Monday, June 4, 2012

Farewell, Beloved

Today's passage:  I Corinthians 15:58
     "Therefore, my BELOVED brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."  (Words in all caps mine, for emphasis).
     I keep telling myself, "There are no words, there are no words, there are no words."  But there are words, as feeble and incomplete and ineffective as they may be.  I say all this because two dear ladies from our church and school will be moving on and away this week..  God is calling them to a new adventure, to return to families, after ministering in the inner city of Chicago for 30+ years.  I have only known these fellow church members, former co-workers, faithful friends for 16 years.  That may be a lot to some, but only a fraction compared to others.  But in that time, I've learned a lifetime of knowledge from them.
      When I first moved to Chicago, college graduate, newbie teacher, embarking on my own for the very first time (even in college I lived at home) I might have been intimidated by the wealth of knowledge Miss  Huddleston and Miss Traxler  possessed.  As I observed them in their classrooms with completely different teaching styles, I realized that my four years of college classes was nothing compared to the practical application I saw before me.  In my time teaching at the school, especially as a rookie third grade teacher, I never can remember a criticism or a judgement on my lack of experience.  They were always there for advice, and if I asked, they gave it.  But I learned the most from watching them.  As time passed, I grew more confident in my own teaching abilities. I didn't try to be Miss Traxler or Miss Huddleston in the classroom, rather, I modeled after them. I took cues from them on everything from parent-teacher conferences and how to handle disciplinary situations to how to make an effective seating arrangement.  Sure, I learned some of that in college, but learning and doing are two different things.  Following Miss Shipley (Wandell), Miss Huddleston, and Miss Traxler for seven years was not easy for sure.  But I have a sneaking suspicion that they also instilled confidence in parents about me.  Yes, I was new.  Yes, I didn't know what I was doing for the better part of seven years, but I was willing to keep learning.  I was willing to keep taking their advice.  I knew I had to find my own way, and they knew that too.  I love them especially for that.
     Since leaving teaching nearly nine years ago (yes, Carol, it has been that long) Miss Traxler moved up to third grade.  She started asking me for advice.  That was the highest compliment I could have been paid.  And I knew she didn't need any of it, but it was flattering just the same. They both still view me as a fellow teacher even though I only substitute on occasion, and that's like the minor leaguer being high fived by the major leaguers, a suitable analogy for our shared love of the Cubs.
      It is pure selfishness that makes me wish they could stay so that all my boys could have them as teachers.  My oldest had  Miss Hudd in first grade but will miss the opportunity by one year to have Miss Traxler.  And the younger two will not be able to have them as teachers either, but they have still felt their influence through our church.  The school will not be the only place that their absence will be noticed.  Our church is losing two dedicated and faithful ladies.  They have ministered in more areas in our church than I can even name.  If there is any person in our congregation who does not know them, I would daresay that it would be their own fault, because I have seen how earnestly they try to befriend every person who enters our doors.  They have never been just teachers.  They have always been women who love God and demonstrated that in their daily walk.  They have always loved our church and our school.  They have stayed when times have been tough, through pastor changes, staff changes, student changes.  And I assure you it is not because they have had it so good working here.  But this is where God called them.  This became their home.  How easy it would have been to leave a place behind when enrollment was low, when pay was lean, when church membership and offerings were flagging.  How easy it would have been  to go back to loved ones who were ailing and might not have much longer here on earth, to spend time with  nieces and nephews they had snatches of summers with who were now growing up and finishing high school and college, to find employment where bigger Christian schools seemed to be thriving and growing.  Any Christian school in the country would have benefited from ladies who had handled children who came into their classrooms not knowing a word in English, who didn't even always come from a Christian home or background, who had continued without paychecks time and time again.  I know that both of them will probably read this (as they have read many of my posts and been a great encouragement in this arena as well) and shake their heads that they don't deserve such praise.  They will say they only did what God called them to do.  But not everybody does.  It is a rare thing to see anyone stay in one place for even ten years let alone triple that number.  Staying where God calls is not an easy thing to do and when others are called to other places, it becomes even harder.  Why is it appropriate to honor these two ladies as we will do this Sunday which is to be their last in our membership?  I think the verse above explains it.  They have been steadfast, they have been unmovable, they have abounded in God's Work, and they will see how their labor has never been in vain.
     There are some teachers who are loved, but there are some teachers who are beloved, dear to the heart.  Beth and Carol, you are beloved.  We will miss you in our church and in our school and though the words have been completely inadequate, you have been my mentors and my friends these 16 years.  "Thank you, for giving to the Lord, I am a life that was changed...."

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Today's passage:  Ephesians 2:10
      I have known that for a while an explanation post should be given as to why I have not written anything for these past few months.  The truth is, I haven't really known how to explain.  It's not that I don't think people will understand, I just couldn't really put into words why I chose this self-imposed break.  It's still difficult for me to try and explain, and I am not sure I will satisfy anyone's questions even after this post.  First and foremost, I have not been sick or ailing in any way.  My health has been fine.  I have had some new responsibilities (we recently became owners of a dog--just think fourth kid) but not enough to interfere or compound my usual day.    I did not find this tedious or overwhelming.  I didn't just become bored and give it up.  In fact, all the opposite is true.  I have loved waking up early each morning to study God's Word and writing what He has done.  I am a creative being and I tend to thrive on those things.  I think God made us all to be creative--in different ways.
      I understand the angst that comes to being creative.  Some people do not view what they do as creative, but creativity comes in many forms.  I say this because in recent months I've seen this surge in our society that equates creativity with fame.  And if the fame comes from being creative, then those people are really something special.  I take issue with that.  It irks me when I watch these reality competitions and the contestants explain that their real motive for doing this thing is for their kids.  Is anyone really convinced of that?  I know I'm not.  It's a noble attempt at trying to defend why you would leave your family for months so that you can be discovered.  Am I being snarky?  Probably a little.  I just think that there are a lot of people out there who think that they have something special to offer the world and if the world only knew about them, lives would be changed.  They say things like, "I just have to do this, it is in me, and I can't imagine my life without (singing, designing, acting, cooking, dancing, etc...)"  Believe me, to some extent I understand what they are saying.  Like I said, I get the angst thing.  Sometimes I feel it too.  And I began to wonder if that was what I was doing in my home.  Waiting to be discovered.  Was I writing for the Lord, or was I writing for me?  Was I writing because I want someone to hear about God's Word, or was I writing because I want to be published?  I mean, I am an aspiring writer.  I don't consider myself a real one yet because I haven't sold anything.
     It seemed that no matter how early I would get up each morning, I could not complete a post before my oldest son was getting up and getting ready for school.  No matter what time of morning, I was still working on this when he was pouring himself cereal and eating breakfast.  I was still typing while he was brushing his teeth.  I was still adding finishing touches while he was wondering what he was going to wear that day because I hadn't helped pick out his clothes yet.  He is eight, and some of those things he needs to do on his own, it is part of growing up and learning how to be independent.  But I started to wonder if I wasn't being like those people who go on those reality shows for months and months.  Was I doing that from my own home? So, I decided that I should stop for a while.  I really wish that someone would follow up with those reality show winners.  Were their lives improved?  Were their children happier, or sadder because their parent has been pulled away more by the fame in their life?  Was it better for them now that money was no object or did it make them more spoiled?
     The verse in Ephesians says that we are created unto good works.  We are God's workmanship.  He didn't create me to be famous.  He created me to be a mother and wife to my family.  He created me to be a testimony to others around me.  He created me to be a worker in my church.  And maybe one of those ways to be a testimony is to write, but not at the expense of my family.  I might pop in here from time to time.  There may be days that I write something, but there will probably be many days I do not.  If I feel I can accomplish a post within a reasonable amount of time that will not interfere in caring for my husband and kids, I may do that.  I thank all of you who in recent months have sent me a message or asked me, "Hey, why aren't you writing that blog anymore?"  It amazes me every time when someone says they had been reading, that something here spoke to them.   That is all God, and none of me (I pray).  I'm not writing regularly because I don't enjoy it.  In fact, I probably enjoy it too much, and that is why I need to limit myself.  God gives us seasons in our lives, and I would not want to pass up this season I have been given.  It is a season to share Bible stories with my four year old, who begs to hear them in the car.  It is a season to hold my sweet two year old when he wakes up in the morning.  It is a season to listen as my eight year old plays a piano piece and asks if he is playing it correctly.  It is a sweet season, and one I will never get back.  I take that very seriously.  It has been a season for me to search deep and think hard about why I do the things I do.  And if it selfishly motivated, I don't want any part in it.  You may find me here again, but not as often.  It doesn't mean I won't be in the Word, it just means I won't be taking hours writing about it.  Thank you to all of you who have read and commented and encouraged.  It has been a blessing to me, as I hope this has been a blessing to you.   Until next time, whenever that may be....

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