Sunday, February 26, 2017

I tried - reading Calm My Anxious Heart [Book Review]

First, I need to clarify a few things before I begin this book review or book report.   I am not a strong reader; a different person could read this and get something out of it that I might have missed.  So please take that into consideration when choosing to read any book I report about.

February - I read "Calm My Anxious Heart" by Linda Dillow. 

I thought it would be fitting for February, the month is all about hearts, it tends to be a quick month that causes anxiety or worry.  

This book was a sweet surprise gift from a co-worker.  My goal is to pass in on to someone else and continue to share it (so if that person is you, please let me know).

Calm My Anxious Heart was published in 2007.  So I felt like there were stories that were not relevant any more in today's age.  For example, she was constantly talking about e-mails, but never mentioned Facebook, Snapchap, Twitter, Instagram, etc and  the effects that social media can have on individuals if they allow it.  

The second biggest 'down side' to reading this was I didn't find it very practical or applicable to me.  I don't tend to be a person who is anxious.  I AM A PERSON WHO IS IMPATIENT! But when I am faced with a situation I tend to face it with facts and begin to string together a to-do list of how to handle the situation.   HOWEVER, I did like reading it for I know several women (and men) who are anxious or tend to worry and I can now be a better friend for them and not so cold/data driven.    {Please read the previous blog post, it shares some of my thoughts on spiritual maturity to my emotional level}

Chapter 1 - Philippians 4:11-13 - She talks about God's provision.  That we need to make it a holy habit where we praise God and not complain.  That we should focus on eternity and let tomorrow belong to God.   Like tea, we need to be infused in God's word, contentment takes time.   God does provide and does not need our help; therefore we can not and should not be in control.   I am teaching our boys "have a good attitude and be content."  we define content by saying  "being okay with what you were given." Just like my children, as a child of God, I need to be content with what I have been given.

Chapter 2 - Philippians 4:6-8 - This chapter she discusses the ideas of being content with our circumstances. That we are commanded to do not with anxiety but do everything in and with prayer.  How often is prayer your last resort?  Just like teaching my boys, I will ask, "are you part of the problem or part of the solution?"  I feel like if we just worry about something we are part of the problem, but if we pray about it we can help be apart of the solution.   By choosing prayer over worry we will discover peace.  Practice makes permanent is something I tell my students, the same concept applies with our prayer life.

Chapter 3 - Psalm 134:14 - This is when she talks about being content with ourselves.  Every time we are not pleased with ourselves is like we are arguing with God.  It's all about perspective.  Try to focus on what you do have instead of what what you don't have.  For example, while doing Whole30 we could focus on what we can't eat, but that's depressing, we can however focus on all the yummy foods we can have.  We have to be rulers of our attitude, time, schedule, and relationship with  God.  

Chapter 4 - Matthew 20:28 - To be content within our role.  First, even today at church, we were reminded where our identity can be found.  We have to be content in our roles. 

Chapter 5 - Colossians 3:12-14 - The chapter focused on being content in our relationships.  That in order to be content we also have to forgive.  For more scripture please read 1 Peter 2:21 and Hebrews 12:15.   Again this is where I can see social media becoming an issue for others and their discontentment.  We don't tend to be public with our negative events in our lives, causing a false reality to those who see us.  Again, it's about perspective.  I know what real life is like and try to be transparent on facebook as well.  It does no one any good being false to one another.

Chapter 6 - Hebrews 13:5, Psalm 119:4, Proverbs 30:15 - When will WE be enough and stop using money as a measuring tool?  This surprised me, 16 out of 39 of the parables told by Jesus directly related and taught about money/wealth.    Just remember everything belongs to God (James 1:16 - 17) Heart attitude is the issues, for our true treasure is in Heaven (Psalm 62:10), God comes first, possessions come second (I would even say, after people) (Matthew 6:24), Possessions are to be used not loved and adored (Luke 12:15).    You really have to search your heart, not your wallets, when it comes to being content with money.
Chapter 7 - Ephesians 5:15-17 - Having a faulty focus can cause a huge problem in your heart.  Look at the big picture. Know the difference between platform and purpose.   Romans 8:28-29.

Chapter 8 - Worrying is like a rocking chair - it keeps you busy, but you don't get anywhere.   She said, "Quiet tension is not trust, it is simply compressed anxiety."  I like that, I have to constantly refocus on God.  Worry is not the same thing as being concerned.

Chapter 9 - Hebrews 11:1 - Faith is the bridge that we have to take so we can be content even when life doesn't make sense.  Intellectual belief verses wholehearted faith was brought to my attention in this chapter.  Faith is very powerful, for it is rooted in God's character.  That God is always a loving father, that he allows everything for good, and he will carry us through all things.   God's character is also sovereign, wise, and love.

Chapter 10 - Jeremiah 17:7-8 - We have to make the lord our trust and remove our self from the if-diseases called "what-if" and "if-only"

Chapter 11 - Psalm 77:11-14  - We have to trust God to handle the "if only" in our lives.  Not to live with regrets, that we have to be content in all circumstances.  God is the ultimate problem solver.  That when we trust God with what we are given, peace will come through acceptance.   I might not have an anxious heart, but is it full of peace?

Chapter 12 - Habakkuk 3:17-19 - we will be faced with crooked times, and those times require faith.

One of my favorite parts was in Chapter 11 where she told an old Portuguese story of a poor old man in a village who astounded the other villagers when his situation wasn't that to be envied.  Go here if you'd like to read it.

The story of this old man just makes me think: Is what I am facing a curse or blessing?  If it is a curse, I will praise and pray with God.  If it is a blessing I will praise and pray with God.

So - who has an anxious heart that I can share this book with?

Next  month - March I am reading "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" By Mark Haddon.

Until then - live loved. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I tried - being spiritually emotional

I posted a question on facebook the other day about if your emotional level equates that of your spiritual level?

I was pleased with the responses I got; well they at least reassured me that I wasn't crazy.

See, I am not emotional.  I don't cry at the sad-puppy dog eyes (those commercials are too much cheese for me - seriously, there are people dying and starving and we are worried about a dog.  People first  - but that's another soap box another time).  Right there, that statement, some of you read and thought "she has no heart" how can she?  She can, because of rationalization and facts.

I operate on numbers, data and facts.  Not feelers.

Don't get empathy and sympathy mixed up. "To sum up the differences between the most commonly used meanings of these two terms: sympathy is feeling compassion, sorrow or pity for the hardships that another person encounters, while empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of another." - when you google search "empathy vs sympathy."

I have compassion, specially for people.  But I am of the nature that instead of joining in the person's emotion, I am searching for ways to help find a solution.  I have sympathy, and can understand your heartache, your pain, or your overwhelming joy  - but I will not enable or join you on the journey with your emotions.

I didn't cry when I got married - and thought I was weird.
I didn't cry when either of my boys were born.  Thought I was weird.

I cry out of frustration. When you get so mad, you just bubble over and scream (not at people, just to let the tension out).
I cry when my facts and numbers "don't add up" and I can't "logic" or "reason" my way through a situation.

I cried when  people died - why?  Why now?  Why them?  Why me?  (It didn't add up to me)
I cried when I couldn't handle a puppy for three days.  So frustrated.  Mad.  I'm smarter than this.  I should have been able to make dinner, love on two boys, and help a puppy not poop and pee in our house 5 times.
I cried when I was told by a peer group that they didn't think I was a Christian.  I was confused, frustrated, betrayed and hurt.

You can click here to take the color code if you'd like. 

I have had several people share that they value my red.  Or that they come to me to help them sort through their emotions to find a solution. I do my best to not let my 'redness' not over take the other parts of me.  For I find blue, yellow and white within me too and they have equal importance.  A time and place.

I strive for balance.

But for a brief second I was worried.
I was worried that I was out of balance to my peer group again.

Do people (other Christians more specifically) look at my lack of emotions as lack of spirituality or Christianity.    To be a "good spiritual Christian" should I cry more?

When I posted this on facebook people, in summary, said that we are made the way we are.  We are made to be different, and that is good.

*sigh*  I can breathe again.  I am okay.

I might connect to my religion and faith differently than that of a person who is "yellow" or "blue" - but there is no one that can judge me, for I have a righteous judge - in the end.
I might show my emotions differently than other people; but that's okay.  Just like a rainbow, we are all needed to make the world more beautiful.

I am glad that God made me a person who is good at being a leader, using facts - this allows for me to excel in my job and better teach my students. If it wasn't for my redness, I personally believe, in my opinion my house wouldn't be in the shape that it is - for efficiency is something I strive for.

But, like anyone - my new goal is not to worry about what others think of me but just make sure that my red isn't too sharp.  I don't want to hurt people with my lack of feelers.  I want to find that balance to be more disciplined to be a better kingdom builder.

My lack of emotion does not equate to my spiritual maturity.  

What are your thoughts? Do you feel like the color code is accurate?  Do you think your spiritual maturity can be seen by other's, does it matter?

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

{an open letter to Betsy, Senators, unions, and parents} I tried - Teaching

Dear Betsy,

Hi there, my name is Megan.  You don't know me, nor will you ever, more than likely. The reason you will never know me is because I am a public school teacher, I work in a public school in case you were wondering.  Our paths won't cross because I don't have the salary you have.  Our paths don't cross because I went to a university, using scholarships, pell grants/FASFA, and loans to be a teacher.  See, my career is ABOUT teacher "things"

Here's a list of the things us teachers know:

RTI for classes
RTI for personal students
IEP (including ADD vs ADHD vs BD)
PBS (not the television station)
EPI pen
watch this video, every year, again and again.  Safety.
Common Core or standards or objective or curriculum
DATA and more DATA and more DATA and more DaTa

The above, well that's the fun part, all of those are the "hoops" we teachers jump through.  That's not what I teach.

I teach 7th grade math.  However, in my "free" time I have the "privilege" and "honor" to do some hoop jumping.  Fill out one form or the other. Look at data for one student or another. Email this upset parent, or another.  Check attendance - 7 times.  Enter grades 140 times a day. Breathe.

I teach math.  I try to teach math, while trying to build up students who are hungry, cold, homeless, abused in every way possible.   I try to teach numbers that are relevant like bills and banking.  I try to teach compassion and love - we are ALL people.

I tried teaching.  But it seems that year after year, I am trusted less in teaching and entrusted more with paper work to prove that I am teaching.  Trust me - I am a professional, I went to school for this.  I ENJOY teaching MATH.  I enjoy being around my 7th grade students and watching them learn. Please, as the Secretary of Education - PLEASE LET ME TEACH.  

But, Betsy, now I am worried.

I do the above paper work to prove to someone that I am a highly qualified teacher.  I have watched your hearings and speeches, and I am not for sure if you are highly qualified to be over so many teachers, principals, organizations, schools and funding.

Here's why I am worried.  My husband is a college student, we raise two boys off of a small teacher's salary and his part time job.  We are very blessed, please don't think that I am money hungry (I wouldn't be a teacher if I wanted more money), but there are times that I question how we even make it.

So, when I hear about you giving money, thousands and thousands of dollars to senators to secure their vote. My heart breaks.  

From my calculations, the money you gave could have paid at least 21 teacher salaries.  Now, they would be probably first year teachers, not the highest salary of the bunch.   But still,  If I continue with my calculations and each teacher has 140 students that is 2,940 students who could have been helped, taught, loved on, encouraged.   But instead, politicians' pockets are getting deeper.

It's an outrage.

Our education system is an outrage.  It's a problem.  

Betsy - it was reported that teacher unions also contributed money to politicians.   I do know that the unions are there to help protect teachers, and that might include giving money to lobby for people in office to vote in a manner that will protect educators and the system.  But politicians' pockets are getting deeper. 

Betsy - I don't know if you have ever seen "The Lottery" a 2010 documentary (on netflix) that follows around 4 New York kiddos on the journey to winning a lottery into a charter school, it's a good little viewing and I would encourage you to watch it.  Charter schools are supposed to have funding of their own, so please, when you suggest taking federal money from public schools to give to a group that already has their own funding - I am confused.   But teachers' pockets are getting shallower.  (Parents - if you are curious about the differences of schools, please go here:  Yes, it's a parenting site, but it does offer quick information on what type of schools there are.)

Betsy - our public education is broken.  Please be the piece that  helps put it back together.  I am begging.  I tried to teach.  I am worried.  I am worried financially for my family.  I worry financially for our country.   "American's Invisible Children" is another documentary also available on netflix about the homeless issue in America.   I know we have veterans that are homeless, but can you imagine not having a home, being hungry, and trying to learn.  It's hard - incredibly hard. Our schools are sometimes the warmest place a student has to shelter from the elements.  Our schools are sometimes the only place a child will get a meal.  Betsy, what are your plan for these children.  Are YOUR pockets getting deeper?

Betsy - So, with whatever you end up doing.  Please educator yourself about schools being accountable, where funding is used, what standards are, what's a healthy school and what's not.  Why some types of schools work and others don't (depending on the area) and how to help children in poverty.  

Betsy - I, as a teacher need you. Students, as our future need you.  Schools, regardless of level or type, need you.  Please, oh we beg for this to go well.

Betsy -  I pray that something good will come out of all of this.  I pray that your deep pockets open up and maybe you can buy $2.00 lunches for the students who go hungry daily.  I pray that your heart will see the children not as homeless numbers but as potential creative minds who have SURVIVED being homeless.  I pray that you look at abuse victims' test scores and understand and have compassion that they might not be scoring that of a non-victim; but yet the school they attend is held accountable.   I pray that our broken system, that I so desperately love, will be fixed.

Betsy - I have to be highly qualified.  Are you?

A teacher who's trying

PS - Senators - how dare you take money.  Seriously.  I'm ashamed and sadden.  

PS - Parents - a plea for help.  Support your teachers.  Encourage them.  We have long days and more often than not, we see your child for more 'awake' hours than you. We really are doing our best. Just like you are doing your best to parent; let's be a team.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

I tried - the non-American

So, guess what?  
Today is Super Bowl.  

Not to be confused with Soup for Dinner in a Bowl.  No.

I haven't seen a second of the super bowl.   Like none.

I would like to state that I like football.   But not crazy about the teams playing.

It "helps" that yesterday our oldest decided to become a huge monster in a little body and threw the remote on the floor, which shattered, after I asked him to turn the TV off for dinner.  Which, he turned the TV off, got up and walked with the remote and threw it on the floor.

Oh Brother.

The night proceeded to get worse; for him.  For me.  For our neighborhood, I'm sure.  Tears, prayers, angry words - from both of us.

Any way, although it was not my best parenting moment.  We no longer are able to turn channels on our TV or anything.  Which, its stuck on PBS 24 hour kid programming - so that's nice.

We were invited to some parties but thought it would be best if we didn't attend with our little guys.

What did we do?

My husband grilled steaks.
The boys played in the backyard.
I ran  to the store to grab a few veggies and fruit (we are running out of them more quickly with this two adults eating healthy bit).
The boys played.
Gideon sorted papers/cleaned his office.
We played catch with a football in the living room.
During prayer  we prayed for those who will be hurting tonight from bad choices (sex trafficking).

No super bowl.

Sorry America. Not today.

So, here's my post about the super bowl.

Did you know that it's the biggest event for sex-trafficking.  When I first heard this, I couldn't believe it.  Our country?  Our sport? Our friends and family?  What!??!  But yes, it's apparently a HUGE problem for the city hosting the super bowl.  They hire more people, investigators, trained staff to help locate and serve justice to those being treated as modern day slaves.

I have shared facebook post/articles about the issue, but then when I decided to link articles to my blog and do my own research I realized two things.
1) the above issue might be false
2) even  if it is false, isn't it better to get the exposure about modern slaves.

Even IF the foozeball game day isn't as big of a contributor to sex trafficking as initially thought; the problem does STILL exists.

I would encourage you to check out these sites:
End it movement  - in a few days, on February 23, they have their annual "end it" day, to help with awareness.
Black Box International - This organization focuses on boys and helping them to have a full recovery from sex-tracking in the Dominican Republic.
Rapha House - Rapha Houses, although serves any body in need of restoration, does focus on girls in other countries.
End Slavery Now - This website's name says it all - end slavery now - they are talking about the different types of slavery but does include sex-trafficking.
Polaris Project - CLICK ON ME to see a map.  This isn't happening in other countries, but happing in our towns and cities.  This site also has a link to recognizing the signs. 

Sex trafficking is real.
It's a real problem.
So, my question to you - are you part of the problem or part of the solution?  

I have been updating weekly about all of my challenges for a better me, a better 2017.  So here we go:

Book - I've only read one chapter, there are about 17 more....
Scripture - Be doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving yourself.  - James 1:22
Cards - I have written 5 cards so far and today is the 5th.
Health - haven't had bread/carbs or sugar or much dairy at all.  Ran a 5k on Saturday and did 'eh.  Wasn't my best time by far.  But also not my worse.  Training distance for a team marathon relay in May.  Going to go to the gym more this week.

Let me know what to write about - I find my life boring.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

February 2017 {January book review}

January has come and gone.  What a month   it was for our family.   We had lots of moments of reflection and opportunity.

As far as my goals went for January:

Book: Understanding the Bible in 30 Days by Max Anders; it was a good book.  However I treated it more like cliff notes and not an actual book.  Each day/chapter (30 of them) there was an introduction to the concept/topic.  A lot of times they were stories or analogies.  Slowly I stopped reading them and  went to the "meat" of the chapter looking at the Bible part.   It did help me understanding the types of books in the Bible.  It helped me understand the history of the Bible as well as give me a better idea of popular topics and scripture to support those concepts.   I think if you were new to wanting to read the Bible it would be a great resource, but for me, it was not my favorite.

Health: 30 day challenge and whole 30.   Neither of these goals were met.   I didn't even run that much; which is good for my soul too.   I had some good days in both departments and I had some bad days.

Scripture Memorization:  I am writing them on a note card to hang in my bathroom, a note card to leave in my van, and then reading several times out of my Bible as well as putting it in our kitchen on the chalkboard.   I am doing pretty good.  Sometimes can't remember all the previous ones.  I would like to get better at helping our oldest to them with me.  I think he is capable.

Challenges: to stick to it, inspire, and encourage.  Well, I did some of those, but not to the fullest potential.   Will get better.

Image result for january is the trial month for february

February 2017
Freshness is in the air.  The days are getting longer (praise him) and the month is short and filled with dates full of love and opportunities to encourage other people!

During Christmas last year a sweet co-worker posted on facebook that she wanted to pass on a book; "Calm My Anxious Heart" by Linda Dillow.  I told her I was interested in it.  The next day it was in my mail box at school with a sweet note.  Although I don't tend to one filled with anxiety I think it will help address issues so I can better serve those who do have anxiety issues.  Look forward to reading it.

Health: Jeremiah and I are going to do whole 30 to the best of our abilities.  We both have conferences on weekends (where food is provided); so we will do our best under those situations.    My goal is to also make this a lifestyle change and not just a monthly fad.   It takes 60+ days to form a habit, so I would like to carry this into March as well.   I have several running races coming up and would like to increase my speed.    I am also on a relay team and need to train for a 10 or 12k!    Tonight I plan on taking the kids to the gym as well.  Starting out the month right.  If I am not able to run or go to the gym I would like to stick with some sort of challenge (see below) or quick work out at home.

Scripture Memorization:  Psalm 62: 1-2, James 1:22, Ephesians 4:29, and James 1:19.  As I am picking these some are given to me, some are ones that I have picked for a while, and some are found as popular ones to memorize.    Slowly over time I am challenging myself to memorizing more than a few verses.

Challenges:  I would  like to write a card or letter every day this month.  It's the month of love and I would like to share that with peple.   I was gifted with words and would like to share encouragement with those around me.  I also want to be more focused in my prayer.

Another month to a better me!

How are your goals going?  Any topics you want me to write about?  Any books you think I should read?