When I was little, I wanted to be the first girl baseball player when I grew up. At the time, it didn't sound nearly as crazy as it does now as I actually type it. I was a tomboy though and I loved competing, and at the time it made total sense.
When I was in high school, I was fascinated by the intricacy of the human body and still had a love for sports and wanted to be a physical therapist working mostly in orthopedics. Our school didn't even have a girls 'softball team so by this time I wasn't even playing softball or baseball.
When I was in college, I pursued nursing because I loved the aspect of getting to encourage and care for other people.
While in college, I switched my major to teaching because it didn't have the possibility to deal with quite as many bodily functions and it allowed me to finish school a little earlier.
When I was nearing the end of college, I assumed I would go back and teach at the same school from which I graduated. It was a small school and we all were family and it seemed natural and very plausible. I hadn't been anywhere else so why would I now?
My plans were not God's plans in any of these circumstances - but going through the motions and figuring out where he wanted me to end up were all part of the plan of growing me into the person He wanted me to be...taking me through the different experiences and the journey that would make up little parts of who I am.
I didn't end up teaching at the school I graduated from. Rather, I was abundantly blessed to work in an unfamiliar environment where God would bring so many wonderful people into my life to pour into me and to teach me lessons I couldn't have learned elsewhere. More on that in a bit....
First I am guessing most teachers don't easily forget their students. We often wonder where they are and what has happened as they grow into young adults. One of the special young ladies I was able to teach about fifteen years ago was Nikita. Here is her sweet little picture I found upstairs in a box with stuff I kept from when I used to teach. Nikita was such a sweet - quiet but silly - girl who always tried hard and was such an encouragement to me...Her mom was often around helping and encouraging too.
NIKITA GREW UP;).
It was an honor for me to get to meet her husband and her little girl now...to catch up with her a little bit in this grown up phase of life.
Here are some pictures from our time together.
(Wait to you see her little girl's blue eyes!)
What a beautiful family. I think she is loved.
Here is cowboy...possibly named so to represent the fact he is the size of a small pony! He is quite the handsome dog - a gentle giant!
See - those eyes!
Nikita, I know life isn't easy. In fourth grade, the challenges are much more manageable in comparison with the challenges we face as we "grow up"... As you get older and as I get older, life throws us a bunch of curve balls and we go in directions we didn't originally have mapped out. I am proud of you for who you are becoming and know that you and Justin will be great parents. And when life doesn't go the way you envisioned, hang in there....Maybe your view is only through a peep hole - a small view of the beauty that lies ahead....when really God sees the beauty of the whole picture and how all of the little pieces fit together to tell your story and my story. So we trust Him and His faithfulness as we continue moving forward.
For me, I could never have envisioned my experience teaching at Royal Manor nor would I have ever envisioned myself as a photographer even now fifteen years later - another story for another time. My experience teaching changed me in deep and profound ways and I always want to express my gratitude for that.
I learned empathy and discipline.
I learned to appreciate differences and the benefits of healthy boundaries.
I learned about working with integrity and purpose as it was modeled by Mr. Rotella.
I learned perseverance, trust, hope and perspective through Mrs. Wiard.
I learned to laugh and be silly and that it is okay to be creative and messy from Mrs. Filaseta (and some other funny things I won't repeat here!)
Thank you for making me laugh!
I learned to be responsible from Mrs. DeVries and Mrs Magee.
I learned quiet confidence from Mrs. Everhart.
I saw patient endurance and a gentle spirit in Mrs. Block.
I learned strategies from Mrs. Spencer that I use within my own family today.
I learned about conquering fears from Angela W and that life is hard from Talia...I could go on and on. Had I gone the route I planned rather than the one God had mapped out, I am not sure how things would be different, but I am eternally grateful for the experience I had.
If you are in limbo or not sure where your path is headed. Hang in there and hopefully the view from the top will be better than you could possibly anticipate...and enjoy looking back on the good times. It was so wonderful to see you Nikita and hopefully we can keep in touch!