Yes, Mary did know.

Spear-3937Kiss frog

I live in a house full of preteens and teens. (No, I don’t take Valium yet. Yes, I have a lot of grey hair. Yes, full moons terrify me.) All four are adopted and have siblings and half-siblings not living with us. We live in a rural area with a relatively small population. This poses a problem on the dating front. Even though my kids are definitely not ready to get into serious relationships, you have to admit that it’s creepy to have a crush on someone only to find out that they are, in some way, related to you. For this and many more reasons, I had a talk with my kids about not diving in too quickly into our area’s very shallow gene pool. But the thing is… they’re still kids. It’s a tough situation to know how to handle even as an adult. The advice I gave to them is actually applicable to everyone…preteens, teens, and even adults. In fact, I ended up sharing it at a Divorce Care meeting and it was received favorably…no one even threw anything at me!

The key is found in Luke chapter 2, “But Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.” I don’t know about you but if shepherds visited me and said angels told them something about my newborn baby, I might be tempted to freak out a bit and do something rash. But she didn’t. She didn’t take an ad out in the Bethlehem Times or post a selfie with the shepherds. OMG! Traveled a million miles on a donkey while pregnant beyond belief, gave birth in a stinky barn surrounded by animals, and now I’m hosting a bunch of shepherds who have been seeing things. What a day!!! Anyway, a big shout-out to my son, Jesus, who is gonna save the world…so proud of my little man. 🙂  Not Mary. She just stored it up in her heart. And that’s what I advised my kids to do. If someone compliments you or asks you out, it’s okay to be pleased and store up those things in your heart. It is equally fine to not act on them. You don’t need to say anything more than “Thanks” or “Thanks but I’m not dating right now.” This gives you time to really get to know a person. This is especially important when there’s a possibility that you might be related to them. But, truthfully, this concept of waiting until you really know a person is important for everyone. It would definitely reduce the amount of heartaches and divorces. So hang in there, store up the compliments in your heart because something amazing is in store for your life and you might miss it if you’re curled up on the couch, crying into your post-break up Häagen Dazs.

Angels among us

In Fall of 2008, when I was 38, I went back to college. I didn’t want to just to further my education…I wanted to change the course of my entire life.

After my brush with Lyme arthritis, I realized that I could not physically work forever as a bedside nurse. When I reassessed what I really wanted to be doing, I came up with a huge list. Apparently while I was busy raising a family and working a job, I had neglected my dreams.

Since nursing is such a specialized field, I set out to get a non-nursing bachelor’s degree first. This degree was tailored to what I perceived as my weaknesses and interests. (Given my age and situation, I consider it a pretty tame midlife-crisis but, now that I face the student loans, I realize that it probably would have been cheaper to buy a sports car.)

When I started, I was a single mom with children aged 4, 5, 5, 6, 15, and 19. It was very difficult at first because my little ones did not understand timed tests, the need to focus when formulating a response, and pretty much privacy, in general.

One night, with a deadline looming, children pestering, and quitting on my mind, I got a call from my friend, Joanna. She was passing through and wanted to stop by. I cried on the phone to her and she came anyway (a mark of a true friend). That night, she made us tea, sent me to my computer, and stood watch over me.

Whenever my kids needed to ask me something, get a drink of water, or just randomly stare at me, she was there, gently filling the need and guiding them back to their beds while I finished and submitted my homework with just minutes to spare. Three years after I started college, Joanna was killed in a car accident so she never got to see the fruits of her labor at my graduation.

But whenever I felt that the weight of my life was too much and I wanted to quit, God sent another one of my earthly angels to encourage me. My coworkers, friends, and family, many without even knowing it, provided me with the encouragement and strength to keep going. My one sister, Janee, pestered me constantly (as only sisters can) over staying on task and finishing my degree ( I had to take a third semester of French more than 20 years after taking the first 2 semesters and it was almost my undoing).

Over the course of time, I was able to stick to it and finish my degree and move on to pursuing an MBA. My goals for myself became more defined and I did eventually leave nursing. I learned a lot going to college this second time around but the greatest thing I learned was that I may be single but I am not alone…my God is near and my life is overflowing with angels and all the better for it. So, thank you to all of my angels and congratulations on our graduation!