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Count it all Joy

May18

The school year is coming to an end.  The seniors had their last day of class today.  I am proud of the class of 2012.  They are finishing well.  However, there is poignancy in the business of wrapping up loose ends and doing things for the last time as a high school student.  Although they look ahead to college and career, my students also are aware that life will never be the same.  Their circle of friends will inevitably change.  Their responsibilities will increase. They will face many challenges.  Independence brings losses as well as gains.

I, too, have been forced to deal with change as Ted has been recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  At this point the tumor has been removed and he is facing chemotherapy.  We are hopeful for a cure, but we have to be realistic.  In many ways, being confronted with the inevitability of the end of life—which faces all of us, whether we are forced by the presence of cancer to think of it or not—has brought Ted and me incredibe blessing.   For one thing, we have become increasingly aware that the two of us have become truly one over the almost forty years of our marriage.  And secondly, we have been overwhelmed with the kindness, prayers, and help of friends, co-workers, and students during this difficult time.  Several who have gone through similar situations have given us advice. My brother, who lost his wife to cancer over 11 years ago, told me, “Accept help sooner than later.”  He also encouraged us to wrap up loose ends, especially relational and financial.  A friend who lost her sister to cancer told me to “look for the joy!” and is praying that we will find it daily.

The care of my students has been especially touching.  When I told my English class about my husband’s upcoming surgery, one of the boys asked if I would like them to pray for me and proceded to do so.  Several 9th grade girls are particularly concerned, perhaps because they have faced the death of loved ones themselves, and often ask me how my husband is doing. I have received numerous notes, including one from a girl who is not even in my class this year.  These notes hold depths of wisdom beyond their writers’ chronological ages, encouragement from God’s Word, and assurance of their prayers for us.  How good it is to be part of a Christian community!

It is beneficial to live as though we will die tomorrow while at the same time we live as though we will live forever.  No matter what our stage of life, we should accept—and give—help sooner rather than later.  It is always important to take care of our relationships, keeping short accounts when we offend or are offended.  And we should never forget to look for the joy.  In doing so we will glorify God and will enjoy Him forever.  For ultimately, there really is no end of life for us as Christians.

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Spiders

April18

I got up in the night to go to the bathroom.  Even in the dark . . . and without my glasses . . . I saw a huge fuzzy blur on the floor.  It didn’t move.  Neither did I.  But it was right where I needed to be, and I wasn’t going to risk getting closer to something that might be alive.  It was at least a “4-tissue” whatever, so I pulled four from the box on the sink counter, and, trying not to think about it, crushed and disposed of it.

This morning I looked in the wastebasket to be sure I hadn’t thrown out something innocuous that had just fallen on the floor.  Yes, it had been a centipede.

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Mornings this time of year they often appear in that bathroom.  Usually I notice one scrambling desperately around the bathtub just when I’m ready to step in.  They are unable to climb the slippery walls of the tub and so get caught there.

 

In her youth Rebecca used this bathroom and experienced the same problem.  Capable as she is in every other area,  she was incapable of handling the situation on her own.  “Daddy!” she’d shriek.  “There’s a 3-tissue one in here!”  And Ted would come running and take care of it for her.   I wonder how he would have responded if I had cried out in the night, “Ted!  There’s a 4-tissue one in here!”

 

Spiders aren’t all scary and bad.  I know a daddy-long-legs that I’m particularly fond of.  He lives in Pierce’s pocket, I think, because he often appears out of nowhere to join his play.  This spider likes to ride in toy cars and in make-shift boats in the kitchen sink.

 

Wednesday Ted and I went to see Gabby in a band concert.  I had the pleasure of holding Pierce on my lap.  Partway through one of the songs, the spider appeared and stood on Pierce’s left hand, which was held palm-up to make a platform and then raised high enough so the daddy-long-legs (made by two fingers of his right hand) could see Gabby playing her flute.  It was worth coming out to see.  She did a fine job.

 

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I am a Christian, a mother and grandmother, a sister, a daughter, a teacher, a widow, a friend. . .  My life is first of all defined by relationships–to God, to my family, to my students, to my friends. Of course, I am many other things: a reader, an e-mail writer, a piano player, and a somewhat reluctant traveler, for example.  And now I am a blogger.  I’m not sure why, except it seems to be a logical next step for someone addicted to e-mail.

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