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School Days, Singleness, and the Saving Power of Sassiness

Only it didn’t!  I was getting pretty concerned when, by Sunday, the professor for my next class still had not posted the syllabus.  So, I went to the college website, did some digging, and figured out that classes didn’t start again until May 8, giving me an entire week off.  I guess this is the Spring Break I was complaining about not getting in March!  So that’s been kind of a nice little respite this week. 

Which is good, because this class looks to be pretty intensive, which surprises me.  It’s called “Aging in America” which doesn’t sound too brain-taxing.  But this guy expects a LOT of work out of us.  And our big project…is due the weekend of the wedding.  Argh…Sure hoping he lets me work ahead!

I got my final grades – an A for my conflict class.  This was kind of a neat thing.  Last Sunday evening as we were all (presumably) cramming the last bit of work in our professor wrote us a long letter in which she basically shared her Christian faith and explained how the methods taught in this class had revolutionized some of the relationships she had with people in her family (she and her husband had a blended family).  It was a neat testimony and a little relieving to me because in my last journal entry for this class I had gotten pretty bold.  We were to write about forgiveness and I didn’t feel I could do that subject justice without explaining where I come from, faith-wise.  So I wrote about how the Christian must forgive because he has been forgiven so much and because Christ suffered far more for us than we can ever imagine suffering by others in our lifetime.  And from there I went into my own struggles with the subject.  When I wrote it I had no idea that my professor was a Christian, too, and that’s always a bit scary when writing for college professors.  Keep reading for an update on this…

I scored a B+ in math, but that really is not indicative of my own learning.  Will helped me tremendously – more than he did last fall when I took physical geography.  I’m very, very grateful because it means I can now actually graduate from college.  I think I am totally done with math now for the rest of my life, which is a relief.  This class even tried to make math very practical for the average, non-math major student.  But then they would go sticking in letters and formulas and what had seemed sensible a paragraph before suddenly turned into mumble jumble.  It’s over and maybe I learned a thing or two.  Mostly I just learned all over again how much I am not good at math!
 This morning was the second annual Single Mom’s Morning Out.  I went to the same location in Urbandale that I did last year, but this year there were two other metro churches putting on the same event.  What a blessing again!  When I was sitting down in the auditorium waiting for the beginning, this older lady approached me and asked if she could “pick my brain” – why mine, I don’t know.  I think I have this “approachable” face.  She wasn’t there to participate, but to observe.  She said she lives and hour and a half away and was a single mom herself for 21 years.  She wanted to observe today to see what it would take to bring something like this to her community.  So she was asking me about my singleness and what part of the morning was most special, etc.  She also encouraged me to keep close to the Lord.  Later, when she saw me leaving with the kids, she approached me again and seemed really excited to meet the kids.  I think it’s the adoption component.  That seems to “get” a lot of people – myself included.  I always get excited when I see adoptive families.

They did this part of the morning again like last year where, as all the women leave the auditorium and go through the narthex, the helpers of the morning stand there clapping and cheering and calling out encouragement.  Last year I felt oddly touched and a little embarrassed by the attention.  Like last year, I saw women crying as they walked through.  When you’re single you just don’t get the encouragement that yes, you are doing a good job, like you do when you are married.  As I walked through, a little embarrassed again, I was reminded of Heb. 12, where it refers to a “great cloud of witnesses.”  A number of years ago I watched a Ray Comfort/Kirk Cameron film in which they stood in the middle of an ancient coliseum and explained that verse in such a way that it created a very strong picture in my mind.  Suddenly I could “see” all these departed saints (they seem a little ethereal in my  mind - kind of half here, half not), cheering on the believers still running the race.  Well, as I walked through the gauntlet of encouragers this morning, I felt the same way.  These were very much alive people, but it just reminded me of that verse – a crowd cheering you on as you persevere.

Anyway, it was really nice.  While we got massages and facials,ate, and shopped at a free boutique (I scored 2 tops and a cardigan sweater and several pieces of jewelry – they give you two huge bags to fill, but I didn’t do that),  the male volunteers, who had provided valet service when we arrived, washed our vehicles, checked them over, topped off the fluids, and wrote it all up on a little card so we knew what we had been done.  Then, when it was over, they brought our vehicles to us again.  Such a neat ministry!

Oh, and the kids had a wonderful time, too.  They spent their morning doing crafts, eating, and hearing Bible stories.  When we left, they had bought enough full sized Bibles for every child and they could choose which variety/version they wanted.  Ellie was SO excited, because she has never had her own “real” Bible.  Later, Sam commented that he wished he could buy a whole bunch of Bibles on his own so he could give them to everyone.  Sweet boy.

When I was getting my massage, I overheard another mom in the room talking to someone.  She said that she doesn’t go to church, but she had tried it when her son was younger.  But she felt  terrible because he was in daycare all week long and then when they went to church he was hustled off to the children’s program.  So then she felt guilty because weekends were their only real time to spend together.  So she quit going to church.  So I’ve been mulling that over ever since.  I even asked the Littles what they thought.  Sam very practically said, “Well, she doesn’t have to have her son go to the children’s program.  He could stay with her.”  That’s true.  I know a few churches don’t even separate families for anything.  However, most do see the value in at least some separate teaching time so it can reach both child and parent at levels they can better understand.  Later, it hit me that this same mom didn’t seem to have a problem with attending this mom’s morning where she and her child would be separated, during their precious weekend time, for an entire 3 hours.  I think the benefits of attending church regularly should outweigh the desire to spend time solely with one another.  But again, it’s just one of those things that becomes a by-product of single parenthood – which was never God’s plan for the family. 


So, I mentioned earlier that I have an update to something about my professor I just had.  Last night, while scrolling through Facebook, her name jumped out at me.  She had posted in a homeschool buy/sell group that I am part of.  I had NO idea she is a homeschooling mom!  So I immediately  messaged her expressing my delight and went on to tell her how touched I had been by her message to the class last week.  She wrote me back right away and said that her kids were now grown, but she had homeschooled for many years and is a huge proponent of it.  She is in the process of selling off her books to pay for more education for herself.  She then went on to tell me that she has to be careful what she says in her classes regarding God – understandably.  And, she said, she makes a point to pray for her students every single week, so for 8 weeks, she had been praying for me.    So now we’re Facebook friends.  What an encouragement!
 I subbed two days last week.  I got called for more.  I even got asked to sub all week long this week over at the middle school, but I can’t.  One day I was with this kindergarten boy who is a pistol.  I had to ride home with him (he lives 2 blocks from the school) to ensure his cooperation on the bus.  He spent the entire bus ride trying to push me out of the seat I was sharing with him.  Yeah…fun times.  I had to laugh at recess, though.  I was supervising him when he came up to me sobbing.  He cried, “So and so said I’m a little boy, but I’m a man!”  Oh, the irony…I think my words to him were something along the lines of, “Well, then, why don’t you act like a man and prove him wrong?”  Kindergarten life…

I worked at the preschool Friday.  Again – children do not belong in all day preschool.  My opinion, based on my continuing observations…

This was my first time working with this teacher.  She’s young, but I really like her, which is good because it sounds like she may be Ellie’s teacher next year.  She was telling me about all these staff changes taking place at the school next year.  The football coach and his wife are leaving.  He has been such a good coach, too.  His wife used to teach in a classroom but now teaches the teachers.  I’m really not sure what her job was.  But, the 1st   grade teacher Lizzie had that I wanted for Ellie is now taking the football coach’s wife’s job.  But this preschool teacher may be taking that 1st grade position instead.  And then Sam’s wonderful, wonderful 3rd grade teacher this year, whom I had requested for Lizzie, has taken a job at another school.  I am so…so…so sad about that.  We just “clicked” I thought.  Sam is pretty upset, although he was going to lose her anyway, moving on to 4th grade.  But he takes any kind of loss with difficulty, I’ve noticed. 

Unlike his sister.  Her hamster has been missing for a week in the bowels of this house and she really could not care less.  That, and the fact, that she’s had to be continually prodded to give him fresh food and water every day, tells me she was not ready for the responsibility for a pet.  I remember when Sam’s first hamster died.  He cried for hours.  Different kids…

A week or so ago at therapy, the therapist commented that Ellie’s sassiness is going to be “what saves her.”  She continued on to explain that she sees all kinds of personalities in her office.  And, in her experience, the kids that are more withdrawn and compliant are the ones who don’t make it.  She said that gumption and passion for life that drives me nuts in the girls right now is actually a really, really good thing. Maybe she says that to all the parents being driven insane by their kiddos in hopes that they'll continue to hang on for awhile longer.
 I found Bella on the roof of my house today.  Fortunately, she was nervous about that and wanted back in.  She was sitting in a window in the girls room and pushed the screen out!  Ugh!  This is a second floor window, too.  So, the screen is still laying on the porch roof.  Will said he’d work on it when he comes over later this week.  I’m not so much worried about that cat as I am the fact that if a cat could push it out, so could Ellie.  And Ellie tends to have very, very bad judgment.
 Today was a very beautiful, sunny, Sunday – perfect weather.  A week ago it poured rain all day long.  I woke up that Sunday morning feeling so – ugh.  I was sad, out of sorts, and had a sinus headache. Plus, we had a church potluck scheduled that day and those just stress me out. And it was the last day of the term so I had some major projects due (that I didn’t have much done on yet) before midnight.  It was going to be a long day.   So, I got up and I prayed, “Lord, please give me something – anything – just something to get me through today.”  Our speaker that morning was the president of FBBC and he spoke on King David and a lot on Job and it was exactly what I needed to hear.  I can’t even remember now exactly what he said, but at the time it was meaningful.

What I didn’t need to hear was this Friday when I was in the preschool.  A couple of the kids asked me to sit beside them at lunch time.  One little boy at the table announced that his daddy was 45 years old.  I commented that that meant he was almost as old as I am.  Whereupon, the kids demanded to know how old I was.  So I told them.  One little girl sitting beside me then said, sympathetically, “So that’s why your face is all crinkly?”  I was not aware my face had “crinkles” yet!
 Sam and I finally finished reading  The Diary of Anne Frank.  I honestly don’t know if I had ever actually read the book before or if what I read as a child was a condensed version.  I just don’t remember all this from my childhood reading.  But it’s been awhile, too.  So, I don’t know.  After we finished the actual diary I read the “afterward” part of the book.  I had just re-read Elie Wiesel’s Night last winter to help Will with a school project, so the two books really meshed in my mind.  In fact, the afterward in Anne Frank tells how Peter Van Daan, who was the 15 year old son of the friends who lived with the Franks in hiding and became Anne’s love interest, was forced to go on the winter run transporting prisoners from one camp to the other.  It was a brutal thing – the prisoners were forced to run for days in the bitter cold.  Elie Wiesel talked about the same run.  He survived, but his father died shortly thereafter.  Most did not survive the run.  Peter Van Daan did not, either.  I read the entire afterward and then I laid on my bed and just cried.  It was all so wrong.  What really struck me after finishing Anne’s diary was the fact that Anne became a voice for the millions of young people who didn’t get to have one.  Even in her diary she talked of her wish for immortality.  Even though she died at fifteen, she gained immortality through her  writing.  Sam sadly said, “Anne probably isn’t in Heaven, though, Mom, is she?”  Probably not.  She kept up her studies while in hiding and for awhile, she was studying the Bible, but she never says anything to indicate she believed what she was reading.  She was approaching it like she did all her other studies, from an intellectual standpoint.  She was very big on "improving" herself.   The afterward mentioned that there have been a couple of movies made of the book (I think I’ve seen one) and that caught Sam’s interest.  He wants to see one now.

Yesterday morning I was so proud of him.  He went to get a spoon for his cereal and found that utensils were not placed in there very well – they were overlapping and such.  So, he calmly unloaded the entire silverware drawer onto the counter.  Then, he realized that under the trays a lot of crumbs had accumulated.  He asked me what I thought the best way of cleaning them would be and I suggested the vacuum.  So, the next thing I knew, he trotted down to the basement and brought up my new shop vac and vacuumed out the entire drawer.  Then he carefully put the trays back in all arranged all the silverware nice and neatly in there.  I was praising him for his initiative and he shrugged his shoulders and said he’d been listening to a speaker on the Christian radio station who said that the disciples looked for things that needed to be done and then did them.  He said the speakers said that an example of this was in Acts 3 and that if they had not filled a need there, then Acts 4 would not have happened.  I’m not sure what he’s talking about – I’ll have to go look at that myself.  Anyway, I was proud of him.

So that’s why I didn’t balk too much when we were at Kohls later that day getting him new tennis shoes and he really, really wanted the Nikes…even though they had another, less flashy pair on clearance for $20 less.  And then when I checked out I found out I couldn’t use my 20% off coupon on that brand…sigh.  But he was so pleased with his shoes.  I told him those are called “high tops.”   He’s never had a pair of those before and didn’t know what they were called.  So we got home and Sam ran up to David and exclaimed, “See my new high heels!” 

Poor kid...he will never live that one down.


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