DC Gone Postal

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I love mail.

I always have.

I hope I always will.

I hope it sticks around because I still prefer it to an email, text, or other high-tech means of communication.

When I was thinking of where to begin my 2016 Staycation in DC, it seemed fitting to start with the building I had passed a million times by now that is right next to Union Station. I pass it each morning on my commute. The stain-glass windows are beautiful at night.

The Postal Museum has two entrances. One you can see as you exit Union Station. The other is on North Capitol in their post office. This museum is very family friendly with a scavenger hunt for kids (or kids at heart) who are interested.

PostSecret had an exhibit, which I was pleasantly surprised to see.

You can learn more about the famous postal dog – and see him stuffed! (The picture is a statue; I just couldn’t bring myself to take a picture of the stuffed dog). Postmasters gave him tags that he collected, as you can see in the picture.

Queen Elizabeth – what a beauty!

Check out the costly mistake made on a postage stamp. The name? Inverted Jenny.

I really like asking people who work at museums their favorite exhibit in the area they work. A worker mentioned there are stamps from a lot of world leaders who were asked to sign their stamps and send it back to a man who organized the exhibit. Pretty cool. Also makes me realize that people like to be recognized. Some very unique countries were represented and there’s even one with a signature thumbprint from One Pound Jimmy.

DC, definitely check it out! At the end, write a postcard and make your way downstairs to mail it at the post office.

Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis

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This book.

Stop what you are doing now and treat yourself to this book.

Lauren F. Winner teaches at Duke. She is divorced. She lost her mother. She is honest that life does not always turn out the way you thought it would.

I knew I had found a kindred spirit when she talked about her inability to create masterpieces in the kitchen, her love for doodling prayers, and her affinity for the balcony at church.

“[W]hat I feared most about loneliness [was n]ot being alone, which I often ind perfect and peaceful, but loneliness, which makes me want to die, which makes me think I will die, which I will do anything to avoid feeling” (54). “Sit with the loneliness and ask what the loneliness can do for you” (56).

“I am too lazy to do what’s important, or hard, so I stay busy with everything else” (105).

I cannot pinpoint the exact thing that makes me connect and love her writing, but I plan to check out more of her books. My favorite chapter was “A Sunday morning in Massachusetts”.

Check it out!

Time Stands Still

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Do you ever wish you could hit pause on life? It feels like it is flying by.

I blinked and somehow this is the last day of school before winter break. Winter break… I called it Christmas break today and my students corrected me.

I found it strange to tell someone “Merry Christmas” today even though I knew they were Christians and celebrated it.

What has the world become in getting so offended by everything? Facebook has become this poisonous social media platform. If I did not use it to connect with some of my former students and friends who are living abroad, I would delete it.

Can we just slow down a minute and take some time to think about what really matters?

In 2008, I heard a message that has me constantly thinking about taking life at a slower pace. The speaker, Mark Yaconelli, talked about being in the “Slow Club“. It is something his son made up and there’s only two rules: No running. No hurrying. So while Mark is trying to get his son to places on time, his son does not rush through life. He is able to notice things others miss because they are too busy.

I get this.

Living in a city is great most days. But there are times when I just want to hit pause. Can everyone slow down? Can you wait your turn for the crosswalk sign or another car to pass you?

I think that’s why I love winter, especially in DC. People slow down, stay inside with their families, or make time for what really matters – spending time with the people you love the most.

Merry Christmas.

Random Thoughts

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My landlords had a party today. It included swimming, biking and a dance party. My roommate’s away and she recommended I go for the dance portion.

The thing is… I can’t dance.

I’m like Kevin James in Hitch. I am not as bad as Elaine from Seinfeld, but I inherited my dad’s dance skills.

I found this bad dancers video and laughed so hard throughout it. You’re welcome.

This video on Facebook is precious. “I be pretty.” I’ve watched it at least 10 times.

I’m continuing to learn about teaching and education. Next to parents, I think teaching is the hardest job ever. Being “on” all the time is sometimes hard for the introvert part of me. But the investment in the future as I watch 25 second graders grow in their knowledge and understanding of themselves and the world is a beautiful thing.

First Day of School Jitters

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You know the feeling you get right before jumping off a cliff (into water, of course)?!

That’s how I feel right now as I experience (yet again) the first day of school tomorrow. I am co-teaching second grade this year. I am excited about my new adventure, nervous to see how things play out, but overall really pumped to be working with students in a great school!

I hate to admit it, but I was made for this.

My love for education runs deep. What other first grader was told by classmates she should be a librarian when she’s older because of her love for books? Who spends recess time as a fourth and fifth grader helping in first grade classrooms? What high school students finds the time to tutor an elementary student every week after school in the next town?

As an adult, my love just grew. I am still in touch with some of my teachers and had the privilege to work for my fourth grade teacher-turned-principal as a sub in her school! I subbed for four years — and loved it!

Last year I was a reading tutor in the inner city. I miss my kids! They taught me a lot about life, loss, unconditional love, and so much more. They are resilient and strong.

I am grateful to be a part of the program I am in, working with the people I do, and getting ready for the adrenaline rush of the first day of school!

Bring it on, second grade!

Boundaries

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Why are people afraid of boundaries?

As children, we need to know boundaries. Sure, kids test limits, but they want to know where to draw the line. It can help us feel safer to know where the limits are.

So as adults, why are we not setting boundaries with people, especially those who are toxic? Maybe you like the poison that comes from these people (Britney apparently does enough to write a song about it).

In Scary Close, Donald Miller mentions that not all people are safe. I don’t know why, but that idea really stuck out to me.

This year I had to have a conversation with a MARRIED MAN about what he was saying to me about what I wore. It’s nice to be complimented, but a line was crossed that needed to be addressed. Conversations like this are AWKWARD and UNCOMFORTABLE. But I knew it needed to happen. I asked some guy friends for advice before talking to Mr. Married Man. They told me to be direct and not pursue conversations with him that would further any emotional ties in our friendship.

Mr. Married Man had no idea what he said to me was inappropriate. I’ve heard him say similar things to other women, but maybe they liked the attention or weren’t bothered by it. While being married might not have mattered to him, in order to honor my future husband (because I hope to someday be married) as well as his Mr. Married Man’s wife, I NEEDED to have this conversation.

Boundaries are good. Maybe you need to have a conversation? I’m giving you permission to BE BOLD. BE UPFRONT. DO IT.

South Africa: Meet Steven

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It’s now been a month since I returned from my trip to South Africa. It’s kind of unreal.

The highlight of my trip was meeting this man:

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His name is Steven and before I took the picture, he said he hoped his picture wouldn’t break my camera.

I met Steven while watching the sunrise over the Indian Ocean. I missed the actual sunrise because I was talking to him, but it was worth it.

Steven is homeless.

I don’t know how old he is. He told me when I met him he was 41, but he told my other team members he was in his 50’s.

Steven told me his story. God knows his story and cares for him.

The story he told me was that he was born in Italy (seriously?! God sent me an ITALIAN to meet in SOUTH AFRICA?!), but he was sent to Cape Town to live in a children’s home when he was eleven. He has been homeless since leaving.

Steven is just one of the many homeless people in the world. Homelessness is a worldwide challenge. He has his own struggles and addictions. He told me the first time I met him that he was searching for rest. He said he has to sleep with one eye open because it’s not safe sleeping on the streets.

The last day we were there, as we were coming back from watching the sunrise, we saw Steven sitting on a stoop with his hands over his face. He was covering up wounds from a fight. My teammates asked how he was feeling. He said, “Empty.” He prayed with us to receive Jesus. I pray that his life changed forever in that moment.

The awesome/relieving thing is that it’s not my job to save people. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve tried. But I’ve learned that the Holy Spirit works on people and it’s not all up to me! It’s my job to point out Who can help with problems, Who cares ALWAYS, and the Person who will be with them always.

I don’t know if I will ever see Steven again. My thoughts and prayers are with him. He has opened my eyes to truly look at and notice the homeless in DC. They all have their stories, and I’ve been forever impacted by one.