Something Exciting

Something exciting happened yesterday.

And it wasn’t this…although this is exciting.

Although having a sweater almost completed (and it will be completed in the next hour or so) is pretty dang exciting.

It’s also not the fact that I finished my last exams yesterday-although that is also exciting.

Nope…it’s this:

Last night, my older brother graduated from college after seven years. The above (slightly distant) photo is from the College of Education Convocation. While he likes to quote Tommy Boy and say “Lots of people spend seven years in college….yeah, they’re called doctors.”

But to be serious, there is a good reason why it has taken him seven years (and two universities) to graduate. And it is a story of openness to God and faithfulness to his people. But it is his story to tell, not mine. All I can say is that I am incredibly proud of him.

And I’m looking forward to sharing this celebration with our parents on Saturday at general graduation.

But for now, I’m incredibly proud of him.

Random Monday

  1. Yesterday was Easter. So, Happy Easter! Christ is Risen!
  2. Because of Easter, I’ve been at the familial homestead for the past four days. I love being here. My parents are great. And I love their house. And their cat…who is utterly adorable and ridiculous.
  3. I’ve gotten to spend time with some of my extended family and with some of my non-biological family this weekend. On Friday and Saturday, I spent a few hours each day with some wonderful family friends-including an absolutely darling five-month old baby. It was a great relaxer before finals week.
  4. Which is what I’m returning to in an hour or so…whenever I decided to pack my car and leave. I have an exam tomorrow and another on Wednesday. Plus, I have to turn in my last two papers of the semester. Both are written; they just need to be turned in.
  5. And I have to finish packing my apartment so I can move out on Saturday after my darling brother’s graduation. I’ve gotten a lot of packing done already-and moved the stuff back to the familial homestead. But there’s still more to do.
  6. My mom bought me The King’s Speech as an Easter gift because “I know you like Colin Firth, you wanted to see it, and I liked it.” I have an awesome mama. Katie asked me to bring it with me to the burgh.
  7. Grandma just gave me chocolate.
  8. I’m considering running for Empress of the Universe on the “Economical Use of Punctuation, Especially Exclamation Marks/Points” Platform. I’m sick of the overuse of exclamation points. It makes me want to slap people.
  9. And now I’m going to watch an episode of Psych, eat some lunch, and hit the road for my last six days (five nights!) in my apartment. Then, I’m going to hang out with Jenn, study, and watch some Marple.

Deo Volante

Dante Aligheri once said “In God’s will, our peace.”

C.S. Lewis, the man who inspired this blog’s name, once said, “God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself because it is not there. There is no such thing.”

In the past few weeks and months, I have seen many of my dreams and plans change. I am learning to let go of my desire to be a Spanish teacher. I am learning to surrender my will to that of the Father. And I am learning that Dante was right. In God’s will is found our peace.

I lost something on Wednesday night. But I’m not angry. I was hurt. I thought I had failed. I thought that I sucked at life.

And then, I talked to my mom and Katie on the phone. I made myself a strawberry daiquiri. And then I got a good night’s sleep.

Thursday, life looked so much better. I can still graduate in December. I can still become an English teacher.

And God has a bigger, better plan for my life than I do. I don’t know what it is. And that’s scary, really scary. But it’s a better plan. There is a reason that this is happening. And in the end, it will all be so worthwhile.

In the movie, You’ve Got Mail, Jean Stapleton’s character tells Meg Ryan’s character, “You are daring to imagine that you could have a different life. Oh, I know it doesn’t feel like that. You feel like a big fat failure now. But you’re not. You are marching into the unknown armed with… nothing. Have a sandwich.”

Then she tells Meg and Heather Burns that she had an affair with Franco.

Well, I don’t know about having affairs with fascist (or basically fascist) dictators, but I know what she means. I felt like a failure, but I think that Birdie/Jean is right about that. I’m not a failure. I’m daring to imagine that I could have a different life. Fortunately, I’m not armed with nothing-although I do like sandwiches. I have God on my side. And that’s actually pretty exciting when it all comes down to it.

Last night, I was talking to my friends Jenn and Sarah about my situation when Sarah said, “You know, this is the kind of thing that people write books about. Like, I wanted to be a doctor but then God called me to be a missionary in Africa. And I’ve never been happier.’ That’s what this reminds me of.”

Jenn, Sarah, and I agreed that this all has to be God. There is no way that, with the amount of time/energy I spent preparing and the number of people I had praying for me, this could be a fluke. This has to be God slamming a door in my very stubborn face. He clearly does not want me to be a Spanish teacher and this is the only way he can get that through my skull.

So, God, drive on. I’ll just try to hang on for dear life and see where you take me.

A dream deferred/destroyed

Langston Hughes once posed the question “What happens to a dream deferred?”

Well, I’ve got the rest of my life to find out the answer to that one. Four years ago, at the end of my freshman year of college, my dream was to become a high school Spanish teacher.

I took Spanish classes. I studied in Bilbao, Spain. I took more Spanish classes.

I teacher-assisted in Spanish.

And then, I met the OPI. First, my recording failed. Then, I didn’t pass. So I couldn’t student teach. Instead, I took the five classes I needed to take to change my English minor into a major. And I’m supposed to student teach in English in the fall.

But I wanted to retake the OPI. I wanted to know if I could pass it. So, last Thursday, I did.

I have neurotically and obsessively checked for my score for the past three days.

Tonight, when I got home, I found out that, once again, I had not passed with a high enough score.

I feel utterly demoralized. I feel like I have wasted so much of my life. I could have majored in English and minored in biology or geography or something.

I’m really not sure what God’s plan is in all of this. I know he has one. I just don’ t know what it is.

Elinor Dashwood…finished object

So, about three months ago, I started working on a red sweater that was going to be sleeveless and the adult version of Anne-Cordelia. It would be tunic-length and it would use up some of the nine skeins of red wool that I had sitting around my apartment.

I finished it on Friday night, blocked it yesterday, and got some great pictures of it today.

Now, you’re probably thinking one of two things. Firstly, you might be thinking “Wow, she’s adorable.”

I know. You should have seen me on Friday night with pigtails.

Secondly, you might be thinking “Umm, that’s a dress, not a tunic.”

I know. Somehow, every time I measured it, I kept getting 25 inches in length. It’s not 25 inches. It’s about 35 inches from shoulder to hem.

But seriously…it is sooooo cute. Now I need an excuse to wear it.

Also, I named it Elinor Dashwood and I have my notes up here as a free pattern over on the knitting patterns page. I decided that this was something that a modern Elinor Dashwood would wear. I was originally thinking Emma Woodhosue but the more work I did, the more I saw that this was Elinor, not Emma.

Also, I just figured out how to use the self-timer on my camera…approximately 3.5 years after my parents gave me that camera. I am a genius; alert the media.

Highly Informative

First off, I think I should point out that I like burping. This has absolutely nothing to do with anything else that I’m going to say but just before I started typing, I had a highly enjoyable burp and felt a need to share.

Secondly and more to the point, I was piddling about the interwebs as I occasionally do when I came across this timeless gem from Douglas Adams.

I found it highly informative and felt a need to share. I quite enjoy drinking a mug or two of tea (without milk, honey, lemon, or sugar-thank you very much) now and again. I was intrigued by his insight and feel that I ought to put it into use at some point in the future.

But not now…I’ve already had my tea today, thank you very much.

Random Friday

  1. It’s Friday. I’ve reached the end of a long and difficult week. And I have survived.
  2. I took the OPI yesterday. I don’t know how well the graders think I did and I won’t know that for a few days yet, but I took it. And I think I did well. I had a host of friends and Saints praying for me, and I think that really counts for something.
  3. I spent a greater part of my week preparing for the OPI-listening to Spanish music, reading books in Spanish, watching movies in Spanish, and talking to friends in Spanish. And at some point in the week, I realized that I was thinking more in Spanish than in English.
  4. This week, I was reminded of the wonderful support network I have around me. I have family and friends who readily and eagerly respond to prayer requests. These people then ask for updates on things afterwards. One of them called me yesterday morning to give me a pep talk. Another made me dinner last night and watched fluffy movies to help me recover my sanity.
  5. I have the weekend to recover my sanity so I can make it through the rest of the semester. I do have homework to do…but that can wait until tomorrow when I’m a little more myself.
  6. Watch this video. If you know me, you know that I love Harry Potter and I really love that video. It’s fan-made with clips from all seven movies (plus a brief bit from the trailer for the eighth and final movie),  and it really reminds me that the reason that Harry succeeds in his “mission” is because he has a powerful support network that cares about him.

 

Oral Proficiency Interview

To become a licensed Spanish teacher in the state of Michigan (and to student teach in Spanish and graduate from my university with a degree in Spanish-secondary education) one must first pass an exam called the Oral Proficiency Interview with a minimum grade of “Advanced-Low.” To this end, I took this exam by computer back in December. I felt that the interview went well and relaxed.

However, a few days later, I found out that the recording had failed; it had simply cut out halfway through the interview. I had to retake the exam on only a few hours notice. I was shaken. But I did it.

This time, I did not feel that the exam went well. In fact, after taking the exam, I went to the bathroom and wept. I knew that my dream had died…or at least had been deferred. Within 30 hours, my fears had been confirmed. I had gotten “Intermediate-High” on my exam. In other words, I had not done well enough to continue on to student teaching.

When the Modern Languages Administrator called me to tell me this, she told me that perhaps this was an opportunity to do something new and unplanned. Well, I was five classes from an English degree, so I registered for those five classes and I’m taking them right now.

But I decided (after much internal debate) that I was going to take the OPI again. I had to wait at least 90 days from December 16 when I last took it. Btu I was going to do it again. As one of my friends tells me frequently, “You’ve already passed it once. The recording just didn’t go through. Therefore, if you take it again you will pass it because you can do it.”

The OPI has essentially become a dragon in my life. I need to slay it more for personal reasons than for professional reasons. I need to know that I can pass this. So, a few weeks ago, I received permission from the Spanish department to retake the OPI. This time, we’re doing it by phone because I don’t trust the computer anymore.

I submitted my application and payment. Those were accepted. Then I chewed on my fingers for a couple of days while I waited to get my test date. Friday afternoon, I got the email: Thursday, April 7, 2011 at 2:30 PM. That is Go-Time.

So I’ve been asking different people to pray for me. And I have been asking various Saints (St. Teresa of Jesus, St. Catherine of Alexandria, St. Michael, St. George, St. John of the Cross, St. Philomena, and the Virgin of the Pillar, just to name a few) for their intercession in this matter.

Then, this morning, I went to Mass in one of my favorite churches on earth. As I knelt before Mass praying for success on my OPI, I looked up at the Crucifix. It’s Lent, a time when we think more about the Passion than we do the rest of the year. Looking at the Crucifix in the sanctuary at CTK, I am always reminded of the agony and suffering that Christ endured during those three hours on the Cross.

And as I looked at that Cross, I remembered something. The Incarnation is the greatest miracle in human history. God became man, lived a humble, lowly life, spent three years traveling around preaching to people who didn’t want to hear what he had to say, and then suffered and died to save a race of ungrateful humans from their sins. God became Man and died…and then he rose from the dead to become “the firstborn of the dead.” All of that was to save us. That was the greatest miracle.

And a thought occurred to me, if I believe in miracles (which I do), why don’t I ask for one?

I know that I can (and will) get an Advanced-Low. That is what I, Cecilia, a human being can do. But what can Cecilia+Christ do?

Advanced-Medium.

I felt God telling me that since I believe in miracles, I should pray for advanced-medium.

Okay, God, let’s do it.

Please.