*It has been extremely difficult for me to write after finishing my thesis; I’m always wanting to use APA citations, and my creativity seems to have flown the coop. This is a long, tedious effort to get back in the swing of things.
And the LORD God said to Steven: “Take thy wife, thy puppy, and all thy belongings and head west to the land I will show thee.” (Severance, Colorado)
Did Sarah kick and scream when Abraham said, “let’s go”? Well. . . I did. I was as mad as a wet hen. Tulsa was my home. Family, friends, colleagues=history. Comfort. And a touch of complacency. Just a touch. Really.
Everyone kept telling me how great it was—you know—Colorado—mountains—skiing—hiking—fresh air.
As for skiing—Tried it when I was in my 20’s; gave it up for Lent.
However, I do love mountains, so after I quit kicking (silent screaming continued for a while) and accepted the inevitable, I laid down some ground rules for Steve and God:
1. I must have a house west of I-25
2. I must have a mountain view
3. NO TRACT HOMES!
4. No linoleum must ever touch my feet.
5. No builder’s grade carpet (I would not give up my 50-year-old hardwood floors for tacky carpet).
6. No split-level or two-story homes need apply.
Yes, yes. . . I know. I’m blessed to have a home. I sound so materialistic. In the words of Idina Menzel–“Let it go!”
Then I met our realtor, Scott, and he showed me a total of five houses within our price range. That was it. I’d scheduled three days for looking at houses and only needed one. Seems the oil and gas boom in northern Colorado meant more folks moving in and fewer houses available. Prices went up and up and up and bidding wars ensued.
Lesson: Don’t lay down ground rules.
1. The only houses west of I-25 in Ft. Collins within our price range were split-level, dingy basement, one-and-a-half bathrooms, no-closet-space homes.
2. Mountain views were 50K extra.
3. Tract homes east of I-25 were more affordable.
4. Only two houses were available that wouldn’t require massive renovation and cleaning. One backed to a busy road in Greeley (where the wind wafts the scent of meat processing plants through the town). The other was clean. Good location. Nice quiet neighborhood. A two-story with finished basement. Great storage. Clean. Horrible builder’s-grade carpet. Linoleum in kitchen and bathrooms and 3’ x 4’ square entryway. No mountain view. BUT an incredible garden in the backyard and three full bathrooms. Great sized master.
We bought it the second one.
Steve moved out first. He started work at a church in September. I stayed behind to sell the house, pack, and finish my master’s thesis. The house sold in 12 days, so I moved in with my parents to finish writing my thesis and moved out in November.
I learned so much during the time with my folks. Certainly researching the effect of optional single-sex classrooms for boys
struggling with literacy was an eye-opener and a very difficult research topic (one I’d chose for myself—no excuses!); however, the real growth came from just being around my parents and watching Christ in action through their lives. Blessed.
More Reality: Identity Crisis
I’m a teacher. It’s my identity. My teaching consumed me—about 60-70 hours a week (to the chagrin of my hubby). Teaching provided me with wonderful colleagues, terrific students, and an outlet for my creativity. Every week I’d look over lesson plans, re-work them, integrate some newer ideas, and grade papers. My reward? The appreciation of my students and their parents. It was never monetary. It was, however, a source of pride. I wanted to be an exceptional teacher. I loved having a great reputation. It sounds so conceited, but it’s brutally true—I valued my reputation and identity as an exceptional teacher.
Vanity, vanity. Poof. It’s gone.
Now I’m unknown. I apply and apply for adjunct teaching positions, but I don’t know anyone who knows someone. No connections.
And I miss my daughter and my parents and being only 3 ½ hours from my grandson.
But I’d become complacent. I see it now. It’s Windex clear to me now.
My complacency looked like this:
- I figured that once I finished my master’s degree, someone would hire me based on my recommendations, reputation, and connections to wonderful teachers.
- I figured I’d eventually find the right church and get involved.
- I figured I’d start feeling stronger and be able to bike and lose weight and get healthy (I had to quit teaching for a year due to major arthritis issues and need for disk fusion surgery—worked on master’s while recovering).
- I figured I’d start having weekly dinners with my parentals and with my daughter and her hubby.
I figured a lot of things, but didn’t take action on any.
And then God said, “Enough already.” Maybe. Who knows what God is saying in the heavenly realms concerning his millions of children?
Now I’m living east of I-25, have no mountain view, walk regularly on linoleum and builder’s grade carpet. AND I’m at peace.
Severance, Colorado is on the eastern plains. When the wind sweeps down from the north, we get a nice whiff of a giant sheep ranch. The tiny town’s motto: “Where the geese fly, and the bulls cry.” The geese I get. The bulls weeping? Ah. Interesting story. Bruce’s Bar in Severance (an authentic “hole in the wall”) is famous for Rocky Mountain oysters—thus the bull’s cry. Ouch.
When isolated from friends and family and familiar places, you can keep kicking and screaming (I did), get really depressed (I did), or learn to trust your heavenly Father (I’m trying).
I began to live in God’s Word. I meditated on it day and night. I found a Bible study class in Ft. Collins. The ladies are precious and the study consumes much of my time. I found a church—Mountain View Community Church. Stevie and I love it. We are getting involved, and I am the volunteer print woman. I am now running bulletins, printing whatever needs to be printed. Using the folding machine. Stuff I learned to do as a graphic designer for South Tulsa Baptist Church in Tulsa eight years ago. I am trying to be useful while I look for a teaching position with a local community college or university.
I have no idea what is going to pan out for my future. None. I’m learning to walk by faith and not by sight—and it’s stinkin’ hard for a control freak like me.
What I know: God is the source of my strength. It doesn’t matter whether I “know someone” or have “connections”—He is my connection.
On the front of my Bible study notebook I have inserted a printed page that reads:
“If I do not stand firm in my faith, I will not stand at all.” It’s from Isaiah 7:96.
I recite it several times a day. It’s still lonely and isolated. I don’t have any friends yet—just some acquaintances. But God is my anchor and He holds me steady against this changing and sometimes overwhelming tide of change.