Monday, February 16, 2015

Lent 2015

Yes, Lent is upon us again.

Tomorrow is Fat Tuesday. I even bought a king cake to share with my first grade team for the occasion. I had originally planned in making one, but that kind of went out the door after I realized how much work I need to get done today to be ready for class this week. Honestly, I don't think anyone will be upset that the king cake isn't home made. Free cake/pastry is typically a crowd pleaser in any form. :)

I am actually really looking forward to Lent this year and the season of sacrifice and penance. This school year has been incredibly hard on me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. My hope is that I can use this season of Lent to refocus on what is important in my life and let go of those distractions which rob me of my happiness.

This brings me to what I plan to give up. I spent a good deal of time trying to think of something that would challenge me to really focus in a God over the next forty days and get me away from this "poor me" attitude I've been sporting. As a result, I've chosen two different "sacrifices" for myself.

1. I'm giving up take-out food/treats. - I chose this one in an effort to give me an opportunity to focus on my bad habit of laziness and apathy when it comes to food. My husband and I both work full time and have fallen into a bit of a rut where we order pizza or pick up fast food way too much - at least three times per week. Neither one of us have been making good, conscious choices about what we are choosing to fuel our bodies and, combined with stress from work, our health is suffering because of it. Hopefully, by the end of Lent this sacrifice will have helped me reconnect with my love of cooking and the heart of service inherent in cooking for those I love, as well as a more mindful approach to eating and my/our health.

2. I am giving up 40 minutes of my day for quiet time/daily devotion/prayer. - This Lenten sacrifice was actually a suggestion from one of my parish priests after a conversation about my struggles this year. It is a practice I have wanted to establish for myself for years, but for whatever reason it has fallen by the wayside. It's easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day demands on our time and forget to spend time just being still and quiet to listen to God. My plan is to begin by keeping a prayer journal (since writing is my thing) and reciting the Rosary each day. I might change it up and go to adoration or read a book about a specific saint or the Pope. No matter what, it will be time away from Facebook, TV, Pinterest, other people not focused on prayer and reflection, where I can spend time listening to and learning about God.

Of course we will also be abstaining from meat of Fridays and fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. I'm very much looking forward to the Friday Fish Fry hosted by the Men's Group each week and stations of the cross in the sanctuary afterward. The first will be a great way to fellowship with other parishioners (like the awesome new friends we made at the new parishioner dinner party our parish priests hosted last week) and the latter will help with keeping our focus where it needs to be during this Lenten season.

What are you doing during Lent this year? Are you making any Lenten sacrifices? Do you like king cake?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Magic pipes

There were bagpipes at Mass this morning. A legitimate bagpipe player in a full dress kilt played for the recessional and I couldn't help but tear up. It was the most amazing and beautiful end to an incredibly moving Mass.

I honestly have no idea whether the other parishioners were as impacted as me during the service today because I was in my own little world. I was having one of those experiences where you feel like God has come into the building specifically to talk to you.

You see, I've been hiding at home for a few weeks and avoiding Mass. I was ashamed to go there and interect with God because of the way I was feeling about work. I feel very strongly that I am teaching, and teaching where I am, because God purposefully lead me there. I see it as a calling and a type of mission work. All of these issues I have been having at work have left me feeling like I have let God down, like I'm not working hard enough to do what he has asked of me.

Today's Mass reminded me that God never asked me to do this work in my own power. He asked me there so he could use me, not so that I could do something spectacular on my own power. In staying away I was effectively cutting myself off from the very strength I needed in order to do what needs to be done.

I left church this afternoon feeling more free and light than I have in weeks. I feel ready to tackle this week ahead. I feel renewed in my dedication to serving these kids that have been placed in my care and ready to get back to the kind of teaching I'm proud of. Most of all, I am reminded that I am not alone and that this struggle has a specific purpose.

Thursday, February 5, 2015


I have come to realize that part of being an adult is understanding the shortcomings of others and dealing with the resulting frustration in healthy, reasonable ways.

In other words, grown ups don't throw hissy fits.

Some days it is more tempting than others. And I will admit that from time to time I have been known to forget myself and throw one with some foot stomping thrown in for good measure.

Today has been one of those days.

Being a teacher is hard. Being a teacher in a school where half of the kids don't understand you (they literally do not speak the same language) is hard. Being in any profession where there are no clear expectations set, yet reprimands for not meeting the unknown expectations are harsh and brought swiftly is hard. Being responsible for the safety and intellectual development of a child (much less 25 children) for eight hours a day is hard.

All of these hard things are usually held in check by passion for what I do, love of the kids themselves, and a sense of purpose from my work. On days like today, those things are no match for the challenges. On days like today I sit in my classroom and cry during my planning period because all of the hard stuff attacked me all at once.

So, here I sit this afternoon with a bottle of root beer and a slice of stuffed crust pizza. Tonight I will wallow and pout during my pity party. Tomorrow I will pick myself up, put myself back together, and dive head first into another day. This job, this life, is hard, but it's what I asked for.