Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Thank you for visiting with me!


The table is all set.
Electronics are ready.
I woke up early so that I will have time to visit with you.
Coffee is served, but I might prefer tea if it is early in the morning.
I am drinking Yorkshire tea.
What is your beverage this early in the morning?
I add a little milk and place a piece of toast on the plate.

I click away while I wait for you to come.
Our connection is so strong that I don't
even have to leave my chair 
to visit a few friends 
this morning.

Reading in the morning gets my day going.
I can always find a teachable moment to 
remind me to try that new idea that I've been pondering
or to laugh along the story that you have carefully crafted
to make us come to a wrong conclusion
before revealing the punchline.
I might tear up while reading about the tough times you
are having or the memories of loved ones.

You make me treasure the people I have around me!
You remind me to count my blessings, 
be brave and fly!
You encourage me to focus and 
discover something new--inside or outside.

It is almost time to leave for work.
Maybe just a few more clicks.
I need to let you know what your words meant to me this morning.
While driving to work
I am still thinking about the words that I read.
I wish I'd have time during the day to read your words,
but I have to wait.

Evening comes along with new words.
The stories of travel are so exciting!
I just bookmarked a possible new backpack.
Photos of quilts, markers, plants and sunsets
are making me wonder where I will be next year this time.
Will I return to read more of your words
or will life have taken me to a different direction.

Thank you for sharing a cup of coffee or tea with me.
Thank you for sitting with me early in the morning or late at night.
Thank you for leaving your footprint on my pages.
Thank you for opening my eyes to new possibilities.
Thank you for appreciating my words.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Spine Poetry

Book spine poetry is so much fun to write! One evening during the winter while volunteering at our local library friends' Bookstore, I was feeling a little restless. I think it was one of those really cold evenings when everyone wanted to be home under a blanket drinking something warm. I had some time before it was closing time  and no customers. Surrounded by books. Thinking about March Writing Challenge. Perhaps I could try? So I did. I took a few creative  licenses and inserted my words or phrases when I felt that the book titles did serve me just right. Mostly I did this not to mess up too many spots on the bookshelves (after all, I would have to place all the books back eventually).


  

Where the light remains
in the wonder spot
with thunder and rain.
Look again:
Shine, Shine, Shine
this heart of mine.
Live a little!


One day
when I fall in love
with this charming man
my heart will
shine, shine, shine
in my head I will hear
thunder and rain
my eyes will have
double vision.
Look again,
we are
friends forever!


Sunday, March 29, 2015

There was excitement in my classroom


For the last two Fridays I have had two pre-student teachers in my classroom. Both are getting an ESL/TESOL minor to their undergraduate teaching degree!

Week ago the university students jumped right in and read with students who were all in small groups based on their fluency (this is after all a Sheltered English Class in high school). My students were focused, and yes, a little in awe of the university students as well. You know how it is when a beautiful young woman comes and teenage boys, who usually are quick to talk, find themselves watching the future students with a "grin" on their faces and mouth a little open but no words are forming.

During the second class that day I found out that one of the university students does dramatic readings. As we are in the middle of reading Romeo and Juliet, what could be more perfect than reading one scene from Romeo and Juliet to my students. The three of us read a short scene like the actors that we are! Students were mesmerized! We received an applause that definitely made us feel like real professionals! Everyone was engaged in listening!

Then this week the university students had planned an activity that focused on debate. It was FABULOUS!! Everyone was engaged. There was so much excitement that my principal walked in because he had heard it all the way in the hallway! Yes, we might have been a little laud, BUT we were learning!

We spent two hours learning about debate with hands-on-activities. Students listened, they practiced with sentence starters, they wrote topics and short sentences, they read a passage and talked about in small groups, they created their own argument, they revised and asked for more information, everyone in a group took turns standing up and speaking. Nobody realized when it was time to go.

These are the future teachers who are full of enthusiasm! They are the future of education! They are not afraid to spend time and plan a lesson that works. They radiate joy and love of teaching! These are the teachers that I would want to teach our new immigrant students. These are the teachers that will make sure that our English Language Learners are NOT left behind!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spring MUST be coming

Spring is coming. 
It really MUST be coming.
My calendar says it is spring!


There is new life in my yard.
It is green.
I could chop it up
for my soup or salad.


Persistence and perseverance
must be the middle names
for these lovely sprouts.


Sheltering rocks
supporting me in my
yearning to leave my
safety blanket
and seek new ground.
I am thankful
for your warmth
and cover on a windy
spring day.


I have been standing here
for many months
without showing any
signs of life.
I had to hide.
The winter was brutal.
Even the snow blanket did not often reach me,
but I am made of sturdy roots
that reach deep within me and the 
ground below me.
I am a  survivor.
Now I am ready to welcome
my friend spring
with open arms.
I want to honor her by
blossoming and saying my final
goodbye to the winter
that none of us will miss.


Enjoy the sun and wind
even if it may rain
where you are.
Welcome the signs of new life
both outside and inside.
Treasure the moments when a new sign will
reach your eyes.
This is the cycle of life.




Friday, March 27, 2015

Post # 300


When I started my blogging journey four years ago, I had no idea that I would still be writing today. I had no idea how meaningful this community would become. I had no idea how much I would learn by being a part of this community. I have been blessed. Truly blessed by so much.

As I look at back, I thought I would share a few posts that I really enjoyed writing. My first posts did not get many comments. Some not even one. But I persevered. I also learned that receiving comments meant that I needed to read and comment (which I was a little scared to do in the beginning).

My 10th post was about what I Believe. You can read it here. This was personal, and at the same time empowering to write.

One day I decided to write my 6 word story (in my way of course). Suddenly, I had more comments in one post than I had had all month long! I really felt like a writer now.

I Remember... is a post I wrote while visiting family and friends in Finland. I was reminded of so many things from the past that had changed. Revisiting them made them a new memory. It was also during this trip that I met Terje! What special encounter that was! I hope that this year will bring more encounters with other bloggers!

Books and Memorial Service was a very special post about Edna. Edna and her husband Earl were both book lovers! If you went to visit their home, there would be books everywhere! Edna was also the one who recruited me to help out at the Friends of our Library booksales over 17 years ago. I am still there!

Thank You My Fellow Teacher is still one of my favorite posts! I had a lot of fun after I posted an anonymous copy of this in our teacher's lounge. The conversations about who wrote it were interesting. Everything in that post/tribute still holds true (well, just no more Diet Coke for me).

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Physical and Spiritual Exercise


                                   

Today I am writing my Slice of Life Story Challenge and linking up with Holly's Spiritual Journey Thursday. At Holly's blog we are writing about the different One Little Words that each of us have chosen. Today we are writing about Mary Hill's OLW: EXERCISE!


Quote found here
I have been pondering exercise. I have been doing physical exercise pretty regularly for the last two years (with a few breaks in here and there). During the month of March I have had a special rhythm: get up, exercise and read,  post my daily blog and write a few comments while eating breakfast. My rhythm was becoming part of me.

What about the spiritual aspect of exercise?

Quote found here
Keeping my body in shape (yes, I know mine could in a whole lot better shape), is not all that God is asking me to do. He wants me to exercise my faith!

Quote found here
What does it mean? Reading my Bible. Praying. Going to church. Fellowshiping with other faith-exercisers. Being generous. With time and money. Serving the poor. Reading about other faith-exercisers. Listening to God. Doing what He is telling me to do.

Can I do all that????

I feel like I am falling short even before I start.

Quote found here
Isn't this the point of exercising my faith--it takes faith!

I will not see the results right away. I will have to wait. When at the gym, I cannot be doing every machine every time. When I start pedaling my favorite bike, I have faith that I can do the time that I preset at the speed or incline that I choose. I have faith.

When practicing or exercising my spiritual gifts, I don't need to do everything at once. Do I need to keep my ears and my eyes open for what God is telling me to do? Yes! can I make a mistake? Yes? Will God use me or talk to me if I make mistakes? YES!

Could I combine physical and spiritual exercise?

Riding a bike and praying. Reading while biking or on the stepper. Why not? Walking and praying for your neighbors. Running an errand for someone in need and praying for them at the same time. 

Opportunities are endless. I just have to take the first step. God will be with me. He has promised.

Today I will exercise my faith. Both physical and spiritual.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Neighbors, Friends and Coworkers = Blessings


Getting sick is never fun. If you are a teacher, getting sick really means extra work = substitute plans! These sub-plans are a major reason why I don't like to take time off. This week, however, I had no choice. I had to stay home. Today is my third day at home and hopefully the last.

During the last few days when I have been sick, I have been privileged to be reminded how  many great friends, coworkers and neighbors I have! My neighbor friends have gone to the store for me. I got drinks, chicken soup and one even picked up my medicine!

Coworkers have printed lesson plans for the sub, talked to students about their projects, and assured me that they will take care of everything. Sweet emails from students have lifted my spirits: "I miss you Ms. Jaana. Ms. A. is nice, but she is not you." I can't wait to get back to school and tell my students how much I have missed them!!

Then there are the text that have come. "Do you need anything?" Friends who don;t even live close by have offered to come and help. I am truly been touched. Prayers have been so appreciated. I am feeling them working.

Comments on my posts when I felt that I was not able to write that well or comment that much have still appeared on my blog. Thank you! Well wishes and prayers are counted as blessings!

I have truly been blessed while being sick! It is amazing when you are feeling so miserable, you can be so blessed at the same time!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Hello there--I am

i am an ESL teacher, mom to one amazing daughter 
i keep way too many folders on my desktop both at home and at school
i wish i could make my students see all the possibilities and opportunities that they have 
i love to read mysteries, adventure stories, and yes, even romance
i speak English, Finnish and some Chinese and Arabic
i sing in church and in my car
i think it is really hard to stay home sick
i really need to get back to regular gym attendance (maybe after I am well and testing booklets have                been sent back)
i need to organize my kitchen table and wash the dishes
i should learn more technology (should iPad be my next purchase?)
i can't go many days (probably not more than one) without spending some time reading
i like to keep in touch with friends around the world via social media
i make a good travelling companion
i enjoy spending time with friends--especially if it includes good coffee and great conversation  

Leigh Anne who wrote a post earlier this month with this format. Thank you Leigh Anne for your idea!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Chills and Shivers


Chills
Shivering
Aching
Teeth chattering
Cannot get warm
Hot tea from Yorkshire
infused with
honey and milk.
Still
shivering
Aching
goose bumps everywhere.
Commenting
Fell four short.
Shivers and chills
took over.
Thermostat raised
Double blankets.
My bed is calling me!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Cities Where I Have Lived or Worked


A few days ago I came across a post where the author wrote about the cities where she has lived. My cities are not as exotic or as many as hers, but they do tell a story.


Helsinki, Finland--I was born on the outskirts of the capital city of Finland.  Can you believe we did not have running water or indoor plumbing for the first ten years of my life?

Siuntio, Finland--I moved to this small town (well, maybe it was actually a village) to join Youth With A Mission (YWAM). This is really where my adventure started.

Randers, Denmark--I worked here for a few months to help prepare for the 25th celebration of YWAM.

Singapore, Singapore--I was part of YWAM school here. This is also where I began my Chinese lessons, had my first taste of Roti and other Asian cuisine along with learning how to use chopsticks.

Taipei, Taiwan--My journey of learning Chinese continued in Taiwan. I spent four years here. Met my future husband here and made many lifelong friends.

Kona, Hawaii--This was a short time, but very meaningful. My husband and I attended a YWAM Discipleship Training School here. We enjoyed meeting people from all around the world (even met the King of Tonga).

Chengdu, China--Both of us ended up teaching in Chengdu for a short time. Unfortunately my husband became sick and we had to return to the states.

Frankenmuth, Michigan--This was my first place to live in the US after returning from Asia. Talk about a culture shock! I came from a city of 5 million to basically a small town. I remember asking people what is there to do in Frankenmuth (when you are not a tourist). Friends would reply to say, "There is a mall in Saginaw or Flint." Wow! Different world definitely.

Ann Arbor, Michigan--This is where I attended University and where I have worked for last 11 years. It is not Europe or Asia, but for a relatively small city it has the feel of being an international city. Here I have my favorite Syrian and Chinese restaurants. There is the small Korean diner that serves the best Bi-Bim-Bop (conveniently close to my favorite gym). Some of you might even have heard about our famous sport teams.....

What are some of the places where you have lived or traveled?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

What tools do you treasure?



Smooth and round
perfect expression 
every time
gliding effortlessly 

Sharp and precise
erasable
non-permeable
needing a guiding hand

Just right thickness
edges are clear
easily readable
colorful

fine
blue
felt tip
0.3
purple
mechanical
ink
0.5
green
marker
bold
pink
pencil
medium
red
pen



Friday, March 20, 2015

I am so Proud of You


Parent-Teacher conferences can be very unpredictable. I am never sure which parents will actually show. Sometimes the parents do not show up at all; older siblings will come with their younger brothers and sisters.

I love meeting with parents, especially my new parents. But what really makes my conference hours special is when I get to see students that have graduated years ago now accompanying their younger siblings or acting as translators for parents or other relatives. I get to hear their stories!! Last night I heard two stories.

Sammy (name changed) came with his younger sister and brother. I had not seen Sammy in about three or four years. I heard how he is pre-med and getting ready to apply to medical school. I heard about him taking his second grade brother to the library, but not really knowing what level books to get for his little brother. After talking with his brother's teacher, he now understood what books are his level.
I also heard about his older brother who is getting married in a couple of months. I was smiling for a long time after Sammy and his siblings left!

Later in the evening I went to meet a 5th grade student's parents and had another wonderful surprise when Moe was the translator for his mother! Mow graduated last year after almost not making it! Here he was with great concern asking about his sister's NWEA scores and asking what could be done so that she would do better at school. All of this is even sweeter when you realize that Moe is taking great care of his sister who has a potentially terminal illness. He is such a loving older brother. He was also telling how he is doing so much better in college. He reminded me that his GPA when he graduated high school was 1.9, but after one semester of college, his GPA was 3.3!! I am so proud of him!

These are the stories that make it so worthwhile to walk extra steps, spend more time talking with them during my lunch or prep time, or stay after school to make sure that they are ready for the next day or for the next week! I am so proud of Sammy and Moe!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Does being brave mean I have faith?


                                   


Today I am writing my Slice of Life Story Challenge and linking up with Holly's Spiritual Journey Thursday. At Holly's blog we are writing about the different One Little Words that each of us have chosen. Today we are writing about Teresa Winterstein's OLW: BRAVE

be brave quotes                    

Is having faith the same thing as being brave?

When I was younger, I traveled to so many places. Some of them were difficult to get to. I was not afraid. I went with the idea that God is with me. He will walk before me, after me and next to me. I knew that if things got really difficult, He would even carry me. I had faith. I had faith in God's promises.

Then I moved to a country where life was much easier. I did not have boil my drinking water any more. Ice was once again safe. I could understand the language. Getting from place to place was easier and much more comfortable. Sometimes it felt like I did not need as much faith. I did not need to be brave as I was not going to an unknown place; I was just driving to work. The same way I go every morning.

As I have been pondering my on One Little Word (discover), being brave and having faith are also topics which have surfaced. Should I be more brave? How would I do that? Trying new things? Is that being brave? Taking a trip to a previously unvisited place. Is that being brave? Looking for a deeper relationship with God. Is that being brave?


What about you? Are you brave?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Writing Ideas--how do I collect them?

March Writing Challenge 2015




I like observing people. For example, if I am sitting at a meeting or just having a cup of coffee at the local cafe, I will often imagine what the people around me are thinking. I wonder what their life is like? Ones that are so intensely typing on their computer? Are they working in their next bestseller? Or what about the faculty members who cannot leave their phones in their pocket even for a few minutes? Are you really getting a text every few seconds? What could be the story there?

What about the person by the window who is quietly sipping a cup of coffee? What has happened in her life? What about the couple who come to the coffee shop with their devices? They each seem lost in their own typing. I don't think they even talk to each other after deciding what to order. What is their story?

What about the student that comes to school on a Monday morning and says, "I couldn't do my homework. My parents were fighting. They almost got divorced. I got really cared." How do I respond to her story? Do I know even a fraction of the stories that my students bring with them to school every day? Am I curious enough to want to find out?


I have realized that my ideas really come from practicing writing. Sometimes I start with an idea, but an other idea comes along and just takes over. I have so many draft posts where I have collected ideas. Ideas from other blogs that I have read, what I saw on twitter, pictures or graphics that have caught my eye, or conversations that I heard (or overheard). There are ideas on my phone. Pictures on my phone. Recorded messages that remind me to check something when the time is appropriate. There are thought that I want to turn into writing ideas. There are dreams that I could write about (be brave you know).

There are quotes--so many of them--about writing. I collect them. They encourage me. Inspire me. Push me forward. Challenge me. Keep me going when I want to give up. Quotes can bring out the creative side of me. They give color to my ideas.





At times, format that I am secure and feel comfortable with, is the one that I go with. I can do that. I can do that. But what about trying something new? That is scary! What if I get the format of the poem wrong? What if my lines do not rhyme like the expert bloggers who write poems all the time?  What about my words? What if they are not as descriptive as the blogger's whose post is right before or after me? 

I think I need to be brave (more about that on Thursday)! I can try something new! What will it be? A poem, a list or a story? I don;t know yet, but I will promise to try something new this month. Isn't that what exercising my writing muscles is all about? Stretching to reach a little higher.....

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

17 Reasons I Write

17 Reasons on the 17th day of the writing challenge:
  1. Writing relaxes me.
  2. I write to learn
  3. Writing opens new worlds for me.
  4. I write because there is both power and truth in words
  5. Writing connects me to other writers.
  6. I write to see the shapes that words take on paper or on screen
  7. Writing gives voice to the words that I am pondering about
  8. I write my frustrations in order to not store them inside
  9. Writing translates everyday happenings into stories
  10. I observe, therefore I write
  11. Writing creates lasting memories
  12. I write to ask questions and debate answers 
  13. Writing helps me to make sense of the world around me
  14. I write because words keep me company on a dark morning or on a bright evening
  15. Writing makes me feel part of something much bigger and more important
  16. I write because I want to practice the craft that I teach
  17. Writing is what you do when you love it!

After reading Kimberley's post this morning, I just have to add two more items to my list. You can read Kimberley's post here.

18. I feel alive when I write
19. Writing gives me purpose

Then I read Michelle's post, and I felt that I needed to add one more item to my list. You can read Michelle's post here.

20. Writing is thinking


Monday, March 16, 2015

Package for me??


It was an ordinary busy day at work. I was in the middle of double checking testing booklets to make sure that I knew exactly who had been absent that morning and would need to catch up in the next few days.
Speaking   ü
Listening   ü
Reading    ü
Writing    Is that my phone ringing?

Hello?
"Jaana, you have a package here in the office."
Oh, thank you.

Right now I am wondering what package that could be. Am I getting a free book? A sample of something? 

I got back to my work and almost forgot about stopping in at the office.  I am so glad that I needed to talk to someone in the office as I then remembered to pick up my package as well!

Look at what was in my package!!!


Inside the package was this note:

Thank you for giving me the confidence to teach teachers! I will be teaching a class at S. this spring and your belief in me helped encourage me that I had something to share. Thank you - S.S.

Needless to say, I was blown away! I was so excited for my friend! She will be an amazing teacher of future teachers! Can't wait to hear what other great opportunities will open up for her in the future.

I had just one question, how could the office not tell me that the package had flowers????

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Brewed Awakenings Cafe


On most Saturday mornings Faith and I have a tradition; we meet at a local cafe, Brewed Awakenings. Faith's mom brings her to the cafe as Faith is no longer driving herself. MS has made driving impossible. Then Mom goes and runs errands while we enjoy coffee, people watching and conversation around this and that.


Today we were looking at postings on Facebook. We laughed at comments that people write. We rolled our eyes on some posts. We looked at closely and with a some degree of jealousy the photos that a friend of ours had posted from Italy. Some posts were a total mystery to us. A few posts seemed worthy get Faith's "like" as well.

There was also people watching that we needed to do:) There was my daughter's first grade teacher with her husband - as they are on most Saturdays. There were a few other people that we recognized. Two ladies caught our eyes; they were knitting and talking a mile a minute. Faith knows that I knit as well, so she was eager to point them out to me. Their knitting seemed a little too complicated for me. I am more of a simple knitter (and knitting keeps my hands from going to my mouth).


This is a cafe where everyone knows us! I walk up to the front to gt my coffee and they automatically ask if I want the flat bottom mug. I don't really care what  kind of mug, but for Faith, flat bottom is more secure. When our time is up, Faith's mom comes back in. We chat for a while. We talk about books (of course), our community and my daughter. Soon it is time to head to the van. We say goodbye until the next Saturday!

Do you have a Saturday tradition?

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Would you like some additional channels?



"Could you please confirm you address?"

"I am sorry, I cannot find you."
Would the account number help you?

"Yes, of course."
"Ah, there you are. What can I help you with?"

I would like to know why my cable bill suddenly doubled?

"Let me check on that. Yes, your promotional offer ended. Is there anything else I can help you with?"

Yes, I would like to lower my cable bill to what it was previously."

"Yes, I understand that. Would you like to combine services to get a better offer?"

No thank you. I would just like to continue the same service I had previously with the same price.

"Mam, that offer is no longer available. I could take five dollars off your bill as a courtesy of you being a loyal customer."

I'm sorry but I am not interested in that. I would like to reduce my bill to what it was before.

"I could offer you one premium channel for free for three months. Would you like that?"

No thank you. I still would like to have what I had before or I will need to cancel my service.

"I am sorry you feel that way. Would you be interested in adding a service?"

No thank you. I would now like to cancel my service.

There are times when I wish that my students had this sales person's tenacity to keep going when things are not going their way. Or, maybe I need to learn a lesson and not give up on students even when they have given up on themselves. Yes, I might not be a fan of my cable company, but perhaps with no cable service, I will have more time to write and focus on learning.

Tenacity. I need to discover more tenacity!



Friday, March 13, 2015

His Moment of Triumph


It has been months since I have seen a spark on this student't face. Yes, he comes to class joking with his friends, but he never seems to be present. He actually reminds me of Romeo in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet because he seems to wander in as if he were floating or living in a dream world--not the real world.

A couple of days ago he stayed to study with me during study hall time. I should use all capital letters now as this is a HUGE accomplishment! He stayed and he worked!!! Then a day later he took a quiz in my Sheltered English class in high school. After work as I was grading the quizzes I found out to my great surprise that he PASSED!! This is an accomplishment worth celebrating!

But wait, there is more: the next hour we were working on writing. I had a change to work with three students in a small group while my volunteer was working with another group. H. was on task. He had his writer's notebook ready. We were practicing the P.E.E. method (point, example/evidence & explain). Our topic "Juliet is too young to get married." I was guiding my students to think about where we could find evidence or an example that would support our point that Juliet is too young to get married. H. was thinking. Suddenly he says, "Because her father said so to Paris."

I screamed! Everyone's head turned to my directions. What happened was the question on everyone's face. What did H. do now?

And then the sweet explanation that H. had come up with a few great answers all on his own!! "Really, H. did that?"

He sure did! It was H's turn to triumph!

Photo from here.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

What have I discovered this far about my OLW?


                                   

Today I am writing my Slice of Life Story Challenge and linking up with Holly's Spiritual Journey Thursday. At Holly's blog we are writing about the different One Little Words that each of us have chosen. Today we are writing about DISCOVERY which is my OLW.

This winter has been a great winter, but also a really difficult winter. Cold sunny days have have brought sunshine into my life that at times felt dark. I think that the older I get the more the darkness of the winter affects me. So on those short winter days when I have been feeling down, debating whether to go to church or just stay at home because it is warmer inside (and comfortable in my pajamas as well), I have discovered that it is okay if I stay at home. Not necessarily the best choice, but it is okay.

I have discovered that God's grace can reach me at home. He will meet me where ever I am. His grace knows no limits. He offers His grace freely because He loves me. He meets me where I am. He offers His grace whether I am dressed up or in my pajamas. Perhaps this is the reason I love Matt Redman's song Your Grace Finds Me.



I have discovered that I don't need to be perfect (not that I ever am). God offers His grace when I fall short on following Him. He also offers His grace at work. He sustains me both at work and at home. I can discover this grace new everyday. It is not conditional. It is offered from and with love.

It is because of this grace that I want to discover a new fire. I want my soul to be on fire again. I want to discover a new fire in my relationship with God. I also want to discover a new passion and fire for teaching. Don't take me wrong, I don't think that I have lost my passion for teaching, but I want to discover a new fire, maybe a sense of urgency and grace as I teach and deal with students who come from such difficult circumstances. If my fire is not burning brightly, what do I have to offer to my students? 

This THIRD DAY song is both the perfect prayer for my journey on discovery this year, and my prayer for you today. With grace and a new fire in my soul wonderful things can happen!




Wednesday, March 11, 2015

My Love Affair with Exclamation Point

I LOVE exclamation points!!!!!

If I have ever commented on your post, I most likely used at least one exclamation point! Often I have used more than one. It is just who I am.

Just think about how many different kinds of exclamation points there are with the plethora of fonts available.

!!!! !!!! !!!   !!!!!  !!!!!  !!!!!  !!!!! !!!! !!!!! !!!! !!!!  !!!!  !!!!  !!!!!  !!!!   !!!!  !!!  !!! !!!! !!!!!

I can just pick a font that matches my mood or the topic I am writing about, and insert an exclamation point when if speaking I would use the tone of my voice to make my point or to emphasize a particular word or a phrase. 

For example:
What a great post!! I loved the metaphors that you used in your poem!!
Loved the photos!! 
I could hear the sound of waves crashing on the rocks by just reading your words!!

When leaving comments, I cannot change the font, so my only choice (besides my words) is to use punctuation marks to emphasize my point. Especially when I feel a little strange using all capital letters as some might think I am shouting at them. 

I am sure that there have been grammar and punctuation masters (~police) who have cringed at my use of exclamation point. I might not follow the rules that I studied in my Grammar Bible, but writing means taking risks, being unique, and daring to break the rules.

I feel that I don't have any kind of relationship with semicolons. I don't think we even live in the same universe. Exclamation points, however, are a different story!!!!  They are fun and easy to use!!!! Everyone understands them!!!! I feel that exclamation points tell their own story along with the one that I am telling.

!!! I have to admit I can't remember which font gave me the eyes when pressing the exclamation point key on my keypad. Looks interesting. Maybe I will use them next time I am commenting on your post !!! 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Is Laughing Acceptable in the Gym?

Val and I are gym buddies. We go regularly. Well, that really depends how you define regularly. Three times a week? Not our definition lately except in our dreams. Twice a week? This definition would suit us more often, but not in the last two (okay, maybe three) weeks.

Last Saturday morning we were determined to create a new definition. We had set a time to meet at the gym. Morning texts: "I'll be 10-15 minutes late."  "Me too."  We were still in agreement with our definition. All good.

I got to the gym. No Val. I started biking. I kept looking over my shoulder to make sure that Val could find me. (What was I thinking? There were not that many people that she could not find me!) Headphones on. Listening to morning news. Some interesting, but mostly not. Time to raise the speed on my pedaling. Ah, there she is!

"I don't know what has happened to my body! I did ask the Parks Department for new body parts but they have not delivered yet!"

This is how Val started my day. I really needed a recorder for all the one liners that she kept throwing at me while pedaling.

"Well, at least my legs are moving. I'm not so sure about the breathing part."

"I like watching silent television here. Look at how sweet that man is. What is his name again? Oh, he is so cute." (This is where Val and my opinions differ quite a bit, but that is another conversation altogether.)

"At least my body came here today. Not so sure what or who came with it."

There were so many and I did not have a recorder with me. Even my phone was in the locker! But I laughed! I mean I laughed out loud! Perhaps some fellow exercise "enthusiasts" were thinking who we are to disturb their quiet morning exercise. Too bad! We were having too much fun! 45 minutes on the bike!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Lunch or Dinner Choices


"What's the difference between orange chicken and sweet and sour chicken?"
Not sure, but they are probably very similar.

"What are you going to order?"
Singapore Street Noodles.

"Are you sure they have enough sauce in them? Remember that one time when I had to send them back because they had no flavor?"
I know you don't like them. You like more sauce on your Chinese food.

"What's Dad going to have?"
Let me ask him.

Dad, what do you want to order?
"Cashew Chicken."

Dad wants Cashew Chicken.
"What?

Dad wants Cashew Chicken.
"Oh. Are you sure he does not want the sweet and sour chicken?"

Yes. He said he wants the Cashew Chicken.
"Oh. Okay."

"What kind of soup you want?"

"Wanton soup."
Wanton soup for Dad. Mom, what soup do you want?

"What was that soup that I had that one time?"
You had the hot and sour. But remember, it costs extra.

"Why is that soup extra?"
I don't really know. Which soup would you like today?

"I guess I'll have the Wanton soup."

Dinner or lunch out with my in-laws is always an interesting affair. But we always end up having many good laughs! They have really become the second mom and dad for me! Love you mom and dad!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

What Could Selma Have Meant for My Mother?

I have read the news stories that retell the events 50 years ago in Selma, Alabama. I watched the advertisement for the movie, but haven't managed to see it yet. I have listened to news stories and eye witness accounts of the Bloody Sunday. Through all these, my mind has been on my mother.

In 1965, my mother had never been to America. I don't think that it ever even occurred to her that one day she would visit her daughter in this country. My mother lived in a predominantly white country. She did not have any black friends. She did not participate in demonstrations or march for civil rights.

But she followed Martin Luther King Jr's life.

She read books about him. She listened to the news when they talked about him. She admired him. She admired his faith, his tenacity for justice and his ability to inspire millions. My mother didn't give speeches. She was not a leader.

But she was a lover of God and people.

She worked in a Gypsy orphanage. She cared and loved the children that others would have rather seen forsaken. She played and laughed with the children. She rocked them to sleep when they were sick. She loved them.

You see, in Finland there was very little diversity 50 years ago. Still, Finland had its minority: the Gypsies. My mother did not march (I don't even think there were any marches), but she loved everyone of those Gypsy children that she had the privilege to care for. Years later, Gypsies were not uncommon at our house. Our neighbors might have looked twice, but my mother (and my father also) welcomed all of them with open arms to our home.

Loving the Gypsy children--and adults--was my mother's Selma. Her job was not done in a few minutes or hours just like the job of those marchers 50 years ago did not end that day. We continue to fight for rights for everyone no matter where we live.

I am honoring those brave men and women who marched on March 7, 1965. I am honoring them because that is what my mother taught me!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

What Do Your E-mails Tell about You?


How many e-mails did you get yesterday?

I have to admit I did not count mine. There were the usual ones at school:

  • 20% off just for today
  • download this or that (I erased it without really reading)
  • L's powerpoint
  • daily absence report (quick look to see how many my students would be absent--none)
  • From M. (no message just a link--discussion followed on how you have to write what you are asking me to do for you. I can't read minds, at least not yet.)
  • blog post needs your approval (all approved)
  • great news story--must read for your students (sorry, no time today)
  • Can u print this? 
  • Don't forget our lunch meeting
  • Just FYI, K is absent today, You need a sub for testing (Seriously??)

At home, e-mails are usually a bit more interesting:
  • You have new comments on your blog. (Yeah!!! This brightens my day!)
  • These coupons expire tomorrow--use them today!
  • Your new statement is available (hopefully with good news)
  • Check your rewards and book now to save money!
  • These airfares won't be around for long! Book your trip today!
  • Follow x, y, and z on twitter
  • Daily Lenten practices
  • Coffee Saturday?
  • Your Fitbit battery level is low (all charged and ready to record  my steps again)
  • Your order has shipped (Yeah!!!)
  • X retweeted a Tweet you were mentioned in (Can I click, "like this"?)
  • New boards are waiting for you!
  • YWAM-eTouch March 2015 (This I need to save and read again.)
  • You have a new follower (Sweet!)
What story do your e-mails tell?

Friday, March 6, 2015

What's the Matter with the Key?

The key does not go into the lock!

Seriously? I just used it to open the sorting room 15 minutes ago. Did the kids do something to the lock? Or someone else? What the heck happened?

"Kathy, can you try to open the door as I can't?"

"What?" (Looking totally perplexed and making a face that says she cannot really understand what I am saying.)

"The key does not work anymore."

"We just used a few minutes ago."
"I know, but now it does not work."

This was yesterday evening as I was working at the Friends Library Bookstore. I had just placed newly donated books into my section and was taking the cart back. No luck. The cart is still in the bookstore.

Library staff came with multiple keys. None worked. Finally it was determined that the tumbler must have broken. 
The tumbler? I needed a lesson on the construction of a lock. Internet helped.

Note was left for the right person to take care of it tomorrow. Nothing that we could do today. Or so we thought.......

The Friends Board was meeting last night as well. People started to drop by at the bookstore before moving onto the meeting room. 

"The key does not work to the sorting room."
"Really? Let me try."

"Hi Kathy and Jaana!" 
"The key does not work to the sorting room."

"Really?" (Still talking as she walks to try the key.)
"You were right, there is something wrong with lock. Probably the tumbler." (You think???)

"Hi. How are you tonight?"
"We are good except the sorting room lock is broken. Most likely the tumbler."
"Really? Let me try."

I think we have this curious faith in ourselves that we can fix almost anything--even a broken tumbler. One after the other the people came. Some tried to push the key in. Others hit the door trying to lodge something back into place again.

They came. They tried. None conquered.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Adventure That Started Many Years Ago is Now Beginning Again



Today I am writing my Slice of Life Story Challenge and linking up with Holly's Spiritual Journey Thursday. At Holly's blog we are writing about the different One Little Words that each of us has chosen. Today we are writing about ADVENTURE which is Libby's OLW.

I have been on many adventures in my life.

There was the first adventure when I was 16 and left to go overseas for one month without my parents. Or the other time when I went to work in a nearby country for three moths without knowing anyone there. Both times I had a place to stay and a plan of what to do. Nevertheless, both of those trips were an adventure.

I did not have Internet or cell phones to keep me connected to the people at home. During the first trip I think I was able to call my m other one time. I had to find a way to rely on the One who never leaves nor forsakes me! I had to make new friends, find connections, and get along with people who did not all think the way I did.



Both of those adventures overseas solidified my trust in God. I had to seek Him. I had to trust Him. I had to rely on Him. I had find what He had in store for me. And then I had to follow that path that He was leading me on.

This path then led me onto many other adventures around the world. And now, I am watching this same journey beginning for my daughter. She is living overseas (so thankful that she has Internet and cellphones). Learning to trust God. Relying on Him. Seeking Him. Her adventure is just beginning! As a mother, I am learning to trust God in a new way. As my daughter is eager for her adventure, I am learning (still in the learning phase) to trust God to be with her on her adventure in the same way that I am sure my mother had to learn to trust God at the beginning of my adventure.

By Helen Keller
Picture from this website.