Monday, October 22, 2012

Armed with a Rock and a Promise

"He's just a boy."  David  "He's just a shepherd. "  

There was David, in the middle of negative comments.  

"You didn't take the year-long class to prepare you for this?!"  "You didn't take the summer institute to give you a head start?!"  me  "You have no one else from your school or even district to be in your cohort?!"  "You don't have any financial assistance?!"

There I was, in the middle of negative comments.  "Criticism couldn't stop David.  While the rest of the army stood around, he knew the importance of taking action.  With God to fight for him, there was no reason to wait.  People may try to discourage you with negative comments or mockery, but continue to do what you know is right.  By doing what is right, you will be pleasing God, whose opinion matters most." (Life Application Study Bible)

Saul dressed David in armor he thought would be helpful.  Very nice candidates gave me tons of advice.  "Get this book."  "Organize your files like this."  "Do this when video-taping."  "Meet every Saturday at Barnes and Noble with a co-candidate."  I know they meant well.  But I couldn't help feeling like David being weighted down with armor that wasn't meant for him.  He took them off, and so did I.  

God put this on my heart 12 years ago.  He clearly said that after ten years of teaching, it would be mine.  He told me then, before I was even married, to wait until my children were in school.  Would you believe me if I told you this is my tenth year teaching and the first year that both children are in school?  Talk about timing.  

Twelve years is a long time to wait.  It's akin to a child waiting for Christmas Day.  They eagerly anticipate it, but if they solely focus on that, they will miss out on the joys of Easter, Fourth of July, and Thanksgiving.  They almost have to subconsciously forget about Christmas in order to endure the wait.  

I have had to do the same.  There were times when I thought that maybe I could speed things up a bit.  But, the timing was never right.  

David faced a physical giant.  I face a giant of sorts also.  It is true that most candidates take a college course to prepare them for this process.  I didn't know about it until March.  Most candidates take a week-long "institute" to give them a head start.  I was at the Transplant House with Joe this summer.  And yes, most candidates come from a school with a legacy of Nationally Board Certified teachers, from whom they can glean advice.  Those same teachers have cohorts that meet monthly to offer advice and support.  Even if I were to join their cohorts, I live 3 1/2 hours away.  Every candidate there had 100% financial support from their district, including the 3 retreats ($250 each).  I have none of that.  

What I do have is a promise from my God.  "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me" Philippians 4:13.  

I will admit that the negative comments were starting to get to me.  Those and my own negative self-thoughts.  Then, God gave me a breath prayer.  If you aren't familiar with a breath prayer, it is a short prayer that can be whispered with a single breath.  "Lord, bless the work of my hands."  I repeated this several times in my head.  I felt the need to write it down and claim it.  I put it on the cover of my humble 3-ring binder.  It looked like a little note.  

Bless the work of my hands.

It felt unfinished, like it needed a closing.

I signed it "Your servant".

Not until I went back into the Word, did I remember that David said "your servant will go and fight him".

When I opened my account on Saturday, I found an unexpected scholarship in my name in the amount of $1250.  I did not apply for any scholarships.  I may not be a "rock star" yet, but God is already working out the details.
Since I wrote this, I have returned to it many times.  It's usually when I'm feeling overwhelmed or I doubt.  I know, right?  How can I doubt when God has done so much?  But, I'm human.  Today, something amazing happened and I just had to update this post:
I might just cry. It's been difficult. Extremely challenging, but in an awesome, open-your-eyes, become-a-better-teacher way. I know I will never be the same. However, it's been arduous to say the least, to keep up with my teaching responsibilities, to be a wife, to be a mom, to be a friend. In fact, I took today off work to just work on NB, still disappointed about NOT being allowed to go to the two NB retreats where they would have burned my DVDs. But, when we woke up, Joshie had a huge puss bubble on his face. His teacher told me they had impetigo in the classroom. I was less than thrilled at the prospect of yet another trip to the doctor's office. Seriously people, we are on a first name basis. We spend a LOT of time there. I surrendered and knew that I have to do what is right. Priorities. I'm a wife first, then a mom, then a teacher, then a National Board candidate. In that order. I was feeling a little sad thinking that I probably won't pass all 6 entries this year for NB because I refuse to put my loved ones in a lesser position. I consoled myself by thinking that if I can at least pass 1 entry this year, that's one less entry I need to re-do next year. I saw the due date looming ahead. I took Josh to the doctors, swam upstream in the first-of-the-month Walmart crowd, only to have them tell me they are out of stock, drove across the street to Walgreens, and then came find an email from NB. Effective for the first time ever, candidates can upload their documents, as in "immediate" and not have to mail them and fret about lost packages. Candidates can also upload their videos, as in "you don't have to burn DVDs" that I missed out on anyway. And..........since the process is more streamlined, candidates now have an extra TWO MONTHS to submit their entries. Excuse me, I need to go wipe my tears.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Click- part two

I say "cop", but honestly without my glasses to really see, it could have been police, sheriff, security, or armored transport.  Seriously.  My vision is 20/600 (I see at twenty feet, what normal people see at 600 feet).  It's basically just shapes and colors.  But, at 3 a.m., there isn't much color.
I quickly realize how this must appear to them.  A car alarm was just going off.  I am now walking around.  Alone.  The only human awake.  

Focus, Susan.  What did that cop just say?  "Fire alarm?"
"Did you hear a CAR alarm?" 
"Um, yeah.  It came from that direction," I say pointing in some direction away from me.

The three cop cars peel out in that nondescript direction.

  I step into the bathroom, which is about one degree above freezing.  The seat, one degree below.

Against my best efforts, I am starting to wake up.  The wheels are clicking into place.

Three cop cars showed up at three a.m.  Cortez is a small town, not unlike our own.  I don't think we have ONE deputy on duty at 3 a.m., let alone THREE.  Wow, they take security seriously here.

I put my hands under the flow of super cold water.  How are these not ice cubes right now?  The cold water wakes me up a little more.  The car alarm hadn't been off for more than 90 seconds when the squad cars came peeling up the drive.  How did they get here so fast?

Who would have called 911 anyway, over a car alarm?  I'm pretty sure I know how it went down.  Someone got cold and went out to their vehicle to get a blanket or jacket.  They didn't realize their wife had set the car alarm.  HONK!...HONK!  They try in vain to find the car keys, buried under backpacks and yesterday's clothes.  

I step out of the restroom.  I think the temperature has dropped 5 degrees while I was in there.  I stumble back to the camper, determined not to wake up.  I notice three sets of headlights are circling all the loops.  

Seriously, guys. It was a car alarm.  In a campground.  It's not a bank alarm on Wall Street.  Boy, they take security seriously here.

So, how did they get here so fast anyway?ZOOOOOOM!  One of the squad cars just almost hit me as I stumble back to the camper.  Wake up, Susan!

Great, now I'm awake.  I have nothing else to do but lie in bed, freeze, and contemplate how and why in the heck these three cops showed up for a car alarm.  
This is what my half-frozen, half-asleep brain came up with:
They had to have been close by and heard it themselves.  But where?  The nature trail that we took last night had a little parking lot near the lake.  I think the three of them were hanging out there, bored to death, wanting adventure, when they heard the sound of the alarm carry across the lake.  

Conclusion: Either they really take security seriously or they are bored to death and wanted some excitement.  They must have "adventure" stamped across their forehead too.

Click- part one

Ug, someone's HONK! car alarm is HONK! going off.  HONK!
I look at the phone.  HONK!  Three a.m.  Well, HONK! 
I have to go to HONK! the bathroom anyway.

Joe asks if that is our van.  HONK!  I say, "No, our's goes HONK, HONK...HONK, HONK".

I pull on my red hoodie and stumble with half-frozen legs out of the camper.  
I decide not to put my glasses on, because I have a theory: if my eyes focus, I will fully wake up.  
If they don't focus, I won't fully wake up and thus can go right back to sleep.

This little red riding hood, with blonde waves peaking out from under her hood, makes her way to the restroom.  

I hear a vehicle coming up the drive.  Hm, someone is arriving late.
My brain is slowly starting to turn the wheels into gear.

A few more groggy steps and I realize it's actually three vehicles.  Click.

Hm, a caravan of three vehicles is arriving late.

A few more frozen steps when I realize the vehicles are driving WAAAY faster than the prescribed 5 mph.  Click. 

I am now in the middle of the drive, when I see that the vehicles have split up.  One is coming around the restroom from the left, and the other two from the right.  Strange.  Click.

I can't see much, but I drowsily look back at the vehicles, as if my facial expression could convey "what the heck?  Slow down buddy!"  And that's when I can make out the outline of a lightbar on top of the highly reflective vehicle.  Click.

I turn back around forward, and the first vehicle is blocking me, the other two have now come to a stop behind me.  Click!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

It Was Bound to Happen

Squeak, squeak, squeak goes the wheel.  The rhythmic sound is almost soothing.

But the hamster starts to go faster.  "It just takes one more minute."  "This is important."  "It's what good _____ (fill in the blank) do."

Except all these "one more minutes" have a culminating effect.  When everyone else tells you what is important, you forget what really IS important.

And you know what's going to happen.  The poor little hamster is going to run so fast, she's going to tumble butt over head.  It was bound to happen.

where Glory meets my suffering