Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Heart Recharged

Last weekend I traveled back home.  

My heart SANG, and I felt it SMILE a million times over. 

That might sound cheesy, but there is no better way to explain it. To say these past few months have been rough is an understatement, so this trip was just the kind of therapy I needed.

It all started with a wedding invitation from a former student. My initial reaction was to consider the usual reasons why this adventure wouldn't work out, but the more I thought about all the people I would see I knew I had to go. Even though I only lived and taught in Michigan for 5 years, a huge piece of my heart will always be with those that impacted me during my time there. That being said, it had been almost 10 years since I had been back to Michigan. While technology is a blessing because it keeps people connected, there is just something so great about seeing someone special in person.

At the wedding I stepped into a photo booth for the first time.
Needless to say, we had a little bit of fun. These kids are crazy. I love'em.

So who was I so excited to see? Well, I was blessed to work with an amazing faculty and staff when I taught there, and it was so great getting to catch up with all of them. I left that teaching position 13 years ago, and while some things have obviously changed, there were many things that were the same. It was awesome to see that their love for their students and the school are just as strong now as it was then.

My heart saw and heard their gratitude, and it smiled. MLS continues to be blessed. 

I got to visit with many of the students I had over the years. I know most teachers will always refer to their students as "my students" or "my kids" even years after they taught them. Besides teaching and coaching, I was a dorm supervisor so I actually lived in the dorm with the students while there. That was an interesting experience - one I thoroughly loved.  Living in that situation creates a connection that a normal teacher or coach will never have. All those years ago I was proud of those students and felt so blessed to have them be a part of my life (hopefully the feeling was reciprocal). Fast forward to 2017, and those feelings have grown tenfold. Now to see them as "grown-ups" with careers and families was just amazing.

I feel like I taught them Shakespeare and Dickens and volleyball, 
but they gave me back so much more. I'm forever blessed. 

I saw the phenomenal families I got to know there. They could never replace my biological family, but there were several families that took me in/adopted me during my time in Michigan. As a result I have several moms, dads, brothers and sisters there. They were all such a blessing to me then, and still continue to be today.

Talk about unconditional love...I'm forever blessed. 

The cure was relatively simple. Grab a HUG and share a LAUGH (or two or a thousand) and check back in at the end of the weekend.

I've always been a hugger. I'm not sure what it is about a hug, but it fills me up. Not counting hugs from my husband and children, I received more hugs this past weekend than I have probably in the last year. Please excuse my dramatics, but there were moments when I felt emotion and words being transferred through a hug. One hug almost crushed the breath out of me, and I absolutely loved it.

And, I truly believe that laughter IS the best medicine.  Anyone who knows me knows that I love to laugh, and this weekend I did every variation and level of that. Grin? At least once an hour. Giggle? Like a little schoolgirl. Chuckle? It is the common reaction when people reminisce about a great memory...which I did on a regular basis. Guffaw? That is what erupted several times when I was literally doubled over in a laughing fit. The result? The inability to breathe due to laughing so hard. I love that feeling, and I wish it could have gone on and on....

All in all the cure was a success.

As with most reunions it wasn't all laughs and party time. There were some sad conversations and tears shed; we all have struggles in our lives. Yet every time there were tears, the reminder of our Lord's promise to us and the knowledge that HIS plan is better than ours reminded us how blessed we are for so many things. The fact that they we were sharing these things with each other portrays the closeness we feel and the love and concern that is there. What a blessing that our paths have crossed, and we are there for each other always - not just during the good times.

And, for me, being in the company of people that have been such a huge blessing to me helped me to come back recharged. It didn't erase the stress of every day life and the extra challenges that have arisen these past few months, but it did help refresh me. It added some pep to my step. It helped me find my laugh again. It helped me hit "restart" and come back with a renewed focus. It squeezed out some of the sadness and frustration in my heart and resuscitated it back to me feeling as close to "me" again as possible.  

On Monday I got back into town in time to pick up my girls from school. My youngest ran to me, I picked her up, and we hugged for a good long time. My older daughter did the same. Hugs can speak volumes, and those said just as much. For me it said "I'm home...I'm here...Mom loves you...You are a blessing to me...I thank God for you...I'm all here..."

Michigan, I'd like to thank you for an amazing weekend. It was hard to say goodbye, but I hope to see you all again soon - hopefully before another 10 years flies by. Until then, God be with you until we meet again.

Simply put...I'm recharged.

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