Once Upon a Time: Where are you from?

When I meet new people, inevitably the question comes, “so where are you from?” Occasionally it’s worded, “So… are you from Memphis originally?” but that’s usually with some hesitation in the voice. It’s pretty obvious from the moment I open my mouth that I’m not a born-and-bred Memphian. I may have added some Southernisms to my speech in the last few years, but I sure don’t have the accent.

I actually never know how to respond. Sometimes I just say, “I moved here from Pennsylvania,” if it’s just a passing conversation. Often, though, I respond with the more complex answer, because, frankly, I really am not from anywhere. So this week’s Once Upon a Time is a little peek into my geographic history.

1. I was born in Portland, OR. I wish I remembered more of it, because I know it is a fabulous city. I haven’t been back since I was about 14 or 15. I guess, if anywhere, this is where I’m from. My parents are both Californians and I think that if there’s any geographical influence in my life, it’s probably West Coast.

2. My dad has always worked for the church, but when I was 5.5 we moved across country to Richmond, VA, so he could go to seminary to become a pastor. Richmond was a fabulous place to be a homeschooling family. Again, my memories of the city itself are vague, but I can recall many fun trips to DC and to surrounding historical sites. Colonial Williamsburg, plantations, Civil War reenactments. It didn’t matter here where we were from because everyone at the seminary was from somewhere different – even around the world.

3. My dad’s first church was in a little town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We lived a few blocks from Green Bay, and I have lots of memories walking down to the street along the bay with my family. The best beach for swimming was a few minutes’ drive away. I was very happy here… the queen bee of my group of homeschooling girlfriends and enjoying the attention of being a pastor’s kid (I may or may not have been a bit of an attention-seeking child). We arrived here when I was almost 8, and left the summer I turned 13.

4. The small town near Pittsburgh, PA, is place where I lived longest (9 years). You might think this would be the place I name as where I’m from, but this town and the one in MI are places where you’re not from there unless you’re really from there. Attending the local school from kindergarten on up, spending Friday nights at the highschool football games, marking the summer with the annual festivals. Grandparents living closeby and knowing who formerly lived in which old house. It’s not that we didn’t join in to the town life, we just weren’t complete, tried-and-true locals! Being a pastor’s family always sets you apart a little. I went to college just an hour away. I really did love living here and this is probably the place I’d say I “grew up.” 13-21 is a pretty important life chapter.

5. Finally Memphis! I moved here a few months after my college graduation (in fact I signed my lease on my 22 birthday). It was supposed to be a short, two-year adventure with A., my roomie-since-freshman-year. She had a commitment to the teaching program she entered and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in life so I came along. Fast forward 4.5 years. We’ve both fallen in love with the city and are nurturing ever-deepening roots (she’s married!). Without a doubt, Memphis is my home town.

So now you see why I never have a simple answer for the “where are you from?” question. I guess for me it’s a little easier to look at other influences to respond to the query. I am from my parents, from my sister and my brother. I am from homeschooling. I am from books and history and imagination. I am from love and faith. I am from the family of God.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” ~ Romans 8:14 & 15

So where are YOU from? How do you respond to that question?

xoxo,
Alanna

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Daily Dozen: 12 on 12

Hi friends! You know I like a fun photo challenge, especially when I can use my beloved Instagram. I’m joining Elizabeth Kartchner of Dear Lizzy with the Daily Dozen: 12 on 12. That’s 12 photos of taken during the day on the 12th of each month (or maybe the official rules don’t include every month, but those are MY rules). I’m hoping I’ll remember every month from now on. Oooh… need to set myself a reminder on my phone. On to what you really care about, photos of my intensely thrilling day yesterday!

l-r: Cats enjoying morning sunshine; Cheerios breakfast (I live on the edge); lying on my yoga mat doing leg exercises

l-r: getting my vehicle inspected (please note that’s pronounce VEE-hickle); I passed – woohoo for Cam and me!; stopped right by the crosses at Bellevue

l-r: Happy Hour!!! Love me some Sonic – a Lemonberry Slush, if you must know. It was a dollar well spent; my new pillow arrived from Amazon! – memory foam and it’s super nice (no more neck pain); $5 Rayban knock-offs from Wal-Mart since my other sunnies broke

l-r: a little organizing/decorating project I’ll feature soon – you won’t believe how this little magazine file started out!; a little pre-bed reading – I love Nouwen (it’s like I’m reading my own brain sometimes); finishing the day by praying a psalm

Hope you enjoyed this fascinating look into my little life! Hey! I saw you over there… quit your yawning.

xoxo,
Alanna

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday, y’all! Do you have any plans for the weekend? I’m spending some time with a good friend in the morning tomorrow (giving her a haircut!) and then I cater in the evening. It’s at a beautiful location where I’ve never served before. I’m excited to see what it looks like for an event (wedding, I think)!

So. Really exciting: I’m guest-posting over at Run with Scissors today! Janel is one of my favorite bloggers ever, and I’m thrilled and privileged to be helping her out while she’s focusing on bonding with her brand new baby, Amelia. It’s a fun make-up DIY and I’ve been waiting ever-so-patiently to share it with y’all! If you’re stopping over for the first time from RWS: WELCOME! Would you like some tea? Cookies?

Cuteness!

Today there’s a live kitten-cam over on HelloGiggles! Apparently the kittens and their mama were rescued after a fire, I think. They’re with a foster right now but will be up for adoption in a few weeks. It’s adorable… they’re playing and falling all over each other right now. I’ve had it up for about an hour now; it’s probably really a bad idea because it makes me want to go get a kitten. No, self! Two cats are enough!

Nomnomnom!

I made this recipe for baked apple chips yesterday (via a friend… via Pinterest). They. Were. AMAZING! I ate the entire batch in one sitting (it was only 2 apples worth and a few slices burnt). So easy and so healthy. My observations: I think I cut the slices too thin, hence the burning. Don’t cut the slices thinner than 1/4″ at the least! Also, the friend who tried them out first suggested checking them every 20 mins. I’m glad I did. I flipped them at an hour and set a timer again for 20 mins but they were burnt even by then (the recipe calls for 2 hours of baking). I think I’m going to make more this afternoon…

Okay… I need to shower (euw, I worked out and then have been cleaning). And I have to finish a fun project I plan to feature here on the blog! Hope you’re having a great Friday and remember: it’s the weekend!

xoxo,
Alanna

Undefeated

I just got back from a special showing of the documentary Undefeated with Brenda. Y’all… Y’ALL. Go see it! It is such an inspiring, yet approachable, story. Seriously, I was starting to tear up not even 10 minutes into the film. Really honest scenes of life in the highschool’s community. In my town. Hard to realize such desperate squalor is a short drive from me.

It’s the story of the volunteer (VOLUNTEER) football coaches of Manassas High in North Memphis and how they took a 110 year old program known as the “whipping boy” of Tennessee and turned it into a winning team. But more importantly, it’s the story of lives impacted and changed. On both sides of the equation. Coaches to players, players to coaches.

Over and over again, Coach Bill Courtney pumps up his team to win, but most importantly he reminds them that the central thing is heart and character. Character, he reminds them after both wins and losses, is what you do with your failures, not your successes.

It’s a story of giving and sacrifice, learning and being humbled. It’s a reminder to forget our selfish concerns and do something for the sake of someone else (and that’s a near direct quote from the movie).

At the end of the film, we actually got to have a short question and answer session with Coaches Courtney and Ray. The last question was from a young boy who asked, “Who taught you so much about character?” Coach Courtney looked thoughtful for a second and then answered with conviction, “Jesus.”

Friends… let us be teachable with Jesus. We never know how He may end up using us!

xoxo,
Alanna

Jeremiah Small

Hi y’all. Sorry it’s been a quiet week. My heart’s been a little heavy and distracted; some personal stuff going on, but I’m moving forward now and looking up. Plus when I got on my computer Thursday to write a belated Once Upon a Time post, I saw some really tragic news on Facebook. I just didn’t have it in me to write a blog post. It’s been weighing on my heart every since.

Some of my dearest college friends, John and Mary, literally sold or put into storage nearly all their belongings two years ago. They left jobs and families to move to Kurdistan, a region in Northern Iraq. The reason? To teach at the Classical School of the Medes, a Christian school begun in January 2001 with now 3 locations. This is their second year teaching, with a brief furlough home over the holidays for the birth of their first child. It has been such a joy and privilege to pray for them and watch their journey of faith.

On Thursday, one of CSM’s teachers, Jeremiah Small, was shot and killed by one of his students. My friends have directed all of us to this article as being decently balanced. Although John and Mary teach at another location in a different city, Jeremiah was their friend and colleague. They, as well as the whole CSM organization, are reeling with this tragedy. As I understand, CSM has never seen a violent incident like this. The three schools are beloved and respected in region and the community is grieving.

This article written by the highschool seniors at CSM is very important to read, as is this tribute by another student. I worry, and I am sure the school’s community and organization do even more, that many Westerners will assume in reactionary ignorance that this is just another reason to think “all Muslims are terrorists”. HOW WRONG THAT ASSUMPTION IS! The details and motivations of the attack are still being sorted out. But even on the big, unlikely if that this incident was fueled by religious motivations, this student’s are no more representative of his entire religion than are the actions of a Christian abortion clinic bomber. Or are we making sweeping statements about the culture and heritage of the student who shot and killed his peers at Chardon High School in Ohio recently? If you want a picture of the Kurdish community, read the beautiful tributes by Jeremiah’s students.

Instead of ignorant, irrational judgment, let us react in compassion and sympathy. This was a beloved teacher, friend, colleague, brother, and son. We need to be surrounding his school, students, community, friends, and family with prayer. John and Mary sent their supporters a link to a memorial fund if you care to give. It will help pay for his family to fly to Iraq, his memorial service, etc.

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. – Psalm 116:15

xoxo,
Alanna