God Speaks To Us Through March Madness

A few weeks ago, my preacher shared how God speaks to us. Pastor Jeff taught us that God speaks to us through His creation (sunrises anyone? 🙋‍🌞), and He speaks to us through scripture (2 Timothy 3:16). This sermon reminded me of the Notes journal app I have on my phone. For about four years, I thumb-tapped into my Notes app ways I believed God was speaking to me.

Similar to Motherese, which is the special way mothers vocalize to their babies, I titled this Notes file Godese, which I define as the special way God vocalizes to us…His children. I smiled while I read through some of these past Godese stories. It was a fun trip down memory lane. I do believe God speaks to us through creation and scripture, plus, I also believe He speaks to us in many other ways! Let me elaborate…

Today is March 1st, which is the day I try to remember to send my son a “Happy March Madness Month” text message each year (yes, that son of mine certainly LOVES basketball, and now so does my grandson). 🧡🏀 So, when I read the Godese story I had written back in 2013 about March Madness, I felt compelled to share it with you. I think you will enjoy it! 😉

3/29/13

God speaks to us through March Madness

As my man and I were watching Michigan vs Kansas in overtime, Burke, who plays for Michigan, had a tattoo on his left shoulder that read Proverbs 3•73. That is the way my hubby and I saw it anyway. We paused and rewound the DVR just to get a closer look.  

It allured us to the bible. First off…there aren’t 73 verses in Proverbs 3. We had to narrow it down to what possible verse it could be. Verse 7b in Proverbs 3 states to “shun evil.” That’s good. Proud of the young college basketball player for possibly having that on his arm.

My hubby then said it’s probably a fancy script and the “7” is most likely a “1.”  If that is the case then it could be Proverbs 3:13 which reads “blessed is the man who gains wisdom, the man who gains understanding.” That is a really good verse too!

My hubby suddenly shouts out to me “that’s it.”  He had searched the web using his phone by typing in Burke Michigan Tattoo Proverbs into the Google search engine and this is what he found…

“All eyes will be on this point guard during the NCAA tournament. (He was just named Big Ten player of the year, after all.) But our eyes will be on his single shoulder tat that shows a set of cupped hands holding an owl with the script Proverbs 3:13 above it…”  

I know I could use a win in the game of wisdom and understanding. And, searching the bible for that verse in Proverbs was a gift from March Madness and from Mr. Burke. Congrats to Michigan on their win in overtime.

Lord…thank you for the mini bible study tonight all because of watching a basketball game during the Sweet 16. 

Isn’t that a fun story? 😍🏀 Happy March Madness Month to my son, Kyle, to my grandson, Warren, and to all you college basketball fanatics. Good luck to all the teams who make it there this month. Maybe this year’s tournaments will bring another Godese moment.

I pray we all gain His wisdom and His understanding, and I also pray God continues to vocalize to me, to us, in His own special way!

Stay Calm & Listen for Godese Moments!
Profs Dr. Wendy Dr. V. 

None is Easier than Some

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. image 1

I heard a mantra the other day that struck home and is so good that I’d like to share it with you. While this mantra was stated by someone on the Bright Line Eating (BLE®) Program while trying to lose weight (she lost 165 pounds, by the way), the mantra applies perfectly to any wellness journey we may be on (and no, I am NOT on the BLE program).

Whatever poisons we are trying to rid from our lives, whether it be sugar, social media, shopping, alcohol, salt, smoking, Diet Coke®, carbs, excess weight, gambling, coffee, or whatever bad habit/poison we would like to permanently break up with forever, this mantra is a perfect one to put on sticky notes throughout your house, office, classroom, vehicle, etc.

“None is easier than some.”

Such solid advice when it comes to our vices, our addictions, our bad habits. Think about it. When we have a little, we want more and more and more, right? So, “none is easier than some.” This Bright Liner included another thought which also really hit home for me.

When you are trying to break a bad habit, do you have that tiny little annoying voice in your head telling you “come on, it’s fine! Go ahead…have one bite, one sip, one look, one scroll through, one bet, one hit, one click, one ____” (you fill in the blank)?

Maybe you don’t, but I sure do. When I make a goal to change a bad habit, I struggle with that infuriating voice in my mind. Ticks me off! Well, the gal from BLE® added this thought to her mantra…

“I don’t negotiate with my inner terrorist.”

Wow…what a way to think about capturing the wicked thoughts running around in our head! We CAN take down our inner terrorist! We do not need to negotiate with our enemy. We are to take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

When that terrorist torments us with “you will never be able to do this,” we need to scream “I can do ALL things through Christ!” (Philippians 4:13)

When it shouts at us “you are too weak to follow through with this,” we need to yell back “God has given me power and strength!” (Psalm 68:35).

And if that terrorist shames us with “you have no willpower so you might as well give up now,” we can loudly roar “God has given me a spirit of power, love, AND self-control!” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Together, let’s annihilate the terrorist in our minds.

Know, without a doubt, we CAN kick our bad habits to the curb. I’ve read it takes 21 days to form a new habit and 90 days to make it a new lifestyle. We’ve been given the power and the strength and the self-control to do this. Also, it sure helps A LOT to have an accountability partner or two or three (thanks Jamie and Jess and Elyse 🙌❤😊).

Have none because it is easier than some. That some will most likely lead to having more and more and more so just have NONE. And, never negotiate with your inner terrorist! Take it down! Take it out! Defeat it! Protect your mind!

We CAN do this. All things are possible with God! (Matthew 19:26).

Stay Calm & Be Strong!
Profs Dr. Wendy Dr. V.   

You’re Never Too Old to Hug Your Grandma

“You’re never too old to hug your grandma!”

Those were the wise words from Boston, the young teenage boy who had been babysitting my grandson while my daughter and I ran a few errands. He spoke those words after I summoned my grandson for a hug goodbye. I smiled at Boston then hugged my 6-year old grandson and joked, “Yeah, Tyus…even when you are 40.”🤩

I pondered my comment on my drive back home… How many years is it until Tyus turns 40? How old will I be when that happens? How old will I be when each of my grandchildren celebrate their 40th birthday? Will I even be alive by then to celebrate with them?

These thoughts certainly had me reflecting about life and where I hope to be when the youngest of my four grandchildren turns 40 (God willing, I’ll almost be a centurion when that happens 😲😀). Contemplating all of these thoughts at the end of the year is a good time for me to consider what my New Year’s resolutions might be. It also has me pondering what my one word could be for 2022. Hmmm… 🤔

I wonder…what can I do to help myself stay as healthy as possible in the last quarter or last third of my life so I can be around to celebrate my grands’ 40th birthdays? The bible offers me these words of wisdom: “The righteous will flourish…they will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green” (Psalm 92:12a; 14 NIV). It also provides this truth: “Teach me to number my days aright, so that I may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12 NIV, emphasis mine). All our days are numbered. I want to make the best of the number I have left, so Lord, help me to be a righteous person for You. 🙏

All this contemplation has led to the choice of my one word for 2022 (and hopefully for life)…STRIVE.

  • I will devote serious energy to grow in my relationship with Jesus by reading my bible daily in addition to my morning devotions. I want to get to know Him more intimately and grow our relationship.
  • I will strive to love others unconditionally (especially those difficult people who rub me the wrong way 😬). 
  • I will fight vigorously to eat healthy, exercise often, and take the best care of myself as I believe I should and can. I did get a jump start on this one back in August by giving up alcohol. Nope, I didn’t hit rock bottom. I just made the decision that alcohol was no longer serving me in any positive way so I took a break. Still going strong on that one and the benefits have been AmaZinG! Ask me about it anytime. I’d be more than happy to share my story with you.
  • I will make strenuous efforts to do whatever it takes to thrive and make it to the ripe young age of 97 so I can celebrate my youngest granddaughter’s 40th birthday in 2057. Just typing that year out and seeing the number on this word doc makes me giggle. 👵😍

So, Tyus…Boston was absolutely correct when he stated, “you’re never too old to hug your grandma.” Even when you turn 40 in 2055, buddy! 😉🎂

Have you picked out your one word for 2022? Or, is that not your jam? Totally okay if it isn’t. BUT…if it is, please share with us in the comments.

Happy New Year to all. 🎉

Stay Calm & Go Hug Your Grandma!
Profs Dr. Wendy Dr. V. 

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like…FINALS

🎶 It’s beginning to look a lot like finals – stress in every soul
But the happiest sight to see
Is the end of finals week
When we’ve reached our goal!
🎶

It is that time of the year – getting ready to finish out this semester with big plans in place to enjoy a break before starting again new. The catch…there is simply so much to do between now and sanity – um, we mean winter break.

Isn’t this busyness true at all stages of life when it comes to the holidays? Whatever your religion or holiday participation, December is about closing one chapter and January is about starting a brand new one. 

With that in mind, we need to check off the many items on our list and hope for even greater things in the New Year. It seems a little scrazy to talk about the New Year already when there is so much left to do in this one. (We just can’t decide between “scary” and “crazy” so our stress has caused us to create a new word…which can be a positive thing about stress — it can raise our productivity level! Anyway… back to the main focus of the blog as stress has clearly caused us to ramble)!

Below are a few words of wisdom to remember during finals week…

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. Make a list and check it twice. It is easy to get distracted – especially when there is yummy holiday baking and shopping, and decorating, and so much cleaning to be done and … wait a second… let’s get back on track here…
  3. Take much needed brain breaks – just don’t forget to get back to work and finish the task at hand. 
  4. Enjoy the journey and not just the destination or we end up wishing our life away.
  5. Are you still breathing? Yoga or a quick walk will do too.
  6. Look at the big picture – this too shall pass. In the moment, everything can seem like the big picture, but it is just a small piece of the puzzle.

Enjoy the ride – sleigh or otherwise. Best wishes on your finals, teacher candidates, and a huge congrats on when they are completed! We knew all along you could do it! 💪🎉👏

 Joyful message from a few of our teacher candidates…
“We are celebrating being done with finals. We all love you.”

Stay Calm & Enjoy Break!
Profs Dr. Wendy Dr. V.   

Classroom Field Experiences Galore

Congratulations to our Fall 2021 Methods Year teacher candidates for completing your many required field experience hours this fall. You made all of us professors proud by being “an active participant in the investigation of learning, teaching, and leadership processes” (SMSU SoE Mission Statement). Plus, there is no better way to hone your teaching craft than being IN the classroom teaching children!

You succeeded (which we knew you would)! 👏👏

When asked what was rewarding and challenging about your social studies, math, and early literacy field experiences, a few of you responded with some great responses. Thank you for that…

Carrie: Rewarding…The opportunity to teach. Relationships developed with classroom mentor teacher and students. My mentor teacher will be a new friend and tremendous resource throughout my teaching career. Challenges…the requirement to complete my 45 hours within a three week period.

Carrie in action…

Rebecca: Rewarding…Seeing the student’s light bulbs turn on when they finally understood something. Their smiles were priceless. Also, how much they grew over a short three week period. Teaching the social studies lesson was so much fun. Challenges…finding enough hours for social studies because my classroom didn’t do much social.

Rebecca in action…

Jessica: Rewarding…integrating social studies with science and reading. Challenging…nothing seemed challenging to me. 😊

Jessica in action…

Jalynn: Rewarding…Building relationships with students throughout the 3 weeks. I also really like social studies, so this was one of my favorite placements because of how much I loved the content! Challenges…getting 15 hours of social studies while doing my math and literacy hours at the same time.

Jalynn in action…

Timothy: Rewarding…Working with and creating relationships with both kindergarten and fifth grade students. Helping a 5th grader understand multiplying decimals. Very rewarding to see students excited about their learning. Overall, my experiences were amazing. Challenging…getting some students to believe in themselves.

Timothy in action…

Thank you to those teacher candidates who responded to the email request to list your rewards, challenges, and an action shot in the classrooms. Congrats SMSU teacher candidates on a job well done!!! You were immersed in teaching excellence! 🙌👍

Celebrate…you made it! 🎉💪😃

Stay Calm & Teach On!
Profs Dr. Wendy Dr. V.

Life’s Game of Chutes and Ladders®

Raise your hand if you remember playing the game of Chutes and Ladders®? 🙋‍ I don’t remember playing it as a kid myself, but I do remember playing it with my own children when they were younger and now with the grandchildren. Up and down, up and down we go as we move around the game board. Elated, deflated. Elated, deflated.

Sounds a lot like the game of life, doesn’t it?

Elated to go to the Rec Center to watch my 8-year old grandson play some basketball. Deflated when I got to the parking lot after the game and saw a dent in my back fender because someone had backed into my car and didn’t leave their name.

Elated to be voted as Homecoming Queen by my peers during my senior year of high school. Deflated when mean girls let me know how they felt about it in extreme mean ways.

Elated to get hired as a professor during the pandemic. Deflated to learn I had moved to an incredibly small town (only to learn it was exactly what I needed – LR).

Elated to have a play date together with my children on my 30th birthday after a quick doctor appointment for my 4-year old daughter. Deflated when we were sent to the hospital for a week because she was diagnosed with Type I diabetes.

Elated to get an elementary principal position. Deflated when my School Board denied me a one-year leave of absence in case I disliked the new job (which I did because of unethical expectations and chauvinism).

Elated to be blessed with another beauiful granddaughter. Deflated when she had to have major surgery at 10-days old. (She’s doing wonderful now).

Elated to be a teacher of future teachers, loving them like my own children, and giving high fives freely. Deflated when I learned of a colleague saying I was a “phony.”

Life can be hard, can’t it? Really hard. I don’t know what chutes and ladders, ups and downs, elations and deflations you are facing today, but please know this…there is hope! The bible tells us we will have many trials and many sorrows here on Earth (John 16:33), BUT the Lord will deliver us from them all (Psalm 34:19). Whew, so thankful for that.

When life is hard, the good news is we have a God we can run to. He will take hold of our hand and help us (Isaiah 41:13). We just need to take His hand and trust in Him with all our hearts so we can keep moving forward (Proverbs 3:5-6).  

Isn’t it comforting to know we can handle the ups and downs, the chutes and ladders, the elations and deflations of life because we have God walking by our side? I plan to hold His hand and walk humbly with Him (Micah 6:8) because I need Him through life’s chutes and ladders.

Stay Calm & Keep Moving Forward through Life’s Ups and Downs!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.   

Whatever is Pure – Labor Day Laboring Fun

A podcast I enjoy listening to is called The Conversation with Adam Weber. In Episode 124, Adam visits with author/pastor Louie Giglio about Louie’s new book called Don’t Give the Enemy a Seat at Your Table. After listening, I went to Barnes and Noble and bought the book. I’m not quite finished yet, but this book has earned the WOW award!

Just last night while reading, Louie recommended to use Philippians 4:8 as a compass, offering us many “categories to think about” (p. 135). We often defeat ourselves by thinking negative thoughts, and he tells us to take action and play offense by placing positive thoughts in our mind.

Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (NIV).

Giglio (2021) says to place helpful thoughts into your mind by memorizing Philippians 4:8 and thinking about these things. Ask yourself, ‘what are truthful, noble, right things you can think about right now? He suggests to go on the offensive by thinking about Philippians 4:8 first thing in the morning and throughout the whole day. Or, think about one category each day. Or…take one a week and journal all those things that come to mind that go along with that one category.

I woke up this morning with ‘whatever is pure’ on my heart. While still lying in bed I thought to myself…hmm…what is pure?  Three things came mind…

*whole foods 🤷‍

*love and innocence of my grandchildren ❤

*and, being real and honest

Well, I was curious what the word pure meant so I jumped out of bed like a Poptart® out of the toaster and did a little word study on pure. Below are the fruits of my enjoyable Labor Day labor (laboring CAN be fun 😉)…

According to Dictionary.com, pure is defined as “not mixed or adulterated with any other substance or material; without any extraneous or unnecessary elements; free of contamination.” A pure person is defined as “without malice, treachery, or evil intent; honest, sincere, without deception.”

The Greek word for pure is hagnos or hagios which means “sacred (physically pure, morally blameless); properly clean, i.e. (figuratively) innocent, modest, perfect; chaste, clean, pure” (Strong, 2007, p. 1599).

Oh, how I desire to be pure. I’m in no way perfect, but I can choose to do my best to be honest, sincere, and without deception! Louie, I’m taking your advice. I’m going to focus on whatever is pure this week and journal about it. I’ve got a good start today…the sunshine, the gentle breeze, sincere smiles from others, healthy foods, fun text messages from friends, and an honest pure joy in my heart at this moment in time! 😊🙏

Anyone want to join me on this exciting discovery? Which Philippians 4:8 category would you begin with?

Happy Labor Day, everyone. Sending you pure good wishes! 🙌💪🤎💛

Stay Calm & Think About Such Things!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.   

Giglio, L. (2021). Don’t give the enemy a seat at your table: It’s time to win the battle of your mind. W Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee.

Strong, J. (2007). Strong’s exhaustive concordance of the bible. Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLC, Peabody, Massachusetts.  

SMSU First Day Jitters

We are extremely proud to say we are teachers. I don’t know about you, Dr. V., but every year since I have been a teacher, I have had the same dream, or should I say nightmare, right before school officially begins….I am not prepared for the first day of school. Kids are out of control. I slump in failure.

This syndrome is called “first day jitters.”

On Friday, August 20, 2021 at SMSU, we welcomed several brand new freshmen, who are dreaming of becoming teachers. Some Physical Education, some Special Education, some Secondary Education, some TESL Education, some Early Childhood Education, and some Elementary Education. All are entering their first year of college with dreams and aspirations of doing their best to become the best. All beginning with the same syndrome – that dreaded “first day jitters.”

We know these young adults come with excess anxiety and doubt and wonder and questions. The pandemic has caused extra stress for our new freshmen. It is our duty as their professors to help them overcome this fear and help them see the opportunities that await them.

Just like the brand new teacher candidates, most professors have a little “first day jitters” syndrome happening too. Each new school year brings its own worries and doubts and fears…

“Are we doing enough for our teacher candidates? Are we noticing if they need more than just content thrown their way? Are we getting to know them deeply? Are we listening to their stories? Are we training them to succeed in their future classrooms? Are we advising them correctly?” 

We have big hopes and big dreams to help each and every one of our new teacher candidates to succeed and become the best teachers they can be.

So, brand new freshmen teacher candidates, please know we have the same SMSU first day jitters as you. We get it. We are on your side. We are in this together. We are here for YOU.

We extend a BIG welcome to our freshmen teacher candidates. We can’t wait to see what your future holds for you. Be a bright and shining star for children. Start strong, remain strong, and finish strong. No pressure – but the world is counting on you, and you CAN do this!

Bring on the new school year…jitters and all. 🙌😊🤎💛🐴

Stay Calm & Welcome to SMSU!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.   

Love You, John Freese! ❤

John at Good Sam in 2013

Friday, March 26, 2021: I just saw John at the local pharmacy. I hadn’t seen him since fall of 2020 when we chatted from a distance for a bit while he was out for a slow stroll during his recovery from cancer surgery.

I told him it was good to see him and asked how he was doing.

“Not well,” he shared quietly.

“They tell me I only have a few more months to live. I’m in hospice care. I’ve stopped all treatment for my liver cancer. Some pain is starting to kick in now. When my liver shuts down that will be it.” he replied serenely. He appeared so calm, so strong in his attitude.

Tears burned in the corners of my eyes, and I questioned him, “you seem like you are doing okay with all of this?”

John whispered, “I’m at peace with it, Wendy. When God tells me it’s time, I’ll go with Him.”

Now my tears were sliding down my cheeks. What do you say to that? What do you do?

I pulled my mask down and sniffled, “I love you, John. Know I love you. My mom loved you!  Many people love you!”

He took a small step forward and leaned down to embrace me. He gave me a big squeeze, and when he tried to pull away I held on tight for just a little bit longer. I knew this was going to be my last time spent with this amazing man.

I love you, John Freese…

Today (8/10/21): I wrote the above words on March 26, 2021 after visiting with John at Synder Drug in Pipestone. It was the last time I saw him. Yesterday, Monday, August 9, 2021, God told John it was time and John went with Him.

John, thank you for blessing my mom by dancing with her while she was a resident at Good Sam. Thank you for dancing the waltz and polka with me while we both were visiting our loved ones at Good Sam. Thank you for being a dynamic teacher! You were a kindhearted man who gave to others in so many ways! Love you, John Freese.  

Lord…bless John and keep him

Make Your face shine upon him,

And be gracious to him.

Lord, lift up your countenance upon him,

And give John Peace.

John…God be with you till we meet again

By his counsels’ guide, uphold you

With his sheep securely fold you;

God be with you till we meet again.

https://www.hartquistfuneral.com/obituaries/John-Freese?obId=21968942#/obituaryInfo

Stay Calm & Love You, John Freese!
Profs Dr. Wendy Dr. V. 

Remove the Poison

Years ago, when my daughter was a high school volleyball coach, she would occasionally vent to me during a season she was struggling with a few mean girls (and their mean parents). When visiting with a former volleyball coach about this (who, by the way, had several winning seasons throughout her coaching career), this former, highly-respected volleyball coach looked at me and without hesitation, made an audacious statement…

“Sometimes you just need to remove the poison.” 

Whoa. 😲 Okay.

This advice can be applied to many areas of life. Like relationships for starters! If a relationship becomes toxic, then I guess it is time to remove the poison. 

My relationship with Twitter had become just that…poisonous! 

When I first started ‘dating’ Twitter, I loved the relationship we developed. I found so much useful information there, and I met some amazing people because of Twitter. I loved Twitter so much that I wrote a blog titled Oh, The People You’ll Meet If Only You’ll Tweet. I had a two-way loving relationship going on with Twitter. It loved me and I loved it back. (Can you sense a little addiction here???). 

Not so much anymore. In my humble opinion, Twitter has changed over the past few years…for the worse. It’s not the positive, fun-loving, let’s-hang-out-together relationship it used to be. 

There can be some hilarious tweets such as this one (which my husband shared with me):

BUT…I have found too many tweets to be too negative, too cruel, too judgmental, too…well, poisonous!  The venomous things people say to others is unacceptable in my little world. The attitude of “you accept my opinion or I’ll come hunt you down and hurt you” has become too much for me.

Call me too sensitive, that’s fine. Some may think I look through rose colored glasses, that’s fine too. I will never stop hoping and praying for people (including myself) to love one another, to have empathy for one another, and to have a listening ear of others’ thoughts and opinions. Listening doesn’t mean we have to agree and accept those thoughts and opinions; it just means listen, hear them out, have an open mind, and then make our decision. Again, in my opinion, Twitter doesn’t listen, and it has become ridiculously judgmental! 

A friend of mine had this on his Facebook page and it is so true…

We know so little about others. We know so little about what battles others are fighting. We know so little!! Stop judging, Twitter peeps! Just because we don’t agree with someone (which is our right) doesn’t mean we have the right to be cruel! Goodness…I don’t always agree with what my adult children choose to do (and they don’t always agree with me either)!

BUT, I still love them regardless, and I know they love me!

When my relationships become toxic, as it had with Twitter, then I guess it was time to remove the poison. 

I deleted my Twitter account. 

Stay Calm & Be Kind!
Profs Dr. Wendy Dr. V.