Friday, December 28, 2012

This Good Bye Will be Different

My church has always been what I considered a "sending" church. It seems we always have great people for a season of time and then they are sent out to serve. It is cool to know all of these people over the years who have moved throughout the country to serve in a different capacity or become missionaries. And it's also always been hard to see them go.

In only a few days' time, my church and my family will say good-bye to our current Pastor and his family, as they move back to their home state after about twenty years of serving in the military and/or church in other states, about seven or so of those years with us in Ohio. They are excited and we are excited for them, as it has long been a dream to live near their families again. However, it's bittersweet to see them go.

Pastor Jason and his wife Frances came into our lives at a time when my husband and I were just opening up to the idea of getting to know people. They treated us like family and through that showed us what friendship truly entails. They brought very different perspectives on long held beliefs into our lives, teaching us to examine and reflect on topics ourselves, being transparent about themselves and their experiences. It wasn't always rainbows and butterflies between us, we had our rough times as we changed personally and as we all learned what it meant to live life with each other. Even in the hard times I feel we grew and learned so much about who we are and what it means to be with other people in this life.

When someone comes into your life and makes a huge difference, it's hard to fathom going back or being without them. Of course, there's also the matter of finding someone or something in the right place at the right time. All of this comes together to make a difficult good-bye.

People tend to measure friendship through contact, words exchanged, events experienced, etc. And while these are all signs of friendship (who after all wants a friend who never tries to engage with you?), I've come to realize that a strong friendship can endure distance. I will even venture to say that distance can make a good friendship better. Perhaps because there is a deeper connection at work.  Who knows? I've not experienced it yet, but I feel peace about the thought and the reassurance Jason and his family have given of this being their experience over their years of moving.

Memories are abundant. (Heck, I have three or four of Frances's Filipino recipes that will recall memories every time we prepare them...let alone the bigger memories.) And with texting and FB we will keep in touch without a doubt. I'm sure future plans for visits will come about. But for now, this piece of our time together is over and it will stand as a turning point in our lives. We will all purposely take what we've learned from and through each other and move forward into other relationships and situations, hopefully touching and influencing lives as ours have been. In these ways, this good bye will be different.

God bless you Jason and Frances, and your children Kylie, Melina, and Caleb (and your new son-in-law Parker too), as you follow His lead in this new adventure. We feel at times you were brought to crazy Ohio just for us, so thank you for obeying the call. You will be missed and there aren't exactly words to say it, except that, as you've always told us, this isn't really good bye.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Survivor Mode is Extinct in 2013.

When you start out life with an attitude and quite a few things working against you, there's nothing to do but charge ahead and do what it takes to stay alive. And for about ten or so years that was the mode my husband and I worked in...Survivor. Days, weeks, months were wished away as we worked just to pay the bills and awaited the next event to take place. And events always wore off quickly, which left us awaiting the next.

And before you know it, you're ten years down the road with three kids and a schedule of stress wondering how the heck you got to this point and how you are going to survive the remainder of it. Survivor mode has become a trap.

There is a time and place for survivor mode I suppose. It really is what got us through the tough beginning and my husband's years of weird afternoon/night shifts that left him nothing but exhausted and me a single parent working full time. But when my husband was laid off from his job in 2009, we suddenly felt like a complete family with a regular schedule, although that didn't stop survivor mode from pushing us along. With my husband now fully present, I no longer needed to make most of the decisions, but I did. My kids had grown out of those easily controlled little kid stages without my ability to communicate changing with them. My identity and the way I viewed life changed drastically, but the very essence of survivor mode fights against everything I want to stand for. Old habits die hard and everything that survivor mode had previously used to make our lives work, is starting to work against us.

Now, as 2012 comes to a close, I find that the past year or two has been weaning us from our survivalist leanings while also giving us warnings about what will happen if we don't let go. With my dedicated husband, three amazing kids, and a wonderful teaching job, life should be about living, not just merely surviving. From here on out, I want my life to be about the to day enjoyment of what God has so richly blessed me with: my husband and kids, my students and co-workers, and my family and friends. I want my life to be about the living of others...reaching out to those in need, to be a friend, and fully realizing every other person and/or opportunity that comes across my path. No more wishing away time or wishing for a better time. The time is now.

Ecclesiastes says, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." Don't miss the seasons of life! Even the hard seasons serve the purpose of making us stronger in some way, although it may mean breaking us down first.

So welcome 2013! Day by day I will walk as one living and bring life where I tread. Two goals are set (one among my little family and one among strangers) to carry me through the year (and beyond). Instead of wondering where I'll stand on them six months from now, I think I'll just take it a day at a time and enjoy the journey. Maybe I'll find something I would've otherwise missed. Actually, I'm counting on it.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Goodbye, but not really...

This week the main writing blog I follow closed down after four years. Agent/Editor Betsy Lerner (author of The Forest for the Trees and Food and Loathing), is rightfully taking her time and moving it toward her actual writing goals. Her wit and smarts on the topic of writing and the publishing community sustained many people over the years, in her book and on her blog.

Although I've had Betsy's writing book for ten years, I only Googled her and found her blog in July. So being a relatively new comer, I don't feel I can share in the sentimentality as much as others blogging about her goodbye. However, she is a magnetic personality and to learn so much from someone in a short time is something for which to be grateful. I will miss the moment when I opened my email to see a new post or the list of comments from the last time I'd stopped by to comment myself. So it is goodbye Betsy, but not really...

When someone pours into your life, they never really leave you do they? Whether it be negative or positive, we find a way to settle in with it and live...negative being the harder task by far. So Betsy will never leave her readers so long as they retain her lessons and wisdom.

Not to mention her community. As much as I enjoyed Betsy herself, her crazy array of followers made the reading fun too. I've started following many of their blogs as well over the past months and am glad I did. Now I still have that community, although not all in one place, I have these people who understand a writer's world and what it means to be living a writing life. And in the end, that was my whole purpose for blogging in the first place. These people were as much my inspiration to start my own blog as anything. Together we can keep inspired, as Betsy has taught us.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

On the Up-and-Up

It has been awhile since my last post, as my writer friend M pointed out to me in an attempted inspirational text yesterday. What a pain he is, holding me accountable to my writing and all that crap! I purposely hadn't been thinking of it because I've felt at a loss for topics. Mainly because life is good right now. Usually when there's something stirring I get the urge to put it into words. Anyone who knows me well enough, knows my mind processes through the written word. So, a serious or informational conversation with someone sinks in better when I write it (and my thoughts) out. (Of course that leads to more questions and musings, which leads to more conversations and I've even had friends hold that against's annoying I guess?)

But anyway, life is good...for now. There are always seasons of life and I don't expect one to last any longer than another. After three years of schooling and either not working or working part time, my husband has found his niche in the computer world and we are both excited about the job opportunities opening up for him.

My job is going just as well, of course I love my job too, so that helps. I currently have a student teacher who is doing a splendid job and between the two of us, we've recently seen some successes with a couple lower achieving students. Nothing better than seeing hard work pay off, especially when it works to the good of another. Having a student teacher has made me reevaluate my job and what I should be doing to revamp my strategies and style. I find myself giving advice and ideas that I've let go and she comes up with impressive plans, so I feel more motivated through all of it.

My kids are doing well, as I said in my last post. We've been implementing more family based activities to keep us close knit as these teen years approach. The kids seem enthusiastic about it and have come up with ideas beyond what my husband and I were thinking.

I signed up to volunteer at a new place and I'm excited about it, as it was something I'd long considered (more on that at a later date). My Christmas shopping will be done as of this week. I know, it's pretty close to Christmas, but I got it all done in a couple days here and there, which means it hasn't been time consuming and that's important to me. 

We painted our kitchen and dining room a nice country green in a matter of a few hours Sunday and we're buying the paint next week to do the living room in an almond mocha brown the day after Christmas! Nine years of cream colored walls (not to mention being broke) makes this a very exciting event. Also exciting is the fact that our house is one big example of DIY. With some pointers and help from my dad, Brandon and I have been able to do every area of "fix up" on our house together. It's been a fun nine years of home improvements. Our next projects are an extended front porch and a bathroom in the basement. I am very blessed with a husband who is willing to step out and try new carpentry ;)

So, this has become a post of random good things that I'm not even going to edit before posting, but what else can I say? It's the best of times, the age of wisdom, the epoch of belief, the season of Light, the spring of hope, we have everything before us, and Heaven is smiling down upon us. Hmmm, no, someone's already said that.

Hope things are looking up for you and yours this Christmas season.