Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The old maid at the marriage seminar

Since I originally wrote this a couple of months ago, I've been going back and forth over whether or not to post it. Part of me still can't believe I'm actually considering putting this down in writing where others can read it, but the larger part finds the whole idea therapeutic. If this disappears in a few hours, you'll know I chickened out. 

Earlier this year, I attended the annual ministry conference for the ministerial fellowship my family is a part of.  As always, it feels sort of like a family reunion, seeing friends I haven’t seen in a year (or several) and meeting new members face-to-face for the first time. Having grown up surrounded by this group of ministers, I am always assured of being asked the same questions at least a couple of times during the week--You know, the usual reunion stuff: “Are you married?” “Any kids?” “What are you doing these days?” etc. (Thankfully, Facebook has made these questions MUCH less common because most of us stalk everyone else enough to know who is still single, childless, and working for her dad. Haha)

But this year, I was thrown for an unexpected loop. Since I hadn’t really paid much attention to who the speakers were supposed to be this year, I didn’t realize that at least two of our sessions would be on marriage. **sigh** Yep, that was fun. LOL (Actually, they were both very good, and I hope the majority of the room was able to suck it up and get over their obvious discomfort with the subject of sex to learn something from what was said.) Anyway, once I got over the initial “Oh, great! I have to sit at the same table with my family while he talks about this? What’s next, parenting lessons?” I started wondering about the rest of the room. Was there anyone else in the room feeling like the odd-man-out? Later that evening, someone in my family was joking that they should have all the single people stand up so they can pair us off. My response was that I pretty much know who is single in the room (especially the men) because, inevitably, someone at some point in time has taken the trouble to point them out to me. LOL (The realization of which led me to another realization: people keep jokingly pointing out single men to me, but that’s always as far as it goes. “You’re single? Oh, so is he. Haha”….walks away…Hmmmm...Hello? No introduction? Oh, well, back on topic…..)

As I was listening to the sessions, however, I came to a few understandings about myself. (Well, I sort of knew them before, but I now have it in words.) So, if only for the cathartic release, here goes:

I feel like I’m at an AA meeting: Hello, my name is Kari and….

1. I have been hiding. (Please, note the past tense. I'm truly working on this.) I'm not sure that this was ever an actual, intentional thought of mine past trying to avoid the terrible anxiety triggers that social situations inevitably caused during my teens, but somewhere along the way, I started avoiding men. To this day, if someone tries to introduce me to a single guy, I break out in a nervous sweat and try to bolt like a scared rabbit as soon as possible. If I’m remotely interested in him, my anxiety will short out my brain, causing me to say something utterly inane, which means I will avoid him like the plague out of fear of my stupidity. The cycle of stupidity and avoidance will continue until I can pull myself together enough to manage just enough small talk to come across as civil--of course, causing him to assume I deeply dislike him. (Facepalm!)

2. I am apparently incapable of making the first move (or any move at all). Seriously, I can be head-over-heels for a guy and not be able to do more than stutter out “Hello” when I see him. **sigh** As I stated in #1, my history of anxiety makes for a rather pathetic lack of certain social skills, but the art of flirting is utterly beyond me. I came along rather late in my parents’ lives. (I promise this is connected.) My parents are Baby Boomers; the rest of my peers were raised by Hippies. My house had different rules of engagement when it came to cross-gender relationships. I was raised that a girl does not call a boy. Ever. For any reason. Seems totally ridiculous (right?), but it was a fact of life in the 1950s. It was drilled into me that boys always do the asking. If a girl approaches a boy, she’s being forward and immodest. Guys always pay. (See where this is going?) None of these rules actually work in today’s society, and I still find myself trying to find my footing in today's dating world. Now, I am still a firm believer that the man should be the leader of the relationship, but I’ve always envied the women who could show their interest easily and respond in kind when they were approached. 

3. I am picky. Of course, I call this having high standards, but for the sake of this list, I’ll use everyone else’s term and say “picky.” One of the topics our speaker that week mentioned was “The List.” Any girl in a youth group during the 90s was told to write down a list of qualities she wanted in a husband, anything from appearance to talents to personality. Then, she was to hold onto that list and wait for the guy who would fulfill her every desire. **eye roll**  Yeah, that’s not a set up for disappointment. I ran across a list I wrote once in my late teens and laughed so hard I cried (or maybe cried so hard I laughed—it was a toss-up). Out of a page and a half of random wishes, I think only 3 were things I would actually even think of now, such as: Christian. I kid you not, the only things on the list that I now consider important enough to make the list were the things that didn’t even need to be on the list to begin with. 

4. Like I said: Picky. I am, without fail, attracted to the strongest personality in the room. While it is unfortunately difficult in today’s society of feminism and metro-sexuality to find a man who is comfortable as a natural leader, it is even more difficult to find a man who is confident enough in himself as a leader and as a man to handle being around a woman who is herself a natural leader. I know that there are many healthy relationships where the woman is the stronger personality; this isn’t always an indication of an overbearing woman and a weak man. Each relationship is different because the people within it are different. However, I personally cannot exist in that kind of relationship. I do not want to be in charge, make all the decisions, lead the house. (I hate when a guy constantly defers to me and won’t make a decision or have an opinion about anything without checking with me first. Just make a decision. Have a plan. Be open to hearing my opinion, but please, for the love of sanity, start with a plan! **deep breath** OK, rant over.) It has been my experience that the guys who are typically attracted to me are the ones who want me to take charge. They want me to make all the choices and have all the opinions. Basically, I end up as “Mommy.” Ugh! Is it too much to ask for a guy that I can respect as a leader as well as love as a man?

And there tends to be one other obstacle in getting close to these strong personalities: they always have groupies. There was the popular guy on campus with whom I really hit it off, and judging by his attempts to keep in touch, we could have at least been friends, but I was utterly stymied by the gaggle of enamored girls that followed him everywhere. Then, there was the man who was constantly recognized everywhere we went, leaving me feeling like a third wheel. Friends would always laugh at my frustration, telling me to just "get in there" or to "just ignore the others." But, I would always freeze. Being talkative, or even friendly, does not make one an extrovert, and I kinda panic in these surroundings. I am not at my best in large groups; I tend to revert to my Wallflower state and just watch the others. Introverts shine in longer, one-on-one encounters; and the depth and quality of a conversation is usually directly linked to its length. I come across as aloof and unfriendly (and extremely awkward) in unfamiliar situations or when I haven't had time to mentally prepare for something. (Thus, I may seem very confident in one situation, but turn into a stumbling, stuttering mess in another.)

5. I am a very convincing actress. “Today, the role of Independent, Self-sufficient Woman will be played by Kari Yerton. Ms. Yerton has a long history of hiding vulnerabilities behind similar roles from productions such as Too Busy for a Relationship and Not Interested. Everyone will remember her performance of the power ballad ‘Happy Alone,’ where she garnered a standing ovation with her show-stopping delivery of the line ‘As long as I’m busy, I can’t be lonely.’ In her free time, Ms. Yerton can be found Netflix-binging on her couch in the apartment she shares with her pet parakeet, a Betta Fish, and more books than a small-town library.” **sigh**

Well, I guess I'll just leave this here...

P.S. If you made it to the end, bravo for you! Now, go eat a cookie for me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016



Like the leaves that carpet the autumn floor,
My sins have fallen before Your gaze--
Tangible proof of my death, piled in heaps--
Brown, orange, yellow--a blaze of imperfection.

Slowly, deliberately, You gather them together.
I turn from the sight, sickened by my guilt,
When I hear Your voice calling, calling--

A fire--blood-red, scorching--rises to the sky--
Your hands--scarred by the flames You gave,
Purposefully blotting out the record of my wrong--
Reach out to me from the smoke,
Welcoming me with Your embrace.

--K. Yerton

Monday, February 29, 2016

Looking through black-colored glasses

I'm currently neck-deep in reference books while I'm preparing for the 3 classes I will be teaching during the two month Spring Co-op session of the homeschool group my sister's family is a part of. The topics are Poetry, Research Papers, and Homer's Iliad. (90% of you just groaned. Believe me, I'm just as thrilled by that middle subject as any 10th grader. LOL)

Anyway, I decided to pull out some of my research projects from school to take as examples to show them since I will be teaching all of this without the benefit of a library everyday. (Yes, I still have my old papers. English majors have a thing about never getting rid of a paper. haha) When I pulled them out of their file, though, I found a bunch of other random school papers in with them--crammed in there, I'm sure, in the moving chaos a few years ago.
My reading list. Jealous much?
One thing I found was a list from my senior year of high school. Shortly before graduation, I, as president of our 23-member class, handed everyone sheets of paper with all the class members' names listed on them. I told them that they were to fill them out with the one thing--Keep it positive, people!--that they would remember most about that person; then, in a year, I would mail each person the list of everyone's responses. They filled them out and gave them back, and I didn't look at them again, for a year. The next May, I pulled out the folder and started going through the pages, compiling the responses about each person; and everything was fine--some eye-rolling, a lot of laughs, a few groans--until I got to the last name on the list, mine. 

With the last name of Yerton, you get used to being the last at everything very early in your school career. I spent so many first months of school stuck on the back row by the door, that it became my favorite seat in the room. I always knew exactly which person would be sitting beside me in my first classes: the same person who sat beside me last year, and the 10 years before that. But in this case, being the last name was a disaster for me.

When I read what my classmates had written about me, I was devastated and cried for days. To this day, I don't know how anyone else reacted to receiving their lists, but I almost didn't mail them because I was so crushed by mine. I'm still not sure why I kept it, but apparently, my packrattyness kicked in and stuck it in a box for me.

So, here I am, seeing this orange piece of paper for the first time in nearly 2 decades. When I realized what it was, I cringed and almost put it down without looking at it again, but I stopped and decided to reread it because it has been so long. What I found shocked me.

It's not bad.

Let me say that again. It. Is. NOT. Bad.

Actually, most of it is completely positive, even complimentary.

The Infamous List
*names have been removed to protect the innocent ;)
I'm still a little in shock about it. I've had nightmares about this list and wondered how my classmates could've spent so many years with me and still known me so little. It colored how I approached new relationships in college and changed my opinion of myself.

As a college Sophomore
How could I have been so wrong, have seen it so incorrectly? One word: Depression.

I've realized much about Depression and its insidiousness over the years since I first began treatment, but I've never before seen just how clearly it alters one's perception of events. I looked at this list of what 22 people thought about me and, not only did I only remember the 1 or 2 negatives, I didn't even notice all the good things they had to say. In fact, some of the ones I remember hurting me aren't even negative; they are things that I would take as a compliment or just laugh at now. But I couldn't see it then. I couldn't hear it. My perception was completely twisted.

This is what makes Depression so dangerous: It literally changes how you see yourself and the world around you. Depression had me convinced that I was a failure, that no one liked me, that I had to act all the time to keep others from seeing how pathetic I really was. I was so convinced that I was ugly that I became terrified of dating and developed severe social anxiety that made me sick anytime I had a date, so I just avoided guys and hoped they would leave me alone. (Most successful thing I've ever attempted in my life, by the way. haha)

My point is, if you are suffering from Depression, don't take your world at face value. Don't trust yourself to be seeing things clearly. Get help. Reassess. 

And if you have a loved one who is dealing with this monster, remember that their view of the world is warped by their pain. Just like physical pain can cause other symptoms, emotional pain taints every aspect of a person's life. Support them. Help them. But whatever you do, DO NOT back off!! They will do everything they can to get you to leave them alone and go away. Ignore it! It's the last thing they need and, truly, the last thing they really want.

Just remember, silver linings are real. The sun really is shining. And it does get better.

Love, me!

Friday, September 18, 2015

The suicide question

This morning, a friend who writes fiction posted a query on Facebook asking a question about a certain character’s development, specifically why a 17 year-old girl would commit suicide.  Now, she gave more details about the situation, and several fellow writers and friends—including me—commented with ideas and suggestions; however, I couldn’t help but feel she was asking the wrong question.  Like most adults, she was asking, “What could be so bad or serious to drive a kid to throw away her future?”  But this isn’t the question the suicidal kid is asking; therefore, no answer given will be sufficient.

I have recently begun teaching a weekly writing class for secondary students in the homeschool group my sister’s family is a part of. I was talking to my all-girl class today about figurative language, and spent some time on the subject of hyperbole.  We all had a good laugh about how teenage girls live in a world of hyperbole; everything is a disaster or a miracle. The truth, however, is that all teens are residents of a very small world; that’s why everything causes drama, everything is life-changing and important. One must realize this in order to understand what question the suicidal teen is asking.

The human brain is an amazing thing—how it develops, changes, learns—and it dictates much of how a person responds to a certain situation at a specific time.  For example, a 5 year-old, a 15 year-old, and a 25 year-old will all respond completely differently to an event. This is why adults are so easily frustrated with their teenage children; their brains function differently. Your son’s not just being reckless; his brain is actually telling him he is invincible—it’s a developmental stage.  Your daughter’s not just being a drama queen; her brain honestly can’t see past this current situation, so of course, it has monumental importance for her.  When you add to the mix the high pressure of our modern American society, the ridiculous obsession with appearance and social status (the two things most in flux during the teen years) and the break-down of the nucleus family unit, you have a recipe for stressed-out, confused kids.

In my opinion, the issue facing this teen, the question she is trying to answer, isn’t, “What is so bad?” but rather, “What is so good?” 

Most people have either extremely good memories of high school or extremely bad memories; very few of us fall somewhere in the middle.  This has a lot to do with how teens view the world in general, but also much to do with how the world interacts with them.  To a kid facing high expectations on the sports field, a blown game can be life-changing; to one focused on high grades, a failed test is a disaster.  A girl desperate for love and acceptance from anyone sees a break-up as a direct reflection on her worth as a human being.  A boy trying to figure out to be a man views that argument with his dad as proof he is a failure.  These kids see themselves as disposable, perhaps even replaceable.

Now, before someone gets upset, let me clarify that I’m not saying that all kids who have dealt with suicide has had a person, or persons deliberately, repeatedly telling them they are worthless. Self-harming isn’t proof of abuse or bullying, and even when another person is involved, the act was usually indirect. 

Our society over the last 100 years has created a world of disconnected people.  Where once a child was born, grew up, married, lived, and died all in the same town or neighborhood, surrounded by family and familiar people; now, we are constantly on the move, never really knowing our neighbors.  It is now unusual to find an unbroken family unit, and often, the pieces of the family live far apart.  Our heroes and celebrities have changed from great leaders or statesmen to entertainers and athletes.  Where popularity used to hinge on the opinions of a few people you knew personally, it now lies in the hands of strangers—the nameless, faceless internet.  It used to be expected to learn about manners and courtesy; now, our world is all about self-gratification and expression, without regard to whomever it may affect.  It is no wonder that bullying is more prevalent than ever; abuse—in all its forms—is also more common.

We, as a society, must stop trying to convince these kids not to die, but instead, give them a reason to live.  Talking the jumper down off the ledge will always be more effective if there is someone he loves, and who loves him standing beside you.

I’m sure that you may be wondering why I took the time to write all this and what right I have to give my opinion (although I did just point out we live in an age of opinions).  This topic grabbed my attention this morning because I can remember so clearly what it was like to be the kid wondering if anyone would care if I were gone, thinking it would probably be easier for them all, and trying daily to find a reason to hang on.  I’m not sure when I first began thinking about suicide, but I was very young. I remember getting the gun out of Dad’s hiding place and mentally walking through how to load it and fire.  I remember standing by the road one day as a semi drove by, wondering if it would hurt to step in front of it. I remember the years where I couldn’t drive over a bridge without thinking about driving off.  I remember all of this, but I don’t remember once thinking about the future, how things would change, how this was just a season.  Never.  Not once.

This is how I know.

It’s been said that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  That is true, but only for those on the outside.  When you’re on the inside, it’s the only thing you can see.  Your world shrinks down until the problem facing you is your entire horizon, as far as you can imagine.  Nothing else exists.  This is why they do it.  This is why it seems like a viable choice, the only choice.  You reach a point where the only thought in your head is, “Make it stop.” Make the pain stop. Make the abuse stop. Make the inferiority stop. Make this problem screaming at me day and night stop.

We must be louder than the screaming, louder than the incessant pounding that says, “You’re worthless. You’re a failure. You don’t have a reason to go on.” We must find a way to show what we can see because we’re on the other side of adolescence. We know life changes; we can see how situations alter. We must keep telling them through our love that they are worthy and important. 

We have to answer the right question.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Something old.....something new

I’ve been waiting to show you all this beauty for a while now. A couple of years ago, my dad and I found this poor thing sitting on the side of the road.

Please ignore the messy garage. They had just moved.
It was obvious from the dirt and apparent termite damage that it had been sitting in the barn on the property for a long (read: looooooong) time. But it was a beautiful old secretary, and I begged Dad to turn around and let me get a better look at it. Even though it was starting to rain, the desk seemed sturdy and didn’t appear to have any water damage, so we crammed it in the back of the Corolla and drove it to my parents’ house.

Seriously, my mom will probably kill me for posting these photos.

I knew immediately what I wanted to do with it, but I didn’t have the space in my current apartment for the extra piece of furniture. So, my parents kindly allowed me to leave it in their garage until I could fix it up.

I decided to not use the drawer because it was completely unattached.
 Well, I finally moved into a larger apartment earlier this year, so it was time to tackle this redo. I had tried sanding on the piece earlier, but I realized that any remaining stain had completely worn off the piece. What it really needed was cleaning.

It looked 100% better after just the initial cleaning with a T.S.P. Cleaner substitute. After it dried completely, I repeated the process once more before doing some spot sanding.

Still wet from the first cleaning, but already looks amazing!
 One of the legs had been replaced at some point because it was slightly different from the others, and the table wobbled a bit. Dad helped me lay the beast on its side, and we discovered that leg was slightly shorter. However, the bottom of one of the other legs had been damaged, so we decided to cut them all off to the same length. Remember I said there was apparent termite damage to the legs? Well, when Dad sawed off the legs, he discovered that the termites had given up because the Oak wood was so hard. None of the holes were anything but superficial, and the center of the legs was still so hard that his circular saw was smoking trying to cut through.

Fully dry and ready to be filled in and painted.
Now, the only problem left to address before painting was the hole that ran across the center of the desk top. I’m not sure what caused it or if it was built that way, but I wanted to fill it in. Dad was going to try stripping a board down to the correct width to fill it in, but I found a much easier solution. I bought 2 36”-long square dowels that were the correct width. The width of the desk inside was 38”, so I used one dowel as it was and cut the other for pieces. Here’s a diagram of the inside of the desk.


I doubled the dowel so it could be glued into place to be flush with the desk and still be supported by the frame. The small 1” pieces on the ends are glued to the inside and outside of the frame as extra support. After the glue dried, I used wood filler to fill in the gaps around the dowel and smooth out some of the imperfections in the rest of the desk.

Finally, I started painting. I used a spray paint because I wanted a glossy finish without brush strokes, but I realized after the first 2 coats that I had to use a brush to fill in the grain more evenly. Luckily, I was able to get the exact shade in a pint and did 2 coats (well, one full coat and spot touch-ups) with that before finishing off with the spray paint again.

Love me some Kelly Green!
Already looking beautiful!
You can see how well the gap filled in.
All her gorgeousness!

The end result is just loverly!

It was a long time coming, but I’m quite happy and proud with how this project turned out!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

What It Means To Be a Teacher

As most people close to me would know, I taught high school English for exactly one disastrous year after college. =) If anyone doesn't know the details about that experience, suffice it to say that I learned much about myself and my inability to function in the American public school system. **shudder** 

This does not, however, mean I changed my opinion about education and educators. I love learning! I could probably be a lifelong student and be perfectly happy. =) And, I deeply respect those who have made it their life's mission to teach. Unfortunately, this opinion is not necessarily shared by everyone in America today. Too often, I see teachers berated for things out of their control or forced on them by inept leadership. The public demands excellence, but gives no support and little resources.  

So, I thought I would share with you what I feel it means to be a teacher. I send this out to my many, many friends and relatives who work tirelessly day in and day out in an oft-times thankless job.

I love you all!


What it means to be a teacher:

To be a teacher means working 8-10 hour days and still bringing 1 or 2 hours of work home with you each night.
It means spending thousands of dollars of your own money on everything from tissues and notebook paper to new technology or resources in your attempt to catch the imagination of just one more kid.
It means watching children struggle with schoolwork and disciplinary issues and knowing they are going home hungry and alone.

It means being able to do little comfort or help that needy kid because--
to be a teacher means being constantly suspected and mistrusted because of the selfish, deviant actions of a few.
It means being told how to do your job by those with no training or experience in your field.
It often means being forced to choose between the education and growth of your students and the financial health of your school and district.
It means spending your summers attending conferences and working part-time jobs for extra money, all while trying to spend quality time with your family and loved ones.
To be a teacher means you will be bullied, belittled, challenged, threatened, and verbally assaulted by both students and their parents when they aren’t happy.

It means you work 4-6 years for your degree, then spend another 1-3 years in a “trial” position under a mentor before you gain your full certification.

It means having to supervise other functions outside of regular hours such as dances, games, and field trips.

It means working with curriculum and supplies that are sometimes past their prime because the budget can’t allow for their replacements.

It means watching new stadiums and gyms being built while using those old supplies.

It means you will probably spend the first few years of your career in the hardest classes with the most difficult schedules.

To be a teacher means bringing home a paycheck that is roughly the same as a McDonalds shift manager’s.

It means spending your lunch hour and planning periods prepping lessons, grading papers, and setting up activities—all while attempting to swallow at least half of a sandwich.

It means having to justify and explain in five different ways why you taught what you taught in the manner you chose to teach it.

It means grading papers and writing lessons on the weekend.

It means never having a moment to yourself during the day.


To be a teacher also means watching a child’s face light up when he finally grasps a difficult concept.

It means watching a student everyone thought would drop out in a cap and gown preparing for college.

It means gaining a new family of “your kids” every fall and sending a little bit of your heart with each of them every summer.

It means knowing the joy of seeing a kid read for the first time, succeed for the first time, or try for the first time.

To be a teacher means choosing every day to invest in the next generation whether you receive credit for their successes or blame for their failures.

It means caring when everyone else gives up, working after everyone else leaves, and showing up when everyone else stays home.

It isn’t about a paycheck, a career, or a job; it’s about the students and opening their eyes to what life could be and what they could be. Because teaching isn’t about what happened yesterday or what is going on today; no, teaching is about building the future one child and one idea at a time. Indeed, the future of our society does not rise or fall in the marketplace or the political floor.  Our future is created in the classroom.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Some weird math...

One of the most common misconceptions I have encountered among Christians is that the church and the pastor are somehow responsible for one’s spiritual growth.

Now, I completely agree that we should find a church home where we can receive nourishment and be challenged; however, the public church service should never be our only (or even our main) source of spiritual food. We are each responsible for our own spiritual growth and development.

So, if you are feeling underfed or that you've stopped growing, that is not the pastor’s fault, but yours.

If you disagree with me, here’s a couple questions.
  • Whose fault is it when your love of McDonald's gives you extra pounds and high cholesterol: the doctor’s or yours?
  •  Whose fault is it when your speeding car hydroplanes in the rain: the weatherman’s or yours?
  •  Whose fault is it when the kitchen fire spreads too quickly because the batteries in the smoke alarm haven’t been replaced: the fire department’s or yours?
  • Whose fault is it when your car runs out of gas: the mechanic’s or yours?

Most of us are mature enough to accept that our actions—or lack of action—will bring consequences in other areas of our lives, but when it comes to our relationship with God, we often fail to make the connection.

We understand that all human relationships require some kind of maintenance and investment, and that the depth and strength of each relationship is proportionally determined by the amount of time and effort paid into it. And yet, we think that by spending 1.5-2 hours in a church service a few times a month and throwing a occasional $20 in the offering, we should have flourishing, rewarding spiritual lives. (Can you imagine if that were your marriage?)

Think about it, people. It just doesn't add up.