Joy and Appreciation

IMG_6656 - Version 2Last night was our Staff Appreciation Dinner at Morrison Academy Taichung. Every year the board graciously treats the entire staff (teachers, maintenance workers, principals, administrative assistants, tech guys, cleaning people, cooking staff, etc.) to a formal dinner party. It’s the one time of year that you’ll see all Morrison personnel dressed in their finest, and it’s a very festive event. After the meal, there is a time to recognize people who have served for 5, 10, 15, 20… years in the school system as well as a time to honor and say goodbye to those who are leaving at the end of the year.

Attending the dinner tonight brought several thoughts to the forefront of my mind, and I’d like to share them with you. They don’t necessarily fit nicely together, but reflections on an event or a season in life often don’t. Here we go…

Acknowledging the Victory

It was definitely a victory for me to make it to and through the dinner. I was panicked, and I had to rely on some anti-anxiety meds to help me cope. I haven’t been with that many people since I started having anxiety and depression; not only was it a crowd, but it was a crowd of people whom I know and many of whom wanted to chat with me. My first thought upon entering the dining hall was to slip right back into the elevator and head down to the parking garage. BUT (with my caring husband by my side) I stayed, I survived, and I even had some fun. It was refreshing to see people, and my friend Missy especially helped me to cope by saving me a seat (near the door!) and sticking with me through the evening. As I mentioned in a previous post, it’s important for me to mark the challenges and victories as I heal, so let me state two very specific praises: 1) I made it through the dinner without needing to leave, and 2) I saw lots of friends there, which indicates that our community at Morrison is growing and Charles and I do have friends and support (something that dawned on me as I reflected this morning).

With friends Missy (left) and Susan (right).

Five Years and Counting

This was my fifth year teaching in the Morrison system (even though I switched campuses). Although I got sick and didn’t complete this year of teaching, I was still recognized for five years of service. I received a beautiful Cross pen with my name and years of service inscribed on it and also a monetary bonus. I am blessed to have worked at this wonderful school for five years, but it is difficult for me to believe that it’s been that long! Furthermore, this is my ninth year teaching…and this from the girl who didn’t intend to teach at all. God has been so faithful to provide me with a good, meaningful, purposeful career through which I have the opportunity to touch lives.  I am so thankful for Morrison and for the job I get to do. I’ve long wanted to write a post about teaching because I know I haven’t shared enough about it on the blog; now isn’t the best time, but I promise I will write about my life as an educator when the timing is right. For now, just know that I am grateful for this community and the opportunity to teach at Morrison Academy.

Joy in the Journey

Our school theme this year was “Journey to Joy” which has been an admittedly difficult theme to live out as I’ve struggled through this season of depression. At the dinner last night, one of the board members shared about that journey to joy and what it means to have joy even in the midst of sorrow. (I might have shed a few tears as she talked and as I reflected on my school year). We were then asked to take one of the rocks from our table and write a word or the name of a person or a Scripture verse to help us remember how God was faithful to give us joy this past year and also as a reminder to seek joy everyday. You can see my rock below. As I’ve mentioned before, Psalm 42:5 is meaningful to me because the Psalmist praises God even in the midst of trouble, and that is such a good example of what I should do. That’s what I’ve had to learn to do this year, and it has not been an easy lesson.

IMG_6663A friend recently let me borrow her copy of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are (you can find it here on Amazon). I’ve seen and heard about the book before, but I thought it seemed a little overly-sentimental and maybe a little too flowery-thankful for me. If I had read it when I first heard about it, it might have fit my expectations! But in my season of grief and depression, of trying to pull myself out of the pit, it was an excellent lesson on how thankfulness (eucharisteo) comes before the miracle, and how counting the gifts God gives allows us to change our focus from grief to blessing.

God is kind enough to teach me lessons again and again until I can really start to believe them and put them into practice. This school theme of joy mixed with other reminders to be thankful in times of sorrow is one of those lessons that I’ve gotten from all different angles. I’m thankful that God knows I’m a slow learner.

Final Thoughts

Maybe this blog post seems disjointed to you, and I guess it is a little of that. Remember that I write for my own pleasure (and therapy!) as much as I write for the sake of others. I hope that through my words you’re able to catch of glimpse of the special way God uses ordinary events, books, friends, jobs, etc. to speak truth into our lives. I certainly haven’t missed it.

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