Wednesday, January 29, 2014

You are Not Alone

Coffee for Your Heart 150
More great thoughts at Holley's website

Did you know that you can be lonely but not alone?

January is almost over, but we have had so many snow or freezing weather days that there have been days I have not left the house. Have I felt lonely? Absolutely! It would have been much more fun to stay home on a snow day with someone else.

When you start thinking about all the lonely times, life can start feeling a bit depressed. You might think..... friends all have wonderful children; they can't be lonely
.....if only I was married, at least then there would be somebody to come home to
.....if my friends would just call me or visit me more often then I would not be so lonely

It is true that you cannot always be with somebody--even when you are married. There will be times when you are feeling lonely. 

But God tells you that you are not ever alone. He is with you. Always.

Matthew 28:20
Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Joshua 1:5
No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.

Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.

So, when you are feeling that you are the only one that is alone, know that GOD himself has promised you that you are never alone. GOD is with you! You might not always feel him, but he stands behind his promises! He does not change his promises. Think about the picture where there are two sets of footprints and then the footprints are reduced to one set. That is when God carries your. God is that close to you!

Monday, January 27, 2014

I am joining #nerdlution #2

I am joining #nerdlution round 2!
I followed closely the posts and tweets during the first round. I loved reading what people were doing and accomplishing. I knew, however, that joining would not work for me at that time. Now, I am excited! There is nothing hindering me from joining this time around.

I am realistic--at least I think I am. I have read some blogs this weekend from others that talked about their successes and failures during the first round.
I like how Michelle talks about round two being a sequel. Read it here.
Katherine's post helped me brainstorm my goals for #nerdlution and how I could integrate my OLW into it. Katherine's post is must reading if you are thinking about joining #nerdlution.

So, what am I going to do during #nerdlution round 2?

  • Keep it organized: because I need to make sure home stays organized just as well as my classroom
  • Discover new ideas to try with my students: this will go along with my OLW (discover). I want to try new ideas. These ideas might just come from #3. And why not discover the creative side of me as well!
  • Read professional books: my goal will be one book per month. My first book will be Chris Lehman's Falling In Love With Close Reading. I found a colleague who will read it together with me.
  • Paper pile reduction: With some help a couple of months ago, my basement got organized. Now I just need to tackle the paper piles/boxes that need sorting. Perhaps a few more snow days to help out with this.

I think these are all doable goals. I will still continue my exercise routine, but because it is something that I have already been doing, I did not want to add it as one of my goals. I can't wait to see what everyone will accomplish in 50 days! Do you realize how much longer the days will be in 50 days??? More sunshine to energize all of us!

Don't forget that you can read much more about #nerdlution on Chris Lehman's blog or tweet at #nerdlution.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Celebration Time

Thank you Ruth for inspiring us to celebrate everyday life!

This  week went so quickly. It could be that having school for only three days had something to do with that! But did these three days provide me reasons to celebrate? Of course they did!

I knew my time was limited before exams. I had to work diligently to get my students ready for their end of the semester exams. We managed to review everything that we needed to before a surprise snow/freeze day on Friday.

I have studied and learned many languages in my life, but I have never had to learn Spanish. Now I have a Spanish speaking student who speaks no English. I am celebrating that Spanish vowels are so close to the Finnish vowel sounds that I can read Spanish with just a few pronunciation lessons from online or from a friend. This means that I am able to communicate with my student. Even my other--non Spanish speaking--students are eager to learn Spanish!  Here are some other resources that have helped me with him (and with other ELLs as well):

Response that I am getting from classroom teachers who are willing to help with our annual ELL testing! This means that they will have to take an online test after listening and reading the directions on the new WIDA Access test. I am so grateful to be working with teachers who are willing to help each other for the benefit of our students.

We had an impromptu PD day on Friday. After everyone got over the fact that we really need this PD day, we got things done. We even had time to help each other in the classroom or work on our own things before going home early. We now wait to see if we will have school on Monday and Tuesday.

Perfect ending to Friday: work out at the gym! Thanks Val for making sure we both go to exercise our bodies after focusing on our minds. I came home tired, but feeling "good tired."

Join us in celebrating at Ruth's Website

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

You are Beautiful

When God created the world He made everything beautiful. Just look out the window on a sunny snowy morning, and you can see the icicles in the trees glistening in the sunlight. If you watch young children running around at the beach on a sunny summer day, you can see and feel their beauty and joy.

Why is it that when we look outside we see so much beauty, but looking in the mirror where a very familiar person is looking back at us, we see everything else except the beauty that God created?

It took me a long time to realize that God does not ask me if I think I am beautiful. He created me to be His image therefore He must have created me to be beautiful. After all, does the Bible ever talk about God creating something that was not beautiful? I have never read that verse! 

So, why do I look at myself and not see the beauty that God sees? Do I compare myself to the images that I see in TV or magazines? Do I believe others' words more than I believe God's word? I was driving home the other day when I hear Joyce Meyer on the radio talk about a "thinking time." She talked about the power of our words. Changing from negative to positive. Spending time talking with God. Spending time proclaiming the true words out loud. Finding a quiet spot to speak the words of truth. 

Today, I am speaking the true words out loud: You are BEAUTIFUL! Whether you feel it or not, the truth is that you are BEAUTIFUL! You are BEAUTIFUL because God created you BEAUTIFUL! Look in the mirror and discover the BEAUTY that God created!

Coffee for Your Heart 150
More great posts about how beautiful you are at:
Holley's Website 

Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made every thing beautiful in his time: also he has set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God makes from the beginning to the end.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Common Sense Rules that Should be Laws

At school, we require students to come up with ideas that they could either argue for or against, or we give students a prompt that asks them to use persuasive language to convince others to do what the author wants them to do. Today, I am trying to find out what I should do.

Imagine this scenario:

It is snowing. The wind is blowing the snow all over the road. Visibility is nearly a zero. You want to get home safely, but it is hard when the oncoming cars don't even have their headlights turned on, because it is still technically daytime. Even the local police car that is driving to inspect the roads does not have its headlights turned on!

What should a regular person like me do in this situation?

  • Send a letter to the local police department and inquire about their "turning on headlights policy?"
  • Request that my local government official propose a bill that would make turning headlights on in bad weather a LAW in our state (like it is in many other states)?
  • Do nothing and just hope that "un-turned" on headlights will never be the reason that a driver is injured or killed?
  • Start a petition?
  • Invent an app that would turn on the oncoming car's headlights with a touch of a button?
  • Design a sensor that would automatically turn on the car's headlights when natural light reaches a certain percentage? Making it possible to add this even onto old car models?

What do yo think? Do you have any additional ides that I could use to persuade the people in my state to make turning on their vehicle's headlights a priority?

road rant, rainy day rule

How and what could my state learn from Ohio?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Celebrating Mid-January

I love how these Saturday celebrations are making me take a look at my week and finding or re-finding all/many positives that happened during the week! They help me discover the good in life!

1. Internet
The necessary and needed part of my life at school--Internet--finally came back on Wednesday! By Thursday it was actually working on normal speed (meaning that I could download documents).

2. Small Group Ladies
We had almost a month break as the holidays came and then the weather situation kept us home on our regular days. I felt so LOVED at our meeting this Wednesday evening! Heidi, Suzanne and Nancy: YOU ROCK! We had so much fun sharing our words for the year, and articulating what it means for each of us. I think we planned a creative session for our small group. We all want to create visual for our OLW! Can't wait!

3. Babies
Two of my teaching colleagues are having babies in the next week! This is exciting time! Two other babies for colleagues are due in the next month! And a few more later this school year! (Maybe there really is something in the water??)

4. Gym Buddy
I am back to normal schedule hitting my local gym. I love texting with Val at the end of the school day.
"Are you  ready to leave?"
"I need 15 more minutes."
"Leaving now, see you there."
We are working on helping each other stay true to our exercise routine, and also to leave school early (=meaning not staying late to work on work that never ends) to enjoy life!

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Coffee for Your Heart Wednesday

Coffee for Your Heart 150
See more posts at Holley Gerth's website.

If you didn't go to church on Sunday because you thought nobody would even notice it, you are wrong; God noticed it because he loves you. 
If you are hiding behind the curtains reading a book, watching TV or  doing something else  because you don't think anyone cares about you, know that you are loved. 

Do feel like hiding from the world? Do you wait for the phone to ring or a message to bing? But the only answer you get is a silence. Still, you are loved!

I have done all of the above things at one time or another. I have been lonely, alone and feeling unloved by the people around me. But one thing I have never doubted: God's love! I know that He loves me whether I have my make-up on right or am wearing the right clothes for my body type. I know that God loves me whether I go to church every Sunday or not. I know that I am loved whether I get a promotion at work or not. I know that God loves me whether I get 10 comments on this post or none at all.

There are times in our lives when we have many friends, and then the other times when we feel lonely as our friends have moved away. It is not always easy to make new friends when you are nearing fifty. But if you are like me, hear these words: God loves you! 

I know the plans that I have for you, declares Yahweh. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 NOG)

Today is the first day of that future that God promises. Go ahead and talk to Him. Find out the first step in a future filled with hope.

Love Necklace by Kraft Kash photo

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Discovering Positive in Negative

It is Monday morning. 5:00 am my alarm rings. My goal is to be at school by 6:00 am. I need to print and copy all the materials needed for my presentation to the staff at our after school meeting.

I made to school just a few minutes after six. I was ready to work--even without coffee. Turn on my computer. Empty my bag. Enter password in order to sign in. And then it happened: NO INTERNET!! Could this really be happening on this Monday morning?? Even I didn't really believe it. I should have. The black background screen should have made me a believer even before I texted another early arriving teacher.

It did not take me very long to realize that I needed an attitude adjustment pretty quickly, otherwise, the 'no internet' thing was going to ruin my whole day. Thank God for smartphones! I turned to Pandora and blasted some praise songs really loudly in the early morning. I sang along while sorting papers (that I had not planned on sorting, but really needed sorting). How I respond to a situation really was up to me.

I started hearing negative comments as teacher began arriving. The most common phrases were: "No Internet!" "Of course this has to happen on Monday morning." And a few others. I kept smiling. Sorting and making copies for the whole week (as I had printed a few pages at home). I realized that I would just have to wait and see what happens with the Internet later today.

Not much happened with the Internet. But great things happened with people! I had used someone else's computer who for some reason had Internet, to print my needed materials. Went to the printer room only to realize that the printer was NOT working. Network issue.As I was walking back to my room our computer technician stopped to talk with me. He offered his office computer for me to use. (He MUST be on a different network.) Quick walk there, passwords memorized, sign in, type correct URL, download documents, and click PRINT! What a sweet sound that printer was! Thank you M.F!

My presentation went well! No, I did not have a power point (as still no Internet), but I had the sample test items that teachers needed.

When I came home, I realized that this was one of the first times in 2014 that my OLW came into the picture in a very clear way. Today, I had to discover the positive in the negative! Or, maybe I should say, I had to choose to discover the positive in the negative. I saw smiles, understanding nods, offer to use my Principal's iPad if needed, and teachers who indicated that they are willing to help me with our annual ELL testing! Could I have asked for a better day?

What will you do this week to discover the positive in the negative?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Saturday Celebrations are Here!

Can you believe that this is already the second celebration Saturday this year!It is wonderful to begin the year with celebrations. Hopefully this will set the mood for the whole year!

What do I celebrate this week?

SNOW! I had three (=3) extra days to relax before going back to school!

I survived driving on icy roads to school on Thursday and Friday with out getting into accident or sliding too much. I am definitely grateful!

My brother-in-law, who lives in South Korea, was visiting, and I had the chance to spend time with him. It was good to reconnect.

My students were so happy to see me on Thursday at school! They made my week!
"Ms. Jaana, I missed you! I loved hearing that when students walked in.

I wrote a post on Wednesday that I connected with Holley Gerth's blog. When I checked my bog in the evening, I had a comment left in Finnish on that post. The comment touched me very deeply as it was affirming that what I had written, was what I was supposed to have written. Plus, I think it was my first ever blog comment in Finnish (and I don't even know the person who left the comment).

What are you celebrating today?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Encouraging Words for the Beginning of 2014

Coffee for Your Heart 150
Check out more posts at

I just want you to know that you are loved! 

If you got up this morning, and wondered if anyone would care if you would not get up, I am here to let you know that, yes, people would care. I would care! God would care!

If you went to work today, and your boss yelled at you, I want you to know that he or she does not define who you are. You are loved! You have a purpose!

If you had a disagreement (or fight) with your children, spouse, friend or parent, event that does not define you. You are loved! 

If you feel that you have wronged someone, forgiveness is free.

If you are wondering about what to do with your life, know that God has a purpose for your life. Go ahead and try, ask Him. He will answer because He loves you!

Have a wonderful day because you are loved!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Discovering my OLW 2014

I read so many blogs, tweets and updates
on other people’s OLWs
while I wondered if mine would ever find me.
I loved the words: open, journey, courage, choices, listen, shine, do, enough, refresh, forward, focus and create.
But none of them seemed to call my name. 
Where is my word?
Last year this was so easy; why could it not be easy this time?

Then something started happening.
I was reading online--can't remember if it was a tweet or a blog--when a word came to my mind.
Could this be my word?
I remember writing it down on my phone to make sure I will not forget it.
At least once a day I would look at the note and ponder that word. 
I was asking, is this for me in 2014?
Meanwhile, I was looking back at 2013 and my word, irrigate. 
That was a good word, and I felt I was not done with irrigation yet.
Should I continue with that word?
No, it was time to choose a new word. 
Perhaps a one that could continue the work of irrigation.

Definitions: to see, get knowledge of, learn of, find, gain sight or knowledge of
Synonyms: explore, invent, realize, reveal, determine, identify, perceive 

I have my One Little Word for 2014!!

What am I going to do with this word in 2014?
My plan is not clear, but here are some of my thoughts:

  • Discover my creator
  • Discover new places
  • Discover the artsy side of me
  • Discover new knowledge

What is your OLW for 2014?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Celebrating Snow and Snow Day

This morning the sun was shining, snow had stopped; it was time to get outside and start digging out. But first, I had to get my front door open. It was a good thing we did not get any more snow. Check out the photo and you will understand.

Getting outside was just the first step. I still had to shovel my way to the car. Without the sticks, I might not even have known where the sidewalk begins.

Once I got beyond my front porch and started walking (well, my fitbit actually counted my walking as climbing stairs), the scenery was absolutely BEAUTIFUL! Check this picture that I can see from my living room window.

The snow plow was ready as soon as the residents had dug out their cars. I had a chance to talk to some neighbors that I had chatted with since the summer. Waiting for the plow gave us a chance to connect.

During the times when the wind calmed down, I took my camera out and my gloves off for a few seconds to get a photos. Eventually the wind got to me and I had to go inside to stay warm with cup of hot coffee. I think I might even be ready for hot chocolate by now.

Enjoy the SNOW!! Discover the joy of God's creation!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

First Celebration of 2014

I am so excited to begin the new year with celebration! So much to celebrate and be thankful for!

Being able to Skype with my daughter who is overseas!
I was able to see her smile, see her making faces, and hear her laugh! Could I ask for more?

Just relaxing. Reading for fun. Reading blogs and writing some as well. Watching the snow fall down and cover the trees in a beautiful cloud.

Finding my One Little Word for 2014. (More to come in a few days....) Getting my creative spirit flowing after seeing many wonderful examples of visual representations on people's OLW (including Ruth's).

Chatting with friends overseas as I was actually home when it is still daytime for them; well maybe evening there. (Yes, Tatjana, Tuija and Riikka I mean you!)

Snow! I love snow! It makes everything so much brighter! Yes, I know I didn't really ask for these sub zero temperatures, but maybe we will get a "sub zero snow day" this coming week? Sunshine glittering on the fresh snow--definitely God's gift for mankind!

There are so many wonderful people who are doing great things! Today I want to celebrate everyone who has an encouraging word for another person. (That includes all of you who spend time reading my blog and many others while writing careful comments!)

What are you celebrating today?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Sunshine Nomination

As the weather is getting colder by the minute, Sunshine Awards are bringing much needed SUNSHIINE to bloggers everywhere. Thank you Terje at Just For a Month for nominating me! I feel like a box of shine arrived in the mail just for me!

The Sunshine award is an opportunity to learn more about me as well as 11 other bloggers, recommended by yours truly.  Here are the "official" rules:
  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger. 
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)
11 Random facts about me:

1. I have lived in three different continents: Europe, Asia and North America

2. I think Finnish chocolate is the best there is--Fazer milk chocolate all the way!

3. I love this Chinese idiom: 馬馬虎虎 (ma ma hu hu) It literally translated means: horse  horse tiger tiger. In practice it means okay. Ex. The movie was ma ma hu hu! It is a phrase that I teach my students when they ask if I could teach them some Chinese.

4. I love snow, sunshine and green plants! (Talk about an oxymoron....) 

5. I love cooking when I have people coming over. If I am by myself, cold cereal or toast is just fine for dinner.

6. There are always a few staples in my kitchen, Trader Joe's frozen chicken dumplings, good coffee, milk for coffee, cereal, bread and berries in the freezer.

7. I love singing even though I am not very good. Singing in the car, at church or in my living room makes me happy!

8. I am really hoping for a snowday on Monday (maybe even Tuesday) as there are so many things I would like to do (that have nothing or very little to do with school).

9. I can't draw, but as an ESL/ELL teacher I am always drawing for and with my students. Maybe I am getting better??

10. One day I want to travel more. Maybe I need to buy that lottery ticket that I have been thinking about....

11. My first summer job in high school was cleaning hospital wards. sanitizing bed pans etc.Then later on I worked as an LPN in a nursing home. I learned so much working with the old people.

Here are Terje's questions for me:

1.  One thing you wish adults would have told you about growing up?
"Write down what I tell because otherwise you will forget these things when you get older."
2. If you could travel in time, would you go to the past or the future? Why?
I would choose not to travel in time. I don't even like reading time travel fiction.
4. How would you describe yourself as a child?
I was an old soul. I spent lot of time with older people and thus tended to think like older people.
5. What is your happiest childhood memory?
Spending summer days with my dad and mom too when she was on vocation. Travelling with my parents around Finland. And SWIMMING! I could have lived in a lake when I was a child.
6. How have you surprised yourself?
By learning languages and being pretty good at it!
7. What are you avoiding?
Salads and vegetables. Eating them is really work for me unless someone else prepares them.
8. What are the advantages of getting older?
In a few years, (plus few more) I get into the movies cheaper! Hopefully I will get to hold grandchildren, and at school, I can look at my high schoolers and tell that I am old enough to know which behaviors will turn out well and which don't. Plus, I have learned that I don't take it personally when students act up.
9. What is one habit you would like to learn this year?
I think I would like to re-learn to do my devotions in the morning consistently.
10. What inspirational things did you read, see or hear last week?
I read Holley's blog about her encouragement challenge in 2014! I am hoping to participate at least 1-2 times a month. Check out Holley's blog here.
11.  How much is your life like to what you dreamed it would be?
I dreamed of being a mother and a teacher. I am both!
Here are the bloggers that I would like to nominate for Sunshine Award. Thanks for brightening my day:
Judy at My Reading Blog
Carol at Carol's Corner
Leigh Anne at A Day in the Life
Stephanie at Word Paint
Jennifer at I hablo espanglish
Pamela at i paint i write
Here are my question to you (from me and gathered from other bloggers):
  1. What was the best surprise you had last year?
  2. How did you start blogging?
  3. When and where do you like to do your writing?
  4. What drives your life?
  5. If money was no issue, where would you like to travel and why?
  6. What is your favorite love story (film or print)?
  7. You have four days; no need to do school work or house work. What would you do?
  8. What is the best thing about twitter and other social media?
  9. What is your next challenge?
  10. What creative thing are you planning to do next?
  11. What is the favorite place that you have lived and why?
Thank you for taking the time to read and respond. I look forward to reading your posts in the future. Wishing you SUNSHINE during the darkest part of the year!