How is this even possible with the heartaches and heartbreaks that life includes? Be thankful in all things? Thankful for unbearable loss, for excruciating pain, for life's most horrible circumstances is that even humanly possible? It seems like a command that is beyond possible. Yet, as we get past the storms in life we get to choose how we move forward in life with our new realities. Losing our son to suicide seven years ago seemed like one of the most impossible moments to be thankful for. Don't misunderstand. If I could go back and have my precious son back I would at all costs. But our life includes this loss and always will. That moment forever changed our lives. Nothing will ever be as it was before we lost our Ryan. So with our broken hearts how are we thankful? Not thankful for our loss but for the opportunity and understanding to reach out and be there for other families going through similar loss. My prayer is that we don't ever need to use this connection with others but the reality is that too often over the last seven years we have been there to hug, hold onto and understand the grief that is drowning families.
JOY for me is Jesus first, then Others, then Yourself. It is one of my goals to live my life this way. There is no way I could endure the pain that others are going through on my own. Only walking toward them with prayer and hand in hand with Jesus makes it possible. Others~putting others first always brings me more comfort than I could ever give them. In both putting Jesus in the center and others before myself, I actually have healed enough to be grateful for the loss of my son. Not grateful for the loss but for the opportunities his loss has opened for Ron and me. What I am joyful for is that I know that Ryan would be filled with joy that his love and heart for others is continuing even through his death.
Prayer has always a big part of my life. The quiet conversations with Christ through the good days and bad are my favorite part of the day. My prayer for others is that they don't blame Him for the heartbreaks of life but that others turn to Him for their comfort and strength.
A pastor said 'Jesus is not my crutch but my stretcher. I don't lean on him but lay my whole life on Him.'
I know that I could not have survived the loss of my Ryan without the friends that surrounded us with their love, the family who held us up, and Jesus' wrapping us in His arms. My life and my heart will always have a painful tear where Ryan's death tore out this huge hole. My life and my heart have also expanded with the love and connections to others because of our loss.
Our purpose in life is~
To know Him and to make Him known.
To build our relationship with Jesus through prayer and reading His Word/ the Bible and to share His love with others. I know that through our loss of our son, Ron and I have spent more time in relationship building with Christ and with others who need Him in their lives as they move through their life.
We are up in Washington for the. Eclipse and to see family. The dinner menu was rib eye steaks,baked beans and corn on the cob. I decided to use some of the New Mexico green chili to spice up the corn. Before wrapping them in aluminum foil I added a little olive oil, Mrs. Dash and wrapped the corn in green chili. Experiments don't always work out but these heat infused corn were incredible.
When we got to Steilacoom we made a second batch for Cam and Britt. She told me I had to share on my blog. It was just that good. It is always fun when I learn a new way of doing something. Especially when it turns out so delicious.
Retirement life with a full time job has been a gift this past year. Finding my right fit at FIT was just the direction God intended for me that I hadn't even thought of. Thank you Heather for being able to see what I couldn't see. Working with babies and wee ones who have developmental delays, are exposed to harmful drugs at birth and families who just need support and encouragement is such a gift in my life.
I couldn't conceive working all summer when I am used to a work free summer What about going on adventures with my Ronnie B. to spend time with family? Then in a staff meeting a former coworker was coming back part time since that was all that was available. Poof. I had my part time position and she had a much needed full time paycheck. Summer solved.
The last couple weeks it has occurred to me that even part time I don't have the flexibility to spend time with my Mom or see our kids and grandkids enough. I took some flack at work for once again going on a trip. My heart says I have the job path that I am supposed to be on but my head was thinking I may need to quit and just substitute. That seems logical since I would have no paperwork and complete flexibility. So I prayed for direction. Last Friday I got a call from a family I love working with. CYFD called them and the mom was in a panic. She said she called her husband and he was on his way home to support her. Then she said I was her second phone call. Not that I could solve anything but she just needed to talk to me. Yep, I had my answer. Early Intervention is the place for me..Today God gave me even more confirmation in a staff meeting. I was getting teased for my upcoming trip to the eclipse when my director spoke up. She said she got approval for me to work 80-100 hours a month instead of 20-25 a week. YES! Now I can have the flexibility to spend time with my family while supporting and encouraging families with needs in my community.
God is good
All the time
All the time God is good
Of course I don't always get the answers I want. Lissa is not with us for her 8th grade year and my grandkids don't get to meet us for the eclipse. But this week I asked for direction and I not only got confirmation but a second message to confirm I had heard it right. So FIT-Families, Infants and Toddlers remains the perfect FIT for me and my retirement/work lifestyle.
What do moving, remodeling and garage sales have in common?
You rid out stuff you no longer need, want or should have bought or kept in the first place.
We all store stuff for a variety of reasons. Some things are given to us by treasured people in our lives so the thing itself becomes precious for how it makes us think of them. We have a drawing that our grandgirl, Kayla did for us. It doesn't hang on the refrigerator which might make sense. This creative piece is taped lovingly to our bedroom door. It has been there for a few years now right where she placed it.
As Ron and I go through packing up stuff to protect our stuff from the destruction and construction of a major remodel, we are noticing all the things we love and all the things we never should have given a spot in our home. I can't tell you how many times yesterday we called out to each other asking 'Why do we have this?' or 'Where did we get this?' Or who the heck does this belong to?.
Each of us has tucked away stuff that we never use or display. As we rid out all this stuff in our house we are thankful for an upcoming, block garage sale and for online garage sales. Heck, our old analog TV hasn't even been picked up when we posted it on Free Cycle free of charge. I see a few dump runs in our future. Repurposing is preferred and if we can make a buck or two all the better.
This cleaning out phase of construction takes longer than we thought because we are also encountering boxes of pictures and infant handprints that belong to our now adult children. Taking pause to breath in the memories of our life together is well worth the time spent. In a few months we will be placing the stuff we decided was worth keeping onto its new place in our refurbished home. I am convinced we will pause once again to appreciate just how precious life is even with all the sawdust and construction noise that will inevitably take longer than we expected. Like unwrapping those Christmas ornaments we are so happy to see again each year, our stuff will be with us again. There will just be much less of it. Hmmmmm~room to go shopping to fill all the extra space our old TV and so many other items left behind. Now I am excited!
My thoughtful husband has a value system that believes you don't replace and toss out items in life unless they don't function. In our society of upgrade and recycle he doesn't always fit in. This is why we still have our 1975 camper van sitting in the driveway and his down jacket from 5th grade still hangs in our closet. Yesterday we said goodbye to our 2000 Sony Trinitron not because we needed a flat screen, HD, smart TV, but because ours simply rolled over and died. We both realized how convenient this new purchase will be and what a gift to have internet in a jumbo version. Being in our early 60s makes eye sight a bit more challenging.
Whether Ron and I do life right by clinging to older versions of everyday items is not for me to say. I do know it is better for our landfills and our budget. But this blog is not an environmental statement. Paper plates and paper towels are staples in my kitchen. So I am clearly not one to judge. One good thing about waiting is that the price was much lower than those who bought flat screens a decade ago. We also got a SMART tv which weren't around a few years ago. Trust me, we need the Smart in our TV because we aren't as sharp as we were a few decades ago. This tv almost didn't need us to set itself up. It is even smarter than I could have imagined.
Ron and I are excited to use this new purchase. HD is incredible! Luckily, we are still functioning so we will be around a bit longer to enjoy it and not sitting out at the curb to be recycled ourselves.
We have plans! It has been over a year to get to this point but we are about to begin remodeling our home and adding a second story master suite. A couple of things motivated us to change our home. One bathroom is most inconvenient, especially when our kids and their families are visiting. Next this old 1948 home desperately needs a new roof and stucco. So it made sense to make the changes while we were completing those much needed repairs. Ron always disliked the look of our flat roof and it made it impossible to fly his American flag he got from an aircraft carrier. Lastly, it is time for a king size bed and we so like being outdoors that we are installing fold away doors that open to 8 feet. This will allow us to push our bed out onto the patio when it is warm and live inside and out. Heaven.
This project got delayed when our creative architect had health issues then moved to Texas. She is in her 80s and still brilliant at design but it was time to move on to a fresh start. Now we are working with Laura who is quick and efficient. Our stalled project has allowed us to have creative input from both these talented ladies as well as Steve who just reviewed our plans.
Seeing the Barber Residence official plans spread out on our dining room table is so cool. This is really going to happen. Of course it will be inconvenient for a few months with all the construction and displacement. But we will have a home that is repurposed for our life in our retirement years. Taking so long to get here also allowed us to save up the money so we can fund the project without a loan. That feels great as we won't be adding extra monthly payments to our budget. Well, that is the plan anyway. Of course remodels tend to go over budget as I know from watching DIY network.
Ron had done much of the design and his vision is all over these plans. I am not the visual one but have contributed a few ideas. I can't wait for this adventure to begin. Yes, I am looking forward to sleeping in our little RV and being in the midst of the chaos. We have already been boxing up our lives and storing them away. In fact, Ron and I slept in the camper last night. It is cozy~comfortable.
You all can remind me of my positive thoughts in the next months when I write a cranky blog full of complaints about construction.
I have been reflecting on what makes a student successful and motivated in school. School is about to begin all across our country. Parents are out buying the cutest clothes, popular backpacks, and all those school supplies. What matters most is not what parents buy but the investment of time and attention they give to their kiddos education. What I wanted from parents as a retired educator was simple. These contribute more to a students success than even the most reliable mechanical pencils.
~Communicate and partner with me on a regular basis.
Find out what your child's teachers preferred way of communicating in and then check in at least once a month. I prefer once a month texts to just check in.
~Spend the time reviewing homework.
Just giving them a spot and time to do homework is not enough. Chat about it.
~Every assignment turned in on time and completed is more important than As and Bs.
Once they get behind there is no catching up. More assignments are coming.
~Be present. Come into my classroom and see what we are doing.
Just assuming you know what is happening is not cool. Come and bring your lunch.
~On time and present unless there is barf involved.
Kids feel connected when they are in school regularly and on time. Tone of day is set early.
~Speak with me about concerns.
Going to the principal should be for when we can't solve an issue. Badmouthing a teacher is destructive not productive. Rarely kids do need to be moved but save that for the extremes.
~I don't need Avon or jewelry gifts.
Teachers spend so much of their own money in their classrooms. A gift card to a teacher store or Office Max is much preferred. Although we do love our Starbucks cards too.
~Let my principal or superintendent know if I am succeeding.
Write an email or letter. If you call it stops there. An email can go in my file and matters more.
~Realize I have a life outside school.
You are not aware of the struggles I go through because I don't bring them into my class. If I am absent more one semester know there is probably a reason for it. Don't assume I am giving up or just don't care. My 24 year old son committed suicide while I was teaching. I only took 2 weeks off. I hated being away from my kids at school and came back as soon as I could without burdening them with my pain. Most families never knew why I was out.
~Know that I teach because I love teaching your children.
If you ask a plumber why he is a plumber he will say for the money. No plumber says he does it because he likes to see shit flow freely through the pipes. If you ask a teacher why she teaches her answer will be the kids. The pay is sufficient not stellar. Summers off is nice but most of us are planning how to improve for the next year and taking classes during the summer.
~Partnering with you is the best way to help your child succeed so it is worth repeating.
Don't only contact me when there is a problem. Keep in touch even when things are running smoothly. It will help them continue on that good path.
~We are not enemies.
It is as hard for me to call and tell you about a problem as it is for you to hear it. Let's work to solve issues together.
I feel so blessed to have been able to impact students over several decades. My heart swells when. I see adults succeeding who sat in my class. As a special education teacher, I was lucky enough to have students for several years. What wonderful relationships we developed. Being a teacher was something I wanted to be since first grade. Looking back being a teacher was even more wonderful than I could have imagined. Thank you parents for trusting me with your most valued gifts.