We Are the Champions: Remembering Ukraine

Memories of Ukraine often flood my days. I think of the friends, students, and other people I met during my three years living in that wonderful country. Today, as I was scrolling through facebook, I stumbled upon a Jimmy Fallon video that brought back plenty of delightful Ukraine memories. Here you go. Take a look.

I get it. You’re questioning why a Queen song reminds me of Ukraine, right? Well, it does and for a very good reason. From 2005-2007, I lived in a small village in Central Ukraine called Lypovets. In Lypovets, I served as an ESL instructor for students in grades 4 through 11. The students were great. They were generally cheerful, energetic, in school, and willing to meet with me. I’m not sure that the students were always eager to learn, but I’m starting to realize that such an expectation may be a bit much for students whose basic needs are not always met.

If you haven't seen it, The Mighty Ducks is a great movie about teamwork, hockey, and an adult learning how to be a better person thanks to kids. (Classic 90s film)

If you haven’t seen it, The Mighty Ducks is a great movie about teamwork, hockey, and an adult learning how to be a better person thanks to kids. (Classic 90s film)

In Lypovets, I was a pretty young teacher without a lot of life experience behind me. However, similar to the students, I was generally cheerfully, energetic, in school, and open to the various interactions with students in the school. I also gave the students fun assignments like – create your own country and flag or pick out a theme song for your group. Repeatedly, when we would do these creative activities, two to three groups in the room would pick out, “We Are the Champions.” For me, the song had previously been tied to my crushes on Emilio Estevez and Joshua Jackson in The Mighty Ducks. But because of my students and their love for this catchy motivational song, when I hear it these days, I think first of Ukraine and my amazing students belting this song out in our dusty, uneven floored classrooms at the end of Shkilna Street in Lypovets.

Nerding Out with Inspiration

Most of my friends and acquaintances get the fact that I’m a nerd. In fact, they figure this out pretty quickly. Luckily, they tolerate me for being super sweet and caring at some point in the mix of nerdiness. Well, this morning I nerded out with inspiration. It wasn’t as cheesy as when I made my academic success class go around and say what they were good at followed by a round of applause. In fact, I’m sure I nerded out in a “cooler” fashion as I used social media to help me out. It started innocently enough. I wanted to see what Chimamanda Adichie said about feminism in a graduation commencement speech. And then I started watching Stephen Colbert’s speech, Ellen’s from 2009, Mindy Kaling’s from 2014, and more. I just couldn’t help it. I was inspired! Why don’t people say these amazing inspirational things daily? And why don’t we open our ears and our minds up to listen to this sort of wisdom more often? I didn’t get it.

I was staring at my screen with a awestruck grin on my face when I saw Meryl’s speech waiting in the sidebar. And so I watched it. I realized that Meryl was much more than her academy awards and much more than the roles she played on screen. I could tell that she was a real person and that her performance skills have forever changed the way women in Hollywood will be accepted. She’s paved the way. So now it’s time for me and all the men and women younger than me to keep that story going. We’ve got to challenge the male-dominated world and stand up for ourselves and be real. If we don’t, how will we change the world?

I don’t know if you have copious amounts of time to watch inspirational YouTube videos, but in case you do, I’d suggest watching Meryl’s as a starting point. I mean really, why not join the gang of nerdy inspiration junkies with me!?

Tata for now!

Rece

The Day I Realized I Had Unintentionally Become a Hermit

It was today.

I didn’t see this coming.

Not one bit.

I scraped off a few of the hermit cells to head down to the river to take a picture today.

I scraped off a few of the hermit cells to head down to the river to take a picture today.

Here’s the thing: I’m in the last few weeks of my graduate program. I’ve finished final projects. There are only a few small tasks left to finish. Besides applying for jobs and interviewing with people that kind of like me, I have an unnaturally large amount of free time. Today was a strange Saturday because after doing laundry, finishing my final globalization project, writing some letters, cooking, watering my plants, and cleaning up my digital files on my computer, I had nothing to do. Was it appropriate to knit when it was super hot outside? What about hand-sewing my felt Xmas chain? That’s when I realized it: I had become a shut in. WTF? (By the way, I had time to listen to NPR today and I learned that WTF is now a word all its own and isn’t an acronym for words my parents dislike anymore. Yep.)

Could it be? I wondered. I started to think of all the Saturdays I have spent in the last few months: McMenamins with my parents, hanging out with my sister, my birthday party with family, more time with my parents, New York, chilling with my nieces, homework, UFO festival with my big brother. Rarely have I spent time with people on the weekend who aren’t obligated to like me at least a little bit because we’re stuck in the same bloodline. Oh my word. My jerky friend was right.

A few years ago, when I was living with my parents, one of my oldest friends called me a hermit. She told me that I was relying too much on my family and that I needed to spend time with people I wasn’t related to. I was appalled by her comment. And, I totally disagreed. I claimed to be readjusting to life in America. For me, family was at the center of that. But though it worked back then, at this point, I am the sole single person in my family. Most members of my family have legally bound themselves to another, thus changing their life priorities AND adding to their extended bloodlines and friendships. As the only remaining unattached child, I can basically be expected to go to my parents’ house for every holiday so that I don’t sit it alone. Don’t get me wrong. I love spending time with my parents. I just don’t know if it’s useful to be a 32 year-old single woman who likes to knit and hangs out with her parents all the time. I refuse to get the cats OR get my library science degree just because I already see the impending doom. (However, if I don’t get a job in the next few months, I would totally go for my master’s in library science because seriously, books are cool.)

I think it’s time to leave the house and branch out a bit more. Now that there’s no homework to stress me out constantly, I ought to get into something else… perhaps a conversation now and again. That’ll probably kill the hermitesque skin I’ve grown in the first two years of my thirties.

Tata for now.

Rece

Word Nerd

I still subscribe to Dictionary.com’s word of the day emails. I have since I was a senior in high school and I first got an email account. But, I don’t always check the word of the day. I feel as if just by receiving the emails, my vocabulary should be growing, but I don’t think it is… because I rarely open the emails. Today, however, rather than deleting it before opening it, I left it in my mailbox. It was just… too good.

Rubberneck. I learned this word years ago because… my mom was one of those drivers who slowed down to find out what was happening. I swear in another life she was supposed to be a cheesy private detective or something – she just likes to know what’s going on.

Because I didn’t really give you a taste of what this word means, here it is:

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 9.54.16 PMFun, right. I knew you needed this today!

Tata for now.

Rece

An Open Letter to a church I love. (Is there room for me?)

Sharece Michelle Bunn:

I don’t often reblog, but I appreciate the response and support people are showing for Dr. Oord. Churches shouldn’t silence, shouldn’t hate. So why do they?

Originally posted on Michael Palmer:

New-LogoTo the leaders of our Nazarene tribe,

It’s been a tough few months for us, hasn’t it? We’ve been through a lot together.

We’ve read about our family in the pages of newspapersmore than once. We’ve felt the effects of strong disagreement, feelings of betrayal, and the need for apologies from others and from myself. We’ve accused, we’ve repented, and done all within our power to be reconciled once more.

These stories, however, are beginning to pile up: NPH, MNU (Randy Beckum), NNU (Tom Oord).

If I’m being honest, as an ordained pastor, I really don’t know where to go from here.  I’m really, truly at a loss for words.

I think it goes without saying, that many issues like the ones we’ve recently faced require a great deal of discretion. I also know that leaders in high positions are forced to make decisions which are unpopular, but are…

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Religious Challenge at NNU

In my first day of my theology class in college, my theology professor told me that he used to be an atheist. I was shocked. Blasphemy! was the word that cycled through my head. I’m at a Christian college – why would they hire someone who wasn’t a Christian? I wondered. What I didn’t realize in that first class was that my faith was nothing if it couldn’t be challenged or shaken. Over the course of the semester, my professor inspired me to critically think about faith, religion, and theology so that I was able to realize that I myself chose my faith and it was not something I merely adopted from my parents as had been my political party and college choice.

Today, that professor who has inspired many students to think critically and challenge their ways of knowing is being laid off. His departure is apparently due to low numbers in the philosophy and religion numbers, which I find quite odd. Last night, I actually spent some time on NNU’s website to get ready for my globalization class. NNU’s entire mission is centered on evangelism and service to the world by spreading spirituality and offering aid where needed. So… theology and religion should be a big part of that, right? Wouldn’t it make sense to increase marketing and outreach for theology and religion majors? Maybe not. Maybe NNU will become a university that closes its theology and religion department? That would seem weird, especially since God is the main subject they teach throughout the university, what with chapel three times a week and prayer before many classes. But perhaps that’s what’s happening: theology is just dead at NNU.

Or perhaps NNU is letting go of their tenured faculty member because he encourages people to think and challenge the faith they have had fed to them by their parents, friends, or clergymen. Tom Oord is not a heretic. Tom Oord is a person who teaches college students to think and challenge themselves. If this means that a few students leave the faith because they realize what they thought they knew had no foundation, so be it. They may come back. A professor’s job is not to dump information into students’ brains so that they can do what we ask them to but rather to get students to think in new ways and grow their knowledge and understanding.

NNU’s decision to lay off Tom Oord is a bad move. If the school is so afraid of getting students to think, I really question the school’s position in higher education. If you’re not challenging students, what are you doing? Seriously.

Highlight of the Week

School consumes my life. I talk about homework all the time. I usually only hang out with my classmates. In general, my life as a student is pretty boring. That’s probably why I got so excited when I got a special email the other day.

Featured image

In case you can’t see the image – I got a message from DISTRICT 13! For those of you not caught up with the awesomeness of the Hunger Games trilogy, District 13 isn’t supposed to exist. That is, of course, until they jump out of their underground tunnels to change the world. Don’t worry though – there are some fascinating twists and turns along the way, but I don’t believe in spoilers (most of the time) so I will keep my mouth shut.

The thing to pay attention to, my friends, is that the Mockingjay is alive (as the image says) and that I was on the list of people to tell…

Yep – when your life is school, it’s the little things that count!

Tata for now.

Rece