I found an old sermon on my computer the other day - actually a few of them, that I've been listening to in my car. In one, the pastor talks about big feats of daring, like the landing on Normandy on D- Day, or people doing crazy stunts that you see on Youtube. But he also talks about the daring of everyday people, like you and me, who deal with everyday things with courage that we might not even think about - the person who deals with anxiety that goes to a social function anyway, or the person who changes careers because she knows she has too, or a kid entering a new school for a first time, nervous but still walking in. Daring is also coming up with ideas to help a community, and following through with them. Those are daring moves, full of courage that sometimes goes unnoticed and unrecognized. On this eve of a new school year, there is some real daring taking place, with plenty of courage. I want to acknowledge it and say my blessings and God's blessings are with you!
Since I deal with anxiety and slight depression myself, I know what it's like to need courage. Even when I changed careers to become a teacher, many people told me I had a lot of courage to do it. Maybe I did, but I didn't feel that way - I just was doing what I HAD to do. As I had brunch with someone yesterday who I've met over the last few months, the word "risk" came up in our discussion about courage. What I realized is that what may seem like a risk, is really a choice. A choice to change and trust you can handle the things that come your way. That is courage.
In my own case this week, I also used what some may say is courage, by taking my box project into the corporate world to create a training workshop. But it didn't seem that way. Although it caused a bit of nervousness, it really wasn't that much, and I was pleased with the outcome. I think the employees I worked with thought so too. I guess my point is this...you have courage even if you don't think so. And I believe God is with us, helping us move forward in our lives, providing love and peace where we surrender to the idea that we must make the choices and trust in our own ability to handle things.
One more thing about another sermon I heard. It included a story of Mary Ann Bird, who was a disfigured young woman who had a teacher whisper to her, "I wish you were my little girl." And that whispered comment changed her life, affecting how she thought about herself, letting her know she had inner beauty and worth. What courage and inner strength she had to have to live her life.
Below are some photos from the training, and a song I've been listening to all week too. I've realized by listening to this song, that although I believe it, it takes a lot of inner courage to let go. It's something I don't find easy to do, but probably takes a lot of courage, that I don't know if I have, but sure hope I do. Maybe you are in the same position. If so, I send my prayers to you to have plenty of courage, even if you don't feel that way. Blessings to everyone. XO
I haven't written much in a week or so, because honestly it's been a few tough weeks. School has started, so that takes up a lot of time, as you can imagine! But 9-10 year olds are pretty cool. I've had some very sleepless nights, with my stomach in knots about another situation though. It's been hard to see where God is.
The entire week was filled with anxiety and an unknown. My mind and heart were very troubled. Today, there was a long conversation to resolve the situation, and it went very well. Not everything will improve right away, but it was a huge start.
I wanted to write about how I went into the day though, even though I wasn't feeling God's presence much this week. Since it was Packer Day, I wore my old #87 jersey (in honor of Robert Brooks). Underneath that jersey, I wore the shirt shown below. "Egeneto" is Greek for "it happens" in reference to God being involved the world. In my pocket, I also carried with me a smooth stone with the word "Faith" engraved. I also prayed while sitting on a bench outside my school before students came out for recess. It must have it worked because I got three fortunes in my fortune cookie at lunch!
But seriously, during the meeting I wasn't defensive, but was a little leery at first. As things progressed in a frank way, things got better. We'll see that the future holds, but it seems positive. Then my sister happened to find some quotes from a recovery book that talked about not trying to change others, and also about acceptance of things. I am not in control of others, because God has created others, not me!
I've been listening to a lot gospel music and Joel Olsteen to try to be positive.
Below is a song by one of my favorite singers, Helen Baylor, who brings me hope. Although she mentions it for a woman, I think it still applies to men too. :)
I'm still having great blessings, but some emotions are getting in the way of appreciating them as much as I could be. Now that the discussion is over, I think the weekend will by much more peaceful.
Keep the faith.
I hope you continue to receive blessings too, and enjoy them! XO
That is a term used in the book, "The Heart of Christianity," by Marcus Borg. It's a pretty deep book, put together by a major theologian. His description of "thin places" is where our reality in the visual world overlaps with God to make a moment into something deeper and spiritual. I've written somewhat about this in the past. It matches with what I call God moments, where good things just happen out of nowhere, seem more than just circumstantial, and bring a certain surrealness and gratitude with them. As examples this week:
1. Receiving a card from a new student's past teacher, to wish me luck with him (he's a good student) and to tell me she is friends with a family in which I've taught their daughter and will teach their son this year. This is the same daughter who helped me with UWM's College for Kids box project two weeks ago. That card came out of the blue. When you have so many of these types of things happen, you have to think more about God and His blessings.
2. Spent time with a former student who is leaving my school. He was a good egg, who I happened to nickname Pizza! Pizza! while in class. Of course, he had to get a pizza slice floatie for his pool. I was invited over for dinner and gave him a bald eagle box as a going away gift and some inspiration. What a fun time we had swimming together, with me on the pizza slice floatie, of course eating dinner and conversing with his grandparents. It was a wonderful night and I was filled with gratitude for the invite and conversation.
3. My friend Corey, who I met at Cardinal Stritch as a professor, teaches in the Education Dept. Yesterday, he was helping to lead a conference at Stritch for newer education students. But he had a flat tire when he got there, so needed some help. I drove over to help him, followed him to a tire place that was close and then drove him back to Stritch. We re-entered the conference as four newer teachers who had recently graduated from Stritch master's program, as I did ten years ago, were sitting up front of all the newer students, as a panel to answer questions. After I met the facilitator of the room, I mentioned to her that I had been teaching now for twelve years, and also received my MAT from Stritch. She said, "Do you want to join the panel?" So, I did! And I just happened to be wearing my red Cardinal Stritch t-shirt yesterday. That is crazy. And I consider it a thin place.
I hope you have a thin place this week. I will be presenting my first corporate box workshop tomorrow, so expect a thin place tomorrow as well. We shall see, but I trust.
Blessings to you all. XO
My devotional this morning had this verse..."The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." (Psalm 19:1) It sure reminded me of the sunset the other night at the prayer meeting near the gas station in Milwaukee that was burned. It felt like that sunset was there on Purpose. Do I know that? Not really, but I took it that way. Below is the photo again. It was just an awesome sight.
As I left my mom's place yesterday, I saw a community garden across the street. The flowers caught my eye, so I had to get over there for a few photos. They're below too. And from the take-out Chinese we had, my fortune cookie said, "Listen to what you know, instead of what you fear." That is profound!
I needed more surrender yesterday, and it sure helped. You may know this feeling - bad mood in the morning, and the day continues that way for a while. Something had to change for me, and it did. I listened to the funky song below several times. The singer, Helen Baylor, had a transformation from an addict to a gospel singer many years ago. Listen to that voice! I still ponder the meaning of Jesus and don't know where my faith is with Him, but I do have the faith in God and His transformational power. This is enough for now, as I continue to let things soak in and nourish me in whatever ways they do. After getting over myself and my trivial concerns, it gave me a chance to reach out to others with love to see how they were doing. That felt right.
Today started out well, with a devotional time where I read this: "Sometimes you have to say No, so you can say Yes to God," followed by a nice God moment. I was wondering which Alterra/Colectivo coffee cafe to go to today, since I have tutoring this afternoon at one that is a bit closer to my apartment, but is not my normal location. I decided to go to my normal one, after stopping at a Walgreens, which had "Walking on Sunshine" playing. Yep, I was one of the only customers in the store, and walked with a little hop in my steps as I listened to the song. Am I a goofball?
As soon as I got my mocha (!) at the coffee shop, I ran into another teacher named Barbara (it's so obvious to notice a group of teachers as they meet for planning for the year). She mentioned her daughter is also a teacher who is starting at a new charter school, has been in professional development for a month, and teaches sixth grade math. Of course, my ears perked up. I had to give her my card, tell her about the box project, asked them to visit this website and left her with my book, which talks about teaching math creatively. I sure hope they look it all.
Blessings to you all. Have a great day. XO
Have you ever walked by someone and wanted to say hello, but they never look at you, or the moment just doesn't seem right, so you say nothing? Or sat in a coffee shop and wanted to just share a hello or send love to everyone sitting there? I've had the first example happen many times, and have now started having the second example happen all the time.
The first is easier to change...you can just say hello and smile anyway, even if the other person isn't ready for it. Now, maybe they are thinking about something, or might be dealing with something tough. We have to be mindful about these things. But we can't always be waiting for the other person to be the instigator of goodness either. So, I look for just a small moment to say hello anyway. I hope the other person does appreciate it anyway. Now, I did do this the other day, and had a woman who obviously had some tough issues in her life yell at me to leave her alone. Others who witnessed this laughed at her reaction, and mentioned she is just like that. I had to really tell myself not to laugh or have a bad reaction, but send a prayer instead.
The second example is what's been making me think, and leaves me wanting. And this wanting is to share love and a caring word with almost everybody I see, whether in a store or sitting here at the coffee shop. I guess our social norms are keeping me from just approaching people and sharing a kind word. I'm sad about this, because I think almost everyone could use a caring word. I'm trying to figure out how to share love and still be acceptable to others. And I'm not thinking about sharing God or trying to sway someone toward Jesus or anything. I just want to share a loving compliment, a smile or share a moment. Maybe it's fear of looking foolish (which happened when I went to share some teaching experiences with some younger teachers talking next to me and they smirked at me) or maybe I just don't know how to approach the moments yet. But I hope to find a way to share this kind of love.
I hope we are all trying to find ways to do this, and I am open to suggestions. We need to share more moments with each other. I pray about this, because it would bring more blessings to others. Let's at least try to improve on this.
Blessings to you all. XO
In addition to hanging with some old friends, being unbelievably grateful for our local guide (Cassidy, the son of a friend on the trip) and pushing ourselves on some serious hikes at higher altitude, three of the coolest, God moments on the trip:
1. Taking the sunset photo below while warm rain was falling...so peaceful and inspiring...
2. Swimming in a mountain lake just in awe of the sites shown below...
3. Stopping to get gas and while washing our windshield, the guy getting gas next to me joked that I should do his. After I finished my windshield, to his surprise, I ran over to do his too. He was very appreciative and offered me his hand for a handshake. I think his name was Dan, from somewhere in southern CA. Why not do a cool thing like that, huh? That's just fun and warmness coming out. Thank you God for providing me heart.
Blessings to everyone and enjoy the photos. XO