Sunday, 5 January 2014

Adventurer's Log #13: Miss S and the New Year

This post was written on January 2nd.
So I am writing this post while on vacation and am unable to post seeing as I am actually without internet J  But as I write this I am curled up in an armchair with a blanket on my lap, watching the snow softly fall through the windows.  I’m sitting in the living room of my future in-laws.  Being a teacher is great—not only do you get to work with students that you come to love, but you also get some pretty spectacular vacation time.  Of course, not everyone gets that kind of time off, which means I am sitting alone while Mr. Charming is at work.  But that’s okay—I’m getting lots of planning done for my classes.

Christmas vacation has gone by far too fast. 

I knew that it would.  And so I thought I was prepared for this.

But apparently I’m not.

This means I am really not liking the fact that in two days I will be back in BC trying to make another two and a half months fly by until I get to see Mr. Charming again.  My heart is already breaking at the thought.

But enough about that.

I have been the world’s worst blogger lately.  It hasn’t been for lack of interesting adventures, trust me.  I will quickly run through some of the curious happenings that have taken place over the last two months.

1.       While doing a novel study that involved the use of “public apologies,” my grade 10 class really latched on to that idea.  We have at least one public apology issued in every class.  And usually about three or four when I do lunchtime supervision on Wednesdays.

2.       One day, after leaving the bank to deposit my paycheque, I was followed by a man I have never met.  He stopped me, said “Excuse me, Miss?  I just have to tell you something.  You are very beautiful.”  Then he turned around and walked away.

3.       For Christmas this year one of my History 12 students made me a card.  On the front was a picture of Chairman Mao wearing a Santa suit.  The card addressed me as “The Illuminati.”

4.       While sitting on a stool discussing something with my English 10 class, I lost my balance.  Sadly, I was wearing heels and the heels were hooked on the rung of the stool, making putting my feet out to steady myself impossible.  I fell.  And had a bruise the size of my fist on one of my knees for a while.  Instead of laughing, my students were concerned (I take this as a very good sign).

5.       I introduced my Social Studies 8 class to the wonder that is The Muppet Christmas Carol.  They didn’t know what to make of me when they realized I could sing along with every song.

6.       I had to go through an observation in one of my classes (this is where the principal comes in, observes for the block, and gives me feedback).  After the observation, and lunch, my kids returned to class, looked at me, and said, “Miss Slykhuis, you get an A+ on your observation.  Well done.”  They then proceeded to tell me their own observations of my observation.

7.       I’m currently working on how to teach Planning 10... using The Lord of the Rings.

Now this is just a snapshot of what the last two months have held for me.  But it should indicate to you that things have not been boring!

And now it is January 2nd, 2014.  I’m getting married in 197 days.  I’m getting married this year.  I’m almost done my first semester as a full-fledged high school teacher.  My sister is getting married this year (29 days after me, as a matter of fact).

Last Saturday Mr. Charming and I had our first pre-marital counselling session.  One of the things  the pastor asked us about was defining moments in our lives that have shaped who we are today (while he knows Mr. Charming really well, he didn’t know me, so this was an opportunity for him to figure out what makes me tick).

I tell you this because it means that this New Years’ I am feeling somewhat reflective.  I’m thinking over all the things that God has done in my life that I never expected.  I think back to two years ago. 

Two years ago I was finishing my undergraduate degree, unsure of where I would be completing my Education Degree and definitely not having any idea as to where I would be teaching.  Now I have my two degrees and a full-time job that I love.

Two years ago from now I was in the midst of dealing with my anger and grief over church issues and hurts.  I felt like I was sinking and drowning in the emotions that came with that.  Two years ago I had mentors who stepped in to help me work through the grieving process.

Two years ago God took me through a year of discovery.  He showed me how He saw me and began to develop an identity in me that I hadn’t seen before.  He took my insecurities around being single and dealing with hurt and rejection and showed me the beauty that He sees.  I still struggle with this, but when I think back to where I was two years ago, I’m amazed at what He has done.

Two years ago I had a conversation with my cousin where she told me about a dinner she had with a friend.  This friend had remarked to her that he thought I was hot.  He had only seen me three and a half years earlier at my cousin’s wedding.  Two years ago this friend started pursuing me and in just over six months I get to marry him.

None of this happened the way that I planned for it to happen. 

But I am so thankful it did happen.

See, I have made plans and resolutions and all of that.  And they never seem to work out the way I intend for them to.  Which is why I’m not making a New Years’ Resolution this year.  This year I am simply going to be open to the Holy Spirit’s direction.  I’m going to keep moving forward, keep seeking Him, and see where He leads.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Adventurer's Log #12: Miss S lets go

Let's just say November was a busy month and leave it at that for why I haven't written a post in over a month :)

Life has been pretty crazy; good, but crazy.  The last month has felt like a blur and now I can't believe that Christmas is in less than three weeks.  Two weeks from now and I will be relaxing with my family.  Three weeks from now and I will be visiting with Mr. Charming.  These are very good things.

This last week has been... interesting.  It hasn't been bad, but it has been a little rougher than most of my weeks.  When it comes to my students it has been fantastic.  Twice this week I had some of my kids stay after school to talk with me.  One day it was to discuss how all of Jane Austen's novels have set the paradigms of the romance genre as we know it today.  Yesterday they were talking about passages in the Bible that they have trouble swallowing.

Do you want to know how to feel wholly inadequate?  Listen to seventeen year olds tell you what they have a hard time with when it comes to Scripture.  You do your best to try to answer some of their questions, but at time the best you can do is simply listen. 

To be honest, I think the reason this week has been so rough is because I'm lonely.  Now this sounds kind of silly considering I was helping out with the school play last night and was completely surrounded by people, and I'm hanging out with some friends tonight.

But lonely I am.

I miss my family.  I miss Mr. Charming.

I thought the fact that Christmas was coming soon would make it easier to push through the "missing."  But it doesn't.  I think it makes it worse.

So here I am curling up under blankets on my couch waiting to get picked up for tonight (and, for the record, I'm incredibly stoked about tonight: good food, good company, and cheesy Christmas movies?  Heck, yes!).  And I'm trying hard to not feel sorry for myself since really there isn't anything to feel sorry about.

Anyway, I plugged in my iPod and thought I would take a nap and listen to some music.  I ended up putting on "After the World" by the band Disciple.  Below is the chorus of the song:

"I'm the one that you've been looking for,
I'm the one that you've been waiting for,
I've had my eyes on you ever since you were born. 
I will love you after the rain falls down,
I will love you after the sun goes out,
I'll have my eyes on you after the world is no more."

The song started to play and I just started to cry.  You would think I would learn the lesson to go to God with how I'm feeling and give it to Him.  To collapse in His arms and allow Him to stroke my hair, hold me close, and remind me that He is so much bigger than anything I am feeling.

I don't know why this lesson is so hard to learn.  I don't know why it is so hard for me to realize that He cares about me enough to want me to go to Him with what I'm dealing with.  To take my struggles, my emotions, my rough days, and hand them over to Him.

So that's what I'm going to do.  Curl up in the arms of my Heavenly Father and let it go.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Adventurer's Log #11: Miss S becomes "Mama Slyke"

My grade 10 boys have decided I warrant a new nickname.

See, when they found out I was getting married they wanted to know what my new last name would be.  They didn't mind the last name, they just didn't like how it sounded when they shortened it (heaven forbid my boys just call me "Miss S"). :)

For a while I became "Miss Slyke" but that didn't fully stick either.  And then, for some reason I am unsure as to, one boy decided I should be "Mama Slyke."

I thought for sure this would be a passing, fleeting thing and they would return to my real name.

Apparently I was wrong.  This happens for more often than I care to admit.

Now the majority of the class calls me this.  Which means when I walk in for English I am greeted to a chorus of "Yo!  Mama Slyke!"  This is also the name I am heralded with as I walk down the halls at lunch time.

Yesterday I was talking with another teacher in the hallway.  I have this thing.  I tend to refer to my students as my "kids."  As two grade 10 boys approached to help this other teacher move a table, they overheard me refer to "my kids."

One of the boys remarked, "Hey!  You really do call us your kids!"

I affirmed this.

Something really interesting happened at this point.  I turned to face the two boys, and what I saw on their faces was pride.  And contentment.

It hit me that my students really do appreciate knowing that I care enough about them to think of them as if they are mine.  As if they are "my kids."

Two of my grade 8 girls had to stay late after school yesterday (the mom of one of them works at the school).  While sitting at my desk, I look up to see the two of them not-so-sneakily creep (maybe lurk would be a better word), into my classroom.  They approached my desk, grins spread across their faces as they each place a fist over my desk.

"We want to give you a kiss, Miss S."

They then each dropped a chocolate kiss on my desk and quickly left the room.

Shortly thereafter they found out a had a full card of stickers from McDonalds and so could receive a free coffee.  They asked if they could run down to McDonalds and get a coffee for me.  Ten minutes later they returned.

With two coffees.

And my full card of stickers.

Yesterday was a long day.  I had to do a lesson on the Holocaust in History 12.  I haven't had to focus on that topic since I did a semester course on it in university.  And the fact is it is a very emotional subject.  Somehow my Cooking 9 class turned potato soup into mashed potatoes (I used the exact same recipe today and got a very delicious batch of soup).  I had to call Canadian Tire about winter tires (yes, I know it is November already) and the guy was initially kind of rude to me on the phone.  To be honest, I almost dropped my head on my desk and broke down in tears a few times yesterday.

But despite that, God gave me moments like the ones above.  I got to watch my kids that you wouldn't call "academic" throw themselves into acting out the play Cyrano de Bergerac.  I had active participation from my Social Studies 8 class as we did an assignment that I didn't think was all that exciting.  On Thursday my grade 10s told me that if I have to move away I should only go to Saskatchewan because then at least I can look in the distance and still see them (cute, right?).  They also asked me if I thought it would work to have the school Skype me in and teach them.

I realize I haven't written in a few weeks.  To be honest life has been pretty crazy.  I discovered that Mr. Charming and I are the kind of people who plan weddings in about three weeks.  As in we got engaged three weeks ago today and now have a church, a reception venue, and I have my dress and bridesmaid dresses.

I have battled being sick, being lonely, and dealing with the fact that a piece of me feels like it is constantly absent.

But God has also given me moments of such brightness.  Of joy.  Moments where I get to watch my students engage with a lesson or concept.  Moments where I get to witness how happy it makes them to know that I do genuinely care about them.

Moments where they show up at my classroom door with chocolate and coffee :)

So here's to preparing for another week.

And here's to only have 258 days to go.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Adventurer's Log #10: Miss S Agrees to a Name Change

Mrs. Charming.

That has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

Speaking of ring, have I mentioned that I'm sporting a rather gorgeous one on a somewhat important finger?

Almost two and a half years ago I started a blog.  It was entitled "Annals of a Christian Single."  I was tired of living in small towns where people acted as though something was wrong with you because you were in your mid- to late-twenties and unmarried.  Because you wanted to go to university and attain a profession. 

I had been in seven weddings and received more than enough comments about the movie Twenty-Seven Dresses.  I have a closet containing all seven dresses, ranging from red velvet to hot pink to black.

Friends tried to set me up with people.  My life seemed to be one humorous story after another as I began to embrace my singleness.

A year and a half ago something interesting happened.

I commented on a friend's status on Facebook one day, and found that one of this friend's friends commented back.  Only his comment was directed at me.

So we commented back and forth.

Which drove my friend crazy.

I actually met this person at a wedding a few years earlier.  Okay, I claim they were pointed out to me and that was it.  He claims we talked.

Apparently I left an impression on him.

It didn't take long before this person added me on Facebook.  Sounds silly, I know, but what ensued was three months where any status I updated, and comment I made on a friend's wall, was followed by this person.  I returned home to work for the summer and was bombarded with questions about this person's identity.  All I knew was that we had met at a wedding a few years before and they were known by their friends as being a bit of a flirt.

One day I decided to send this person a private message on Facebook.  I loved the battles of wit we would enter into, and did not want to lose that, but was also a little concerned about the attention his attentions were drawing. 

Email became back and forth conversations from the time I got off work until he went to bed at night (we had to deal with a three hour time difference).

This soon turned into texting which would occur all day.

Texting then developed into Skype dates.

Then something happened.

This person, this man, informed me he had bought a ticket to come and spend ten days with me.  He was serious about wanting to pursue a relationship with me.

I was scared.  My last relationship had been a long distance thing that had begun online.  When the guy met me in person he wanted nothing to do with me.

That takes a toll on a girl.

But this guy was adamant that that would not happen.

So he came.  I was sick the days before his arrival, convinced he would step off the plane, take one look at me, and turn the other way.

But he didn't.

I had to finish school out here in BC.  He was in Ontario.  But we decided to do the long distance thing.  I was convinced he would discover just how insecure and needy I can be, just how flawed and imperfect I really am, and would realize he should just run.

But he didn't.

In April, I was offered a full-time teaching job.  In BC.  Away from him for another year.  I thought maybe then he would decide it would be too much work.

But he didn't.

This last weekend I went home to my parents' for Thanksgiving and this man, my Mr. Charming, flew up for the weekend to spend it with us.  On Saturday afternoon we went for a fall walk along the river, just the two of us.

After pausing on a bridge, I turned and discovered him lowering himself down onto one knee, ring proffered in his hands, asking me to marry him.

I'm in awe.

This really happened.

This ring is really on my hand and I really get to marry the man I love.  The man who challenges me to be a better person.  The man who loves me, flaws and all.

So here's to being blessed beyond description.

And here's to getting to become Mrs. Charming ;)

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Adventurer's Log #9: Miss S meets a Menopausal Woman and Rises from the Ashes

I was social this weekend.




The dramatic pause was so you could all applause, just so you know.

Yesterday I went for lunch with friends, and was then invited to another friend's house for appetizers and games.  Which is where our story begins ;)

My job was to bring the wine last night.  So prior to heading to my friend's place I stopped by the store.

Before going any farther, I should probably clarify that I don't drink that much or very often.  I can count on two fingers the number of times I have bought alcohol for myself.  I enjoy a glass of wine, but when I drink it, it is always bought for me.

Which created quite the dilemma for myself last night.  What bottle was I supposed to get?

So while wandering the aisles attempting to look like the pro I am not, a woman (and the only other customer in the store at that point), strikes up a conversation with me.  She tells me about the vineyards she visited with her husband this summer, how her husband is working that night, and that she just needs a bottle of good white wine to curl up with.  I smile, nod in feigned understanding, and finally state that I have no idea what I'm looking for. 

After announcing that she used to always drink red wine until menopause hit last year and reds started to disagree with her, she helped me find something to bring to my gathering.

The man in the line-up after me told me I had picked well :)

Which brings me to this morning.  How, I'm not quite sure, but I couldn't think of any other way to make the transition!

So I went to church today.  Shocking, I know.

I realized something last week, which I shared with you guys, about how I have some baggage in my life when it comes to the whole church situation.

Mr. Charming and I had a talk this summer about dealing with issues.  How people often only want to deal with symptoms of their problems, and not with the problem itself.

For example, I have come to realize I am an incredibly insecure person.  And to be honest, I would much rather just have people affirm me and tell me they love me when I feel insecure.  I don't want to actually work at working through the insecurity.

But I need to.

I have had a church experience that has left me guarded and at times (more often than I care to admit) cynical.  I would much rather go to church but remain guarded, wary, and continue to distrust those around me until such a time as I find a "good" church. 

But I can't do that.

Once the music started this morning I knew I was in for it.  There was no avoiding God.

The second song we sang was "Our God" by Chris Tomlin.  The second verse goes:

"Into the darkness You shine,
Out of the ashes we rise,
There's no one like You,
None like You."

I suppose you could say that between my insecurity and my church complex I feel like I'm a pretty big mess.  Like at times my life and security have been destroyed.  Burned down, if you will.

And I'm left somewhere in the heap of the ashes.

Yesterday and today when I went for my runs I was listening to a podcast by Tim Keller, the pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan and the man who is hailed as the C.S. Lewis of our day.  It had to do with the "Our Father" of the Lord's prayer.  Keller talked about how we often view our relationship with God as a business transaction.  God is our Creator and our Savior.

Yet the Bible also talks about how we have been adopted.

We are His Children.

Keller makes the remark that the only person who dares to wake up the king in the middle of the night for a glass of water is the king's child.

He talks about how we are to petition God.  He mentions men like Abraham and Moses who pushed and argued and begged.

As we sang "Our God" in church this morning I began to realize something.

I had come to the conclusion that insecurity and church frustrations would never go away.  That I will always be as insecure as I am now and that I will always be guarded in church.

And because of this, I have not asked God to help me work through these issues as much as I should have.

I have been content to sit in my ashes, to look at the continual reminders of my hurt and pain.

But that is not what God has called me to do.

He wants to help me rise from the ash heap.

Have things happened that have helped to make me insecure?  Have things happened that make my wary of certain things at church?


Am I all of a sudden going to forget about those?


And you know what, I probably never will.

But those things do not run my life.

Is everything going to be perfect now?

I wish!

There will still be times when I look back to the ruins.  When I even, though it is twisted and even sick, wish for the familiarity of my ashes.

But I'm tired of being that person.

I'm tired of allowing frustration, offense, hurt, and rejection to run my life.  I'm tired of allowing people and events in the past to have this much power over my life.

I want my life to be run by the One who knit me together.  The One who knows me inside and out and loves me.  My Creator.  My Savior.  My Father.

So here's to petitioning God.  Here's to striving.

Here's to rising from the ashes.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Adventurer's Log #8: Miss S and the Dark Lord

"A Fascist's Tale" is how it began.

What proceeded was the telling of how the Dark Lord came to power... along with an image of Gandalf and a speech bubble saying "Fly you fools!"


This was an assignment one of my students handed in today.

The task?

Good question.

It had nothing to do with destroying the Ring of Power.  I mean, come on, everyone knows one does not simply walk into Mordor.

It was a timeline, actually.


A timeline.

We are studying 1919-1933 in History 12 right now, and rather than have my students answer questions to tell me about Hitler's rise to power in Germany, I had them create a timeline.  I told them it could be in whatever format they wanted (an actual timeline, a PowerPoint, paragraph form, etc).  So one student did a PowerPoint.

And it was Lord of the Rings themed.

Pretty epic, if I do say so myself!

I would love to take full credit for this, but I can't.  These are kids are just plain incredible!  The work they hand in makes me seem like a way better teacher than I actually am.  Each of my classes has something unique to offer, but I seriously cannot wait for my grade 12 class at the end of each day.  I get to work with a group of students who are taking they course because they love the subject matter.  They were telling me that their idea of taking a break from the homework in other classes is to do the homework for my class!

What teacher doesn't want to hear that?!

So yes, despite an exhausting start to the week, things are going well.

My incredibly lame Friday night is moving along rather nicely :)

After work I spent a little over an hour at the Laundromat.  I did my laundry, wrote a letter to Mr. Charming, and shared pleasantries with some my fellow patrons.

Then I returned home and cleaned my house.

Now, after a lovely, hot shower, I am drinking tea, eating a lemon square, and reclining on the couch.

And I currently sound like I must be about 70 years old!

But all is well.  Next week is a short week and then it is off to a conference.  Which also means Thanksgiving is coming.  Which means I get to see Mr. Charming in 168 hours.

Not that I'm counting!

And I get to spend the weekend with my family!

And I will hopefully come back a little less tired and a little more able to make it to Christmas!

So here's to lemon squares, dark lords, and possibly staying up later than eight o'clock tonight!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Adventurer's Log #7: Miss S and the Stupid Lemon Squares

It is just after six o'clock and I have changed into my jammies and am curling up on the couch.

I was convinced, after all the rest that I got with being sick over the weekend, that I was fully rested, recharged, and ready to go (how's that for alliteration?  Can you tell the English teacher in the room?)  And yesterday was one great day.  I had so much energy.  My classes were fun and students seemed to be learning.  I had some kids come and tell me how much they appreciate my teaching style.

Which is great to hear when you are always evaluating yourself and wondering how you are doing.  And wondering if you're actually capable of teaching or if it is just a figment of your imagination!

But today I noticed something.

I'm tired.

I noticed it when one of my students put up a fight about completing all of the questions with an assignment.  Or when a group of girls just would not stop talking.  Or when another boy was mad at me for all of Cooking class because I decided we would make lemon squares and they have too much sugar in them.  So I got the cold shoulder all class. 

Because of lemon squares.

Yeah.  I know.  My thoughts exactly.

Normally I am a pretty patient person (I know those of you who know me are shocked to hear this).  I can reason, I can talk students through things, and I can get my classes under control (classroom management has never been an issue for me).

But today I was tired.

My patience was shot.

I think I managed to hide it from my students and co-workers, but if I were to be honest, when I came home I just wanted to collapse on the couch with my supper and a cup of tea and cry.  But I couldn't.  I had to head back to the school for a meeting.

However, I don't want this to be a down post!  Because the first two days of the week have been good ones.

My grade 12s presented on their communist leaders. 

All I can say is "Wow."  There is something about watching them refer to guys like Marx and Stalin on a first-name basis that makes me proud.  And maybe a little scared ;)

My grade 10s did literary games with me in class yesterday and they got so into it.  I love watching them get excited to learn and have fun doing it.

My grade 8s found out about Mr. Charming (I teach the principal's daughter so she has been around when he has been talked about).  Trying to keep homeroom devotions away from discussion about him and when they will get to meet him has been a challenge all in itself.

One of my grade 9s baked brownies and brought them to class because she knows I like chocolate.

So see?  Still a good day :)

In my exhaustion I have found myself turning to God more and more.  I have broken down on Him, talked to Him, and am currently sitting here asking Him to just hold me.

So here's to a good night sleep tonight and a more patient Miss S tomorrow!