We are halfway through the first quarter of school and I am happy to report that I am finally hitting my groove at my new school. I’ve gotten to know my students and absolutely adore them. I’m getting involved and meeting other teachers, which means my days aren’t as lonely as they were in the beginning. But my favorite part, without a doubt, is living in the same community where I teach.
There are definitely some setbacks to this. The week of the hurricane, our family ventured out into the neighborhood right after the storm ended to check on neighbors and friends. I was wearing yoga pants and a stained, gross t-shirt. My hair looked like it had been through a hurricane itself. We had no power. I was, quite literally, a hot mess. And who do you think I ran into? Not one, but TWO different students and their families out doing the same thing we were doing. Then, apparently word got out where I lived and I came home from work one day to find a group of 4 students standing out in front of my house with their bikes, pointing and taking pictures. Since then, students love to tell me that they drove by my house – which as caused me to fear changing clothes in my own bedroom, opting instead to hide in my own bathroom for some reason.
But all of that is outweighed when I run into a student at the grocery store and they drag their parents over proudly to meet me. Or on nights like last Thursday night when the kids and I were driving home and just happened to pass the school and I remembered that there was a soccer game going on. We had over an hour before Chris got home from work and so we pulled in, grabbed camping chairs that I keep in the back of my car for soccer games and tennis practice, and watched the soccer game.
I happened to set my chair up next to the PTA president of my kids elementary school who I serve on the board with, and within ten minutes, friends from my church pulled up next to us to cheer their own kids on. One of Gracie’s buddies lives right next to the field where the soccer game was, so I texted her mom and asked if she could come over and play on the sidelines during the game. At one point during the game, I looked around and realized I knew more than half the parents sitting on the sidelines, my kids were running around with a rather large herd of neighborhood kids they knew and went to school with, and I was being hugged and cheered for by my students. I couldn’t help but glow inside and smile outside.
On Friday night, the high school in our area had “Community Night” and the middle school band where I teach was invited to play with the high school band at the football game. Chris and I decided to take the kids to the game and I laughed to myself when it turned into a repeat from the soccer game. Neighbors came and sat with us. Our Cub Scout Master from our pack stopped by to watch the first quarter with us. The kids had friends running around and former teachers sitting in the stands around us. I met more parents of my students and I got to cheer for my students as they played in the band.
I switched schools for a whole bag of reasons, but I am learning that those challenges I was facing were actually blessings in disguise because they were the reasons that led me to taking a new job, here in my own community. I’m learning that in order to get to the peaks in our lives, we have to walk uphill. That’s where the peaks are, after all. They are at the top of these hills or mountains that we have to climb up and you can’t reach the top without the climb. And I think that’s where God comes in. If I were shown a mountaintop and told how awesome it’s going to be up there, but that first I had to climb the mountain, I’d probably never go. But, thankfully, God nudges me, guides me, and sometimes even puts CHALLENGES in my path that lead me to those mountaintops. And it’s usually not until I’m at the top, looking back over where I’ve just come from, that I realize how masterful His plan is for my life.
God is good.
All the time.