Thursday, June 26, 2014

Renewal Through Stories of God's Faithfulness

Holly Mueller is hosting a Spiritual Journey Thursday on her blog.  Thank you Holly for reminding us focus on the spiritual life in addition to all the professional development that is happening for teachers online and in person. This week's topic about renewal is right on the spot!

By Holly Mueller
A couple of days ago I wrote a post about my friend Annika's visit. (You can read it here.) In the post I mentioned how we each saw God's faithfulness in our lives during the 21 years that we had not met in person. Let me now take the opportunity to share a bit more on how my spirit was renewed by Annika's visit:

This past school year turned out to be quite stressful. Towards the end of the school year I felt like I was literally running out of energy. On weekends I did not really want to do much. I was tired all the time. When Annika's arrival got closer, I was a little worried that I would not have energy to deal with the visit (that we had set up year ago). Annika was coming, however, and I just needed to get ready.

Then she arrived. I was still tired, but there was this new joy that gave me energy. Next Annika started telling stories about her life in the last 21 years. I was all ears! As Annika talked, I could see a pattern emerging: God's guidance and answers to prayers. Story after story I heard how God had guided her very specifically and how God had answered prayers. I began to feel a stirring in my spirit. Hope was starting build inside of me as well! Annika's stories were renewing my spirit!

Little by little, I could feel the stress of the school year leaving my shoulders. It also felt like God was whispering to me: "Did you hear that? I will answer prayers. I will guide. I will be with you." My spirit and my faith was being renewed! I was reminded of God's faithfulness, of his promises, and his love for me.

I am so grateful for friends who listen to God and follow His leading. Thanks to Annika, I am reaping the results of a renewed spirit.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

1993-2014 That's 21 Years

It was the summer of 1993. My daughter and I had made a trip to Finland to see our relatives. It was also the time to get together with friends. Annika was one of my friends that I saw during that trip. At the end of our time in Finland, we came back to the US and a year later Annika moved to Australia.
Fast forward 21 years. "Hi Jaana! I'm at Brisbane airport. Soon flying to Sydney and then to America!" It was really happening; Annika was coming for a visit!

When I picked up Annika at the airport, we had not seen each other in 21 years! We had written letters and followed each other on Facebook, but living in different continents, we had not even visited relatives back home at the same time. But no worries, as soon as we saw each other, the years somehow just disappeared!

We have talked, and then talked some more! I learned about God's faithfulness in Annika's life. I listened her tell the story how she met her husband, and what it means to live in Australia. We shared stories; some funny and others heartbreaking. Through all of our talking, the story always connected to to God's divine attention to our lives. How he has guided and provided for both of us. Our stories showcased God's faithfulness to both is us. 

As I take Annika back to the airport later today, I am sure that our stories will continue to keep us connected. When will we see each other again? I don't know, although Annika is convinced that I need to visit her in Australia. I would not mind.

I could not have had a better beginning for my summer! 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

It Is Time to Celebrate

Thank you Ruth for encouraging us to celebrate life and its happenings!

Today I celebrate:

The beginning if summer break.......
I have been waiting for this more this year than most recent years.

My friend Annika coming for a visit from Australia......
We had not seen each other in 21 years, yet we have talked like it has only been a few months since we last saw each other. I have been blessed by Annika sweet spirit, encouragement and joy that she has brought to my life this week!

My new great niece that was born just last night.....
Gloriana Hope came to this world after a really long labor! She is safely here and I hope to go see her today!

I have loved looking at all the photos that my Finnish friends have posted online about their midsummer celebrations. It has made me feel connected to my roots.

Stress leaving my shoulders......
I am slowly starting to feel like there is less weight on my shoulders. Watching the blue sky, chatting with good friends, going to places just for fun, really has been the medicine that I needed to kick start my summer break. I think that by next week, I am ready to think about some summer PD options. Beginning to read professional books.....This week I am reading to escape. Laura M's photos of Greece definitely will help me to visualize relaxing in a different place.

Happy celebrating to you all!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Driving in a Roundabout

It is definitely a summer in Michigan! The weather is hot, school is out, and road construction has been happening for almost two months. Traffic jams are one thing that I won't miss this summer. But there are a few things that would make my commute or just my drive to downtown much more enjoyable.

  • Drivers understanding that the yield sign at the roundabout does not translate into a stop sign!

Let's take a look at their similarities and differences?
  1. They both have large amounts of red color
  2. One is triangular and the other is octagon
  3. Each sign has one word with capital letters, but the words are not the same
  4. None of the letters in the words are the same
Based on the clear differences, drivers should not have any problem distinguishing these signs when encountering them. Particularly, as in roundabouts there are NEVER any STOP signs, only yield signs!

Roundabout Illustration

So, if the differences are so clear, why do drivers have so many problems interpreting the yield sign correctly? Could the Internet provide some help in this matter?

Well, of course! Many states have their own directions for people on how to use roundabouts. Some have even created YouTube videos. Here is the one for Michigan:

Even the video is clear: drivers keep moving, only yielding to cars already in the roundabout! Yet twice a day (on most days) I feel like taking out my imaginary loudspeaker and communicating with the driver in front of me that it is okay to keep on driving when there are no cars in sight! Perhaps the secretary of state should consider adding a new question to the test that new and old drivers have to take: "Which sign really means that you have to stop, yield or stop?"

Something to ponder as I begin to relax and let go of some (or maybe even most) of the frustrations that this school year brought along. Perhaps I won't even think about the roundabout--at least for a few days!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

I Got Distracted

I really wanted to write a profound blog post that would include all the wonderful (and also the stressful) things that have happened this year at school. But I got distracted.

First, I came across a post that Tara had written for the Two Writing Teachers' website (link here). I have to admit that I focused on the hanging file folder cart first. Needless to say, I had to go looking for one online (not very profound). I found one. Will investigate and ponder about buying one this summer. After that I did actually read Tara's article. Great timing as my high school students are working on their portfolio reflections this week as well.

Then I started thinking more about organization. I remembered a Pinterest post that I had seen earlier. Maybe now would be a good time take another look at it. Headboards. Yes, maybe later. But wait, is that another smaller cart that could store my scrapbook supplies? Yes, it is. Let's take a more careful look. Maybe I will pin that for later (8 more days of school after today).

It really did not take much to get me hooked on looking at different pins that deal with paper organization. I love all the bins, their colors, coordinating the colors and bins, and then decorating the bins to bring color to my work space. I love imagining what these places would look like in my home. I love the planning part, but not necessarily the actual doing part.

So, my distraction made my Pinterest board look much nicer; full of ideas for the coming summer vacation. I did not, however, produce a profound post that every educator wants to write at the end of the school year. My reflection must wait.

What has had you distracted lately?