Wednesday, January 25, 2017

We Need To Put God Back In The Schools!




ummmmm......what?
Excuse me?
You think there is no God in schools?
You think God needs to come back into the schools?
I have one question
WHEN DID HE LEAVE?!?!
As one of my favorite professors said "If you think there is no prayer in schools you haven't been in a classroom before an Algebra test"

If you don't know God is still in our schools you aren't paying attention.
I see God in my classroom every single day.
I see him in the hallways when a student helps a special ed student get to class every day.
I see him in the lunch room when the lunch lady takes money out of her pocket to pay for a student's lunch.
I see him when my students lend each other make up, a clean shirt or applaud each other even if they didn't hit that note quite right.
I see him when the new kid is welcomed with open arms.
I see him when my principal gives the staff biscuits on work days and we meet together in fellowship before our meetings.
I see him in the classrooms late at night where teachers are burning the midnight oil to grade papers and make sure their students improve.
I see him when over 100 students gather to pray for a student who has been in a car wreck.
I see him in canned food drives, angel trees, art shows and music performances.
I see him in money raised for childhood cancer research, in pep rallies, and in graduations.
I see him in joyful reunions after breaks and I see him in the sorrow felt when a student is lost.
I see his grace moving through the building silently but fiercely.
If you think God isn't in our schools then maybe you need to get a bigger God. Mine is still there every day.

Jesus taught us to love. I try to live up to that. I love my students and know that I am showing them God's love every day. I might not tell them it is God's love because I believe in the separation of church and state but someday they will know him through me. And that is all I can ask.

So don't you dare think God is not in our schools. Don't use that as a defense. If you think he isn't there try looking a little harder and loving a little bit more.


“Preach the Gospel at all times.  When necessary, use words.”

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

My Post Election Letter to Trump

Nov 10, 2016

Dear Donald Trump, 
Congratulations! You did the thing. I honestly didn't think that you could. But you did and here we are. I've spent the last 24+ hours trying to wrap my mind around what this means. I have talked to devastated friends, tried my best not to engage in the online rants (I failed some) and cried in my shower.
In the two presidential elections I've had the privilege to vote I've been on the winning side. When I was in high school in 2000 I was on the losing side but I hadn't been able to vote so I wasn't really sure what it would feel like. I and many other Americans have gone through a roller coaster of emotions since the announcement early yesterday morning.
The hardest one to cope with and comprehend is fear. I fear for my students. I fear for my friends who are LGBTQ. I fear for my friends who have a different color of skin than me. I fear for women rights. We live in America. We are not used to fear.
You used fear and anger to start a movement that was successful. People are angry about jobs. People are angry about Obamacare. People are angry about immigration. I understand. I am angry too. I am angry because people I care deeply about are afraid. People I haven’t even met are being attacked because they are different and they feel they have the right to because they voted for you. Children are being told to sit in the back of the bus because of their skin again. Muslim Americans are being told they will be hung by their hijabs. Mexican American children in kindergarten are being told they will be sent to a new school next year.
That is not my America. I believe America is great now. I agree it could be greater. You created those events. In some way you made it okay for them to say those things louder and with more confidence. I know not everyone who voted for you feels that way. I voted against you and I do not feel the need to set a piƱata of your head on fire.
And I hear you saying nothing to your followers to stop this fear and hatred from continuing. I watched your speech you were calm, you were collected and I felt an apprehensive optimism that you might actually unite us.
So do it. Tell people to stop the hate. Stop the hate yourself. I am trying. It is hard when so many emotions are running high. Unite us with grace and truly consider the rights of all people- especially the ones so different from you. We are watching.
Like it or not you are now the father figure of our country. Stop being the biggest bully on the playground. Think before you speak and be a good example for my sons and all children. You’ve got a lot of work ahead of you. Know all of us are rooting for you to do the right thing but aren’t going to swallow the pill if you don’t.
Don’t prove our fears correct.
Sincerely,
Mallory Nonnemaker

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Words

“Words," he said, "is oh such a twitch-tickling problem to me all my life.” 
Roald Dahl, the BFG. 

The BFG was the first book I read that captured me as a child. It activated my imagination in ways I had never experienced. It was the first book I loved.

I have always loved the BFG. I never quite understood his issue with words but I found it amusing.
Words have always been something I have known as a friend. A companion. 
I am usually quite good with them. 
But this month I just haven't known what to say.
My high school drama teacher passed away surrounded by her amazing family.
She is no longer in pain.
I know she is in a better place....
but I haven't known what to say to her kids.
Not just her students.
But to her biological children who are my family-
who I know are feeling this pain in ways I will never comprehend.
And I don't know what to say.

It is the worst.
Anything I can think of seems cliche or nothing close to comfort.
All I can do is pray.
Then I stumbled upon this from "Accidental Saints"
which is my Lent Book.....

"In times when we have no words, when we don't know what to think because we are feeling too many things all at once, there is always the liturgy, the words of God's people that have rung through the millennia and that can speak on our behalf- words we can borrow for ourselves"

I believe the gospel extends beyond the Bible. Why would God create us to be so creative if those words aren't meant to be as comforting....so  I take comfort in the soothing songs of Rent, Hamilton, and Harry Potter.

I don't know what else to say....I leave you with this from HP.

"You think the dead we loved ever truly leave us? You think that we don’t recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble..."










Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Why Theatre?

I am a high school drama teacher by day.....
twin mom by night.....
this is an essay I wrote about last fall about my amazing theatre teacher.
March is going to be all about Theatre.
Specifically theatre in our schools.

Here is my story :
              It is hard to write about Gail Jones without using a cheesy musical quote. Talking about the woman who set my life on a path that has “changed me for good” goes hand and hand with the art form that brought her into my life. When I was in the 10th grade my life at home was a living hell. My mother and step father were constantly fighting and the level of tension led me to find any way to escape that environment. I would pull the classic “I’m staying with Jessica” and Jessica would be staying with me and off we would go to a party.
              Then I was cast as Mme Thenardier in Les Miserables. And Gail Jones set the expectation of me to get myself straight and to commit to something productive. I don’t know if she knows to this day that that saved my life. I was surrounded by supportive misfits who became my family. She would stay after school with me so I didn’t have to go home before rehearsal. She placed the responsibility of working on the set, learning my music and creating a character that turned all of my anger and sadness into the laughter of the audience. I specifically remember looking up into the lighting booth on opening night and seeing her smiling face covered in proud tears.
              At that point in time, Gail was the only adult in my life that made me feel like I was worth something. That I could accomplish something and that I had talents. She helped me to find my passion. Years later, when I was beginning to teach high school drama myself she became a rock of support and belief once again. She helped me navigate the terrifying waters of classroom management, production and balancing family time.
              When I was pregnant and Gail told me she was retiring, when I asked if she would be my long term substitute she agreed. She gave up her first 12 weeks of retirement for a former student which I believe shows how big this woman’s heart is. Anyone else would’ve been sipping cocktails on the Hawaiian coast.

Often, I see 10th grade Mallory in the faces of my students. When I become frustrated I try to remember who I was and how important Gail believing in me was. I remember how important her loving me was. I try to remember her big heart in those moments of frustration and know that this will make me a better teacher. I hope she is still proud of me. I know I am so proud to say I know her.


Monday, January 25, 2016

On the bandwagon.....

Being a parent changes you.
It shifts your whole perspective....
people tell you this.
You think 
"ok...I know".
But you don't know.
One little thing and your mind turns into a tornado of concerns of life and the world and the future and what society is doing to us and would I feel this way if I had daughters and what is really going to happen with this election and is the laundry still going and
(EXPLOSION)
.....
"Maemae- where's Thomas"
Back to reality.
Finish brushing teeth- diaper- lotion- night night.
Think more.


Tonight's one little thing was this

my son requesting to put my make up on.
In the exact order I do
primer (on his belly)
tinted moisturizer
powder
eye shadow.

I obliged because he is literally an angel.
I mean

look at that eye shadow covered forehead.
GORGEOUS RIGHT?

I give no Fs if my boys decide to wear make up or paint their nails or play football or vote for trump ;)

I just want them to be happy people.
Who care about others.
And love themselves.

But the way Fletcher looked at himself after he put make up on broke my heart.
He looked at himself like
"yes. now I look good"
If I had a daughter I would probably be doubley upset.

He learned that look of self satisfaction after make up from someone.
He learned it from me.
(explosion)
What kind of men am I raising?
Men who expect women to fulfill a standard?
Why do I feel like I have to look an certain way when I want them to grow up in a world where it doesn't matter?

((I mean....
I went to a women's college))

So I am going to slowly ditch my make up (I mean I will keep it around because who doesn't love some glitter and a smoky eye). But I want my boys to grow up loving a woman who is flawed and tries her best to be what God intended her to be.

So that one day they will find and love someone who loves them for their flaws (and vice versa) so they will truly love themselves. And then turn that love back to God.

We are not perfect.
But we are perfect in his sight.

So I am jumping on the no make up bandwagon.
For myself.
For my boys.
And for their future partners.
(and cause I like saving money)






Saturday, January 16, 2016

"Momming" Out........or how I am still a dirty rotten feminist.

I am a nerd.
I mean....really.
I love obsessing over and researching things.
I am currently reading/listening and watching three different Harry Potters with the same passion I had when I first encountered them.
I will also go down an internet wormhole in 2.5 seconds flat if a tv show (and by tv show I mean Criminal Minds) says something I don't know a lot about. 

So....."momming' out for me is the same as nerding out but mom stuff.
It started simple enough.
My mom sends me a video of Finley throwing a ball which basically makes me think he will be a MLB pitcher (cause I mean my kid is so talented and perfect).
So I text my old baseball student and ask when we can start little league.
Because I am now that mom.
I find out little league is possible at age 3 where I live.
SCORE! 
The boys will be hitting balls with sticks Easter 2017.
but then.
I remember I am a fine arts person.
I don't know anything about sports.
But. Ok. I want my kids to be well rounded.

I start bugging my old students about dance.
I find promising 3 year old classes for fall 2016.
Then I look at the dress code..................
.....................................
......................................................
....................................................................................

one school totally has a male dress code...................................................................................................................................................................................................................

the other acts as if only girls will come with "bows" and "leopard print" .


rage fills me.
the rage that would fill me in college when my sorority sisters and I would be debating things and raging against the man and the machine.
FIRST 
I am mad that my sons are being discriminated against because dance is a "girls thing". What is their dresscode? If I try to put a bow in Finley's hair he will bite me. Fletch would be cool.
I go into anger for my boys that may love dance or girly things. I want them to be whoever they are and for the world to hold them in their arms and love them 
LIKE JESUS DOES.

THEN 
I am mad that women are held to specific roles. 
Because it is a mans world.
But how am I supposed to raise feminists when they are expected to only wear blue and throw balls?
When it is weird that Fin wants the pink cup?
When it is weird that Fletcher wants to put on make up like his mom?
Why is it weird when a girl wants to play with trains?
Why do we have these stereotypes?
WHY DID I THINK TO SIGN THEM UP FOR BASEBALL FIRST?
Why can't the girls wear a t-shirt and black jazz pants and the boys wear a leotard and pink tights?
Why are women still letting their husbands tell them how to vote?


?



And I have no answers. 
The only answer I have is to make my children try everything.
And then to encourage them to pursue what they love and makes them happy.
No. Matter. What. 
Like- if you love math....cool.....
if you love boys............cool........
if you love girls..............cool.....

Just be happy.
Be a good person.
Love others.
(but please dont vote for trump)
ok...I side tracked a little
I just want them to grow up in a place where they can be nerds, or jocks, or queers or whatever and still
feel 
loved.

Not just by their mom.




Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What's God got to do with it?

"There is room, there is room there is room
at the table....at the table....
there is room....at the table"

This was the song at the Montreat Youth conference the year I attended. Myself and many other Presbyterian youth from all over gathered at a the beautiful campus of Montreat and explored this theme. I can't remember what summer it was. Or if I went to Montreat more than once but I know it defined for me my high school faith journey. There was room at the table for everyone. This was what I believed. In my small group I confirmed this telling my own story (bad babysitter stuff) and telling me that "God will heal all your wounds and will make you whole- he still loves you". In the setting of Montreat this was amazing. Making sandwiches and making large beds with all the other youth were also part of our daily fellowship. I also distinctly remember visiting a non denominational church and our leaders telling us to breathe in the experience.

Another summer we journeyed on a Mission Trip to Washington DC on a train and were basically Irish in the back and almost got kicked off for taking ice. This experience was amazing. I remember searching for a "Yes!" shirt with V.Rey because we were obsessed with "Sisterhood of the traveling pants". These Presbytery events were my lifeblood. A family beyond my theatre family that saved me.

My youth group held a grand total of two. My BFF V.Rey and I represented the First Presbyterian Church of Cleveland GA. And we loved it. We went to all the Presbytery events and even joined the Youth Council and climbed the ranks to being co-moderators (basically co presidents) my senior year. I loved it. I was passionate about God and I loved the different people I met in the Presbytery- I mean we had a pastor named Buddha, a man who wore kilts and we called "goat man" and we had a communist with IBS. It was amazing world of diversity and healthy discussions and love of faith.

Then someone tried to start a GSA at my high school and God became intrinsically and inexplicably linked to hate. I remember hearing a certain church was coming to our town and I remember V.Rey and I calling them on speaker and trying to give them a piece of our (mainly V.Rey's) mind. They were the most close minded Christians I had ever met. I felt like my whole town was going crazy over some students who were trying to create a place of love and support. I remember my drama teacher telling me I needed to take a stand with those students but I was so so afraid. So I didn't until the storm blew over but my world of faith was rocked.

Fast forward to college....I attended a small women's college in Gainesville (looking at YOU BRENAU). And I entered a pageant where I had to have a platform. I chose equal rights for LGBT individuals because of my high school experience. I remember people saying "I didn't know she was a lesbian" and feeling like an outcast from the other Christians at the school. People I really connected with and loved and cared about were atheists or agnostics and I felt like that may be where I belonged.
A place that loved people no matter what which Christians had proven to me that they did not do.

I abandoned the church with glee.
I am spiritual but not religious.
All of that bunk we buy into while we are "finding ourselves".
So I didn't pray for years. I just loved people.
But something was missing.

So I started singing at my boyfriend's (now husband's) church job.  Because every choir needs more sassy altos.
And it made it better and worse.
One pastor vibed with me.
The other did not.
I would make eye contact with Brandon during some sermons and have to remember to bite my tongue. I would leave every Sunday feeling like "Why don't these people get it- this is why I am not a Christian anymore".

Once a week.

Then we got engaged....and I knew we had to find a church. I felt it.
There was a small Presbyterian church near where we lived that accepted all people and preached loved. We felt like that would be our church home. We reached out and were granted marriage counseling and to be married there.
WE LOVE THE PASTOR.
He helped us prepare for the stakes of marriage and our wedding was everything it needed to be (including my high school pastor) and we felt like maybe that could be our home.
But we visited and it was not right.
Bob was perfect but the members were not what we expected.
I was turned off again.
We would see the man that married us and I would feel guilty and he would say
"I don't do guilt- you have to come back when it is right for you".

And I would feel guilty and crawl into a hole.
Rinse and repeat. Year after year.
Until...
until....
I got pregnant with twins.

Nothing to make you think about life but children.
We were honored to be the Godparents of one of the most amazing little boys on earth.
And his baptism was the Easter I was pregnant at a gorgeous little Episcopal Church
(God is not subtle in his signs- RESURRECTION).
So we went to the service.
And even though I had to leave because I thought I might heat stroke.....
I felt at home.
The service was just what I needed.
Later I Googled Episcopalians and found out we were on the same page.
Brandon and I said "That could be our home".
But pregnancy takes a toll.
And twin newborns do even more.
So we waited until we felt like we had a handle on parenting (after spring break)...
we decided "April 20th we will start attending".
The Monday (April 14th) of that week Fr. Scott Kidd posted a message about needing a youth leader.

God was saying "go forth".
So I did.
I messaged Scott.
We started attending and earnestly wanted to be a part of the church regardless of whether we became the youth leaders or not.
We baptized our boys.
We were confirmed.
We found our tribe.
God led us there.
Our marriage is better.
Our family is better.
My life is better.

That is what God has to do with it.
Reaching his hand in and leading you to people who believe the same way and love the same way as you.
And that is enough.
HE is enough.
Amen