Friday, December 22, 2006

peace in the storm

december 23, 2001. five years ago today.

when i woke up that morning, i was in a hurry. it was a sunday, and i had decided late the night before to stay over at my friend sara's house, instead of trying to brave it home in the typical michigan blizzard. being that it was a sunday, i had to leave her house quite early in the morning to make it home to get ready in time for church.

the alarm sounded, i grabbed my sweatshirt and headed for the door. i stopped to get my keys from the counter, but they were not there. i must have left them in the car, i thought.

i headed out the door to a still-dark december morning. the chill in the air was biting, and i headed quickly for my car on the opposite side of the parking lot. i saw a man walking near my car, and thought to myself, now i have someone to say 'good morning' to! (what can i say, the spirit of christmas affects even me in the wee hours of the morning!)

what happened next will never leave my mind. it has greatly impacted my life over the last five years, and i am sure it will continue to. glimpses of that morning come back to me; i am aware of things i never was; i will never be the same person.

that man, that seemingly innocent man across the way, approached me. he made me get in my car, wanting me to drive somewhere... but i didn't have my keys. come to find out, in her habitual cleaning the night before, sara had moved them. God only knows what would have happened had she not done so. after he realized that, he took my wallet, and throughout the course of our 15-minute encounter, threatened to kill me several times. he then took me back behind the apartment building, where the morning only got worse. thankfully, he never touched me... physically anyway.

in the midst of what was going on, my cell phone fell out of my purse, and he didn't see it. after he left- again, threatening to kill me- i saw it there on the ground, and called sara for help. we called 911, and the police came... and didn't believe my story. no, instead, they spent the rest of the morning telling me that it's criminal to falsely report a crime. it didn't make sense, they maintained, that i could be at such peace after such a horrific event had happened to me. what they didn't understand was that i was not alone that morning- the Prince of Peace was with me the entire time. i was thankful that what could have happened didn't, but more than anything, i had the peace of Christ in me.

i don't say this to imply that it is inappropriate to ever react to circumstances, that the peace of God protects us from emotion. it certainly does not- God created us to be emotional creatures. but what it does mean is that, in the midst of the trials, in the midst of the emotions, we have been promised that Christ sent us a Comforter- and that the Holy Spirit indwells those who belong to him. He has promised us peace, not as the world gives- as only He can give.

i really don't know how to put that in more practical words. i don't know what "having God's peace" means to you, how it makes you feel, how it changes you. i don't know how to say it without sounding cliche. that is certainly not my intention.

but what i do know what i felt that morning. i know that, sitting outside, freezing cold, wondering if i would ever see my family again- that somehow, in some indescribable way, i felt at peace.

so this christmas, i pray for you to feel that peace. like i said, it may look differently in your life. whether it's a deployment, a debilitating disease, a family crisis, a traumatic event- i know that Jesus offers his peace, which passes our understanding.

merry christmas.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

at the end

as i sit here at my desk, i feel a strange sense of deja-vu. this morning i gathered with the same teachers in the same room that i did 5 months ago as school was starting... i have the same fear of the unknown... i now stare at the same empty classroom.

except this time, things are different. this time, my desk is piled with gifts from students. (thank you so much to all of you students and parents who were so thoughtful... we appreciate it immensely...) a stack of graded exams sits next to me. students come in to say good-bye, not hello.

this is our last day at grace christian academy. jonathan was called up to train other chaplains who are getting ready to deploy. we close on our new house near ft. stewart tomorrow, then after a week up north for the holidays, we'll be packing up the uhaul and heading south... yet again...

i will miss the students, interacting with them. they all have so many unique qualities, and when they weren't making me pull my hair out, they made me smile with joy! :-)

so, this is it. the final day of this journey. it is bittersweet... every time one journey ends, another begins.

love you all...

Friday, December 15, 2006

the first of my list

i have decided to start sharing some of my favorite websites. or foods. or movies. or whatever. here's the first. (well, the second if you count joyeux noel- which, incidentally, if you haven't rented- or bought- yet, you really need to get on that!)

this is a total and unabashed plug for a website i have come to love. i am in no way personally connected to them, but if you're looking for a good company to go through to print your digital pictures (and tons of other cool stuff), try out the website is quite user-friendly (you can upload entire folders of pictures at once as opposed to one-at-a-time), they have great products, fast shipping, and reasonable prices- plus, you get 50 FREE 4x6 prints the first time you order!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

the most wonderful time

so a certain realization has hit me this week: final exams are as much of a pain for teachers as they are for students.

*sigh*... it has been a long week of entering grades, writing exams, copying exams, making grading sheets... and soon to be actually grading these things. my first hour class is working busily on their 5-page test right now. i see a girl in the corner of the room trying to get the cramp out of her hand, another boy staring at the ceiling, hoping to find an answer written there. ah yes. the most wonderful time of the year, right?

it has been busy, but i have been enjoying myself of late. i happen to absolutely love christmas and all it entails... cookies, trees, decorations, music, movies (i even got jon to watch elf!... still working on a christmas story, though) i also- with the help of my loving co-worker/husband- took the 7th and 8th graders to see a stage play of a christmas carol at the shakespeare tavern. even now, i'm nibbling on some wonderful white chocolate peppermint bark a student made and gave me.

it is wonderful that jon is home for it this year! i was reflecting earlier about my breakdown last year at meijer shopping for decorations for him... then leaving up the tree until the end of january when he came home. not this year, not me!

the thing that i do miss this year is cold weather. and snow. yes yes, i know- i HATE cold weather. but it just doesn't seem like christmas when it's 65 degrees outside!

ah... i need to get back to making the spanish answer key... soon it will be over!!!