Thursday, May 28, 2015

Enough

Ten years ago, I married someone older and wiser.  I married him on the premise that “one day” we’d have it all, and he’s spent the last ten years trying to convince me that we already do.  It’s taken me ten years but today I want him to know that I finally believe him. 

Brent was brave enough to marry me two weeks after I graduated from college and two months before I began my first teaching job.  Our first year of marriage, I spent countless hours planning, worrying, grading, stressing, and micromanaging while he continually reminded me I was doing the best I could.  I cried every night for months, overwhelmed and wanting to quit.  He told me I could and that he would take care of me.  Then, I cried every night for months because I DID quit and he told me we’d figure it out, together.  The truth is he already had figured it out, but he also knew I had to figure it out for myself.  He’s spent the last eight years listening to endless school stories, looking the other way when I buy countless school supplies, and asking nightly what time I’ll be done grading papers so we can watch TV together.  He makes me feel like Teacher of the Year every day with his patience and support, and he always reminds me that I AM good enough when I doubt.

Brent and I stay busy with work and church.  We’re both perfectionists and overachievers and it’s easy to lose each other in the midst of our schedules and to-do lists.  Our Type-A personalities are both what attracted us to each other in the first place and a constant risk to our relationship if we don’t keep things in perspective.  It’s easy to say things will slow down “one day” but in truth, today is all we’re promised.  Brent and I watch Jeopardy together (most) every night while we eat dinner and we go to bed at the same time every night so we can talk while we fall asleep, even if it’s our first real conversation of the day.  In the past ten years, I’ve learned that ten minutes together in a day can be enough if it’s a quality, truly connected ten minutes.  

Brent loves to travel.  When I married him, I could count on one hand the times I’d been on a plane.  I liked the idea but I also liked my own bed.  But with Brent, I’d go anywhere.  He’s organized and prepared but more than that, he’s fun, laid-back and excited.  He loves to experience new things and I love to experience new things with him.  When we were first married, Brent traveled a lot for work and I had to get used to him being gone about one week a month.  At first I didn’t like it, but soon enough I figured out it meant more frequent flier miles.  I’ve cried in airports over missed flights, over-packed and left him carrying my luggage and his, whined through jet lag, and dug my fingernails into his arm during bumpy flights, but he’s still letting me tag along.   I hope he never stops because I’ll never get enough!

Brent and I had a list of places we wanted to visit “before we had kids.”  Four years into our marriage, we thought we’d done enough and we started trying to have baby.  As weeks turned into months, and months turned into years, it became evident that things weren’t going to turn out like we’d planned.   I was back to crying every night, but this time because I thought I would never be enough and that a life without children could never be enough.  Brent held me and told me every single night that I was wrong and that I had always been and always would be enough for him.  He’s proven that not only with his words but with his actions.  I can’t imagine ever feeling more loved, cared for, protected, or cherished by anyone than I do by this man.  He’s tirelessly been my truth, my compass, and my light when I’ve feared the darkness might drown me.  Life with him by my side has been and will always be enough.

Today my advice is this: choose to be with someone who both IS enough and who makes you feel like you ARE enough, every single day.   The word enough is defined as “equal to what is needed.”  I’m so grateful God sent me the person who has been exactly what I need for the past ten years and who will continue to be just that.

Friday, May 15, 2015

It Must Be May

Last night I dreamed I had to give the end-of-grade test on a school bus. For some reason, there wasn’t room for us in the school so we piled onto a school bus where I realized I didn’t have my test administrator’s manual so I had to wing it.  Half the kids took the test on the wrong side of the answer sheet and they wouldn’t stop talking except when these mysterious roving proctors I didn’t recognize would pop onto the bus.  I woke up more exhausted than I was when I went to bed, thinking, “It must be May.”

The end-of-year testing nightmares are only one distinctive sign that “it must be May.”  Ask any teacher and they could quickly rattle off a list of sure signs for you.  The most obvious is that tattling has increased ten-fold.  While you’re annoyed, you can understand, because every pencil tap, dirty look, stepped on toe, and unexplained noise is getting on your nerves more than usual too.  If you enclose any group of twenty-some people in a 20x20 space for close to 200 days, I’d be willing to bet tensions would be on the rise by those last couple of weeks. 

School supplies are scarce.  You don’t have a pencil?  Good luck.  Have you scrounged around on the floor?  I think I saw one over by the closet.  You can blow the dust off.  It doesn’t have an eraser?  Guess you better not mess up then.  The same is true for P.E. equipment.  Our last ball just popped?  I’m sorry.  You know how to play tag, right? 

You don’t even care any more that some of them have gotten slack about writing their names on their papers.  You know their handwriting so well you see it in the back of your mind when you look at them.   The other day, I called out one of my student’s numbers and they said, “How’d you do that?” I said, “I know your numbers as well as I know your names,” and proceeded to go through the whole class, calling out their numbers.  They looked at me like I was an alien from outer space.  Let them think that.  It may work to my advantage these days.  My intimidation factor has lessened considerably since September. 

This four-word phrase has become somewhat of a tagline among my teacher friends and me the last couple of weeks.  Every time a student comes up to the lunch table to complain (at least a dozen times in a half hour lunch period), we mutter it under our breaths.  Every time we speak a little more harshly to a student than we intended to and follow up with an apology, it’s a gentle, unspoken reminder that it’s okay.  Every time the alarm clock goes off and we can barely peel our eyes open, it’s the encouragement that gets us out of bed. 

Every teacher knows that every month of the school year has a distinct feel to it, and most of us have a love/hate relationship with this end-of-our-rope, smile-while-gritting-teeth, busy-busy-busy, countdown-crazed chaotic month we call May.  If nothing else, we find comfort in commiseration as we work together to find one more “fun” way to review while trying to find that delicate balance between keeping them in their seats but yet awake. 

The good part is that it’s almost over.  The ironic thing is that’s also the bad part.  We only have a few more days to cram in every single thing that we wanted to teach them, both academically and otherwise.

Let’s go easy on ourselves, and maybe even a little easier on them too.  We’re almost there.  Let’s make the most of it.  It must be May and that can only mean one thing: next must be June! :)


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Gray

Only recently have I begin to come to terms with the fact that (barring a miracle) Brent and I will never be parents.  It’s an unwieldy thought to wrestle with and I’ll admit that sometimes it overtakes me.  It’s not a choice we’ve made, and at the same time, it is.  Do I own this reality, or does it own me?  I’m not sure it will ever be a clear matter- rather than black and white, it feels like a murky gray through which I’ll forever be trying to navigate.

I’m not so good with gray areas.  I hate making decisions, rarely break the rules, and prefer to blend in.  Sometimes I wonder what God was thinking in choosing me, of all people, to walk this path.  I’ve second-guessed, procrastinated, questioned, avoided, denied, and mishandled just about every aspect of this journey.  Yet it seems to be the plan He’s allowed for my life, and, do I dare admit—with good reason?  It seems this gray area is teaching me far more than the black and white ever would have.   

In my early twenties, I would have sworn to you that my life had to follow a particular script in order to be complete.  Heck, if you’d asked, I would’ve typed it out for you, right there on paper, in black and white.  I had my lines memorized and my timing planned out, and you’d better believe I was ready to live out a “perfect” life worthy of a standing ovation.  Little did I realize the play wasn’t mine to write and the best acting in the world couldn’t save it.

More times than not in recent years, I’ve been clueless as to what the next scene would entail.  My tears blurred the lines on the page and many days, I was left with nothing but a big gray smudge of nothingness.  I’ve faltered, I’ve failed, and I’ve fantasized of starring in absolutely any role but that of my own.  But all the while, God was still writing my story, never giving up.   

There’s one question that has haunted me relentlessly in the depths of this fog: how can I live a "full" life if we accept this fate of childlessness?  But lately, I think I’ve had the question all wrong.  Instead, perhaps it’s this: would I really have ever lived a full life with the fate I’d have chosen for myself?  God knows our strengths and our weaknesses, our limits and our potential, our capabilities and our downfalls.  He knows not just what we need from the world, but what the world needs from us. He also knows that all we really need is Him.


We tend to view our surroundings and our circumstances in terms of black and white, right and wrong, fair and unfair.  There are certain thoughts, harsh realities, and uncertain futures that are nearly impossible for us to wrap our minds around.  Sometimes we have to realize there is no clear answer, no side we can take, and no guarantee.  Sometimes all there is the outstretched hand of our Savior, offering to lead us through the murky gray.  My prayer for us all is that we’ll take it rather than lose ourselves in the fog.  Because the truth is He knew best all along.