Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I never would have thought that I would watch so much football after I entered the Monastery. The 2 sisters that I live with and I like to watch football. Any time there is a Colts or Notre Dame game on we like to watch them. We also have started watching Giants because of Eli Manning and Bears because of Jay Cutler. We don't watch these very often but if there is nothing else on. We are also very animated when we watch, so it is fun.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Broken Recorders

The 4th graders recently received their recorders that they will learn to play in music class. This is a time of great joy for the students and a time of great anguish for many parents and siblings.

One student told me a few years ago that her sister had hidden her recorder from her. I can’t say I blamed her, but I told the girl I would keep replacing any that got “lost.” Another girl told me, “I know all kinds of songs.” Considering she had just gotten it, I was really surprised and asked her what songs she knew. She said, “They don’t have names. I just make them up.” “Good for you!” I exclaimed.

One time a girl came in with her music extremely dirty and crumbled up. When I asked her if she needed new music, she said, “No, that’s OK. It reminds me of home. My brothers step on my music and crumble it up when I’m playing.” One girl who loved playing the recorder was going to her sister’s college graduation. She asked me if I thought it would be OK to play on the airplane. I advised against it.

Many students every year tell me their recorders are broken when they can’t make the desired sounds. I used to always laugh inwardly. Now I’ve come to expect that comment. The fact that my beginning recorder students make . . . shall I say, unique sounds, has nothing to do with the recorder. Any recorder they try (if they continue playing it the same way) will be “broken.” Fixing a “broken” recorder usually involves looking at how it’s being played. And voila! The “broken” recorder is now fixed.

This is true in life also. How easy it is for me to blame an undesired outcome on something outside of myself. This relationship is bad. It must be the other person’s fault. My job is awful. I blame my boss or co-workers. Instead of blaming the brokenness on something external, we could look at our own role in the situation. Sometimes it is a bad situation and we need out. Sometimes, however, if we get out and go to a new location, a new job, or start a new relationship, we may continue getting the same results.

The students with the “broken” recorders didn’t need a new recorder. No matter how many recorders they would have tried, the result would have always been the same until they started playing it differently. It's the same in life.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Max Lucado

I'm reading a wonderful book called Traveling Light by Max Lucado. I've read some of his other books, including his children's books and have also had the opportunity to hear him speak. It amazes me that after writing a gazillion books that he would still have more to say and that everything he says is always so good.

I guess certain messages need to be repeated lots of times and in a variety of ways in order for them to eventually sink in and affect the way we live. Messages like "Fear not," "God loves you," "God provides," "God understands," "Be not afraid." Many books have been written to help us truly absorb these messages. I know I need to hear them repeated often, which is why spiritual reading is a part of our life. Ideally, it's a part of our daily life.

Repetition of these messages is so important to me as I face new challenges with each new day. I'm thankful Max has come up with so many new and different ways to make God's message to us come alive and apply to our everyday lives.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Love of Community

I was driving home from my night class at the University of Southern Indiana and was listening to Delilah on the radio. If you haven't listen to this before it is a lady who plays love songs and takes callers to talk about their love stories. As I was thinking and listening, my love for community and this way of life kept coming into my thoughts. Sr. Michelle and I have already talked about how our love and committment to this life fits into what some of them are talking about. I have fallen in love with living the Benedictine way of life just like some of these people share about falling in love with their husband or wife. I know that it might sound funny but I really do love this life!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Self Reflection

As community members, we do a lot of self reflection. This is especially so during initial formation. I remember one particular survey we were asked to fill out for community. It was a kind of personal inventory. I was doing fairly well answering the questions the best I could, but one question really stumped me. I thought about it and thought about it and thought about it. Then I started laughing and realized my hesitation gave me the answer to the question, "Do you have trouble making decisions?" Hmmmmmmm. . . . . .

Looking at our personalities reminds me of a Ziggy cartoon I saw one time where Ziggy was asked, "Are you here for the assertiveness training?" Ziggy's response, "If that's ok with you." It's also like asking someone, "Do you think I'm direct?" Well, the fact that you ask the question directly kind of gives away the answer.

Sometimes we're blinded to that which is most obvious. Self reflection and openess to what others tell us help us to see more clearly.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Kids are Funny

I teach 4th grade and I have taught my students this cheer that we do when they do something well. This is the first class that really likes to do it. It is called the roller coaster cheer. It is very simple but they love to do it. You take your hands like you are the roller coaster and make the sound going up the coaster and then when you go down you make the sound like you make when riding a roller coaster. It is kind of hard to explain but the kids loved it. We also have been going on www.freerice.org as a class. This website has all different questions to answer and then you earn so much rice for poor countries for each question answered. I hope my students are learning alittle bit about social justice. Father talked about social justice in his homily the other day and when we got back from Mass, my students said Sr. Jill we do social justice when we go on free rice.

Monday, September 14, 2009

No Peaking!

Ever try to play a game and tell kids not to peak? . . . . . It doesn't work. At least not with all of them. The funniest tattling has to go to the kid that tattles that another kid is peaking. Hmmmmm. . . . and how do you know that?

Retreats are wonderful!

Last week I spent on retreat, a time of quiet for reflection and just spending time with God. I enjoy nature so I spent time outside enjoying the trees, the grass with its dew drops hanging on to each blade, the spider webs spun everywhere it seemed. I enjoyed the rain drops hanging on the spruce trees, the clouds of all kinds, the blue sky, the gray sky, the lake, and flowers and birds. I watched the hummingbirds and listened to other birds singing. It was wonderful to have the time to take all of this in. God is so good.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Confessions of a 5K Cheater

Yesterday morning I cheated in jogging a 5K for the Coaltion for the Homeless. I didn't mean to, but I couldn't find the starting line! After checking in at the registration table and pinning on my nice big number about 10 minutes before the race was to start, I asked one of our sisters working the race where it would start, and she pointed down the road, saying, "That way." So I started walking that way, farther into the park.

I kept walking and saw nothing that looked like a starting line, and when I asked a regular weekend walker if she'd seen it, she wasn't quite sure, but said she'd seen a big group of people down the road a bit: "If you walk really fast you might catch up with them." So I walked on, following several signs indicating where the race was, until I met up with two women with water and stop watches.

"Excuse me," I asked, "but where is the beginning of the race?"
"A mile back that way!" one of them laughed. "The race hasn't started yet!"

Oops. So here I am a mile into the race, a slow jogger type inadvertently well ahead of the real runners, a minute or two before the actual race was to begin. I told the ladies I wasn't playing for money and that I'd just hang out for a bit until the fast people came by. I didn't want to capitalize on my unfair advantage due to stupidity, so I waited until the strung-out pack came by, first some men, then some women; eventually I joined the jog for the rest of the way.

At the end (which was clearly marked "FINISH"), kids from a local choir were clapping and holding out their hands for high fives. I felt like the consummate cheater jogging in, not terribly winded, not at my usual place at the complete end of the pack. But it was a nice run. God bless the work of the Coaltition for the Homeless!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

An Ordinary Life

This is my first full year to live with our sisters in formation, meaning those women who are newer in the community. This includes our very newest member who came last month. We really make an effort to spend time together, and last evening was strictly fun as we played games. Tonight most of us are gathering, too, since we want to watch the President's speech about health care.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Throw Logic Out the Window

If I could, I would go back in time to rename a few things to make them more logical. For example, the language of music is confusing. Why does a half note get 2 beats and an eighth note gets 1/2 a beat? Instead of the quarter note getting a quarter of a beat, it gets 1 beat. It's the sixteenth note that gets a quarter of a beat. A student the other day asked me, "Why don't we call the half note a two note?" The eighth note could then be called a half note since it gets 1/2 a beat. Of course, this is all 4/4 time. Change it to 6/8 and everything changes. I didn't think my students were ready to hear all that.

I've tried different things with my students to get them to read music. It just takes time. One of my favorite activities is having 4 chairs that represent 4 beats. I then assign different kids to be different notes. One kid is a whole note and takes up all 4 chairs. Half notes take up 2 chairs, quarter notes take up 1. When we get to eighth notes, there are 2 people on each chair. Sixteenth notes mean that 4 people are on one chair because 4 sixteenth notes equal one beat.

All of it is confusing for some students and will take time and practice to learn. Considering the time that it has taken for music to evolve into its current notation form, I don't think things will change anytime soon. In the meantime, I'll just keep telling the students, "A half note does not get 1/2 beat," and "A sixteenth note does not get 1/16 of a beat nor does it get 16 beats."

Aye, aye, aye.

Getting the Facts

It's important to get all the facts before answering a question or giving an opinion.

Recently I heard one little girl ask her older brother, "Can I eat my candy?" The brother said, "Yes," but then quickly added, "WAIT! Did it fall on the floor?" The girl answered, "No . . . . it fell on the ground." The brother was wise and realized there must be a catch. I think if I were that little girl and really wanted that piece of candy, I would have left that little piece of information out too.

Facts are important and so are the sources of those facts. Imagine two people are in a race. One is reported as coming in 2nd. The other is reported as coming in next to last. Not knowing how many people are in the race to begin with, which one would you say did better in the race?

How easily reporting can manipulate the facts and alter our opinions. It's easy to twist things around to get an outcome or an answer we desire.

Do I believe everything I hear? Do I gather all the facts and consider the source?

Friday, September 4, 2009

How Work Becomes Prayer

The last day and a half I have been substitute teaching for a friend of mine in her second grade classroom. What a joy it has been to be "back in the saddle" as they say! In today's first reading from Paul's letter to the Colossians, Paul tells us that Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God. In the time I have spent with these children this week, I've seen a whole new image of God come to life in them in their smiling faces. Their fire and zeal for life has inspired and renewed my own fire and zeal for life a thousand-fold!

For all of you college-goers out there, I too, am a full time student right now. We started classes on Monday and I already feel as though I can get easily overwhelmed with all that has been given to me this week. Yet, as I've watched the joy come to live in the eyes of each child in "my" class these last two days, I too, have rediscovered the joy of learning with them! As I write this blog, I am taking a break from studying Math-my weakest academic area. At least I keep telling myself that. However, that attitude is about to change from "I can't do Math because I don't have a strong Math mind" to "I CAN do Math-I just need to change the way I think!". My friend, Melba, who is the principal of the school I have been subbing for this week, told the children today and reminds them every day in her morning announcements to walk through the day with a "can do attitude!" So, I intend to follow her wisdom and do the same!

God speaks through many and various people in our lives. So, though it would be easy to get frustrated with all of the "work I have to do" for school as well as all of the other pieces of my life; I make it a point every day to thank God for the opportunity to be in college again and to be a part of these various ministries I share both within and outside the monastery every day. As we all know, school is expensive so I acknowledge with a grateful heart every day what a gift that I have been given to be able to go back to where I find joy and the face of God at each moment of each day in the process of learning and becoming who God is calling me to be!

So, my friends, where is it that you find that "invisible" image of God in your life? God is everywhere, yet, it us up to each one of us to seek God out in everyone we encounter and in every experience that we are given!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Trip to Cincinnati

This past weekend, I went to the Cincinnati Museum Center with two sisters I live with. There are 4 different Museums in one large building! It was so much fun. The best part was seeing the "Women and Spirit" exhibit. It was all about the contribution sisters in America have made for the country. I really admire all the ways they pioneered this way of life for us I learned a lot and it was so cool to see everything there. The other museums were very neat, as well, and it was a lot of fun hanging out with the other 2 ladies and just enjoying a nice Sunday today together. I learned a ton about geodes, too, as well as children from around the world!

Where Have We Been?

Whoa! Where have we been? Last weekend I went away for a few days to spend some time with friends on a houseboat at Lake Cumblerland in Kentucky. It was a wonderful weekend. It was so nice to just relax on the boat, go for rides in the run-about (smaller boat), play games, and my favorite, ride the wave runner. I love the speed and following speed boats and jumping the waves created in their wake. I actually got pretty good at it and could get some awesome air time.

Blessings on all of you who are going back to college these days. I hope you got all the classes you wanted and good professors. I know this is the beginning of a busy time for all of you. Know of my thoughts and prayers!