Wednesday, March 5, 2014


I have been absent for a couple of months. I had grand hopes of blogging more about our trip to Europe, about life, and about my teaching experience.

Then, on November 25, my life changed: my mother died. I was on my way to see her. I was not ready. I still can not believe it.

Before this happened I thought I understood grief. Grief had found me when at the tender age of 13 when my beloved grandfather died and then at 15 a school friend died without warning. Again, at 16 my dear friend of grief visited when another friend, with a terminal illness, went home to dance with her maker. In 2009 my grandmother, who I resemble and relate to in the physical and cognitive, joined the love of her life after 91 and 364 day of life on earth. The grief of losing those beloved still makes me catch my breath, but I have never experienced grief like this before.

The irony is that the Wednesday before my mom passed, I was home sick from teaching. I had lost my voice. I was more sick than I have been in awhile. I went for a walk up to the hill near our home. The sun was bursting through the clouds from the down pour earlier and I could see a dearly loved city. While my body was stressed, my heart and soul were at peace. Joy seeped into my marrow and I thought, "life is good". Five days later, my husband would tell me my mom had passed away while I sat talking about her to her sister, my aunt. My life would never be the same again.

Now, three and half months later, my life has become a day by day, moment by moment existence. While I exists in that existence, I want to share my journey. So if you will allow, my thoughts will be posted here, because this is the "way" that this Chevalier-Hall finds herself on. (This blog was created to document the road we San Francisco Halls are traveling, so it is appropriate that as I, Robyn, find myself on the path of grief, that grief in fact the "Hall-way" for me right now.) Join along if you care (or need) to dive into the world of grief.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Beer for Dinner

Editor's Note: This entry is from our Europe Trip and was originally written July 5th, 2013

I was already on beer number three when the waiter realized he had forgotten our beer sausages. He said he would bring them right away.

Not that I was too concerned. I was still full from my second breakfast. Yes, second breakfast. The first I ate with eyes half-open while descending in an airbus over the Fatherland. The second was a disheveled affair where I stuffed my face with Nutella and fruit at the hotel buffet.

I ordered beer number four. Our host ticked another mark on the coaster. This was tic mark number 8. Robyn was up to my challenge.

Beer in Germany costs less than soda, I jokingly observed to Robyn.

Still no beer sausages...

We struck up a light-hearted conversation with our tablemates, representatives from Milan, Paris, and Vienna who had converged upon Düsseldorf for their media company's annual meetings. They paid their bill and headed to catch their respective flights.

So we left too. Without the beer sausages. I'm still unsure what a beer sausage is. Unsure and incredibly intrigued.

We returned to Hotel Berial, thoroughly jet-lagged and slightly buzzed.

Tiredly I pulled out a napkin containing the smuggled leftovers from our earlier buffet. My third breakfast.

Three breakfasts and beer for dinner.

The view from Hotel Berial

Vacation and Blogging don't mix

So, we had high aspirations of blogging while we were in Europe this summer, but a combination of inconsistent internet access, blinding heat, a work schedule that is not the typical American 9-5 desk job, and traveling between five countries in two weeks.

I will try to catch you up on our experiences, but it will be a challenge to cram a once in a life time experience into a handful of snappy blogs that won't bore you.

Come along and relive our crazy summer with  us!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

"This is can stay or you can go, but this happening"

The title for this post comes from NBC's 30 Rock and it has been running through my head all day today. Today was the final count know it is close when you can check into your flight online. We spent the day organizing electronics, booking the last few sleeping place, and doing the third target run of this trip for last minute supplies.

But before we could leave our journey took us to two weddings. One was a Vegas wedding for our dear college friends Brad and Jacey and the other was for my brother-in-law in beautiful La Jolla. There are many stories and memories with each, but for now just know that we have been busy and blessed with friends and family.

Tomorrow morning at 4:30am we begin our trek. More to come...

P.S. I have received many word of encouragement and support. I am pleased to report that I am more excited than nervous at this point and am ready to begin my journey.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Unexpected Journey...Sort of...

"We don't want any adventures here thank you! You might try over the hill or across the water."-Bilbo 

Bilbo does not like adventures. He likes to stay in his warm Hobbit hole and eat his delicious food and be comfortable. He does not like his comfort disrupted. Yet, he embarks on a legendary trek that sparks one of the most epic journeys ever capture in literature. Why does he go? Mostly because Gandalf knew he was just the man for the job...and he was! Perhaps Gandalf sensed that Bilbo's legacy would last beyond their journey together. Bilbo's adventure is an amazing story (seriously, check out Danny's post here), but Frodo's journey is epic. Bilbo needed to go on his adventure so his nephew would be poised to, well, save the world. 

Bilbo begins his Unexpected Journey

Our adventure is neither as dramatic nor as unexpected as Bilbo's. However, at the start, I resonate with Bilbo and fear that I am a hobbit at heart. I want to stay in the comfort of my home. I am leery of the tasks needed in order to survive in the world. I do not want to venture out into the unknown. Yes, I did plan this trip with Danny. And yes, we have booked every night's lodging in order to prevent sleeping on the street and most modes of transportation, but there are still many unknown things. 

Bilbo's journey reminds me of two things: 1. I travel in order to change and 2. I need a wise friend to encourage me out the door. I am blessed to have Danny who has, with a gleam in his eye, reminded me that we will be living our dreams. He tells me it is good to leave all my possession, which have such a strong hold on me, and rely only on what I can carry on my back. As I emotionally prepared last night I found other reasons to go: It is good for me to get out of the city and live in the country. It is good to be isolated with my husband, away from the daily distractions that can consume our quality time. It is good to take a risk. 

I am hoping that I will come back a better hobbit. 

Tuscany, Italy
To those of you who are confused, Danny and I have left San Francisco for the summer. We will be gone for two months. We will be celebrating weddings in So Cal for some of the time, but mostly we will be working at a B&B in Tuscany Italy in exchange for room and board. We will also be traveling to Paris, London, Croatia, and Bosnia. Traveling to Europe has been a dream since we started dating. (The truth is we would love to live abroad, but are settling at this chapter in our lives for a summer abroad). I am very excited, but also nervous. Check back to hear tales from our unexpected journey. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Life Update

I am still wrestling with the concept of a Scandalous Jesus, but life has interfered in my reflective practice. Because of some complications, I may not be teaching 7th grade math and science at my school next year. In January we, my administration and I, had thought I would for sure have a postion at Melrose, but in March we became aware that I was on a temporary contract. As much as my principal wants to keep me, she may not be able to due to district politics. So, I have been on the hunt for a new job, just in case. I had two interviews this week that went well and are both for middle school math and science. One job is in Oakland and one job is in San Francisco. Right now I am in a holding pattern, waiting for a call back, hoping my current principal can sort things out, and continuing to apply for other positions, just in case.

Meanwhile Danny is giving the biggest presentation of his academic career today with two hours of sleep. One of his group members, who is from Polland, stayed with us last week and tomorrow we are hosting is entire team, from all over the world, for a celebration. Oh, and he continues with his other classes and Research Assistant and Teacher Assistant positions. Needless to say, we have been busy, stressed, and overwhelmed. To add to the madness we also made the decision to go spend the summer in Europe without me having a job locked down for next year.

So many emotions and thoughts have come up in this time:
1. Is it smart to take off for the summer if I don't have a job?
2. Is is being careless with the resources God has given us?
3. Or has God blessed us with resources and time to take this adventure to restore our souls after a year of intensity in the city and in school?
4. Where should I take a job? Is it selfish to take an increase in pay and less of a comute?
5. Is it selfish to want to teach "easier" students? (Which hit me yesterday as I dealt with behavior issues  all day in class yesterday. This is an especially challenging question since I pride myself on being "called" to the difficult students. Am I already burned out after a year? Or is this why God is giving me Europe? To revive my soul and marriage to enter back into the spiritual battle ground of inner-city teaching? Either way, I don't like the feel this questions brought up...)
6. Am I ready to be a leader in incorporating social justice into my curriculum?
7. Is it selfish to want more of my husband's attention, when he is already giving me everything he has?
8. Why do I crave my "own" space so much?
9. What do I need for our trip and what do I just want?
10. What is the purpose of this trip?
11. Am I becoming lazy in my current job, because I am withdrawing?
12. When are we ever going to settle down, buy a house, and have kids? (Random I know.)
12. What does God have for me in all this?

I is a lot of questions. But I was reminded this week through Richard Foster's Sanctuary of the Soul that when I listen to the voice of God, he rarely has provided me with a life a map. Instead he offers me peace, security, and rest. And I felt these things as I let go of all my questions, let my Lord be with me, and let the truth that he loves me and he has good plans for me sink in. When the flood of questions and insecurities come, I remember that I am loved and he has never let me down before. I am going to keep persisting in taking risks each day with the trust that he will catch me if I fall.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Teenagers, Booze, and Grace - Oh my!

I am still exploring the scandalous Jesus.

However, I have come to a couple of conclusions:

1. I am too busy to blog all of my thoughts.

2. Jesus uses young people to speak his word.

3. Giving up stuff for Lent is totally a creation of the church.

4. Jesus will still die for me everyday so that I can know God's love everyday, no matter what I do.

Number one speaks for itself.

We went on a trip to see our dear friends JJ and Tessa and while at their church God spoke to me. He didn't speak through the Lenton devotional by Henri Nouwen that Danny and I read that morning. He didn't speak through the the sermon on the same topic. Instead, he spoke through a sophomore boy. I couldn't tell you what the young man said, but at that moment, I heard Jesus say I am right here. I have everything you need. I felt filled. I felt a peace I haven't felt in awhile. Most of society do not think that our youth have much to offer. In a comercial for Tully's coffee, it is the adult that literally does all the talking. Just the other day one of my students lamented that we (adults) never give them any place to speak. We are all just waiting for teenagers to "grow-up". I don't have any Biblical proof, but Jesus did not use adults to speak to me, but a young person. What would happen if the world gave young people more space to speak? It would cause a bit of disruption in our churches, because, trust me, young people do not always say things in the most eloquent way, but they may be saying what our hearts need to hear.

On the topic of giving stuff up. I have given up alcohol for Lent. I have also broken my fast twice. One night I got a bottle of wine with then intention of seeing what would happen if I broke my fast on a non-Sunday (apparently the rules of Lent-giving-up state that you get a break on Sunday, because it is a day of rest). I realized walking home, that it didn't matter. My salvation was secure. God said it didn't matter if I broke these "rules". He said he would love me no matter what rules I break. I also googled it and fasting during the 40 days leading up to Lent is a convention the early church created in order to facilitate a deeper understanding of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

At the same time, I have been challenged with not being disciplined enough. Today, I had a glass of wine. Today it wasn't a test of boundaries. Today it was because I had a lot of grading, Danny has been absent while he finishing end-of-the-quarter projects, and I am lonely. If I had some wine, was I a bad Christian? Was I filling the hole with something other than Jesus? Again, as I walked home from the bus I felt God's unconditional love like I haven't felt in a long time. I felt free from having to be the perfect Christian. I felt free to fail. I felt God holding me in his arms and saying that he would be there to help me cope.

Lent may be about understanding Jesus' suffering and sacrifice, but Jesus understands the suffering I see everyday, the self-sacrifice it takes to love my students, and the daily refinement happening in my heart. During my time of imperfect fasting, his resurrection has been felt more keenly than any other day this year.

I have given up alcohol for Lent once in college. I broke the fast only once, for Saint Patrick's day, and I never felt the grace of God like I have during this Lent season. I am f*ed up and am tired of pretending I am not.

What would happen if I held firm to my fast? Would I be blessed by feeling the depth of grace God has for me? Would I feel in my soul his deep love that compelled him to send his son to death? Possibly, but maybe not. Jesus chose to meet me in my unlawfulness with a glass of wine in hand, which is a substance that has a tense relationship with those in the church. If that isn't scandalous, I don't know what is.

So far, my Jesus has been found in a teenager's humble words, a bottle of wine, and some honest self reflection.