Saturday, September 21, 2013

My September-May Romance and Post 1 of 3 on how You Matter!

Many of you might remember my post from May about "getting dumped"and how the end of the year feels like you're breaking up with a love.

And, honestly, it is just like that. All year, a teacher has poured out a love that comes from a secret compartment that can only be created by God because somehow that well of love travels deep. Your patience seems at times to be unending, your ability to laugh and smile at the countless pictures drawn arrives daily, and, somehow, by God's amazing grace you know that for this moment in time, you've become this special family.

But, then May eventually comes again and it's time to move on. The students are ready to move on, to experience a new place, a new challenge, and a new chapter in their life, and unfortunately, you can't go with them.

You're not supposed to go with them.

A teacher is one stop, for a brief amount of time, and even though for those 9 months, you are a huge part of their life, they will move on, and you have to let them go.

For a girl who struggles understanding love (and believing in "love"), I certainly see the irony gift of having to love day in and day out.

Breaking up with men has never been my forte, so God teaches me how to "break up" every May through the process of seeing how "breaking up" is sometimes just a necessity in life and that life carries on and another love will walk through the door...just give it time...just give it a summer.  ;)

So, here I am, 3 weeks in and I find myself holding on for dear life from the cliff of falling, once love.

Each year teaching I think, there's no way I could love a group as much as this years'.

Then, next years' comes, and well, I find myself in the same predicament...having too much fun than one should have each day.

This year, I was determined, set on, heels dug in, saying, "this year I shall separate myself a bit from all of this. I will be strictly teachery and no more of this nonsense of becoming family."

Well, week one went really well on that front. I was holding out. I was very "professional" and not letting my guard down. These people needed training and I was the one to do it because I wasn't flinching.

Then week 2 hit, and well, they just started getting cuter and cuter. I was still resisting with all I had but their smiles, their "I love 5th grade!"'s, and their incessant listening and following of directions really started beating me down...but I made it. I made it out with a bit of back bone left.

That weekend I drank milk by the gallons, praying for vast amounts of calcium, and didn't touch any sugar hoping my back bone would be bolstered and no extra sweetness would pour out from me.

But now, week 3 has concluded, and well, I have to say, they won.

It's really a very UNFAIR battle.

I blame it on their unique ability to draw very coaxing pictures that say these messages that no self-respecting people pleaser could resist.

These sweet girls draw beautiful pictures with unicorns, rainbows, and pegasus's, and though unusual looking and labeled incorrectly, they say things like "You are the best teacher ever!" or "This is already the greatest year of my life!" and that's like dangling candy in front of a 6 year old...I'm lured in and the flattery breaks any remaining walls down.

On top of that, you add to it the boys who are always glad to see you in the mornings and always yell, "I'll see you tomorrow Ms. V!" as they run out the door to carpool, and well, this teacher. is. sunk.

I can't handle it.

I'm in love, once again, and even though I know this is a September to May romance, I don't care...because I'm determined to make it the best September to May of their lives, and in turn, it becomes one of mine.

I love my job, and since I can't be a professional sleeper inner, I'm so grateful I get to wake up and spend my days with 54 "cute as buttons" 5th graders.


Last post I shared how I'd been asked to speak at a local church at their Mentoring Moms, and so I did.

We shall use the word "speak" loosely, since reading and bumbling would be way more accurate, but I shared with them about how God has shown me how much we, as moms, matter.

I had several people ask me about how it went, so I thought I would share with you what I shared with those young moms.

I'll divide it into 2-3 posts so that my posts (that are already excruciatingly long) aren't even longer.

And, I would like to add, if you are a dad, then just insert dad where it says mom, because dads do this as well. Mine did, and I was incredibly blessed to have a pair of parents who walked out so much for me, and because they did, I have been incredibly blessed to be their child.

You Matter!

I’m not a speaker. I’m a school teacher, and if all of you were 10 years old, then I’d be good to go…but you aren’t, so please give me grace where you will see I am desperate for it.

When I was asked to share with you all tonight, I prayed before I said yes, and I have prayed an enormous amount since I said yes. I don’t know where you each are at or what each of you need to hear, but I know God does. I know that God has something for you and so as I prayed and began to write down what I felt was being placed on my heart.

I’m sincerely hoping that by the end of tonight, you will know that YOU MATTER. You matter as a person and a woman, but you especially matter as mom.

I lost my mom 5 years ago but because of who she was, her legacy has outlasted her life. What she did mattered tremendously in my life, which in turn affects my child’s life.

I whittled it down to 3 main things she modeled and lived out that have changed the course of my life:

She prayed
She lived her faith in the darkest of days
She chose community  

About 10 years ago my mom kept asking me to come to Mentoring Moms. I’d been hearing about it for a while by then because she and Gay had been doing it for a bit already. 

I always enjoyed the stories she would share...nothing confidential of course, but just her delight in the evenings and the girls.
I’m still friends with some of those ladies who encountered her years ago when this ministry began at Oak Hills.

In fact, just before I left to come here, a friend of mine told me she remembered my mom telling her story about 10 years ago.

“She talked about having cancer when she was a young mom and about how God had healed her and the grace and goodness of that dark time, but then she got really serious, pointing her finger at all of us and saying, but God would have been GOOD even if I hadn’t been healed...God is good in all of it.’ I still remember that Shelly.”

Those are sweet memories for me because my mom loved those nights. She loved helping and encouraging young moms.

I eventually started attending Mentoring Moms about 9 years ago. It took her begging and me dragging my feet before I went, but I went.

I’m not a big fan of crowds or people I don’t know. I’m an introvert in more ways than I care to admit. I get nervous and I’m a terrible small talker, so I never know what to say or where to sit or what to do exactly.

But I went, under the wing of my mom and quickly met some others and made sweet connections. I always enjoyed my time and went regularly for several years.

But, for me, it was different. I sat, in my hidden world, of a broken heart, in a broken marriage, listening to the advice of so many that just didn’t resonate with me and my life and my marriage.

No matter how many times you told me that I should make sure I had lipstick on when my husband came home, I knew that wouldn’t make an ounce of difference.

When it would be time for prayer requests in our small groups, I never knew what to say. In my numb world, I would have none...and I knew I couldn’t crack that deep down, hidden world of mine because I was too afraid what would spill out if I did.

And really, I figured what was the point anyways.

None of this was going away. No one would understand or believe me. 

So, I sat, listened, sometimes feeling even more alone, and I pushed it all deeper within.

I’d show up, see these beautiful moms, in their size 6 clothes, with their super cute diaper bags and I’d imagine how perfect their lives were and how much I thought I had missed. I’d sit there beating myself up for the choices I had made, for the lines I had blurred, for the compromises I had been willing to give into.

And there I sat, in a room with upwards of 80 other moms feeling desperately alone.

And I would leave, and go back to my house, begging God that the hope I’d see every once in a while would be real and someday stop being continuously snuffed out.

So often there was a disconnect between what I would hear people say, or encourage with, or stories they would tell. I just didn’t get the words. My heart didn’t understand them and I felt like I was in a pit so deep that those lights or hope and life weren’t for my eyes to even see the glimmer of.

After my mom was diagnosed with cancer, I’d still attend, though reluctantly, quietly and I would be very standoffish. I’d attend because those people cared about my mom and by my association, they cared about me.

It became a lifeline for me even though I didn’t really know that at the time.

See, where God’s people are, He’s there too.

If in my cold and lonely house I couldn’t seem to find Him, I could go into His community and at least be reminded that He was real, that others saw Him, felt Him, and were praying to Him for my mom, for my family, and for me.

I took great comfort in that.

My mom loved Mentoring Moms. She loved being a mom. There wasn’t much of anything else that she loved more than being a mom, and she was good at it. She wasn’t perfect, even slightly annoying at times, but she was really good at it.

And when it was her turn to be a grandmother, I watched that delight her to no end. The energy and patience and joy she infused into her grandmothering was remarkable. To this day, I can picture her with my son Cade and there’s few other moments that I can witness a love that was as strong and evident as my mom’s for him.

She only had 5 years with him, but she gave enough love that might possibly last his lifetime.

Five years later he still makes remarks about her and still calls her his snuggle partner. She was willing to snuggle and squeeze and physically wrap you up in the love her heart felt for you. Sometimes she’d squeeze so hard, it hurt.

My mom died when I was 31 and Cade was 5. But, because of how she lived, I believe she guides me and advises me and loves me each and everyday.

Years ago, she told me a story about when she was 7. She lived a very hard and lonely childhood and one day, in her room she realized that Jesus could be her friend. That she could talk to Him and that He would listen to her. She told me, “From that day on, Jesus was my friend. I’ve talked to Him ever since.”

And I would catch her talking to Him. I’d walk in on her and she’d be having a conversation and I soon realized she was talking to God.

God was her constant companion.

And when she got sick and I watched that play out during my 20’s, witnessing the long nights of pain and the never ending chemo treatments and the lonely days in the hospital beds, I would wonder how on earth she made it through those times, and I came to know it was because Jesus was her still her constant companion.

Jesus had entered her room at 7 and never left her heart or her side.

He’d walk with her throughout her entire life and she’d walk with Him. 

I'll post part 2 on Monday.

Have a wonderful weekend, knowing that YOU MATTER!!

In Him,

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