Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Wednesdays in the Comic Shop with Matt

When it comes to transitions, things can get pretty stressful. Transition to a new job, transition to a marriage or family, or transition to a new place makes people nervous, worried, and fearful. But if there's a constant presence around, that can make a transition a lot easier.

When I went up to spend high school in Saginaw, Michigan, it was a huge transition for me. It's not terribly common for a high school student to board, and unlike my other siblings, I was probably not as prepared mentally for it as they were.

I made friends pretty quickly and got involved in extracurriculars, but there was still moments of homesickness, stress, nerves, worries, and fears. But I had a secret weapon; a solution to the problems that come with transition:

My older brother, Matt.

I was a freshman when he was a senior, and when it came to being a senior, he was a Senior. He did everything: football, choir, show choir, theater, and just plain hanging out with a tight group of friends. It was cool to see him in his element.

But he was very supportive of me, too. He listened to me as I complained about transition stuff and helped me out when I needed advice or assistance on homework.

The biggest thing he did, though, was take me to the comic book shop on Wednesdays.

We both were becoming big comic fans around the same time, and we shared a love of DC Comics. In the year 2000, DC Comics were at a creative height. The 1990s had been good to DC, emerging from the giant Crisis on Infinite Earths arc from the 1980s to produce some amazing comics. The Batman comics themselves were wonderful to read, from the original Detective Comics to Nightwing and Robin, my personal favorites. And there was the best comic series around, Young Justice, which had an amazing script and the best inkwork of any comic. (I should know - I own a Todd Nauck original!)

A man at church, Tom, lent us a gigantic amount of his trade paperbacks in those months, and we gobbled them up. Most of them, of course, were Batman comics, but there were a few JLA and crossover trades sprinkled around here and there.

Our peak comic purchasing came during a major event in the Batman universe called Batman: No Man's Land, which lasted for an entire year, finally ending in March of 2000. Every month a few new comics would be released that were related to that event, and we got almost all of them. A novelization came out a year or two later, and I bought that, too! We really got into how everything was shaping up in the Batverse, but I think both of us were relieved when the story was finally done and we could turn to some other plotline for a while.

It just so happened that in Saginaw there was a comic book shop named Shorty's Three Cs (Comics, Cards, and Collectibles) just a few blocks down the road from MLS. It was across from Tony's restaurant where Bay Road met up with State Street and run by a very nice guy who greeted us whenever we showed up.

We ended up making it a habit to meet up on Wednesdays around 4 to walk down to the comics shop together. (Wednesdays are the release day for new comics, if you're not in the know.) Even if we couldn't fit in any other time to get together, we could rely on those hourlong walks to chat and catch up on what the other person was doing. Most of the time, we talked about the comics.

When we were kids, there was a lot of sibling arguing, posturing, and fighting, as siblings are wont to do. Matt and I were no different. When Matt went up to MLS without the rest of us, that dynamic changed to one where I missed having him around. It wasn't much fun being the older sibling in the house.

Being reunited at MLS for one year made our sibling relationship entirely different. Instead of being brother and sister, we actually got to be friends. We joked around and had serious discussions and shared important details with each other.

I know that Matt looks back on those Wednesday afternoons with fondness, as I do. It wasn't just about comics for either of us. It was a chance to grow up and transition with an older brother helping me out. It was an opportunity to get to know each other better, even though I've known him my whole life and he's known me for most of his. And it was a great way to solidify a great relationship that lasts to this day.

I visited Matt back in September in his new home near San Francisco. We went out to eat, viewed some touristy attractions, and watched a bunch of YouTube videos.

But do you know what we ended up doing, almost out of habit?

We checked out the comic shop.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Serenity. Courage. Wisdom. God.

I have a prayer cube that was given to me by a student a few years ago. I routinely give it to one of my students at the end of our day. She or he rolls it and reads whichever prayer faces up.

One of those prayers happens to be the Serenity Prayer, commonly known as the prayer used by the group Alcoholics Anonymous. It ended up being the prayer my classroom used yesterday, November 9, and while I’ve heard it prayed quite a few times over the past few years, it really struck me that day.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

It is commonly attributed to a German American named Reinhold Niebhur and showed up in publications in the 1930s before being adopted by A.A. Longer versions of it are available, but the one that is on posters and commemorative stones and yes, even prayer cubes is the shorter version.
I think it is a good prayer to think about right now. Let’s break it down.


Yup, we’re going to stop there first. So much of the world is distraught at recent events like the US Presidential Election. People are fearful that their rights and freedoms are going to be taken away from them. So where do we turn when it seems like those who we trust to run our government are failing us?

That answer is easy: God. Actually, that is the answer even if it seems like those who we trust to run our government are succeeding! God should always be at the forefront of everything we do. He is in control. We ask for help doing the things in our lives, but God has the workings of the universe in his hands.

grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

“Serenity” means “the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.”

How many people that you know are serene right now? Not as many as there were on Monday, that’s for sure.

But we pray to God here that he keeps us calm, knowing that his wisdom is best. We hear that in Matthew 6, when it says, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

What has happened in our election has happened. God has a plan for this. Trust him.

the courage to change the things I can,

No one owns a time machine at this point, so the change that we are looking to is ahead, not behind. What can we do?

If you didn’t vote, that’s the first change to make. It looks like around 45% of Americans who could have voted decided not to. Even though social media, television, and celebrities galore encouraged us to vote, people still stayed home. That is something that can’t happen. People who live in this country need to fulfill their civic duty and make their voice heard in government.

While our next major election is in two years, there still can be changes made immediately. Instead of trolling the Internet and lambasting the opposing opinion over their pigheadedness or stupidity, take care to look at the whatever is being discussed critically.

My classroom just read a Time For Kids article all about teaching children news literacy, where we think critically about articles in newspapers, magazines, and online. I could have spent five minutes talking about it; we ended up discussing it for 45 minutes and did an accompanying worksheet. I want my students to grow up to be intelligent adults who use their brains before they use their mouths.

We also need to make sure to show love to all our neighbors. (ALL.) Jesus set such a good example of showing love to everyone he met, no matter who they were or what they had done in the past. He didn’t accept their sins, though - he preached the law and gospel to them with love in his heart, and a yearning to see all people be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. Who are we if we don’t strive to do the same? Will looking down at someone or being cruel to someone for their beliefs solve anything? Will their souls be saved that way?

and the wisdom to know the difference.

We need to understand when we can take a stand and when we can be content. Most of the time, it is encouraging people to act when they are happy to just sit back and be content. It can be difficult to get moving, but once a person starts to move, it’s hard for them to stop!

But when it comes to the opposite, it is important to bring God in. We can make as much noise as we want, but we can also sit and say, “God’s got this.” It’s like when you’re in a fight with a grade school bully and your high school-age brother who’s on the football team shows up. If he’s going to resolve the fight, who are we to get in the way?

I end up praying this prayer many times over the school year thanks to the (literal) roll of the die, and every time I make sure to take it to heart. God can help us see serenity, courage, and wisdom. God can assist us in all our troubles. God is in control of everything. Everything! God will be with you wherever you go and help you in whatever you do.

Trust his will. Take a stand. Serenity. Courage. Wisdom. God.

GOD, grant me the serenity
to accept the things
I cannot change,

Courage to change the
things I can, and the
wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardship as the
pathway to peace.

Taking, as He did, this
sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it.

That I may be reasonably happy
in this life, and supremely
happy with Him forever in
the next.


*one verse was removed from the original Serenity prayer for use in this article due to its leaning toward decision theology. To see the entire prayer, click here.

I am Claire Nat! I am a teacher and write for I write about anything that interests me - mostly music, Olympics, and fandoms! Follow me @CeePipes or