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Then and Now.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A couple of weeks ago I was with my students at church waiting my turn for confession. I always keep a copy of Archbishop Fulton Sheen's book Simple Truths in my handbag and pull it out from time to time to read a few snippets when I have a few minutes. It's not designed necessarily to be read in order, so usually I just flip open to a page. That morning, I flipped to a page I don't remember ever having seen before and was stunned speechless for a few moments when I read this:


From my research, he wrote this in 1957 as part of a longer article. That was almost 60 years ago, and look where we are right now in this country. We are living this problem, with our two leading candidates for President of the United States equally as terrible. (And a lot of our representatives are not much better.)

When I was driving back from Morgantown a few days ago (where apparently I do my best thinking) with my iPhone on shuffle, a song came up that I hadn't listened to in a while. That song was Tupac's "Changes." (Incidentally, the random assortment of songs I have on my iPhone are so diverse that, well, let's just say I would be so embarrassed if anyone found it and when through it, but that's a different story for a different day!) I actually am a huge fan of this song generally and of course know what it's about, but that day I really heard the lyrics for the first time in a long time. Imagine my amazement when I heard this:

It's time for us as a people to start makin' some changes.
Let's change the way we eat, let's change the way we live
and let's change the way we treat each other.
You see the old way wasn't working so it's on us to do
what we gotta do, to survive.
And still I see no changes. Can't a brother get a little peace?
There's war on the streets and the war in the Middle East ... 

When was this released? 1998. So almost 20 years ago. And where are we now? Yep. Same spot. Listen, I'm not trying to say that Tupac had it all right, he definitely made some poor choices, but just examining this one well-written song in light of our current circumstances is really eye opening.

It's really so sad that these problems that were being recognized about society in 1957 and 1998 still exist without having gotten any better really. Their commentary on their societies in their times could easily be commentary on today's society.

Photos from here and here.
Also, I wonder what these two guys -- Fulton Sheen and Tupac -- would have to say to each other. Now that would make for one interesting conversation, wouldn't it?! And who knows ... maybe they're up in heaven together talking right now. Who's to say really. :)

And I bet there are two names you never thought you'd see related in one blog post.

If You Don't Feel Good, You Can't Do Good

Sunday, March 27, 2016

"He is not here; He is risen, just as He said."

Perhaps the 11 most important words spoken in scripture.

Today, of course, is Easter, and I hope you and your families and friends have had a very happy one.

I was reflecting on Lent today, and, truth be told, it was not the most productive of my life. I did have a couple of things I was working on, and they went okay, but I really don't feel like I had any great spiritual moments or grew closer to God in any way. (With the exception of the great retreat I went to a couple Saturdays ago led by the outstanding Father Godwin, who then heard my confession a few days later. Also awesome.) But overall, this was not my most productive Lent of all time.

But I think there's a lesson in that. And I think the lesson is that sometimes God feels really far away. And when He does, we have to remember that God is more than an emotion. He is more than we are feeling at any given time. In The Purpose Driven Life Pastor Rick Warren writes, "During times of spiritual dryness you must patiently rely on the promises of God, not your emotions, and realize that he is taking you to a deeper level of maturity. A friendship based on emotion in shallow indeed." 


And, truth be told again, the lack of productivity this Lent had a lot to do with my own laziness and my own bad choices and decisions. I was also thinking a lot today about bad choices and decisions and why it seems that I make them all the time. Even when I know right from wrong, even when I know what God would want, I still make bad choices. But then it hit me -- as long as I'm a human being, as long as I'm alive, I will continue to make bad choices and decisions. Because living a human life is living in a constant state of evolving. We will never be truly evolved, and we will never truly grow into "who we are." Because the nature of the life given to us by God is that we will continue to grow and change and make mistakes and learn from them. Accepting God's grace in these moments is what allows us to pick ourselves up and try again tomorrow. And, most importantly for me, it also means that we forgive ourselves for things AND that we let comments made to us by others who would seek to remind us of bad choices we've made go in one ear and right out the other. Just because we made one choice yesterday does not mean we are stuck with it. We are free to change our minds and choose other -- and better -- things.

I'll leave you with this because maybe it'll help you the way it has helped me. Father Godwin told me that guilt over past actions is one of the biggest ways Satan goes after us because if you don't feel good, you can't do good.

Wow.

Actually, I'll leave you with this because, cute, right?


That Teenage Feeling

Friday, March 25, 2016

Recently I have tried to describe to a couple of friends about my feelings on meeting people and dating. More specifically, my feelings on how you know if it's not right almost immediately. Now, I believe that as long as you are fairly certain the person you're agreeing to go on a date with is not a serial killer and your body/life story won't end up the basis of an episode of Criminal Minds, you should go. I always try to give everyone a chance because you can't complain you don't meet people if you don't agree to meet people.

But if it's not right on the first date, I feel like you just know. There have been some dates I've been on that are CLEARLY not right. Like the person is just so weird or whatever the only thing it's going to be good for in the future is a good story to entertain your friends. (Or a good story your friends named Sarah Walling can use whist giving social media presentations for their job for instance. :) ) What's harder, though, is when the person is perfectly nice, but it's just not doing it for you for whatever reason. Like they are polite, they are nice, and nothing weird happens, but you just aren't excited about it. I tried to explain it to a couple of people that the theme of situations like these just becomes "Well, this isn't terrible," and I am pretty sure I cannot base my life around "This isn't terrible," you know? It's hard to articulate that to people, though.

On Tuesday of this week I drove to Morgantown by myself to see my family, and I was thinking a lot about this topic. I felt like maybe my standards are too high? But then I realized that I don't think that's it. I mean, I don't have requirements like the person must look this way, and have this job, and make this amount of money. It's not like that at all. My requirements pretty much are do you make me laugh, do I feel like being around you gives me energy, and are you fun? The laughing thing, though, I think is really important. I mean, even Audrey Hepburn said, “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it's the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It's probably the most important thing in a person.”

Now, I don't have any illusions that marriage and relationships are these perfect things that are easy. I know that's not true. But I also feel like since that is true, the beginnings of them should at least be easy, right? Like at least at that time you should be laughing and having fun. You should be with someone who makes you feel good and gives you energy and makes you smile. And I especially feel like since I'm 31 I don't have time to waste on things that aren't right. I'm too much of an introvert and it just makes me too tired to have to. And also since I'm 31 I feel like it really needs to be something very special since I've waited so long for it.

As I mentioned, I was driving to Morgantown and thinking about all this. I was trying to figure out specifically how to articulate all of this correctly, when a song popped up on my playlist, and I realized -- I don't have to figure out how to articulate this because someone else already did.

And that person is Neko Case.

A bit of backstory ... when I worked in Prague, I worked at a school with my friend named Sophie. One day she brought in Neko Case's album Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, and I liked it so much she burned it for me. I still love that album, and when the songs come up on the playlist I think of Sophie and our school and the time we spent together.

In the midst of my driving and thinking, the song that came up was "That Teenage Feeling." And this is the part that explains it all:

And nothing comforts me the same
As my brave friend who says,
"I don't care if forever never comes
'Cause I'm holding out for that teenage feeling
I'm holding out for that teenage feeling"

And that right there -- THAT exactly -- is how I feel.

I don't know what was in Neko's mind when she wrote it, but I can tell you that it perfectly articulates exactly how I feel about my life. If my choices are being alone or being with "This isn't terrible" then I am so totally fine with being alone. And that's not to say that there aren't a bunch of really nice people in the world, but Disney never made a movie about "aren't these people nice?" And I sense a lot of eye rolling from people who are a lot more realistic and practical than I, but I am finally learning that I can't apologize for or try to change from the person God made me to be. So ... if you need me to be, I can be your brave friend who says, "I don't care if forever never comes 'cause I'm holding out for that teenage feeling."





2016 Reading Challenge - March!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

So now that it's March, it's time to announce my new book for the 2016 Reading Challenge!

You may remember that back in February I decided to read My Grandfather's Son by Clarence Thomas, for the category "A book you own but have never read."

I LOVED it.


It was a great autobiography about his life growing up incredibly poor in the deep south and his rise to the Supreme Court of the United States. No matter your politics, it's a great story about someone who worked hard and learned a lot of lessons along the way. The book is very honest. I'm so glad I read it! (And it was 1000000 times better than Lord of the Flies!)

I actually chose my March book early last month. Let me explain.

I had just decided to read My Grandfather's Son when I was talking to my colleague (and my fifth grade teacher) Patty Cole about books. She recommended that I read the book The Purpose Driven Life by Pastor Rick Warren. I had heard about this book many times, but I had never read it. Patty said it really changed her life, and that she continues to read excerpts from it every day.


As I really like to consistently check in with God's purpose for my life, I decided that for March I would read The Purpose Driven Life for the category "A book chosen for you by a friend or family member."


I was a little late to get started since I didn't order the book as early as I should have, but I've read a few chapters already and really have enjoyed it! I also hope to read a lot more during spring break, as our spring break this year is also Holy Week, and what is better than that?

Incidentally, I don't know much about Pastor Warren, but I did see him interviewed on The World Over on EWTN once, and I really liked what he had to say.


I'll report back at the end of the month!

If you've read this book, please let me know how you felt about it.

An Open Letter to My Students

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Dear students,

Often times I think that if I could really tell you how I feel, you'd like me a lot more. Or at least understand my motivations. But I can't because one, it'd be weird, and two, I think you're too young to understand.

This morning during his homily, Father asked (rhetorically) if any of the students prayed for their teachers. Then he asked how many teachers pray for their students. Even though we could presume he also meant that one rhetorically, all the teachers raised our hands. And it's true, we pray for you guys all the time. Several times a day.

This evening, I stayed late to finish grades for the quarter that ended today. It's been a rather defeating week for a lot of reasons, and I really didn't feel like staying at work late. But I had a lot to do, and it was important that I do it. As I was looking over this quarter's grades, I found out that one of you has passed my class for maybe only the second time in the seven quarters we've spent together. But you didn't just pass. You got a B. On your own.

And it. is. AMAZING.

I emailed the principal right away because someone else I had to know this good news that I knew. You don't know that you getting this grade has basically made my life worth living.

To you, it might be silly. But to me, you GOT a B. Holy crap.

Students, what you really don't know is how very much I love you.

I love you when you're turning your work in. I love you when you forget your work. I love you when you you tell me how much you love the novel we're reading and also when you forget your pencil and your book. I love you when you're behaving and also when I have to put you on the clipboard for being disruptive.

But mostly I love you when you tell me things.

My favorite thing to hear you say is, "Miss Lafferre, listen to this ..."

When you come in -- anytime you come in -- with something to tell me, I'm overjoyed to hear you. And the thing is, some of you come in A LOT. In fact, I'm not even sure who is letting you leave their class so many times without putting you on the clipboard. But, really, I don't care.

I love when you tell me what the two of you did at your sleepover this weekend, and I love it when you tell me about that weird fact you read on the Internet. I love when you come back from lunch with tales of your shenanigans (which is every day), and I love when you bring your food sculpture gifts to me.

In fact, as I told one of you the other day, I'm still waiting for you to go to lunch, eat your lunch, and come back from lunch without getting into some sort of escapade.

I love when you trip over the trash can.  I love when you tell me you got sneezed on in class by that other kid. I love when you try to scare me by creeping in between classes, and I love it when you want me to help you pull pranks.

Because I love you.

And I wish you knew how much.

I wish you knew that I live and die by what is going on with you.

By the funny things you say.

By the fact that you show up day after day.

I wish you knew how very much I missed you this summer and how I hardly laughed all summer because you weren't there to do silly things.

I wish you knew how much my heart hurts when I think about having to say goodbye to some of you when you graduate this year. How I am already wondering how in the world I'm going to be able to go to homeroom next August and not see you there for the FIRST TIME EVER.

I wish you knew that I worry about you all the time and hope I'm giving you all the things you need. And that I go to bed every night wishing I'd done better.

Because, honestly, it's really not that important to me that you can explain the differences between subject and object pronouns.

I care more that you feel like you spent a couple of years in a classroom with someone who listened to you and cared about you.

But mostly I worry that you don't know how much I love you. And how grateful I am for you. And how blessed I am to be your teacher.

Because, to you, this is part of your life. But, to me, you are my whole life.

I love you so much, and I'm always here for you.

Love,

Miss L.



Essential Oils

Monday, March 7, 2016

There's something I've been considering doing for well over a year now, but I just kept not doing it for one reason or another. However, a couple of weeks ago I finally took the plunge.

And that thing is ...

... essential oils.

I have read several things online about essential oils over the past couple of years, and even went so far as to look around on the doTerra website, but for one reason or another -- cost, mostly, I guess -- I never did it. I even went so far as to register for a customer ID with doTerra back in July, but still never ordered.

But I keep reading Amy's blog and she talks about the benefits of essential oils all the time. In fact, some of her stories almost seemed too good to be true sometimes. I mean honestly ... a drop of peppermint on your temples can cure a headache? Drops of OnGuard on your feet can prevent illnesses? I mean ... REALLY?!

The thing she finally got me with was one called Elevation. (The "joyful blend.") The thing is, I have struggled with anxiety and other issues for several years, and it is especially bad during the winter months (which are almost over praise the Lord!). According to Amy (and doTerra), Elevation is a blend that will elevate mood. I am honestly open to anything on earth that will assist with anxiety issues, especially natural things.

I finally broke down and went to doTerra's website, committed to trying the oils for real this time. However, I was a little bit taken aback at the $49 price tag on the Elevation. What if it didn't work? What if it was too good to be true? I really don't have an extra $49 hanging around, but I really was so interested in trying the oils!

Luckily, I found a "while supplies last" sale on doTerra to buy three of their most popular oils -- peppermint, OnGuard, and Wild Orange -- for only $34. I figured I could try these other ones -- especially the peppermint since I get headaches a lot -- and if they worked, then I could save and invest in the Elevation.

I decided to email Amy (disclaimer: I don't really know her in real life, but I think she and I would be friends, and I told her as much in my email :) ) and ask her how to best use the oils. She was so sweet and emailed back right away! She told me that you can really put them anywhere on the body -- and some you can even ingest -- but she recommends putting them on the feet since the pores are the biggest there. She told me to use peppermint often because it would be the one that would really prove to me that oils work.

... and she was SO right.

As I mentioned earlier, I get headaches a lot. I take several Advil a week, sometimes more, and I always keep it in my purse. I received the peppermint in the mail about two weeks ago, and let me tell you how many Advil I've used since then: zero.

Let me say it again -- ZERO.

I'm telling the honest truth. I put peppermint in my handbag and pull it out whenever I get a headache. I rub one little drop (ONE DROP!) on my temples and the cooling sensation sets in almost immediately, and the pain from my headache dissipates. In fact, my friend Sarah was over two Fridays ago -- the day I got the oils -- and she said she had a headache. I said, "Um, I hope you don't think I'm a weirdo, but could I offer you something?"

I told her about the peppermint, and she put some on and commented that she really liked the cooling sensation. Just last week my principal was complaining of a headache after school, saying she had taken a couple Advil and was going to take more, and she was getting ready to drive a few hours to a meeting. Once again, I was all like "Um, I hope you don't think I'm a weirdo, but ..." and gave her the oil, too.

Additionally, I woke up with some severe back pain last week (never happens to me, must have slept wrong), and it hurt so badly all day that finally, on my planning period, I rubbed a couple of drops of peppermint onto my back. IT HELPED.


In Amy's email to me, she also offered to send me any samples of oils I might like to try. PERFECT! I asked her to please send me Serenity, Balance, and, of course, Elevation. (Amy said these are some of her family's favorite oils.) I received those oils a couple of days ago, and WOW. I put Serenity on my feet before bed, and fall asleep easily and sleep so well. I've been putting a couple of drops of Balance on my yoga mat before class. (I want to see if I can dilute it with a little water and put it in a spray bottle so I can spray my mat!) And, of course, I have been obsessively using Elevation since the minute I got it. It must have these warming properties because I feel a warm sensation when I use it. I put Elevation on my feet at night, too, and then I also put it on my wrists and on my heart in the morning. I used it before school last Thursday, and, at the end of the day, I asked my homeroom how their day had been, and one kid said, "The teachers all seemed to be in good moods today. You were really happy this morning." A weird coincidence? Maybe, but I can tell you the ONLY thing different about me that day was that I used Elevation, and this kid has never said this to me before.

Here's the thing -- oils are expensive when you first look at them. Like I said, I was taken aback by the cost at first, too. But then I realized that you're really only using a drop or two at a time, and one bottle of oils will last for years. I mean, how much do we spend on prescription drugs every month/year, you know? And if you set aside $35-$50 every month to just purchase one oil, that's manageable.

I know I might sound like a huge weirdo, and, I mean, I AM a weirdo, but not because of this. I've been talking to my mom a lot about them, and she's really interested, too. I'm also keeping my sister Erin updated about them (she's the kind of person who would be into this kind of thing, I mean she's a vegan :) ), and she said, "I love that you're becoming one of those people." And I was all like, "Oh I know it. I do yoga and use essential oils."

I mean WHO AM I?!

But really, the oils are legit.

So if you've been thinking about trying them, I highly recommend it. I keep all of mine in a little pouch in my purse (TIGHTLY closed, of course!) so I can pull them out at a moment's notice. I suggest trying peppermint first, as it really is the one that will show you the most immediate results.


*Oh, I'm getting nothing for talking about oils, doTerra, or Amy. I just really, really, really like these oils, and I spent FOREVER going back and forth before I ever bought any.

For Sarah.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

I will start off by saying that no, I don't have children. I will also say that I grew up with two younger sisters and two younger brothers with parents who worked and/or volunteered, etc. on the daily. I will also say that I don't mean to be controversial, but I do want to say this because I feel like someone needs to speak for the other side.

Now that the preface is over, here's what I want to really say:

I understand that having children changes your life. I understand that being a parent is the hardest job on earth and takes so much out of you. I understand that when you're a parent, you're on call 24 hours a day.

But I will also say this -- you chose to be a parent.

Which is why, when I see things like this:



It really, really burns me up.

I could tell you about working two full-time jobs while going to grad school and being a member of several nonprofits in town. I could tell you how my other friend Sarah and I were told last school year -- while we were putting in 12-14+ hour days 6 days a week -- that we'd "understand what it means to be busy" when we had children. I could tell you how, at one of my previous jobs, I was told by the same woman at least three times that I couldn't actually be busy because I didn't have children.

But instead, instead I'm going to tell you about my friend Sarah Walling.

Sarah is an attorney it town, which is a stressful enough job on its own. No one would blame Sarah if she didn't have time to volunteer for things because she works 34985793 hours a week.

However, if you want something done, you ask Sarah. Need someone to take money at the door of your event on Saturday morning? Sarah's there. Need someone to buy a ticket to a fundraiser? Sarah buys two. Need someone to buy Christmas presents for some kids you know who are without? Sarah's got you. Need someone to collect food for your food drive, host a meeting, drive donations somewhere, or bake for a bake sale? Sarah will.

And she won't complain about it.

Which is why, as burnt up as I get about myself when I hear or see someone saying I can't possibly be tired/exhausted/busy because I don't have children, I get even more fired up when I think that Sarah sees that stuff, too. In fact, she sees you posting this on your Facebook page and she gets your emails, and, ironically, she sees it from people whom often she JUST DID SOMETHING FOR.

Again, I (and Sarah) understand the ridiculous amount of physical and emotional energy it takes to be a parent. And my hat's off to you for your good work. But I also know that, yes, we childless people can also get tired, too. We have just as much right to being tired or needing to relax as parents do. Yes, we do these things because we're happy to do them and we want to help. Period. But it hurts that people tell us we can't be tired or busy ever.

I know what you're thinking -- you don't have kids, so you don't understand.

Maybe you're right.

But I do know that 1. You chose to have those children, so when you complain about them, what do you want me to say? I'm sorry? I honestly do not know what to say
and 2. I wonder if you'd actually say the same thing you're posting about to our actual faces? (Especially while we volunteer for something you need.)

I think what makes me the most sad is, why is it a competition? Does it somehow make life better for you if you win the "I'm more tired than you!" contest? I know so many parents who are able to get through their lives without insulting childless people, so I'm not sure at all what the hang up is for those can't seem to do that. Maybe you're just joking, but maybe you also need to know that it hurts.

What I do know for sure is this -- you'll keep insulting Sarah with your "you're not busy" comments, and she -- she'll keep bringing you donations, volunteering at your event, and baking for you.

Whether she slept last night or not.

Dedicated to Sarah -- who has the most generous spirit of anyone I've ever met. 

Sarah and me. Having fun at one of our volunteering events.

I'll Do It Because I Want To, Not Because You Tell Me To!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

I have written before about how my mom made me the reader I am today. As I told my students today, the only reason I am the English teacher/reader/read aloud-er that I am is because of how much my mom read to me, took me to the library, and loved books.

You may already know, but today was National Reading Day because today was also Dr. Seuss's birthday. My mom really wanted to come and read to my middle school classes in honor of the day, and I was really excited because I knew the kids would be dazzled by her reading aloud skills.

Yesterday I asked my eighth graders what books they enjoyed reading as kids. I didn't tell them why I was asking, but I was so pleasantly surprised by the results. Every single student had something to share. EVERY. ONE. Even kids who are not great readers. Even the kids who do not like to read. They all had something to share. Henry and Mudge. Green Eggs and Ham. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. The truth is, I had had a couple of these very students tell me before that they don't remember a parent reading to them, and, more specifically, that they don't remember their dads reading to them. I feel like that's so sad because, although I might remember my mom more, I certainly remember my dad reading to me, too. (He was a HUGE fan of the book Owl at Home.)


My mom came and read many books today. She did a slightly different lineup for each class, but she read Dr. Seuss, The Stinky Cheese Man, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and, my favorite, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, among some other things. (Sidenote: Erin -- Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, we need to stage a reading together. Remember that kid who wouldn't bathe and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle told her parents to plant radishes on her? Yeahhhh.) 

The kids were really well behaved and seemed to really enjoy being read to. The thing is, EVERYONE enjoys being read to, and I think we enjoy it even more when someone is reading a nostalgic book to us. And, even at the ripe old ages of 11-15, these kids are nostalgic for books like Green Eggs and Ham. And, as I mentioned before, some of these kids may have never had a mama read to them, or maybe not read enough. And that's not an indictment on anyone's parenting. I understand we all have different circumstances. But I also know, in my humble English-teacher opinion, reading is THE VERY BEST THING you can do for your kid. (I also have a kid whose mom died unexpectedly a couple of years ago, and if there's anyone who could step in for someone's mom for a half hour, it's my mom.)

I so enjoyed listening to my mom read because, as I realized a few minutes in to her first reading, it's been a looooooong time since my mom read aloud to me. And when I listened to her say "Are you my mother?" I could almost picture myself upstairs on Alma Street where I used to live (and my grandparents still do).

Drinking the Water

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

I find that I usually blog on one of two themes: one, something serious that is on my mind, or two, something lighthearted and funny (usually something that happened at school). One thing that I don't write about a lot, however, is my chronically single status, and there are many reasons for this. First and foremost, I don't want to sound like a whiner or that I'm somehow sorry and sad. Because I am neither one of those things. In fact, I actually think that as fortunate and blessed as I would be to find someone, there is someone who would be equally as fortunate and blessed to find me. I also don't write about it a lot because if there's one thing I don't want to be, it's a cliche, and a 31-year-old single gal whining about singleness is the most cliche thing out there.

On a matter that will seem unrelated but will turn out to be very, very related, I always try not to lie to my students. When they ask me something, I do try very hard to be as truthful as I can. (In an age-appropriate way.)

We just finished the novel Tuck Everlasting in sixth grade. (If you haven't read it, please go find it this weekend. It'll take you a day to read it.) I have loved this book since I was in fourth grade and have read it many times over the years. A couple weeks ago the students asked about who my favorite character was or something along those lines, and I told them that it has changed through the years. I tried to tell them that I've been reading this book for over 20 years, and that, as you get older and re-read books that you read for the first time at a young age, the way you view those books will change and grow as you change and grow.

Which, if you're in the sixth grade and the ripe old age of 11, means absolutely nothing. :)

In order to understand what I'm about to say next, which is the point of this whole post actually, you need to know a little about the plot of the novel. In brief, it is about an almost 11-year-old girl named Winnie who meets a family (a mom, a dad, and two sons) who drank from a spring and found out after they had done so that the spring caused eternal life. Winnie spends some time with them, and, in a certain point in the novel, the family has to leave town, so the 17-year-old (well, he's really much older because he has eternal life, but you get it) son Jesse gives Winnie a small bottle of water from the spring and tells her she should wait till she's 17, drink it, go find him, and they can get married and spend their lives together. One of the questions I posed to the students was, if you were Winnie, would you drink the water or not?

Today we read the epilogue, which provides us this information:



Then the students turned the question on me -- "Miss Lafferre, if you were Winnie would you have drunk the water?"

And I honestly didn't know what to say.

What I wanted to say was, "No I wouldn't have. The Tucks gave a convincing argument about why it was terrible to live forever, and we know that's not God's plan for creation."

However, what I thought was maybe. Maybe. Maybe I would have. Jesse loved Winnie, and Winnie, as young as she was, could have loved him. And that's a forever (no pun intended) kind of love, the kind they write novels about.

Maybe when I was in sixth grade and had the whole world ahead of me it would have been easy to say no. But, being 31 and knowing what I know about love being so hard to find, I might have said yes. Having Jesse might have been far too hard to give up. So, yes, maybe I would have drunk that water.

What I did say was, "I don't know, guys. I see why it's a terrible idea to drink it, but I also think maybe I would have. The older you get and the more experiences you have, your thoughts on these books you first read when you were kids will change. And you might change your mind about things you used to think."

They'll understand it when they're older.
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