Saturday, October 25, 2014

Friendship

    Tonight I would like to write a bit about my oldest son. He is a sweet boy who attempts to get along with everybody. Because he does drastic things for a 9 year old boy- namely talking to girls, being polite to adults, etc- he doesn't feel that he fits in. Since he doesn't fit in, he tries too hard and acts like a goober, which is super uncool. A few years ago, he had a really bad year in school. He was acting up and really started having some problems. This year has also shown hints of that beginning to happen so I took the first step and decided to talk to the guidance counselor. He gave me a few suggestions, one which included seeing if I can get him together with friends more outside of school.
     Today we invited 2 boys over for pizza and a movie. The boys were super nice kids and they had a blast watching the movie and playing together. The best part of the day was watching Tim know that he had the freedom to be himself completely around these 2 boys. Isn't it great to have friends who love us unconditionally?
   

Friday, October 24, 2014

Pure Joy

    My son won his first Space Derby. He was so proud of himself and he was so excited that all of his friends were cheering for him. Pure, uninhibited joy on this face :) Sorry for the picture quality- I took this on my phone.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Doing the right thing

    Sometimes what brings me the most joy is feeling like I'm doing the right thing. It's nice to be able to lay down to go to sleep and be able to live with your actions and your decisions for the day. Sometimes doing the right thing, for me at least, means that I hold myself to a standard that is higher than what others expect of me. Sometime doing the right thing is not the popular decision or the easy decision but being true to myself (and my faith, in most cases). James says "So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." James 4:17  Sometimes doing the right thing is just making good decisions on a minute by minute basis.

     Tonight I surprised myself by making the decision to head to the gym after a long hiatus. I had golfer's elbow at the end of the school year last year so it has been a while that I have been healing. I decided to go walk on the treadmill for a while. I set the speed and incline to a nice, challenging walk and planned to be there for a while. As I was exercising I had a crazy, Crossfit lady in front of me doing something that was probably a warmup for her but an insane workout for me. I thought "Surely, you could push yourself a little harder Jen." So, after the treadmill I did a few of the weight machines.
    On my way out of the gym, I noticed that one of my favorite instructors was about to start a class in the group X room.  I checked the schedule and saw that it was Zumba toning. My mind flashed back to my 8th graders and how much I've picked on them the past few days and I considered going in to dance for a while. However, I just exercised for an hour and I haven't really been a person to hang out at the gym for 2 hours before. (It shows.) Then I looked at the instructor- who is a crazy, energetic, hilarious lady, walked to the locker room, put my stuff away and joined the class. I am sore now but it's a great feeling. The whole class I was proud that I was pushing myself a little more than usual and I had a lot of fun while doing it.
     As I have been doing the 31 Days challenge, I have been thinking about things I can work on when this is over. Getting in shape and cleaning/organizing my house are always at the top of my intentions. I'm glad tonight started off a chain of small decisions that will propel me in the right direction.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Letting Go

    I couldn't figure out what to post today. You'd think with a subject like joy that my mind would be overflowing with ideas. After a few minutes of feeling ashamed, I thought about what has made my past few days so much fun-  letting go.
     Letting go in what way? All, really. I mentioned the other day that my weekend was pretty crappy. Nothing really went wrong but I am a "stewer." If something is bothering me, I sometimes obsess about it in my head- even the stupid things. I know that this irrational and I try not to be that way but it's a habit that I've held for over 30 years. Lately I've tried to be more aware of when I'm doing this and have then attempted to "let it go."  In the past week I've discovered that I get really annoyed with people over some pretty shallow things. (I've also realized that there are some lucky people who don't have to try very hard to annoy me.)  These things are easy to let go- mostly because the real issue is me being sinful and not a relevant problem.  What is harder is when I have to stop worrying or need to forgive someone. Oh yeah, still a sin. Whenever I have found myself in this situation this week, I have just stopped to pray. God tells us that he's willing to bear our burdens- so why do I feel like I need to "control the situation?" This will be be an ongoing struggle for me but there is a marked difference when I'm attempting to "let it go."
     The second type of letting go is a little less serious. In my role as a mom, teacher, Christian, friend and more, I often feel a need to look like I have "all my crap together."  Let's be real; being functional is not always the same as being happy about how I am doing in all these roles. I read a post yesterday (from another 31 Days blogger) that talked about embracing imperfection.  There is nowhere in my life that I can just let everything go, but I can definitely take myself less seriously in many areas.              Yesterday I found myself feeling really joyful and satisfied at the end of the day.   I think this had to do with the fact that I let myself just be myself in all areas of my day. In school I chatted with a new a colleague and told her that I would really like to have her over for dinner some night. I don't have a huge connection with many people from work outside of school so this took a little bravery for me. Then I had a prep period where I worked really hard on organizing the rest of the day. I wrote about my choreography lesson with the 8th graders in yesterday's post. I allowed myself to laugh with them and to permit them to be themselves- even if it looked less structured than what some people might like to see. I was proud when I saw students who normally are not engaged let go of whatever is holding them back on other days. They were appreciative that I showed my joy in being with them. I invested some extra time in a few students who needed a little one on one attention. I took the unpopular route and enforced the rules of class for my younger students. I took the instruments they were using away after repeated reminders of playing them correctly and listening when expected. I danced with my 7th grade class while teaching them a piece. (This class has some "mean girls" and some kids who frequently express their opinions- regardless of whether their opinion is appropriate.)  When I got home, I put my family first and spent some time hanging out with them. (I should have been cleaning or correcting.)  David asked me if he could "take me out dancing" in my dining room so we let it go all over the place there. It was so much fun. I even used some of my newly acquired moves from my 8th grade boys. At one point my husband even jumped in. (Those of you who know Matt know that this would be a RARE occasion.) Some of the blogs I read yesterday reminded me to appreciate what I have while I have them, so I took a little extra snuggle time with the kids and let the schedule go a little. All of these were good decisions for me and contributed not only to my joy but the lives of others around me too.
     What has brought you the most joy this week?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Kids

    One of the things that bring me the most joy is just watching children playing or being imaginative. Right now my kids are playing outside in the leaves. I went out and got these shots of them:

 Notice David's Michael Jackson-esque glove. His "style" crack me up. Whenever given the chance, he prefers to wear a button down, collared shirt and sweatpants.

   They're now figuring out how to jump from the tire swing into the leaf pile.
    In school today I did a choreography lesson with my 8th graders. It was a lot of fun to watch them experiment around with movement and have a good time being creative. It was fun to watch them have that "Am I an adult or a kid?" struggle. They try so hard to be grown up but when it comes to doing something fun and creative, the kid in them usually wins out. (Unless they are in a group of other students who will make them feel self-conscious.) I got really excited watching 2 kids in 8th grade and 3 boys in 7th grade who are not usually invested go "all in" today. I also had a lot of laughs and a ton of fun. I'm honored that my students trust me enough to be themselves with me.
    I also got this picture of the little corn field across the street from me. (With that being said, there are not a lot of corn fields in my area at all. A local dairy farm uses the land to grow feeder corn for their cows. I like them!)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Provision

     I tend to to be a worrier. Although I hold it together quite well, in my head I'm constantly worrying about what comes next, what I have to do. or thinking about things that might not even have anything to do with me. I know that this anxiety has caused some problems for me. (You don't even want to be around me if I'm running late... or anticipate being late for something)
      Matthew 6:25-34 says:    “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your lifee ?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

I was thinking about these verses last night as I couldn't sleep. Over the weekend my mind was stuck on a few things I couldn't seem to stop thinking about. As I lay awake last night, I kept thinking to myself "What are you actually worried about?"  I read a post this morning about the lies we often tell ourselves or listen to.  As I was pondering things in the morning I realized that, even though I worry about things, I still know that I am provided for.
    It gives me joy that I can provide food for my children, that I have shelter and all basic needs. I have more than what I need- as a matter of fact, I have too much. I am grateful for my job and for the colleagues I work with. I'm joyful that I get to help students grow and learn. I'm blessed to have a mind that loves to learn and the opportunity to develop myself every day. I'm glad that I am never cold or worried that my children won't have heat. I'm happy that I have a somewhat healthy body. I have a husband and children who love me and let me love them back. Most importantly, I have a God who will not desert me; a Father who cares deeply about my well-being and is willing to hear me when I talk to Him. Even when circumstances are bad, I have faith that things will be okay. 
I am richly blessed. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Love

     Today I read a blog post from Kara Tippetts. If you have not read her story, read this post then spend a lot of time on her other posts. She is a woman of amazing faith and inspiration. Today her post was about her husband and about his love in times where she has needed comfort as well as every other day. She is so much more eloquent than I will ever be.
     Her post made me think about people who have loved me unconditionally, shown me grace or mercy at times when it has been greatly needed, friends who are always there even if it has been a really long time since you last spoke to them, and people who see who you aspire to be especially in the times when we are less than perfect.