Finding purpose in your life

The beginning of the school year is always an exciting time! You are gearing up for the school year by setting up your classroom, reorganizing your office, and finishing up on some lesson planning… you find yourself not panicking.

But just when you think you have everything done, you look around the corner and are greeted with another item to add to your “To Do List.”

This happened to me while I was getting ready for the Lakota boys and girls to return to St. Joseph’s Indian School. I felt I had everything ready for the school year and I was going to be ready to rock ‘n roll for the first week of classes!

But then, I was then greeted with another item on my “To Do List.” I left the first day of school feeling a little overwhelmed. My head was spinning and I was thinking, “Wow, there is just so much more I have to do!”

As I was walking to my car, I heard shouts from the playground. My students were asking if I could join them on the swings.

God quickly reminded by me what an amazing place St. Joseph’s is. The happy shouts of the children reminded me that, no matter how long my list was, the main reason that God has me at this school is to build relationships and touch the hearts of the Native American students who attend this wonderful place.

If you are ever feeling overwhelmed during the day and are wondering what in the world is going on, take a deep breath. Look around and be thankful for what God is doing in your life.

Joe teaches the Native American children Religion at St. Joseph’s Indian School.
Joe and the Lakota students in Religion Class.

Guest Blogger: Joe

Last week in Religion class, the third graders watched a five minute video titled “A great day.” They are a great group of kids because they always come in with smiles on their faces and ready to learn.  At this age, the Lakota boys and girls are full of many questions which can be a good thing and sometimes very challenging.

On this particular day, I told the class that we were going to watch the video two times. The first time we would watch it straight through and see what stuck in their minds.  After this, we planned to watch the video again but we would stop it a couple of times to discuss what was happening.

I pushed play and the students’ eyes stared at the screen. I looked around and could see the wheels turning in their heads. These students were getting something out of this simple five minute video.  Once the video concluded, I asked the students what they thought was going on in the film.  One young boy raised his hand and simply said,

“Today is a gift!”

In my mind, this was the best answer that you could expect from watching the video.

As we watched the video a second time, I paused at the beginning to talk about “the gift.” (If you are not familiar with the video, the gift is that you get to live another day.) I told the students that God has a plan for us. God knows what we did five minutes ago and God knows what we are going to do five minutes from now.

“So God knows that I am going to pick my nose in a few minutes?” one boy asked.

After controlling my laughter I told him simply “yes.”

As the video went on, I paused it again to talk about things that the students could do to help make a difference in their lives and the lives of others. Things like using their eyes, their smile, a touch or their presence can be very powerful. I told the students that these four things, under their control, can change another person’s day.

After finishing the video, I asked the students what they thought of the video after watching it for the second time. A young girl then said,

“We are blessed!”

I asked her what that meant and she went on to tell the class that we are blessed to receive another day of life. I added that each student was blessed to have many things and that we should always be grateful.

In the last fifteen minutes of class I asked the students to write down what they are thankful for.  They were asked to write down as many blessing as they could.  As soon as I handed out the paper there wasn’t a single noise in the classroom. By the end of the class every student had filled out at least the whole front side of a piece of paper.

When the class period ended, I sat and thought about how everyone at St. Joseph’s is blessed and thankful for everything that happens here on campus.

So, I ask you to join us. Take out a page of paper and write down what you are thankful for.  Remember to write down as many things as you can think of.  Whenever you are having a bad day, look back at what you wrote down.  Then you can be as thankful as our third graders here at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Guest Blogger: Joe

Hi!  My Name is Joe I am the Pastoral Care Associate. This is my first year here at St. Joseph’s.  Part of my job entails teaching some of the religious education classes along with Clare, the Co-Director of Pastoral Care.  The other part of my job includes going into the homes and assisting houseparents with spiritual development for our Native American students.

Being right out of college and growing in my faith life, I have been praying and reflecting about what led me to St. Joseph’s Indian School. Over the past few weeks, I have been given a few answers to this question and would like to share a couple of examples.

Every morning when I get to school I recite a prayer from a small prayer-book that includes verses and devotions. The other day the verse was Proverbs 3: 5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

Later in the day, I realized that this verse was setting the stage for me to gain insight about my position here at St. Joseph’s.

After lunch, the fifth grade students came into my class.  They were acting about how you would imagine fifth graders would act right after recess. It took some time for the class to calm down.  As class began, I told them that we were going to be talking about Creation and how God created everything for us.

I was reading out of Genesis when verse 26 came up,

“Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness.”

One student raised his hand.

“So God made us to look like Him?”

I responded by saying,

“Yeah, God made us in His likeness. Isn’t that crazy?”

Another and went up.

“Why would God make us in His image?”

I replied by saying,

“God loves us so much that he wanted us to be like Him and to love each other.”

I looked around the room to see some students nodding their heads as if they understood. There were a few students that seemed to be grasping this concept.  That gave me a good feeling.

The next class that came in was the first grade class. They always come in with a lot of energy.  I read them stories of Jesus and how He lived his life and how He wanted us to live our lives.

A first grader then asked,

“How did Jesus die?”

You have to remember that most of these first graders don’t know much about Jesus.

I told the young boy that it was a great question.

“Jesus died on a cross,” I said.

He then said,

“Why did He die?”

I responded with,

“Jesus loved us so much that He died for our sins.”

Another student then said,

“He died for us?”

I replied,

“Yeah, Jesus died for you because He loved you so much.”

I then asked the students how they felt about someone dying for them. The boy who asked the question then said,


Other first graders then said they too loved Jesus Christ.

Later, as I reflected on the day I realized how the verse I read in the morning spoke to me and how God was working through me. I remembered how the fifth graders were amazed that we were made in the likeness of God, and how the first graders were loving Jesus.  I have to admit, it put a smile on my face.  It made me realize how lucky I am to be here in an amazing community with incredible children.

God is truly great!