January 10, 2014, is a day that will forever be cherished in my heart and burned into my mind. It was on this day that we had to tell the children at Bonne Ecole that Georgia Mannino, our remarkable music teacher, had passed away. Just days before, many of them had written her cards and poured out their hearts to her. On this day, even more of them would pour out their hearts and their tears. It was decided that a school wide announcement would be made via the televisions to tell the children. After the announcement was made, the students were given the opportunity to go and see the counselor at our school. All of the third grade classes were on a field trip, so I was able to remain in the counselor’s office with her to talk to the kids. What we witnessed and listened to that day brought tears to our eyes and joy to our hearts.
As the students began to file into the counselor, Stacey’s, office, an open dialogue was started with them. Stacey asked them what they learned from Mrs.Mannino. One 5th grader said, “She taught us to never give up. We watched her continue to come to school and practice with us even though she had cancer. She taught us to be strong.” I was amazed that the first response was not about music or singing, but it was about a life skill of perseverance and courage in the midst of hardship. Children continued to share of Georgia’s bravery and courage as she battled cancer. We witnessed kids hugging one another and encouraging each other. It was beautiful. Georgia’s legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of these students. One little girl called Georgia her “Music Mom” because she felt that close to her. The students also cried out for forgiveness for the way they treated her, and we were able to share with them that they were forgiven. It was a powerful moment and one you never expect to experience at school.
During this time, my students were reading a novel called Esperanza Rising. The literal meaning of that title is “Hope Rising.” What perfect timing for these students to find hope in the middle of heartache. One of the assignments they had was to write about hope and how they saw it demonstrated around them. One of my students wrote the following about Georgia: “Mrs.Mannino was an amazing mother, wife, music teacher, and friend to everyone around her. She will always have a permanent spot in our hearts. She was a brave warrior, but in all cases, all warriors must rest in peace.” She closed her essay with these words: “Faith: have it, hold it, live it. Memories: know them, have them, hold them. Hope for the best. Love.” This young lady has learned lessons way beyond her years…WOW!
On March 20, 2014, Bonne Ecole’s Student Council and SHINE Club sponsored a mini Relay for Life at our school called “Fishing for a Cure.” The morning began with a Survivor’s Breakfast, and then the whole school circled the walking trail for a Survivor’s Lap. Surrounding the track were flags that were made by the students in honor of those we had lost and those who are still fighting cancer. As the survivors began to walk, a roar arose around the track as the students yelled and cheered them on. It was one of those moments you want to freeze in time. One of those walking was our former talented art teacher, Nolan LeFort. He did not think he would be able to walk the whole time, but he said the students cheers kept him going. My father walked the lap too as he is still struggling with the effects of cancer treatments. He had such a smile of joy when he finished the lap. Another precious walker was Mary Jolicoeur. As she walked, students yelled her name because of the stories they have heard of her courage. These students were given a memory they will never forget and the opportunity to bring hope to others. Also that morning, a beautiful sign was dedicated naming our music room, the Mannino Music Room.”
The past few months have had moments of sadness and moments of joy. The most recent for me was watching my daughter, Kaley, singing at the Teen SHE event. She sang the song, “Oceans,” and my mind immediately went to Georgia. She is the one who believed in Kaley and instilled a love for singing in her heart. The last night I saw Georgia, I thanked her for giving this gift to Kaley. Now, Kaley is able to share the gift of music with others, and Georgia’s legacy lives on. This song truly describes her journey and our journey as we continue to trust Father and hold His hand to guide and lead us through this journey.
You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep, My faith will stand
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand, Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
Becoming Who My Father Sees in Me,
Last Spring we had a SHE event titled “Strengthening Her Endurance,” and my topic was “Persevere and Push Through.” As I was preparing for that event, I had certain people come to my mind to ask to share their journeys of perseverance. One of those beautiful ladies was Leslie Molbert Dame, the sister of one of my dearest friends. I shared part of Leslie’s words at that SHE event, but no one had a copy to take home. I am including her email to me in this blog for a few special reasons. Leslie passed away on Thanksgiving Day of this year, and her memorial service touched so many lives. Parts of this email were used that night as a way to share Leslie’s trust in Father even to the very end. My topic for the last SHE event was Best Editing. The last two points I made relate directly to Leslie: “Embrace Your Mission” and “Leave a Legacy.” Leslie embraced her mission, and she left a beautiful legacy. To read more about Leslie, you may also go to www.lesliestrong.org or like Leslie Strong on Facebook. Please continue to pray for her family. Her loss has been so hard on them and all of us. I pray her words will encourage us on the days we miss her. This blog is in honor of her and her infectious smile.
Love you all,
First, let me say I'm sorry I did not respond sooner! I wanted to have time to really think about and share with you what God laid upon my heart...so I took a couple of days to pray over it! I hope this hasn't messed up your time table! :)
I have been reading a book by Beth Moore called Believing God. I wanted to tell you about it because it has just touched my heart so much. Many of the scriptures I am including God gave to me through this study! I am daily so inspired by the ways He reveals His promises and truths to me. I am more aware of the blessings in my life than ever before...
Habakkuk 2:3: " But these things I plan won't happen quickly. Slowly , steadily, surely the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed."
Romans 5:1-5: " Therefore since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord had done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us- they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love."
Isaiah 55:10-11, Psalm 131, Psalm 107:19-21, Ephesians 6:16-17,
Philippians 4:13, Jeremiah 29:11-13, Psalm 119 ( this psalm refers over and over to God's word, and all the ways that we as His children are revived, encouraged and given hope in His word), Ephesians 1:3-8, 2 Corinthians 4:16-17. Matthew 7:7-8, Joshua 1:9, Mark 9:23, Luke 1:37. ( I have a new living translation Bible)
The most critical thing I have learned through my circumstances is that in order to endure, in order to be able to hold tight to my hope each day, in order to believe when to others I must seem silly: I must cling to His word. I never before understood the need to study, read and reread His promises- to commit them to memory, to truly hide them in my heart. There are moments each day (a multitude of them) when I am faced with fear, or discouragement, or sadness, or anger. And in those moments, I can call upon the Words of God that remind me to hope, that I am promised a future, that nothing can separate me from His love, that I am precious to Him- adopted into His family, that I can do all things, that His truth sustains me, that His words accomplish what they set out to accomplish, that He heals. I do this all day long. I say it aloud. I think it, I write it. I am learning what it means to meditate on His words. And I am so full of peace and strength when I do this...I wish it hadn't taken something like cancer to open the eyes of my heart. After all, how can we as children persevere when things seem impossible if we do not know what God promises? That He is indeed who He says He is, That He can do what He says He can do, That we are who He says we are, That through Him we can do all things, and That His words- His promises- are alive today, in us. We must know His truths in order to endure. They are there for the taking! And that in itself in a gift.
The greatest thing about our God, to me, is that He is unchanging. He is today who He was yesterday. He fulfills His promises, He never rests, He loves beyond measure, nothing I ask of Him even begins to deplete the strength and power He has. Wow. That is more than enough to sustain me!
I hope this helps, Suzanne. And thank you for using me. I am humbled by you asking. I'm looking forward to coming with Mom and Claire to the next workshop! I think Claire was going to get us tickets! Thank you for the prayers and love! They are felt daily!
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