Sunday, January 5, 2014

Some Kind of Beautiful...

I suppose you could say this post was inevitable.  It was bound to come pouring out from my heart at one point or another, and with the start of a new year, it's the perfect time share, even though it has absolutely nothing to do with teaching.  It's about to get real... and real personal.   To be completely honest, 2013 was a year of great ups and downs.  I was blessed with new friendships, a big award from NEA, and new opportunities with SDE, and there are so many other things to be thankful for and happy about.  More often than not though, I felt like I was walking under my very own rain cloud for most of 2013.  My dad was officially diagnosed with Coal Miner's Pneumoconiosis (or Black Lung Disease) early in the year.  That was like a swift kick in the gut.  He and I are extremely close, so it's been hard to see him hooked up to an oxygen tank all of the time, and to hear about how frustrated he gets with all of the equipment... including his sleep apnea machine.   My mom has been experiencing some really strange symptoms and pain in her abdomen... and she's undergone a slew of tests as well... so far we have no idea what's causing everything.  She has had problems with her knees for several years, but recently she can't even go up and down stairs.  As one of the babies in my family, with sisters and cousins in their mid-forties, it was a serious wake up call.  My parents are getting older.  Their health is already deteriorating.  It makes me wonder how much longer I'll get to have them around sometimes.  Then my little sister had procedures done to remove a patch of skin cancer, and that worried me since we lost both grandmothers to melanoma.  Of course, I've had my own health scares this year too... including a cancer scare that (fortunately) turned out to be nothing but a scare ... a few surgeries... and my constant and excruciating migraines.  And sweet baby Stella (our puppy) had her own health scare that landed her in surgery twice in a month with an intestinal blockage and resulting complications.  It wasn't the worst year in my life, by FAR, but it wasn't all rainbows and unicorns either. That is just the tip of the iceberg.


You know what?  It's hard not to worry about things.  It's hard not to worry about your health... or your parents' health... or your kids... or your pets.  It's hard not to worry about how you will ever get your house cleaned, write your lesson plans, work out, pay for this or that, and find time for a normal life.  It's been hard for me not to worry about creating something for my students when I know it would benefit them, but then trying to balance all of that that with real life expectations and time constraints.  It's difficult not to worry about the Third Grade Guarantee, the OAA, OTES, and Common Core shifts in a brand new teaching position.  It's hard for me to let things slide, to allow a week to go by without blogging, to spend a whole day away from my computer and away from school stuff, and it's hard for me to think about how I will ever balance this with motherhood someday.   It' s hard for me not to worry.  Period.

Here's the thing though.  I've been in far worse places than the place I'm in right now.  I've been lower, sadder, and more lost.  I've been more overwhelmed, more discouraged, and more listless.  I've experienced more than my share of life traumas that I've worked through with lots of prayer and a few very close, very trusted and cherished friends.  I've battled depression... debilitating and crushing sadness... and I came out of the other side even stronger than before.  And through it all, this is what I've learned: Worrying is, essentially, distrust of God's plan for my life.  Some people say that anxiety is just part of life... that it's just a symptom of our fast-paced society... but I see it differently.  I think it's a vice... and it's definitely my biggest.  It's definitely that one thing I want to change about myself on a professional and a personal level.  I want to worry less, and trust more.  I want the kind of freedom and joy that can only come from letting go and letting God. 


It's true you know...


With that said, I want to leave you with an amazing video.  This weekend, our church incorporated it into our sermon, and it really struck a nerve.  It made me realize that if I were in the video, my mug shot would have the word "worry" scrawled across my picture.  It also made me realize that life is full of choices--choices that you and I have to have the courage to make.   I, for one, don't want to be stuck in the proverbial rocking chair of worry.  I don't want to live in a continuous state of panic. I just want to be content.  I just want to weather the storms of life (and school) and adjust my sail without sending myself into a tizzy over what could happen if my ship sinks.  I want this because I know that even when my life was basically shipwrecked... and even when I have hit rock bottom... there's always a silver lining... and things always get better.  So, I will worship God in this storm, and I will trust Him more than ever.  He makes beautiful things out of dust.... and we only need to seek Him... and He will make beautiful things out of US.  Here's to a beautiful 2014 and new beginnings!
  
                            

28 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness Amanda, you have had such a trying year! I'm so sorry and will continue to pray the health of your family and loved ones. If I can offer you any support, it is you are a shining star. To share your love for teaching, family and friends is so special. You have inspired me to no end! Honestly, blogging and getting my ideas on TPT have been my saving grace to help me not go down depression road each night. I'm sorry you had such a trying year. Thank you for keeping such a positive outlook and keeping so many of us teachers going with your positive and powerful words. (Especially those of us in NC) Hugs - Tara

    http://oceansofteachingideas.blogspot.com (I'm sorry, I'm a dork, I don't know how to link my name as my blog.)


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    1. Tara, I use this site to make the name of my blog into a hyperlink. :)

      Amanda
      A Very Curious Class

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    2. Thank you so much Amanda! You have made my day!
      Oceans of Teaching Ideas

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  2. Wow. What a message in your post. Something, that God must have really laid upon your heart. Many of the words in your post spoke truth to events/feelings in my own life. The video too was powerful. I'm sharing the video onward to my friend who is a youth pastor, I think it's a good message to share with the teens she works with.

    Thank you for your vulnerability and transparency.

    Christy
    Teaching Tales Along the Yellow Brick Road

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  3. This was a great post. I love the message. This is something that I need to work on as well. Good luck.

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  4. I saw that video on your Facebook page this morning and watched it. Very powerful! Our praise team has sung that song but prior to that I hadn't heard it. Thanks for your honesty in sharing your thoughts and feelings. Enjoy your extra day to relax and complete things you might not have otherwise been able to do :).

    Amanda
    A Very Curious Class

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing. I needed to watch that video tonight. Great message. I wish you and your family the very best for 2014. You deserve it.
    Stephanie from Principal Principles

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  6. Wow! What a powerful post from one worrier to another! Thank you for the reminders. I also wish not for extravagant things, but just to be content. I pray that God will guide you more than ever this year. Weather those storms girl!

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  7. Prayers your way Amanda. My husband taught me 18 years ago that to worry is wasted energy. That has stuck with me all these years. I don't worry anymore and I lean on God all of the time. He provides strength... Always.... Hoping that 2014 is one of peace, happiness, good health,and no worries.
    Debbie

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  8. Amanda - thanks so much for sharing this. It's hard to be the young one and watch others age - it's like it is the known cycle of life and the proper order of things and yet, it's not supposed to happen. It's weird and liberating at the same time -yes, I am an adult- I AM an adult, I can do this, I can handle this - whether we want to or not, and yet somehow we come out fighting on the other side. I'm about as anxious as they come, something I too have been dealing with and coping with for years. I believe time does help. Here's hoping 2014 brings you a little ease with it, and perhaps a tad better health all the way around.
    Lessons Learned

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  9. What a wonderful post! Thanks so much for sharing.

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  10. Hang in there girlie! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I hope your 2014 is all you want it to be!

    Mrs. Thompson
    Adventures in Teaching (A First Grade Blog)
    My TpT Store
    adventuresDOTinteachingATyahooDOTcom

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  11. You will persevere and will continue to be positive because you are young, strong, and so very talented. Let Him raise you up on eagle's wings and hold you in the palm of His hand when days are dark and overwhelming. Thanks for sharing your personal journey. Sometimes it needs to take precedence and priority over our professional lives!

    ~Jennifer
    Stories and Songs in Second

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  12. Blessings to you and your family, Amanda! Thank you for sharing so openly. Know that you are not alone. We all go through our ups and downs. It's all about the journey and you are on the right path, god will always lead you through it! Take of yourself and enjoy life. It's a gift!

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  13. Wow..thank you for sharing your year's journey with us! THANK YOU for all you do to inspire me.
    Smiles and stop by anytime!

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  14. Amanda, thank you so much. You will never know how your words have touched my heart and strengthened my resolve to also live life free from worry. I so needed to hear your words this day and will refer back to them often in the days ahead. Although, I have truly been so blessed in my life, have accomplished many successes, and am surrounded by the love of so many, I live my life motivated by fear...fear that I will not be good enough, have enough, do enough...just "be" "enough". I live my life on the edge, always anticipating when the proverbial next "shoe" will fall...have to be ready...have to "see" it coming. Worry is a thief that robs us of the joy of life...of living in the moment and truly experiencing the depth and richness of each one. Like you, I, too, want to just be content. :) Thank you so very much for sharing your story...and yourself...in such a honest and meaningful way. You have touched more lives than you will ever know. You ARE beautiful, Amanda...in every way. Thank you for "who" you are and for the special ways you reach out to others...you do make a difference in the lives of so many. God Bless you on your journey, Amanda, and best wishes for strength and healing for your loved ones.
    Hugs and prayers,
    Jody
    PS Loved the video...thanks so much for sharing it with us. It is one that I will be playing often. :) Your words about worshiping "God in this storm" made me think of a beautiful and powerful song by Casting Crowns, "Praise You in this Storm". The link is below. :) Take special care, Amanda.
    http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=WDK7KLNX

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  15. What a great post! Sometimes it's so hard to sit and write about the struggles you've been faced with - but oh so necessary to healing. I hope that writing this helped you with dealing with these struggles and worries. I have had my fair share of worry and anxiety, so I can fully understand how much of a weight it can put on you. Hope that 2014 is a better year for you & your family!

    Shelby
    First Time Firstie

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  16. Thank you for the blessing of your honesty and may you and your's be blessed in return. I teach 5th grade now but I still follow your blog because I love your materials, but I am blessed by your heart more.

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  17. I agree with all of the affirmations that your friends have already said ... you are beautiful, Amanda, inside and out. God doesn't give us more than we can handle and He's. Got. THIS. .... for you :D

    Sending smiles and prayers for peace,

    Barbara

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  18. Thanks for sharing your ups and downs and letting us all know that you are human too! Sending you prayers for a happy and healthy new year.

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  19. I LOVE that song (didn't know Gungor had recorded a version!),,,it got me through the first days of 2013, as I shared on my blog.

    May 2014 bring peace, strength, and beauty to your journey. {hugs}
    Chrissy ReadWriteSing

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  20. You are an extraordinary person Amanda! May you have a blessed 2014!
    ❀Jodi
    Fun In First

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  21. What a beautiful and encouraging post, Amanda! I'm so sorry you have had such a hard year. Wish I could reach through the computer and give you a hug! Know that this blog post has touched all of us and has given others hope, as well. Prayers that 2014 is calm, peaceful, and wonderful for you friend! -Christina :)

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  22. Our church presented the same video and I cry every time I listen to it! We know that God only gives us what we can handle and that our path is predetermined by him. I too have had many trials and tribulations in my life! I CHOOSE to say to myself that someone has it much worse than I do and to let God have control of my circumstances. Often times we need to take stock of all the blessings we received without even asking for them. I know you will remain strong and determined in your life. Blessings and prayers to you and yours! Nan (from Ohio)

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  23. Amanda, what a beautiful message. Thank you so much for sharing it with us! May 2014 bring you and your loved ones many, many blessings!

    xoxo,
    Gladys

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  24. What a year! Wishing you and your family health and happiness in this new year. Thanks for the reminder about worrying. I think everyone finds themselves in that trap once in a while, but it is smart to remember that there's just no point. Worrying doesn't change anything, does it?!

    Take care,
    ~Erin
    Mrs. Beattie's Classroom

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  25. “My dad was officially diagnosed with Coal Miner's Pneumoconiosis ….and to hear about how frustrated he gets with all of the equipment... including his sleep apnea machine.” – What a tough year for you and your family. It must be difficult for all of you. But everything has a brighter side, and for you, this just serves as a challenge. A challenge that makes you a stronger person. And I’m sure 2014 will be better. Stay strong!

    Michael @ TMJSleepCentre.com

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