You care for everyone and wear your heart on your sleeve even if it causes you stress. I admire that about you.
(Note: I am not going to type up a bibliography for this post, though I have referenced many books and songs here. Just know that they are protected under copyright law by their creators and I have no rights to any of these resources. I am only suggesting them as a user/listener myself. If you have any questions about how you can use these resources, please contact the publisher, author, or artist!)
I’ve been getting kind of curious about how everyone else views their Faith and how they bring it into their lives in different ways. I know plenty of people who believe in some form of a God, though it might not be exactly through the same religion. Yet each of these people, regardless of their specific beliefs, come together to prove to me just how strong we all are as faithful people. My friends have numerous jobs in life from teaching to construction work and everything in between. They share their Faith through random acts of kindness, volunteer opportunities, working at their church, and praying for those in need. Some of them like to bake or sew, and they use these types of talents to bring things to the needy.
I feel like we don’t just do these good deeds to help us feel closer to our God, but I also feel that we attend events and participate in groups to help bring us closer to those who share our same beliefs. So my question is, what makes you feel closer to your God?
Here’s the top of my list:
- Attending Church
I haven’t listed these in any specific order, but there are some that I hold closer to my heart for personal reasons. I am also noticing as I view my list that some of these items have no direct connection to church or faith or God, so let me be a bit more specific.
Attending Church is the easiest topic to discuss (which is actually why it is listed first). It’s the one that everyone takes for granted and assumes to be the best way to connect to God. Yet I haven’t always found it as useful as it seems to be in my life now. My attendance has actually allowed me to see others worshiping in different ways. We have Liturgy days at work (Mass for Catholics) and I attend Sunday sermons at my own church (Lutheran). The differences are not as extreme as I used to think that they were. Luckily for me, I get to follow along pretty well with the Catholic Mass while also being able to learn about the differences between our faiths. This has also been a great opportunity for me to watch people younger than myself show their true devotion to God. I have never felt closer to Him than I do when I watch a room full of young kids singing and praying to God. If you’ve never experienced it, try going to a church near you that has a large following and an even larger youth group! I’ve also found that there is a difference for me when I attend Mass vs. when I attend Sunday service. At Mass, I often find myself praying for those around me, the stresses of the day, and being thankful for the amazing feeling that the people in the room have brought to me (whether they know it or not). On Sunday, I am drawn closer to my own personal life in a few ways. First, I am blessed to know that my family has been part of the Lutheran faith for many many years. I also recall the fact that my grandmother has always gone to services alone (or with her children) for over 80 years now. I too attend Sunday services alone most of the time. This allows me to realize not only how my grandmother was so strong in her faith, but reminds me how strong I am in my own. It also gives me the chance to connect even better with those who are around me. I now have a few people who come and sit with me each week at services. I’m unsure whether they feel alone or think I am, but I appreciate their kindness and am reminded that even the simplest acts are important in life.
Through everything that has been going on in my personal life lately, I have also come to find that reading is a great way to seek answer in prayer and get some “advice” from the man upstairs. I recently reached out to my pastor to see what advice or readings he would suggest to me from the Bible, and instead he recommended this book!
I have to be honest and say that I do not keep up with the daily readings, but it sits in my living room with some of my other resources just waiting to be picked up and read anytime I feel the need. So far, I’d highly recommend this one!
Strange as it may seem for a person in their late twenties, I have also resorted to using my Teen Study Bible often recently. Not only is this book special because it is the one I used when working towards becoming a member of the church through Confirmation, but it also has some really good resources. There is a section included that points you to the best scriptures when in times of need. Looking for some readings on love, hatred, death, etc? All you have to do is access the glossary and find these topics listed with page numbers and scripture suggestions!
Finally, I have picked up a copy of Beside the Still Waters from a local Amish market. I was skeptical at first, but found that this daily devotional is pretty good as well. This one directs you to a select set of scriptures. Once you read them, the book has a short discussion on the things you have just read. While it takes a bit longer than God Calling, it is well worth the time!
Another way I have felt more connected to God is through my music. My favorite place to listen to music now is YouTube. Not even my Pandora stations cut it anymore. Why you may ask? Simply because I have found some amazing groups and songs on YouTube that do not circulate through my stations, try as I might. For your reference, I’ll give you a list of my top ten favorites, again in no particular order.
And now for the final part of my list: sports. You may think I am crazy to say sports bring me closer to God, but I’m not talking about the NFL or NBA here. Actually, my church has their own softball team. We play other groups from churches around our county once a week over the summer months. While I started this adventure earlier this year simply because I missed playing softball so badly, I have come to realize that it means a lot more to me now than I thought it would. Through our games, I have become closer to others who share my beliefs. We have been able to connect more through these times than through church services, mostly because we are able to communicate with each other and work together as a team. I am forever grateful that this team was brought to my attention. While I am almost the youngest, and the only girl on the team, I am saddened to think that our season ends next week and I will have to wait until next summer to play with this team again! More importantly, I have found it significant that God has led me back to my favorite sport through my faith.
So as I said when I first started this post, I’m just wondering: What brings you closer to your God?
I feel like there aren’t already enough posts about the media hub Netflix (just kidding), so I thought I’d make one more! Today’s post is going to be kind of rushed because I’m getting started so late in the day. For this reason, I’m going to make it simply; a list of the Netflix content that I have seen along with a short synopsis (from my viewpoint) and whether I recommend you watch it or don’t waste your time. To my normal readers, I apologize because this is nowhere near one of my usual posts. They should return sometime this week!
- Breaking Bad
- The Five
- Zumbo’s Just Desserts– I basically watched this one because my cable provider took away the Food Network. Sometimes, especially after a long day at work or a long school year, I just like to have some down time and watch someone cooking tasty treats. Definitely not as good as some of the actual FN shows, but it got the job done!
- Evil Genius– I watched this with my mom one day. It felt weird to watch a show about a real-life event that happened during your lifetime, but it was really interesting. I’m not sure whether to recommend this one or not, simply because not everyone has the local connection that I have (or a mom watching with them who remembers the incident). I suggest reading the synopsis provided by Netflix and deciding for yourself.
- Crossing Lines
- 13 Reasons Why– This shows seems more targeted at teens, but should definitely be watched by everyone! I only started watching it because I had read the book and love seeing the comparison between books and their movies. Then I realized that this is a true issue in life (which has been made a tad overboard in the show) that everyone needs to educate themselves on. What makes this show even better? The “After 13 Reasons” show (which I have yet to watch).
- Anne with an “E”
- Fuller House
- Orange is the New Black
- The Ranch– While this show contains some crude language and may not be as interesting after the end of Part 5, it’s a pretty good sitcom that reminds me somewhat of Home Improvement or Friends. It’s a dramatic comedy that is fun to watch with my husband. I’d recommend if you have a sarcastic side or don’t have any young kids who will be influenced by the poor language.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events– Based on the book series by Lemony Snicket, though I’d rather read the books. I’ve watched at least the first season of this one, but by the time you watch the first dozen episodes, you have a good idea of how every single episode’s plot is going to lay out. I’m having trouble keeping with this one, but I bet it’s good for younger teens. (Note: I’m not recalling bad language, but I could be wrong– check the ratings!)
- When Calls the Heart– This is one of my favorite shows on Netflix, though it’s originally from the Hallmark Channel. If you like the intricacies and slight drama that can be found in older family shows, this one is for you! Compare to The Waltons, Andy Griffith, or Little House on the Prairie. With an old-time setting and an intelligent female lead, I am hooked!
- Imposters– I am currently waiting for Netflix to release the next set of episodes! I’m not sure at this point where the show will lead, but the first season was hilarious and interesting all in one bundle! This is one of those shows that I started watching and my husband quickly joined in. Again, not a Netflix original, but well worth it to watch whether you view it on Bravo or Netflix.
- The Rain
- Nailed It!– Another Food Network type show where horrible bakers are challenged to make two pieces as well as they can. I’d almost venture to say this is less of a cooking show and more of a comedy show. The host can be a bit annoying at times, but watching the bakers make the simplest mistakes and not realize it is hilarious. One of my current favorites to watch with my sister; sister bonding time always makes even funnier jokes out of this show!
- NCIS– My current favorite, though I’ve watched most of the seasons on CBS. I love that I was able to restart watching all of the episodes on Netflix starting with S01E01. Being able to see how the crew changes and follow their personal story-lines a bit better with the second watch is one of my favorite parts. Highly recommended if you enjoy any other crime shows!
- The Magicians– I wasn’t sure if I wanted to watch this one or not, but I have a student who is addicted and they continued to tell me that if I did nothing else this summer, I had to at least watch the Magicians episodes that are on Netflix. While this is a typical SyFy show, it is pretty interesting. I find parts hard to follow at times, but I think that’s mostly because I was not as intrigued from the get-go. Note: I wouldn’t let any kids watch unless you first check the ratings and maybe watch a few episodes yourself. High-school aged students should be okay, but topics of sexual assault, drinking, and drugs come up often!
I’m out of time for now, so I’ll come back and keep updating this list as I continue to watch shows. If you are curious to see how many shows you’ve watched recently or want to keep track of which episodes you’ve seen, try the TV Time app, available for Iphone or Android at TV Time. I’ve been using this app for months now and love being alerted when shows are new and have upcoming episodes. Just remember that the shows are updated based on their TV channels and not Netflix postings (unless it’s a Netflix original).
I’m borrowing the video below from Reddit. I just happened to come across it today and thought it fit pretty well with the story I feel like telling from a social media post I saw this morning.
If you’re an educator, you may have heard that Target is promoting 15% off for all school supply purchases for educators. I feel like this is a yearly thing and occurs in many different stores all over the country. Heck, some of the stores offer teacher discounts year-round. True, maybe some stores are promoting these discounts because they appreciate all the hard work teachers do. However, many of them could be instituting these policies because they hope teachers will buy more product from them to actually supplement their classrooms and help not only the teacher but the local kids as well! Even more of these stores are doing it to entice teachers to simply enter the store and spend more than what we normally would without a “sale” coming our way. Who can pass up a sale anyway?
But what I really think is interesting is that somehow, someone in this world turned Target’s 15% off discount for teachers into something similar to the link above that I posted from Reddit. How you may ask? Simply because people are trying to get work done and do some good (Target giving 15% for teachers who, whether we like it or not often buy their own supplies for at least part of their school year) and someone else ruins it for everyone.
That person in this situation just happens to be the owner of the Facebook Page called “Teaching in Progress”. I’ve done a bit of snooping on this page just to give you a quick rundown. This page is devoted to teachers sharing posts and quotes and ideas for other educators to use in their own classrooms and lives. Like many of the teacher pages that I follow, this one describes the life of a teacher during summer, gives project ideas to help kids learn their ABCs with fun games, and works to educate others about the reality of the school systems today.
So what’s the big deal? The difference between this teacher’s media page and the ones that I choose to follow comes in the form of one post from yesterday afternoon. It was posted in response to the Target 15% off discount deal. Just so you can enjoy the pleasure of whatever feeling their post might invoke in you, here it is:https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fteachinginprogress%2Fposts%2F1720784981303006&width=500
As you can see, there are many comments and responses to this post. And, as with all of my own personal blog posts, I would like to reiterate that my opinion is only that, an opinion. I am in no way saying that I am right or wrong about my feelings here. But just hear me out, let me tell you my feelings here.
This post is full of it!
That’s basically it. I feel like this is one of the worse things I have ever seen another teacher post on social media. Granted, any human can do much worse than this, but hear me out. I have some very valid reasons for believing this post should not even be in existence.
- It’s rude- Target was not forced to give anyone discounts, so anyone who gets one should be grateful. Target’s #1 mission is to earn money for their owners and employees while also servicing their communities by allowing people to buy food and supplies they need to support their families. It has never bragged about being a cheap alternative to other stores, for being a charity location, or for being a homeless shelter or wish giving service like Make a Wish. So for anyone to complain about something offered to them for no apparent reason is rude and sad.
- If you don’t want it, don’t use it- I do not often buy school supplies for my classroom. In fact, most of my school supply purchases are for my own personal use (either at home or at the office). Yet just because I may not need any more pencils or sticky notes at the moment, doesn’t mean that I am going to go out and complain about a discount that was offered to me. If I don’t wish to buy supplies, I’m just going to… well, not buy them!
- This is the opposite of what we should be teaching our children- I’m slightly scared that someone so outspoken could post something like this on social media. I’m not naive enough to think it doesn’t happen every day, but I often feel like this is what is wrong with the world. Sure, share your opinions and ideas; others love to see your creativity and come up with new ideas alongside of you. But do you not realize that you have a position of authority in this world? In your town? Do you not see that children look up to you as their teacher? Is it apparent to you that, even if you don’t friend your students on your Facebook page, they can still see your posts if thousands of people are sharing them? I feel like this is just teaching our younger generations that it is okay to bitch and complain about every single thing that is handed to you in life whether you really deserve it or not. Maybe this is what is wrong with so much of the world today. Not this post specifically, but the idea that we can be so outspokenly unhappy and rude about things that are offered to us just because they aren’t 100% what we want.
- The reality- Does anyone really think that Target has enough pull to change the entire financial budget of the state and federal governments? Because that’s basically what it would take to make it so that every school in the country has access to all supplies without the need for teachers or parents to contribute to anything the students need during a school year. I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to make this a reality, but going back to the facts… Target will NOT be the one to make these changes happen. Sorry Target, I love you, but you aren’t quite that powerful!
In the end, I guess I’m writing just because I am so frustrated by everyone who seems so ungrateful for things these days. While this Target post may be a pretty simplified example, there are many ways I have seen this attitude and ungratefulness in the world.
So my advice to you, or my wish for what you would do having read this post? Go out and do something good for someone else. Instead of complaining because how heavy a door is to hold, make sure you hold it open for yourself and the person behind you. Instead of being mad that your food from a restaurant costs so much, make sure to tip the waiter/waitress a bit extra today.
In the end, doing good, treating others well, and being grateful for what we do have will make the world a better place. Don’t forget to stand up for change, but be sure to do it in a mature and polite manner. Otherwise, people are so much more likely to lash out at you and not actually hear your reasons for supporting your cause.
My goal for this post is to see how many scientist and mathematician names I can come up with in order to create an alphabetical list of people who have greatly influenced the fields that I love. For those of you who are much more experienced and knowledgeable than me, please feel free to comment names that should be added! I’m sure, especially since I am tired, that I will miss some pretty big ones as well as some of the less popular ones!
A- Amedeo Avogadro
B- Niels Bohr
C- Pierre & Marie Curie
D- Charles Darwin
E- Albert Einstein
F- Rosalind Franklin
G- Carl Friedrich Gauss
H- Stephen Hawking
J- James Prescott Joule
L- Edward Norton Lorenz
M- Albert Michelson & Edward Morley
N- Isaac Newton
O- Georg Simon Ohm
P- Max Planck
R- Ernest Rutherford
V- Alessandro Volta
W- James Watt
Welcome to later…
I’m not really sure how to start this post, which is part of the reason that I didn’t finish my thoughts from yesterday. The only thing I do know is that it feels like many events in my life over the past few years have led me to the place I am now. Without all of these changes and learning experiences, I’m not sure that I’d be holding myself together right now.
I guess I don’t really know for sure that there’s a God out there leading me through these life events just to get me to some end goal or to make me stronger for some hardship that He knows is coming up in my life. I‘ll never be able to prove it to anyone, but just hear me out…
As a teacher in today’s world, we now have to worry about so much more than just educational facts. We are now basically second parents to the kids that we teach. Maybe it has been like that for years and I just never knew it, but I would also like to point out that parenting seems so much harder lately. First, the world is a much scarier place. Older people have told me that the world is more rude, more crude, and more filled with insanity than it ever has been before. I think that even the least political person in this country (is that me?) is even able to comprehend how horrible this country is at getting along right now; at getting along with other countries, other politicians, and just simply the idea of making decisions together. We have people who are absolute polar opposites fighting over the important things and the things that aren’t even true (thanks Internet)! So throw all of that together once and then put yourself in the position to ‘parent’ over 100 kids over an 8 or 9 month period. Keep in mind that each of these kids have their own interests and their own struggles. There’s the kid who’s been abused, the kid who’s depressed, the kid who has major anxiety, and the kid who is trying to remain kind in a world that doesn’t always wish to be kind in return. The students that I taught this past year have strengthened me in more ways than they will ever know. They have shown me how we are all each very different, how it’s not always easy to get along, and how it’s okay to be the parent sometimes rather than the friend.
I never thought much of that strengthening before, except to realize that maybe next year I will be an even better teacher to my next group of kids. But combine that with the changes I discussed yesterday, and I’m realizing just how mature and grown up I have become.
So now why am I saying that God has decided to make all of these things happen for me? What is this huge event that has changed my life forever and required all of these lessons and strength that I have found?
Heartbreak. Pure and brutal heartbreak.
As I typed that last line, I almost laughed to myself. Not because I feel like heartbreak is awesome or funny, but because I am sitting here knowing just how extremely cared about and loved I am by family, friends, coworkers… even my dogs. I find it ironic (in a sad way) that through all of that love, even still your heart can be breaking. I find it horrifying like a sick, sarcastic joke that even while my heart is breaking, from the outside everything looks perfectly normal. More than anything, I find it frustrating that people don’t understand my exhaustion, my lack of motivation right now when it comes to my work, and sometimes my need to just do absolutely nothing but lose myself in a good book or a movie.
So what is this heartbreak I speak of? It’s the kind of hurt that comes from a vicious, evil enemy that I cannot actually find a way to fight. I’m powerless to strike out at the foe that is holding me captive this summer. Worse, I know I’m not the only one in its grasp. That evil is cancer.
I’ve come to learn over the years that cancer isn’t an end-all-be-all thing. It’s not a death sentence or a tyrannical monster that will never be beat. What I have learned about cancer is vast and yet probably not even a percent of the things that humans overall know about its evil.
- Cancer doesn’t always kill and is more treatable now than it ever has been before.
- It doesn’t matter what kind of cancer you have, it seems to encompass and affect all parts of your body, even if its only your strength and appetite.
- Cancer doesn’t always attack those who are the oldest or the weakest; it strikes wherever it feels like it.
- Unless you’re a doctor, cancer is an enemy that you cannot see or really feel.
- Most importantly (at least from my perspective right now), cancer rips apart families and kills even those who are not actually inflicted with its disastrous disease.
Let me explain that last one. Someone I hold very dear to me has cancer. My mom even told me yesterday that the person I speak of almost seems like my second mother. She helped to raise me when my parents were both working and continued to babysit me even when my parents needed to go Christmas shopping or take a break from their kids. But before I get into too much detail about how amazingly special she is, let me keep explaining…
The woman that I speak of has had cancer numerous times in her life. She’s beat it twice that I know of (though I think it may be 3 times). I guess she’s either lucky or her doctors really know what they are doing. Unfortunately a month or two ago, it came back and reared its ugly head in a new form; lymphoma.
We (or at least me anyway) felt pretty disastrous after we heard. It’s hard to know that someone is getting older and that this horrible sickness just keeps trying to take them down. Then when the doctors said there was an 80% survival rate, I don’t know about any of the rest of my family, but my heart soared.
And its been like this ever since we heard she was sick to begin with. One rollercoaster hill after another, followed by a cliff or a huge jump… it all just depends on the day. Cancer is exhausting. Well… I can only imagine how it feels to actually have the cancer inside of you, but even for me (since that’s the only perspective I know), this cancer has been exhausting. One minute you’re thinking everything is okay and we’re all going to continue to live our lives after a few months of chemo and it will all be back to normal. The next minute it seems like there has been a death sentence laid down.
I would do absolutely anything for the woman who is suffering right now. I would do anything for any of my family and friends. I think the bigger issue with this for me right now is that I don’t know what to do and I don’t have the expertise to be able to do. While cancer is horrifying and scary and ruins people’s lives sometimes, right now the only thing it’s doing is making me feel stressed and stuck.
You would think a married woman in her 20s would know enough to at least be able to lend a bit of a hand, but I have still been unable to find a way to make it evident to everyone that I want to do what I can.
Part of my personal struggle with this comes because there are already too many hands in the pot. She has five children, each with their own spouses. I am not one of those ten people. And while some of them appear to be helping more than others, there still seem to be too many helpers as it is. One day I realized the best I could do was be there for her, visit her, and spend as much time with her as I could.
I drove to visit at least every other day while she was in the hospital. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to get there, and it was exhausting. But I felt good about being able to have conversations with her that I feel like I’d been missing out on all these years. My introverted self has not made nearly as much of an effort to visit as I did when I lived with my parents and could just go along to her house for the ride.
Once she came home, it seemed like all hell broke loose. Between all of the appointments and needing 24/7 care, I was never 100% sure what was going on at her place. To just drop by felt rude, but every time I’d call she’d seem overwhelmed to the point that I thought a visit would maInterke it worse. And so I stayed here, at home, without visiting.
At one point I came up with the idea that if I just visited while my dad was there, things would be less awkward and stressful for me and maybe for her. She wouldn’t feel so much like she had to entertain me and I wouldn’t feel so anxious about running out of things to say. But expecting my father to baby me while trying to take care of someone else who is actually sick makes me feel like an idiot. And it’s pretty unrealistic unless you’re a selfish prick, which I hope I am not.
So I’ve resigned myself to visiting when I can, which may not be often. I’ve come to realize that I cannot expect to make up now the time that I lost in the past. I try to regret nothing in life, but one thing I wish I would have done better is to keep the relationship as strong as it was when I was little. I should have remembered everything she did for me and how she was there for me even when she didn’t understand the struggles of a teenager living in the 21st century.
Now that I say that, another thought comes to mind. Maybe even those few short, simple conversations that we’ve had recently are enough. Maybe it means the world to her to be able to talk to me like an adult and be open and honest about how she’s feeling and what’s going on in her mind. Granted, I know she doesn’t tell me all of her thoughts because she’s still got that part of her who is trying to protect me and treat me like the little kid that I am in her eyes. Yet I also remember a conversation we had about the reality of this illness. It could just be possible that she knows I am going to be strong no matter what.
I am suddenly getting very tired of typing about this particular topic and don’t want to go into too much detail since this is the Internet and people will be able to read this from my blog. So let me just end by saying through all of this, the strength that I have found in myself over the past few years has led me to a point where I am able to handle the reality of this situation no matter what happens. I do not feel super confident all the time, nor am I happy about anything that is happening; what I do know is that I will be able to survive this situation just like the rest of my family by being the support system that she needs in whatever way I am called to do so. And just as I’m sure everyone else is doing right now, I’ve found that praying almost constantly and focusing on my religion is helping to ease my mind about many of my thoughts right now too.
Believe me or not, I truly do think that I was working to prepare myself for this situation without even knowing that it was coming. While I wish things were different for her and for my family, the least I can do is be grateful that I’m in a better position to help now than I would have been a few months ago. I thank God for my husband, so my parents don’t have to be my support as well as supporting everyone else. I thank God that I have a home to escape to when being around everyone in this situation gets to be too much. And I’m most thankful that I’ve been through everything that I have. If for no other reason than to get me where I am today.
P.S. As all of my friends already know, prayers are much appreciated!
It seems like every summer I come back to this, back to this webpage that very few pay attention to. Yet being able to write without my hand cramping quite so quickly is a good way for me to get some thoughts out and process the things in life that just seem to be a bit too overwhelming. During the school year, I normally resort to a good old paper journal, but that’s more due to time restraint and loving the feel of paper and pencil than anything else.
Here I am again though, sitting at my kitchen table and thinking about so many things that I cannot keep my mind straight. So I come back here, to this blog that I started so many years ago. At the time I wasn’t sure what my intentions were or what the result would be. Surprising (or not…) this page has basically become a hodge podge of my life. I’m a teacher, I’m a christian, and I somehow have a lot to say.
So I think I’d better start again… since last summer (or whenever my last post was), a lot has changed. I’m married now, to that man I’ve mentioned many times by the name ‘T’. We’ve got our own house and two precious pups (Jasper and Zoey). I’ve gone through a job change that almost resulted in a full-out career change. And more than anything, I’ve gone back to my roots.
Starting in September or August of last year, I returned to the place where I originally did my student teaching. In case I never mentioned it before, it’s just a little Catholic school in the middle of a tiny town that very few people have ever heard of. The only reason I know of it is because we always go through it to get from one town to the next. In any case, this small school holds a huge place in my heart. It may not have changed much since 2013 when I last visited for a few months, but it seems to always be there when I need it. When I was offered a job there for the 2017-2018 school year, I had no idea that it was also a way of God telling me that I needed to get back to my religious beliefs and my kind and concerned self. Somehow I started to lose those things over the stress of a career that wasn’t super fulfilling and time restraints that it invoked in my life.
Not only did this job change really start to point me in the right direction, but I also returned to my church practices. Let’s be honest, my church had a change in leadership a few years back and my attendance there quickly dwindled. I’m not a very good Christian by saying that, but there have always been preachers and pastors who really spoke to me… and unfortunately those who have talked either around me or straight over my head. As a young person in today’s society, it has always been hard for me to get my butt to church on a regular basis when the preacher doesn’t ever seem to reach me with their messages. This caused me to fall into old habits, and I had stopped going to church completely a few years back.
Luckily, I decided to get married and knew how important it was to my family (and more importantly, to myself) that I get married in a church. So I did a lot of work to seek out a pastor who would perform the services for us. Doing so changed my life, possibly forever. I was so fortunate to find a pastor who I was easily able to connect with and who genuinely cared about not just my religious self, but my husband’s not-so-religious ways. He was caring and kind and gave us so many assurances about how strong of a relationship we had.
I started attending his church for two reasons: it’s in the town where I now live with my husband, and I was curious to see the preaching style of the man who was going to marry us. I’m so fortunate that I did! For about the past year and a half or so, I have been attending church on a much more consistent basis. What really amazes me about this is not the fact that I have returned to church, but the fact that my faith has grown so much even having been away from a Sunday service for a year or two. Plus, the pastor I have been speaking of has an assistant pastor, and somehow they both speak to me! Some days I’d swear that the sermon is directed right at something going on in my life. Which has taught me that maybe it’s not the person delivering the message after all; maybe it truly is the message that needs to get to me when it is given. Like many people say, God will get you what you need when you need it. Clearly these two men have come into my life right when it’s necessary.
And so, to tie all this change together in my life, I originally thought that this was all just a path to God, to my beliefs, to the person who I used to be and have always wanted to be. I have been so ecstatic and happy about all of these changes. I love being able to be myself and do the things in life that I have not stopped doing during my absence from this blog. Yet I have also been reminded that at the end of a long day, I can sit down in my house with my family and realize that I am doing my best to be a good person, that I am being led in some fashion through my Faith, and that I am able to learn more than simply what a college course can teach me. I learn every day from these kind and caring people who have openly joined me in belief of God. And while I’m no zealot or anything extreme, I feel like I have become a better person by focusing more on the good that I am supposed to accomplish in life, the good that I can hopefully teach to my students, and the happiness that you can very easily impart on any person at any given time. Yet as this summer rolls by, I’m starting to see that this new focus is not even half of the reason that I’ve been led back to God in such a fast and strong way. I think more it’s that God knows I’m going to need my Faith and my belief in him very soon, and possibly more than I ever have before.
But more on that later…
I’m going to sound really silly (or so I feel) writing this, but about five years ago, I met someone that I never realized would impact my life in such huge ways. She taught me everything practical there is to know about teaching, and she has been there watching and helping me grow in my profession ever since.
I remember entering the school in December, right before Christmas break. I met a bunch of people whose names I could not remember. I walked around some hallways that I would never remember how to navigate when the holiday was over. And then I went on my merry way, to try to gear myself up for the anxiety I was sure I would feel about starting to teach in an actual classroom.
Many of my friends know that I have always wanted to teach. Fewer know that I never thought it would be possible for me because of my anxiety. There were so many obstacles to maneuver around, that finding some retail sales job or simply living with my parents forever seemed like good alternatives to college and a career in education.
Somehow, while skirting around the high anxiety of actually staying on a campus and attending classes in a lecture hall, I managed to fairly happily make my way through college. Until that December. I struggled for weeks if not months to find a school that would allow me to complete my required student teaching hours. I never ever thought that the school I would go to was the one that everyone in my town always “hated”. I mean, some of us attended there, but when it came to sports, we were rivals in everything!
But I had no other choice at the time and I did what I had to. Which meant working meeting a bunch of new people and (hopefully) surviving the next three months teaching in a foreign place to me.
The funny thing is I remember leaving that day and feeling so much better about the entire situation. I felt my anxiety decrease tenfold, but I just always assumed it would come back the day before I was supposed to start working. That’s just how my body is. There was something that day though, about how welcoming the people were, that gave me hope that maybe I could keep myself under control and survive through those next few weeks.
Ironically enough, I was right. But I didn’t just survive without panic attacks; I feel like I excelled. Within weeks, my proctor and supervisor was pushing me to focus on the more minor details of my teaching techniques. He encouraged me to circulate the room more, or work to stop repeating the same words over and over again (which unfortunately, I still do quite often). He, like many others who got me through my life so far, believed in me and saw the best that I had to offer. He pushed me to bring that “best” out of myself and really make some progress in my career.
And while my family was always there supporting me, I feel that the biggest reason I was able to remain calm, work ahead, and truly ease my anxiety throughout those weeks was not one of those people.
No. It was the somewhat sarcastic, often funny, openly honest person who taught me what a “career husband” was and led me to believe that I could actually make something of myself in terms of teaching. I never thought I would want to teach at a brick and mortar school, but she taught me that even that was pretty cool sometimes.
I remember making so many embarrassing mistakes because of my young mind and my oversight of how different words and jokes can affect others. She was there through that too, teaching me that everyone makes mistakes, but you remember your’s and vow to never make the same ones again. She taught me the best method for running a classroom was through open and honest communication, but that it’s also always better to have a plan that can be changed at a moment’s notice.
By the time I left those three months, my position at that school was well known. I remember the salad and lemon cup that I ate for my farewell party, hosted by none other than the person I have been discussing. I still have all of the gifts that everyone gave me for my own classroom (though I’m unsure what to do with my name plate once my last name changes in a few short weeks).
My co-teacher even helped to land me my first job. First, as a substitute in the middle and elementary schools. Then, a few short months later, she pushed me to make contact with another person who not only gave me a full time job but also pushed me even farther in my career. And here again, my anxiety took over, and against her advice, I didn’t reach out to him myself. I was worried about the long drive, the fact that I would have to teach Calculus (which I HATED), and just the overall idea that I would have a major career where I would be impacting other people’s lives. But you know what? She didn’t let me skirt around that opportunity. No, she contacted that principal herself and shared my contact information. Before I even knew it, I was starting the first big job of my life.
I hate to admit that I lost a little bit of contact with her after I started my new job. I was pretty busy and spent a lot of time in my car after all. But for those first few years, I always remembered to send her anonymous birthday flowers and to make sure she knew I never forgot all that she had done for me.
Sitting here today, I don’t know where my life is supposed to go or what’s going to happen as I start so many new adventures in my life. But I am more than happy to say that this friend of mine is now my boss, now my resource, and now the person who suggested I take over their classroom when they decided to make a career change. And though I know that this job may not last forever, I am again astounded by the fact that this one amazing lady (whom I call my work mom) has changed my life for the better again.
But more than anything, as I sit here reviewing her plans and lessons from previous years, I realize just how truly she impacted my own teaching. Her planner… looks exactly like mine from previous years. Some of our worksheets are exactly the same (though this could be attributed to the fact that we used the same textbook). Even our sense of organization and using binders for blank copies and answer keys are the same.
I’m finding that I suddenly don’t feel like I’m starting a brand new job, but that I’m returning to one after many years of absence. And while she won’t be in the classroom right beside me, I know that my work mom is just down the hall any time I need her and that she has saved me hours upon hours of work by teaching me her organization skills and teaching techniques so that when I take over her classroom (which in my mind will always be her’s), it will already feel at least partly like I am in control, know what I’m doing, and will not be bogged down having to recreate every assessment and assignment and lesson.
So to that person, who I truly hope reads this, I can never thank you enough. The progress in maturity and my career may not be solely attributed to you, but you’re the one who has always been there guiding me in the right direction. And even though I am determined to come up with another way to thank you, I hope for now just knowing how grateful I am and how much I am starting to take after you in terms of my career will help you to realize that every day I spend in the classroom is just another tribute to you and your amazing educational skills.
I’m excited to see what my new job is going to bring me this year, and I just keep praying that starting it in the same week as my wedding will not bring back that anxiety too badly. Here’s hoping anyway, right?
Yep, that’s right. I’m having a rough day. I mean, everything is working out okay, but I am struggling to understand why some people step into leadership positions (for jobs or otherwise) when they have no intention of being kind, considerate, or helpful to others around them. The biggest thing I have ever learned from teaching is that the job is NEVER about me. I have to force myself to look out for my needs, my health, and my happiness. Luckily, I like the job, but unless I focus on doing things for myself, they don’t get done. Other people have equally (or more so) selfless jobs, but not everyone treats those jobs the way that they should.
Why am I struggling with this in particular? Because at the same time that I land a job in a religion-based private school, I am also having to switch churches. Don’t get me wrong, my faith is not changing or being swayed by anything going on, but I have never been so ashamed to be in a church before in my life. Moreover, the person who is supposed to be giving me religious guidance is doing nothing really but to make me wish people weren’t so gossipy and selfish.
As I sit here writing, I’m trying not to sound selfish (or feel selfish for that matter) about the decision I have made. I’m trying to remember how much it means to my grandmother for me to attend church with her (though she’s never said so out loud). I’m trying to remember how important family is to me and how I feel so amazing knowing that I am sitting in the same pews that my ancestors have sat in for over 80 years now. And yet I cannot bring myself to go back.
So this week, I’m determined to go to the same church that our wedding officiate will be attending. In fact, he’s the senior pastor there and is more than understanding of circumstances that change your life in ways you never see coming. He, thankfully, has recognized that I am trying to lead a faithful life and to be a more regular attendant at church. And more than anything, he believes in me and would sit down with me any day at any time to give me advice or help through any situation.
I haven’t had a super great pastor or reverend to look up to in a long time, and I’m not excited about switching churches (again), but I feel like this is a change my life needs right now. I just pray it turns out well and that I can find myself with less anxiety about simply attending my church on Sundays. Here’s to hoping!
My sister brought her dog over to my house yesterday so that I could puppy sit. That left me in the house with three tiny black dogs who are all willing to cause plenty of trouble in their own way.
There’s Duncan: the one who doesn’t like loud noises, refuses to enter the kitchen, loves being outside, and does not go where you ask him if he doesn’t want to.
Then there’s Jasper: I think he’s the cool, chilled out one, though he is also mine. He’s the oldest of the group and acts like the father. He’ll put them in their place if need be.
Finally there’s Zoey: She’s my dog and my fiance’s (though mostly his) and just turned 3 months last Thursday. She likes to chew on everything, eat everything, and has recently learned to dig holes. Though her potty training continues to improve, she sometimes has a “set back” day where she acts like she should just be left outside the entire time so I can stop cleaning up accidents every ten minutes.
My day didn’t start out too well since I accidentally fell asleep shortly after my alarm went off. I was woken up by my sister banging on my door to drop off Dunc. And as soon as the dogs saw each other, it was terror all around. Even my “innocent” Jasper wasn’t enough to fend off the feuding that Zoey was trying to start between herself and Duncan.
Then, when I decided it would be great to go outside and just let the dogs run off all of their energy, it starts raining. And it rains pretty much the rest of the day. Of course this doesn’t stop Duncan from being outside; in fact, I think he might have enjoyed it more than sunshine!
Anyway, the dogs were basically terrors all day yesterday, including one of Zoey’s “set back” days, her new ability to almost jump onto our kitchen table and spill water all over my books, and Duncan’s insistence that he stay outside and get soaked before coming back in. Plus there was Jasper, who didn’t do anything majorly wrong. Yet, he wasn’t his normal fatherly figure in the house; he was happy just to trip me up when I was trying to go somewhere or to try to sleep on me when I’m trying to wrestle the other two off of each other. And so my day went…
Until it sort of stopped raining and I decided it would be good to get some of my (extreme) frustration out by taking a jog/dog walk down the road. Zoey is still too young to go too far from home yet because she doesn’t have all of her shots, but I leashed up the two boys and set out. I was excited because I had just downloaded a new app called “Map My Fitness” and wanted to try it out. Plus I ran much farther than usual, and ended up walking well past a mile in under 20 minutes. Unfortunately when I hit the 1.15 mile mark (or around about), my sneaker decided to break.
Before all of you track stars out there start to tell me, I will admit a few things: 1) I know, I should have been using actual running sneakers; 2) yes, they were really old too and I should have thought about that; 3) It’s probably much smarter to go running when someone you know could come and pick you up in an emergency; and finally, 4) I understand the implications of going running when it’s still sprinkling outside but I needed that exercise!
So yeah… here I am in my SUPER old Adidas sneakers that are, unfortunately, not intended for running. I’ve got Jasper on my left and Duncan on my right because they keep tangling me up if I let them on the same side as each other. Jasper doesn’t seem to care to run, Duncan doesn’t think I’m going fast enough. And yet I enjoyed myself! The road was a little slick, but not slippery enough for me to fall. Plus, like I said, I did some pretty good distance for being an out of shape asthmatic!
*Evil music enter here*
Then my shoe broke! The front half of the sole came off. At first I didn’t notice, but it shortly ended up curling and folding under itself so that I was walking on some pretty unbalanced and unsteady surface. Please keep in mind that I was over a mile from home.
On a normal day, I would have taken my shoes off and put my tough feet to the test. I would have turned around immediately and gone as quickly as possible home. But this was not any ordinary day. This day Duncan was with me; this day it was still spritzing and the roads were all wet and worm-covered. Also on this day, I had just decided to get into jogging down the road again after a pretty bad spill where I messed up my knee.
I think it took me almost 45 minutes to trudge my way back home with my broken shoe stuck to my left foot for my poor foot’s sake. Also with both dogs still trying to pull me home a fast as they could (or, in Jasper’s case, alternating between really fast and really stinking slow).
The reason I am even writing this is because it was hilarious now that I look back on it. It’s just my luck that 20 minutes in, I get a text from T saying he will be home late. So I had no ride either. In fact, every little piece of the day yesterday seemed to be one of those “just my luck” situations. I even had a thought at one point that I would rather have been at work changing people’s lives for the better than here at home dealing with dilemma after dilemma. (For the record, if you don’t already know, I’m quite the hermit sometimes. Under normal circumstances I would NEVER say I wanted to go back to work, even if I do enjoy my job most days.)
So the only thing that I can think is that there was some kind of moral here, some lesson to be learned. Was it that I should never ask for another puppy again? Or maybe just that I needed to take a break for a day and try not to do so many chores and take on so many responsibilities at once. Maybe it’s even that I shouldn’t be so worried about working out, though I know it’s healthy and necessary if I don’t want to end up looking like a tootsie roll.
In any case, God had some kind of plan for me. Or maybe it was karma… Either way, I leave you with this. Always wear good shoes when going far away from home with no way to get back. Never take those in your life for granted, because sometimes they aren’t going to be around to rescue you. And finally, even though we may not know where our lives are taking us next, just keep getting until you find out where you land. It may be a long process, there may be aches and pains and even some rain in your path; however; in the end, you will get right back home to wherever it is you belong.
I’m going to just start by saying that I am loving my summer vacation already! Today was especially good since it was the first day that I really got out in the good weather to walk with Jasper. Mostly because it has been raining every day for what feels like the past five years, but also because my knee is finally starting to heal from that stupid trip I took onto the pavement (but that’s another story).
Today was so good that I was enjoying my time outside with my pups and watching T do the weed whacking without a care in the world. I’m even looking forward to going out with my parents for a day tomorrow to some stores and things. And then I saw it.
A single white and brown mushroom was hiding in the dog yard behind the tree that they spend a lot of their time around. I’ve heard a lot about dogs eating mushrooms and getting sick, but I’ve never lived in a really wet or really wooded area, so I wasn’t really expecting to have that problem. I didn’t even think that I had moved to the woods recently and that the dogs have started to eat everything in their sight… and in their yard.
Needless to say, I freaked out. Without knowing much about mushrooms at all, I had no idea if the thing was poisonous or not. I stopped T from working and we examined it together. It took us a while to realize that not much of the mushroom was missing. What worried me most though was that it had been torn to pieces and was uprooted from the ground. Who knew what that meant; I just played it safe and assumed it meant my Jasper had been digging up “weeds” again, this time in the form of a shroom.
We spent probably close to an hour researching, though I called the vet hospital first thing. They told me they couldn’t do anything for me except to give me the poison control hotline’s number. The call would cost me at least $50 and would simply detail any treatment that needed to be taken for the dogs. The vet would then coordinate with the poison control case and treat the animals as necessary, for an additional fee of course. Otherwise, the vet couldn’t do anything to help me (which seems pretty sad to me since they are there to help animals, not watch them possibly suffer from poison…)
My mom got the same responses from anyone that she talked to, so before I knew it T and I were sitting at the kitchen table surrounded by our two dogs, staring at a mushroom on our table that was torn into pieces. We sent pictures to my family, who then (all three of them) spent time researching mushrooms as well. We settled on the fact that it is not a poisonous kind and the puppies should be safe. Even so, we have scoured the rest of the yard for additional monsters.
I also took some advice off of the internet and tried to give the dogs as much water as possible in order to help flush out their system. Just in case! I’m trying really hard not to worry about the fact that they may or may not have eaten a poisonous fungi, but I’m still having trouble not feeling stressed, exhausted, and worried after that dilemma.
Needless to say, if anyone reading this has dogs, please go out and check your yard right now for any type of mushrooms! I don’t care if you think they are safe or not, pluck them out of the ground (root and all) and get them as far away from your pups as you possibly can!
Heck, do this even if you have cats, chickens, or any other animals. Sometimes it’s just better to be safe than to be crying of worry. Take my advice, I know from experience…