CCD Week 7: A Real Act Of Mercy

 

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So I do not know if there are any other CCD teachers out there who also have to do “keeping our promises” ( which is a response to dealing with the issues of child abuse in the church), but I would love suggestions. A few weeks ago we were covering boundaries. I was shocked by the actions of my fourth graders.

“Why do we have to learn this?!”

“This is a girl problem!”

“This is stupid”

“Rape doesn’t happen around here” (Yes they said rape I was shocked they knew what this was however this student has older siblings)

I could go on with this list however this is not what I want to dwell on.

I ended up racking my brain for weeks trying to figure out what I was going to do to reach these kids. And with Sunday being that last day in the Year of Mercy, I finally was inspired by the holy spirit. I wrote them this letter:

(I probably went a little thick with the Catholic Guilt)

To My 4th Graders,

Today is the last day in the Year of Mercy. I know that you guys enjoyed learning about Mercy, we did fun projects and I really thought you guys grasped the concept. However when it came time to put mercy into real life situations, I noticed you guys did not grasp the concept. I want you guys to remember back to when we discussed boundaries with the third graders (we have to do the same keep our promises as the third graders and with it being such heavy subjects its nice to have a group of adults in the room). I want everyone to remember their behavior that day as I explain to you the following:

The definition of Mercy is: an act of compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone when it is in one’s power to harm.

I know that we do not like talking about “keeping our promises”. They are not fun topics but they are not jokes either. I head the class says things like “this is a girl problem” “it can’t happen to us” “boring”. Along with all of your moaning and groaning.

I want you all to know that the reason we have to discuss this uncomfortable topics is because it can happen to you. And if  you guys are uneducated then you are unprotected. Abuse happens to 1-4 girls and 1-6 boys. With those odds that means at that abuse can happen to at least four people in this room right now. It also means that when you make jokes about it you are reinforcing the idea that abuse is not a big deal. When it is. Joking can make a person uncomfortable, and it can persuade them to keep quiet and not reach out for help.

It was an unmerciful act and unacceptable behavior. You guys are not in trouble I just want you to take this seriously. So today we will make up for our unmerciful behavior.

We are going to write cards with encouraging words for the children at our local child advocacy center.  This center is less than a mile away from our church, because it happens to kids in our town everyday. It also can happen to you and we do have the power to make a difference with our small acts of mercy. It is easy for you guys to forget the luxury of having a stuffed animal to sleep with at night when you are afraid. I pray every night that none of you will ever be afraid like the children at the center. We will also be writing a thank you card for the women who work at the Carriage House (our church’s thrift store), who donated these stuffed animals to help you with your act of mercy.

I want you all to know that I love you guys and I would not trade any of you. I just want you to understand that this behavior is not okay and that the first step in making a difference is to change your thinking. I am going to read from Proverbs 3 to show you what the Bible says about your behavior.

 

After reading the note there was silence but once we got started the kids were really happy to help. One even teared up and when we ran out of our 25 stuffed animals they were upset that we had run out. “But Ms. Bella, that means only 25 kids get animals”, I had to reassure them that I would collect more animals. My 8th grade aids and my teacher aid we excited about this. It really did touch my heart.

But it gets better. You see that picture up top? The one of the small basket of stuffed animals. Well what I never expected was how much a small basket of toys could really mean. My friend is a social worker and she took me down to drop off the animals. When speaking to the other case worker at the center she got choked up, we all did. And when she told me that we could always bring more because those would be gone pretty quick my heart sank.

So we will continue to collect animals and to help these kids, I never expected this to be such a touching experience. My heart goes out to those children, and I pray for them every night. So my class and I will continue to collect animals as long as people continue to give them, because God has touch our hearts. I really did reach not only my students but adults and kids in need. I consider this a teaching win!

CCD Week 6: We Do NOT worship Mary

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I know it may seem that this weeks craft and activity was boring but we have something my kids and I needed to discuss.

You see last week in our review one of the questions was “Do we worship Mary”. Unfortunately my class answered yes in unison. Time for a sit down.

First we all had to explain who is Mary. That my kids knew

  1. Mother of Jesus
  2. Answer of Prayers
  3. Saint

Next we needed to discuss the difference between honor and worship. So more thinking questions for the kids.

  1. Did Mary create the Earth?
  2. Do we praise her when things go right in our lives when we did not pray to her?
  3. When we pray do our intentions go to her or to Jesus (unless of course we are praying to her)

So I then had to explain to my point because they looked at me like I had ten heads. We pray to God, we praise him, we credit God for the things that go on in our lives (good or bad). So do we do those things for Mary?

The answer is no.

We do however honor her. There is a simple reason we honor Mary. It is so simple, because God honored her. She is a model of submitting your will to God. It is frightening to be a young unwed teenager mother now let alone during her time. God picked Mary for a reason. Her strong faith, she trusted God even though the future looked bleak. This is a great model for all Catholics. So God had honored her by choosing her to be the mother of Jesus and who are we to argue.

One of my students was like “Now I actually know the answer because people’s parents have asked me this”. That made me sad but I will avoid that soap box.

We made blue crosses and the kids decorated them. In HONOR of our Blessed Mother.

 

We then finished our year of Mercy Project:

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CCD Week 5

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Hey everyone I know that I am late with my CCD post but with mid-terms and papers and life in general I am just now getting around to it.

Last week we continued with the Gospel of Luke. Our lesson was on Luke 18 9-14.  This is the parable was about the tax collector and the pharisee and their character qualities.

So after reading the passage we sat down and talked about a few things:

  1. What is the tax collector like?
  2. What is the pharisee like?
  3. Who’s character does Jesus want us to model ourselves after?
  4. Is it okay to judge the sins of others?
  5. Instead of arroganance like the pharisee what should we be ?                  The answer is we need to be humble!

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I am sorry if it is hard to read.

Being Humble shows that I have:

Happiness with what I have

Understanding of others

Meekness with my prayers

Bravery with my faith

Love for my God

Elevation in Christ.

 

Being humble is so important in our walk with Christ. I feel that many of us struggle with this on a daily basis. I wanted the kids to have some scriptures to reinforce the importance of being humble.

I know God wants me to act:

Ephesians 4:2 “with all humility and meekness, with patience, and supporting one another in charity”

I will always remember:

John 5:41 ” I do not accept the glory of men”

I will act humbly because:

Proverbs 15:33 ” The fear of the Lord is the discipline of wisdom and humility proceeds glory”

Wifely Submission and What God Has Shown Me

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Three weeks is all I have left until my hubby comes home. My husband has been away at Police Academy for 8 months. He comes home on the weekends but with school being three hours away, he’s home for a day before he leaves again. It is like he is coming and going and going and coming as quickly as he came. This experience has touched my heart in so many ways. I have learned so much.  I now appreciate my husband and the role God has place in him for our marriage. I have also have had the blessing to understand and appreciate my place in this marriage as well. God has truly touch both of our hearts.

I guess this brings me to my actual story. I have only come back to my faith about a year and a half ago at this point. I have learned so much and I have been happier than I have ever been and I know that it is because of my faith. This has only increased my faith. I am truly amazed everyday for the wonderful blessings that God has placed in my life.

One of my biggest problems has always been  submitting to my husband. I have always run our home and he ran the other parts of our life. Our roles never crossed and I never knew how much stress and pressure he is under all the time until he was gone, but I will get to that. I have a large and in charge kind of personality, I consider myself a natural born leader but so is my husband. Now I know now how much I stunted his growth and blocked the his path to God in my selfishness. It was like we were both working on making our sections of our marriage better but we were not working together.

Once he was gone and I managed to get back to normal and deal with the new circumstances, I began to adjust to trying to keep myself busy. I did not know that this desire to keep busy was the Holy Spirit working in my life but we rarely notice these sort of things at the time.  I was recently out of work before my husband left and God had called me to do more charity work. With my mother having MS I began to do work for the MS Society. I was successful and it gave me something to focus on as my husband was gone. I continued to do more charity work and eventually ended up sitting on a board for our local republican women’s group. I was actually out there doing great things in the community and promoting being a good Christian (Catholic) and I was so happy that my professional life was going so well. School started back up again and along with my college classes I started teaching Sunday School at my church. I just continued to do God’s work and it was making me happy in my professional life so I continued to run with it.

However my married life…….

It is hard when your husband is gone. It is frustrating. I began to notice all the things he did that I didn’t even realized piled up when he wasn’t here. Things like the trash, the lawn, our wood pile, the list goes on. Those things began to pile up. I began to resent him for not being there to help me with the most trivial of things.  But it gets worse…..

That resentment began to grow, as the enemy preyed on my hurt and resentment, it only got worse.   I knew that  Ephesians 5 tells me that my husband is supposed to love me like Christ love the church. I had so much going on in my professional and personal life and I wanted (no NEEDED) my husband’s support. He was as supportive as one can be from afar but that was not good enough for me and my resentment continued to grow.

Then the fighting started….

“You’re not there” I would say “You do not know what I am dealing with” and he would respond “Actually I do and I am going through a lot can you stop being so selfish” and I think you get the point that this argument eventually ended up pretty badly both of us sorry and of course off he would go again. And of course more RESENTMENT.

I was being selfish. My husband was trying to lead our family from a far and I was just ignoring him. It is crazy how the enemy convinces us so quickly to stray. What I did not know was my husband was also building resentment. However I thank God he is level headed enough to still guide us even through all of my insanity.

Then last week, I had a revelation. Well first I threw a tantrum and then I had a revelation. You see my husband was going to get his state police assignment. I wanted it be somewhere else. He wanted to stay local. When he called me all excited that he is station locally and that this is what’s best for us and he is so happy blah blah blah blah. Well I just flipped out. “This is bs and I am not happy whine whine whine whine” . Finally after a few minutes of me being ungrateful my husband put his foot down. “This is what God wants for us, this is what I think is best for our family, and you’re just going to have to calm down and accept that this is what is happening.” Of course I hung up on him.

Well as I was driving the two hour trip to meet with him that weekend, God touched my heart. I realized that I was not submitting to God. I was going off of what I wanted and of my worldly desires. That is not what it means to me to be a Christian. We live in a world we chose to be not part of because we chose to be obedient to God. It is a commitment that I understood when I made but living it was not easy! I began to dwell on that thought for a moment. Then my husband’s words came back to me “This is what God wants for us and this what I think is best for our family”. It played over and over in my head like a broken record for what seemed like forever but was actually 20 minutes. I realized. I was not submitting to God.

I was shocked. My marriage aside when I submitted to God and what he wanted for my life things were great. I learned that even with my husband not there I still had God to lean on and he did amazing things in my life. Why couldn’t I submit now? Resentment. My resentment had built up so much that I wanted nothing to do with my marriage and I was completely withdrawn myself from my faith. With all the work I was doing I was going through the motions. I need to submit to God, when I did my life was better. I then realized that meant allowing my husband to lead our family.

I realized that instead of resenting him and our situation, I needed to see this as a blessing. I am so blessed to have a husband that loves me like Christ. I am blessed that my husband takes his role as our leader seriously and always does what he thinks is best for us. Even if that means sacrificing a year of his life so that our lives can be better for years to come. Resentment leads to that selfishness I was talking about. I also realized that I now understand why God calls our husbands to lead and why we are meant to support them .

You see my husband heads our home and with out him to lead our family things spiraled. Part of this I believe was God teaching me to be more appreciative of everything my husband does. He carries the stress and heavy work load of our house so that I do not have too. So I can focus on what I need to be doing and with him gone, I lost that opportunity. Wow, I was selfish. I can not believe that instead of counting my blessings I was allowing these same blessings to tear us apart.

This of course lead to doubting myself as a wife. I was reading an article and it was concerning Proverbs 31. I do not remember why but I grabbed my Bible and began to read. I realized. That I was the  woman God wanted me to be. I was being the proper wife and my husband valued me. God valued me, and the I was touched by the Holy Spirit.  I valued me.

So as I was busy trying to control everything, God was teaching me what it means to submit. From this experience I have learned that no matter how much we want to control things, if we take our husbands out of the equation that is our family, it falls apart. As a wife I am the foundation for which my husband stands on so that he can lead our family in the direction that God wants to take us. I proud to say that today I try to submit to God and my husband a little more everyday and that resentment has finally dissipated.

CCD Week 4

 

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So I was out for week 3 hence why it goes from 2 to 4. I swear I can count! After being gone for a week my kids were super jumpy. The week I was gone the kids were in with the third grade class, so I have no idea what they did. They told me but all at once and at 100 mph!

So get out a lot of this energy we did our opening prayer. The kids really like saying the Our Father Prayer and so I let them run with it.

After our opening prayer I lined everyone up on the side of the room.

I began exuding people and switching them to spots all over the room. Trust me they needed the run. When then continued to exclude people by the following:

Shirts

Shoes

Colors

Jackets

Then my favorite part comes where I make my kids think! What I love most about these open ended questions is that my kids really put their thinking caps on.

  1. Why is this unfair? – Because it is wrong to separate ourselves from people because they are different. (My kids took a minute to understand but eventually did get to this point, my aid tried to help them don’t they understand this concept).
  2. What do we do when we see people excluding others.- One of my kids just walked to the side of the room where the kids who were excluded were standing. The answer however is Join them, stand up for them, be there for them
  3. Did Jesus Exclude People? NO!
  4. Why not?- This one took a while as well but eventually one of my kids got it! Because Jesus said everyone is worthy of love and he calls us to love everyone!
  5. What about when we are forced to exclude people because maybe they are sick? The kids did not have an answer which was fine. It lead us into our Gospel Luke 17:11-19 Jesus and the Lepers.             After reading the Gospel to the kids they had a few questions like what is a lepers etc? Eventually the right question came out. “Jesus healed those people but other people can catch that sickness, what do we do” Answer: The Bible says that we are to love them we live in a time where we can thank God for all the amazing doctors and hard working people who keep us safe from sickness. God calls some of us to be healers and doctors and for those of us he doesn’t it is our job to help those people in whatever way we can without harming ourselves.

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After they had finally calmed down we were able to work on our activity.

Doing praying through art. We have been learning about prayer and ways we can pray. That expressing ourselves to God can help us get through tough times. And we don’t always need to pray the traditional way to get that done.

I had them draw pictures and write a sentence of something that they thank god for it was very effective. The kids understood by the end that expressing ourselves in a positive manner allows us to connect with ourselves and God.

1st Annual Breast Cancer Bash

As I have mentioned before, I am a member of Greater Wicomico Republican Women.  I am proud to be apart of this organization. We have been through a lot in the last year, and I think it is awesome that after all we have been through we will be having our first fundraiser, celebrating survivors. On Friday Oct. 21, 2016, we will be hosting our 1st Annual Breast Cancer Bash. This is a fundraiser to help raise money for The PRMC Foundation, with proceeds going to our local breast center.

For me this is what being part of an organization like GWRW is about. Working with everyone in the community to help make our community a better place. Regardless of Politics I am glad that everyone can come together in spite of such a heated election.

I am the Chair of Fundraising for GWRW and when I purposed this fundraiser it was for a few different reasons and I would like to share them with you.

  1. I felt that we are a women’s group and since we all have breast this is something that we can get behind.
  2. We decided on the PRMC Breast Center because we have actually all had to use it.

This brings me to my third and final reason. About 1 year ago I was having my yearly with my gyno ( I know fun right?), and my mom had mentioned that now that I am 25 and with family history I should mention this to her so I did. I tell this to my doctor and she says as long as my breast exam is fine nothing to worry about. She then proceeds to do my breast exam and what do you know a lump. AWESOME…NOT! I was shocked at that moment but she assured me I was fine and that I was just going for an ultrasound. That end up being painless. Well three days later I get one of the scariest phone calls in my life. “Mrs. Hambrick we have scheduled you an appointment at the Breast Center for a biopsy.”

I hung up the phone and prayed. I was so afraid and in that moment I realize that I was a lot more attached to my breasts than I ever even realized. Thankfully, I ended up with a fatty tumor, which is one of the few times your happy to say you and fatty in the same sentence. Because of the care an reassuring of the people at the breast center, faith, and family support, I was able to over come that fear, and come out better on the other side.

Then it hit me, 1,000’s of women are not so lucky every day. In that moment I was inspired to help them, I know that it may not being a big change but to help our local area is what our group is all about. It is who we are as people and we are proud to share that with the world. I am happy to be a part of the fundraiser and I thank God that after everything we have been through we can take time out of our busy hectic lives to celebrate survivors!

Mini-Pilgrimage St. Patricks NYC

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This is not St. Patrick’s. This is another Catholic church down town. It is what inspired me to go. You see I go to this part of the city at least four times a year for the last seven years and I had never been so I was inspired to take a stroll…

While visiting NYC last week I was able to take my self on a date. Maybe it is just me but I enjoy the time. I had some where to be at 12:30 and was in the city by 9 am. So I figured I would just go exploring. One of my adventures that day was a MINI-Pilgrimage to St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

If you would like to learn more about ST. Patrick’s so you can take a trip click here.

It was absolutely AMAZING and BREATH Taking. My experience was somber having to get my bad search in the church was a sobering experience for me. It is a sad world that we live in. When I did get a chance to just enjoy this old space and pray I felt a presence that I feel in every church. I do feel though that each space has its own feeling with a touch of the Holy Spirit. If you get a chance GO!

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CCD Week 2

 

 

I have to be honest and say that  I never really thought I would enjoy teaching CCD as much as I do. I still talk to my old CCD teacher on occasion and I remember how much of a difference she made in my life. I hope one day I can make a difference in a kid’s life as much as she did for me. But enough of that sappy stuff.

 

So because today is St. Francis of Assisi’s feast day today, we made Pet Prayer Cards. I used the following prayer of Catholic.com. Sadly I lost it and so I can only credit them and not supply a link.

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“Blessed are you Lord God maker of all living creatures. You call fourth the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, and the animals on land. You inspired St. Francis to call them his brothers and sisters. Bless this pet (enter kids pet names here). By the power of love enable my pet to live by your plan. My we praise for for all you beauty” -Amen.

We also learned from our Old Testament Reading of Amos 6:4-7

Since the story is about social justice and working together, we play the hula hoop game.

Hula Hoop Game:

Have kids stand in a circle and have kids pass it around in a circle holding hands. Let them figure it out. Have them work together. Here’s where it got interesting.

Ask the following questions:

Did it matter that the person next to you was a different gender?

Did it matter that you may have less or more money than them?

What is the all thing we have in common?

It took a few tries till they figured out it was Jesus.

Like I said before my class is super smart and I am happy that they are grasping adult concepts so quickly!!!!