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Archive for the ‘3 Reasons’ Category

I’m teaching four classes (two courses–actually, in my head I count it as five classes, since one of them is a combo class, which definitely FEELS like two classes when it comes time to prep and to teach!) at the local community college this semester.  I began teaching there last semester, and I love it!

At this semester’s adjunct faculty orientation, one of my colleagues (a friend whom I first knew when we were both homeschool moms) asked me what I like about teaching at the college.  Part of what I told her–and have since formulated further as an answer–is:

1.  I don’t have to deal with all the non-academics that go with teaching children.  Even though I’ve had to ask for quiet from particular individuals a time or two, and have asked a student to unplug after he came to class with an iPod, I still haven’t had to play policeman in the halls or bathrooms, I haven’t had to clean up vomit from the floor, and I haven’t had to call anyone’s parents about their naughty behavior.

2.  I am always amazed by hope.  There are men and women in my classes who are, for the first time, trying to get somewhere in life–and are finding success in the journey.  Some have lost jobs, but instead of sitting around collecting unemployment and feeling sorry for themselves, they are taking their unemployment period as an opportunity to imagine they might do something different–be something different–than they’ve been up till now.

3.  Finally, the thing I like most, is that the more I get to know my students, the more I find them to be an endlessly fascinating group of people.  There is a never-ending pageant of colorful life parading before my eyes every day.  In the laughter, in the pain, in the frustrations, in the accomplishments–my place in front of the classroom is like sitting in the viewing stand, and, maybe, just maybe, I can throw in a tootle or a toot or a bang on someone’s big bass drum as their parade moves on, adding to the joyful rhythm of the march.

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The sudden loss of my young friend Rachel this past Saturday night (see my previous post) made me think about a sudden loss of my own.  Five years ago this same weekend, we arrived home from Sunday morning church to a phone message from my brother-in-law, saying there was a family emergency and we should call Michael’s brother.  The news we received when the call was returned changed our lives forever:  Michael’s mom had collapsed and died that morning in the folks’ bathroom.  That was all.  Just like that.  No warning. No illness.  (She was 86, so there are always cumulative life effects at that stage in one’s body, but, there was nothing chronic or immediate that had signaled this event.)  We had spent the weekend before that celebrating as a family.  It was Easter and my father-in -law’s 90th birthday–it had been a wonderful, sweet time together.

I have not experienced a great deal of loss in my almost-54 years, but I must say that those days were some of the darkest of my life to date.  In remembering, I  have pondered the reasons why sudden losses hurt so much:

1)  We always think we  have more time.  Most of don’t wake up every day thinking, “This could be my last day on earth” or “This could be my last day with _______ ” (fill in the names of the ones you love).  Maybe we should.  (A friend today told me how her thinking has been challenged by a book titled One Month to Live.  I’ve noticed on Facebook this week several friends sending simple love messages to their spouses–have they, too, been impacted by Rachel’s death in remembering that we have no guarantee of more time?  That one thing could give meaning to something that seems otherwise so senseless.)

2)  We haven’t had time to let go gradually.  When someone is leaving us through the changes of gradual aging or even through illness or disease, we only are asked to let go of bits at a time.  We have the chance to get used to “new normal” incrementally.  Sudden loss wrenches life from our midst and everything changes at once.  We are left in a state of disorientation, and time does not stand still to allow us to get our footing before taking another step.

3)  We are faced with our own immortality.  We are forced to think, “Next time it could be me or (another) one of mine,” and we mourn for our own projected losses.

These are hard things.  If they were not, we would not be human.

But here is a thought–maybe I will post more later on these, but if I don’t–well then, here is a thought:  Each of those reasons is like a dark room.  Yet, outside, the sun is shining.  How I move beyond and out of the dark room, ceasing to live there, will depend on whether I choose to–at some point, a point which may not be the same for me as it is for you–get up and lift the shade or open the door to let some of that light penetrate the place hemmed in by the pain of loss.  Different people have different means for letting in the light.  In my personal experience and observations, faith will eventually move me toward the window every time.

Yes, definitely more later…

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1.  Leaf raking provides a powerful auditory experience–CRUNCH!  SWISH!  CRUNCH!  SWISH!

2.  It appeals to the orderly part of me–in a very short time I can clear a formerly leaf-cluttered area and feel a sense of accomplishment.

3.  It  is sometimes a solitary experience–short of the times when it is a family project, humans seem to disappear…and the occasional squirrel doesn’t bother me as long as he keeps his distance.  Solitude means think, dream, pray, plan time.

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Yesterday, my husband’s place of employment announced it will essentially close its doors at the end of this academic year.  http://fw.taylor.edu/home/news/news_detail.shtml?inode=77392   After having worked there for 23 years, needless to say, this translates to big changes ahead.  Once the initial “trickles” found their way down my cheeks (there may be more tears to come, possibly of the dam bursting variety, but I am just one of those people who emotes via my tear ducts–poor Zach!  He is distressed by it, but I realized yesterday that maybe I should tell my teenage son that this is a good husband training opportunity–learning how to handle a woman’s tears!), I began to reflect.  I am encouraged that the thankfulnesses, the glass half full moments, the little glimmers of exciting times that just might lie ahead have been able to break through the initial potential for despair and, at least at this moment, seem to be tipping the balance toward hope.

Reasons for hope in place of despair?

1)  We are in the same boat many have found themselves in–only ours is much bigger than some have had.  We have eight months of employment ahead of us–time to pray, to seek, to plan.

2)  We have a support network.  An almost instant email after the announcement became public, a call from one of our small group friends, comments on Facebook–all words of encouragement, assurances of prayers.  And we don’t travel the journey alone–many have expressed their sadness at the death of a dream, the feeling of loss, yet in the same breath comes an expression of confidence because…

3)  The God who brought us to Fort Wayne Bible College/Summit Christian College/Taylor University (same institution of higher education, three different chapters of its history) is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made.  Though we did not see this coming at this time, He has known it from eternity.  He has been shaping us in ways we haven’t realized, getting us ready for this exact crossroad.  He will show us which path to take, has already packed our bags with what we will need for the journey, and has promised to be our guide.

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1.  You might hear his heart.
2.  He might get a backrub out of it–how can you refuse that smile when he’s just bared his soul to your mother heart?
3.  You might hear him say, without any prodding from you, that it would be a good use of time between classes to pray as he goes–if he could remember to do it.

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1.  I learn new things about old and new friends–their joys, their histories, their strengths, their weaknesses, what they are are learning, what they are struggling with–in general, what makes them such great people to know.

2.  Some posts remind me of times in my own life.  A couple of young moms have posted recently and made me remember the stresses and challenges and little daily causes for joy and gratitude that are part of young motherhood–and I have been thankful all over again (and reminded to pray for those mommy heroes as well!).  One blog I read daily includes direct and indirect praise of the writer’s wife–and I am reminded of the blessing of the man to whom I am married.

3.  I am humbled and challenged.  One blogging friend seems to gather friends like some people gather flowers in a garden; I’d like to become more skillful at that.  Another blogging friend incidentally related that her barefoot days came to an end when she injured her achilles tendon teaching her young sons to ride bikes; I think they will include that sacrifice one day when they rise up and call her blessed.  I wonder if “sacrifice” will be part of what my kids remember–or will I have been too selfish for that to be part of what they think of when they think of Mom? 

Whether it is the tender care of the husband for his wife going through cancer treatment, the hope expressed in the life of that same couple, the imagination and creativity of my friends who think and feel and teach and love for a living, or the beautiful combining of words from the hearts and minds of those with a poetic bent, I am daily richer through the efforts of those who share life via a blog.

Thanks for taking the time to share, Dear Blogging Friends.

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My friend Jon has his 8 ways lists .  I think I will try 3 reasons…that shouldn’t be too hard, should it?

Tonight, Michael and I had a scheduled phone conversation with a friend of a friend from Oregon who is helping us out with some financial planning.  I labored and fussed about this conversation all day today–we were supposed to be asking questions and I was having trouble formulating mine–although it turned out to be a very amiable and helpful 45 minutes (due in large part to the party on the other end of the line having a real servant heart to go with his passion for helping people with their finances.)  But, in general, I don’t prefer the phone because

1) the non-verbal cues are absent–no rolled or questioning eyes, no raised or relaxed eyebrows, no wrinkled or peaceful foreheads, no crossed or open arms.  Even email has emoticons.

2) there is always the chance of a dropped call or a dying battery–definite conversation stoppers.

3)  I am too distracted by my surroundings on my end of the conversation, which usually means I miss something and then have to either admit I missed something because I wasn’t paying attention, or fake it and act like I know what’s going on when I really don’t.  The first is humbling, the second is dishonest.

I prefer face-to-face or written communication.  What about you?

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