i joined wordpress as a way to get back into blogging. i once was a regular blogger. i supposed you can blame it on the lack of time. i do think part of the reason i haven’t blogged in a long time is because i am not enjoying my current blogging site. once upon a time, i used xanga. i suppose i can go back and blog there but i left for a reason. xanga is pretty outdated (duh!) as no one i know blogs there anymore.  i’ve blogged through myspace. writing notes on FB isn’t considered blogging to me. i then moved to tumblr. i do think that tumblr is interesting but it just doesn’t fit the type of blogger i am. tumblr is about posting videos and pictures and cool things that you find on the world wide web. it almost reminds me of pinterest – which i’ve been invited to but am hesitant to join because i’d be a terrible pinterest-er. i’m more of the express-yourself, share-your-thoughts blogger. i needed something where, when i log on, i’d find other bloggers doing the same through photos and words rather than random youtube videos and funny pictures.

my desire to start writing again was so intense that i did research as to which blogging platform would best fit me. so here i am. quick warning, my blogs aren’t that interesting. my life is pretty simple, my thoughts are short of complex but i do like to share them. i wear my heart on my sleeve, be vulnerable to perfect strangers and  just write. i’ve always believed that expressing yourself through random thoughts and crazy rants helps to organize cluttered thoughts. but its been so long. so here i am. get ready to step into my world and i’m rather excited to  get into it all over again.

i suppose i should begin with a quick intro as to who i am. at least then, you’ll know what you’re getting yourself into.

first and foremost, i am the daughter of the living God and Christ is my Savior. I am a sinner, undeserving of his love, grace and mercy yet He offers the free gift of Salvation. i desire to be sanctified but struggle as my fleshly desire and human nature can sometimes get a hold on me. i firmly believe that He loves me and He has truly saved me from every danger this world has put on me. in my darkest hour, He’s been faithful. in my most trying moments, He has showered me with love. i tell my story because it gives Him glory. i long for others to know Christ the way i do and if that means writing about it and talking about it so they could know, then that’s what i’ll do.

i’m a special ed, high school teacher for a chicago public school. it’s definitely a challenge. my patience is tested on a daily basis. working in an inner city school, where my students are orphans, parents, gang-bangers, addicts, illiterate, broken and simply different, is my true calling. i consider it my daily missions trip. i love it. sure, there are days when its hard but never have i considered changing my profession. God has given me the heart to love these kids, the patience to withstand the toughest times and the compassion to show love to them. i just embrace and allow God to use me as a His love. for some, i may be the only positive role model figure in their life and i thrive on that. when everyone has turned their back on them, i take them in. yes, during my lunch and my prep periods i’d rather be alone but my classroom is always open for kids who simply want to sit with me and talk. that may sound crazy to others but like i said, it’s who i am and that’s what God has blessed me with.

i’m a daughter, i’m a sister, i’m a friend. i treasure my relationships. i make the effort in all my relationships. i listen, i understand. i don’t do drama, i refrain from gossip but it happens. i’m working on it. i don’t judge – i simply listen. i make mistakes too. i don’t sweat the small stuff. i tell friends if they’ve hurt me but that’s rare. i let others into my boring life and so far, its been good. i’m not the greatest friend which is simply evidenced by the amount of friends i’ve lost over the years but hey, that’s life. i’ve gained so many other quality friends. things don’t always work out, i’m ok with that.

i believe in love and i love hard. i don’t hold back. i don’t worry about heartache. i’ve gotten over it before, i can get over it again. sure there’s a tough exterior but after some peeling, you’ll find love.

age aint nothing but a number. as long as you don’t waste your days and your years, then it doesn’t matter. i don’t think about the days i have left. i look at how far i’ve come and i try to make the most of the present.

everything is all about attitude. everyone has a bad day – some circumstances worst than others but its about our attitude. you have the choice to stay positive or let it ruin your life. after the initial annoyance, i like to think that i have a good attitude about things. i don’t dwell… i let go and move on.

everything in life is a gift. i don’t believe i deserve anything. who am i to say what i deserve?

i love my life, even the parts that are challenges. it’s a part of God’s perfect plan. i always look back in hindsight and i smile at what God just did. he’s awesome, i’m not.

i make mistakes. lots of them. i have too many things going on that i forget other things. i have a tiny insecurity about my physical appearance though i believe that God made me beautiful. there goes an example as to why i call myself a walking contradiction. i guess i just think that i could do more to make myself better. my room is always a mess. i let things pile up and then i have a mini freak out. i don’t like to proofread- you’ll discover that soon enough. i put too much on plate all at once. i have trouble saying no sometimes. i complain too much. my old tendency to exaggerate comes back every now and then. i’m simply far from perfect.

i like the color yellow, running races, music especially the piano and guitar though i don’t know how to play either, i like to watch sports especially the Bulls, school supplies, pictures, socks, colorful things, painting my nails on a weekly basis, reality tv, good books, working out and making goals.

that’s me in about 1100 words. well, here’s to a new beginning.

-s

 

 

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Usually, by this time of the year my favorite tree is in full bloom. I slow down as I drive to capture its beauty because in a matter of days, its petals start to fall. This year, nothing has bloomed and we’re almost halfway through April. I’m tired of this crummy weather. I want to see flowers. Maybe I should move…. Nahhh. Chicago is my home.

I can’t describe how I felt when I clicked on google chrome this morning. Usually, google has some fancy and fun thing when you log onto their site. Being that it is Easter, I expected to see a Cross or even the Easter bunny (though, I am not a fan). To my dismay, this is what I saw:

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What, really? I clicked on it and apparently its Cesar Chavez’ birthday. What? Who cares? Why would that be more worthy than a holiday that shuts downs stores, malls and businesses. 

 

I’m not going to dwell on it but I will say that it’s a shame.

 

What I will dwell on is the fact that Jesus Christ conquered death on this holiday. It truly is my favorite and when I think about it, I am in awe of who my God is. It humbles me that despite my sins and weaknesses, He came down on this filthy earth, lived a perfect life, died a sinner’s death, BUT ROSE FROM THE DEAD – proving that my God is MIGHTY, POWERFUL, PERFECT, LOVING, VICTORIOUS, and RISEN!

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It was my hand, it was my sin that nailed Him to the cross. Reflecting in that. Amazed at my Savior’s obedience, strength, and LOVE! It is finished and thats all that matters. I’ve never been so excited to celebrate my risen and victorious Savior!

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I know you can’t really tell what picture is about… Truth is, I’m not the selfie picture type. In fact, selfies annoys me. But I took the picture because this is a sweater I bought at the thrift store: a $3 Banana Republic cashmere sweater. Its not so much that I love the sweater… I’m happy because I originally bought it because it was cheap and it fit my teacher wardrobe. Unfortunately, its been sitting in my closet for 15 months because I haven’t been able to fit in it. Today, I tried it on and I was shocked at its looseness. I guess all that running and dieting and personal training sessions have made a HUGE difference. I can’t wait to try on all the other clothes I’ve struggled to fit in.

So, I’m pretty sure I’m the worst blogger ever. It’s officially been six months since my last entry and that is so unlike me. A couple reasons why that is because I have started grad school since then, work has been busy this year, and I spent the rest of my free time trying my best to get work done. It’s been absolutely tiring but rewarding all at the same time.

I’ve also been thinking about restructuring my blogs. Perhaps, I can categorize my blogs. I suppose that’s just the teacher in me. Don’t be surprised if I just start kind of putting a label in front of every title of my blogs. That’s a possibility…

How has life been otherwise? I guess in short, you can say I’m losing my mind. There’s just too many things to do and not enough time in the day. So many thoughts flooding my mind and I can’t seem to get them organized. I sometimes sit and wonder, what should I do first? As I stare at the list of things to do or the books and laptop in front of me, I am stumped. I am just absolutely overwhelmed by the things I have to do. It boggles my mind that I have all that work to get done.

Despite that, I still do think that it’s healthy to write. I looked back on my xanga entries and was just amazed at how much I had to say before. I don’t want life to pass me by and not be able to remember things because I was busy. Life is definitely something to remember and each day is an opportunity to make it worth remembering. 

So hopefully, from here on out, you’ll get to see more blogs from me. 

-S

This has probably been one of the strangest weeks of my life. I’ve experienced fatigue from walking the picket lines. I’ve felt pride as we stand for our beliefs. I’ve experienced resentment towards uneducated assumptions. I’ve felt worked up from the birds that have been flipped and the angry words that we’ve received. I’ve felt unity as the city honks in support of us. I’ve felt the weight of children not having anywhere to go. I’ve felt strong as students have come to show their support. These are the flood of emotions I’ve felt, all for the right to a fair contract for CPS teachers.

I can already assume that some people reading this are already rolling their eyes, muttering cuss words under their breath. That’s fine. The purpose of this isn’t to fight or argue. The purpose of this is to let you know my sentiments as an ACTUAL CPS teacher who experiences daily, what is being discussed at the negotiation table. To the one who has so much to say, at least hear me out – educate yourself about the realities of public education before you run off this with the mouth.

First of all, this strike is not about the money. If it were, I wouldn’t have walked off the job knowing that I am not getting paid. If it were about the money, I would not have entered this profession in the first place. I know that it is calculated that the average teacher make about $71,000 but consider those teachers who have their masters or doctorate degrees and have been in the system for 25 years. It would literally take me twenty plus years to even get to that point. I know very well that I have friends who are already making that much, just years out of college. I’m not complaining – I’m happy for my friends. But don’t loosely throw around the word “greedy”. I take offense to that.

Must I remind you all that the city failed to give us the 4% raise last year, which we were contractually entitled to? Yeah, I’m sure you all forgot bout that one. They say we’re getting a 16% raise within the next four year. I’m not sure if I’m just that bad at math but the proposed first year we get a 3% raise and then 2% raises the next three years adds up to 9%, not 16%.

They’ve extended the school day by 14 minutes. In reality, we’re in school an extra 45 minutes. I’m not getting paid for being required to work an extra 45 minutes. So that “16%” raise over the next four years is supposed to be covering the extra time: 45 extra minutes a day, 225 extra minutes a week, 900 extra minutes a month.

They’ve extended the school day to provide additional supports for students, right? But what they failed to do was find a way to implement that time effectively. Did you know that some some schools are using that time to give students an hour of recess? Or they’re tacking on time to their lunch periods? Does it seem like extra support has been provided? Right, I didn’t think so. As good as it is to allow kids to have recess, you can’t have it for too long. An hour long recess takes kids out of work mode, its too long of unstructured time, it allows for fights to break out etc. If they’re going to require us to teach longer school days, then figure out a useful way for schools to use it. Oh right, its not that easy given that the decision makers are politicians and not educators.

People are wondering where the funding will come from. I understand the concern. I live in Chicago and suffer from financial crisis we’re in but if we didn’t have money, where did the $25,000,000 come from for the contingency plan to open up schools for students during the strike? They had enough money to even put out a commercial. (Side note: I think it’s funny because anyone who watches those political commercials during election time can easily laugh at what a joke the commercial is. Yet when its against CTU, people actually listen to the the message of the commercial.) They’re not willing to dish out that money for schools but man were they ever ready to dish out the money to renovate the city for the 2016 Olympics  What happened to that money?

So what are we actually asking money for? For our classrooms. You want our students a chance to compete with the rest of the world but you’re giving us run down text books, computers that are ten years old. During one of the news segment, there were African American students, each with an iPad, working diligently. I’m sure that was for TV’s sake but in my own school, a school of 2,500 students, there are only 30 iPads are available. My kids do not have easy access to this stuff. Without these resources then our students will continue to struggle with standardized tests.

Let’s talk about standardized tests. Are these a true assessments of a student’s ability and intelligence? Take for instance student A. She is involved in several after school activities (president of student council, national honors society, debate team etc) excels in the classroom, loved by all her teachers but has a mediocre ACT score. That surely doesn’t reflect the efforts she puts forth in school, the amount of time she spends after school. So is it fair to judge a student with that? No, so why should a teacher’s evaluation be based on my student’s performance as well. The truth of the matter is that some people don’t test well, myself included. Don’t you remember your own struggles with standardized tests? Don’t you remember feeling less of yourself because your test scores weren’t as high as the next joe who, so effortlessly, did well.  I love the student’s signs that read “I am more than a test score“. I also don’t want my curriculum to solely be driven by the standardized tests. It limits my freedom with my curriculum. Let’s face it, standardized test uses language my students, whose families speak Spanish or something else at home, don’t use. Hardly fair.

I can keep on and on but I’ve already spent over an hour writing this up.

Again, I’m not trying to get into arguments, I’m just trying to shed some light on the reality of public education. Like I said, educate yourself before judging us. If you have any questions, I’ll be more than happy to answer them. Other CPS teachers, feel free to add what you want.

At the end of the day, I desire so badly to be back in the classroom with my students. Please pray for our leaders.

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Day 1

ImageDay 2 at Portage Park

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Day 3 – Up and at em

ImageSpending the time in the word and in prayer with co-workers.

ImageDay 4 – Teachers getting creative with the signs

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Day 5 – Making Noise

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Love our student support!

Its been quite awhile. I’m back now, I think… I’ve been feeling this urgency to write but its been ridiculously busy with the beginning of the new school year and I just started grad school.

Lately, I’ve been feeling this urgency to share my life. That’s quite strange considering that most times, I’d rather be private.

What I do want to share is mostly how present God is in my life. Truth is, we live in a dying world with no hope. Society believes that happiness is gained by climbing the social ladder, success, popularity, image, and riches. If that were so, then most of this world is headed towards misery.

My life, well, its far from perfect. Its difficult and frustrating. I feel like my efforts to pay off debt have been in vain. I get discouraged with my failures. I get judged and criticized by those closest to me. I am always drowning with work from both my job and school. My life could be worse but it’s not easy.

Despite it all, I feel overjoyed and full from the love of God. His love and provisions for me are far greater than any failure, pain, and stress. I can’t hoard my peace and joy, I have to express it. It’s my prayer that one lost soul will come across my blog and be changed. Perhaps that’s a far fetched wish but my God is able.

More to come. Can’t wait to share more. For now, goodnight!

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.

-Psalms 139:13-14

This promise has comforted me in times that I feel like I’ve been placed on the back burner. Lately, it seems like that’s the case and I’m not a fan of throwing myself a pity party. This verse reminds me that I was made a special way and my Creator is the same Creator of the Universe. So, I am not going to feel down, because at least in His eyes, I’m special and that’s more than enough. 

Many people are under the impression that I have everything together. Don’t get me wrong, life is pretty great but to say that I have everything together, well that would be false. On a daily basis, my mind is racing, desperately trying to figure out how to fix things. For those of you who know me, you’re probably bewildered at that statement. The truth is, I look at my life and its a mess. I look at my room and there are piles of junk – everywhere. Piles of shoes, piles of clothes, piles of mail… Everything in my life seems to be a pile-up of junk. I have this terrible tendency to get things semi-finished and then move on to the next thing but nothing ever really gets done. So I’m left with a lot of unfinished business. That’s a frustrating thing.

I feel like I just get by in life. How did I manage this entire school year with planning the night before? Maybe make plans for a week in advanced – if I’m lucky. Things at work never gets done – IEP’s, grades, lessons, parent calls, discipline reports, meetings… things at home never gets done. Sure, things aren’t too bad I know this is affecting everything else. I know that my being spent over the THINKING part of getting things done has made me short with my students when I should be offering more help and showing more patience but it has also made me allow things to slide because I don’t have the energies to deal with things. It has made me short with my family, especially my parents and sometimes, all they want to do is talk. 

By Gods grace, I am getting by. Daily, He gets me through the day. But I have to do something more. My life is not my own. My life needs to be honoring to the the Creator of the Universe. If that’s the case. I need to set aside all distractions and get it together. Spend time in the Word, meditating on His instructions and His truths. I need to allow his Holy Spirit to give me peace and trust Him. But I have to do my part. I need to get off my lazy butt. I need to get away from the TV, the games on my phone and being lazy. I need to start doing. I need to take care of my tasks so that I can use my energy and time with the people in my life – that, will honor God. 

If you’re reading this, do me a favor: shoot me a text or an email. Give me a call and keep me accountable. Remind me to live my life for God’s purpose. 

Tomorrow is a new day. Let’s make something of it. 

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
     his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
     great is your faithfulness.

-Lamentations 3:22-23

I spent ten minutes looking though my xanga tonight. It’s been 2 years or so since my last post. I moved sites because it was just so old school. But as I was looking through it, I realize that I don’t blog as often or not as elaborate. That’s going to change on WordPress. Promise… Well to the best of my ability.

Before I go, I leave you with this picture… Since I owe a bunch of picture of the weeks.

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Sun, white clouds, and dark-stormy clouds… God knows beauty.

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