Thursday, July 24, 2014

Renewed Spirit: Spiritual Journey Thursday

I love Spiritual Journey Thursday!  I love writing about my spiritual journey and I love reading blogs about others spiritual journeys.  Especially educators who know the demands of our day-to-day life.  Today I'm especially motivated because I'm in a good place.  Last week I spent my days with 105 amazing children and 60+ volunteers for Vacation Bible School.  I have been spending more time with dear friends from church.  I've also spent some time this summer reconnecting with God, who I know has been missing me for awhile.  Oh, I've gone through the motions... attended church, planned for VBS, attended and even co-taught a Bible study, served on committees... all the things a good Christian woman should do.  But, it was hard... it was work.... it was not something I looked forward to.  I saw all those things as ONE MORE thing I had to get done.  Just another commitment on my calendar.  And I was desperately missing God... even at church.  And I know He was missing me.

This summer has been a wonderful time of rediscovery.  I'm rediscovering my relationship with God and who I am as one of His beloved children.  For the first time in a long time, I am feeling beautiful.  Not an outwardly physical beautiful, but a spiritual, joyful, energizing beautiful.  God has been working through His Word and fulfilling needs in me, some of which I didn't even realize I had.  There have been countless people and events in my life this summer that have awakened my spirit and given new life to my soul.  It is like a weight has been lifted and I can breath again.

 I've also been reminded by my favorite Christian band Casting Crowns, through the song "Thrive", that God wants so much more for my life than just busyness, exhaustion and self-doubt.  He has given me life that I might live it fully and abundantly.  I am meant to live a life that glorifies Him and spreads His love.  I can't do that if I am disconnected and trying to fulfill my own needs.  I am grateful to Mark Hall through his lyrics and my friends through their love, support and encouragement that I have been reminded of that.  

My heart and spirit are full.  I am renewed with an energy and self-awareness that can only come from the Holy Spirit.  I am thankful beyond words that God has found his lost sheep and brought me back to the other 99.  It is not the first time, nor do I expect it will be the last time that He will have to search for me, and find me wandering without direction.  But I am filled with the wonder and joy of  His grace and mercy, knowing that know matter how often or how far I wander, He will welcome me back to the flock!

Casting Crowns - Thrive (Official Lyric Video)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lessons I'm Learning

Hello Friends....
Though I've only been away from this blog a little more than 2 weeks, it feels like much longer.  I'm finding it difficult to get back into the swing of writing, but during my brief hiatus I've been learning new things about myself and revisiting some other things.  You see, I tend to be a "bit" on the OCD side of life.  Once I get hooked on something or my brain latches on to a thought or idea, it's off to the races.  My daily routine gets disrupted, I have trouble sleeping and other things get pushed aside until my obsession runs it's course.  And for many weeks I was allowing social media and all it's distractions (good and bad) to overwhelm me and my life. I wanted  NEEDED to disconnect!

Twitter was the first thing that had to go for awhile.  I could not pull myself away.  I was obsessed with checking my feed constantly.  I had to be completely up to date, have the latest information.  I also found myself accepting and jumping in to every new challenge that was put before me.  It didn't take long before I was completely overwhelmed by all that I was trying to do, and was not enjoying or learning from very much of it.  All I could think was "must keep up".  Out of necessity ( another life challenge/obsession took over) I had to go cold turkey on Twitter and all it's challenges and "learning opportunities".   It was a struggle for a few days.  I felt as if I was quitting on my PLN and myself.  I missed keeping up with everyone and reading all the amazing blogs that I follow and enjoy.  However, after 3-4 days I found my mind calming.  I was starting to sleep a little better and I wasn't using up all the data on my phone! :)  I was learning, and continue to learn that it's okay to step back, to take on only 1 or 2 challenges, to PUT THE PHONE DOWN and just enjoy life.  I am trying to spend more time with friends.  I'm trying to catch up on the reading I wanted to do this summer.  And I'm trying to find myself again.

Which leads me to 10 other lessons I'm learning.... 

1.  DO NOT feel guilty for taking time for myself
2.  It's okay to disconnect... the world will not fall apart if I do not have the most up to date information
3.  My mind needs to take a break occasionally  
4.  I MUST connect myself spiritually to God and to my faith
5.  It's okay to say "no"
6.  It's okay-even necessary-to ask for help
7.  I have amazing friends, family and co-workers who help keep me grounded and who love me 
9.  Do not borrow trouble, take one minute/situation/day/ at a time
10.  Continue to keep my JOY, regardless of the circumstances

This is not an exhaustive list, and these will continue to be life-long learning opportunities for me, but in a short 2 1/2 weeks, these things have all been an important part of my growth as a person, a woman, a teacher and a friend.

I'm back to Twitter and I'm looking forward to catching up with my PLN and the blogs that I've missed, but I am coming at it with new perspective and insight.  I can and will put my phone down, I will take a close look at what challenges I've been participating in and set my priorities, and I will start focusing on quality instead of quantity.  I'm ready to start learning again... and keep learning!
God Bless,

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Keeping My Joy Today

I am struggling today.  Struggling to make healthy choices, struggling to be cheerful, struggling to be positive and struggling to just keep my head above water.   And the honest truth is, I can't really tell you why.  Today is no different from yesterday or the day before.  The same realities that I faced yesterday I am facing today.  My stress is no greater, my burdens no heavier and my life no more overwhelming.  Yet today feels different.  Today I have less resources to handle the stress, burdens and priorities.  I feel sad, broken, challenged and incompetent.  

But the amazing thing is, I still have JOY.  It would be so easy to go to these dark places and let the emotions take control and win.  But regardless of my inner or outer turmoils, despite the times of feeling helpless and out of control, I have a joy the lives within me.  It is the Holy Spirit and my days would be be dark, indeed, without It.  I can find joy every day, in any circumstance, because of this presence and I am grateful beyond words.   

We all have these days.  Days when we just can't see any light.  Days when the burdens seem too overwhelming to handle.  Days where it's a struggle just to smile.  It's part of being human.  It's a part of our reality and the world we live in.  And today is just one of those days.  But I still have joy.  And I will face what is left of this day with the knowledge that I will wake up tomorrow to face a beautiful new day, full of hope and promise.  

And I will have JOY!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Living a Full Life


@muellerholly has invited her Twitter and blog followers to join with her for her Spiritual Journey Thursdays.  I am so excited about this opportunity.  As much as I love blogging about my passion for all things education and technology, I am so glad for a forum to journal about my faith on a regular basis as well.

This week Holly was focusing on the word "capacious" and asked, how has God given you a capacious life?  And, in typical God fashion, I was just thinking about this today.  I was driving to my mom's house for Fourth of July celebrations, and the K-love radio host was reading a list of 5 things you should never say to a person who is single and it made me laugh.  You see, I'm in my 40's and still single.  And culture tells me I should not be happy with that.  I should be out there looking, or praying for a life partner, or asking my
Christian friends to set me up, etc... .  But.... I'm okay.  More than just okay; I'm HAPPY!  And you know why?  God has given me a *capacious* life!  

First and foremost, my faith in Jesus Christ has me waking up each morning full of joy.  He completely fills my life and provides me with all I need.  Crazy, scary, sad and frustrating things may happen in my life, and believe me they do, but I still have joy in the absolute truth that God is with me.  I am part of a church congregation that lifts me up and supports me.  They allow me opportunities to share my faith with in a multitude of ways.  

Family, friends and a wonderful teaching career also provide for a full, happy life.  I have people in my life that love, support, encourage and challenge me.  They understand and enjoy my child like wonder of the world around me; finding greatness and awe in fireworks, thunder storms, oceans, and the magic of the Magic Kingdom :)  I also find completeness in teaching.  My students put a smile on my face every single day, no matter what else may be going on around me.  They are true blessings!  

Though some may feel that my life must be lacking because of my single status, believe me.... God has truly worked many blessings in my life and I find it extremely *capacious*!  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

It's Good to Feel Used!

This past Sunday I had the privilege of speaking in church.  The questions were "does God still call us?" and "does God still use us?".  I knew my answer was absolutely "yes", and I went on to give my thoughts on how and why God calls us and uses us.  And as I continue to ponder those questions, I realize that it applies to more than just my spiritual/religious beliefs.  Regardless of your religious beliefs.... these questions still hold true.  Remove the word God and the questions become "are we called?" and "can we be used?"  And my answer is still absolutely YES!

I truly believe teaching is a calling.  Regardless of what our communities, media, politicians and education reformers would have us belief, not just ANYONE can teach.  The old adage "Those who can, do.  Those who can't, teach" was most likely written by someone who never stepped foot inside a classroom as a teacher.  I know we can all probably remember the moment we knew that we were going to be a teacher, that we just knew we were "called" to this profession of little money, fame, fortune or respect, but filled with so much enjoyment, fulfillment, excitement and challenges.  Those who do not feel called to teaching will most likely not last long in the profession.  

Being called is one thing, but is okay to be "used"?  Does anyone ever want to feel like they are being used?  YES!!  Please use me..... use my skills, knowledge, gifts, talents, experience, excitement, vision, curiosity, love of learning.  Nothing makes me happier than being used!  I have a true passion for teaching.  I love my students.  I love watching the grow, learn, develop and being a part of their life journey.  But I also have a passion for sharing with my colleagues and participating in our joint growth as educators.  It is how we all become better at what we do.  It's how we gain more knowledge and experience to ultimately help our students.  I love to present at staff development workshops, I love sharing on Twitter, I love mentoring new teachers/student teachers, I love presenting at professional conferences and I love collaborating with my peers.  I love being used!  

We all have so much to share with each other; so many skills, insights, wisdom, projects, gifts, thoughts and experiences.  So, it's OKAY to feel used!  It's good to be used! I challenge you to go out there and tell your colleagues, administrators, coordinators, LRC directors, IT directors.... anyone who will listen that you want to feel used.  Let people know you want to share with others and learn from others as well.  I bet they will take you up on your offer, and you can enjoy the feeling of "being used"!