Saturday, August 30, 2008
Well, not intentionally, but certainly the things that have been bothering me lately have not been earth-shattering problems, and I'd have made my life--and that of my husband, in particular--much more pleasant this past week if I could have just adjusted my attitude. And, even as I luxuriated in my funk, I knew that pouting and sulking and generally feeling negative about the world were only going to make things worse.
So, my steps to fix my additude, as prescribed by Pastor Mark, are as follows:
1. Have an attitude of gratitude--rather than complain about your problems, count your blessings. Don't lose sight of all the good things in your life. Be thankful for what you do have...and for many of us, what we do have is a lot!
2. Earnestly remember and focus on God's mercies and actions in your life. Don't be like the Israelites, who shortly after God parted the Red Sea for them, were complaining against God and Moses and wishing aloud that they were safe back in slavery in Egypt. What's the saying... "how soon they forget".
3. Have an attitude of believing that good things are coming your way. Don't get stuck in the negative. Know that God is doing great things in your life. Believe that God is working in your life for your good, even if maybe it doesn't feel that way at the time.
4. Have an attitude of forgiveness. Instead of sulking over perceived or real slights or insults, make a conscious choice to overlook or forgive. Yes, this is a big one for the past week. Jeff said something that really annoyed me on Sunday, and I've really kind of held it against him since then. Today's message was a good reminder that I need to choose to let it go and move on.
Friday after school I met up with some friends from work for drinks. That was a blast. We got there about 3:30, and at 5:30 I realized I'd better call Jeff and let him know I wasn't going to make it in time to pick up Jacob. Oops. :D One of my friends and I determined that we need to go out together some time since her husband is always going out and Jeff doesn't like to. I hope we actually follow through. That all was a great start to the weekend, especially since I'm always whining about not getting to do things with friends. It's nice to move from just work friends to friends.
Today was Nathan's first OFFICIAL high school football game. He played last week, but that was just a scrimmage. His missed one pass for a touchdown, but he caught another one. Whew. They played really well and beat the other team 44-0. Go Tigers!
Nathan's game was at 10:00 and held about an hour and a half away from our town. After his first game, we had to drive back and past our town for Jeff's family reunion. We did some visiting, and I got to play in two softball games. The family reunion is about the only time each year that I play softball...and I don't play it well, but boy is it fun. I'm feeling it now tonight, though. One knee is sore, and my other heel is hurting. I'm definitely not used to running hard. Luckily (I guess), I rarely got past first base. :D
I went straight to church from the reunion (still wearing my Tigers Football t-shirt and shorts. Lovely), and then Jeff's cousin and his wife (the cousin's wife...not Jeff's obviously...haha) dropped me off at my former high school's football game (as if I haven't seen enough football for the day). I was about to fall asleep leaning on Jeff.
Now I'm dead tired, sitting at the computer uploading pictures so that tomorrow the camera memory card is free for all the BBQ and volleyball at my FIL's. And hopefully poor Jeff will feel good enough to enjoy the rest of the weekend. He's got a kidney stone and is really suffering. Has been for the past four days now. Looks like he's going to need to head back to the doctor.
Friday, August 29, 2008
1. I had my oldest son and was married at age 19 (in that order).
2. I was married for 6 years (though the last year we were separated and just waiting for the divorce to come through).
3. I have been married to my current husband for 4 years. (My ex, in the time between OUR divorce and my marriage, married twice!)
4. I have three sons.
5. If I could go to school forever and pay my bills, I would. I love school.
6. I dislike conflict but am trying really hard to be a more assertive person.
7. My dad died when I was 20. I still miss him. His influence was huge in forming my image of myself.
8. I got pregnant the first time I had sex. (Really)
9. I have married the only two men I have slept with. Not that I waited for the right guy (obviously, or I'd never have married the first one!)...it just worked out that way.
10. I'm almost 6 feet tall.
11. I taught 7th grade language arts for one year and hated it.
12. I love to read and could easily spend a week on the couch with a stack of books.
13. I don't like beer or coffee, but I love strawberry margaritas and hot chocolate.
14. Right when I need it the most (beginning of the school year, contract negotiations, particularly difficult student), our local grocery stores are completely out of Jose Cuervo premixed strawberry margaritas. (Happily, Jose Cuervo strawberry margaritas are in stock and ON SALE!! :D)
15. If my week gets any more difficult, I'll have to start looking for my drink in other towns. (No complaints...it was a great week at school).
16. I talk about being a stress drinker, but I'm much more likely to stress eat. Probably why I gained 10 pounds this summer with all of the kids home!
17. Since I was something of a late bloomer and then got pregnant my freshman year of college, I missed out on a lot of the partying that many college students enjoy (especially those at WVU, judging from MK's link!! ). While I wouldn't trade my kids, I do regret not having more time to "have fun".
18. Though I wouldn't trade my kids for the world, I have at times thought that that would be the trade. As in, if I hadn't had them, my world would have been much wider.
19. I'd love to have another baby, but I don't know that we could afford one financially or mentally. I love being pregnant (at least, it was great with Jacob...not so much with the older boys, with whom I was sick A LOT). (I think I'm done having babies.)
20. Jeff (my current husband) attributes my wonderful pregnancy with Jacob to himself. He thinks that the difference in father led to the difference in pregnancies. And, hey, everything else is better with Jeff, so who am I to argue?!
21. If there's a short way and a long way to say something, I always take the long way.
22. When I was married the first time, I wrote a lot of poetry and short stories. I don't write anything but my blog now. I do think that a lot of my earlier writing productivity can be attributed to my general unhappiness. (I'm writing again some and writing even more in my head. Not as happy as I used to be)
23. I won honorable mention for one of my poems in a national contest. It was about my mixed feelings toward my mother after my father's death, so I could never share my winning poem with her because it would have hurt her feelings.
24. I am a basically lazy person. I waste a lot of time, which is why I'm blogging about myself right now instead of researching behavior management on the internet.
25. I love to talk about myself. I'm often not sure of what to say to others, so I talk about myself and then wonder things about them (that I could/should have asked) after the conversation.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Nathan plays both offense and defense. He had a decent game. He caught the first touchdown pass and was in in on a few tackles, including sacking the quarterback for a 12-yard loss.
Going for the tackle (#33)
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I love to see my "alumni" pass through the halls. I had lots of hugs from former students and former parents. I had many of my students for two years, so I built strong relationships with them and their families. This year, two of my students are siblings of previous students. It was so fun to watch the older sisters come in and show the little ones around. They still had such a sense of ownership.
I pray that my former students fly this year. It's such a responsibility to make decisions about their placement at the end of the year. Which level of special education help will enable them to succeed? I always aim for the least possible help. It's so easy to keep students in a more intensive setting because it seems safer: you know they'll be successful because you (or someone like you) can keep a close eye on them and make sure they're getting the information. But that kind of a placement can also be limiting for a child who doesn't NEED that much help. Ugh. I agonize over placements and then watch and listen nervously over the next school year to see how my graduates fare, how my judgement was.
I think this is going to be a good year. I'm so excited to have my kiddos in my classroom tomorrow and get started. I have some new things planned, and I'm ready to put them into action. One thing I'm going to miss, though, is the moment of silence law. Illinois has been through a strange oddessy over the past couple of years. A law was passed to allow a moment of silence in schools. Then, it became law that you HAD to have a moment of silence in the classroom. Of course, we couldn't mention prayer. Some of my teacher friends and I joked to each other that we loved the moment of silence because it was the only time of the day that our classrooms were totally quiet. Aaaaahhhhh! Haha.
Truly, though, I don't know that any of my students took that moment to pray, but I sure did! If that law increased prayer in the classroom any, my guess is that it was all teachers praying! In addition to the quiet time, I felt better about every day after taking those few seconds to send up a prayer for a good school day, for wisdom in dealing with my students, for enthusiasm and creativity and joy.
Well, that was last year. Later in the year, an injunction was filed to stop the moment of silence. So now the law tells us that we are to have no official group moment of silence. Hopefully my students won't see that as license to talk all day! :)
A song that keeps running through my head is a hymn from Church. I don't remember exactly what it's named in the hymnal. "Peace Prayer of St. Francis", maybe. Anyway, it asks for all of the things that I need to keep in mind right now. For those who don't know it, or who don't remember the words, here it is:
Make me a channel of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me bring your love
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord
And where there's doubt, true faith in you
Oh, Master, grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled, as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved, as to love, with all my soul
Make me a channel of your peace
Where there's despair in life let me bring hope
Where there is darkness, only light
And where there's sadness, ever joy
Make me a channel of your peace
For it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
In giving of ourselves that we receive,
And in dying that we are born to eternal life.
The bolded stanza, in particular, is one I've been repeating and humming to myself as I struggle. I've never been a particularly selfless person, and I am trying to focus in on how I can serve others rather than on expecting things from them. Those expectations can be poison. I hope that I can get to a place where I do for others out of love for them and put my expectations in God.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Another good thing today was getting to see some of my "alumni". I love seeing the kiddos who've been in my class in the past. I was really close to a lot of them because I had many of them for two years in a row. This class is the first First Grade class I haven't had as kindergarteners, too. It's a little sad. I really enjoy getting to spend two years with the kids (most of them, anyway. Haha) and being able to build relationships with them and their families. My former students aren't the only ones hugging me in the halls. I got quite a few hugs from parents, as well. Nice. :)
All of the above is basically to say that we started school today...AND thus I was back with my friends and colleagues again. In my walk to become a better Christian (and my exploration of what that means), one of the things I have come to realize is how UNChristian it is to gossip...and so I'm trying to stop that habit. Of course, when you work with people, and especially when you work with a bunch of women, a large percentage of the conversation is gossip.
I will readily admit that I LOVE to gossip. I'm not a malicious person, and I don't spread rumors to hurt others or make them look bad, BUT I like to hear about what's going on. And I like to talk about people, so eliminating gossip is a real challenge for me. I also know, though, that gossip can hurt others.
It's a struggle to quit, let me tell you. Not least of the reasons is that fact that now I'm constantly thinking, Is this gossip? Is this OK to say? There were times today when I just stayed quiet in conversation, and there were other times when, rather than feed into a negative conversation about a person, I said something more positive about them. And I'm sure there were times when I slipped. As my friend tells me often, "It's a process." :)
I was thinking about writing about the gossip issue as I drove home tonight, and when I checked my email this evening, the topic of today's daily devotion, by Melanie Chitwood from http://www.proverbs31.org, was gossip. She speaks on a friend of hers who has been a good example regarding gossip. Some quotes from there...
The second lesson about godly words from Debbie has been the way she talks about her husband and her marriage. We’ve had many honest conversations about our marital challenges. Once again, Debbie has never gossiped about her husband. Even at times when she’s been angry or frustrated with her husband, she doesn’t berate him or share details that would embarrass him.
Finally, one of the keys to Debbie’s godly words is in the amount she speaks. She is neither overly quiet nor overly talkative. The words she says are wise and point me to God. Her example in the amount she speaks teaches me to ask myself: Do I really need to say anything in this situation, or do I just want to hear myself talk?
That last sentence is a good one for me. I think that I often talk to hear myself talk. I joke that it takes me three sentences to tell something that could be said in four words, and there are times that I am thinking more about what I'm going to say next rather than really listening to the person who talks.
So, once again, God is providing me with information and encouragement on something that I'm working on to get closer to what He wants me to be. I really want to focus on avoiding gossip and not getting sucked into negative talk and attitudes about others. I'm going to use this devotion to help me focus on what TO do as well as what NOT to do.
Below are the verses she highlighted from the Bible which deal with gossip.
“Tell the older women to behave as those who love the Lord should.
They must not gossip about others or be slaves of wine.
They must teach what is proper.” Titus 2:3 (CEV)
Teach what is proper...set a good example for those around me. Rob Singleton recently blogged an interesting take on gossip, the way it feeds on itself, and not being a person who fuels it.
Proverbs 6:16, 19, “There are six things which the Lord hates … a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers.” (NAS)
Mmm..."spreads strife among brothers"...that hits home. While I don't lie, I have been known to grouse and gossip to family members about other family members, particularly when the things I'm discussing aren't very flattering. I've been working for a while to stop this.
Proverbs 13:3, “Careful words make for a careful life; careless talk may ruin everything.” (Message)
Friday, August 15, 2008
One of the reasons I changed churches (unofficially, haha. I'm not at a point where I would say that I'm not a Catholic, even though I rarely go to the Catholic church we attend. If there can be secular Jews, I guess I can be a secular Catholic. :D) was that going to the Catholic church never meant much to me. I knew that it should, and I wanted it to, but I felt like I was just waiting for something to happen that never did. A friend invited me to visit his church, and after some initial resistance I went. And you know what? I think I've gotten more out of the 3 1/2 months I've gone to that church than in my previous 35 years of attending Catholic Mass.
I've blogged before about the differences in my experience in the two churches, so I don't want to go into that any further here. Instead, I want to talk about my relationship with God. Since the religion discussions and new church-going began, I've been reading a lot on Christian living. And struggling with God's expectations...really struggling. Sometimes I think, There's no way I can live up to this, so why even try. I think how much easier it must have been for the people who actually met Jesus during the course of his ministry. And yet, even among people who saw and heard Jesus were many hearts that were unmoved. The Israelites who were rescued from Egypt by God and saw many miraculous works on their behalf lacked a sustaining faith. So there's no easy answer. Once again, I hear, Just believe.
I'm seeking God. I feel closer than I was at the beginning of the summer. I have recognized some of his actions in my life. I'm thinking a new way about how I should be, even if I struggle with implementing that. I've once heard His still, small voice. But I don't yet feel God. It's head knowledge still rather than heart knowledge. And because it's all still in my head, I've been trying to imagine what it would feel like to be in God's presence because I can't quite get myself around Someone SO great, so much more than anything in my experience.
Some of the things that have crossed my mind are...
- The feeling you get when you first fall in love. That person is all you can think about. Your friends are sick of hearing you talk about him. You smile all the time. You would be happy just sitting next to him because you love being around him so much. How much more powerful would our feelings be for our Creator?
- The hero worship you might feel for a firefighter who pulled you out of a burning house or who saved your child who you couldn't reach. How much more gratitude should we feel towards God?
- The comfort of sobbing in a friend's arms, of a parent lifting you after you fall. The relief you feel when you talk to someone who understands whatever it is you're going through.
- The recognition, once you have children of your own and some space separating you from your childhood, of just how right your parents were in their rules for you. =D
- On our camping trip, in several places yellow bands on trees marked the height water reached during a flood resulting from a breach of a man-made resevoir. The amount of water is incomprehensible. And God brought forth the waters from Himself. Even the fact of the river that keeps running and running is astonishing. When you really look--really look--at the world, it's awe-inspiring. And God created EVERYTHING.
Jacob's teacher had this story to share when we picked him up the other day from school. :) She was helping him with something when he told her, "You're my favorite Miss Lisa in the whole world. Unless my mommy's name was Miss Lisa. Because she's my favorite."
Sweet, huh? :)
Thursday, August 14, 2008
If only it wasn't so easy to eat the wrong things or too much of them. If only it wasn't easier to sit in front of the TV (or computer) instead of go to the gym, ride the bike, or get out and run. If only chocolate shakes didn't taste so darn good that you forget the fact that a 32-ounce one from McDonald's is about 1600 calories. We know what to do, but it's so very easy to make the wrong choices...and they feel/taste so good while we're making them. It's only after you see the results on the scale or leave the table feeling overfull that sense returns.
As I've been reading the Bible and various books and blogs on Christian living, it has hit me how very much the struggle to live a Godly life mirrors my struggle to achieve a healthy body. We know what to do. The Bible tells us. I have been struck, over and over again, by how much better our lives would be if we followed God's guidelines faithfully. How much more peace and happiness in our lives. How much better we could make the world for others. How wonderful would our world be if the majority of people were actively engaged in building God's kingdom instead of our own little fiefdoms.
Just as I know I should lay off the potato chips, I know I need to avoid gossip. I need to hold my temper. I have more faults and weaknesses than there are dangerous snack foods, and if I could just keep away from them my heart and soul would be so much healthier. Just as I know that regular exercise will strengthen my body and make me look and feel better I also know that regular prayer and reading of the Bible will strengthen my obedience and make me look for God in others and feel closer to Him. And yet...it is so much easier to sleep in that extra 30 minutes every morning rather than take that time to visit with God. Just as we're surrounded by fast food restaurants and sedentary entertainment, we're also bombarded with worldly messages that make dishonesty, disrespect, and infidelity look inevitable, if not acceptable or even desirable.
I've seen the benefits of regular exercise and healthy eating. I've looked and felt better. I've been happier when I look in the mirror and go clothes shopping. If these largely superficial things can be so rewarding, how much more rewarding would it be to live on a diet of God and regular exercise of obedience to His commands? More and more, I want to know.
These parks are the kind of thing people did more of before everyone was afraid for their kids to get a scratch. (And we got plenty!) In fact, I can remember going to both parks as a kid, and it makes me really happy to be able to take my own children there.
We stayed at Twin Rivers Landing, a private campground in Lesterville, MO. We were about 1/2 hour away from both parks. The campground has very roomy sites and is surrounded on three sides by the Black River. It was a short walk to the rock beach from our campsite.
Our "home away from home"
We bought a pop-up camper the year after Jacob was born, and it definitely makes camping easier.
From the outside...
When you come in the door and look to the left, you see Jacob's bed (Lion King blankets), which can serve as a dinette-style table with two benches, and beyond that is our "king-sized" bed.
Across from Jacob's bed is the sink area. The water pump is broken, and it's never been worth it for us to replace it. We use the area under the sink to store towels, washcloths, and assorted camping needs.
To the right of the sink area (and directly across from the door) is another storage area and the refrigerator. The fridge is pretty cool in that it can be powered by the battery while connected to the car and by either propane or electricity when camping. It's nice to have a place to put things that would be ruined if they fell into the water in the cooler...which they invariably do. :) And, yes, that's a TV above the fridge....and it's the most wonderful thing ever for those mornings when Jacob wakes up at 6:30!!
The couch on which Jacob is sitting has storage underneath all three sides. It also can fold out into another bed. Behind him is the bunk where the boys usually sleep.
A couple of winters ago, much of the park infrastructure was wiped out by a flood resulting from the breach of the Taum Sauk resevoir on nearby Proffitt Mountain. The bare area beyond the white truck is where the water came down from the resevoir. The park had some amazing arial pictures showing the path torn through the trees from the top of the mountain.
The yellow band on the tree between the two cars shows how high the water was as it came though the park. The superintendent's house was swept away, though thank goodness his family all survived. It's truly a blessing that the accident happened in the early morning in winter rather than in the summer or many campers and park visitors would have been killed.
Here's where they're rebuilding the campground.
Here's our group at the Shut-Ins. The five of us, Jan and her three youngest, and Bill.
Some pictures of the Shut-Ins...
The Shut-Ins from above. The water rushing through the rock in hundreds of small and larger waterfalls. You can climb and slide through and around them. The water depth ranges from ankle deep to over my head.
After the Shut-Ins area, the river continues to a really deep, really clear pool. Lots of crazy people ignore the fear of death and $500 fines to jump off the rocks. Here's one of them (not with our group).
We opted for the bunny slopes. :)
We made it through the day with just some bumps, bruises, and scratches...and lots of great memories!
The enormous rocks here are neat to look at, but it's the climbing around on them that's really fun. It's a little like Garden of the Gods in Illinois, if you've ever been there. I do my best not to watch Daniel and Nathan, or I'd have a heart attack every 2 minutes of so. Jacob and Alex, on the other hand, we had to hold onto constantly...they're born climbers and have NO fear! Haha.
Group photo (except Jeff)
Sibling rivalry. haha
"Just a little further back...a little more...splash!!"
Alex and Jacob
We also had fun hanging around the campsite. Playing in the river...
Reading (I know, me reading...who'd have imagined? haha)
Playing with the dog...
And, the boys' favorite...building the campfire. While they got along surprisingly well all weekend, they definitely were at their best when working together. They'll be dangerous if they can get along well enough to do so on a regular basis!!
The upside to the fire was that you could see our campsite from Mars. The downside? Cooking smores was no fun!! (But pretty quick)
I mentioned how Daniel and Nathan got along pretty well? So did Josh and Megan. I wish I could say the same for Alex and Jacob, and unfortunately it's our crabby child who gets most of the blame for that. He's definitely one strong-willed boy (I attribute that to the Geisen/Greenwell side of him. haha ha) There were plenty of times when we wanted to do this to him...
Obviously he's terrified, lol.
In desperation, we put him to work...and, while doing dishes, he wasn't fighting. Whew.
And, since the boys were taking care of the dishes, I got to relax. (Hey, I cooked dinner!)
What a trip! We're hoping to go again next year, and we'd love to have even more company. Look at it this way...actually going on the trip might take less time that reading about it! :)
Friday, August 1, 2008
The venting isn't typically purposeful; instead, it's a self-sustaining anger machine. I get myself worked up and more unhappy, and I make my husband miserable by making myself upset, calling his attention to things that might not have bothered him, and by being angry with his family. It's not like I can say, "This bothered me," and be done with it. Books I've read by both John Bevere and Joyce Meyer have addressed this issue and made me see that the godly way of dealing with these situations is a) forgive, b) try to see others as God sees them and maybe then be more understanding of them, and c) leave it to God to deal with the situation. I guess I should add d) pray.
Well, these same issues reared their ugly heads last night. Despite my good intentions and silent prayers to God at the time for understanding and acceptance, I could feel myself closing off from the people who had hurt me, and once home I gave in to the desire to vent about the situation. Of course, it didn't help at all.
So, today in my email was the daily devotion from Proverbs31.org (right now yesterday's devotion is at the top. Hopefully soon they'll have the new one posted). The topic? When friends disappoint you. Some of the things Renee wrote about really hit at the heart of my struggle:
I considered sharing my feelings with her, but that could lead to other problems. Maybe this was an unhealthy friendship that I should let go of? Unsure about what to do, I prayed again. God responded by speaking to me through the verses above from Psalm 103.
God pointed out that He has been merciful, gracious, and slow to anger with me. God does not constantly accuse me of my wrongdoings, and He doesn’t stay mad when I anger Him. He hasn’t punished me for all my sins, and thank goodness He doesn’t punish me as I deserve!
In contrast, I had been easily angered when my feelings were hurt. I continued to mentally accuse my friend of what I considered wrong doings. It was time to let my hurt feelings go and look past the ways my friend had unknowingly disappointed me.
God’s solution was to treat my friend the same way my loving Father treats me. After all, she’s His child, too, and deserves the same love and grace that’s been given to me.
Once again, when I needed the reminder and encouragement, there it was. Much like when I go to church and the message hits right on target. Now that I am watching for and more aware of His hand in my life, I see it so frequently. God is so good! Hopefully with His help I can train myself to act as He would rather than react according to my feelings.
(For those who aren't that familiar with the situation, here's a brief cast of characters to help you out :D)
Kim--his current wife
Alyssa--her 16 yr. old daughter
Nicholas--their 5 yr. old son
Isabella--their 3 1/2 yr. old daughter
Daniel, Nathan--our shared kids
Jacob--Jeff's and my 4 yr.old son
Kim had said something to Nicholas, to which he replied, "What-ev"
KIM: Where'd you get that? (that expression)
NICHOLAS: From Daniel, my bruth-uh. My bruth-uh from another muth-uh
KIM: (laughing) Where'd you get that?
NICHOLAS: From Nathan, my bruth-uh from another muth-uh. I don't know whose muth-uh, maybe Kate's muth-uh
KIM: No, that would be their grandmother. Kate is still Daniel and Nathan's mother. I'm their stepmom. I'm your mom and Isabella's mom.
ISABELLA: (hands on hips) Well, who's OUR stepmom?NICHOLAS: (matter of factly) Kate, probably.
KIM: You don't have a stepmom. I'm your mom, and Daddy is your daddy, and Kate is the boys' mom.
NICHOLAS: Well, then, what's Jeff to us?
ISABELLA: No fair! I want a stepmom!