Thursday, February 23, 2012

blessed are they...

I arrived at Mass this morning and I noticed with an internal chuckle that the lady who occupied "my" seat for the past two Lents is back the exact same seat.  Just for the record, I gave up fighting it last year and just changed seats.  I rather like the new spot was there that I met Brother for the brief time last fall that he joined us.  It is always good to see all the new faces at Lent, but it is too bad that by the week after Easter, we are all back to the "regular" crowd.

As I prayed today, "Lord, show me how to be a giver of hope to these children,"  the answer spoke forth from the Responsorial Psalm.  Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.   If nothing else, it is a reminder to me to stay close to the source.  It is always kind of neat when you get an answer just like that.  Who says the Lord doesn't still speak?  But He could say a little more...a few more specifics would be helpful!  All in due time, I suppose.

I had a moment with one of my fifth graders today.  He is 13 and just totally disruptive in the school setting.  I do have some compassion for his circumstances, but I am totally at a loss as to how to deal with him and how to keep him from disrupting the classroom for others.  Today he was sitting in his desk in the way-back of the classroom, and I pulled up a chair next to him.  The teacher was giving the specifics of an assignment, so I went back to my room (2 doors down) to get my iPad, so I could could have the info to help my students.  By the time I got back, she had switched to a short lesson on using quotation marks and writing dialogue and was having the students copy what she was doing.

I thought for a second and put my iPad on his desk and told him to type in what she was writing.  The gasp from him was audible, since I rarely let the kids touch it.  (It is mine. It was expensive, and if it gets broken, I want it to be my fault.)  I showed him how to put in the quotation marks and commas.  It was just a moment, but sometimes you just have to savor those.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

onward to Easter

Today was a holiday...the last day of our Mardi Gras break, and I slept late.

I had an much overdue hair appointment, and from there I stopped at the post office to mail a package and then drove to church.  I was there about a half hour before Mass started.  At some point, the lady behind me tapped me and pointed out that there appeared to be no Eucharistic Ministers, and asked if I would join her.  We were both dressed in jeans, but I suppose we were better than nothing.  We got instructions beforehand about distributing ashes.  I'm afraid some of my ash crosses were off-center, and quite possibly some got too much, some not enough.  Tricky business - the ashes.

Did you know that the purpose of Lent is not repentance?  In my mind, I heard a Scooby Doo "ehrr??" when the good Father said that.  He went on to explain that the purpose of Lent is to prepare to fruitfully recommit to our baptismal vows when Easter Sunday rolls around.  And part of that necessarily involves repentance. 

A trip to WalMart for a few necessities and then back home.

I accomplished most of the things on my "to do" list.

One thing that I wanted to do today was plant some Easter Lilies.  I had some in my garden at the old house.  They had been given to my by a priest friend after their usefulness as church decor had passed, and they were beautiful last year.

Last year, sometime in May, the lilies in our church made their way to the outside of the sacristy door.  I would pick up a couple every day on the way to the parking lot.  At that point, the new house was a thought, so I didn't plant them.  Last summer, they made the trip to the new house in their original pots, and for much of the last six months have been sitting in pots next to the garbage can.  In all fairness to my hubby who placed them there, they just looked like some pots with dead plants in them.  But recently they have started to resurrect.

I planted some in front of my Holy Family statue.  And lest you think that I should have weeded first, this is what it looked like yesterday.

I've still got some work to do, but it's way better than it was....  And I planted some along the front walk...

I probably should take a broom and sweep up my mess, yes?

We had Bible Study tonight, and sometimes our good Pastor gets started on a topic, and it's like a whole 'nother homily.  He is good, and hits the nail squarely on the head.  We are studying Acts, and with it, the persecution of the early church.  You would probably have to be under a rock someplace to think that the church today is not being persecuted.  He said, however, that the biggest concern is not what the government wants to do to us, but the persecution from within - from those who are not faithful to church teaching.  He compared them to a cancer - eating away at the Body (of Christ).  He said there are three remedies:  1) prayer (and prayer is not a last resort)  2) the Church and all of the spiritual treasures contained therein and 3) Fidelity to the truth.  The church is not just some rule-making body, he says, but holds the deposit of truth that Jesus left us. 

It was good to hear his take on the current state of things.

And so begins Lent....looking forward to Easter.  Planting lilies in place of the our gardens and our lives.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

here we are

At the very edge of the beginning of Lent! 

But first of all, I have to share a little bit of Mardi Gras with you...

It's kind of a recent invention...the Mardi Gras tree.  This one was at school in the cafeteria.  I'm kind of neutral on the whole thing.  I guess it's a way to get the maximum use from a Christmas tree.

And then there's the King Cake - a much older tradition.  There is a place in town - a donut shop - that sells THE best King Cakes ever.  But price is an object this year...some serious financial deficits working their way through our household, but Mardi Gras is not Mardi Gras without a King Cake. 

So, we made our own.  We took some of those highly nutritious canned cinnamon rolls out of the refrigerator.  Stretched them out, braided them (my boys learned how to braid), and arranged them in a circle.  Then dear hubby decided that he wanted filling in the king cake.  So....I made some microwave lemon curd (because one thing we have in abundance is fresh lemons!) and he set about adding filling.  The kids took the icing out of the packets and added food coloring so that we had green, gold, and purple - Mardi Gras colors.  All in all, it wasn't the best tasting cake ever, but we all had a good time making it. My teens enjoyed it...saying it might become a family tradition!  You moms who have teen know that is like the ultimate complement.

Other Lent prep.....let's see, I  think I ate every piece of chocolate in my desk at school before I left on Friday.  I almost always give up chocolate for Lent.  I wasn't sure I was going to this year, because Lent seems like it should be  more than that...but I still may.  I can offer it for my 5th graders.

I went to confession on Saturday...figured I'd beat the Lent crowd.  ;-)  My fifth graders have been giving me the blues, and that is mostly what I went with.  They are so, so needy, and I am so, so spent.  My penance tied in nicely with the homily, and I assume if there were any other sinners, they got the same thing, but, as often happens, it was a perfect fit....spend some time in prayer asking God to show you how He wants you to be compassionate shepherd, bread of life, and giver of hope.  That IS what we are called to be to others, but so often we fall short. 

I spent a wonderful peaceful hour or so at the adoration chapel last night having this conversation.  There were some new insights and ideas.  One is that I don't provide any of this...God does.  Through me.  And for that to have any chance of success, I've got to stay close to the source. 

The giver of hope, I think, is where I struggle the most.  I look at them, and realistically, I don't see a lot of hope.  I didn't come up with a whole lot of answers there.  Hopefully, God will see fit to reveal a few as I stumble along.  This is a conversation that will be continued.

And so the dreaded fifth grade is one of my main lenten focuses this year  - the almsgiving, the fasting, and the prayer.

Beyond that, I just want to be open to the possibilities the Good Lord puts in front of me.  I want to pray better.  I want to love better.  I want to be more like Him by the time Lent is over. 

We should pray for one another.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

ten things about me that you might not up

Linking this up with my friend Allison (albeit a bit late...) on Rambling Follower.  Join me, if you wish.

By the time I get to the end, it might be "10 things you don't really care if you ever knew"...but anyways....

1.   I am of German, Hungarian, and Irish ancestry (in that order, I think), but I am married to a Cajun.

2.  I have been teaching for 25 years, and all but a year and a half of that has been with Middle School Special Education.  My first semester was with K-3 special ed, and I spent one very long year teaching a regular class of 29 fourth graders.

3.   I was born in Wichita Falls, TX, but have lived all but the first year of my life in Louisiana.  Most of my cousins, aunts/uncles, etc, still live in Texas, and as kids we visited often.  My siblings and I have all thanked my parents for moving.  Apologies to any readers who live in north Texas Tornado Alley.

4.  I was in a tornado once.  I was in second grade, and my brother was in Kindergarten.  I was in the church at school, and I remember a section of roof flying off.  And there was glass everywhere, and the new carpet was ruined.  And the priest was walking around inside the church with his umbrella open afterwards.  I was scared of bad weather for a long time after.

5.  I am far more likely to write about something than to talk about something.

6.  I am an introvert.  My husband is an extrovert.  Endless talking about useless stuff makes me crazy.

7.  There are a lot of things I do not share with my husband.  I wish he listened better.  Conversation shouldn't be a competition.  I have a best friend that I can share anything with.  She listens and she "gets" what I am saying.  I wish she didn't live 1200 miles away.

8.  Death does not scare me.  Suffering does.  But I try not to live life in fear.  Fear is a lack of trust in God.  Suffering is a tool that God uses to make us more like Him and bring us closer to Him.  If we allow it.

9. I have 2 brothers and a sister.  I am the oldest.  There are 17 months between me and my first brother.  Six years between him and my second brother.  And six more years between him and my sister.  My husband has an older brother and a younger sister...all within a 3 year age span.

10.  I am closely watching the weather.  While I was writing this post, I gathered my offspring (woke one up) and headed into the laundry room.  I could hear the wind howling, and then I saw hail.  Along with tornado warnings, etc.

Bonus.  I could probably keep going, but I will spare you!

If you are so inspired, you can create a similar post and put the link in your comments.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

idle chit chat

Can we just chat?  Kind of random thoughts? And look at some pictures from the weekend?  The random reminds me of the time I went to confession and started off by saying I had some random thoughts to share.  And the Good Father said that was OK, because he could just give me random absolution.  I am so thankful for him.  (It is time to visit that little spot in the back of church again sometime soon.)

It has been a "full-moon" week.  It has been cloudy for days on end, and even without seeing the moon in a good while, I "knew" on Monday - after walking into the classroom where my fifth graders are included - that it must be a full moon.  And it was a long-lasting one.  Oh my! 

By Thursday, I was feeling woefully inadequate to attempt to teach the "chronically unraised" and "mentally iffy".  I am not without compassion, but it just wears on you to have students who are just so inappropriate and so clueless.  I know that there are things in their lives that are probably beyond imagining, but I simply have no idea of how to fix it.  Or even how to deal with it. Or how to help them deal with it. There is never a day when all of them are "OK".  When everyone has a pencil that is sharpened, paper to write on, and is engaged in the lesson.  There is always someone with a need other than education.

The pictures?  Oh...they have nothing to do with a full moon.  The three above were taken out of the car window Saturday morning on our way to New Orleans.  The second one is over the Atchafalaya Basin. I have always loved the beauty of that particular spot.  The third one, nearing Baton Rouge - the morning light and the late winter tree colors. 

We were headed the State Wrestling Tournament.  That's my older son, getting ready for his second match.  It's his first year as a wrestler, and he won three matches during the season.  Good for a first year, I suppose, and it has introduced him to some different people and given him something to belong to at school. 

The convention center where the State Tournament was held was on the banks of Lake Pontchartrain.  Younger son and I walked up the levee in the afternoon to stretch our legs after sitting in the stands for several hours.  It was a beautiful day, but cold with a tremendous wind blowing in from the north.  You can see the whitecaps on the lake.  And the flag was waving proudly!

Back to my needy students....our new superintendent has proposed that each school have a school nurse and a therapist to address the needs of the students.  Can I get an Amen?  This picture is my younger son, bundled up against the cold and avoiding the camera sitting on the levee yesterday, but I have a fifth grade student who routinely looks like this in the classroom.  He gets upset, pulls the hood on his head and then refuses to talk or work or comply.  I have yet to figure out how to fix it.  My prayer the other morning was along the lines of, "Lord, I don't know how to fix the broken children." 

Our wrestling tournament is usually held on a Friday and Saturday.  Sunday is still, usually a day for God.  But there were some technical difficulties and the location had to be moved late in the game.  The new location was available only on Saturday and Sunday, but I was heartened to see this paper posted on the door of the arena. 
Lots of Catholics in South Louisiana.  Our wrestler was out of the competition by Saturday evening, though, so we spent the night in the hotel, woke up early, and headed back to catch the last Mass at our parish.  There is no place like home!

I think I'm about out of stuff to say.  Here is a picture from this morning on the way out of New Orleans.  I think this section is the Bonet Carre (pronounced Bonnie Carrie) Spillway.  Looking forward to the upcoming week.  We have the Seven Sorrows Rosary on Monday and Bible Study on Wednesday.  I think Thursday is Family Math and Science night at our school.  Tuesday is Valentine's and I have that little annual check-up that all women look so forward to. 

This one's kind of ugly, but don't hate too much.  I thought the camp in the wetlands with the backdrop of the chemical plants was somewhat interesting.  Another out-the-car-window picture.  Some of those emissions may be was cold today. 

Mardi Gras is in full swing here.  Next week is the last full week before Lent, so I guess I should give some consideration to Lenten plans this coming week.  Does anyone have anything to share?

How's that for random?  Too boring?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

quick takes

1.  Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Mass on Wednesday at my parish will be at 6:30 a.m.  I have mixed feelings about this.  Generally on Wednesdays, there is no Mass that fits my schedule, so I go to workout at 6:30 and then go to spend the better part of an hour in the oh-so-quiet empty church near my school.  I really like that quiet time.  And currently the Wednesday Mass is at 8:00.  Too late for me, but confession is offered at 7:45, and that is a wonderful time which I have made use of a time or two.  But, I will love attending Mass at my own parish with my own priest 4 days out of 5 during the week. 

2.  Our new school superintendent came to our school to meet with us after school.  I have hope that good things are to come.  He has a plan.  And it seems like common sense.  Something that has been absent far too long in our schools.

3.  I went to a Promethean mini-conference on Saturday.  It was wonderfully done.  To make it even better, I won a door prize!  A set of ActiVotes.  I saw that they retail for about $1300.   I already had a set of similar (but better devices) so I will share this with my co-workers.  I told someone I would trade them for duty!

4.  When I got home from school today, after that meeting, it was nearly 6 p.m.  My younger child tells me that he needs a physical by (guess when?) that he can try out for track.  Really?  We have a friend from Scouts who is an MD, so I texted him.  He called me and said he had a few things he had to pick up at WalMart.  Could we meet him there?  God bless him!  Quickest physical in history, I think.  The track running teen was just glad he was not "touched".

5.  The homily last Sunday was about suffering.  He noted that not even Jesus was exempt from it, and that we can let it make us better or bitter.

6.  Matt Maher performed in my city last weekend.  My sister-in-law went with me, even though she wasn't too familiar with him.  The average age of the crowd was about 22, but we had a good time.  This is my new favorite song.... (Every Little Prison)

It is based on the Litany of Humility Prayer.  It is cool to have a contemporary Christian Musician who is also Catholic. 

7.  My older teen is wrestling in the state meet this weekend.  This is his first year, and he has only won three of his matches, but he has shown a lot of improvement.   We are excited about watching him this weekend. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012


No, I'm not going anywhere.  Things are slow here, but as soon as I would cease to blog, there would be a zillion things to blog about. 

Had a little meeting after school on Monday to learn that one of my co-workers who has been a thorn in my side at times was leaving the following the day.  I wish them well, but I shed no tears.  The relationship was at different times amicable, abusive, antagonistic, and now - alright, but never A+.  ;-)

There was a time when it was just toxic to be at school.  And there was a time when I told God, "I don't understand.  I don't know why I need to be faced with this.  But if it's what you want...if I'm supposed to learn something from it...then so be it.  Whatever you want."  And then oddly enough, peace ensued. 

Friday was a fresh start for our school.  Two new people to take the place of one.  I got there early that morning and snapped some pictures.  Our campus really is beautiful, though sometimes you don't notice with all the chaos that regularly goes on.

The sky was an odd shade of grayish blue.  The sun not really out yet, and rain on the way.  The tree, I have been admiring for the last week or so...first the flowers, and then leaves.  Spring is coming...hopefully for our school, too!