Monday, December 1, 2008

Living Life as it Comes

Dear Family and Friends,

I'm sitting in the Chicago O'Hare Airport and snow is falling quickly enough that the sky is a mix of gray and white that I've only seen during a Midwest winter storm. My flight is delayed, which means I'll be missing more classes than I originally intended, but I can't really complain – I love to meet new people no matter what the occasion... and I still haven't written this letter.

Imagine the scene. Half a dozen children racing around the house at top speed, turning sharp corners faster than seems possible. Regular intervals of alternating screams and laughter echoing through the halls. Multiple parts of the same piano pieces played over and over again. Preparing food, eating, cleaning up the messes... and preparing food again. And the rare quiet moment when family members stop and talk. To an outsider, it may resemble barely controlled chaos... but to me, it's home. I had the opportunity to go home for Thanksgiving this year and I loved every minute of it. From the 10 hours spent in the Salt Lake Airport trying to fly standby to the hours we are spending waiting for our plane to be de-iced, life takes its twists and turns and I am happy.

We found a little store this week called Nuts 2 You. We were driving home Wednesday evening, with kids screaming in the back seat, and I saw a huge sign that read, “NUTS.” I pointed it out and we decided to go. We walked into the little shop and I fell in love. The walls were lined with bins of loose nuts, dried fruit, candy, and other items, and the manager greeted us with a thickly accented, “Hello sweetie, are you finding everything?” We browsed the shelves and learned she was diabetic (hence why she couldn't suggest a favorite candy... and also why there was a large sugar-free section of the store) and from the Ukraine. We were the only people in the store who didn't speak her foreign tongue (wither Russian or Ukrainian - I couldn't tell which)... which made reading labels nearly impossible. We found some great deals on dried fruit and dried tomatoes, but as we checked out she motioned to me to follow her into the back section of the store with a grocery bag. She proceeded to dump a whole box (10 pounds!) of Russian Marmalade into the bag, smiled at me, then grabbed a few boxes of chocolates and placed them in my arms. When I realized what she was doing, I was somewhat taken aback – the last time a storekeeper had just given me boxes of food was on my mission.

I only have a few weeks of school left before finals... and then I begin teaching physics at Riverton High School. At some points, I feel incredibly excited to be out teaching... making a difference in the lives of students... helping them to gain a love of the natural world. And other times, I wonder if I will ever be able to put into action the ideals I've carried with me all these years. Can I really be an incredible teacher? Can I communicate and instill a love of learning for my students? Or will I end up using the same old ineffective teaching tools that I learned in my worst nightmares of classrooms?

Finally. 4 hours after our initial departure time, the plane has taken off. What began as a crew delay turned into waiting in line for hours for de-icing and then into a taxi all the way around the airport when our scheduled runway was closed for snow removal. But we're safely flying now, and there were no problems with the landing gear or flocks of geese getting caught in the turbines (some of my past experiences with flying). And I've had a great conversation with a woman sitting next to me.

I think the message the Lord is trying to teach me this week is to live life as it comes. I love to make plans for life – to think that I know what I'm going to be doing in 10 years or 2 years or 2 weeks – but it's rarely true... and that's ok. Life doesn't need to go as planned from our perspective to go right from His. We never planned to find that nut store, I originally planned to be a Horticulture / Music Dance Theater major, and I know my flight was supposed to leave at 7:25. But as I look back on my life, I can see how the spontaneity of the Lord's plans have often been right on time... even when they may have destroyed my prior plans. We make a quick left turn into a shopping center and find my siblings' new “favorite store.” I realize a love for teaching and dedicate my life to the profession. And long hours give me time to reflect on the things I've learned at the hand of the Lord these last few days. Looking to the future, with plans of graduate school and a career sparkling in my mind, I wonder why lays in store. I guess the right answer would be this: whatever happens, if I look to the Lord for my strength, it will all be for my good.

Life has an endless supply of impromptu bumps for each of us. Some are trite, like being delayed a few hours in the airport or losing a set of car keys... but others can tear our world apart as we know it. The lesson I am learning is this: even when life doesn't go as planned, it is going according to His Plan. The Lord is with us – cheering when we succeed and mourning with us when life is hard. He knows our fears, our hopes, our dreams, and everything we need in order to be ultimately happy – after all is said and done... and He loves us enough to send the blessings and trials necessary to make that possible. I know that He loves us and is with us. There will always be reasons to smile and give thanks, whether you are delayed in a snow-covered airport or praying at your bedside. James 5:11 – Behold, we count them happy which endure... Give the Lord your burdens, and share the gift He has given you... Be of good cheer. I have overcome the world. Go out and be missionaries!

I love you all!


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