Being tagged in some high school era photos on Facebook recently brought back a flood of emotions for me. The photos were of this youth leadership thing I did in high school. I started in 8th grade, as select 8th graders were allowed to attend meetings at the high school and participate in this high school activity. (Boy, did I think I was special.) It was called Youth in Government and while in other states it was run by the YMCA in the city I lived in at the time, it was run by a teacher at our high school, Cary Hurt. Man, he was a fantastic teacher and advisor for Youth Leg. (with a hard "g" on the end) as we called it. I am grateful for that opportunity.
It was my first passion. I was good at it. Kind of like "debate lite" with lots of opportunites to be elected or appointed to office and lots of opportunities for public speaking. Frankly, I owned it. It played a large part in helping me see the world beyond Alabama and it's focus on floral Laura Ashley dresses (I had none, but desperately wanted them) and big hair bows (I had some of those.) A small group of the 400 or so attendees at the annual Alabama conference were selected to go to a national conference held every summer in the Blue Ridge mountains. I was fortunate enough to be selected all 4 years of high school and the best part was that the Coca-Cola Foundation provided scholarships so that all the participants had to bring was spending money. All the students from Alabama went on the bus together, and it was awesome.
I had never seen vistas like these in the Blue Ridge Mountains in southwest North Carolina. The front porch of the dormitory where the participants stayed remains one of those happy places in my memories and I'm pretty sure that those pictures will never fade in my mind. In fact, while wasting time on Facebook recently I stumbled across a random photo of the front porch of Lee Hall. My breath caught and my eyes filled with tears to see it again.
Anyway, I was tagged in these photos of the Alabama delegation of the 3 of the 4 years that I went. And I felt a pang in my heart again for the excitement of it all and worry that my girls might not have the opportunity to participate in such a program. I vowed again that some way, I would give back to this program. I'm sure that the opportunity will present itself at some time, for I feel called to do so. I won't be able to escape it, because that's how callings work.
They hunt you down and they find you.
That was the case with my calling to be a full-time stay at home mom. In retrospect, I now know that I never wanted to work full-time after I had children. And, in retrospect, it wasn't so much the state of being a full-time stay at home mom - it was more the symbolism that the decision illustrated about my life - it illustrated giving myself over to my children and family.
While I was pregnant with Beezus I started submitting proposals to be able to stay in my current job but only have to work part-time. Ultimately, they didn't want to have a part-time arrangement and I quit. I remember months of agonizing - of begging God to tell me what to do, to help me make the decision. I loved my job and I was so good at it. It was, without a doubt, a calling for me. During these months of agonizing, there were a couple clear moments that stood out to me. One of them was during a special mass that we had for all the student leaders after I had made my decision but still a couple weeks before my last day of work. At the mass, we sang a hymn called the Servant Song - the premise is that we can all be servants to each other - I sang and prayed that God would help me see how to be a "servant" to my husband and children. In that moment, I felt tremenduous clarity about my decision. I had known since before Beezus was born that it was the right thing to do, but this clarity was something more. I kept the leaflet with the song on it and folded it up and kept it in my wallet.
It stayed there for several months until one day when Beezus was about 18 months old and I was already several months pregnant with Ramona. I was letting Beezus go through my wallet to entertain herself and she came across the folded up copy of the song. She took it out, opened it up, laughed in my face, threw it to the ground, and grinned at me.
In that moment - finally in that moment, I had peace. It was as if Beezus was saying to me, "Mom, you don't need songs or prayers or worry about this. It will all be fine. All you need is me." I felt peace.
For this calling, this peace at last, and the resulting wonderfulness of the past three years, and for the privilege of raising my children and partnering/parenting with my husband, I am deeply and profoundly grateful.
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