There are so many great things that happen on Thursdays.
1: Our student council usually sells breakfast pizza from Casey's in one of the science rooms and if you get there in time, you get to greet a good portion of the student body before class starts.
2: If the calendar week were a roller coaster, Thursday would be the last segment of track right at the top of that first giant hill. There is a certain quality in the school hallways that speaks both student exhaustion and excitement, akin to the nausea of the first drop of the Patriot at Worlds of Fun. Thursdays are the calm before the storm of Friday night football games and busy weekends. Students come together and give their "last hurrah!" of energy to finish out the week. I love it!
3: After school Madeline and I run to our currently unpaid position at Kirby's School of Dance. It is SO FUN! There are four classes that we assist with; elementary students come over to the Bremer Center in Aurora and learn to tendu, chassé, and pirouette. Kirby teaches them tap steps as well, but I truly can't remember the names of the steps! We both thought it was a job, but it just might be volunteer work. Jury's currently out, but it is such a fun thing to do on a Thursday afternoon!
The final great thing that happens THIS Thursday is that our Honors Composition class posts their blogs! I will be reading all of the entries before falling asleep tonight! Our topic is, "Who Am I?" I truly love to hear about people's lives. Oh, what I would give to listen to the world's stories! To read a giant storybook of all that is happening and has happened on earth! To watch puzzle pieces and fragments of people's lives come together! That is one reason I love the Bible so much; what an fascinating and detailed history! Can you imagine the ability to laugh at every funny story, to cry at every sweet moment, and to relate to so many occurrences that have happened throughout the course of time? I may not be able to have great conversations with all of the people I "know" about who they truly are in this lifetime, but reading people's blogs in this class is a fun start!
I guess this last paragraph leads me to my current mental dilemma. When in conversation with someone I don't really know, I'd rather not talk about me. It's not that I am not confident in who I am or that I do not know who I am, but rather that it is just uncomfortable. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's a deep psychological stranger-danger trust issue. Honestly, I'd rather not know. Sad as this sounds, it scares me a tiny bit to post about my life on a blog even for a very, very small group of potential readers.
So. This is me talking to my best friend, telling them about my life.
I first breathed in fresh, Little Rock, Arkansas, air in November of 1994. I am the first of four girls born to Rick and Marci Epp, the most important and influential people in my life. I was born with a common condition called Jaundice. In a nutshell, that means that in the first week of my life was spent under a phototherapy light which broke down excess bilirubin created when I recycled my old red blood cells. I wore little sunglasses and was carefully watched around the clock by my family for the devastating fact that I would become blind if my sunglasses were to fall off. This is an odd thing to bring up when talking about who I am today, but I believe it highlights two specific things about my life. One, I love to be in any kind of spotlight. I love acting under stage lights, reading under nightlights, and dancing under football stadium lights. Two, my family has always been my support group, my closest friends, and my biggest cheerleaders. They watch out for me and are constantly nearby to laugh with, to cry with, and to walk beside tangibly and intangibly.
I also slept 15 hours a night as a newborn. This panicked my parents, who took me in to see my pediatrician, who also panicked, several days in a row to make sure everything was okay. Finally, he just told them that I was perfectly healthy, that they had been given a gift, and to go home. I have always enjoyed my sleep, but today do not sleep anywhere near 15 hours a night. I like to think I was stock-piling sleep hours for the years to come. I am currently the family night-owl, ironically petrified of the dark. (I say this in complete seriousness. People laugh, but it is too true. Darkness creeps me out, paralyzes me, stops me in my tracks. I have a phone flashlight app on the home screen of my little droid, and I might use it more than my alarm clock.)
All growing up I had a head of dark, curly hair attached permanently to a gigantic bow. Mom is from the South and the South believes in bows. Huge bows. I had to wear a bow until fifth grade. I remember really disliking them then, but I absolutely love the bows now as I look back at pictures! I can remember wearing a bow to the swimming pool so that Mom could tell who we were in the water. That was such a brilliant idea! We also had our first haircut the summer after we turned five years old. Every parent teaches their children different things different ways and these two "requirements" taught me to care about my appearance. I am by no means saying that every child must have super long hair with bows hanging down to their shoelaces to learn to care about how they present themselves, but for me this taught the importance of taking care of oneself.
My kindergarten through second grade years were spent at the Epp Academy. I learned to love my family and learning at the same time. My sisters and I are so close, and I believe this is in part due to the fact that we were all we had for friends in the early years of life. I can remember fun family times that happened at all hours during the day. I also remember thinking that every person in the world had one friend outside their family. We had a friend named Arienne who would come over and we would play in the dirt in our yard by our cornfield. We named this patch of earth "The Desert" and we played king of the mountain on hills of mud and dug up things our cousins had buried to make a 4-wheeler track years before.
Having one friend in no way, shape, or form prepared me for the culture shock of entering the Aurora Public School system in third grade, where approximately 100 other children my age went to school. One hundred kids. One hundred third-graders. One hundred, one hundred, one hundred. Did students here have one hundred friends? I knew I could count that high, but I just couldn't believe I could count that many friends. Making friends was a hard thing for me to do that year. Thankfully, I contracted chicken pox. That gave me approximately two weeks at home, right around the time of my birthday. It was such a welcome thing. Then, one unfortunate PE class (never my strong suit), we were playing line tag and I ran smack dab into Britni McBride, breaking my nose. I had surgery the next day, a beautiful plastic cast, and a glorious amount of time at home to recoup-orate from my days at school.
My middle school days were not much better socially. I spent my recesses hiding out in the girls bathrooms. It seems strange now, but I can't remember a lot of my middle school days. I'm actually thankful for this fact; I think I have mentally blocked them out. I left my mark on the middle school handbook, now no one is allowed to use the restrooms during recess and the bathrooms are checked before that dreaded time to make sure no one is camping out in there.
Cheerleading changed my life. This sounds silly, but it is so true. It gave me confidence. I was astonished to have people know my name that I didn't know, have people start talking to me instead of the other way around, and have...friends. I learned upperclassmen's names when we inserted them into our rebound cheers for basketball. Classes switched up and I was with different people all of the time. I got to know so many people. My middle school years taught me humility, and my high school years gave me confidence. I know that I can never be full of myself because I am so far from perfect and I also know that there are people who I can invest time into. I never want anyone to feel like they don't have friends or that no one likes them. It is my personal mission to make sure that everyone around me feels loved and accepted, because everyone is worth love and acceptance.
As a new person, I started to become involved in the activities of Aurora High School. Today I am involved in cheerleading, the Fellowship of Christian Girls, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Aurora Mentoring Program, FFA, National Honor Society, Student Council, the Senior Officer Team. I am a Student Ambassador, the FFA secretary, the National Honor Society president, and the Student Council secretary.
In June of 2008 I became a Christian. I accepted Jesus into my heart, knowing that He died on the cross for all of my sins and rose again on the third day, victorious over death. I know that He is coming again. I know that this world is not fluffy clouds and rainbows, but we, as Christians, are the "body" of Christ and need to shine as stars in this dark and perverse generation. Our old youth pastor, who I looked up to and respected, was found to be without a pastoral degree, abusing his wife, and stealing from the church. This left me with enormous trust issues. It was so hard to learn from pastors after that because I didn't absolutely believe that they were who they said they were. God has worked a miracle and truly delivered me from those trust issues, mainly through the realization that Christians are far from perfect. The Bible is Truth always. Humans will fail me all the time and I will fail others all the time, but God will never fail me. We are Christians because at some point we realized that we needed a Savior. I daily struggle to be more like Jesus.
This class is the only class I need to graduate. When I was looking at my schedule this year I started to wonder why our senior class was still in school. We could all, depending on how exactly we planned our individual schedules, graduate at semester. I started to be bogged down with that dreaded thing called "senioritis." Then I realized that we are here to set the pace for the underclassmen. We are here to encourage them to become involved in school activities, to give them the confidence that I was given almost four years ago.
Who am I?
That goes back to where I'm from:
I am from hair straighteners,
deep black bobby pins and anti-frizz spray.
From library nooks and rocking chairs
that comfort, engulf, surround like a cocoon.
I am from the excitement of a the crowd
at a football game, poms, and face paint.
From shiny book covers to dusty tomes
smelling wiser, or newer, than I.
I am from conversation, chatter in the hallways,
quiet in the classroom.
I am from encouragement,
confidence in others and a happy hello.
From Kanakuk Kamps, fresh off the jet ski,
throat hoarse and skin burnt red.
I am from grace, delivered by mercy and
overwhelmed by God's love.
I am from glitter and tutus
that take forever to make just right.
From newspaper rolls for making signs
late at night wielding foam brushes.
I am from the family that enjoys one another.
Smiles, laughs, sings around the dinner table
engraved by pencils from homework past.
1. The Broken by Bebo Norman
2. You Are Everything by Matthew West
3. Amazing Life by Britt Nicole
4. Forever Reign by Hillsong United
5. Light Up The Sky by The Afters
6. There Will Be A Day by Jeremy Camp
7. East to West by Casting Crowns
8. Hero by Skillet
9. Your Great Name by Natalie Grant
10. Should Have Been Me by Citizen Way
11. The Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns
This song is a journey! If you listen to it, please read until the end! I LOVE this song because I absolutely relate to it!
Mary Ellen Pankratz is my Grandpa's sister. She is pictured here making Zwieback, German bread rolls. She owns a catering business and we always (a tradition!) buy from her for our German meals!