Moving Forward after Quarantine
Back. To. School. My school starts on August 24, and in many ways, my quarantine will be over. It’s time for this teacher-librarian to dust off her faith and journey forward back into the real world. At the same time, there’s some unfinished business. Take this big ol’ blank blog space, for example. I created this area in February 2019, and… nothing. I meant to use it to share how God’s faithfulness has carried me through my journey in the past. Jesus has done hundreds of thousands of big and small things to take care of me throughout times of struggle, betrayal, worry, and doubt. The Holy Sprit has patiently guided and consoled me, and I wanted to encourage YOU with some of those stories. This was the perfect space… but I didn’t type a single letter.
A New Journey
Honestly, I still kinda want to share them with you, but to open up those closed doors, I would have to “dig into other people’s business” and explain things that have long been forgiven. That wouldn’t be right, and it’s what has held me up with my whole “faith journey” storytelling goal.
Although bits of those chapters may seep into what I do plan to share, the big details are gonna remain safely tucked away. Please know though, that I have gotten through every trial with God by my side… and that He has moved me on to better things. Thanks be to God, for real.
But, I’ve got to do SOMETHING with this space. I mean, I can’t just leave it empty as if I had no faith to tell about at all, right? So, this new part of my blog will be about a middle-aged, but young-at-heart, teacher-librarian. It will tell about the journey of a person who is happy (and nervous) to be moving forward in faith after the COVID-19 scare of 2020.
Finding My Faith for Back to School
Beginning NOW — here I am, That Library Girl, telling it to you straight — and honestly, I’ve been fretting too much about the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year! I mean, good grief! Look at my school supplies! Geesh! Nothing cute or fun for my library at all!
I’ve decided that I need to “STAHHHHHP the worrying already!!!” I’ve got my cleaning supplies, my gloves, and an assortment of masks and face shields… now I just need some gumption!
Thankfully, one nondescript Facebook post and a quiet worship service has swayed my decision toward adopting a better attitude. My Heavenly Father tends to talk me down from the edge in creative ways.
So, here’s what happened. I was flipping through Facebook and noticed this tiny pink and beige graphic. Kayse Morris (a true teacherpreneur extraordinaire) had posted a small pearl of wisdom, and it stopped my scrolling in its tracks. The quote, which I promptly saved to my camera roll, bluntly stated,
“Not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path.”
Wow! I mulled that over for awhile, and then decided it was too good to keep to myself. Searching for a stock photo to illustrate how I was feeling, I tried to figure out how to explain what these words meant to my heart. (Thank you, Deposit Photos.) Here’s my take-away.
Maybe life’s storms haven’t always come to just destroy relationships and cause pain. Maybe they were necessary to clear my path for better things to come.
Yeah. THAT’S something to think about! As I consider the journeys of my past, this quote resonates within me. Even this unusual time of coronavirus crud has served to clear out much of the clutter in my life.
So, with 35-years of educating kids behind me, I’ve decided to use this blog area to talk about a new aspect of my faith journey as a teacher-librarian. I’ll be focusing on my current phase – from post COVID-19 quarantine heading toward retirement – whether that ends up being another year, or two, or five.
Occasionally a Foot-Stomper
As my teaching years have flown by, I’ve actually gathered mostly good memories. So, despite all the fretting over school starting (and buying the world’s most boring school supplies) I’m trying to start this year with a strong, positive attitude.
Unfortunately, singing the words to It is Well with My Soul and being able to live them out with grace are two different things. Shamefully, at times, I can be a closet-crier, a woe-is-me pouter, and maybe even an occasional foot-stomper before I finally look up to see what God is trying to do for me. (Sometimes, even before I remember to be thankful for Clorox wipes, gloves, and masks.)
Help is on the Way
Take today. With perfect timing, the worship service this morning was directed straight toward my wobbly, teacher heart. As I listened to it on YouTube, floods of heading-back-to-school thoughts kept fighting for my attention.
- “What’s going to happen to the library program?
- “Will the new guidelines affect our book exchange routines, library centers, and maker space projects?”
- “Is it safe for me to still circulate books each week?”
- “Can the kids share ANY supplies or materials?”
- “How can I support the socio-emotional needs of students with vastly different quarantine experiences?”
- “Will I even have a library media budget this fall?”
- “I wonder if we should still have at least an online book fair?”
- “Are my parent volunteers still allowed to help out in the library?”
- “How will the school year start out — on campus or online?”
In my school district, our admins are definitely working on a plan. I know this is happening, but I thought, “I sure would feel better if I had a little more information… RIGHT NOW!” (Insert foot-stomp here.)
At that point, of course, worry really tried to grab a foothold. I begin to think,
- “Uh oh…should I have retired in May?”
- “I don’t really feel THAT old. Does my age really put me at risk for the coronavirus?”
- “I’m planning to wear a mask, but will I be able to breathe okay? I had that bad case of bronchitis last fall.”
- “Can I talk through a mask all day, or will I lose my voice?”
- “Will I forget and touch my dang face, and then catch a corona germ by accident?”
- “Even worse, will I inadvertantly make one of my students or family members ill?”
- “What about that precious adult child of mine, who fights an autoimmune disease every day? Will I have to stay away from him ALL year long to keep him safe from my school cooties?” “Even through the holidays?”
- “When will this be over, Lord?”
Time to Journey On
Good grief! SO MANY WORRIES. Even as these thoughts ran rampant through my teacher brain… I knew I needed to take hold and stop them. Trying to change my course of thinking, I told myself, “Well, I’m a smart woman, and I just need to be cautious. I need to get a grip and let these tight-chested, panicky feelings go. After all, I can do this! I’ve taught for 35 years, and I’ll be fine!”
Quietly, in the midst of this silent, one-sided conversation, the soft-spoken pastor catches my attention again. As he speaks, I’m reminded of WHO is waiting patiently to help me carry these school burdens.
- “Oh yeah…I remember this story. God shut the lions’ mouths for Daniel.”
- “Surely, He can help me, too. After all, don’t I remember ALL that He’s done for me over the years?”
- “There’s really no reason for me to try and handle this all alone.”
Hmm, maybe it’s just the stinking thinking that I need to retire.
As my thoughts began to calm down, a beautiful worship song, created by Bethel Music, but sung by our church worship team, made my eyes leak in relief. I’m not sure how, but the song somehow coated me with confidence and a welcome feeling of peace. When the song ended, I quickly Googled the lyrics and read them over to myself again. Afterward, my thoughts were so different.
- “I absolutely don’t have to figure everything out on my own.”
- “God already knows exactly what I should do anyway. He knows what I need.”
- “Maybe I should pray about this.”
No crying, pouting, or foot-stomping required.
Breathe In, Breathe Out
As I type this, my heart still feels better. I’m calmer and less unsettled. So much improvement, in fact, that I thought someone out there might benefit from hearing the same brief sermon and song that I enjoyed this morning. Of course, being a librarian… I know the original video is not mine to just share. (There’s copyright and all that, you know!) 🙂
So, here’s the YouTube link — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJ1fG1hGJ3I. The sermon begins right after God Bless America, and that amazing, soul-soothing song that I mentioned from above begins at 19:47. I hope the service is still linked there when you find this blog post and feel a need to reach out and listen. I hope it fills your heart with the same peaceful reaction, the confidence, and the rest that I was blessed with today.
Take care, library friends. With God’s help, it’s going to be a great year, and we’re going to make it just fine.
Here’s a snippet of the lyrics…
God, I look to You. I won’t be overwhelmed. Give me vision to see things like You do.
God I look to You, You’re where my help comes from. Give me wisdom. You know just what to do.
Artist: Bethel Music (https://bethelmusic.com/)
One more thing… as far as supporting kids’ social-emotional needs during back to school, I found a helpful article here. 🙂