Sunday, May 27, 2012

Saying Goodbye

I am writing this so some of you may be reminded of the sweet goodness of the Lord. I am writing this so some, including myself, may be comforted. I am writing this to say goodbye to one of the most truly amazing women I have ever, and probably will ever, known. 

Today you went to be with our sweet Jesus. I don't know if this is the case, but I picture you running into His arms and then immediately holding Jonas, the precious grandson you never got to hold on this earth. Today you are no longer afraid of falling. You are no longer in constant pain, like you have been for at least 21 years. Today you are with our Lord, and I am so happy for you.

But today you also left a hole in my heart. I know I told you this a few weeks ago, but I want you to know you gave me some of the most precious gifts I could have fathomed. You gave me an imagination. As a little girl, I don't think it would have been possible to invent more imaginary friends. And you kept up with all of them! Orson, Peevee, Dottie, Lottie, and Cottie (the triplets, of course), and the infamous Sinny, to name a few. You communicated with me for hours when the only sounds I would make were barking. No one else could quite understand how intricate playing the role of Spot truly was. As I grew a little older, you watched politely (and clapped at the appropriate times!) when I would perform full one-woman shows of Oklahoma, Hello, Dolly, and Music Man. And I don't know if I could possibly count how many times you were the officiant at my various weddings, with the couch's arm cover as my veil and you holding the Reader's Digest (because of course it wasn't appropriate to use the Bible for a fake wedding). Nannie, how I wish you could be present at my real wedding one day. I bet I'll even get to wear a real veil!

You let me read to you for hours on end, cultivating a love of reading in me I still carry to this day. You let me talk your ear off about whatever was happening in my life, even though you knew none of the references I was making. You made jokes with me about Culp's hearing ("I think your butler's a little hard of hearing!"), when, in reality the last few years, it was you who needed the hearing aids. You always wanted to know what was happening in school, and never once forgot to tell me you were proud of me.

Nannie, you loved everyone around you with a deep, unquestioning love. You gave of yourself when there was seemingly nothing left to give. You and Culp taught me so much about marriage and living a life together devoted to our God.

In the past month or so, God has used the end of your life to speak tenderly over me, and I can't imagine a better person He could have used to do that. Some of the last intelligible words I heard you speak were, "Karissa. I love you." Nannie, I love you, too. And always will. The Lord has given me such peace in your passing. This morning I woke up and knew this was the day. I've been praying for it for a month, because I didn't want you to be in pain anymore. Last night, however, God sent me a dream about you. It was so vivid. You were sitting on a bed in a room similar to the office at your house. I came to you and we were talking like we would on any given day at your house. You were much more active, much more you than you have been recently. The conversation ended when you hugged me and told me how much you loved me. You were crying, which made me start to cry as well. You told me this was goodbye, and I said goodbye with my whole being. When I awoke, I prayed all morning the Lord would finally take you home. So when my mom called me this afternoon, I already knew what it was.

Nannie, you will be so missed. Your wit. Your jokes. Just your voice. Everything. Nothing will be the same. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Fourth of July, all of it will have a little piece missing. But I'm writing this in confidence that death has no victory or sting. Because of our wonderful Jesus, death has been swallowed up in victory! Praise the Lord! And praise the Lord that He saw fit to finally take you home.

I love you. I miss you.

Your granddaughter,

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

On Teaching and Inadequacy

I've decided I want to blog more because exciting things are happening in my life I want to remember. First year of teaching (it'll be funny eventually, right?), first time living on my own, making a life for myself. It's all great. 

 This post may start off as a bit of a downer. Stick with me, though! It'll get there.

This week I am really battling thoughts of inadequacy and feel led to share those thoughts. If you ever think you are really good at something and want to longer think that, become a public school teacher who teaches that something. Works like a charm.

There are only 15 school days left in this year. 15. And the closer it gets, the more inadequate I feel. Questions constantly race through my mind: Did I teach them enough? Did I make a difference at all? Why didn't I take them there? How could I have forgotten to do that? How will I find enough chaperones? What if it doesn't get approved? This is the soundtrack of my day. The underlying thought to all these questions is like the bass line keeping the beat going: "I'm not good enough. I'm not good enough." Over and over and over again until I'm as weary of that bass line as I am the often repeated, poorly played Justin Bieber songs continuously heard in my classroom.

The funny thing about a song getting stuck in your head is that you start singing it without realizing. When I'm warming up my choirs (I'm not good enough), when I'm teaching 12-bar blues (I'm not good enough), when I'm cooking dinner (I'm not good enough), and when I'm going to bed (I'm not good enough). Over and over and over again.

I'm sick of hearing it. I want someone to smash the stereo in my head so it won't play on repeat anymore. And that's when I turn to my Lord. In Him I find this crazy paradox that makes the cd skip just long enough to make me realize I can change the disc.

You see, my Jesus died for me because I wasn't good enough. But my Jesus makes me good enough. With that one statement, I'm able to put a new song on repeat.

When that parent calls to chew me out (You make me good enough), when I'm told how awful my decisions are (You make me good enough), when I go on an after-dinner walk (You make me good enough), and when I drift off to sleep (You make me good enough).

He makes me more than good enough. He makes me His.

So please proceed with the Bieber, excited student, I have my own new song to listen to.