"You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, and how you can still come out of it." ~ Maya Angelou
I had lunch today with a great friend and we had a wonderful time of catching up and sharing our hearts together. This friend is so positive and her love for life is absolutely infectious. She is the type of person that makes you feel great when you are around her, always views the glass as half full and encourages others to do the same. I left our lunch feeling inspired and blessed by the special time we had shared together. It was so refreshing. Although certain aspects of her life are not exactly where she would ultimately like them to be, she is headed very well in the right direction and has chosen to enjoy the view along the way. She knows through hard work, patience and a strong belief in the premise that there is a right time for everything that her time is coming. "Not yet" is she at her ultimate goal, but an excitement is building in her spirit that each day she is just a little bit closer.
We listened to an excellent speaker at work on video that shared the power of emphasizing with our students the true power of "not yet." It really spoke to my heart of how we can really encourage students that struggle by reminding them that learning is a journey not a destination. All too often they can feel that they will never get a concept and that type of thinking keeps them stuck. By encouraging them that they haven't got it "yet," but in time they will, provides them with both much needed encouragement and also a great sense of hope. As a young student I really struggled with telling time. For the life of me I could never comprehend what the mysterious big and little hand were up to. Convinced that I would never "get it," I felt increasingly defeated day after day. Interestingly enough my mom, a supply teacher was called into my class one day when what else but a telling time lesson was on the agenda. I don't think my mom even fully realized until that day, how much that math concept baffled me. We stayed in at recess and together as mom and teacher she shared some tips that allowed me to see things differently, and offered gentle reassurance that I would eventually "get it." Slowly I begin to realize that there may be hope for me yet! As the "clock was ticking," I finally comprehended that perhaps this was something that I didn't fully have "yet," but soon would.
My husband and I feel extremely blessed to have our children Tyler and Shannon especially because we have experienced three miscarriages. Experiencing miscarriages is one of the hardest thing we have endured as a couple. I remember sitting in our empty nursery crying with my husband and I voiced my fear that I was so scared that a baby would never occupy that room. My husband reminded me to never give up hope and to believe with all our hearts and strong faith in God that although we were not parents yet, we soon would be when the time was right. I had a dear friend in a similar situation. She had not had miscarriages, but due to many health issues, was told by several doctors that she would never be able to have children. With her strong belief in God she stood on her convictions that God was her final authority, and when anyone would ask her if her and her husband had children, she would always reply with a twinkle in her eye and a huge grin the same response, "not yet." I always admired her for her positive spirit and faith and I am pleased to announce that today she is not only the proud mother of one child but three. An amazing story of God's faithfulness and the power of always believing.
I love the expression that says "Please be patient. God is not finished with me yet." It reminds us that all of us are a work in progress. None of us have arrived and our life stories are always unfolding. At our church recently someone was sharing his story of how he was making many positive changes, yet how he still had so far to go. He mentioned that our pastor reminded him that this was not the end of his story but merely the beginning. We need to remind ourselves that although things take time, that we can learn so much along the way and to be patient with the process really helps. A friend of mine shared a story about when he was unemployed for many months and was quite discouraged. He would pray and ask for wisdom for what to do next as far as his career was concerned. He wanted to be a positive role model to his family. He also felt that God would be pleased with a visible act of faith, so he decided, job or no job he would wake up each day, and put on his uniform that he normally wore for work and anticipate the job that would be provided for him. He firmly believed that he did not have a job yet, but with his whole heart he anticipated that he would have one soon. Not long after he started this little routine, he was blessed with a very unexpected job opportunity that has opened many wonderful opportunities for his entire family. Another great example of how faith and perserverance pays off in the end.
Recently at my son's high school graduation, two young men with down syndrome graduated. As they walked across the stage to proudly receive their diplomas, the crowd stood to their feet in thunderous applause to validate their incredible accomplishment. It was very touching to witness as it was understood that completing their high school program was challenging, yet they had succeeded. I will always remember this very special moment. I'm sure at many times they struggled but remembering that they had not graduated yet but would with hard work and determination, kept them going.
Many things in life take time but are worth waiting for. You may feel that you have hit roadblocks and it appears your life is at a standstill in certain areas. Many times things are happening but it is behind the scenes. The story of your life is unfolding, yet often certain things need to take place first before your moment arrives. Perhaps a person of influence will enter your life, or a person will resign his or her job to open a door for you, or the exact opportunity you have been dreaming of will present itself but at a moment you least expect. My friend told me the story of how in her life she has witnessed the power of "suddenly." She explained that things that we have been waiting on for some time can "suddenly" it seems change in an instant when God determines the time is right. It is often then that things that have seemed on hold for so long, advance very quickly and make up for lost time when God is involved. The Bible says "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall walk and not be weary, and they shall run and not faint." Keep the faith. Know that just because things have not happened yet, that breakthroughs are coming. It is exciting to ponder just how close you may be! A glorious unfolding of your future awaits.
Until next time,
Ecclesiastes 3:1 : There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under the heavens.
Little Lesson Learned: Live in an attitude of "not yet," and great expectation for the things you most desire and dream of. This type of thinking will really pay off in the end.
“If ever there is a tomorrow that we are not together…
there is something you must always remember.
You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem,
and smarter than you think” ~A.A. Milne
Once again this year we will be celebrating the annual Terry Fox Run. Terry Fox was a young Canadian who embarked on an incredible dream to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. That goal in itself was very admirable, but paired with the fact that Terry was a cancer survivor and that he had only one leg and the other was fit with a prosthesis, makes this goal even more amazing. As a child we followed his story so closely. We were in absolute awe of his determined spirit and unwavering passion to fulfill his goals, despite much physical pain and challenges, unpredictable weather issues and the fact that he ran what had been described as a marathon almost every day. Unreal! It was an extremely sad day for the entire nation when we heard that Terry had to discontinue his run due to the fact that he had cancer once again, but this time in his lungs. This led to his untimely death on June 28th, 1981 just shy of his 23rd birthday. In his honour his dream continues and people all over the world have raised millions by keeping the tradition of The Terry Fox Run alive and well.
My students are fascinated by his story year after year. They are very curious about his artificial leg and how he could run like he did day after day. We have had many deep discussions about how it took much more than physical ability for him but also intense mental strength and fierce determination as well to accomplish what he did. One year a little boy came to school so incredibly sad and when I asked him what was wrong he replied with tears in his eyes, “Terry Fox died. My mom just told me.” I guess in our many discussions he hadn’t fully realized that Terry was no longer with us, so from now on, I make it a point to really clarify that, as his sadness over what he felt was “new news,“ really broke my heart. I wrote a cute little song to the tune of "Old Time Religion" called The Terry Fox Song for this time of year that the kids really seem to love. The words say “Terry Fox had a dream. Terry Fox had a dream. Terry Fox had a dream called The Marathon of Hope. So he just started running, so he just started running, so he just started running in The Marathon of Hope.” The last verse says “Now it’s our turn to join in, Now it’s our turn to join in, now it’s our turn to join in for The Marathon of Hope!” I encourage them to participate with great enthusiasm in our Terry Fox Run at school in Terry’s memory and honour, but to also be "just like Terry" by making a difference in their own special ways as well. One year a little boy drew a picture of Terry and gave it to me that I have still kept. It was very well drawn but really caught my interest due to the fact that for all the attention Terry got over his artificial leg in my classroom, this boy had drawn him healthy and whole with two good legs. It touched my heart as this is the way he viewed him.
Terry had so many ways about him that were admirable. Here are just some of the qualities that he had that made him a successful person. First of all he had a dream and he did not let anyone talk him out of it. What he envisioned had never been done before, yet he believed he could do it and was not afraid to try. Have you ever been there before? Maybe God has tucked a special dream in your heart but others have talked you out of it or discouraged you from pursuing it? I hope not. Terry did not allow this. Secondly, he had an unwavering belief in himself. Despite the fact that he was disabled, he used it as a stepping stone to advance his cause, instead of it being a stumbling block. It is incredible what people can accomplish when they start to actually focus on what they can do rather than what they can’t. We can get caught up with the fact that I am only one person and how much of an impact can I really make? Terry Fox is a powerful example that one person can make an incredible impact and difference when you really believe in yourself. Thirdly, he was extremely perseverant despite so many things working against him. Faithfully, he continued day after day and raised so much money for cancer research. Finally, he inspired others to do likewise. Through his actions he brought out the best in people. He inspired a nation to come alongside him in united brotherhood to embrace the goal of kicking cancer to the curb, and join together as a nation for a very worthwhile cause. People were inspired that if Terry could do something incredible, than maybe they could too.
It is safe to assume that each one of us have been personally touched by cancer in our lives in some way through someone we love or perhaps even you personally have or have had some form of cancer. Among several who are close to me is my mom who had bowel cancer and my cousin Lisa who had a form of lymphoma. My mom was able to have surgery and she was thankfully fine. Lisa who is just like a sister to me, had a much more difficult time and had to go through many difficult treatments, yet both of them are thankfully cancer-free today. To God be the glory! Our town of Leamington has been lifting up in prayer a little girl named Aubri Andre who too has cancer. She has been receiving treatment out west and although is still working hard to recover, is doing much better from what the latest reports have said. This is Childhood Cancer Awareness month and I often think of her. She like Terry has brought our little town together and has brought an awareness to this awful disease and how we all need to do our best to support finding a cure. Our town hosted many fundraisers to help her family and it will be a very happy day when we hear Aubri is healthy and whole which is what we all continue to pray for.
“Just Like Terry” is the slogan I see around on the posters around my school. Terry’s struggle was cancer and rather than feel sorry for himself, he chose to do the opposite and in doing so has impacted millions of people. What is getting you down? What is your struggle? As the quote by A.A. Milne says "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” You have what it takes to be successful and overcome your challenges but a positive attitude is one of the first things you need to begin. Next give your struggles to God in prayer and partner with Him to be an overcomer. Know that with God “all things are possible.” God is the friend that sticks closer than a brother and He wants to help you have a breakthrough in your life in the area or areas most needed. Be inspired by Terry as a stellar example. In spite of having cancer, he left an incredible legacy for others to follow and from which to draw inspiration.
Thank you Terry! I know that I aspire to be "just like you" in many ways. You were my childhood hero and I will be proud to participate in your honour this week in our Terry Fox Run at our school. How can you be "just like Terry?" Give it some thought, as each and every one of us has incredible things to offer this world and you my friend are no exception!
Until next time,
Psalms 55:22 ~ Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you. He will never let the righteous fall.
Little Lesson Learned: Ordinary people can do extraordinary things when they believe in themselves and partner with God.
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014
“I’m a strong person but every now and then I would like someone to take my hand and say everything will be alright.” ~ www.mediawebapps.com
I am the proud mom of two great teenagers which sometimes is so hard to believe. It is like I blinked and there they are now as tall as me or taller in my son’s case. I remember the specific and pivotal day that my daughter, then a toddler was finally old enough to walk beside me and not in a stroller or car seat anymore. With her on one side and my son on the other, all holding hands together we walked into the grocery store. A very common scene for others to witness, yet a momentous first for us. It was a memory that I will always recall as I knew then that life as we knew it would never quite be the same and especially that my baby girl was really growing up. It was very reassuring as a young mom that both kids help my hand tightly, yet I felt quite emotional as well knowing that the proud hand holding would end all too quickly in a mom’s perspective anyway. Years later walking the kids to school, I recall one of them saying “I’m grown up now Mom. Don’t worry. I don’t need you to hold my hand or anything.” I thought maybe you don’t need to hold hands, but I sure do. Sniff! Sniff! Both my kids handled the first day of school much better than I did that’s for sure.
As a student teacher I remember on my last day of placement on yard duty, I felt a little hand slip into mine. I was a bit surprised as this little guy had been quite quiet around me, yet what a little sweetheart he was. When I looked at him he sweetly and somewhat shyly said “Today’s your last day and I am going to miss you so much. Could I just hold your hand for a minute or two to remember you?” Needless to say it was hard to hold back the tears as this little gesture was so sweet. As the new school year has just begun I am always curious to see how long it will take before a student makes me a picture or card. Teaching second grade, this is pretty common for this age group. Recently I received two handmade pictures which had myself and the student in them. In both pictures we were holding hands which is interesting because this is not something we have done, but is instead rather symbolic to me. It shows that the kids and I have connected, which makes me feel so happy as it is so crucial for true learning to take place. I am flattered that they feel that I am not only their teacher, but also that I sincerely care for them.
Even as an adult just having one special person hold your hand is so reassuring isn't it? It helps us feel connected, provides us with reassurance and lets us feel valued by another person. Many times at my church I have had people come up beside me when I was praying at the altar and grab my hand and pray along with me. It made me feel that I was truly not alone and it was a very special feeling of comfort. All of us need to know that people care and that we are supported especially when we experience profound struggles.
In Isaiah 49:6 is states that God has written our names in the palm of His hand. This is how valuable we are and how much He wants to connect with us. I have written things on my hand in the past and it is always something very important that I must not forget. I remember the childhood song I used to love called He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands. It always spoke to me that even though God has the whole universe to be concerned about, He still had me and you in His hands. Wow! Pretty cool eh? This is a truth to really grasp as an adult that despite the terrible things happening worldwide that God needs to address, He has our backs and provides reassurance that He is not too busy to support us too in our time of need. A comforting truth for sure.
Maybe you are going through a very difficult time. Perhaps you wish someone would just take your hand in friendship and reassure you that everything will be o.k. I pray you have people who will do just that, but if not please imagine me reaching out to you virtually and grasping your hand. I want to tell you that you have a friend in me and God. I want to assure you that there is no problem too difficult to solve when you bring God into the equation. He cares and wants to help you deal with whatever is burdening you. I care and would love to pray for you. Feel free to email me at email@example.com so I can do just that. Remember "He's got you and me brother and you and me sister in His hands," so no worries. That is truly the best place to be.
Until next time,
Isaiah 49:16 ~ Look I’ve written your names on the back of my hands. (The Message)
Little Lesson Learned: Don’t be afraid to reach out for a helping hand or hand of support. Today may be the day you need it and tomorrow it will be someone else who you can help. We all need each other.
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014
“Yesterday is history.
Tomorrow’s a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present."
~ Eleanor Roosevelt.
There are some things in life we all love to do and then there are those tasks that require much more effort. You know those tasks that you try to ignore as you simply do not have the time or energy for them? We all have them that is certain. The tidying of my clothes closet was one of them. I had been avoiding organizing it all summer, as let’s face it, in the summer it is quite easy to live in shorts, t-shirts, and yoga pants. Now that I am back to work, I have to dig out my professional attire once again so the tidying of the closet became absolutely necessary. It was a long task, but a great feeling when it was finally done. As a teacher early in my career, I used to have a very messy, cluttered desk. I could never find anything and I felt like I was a terrible example to the students. I have since changed my ways and now pride myself in keeping a very orderly desktop. It is my belief that it is not fair to get after kids to tidy their desks, if mine is an absolute disaster, so I am glad I have improved in this area. It is quite humorous when we do desk cleanouts in my classroom I must say. I do them on a regular basis to help keep the students organized and it is funny because of what they find! The one who never has a pencil suddenly has six, or the missing notebook that couldn’t be found anywhere suddenly makes an appearance, or the permission form that they swear they never got, is there in all its glory. Certain kids dread this task more than others because their desks are more untidy, yet all of them have such grins of satisfaction on their faces when their desks are tidy. It is priceless to witness as they are so proud to show me their neat and tidy work space, and you can tell they “get it,” that the tidy desk option is so much more appealing than the messy one!
I have worked with so many people in the past in my social work career who had a “when I - then I” mentality. This is explained with examples such as “when I find more time, I will start exercising,” or “when my life gets a little less stressful, I will try to make time for positive changes.” The problem is that if you wait for the perfect opportunity, it will never come. An example of this is a young mom who repeatedly kept telling me that she “really wanted to get her family out to church,” but she had every excuse under the sun. “It is our only family day, and the kids are too young for the service and we don’t have proper church clothes…” You know how it goes and I did totally understand her concerns. I explained to her that we had a program for every age group and that church attire is more casual these days, yet no matter what I said, she just explained that when they were older, she would bring them. Well I bet you can guess what happened? Sadly that day has never come and her kids have really gone through some hard times. Her and her husband are incredible people and parents but she shared with me in confidence that she really wished she would have committed to regular church attendance when they were younger, as she knew it would have greatly benefited them and then they would be in the routine of coming.
Sometimes hindsight is 20/20 as they say, yet it is never too late to start something new. My mom always wanted to learn to play piano, but never learned as a child. She took piano lessons at age 40 and was so thrilled to be able to sit down at the piano and play church hymns and her favourite songs as she had always imagined. I always respected her for this as she decided one day that she was not going to put it off another day, but she was going to learn to play piano.
Procrastination is a problem for many people. The bigger issue is as we choose to put off things for “another” day, the dreaded tasks just pile up and before we know it, what was once a mole hill, is now a mountain. In addition, the “another” day never seems to present itself. This then leaves us feeling more discouraged, so it becomes a vicious circle. Many addictions are like that and what was once a little habit, now holds people captive without them realizing. Change is a process and it begins with little steps. Hopes, dreams, recovery steps, and new pursuits can become reality when we decide not to embrace the “when I - then I,” mantra but rather the anthem of why not today?
What’s been on the back burner in your life? There is no time like the present to start looking at it again. The Bible says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. The cool thing is when we decide to make positive changes in our lives not only is God our greatest cheerleader, but He also promises us to be right beside us giving us increased strength to do so. I mentioned in my last blog that I have made a commitment to exercise more regularly, eat better and read my Bible more often. I am happy to say I am doing much better in all three areas. Have I been perfect in those areas? Absolutely not! Life happens. I am back to work fulltime. My son started university this week. My daughter has a lead role in a play that is two nights a week, and I have been very sick all week. The bottom line is I have had some big reasons or excuses to put me off track, but I look at the big picture instead. If today was not the best than all is not lost, as I know I can turn it around. All too often we let one bad day, spiral out of control and take us away from our goals. Don’t allow that to happen as every morning with every sunrise we get a new, fresh start. I would love to hear what you are working on in your life at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is exciting to think of where you can end up when you make a decision that today is the day that I begin putting positive steps into action in my life. Don’t let seeds of doubt or discouragement creep in. You can do it! Why not today? Today feels like a great day for positive change don’t you agree?
Until next time,
Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Little Lesson Learned: Don’t put off for tomorrow what you could do today. There is no better time than the present.
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014