I have come to fall in love with teaching in Catholic schools. What are YOU in love with?...

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." - Pedro Arrupe

Monday, December 30, 2013

New Years

New Years is just around the corner - here is a post from the Da Mihi Animas (Salesian) blog about suggestions for meaningful resolutions: http://salesianity.blogspot.com/2013/12/a-new-year-new-beginnings-and.html

(It's worth the read.)

Also, a personal resolution is to start making some of these words a more regular part of my vocabulary - http://oscarlearnoscarteach.tumblr.com/post/71516712434

(That's more just for fun, though. My favorites are discombobulate, gumption, fetching, and audacity. There is also a special place in my heart for 'skedaddle', as that word comes into play in the novel The Tale of Despereaux, and it reminds me of how my students in AZ went down to recess and screamed skedaddle before running out to play.)

Here's wishing you and yours a lovely new year!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hallelujah Christmas

From the website: "This version of ‘Hallelujah’ by Cloverton will touch your heart." -->


Friday, December 27, 2013

New Year = New Look

New (upcoming) Year = New Look

(It's not a radical change, but it mixes things up a bit.)

Next goal = start thinking about those resolutions...

Define "Classic"

A few weeks ago (you know, before Christmas), I heard a disturbing conversation on the radio about voting for holiday classics - the disturbing part being that movies like "A Christmas Story," "Christmas Vacation," "Home Alone," & "Elf" topped the list.

Classics? Really? These are considered classics?

Come on now. They may be movies that everyone watches, but they aren't ones that have withstood the passing of the years - ones seen by our parents and grandparents.

So, how about these? Have you seen these holiday classics...?

If you haven't seen some of the movies above, I urge you to head to your nearest library, RedBox, or NetFlix account and check them out.

You won't be sorry - these truly are the classics.

Also, have you ever seen Claymation Christmas? If not, do you have about 30 minutes to spare to see it?...Enjoy!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Was That Choice Moral or Not? - A Classroom Activity & Assessment

Dear George, 
Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.
Thanks for the wings!
Love, Clarence

Thus (nearly) ends the beloved holiday classic, "It's a Wonderful Life" - a film that tells the story of George Bailey and the many people whose lives he touches by his innate desire to put family and friends above personal wants and human dignity above profit.


In my humble opinion (as I'm sure I've mentioned before), this is the greatest holiday classic movie of all time, so I thought it would be worthwhile to show this movie to my 6th grade students (especially since most of them had never seen it before). However, seeing as I only see each period for 40-45 minutes a day, I couldn't reconcile giving up valuable teaching time to watch a movie just for the sake of watching a movie. (On a side note - when I taught 4th grade, I didn't have any problem simply putting in a movie, as in a self-contained classroom, I saw them all day and the poor dears were restless by the end of most days leading up to Christmas break.) So, I had to find (or create) a bridge between the movie and our latest unit, which focused (at least in part) on moral decision-making.

Well, George and the other characters surely make a lot of decisions throughout the course of the movie - from saving Harry's life to not delivering the pills from Mr. Gower to sending Harry to school instead of himself so as to run the family business...the list of decisions (good and bad) goes on and on.

Bingo.
This is about how I felt when I figured out the connection

I would have the students apply the three components of moral decision-making that we learned about to the scenarios/decisions in the movie. So, the weekend before that last week before break, I crafted the assessment & rubric.

Looking back on the assessment (as I am currently scoring their letters/essays), there are things I would change about it for the future. For example, I would provide some scenarios from the movie for them and have them proceed to apply the moral decision-making components in order to avoid a mere summary of movie events. I would also be more explicit with the directions about including connections to our own prayer lives, as that was the source of some confusion with the movie.

But overall, I think the kiddos did a nice job. Here's an excerpt from one student's essay:

"...When George Bailey jumped into the river to save Clarence, his object was jumping into the river...his intention was to save Clarence, and the circumstances were George Bailey was on the bridge at night with freezing water. Since saving Clarence was good in all three elements, the moral decision was good..."


Well, I think most of them got the gist of the assignment. 

...And they enjoyed this holiday classic - some even told me as they left class on Thursday afternoon that this was their new favorite Christmas film. (And I do believe they were telling the truth.)


George Bailey and his friends/family sure do have a lot to teach all of us about making decisions that reflect good morals on friendship, family, and human worth. By the end of the film, we learn that George really was the richest man in town, not by the standards of Mr. Potter but by the richness of his life blessed with those whose lives he touched.


This movie never gets old. In fact, I watched it three times this year (two of those times were with my two six grade classes and one was with my family), and I never got bored. Additionally, much like the sentiment stated below, I cried every time.


I do hope you (and your loved ones) had the chance (or will soon take the chance) to watch this movie over the holiday season. May this Christmas and New Years be a blessed one for you!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Weary World Rejoices - Article

"...Which makes me wonder: Do we even remember how to rejoice? If we are believers in Christ, we are supposed to be mindful of the miracle of the Incarnation, of God becoming flesh and dwelling among us. We are to rejoice in the redemptive hope of Jesus..."

A short and meaningful reflection on remembering Christmas -->  http://americamagazine.org/content/all-things/weary-world-rejoices

Have a beautiful, Christ-centered Christmas!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays...

Oh, the weather outside is...

Well, it's definitely not frightful - not here in Florida, anyways. It's much warmer than the weather we've been having recently in Chicago. (Thank goodness for that!) In fact, it makes me think of that Irving Berlin song that goes "Off with my overcoat, off with my gloves..." - so nice to put those away for 2 weeks. While being a far cry from a white Christmas, somehow I don't mind it so much this year. Sunny and 75 (or even 80) - bring on the sunshine! "All I want for Christmas is Florida sun" (pardon my shabby lyric adaptation - changing lyrics is kind of a habit with me).

Regardless of temperature and type/lack of precipitation, spending the holidays with family and friends is the best present anyone can ask for. This past week during prayer intentions in my middle school classes, my heart was warmed when students stepped outside of themselves to remember those who have no home or family to share this special time with, especially in the cold of the Chicago winter. Sometimes, though they can appear self-centered and immature, they surprise me with bits of wisdom, critical questions, and thoughtfulness. And those moments are ones to be treasured, indeed.

Only a few more days until Christmas - hard to believe, isn't it? The time seems to fly by faster each year. And since we'll be running about here and there visiting various family and friends these next few days, I don't know if I'll get to post before the big day, so in that case...

Merr(early) Christmas!

And, just for fun, in case you missed it a few years ago, here is "The Story of the Nativity" (the 'digital' version).

Thursday, December 19, 2013

What You Love

When you get a chance to make a living doing what you love, that's pretty sweet.

This week, I felt especially blessed in this way for two specific times:

1) Sharing "It's a Wonderful Life" with my 6th graders - As a wrap-up for our final unit before the holiday break, we've been learning about moral decision-making. Tomorrow (after having watched the movie all week), students will complete a project in which they will determine the morality of some of the choices of George Bailey & others in the movie. In addition, they will look at how Hollywood portrays prayer, God, etc.
While watching the end of the movie today (with both classes), I teared up. There's something about that movie and its message about friendship and family being what makes us rich. When students left my class remarking, "That was such a great movie" and "This is my new favorite Christmas movie" (and actually meaning it), I knew it was worth the time we spent. These kids need to see holiday classics like this. Personally, I think it's one of the greatest (if not greatest) movies of all time.

2) Leading the 6th graders in signing "Silent Night" at the Christmas program - The kiddos did such a great job. The principal was nearly in tears when she told me how beautiful it looked. And one parent commented, "I wish I could have just watched you the whole time. You were so graceful." All of it made me smile - because I had shared something that I had grown up with and loved with my students, and now, they are loving it too. (In fact, I had to remind the 5th and 7th graders not to sign during the show because it wasn't their turn.)

It's not every day that I feel I am doing what I love; though, overall, teaching is something I find very special and worthwhile indeed. But this week, I feel like I am so blessed. I've been encouraged and able to share things I love - and that, in a profession, makes all the difference in the world, in my humble opinion...


"Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." (Pedro Arrupe)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Little Teacher Girl, an Adaptation

I just couldn't help myself - I love fitting words into syllable counts and trying to bring meaning out of poetry. Here's my latest attempt - I turned a favorite Christmas carol into a teacher's song.

Merry (early) Christmas!

"The Little Teacher Girl" 
(adapted from "The Little Drummer Boy")

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum 
A teacher you will be, pa rum pum pum pum 
At Notre Dame with ACE, pa rum pum pum pum 
In Phoenix you've been placed, pa rum pum pum pum, 
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

"Teach the students there," pa rum pum pum pum, 
When they come. 

Little students, pa rum pum pum pum 
I've never taught before, pa rum pum pum pum 
I don't know where to start, pa rum pum pum pum 

My greatest gift's my heart, pa rum pum pum pum, 
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, 

Shall I read with you, pa rum pum pum pum, 
Will you come? 

Soon, they nodded, pa rum pum pum pum 
The years quickly passed by, pa rum pum pum pum 
I taught subjects to them, pa rum pum pum pum 
I tried my best for them, pa rum pum pum pum, 
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, 

They still smile at me, pa rum pum pum pum 
Each day I come.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

White Christmas

Bing Crosby singing "White Christmas" on the way to volleyball...Bing Crosby singing "White Christmas" on the way home from volleyball...

He can sing on my radio any day...

Sing to me, Bing. Sing to me...

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Snowed In? No Excuses, Please...

The thought crossed my mind about trying to switch my Ministry of Care day to a weeknight coming up when I got out of bed this morning. As it was, I already cancelled my run with my sister (and headed to the gym instead) due to the snow. And the roads just seemed to be slick and icy - not very good for driving.

However, when I got home from the gym, the driveway beckoned, pleading to be shoveled. And I, still warm from exertion, swapped my sneakers for snow boots and grabbed the shovel from my car. It probably took about 30 minutes, but it was good to be outside and breathing in the fresh, crisp air. It felt like a lost cause for 2 reasons: 1) It was still snowing, so chances were I would need to shovel it again later anyway; and 2) I was pretty determined that if I did end up going to MOC today that I would likely have to take the l and, therefore, not use my car (or the driveway) at all.

After sipping a steamy cup of coffee for a bit, my heart got the better of me, and I decided to get cleaned up and drive over to the hospital. (I mean, let's face it, this upcoming week is bound to be crazy anyways, and I had made a commitment.)

On this morning's rounds, I ended up with a short list of patients. Out of the six patients I visited, two individuals were actually in the process of leaving the hospital. Still, they were grateful for the opportunity to partake of the Eucharist, so they took the time to do so. Another patient told me, "Please come back," to which I responded, "Well, I personally won't be back until after the new year, so I hope you're still not here. However, someone from the Church will come by again later in the week."

My heart felt so happy when I left the hospital today. To think that I was about to let a little (well, a lot) of snow stop me - I am ashamed. And I am so glad I listened to my heart instead of my head. The hospital was right where I needed to be today. And I thank God for that.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Give Me Your Burdens

Today's Gospel is short but very meaningful to me, as it is the one we read as Ministers of Care when we go into each hospital room to give Communion.

Short...but comforting...especially to those undergoing treatment or recovering at the hospital.

Today's reading serves as a reminder to me why I do what I do. And, let's face it, I need that reminder every now and again, especially on those days when it's hard to get myself out the door or when it would be easier to stop going altogether. (Trust me, I thought about it - but then I realized I was just being selfish if I did quit.)

But, don't we all need those kinds of reminders - ones that give us a swift kick in the pants and tell us to keep going?

I think it's especially true now, as we find ourselves in the midst of the holiday season - all the rushing, hustle & bustle. We need a reminder to snap us into remembering what really matters.

But God already gave us a reminder - He sent us His Son.

This Christmas, Lord, may we keep your presence and glory at the center of all we do. May we make it less about the shopping and parties and gifts that our culture keeps emphasizing and advertising, and, instead, make it more about preparing for your arrival and second coming. We ask this, in your name. Amen.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Taking Prayer Back

Confession - Though I'm a religion teacher and spend most of my day teaching & discussing Church history, Catholic catechism, and various beliefs, I've been struggling in my own relationship with God...at least prayer-wise...

My prayers have recently felt...well...empty.

And I wasn't quite sure what to do about it.

But this weekend, I decided to get myself started with something new, so I bought a lined notebook and started journaling last night. Having only done this one night so far, it's hard to tell if it works or not. But I can tell you this - it helped me recognize areas in my life this weekend where I found God. And that allowed me to give thanks and reflect.

I am looking forward to continuing this practice through Advent and beyond. I'll let you know how it goes...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Immaculate Conception

What happens when you find out your students don't know what the feast your school is named for celebrates?

You panic!

Just kidding...

But you do keep trying (over and over and over) to correct that situation.

And, yes, some begin to slowly realize that the Immaculate Conception is about Mary being conceived by Anne and Joachim rather than Jesus being conceived by Mary (the Annunciation).

And, yes, some still don't know the difference...but we will keep trying.

One day, I have faith, it will register. One day, it will all click.

Mary, the Immaculate Conception, Pray for us!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mary, Did You Know...in my sleep

Tonight, I'm pretty sure I'll be signing "Mary, Did You Know?" in my sleep...you know, whenever I get to sleep...(Don't you hate it when lesson planning keeps you up at night?)

Multiple times through x 4 station group rotations x 2 retreats (4th & 5th grades) + a couple times through during 7th grade family Advent event = a LOT of repetition

Oh, yes...and how could I forget doing it two more times this afternoon at the end of study hall with the 5th grade boys. It was completely voluntary. No, scratch that. It was in high demand. They were done with their homework, and what did they want to do? Sign. (I am not kidding - you cannot make this stuff up.) I couldn't keep a straight face - they were so darn cute.

I love teaching middle school, don't get me wrong. But some days I wish I could go back to teaching ones that are just a tad younger - 4th and 5th graders are such a fun bunch. So days like today and yesterday, when I had the opportunity to lead the retreats for those grades - these are the days when, though extra-filled, I feel extremely blessed and lucky. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of those retreats.

The 7th and 8th grade retreat is next week...so we'll see how that goes. I'm a little worried because the 6th grade retreat left a little to be desired - but, then again, I only had one other teacher helping me. (On Tuesday, I should have some additional help from the principal and maybe some other teachers - at least, my fingers are crossed for that.)

Have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas Music

Though some of my "Top 10" Christmas songs definitely shuffle from year to year, I am inspired (from a question posed a volleyball last night) to re-post my favorites from 2011:

10. Winter Wonderland
9. The Christmas Waltz
8. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
7. Believe
6. Mary, Did You Know?
5. Little Drummer Boy
4. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
3. O Little Town of Bethlehem
2. I'll Be Home for Christmas

and...

1. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

There are so many other Christmas songs that make my heart happy too, especially "We Need a Little Christmas" (especially the Muppet version), "All I Want For Christmas is You" (any time of year...oh, Notre Dame), "Silver Bells," and "Mele Kalikimaka."

I found the Christmas radio station on my way to work this morning...Keep those songs coming!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Advent...

And here is the proof:

classroom Jesse Tree (sans ornaments, which the kiddos made today)

the annual "lighting" of the Advent wreath

Christmas lights and more Advent candles!

And who can resist all those Christmas lights in windows and on the streets...the smell of freshly cut Christmas trees...? Ah, I love it all. 

Advent, by all means, please take your time.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Another new year...

Happy New Year!

Err...um...well...happy new (liturgical) year.

There we go.

Oh yes, it's Advent. Light up that first purple candle and don your purple sweaters (or t-shirts if you live in the South), folks!

It's a busy season, that's for sure. No doubt about it. With the rush of the holiday shopping, it's hard to remember to slow down and think about the real cause for all this celebration.

Over the next week, I am leading 4 student retreats at our middle school campus. All of them have been designed with this in mind: keeping our eyes on Jesus and preparing our hearts for His coming at Christmas.

I'm pretty sure Advent is my favorite season - I remember how it was always a privilege to light the Advent candles on the family wreath and read the prayers each night at home. I absolutely loved the "live" Nativity show at the local Christian church (complete with animals). The songs at Mass always got me excited for Christmas too...

It's probably true that our culture has a part to play in making Advent my favorite season too - the Christmas tree lots (smell those evergreens!), the beautiful wreaths and lights, the holiday music, the flavors of peppermint and butter cookies...

It is time to ring in the new liturgical year...so let's get it started right!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving

Eucharist...the source and summit of our Catholic faith...literally translated as "thanksgiving"...

What a beautiful word...what an incredible experience...

I agree with my school parish's pastor - Thanksgiving should be a holy day of obligation on the Church calendar. It's so important to stop in the midst of all the craziness (especially during the holidays) to give thanks for all we have.

And, as our pastor back at home in St. Pete pointed out, it's time to turn our thanksgiving into "thanks-doing" and show by our actions just how grateful we are and how much we have to share.

And maybe, when this happens, we might be able to bring the holiday season back to what it ought to be - a season of true joy and giving...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Shirt of Flame

There is really only one reason I actually like plane rides, and that is to catch up on reading. I just finished this book --> http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12068862-shirt-of-flame

and I cannot say enough good things about it.

Read St. Therese's autobiography first, but then make sure you follow it up with this one.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

A First Time for Everything...

Breathless and skidding to a stop in front of me on Monday morning was one of my 6th grade girls. Rolling up her pant leg, she exclaimed, "Guess what I did this weekend, Miss Foyle!"

I couldn't imagine.

"I shaved my legs for the first time! Well, we tried "waxing" with masking tape first, but that didn't work."

"Does your mom know?" I asked, smiling.

"Oh yeah, she helped me do it."

I couldn't help but chuckle.

And then, I thought about it. Yep, 6th grade at about this time in November was the first time I shaved too. It's funny how those memories stick out in your head. But I remember distinctly going to cotillion for a November square/country dance and having a classmate ask, "Did you shave your legs or are you wearing stockings?" to which I replied, "Both."

So many changes happen in middle school - these kiddos are only just beginning - but I see evidence of it every day, whether they realize it or not. They look (but don't usually act) so mature at times that you forget that deep down they are only 11 or 12...

And then, it makes perfect sense that they still love when their teacher shows them Bible cartoons... :)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Grateful

On my way home from the grocery store last night, I saw a man all bundled up and pulling a shopping cart with what looked like everything he owned in it.

And there I was, worried about getting home because I was tired from the day of conferences. (My goodness, did I feel like an a**hole.)

Lord, when I think of complaining, help me to remember how blessed I am to have a roof over my head, food to enjoy, and family/friends surrounding me. You are so good to me, and I have so much more than I ever realize. Help me to be mindful of your presence in my life, and help me to share my abundance with others in need. Amen.

Full & Pleasant Conference Day

Yesterday was quite a full day. While I didn't have all of my time slots booked back-to-back (except for lunch) like my co-worker who teaches math next door, my times were pretty full. (Most students got As and Bs in my class - I don't think many parents are worried, especially since my grades don't "count" to get into high school.)

I saw A LOT of parents.

And I was pleasantly surprised how receptive and positive they all were.

(Maybe it helped that I put mints out or had soft music playing...or maybe, at least, that helped me shift into a good mood. I think it also helped that I had plans of action to help bring any struggling students up to speed.)

There was even one conference I was especially dreading because I had heard the parents are usually on the attack. This time, however, they weren't. And the whole conversation was quite pleasant for 15 (instead of the scheduled 10) minutes.

At the end of the day, the middle school team met to debrief and start brainstorming for the future - we need some kind of stream-line process. Next year, due to an increase in student population in middle school, there is a potential for 100 conferences (and this year there was only going to be up to 75), so even the added mornings/afternoons on Thurs & Mon probably won't be enough. So, one co-worker suggested setting up in one space...kinda like speed dating. 5 minute rotations - hit each teacher and you're out in 25 (or so) minutes. I think that's a good idea to keep it moving... We'll see what the administration thinks...

Fall Conferences 2013 in the books! (Well, I have 2 more on Monday morning...)

For now, I've got that lesson planning (see previous post) to get to and some packing for Thanksgiving to do. The weather here took a turn towards extremely chilly (though it looks deceptively warm outside with that sun shining so bright!), so I'm not relishing the fact that I have to step out my door in a few minutes to head to MOC. (Later, my sister and I are going to brave the elements and go for a run...but that's just because we're crazy.)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Camel's Back...

The last thing any teacher wants at the end of a long day and on the eve of parent-teacher conferences is an email saying all lesson plans for the week after Thanksgiving break need to be turned into the office by Tuesday afternoon.

Talk about adding to the stress. Conferences (whether easy or with tension) are tough enough - and so time-consuming to prepare and execute. Ah!

Let's just say that the email/request was almost the straw that broke this camel's back. (As my sister and I concluded yesterday - Does the work ever end? Is it worth it to put up with all the parents and misbehaved students?...)

Well, once I let off some steam, I did find some consolation - since I teach Religion, at least we'll be learning about Advent. So, while I had to do a lot of background research on the topic of Church history (Apostolic Age to present) because I didn't have much of an idea of what happened during that time, I don't have to do quite so much to prepare myself to plan the lessons for this topic. And (thank goodness) I can use some of the same activities across grade levels.

We'll definitely be doing a Jesse Tree...


In the long run, I guess b****ing and moaning doesn't help that much. If anything, I need to remember to stay calm, buckle down, and get it done. After all, it will be better to have those lesson plans finished so I can enjoy Thanksgiving break.

Oh, and plan those 4 mini retreats for our campus too...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hope...

So much devastation in Illinois and Indiana in the wake of the weekend tornadoes...

It might make you think the survivors have nothing left, since their homes and most of what they own is destroyed...

But then, you turn on the news...and you hear some of their stories...

A man who found his Confirmation Bible, which he said he will keep as a reminder that he's blessed to be alive...

Many families saying how blessed they are because they are all together and still alive...

People who are grateful for the many volunteers who have come from neighboring cities and towns to lend a hand cleaning up the debris and sorting through the rubble...

And you think, wow. There's still so much hope in the world, even in the face of tragedy. There's still a place for God in all of the distress and loss.

We will rebuild, many said. They are the ones who know what's most important. They are the ones who are an example of faith and courage. They are our sign of hope.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Be Mary

No, I didn't type that title incorrectly. In the midst of the holiday onslaught that is taking over our culture, stores, Starbucks, and more, I'm talking about a different kind of merry/Mary.

Visiting...Mary (of "Martha and Mary" fame) had it right.

Over the past couple of days, I have done my share of visiting - dinner reunion with my ACE housemates, Ministry of Care, and 4th grade volleyball end of the season celebration. All of these were such a blessing...and all of them required one thing - being present to those around me. Sounds simple enough...but sometimes in our culture, that's hard to do...

The school day on Friday was, in and of itself, a good day. But it was my after school activities that motivated me that day. After stopping by Jewel -Osco to pick up some much needed cookie dough (a Phoenix house tradition), I met up with one of my ACE housemates whom I had not seen in just over a year. We went for a nice run together and had a chance to catch up on quite a bit. The weather was perfect, the pace was just right...loved it. Afterwards, dressed in our sweaty apparel, we met up with 3 of our other ACE housemates for an at-home crockpot dinner of Italian beef (another Phoenix house staple). While at the dinner table, we took the opportunity to Skype with our housemate & her husband who are currently teaching in China. (Hail, hail, the gang's all here!) After that evening, I can safely say that some things never change - it was so good to be with all of them and to share in a simple, home-cooked meal.

Saturday morning came quickly, and I found myself at the bedside of a few patients at the hospital. While I didn't spend too much time in each room, I did find a sense of deep peace resting in God's presence as I brought holy Communion to those people. I didn't say much...I didn't have to. My presence was enough to let them know the Church community is praying for and thinking of them. Their presence was enough to let me know that God works through many people and through simple means/actions.

Just after noon, I made my way to the house of one of my volleyball players. All 6 girls and some of their parents (and siblings) came out to celebrate the season and to spend time together. I had such a great balance between talking with the parents and spending time with the girls. I was there for nearly 3 hours, but the time flew. We shared food and conversation around the table while the girls made a movie trailer in the basement. (On a side note, iMovie looks amazing!) It took me over 30 minutes to actually leave because I kept talking with the girls and the parents kept chatting too. Many asked if I would coach the girls in the spring and even next fall, but I can't commit either way yet (as much as I'd like to). I leave that up to our athletic director to put me where he needs me most. We'll have to wait and see which team next year that turns out to be...

Trust me, I had plenty of things I needed to accomplish over the many hours I spent in the activities above. [In fact, the first thing I did when I got home after a quick trip to Target with my sister (another short visit!) was finish scoring the 6th grade religion tests.] But the visiting time was renewing, necessary, and much-needed.

More time being, less time doing. That's what our culture needs.

In these weeks leading up to (Thanksgiving and) Christmas, be merry, yes. But challenge yourself to be Mary too...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The end is near

Hard to believe it's already Thursday night...or, maybe it's not...

You can tell it's the end of the trimester:

Kids are getting anxious for the holidays...and about their report cards...
Parents are scheduling conferences...
And grades/comments are past due...
Teachers are getting antsy for the much needed "mental health" holidays...
The snow has started to fall...and it's only mid-November...

The train is nearing the end of the tracks...and the holidays are that light at the end of the tunnel...

I think I can...I think I can...I think I can...

Monday, November 11, 2013

Not of my own, but worth the read

Not any original content today, but these gems are worth the read...

20 Things You Should Never Say to Teachers

20 Things Teachers Love To Hear You Say

Bored! Eight Ideas About Bored Students and Boring Teachers


And worth the listen: Best Day of My Life (American Authors)

Happy Monday!

Tomorrow I get to hear this guy in concert...that makes for a pretty exciting Tuesday... :)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

10 Miles - Woot!

10 miles down and feelin' pretty good.


We sure lucked out with race day weather, that much I am sure about. And my sister and I finished under our goal of 1:30:00 for the race, which is awesome.

Yesterday was a little stressful with finishing grades and writing comments for report cards, but today is already looking much brighter (and a little more stress-free). 

I think I may try to write a couple of assessments for my 6th and 8th grade religion classes later on, but then tonight I am putting the work away and enjoying a night out with a couple friends in support of Catholic Charities.

(I hope there's dancing...)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Teachers Got Talent

An opportunity to be ridiculous in front of students and school parents? Bring it on.

Some of my fellow teachers (myself included) did a rendition of Evolution of Dance at the end of tonight's Middle School Talent Show. And it was so much fun! I am so glad I allowed myself to be talked into it.

I'm not a dancer by any means, but I guess I fooled a few people tonight. (Ha ha)

My favorite part was practically being tackled afterwards by some of my 4th grade vball players and some of the 5th graders. (Oh, how I miss that age group!) So darn cute.

On my way home, my mind started wandering, and I got to thinking - how would my students describe me? I think (and I don't think I'm too far off) one of the top words would be "joyful" - and not just happy (because I'm not always happy), but rather rooted in the joy that God loves us and calls each of us to be a sign of His love to others.

They probably all wouldn't say that - some may say I laugh too much or am too hard on them...and those could be pretty accurate too, I suppose.

Ah, well, it's definitely something to think about, eh?

They were listening...

It turns out the 8th graders were listening...

Example 1 - While on a Church "tour" on Monday, our pastor asked one of my students if people at the time of Jesus celebrated the Mass the same as we do today.

Now, we had just gone over this the previous week, so I was crossing my fingers...

The student said no, explaining how at Jesus' time the Eucharist was more about being with the community and sharing a meal in celebration of their faith together. And many times it was done in secret - definitely not in churches.

Alleluia!

Example 2 - When I was scoring 8th grade quizzes yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised by how much detail the students were able to convey. The idea of the Age of Expansion being a time when Christianity became legal and people were no longer martyrs actually stuck with them, and one student even wrote about how the monks were considered the martyrs of their day. (And that was a student who usually gets into some kind of misbehavior on a regular basis in class.)

While it may seem that we, as teachers, are oftentimes beating our heads against a wall and that hardly any of our students are listening, I urge you to think again. (Trust me, my 8th graders can be quite the shenanigans.) They do hear and they do connect the dots...at least once in awhile.

Now, the challenge becomes one of how do I keep them engaged?

Oh, how I wish I had all the answers to that one...

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Top 3

A small miracle today - I completed my lesson plans (without rushing) with all of my classes.
A larger miracle could occur tomorrow...if they remember everything (or even some of it).

Here are my top 3 moments from today:

1) Teaching "Mary, Did You Know?" in sign language to my 7th grade students in small groups while they were doing different Marian stations

2) Having a student ask if we could have a Bible Study club after explaining how I had participated in a Bible Study last night

3) Ridiculously dancing around to Father Abraham with my second 6th grade class

Other than the rain, I think it's been a pretty rock solid day...and I haven't even gone to volleyball yet.

Monday, November 4, 2013

6000 words?

A picture says a thousand words...and I have 6 of them.

  


  


In all honesty, pictures AND words could not do Saturday's ACE reunion at the ND/Navy game justice...but they sure are a good start. As you can see, the weather was a far cry from perfect (though, during the game it was almost pleasant...if you can call 40 degrees pleasant). But there were about 30 ACE 15 (my class) grads there + scores of other ACErs, parents/friends of ACErs, etc. - each time I turned around, I was bumping (sometimes literally) into someone I knew. What a joyful day!

And, as you can see, the ND band made a bus on the field for halftime - it was pretty sweet.

Back to the work week. Happy Monday!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

The Religion teacher in me came out during my pumpkin carving tonight...

St. Clement Church, Chicago

Happy Halloween!

Thanks


...So it's okay to reach out to some of those people when you need a little bit of help...

(I know this quotation is more likely to be interpreted along the lines of keeping an open mind and trying to learn all you can from those around you, but I think it's fitting for my purposes today.)

especially when it comes to teaching religion...

especially when needing to gain a sense of perspective of the 2000 years of Catholic history post-Christ...

Because, let's face it, when you only have a general idea of some of the material you need to teach, it's probably pretty impossible to be effective in the classroom.

But when a friend helps you get to the big ideas and essential take-aways (while also explaining some additional key details), it all starts to come together...and you breathe a little easier...and, while you know it's still going to be challenging to come up with lessons to convey the concepts, you still feel confident that your teaching tool belt is better stocked than before and you won't be a complete failure.

And you sigh with relief.

Well, at least I did.

I am so grateful for the people in my life who, at any given time, have given and continue to give of their time to help explain something to me, pray for my intentions, listen to me talk things out - time they likely need to complete something of their own.

I am surrounded (both in local and distant proximity) by an amazing network of family and friends, and it's days like these when I remember that I need to thank them from the bottom of my heart.



On an unrelated note, Happy Halloween. My pumpkin remains uncarved (if that's even a word?) on the living room floor, but I have hopes for last-minute after-school inspiration. Be safe everyone, and have a great day!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Recipe for a Family Rosary Class Event

Recipe for a Family Rosary Class Event

Preparation:
Pre-stuffed "kits" with beads (10 of one color, 3 of another, + 1 cross bead), & string/twine - enough for each student & parent/grandparent...plus a handful of extras
Invitations (sent home with the kiddos AND via personal email)
Step-by-step instructions for how to assemble the decade Rosaries
Resources for the families to share in class

Day of:
Extra chairs (for the parents/grandparents)
A co-worker to cover your lunch duty (*optional*)
Student-led opening prayer
A resource to help you pray the Rosary with the students & parents

Don't forget to keep a smile on your face in light of Rosary "fatalities" and to remain flexible to help, repair, or start over. Be sure to thank parents and students multiple times for their presence and participation. Pray with full heart, stand back, and enjoy...

I got the beads at Oriental Trading and Michael's

I am so thankful for the opportunity with my 6th graders today to spend time learning about, making, and praying the Rosary together (in both classes, separately). All of the parents/grandparents were so gracious, and everyone seemed to have a good and meaningful time.

I think it's really important, especially in the older grades, to invite parents into the classroom for various activities and such...but it takes an extra effort, since there's less control of time, less amount of time to host the activity, and students who appear indifferent at their parents' presence (even though on the inside they are excited to see them).

But it's worth it. What a recipe...what a day...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Tradition

Last night I got to the point of being pretty stressed. This whole teaching early Christian Church history thing is a new concept to me...as in, I am learning more about it as I go so then I, in turn, can pass on the information/learning opportunities to my students.

It's hard to find that kind of stuff online in videos and articles, let me tell you. (And I am not alone in this - one of my friends who I might consider a Bible history guru said it's hard to get good stuff from the internet for teaching this material.) And, let's face it, the textbook mentions big events (that I need to cover from the Archdiocesan standards) in passing...and without names.

Ok, sorry for the little rant there...but you get where I'm coming from, right? I just couldn't finish up my lessons for 8th grade, and then, all of a sudden, it was time for Mass.

Great.

I got to Mass early because I was signed up to be an EM, and that turned out to be a blessing because I had about 20 minutes in prayer/silence before the Church building started filling up with people. (It definitely gave me time to offer a prayer of thanks for another friend - this one in the seminary, so you know he's a good source - who is working on getting some ideas together to help me in my Church history endeavors. Alleluia!)

Mass proceeded pretty much as it usually does, but when it came time for the Eucharistic Prayer, something hit me - all of a sudden, I experienced the tradition of the Mass - the words and gestures and prayers we said echoing those said 2000 years ago at the time of Christ - and I got chills. (I guess all the reading up on the first Apostles and martyrs started to take its toll on me.) Literally, chills.

I don't think I'll ever experience Mass the same again, not after that. I guess the struggles of learning all this new material has rewards of understanding and blessings beyond my imagination...and I got a taste of that last night. So as much as I b**** and moan about all the material I have to jam-pack in before Thanksgiving break, I honestly have no right to complain.

At the end of the day, I must admit, I love my job.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Happy (almost) Halloween!

It's that time of year again...Happy (almost) Halloween!

I didn't have the time, nor did I have the energy, to make a new costume this year, so I reused my Katniss Everdeen costume from last year (Turns out the odds are still in my favor, as the costume was a hit...as long as I didn't hit people with my arrows.)

This year, I went to a party with Mickey Mouse (A.K.A. my sister)...


I thought about doing a Mockingjay carving for my pumpkin this year, but that may be a bit much.

(I'm not that obsessed...)

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Let the Children Come to Me...

Ministry of Care days are always such a blessing.

Today, my visits were not long, nor were they many, but my heart was happy to see so many children - in the waiting rooms, in patient rooms, in the elevator, by the Starbucks.

I overheard one child saying, "I saw Uncle ____, and I told him I loved him."

And I thought, wow.

I believe it's so important for those visiting the hospitals to bring their children with them - they bring such joy and hope to the patients as well as to those of us who happen to pass by at just the right moments. In addition, I think it's good for the kiddos too - sure it requires a lot of patience and ability to follow rules, but practicing those things is good for them.

I remember going to both the nursing home and the hospital/Hospice as I was growing up - and I'm pretty sure that my experiences there not only brought me closer to my relatives but also helped me develop an appreciation for and desire to help (in my small way) the aging and those who are sick/recovering.

I am so thankful to those families who brought their children today - it was likely a struggle or a trip balanced with something like "we can get ice cream when we finish," but it was SO beautiful.

"Let the children come to me"...in the sick and suffering...in the hearts of all people...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Quotable

Another Value Quote of the Day to pass along:

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
Melody Beattie -
author, journalist

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Whizzing on by...

Goodness, gracious - I feel like I've not blogged in ages. It's been one of those weeks - you know what I'm talking about - when everything keeps coming and whizzing by, almost like you're on a moving train.

Talk about not enough hours in the day.

I am definitely looking forward to tonight - aside from volleyball, which is right after school (and which is our last practice for the season), I don't have any plans/obligations/events tonight. Highly unusual...but much anticipated.

I love being busy, don't get me wrong. I love being around people and having fun, whether it be at a Bible study or young adult volleyball night, a happy hour fundraiser or a prayer group.

But there is something to be said about being still and being quiet.

I hope tonight is one of those nights.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Whenever You Remember

It's hard not to think with fondness of the past, isn't it? I find myself every now and again thinking back to times in college, my ACE experience, and even just last year teaching 4th grade. And I find myself wishing I could be there, in those moments, again. Sometimes, I accidentally take a turn down the wrong hallway at school, and I find myself outside the 4th grade doors. (Oops.) It's such a routine...it's such a part of the road that led me to where I am today.

It's not that I have rose-colored glasses. At least, I don't think I do. And it's not that I don't enjoy where I am right now. I do. (In fact, I am SO blessed to be where I am right now - I love the opportunities, people, and school.) 

So, I don't know what it is. But I do know many people find themselves in the very same boat. I don't believe this to be a bad thing, by any means, unless we find ourselves in a position like the quotation states below:


It's okay to miss the past. Some things and people and memories can never be replaced. And it's important to learn from those times and avoid any similar mistakes and such in the present or future. 

But, as I think this quotation makes very clear, it is not okay to let the past cast a shadow on our happiness today. When we are caught up in the present moments, especially those that are stressful or difficult, it's hard to keep the perspective of contentment with the here and now. If we keep wishing for yesterdays, we miss out on all that today has to offer. It may not be the same as it was, but different may be just as good...or even better.

So, let's strive to remember yesterday but live for today.


Happy Saturday!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

What is Faith?

What is faith? What does it mean for faith to be a gift?

Here are a few things my 7th graders would say...





"...So, thank you for this gift, it is one of the best ones I will ever get."

Yes, that just about sums it up.

I think they got it. :)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Greatest Love Story

The greatest love story of all time is contained in a little white host.” 
-Bishop Fulton Sheet


What a simple and beautiful thought - Jesus truly is the embodiment of God's perfect love for each of us, and Catholics are reminded of this every time we approach the altar to receive the Eucharist.

How do I help my middle schoolers realize this love? How do I move some of them (especially 7th grade) past the whole faith as a feeling and into a faith rooted in reason and understanding?

Hmm...

The Little Things...

Yesterday's Value of the day email said this:

I firmly believe in small gestures: pay for their coffee, hold the door for strangers, over tip, smile or try to be kind even when you don’t feel like it, pay compliments, chase the kid’s runaway ball down the sidewalk and throw it back to him, try to be larger than you are— particularly when it’s difficult. People do notice, people appreciate. I appreciate it when it’s done to (for) me. Small gestures can be an effort, or actually go against our grain (“I’m not a big one for paying compliments…”), but the irony is that almost every time you make them, you feel better about yourself. For a moment life suddenly feels lighter, a bit more Gene Kelly dancing in the rain.” (Jonathan Carroll, author)

The small things do matter, often times just as much as the big things because they are constant and they do, in a sense, add up.

While I couldn't find it online, JJ Heller sings a song called "Little Things" - There is so much too do, not enough time, money constraints, etc. - the list of excuses can go on and on for all of us. But if we stop and think about it - like the quote and this song go on to tell us - the little things make the difference.

So, the next time you think you're not big enough to make a difference or that "one small action isn't going to change the world so why bother", I beg you to reconsider.

Give yourself that "Gene Kelly" moment and allow yourself to dance in the rain...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Day off...So, what did I do...?

How did I spend my day off from school?

Well, I did get a lot done this morning...

- I went for a quick jog at the gym, where I was able to catch up on the news.
- I bought dish soap and cleaned a large pile of plates/bowls loaded up in our sink.
- I dropped 2 of my coats off at the cleaners.
- I baked a pumpkin dessert.
- I finished planning my second 8th grade unit.

And then I got to work on three performance assessments (& their rubrics) for my middle school religion classes.

Let's just say, that took awhile.

All feelings of being productive earlier in the day quickly vanished.

I am not sure if what I came up with even makes sense, but here is the gist of each of the projects:

6th grade - Compose a letter of faith to their future selves, explaining what they know about topics like the Trinity, the 4 Marks of the Church, etc. and also what they hope to know (through comments and questions) in the coming years

7th grade - Create (draw) & explain a set of 3 "Instagram" photos to catch people's faith in action, including the 4 Marks of the Church, prayer in life, and evangelization

8th grade - Design & explain a modern-day disciple action figure(s) equipped with materials/traits/accessories to help share the faith, deal with evil in the world, understand the Trinity, etc.

I hope my rubrics are more reflective of student performance/understanding of material this time - last time, I think some students ended up with better scores than they deserved/earned. However, I did listen to a webinar on Saturday night (yes, what a grand Saturday night I had) about the design and wording of rubrics, so I hope I did better!

My creative energy is drained. (Maybe it wasn't even really there in the first place.)

Good thing that tonight's creative energy involves painting rather than thinking...

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Rambling of Inner Thoughts...(in Free Verse)

Stressed? Is that the right word?
Maybe I am...
But it's a long weekend,
So...maybe I'm not?

It's mid-October -
Feeling like a hamster on a wheel,
Going...
Going...
Going...

"When things slow down..."
"When I get caught up..."
"Soon..."
These are phrases I find myself saying
but not following through
Because I can't catch up.

Do we ever catch up?
Probably not.
Can I settle with that?
I better work on it.

There will always be more -
More to do...
More to read...
More to prepare...
More to teach...
More to pray for...
More to experience...
More to get better at...
More to spend time on...
More.
More.
More.

STOP.

Step back.
Breathe.
We're in this for the long haul.
Maybe things aren't "just right" now.
Maybe they'll never be.

If I've learned nothing else,
I've at least learned this -
Relaxation and refueling are important...
Keep going and eventually you will break down.

So, this weekend,
I'm taking time to breathe.
My work is important,
But (more) so are my friends and family.
And my health.

There will always be more to do.
And that's ok.
That's how it should be.
It doesn't have to get done now.

Breathe.
Enjoy the Fall.
Enjoy friends and celebrations.
Read a good book.
Sip that coffee...slowly...

And smile.
Because God is SO good.
Everything will be all right.
Perspective is key.
Life is short.
Savor the moments.
Work hard...at striving for balance.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Lazy, Tired Friday Night...And that's OK...

What to do after spending every night out this week?

Easy answer = stay in, catch up on missed tv episodes, do some laundry, and catch up on grading

Check.

Bedtime soon? Yes, I think so...

Thank goodness for the long weekend ahead.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Do You Really Mean That...?

Today's Gospel is the one where one of the disciples asks Jesus to teach them how to pray. And so, Jesus says the words we know today as the Our Father.

But these words seem to have lost their meaning today for many of us...

We say the words without thinking...
We say the words in a hurried rush, doing our Christian duty or keeping up at Mass...
We say the words because that's what we were taught - that is a prayer we have memorized since we were small children...

But what are we saying...?

I used this version of the Our Father as a hook to the lesson with my 8th graders when we learned about the meaning of the prayer. It really makes you stop and think - Do I mean what I say? or am I merely doing my Christian prayer obligation?

And so, I would like to start this Wednesday by offering up a simple prayer:

Dear God, Please help us to take the time to pray with meaning and to work to live out our prayers and relationship with you in our daily lives. Amen.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Little Bit o' Nostalgia and Hope

It's a day like today - a perfect Fall - that fuel the soul.

It's a day like today that remind you of the more important things - friends, family, good conversation & company, etc. - in life.

It's a day like today that make you nostalgic for things that have been and hopeful of things to come.

Today was a pretty historic one for me - first time apple picking. Ever.

(Yes, I'm 27 years old.)

Growing up in Florida, I never went apple picking. Strawberry picking? Absolutely. But apples, no.

It was so much fun! And the weather was absolutely beautiful - not too hot, not too cold. (All you need is a light jacket.)

Here are pictures from the day - I will spare you my apple jokes...






There will be many an apple in my lunchbox this week...



She looks so "Midwestern", doesn't she?



Yes, I even picked my own pumpkin to carve. It's sitting in the corner of my living room by the window - I'm hoping it will inspire me to carve something brilliant...or, at least, something cute.

And I will definitely be roasting (and eating) the pumpkin seeds.

There was a sign that pretty much summed up my feelings for the day pretty perfectly:


Oh, yes indeedy...

Weather or Not...But Lucky Us!

I can't believe how well my school lucked out with the weather yesterday - we held our annual Fall Fest, complete with bouncy house, obstacle course, magic tricks, pumpkin painting, and more!

(Let's just say, it wouldn't have been nearly as much fun inside or in the rain.)

I'd never been to Fall Fest before, but I went yesterday in order to supervise the 8th graders who are earning hours in preparation for their Confirmation this year. So, I was back and forth among the different stations making sure the 8th graders were working hard and doing all right - for the most part, I think they enjoyed themselves. (They even got to try out some of the bouncy stuff.)

As soon as we were done packing up all the stuff, the skies opened up and it began to rain and lightning. Boy, that was timing it. (I made it to my car only getting mildly wet.)

I'm glad I was able to spend time with the families and students yesterday. And last night, I went up the street to a local bar to hang out with my sister and some friends from Church for the Notre Dame game. And today I'm going apple picking for the first time ever!

(Speaking of the Notre Dame game, this week's "What Are You Fighting For?" ad was for ACE!)

So much excitement in one weekend has left me little time to lesson plan. I guess I better get some of that done now before we head out. More lesson planning and Mass tonight when we get back!

Happy Sunday!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Friday!

Happy Friday! Yes, there's a whole day standing between us and the weekend, but we're almost there!

The morning will hopefully move along quickly for a few reasons:

1) Spending time in Adoration with the 8th graders. (10 minutes of silence in Church will probably seem like eternity for them, but they have some resources and prayer ideas, so here's hoping it's at least a little meaningful...)

2) Fire Drill - I personally hope this happens when we are at Church for Adoration. :)

3) CPR training for 2 hours in the middle of the day - yes, I am only teaching about 1/3 of my 7th grade class period.


I hope you have a lovely, fast-moving Friday and a slow-moving, fun- and family-filled weekend!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

No Time...?

In 7th grade this morning, we were talking about the Resurrection of the Dead and the implications of only having one life...yes, YOLO. After reading a few articles, I shared with them a poem (see below). It made them stop and think - there is time...always...but how are they spending it?

How are you spending your time?

 

No Time To Pray

by Kathryn Neff Perry

I knelt to pray but not for long,
I had too much to do.
I had to hurry and get to work
For bills would soon be due.

So I knelt and said a hurried prayer,
And jumped up off my knees.
My Christian duty was now done
My soul could rest at ease.

All day long I had no time
To spread a word of cheer.
No time to speak of Christ to friends,
They'd laugh at me I'd fear.

No time, no time, too much to do,
That was my constant cry,
No time to give to souls in need
But at last the time, the time to die.

I went before the Lord,
I came, I stood with downcast eyes.
For in his hands God held a book;
It was the book of life.

God looked into his book and said
"Your name I cannot find.
I once was going to write it down...
But never found the time."



Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Student-led

The best part about having students lead prayer is that I just never know what they will prepare or lead.

Today was no different.

In my second 6th grade class, the students leading prayer were debating among themselves if the video was appropriate for class. "It's a talking vegetable!" one said, while another assured him, "It's just Veggie Tales."

I'm so glad they resolved to show the video.

It's just so cute - I definitely teared up, and we all laughed a little here and there.

And so, I asked my students how they find these videos for prayer...

I google "prayer" videos.

I think of the topic I want to "teach" and then google that. For example, if I want to talk about helping other people.

Sometimes I pick videos I have seen before.

I really is amazing to see some of the stuff they come up with. (It's much better than me leading prayer every day, I can tell you that much.)

It's good to let go...even on small things like daily prayer.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October - What a Beautiful Month!

Today marks the beginning of October - what a great month!


October 1st is also a special feast day in the Church - it's the feast of St. Therese of Lisieux (the little flower). I had my 8th graders watch a video by Fr. James Martin, SJ at the end of class - I think it's important to expose them to as many great Saints as possible before they choose one to take as their Confirmation name.

Speaking of Confirmation...Call me a Catholic nerd, but I definitely chose to celebrate the occasion, donning my Confirmation earrings (a gift from my Confirmation sponsor) and (almost) matching flower cross (a gift from my parents).


(Yes, Mrs. Hosack, I still have them.)

For me, taking the name of St. Therese has been such a blessing. While I originally took her name in memory of my cousin who passed away very young, I have come to know and embrace this beautiful Saint for helping me grow closer to God. Her idea of doing little things with great love is something I strive to do every day. And, I can't write this post without acknowledging that her autobiography, A Story of a Soul, is one of the most incredible, honest, and life-changing books I've ever had the privilege to read.


Okay, enough gushing in one post, right? I'll leave you tonight with some of Therese's own words: