Glacier National Park 2010

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What A Day!

I tried really hard today to keep out of that "whirlpool of turmoil" I mentioned the other day....but it was so very hard.  When I'm tired and cannot seem to find enough minutes in the work day to get what is expected of me done.....and I'm reminded by thoughtless comments that I'm not hired "as a teacher," but merely an hurts. And then I'm very conscious of my meager paycheck....and my bills...and my health all just piles up into a big old pile of "poor old pitiful me."

Today was one of those days.  I could feel dark clouds of self doubt, worthlessness, depression, all beginning to gather around me.....then I felt anger welling up inside me at the unfairness of it all. But then a coworker said, "just let it go. Don't let the actions of another person do that to you." And she was so right.

I reached out and felt God's peace just wash over me. My job doesn't define the person I am! There is more to me than the work I do every day for which I am thankful. From now on I will focus on the parts of my job I love.....the preciousness of the children with whom I work....their triumphs and successes....the fun and laughter shared with friends and coworkers.

 I'm really blessed and I need to remember that....and always let my thoughts and actions reflect the Love and Peace shown me by God.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Grow a Giving Heart

Books have always been so important to me that I cannot imagine what life would have been without out them.  I must confess I am one of those individuals who just wants to know....anything and everything I can. For much of my life, books and periodicals and encyclopedias, have all helped me to feed that quest for knowledge.  My friends will tell you my mind is stuffed with all manner of bizarre trivia.....because I actually enjoyed reading encyclopedias and dictionaries as I was growing up! I know! Crazy right? And when I wasn't reading the articles in National Geographic, I was reveling in the amazing photography and dreaming of those faraway places.

I share all this because it wasn't until our school Book Fair that I came fully to the realization not all children have access to books the way I did.  And it saddens me. The little ones I work with may not have been exposed to books or reading until they began kindergarten....for some, there is barely money for groceries much less books.  The looks on their faces when they were able to pick out a book of their own are indescribable. Do you know most of them carry "their" book with them everyday? That is how precious reading, learning, growing have become to them.

For the past week I have been toying with a plan and I want to share it with you. When the school year ends at the end of May, I would like to send each of my ten tutoring students home with  a tote bag of books to have as their very own.....books of all kinds.....Little Golden books....picture books...story books.....anything that can be used as a doorway to imagining. Now I have no idea how I can accomplish this and am definitely open for suggestions but I believe it can be done.

The first thing I will do is pray....because if there is a way, God will help me find it! Then I'm going to count the change in my piggy bank....yes, I still have a pig shaped bank....and with that money I will shop the Ten Cent book sale at the Public Library....I'll go to yard sales....and I'll look for "gently handled" used books.

And I would ask, if you are a praying person, add your prayers to mine. Doing something for another without any expectations is a great way to grow a giving heart. I'll keep you posted! 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Safe In the Storm

I'm hunkered down in my hallway........Southerners will know what that means but for others let me translate.....I'm on the floor in my hallway as rain thunders down and the tornado warning signal continues to sound on my phone....feeling a bit anxious since I live on the second floor in a corner apartment....not the best place to be in a tornado.  Do I actually think the tornado will touchdown? In my area of the country, especially in a town which has been devastated by a tornado in the not so distant just never know.

As I wait for the danger to pass, I find myself thinking of how blessed I truly am as I pray for the safety of my family who also live here.  My parents live nearby and are healthy and active and formidable card players.  My daughter and her husband live 40 miles away and my oldest son lives and works here in town. And I have great coworkers! And dear, treasured friends who brighten my life daily! Funny how the threat of a tornado makes one reflect on all the good in one's life.

True, my life has not always gone as I expected...still doesn't. I haven't always dealt with things, turmoil, plan changes very well....but lately...well, my attitude is changing.  A friend wrote this week quoting Exodus 20:21, "Moses approached the thick darkness where God was," and put so many things into perspective for me. Sometimes when the clouds around me seem the darkest, I wonder where God's Light is and never stop to think, He is in the darkness with me!

As my friend wrote, "Forge ahead in the darkness without flinching, knowing that under the shelter of the cloud, God is waiting for you." And He is! And always will be! That knowledge is how my attitude is changing. I try not to rant and rail against changes going on around me nor do I allow myself to get sucked into the whirlpool of turmoil which seems to surround the changes. My focus is on the knowledge that God is with me in the darkness which sometimes seems to surround me.

The sirens have stopped although dark thunderclouds still hover and threaten just like problems and turmoil still hover and threaten my tranquility. My strength comes from knowing that God is with me in both situations....and I count on Him to bring me peace.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Something Wonderful

I simply must share something wonderful which happened this week!

Brief back story.....part of my responsibilities at work this year include organizing and supervising a peer tutoring program. Our sixth grade Beta club members were given the opportunity to serve as peer tutors for our first grade EL students who were struggling academically. The little ones arrive by school bus at 7:00 a.m., have their breakfast in the cafeteria, and then work with their tutors.  That means that 15 sixth grade students arrive early every morning to tutor....because they want to do so....there are no grades given for their extra work....they simply have the desire to help.  That in itself is a miracle.

To say our EL students have benefited from this one on one tutoring is indeed an understatement. The two groups of students have bonded in a unique way....they've become family. When paths cross in the hallways, there are hugs and high fives....lots of love and laughter between students of very different social, economic, and cultural backgrounds.  I see bridges of understanding being built and for me, that is a good thing.

Because this week we celebrated Read Across America, our school library held a "Book Fair." A company set up displays of books and students and parents were given the opportunity to purchase said books with the proceeds going to our school library. Needless to say, our young EL students don't usually participate because of economic reasons.

 This year it really bothered me! I wished so badly to be able to put books into the hands of these precious first graders who were working so very hard learning to read and understand in a language which wasn't their 'first' one. Every day after tutoring they ask to borrow a book from a small box of discards from our library.....they take them home to read or simply look at the pictures.....and faithfully return them the next morning.  They do this because they do not own books of their own! Hence my desire to find a way to get them to that Book Fair and buy them a book...of their very own. But I had no extra funds and no idea how to accomplish this goal.

Wednesday I was approached by one of our school volunteers who is actually a retired teacher from our school. She asked if there were any of my EL first graders who would be unable to buy from the book fair. I shared with her that not one of the ten could afford to do so. This wonderful retired teacher then handed me "a donation", as she called it, which she hoped would be enough for each child to purchase a book at the Book Fair. Having observed how hard the students were working, having seen them ask to 'borrow' books to take home, had touched her heart. I was speechless as I hugged her, the tears threatening to overflow. We both looked at each other and nodded....joined in the knowledge of the good that would come from this simple donation.

The looks on their sweet young faces when I told them of the gift which would enable them to have a book of their own will remain in my heart for a very long time.  The care with which they made their selections affirmed how special reading and books had become to them. Because our benefactor wished to remain anonymous, they had no idea who their gift was from.  One little boy approached every adult I spoke with and said, "thank you for my book," and I know he did this hoping to thank the one anonymous stranger who had gifted him in such a wonderful way.

God knew the desire of my heart was to put books in the hands of these precious little ones....and He then touched the heart of one of His children who was able to do so....thankfully she listened and responded.  God's people can be so good.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

T.G.I.N.F. (Thank Goodness Its Not February)

The sun is slowly beginning to peak over the eaves of the building in front of mine. Birds are sluggishly chirping....yep, all things are moving in slow motion this morning. Good thing because I've been up most of the night coughing and hacking my way through a miserable cold. But all in all, life is good.

I haven't written in a while and I could pull out a plethora of excuses as to why. But I won't. The truth is February is my least favorite month and I spend a good many moments feeling grumpy and taciturn. First , there is the whole Valentines' Day debacle....I have become the "Grinch" of said holiday.

Most of my life I waited expectantly for an indication, be it flowers or candy or a sentimental token of some kind, to assure me I was cherished by the one I loved.........didn't happen. Being the optimist I am, I still held out hope that one day it might happen. However, since my divorce I've become more of a realist and know that it probably won't.

That brings me to the second reason I dislike February.  It is the anniversary of my divorce becoming final.  Regardless of how or why said divorce came about, it still hurts. And in February I am strongly reminded of all the tears and disappointments and lies and heart pain which led to the culmination of a marriage which began with love and hope oh so many years ago.

But there is a positive.....February is a short month. And I realized something about myself during the 28 days comprising this February. Although I've grown accustomed to being alone and rarely feel the pangs of loneliness anymore......I do miss having conversations with other adults....conversations about books and movies and amazing things we've seen or heard.....conversations that last more than five minutes. Perhaps during the 31 days which comprise the month of March I will find the solution to my conversational dilemma.