Neighbors: Back-To-School Ice Cream Social Planning

You know how I said I needed to get involved again with my neighbor project? Here’s my story about how I’m planning to do just that – although it had a tough beginning, as they all do, hurdles to overcome, walls that get in the way as if someone is out there to prevent us from doing and glorifying God by putting his word into action.

Our church, since we’ve been attending there almost seven years and probably longer, has always done a back-to-school ice cream social to get kids ready and thinking about the new school year. Since we’ve never had kids school-age before, this event has been somewhat of a mystery, but I believe in the past they have sorted donated school supplies for backpacks they intended to take to local schools for students who were less fortunate. Therefore, the ice cream social has always been a staple.

This year, however, our church is hosting a concert for the Grammy winning, The Okee Dokee Brothers instead of the traditional ice cream soirée. In a moment of stepping out of the boat-ness, I volunteered to host the usual ice-cream social at our house. However, my girl-scout-badge-worthy volunteerism was quickly squashed when our children’s minister brought up a crucial piece of information: “did you know your husband volunteered to do ice cream after the concert?”

Wow, how embarrassing! So much for touting “communication” as a skill in our marriage! Okay, so I couldn’t do the social for the church. There was always small group. But then I communicated with my husband. “Yeah, small group is going to do ice cream as our outreach project,” he said.

“Grrrrrrrrrr,” I growled a little too loudly.

“What’d you say?”

“Great!” I smiled.

[So, I have this idea; I want to do a back-to-school ice cream social and it’s already going on at church after the okee dokee brothers concert’] I texted my pal in my small group, [‘so do I ask my neighbors to that one, or ask small group to help another one with my neighbors and I, or put my big girl panties on and host one on my own?]

her text [Oh, big girl panties, for sure]

I knew that’s what she was going to say. As soon as I wrote “big girl panties,” I knew that was what I was going to have to do. It was like God was handing me my own pair of shining, white Hanes, coming with the clouds of heaven, singing Big Girls Don’t Cry, but with harps and doves fluttering out around.

Now came the exciting part, the part I was good at really, the planning part. First, the reconnaissance part: counting houses. You never know many houses have been sold/resold/built/etc. In fact, three houses had been built since the Egg Hunt. I know it sounds crazy, but to make sure my count is accurate, I’ve taken the kids outside a lot more. I want to be sure that I have the right amount of invitations. I don’t want to be caught in that moment of putting invitations in mailboxes and then realize that I’m short and that neighbor I’m short for ends up coming out. Maybe he or she wouldn’t really care, but maybe he or she would – maybe thinks “she didn’t do her recon well!”

After recon, is the construction of the invitations. I am definitely not the most artistic, so I rely on stickers and pseudo-cheerleader writing from 1999. I am most proud of my twisted sense of humor. Please check out my fancy-schmancy examples below.

Invitations Pre-Artistic Flair

Invitations Pre-Artistic Flair

Post 1999 Pseudo-Cheerleader Flair

Post 1999 Pseudo-Cheerleader Flair

Hopefully, people also read the FAQs.

Hopefully, people also read the FAQs.

Then it is time to rinse and repeat. After I wrote the first four of these I put off the writing of the other twenty for almost two weeks. It was really hard putting my hand to the test of that pain. It’s like “Hey, guess what hand? Today, we’re going to do something that hurts as soon as you start and hurts for two whole hours! How does that sound!?!”

I did finish the invitations today though. How? Tomorrow my daughter will be helping me pass them out and it is the only day it will be just her and I before the day of the event so I had to get them done.

So now we are back to the waiting period of “Will we get responses? Will people bother to come? Will people remember to come? Will people care to come? Blah, blah, blab!” Pray for my/our sanity! Thanks!


To Do List: Pray

When you need to do something, but you really don’t know how to start it, what do you end up doing?

I ponder.  I think over and over about the right words I need to say or write.  I sit on my task and think of all possible scenarios before I leap.  This “reaction” to pressing duties is in part why my Neighbor Project has just taken so long.  Don’t get me wrong, I feel like I’ve accomplished so much for myself in this last year.  Yet, in comparison to what many other people accomplish in a year, it doesn’t measure up.  There is a constant battle within myself, in which I listen to Satan’s words telling me that I can’t do or shouldn’t do what God is urging me to do. 

Can I not think of a better phrase than “to do?”  Two simple words; two simple words that my five-year-old can read because they are so basic, but to act on them is mountainous. 

These are the times when building one’s self up with the Holy Word, praise music, and prayer are the most dire.  When you have found that your words fall short, just pray. 

God will find you…me….in the words you(I) speak that aren’t as eloquent as those you(I) think you(I) could write. 

When you need to do something, but you really don’t know how to start it, you pray for God’s intervention and He will answer.

My Update Hits a Road Block

I’ve been feeling the need to give an update on my neighbor project, my Spanish usage, and anything else that involves this blog.  However, I’m hitting a road block.  There are plenty of ideas driving in cars, but the writing police are saying, “Hold up, you can’t drive through, you can’t go this way.” 

I’m reading a very interesting book that my father recommended to me, because he said, “It sounds like you.”  It is A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller, a book, in which he writes about writing.  I’m at the point in which he is attempting to explain to his publishers the concept of the book.  He states, “all of us are living stories, and those stories teach other people to live stories.  And what our stories are about matters, not just for us but for the world” (125). 

It makes me wonder what my story, my blog, is teaching others.  Has it really made a difference in any one of your lives, or am I just writing to hear my fingers type on the keyboard as if I’m trying to play a highly staccato song?

I have hit this road block and there is a lot of honking in my head.  I see flashing lights, warning me to stay back.  I can picture police officers in long trench coats, telling me and my ideas to turn around because there is danger up ahead.

I’m not sure where my story goes from here.

Necessito una Maestra Simpatica

Seven months ago, I desired full immersion in a Spanish speaking society in order to use my knowledge, albeit elementary, of the language so that I could both perfect my use and spread the message of Christ. Well, I did get my desire, but not as I thought I would have it. Isn’t that how God usually works?

Instead, in beginning my masters program in Curriculum and Instruction, I am taking a Special Topics in Bilingual Education and the course – I’m laughing in the circumstance as I write this – is completely in Spanish. Oh, Kristel, you mean the instructions are in Spanish. No, I mean exactly that plus completing all of our assignments, tests, forum discussions, diary, and I’m pretty much guessing that will include speeches too, in Español. I believe the experience is supposed to really let us live what it is like to learn in a language that is not your own.

I was kind of shocked at my reaction when learning of this minuscule detail. My typical response would involve me furtively searching for an “un-enroll me” button on the Blackboard site, e-mailing the professor of this gargantuan mistake, pressing the “return this purchase” for the book I got off, anything to avoid the sheer embarrassment that will befall me when I make my first Spanish speaking/writing/reading/interpreting gaffe. Instead, I actually welcome the challenge. I feel that yes, it will be quite arduous, but so would going to a country and having nothing else to rely on but what has been stored in the recesses of memory. At least this way, God has given me access to translation services and using the skill I know best: escribir.

Diffident, that’s me

I finally did it.  After almost six years — yes, six years — I took the opportunity to express my ideas to the world.  I started a blog.  My mom would be so proud.  Okay, not really, but what may seem like such an easy decision to many has been a mountain to me.  Actually, make that more like Mt. Everest.  My life is a moment-by-moment mountain where self-doubt towers over me and tells me “there’s no way you can.” 

Several post-graduate ventures on my part testify to my constant refusal to refuse to give up.  I, the “major in what I love” not what is practical, graduated with a B.A. in English and almost as soon as my diploma was in my hand, had the startling, pull-into-reality question of “now what am I going to do with this degree” ground me into dust.  Which direction would the wind take me?  Notice, the wind would do something, not I.  With a (minimal, kinda, sorta) interest in the legal field I would test the waters with a position as a legal secretary.  However, I had no idea exactly how hot the water would be.

I struggled with my perfectionism and learning to put my soft heart aside.  I struggled while trying to emulate the direct, no-holds-bar, extremely confident lawyer I had to impress with my skills.  Who knew that although I felt that I floundered in this position, he would see skill?  It worked, for awhile, but my crying when I felt I didn’t master the attempt at making my working-self a 180 degree of what I had grown up to be the past twenty-three years was constantly in the way.  I thought – more like fraught – that there was no way for me to succeed in this field, so it was time to move forward. 

After gaining employment at the law office, there was always this nagging in my idealistic heart that I wasn’t effectively using my degree and I should pursue, instead, the education of children in all things English.  I had my bachelor’s already, so I set forth and completed a one year post-bacclaureate certification program at a local, albeit expensive, university.  As you read this, you may think that I was surely undertaking productiveness versus hesitancy.  On the contrary, most of my bachelor’s program was a swing between several majors: journalism, psychology, criminal justice, and finally English – education was far from my ambitions.  All of my college hours were also “accomplished” at three separate colleges nonetheless.  I had made my decision over several months of weighing pros and cons of pursuing education and then jumped off the cliff. 

Four, tumultuous years later, I’ve taught English to 10th graders, 9th graders, and will possibly do so for 8th graders this coming fall (I’m still tipping the scales back and forth as expected).  After finding out in March that I would be non-renewed due to my inept classroom management skills, I thought this is the end.  I even applied to the law office I had worked at prior to teaching, hoping that I had done enough of a good job to be reconsidered.  I joked with interviewers about my flightiness with careers, saying that I should have worked in high school education before embarking on any legal career. As it pans out, no such luck winning any lawyers over with this phrase.  I could write lesson plans out the wazoo, implement them to some degree, but expect me to control other people who have very independent minds of their own and I lose. 

Right now my indecision is based on uncertainty.  My husband, who has recently graduated from an working-adult based program pursues a teaching position in the worst possible time — legislatively speaking.  In order to make himself more marketable he has stated he would coach and decline the first year stipend.  We also attempt to sell our house and downsize like millions of other families, raise an independent and stubborn four year old and a “terrible two’ year old, and expect our third child in November.

The question floating in my head since December 2005 has never ceased to tick across my brain.  Another question that follows it is “why haven’t you written anything worthwhile since graduating with your beloved English B.A.”  I feel like a stock broker monitering my constant influx of self-depreciation. 

However, now I’ve done my research by subscribing to Allena Tapia’s articles on Freelance Writing at, signed up with an account I’ve had for six months at where I’ve bid, but fear has kept me from responding with samples.  I decided I would begin creating samples by starting a blog to hopefully remedy this fear. 

I did it.  I created a blog.  The questions that come now are: “will I keep up with it?  What if no one cares?  Will I humiliate myself and have nothing to add to the billions of blogs already out there?  What if I fail at something once again?”

Today I took a step forward toward my writing future.  I really hope it sticks.