Sunday, December 30, 2007

1+1=2

For 2007 it was joy. My one word resolution. I don't feel that I have succeeded in that endeavor so for 2008 it is joy.

But I also feel the need to add to that one word resolution, thus a two word resolution for 2008. Given the lessons that God had taught me in 2007 and really over the course of my life I think that to seek and find and recognize joy in all situations one must posses strength. Spiritual strength in the form of faith, emotional strength in the form of perseverance and empathy, and physical strength in the form of muscles.

I am well on the way to the muscles. I love Elijah but that kid and his 30 pounds are getting to be a bit more than I can handle. I am sure he is good conditioning for the baby to come with his/her car seat and diaper bag and snacks and Elijah. My goal is to have pipes like my sis. That girl is ripped! The other parts I will work on with God. I have perseverance, I think it is genetic with the women in my family but I feel like I have lost some empathy over the years. Somewhere I got a bit cynical. I have some faith but I know I don't have nearly enough even though God has proven himself faithful over and over and over and over.....

So may 2008 be a year of seeking joy and building strength and may they work together to glorify God.
Happy New Year, friends!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Let it be to me as you have said

It is hard for me to not consider Mary and her feelings during this celebration of her son, the Savior of the world. When Mary was visited by the angel who told her she was going to have a baby, even though she wasn't married, even though she could be stoned for her perceived adultery, even though she was young and ordinary, Mary's response was,"Let it be to me as you have said."

Would that have been my response? I know the answer to that, no. In my opening post I said that I had glibly chosen joy as my theme for 2007 but that God had thrown me some curve balls. (God often throws me curve balls.) After choosing joy God decided that He really wanted me to look for joy in all situations, just like he commands in Philipeans 4, "Rejoice in the Lord always..." even when it is hard.

In December when I chose joy I was riding high. Chris and I had decided on the same day that God was prodding us to expand our family (something I had previously resisted) and we quickly became pregnant in December of 2006. That joy was robbed a week later, when at five weeks pregnant, I miscarried. Where is the joy in that? Tears come to my eyes and I think about that dear child who would have been 3 months old this month. I mourned that loss but kept thinking that it was so easy getting pregant the first time it would be no problem. My mom was super fertile (my sis and I are 10 months apart!) so I must have inherited that, right?

God, again, wanted me to find the joy and teach me. For eight agonzing months I counted days, tracked cycles, took my temperature, begged for answers and guidance, and felt so alone and broken and distanced from God that I nearly lost myself. In a moment of pure desperation I cried out with all my soul to my Father. "What! What do you want me to do? What did I do to you? What is wrong with me? What!"

There was no immediate answer. Later that month, I attended a retreat and during one night of worship God allowed my heart to cry freely and in that cry He spoke to me. "I am in control." I already knew that God was in control; everybody knows that. But what I realized in that broken night was that I had forgotten to allow God to have control. "Fine God, you can have control of this. It is yours, just give me the heart to accept your plan."

What I had really forgotten is that my joy comes from not having to worry about every detail. God is in control, I just have to remember to look for His lead. Where is the joy in loosing a child? I don't know. God's plan was for me to be a mother again. After giving over control and not looking at the calendar I discovered to my disbelief that I was pregnant. With a baby coming in May there is so much to be worried about: will everything go okay, how will Elijah do with a sibling, what about my students at the end of the year? But, I don't have to worry about those things. God's got it.

The journey of 2007 has been one of seeking joy in situations where joy has been hard to find. I have not succeeded in all situations but as I continue my quest to seek joy I think it will be easier if I simply remember that God works for the good of all his children. Even if I have no idea what that good is. There is joy in knowing that God is looking out for me, always.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Come out! Come out wherever you are!

Where oh where has my joy gone? It seems like it has been one thing after the other the last few weeks. First our schedules got crazy busy with practice for church productions, work, extra work, and visits. Then Elijah got uber sick with the double whammy of croup and pneumonia so sleep became a luxury while we listened to him breath and cough and wheeze. Then of course Chris got sick and I got sick (still am, darn colds). To top it off my aunt passed away this week. While that doesn't really affect me too much since we weren't close but what does affect me is seeing my grandmother's heart shattered at having to bury another daughter.

Where oh where has my joy gone? It is in the healing of my dear sweet son, who is back to his old, twoness. It is in the pride of performance well received. It is in the knowledge that God heals all wounds, even shattered hearts.

My joy never really left. I just forgot where to look. My joy comes from my Father, who daily blesses me with an abundance that leaves me darn near speechless. My joy comes from my Father, who never forgets me and who always loves me; even when I can't see it.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

American Idol?

This was too cute not to share.
video

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My Top 10 Reasons to be Thankful


10. God has given me more than I have ever needed

9. There are only 17 more days until Christmas break

8. My bible study gals haven't kicked me out for missing two weeks in a row

7. My flair for the dramatic finally has an outlet - Thank you Ed!

6. God continues to teach this old dog new tricks

5. A new baby is on the way for May

4. I have a sister who constantly puts up with my neurotic phone calls

3. I have the most adorable son in the universe and he says, "Love you too"

2. I have a husband who loves me more than I often deserve

1. God loves me, even though I am not always loveable

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Blessings

Many times my job as a 5-8 grade Language Arts teacher leaves me questioning God's calling in my life. Did he really call me to deal with eye rolls, reluctant discussers who talk non-stop until I ask them a question, and piles of papers to grade?

Yes, He did. On Tuesday, he showed me why. My 7th grade class is, well mine. I am their homeroom teacher so we start and end the day together plus I teach them three other classes. We are close. A few weeks ago the principal asked if the class would like to plan and run the Thanksgiving chapel for the whole school. I was scared but the kids enthusiastically yelled yes. And they did it. They picked songs, and song leaders. They picked what each class would present. They picked the order of the service. They picked who would be the master of the service. They wrote two dramas.

Tuesday was a day where God showed me the joy of my job. Watching their faces as class after class presented their blessings they were so proud of what they had put together, and my heart was so full of joy at their accomplishment.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Gut Check

Sunday church is a place I love to go. But I admit that I do not always garner a huge amount from the messages. This Sunday I was so happy to be in church with Melissa, Kim, Eric and Emily. I was thinking about how great it was to have them in Minnesota and the fun we were going to have at the football game that afternoon.

Then Mark Spencer, the community life pastor, began to preach. The first words out of his mouth, "It is not just the words you speak that affects a room but the power of your presence." Uh, okay. Those words stuck with me. And as he continued preaching my mind began to race. What affect does my presence have on a room and is the affect what I want it to be? I fear it is not what I want it to be. In truth, I fear that my presence brings annoyance at my grousing or dread at having to deal with negativity or one of my comments on something.

Then God hit me again. As Mark was making his point about good advisers (affectors) and bad ones, he said the difference is, "Do I see this person as God sees them?" Oh my! Again my mind was racing. Do I see my students as God sees them? Do I see my annoying coworkers as God sees them? Do I see the people who cut me off in traffic as God sees them? Do I see anybody as God sees them?

As I try to live in a state of rejoicing always this challenges me. I can only pray that God opens my heart and my eyes to view those in my path as he does. I can only pray that God opens my heart and eyes to the affect I have on a room and pray for strength to change what needs to be changed.

To hear Mark's message go to: http://www.faithcovenant.org/pastmessages/pastmessages.php
The message is titled: Encouragement

Finding joy,
Suzanne

Friday, November 16, 2007

Like a Child

Anticipation has always been a problem with me. As a child my dearly loved, older sister and I would hunt down our Christmas presents or we would just unwrap them to get a peek and then rewrap them. On my wedding day, the anticipation of seeing my groom was too much so we snuck in a secret meeting that morning when he dropped off some food and my mom was getting her hair done. Just a quick hello was all I needed to get me to the ceremony.

Tomorrow the Fonder family descends from Nevada. I have been anticipating this event for months now. My sister-in-law is one of my favorite people, she always had the right thing to say when her brother, my husband, is antagonizing her. She is the mother of my lovely niece Emily and my adorable, adventurous nephew Eric. Plus she is bring Kim, who has never met his nephew. Plus she wants to cook all week with me. I love cooking with someone.

Two years is a long time between visits in any family. And I feel like a child before Christmas. Part of me wants to run to bed so I can wake up and it will be tomorrow and part of me wants to keep cleaning so the house is perfect. Either way we are going to have such a fabulous week together I can hardly stand it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Lessons

Note: My connection has been reestablished! Yeah!

As a teacher I teach lessons all day long. How to draw a theme out of story. How to analyze a character for stereotypes. How to figure out which word is the verb. How to read and understand. How to write a poem using only seven words.

As a teacher one would think I would be a master at learning lessons. On the contrary I realized the other day that I am probably one of the most difficult people to teach. Oh the frustration God must feel when dealing with me. I look back on 2007 and think, "Really, it took me a whole year to figure out I need to let you do my worrying for me. I need to let you have control."

Thank you, dear patient Father, for being a diligent teacher. May you grant that I too would be as diligent with the students in my care.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Frustration

Being dependent on something is usually not a good thing and the past three work days have shown me why. I am on a wireless hub at work. For the past three days my wireless hub has not worked. Essentially this means I am unable to do anything. I cannot check email, I cannot enter or check grades, I cannot even access my lovingly created lessons from the server. I have struggled with finding the joy the last three days and I grow more and more behind. This morning I prayed that God would simply make it work so my hope is that the tech guy will figure it out so I can do my job.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Robbed of joy?

Elijah turned two last Monday and with his new status as a "Big Guy" came a new responsibility, giving up his beloved nuk. As a mom, the last thing I wanted to do was rob my son of joy. He loved his nuk for the car ride in the early morning and at nigh-night. I know it brought him joy to happily suck away and twirl his hair.

Friday was the big day and I steeled myself for a hard weekend, but a suprising thing happened. My joy-filled son remained joyful. He talked all the way home, for 30 minutes, about his day and a trip to the pumpkin patch three weeks prior and about Siah coming to YaYa's house and about the sounds animals make and on and on. At bed time he simply went to bed.

So at two loosing something that brings you joy means you adjust. I think there is a lesson in there for me. A woman I deeply love and admire reminded me today that having joy and being happy are two different things because they come from two different places. Joy comes from a confidence in who you are while happiness comes from circumstances. Elijah has joy because he has confidence in who he is; he can find happiness is a million places.

Thanks, son!

Suzanne

Really, always?

In December of 2006 Chris challenged me to find a word to live by for 2007. I love a great challenge and so I set out to find the perfect word to epitomize the new year. I had just recently heard a sermon on 1 Thessalonians 5:16 and felt joy was a great word. Who doesn't like to be happy?

Life was great so joy seemed like an easy word to live up to. Little did I know that God had a challenge for me. "Let's see if you really mean it," was the response God had for my flippant choice. Over the course of 2007 I learned to look for joy in the strangest and smallest places.

Joy is what we are commanded to have always, in all situations, even the ones we think stink. My journey with joy is ongoing.

Suzanne