May 6, 2015

Next up, Summer!

Well, today is Wednesday.  It was a crazy day yesterday with lots of coming and going. I ended the day spending time talking with my love on the phone. I always feel so blessed when I can share some of my day with him. We enjoy talking with one another, and that is such a strange and wonderful thing for me. Truthfully, I do enjoy talking (I always have), it is just that I rarely get to do it with anyone. I spend so much of my time alone, studying, thinking, watching TV, etc. I am mostly a loner when it comes to life, though I do enjoy it when I get to talk with friends or spend time with my family. I guess I have gotten used to being alone. I feel like I have spent the majority of my life alone, so it is really, really nice when I get to spend some of my time with another person, someone who cares about me, and enjoys being with me (even if we live apart). God is so good to have provided me with a Godly friend who prays for me, loves me, and wants to spend time with me. It makes me feel so special, so wanted, and so valued.

So the good news for today is that my grades came in (yea!) I am pleased, so very pleased with my efforts. This was a challenging semester, the most difficult one so far, and I survived (Thank you, Jesus!)  I ended up with an A in both courses, praise be to God. My research paper for my theory class was well received, and with some minor work, my professor thinks it is ready to go to a journal. My applied research paper was considered good (a collaborative effort), but had some issues that the professors felt were not 100% clear. I am content with the grade because it was a difficult project, and it proved a valuable learning lesson for us all. Overall, we did fine in the class, and in the end, that is all that matters. In short, my GPA stands firm, and I am relieved that the Spring semester is over. Hurrah!

Furthermore, it looks like my summer courses are set now. I am hoping to get a bit more financial aid to help cover my expenses to VA, but I will have to wait and see what shakes out. Disbursements are not until the 22nd of this month, but however much I do get, it will be welcomed for sure. In all, this has been a good day. I am relieved to have the semester end, and I am now able to focus on my summer school plans. Summer school...LOL! Yes, how I wish I were ten again so I could spend my entire summer at the pool with friends!

Speaking of summer plans...I saw this image while Googling for something to post this morning. It made me smile, and it reminded me of my friend, Carol Simmons (now Cossidente). We grew up together in Hazel Crest, IL, and she was a big Snoopy fan. We always gave each other Snoopy gifts, and to this day, whenever I see Snoopy or Woodstock, I think about her.

So as I was looking at this picture, my mind traveled back to my days at Highlands Elementary school. I attended Highlands for three years (4th-6th grades). It was my neighborhood school, and all the kids who lived in the neighborhood went there. It was a good school back in the early 1970s. The teachers were friendly and the school was safe. Kids could walk to and from without a parent, and generally, the whole approach to elementary school life was very low-key, warm, and welcoming. As I thought about my school days today, I remember the feeling I had when it was the last day of the school year.

Typically, this was in early June. The last two weeks of school were the most difficult because everyone (teachers included) wanted the year to be over. I can remember staring out the window waiting for the recess bell to ring. I can remember the feeling of being in a classroom without any air conditioning. The windows were opened, the warm and humid air blowing through the window. I can still smell the sweetness of  freshly mown grass. I can hear the buzz of the bees, the chirp of the birds, and the lazy sounds of a school room winding down for the year. When the final bell rang for the day and the year, the kids all piled out into the bright sunshine. There were lots of good-byes, but mostly there were waves and shouts of "see you later!" Summer meant endless hours of play and exploration in the neighborhood woods, ponds, and back areas. It also meant days spent at the local pool, and nights playing 'kick the can' out in front of our houses. I can remember the way the wind would blow through my window at night, how the street lamp would shine in through the curtains, and how I would drift off to sleep feeling so wonderful. My favorite memory is of summer mornings. I love the way the wind blew softly into my room, how the breeze would flow across my face, and gently wake me up. I loved, and I still do love, summer mornings.

Of course, now I live in Phoenix, and summer means scorching hot temperatures, and it always means being locked up inside an air conditioned house. We rarely keep our windows open, and we never stay outside all day long. I miss those wonderful summer days, the low-key and slow days where nothing really mattered but relaxing and resting. I loved looking forward to another new school year, to buying pencils and supplies, and to all the excitement I felt at returning to school.

School was never a great experience for me, but I sure did look forward to it starting. I guess I liked learning, but the actual process of being in the classroom was something I came to loathe. How is that the case? I wonder about that now, how after all these years, the Lord could bring me to teach. Still, I think I always loved school. I just didn't like the way I was taught or some of the other parts of the class experience (grading, being made to feel inadequate or wrong). If I am being honest with myself, I can recall the summer days when I played school with my friends. I was 9 or 10 at the time, and we would setup school in our garage. I loved teaching, making up assignments, and grading papers (LOL!) Yes, I actually did create tests and then grade them for my fellow students (the kids in my neighborhood). I think it is really funny how all those years ago, this was the one thing I thought about doing when I grew up.

Of course, as I got older, I thought about doing a lot of other things too -- like studying archeology, pathology, art history, studio art, etc. In the end, I became an English teacher. Now that I think about it, I believe it is the best fit for me. I love teaching English -- even grammar -- though I am not very good at it. I should probably take a good grammar class so I am better able to teach it to students, but I don't have a lot of time. So really, I am content to teach what I do -- writing and literature. God is good to me, so very good to me, and He has given me my childhood dream of being a teacher. I never thought it would come to pass or that I would really want to be a teacher once I became an adult.

In fact, when I think it over, and I carefully remember those long ago days, I know that I have always been a teacher. I started to teach while still in grade school (at play and as a student helper in K classrooms). In Junior High, I worked with special needs children. In High School, I taught Sunday School to 1-2nd graders. Later, I taught Sunday School to kids in K-6th grades. In my early working years, I taught computer hardware training to fellow employees, and I was responsible for training all new employees in email and word processing software.

Once my son was born in 1993, I taught Awana for kids ages 3-6th grade (I did that for 10 years). When he was 10, I started home schooling him and I taught him at home through high school. Now, I teach college students English and Communication, and I am studying for my PhD in Communication. I am in my early 50s now, but as I look back I see that I have a life of teaching behind me. The Lord has brought me up as a teacher, starting with babies and little children -- all the way -- to young adults.

My life has been about teaching, and even when I didn't think I wanted to do this, I still found myself doing it. I think the reason why I never wanted to be a "teacher" was because my ex-husband had such a hatred for teaching, especially public school teaching. Yes, as hard as that seems, my ex hated the very nature of teaching despite the fact that his father was a teacher, his mother taught Bible, and several cousins and other family members were teachers, professors, etc. The rub in all this was that he was studying to be a teacher in college right before I met him. When we were dating I never understood why he dropped out of college because truthfully he would have made a very good teacher. He never would explain his reasons other than to say he changed his mind. He said he got tired of the winters in MN and wanted to be closer to his parents. His parents pushed him hard to return to school, and often berated me for not encouraging him more strongly to go back to school. I felt that it was up to him, and since he was vehemently not interested in doing that, I let it go. However, I learned later on that part of his decision to leave MN and move west was that he had been spurned by a girlfriend who was studying to be a teacher (she is now). Perhaps he stopped everything once she said "no" to him, I don't know. Anyway, he dropped out of school, ran away from life, and unfortunately, never regained what I believed was his life calling (the calling the Lord placed on his life). You would think that after 25 years of living with a person, you would know the real reason behind these types of life-changing decisions, but he never told me, never revealed it, and his parents never told me anything either.

So whenever I would mention wanting to be a teacher, he would snap at me and tell me that it was a worthless profession, bound up in liberal ideology, and not valuable for anything. In fact, he would maintain that no person needed a college education and that while he was in agreement that our son should go to college, he preferred for him to find self-employment. Now that I think about it, I understand why he reacted the way he did. Personally, I think my desire to teach (a God-given desire) was convicting to him. I represented what he was supposed to be, and he hated it. He hated the fact that I welcomed it, and that I wanted and believed it was the Lord's will for my life. I see this now because I remember how he reacted, almost violently when I said I felt the Lord was leading me to be a teacher. He put his foot down, said in 'no uncertain terms,' that he forbade me from teaching professionally. He was happy to have me work like a dog for his business or to do anything where I could work from home, but to be a professional teacher, well that was out of the question.

I think this is why the Lord provided teaching opportunities for me in the church. I was always being asked to teach Sunday School or Awana. I thought back then it was because they needed me (well, they did), but now I know that it was that and it was the fact that I was really good at teaching and working with children.

I do find it curious at times how the Lord allows certain events in your life, and how those events shape future outcomes. I have blogged about my reasons for marrying my ex, and while there were many reasons for me not to marry him, I chose to do it out of a sense of obligation to him. In the end, I did my best to try to keep the marriage together. It didn't work out that way, and we parted ways. We are friends, cordial, and respectful of each other. I have no hard feelings about what happened between us. As my good friend, Martha, likes to say, it is "water off a ducks back!" Yes, it is water under the bridge now. I made mistakes during our 25 years together. I didn't always behave well, and I often pouted and became silent when I felt hurt and unwanted. After a time, I learned to live with the silent treatment, and with his demands and wants. I gave in often, when I should have stood my ground, but through it all, I believed I was honoring the Lord with my submission and with my attitude. I survived being the unloved woman, and I came through the experience with strength and with persistence. The Lord kept me in His care, and He showed me how to survive during those long lean years.

Now I am on the other side or the backside of that life. I have moved on down the river, and I am flowing along with the current of the Holy Spirit. I am living the life I believe the Lord has provided for me. I am happy and I am content. I love my life, all of it, even the challenging parts, and I am so well inside, so settled. My mind, my heart, and my emotional state are solid -- rock solid. I may stress a bit, and I may get depressed every now and again, but generally speaking, my emotional state is set at equilibrium. I am good, so very good.

As I look forward ten or twenty years, I see a good safe life for myself. I see happiness, and a very modest way of living. I am okay with that kind of lifestyle. I have never desired a mansion or fancy cars. I am very satisfied living in a nice home, on a nice street, in a nice town or city. I don't require many "things" to make me happy. In fact, I don't require "things" at all. I have never been about things. I am all about intention and meaning -- the true things that matter -- a heart softened toward the Lord, a life built upon His word, and a Godly character that embraces and demonstrates integrity, honor, and discipline. Yes, I am all about the things that matter to God, and not about the things that matter to the world.

My dreams are bound up in one thing only, and that is a life submitted and yielded to the Lord, a life of service. My hope is to teach college until I can retire (at 70). I would like to own a small modest home where I can garden and enjoy my older years. I would like to attend a God-fearing church predicated on missions and seeking/saving the lost. I would like to be involved with a good ministry or service -- in whatever capacity the Lord desires. I would like to live comfortably, in a warm/cool home, with plenty of food to eat, so that I can enjoy the blessings that God has given to me. I hope my son gets married and has children. I would so love to be a Grandmother some day. But, even if that doesn't happen, I will be content. If the Lord decides for me to marry, well, that would be an awesome blessing. I am praying it is so, but there is much work to be done between the here and there. I am trusting Him on His timing. God is good, and He knows my future well.

In all, where I am right now is a good place, a safe place. I have a solid future planned for my life and it is coming to pass. The Lord has provided a way for me to go. He is blessing me in my studies at Regent, in my teaching at GCU and ACU, and He is providing the care and comfort I need through my family, my friends, and my new found love. Yes, the Lord has richly blessed me with all manner of blessing under heaven, and I am good, I am so very good.

Today is a great day to praise the Lord. 
Today is a great day to remember all that the Lord has done for me. 

He has made my life brand new, and I am rejoicing in the fact that I can rest, I can trust, and I can abide in Him. Selah!

No comments: