Monthly Archives: December 2013

Monday Moment of Joy-Honesty in Finding HOPE

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How do we find joy and hope this coming year? In my next few posts, we’ll take a look at the word HOPE and use an acronym to help us look for hope. The H in HOPE will stand for “HONESTY.” The first step in finding hope is to be honest about where we are. Be honest about our feelings. Be honest about our circumstances. Be honest about our sin. Be honest about our dreams and desires.

Take a look at the list of feelings below. Find a journal or an index card, and write down 3 feelings that you’re feeling right now. I know there are a lot of feelings, but try to choose your top three. Come back tomorrow or next week and choose three more. Our feelings change constantly, but God meets us there in each moment!

Be willing to be HONEST about your feelings! People may tell you not to feel this way or they may tell you to get over it. Be willing to take a risk and name your feeling-name your suffering, your pain, or even your joy.

• content
• satisfied
• joyful
• anxious
• glad
• ecstatic
• sorrowful
• upbeat
• unhappy
• beaming
• blessed
• condemned
• fortunate
• sparkling
• unfavored
• guilty
• ashamed
• peaceful
• worthless
• inadequate
• lonely
• frustrated
• confused
• worn-out
• defeated
• energetic
• useless
• strong
• bored
• enthusiastic
• weak
• unimportant
• agitated
• nervous
• fearful
• Sad
• Angry
• Hurt
• Happy
• Irritable
• Hopeless
• Isolated
• Furious
• Tired
• Resentful
• Happy
• Proud
• Cheerful
• Bitter
• Sluggish
• Depressed
• Thrilled
• Helpless
• exhausted
• moody

Now take those to God. Continue writing in your journal if you’d like or just talk to Him. What makes you feel that way? What has happened in your story? Describe those feelings. What do they feel like, sound like, look like?

How does this feeling show up in your life? “When I feel____________, it shows up in my life in the following ways…”

Thanks for being honest! Stay tuned for a next step in finding HOPE in this New Year.

Christmas Week: Monday Moment of Joy or Disappointment

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This is the week for joy-right??? It’s the week we get to spend time with family and see people we haven’t seen in forever.

It’s the week we get to eat good food and open presents.

It’s the week we look forward to because those gifts we’ve spent so much time on will finally be opened. We picture the joy on those family member’s faces as they open that much anticipated gift.

We look forward to some slower down time as many of us have off work. We may even have time to pop popcorn and watch those Christmas movies-you know those movies that are SO predictable? Yep-they’re predictable, but that’s why I love them! I know what’s going to happen-unlike real life where I’m never sure what the next act is going to bring.

It’s the week we anticipate to be full of delight and joy….how’s that going for you today??? Is it all that you anticipated?? or is it full of disappointments?

Today, my moment of joy, came in spending time with a friend. We both had SOOO many things to do today, but we both decided that we needed to take a little bit of time away from all that craziness. So we drove around and got coffee and chatted while her kids slept in the back seat. As we talked, we listed many things that we looked forward to this week but also many things that had not gone the way we planned (and it’s only Monday!)

Maybe you are like us and your Christmas week doesn’t look perfect. Maybe it looks more like this….
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full of messines or muddy relationships or disappointments.

When I got home, I began to think about all those things on my to do list and very quickly became overwhelmed.
Then I was reminded that, yes, this is a week full of anticipation-a week that we look forward to joy. But…..that joy needs to come from remembering why Christ came.

What if our work schedules don’t work out and we don’t get to see all those family members/friends that we wanted to see? What if our family member doesn’t get all excited about that present that we spent so much time on?

What if our “downtime” is spent fixing the plumbing or caring for sick kids or working out health insurance for next year? What if the food doesn’t turn out the way we expect it to? What if our plan doesn’t work?

What if our family time gets “ruined” by a fight or an accident? What if we’re grieving over the loss of a family member or good friend?

How do we find joy in all those disappointments? How will we respond when things don’t go the way we think they should?

Taking some time tonight to find a holy night/a silent night and to bask in God’s love for me. He loves me so much that He would send His only Son into a world full of sin and messiness in order to save me. Wow!!

Hoping you can find some time to slow down this week and reflect on what He’s done for us. Praying for you that you’d find peace in this season-not because everything is calm and has gone the way you want it to, but because God is good and has come to meet us in this mess.

How are you looking for peace during this week?

Monday Moment of Joy i.e. Meltdowns, Movies and Munchies

So, I’ve decided that’s my new motto for the last week before any holiday break! “Meltdowns, Movies and Munchies” Today there were some moments of joy but it kind of felt like a full day meltdown.

It’s just so hard to keep the schedule normal-which is what many of my students need-on the week before break. Now, I love all those Christmas parties. I love those Christmas themed Language Arts and Math lessons that you can find on TeachersPayTeachers (or all those ones that you used to create on your own in the olden days:). These changes in schedule and routines, however, wreak havoc on my students who thrive on structure. I’m sure I’ll get to teach a lot of flexibility lessons this week. I usually plan calm activities in my room so that if students need a break from all the concerts and cookie baking and ornament making, they can come have some down time in my room. Today we joked and said “let’s just watch movies and eat popcorn all week!” So, there came my motto: Meltdowns, Movies and Munchies (and maybe the teachers will even let the kids come join us!:)

But, let’s get back to that moment of joy! I am so thankful for the teaching assistants that work with me. Today, as I watched one of them, I realized that many days, my joy comes from seeing her interact with the students. She knows how to push them to be the very best they can be, but she is also flexible and patient and knows when to just stop and laugh about the situation. Today, I was mentally exhausted at 1:00, and yet when I watched her interact with students, she was able to smile and keep listening and encouraging them. It didn’t matter that she hadn’t finished her Christmas shopping or that she had a million things going on at home, she left all that at home and engaged with her students in the moment.

So, my prayer for this week is that I can portray peace in moments of chaos, and that I can purposefully engage with my students in the moment. Then, maybe I won’t need as many movies or munchies to calm those meltdowns:).

TV Voice Competitions and Students with Autism

So I don’t know about you, but I’ve been loving all the TV Voice competitions.  Although I loved The Voice last season too, I had forgotten how much I LOVE watching the original coaches.  It’s been so fun to see them encourage their teammates and coach them to be the best that they can be.  At school, I see that as my role-a coach-not just someone who imparts knowledge but someone who coaches my students to become the best that they can be.  My goal is to encourage them, to challenge them to take risks (in a safe environment), to celebrate their successes, to walk alongside them in their hardships and to help them become life long learners.  I feel like I get just as excited as those Voice coaches when my students have successes.

Tonight as I am watching another voice competition on TV, I’ve begun comparing these groups to the school musical that I watched tonight.  My friend invited me to go with her to her son’s school to watch their holiday program.  Her son goes to a school for students with autism.  Honestly, this was the most amazing program I’ve seen in a long time!  These students with autism had been encouraged in their talents.  They had practiced long hours.  They had been challenged and encouraged to take risks and to try new things.  They were confident in their parts, and you could tell that their successes had been celebrated.  I loved watching the smiles on their faces and listening to their amazing voices.  Each actor stayed in character and performed the dances and songs with grace and joy.  I laughed and cried and smiled.  What an awesome way to spend an evening in the middle of a busy week.

When I got home and turned on the TV to watch the end of the Sing Off, I watched those groups sing and dance.  But…instead of getting lost in the drama and the fun of those groups, I found myself thinking again about those amazing students with autism who were doing the same thing tonight.  I’m so thankful for those teachers and parents who love those kids and care about them enough to provide opportunities for them to show off their talents.  It gives me joy and hope for my day tomorrow!  Thankful for neurodiversity!  (Do you know what that word means?  If not, look it up:)

Monday Moment of Joy

Did you find one today?  Did you find a joyful moment?  One of mine was getting to sleep in!!  We had a delay because of the ice.  Definitely thankful for some extra sleep:)  Of course, it was a Monday AND we had a delay, so that caused some of my autistic students to have a hard time getting settled.   Although I was definitely exhausted by the end of the day, I could also see God’s hand at work.  In the middle of those meltdowns, one of the students asked for help in a way that we’d practiced over and over!  Yay for first times!  Another student excitedly shared how he had practiced and practiced a concept until he got it. The smile on his face was contagious.  (The best part was that he did it last night-a weekend, no less!!)

The beginning of my day didn’t start well, but a Christian friend who “happens” to be subbing in our building reminded me that “love is a choice” and that maybe we just need to move on from the hard situation.  Hmmmm….funny that one of my coworkers, who is NOT a believer had basically said that same thing last week about another situation.  Maybe God is trying to tell me something:).   Grateful for reminders that I’m not just here to teach but to share God’s love with those around me.  Where did you find your joyful moment?

Joy to the World

What a wonderful season Christmas is!  I love all the lights and the trees and the music, but most of all I love the time we have to stop and think about our Savior.  I love the hymn “Joy to the World.”

As we sing that song in church, though, I have to admit that sometimes I’m more concerned about how my alto part sounds than what those words actually mean.

Sadly that happens often in life too.  God reminds us that our joy comes only from Him, and yet we constantly try to do things to bring that joy back to ourselves.  I do love it when harmony in a song comes together well, but that doesn’t bring lasting joy:).   Recognizing that our Savior reigns is what brings true joy.  “He comes to make His blessings flow….far as the curse is found.”  Man has brought sin into this world, but Christ has conquered it!  His blessings flow “far as the curse is found.”  No matter what we’ve done.  No matter how many times we’ve walked away from Him, He still calls us back.  His death covers all those sins so that we can be seen as blameless before God.  He is our righteousness!  What an amazing gift.  That’s why Christ came to earth-to become our righteousness.  Have we received our King?  Have we trusted Him?  That’s where our joy comes from.

“He rules the earth with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of his righteousnes
And wonders of his love.”

Let’s make time to wonder in His love this Christmas!

As you’re baking those cookies or hanging the ornaments on the tree or shopping for that perfect gift, stop and take time to remember the PERFECT gift of Jesus.  Because of His death and resurrection, we have His perfect life credited to us.  What JOY because of His amazing love for us!

Thankful for Coworkers!

Today I was on my own with ALL of my special ed students.  One of the aides that works with me was out all afternoon.  All things considered, things went smoothly , BUT  I once again realized how thankful I am for all members of our team!  I couldn’t do it without her being there most days:).  She walks kids back and forth to classes.  She works one on one with students.  She teaches small groups.  She deals with meltdowns.  She oversees workshop and centers.

Today, in the middle of the afternoon, I realized that I had 3 first graders that had to go back to different classes, and I had no one to take them there!  I could have walked on the wild side and sent my fourth graders to walk them back, but I wasn’t sure that would go so well:).   There was a meltdown brewing in my room, so I didn’t think taking all of them on a walk would be a good idea either:).   Sometimes, a crazy busy afternoon is all it takes to stop and thank God for blessings like coworkers who are great team players!!

Missed Monday Moment of Joy

So I had great intentions of posting that Moment of Joy yesterday, but forgot about all the paperwork that I left unfinished over break so the day got away from me.  But, even though it’s not Monday, I still wanted to look for that moment.  I was a bit worried about the Monday after break.  I was tired.  I didn’t sleep well Sunday night.  I worried about all those student needs.  I worried about their transition back, and I assumed they wouldn’t be ready to be back.  However, they did an awesome job transitioning back and made me smile often throughout the day.

I had more fun teaching yesterday than I have in a long time.  Yes, I felt like I had a million things on my mind and was overwhelmed by all the non-teaching tasks that I have to accomplish, but then I stopped for a few minutes and just enjoyed my students and my coworkers.  I got to experience the students’ own joy in learning new things.  Thanks, God, for that rekindling of my joy over the break.