As a teacher, I have always looked forward to summer break but it is a bittersweet anticipation. Every year, every class is special and you know that next year things will be different. They may be better or worse but they will definitely be different. We are counting down the days. When I left my classroom today, I wrote “Eight More Days” on the dry erase board and I felt really sad and then really glad. My house will be glad to finally have clean floors and organized closets. My husband will be glad when I actually want to cook a meal (Will I want to?). I will be glad when I don’t have to get up so early or grade papers or do lesson plans. But I will be sad too.
You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you? Don’t You?
When this song by Carly Simon was popular in the early seventies, I can remember my older sister telling my brother that the song had to have been written for him. He was just a cocky teenage boy at the time but today when we were together for a brief visit we were discussing aging. Imagine that! Anyway, I said sometimes I forget how old I am and then I see myself in a picture and think, “Do I look that old” He said when he sees himself in the mirror he just does like the Fonz and he shook his hair. He’s so vain.
I never really considered myself vain until recently. I wear makeup and care about how my hair looks. I love new clothes and try to be stylish. Yet, I was never one to spend hours or millions on my looks. And I just didn’t think of myself as vain until I found out I had a tumor on my face that would have to be surgically removed. Even after finding out about the surgery, I (being a glass full type of gal) thought maybe it wouldn’t be that bad. But I was still not happy about having surgery on my face.
My dermatologist had told me that the surgeon would probably make an incision along the nose line so that it wouldn’t be too noticeable. I kept telling myself that and was quite unpleasantly surprised when the surgeon said, “I will probably have to make a cut up the side of the nose and across under the eye.” My husband immediately said, “That’s not what she was expecting.” The surgeon said she would try not to have to do that but that is just what she ended up doing. Evidently it was necessary.
I had the Mohs treatment which is a series of surgeries all in one day where the surgeon takes out what she can see of the tumor and some extra tissue around it. This is sent to the lab and tested while you wait. If it comes back with clear margins, they do the repair and you go home. If the margins aren’t clear, they go in and take more tissue. I had to have two excisions. Then after waiting several hours, they did the repair which I told my husband felt something like having your face quilted together. I couldn’t feel pain actually because of the too many to count injections of Lidocaine but I could feel the tugging and pressure. And I could hear them talking about pulling this piece and tugging this side. It felt like forever and it actually did take a long time. Finally they were finished and the doctor left the room. The nurse then asked if I was ready to see it. I said, “No!” I really didn’t want to see it. She insisted. I had already cried more tears that day than I wanted to, but of course I cried even more. It looked awful. .So much worse than I had imagined. She bandaged me up and we headed home. They told me to be patient too, to give it time, to give it about three months. THREE MONTHS! They said it would look better every day. And maybe it does but it is such a little improvement that this impatient gal is really struggling. So I admit I am vain and I hate this but I know that even in this there has to be a reason. I just don’t know what the reason is. So every day I pray for the Lord to help me through one more day. And every morning this glass full type of gal gets up hoping today will be the day it is so much better!
This is the day of surgery – one of the worst days of my life!
Every year, my sisters and I get together for a special gift exchange. This year we included my mom. We had the sweetest time. We met at Cracker Barrel for breakfast where we shed quite a few tears and shared lots of laughter. We spent time catching up and talking about our favorite topics – our children and grandchildren. We shared pictures and stories and consoled one another over losses. The fellowship we share is so special and rare. I am so happy that we are able to continue our tradition each year and that we will even be able to in heaven where our fellowship will be even sweeter.
Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with my daughter-in-law, Terri, and my granddaughter, Lindsey. We made Christmas gift tags and visited. It was a special time. I noticed while we were visiting that Terri had placed a small nativity figurine (Joseph, Mary and the babe) in a tiny manger on the coffee table where Lindsey could see and even touch. After a while, Lindsey went over to it and Terri said to her, “Lindsey, show Mimi which one is Joseph.” Lindsey pointed her sweet, tiny finger to Joseph. Terri repeated the process with Mary and then baby Jesus and each time Lindsey pointed to the right one. Then Lindsey picked up the figurine and hugged it. Terri said, “You love baby Jesus, don’t you?” And Lindsey nodded and kissed baby Jesus. At first, I just thought that is so cute and of course she is so smart to know those things. Then Terri told me how Lindsey would play peek-a-boo with baby Jesus by peeking through the slot in the back of the manger. We laughed about that. Later on my way home, I was thinking about the afternoon and thought about how little Lindsey at just twenty months old knew who Joseph, Mary, and especially Jesus were and that even more importantly she already knows to love Jesus and to embrace Him. How many of us are just playing peek-a-boo with Jesus instead of knowing Him and loving Him and embracing Him.
Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. Mark 10:15
Christmas day will be here before I am really ready, as usual! This year I am trying not to stress about Christmas but to instead focus on the special reason for the day and the special memories to be made. My childhood Christmas memories don’t include my mom stressing out over gifts or guests or decorations or menus. She may have been stressed, but that’s not what I remember. I remember happy times – celebrations! We didn’t receive expensive gifts and we certainly didn’t expect them. As one of six children, often a gift might be a game to share or some article of clothing or maybe one specific thing I had asked for. Honestly that was fine. I didn’t know any different, but Christmas was still a wonderful, highly anticipated day. I remember the important aspects of Christmas – traditions and family time. As an adult the best part of Christmas is the gathering of family even when all of us are crammed wall-to-wall in my parent’s home squeezing from one side of the room to the other to chat with one another. Is it crowded? You bet. Does it get loud?Absolutely. Do I care? Not a bit. I’m with my family – the people I love best in this world.
This week my parents celebrate sixty years of a marriage modeled after God’s own heart. They love each other with an enduring, selfless love. They emulated this love even while raising six children and serving the Lord in full time service. The Bible compares a man’s love for his wife with that of God’s love for the church. Because of my father’s love for my mother, I can picture how much God loves the church. My mother is an earthly example of the Proverbs 31 woman and is a wonderful example of how a wife is to love her husband and be in subjection to him. I want to thank my parents for their wonderful example and the heritage they have given their six children, seventeen grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
Today, my husband and I celebrate thirty-five years of marriage. I have shared over half of my life with him and yet it seems like only a fraction of that time has passed. Through difficulties, triumphs, losses, blessings, tragedies, and celebrations, we have stayed together and have come to share a stronger, sweeter, and even surer love than the first tender love of youth. Marriage takes lots of hard work but is worth every struggle. I’m thankful for a faithful, hardworking, loving husband.