Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My Favorite Part of the Day

 One of my favorite parts of teaching at a Christian School is that we open everyday with prayer. Last year, with my second and third graders we shared prayer requests. There's nothing wrong with that. Philippians 4:6 states: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
     What bothered me, was that my children were so focused on their own needs and wants (mostly wants, to be honest), that they often forgot WHO they were talking to during prayer. In fact, one day, one of my boys said to me, "God makes our wishes come true." To these kids, prayer was a time to give their wishlist to God. It was like writing a letter out to Santa...EVERYDAY.
    So, this year, I decided to approach my prayer time a little differently. I decided to teach my kids how to pray. And I'll admit, I stole the idea from a fellow teacher from when I was in Guatemala. She taught her students to pray using the ACTS model (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication). Everyday, they would focus on a different letter. I liked it, so I stole it. On Monday, we praise God for who He is. On Tuesday, they have a time to pray silently--specifically to confess anything they may need to--otherwise, it's a great time to talk to God quietly. Thursday is Thankfulness. Then, Friday is the day they share their requests. Friday have been a lot less about a wishlist and a lot more about sharing their needs. One of the other things I've done is allowed each of my kids a chance to prayer. We go around the room and each child says their own prayer--and I love it. Monday is probably my favorite. It's the day when I hear prayers like: God, I praise You that You are Almighty and Creator and You loved us and sent Jesus to save us. Thank you for being so big and awesome. This really is my favorite time of the day--when I hear my kiddos praying and talking to God--doing more than just give their daily wishlist. I love it!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Roman Holiday: Part the Second

     One of my favorite paintings is "The Creation of Adam" by Michelangelo. I love the imagery of God reaching down to man, and man's half-hearted attempt to respond...love, love, love the painting. "The Creation of Adam" is one of the many painting Michelangelo painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, located within the Vatican (which by the way is the smallest country in the world), located within the city of Rome. Obviously, on a trip to Rome, visiting the Vatican was a must. So, on the morning of day two in Rome, by two partners of adventure and I headed off to see the Sistine Chapel, amongst other things. First, though, we stopped by St. Peter's Square, to visit St. Peter's Basilica, one of the largest churches in the world. This is where I once again mention that I LOVE cathedrals. I forget sometimes how BIG God is, but everytime I am near a cathedral, I look at its massive splendor and realize that my God is MUCH, MUCH more massive and splendid...AMAZING!
We saw long lines to get in, and at first we were worried. Then, we realized they were lines for security and actually were moving fairly quickly (much faster than most airports, I might add), so all was soon well. And the basilica did not disappoint--it was beautiful...and massive.

     The next stop was to visit the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. One of my favorite parts of living in Europe (besides the traveling...or the food...or the operas) has been seeing the works of great artists in person.  A work by Titian in Venice...Da Vinci in Milan and Paris...and now Michelangelo AND Raphael? Incredible. The Vatican Museums were amazing. One of our first stops was a part full of Egyptian artifacts--including several mummies (real live..um..dead mummies!). We also so Roman and Greek statues, the Raphael rooms, Matisse originals (Adventure Buddy has taught about him in an elementary art class before, so she was pretty excited to see those), and finally, the breath taking Sistine Chapel. At first, Adventure Buddy and I stood in the center of the room straining our necks to see everything, but then someone moved from one of the benches along the wall, and we had a chance to sit for a while and gaze. I probably could have sat there all day, it was so breathtaking. Of course, I kept returning my eyes to "The Creation of Adam". Love that painting. Adventure Buddy and I looked around for our third friend, and realized she wasn't sitting where she had been before. After trying to look through the crowds, we finally gave up and decided maybe she hadn't seen us and had already left. We decided to head out of the room and see if maybe we could catch her.
      We wandered through the rest of the museum (stopping to look at displays and out of the window at the Vatican Gardens along the way. We arrived at the bookstore at the end, and we still hadn't found her. We decided to text her and wait (giving me a chance to buy a bookmark featuring "The Creation of Adam"). Finally, we the three of us we reunited and we left the Vatican to continue our Roman Adventure.

       After lunch, taking a ride on the hop-on-hop-off bus for which we had tickets, and and visiting another cathedral, we wandered through a few markets. By the time we finished in the markets, it was getting dark. Since we weren't that far from the Colosseum, we decided to head over there to get a few night pictures. It was beautiful! The next part of our adventure eventually led us to visiting Trevi Fountain, all lit up for the night. Also, breathtaking. By then, it was time to eat. We came across a restaurant with a 4 our of 5 rating by Trip Advisor--Trattoria Gioia Mia Pisciapiano. We decided to stop there for dinner. It was amazing. The waiters were friendly. We had great food and great service, and it was much less expensive than we had been expecting. All in all, day two was a very successful day!