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

Thursday, April 28, 2016

What's with the paper clips?

9pm. Or earlier. That's when I usually go to bed.

So why on this earth was I up past 10:30 last night?

It's my own fault, caught up in my 8th grade religion class content for next week: the Holocaust, the Jewish faith, and the rise of Antisemitism & religious prejudice/intolerance.

I was watching a documentary that I had purchased through Amazon video called "Paper Clips" (which I intend to show to my 8th graders next week in class) - it follows the story of a middle school in a rural Tennessee town in which the teachers set out to get their students learning about people of different races, religions, and backgrounds. The Holocaust was their topic of choice, and in the Holocaust over 6 million Jewish men, women, and children were killed (and another 5 million were killed who were disabled, homosexual, or belonged to other stereotyped groups).

What does 6 million look like? That was a question posed in the film. So the students and teachers set about figuring it out - they did this by collecting paper clips, which were apparently worn in Norway by people protesting the treatment of those being rounded up by the Nazis. (I had no idea!)

Not only did they collect 6 million paper clips, they collected millions more through an outpouring of generosity and love sent with heartfelt messages of remembrance for those who had lost loved ones during this horrible time in history. (They also got the news and some journalists involved - word spread quickly!) Additionally, they were able to create a permanent memorial on the grounds of their school by putting the 6 million + 5 million paper clips in an authentic cattle car that was used to transport up to one hundred people at a time to concentration camps.

The film was very moving - to me, it demonstrated the power of how one small idea can turn into something that brings together a community as well as people from around the world. The documentary addressed breaking and stopping stereotypes. I was in tears due to the actions of this small town to help remember and honor the victims of the Holocaust and to help others who now come to visit learn more about it too. The students became the teachers, and it was humbling as a teacher to realize that the most incredible learning takes place when the students take the reins and help a project grow.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Service Day 2016

On Saturday I joined with over 400 parishioners to head out to different agencies and sites around the city for my church's annual "service day." A simple morning prayer service was followed by a mass exodus from the building, with groups heading this way and that. My group was assigned painting a room at House of Good Shepherd.

When we first arrived, we took a tour of the facilities and enjoyed lunch. Then, we got to work. With one roller and 7 brushes, we tackled baseboards and walls (after taping our edges, of course). We were pretty efficient, finishing in about two hours. Aside from my sister, I didn't know anyone else in our group of eight, but after the car ride over and time talking while painting, I feel like I made six new friends.

I wish our parish did "service day" more than once a year, though I know it's incredibly hard to coordinate everything with the sites, group leaders, and participants. But maybe this will be the start that a few of us need to try to get to places on a more regular basis. (At the post-Mass dinner, some parishioners were describing places/agencies I had never even heard of before!)

All in all, it was a great way to spend a Saturday (especially one with such nice weather). Additionally (but unrelated), I received word that my volleyball girls won their match on Saturday, so that was awesome too. (Go Dolphins!)

Now, considering how beautiful it is outside, it's time for a run by the lakefront, which will be followed by a friend's baby shower and some errands (plus a little school work/prep). Have a restful Sunday!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Option B worked out just fine...

Today is/was ABSOLUTELY gorgeous - there's no doubt about it. In fact, it was so beautiful in the afternoon that I was bound and determined to squeeze in a quick run before sushi, wine, and friends later this evening. It was going to be perfect.

But when I got home, I just didn't feel like a run. So I opted for something else - and it wasn't necessarily a healthy option: I went up the street to Vanille Patisserie, which is literally right at my corner. If it was any closer I could spit and hit it.

As I walked in, the section of chocolate-covered macarons caught my eye. But they looked even tastier when the woman behind the counter said, "The chocolate-covered ones are $1 today."

Excuse me???? "I'll take six. Do you all have sales like this often?"

"No, it's for tax day," she replied. (Well, that makes perfect sense - you get all stressed out about making sure yours are done so you go and enjoy a cheap macaron. Got it.)

They also have amazing tea there, so I ordered a cup of the roasted almond one. (It's pink, NBD.)

BUT, here's the kicker. As I was checking out (and waiting for my change), the other woman asked if I needed a bag. I thought about it, but then said no - I guess the upcoming Earth Day is on my mind, what can I say! - but then the other woman said, "No, take a bag, and take this chocolate bomb cake too."

Who's to argue with that one? I just have to make sure it lasts more than just tonight. (I'd laugh but it's not a joke...<insert rolled back eye smiley, my sister's favorite>)

Gotta love some good luck - or maybe it's God's way of giving me a pat on the back for making it through the week. (He's got a pretty good sense of humor, so that's not out of the question.)

Looking forward to that dinner soon - mmm...sushi...

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

All about that faith

I know that from time to time I complain about student behavior, but when it boils down to it, how cool is it that I get to spend time learning and teaching about the Catholic faith for MY JOB?!?!? (I think the Language Arts piece tends to stress me out a little, but that's okay.)

I am so grateful to learn and dig deeper every single day. From watching classic films (e.g. "The Song of Bernadette" or "The Robe") to having students get excited about sharing videos for prayer to having to do a little research to prepare about Church history - I love it.

And for some kids, I know it's making a difference now. For others, maybe they'll look back on some of the things we did and it might make a difference then. Who knows? We gotta keep "fighting the good fight," people.

Sorry for my brevity. Have a good night, y'all.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

But Really, It's the Holy Spirit...

God works in mysterious ways. And, after reflecting about the Holy Spirit for pretty much the entirety of today, I came to realize that oftentimes, when we don't have a name for a coincidence or meaningful circumstance/connection/etc., we should probably attribute such to the third person of the Trinity.

One thing that particularly resonated with me today is that we have the power to command the Holy Spirit, and, as the priest this morning said, He can't decide to just not show up. "Come Holy Spirit." There's so much power in the phrase if we remember to call upon Him.

And now that I've taken time to think about it, the Holy Spirit pops up a lot more than one might originally think. Even this past week with my 8th graders - we've been watching the Biblical epic, "The Robe" (starring Richard Burton), and, having now seen it three times in its entirety, I realize that while it tells the fictional tale of the Roman tribune who put Jesus to death, it more importantly (and perhaps more poignantly) tells the story of how the Holy Spirit worked through the early Christians to stand strong in their faith and spread the Good News to others. As a touching line of one of the final scenes says (or, at least it's along these lines), "What would have happened if they (early Christians) would have denied knowing Jesus?" The beautiful, courageous truth is that they didn't. And because of this, the Truth lived on. Jesus, indeed, rose from the dead, and His followers risked their very lives to carry on His work and teachings to this very day. If that's not the Holy Spirit at work, I don't know what is!

I am so grateful for this day of reflection and retreat. Now, it's a matter of remembering to call on the Holy Spirit to be at work in my life and the lives of those around me. Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, so that we would not be afraid. He definitely left His followers in good hands...

my "notes" page from adoration/praise & worship

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Springtime Fun

Best deal at TJ this week? Tulips for less than $4.

Nothing says spring like tulips...especially not the weather we had yesterday... I've never seen such "on again off again" snow/hail. It made for an interesting pub crawl (annual Beat MS pub crawl #9 - only #4 for me), but we were pretty much all smiles and laughter the whole day. It's good to spend a day just hanging out with friends, especially when it's the weekend before facing students coming back from spring break. ;)

I'd like to go on record that I made it to all 5 bars on the crawl, and I even went to a party (briefly) afterwards. And this morning turned out to be pretty good - an early run along the lakefront with my sister followed by brunch with friends from out of town (who were in town for a wedding this weekend).

Still have a little bit of work to do before a retreat reunion potluck and Mass tonight, which I am very much looking forward to. The timing is perfect, as today is Divine Mercy Sunday (and mercy was the theme of our retreat)!

Have a good one, y'all!

Friday, April 1, 2016

A Picture-Perfect Easter (Vacation)

At this point of the school year, two words will give everyone (teachers and students, alike) such joy as no other words: SPRING. BREAK.

Lucky for me, I had the chance to travel to Michigan with my sister to meet up with our parents (who flew up for the week), and we enjoyed our visit there this past week.

Easter itself was absolutely beautiful, weather-wise. (We lucked out with parking for Mass, too. Woot!) Marisa and I didn't run on Easter, but we went for a mid-afternoon walk, and the sun shone generously on us.

And what would a family vacation be without a scrumptious dinner at Benihana (in celebration of our belated birthday)? Yakisoba, anyone?

Work was a must, I'm sad to say. (I guess strong work ethic runs in our family.) But we did take time for plenty of visiting and fun. We even made it to Ann Arbor for a visit with our aunt and uncle (as well as to some of our favorite shops...and to Stucci's ice cream!)

Every holiday is a good time to recenter, refresh, and enjoy the company of family and friends. (It's also a good time to catch up on movies - "Zootopia" is a riot and so cute, FYI.) I even enjoyed some reading (for faith AND for fun).

Thank goodness for vacations. Now let's hope the renewal keeps us teachers calm as we brace the students' return on Monday. God, give us strength...