Tuesday, February 24, 2009

WIFD, Thursday - Sunday

I've been so busy! We got pictures taken, but never had a chance to post them. Here's the 2nd half of the Week in Feminine Dress, all at once:
Thursday is ballroom dance class. Even tho we lower the average age by... lots... it's so much fun! This week was the last week of waltz; next week starts swing dance. I made this dress four years ago for the last day of high school. My group of friends went to the park down the street for a crazy picnic and water ballon fight. Now, it's my favorite dress EVER! It feels so pretty when I walk. I think I'm going to take the pattern and make it again. (Picture is from Christmas time, but this is exactly what I wore)

Friday is school in the morning, then home in the afternoon. I wore this to class, then came home and was fitting a new 40's dress all afternoon.

Saturday was once again a travel day, for more birthdays. I picked this outfit because it's super comfortable while still being classy and a skirt. It was perfect for my afternoon spent with my best friend visiting niche tea, spice, and antique shops around St. Louis. The whole thing is from Wal-Mart -- I love love love the Danskin brand.

Sunday was Church. As our community group doesn't begin until next week, Shaune and I spent the Sunday School hour passing out curriculum for the Lenten study. Then service. I am perpetually renewed by our church. I love how real our pastors are -- I've been in churches before where the pastors didn't seem to really believe or live their faith. Our church... I don't know. I feel restored every time I enter.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

WIFD, Monday-Wednesday

I am loving this Week in Feminine Dress! I'm being braver with skirts than I usually am -- I don't wear them often because the atmosphere I am typically in is so casual. But I've done it every day so far and I'm loving the way I feel. My husband likes it too, he said it helps him "remember I'm a lady." He even brought me roses yesterday!
Monday I kind of failed. I had great intentions, but we were traveling. It was easier to stay in sweat pants. My skirt stayed rumpled at the bottom of my suitcase.
Tuesday was a home day and I didn't get around to taking pictures. I wore one of my favorite skirts -- a charcoal grey knee length from Old Navy that has deep inverted pleats below a dropped waist. It just *feels* nice. I paired it with just a plain pink long sleeve tee.
Today I wore one of my forgotten favorites:

I bought this outfit nearly four years ago when I was doing scholarship interviews for college. There's diagonal pinstriping in the skirt that I don't know if you can see online. It's two-tone -- a coral sort of color and one that perfectly matches the blouse. The striping is subtle enough to still be considered a neutral, but detailed enough to not just be another black skirt. Oops! I left my school badge on, too. Oh well.
I never thought I would wear a skirt to teach 1st grade in -- something about little ones buzzing around scares me. So I layered another super soft, super warm jersey knit skirt under this one that has a habit of sticking to my tights. Double bonus -- keeping me warm since the temperatures have dropped so much!
I love wearing skirts. I think I need to find a way to incorporate more into my wardrobe.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Learning as a Christian Adult

I’ve been thinking about this post for over a week and a half now, because I feel it is so important. When we become adults, our learning doesn’t stop. In fact, a lot of times it is only just beginning. This is especially true for Christians. We need to never stop learning about our Lord and our faith.

After a lot of prayer, study, and personal observation, I’ve come to a conclusion that I pray won’t step on any toes. I believe that learning as a Christian adult must come through community. In community, we both speak and listen, teach and learn. It is a cycle that leads to much fruit that can’t come from simply being alone. (There is definitely a role for independence in Christian learning, stick with me for a little bit).

Although I don’t have a specific passage to point to where God spoke audibly and said, “Learn together,” I see much evidence that this was his original plan. Act 2:42-47 explains the fellowship of the early believers… “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship… they continued to meet together in the temple courts.” I get the impression that the believers continuously were together discussing and living life as a team.

Paul also talks to the church in Hebrews about learning in community: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:25). He realized the power that community has to shape us and drive us to Christlikeness.

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to be a small group leader at a gathering of Christian college students from all over Downstate Illinois (plus about 10 kids from Missouri, too). This was my 3rd year attending the conference, but only my first leading. I went into the weekend in “teacher mode” until I came to the revelation I mentioned before: As a Christian adult, the line between teaching and learning is so faint that it may not exist at all.

I want to make a confession – I have a pride problem. I wanted to “help,” and “guide,” and “encourage,” while ignoring the desperate need I have myself for those things. Friday night’s session and discussion went horribly because I was trying to teach. I wasn’t being real. After a long (long…) heartfelt prayer that evening, God opened my eyes to many memories of other classes and SGs I’ve been a part of. As well as modern learning theory a la Dewey and Constructivism. He gently guided me into realizing that to teach adults, I have to be willing to learn from them, too. I may have the discussion questions written in front of me, but that isn’t some kind of power. My listening and asking thoughtful questions for my own learning’s sake would be the vehicle for their learning as well.

Discussion is a funny thing. When I jump out to answer a question, I am forced to think about what I am really thinking. More often than not, my conclusion at the beginning of a statement is completely different than what I believe by the end. I’ve talked to many many people who have experienced the same thing. Talking out loud is one strategy for processing our thoughts. When we have to explain ourselves, it becomes much clearer in our own eyes.

Discussion also opens the door for finding someone else in a similar situation who can either commiserate or give you advice. I experienced this over the weekend, too. One of the girls in my SG is going through the same battles I fought with love and relationships when I was in high school. I was able to relate how God healed me, which gave her hope and opened the door for an ongoing friendship. I also received advice and confirmation about things God has been showing me in my own walk. I’ve thought about fasting before, but I’ve always worried the desire was from myself. I was able to talk to two of my dear friends, who are each currently fasting from different things for different reasons. Through them, I was able to discern that the call wasn’t from my own desires but from Christ.

An experience Wednesday night confirmed my realization. I had the chance to volunteer at a shelter downtown and participate in their Bible study. It blew my mind – these people, who live on the same streets which only hours later were filled with well-wishers for Lincoln’s birthday, the invisible poor who are always with us – these people chose that evening to discuss humility. And it was the most Christ-filled discussion on humility I have ever heard in my life. I had nothing to contribute because my understanding of what it means to have nothing cannot even come close to comparing with theirs. And even still, they had hope.

Learning can certainly take place alone, but I have come to believe that it will be limited to head-learning. It is one thing to learn about poverty, to read books and pray about it, and another entirely to sit for half an hour listening to a man who has had nothing but pain in his life but still walks around clinging to the hope of heaven. It is one thing to read the Bible and another entirely to live it.

I believe that learning alone as a Christian adult serves to lay the foundation for further learning in community. We read the Bible and other books and listen to sermons at church or online so that we can step out with our brothers and sisters to have heart-to-heart conversations. I believe that God works through other believers to shape us, grow us, and change us in ways that we can never experience in our prayer closets. However, let me be firm in this: without personal time spent learning the Word, there aren’t enough building blocks in our heart for community learning to take place. It will be limited to experiences and observations without the depth that only the Word can bring. Community learning and personal learning are two sides of the same coin; one can not exist without the other.

How you define community for yourself is between you and God. In my life, my “community” is frequently only my husband. I also make the most of the few visits I get with my Christian sisters, sometimes only once every few months. I’d love to be involved in a small group or Sunday school on a regular basis, but that isn’t happening right now for various reasons. This doesn’t let me off the hook. I have to intentionally integrate my faith into the few conversations I do have so that I can reap the benefits of learning in community.

I have even more thoughts that I’ve edited, but this post is getting tediously long already. I’m eagerly anticipating response and further conversation. I feel I’m far from done exploring this topic.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Week in Feminine Dress, Sunday

This is my first day of my first Week in Feminine Dress (from hence forward, WIFD). I wear skirts and dresses from time to time, but it's pretty counter-cultural so I don't do it very often. I attend a REALLY relaxed college where most girls show up in jeans if they bother changing from PJs. We also attend a very modern church. I've been wanting to transition to more feminine clothing, so this is a great kick start!

Today was church, followed by a whole afternoon of family visits, then staying overnight with friends, then more family/friend visits tomorrow. Busy, busy!

I'm working on a long post about learning as a Christian adult. It's coming together, but I want it to be "perfect" before going on-line. Hopefully it'll go up Tuesday morning.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The month of Babies and More

This month, seems to be the month when everyone seems to go about being born. Every single weekend in February I have a different baby-related event to attend. And they're all miracle births, none the less.I'm not complaining! I love little ones so much... soon now...

Last weekend was my dear Husband's 27th birthday. Happy birthday, Love! This one may not have been particularly miraculous, except that now you're in my life.

This weekend I have a baby shower I'm co-hosting for a dear friend. Becky and her husband have been waiting so long... finally, their little one will join them in March.

February 15th is the 1st birthday of my dear cousin, another long-waited miracle. We didn't think she'd ever be here or make it this long. She was born as a result of my aunt and uncle going through several painful years of fertility treatments. After that, she was born at 31 weeks, weighing barely 2lb. Even though she's still barely over 10lb, she's a beautiful sunny Princess who's always grinning and can't seem to keep still.

February 22nd is my baby brother's birthday. He's not a baby anymore, he'll be 9, but he's such a dear boy. He was an unexpected blessing to our family, long after my parents had given up trying for a third child.

It's a busy month!!

I've been so busy since Christmas that we've been buying bread instead of baking it. I seeked out the best bet I could find -- a 12-grain that was also affordable and tasty. Well, just today I realized WHY it's tasty: high fructrose corn syrup is #3 on the ingredients list, only following flour and water. Yuck! I can't believe we've been eating this! So I'm trying my hand at homemade multi-grain today, throwing in a little of what we've got.

In the mix: 2tbsp quinoa, 2tbsp oatmeal, 1tbsp flax seed, and the rest is white flour. It's rising now, I plan on making sub rolls to have for dinner (it's soup and sandwich night). I'll let you know how it works!

I'm not typically a video game player, I just don't understand most of them. But my husband loves to play. For his birthday I bought him a game he's been talking about for months -- Katamari Damacy. It's imported from Japan.
This is probably the most silly, hilarious, addicting thing I've ever seen in my life. You play a little green space prince who's dad accidentally blew up the stars. You roll balls (called Katamari) around on earth picking up junk, animals, people, buildings, whatever you can grab so the king can turn them into stars. It's absurd and strangely entertaining. We've been playing nonstop since he opened it. It's a lot of fun, especially for older kids.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The reasons we learn

I’ve noticed there are three reasons that all people, adults and children, begin learning about something:

  • Necessity
  • Goals
  • Interests/Curiosity

Formal schooling is out of necessity. Children typically don’t learn algebra because they want to, they learn it so they don’t fail a course. Necessity may be the mother of invention, but it de-motivates many children and adults. I know that the classes I was required to take gained much less of my attention and effort than my elective courses. Necessity doesn’t make for engaged students.

We also learn to achieve our goals. This is probably the best motivator I’ve ever discovered, at least in my own life. I have had two goals for several years: 1, to do living history, and 2, to do cross-cultural mission work abroad. These goals have pushed me to study history in ways I never imagined and to immerse myself in languages. I want to succeed at these challenges, so I do the research I need to grow. Goals motivate everyone – do you remember driver’s education, or premarital mentoring? We work harder at these things because we want the rewards. Psychology calls these “incentives.”

The final category of learning motivators is our interests and the things that make us curious. I’ve found these often go together with our goals – I’m interested in learning languages because of the goals I have. I learn about cooking because I’m interested in it. I frequently hear a news report on the radio that intrigues me, so I look it up later on the internet to gain more information.

This isn’t my most in-depth post, but I believe that studying what motivates us helps us to learn better. This is especially important for teachers and parents. Children typically aren’t motivated by a stack of workbooks and a checklist. In school, we’re studying how to teach using “constructivist” theory, which I’m realizing has been around forever. It’s the way things used to be done! A constructivist lets children explore, designs situations for the child to interact with, then helps the child process what they found (i.e. providing vocabulary for their discoveries). Mothers have been doing this for centuries through free play and work-beside-me chores.
I think it’s funny that the new learning theory for public schools is the same one that’s been used in homes forever. Kudos to you home-schoolers who’ve had the right idea all along.