Prayer is an odd thing, don't you think? I pray for all kinds of things: my own peace, healing for many people, comfort for those who are suffering, patience, changes in me and others, a feeling of love for others, thanksgiving, a closer understanding of God and a better connection of knowing Him. My prayer life can be pretty selfish much of the time, which I'd like to change. Really, most of the time, I pray for a number of things and get somewhat lost in the confusion of it all. And I wonder if it helps at all. So, I'd say my faith is there about 75% of the time - I sure wish it were more.
I gave thanks as a prayer for my mom's healing this week, because a wound that was so bad we could actually see her Achilles tendon is now healed! That is a blessing worth every good prayer to God that I can muster. Where we were worried about some tragic outcome, a surgeon stepped in to open up a vessel for blood to flow. And that made all the difference. I remember being in that hospital room when we found out it could be done. I had to leave the room so my mother didn't see my tears of gratitude, and to send my faithful friends texts of the wonderful news (I didn't want my mom to see how choked up I got while she was lying there in her hospital bed). This healing is a miracle, and I thank all my friends for their prayers. My mom called me this week to let me know that the scab of the wound had fallen off and the wound was healed. You can imagine the relief in her voice and in my heart.
But then two days later, we heard some medical news about my mom's younger brother being admitted to the hospital. The outcome is still unknown as I write this, and without going into too much detail, it's really hard to pray right now. I don't know what God has planned, so I am just praying for God's presence and love to be with my uncle and the medical staff. To know that others are praying helps too.
Once again though, my prayer seems a bit wobbly, persistent yet shaky. I guess that's what faith is: praying anyway.
I have to add one more thing though, on a completely different note. When hearing preachers' sermons the last couple of weeks, I really loved one thing - as they preached about God's love, healing, and power, they both said faith in all of this is "RIGHT NOW"! I love that. I have to admit that my faith is there, but in a weird way. My faith sometimes thinks the blessings and love are off in some mirky future, but the sermons I heard woke up my faith to be in the current moment. That's what I need, and that's what I actually think is the truth too.
God is the God of RIGHT NOW. He can change things, or enter a heart, or give some wisdom right now. I really like that. Hope you do too.
I won't go into the blessings of the week, but know that they were there. I hope they were for you too. XO :)
I initially started this new blog posting less than 24 hours after the last one, because wow, things can change so quickly. My faith was a bit shaky last week, although still growing. Last Saturday morning, even though I had heard these bits of wisdom before, something happened to change my heart and mind. Two awarenesses hit me, and they are big. First, I realized just how often I want to get my happiness from other things in life, be it other people, praise, fitting in, texts, a tasty treat, Facebook "likes", whatever. I knew that kind of thinking was a joke, but not until that morning, for no apparent reason, did it become real and did I "get it." I knew it before, but now I KNOW it. Thank God for that!
The other bit of wisdom that finally hit me was that I have to do more of my own part to feel better - I can't expect God to do everything for me, although I know He cares and wants the best for me. I've always said, people need to walk, as well as pray, but I haven't been following my own words in some cases. Point of fact: I eat like crap! And exercise like crap! But I ask God to help me feel better. Wow, get it together, huh?! God isn't going to change how chips and salsa affect me, or that piece of tiramisu, or that Pepsi I have with a donut for breakfast. Oh yeah, that's up to me to change to feel better. I hope you're laughing with me, and not at me right now! :) I pray a lot and ask for a lot, but I really do need to do my part.
These two awarenesses will take some time to sink in, but I am so glad to finally understand.
- a 3rd grader stopped me in the hallway to say he's looking forward to next year
- good friends listen and support us all
- spending time with a new friend & letting her experience a real classroom
- seeing the "God blessed" license plate below
- being able to teach at my current school for five years now
- the State of Wisconsin INCREASING my tax refund after finding an error on my returns
- a family that supports no matter what
- pastors/rectors who really help me understand faith and keep it going
- getting a hug again this Friday morning from Liv at Alterra/Colectivo
- talking with coworkers and having one unexpectedly come up to me as I was leaving school today, saying, "If you need an ear, I'm here for you" - that was so meaningful for me and hug-worthy
- oh, and I almost forgot one...a former student came back to the classroom late on Friday to deliver his birthday treat...a donut! Right up my alley. :)
A big "thank you" goes out to all. Am keeping the faith, and just letting the concerns go, day by day.
Blessings to everyone!
When I read a blog, genuineness is appreciated. It doesn't have to be too personal, but sincerity is a must, don't you think? Well, this week was a little tougher than the last few, as I still look for peace in "singleness." It's definitely not always easy. That seems to be my biggest hurdle to peace, but I know there will be changes in me. And blessings from God.
Do we all go through times of "aloneness" where we feel like we are just on our own? Times where we become very humbled and realize just how many friends we have and how much love is really all around us? Probably.
There weren't huge blessings this week, but that doesn't mean there weren't a lot. I'm realizing that they are all around us, and that I want to acknowledge them more and more.
Really, we all have things going on in our lives that no one really knows about: doubts, hurts, joys, relief and longings. But that's why all blessings are so meaningful. I am blessed in many ways: students giving me laughs, plus their enthusiasm for life and learning, hugs and gifts from parents, and talks with coworkers. This week I also heard from two Wisconsin teachers who saw my box project workshop and are now doing the project in their classrooms (how cool is that?!). A new friend is thinking about becoming a teacher, and she will be visiting my classroom this coming Tuesday. I will also be able to ask some of my former students to help with the box project as I run it for UWM's College for Kids this summer.
And one more, with a prayer request: I will be running the box project this Monday night, in Racine, for Youth for Christ's young men's group. This is a group of middle and high schoolers who could use some guidance and inspiration. I'm hoping to take my heart for teaching & connecting with kids, and for this crazy cool box project, to help these young men see that they have potential and can have success, by starting with a cube and then reaching to make a basketball court box (since they all love hoops). See the photo below for the inspiration for that - a box made from one long piece of paper by my current student Alaina.
As you can probably tell, talking with and listening to God this week has been a challenge. My faith has been tested, but it is being refined and made deeper. And I am still very grateful for God working in my life and in me. I hope you can feel His presence, and I hope my words can be of some comfort wherever you may be. Blessings to you all.
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 Hebrew 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
Well folks, life is pretty challenging. Like I've said in other posts, life is still not quite the way I'd like it to be. I better get used to it, huh?! I'm having my perceptions of things challenged and molded, while still receiving just incredible blessings. I'm sharing all of these, not to say "look at me," but rather to say, "look at what God is doing for me." There is a HUGE difference. I'm also sharing because I hope they help you with your faith, and in all honesty, sharing them helps reinforce my own too.
As I was driving to the Wisconsin Math Conference, I listened to a Joel Olsteen sermon about peace, and letting go of my "gods" of problems and wanting to control too many things. When I get into certain moods, nothing is good enough and I want, want, want my way. It may not come across outwardly, but internally there is a huge struggle sometimes. Anybody else feel that way?!
Well, listening to that sermon helped tremendously as I let go of my emotional desires and some of the mind games I play with myself. I'm hoping these new habits help me see the world in a whole new, abundant and loving way. I'm praying for that and trusting God to help me with that. I'm hoping you are seeing abundance too.
Here are a few blessings to share:
1. I spent the afternoon with my sister, driving to Madison to see my god-daughter's art exhibit. What a great afternoon.
2. A former student, who now goes to UW-Madison, wrote to me and several other teachers, to thank us for guiding her and helping her be the successful woman she has become. Keep it up Taylor!
3. I got the chance to speak at the Wisconsin Math Conference on Thursday and had three really cool things happen. My talk went so-so, as the crowd was somewhat small, didn't ask a lot of questions and my delivery didn't match my standards. I wasn't totally "on," and thought the topic of boxes, and my enthusiasm would carry the day. Well, things could have gone better, but I did receive some feedback that will help me in the future (even that was a blessing).
a.) A few minutes before I spoke, a woman approached me to say she had been in my workshop last year, and went back to her school the following week to do "Boxes" with her sixth graders. She made a point to track me down and show me photos on her ipad! Now, THAT was cool and it's why I present. See the photo below.
b.) A man sitting in the back of my presentation raised his hand and said. "I may be sitting here with an odd look on my face, but it's because I am so impressed. I am not a teacher, but own a business, and with the amount of problem-solving your students are learning with this project, I would hire all of them for my company. I've been hiring adults who can't problem-solve like they are doing." On his feedback form, he wrote, "There should be 100 people sitting in on this workshop!" Thank you, sir.
c.) Before leaving the conference area, I walked to the lake to sit and reflect for a few minutes. As I was sitting there, six women were sitting at a picnic table about fifty feet away. All of a sudden I heard the words "Peter" and "Jennings," so of course my ears perked up and I turned to see what else they were saying. I couldn't quite tell, so I turned toward the lake, very curious, wondering if maybe one of them had been in my workshop and had seen this website. Ever been in a situation where you want to do something kind of odd, or out of your comfort zone? That's where I was as I sat on the park bench, going back and forth in my mind about whether I should go interrupt them to find out what they were talking about. Finally, I said, "screw it, I'm going over there." I asked to talk to them all and they were very courteous about it. I asked, "Did you guys just say Peter and Jennings about five minutes ago?" They had, and I explained my name and how funny it was to hear. We all had a good laugh and talked for just a bit. I also gave each of them my card, so maybe some of them will even read this posting. It was all very fun! But if I wouldn't have approached them, I would have missed this fun, short-lived interaction.
4. When I got back to my school yesterday afternoon about 4:30, I went to my classroom to see how things looked and get ready for the upcoming spring concert. The photo below shows what I saw when I opened my classroom door. That young man got a big hug when I saw him at the concert, and when I see his parents, I'll express to them just how special that was. Thank you!
All of these are in addition to the messages and gifts I received as part of Teacher Appreciation Week. I'm very grateful. Each day these blessings, and even challenges, are transforming my faith and perspective on life. I hope they help you too.