Serenity

My one word for 2017

Serenity.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference. Amen.

This is my third blog post this year about my one little word–serenity. I introduced my word in January, and shared an update here this summer.

Today I feel encouraged because I chose to be committed to a couple of small things this summer, and those commitments are adding to my well being, my sense of serenity.

I decided to choose two goals that would possibly help me have more peace about the things I cannot change–particularly the politics of the United States at this time in our history. My goals:

  1. Take a challenge to read 40 books during the school year.
  2. Write 750Words at the start of each new day.

They seem fairly unrelated to our political climate. However, in 2016 and half of 2017, I was spending way too much time watching and reading political news. Instead I decided to read and write.

Recently, on 750Words, I broke my previous record of 62 days in a row, set in 2011. Today, I was up to 74 straight days.

It’s interesting how some outside lead measures have helped me to find serenity the second half of this year. Instead of searching for serenity, though, I write in the mornings, often praying for others and counting my blessings–10,000 reasons to say thank you.

In addition, I’ve read 7 books since school started, almost on par for my 40-book challenge. The frozen sea within me is getting chipped away.

I don’t have as much time for the news nowadays. Perfect. Instead of trying to say no to the drama and toxicity of our politics, as I had for so many months. I have said yes to writing, reading, praising, and reflecting. As a result I have more serenity.

 

Stones Like Hope

Today my friend, Lisa, posted a quote on Facebook. It was from the book Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller:

“I think every conscious person, every person who is awake to the functioning principles within his reality, has a moment where he stops blaming the problems in the world on group think, on humanity and authority, and starts to face himself. I hate this more than anything. This is the hardest principle within Christian spirituality for me to deal with. The problem is not out there; the problem is the needy beast of a thing that lives in my chest.”

It was good for me to read. I have been quite vocal on Facebook and Twitter and this blog about my disdain for the man residing in the White House right now. When I’m reminded of my own responsibility in the matter (that ‘needy beast of a thing’ inside me) it’s good. It’s good to be reminded. I am not without sin, so I shouldn’t throw stones. (John 8:1-11)

I wrote this response to Lisa on Facebook:

Wow, that is a powerful quote, Lisa. It’s good for me to remember. I’ve been complaining a lot about the past election. It, and the months following, have been a mirror for our country to see what we have become.

However, as Donald Miller reminds us, real change is when each of us deals with “the needy beast of a thing” within ourselves.

It’s the reason I won’t ever leave Jesus, even when people were walking away from Jesus’ tough words in John 6. He asked his disciples if they wanted to leave too. Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)

Precisely! To whom shall I go? except to this one who not only convicts me of sin, but saves me from it. I’m the bigot, the fearful, the arrogant, the rich person trying to squeeze into the needle’s eye, the one who shouts at students and the one who ignores the needy. And that was just today.

I am a sinner through and through, and that should not be forgotten as I resist this president.

Since that comment, I have thought more about that inner beast. God save me if I had to start recapping all the crap that has shaped who I am over the past five decades. I’m ashamed of what I was, and I’m thankful to God for helping me to be better.

I have hope. Hope in God. Hope that people on both sides can face their demons. Hope in the Constitution. Hope.

I’ll try to throw more stones like hope.

God help me.

Going on From Here

Each step along the way during this presidential election has been painful. Unless he does something crazy (crazier) before Inauguration Day, he’ll be inaugurated president in a little over a week. The summer of 2015, I began watching open-mouthed as he sucked up all the attention of the press because of his asinine actions and comments. Then he ousted his competitors, and went after Hillary with a no-holds-barred campaign from hell, complete with help from the Russians.

I knew if he won we would not be the country we thought we were.

Yes, I’m sorry for all my friends and fellow citizens. I’m sorry to those around the world who look to us to be role models of democracy. I’m sorry they have to be disappointed in us, and we can never take it back because we really did elect him.

One Word for 2016

My word for last year was FIT. It was a good word, but ended up not the right word for 2016.  Things didn’t fit so well last year. The word might have fit better had I not spent scores of hours watching and listening open-mouthed as our country went crazy. I spent too long watching him make an ass of himself, and later when he was nominated and elected, an ass out of our country.

This year my word is serenity because I have to find peace in the insanity. Everything doesn’t fit, but in the midst of the chaos we can have peace.

One Word for 2017

God is in control, and God has much to teach us in the U.S. We have painful lessons we need to learn. Lessons that we’ve been trying to learn for centuries. Lessons on systemic racism, fear, greed, ignorance, partisanship, the Constitution, lack of critical thinking, and, oh, so much more.

While we learn, God save us. I believe you can give us peace instead of fear as you teach us the lessons we need. Amen.

Isaiah 41:10 says, “Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”

 

My One Word

VOICE.

When I joined a conversation with a broader education community during this past year, my teaching was transformed. I realized that everyone has something to contribute. We all have different experiences, locales, giftedness, and interests. I began to find my voice.

I like the way Malyn Mawby, a wise woman who blogs at Love2Learn, describes this. She wrote a great post called “Of Hopes and Dreams” where she shares about what she wants for her growing children. Her hope for her children is not just for “happiness,” which is vague. Instead, her hope is for her children “to find and use their voice.” Nice!

Voice has been on my mind lately, as I consider the one-year anniversary of the transformation of my teaching. I want to continue to grow and contribute, so I have decided to join the 30 Goals Challenge led by Shelly Terrell. The first goal is a Me Manifesto.

Today my manifesto, which is continually developing, centers around the word VOICE.

  1. I find ways for each of my students to develop and use his/her voice inside and outside of the classroom.
  2. I share my voice with the world.
  3. I join with other passionate educators and pre-service teachers who are finding and sharing their voices.

Throughout the challenge, I will share more about what drives me. It will be good to develop this manifesto over the course of the challenge.

My students’ latest project. They shared themselves and were very proud!