Friday, December 9, 2011

There is Hope.

I just returned from yet another retreat with senior students. God has been calling me to do all kinds of ministry this year it seems, and while it stresses me out at times, I honestly love it. It's what I DO.

This time, the retreat was with another local high school (a school where more than a few of my college friends have taught or teach at!) and our students were there to participate and observe so we can run a similar retreat at our school with our students in the Spring.

Because I have been out of my classroom more than I would have liked this semester, I didn't go for the entire retreat (which is 3-4 days!). I instead taught the first 3 days, then arrived afterschool that evening. The students were gathered to hear the quintessential "forgiveness talk" before Confessions in the chapel of the retreat house when I arrived. I found one of my teacher-friends from college and went and sat with him behind 3 of my students.

They turned around and told me they were having a wonderful time (but that I "had missed the BEST night"- apparently, the night before). I was happy that they were enjoying themselves but I was more just shocked at how everyone in the chapel was SO quiet and prayerful. I had just come from a classroom of lively kids (who i often want to show this video to...I'm the professor...) and these students here were "in the zone". I could tell the past 2 days- and God- had affected them.

The next 24 hours (or less) that I was there, I couldn't help but be positive. As I said, the kids were all so happy to be there, so peaceful, and it was kind of a relief to be with students that WANTED to take 4 days out of their lives, not knowing what they were getting themselves into, and risk. Risk the chance that they may not have a good time or miss out at things at school, and take the risk for God essentially. It gave me hope.

There have been MANY a day/night I am bitter with the road God is taking me on. I look at my classroom or a retreat on a bad day and go: "this is my LIFE. I spend it talking about GOD to TEENAGERS. Gah! WHAT AM I DOING?! AM I getting through?! This is hopeless".

But today, my thoughts at Mass went like this: "This is MY life. I GET to spend it talking about God WITH teenagers. God has blessed me."

Sense more peace in my er, "voice"?

I have been finally surrendering a little bit more to God, giving Him a little more control of my life. And my Advent rosary is certainly helping.

I found myself this week not too tired or angry to want to talk to others and hang out after school. Most days after work- after talking for six + hours straight- I often come home and don't want to look at or speak to ANYONE. I just want SILENCE. But this week, I didn't seem to need that extra introvert time. It certainly wasn't the weather- the weather earlier this week was terrible- I began to wonder, what was it?

Then I recalled I am teaching holiness and virtue, Ignatius and Therese in my classes right now. Kind of hard to be a jerk when you are explaining consolation and desolation four times a day. It definitely makes you think and want to pray.

This Sunday is the THIRD Sunday of Advent already- Gaudate Sunday! We think about the word "joy" this week. And I think I would like to reflect on that joy in light of the HOPE we all one other, in God.

Lastly, I have hope that...


I may become somewhat domestic yet!

"Milky Way Cookie Bars...they look somewhat edible, right?!

My friends host an annual "Holiday Dessert Exchange" and I usually go for the company and mulled wine. However, it is also the ONE TIME A YEAR I attempt to do something in the kitchen. In 2009, I documented it in this blog as well (apparently, our cookie exchange always happens around Gaudate Sunday)

I have definitely upgraded this year from '09's "reindeer poop" to this year's "Milky Way bars" (see above). I begged for easy recipes over Facebook and the Milky Way bars won because they were the easiest. There were a couple moments I found myself vigorously texting my friend who gave me the recipe (to make sure I got it right!) and moment I thought all hope was lost- my batter was really crumbly. I normally would just scream for a roommate to come to my aid and fix the mess I'd gotten myself into, but in this moment I recalled words my Babci (yes, the 89 year old immigrant Polish grandmother who insists I'm too religious and "would just like to see me get marry before she dies already") told me a few years ago when I found myself in the same predicament:

"Add some sour cream to it."

"Um, but Babci, I'm making COOKIES. Do you mean...cream? Whipped cream? Cream cheese?"

"Nope. The sour cream. Put a spoonful in."

I could hear those words echoing in my brain also mixed with the shame I feel each time she mocks me for not cooking enough and ran to the fridge to see if we had some sour cream.

We did. And it worked. Babci saves the day again.

There is hope for me- and for us- yet!

Peace be with you! (proper response? AND WITH YOUR SPIRIT! Just testing...)


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