed when I handed out the pristine, plastic-covered Bibles. One of the first things I did was remind the excited kids that since these were new books, we'd have to take very good care of them. Just ten minutes later, we discovered that one of the students had already torn the corner of one of the pages. That's kids for you, right? I assured the horrified students that we could tape it right up and that we just needed to be a bit more careful.

About 10 students came for our first session. The other 4th and 5th graders were finishing their homework, and could not attend this time. We started off our Bible study with Revelations. Just kidding! We started at the beginning, with Creation and then moving on to the Temptation in the Garden. The children were so eager to participate that they suggested that each of them get a turn to read aloud. I am so blessed to have such enthusiastic students! After each page we would stop to discuss what we had just read. I felt so proud when I saw so many hands lifted up to answer the questions. When we reached Adam and Eve leaving the Garden of Eden, I told the children that that was the end of our lesson. Protests came from all directions at once. Several of them had read ahead and really wanted to move forward. I said jokingly, "Oh no, you can't read ahead, you'll see spoilers!" One of the students promptly blurted out, "Cain kills his brother!" Kids just crack me up.

Now that I know how long a story from the Action Bible lasts us, I will make sure I plan two or three stories. After we read the story of Cain and Abel, and do a related activity, I think I'll bring in the story of Jacob and Esau, another pair of brothers who did not get along very well. I want to show the students how sibling (or best friend) rivalry has happened for many years and how we can solve our problems in the end. This week we finishe the stories a little early, so I am planning some quick games that can break up the reading and fill up the Bible study. I would love to hear from anyone who has an idea of quick Bible related games to play.

Next week I'll be back with more updates and stories from our Bible study. Much love to everyone who made this great experience possible!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Lights, Camera, Action Bibles!!!

I want to go into more detail and give a bit of an update on the idea about Action Bibles that I mentioned in my last post. The new church I have started going to has really blessed me. One Sunday, the pastor gave a sermon on reaching our community. Paul said, "I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some." (1 Cor. 9:22) The pastor stated that we need to know what our neighbors care about, so that we can present them the Gospel through that. For instance, I know churches do barbeques in parks so that they can gather a crowd and witness to others that way.

After the sermon I prayed in the pews for God to show me how to find and reach the very hearts of the people in my city. I kept thinking, why do I feel the need to leave the country to tell people about Jesus' love, when there are needy people right in my community? Could it be that I am more concerned about being judged by an American community than by an international community? This moment in reflection was what I needed to really think about my motives for serving God. I realized that I should be willing to serve Christ in any situation, even the most awkward and least glamorous settings.

It was then that God placed on my heart an idea for a project. My heart is in teaching children, especially in getting children excited about reading. Quite a few of my former students lit up like Christmas trees when I brought them comic books to read. So a little voice in my heart said, why not combine my passions, the childrens' interests, and the Gospel? Some people might remember The Picture Bible, which is an illustrated version of the Bible. I grew up with and loved this Bible, for its vivid details and descriptions of Bible stories.

When I returned home, I researched illustrated Bibles and found a more contemporary illustrated Bible. The Action Bible is a very crisp and colorful illustrated Bible, best read by 9-12 year old children. I thought about how I would use the Action Bibles in a ministry. I immediately thought about the after school program I worked at for nearly two full school years. The program is run in a church across the street from an elementary school. Since it is a faith-based organization, I knew that it would be a wonderful environment for a weekly Bible study. When I spoke with the director, she was completely on board and even donated towards some Action Bibles. I am so excited about how this project is turning out!

I want to read and discuss Bible stories with the 4th and 5th graders in the after school program one afternoon a week. Everything is ready for me to begin this new ministry. All that is remaining is the Action Bibles themselves. Since they are illustrated, it would be better for each of my students to be able to read from an Action Bible. I would like to have 20 Action Bibles before starting this class, as I believe that God will bring at least that many interested students to the class. With shipping, each Action Bible costs around 15 dollars. My grandmother has already helped raise some of the money for the Bibles and so far we have nearly 6 Bibles paid for. Praise God! I hope to begin this Bible class soon, so if anyone would like to pitch in towards some Action Bibles, I would be very appreciative. I believe that once children understand how much Jesus loves them, their world will just open up for them and we will see a big difference in their lives.

[[Update: I have imbedded a PayPal donate button into the right column of my blog, right below my profile. If a check would be more convenient you can email me at, and I will send you details about where a check can be sent. Thanks, and God bless!]]