Why I love Sundays…

I know that Sunday means different things for different people. Depending on your faith, your activity in that faith, etc. you may view Sunday in all kinds of different lights. I love Sunday because it is the beginning and end of my week.

1. End: There is just something about Sundays that signals the end, the close of another week. I find myself in a more reflective mood and I usually find myself reflecting on what that week held. It’s helpful that my church has a time of confession, that we have communion every Sunday, and that we are called to worship through singing and prayer. I really enjoy the time and opportunity to look back on a week of…. work and friends and marriage and family and all of it. Every Sunday, I remember the pains and gains of my classroom (right now I’m teaching at Duke Young Writers’ Camp). Every Sunday, I think about where I fell short (and how God chooses to love me anyways). Every Sunday, I am reminded of the blessing my wife is, the blessing my family is, the blessing my life is.

2. Beginning: There’s also something about Sunday that signals new opportunity. I love taking that Sabbath day to rest, to regain my energy for everything I know is coming next. This week? I know that I have four more days at writing camp, that I need to have my lessons ready and my mind right. This week? I know that I have the opportunity to apply Geoff’s sermon and the chance to experience more of the Lord. Sunday is the turning point that sets our feet in a new week and new joys.

Maybe this is just splitting hairs… but I really enjoy Sunday. I enjoy the reflection of what has passed, the steadying for what is to come, and the restful present of the Sabbath. Now… let the week begin… or end… or whatever.

How I Met My Wife

So… its 2012. I do not doubt that people still met randomly. I am sure in the year 2012 someone met at the fair, or on a bus, or at the movies. My first conversation with Katie began when my Aunt Diane, for the fiftieth time that summer, suggested that I meet this “perfect girl”. Eventually? I took a very bold first step. The Facebook message…

Conversation started October 3, 2012… 10/3, 8:10pm

Hey Katie,

  • I’m sure this is kind of odd, but my aunt and Mrs. Moore have all but demanded that I message you. I’ve never been a big fan of messaging someone I dont know, especially on Facebook. But I also am really appreciative of kind gestures and I think that what my aunt is trying to do might fall in that category? As you probably already know my name is Scott and I live in the Raleigh area. I teach nearby and help out with YoungLife and a whole lot of other things that I’d rather talk about in person and ask you about in person. So I’m not sure if you really do want to hang out, or if this is just my aunt demonstrating the crazy/ridiculous side of the Martin sisters. But maybe you’re a coffee person and you’d like to sit down for coffee sometime, or tea, or sushi, or a burger… or whatever. Just let me know if you’d like to hang out sometime, I’d love to meet you.

    Scott

    As Katie and I continue to celebrate being married, it was fun to look back at the first time we spoke. Even if it was on Facebook, I still was incredibly nervous to take that first step.

    Katie eased all of my nerves with her response. She thanked me for “contacting her” and wanted to grab coffee when “time allowed.” She also called her high school girls her “heartbeat”, which had me wanting to meet her right then and there.

    This led to our first date. I first saw her on the corner outside of Cup A Joe. She made me laugh while we waited in line for coffee. We talked for two hours. She had me begging for a second date. I collapsed onto the couch that night, and told Wes Eppele, “I don’t know what just happened…”

    And then, you know, we got married and all that jazz.

Are You Still Listening?

Pandora asks us this question all the time. Enough songs are played without any response, and the website wonders, “Are you still listening? Are you there? Are you appreciating the music? Are you taking this all in?”

I’ve had that question stuck in my head over the past few weeks. It’s an important one to ask ourselves in a society that demands to be listened to, demands to be heard. It’s an important question to ask when we make new friends or deal with co-workers. Listening, it turns out, is one of the least selfish things we can do every day. Here are my observations of brokenness in school when it comes to “being heard”:

1. Some students walk through the hallways for the entire lunch, because it’s harder to tell you’re alone when it looks like you’re going somewhere.

2. Some students randomly show me the art they’ve been working on, because they haven’t been heard in so long that they’re using drawings to break through, to be seen, noticed.

3. Some students talk to me about Madden or Dragonball Z, because their parents only ever ask them about grades and “important stuff”.

4. Some students have figured out that the only way an adult will listen is if they get into trouble. So they rebel. They flip desks or make inappropriate jokes or fling cuss words like rocks that are too big for them. But at least someone’s paying attention to them.

5. Some students were told, as in Anis Mojgani’s poem, “Speak only when you’re spoken to, but then they’re never spoken to.” And so they’re just waiting, waiting, waiting. Eventually, a search party will be needed to find the voices that have been missing for too long.

So… it’s one thing to point out a problem, but how do we fix this? How do we dynamically change who we are? I’m the worst at this… as a teacher, I have so much to do. I’m supposed to be typing emails or calling parents or grading essays during the time that Jimmy wants to talk about his favorite movie or Susie wants to ask a question about her writing. So how do we make time? More importantly, how do we actually listen to the people around us?

1. Be present. If someone’s talking to you, listen. If you find yourself wanting to share your story or thought or idea so much that it’s drowning out what they’re saying, so much so that you’re mentally hurrying them to finish their point… check yourself.

2. Ask questions. There are people that are quite good at this. It is one thing to say, “How are you?” as you pass by in the hallway. It is another thing to plant your feet and ask if the person is doing well, or to ask what they’ve been doing lately. When you plant your feet, when you ask questions but also make it clear that you’re day won’t continue on until you get a few answers, people like that.

3. Appreciate the music. We listen to Pandora because we love music. A good tune, a good song, good lyrics, whatever. Do you know why God made all these people? Do you know how precious they are? Do you know how each creation is a beautiful song? In Psalm 98:8 it says, “Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy.” People are far more precious to God than music is to us. Start appreciating the music of other people. Conversations aren’t a burden, they’re an offering, a joy.

4. Remember. Are you taking it all in? We notice when people listen to us, and we especially notice when people don’t. Even the most humble of people feel a sting when they have to remind you again of their name, or their occupation, or their passions. It is not easy to share ourselves, it’s even more difficult when we get burned in the process.

5. Are you still listening? Do you still find yourself listening to others? Or has your world shifted back into yourself. I catch myself a lot of the time. I’ll have whole weeks where I care far more about what I have going on than anyone else. On those days or weeks or months, I find myself slogging back through the mud to get out of the trap I’ve set up. If you find yourself in the same spot, go back. A self-oriented life is like quicksand.

6. I’d do an injustice to “listening” if I didn’t suggest listening to God. This is a hard one. We so often go to God with requests or complaints. It’s hard to orient ourselves into a position of listening. The best ways I’ve found to do this (all of which I struggle to do consistently)… stop your day. Take time to be still. Find quieter places, rooms. Read the Bible (some parts may seem louder than others, but God’s whispers and shouts are both worthy of being heard). Listen to sermons. Remember that He wants to draw near to you.

The next time Pandora asks you, or a friend, or a co-worker, or a student, or a child, or a brother, or a mother, or God…

Are you still listening?

Say yes.

 

5 Lies You Were Told Today

It’s as helpful to know what is true as it is to know what isn’t.

1. You’re supposed to look a certain way. (Comparison isn’t just a thief of joy, comparison beats joy to a pulp and leaves it for dead)

2. If you had more time, you’d be doing the thing you love to do. (Passion has a gravitational pull, it can’t be ignored)

3. You deserve what you have. (I’m thankful every day for what I have, but I didn’t do anything to have a mother that read us stories or a father with a steady job. Pretending that I “deserved” the life I came from is the worst of my foolishness)

4. Single-stuf oreos are an alternative for double-stuf oreos. (They’re just not as good)

5. If you don’t check your phone right now, you’ll miss x, y, and z. If you don’t check your phone, you won’t know what’s going on. If you don’t check your phone now, you’ll stay bored. If you don’t check your phone now, you’ll miss your chance to weigh in on an important conversation. If you don’t check your phone now, you’ll… miss out on life… That’s just backwards.

Figure out the lies, write them on firecracker paper, and let ’em burn. Enjoy your day, enjoy the truth, enjoy life.