Saturday, June 1, 2013

Thankful for...

I'm up this morning, enjoying the relative quiet of my first Saturday in our new house. Andy's at drill, so I have the place to myself. I've got the backdoor open, and I can hear my neighbor's lawnmower and  birds chirping- new sounds, good sounds.

There are still things to be done around the house. My fine China is still tucked away in layers of bubble wrap, and our new guest bedroom is lacking some necessities that I must purchase before my mom gets here on Wednesday. :) But I don't feel hurried this morning. I don't feel the anxiety that I often do when facing a new project. Sitting here, watching the sunlight play peek-a-boo through the gray morning we see so often in Austin, I realize that I am just thankful. It would be easy to obsess over  our need for a new sofa to accomodate more people, easy to worry about how we'll pay two rents for two months, easy to get overly concerned with the ever-growing weeds & grass in our backyard, and our lack of a lawnmower. But, I actually feel too overwhelmed with thanksgiving to care too much about those things at this moment.

The past year has been challenging in many ways- is any year without its challenges? But certainly, looking back, there's so much more to be thankful for than to get discouraged about. So I thought that I'd mention a few things on here- to acknowledge God's faithfulness. So often I go through the motions of the school year- just trying to make it through the next unit, desperate to set a good pace, and help the kids finish well. In that self-imposed struggle, I lose sight of the Lord and His beauty and wonder, His love for me, and His ever-faithful, compassionate provision. The very least that I can do is give Him some thanks after crossing the finish line. I haven't got anything particularly planned out- so we'll see what flows in this post.

I am thankful for my marriage. Yesterday, I watched my sweet husband dance to the rhythm of some hip hop song while he flipped burgers on a boat on Lake Travis. Who doesn't want to be on the lake in the middle of the afternoon, you might ask? Well, I think a lot of adults would pass when they realized that the boat party includes being responsible for 70 teenagers for three hours. But not Andy. This year, he has gotten to know my kids almost as well as I know them and it is an absolute JOY to see them enjoy one another. Yesterday, Tom saw him from a distance and cried out, "Andy!" like a giddy child. Just in the past couple of days, Andy has done everything he could to help me be settled and safe in the new house while he's gone for drill, has served my students and me with a tireless selflessness, and still had enough fun left in him to cliff jump with the kids yesterday on the lake. There is safety and sweetness every day with Andy, and that allows us to invite others into our life and our new home.

I am thankful for my students. After the boat party yesterday, a big group of us went to see "Now You See Me" (which is a great film, by the way). It had been a long and tiring day, and after my burger on the boat, I hadn't had any real food (just movie popcorn) As we stood around discussing the movie and joking around before going home, I started to giggle at some of the jokes in a particular way. Tom and Mitchell Butterfield (who we call Butters) said almost unanimously, "Uh-oh, Wermel needs to eat." They were so right. How funny to me, though, and sort of precious that we know each other well enough to recognize each other's idiosyncrasies. My students are my delight in life. I love to watch the grow and learn, and I love to have fun with them. They amaze me with their intelligence, their resolve, and their willingness to serve. There's hardly a piece of furniture in this house that Jack Horton didn't help Andy move in here. And Tom, Preston, Cody, Grace and Paige helped for hours, too. They are daring- Preston almost gave me a heart attack yesterday doing flips off the cliff. They are loving- Bella walked all the way back to the boat to "fetch" Andy for me so that he could jump before we had to leave. They are funny- we spend the majority of our time laughing (when we're not in class, but sometimes even in class) People send their kids to Hill Country for lots of reasons, and there are a lot of things that are said about the school about what makes it special, but for me, hands down, what makes the school special is that the students let the teachers into their lives, they give us a place in their hearts, and that is a precious gift. Their willingness to open their hearts to me and Andy, has caused us to swing the doors of our hearts wide open to them.

I am thankful for my co-workers. A couple of days ago, I sat in a room grading papers with a couple of other teachers. We were watching "Rear Window" and chatting about how diction and clothing have changed since the time of Hitchcock, Stewart and Kelly. It made the Chemistry finals go by a lot faster, that's for sure. When I left Jack Britt, I was sad to leave an amazing community behind me. I count myself blessed for having learned to teach in that environment. I still believe that God gave me the absolute best coming out of the starting gate. But I am also thankful to have developed rapport with the teachers at Hill Country- what a fun and quirky crew they are, full of talent and great love for their students, for one another, and for the Lord. I am particularly thankful for my friend, Robin Inks, who, for a reason only God knows, adores the students just as much, if not more, than I do. We've spent more time than I can even think about hanging out with students together, and she is always my go-to person when I need to chat over an issue or go to the Lord in prayer about something regarding one of our students. In Anne of Green Gables words, she is a kindred spirit, and I'm so thankful the Lord chose to put us both at Hill Country at this same time.

I am thankful for the summer that is to come. Since I moved to Texas, I've viewed summer as a chance to escape- from the heat, from the traffic, from the loneliness. This summer feels different. Life has taken on a sweetness this year, even in the midst of some real difficulties, and, though I'm thankful for the time to get away and see my family & friends in NC, and the 'ventures that Andy & I will hopefully get to have in these few relaxed months of the year, I don't feel the need to escape, as I have in the past.

The song of my heart right now is Psalm 16. Verse 6 says, "the boundary lines for me have falled in pleasant places, surely I have a delightful inheritance." It's taken years for my heart to get to this place where I feel overwhelming gratitude to the Lord for His plan to bring me here and keep me here. But I'm thankful that He's made everything work together for my good, just as He promised. Right now, there is trouble, but He is my refuge. He's provided security, joy, purpose and life. Thank you.

Psalm 16

Keep me safe, my God,
    for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    apart from you I have no good thing.”
I say of the holy people who are in the land,
    “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
    I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
    or take up their names on my lips.
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
    you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    nor will you let your faithful[b] one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

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