Saturday, January 1, 2011

Words & Videos Edition

Have you ever heard the saying, “words are power”? This concept has been going through my mind since late October. I started teaching my students a new vocabulary word every day to go along with the books I read to them out loud. Some of the words have included elated, rascal, fumbling, and so on. We call them our second grade words or million dollar words and I encourage them to use them as often as they can during the day. It was only after a week of me directly teaching them new, higher level words that I saw them trying to use these words in their writing, talking, and whenever they could. They took so much pride in being able to use new words. This instructional time is, for most of them, their favorite part of the day. I didn’t truly understand how much they thirsted for new ways to express themselves and the things around them. Seeing how teaching them one new word a day gave them so much pride and opened so may doors for them really opened my eyes to how important words are.

A few other things have also spurred a renewed fondness for words. First, I have fallen victim to an addicting word game known as Bananagrams. I would describe it as a more organic form a Scrabble. Here is a fun video to give you a visual aid.

Second, I have really been struggling to communicate what I am actually feeling, experiencing, and thinking. (Maybe this is why I have not posted in over a month?). I constantly am searching for that perfect word to describe exactly what I feel, to better understand the often surreal-reality called life and my surroundings, and to honestly grasp what is running through my head. The realization that I will never know enough words, never be able to speak the perfect word, or never truly understand life (apart from Christ), hit me earlier this morning (see next paragraph for where I got my inspiration). Hence, I write. In broken and habitually non-standard English using the same words over again to describe different experiences. It is like using the same old paints to paint distinctive pieces of artwork. It can be done. I has been done. It just takes more work.

Thirdly, being home I got to spend a lot of time with my … hmmm there I am at a loss for words to describe him. I would say boyfriend but really, is that all he is to me? What does that word even really mean in society today? I am not sure. I would have to go with my beloved brother in Christ to whom I am committed to, and especially fond of, Kevin. Now, Kevin is from Brazil and English is his second language. He understands English really well but inevitably there are sometimes confusing moments due to communication breakdowns/barriers. I have come to see how even though words are extremely priceless, to possess the modesty to struggle through and communicate even when you don’t have the perfect word is noble. So, here I am, inspired by Kevin – struggling to communicate what has happened the past month to whoever you are, wherever you are, reading this.

Last I would like to also note what I have been learning about words through scripture. Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue can bring death or life.” And Ephesians 4:29 “May they speak life with each word they utter, bringing healing as they talk. May their language be Yours, Lord?” Our words have power, whether we know millions of words or only a few. My affection for words is growing deeper with each day. I ache for each word I speak to not only sound “eloquent” or “intelligent” but I desire them to be uplifting.

An article I read online by Nan S. Russel said, “Words create impressions, images and expectations… Poorly chosen words can kill enthusiasm, impact self-esteem, lower expectations and hold people back. Well chosen ones can motivate, offer hope, create vision, impact thinking and alter results.”

That all being said: welcome to the Words & Videos edition of this blog. All definitions will be taken from the dictionary application on my MacBook Pro.

:::Nebraska |nəˈbraskə| noun a state in the central U.S., west of the Missouri River; pop. 1,711,263; capital, Lincoln; statehood, Mar. 1, 1867 (37). It was acquired as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. :::

The above definition doesn’t properly describe Nebraska. Since I have left Nebraska, after spending the first 22 years of my life in the beloved state, I have spent many of my days in Mississippi trying to really pinpoint what it is about Nebraska that I hold so dearly. Since returning home for Thanksgiving break and Christmas break I compiled a short list of what makes my heart ache when I am not there and what still brings a smile to my face. They all came down the fact that Nebraska is home.

:::responsible |riˈspänsəbəl| adjective [ predic. ] applies to anyone who is in charge of an endeavor or to whom a duty has been delegated, and who is subject to penalty or blame in case of default :::

When I stepped off the plane during Thanksgiving break on onto Nebraska soil I felt the stress of work, responsibility, and adulthood melt off my neck. It was the most refreshing feeling. When I am in Mississippi I am an adult. When I am in Nebraska I go back to being a sister, a daughter, a granddaughter, and most refreshingly, Sally. Ms. Wolff takes a break and the not-so-serious side of myself gets to come out. Being home also has a few other perks including the crisp well-water, “expensive” toilet paper, hometown coffee shops, and small-town good-hearted people.

:::candid |ˈkandid| adjective truthful and straightforward; frank:::

I have found that often I feel like I like two lives. The life I live in Mississippi feels so disconnected to my life when I come back home. One thing is constant, wherever I am I honestly desire that my words be uplifting and bring life whenever I speak… but I have realized recently more then ever that my words rarely match what I am thinking or aching to say. At home I rarely speak like I write on here. On this blog I try to be as candid and honest to who I am and I honestly believe who I am is only who Christ is in me. Yet, when I am at home it is so hard for me to talk about my faith, truth or the gospel wholeheartedly. I seem to be much better with words when I am writing. It is my prayer that my words would be always spoken with grace and that the Lord would grant me more opportunities to share how he is working in my life down here in the south.

:::highlights |ˈhīˌlīt| noun outstanding parts of an event or period of time:::

The past few months have been full of humility, moments of praise, and laughter. Here are a few highlights:

  1. We were Library Class of The Month in November
  2. I started after school tutoring and have gotten to know a few of the kids a little better though it
  3. I now have a cat named THELMA! Her previous owners just a baby and were looking to get rid of both their cats. Louise found a new home a few months ago.
  4. My lowest reader, Tamarah, is now reading and is doing better in spelling. I am not sure what happened, it was not short of a miracle. One day she just showed up and started reading!
  5. Plane rides are never boring. God is faithful to draw me out of my comfort zone and really get to know the people I sit next to. I have some interesting stories but they are better told in person. There is an unspeakable peace when I fly.
  6. My roommate Sarah and I took a weekend trip to New Orleans to visit my friend Kelsey. Strange place that New Orleans is. I am still trying to find words to describe it. I tasted my first bit of frozen yogurt, rode my first street car and experienced a surreal movie-like scene on the edge of the Mississippi river. We walked past a couple yelling at the top of their lungs in the middle of a heated fight, without shoes and with tousled hair. Only to run into a man pushing a stroller at 11p.m. Don’t worry though, he was merely “walking” his dog. Then as I listened to the dispute behind me I looked down by the river bank to see an older couple walking peacefully along the beach hand in hand. There were so many strange things to take in all at once I couldn’t even come close to make sense of it all. It is in moments like those that I realize I will never fully understand what drives us as people.
  7. Had a Bake-A-Thon with my roommate Angie. We baked over four hundred cookies all together in one weekend. I felt domestic.
  8. I got to talk to my kids about Jesus Christ and the reason we celebrate Christmas. That next Friday turned out to be the most interesting day I had as a teacher.
  9. I have been praying about a ministry called Tiny Hands International and how to get more involved after my commitment is done with TFA.
  10. Traveled home for Christmas break and hung out with friends, spent time with family, and even saw animated wood-carvings on a date-day with my Dad.Learned a few new card games, sewed an apron, made some music videos and finished a few good books: “Passion and Purity” by Elisabeth Elliot and “Revolution in World Missions” by K.P. Yohannan.


The past month I have spent some time making a few videos with my friends. Click each link below to view my videos on youTube. Some are school related and others are just for fun. I hope they bring a smile to your face and laughter to your belly! Note: If you right click on each link you can open them in a new window.

A Quick Tour Of Ms. Wolff's Classroom

1st Semester Montage With Program Performances

Christmas This Year - reverse Christmas music video

Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree - with my cousins

Lipgloss - ridiculous music video with friends

Domestic Me - Sewing Edition: Making Aprons*

*click on the one titled "Domestic Me". The direct link on youTube has disabled the audio so this is my round-about way for you to see it with the music.