I am blessed to have in my life many AMAZING people! They have taught me so much simply by being themselves. It always looked so easy as I watched them being themselves but I have come to appreciate the challenges they have each experienced. I am thankful for the lessons they have taught me and continue to teach me.
My dad was my first teacher. He taught me about love, patience, trust, faith, and God's never ending grace. He lived his life with great joy, often beginning his day by proclaiming, "This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it!" He continued to teach even as he died reminding me that at the end of even the very worst day there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for.
Aunt Jean was another teacher. She made the best homemade noodles, always allowing me to watch and help as she repeated endlessly each step. She gave the best hugs; pulling me close and tight, wrapping her arms so securely around me you could feel her heart beating. Unconditional love was her gift.
Another Jean was there during my very difficult teenage years. She would listen, simply listen as I poured out my hurts. She would nod and listen never interrupting or trying to correct me but rather let me pour it out until I had said it all. Jean taught me how to listen and she showed me how to be a mother.
Sarah, (not her name), is a child at my school. Her body has been contorted by scoliosis. Her heart and lungs compromised as a result. Asthma attacks require a portable oxygen tank. Surgery to correct the scoliosis has nearly cost her her life and yet she smiles and laughs at the silliest things but has full knowledge of the battle she has had to fight too many times for someone so small and her age. Sarah has taught me all about fierce determination.
Dannie is a former coworker. He is one of the unfortunate ones with Diabetes. While we worked together he battled to save a toe which would not heal due to his Diabetes. When the surgeons removed his toe we thought he would be fine but diabetes frequently has other ideas and they had to amputate his leg. Diabetes took his leg but did not touch the essence of who he is, what he can teach. In February he posted this on Facebook:
"This has been my temporary prosthesis since
Feb. 21. I've completed out-patient PT, I
have been driving, shopping, have been to a
Pow-wow, have cooked and baked, and walked
for exercise. Friday, I was fitted for my
'permanent' prosthesis, which will be
carbon-fiber, titanium, stainless steel and
will be very fierce!"
Danny has taught me that even in the midst of terrible personal challenges persistence, perseverance, humor and grace can prevail.
My newest teacher is Faye who is too young to be battling throat cancer and yet she is. She was warned the surgery necessary to remove the cancer could cause her voice to change and yet in the depths of her battle she found her voice. She smiles when I know her throat must feel like it is on fire. She steadfastly refuses to take any more pain medication and she keeps on putting one foot in front of the other. Friday night she participated in The Relay for Life Walk. Faye and her team walked all night raising money for other cancer victims. She posted her pictures on Facebook; she is smiling, no grinning and she is joyful!
Faye has taught me all about joy.
I keep hearing my Dad whispering quietly: "At the end of even the very worst day there is always something to be grateful for." I am grateful for the lessons and the friendships.
To each of you, and the countless others I have not mentioned may I leave you with this from a sermon by Steven Furtick:
"May you walk in constant courage so that when you face an unchangeable situation in your life, you will have an unwavering faith in an unchangeable God!"