Glacier National Park 2010

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Being A (sort of) Teacher

As you know, I work as an instructional paraprofessional (aide) at a wonderful elementary school with the most amazing staff......and it goes without saying, the most precious children! Up until the past couple of years, I spent a majority of my day working with At-Risk learners, especially readers.  Being a voracious reader myself, it gave me great joy to be able to help children who struggled with the mechanics of reading finally be able to see reading as a pleasurable experience.  That is not always the case with children  for whom letter sounds, blending, and reading are difficult concepts to master.  As a result of their learning difficulties, these children will often tell me how much they 'hate' books. When they do, my heart hurts so for them but it also motivates me to strive that much harder to find a way for them to master the concept of reading and to share my love of good books with them.

I share all that as a preface to what comes next......This year I am working primarily with Language Arts in 2nd grade through 6th grade.  Some of the groups I work with are At Risk learners while others are not.  It is pretty much a mixed bag of abilities which is fine by me! This week the 3rd grade group of students I work with have been learning all about persuasive paragraphs and today they began actually writing.  As they worked on their topic sentences, one young boy wanted to share his with the class.  The classroom teacher, being the encouraging person she is, allowed him to do so. I was blown away by what he felt so strongly about that he wanted other people to feel the same way. This small eight year old boy stood proudly before his classmates, his paper clutched in his hands and read loudly, " I believe books are the source of all knowledge."

Knowing how he and his twin brother have struggled, and indeed still do struggle, with learning since they began attending school, saying my heart was touched is an understatement. It is moments like that one which make the teaching profession so worthwhile. Sometimes when I've had to eat Vienna sausages and Saltines for dinner four nights in a row because my paycheck has had another chunk taken out of it by the powers that be, it is demoralizing to be in this profession.  When I start feeling that way I pull out the memories of children who through the years have blessed me like Trent did today. That is when I know if I had to do it all over again....I would.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Blessings Everywhere

It has been a long day and I've just gotten home after a visit with my parents and a quick trip to the grocery store.  As tired as I am, I couldn't wait to share this!  And then eat!

With my current budget, this is the week of the month where things get squeaky tight....really squeaky.....the week where dinner may be limited to rice cakes with peanut butter or Vienna Sausages with crackers. You get the picture.  Well, today I realized I had no more rice cakes, Vienna Sausages, or crackers....sigh....and just about no more money.  I made a very careful shopping list and headed to the store after the visit with my parents.

Of course I was mentally praying that maybe one or two of the items I needed would be on special or my favorite, Buy One Get One Free!!  Are you ready for this? Everything on my list was at least 50% off and a couple of things were two for one! I spent less than I had budgeted and took home nearly twice as much......and I know Who to thank. A friend once told me that God always gives us more than we ask for.......that was proven today.

I don't know why I'm always amazed by God's blessings.  He has promised to always take care of supply me with what I need.....and He never disappoints.  Maybe I shouldn't be amazed or astounded that God does what He does.....instead I should live in anticipation of whatever blessing He sends.....and be ever grateful for His Love.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Do Miracles Come in Sizes?

Are all "miracles" classified? By that I mean, are all 'miracles' considered major or is there a category for mini miracles? I would definitely classify the parting of the Red Sea by Moses and Jesus turning the water into wine as pretty major....but what about those events which only impact one person? By one person I mean, say a middle aged woman alone on the couch in her small, but cosy, apartment?

Let me share what happened and maybe you can help me decide.  Yesterday was kind of unpleasant for me.....the middle aged woman from the preceding paragraph in case you hadn't figured it out.  In fact, the whole week was difficult.  'Working through the pain' until I couldn't take it any longer....missing two full days of work and subsequent pay because of pain....going back to work with the pain only slightly better......venting on the blog until I felt, at least emotionally, better.....then last night.

I had gotten home from work, struggled up the seventeen steps to my apartment which took almost ten minutes for those who are curious, phoned my parents, texted my daughter, fixed my meal which consisted of two pieces of toasted bread w/some smoked turkey between them and a Claussen's pickle.......after which I collapsed on the couch.  You see, during one of these pain marathons once I sit down...I'm done.  That's when it became interesting.

I was there on my couch, cocooned in a well worn quilt with warm soft socks on my feet, trying not to cry nor feel sorry for myself. The pain seemed to radiate out from my very marrow growing so intense at times I was almost afraid to breathe for fear the movement would make it even worse.....and I began to pray.  Now those who've followed my blog know my prayers are not what one could call traditional....I lay there with tears trickling down my face and I asked God to take away the, I begged Him to take it away....even if to do so meant He had to bring me to Heaven with Him.....the pain seemed to intensify which I never thought possible. 

Then it was as if God said, "think about it. Be still and quiet and think about what you've just asked for." And of course in my headstrong way I said, "But why? I can't stand it anymore! You love me so fix it!" I know, I know.....not exactly the way one pictures prayer is it?  But He is my Father and my Friend.....and that is how we communicate.  He replied to my demand by saying, "Be still and think."
So being unable to do much else....I thought about my situation, my prayer, the relationship I have with God, the fact that I have so much to learn about following His guidance.......and I changed my prayer.

I thanked God for loving me enough to help me become a better person, a more complete woman of God.  I thanked Him for the pain He was using to get my attention and to teach me whatever lesson He needed me to learn because of it.  Then I asked Him, notice I said asked not demanded, if He could just turn it down a notch so that it would be more bearable................and He did!

Almost immediately I noticed a difference.....yes, that quickly! The pain was not yet to the day to day bearable stage.....but it was different....lighter somehow.  And I knew God heard me and responded.
The pain today is still kind of rough......but it has definitely been turned down a notch. I still am not sure what lesson the pain is supposed to teach me but I have learned that God is and will continue to be with me through every step of the lesson.

So back to the original question......are miracles classified according to the"wow" factor? Maybe to some.  As for me.....after what I experienced last night.......every miracle, every blessing, every interaction with God is most certainly a WOW kind of experience.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Just Another Day

I spent two full days away from my job because of severe fibro pain and had to deal with what I felt were insensitive attitudes and comments......and these from people who think they are being encouraging!  I know I don't 'look' like I'm 'sick,' however that doesn't make the pain any less difficult to bear. Being told I should just 'work through the pain' is particularly aggravating because most days that is exactly what I am forced to do! If I have to miss work, you can be sure that my pain is beyond a 10 on that famous 1-10 scale at the doctors' is so intense that taking a shower makes me cry and trying to put on clothes is a lesson in futility. 

Today I went to my pain any less, for lack of a better word, painful? Maybe a 9 on the 1-10 not much better. So why am I here?  Because I was reminded that I will be bringing home 2% less each month not counting the sick days I have to take for which I am docked.  Being in this intense state of pain acerbates all my feelings so now I am angry!  Angry that because of my state government I am bringing home LESS now than I was four years ago......angry that my federal government in essence penalizes me for working by taking a majority of my hard earned wages and siphoning it off to those who are able to work but DO NOT! 

And then.....I feel guilty.....because I think, as a Christian I talk about trusting in God in all situations so why am I NOT trusting Him?  My anger dissipates because I DO trust Him in all things.  Anger won't make my paycheck any bigger nor will it make my pain any more in God will make my paycheck stretch further than I imagined because of the blessings He shares through those around me........trusting in Him to ease my pain does help.  So....there you go.....

I'm reminded of the Scripture, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  And I long as I keep my eyes on Him....focus on His will for me instead of my will for myself. The truth is, since I began totally trusting God to show me the way I need to live, things have been much better.  There are times I slip back into trusting my own judgement....but I quickly realize God knows me better than I know myself....and as such, I trust God with my life. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Love One Another Every Day

Today was a not so good day physically speaking.....everything ached....even my eyelashes! My muscles ached with a deep throbbing pain....all my muscles. And yet......

I was swept by a need to tell people in my life how I felt about them....this actually began several weeks ago.  Some days it is impossible to control I find myself telling people how much they mean to me.....

Of course, I tell my children "I love you" every time I see them.....but sometimes it doesn't seem enough.  The feelings I have for each of them surpasses mere words and the need to express and explain to each of them overwhelms me.  I hope that they know...without words....the utter joy they've brought to my life and how their very existence completes me. And as I answered when my daughter asked me, "who do you love the best?" I love Michael best because he is my first born, I love you [Melissa] best because you are my only daughter, and I love Lewie the best because he is the youngest. They each hold a very special place in my heart....and always will.

It is my belief that the way things are in the world today we should all make a concerted effort to let
those we love and care about know it in any and every way......and people we admire and respect should know that as well. The only moment we are guaranteed is the one we are living.....make it count in some one's life.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

One out of Three

I've not done so well on my resolutions this week have I? It wasn't that I didn't think about writing more....I did, I really did! But it seemed as if I had neither time nor energy nor, for that matter, did I have a single inspired thought. I wish I could say I worked on my art a bit.....nope, not one line did I draw.  And the third resolution....reading through the entire Bible.....I have actually been reading several chapters yay! Because that is the one resolution which I feel will bear fruit.

The reading guide I'm following has me reading through the book of Job at this point.  If you've never read it try it some time.  I was dreading it because I wasn't looking forward to reading about another man's trials and tribulations when I have enough of my own to deal with. But its been really good for me. 

Job was a faithful prosperous man of God who loses all he has.  Because of this he asks God to just take his life so that his trials and tribulations will be over.  His friends approach him and remind him of how Job has always comforted and counseled those around him. How Job encouraged others to rely on God's strength and comfort during hard times.  They ask why he can't take his own advice....find comfort and strength to endure what he's experiencing.....what an eye opener for me!

What a great reminder! Up until a few days ago I hadn't experienced a really bad fibro pain episode since November. I woke up Friday and could barely move.....went to work.....came home...and felt as if I couldn't get up the stairs to my apartment.  Still not feeling to great today. And to be honest, I felt myself slipping into a dark mood.....why now God?....You've given me some great days, so why can't they go on? is not fair!

Then I thought about Job.....and I was reminded that God is with me in good times and matter how bad the bad becomes! I'm not alone in this pain today....He is here holding me in His loving arms......He will be with me tomorrow as I go through my day no matter the level of pain....and my praise for Him will be eternal.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Birthday Blessings

Today is my birthday....the number doesn't matter...not really.  I've never felt my actual age....sometimes I've felt younger, sometimes older.  No matter the year, this day is my day. On this particular day I feel step is mood is brighter...and I proceed through the day expecting only good things.  I am the eternal optimist.

As they grew up my children's birthdays became their special day. On their birthday, they each were allowed to choose what they wanted to eat at each meal....they literally became King or Queen for the day....all choices were, movies, activities.....everything.

The tradition continued for me today.  I had one whole day to treat myself as a Queen! Ah the freedom of it all! But ya know what? I really only made one choice.....I chose to be happy and enjoy each and every moment of my day.  That choice made this day even more special.  So what if I'm another year older....what if there are a few more strands of silver in my hair.....more wrinkles around my eyes?

God's love makes me special to Him every day........that is the best gift ever! So happy birthday to me and thank you Lord for all You've done and continue to do for me....and help me always remember to share all You've given with the people I meet.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

New Year, New Me?

Nearly a week into the New Year and I am finally feeling better. I spent the entire Christmas break down with some sort of flu....lest you think "awww poor thing" was really the best time for me to be sick.  Why you might ask? Because I didn't have to take any sick days to recover silly goose!

I could migrate from bed to couch dragging my blanket and tissues with me and not worry about how many pay days would be docked from my already meager pay check. And there were loads of Christmas movies to watch....old favorites and new.....and thanks to Pandora, any type of Christmas music I wanted to listen to.

My children and I had already decided to go with a sandwiches and finger food kind of menu for Christmas Day, I didn't have to fret about cooking a big meal.  Our celebration was laid back and casual.....except for all the tornado warnings and horrible weather, of course....but it was all good.

School started back this week and although our break was shorter than usual.....I was so glad to see my students again! In several classes we talked about New Year's resolutions or what our goals for this new year would be.  Our younger students had some interesting ideas about what 'resolutions' meant.  They were all in agreement that whatever a 'resolution' was, it happened after midnight on New Year's Eve.

Listening to the students talk about what resolutions they had or what goals they wanted to accomplish this year made me stop and think about my own goals and resolutions.  I've avoided making any resolutions in the past, because my self-perception wouldn't allow me to contemplate being successful at anything.  But I'm a different person now or so I like to think. So I did set some goals for myself.

For one, I want to be more consistent in writing my blog.  Writing once a week is fine but it is really not enough.....because writing is therapeutic for me in so many ways.....and I always feel better about issues in my life when I've written about them.....can we not conclude writing makes me healthier? Then wouldn't it be best for my mental health to write more than once a week?  To these questions I say yes! Therefore, my first goal is to write more often.

Next, I decided to make more time for my artistic side. Several years ago my best friend introduced me to Zen Tangles thinking I needed a way to release my creativity.  It was one of the best things to ever happen to me!  Although what I draw probably doesn't follow strict Zen Tangle guidelines, it calms me, focuses me, allows me to create images which bring me satisfaction.  The image on this blog is one I drew.....and is the first one I ever sold!  This year I want to be able to express myself more through art.

My third goal was actually suggested to me by my friend Melissa L.  Her church is doing a study which guides the participants through reading the Bible all the way through in one year.  Now, I've tried before to do this very same thing and was never able to complete it. So why should this time be different?  For me it is the fact that she and I decided to do this hold each other accountable so to speak....and honestly, I feel a desire to read God's Word for myself...for my own need to be closer to Him. 

So far so good.....there are certainly other goals/resolutions which I should probably focus on as well....but I think these three will be more helpful to me in becoming the person I need to be....the person God wants me to be.  If I can become a calmer, more expressive woman of God then the other things will follow.....don't you think?