January 31, 2011

Out of the Mouth of a Munchkin...

On Friday, my program finished a writing partnership with a very diverse and energetic! first grade class. We did "How To" writing where the child took on the role of the expert to teach their readers something special.
            Fun :-)
At the writing celebration we gave them shiny folders from our University for their next writing unit. My little girl clutched hers and looked up with these big sparkly eyes and said "I will always treasure this, thank you for being my partner." 
But seriously people- we have a lot to learn from that little munchkin. She treasures the moment- she finds JOY in the little things.She took time to say thank you- and truly meant it.

Thank you Little Miss for teaching us all a lesson about Grace.
Happy Monday y'all!

January 25, 2011

WILW- Cleveland Style

If you couldn't tell from the title, I'm in Cleveland for a quick 24 hr escape from school. Here's what I'm loving about Cleveland this Wed:

~One of my best friends and college roommates who lives here- Darina!
~Little Italy and it's amazing food... Prestis!
~Playhouse Square and the amazing performances that come through- Broadway Cleveland!
~Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
~A great Ronald McDonald House Charity
~Shaker Square
~Carrot Cake from the Chicago Deli
~The Original Bonnie Bell Store- Lipsmackers anyone?
~Walking Along the Lake
~The Keating-Larsons

And one of my favs by far...
I love Target, but 2 full stories of Target with it's red bulleted goodness? Complete with a cart escalator and all the $1.50 popcorn and diet coke combos you could ever want? One of my happy places.


I spent my Saturday at (Dis)Order: Creativity and Control, A Workshop for Art Educators.
It was wonderful- incredibly cohesive and inspiring! Olivia Guide from the University of Illinois-Chicago was the presenter. She is the founder and director of the "Spiral Workshop" an inner city arts program for middle and high school students. Her presentation was colored by her experiences 'working in the trenches' which made it so much more real- and possible. Those of you who are teachers probably get what I'm saying...you can go to workshops and hear amazing ideas, but actually being able to implement them within curriculum and time constraints, is another story. I love incorporating the arts into all curriculum areas so it was great to have some fresh new ideas and support. Olivia has lots of lesson plans on her website here! I can't wait to check them out.

Olivia explained her process and how she's rethinking arts education to be more reflective and relevant to the students. It has a post-modern flair but is rooted in community and collaboration.  She starts her students out with these reflective worksheets in which they generate ideas and emotions on a certain response. She showed us her (Dis)Order series and what the students produced from a prompt about punishment. We discussed a little how disorder and order can shape our lives. Olivia is big on having teachers do a "teacher model" not for students to copy, but for you as an educator to do the same as your students (don't make them do things you yourself would not do) and to realize the potential issues with the project. At the end of the day we all created a project using tracing paper and magazine collage to create our meaning out of disorder. The prompt we were given was "In the Marvelous Future..." in order to help us process what a better world would look like.

Clockwise from top: In my own world looking at art, Focused on curator's lecture, My "In the Marvelous Future" Creation...in progress, The whole group working on our projects with Olivia.
{Perfect Day!}

January 20, 2011

Peace Part 3

Check out Part 1 of the talk here and Part 2 here.

Resources for Having More Peace, Less Stress
Books: Bible, Interior Freedom by Jacques Philippe, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff For Teens by Richard Carlson, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence

Common Prayers: Serenity Prayer, Lord’s Prayer, Psalms, Praying in Tongues/in the Spirit

Scriptures: 2 Corinthians 12:9, Matthew 7:7-8, Deuteronomy 31:6, Proverbs 3:5-6, Isaiah 54:4, Ephesians 6:10-12, Hebrews 11:1, Philippians 4:13, Isaiah 40:29-31, Philippians 4: 4-7, Romans 8: 18-19, Exodus 14:14, Matthew 8:13, Romans 8:28

Quotes:  “Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”  - Dr. MLK

"Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it."  Lou Holtz

"There are plenty of difficult obstacles in your path. Don't allow yourself to become one of them." - Ralph Marston

"You can't beat someone who isn't willing to give up! " Babe Ruth

“Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.”

“I don’t pray that you may be delivered from your troubles. Instead, I pray that God will give you the strength and patience to bear them.” - Brother Lawrence

“God doesn't require us to succeed; he only requires that you try.” Mother Teresa

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela

“Our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Oliver Goldsmith

“The more we are afflicted in this world, the greater is our assurance in the next; the more we sorrow in the present, the greater will be our joy in the future.”-- St. Isidore of Seville

From “Consenting to Suffering” by Jacques Philippe {Having looked at self-acceptance, we can now consider the acceptance of events. The basic principle is the same; we cannot change our lives effectively unless we begin by accepting them, welcoming them totally, and so consenting to all the external events that confront us. That isn’t hard in the case of what we perceive as good, pleasing, and positive.  But it is hard when any kind of setback or suffering is involved. In what follows, the things we find negative are generically called “difficulties.” The subject needs to be handled carefully. It is not a matter of becoming passive and learning to endure everything- without reacting. But whatever projects we have and however well we plan them, many times situations that are beyond our control and involve a whole host of events contrary to our expectations, hopes, and desires occur, and we must accept it.  We should not limit ourselves to accepting things grudgingly, but should truly consent to them-not endure them, but in a sense “choose” them (even if in fact we have no choice, and that’s what most annoys us!) Choosing here means making a free act by which we not only resign ourselves but also welcome the situation. That isn’t easy, especially in the case of really painful trials, but it is the right approach, and we should follow as much as possible in faith and hope. If we have enough faith in God to believe him capable of drawing good out of whatever befalls us, he will do so. “As you have believed, so let it be done to you,” he says repeatedly in the Gospel.”}

Now it's your turn! What has helped you have more peace?

Peace Part 2

If you haven't read Part 1, go here.

Peace in Stressful and/or Difficult Times Questions
-What are some practical ways to find peace in stressful times?
PUT IT IN PERSPECTIVE- yes, exams are important, but we are not our grades, no one is going to ask you in a year what that Chemistry final exam grade was. Even for getting into college, you are assessed on more than just test scores. “When you stand too close to a mural, you don’t really get it. But as you step back, you see the bigger picture.” Caleb Chapman

GOD’S PLAN- remember that He has a perfect plan figured out for us, we aren’t in control. "God’s grace will never take us where God’s Will will not protect us." Believe that God can draw glory out of any situation and turn it for good

-How do you deal with those times without taking it out on others?
KNOW YOUR TRIGGERS- Know yourself, what sets you off- when you feel that coming on, find a way to remove yourself from the situation. I often need to be alone to process things, explain that to your parents if that is you- that if you need to take some time by yourself to get in control, it will help you continue the conversation etc. in the way you intend

HAVE A FRIEND OR TWO TO GO TO- Sometimes I need to process things outside my family, with someone who may have a more objective outlook. Go to a trusted friend, a small group leader, guidance counselor at school, etc. Someone who you can safely vent to- but then also be productive with- this isn’t “throwing up on your friends.” Sometimes it can be easier to hear something you need to change from someone else as well.

-If it is a stressful time, how come you can have peace about it?
BECAUSE GOD SAID SO- Turn to His word- we can have peace because He’s given it to us for all time. 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…” Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. Philippians 4:6-8 Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

-What do you find is the easiest way to de-stress?
PREVENT IT- Take time outside school and work to do things with friends, or by yourself to refuel. Get enough sleep, pray, work out, eat well. Take time to DO NOTHING. Then it won’t seem like such a HUGE deal when some little stressor comes in to your life

Breathing/Prayer/Music/Write-keep a personal running document, journal, etc.- get things out so they don’t stay pent up- read and reread- what were you thinking- what set it off, what were you doing when your life seemed ok? Take the anger out in a healthy way- Working out/sports is a good one, as is putting that negative energy towards something positive, take a drive or a walk to cool down, Jettison technique

Use your resources- it is not a sign of shame or weakness but a sign of strength to ask for help- family, friends, trusted adult- teacher, coach, counselor, youth leader. The strongest people I know are those that have gone through some sort of therapy to learn about themselves

-Do you have any specific prayers you find useful when stressed?
Listening to Christian music/Worship, Praying in the Spirit, "Jesus I trust in You," Serenity Prayer- "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…", Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Exodus 14:14 The Lord will fight while you keep silent.

-I was also asked- what about Peace in long-term times of difficulty? 
It's something I work at- daily. It's definitely getting easier but it's not always easy. I find more peace in suffering/hard times when I accept it instead of trying to ignore it/spend all my energy fighting it away. *I say this in reference to crosses the Lord has given us- it doesn't mean I don't fight, I do- everyday! but by accepting our crosses, and trusting Him (that trust thing again!) it makes it a lot easier to have peace. The passage from Interior Freedom by Jacques Philippe sums it up well. (You'll find it in my next post)

Peace Part 1

This past weekend I was part of a panel talk/discussion on peace. While it was aimed at our joint high school youth group (a larger group from the suburb area and a smaller group from an inner city area), it's relevant for all of us.
Peace is something we need MORE OF in our world!

One youth leader spoke on Peace in Decision Making/Anxiety for the Future, another spoke on Peace in Conflict Resolution. I spoke on Peace in Stressful and Difficult Times. Here are my notes from my portion of the talk. In my next couple of posts I'll include some of my responses to questions as well as some resources/verses/quotes I've complied. Join me in seeking more peace in our lives! Please feel free to comment on your thoughts and ideas for having more peace!

Peace in Difficult or Stressful Times 1/16/11
I don’t think it’s possible in 2011, in this world, to be totally stress-free
However, I know it’s possible to have Peace to combat that stress.
The peace we’re talking about is not the world’s peace when everything is “right” but the peace that transcends all understanding- the peace that can only come from God

Why should we have peace? If not for the benefit of our own lives and that of those around us- family, friends, community, it’s for the world! 
Bringing Christ’s peace wherever we go is one of the strongest witnesses that I know.

Stress is all around us- in relationships with family, friends, in challenges- health, finances, in school, in expectations, in the application process, or try-outs/auditions, in the loss of someone/something important to us, even in the fast-pace busyness of our lives

Satan uses stress and resulting anger, anxiety or depression that often comes from it to separate us from God and others and to tempt us to sin. 
Let me rephrase that: experiencing stress (or anger/anxiety/depression) is not a sin; it’s how we respond to it that could be a sin- such as lashing out in anger at a sibling or parent out of stress. 
*(As a side-note, this is very important for young girls/women in general to hear,-especially those struggling with perfectionism/failure/scrupulosity!) 

I had a lot of anxiety in my life when I was in high school. But it wasn’t until the past few years that I have learned to handle and even prevent it. Stress doesn’t just affect you mentally/emotionally; it affects your body physiologically. It triggers fight or flight, your heart rate and breathing, and other processes that allow your body to function. Having stress built up can be really damaging, and painful- trust me on that.

2 ways that I like to handle stress are  through breathing and prayer. Breathing is a tool that you always have with you and it will calm down your system and allow your brain some clarity. One simple pattern is breath in to count of 5 through your nose and breathe out on a count of 5 through your mouth. You want to breathe into your stomach- like its inflating and deflating to get the best effect. Once I’ve calmed down  a little (flight/flight slowing) I immediately turn to God- it can be a longer, formal prayer like The Lord’s Prayer or Serenity Prayer or something as simple as praying “Jesus, I trust in you” or just “Jesus.” That turning to God in faith shows that you are surrendering in the situation, and claiming God as Lord over your life, not Satan's attack/stress.

I then gave a personal testimony sharing how God has clearly shown me that's it's not really as complicated as we make it- no matter what season of our lives we're in. We are to trust our God by loving Him and seeking His will, and to keep breathing. Trust Him, Breathe. Trust Him, Breathe. We freely have access to the gift of Peace that comes from Him. 

January 19, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday (Catastic Edition?)

Happy Wednesday everyone!
I don't know about you, but the major thing I'm lovin' right now is that it's a SHORT week! I've been in sort of a funk/fog this week with the weather going up and down and no sunshine.

I'm also loving that I spent some time at my parent's house this weekend cuddling with my adorable kitties.  I miss them so much but my roommate is allergic to them.

This fat little man is technically my sister's cat but adopted me last year when I lived at home. I love that he sits in the splits to groom himself- cat after my dancer's heart.
 (FYI this pic makes him look huge! But I love it just the same.)

This petite little lady is my baby. Unlike Sammy (who sleeps in my arms), Maggie likes to sleep near you but alone. She's got my introvert-extrovert thing going on...

I'm definitely loving my weekend that's planned- A fun arts integration for teachers workshop on Saturday, dinner with friends Sat night, and a prayer meeting themed around Christian Unity on Sunday. Here's a link for more info on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity I'm participating in!

And as always in this busy January- I'm thankful for Diet Coke :-)
What are you loving today? Link up here!

January 14, 2011

Update to my Wed Post

Davids (16 yr old orphan from Latvia) has a family! So happy that he gets a chance at a future (with lots of love) before he ages out of the system. Please pray that all the steps go as planned. The family is already in the process of adopting another child from Latvia so they will be adding Davids as well! If you'd like to follow his journey, visit his new family's blog here!

143 Million MINUS 1!

January 12, 2011

What I love Wednesday!

Thought I'd start a What I Love Wednesday- in order to help me post more regularly!?!
I'm linking up with Jamie at http://www.littledaisymay.blogspot.com/!

Here's what's rocking my world this Snowy Wednesday:

Bones/ Netflix- Da Roomie and I just got Netflix (and linked it to the Wii!) It's definitely making this insane month- 10 Grad credits in Jan- more bearable! Current show of choice: Bones!

Teacher Freebies- what's not to like? Check some out here!

♥Diet Coke, 'nough said.

♥My mock Qdoba Vegetarian Cilantro Lime Burritos

♥Seeing children today! Most of this month I'm on campus so it was wonderful to begin our weekly writing lab with some adorable kiddos. Teachers: We are doing "How to Writing" in 1st grade and used an adorable book- Clay Creatures. Kinesthetic+Writing+Art=Right.Up.My.Alley

♥The advocating that's going on for this special young man! Please help him find a family- this week! If you are not aware, there are over 143 Million Orphans in our world- help this one find a home before it's too late!

What's happening on your Wednesday? 
Lots of love,

January 6, 2011

Happy New Year! (Recipe)

Happy belated New Years! I started out Jan with a bang- a condensed mini-semester for school and state education tests this weekend. I'm doing the bulk of 10 credits this month so that I'm free to student teach the rest of the semester. Crazy! Lots of sitting, lots of work- it'll be good for developing more patience, a little rough on the body! 1.5 semesters left- the light is in sight :-)

One of my goals for this semester is to be prepared for late nights/end of day burn out by using my crock pot or cooking ahead so I'm not tempted to eat junk. In this fast paced world we live in- I'm probably not the only one who needs to work on this. I'll try to post recipes that my roommate (in a 1 yr nursing program...) and I enjoyed! First up- Chicken Tortilla Soup!                              
It was SO good! I also love how colorful it is! I adapted my recipe from this blog if you'd like to see Amy's original.I served it with homemade cornbread, but if I was in a pinch, the jiffy cornbread muffins are quick and easy too.
Chicken Tortilla Soup (Serves about 6)
2 (14.5 oz) cans of diced tomatoes
2 (14.5 oz) cans of chicken broth (I just dumped in 4 cups of chicken broth made from bouillon)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T. unsalted butter
1 c. salsa
½ c. chopped cilantro
4-5 carrots, peeled and chopped in ¼ inch thick rounds
2 stalks celery chopped in 1/4 in pieces
1-1.5 T. cumin
1/8 t. cinnamon
1 t. chili powder
1.5 chicken breasts, uncooked (I used 1 large breast and 2 chicken tenders)

Combine all of the soup ingredients except the chicken in a 4 – 6 quart slow cooker. Mix well. Add chicken. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. (I put this together after school and cooked on high 3-3.5 hrs- was waiting on my carrots which I cut too big!) Remove the chicken from the soup and shred with forks. Return to the slow cooker and mix well. At this point I threw in a handful of monterey jack cheese and let it cook 20 more mins.
Toppings we used:
Handful of crushed tortilla chips
Light sour cream
Chopped cilantro
Sliced avocado