Teaching is Tough. And Yet…

I’ve only been a teacher for a few months but already this job has tested me and pushed me to my limits. I’ve seen worse days, but not much worse. But also I’ve had few days better than these.

Let’s be honest, kids are hard work. Especially when you’re partially responsible for their moral upbringing and trying to help them understand the wonder of God’s love when all they want to do is play agario or snapchat each other. (Oh, the joy of middle schoolers!)

copy-of-messy-desk-1

Lately, I’ve had some challenges. Some have been small; others, larger. Sometimes I have to pick my battles and sometimes it feels like I’m trying to quell a mountain of misbehavior. Sometimes though…sometimes everything goes right. My lesson is well executed and engaging, students are on-task or at least responsive to my behavior plan, and I would be proud to have an administrator stop by and witness the learning taking place. It’s in those moments that I remember why I became a teacher.

But it’s not just in those moments. And I need to remember that.

Other times, I’m reminded why I became a teacher when I have a one-on-one conversation with a student that I hope helps them see why certain behaviors are needed. Or I’m reminded when I’m grading a particularly excellent assignment where I can see the student really got it. When I see a struggling student succeed, when a bright but lazy student turns in an assignment that shows not just promise but effort, when I can laugh with my students…these are moments in which I love my job.

And I do. Despite all it throws at me, I love teaching. It’s my calling. If nothing else, I know it’s where I’m supposed to be right now. And until He says “move” I’m staying.

 

This is the first post in a series reflecting on my struggles and joys as a first year teacher. Click on the category “From the Messy Desk” to see more soon.

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7 Quick Takes (Vol. 36) on Being Crazy and Trusting God

Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary!

— 1 —

Another busy week! I had four tests this week. I’d say I’m not sure how I made it through, but I do. Only by God’s grace. I was terrible over the weekend and got very little homework done until Sunday when I crammed for 8am history test the next day. It went well actually. Then I had a philosophy test and a test in my PE methods class on Wednesday. Tuesdays are bulletin days followed by my night class. I had planned to get up early and go to morning prayer with my dorm at 7:20. But I slept in and got up at 8. I then went to do the bulletin. I also had my night class. So, I didn’t get to studying until after 8:30pm. Somehow though, both tests the next day went fairly well. The rest of Wednesday was a little crazy. I had adoration at 5:30, after which I was going to sit in on a lector and usher training at 6:50. I also had a ministry meeting at 9pm. Well, I wound up being in adoration for an hour rather than half an hour (the next person forgot to come to their slot) but, as it happened, I really needed that extra time with Jesus. So I did some math homework Wednesday night (it was due before my test Thursday) but not all of it. I didn’t have class until 10:50 on Thursday so I decided to get up early and do it before class. Well, something was screwy with my alarms and I wound up getting up at 10am. Somehow though, I got the homework done between the time before class and my lunch break.

— 2 — 

This is all to say: God is good. That’s how I got through it all. It certainly wasn’t me. It was Him. God has been leading and encouraging me to trust Him more lately. One of the ways he’s done this is by showing that yeah, He’s got this. This again, relates back to my theme for the year of JOY. (Which I still haven’t written my post about!)

— 3 —

Oh, why not! Let’s do it! So, yeah, In addition to writing about JOY I haven’t written about a lot of things as I talked about in last week’s quick takes. I had hoped to write some posts before now. But at that point I hadn’t looked at my planner.

Well, this week is going to be different! Jen at Conversion Diary is hosting a 7 posts in 7 days challenge/link-up. When I heard about the link-up my initial reaction was : I should do this! It will get me to blog more. But before I committed to anything I checked my planner (although I should probably have just trusted God on this one). Looks like everything will work out fine (I hope!). So yeah, challenge accepted. I have a philosophy paper to write and another test to take but…JOY and trusting God and all that. Let’s be crazy and give it a go!

— 4 —

Speaking of being crazy I re-applied to Ministry today! Ok, I don’t really think it was a crazy idea. I think it was a great decision. I love being a part of campus ministry. I mean, yes, I doubted at the beginning of the semester if I was supposed to. But I can’t see myself not doing ministry. Is it a lot of work? yes. Is it at times stressful? Yep. But it’s God’ work and I trust that He will provide. I also left my application open to whatever job they think would be best for me. The bulletin might be becoming a practicum in the Mass Com department (which would be great, don’t get me wrong). It would just mean that I would have to take on a different role if I’m invited back to ministry next year.

— 5 —

This week I did find some time for fun! Friday night I went to a ladies night put on in my dorm and got my nails done by a girl in my dorm. The pattern isn’t exactly what I had asked for but I was just in awe of her patience and loved being pretty-fied (there’s really no otehr way to descibe the emusement a girl gets from doing silly thing like paintign her nails). Also, on Saturday, I kind of impulsively decided to highlight my hair. My roommate did it for me and while you can’t really tell unless you know that I highlighted it (the color is similar to my natural hair color), I like it. It’s teh first time I’ve ever died my hair. As I side not I also haven’t skyped my mom since then…
On Saturday (when I probably should have been doing homework) I also made JOY wall art. It was just paper cut outs of teh letters, colord with markers and put up on the wall to remind me. Last night I decorated more. I had  a few minutes and decided to hang my picture of Mary and Jesus and my cross above the head of my bed. These are things I’ve been meaning to do all semester, so It felt good to get them done. Especially since the semester is almost half over. (2 weeks until Spring Break!)

— 6 —

I’m especially excited to go home for Spring Break because I might not go home this summer. Nothing’s been established yet but I’m probably going to apply to a live-in service program with the Little Sisters of the Poor. However, the home closest to my parents’ house isn’t participating in the program. So if I do the program I’ll be at least 4 hours from home. I may even be 18 hours away. The idea of spending all summer away from my family and the hometown I know so well, is a little…daunting. And it’s the main reason I hesitate to apply.

— 7 —

Well, that was a lot of text…so how about I just wish you a good week and tell you to check back in on Monday for the first installment of my 7 posts in 7 days. It will help me achieve one of my February goals and my Year of Blogging Well challenge.

As always, I’ll be back next friday with more quick takes!

For more Quick Takes, visit Jen at Conversion Diary and check out the link-up!

The Difference Between Trying and Doing

There’s a line in Star Wars that I’ve never liked. Yoda looks at Luke and says “Do or do not. There is no try.” It wasn’t until now that I understand why that line has always rubbed me wrong. Recent events in my own life have challenged me and shown me the difference between effort and success.

You see, doing is an ideal. It is this perfect world where everything works out and anything you set your mind to, you achieve. But the truth is that we can’t be perfect in this world. All we can do is try. And no matter what society says, that is enough.

Sunday, I watched something both incredibly painful and incredibly beautiful. A priest, ill with ALS, concelebrating Mass. His speech was mumbled and his voice quiet as he recited the words of consecration with the celebrant. He did what he could, small and imperfect as it was. But he offered all he could. In a way, he didn’t succeed. He simply couldn’t form the words perfectly. But he did what he could.

The Difference Between Trying and Doing When you try, really try, you put in your best effort. You give your all and persevere. While that doesn’t always get us success, trying is good. It means we haven’t given up. It means we refuse to be mediocre. It means we want to be the best version of ourselves.

We are constantly told that our success is what defines us. Whether we lose the 5 pounds, or pass the test, or find that perfect man—that is what matters. While those things can be important, they are not the ultimate goal of our lives. Trying and persevering despite challenges takes more willpower, strength, and commitment than simply getting your way the first time. And that willpower forms virtue.

Take for example a test. You might give your best and get a 57 while someone else gives their best and gets a 95. But what matters is that you both give your best effort. And that next time you try again and persevere, in the hope of a better score. You might put in no effort and get 98. But that 98 means nothing if you don’t put anything into it.

So often we try to be perfect, and this is a good desire. A desire placed in our hearts for good reason. It means we never stop striving. However, we must acknowledge that we do make mistakes and own up to them. Because sometimes, whether through negligence, or forgetfulness, or nervousness, or willfull choice we don’t do our best. Only by admitting that we made a mistake can we move on. But we can not let the mistake define us either. Mistakes happen. We are not perfect, and can’t be in this life. All we can do is acknowledge the mistake, (repent/apologize if applicable), and try again.

They say the journey is the most important part. It’s not because it’s fun or pretty or easy. It’s because the journey is what makes us worthy of the destination. If achieveing anything in this life were easy, it wouldn’t be much of an achievement.

So Yoda, let me just say. We can’t always do; but we can try. And that is enough. We are enough.

*disclaimer: I am often a perfectionist, always scrupulous, and slowly getting better. These are simply my thoughts and ramblings.

Is it Moral to Shop at Walmart? ~or~ On Cooperating with Evil Through Everyday Purchases

Sometimes the number of companies I should be boycotting because of their support of abortion, contraception, or gay marriage seems overwhelming. Is there any store I can buy from without supporting something immoral? This has been something I’ve been thinking about since I got home. At school, I simply made my weekly trip to Walmart (the only superstore in our town of 10,000) and didn’t think too much of it. But does shopping there, or perhaps another store, mean I am cooperating with evil or in some other way sinning?

There are many facets to the issue of “ethical consumerism” and I probably don’t know them all. Neither do I pretend to be a theologian. These are just my thoughts and questions. I’ll be drawing a lot from this article and its discussion on immediate vs mediate material cooperation in evil.

To start, I want to talk about Walmart.
Plenty of people shop at Walmart regularly, even good Catholics, and never think anything else about it. I did. I mention this because of something obvious yet often overlooked: Walmart sells contraceptives. I don’t know this for definite fact but they do have pharmacies and no reason not to stock your basic supply of the pill, and probably Plan B as well. That is to say, they sell “medications” that can kill an unborn child. Moreover, I know for a fact that Walmart sells condoms (and other things). A quick look around the sexual health page of the pharmacy section on their website reveals that. This all leads to the question: is it morally acceptable to shop at Walmart? Aren’t we then supporting a company that supports things that we as Catholics see as immoral?

According to the above-linked article mediate material cooperation means that “[w]hile doing something that is in itself good or indifferent, a person…gives an occasion to another’s sin, or contributes something by way of assistance.” and this can only be done if the principle of double effect is met. Double effect means, among other things, that the evil is not intended and that there is “sufficient reason”.

Now, honestly, when I’m at school Walmart isn’t my only option and the prices at the other stores (there are 2 within walking distance) certainly aren’t exuberant. They could also give me most of what I need. So any argument that Walmart is my only choice or that there’s “sufficient reason” for me shop there seems invalid.

In a way this leads to my next topic.

Money vs. Support
I used to think that buying something from a company that took a pro gay marriage stance was immoral. But really, when you think about it I’m not sure if this makes sense, after all no money is going towards, say an LGBT activist group, right? But it may not be that simple. So, does shopping at a store that takes an immoral stance (but doesn’t give money in that direction) equal mediate material cooperation?  Well, are we providing an occasion for sin or contributing something that assists another in sinning? Well…if this business keeps getting customers they’ll stay in business, and if they stay in business they can continue to publicly promote immorality. Right?

Now what if the company did give money to something immoral, say Planned Parenthood (the country’s largest abortion provider), but we weren’t buying from that company directly? Let’s say they had a how-to video up on youtube. If we watched that video (and thereby gave them a view) would we be giving occasion for sin or assisting in some way? Would we be giving occasion for someone else (another consumer) to sin?

What about lesser sins?
We tend to make a big deal about what companies are supporting abortion or what TV show is featuring a set of lesbian moms. But what about the shows that constantly encourage cohabitation and the messed up hookup culture? Or just a show where people lie all the time and get away with it? Or what if we have a company that doesn’t support abortion but provides insurance benefits for contraception or unmarried couples living together? Or what about a company that in some way could be seen to support the horrible labor conditions in China?

Where do we draw the line?
Now what if we have a company that gives to an organization, like the Susan G. Komen Foundation, who in turn donates to Planned Parenthood? Do we stop shopping there too? What about (follow me) a company that is partnered with a company that donates money to an organization that donates to Planned Parenthood? Odds are I’ve described most major companies. They are all interconnected right? So how can we know where we should shop, who we should buy from? If a store sells items from a company that has a connection (direct or indirect) to abortion, gay marriage etc can we shop at that store?

I don’t have all the answers. Not by a long shot. And I’ve certainly got plenty of questions. I will offer some advice my priest gave me regarding this once: not to become zealous. Also, you should know, I have a tendency to be scrupulous so please consider that in regards to what I’ve said. In fact, set what I’ve said aside for a moment and read this piece from the National Catholic Register. It’s a lot more reasonable than my rant. As the author notes “ethical consumerism is a field ripe for scrupulosity, and a miserable, hysterical, paranoid [person] can’t follow her vocation.” So where ever we shop or don’t, whatever we choose to boycott, we shouldn’t make ourselves hysterical.

I wish there was a way to wave a magic wand and change the world, to eliminate evil so we don’t have to have these dilemmas. But this is the world we live in. And, as I have been reminded recently, we are called to be in the world though not of the world. I must remember this even though my introverted and contemplative soul can kind of hate the world sometimes. The world is wrong and it’s confused. But this is where God put us, and not so we could run away and go live in a cave surrounded by no one but fellow faithful Catholics (though that sounds pretty amazing). No, we mustn’t turn our back on the world. It needs us because it needs the message we are meant to share with it. We must work to change the minds and hearts of others, while always working on perfecting our own hearts and minds. That is how we change the world…rather than with a magic wand.

Evangelization…I’m Not Good at It

I don’t think I’ve ever been in a situation like this before. At work, I’m around people who’s religious affiliation I either don’t know or know to be nothing. One girl in particular, nice person, is ok with calling herself a heathen. I’ve been working with her a lot and she’s asked me some questions about my faith.

One time she had a table of Christian ladies. They seemed like evangelicals to me and were the type to talk about God every few minutes and in regards to everything i.e. “God blessed me yesterday when I found a tea set.” This led to a couple small conversations on religion between us. She said “I don’t know if your religious at all”. I responded “a little” which was probably the understatement of the week.

You see, I am by nature a quiet person and this got me flustered. I’ve never really talked about my religion with anyone like this. It’s uncharted territory and it’s awkward. Religion is one of those no-no subjects, right? It shouldn’t be, but it can make people uncomfortable.

Today, the same girl saw my scapular (it’s been fussy lately since I’ve been wearing shirts that aren’t crew neck) and asked about it. I threw back an awkward “I’m Catholic. It’s a scapular.” response but she was curious. So I showed her, told her it was a bit of cloth, when she asked I told her it had Jesus and Mary on it, and finished off by saying it was a devotional thing.

I guess that’s an improvement from before. But really, this makes me flustered. I’ve never really talked to someone who wasn’t Catholic of fallen away Catholic or Christian about my religion. This is new. And it’s scary. Honestly, I’ve been thinking more about alleviating awkwardness (or something) than sharing my faith. The only thing I can think of is to rehearse in my head what I’d say if a similar situation presented itself again.

Does anyone have any advice? How do you share your faith without it being awkward or without being afraid? How do you share without coming off as a zealot?

Review of “How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul”

This is the first review in my Summer Reading 2013 series. It’s a review/reflection on “How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul” by Jason and Crystalina Evert.

Summer Reading How To Find Your Soulmate

If you’re a Catholic girl or young woman you’ve probably sat through at least one awkward chastity talk. It might have been in CCD class, at youth group, in your catholic high school, or with your mom. At the very least you’re most likely familiar with the rigid idea of abstinence. You’ve heard it before: you shouldn’t do that before marriage, you have to be pure, you can’t do that, you have to do this.

But why? Why is chastity so darn important?

One word: love.

This is the main question Jason and Crystalina Evert deal with in their book How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul. This husband and wife team make a lot of good points about waiting for marriage, treating yourself right and being the woman God wants you to be. This book can be powerful if you let it.

Love is something we often don’t truly understand. But it’s a choice, something we decide to do. Every day we make choices: some are loving and some aren’t. Some show a love of ourselves but a contempt for others. Some show love for others but a contempt for ourselves. True chastity is a way of loving others and loving ourselves.

So, who does chastity love?

1) Ourselves. The truth is that hooking up, shacking up, or simply being nothing but physical are not good for us. As women we want to be shown love. I know this is true of myself beyond a doubt. But we often look for it in the wrong places or are willing to sacrifice anything for it. So, we give men what they want in the hopes they will give us what we want. The truth is though, that many men who get what they want don’t see the reason to give the woman what she wants. After all, if he’s getting “the one thing on his mind” why would he bother caring what we want? Why would he consider marrying us if he’s already getting his physical “needs” met without a commitment? We’re just a tool. And as soon as something better comes along he’ll have no issues with dumping you like a hot potato.

2) Your boyfriend. Yes, not giving somebody everything they may want can actually be very good for them. We need to teach men that they can’t expect to get everything they want. The lesson starts when we say “no”. This not only shows that we respect ourselves and our body but that we respect him. You can protect him from himself by refusing to go there. Don’t tempt him, but rather make him a better person. (By the way, if he refuses to live according to your standards you need to dump him like a hot potato.)

3) Your future husband. Someday, you might very well get married. If you’re actively dating, odds are marriage is something you want. When you find that perfect guy do you want to have to admit to him the mistakes you’ve made? Do you want to be comparing him to your former loves? Save something special for that special someone. Even if you’ve made mistakes in the past you can start over today and give your future husband every day between now and your wedding day.

Being chaste means that you have higher standards, that you respect your worth, that you recognize that your body is not meant for any guy to have and hold but that it and you are meant to give yourself only to the man you marry.

Soulmate is about a lot more than just chastity, however. It’s about respecting yourself as a woman and recognizing your dignity and beauty. It’s about being strong, having high standards, and trusting that God has someone very special in store for you.

One way to live these things out is to set guidelines. Make it clear to you and your boyfriend that there are certain things you just won’t do. Respect him too, and don’t force him to do anything he’s uncomfortable with. Another way you can set guidelines is discussed in the book. Crystalina recommends praying for your future husband, even though you may not have met him yet. She also talks about how she made a list of attributes she wanted her husband to have. A short while later she met Jason who embodied so many of her hopes and dreams for her perfect man.

As soon as I came to that part in the book, I took out a notebook and started to make my own list. For each woman, this list will be slightly different. We are all different and we work and get along well with different kinds of people. Here are just a few things from my list to get you thinking:

6) is a leader
16) he loves kids
29) is stereotypical chivalrous: opens doors etc.

I challenge you to make your own list. Trust that God will lead you to the life you’re meant to have. Trust that you don’t need to give yourself away or degrade your worth to receive love. Trust that chastity is love and that any man who doesn’t recognize that is not worth your love or your time. One chapter of Soulmate is called “Break Up, Even if He Smells Good” let me just echo the advice: if he doesn’t respect you, if he refuses to accept your “no”, if he doesn’t meet up to your standards of what a good husband should be then break up. Now.

It took me longer than I would have like to finish How to Find Your Soulmate but as I turned the last page I wanted more. For me, this was a very personal book. And I know it’s a book I haven’t fully absorbed. I borrowed this book from my friend Laura (she blogs over at My Drop in The Ocean) so I might just have to get my own copy to go through, highlight, and open up whenever I need a dose of encouragement.

Any young woman out there: get this book. I don’t care if you live a chaste life and don’t feel any of this applies to you. This book will remind you why you should be chaste and hopefully renew you for what’s ahead.

If you’d like to get your own copy, and I encourage any young woman out there to do so, you can find it here on Amazon or get it through their website. If you order through the last link you can the book for as low as $2 when you buy in bulk!

Remember, you are worth more. Act like it.
Keep your head high and your standards higher.

Incommunicado: No Phone, Limited Internet, 2 Days

As I said I was going to a few days ago in this post, I spent Sunday and Monday without my phone and with very limited internet access. Honestly, it was harder than I thought it would be.

Even though I haven’t had a cell phone for very long, my current life as a college student practically demands it. It’s how everyone tries to get in touch with you. In fact, I missed some important information because I didn’t have my phone. One person texted me about moving a meeting back. (Luckily I was able to get this information from someone else who was going to the meeting.) Another person left me a voicemail explaining that a meeting was earlier than she had told me and so I shouldn’t bother coming in. There were also times when I felt disorganized and attributed it to not having my phone. It was annoying not having my cell phone, not being able to text people, or ask them questions that way, or call my mom up. I didn’t like it.

Going without the internet was easier. I was allowed to go on my school email and I watched some youtube videos in class. The two main issues were that I didn’t have Facebook and Pinterest as a way to entertain myself, and friends couldn’t share internet content with me. Several times over the 48 hours my friend would say “come look at this” and I’d have to remind her I couldn’t look at that funny picture, or youtube video or what have you. It felt like a self-inflicted punishment. I also couldn’t watch Netflix. So on Sunday night when a couple friends decided to watch an episode I had to leave the room. That was sad for me because spending time with others is how I feel close to them. Then there was the Pandora situation. I was writing papers yesterday and normally when I write papers for school I play Pandora…but I couldn’t. So I made do with iTunes and a CD but it wasn’t the same at all.

Overall, the experience was annoying. Yesterday would have probably been a bad day in and of itself but not having access to these communication technologies just made it worse. I was isolated, separated, out of the loop and I didn’t like it. I certainly did my share of complaining.

I did learn some interesting things though. I learned that my phone is a tool that I legitimately need. I am dependent on it, though not necessarily addicted. It was also enforced in me that I use the Internet for procrastination and non-productive purposes far too much. I knew this before, but this experience really made it obvious and just reminded me of the fact.

I don’t think I’d recommend this kind of experience for everyone. It can be pretty disruptive. Perhaps simply keeping track of how and when you use technology could help you to see the times and situations when you use technology as entertainment or  distraction versus actually using it as a tool.

Tell me what you thought of my experience. Do you think you would react the same way?

Assessment of 2013 Goals: January

Goals January 2013Ok. So it’s been a month since New Year’s and its time to look at my goals for the year and see which ones I’ve accomplished, if any. I said i would post to this blog at the end of every month (in this case, shortly there after) and assess my progress. It was a way of keeping me accountable. Because I have 13 goals I should be accomplishing about one a month. So let’s see how I did….

I figured I would have to admit I really haven’t done much of anything yet, but actually there are a couple things I’m doing to work towards goals.

Goal 4 was figure out how I can study/travel abroad. While I haven’t entirely figured this out, it’s looking more possible every day…aside form one thing: my major. I’m seriously considering adding special education to my elementary education degree. This is something I’m passionate about and something I think I would enjoy doing in my life. However, it’s more work and thus gives me less of an opportunity to study abroad. So I need to go in to see the education department and ask them what they think. I’ve heard that here at Benedictine College they try to give all majors the opportunity to go abroad. Maybe that means I go in the summer or maybe it means I take some summer classes before I go. But that would be doable.

Another I’m making progress with is goal 13) b) be more diligent but don’t take things so seriously. Mainly, I’m working at the be more diligent part. Earlier this week I went to a leadership seminar that is required training for anyone applying for a leadership position such as RA or campus ministry leader. One of our talks was about time management and spoke of how we should sit down Sunday night and plan our week (in pencil). And that’s what I plan to do this evening.

Honestly, I guess I haven’t made a whole lot of progress but I feel like I’m getting better, that I’m striving after things and that certain things are being worked towards. I’m not as set or determined about accomplishing these goals as I was when I originally had the idea to keep myself accountable via this blog. I’m more loose about it (which maybe also is part of 13) b) about not taking things so seriously).

But that aside, I think my progress is ok, but it could certainly be better. I think in this next month, actually in these next couple weeks, I may actually accomplish a few of those 13 goals. Stay tuned to find out!

13 Things I Hope to do in 2013

New Year's Goals graphic

This year, instead of just coming up with a few vague ideas of what I’d like to accomplish and forgetting what they are within a month and a half, I’m actually setting goals. And I’m think I’ll use this blog to keep me accountable. See, I’m not a very diligent person. But I want to accomplish some things. And maybe keeping to these goals will help me to be a more diligent person and thereby help me in more important areas of my life.

I’ve decided I’m going to write a post at the end of each month and see if I’ve accomplished any of these things and maybe I’ll even add to the list. I’ll also probably write a post every time I accomplish one of these things.

So, without further ado my 2013 new year’s goals:

1) donate blood. Never done this. But I’d like to.

2) get my license. I won’t go into why I don’t have one yet, just know it’s a goal.

3) write a letter to myself to open in the future. Not sure when in the future yet, probably either the end of the year or 3 or more years in the future.

4) figure out how I can study/travel abroad. This is something I really want to do, just not sure how yet…. Aside from the money, my major makes things difficult.

5) work on learning Spanish (unless I’ve chosen Italian). Another thing I want to do. If I’m going to be a teacher Spanish could serve me well. It’s also, something I kind of just want to do. Though taking Italian may make studying abroad easier.

6) create melted crayon art. Just because.

7) go on a shopping adventure. This might be something I do over the summer. I’d love to grab a couple of girls, maybe one of them will be my sister, and have a blast! Possibly in the city, but here would work too.

8) get a summer job. A college girl’s got to make money.

9) take a summer class or 2. This may help to accomplish goal 4.

10) read 5 new books. For me, this is kind of a low number, but I’ve got homework to do as well, and obviously I’m not going to count coursework books.

11) visit a religious community/ go on a retreat with one. As a discerning woman, I figure I should.

12) write more. I’m thinking of doing my own writing challenge this summer, similar to National Novel Writing Month, although I might do something a little less full-blown. While I enjoy blogging, I have something of a passion for fiction writing but I didn’t get to do much of it this semester.

13) be a better person. Okay, so this may sound like one of those vague resolutions I started off this post by shunning, but actually it has some more concrete goals as its components. a) pray more. Diligence! b) be more diligent but don’t take things so seriously. This may seem like a contradiction. But so am I. I procrastinate and yet have a habit of getting very stressed about my future. This leads to c) laugh more, worry less.

So, not including goal 13, I’ve got 12 goals, 12 measurable things to accomplish this year. That equals an average of one a month. Now, I might add to the list, but I’m not taking any off of here (except maybe crayon art, but only if I add a different fun and creative activity). This is my list, and if I fail, I fail. But hopefully this will be a great year. I’ve just got to put in my best and let God take control (but you know what they say about telling Him your plans).If you want to make God laugh ribon

Happy New Year!

And Merry 7th Day of Christmas!

Lessons I’ve Learned from Being in a Large Family

Family graphic

I’m at home for Christmas Break after my first semester of college. Admittedly, this break has had its downsides. But throughit all,we’ve been family. This is the Feast of the Holy Family (read the first paragraph), so I think it’s fitting I write about my family. I come from a pretty large one. There’s 10 of us. My parents, plus four girls (including myself) and four boys.

Yep. 8 kids. 🙂

So here’s 8 things I’ve learned in this crazy, large family of mine:

1) Silence is golden, but who wants the Midas touch anyways? Sure silence is good, but to me it’s not the sound of affection. People talk, they laugh, children shriek with delight. I like quiet, a little peace. But a home is a place for conversation, giggles, and children playing…at least most of the time.

2) How to change a diaper. No joke. It could be very useful in the future too. It’s just one of those simple, practical things that not everyone gets to learn when they’re young. But I was 12 when my sister was born, so I got firsthand experience.

3) There is a monster in the dryer. His name is Steve and he eats socks. He has a buddy who likes to steal shoes right when they’re needed most. Whatever can go wrong, just might.

4) “Family size” is a misnomer. Honestly, there’s no such thing as “family size” because there is no such thing as the “ideal family size”. There may be what the parents want or what the societal norm is, but the “ideal family size”  varies from family to family. Also, a “serving size” does not feed most people, especially not teenage boys.

5) Frugality. Nuff said.

6) How to wash dishes by hand. After our dishwasher broke many years ago my mom discovered less dishes got left on the counter if everything was washed by hand. There was no “next load” to put them in, after all. Needless to say, the dishwasher has never been fixed. Now, this doesn’t strictly have to do with our being a large family, but since we are there are a lot of dishes.

7) Love. If there’s one thing a family teaches, it’s how to love. We’re not perfect. Yeah, we yell at each other. But, in most cases, we get over it. That’s what love is: continued loyalty despite it all, wanting the other’s good above your own no matter what they do.

8) Children are a beautiful gift. And so is family.

Merry 6th day of Christmas everyone!