I have been looking back at the years I spent teaching with regret. Regret over what I lost and sacrificed with my own family, not what I gave to others. It’s complicated to explain. I gave everything to other children and feel like I missed out on the lives of my own children. I could have been home being a wife and mother, instead I was a teacher. If you knew me, teaching came first. Being the best teacher I could for the students I served was essential to me. Everything and everyone else came second.
So understandably looking back I ask myself why, when *poof* It didn’t matter enough, and I’m not a teacher anymore. I could have dedicated all that awesomeness into my own family.
As I drove past the Church/ School intersection and watched students I will never have the honor of teaching cross, it suddenly hit me… If God didn’t want me to spend those years teaching, he would have changed my path sooner. My life has always been according to his plan, whether I accept it or not. Accepting his plan and will in my life without worry just makes it more beautiful.
My steps then and now are from the Lord.
The reason I’m struggling with my children may or may not have anything to do with my working years. Without those working years I would not be ready for a new chapter of life, including the teen / adult relationships with my children. At the time I believed I was in the classroom because that was were God called me, I need to remember that!
I don’t get a do-over with their childhood. God never intended for me to be a full time stay at home mom. He intended for me to be a Catholic School Teacher who was also a wife and mother. My children have acquired many skills as a result of being homeschooled by a working mom. That is a gift.
This week I am beginning to tutor a younger sibling of students I had when they were 4th graders in my class. What a blessing this family trusts me with this task! God intends for me to help him develop into a strong learner.
Douglas, innocently asked what was wrong with the boy, and I answered quickly by saying he couldn’t read, then I corrected myself and said:
“ I should say nothing is wrong with him because everyone learns differently…He needs me to help him with his reading and writing, but there is plenty of time because he is only a 1st grader. “
Lauren piped up and recalled how I helped “Butterfly Scarf” read when she was in 6th grade! (name changed to protect her identity – but I am very proud of the woman she has become! I hope she may in fact read my blog 🙂 This young lady was a non reader in my 4th grade Faith Formation class. I assisted her Mom pull her out of public school, homeschool her and allow her the time she needed to blossom into a dynamic reader. She went to High School and was very successful – and continues to be – because she was given the space to learn at her own pace. I know my little tutoring friend will be much the same. He will read.
I could go on and on with stories of students I know beyond a shadow of a doubt I impacted. Because that’s exactly what God intended for me. He placed me on that path, and kept me on the path.
Slowly I will still impact the lives of students, not 30 at a time on a daily basis. But God will continue to send me those (if any) I need to work with.
I can have no regrets in life if I truly believe that God is in control, Even when I don’t specifically ask Him for his will, he is guiding my life to be in accordance to his will.
I always told my students when they grew up to become famous to remember to tell the world they owed it all to their 4th grade teacher! I suppose they will ow *some* of it to God as well because in his wisdom he made ME their 4th grade teacher, but those darlings know who to give credit to – wink wink!
For now I will continue to find Joy on the steps of my path and worry less. I don’t need to understand the ways of the Lord, just trust in Him.
Here is a download for you to remember that you too are on the path God intended for you! Feel free to share your thoughts with me!
Happy 2020! I pray this year brings you many opportunities to choose joy! As I sit and listen to the sleeping house, the squirrels play in the yard and the birds sing their early morning song, I am indeed filled with Joy.
I spent my last day of the year removing Christmas from the house. I know – GASP – before Three Kings Day, however I decorate for the New Year – and the two clash. I can’t help it.
I did not stay up until midnight. You’re not surprised I’m sure. But I have been up since 5am, doing my thing…including compiling a complete set of all the 2019 Bible Verse posters I created. I have a goal for 2020. I would like to remove the .wordpress from this blog and create an actual website called Gratitude-Little Things-Contentment. I figure I will use one of my FAVORITE verses of all time and let it guide me: to summarize, Christy style: God will provide food for the birds, but he won’t put it in their nest. I’m not much for sitting back and letting life happen, I’m a full blown participant. I like to create. I don’t believe in get rich quick schemes. I believe in hard work, and I believe, most of all that God has a plan for me.
Therefore, I will continue provide FREE downloads of the bible verses I create, but I will also load them into my etsy store and make them available for purchase without my blog branding across the bottom. My goal is NOT to get rich or scam people out of their money. I plan to earn my website with quality blogging and quality products.
Let me tell you, I am done reading article after article telling me how to make $10,000 a month blogging only to come to the end of the article and have to PAY to get their “secret” . That’s the secret! They get people who want to make money blogging to pay to buy something that says this is how you blog, but it seems to be nothing. You have to sign up to be an affiliate to this and that and load your site with liposuction advertisements. I do not personally KNOW a $10K a month blogger. I’m sure they exist. My goal is to be a servant of God, to follow his will. I like writing and I hope you like reading.
If you are so inspired to buy my craft items in my etsy store, digital downloads, TeachersPayTeachers curriculum or to hire me as a Homeschool curriculum consultant, I hope you do it because of the person I am, or you want the stuff 🙂 no strings attached. I am also an amazon affiliate. I made $2.47 in 2019. Totally awesome. If you want to support me that is one of the EASIEST ways to do it. Just use my link to buy what YOU need. Done.
Another great way to support me that costs NOTHING is by leaving comments. If you know me, you know I do not need likes, comments, feedback, etc for myself. I pretty much do my own thing without a care to what others think. The reality of it is this: Others are attracted to a blog that is interactive. I now you are reading it because when I see you IRL you tell me, and I can also see how many page hits each post has. I’m not re-reading them my self-centered -self that many times!
Let’s start by sharing goals for 2020. Leave a comment and let me know what your goals are for this wide-open year ahead!
Here is the link to ALL the 2019 printables. They are just $2.00 in my etsy shop. (In fact they are on sale from Jan 1st – 15th 2020 for 30% off, so they are just $1.40. That’s just about 17 cents each!)
Way back before photo cards were a thing, I spent hours on a picture filled family newsletter to send with my Christmas card. Think back, there was no Facebook for family and friends keep up with every activity.
It was my blog before blogging!
So, as the year winds down it is time to highlight the great things God has done for me, beginning with the catalyst of change and growth: My shoulder surgery and recovery.
JANUARY: I had my rotator cuff repaired and my bicep reattached, causing me to be off work for 2 months instead of the 3 weeks I had hoped for. I used those 2 months to pray for God’s will in my life. . . to REALLY turn myself over to His Will. I watched the Walton’s and Little House on the Prairie. Life was calm and good.
FEBRUARY: We took an epic trip to Disneyland. Because I was still on disability, the things I could do were extremely limited. But it was SO NICE to see Disneyland at a slow pace! We saw President Lincoln and reminisced about homeschooling. We watched cartoons in the Main Street Cinema, explored Tarzan’s treehouse, rode the Rivers of America on the Mark Twain Riverboat, fed the ducks, explored Pirate’s Cove, rode the train all the way around the park, and so much more!
I even got a Balloon! It was a sweetheart balloon!
MARCH: In March I grew as a Mother. I put my oldest child on a plane by herself. I have to be honest, I cried. She was going to Arizona to tour a college campus. We both survived. I left the college decision in God’s hands. I most certainly had to. God gave her to me, she is really His. Thankfully she chose NOT to spend 20K a year on college and is happily attending Junior College and living at home. Smart Girl. Happy Momma! What struck me most about this day was the kind woman in line that noticed my tears and took the time to tell me it would be okay. The words of that other mother- a perfect stranger made a HUGE impact on me that day.
APRIL: Holidays always leave happy memories. Whatever it is about Tic-Tacs, the Bugs love them. They only appear at Easter and Christmas for some reason… hmm that reminds me, I better remind Santa to put some in their stocking! Douglas is the king of clowning around. I just love the sense of humor God blessed him with.
MAY: May was a big month! Lauren went to the Prom (no date, just with her friends) and Megan received the Sacrament of Confirmation.
JUNE: In June the UNTHINKABLE happened. This little girl Graduated from High School. I swear she just started Kindergarten last week. She was surrounded by family and friends and professed how happy she was to graduate from a “real” school rather than my homeschool. I was very proud, but still longed for the backyard ceremony at the Gandara Bug Academy the way I planned so long ago. It’s not about what I want. That is the overarching message of my year, isn’t it? Wait until next month, LOL – That message is going to be received loud and clear!
JULY: In July my life changed in a way I didn’t think possible. Well if you are a blog reader, you know what is coming, but for those of you just joining the show: I lost my job as a teacher in a “freak accident” of God’s Will. See when you pray for God’s Will, he actually gives it to you!
I was not given the title of Vice Principal I asked for, nor allowed to be the 4th Grade teacher the way I wanted…
I was given God’s Will – (a contract I had refused to sign in May because it was the right thing to do, it contained too much money for a 4th grade teacher and did NOT contain the title of Vice Principal – but I was expected to continue to do the work of the Vice Principal. Now in July I was NOT being offered an updated contract, therefore I had no job.)
2 days later, We went camping and I discovered my purpose in life by reading the book called: A Mother’s Rule of Life
My purpose in life is to love God. He gave me this rock as a reminder:
Then mid July, we went camping again and I saw a Bear. A Baby Bear. I have no way to describe the majesty of seeing a bear in Yosemite. It was what I imagine Heaven to be like, but I hope I can pet it! I want Heaven to be a giant petting zoo filled with animals that can talk and will let me pet them! Anthony tried to get pictures, but I just stood there, amazed. These two camping trips – planned LONG before my contract was not renewed – provided PEACE to my soul and allowed me the freedom to begin living my life as a wife and mother again.
My life will never be the same just 7 months after having rotator cuff surgery – so many blessings, including losing my job! (Don’t get me wrong, leaving teaching was not as easy as I make it sound!)
AUGUST: Just a simple day trying to be glamorous taking selfies with Megan. Notice she looks flawless in every picture, and I look like a 48 year old goof ball. I have no “back to school” stress. Just memory making. Although we are taking the financial hit of a lifetime by my choice to become an assistant Lunch Lady and not return to teaching – we decided to keep our Disney passes by switching to the new “flex pass”. This pass requires you to make reservations in advance. Being an organized person – this is right up my alley!
SEPTEMBER:I continue to seek God in the little things. Finding this spider in the bushes at Stater Brothers on my way to work was a great start to my day. The orb weaver has created a magnificent web, It works hard, and must do so over and over again. Shortly after this sighting, one of these spiders moved into the front yard and blessed us with a web daily for about 5 – 7 days. Each time was cause to stop and examine, even if it might make us a little late.
OCTOBER: Visiting with my niece Danielle before she moves to Africa with her husband Rubin for at least 3 years. I think she looks more like me than my own children do. Going out to eat together with My Dad and Gloria is a treat. He shared about his recent trip to New Jersey and we got to hear from Danielle about Rubin’s exciting job in Africa. Through technology it won’t seem so bad as we will still talk using face time. Not like when we first moved to California from New Jersey and my mom had to wait all month for her 1 hour long distance phone call with her mom. Times sure have changed!
NOVEMBER: Family time with the Studgems. We gathered for Game night. Watch out for the youngest, she is a poker champ! Spending time like this allows us to slow down and just be. Having children that range in age from 4-18 sometimes makes activities difficult, but this group makes it work!
DECEMBER: Our picture with Santa contains an extra “bug” this year… Lauren’s boyfriend Alex. They have been dating for 4 months now. I’m not sure how I feel about it. She was just in Kindergarten last week and now she has a boyfriend!
I think the teacher in me just treats him like an extra kid around the house. He likes Dr. Pepper. That’s all it takes!
I spent my year focusing on Happy Habits, journaling (through this blog) events and recording 3 things every day I was thankful for. I was supposed to walk every day, but that didn’t really happen. (Just keeping it real).
For the past 10 years I have chosen a word to guide my year. The name of my blog are the first three: Gratitude, Little Things, Contentment. Some years I do better than others as letting my word be my guide. Now We are faced with 2020 – the end of my 10 year cycle and my “last” word to wrap it all up.
For a few weeks I have been lead to the phrase “CHOOSE JOY” – and that will be my word for 2020. I will strive to choose to see joy in all things, all people as I continue to grow as a human on the planet.
I hope you will continue to journey with me. Follow my blog. Comment on my blog. Feel free to share a word that will guide your 2020. May God Bless you!
P.S. This post is dedicated to my son Douglas who lost his “best friend” Minnie Marie on December 19th.
I remember my Mother telling me that when I hurt, she hurt 10 times worse. I felt that as I watched my 15 year old pick a spot in our yard for his kittie. He was thoughtful, choosing an area where there was “room for the others” when their time came. He worked diligently digging the grave deep enough. He displayed immense inner strength, courage and sensitivity I am proud of.
We brought Minnie home to be buried, unlike any of our other animals due to the financial cost of cremation on top of the emergency 11:30 pm vet visit. Part of me felt a giant burden of guilt, for if I was still working a full time teaching job, cost would not have been an issue, but I released my burden and allowed God to take over.
Douglas handled this situation in such an amazing way – and if we had simply left Minnie to be cremated as we have our other animals, he could not have displayed this amazing STRENGTH I bet even he didn’t know he possessed. Thank you God for this AMAZING year of growth for our family.
What is your attitude about Mondays? Are you one of those people who dreads the first day of the work week? I used to be – until I realized it was simply a choice of my attitude. My good friend Emily explained it to me this way – find some element of joy in your Monday – something to look forward to, something to be excited about – and then you won’t dread the coming of Mondays anymore. It was a mind-shift. I continue to find Joy in Mondays (everyday really!)
I recently applied this strategy to the anniversary of my brother’s death. It actually falls into a “whopper” of a week. Within a 7 day span the anniversary of a dear friends passing through an act of terrorism occurs, My deceased Mom’s birthday occurs and the anniversary of my younger brother’s death fall. This year I was dealing with the added stress of having my older brother suffer some medical issues simultaneously with this “whopper” week.
As It is my habit to seek God in all things I understand God has a plan and his plan is perfect, so on the anniversary of my brother’s death as I sat and cried missing him so deeply, I prayed to find goodness because I did not want to have this forever be a day to dread. We have a birthday and a “death day”. The birthday is a day to celebrate with a party, cake and presents – our day of death should be another way to remember and celebrate for those of us left behind. I prayed to find the JOY and something to celebrate in this sad, sad day.
Time was up, I wiped my tears and went to work. Boy do I love my job. You would not think so, but it takes a steady stream of work to prepare for 2 breaks and lunch – so I was busy constantly from 8am – 2pm and my mind was full, no time to be distracted or sad. It was payday and as my dear friend gave me my paycheck, I hugged her tightly, thanking her from the depth of my soul in a way she couldn’t comprehend for saving me. God knew I needed to be the assistant lunch lady in so many ways, he knew I needed my friend to talk to me all day long about her kids and RCC, and International Students and the Senior Picture in the gym….
When I returned home I went to check the “news” on Facebook and I was greeted almost instantly by my answer from God. This is the week my dear friends received their Daughter from China! The same year we lost my brother we gained our LADYBUG!!!! There is no longer any reason for me to dread this week as I have my beautifully sweet Chinese ladybug to love and honor all that is good in the world.
(Side note: when dealing with Chinese adoption – seeing a ladybug means your referral is coming soon. A ladybug is also a symbol of good luck in many cultures, that is why I gave this sweet girl this as her “bug” name. – Unfortunatley, “Ladybug” does not like the name ladybug and recently insisted she would like to be a butterfly! The Chinese see the butterfly as a symbol of Immortality and in many other cultures, the butterfly is a symbol of resurrection and hope.) How perfect is my ladybug – butterfly to give me the message of Joy to survive my whopper of emotion week.
God heard me! He sent me the message I needed to relieve the pain of my week and give me the tools to move forward year after year.
I figured out what I did wrong…why I didn’t get promoted to Vice Principal…
This morning as I was driving to work after a lovely 12 days off I was listening to the radio. They have a contest every day in which listeners call in and attempt to answer the disc jockeys statistical based question.
Today’s question was about what common thing people who are successful in getting a raise do to get said raise. I was intrigued for sure. I wonder if this was the key and perhaps what I had done wrong.
Guess #1 was to ask for the raise…for sure, you can’t get a raise if you don’t ask. Good guess, but not the correct answer.
Guess #2 was to dress up more. (If this was it I was on the fence, I didn’t wear my Wonder Woman T shirt, but I sure as heck didn’t put on make up. That would be to present myself as someone I’m not) …nope not the correct answer.
Guess #3 = smile. DING – DING – DING we have a winner…. The key to getting a raise is to smile.
Well, I have to say… There wasn’t a lot of smiling going on when the pastor was saying he: 1.) Didn’t know why I was even there, 2.) In his opinion I was doing the Principal’s job and, 3.) Telling me that I had been basically volunteering as the Vice Principal, so I was welcome to continue to VOLUNTEER for the next school year, but there would be no title.
The #1 way to get a promotion according to a radio show is to smile – Dang it, the next time I’m getting completely insulted for serving my community for 4 years and politely asking to be compensated fairly I will remember to smile. I hope you hear my scarcasim.
I can tell you I smile like the Cheshire Cat filling ranch cups thanking God he rescued me from a place that would take such advantage of another human in His name. I’m smiling now!
I remember the first Thanksgiving we went to visit my brother in Texas. Telling Anthony’s Godmother we wouldn’t be here for the holiday was SO HARD. She has a wonderful way of making every family get together seem like a holiday. …But it was Megan’s 13th birthday and instead of a party, she wanted to watch the entire Harry Potter Movie series with her Texas cousins. Off we went… and Thanksgiving in Texas became a tradition for us.
We had dinner with Oma and Opa – my sister in laws wonderful parents, who welcomed us each year with open hearts. I brought pie 🙂
In 2017 I called my younger brother an had to tell him we couldn’t afford to make the trip. We were going to try our hardest to come at Christmas, but would come in the summer for sure. I hung up and cried my eyes out. I think that might actually be the last time I talked to my brother.
As a family we went Camping the few days before Thanksgiving, and then resumed our spot with the Rosas clan enjoying a big Mexican Thanksgiving.
Life went on for about a week… until I got the phone call that my younger brother passed away. Funny now how we couldn’t afford to go to Texas for Thanksgiving and now we would make the trip anyway.
God in his wisdom provided us the means. Bereavement pay for Anthony – and out of state meant he had the extra time needed to drive us there. Friends helped us too in so many little ways with gift cards and meals. We were absorbed by our village of friends.
I had no way of knowing that trip in 2016 would be the last time I would see my brother for Thanksgiving – But I am so very thankful God blessed me with the memories (scrapbookers take lots of pictures!) and that he inspired Megan to begin our annual trips. I hope next year I’m strong enough to make the trip again because I long to see my Sister in law and nieces and know my kids miss their cousins too!
I might need to make the trip a Summer thing, a new tradition isn’t a bad idea. In the meantime my hope is that each of my friends and family spend this thanksgiving listening to the stories their relatives tell – even if it is for the 100th time – for you never know if you will have the opportunity to hear that story again.
Today I’m thankful for:
1: Waffle Wednesday …it was yesterday at work. My idea to add sprinkles on top every time. Life is better with sprinkles!
2. Caught up with the video challenge I am participating in.
3. Rain. Even though it was only a little, I loved it!
Today I’m thankful for: 1. My husband. He never misses a beat with me, is always supportive, and puts fuel in my truck…the important stuff! 2. Laundry. It means we have clothes to wear. 3. Food. I have been cooking dinner since my career change impacts our income, but the bonus is it created quality family time. Talking over a home cooked meal is very different from talking over fast food.
It’s no secret among my family and close friends I did not want children. It seems crazy 18 years later to say it. It’s fun to tell the story because it is by far one of the biggest reminders of how wise God is and how much he loves me.
My first child was an accident. Yes I know how babies are born, but let’s just keep it PG and say God had to overcome some obstacles to bless us with Lauren. We were blocking his efforts on our end. When I found out I was pregnant I spent the entire remaining 8 months cursing God and railing at him – “How could you do this to me??” I drove through McDonalds and tried to beat the 30 second drive through guarantee. Good times. She should love Dr. Pepper as much as I do.
The moment of her birth time became immeasurable – I became a brand new person and all the anger dissapeared. GOD WAS GREAT. See what he gave me!!!
Lauren was enough, That “Great Gift” soon backfired a bit and turned into a crying monster who was a bit to handle. I was still quite grateful – but no more of those would be coming out of me!!!
Well, Breastfeeding is NOT birth control…. The poor nurse who gave me the results of the pregnancy test at my 6 month follow up appointment when I cried and cried to find out I was pregnant again. If God gave me another crying monster I was going to be pissed. Besides – I only loved one husband…how on earth do you love more than one child? Poor Lauren. (My logic sometimes makes me laugh in hind site, but I cried and cried over that!)
When #2 arrived my heart grew in a way I didn’t know was possible. The power of Love is AMAZING. Megan is the child that taught me that. And by-golly this baby was pretty damn-near perfect. She was quiet, well behaved – and still is. Not that Lauren isn’t – once Lauren outgrew that 8 month crying spurt it was smooth sailing. But that crying spurt was enough to scare anyone out of parenthood! Megan is even tempered and observant of the world around her.
So now I was faced with a dilemma. God, in his infinite wisdom had shown me motherhood WAS indeed a blessing, and something I was destined for… But darn that all knowing being. He tricked me TWICE.
That was NOT going to happen again… We decided to have a third child and (this sounds far more blasphemous than it really is) God wasn’t going to interfere this time!
We conceived a third time in just about 3 years… I spent all 9 months telling everyone I met that I was having a girl…because people are crazy. They THOUGHT we were trying to have a Boy because we had 2 girls. People it was far more than that. We were trying to out -maneuver GOD. We didn’t care if it was a boy or a girl .
Besides it was such a wonderful surprise when Douglas did arrive and he was a boy!
Douglas, if you know him is hysterical. I think it is his survival of the fittest skill. Having to compete with 2 older sisters Douglas learned quick to “fight back” with quirky quips and sarcasm. He Has kept up with them and doesn’t miss a beat.
I don’t claim to be Mom of the year – I have certainly made more than my fair share of mistakes along the way. God seems to have forgotten to send the instruction manual along with these gifts. But my love for them is never ending.
In this season of Gratitude I can not go another day without thanking God for sending me these precious children and making me their mother. Each day it gets closer and closer to the time I must let go and give them back to God. A time I knew would come… I am confident I have done my best and their foundation is strong. I will continue to cherish every moment I have with them under my roof!
I pray you are grateful for whatever God has blessed you with in life.