It’s been busy here on the farm since the middle of May. Some fun things and some wins, but a lot of hard things as well. I admit, when I realized I’d put out fifty books (I hadn’t been counting and had no idea) it felt like a huge accomplishment. It also put me in a reflective mood, since I was feeling kind of run down and tired.
So, even though there’s been a lot going on, I don’t really have a farm story today. Rather, I wanted to talk a little about a friend I had.
Back in 7th grade I had a teacher who was known as being pretty tough. She taught math and algebra and, while I did well in her classes, I think she liked me because she also coached track.
Now, I need to say that I went to a small school, so to be the fastest runner in our school wasn’t that big of a deal in the broader scope of things. But I could beat all the boys (lol) and someone talked me into going out for the elementary track program.
So, yeah, fourth, fifth and sixth graders running track is not a big draw, but I did it because if you made it to states, you got a free ticket to Hersheypark and I am all about the coasters. ; ) I also knew, even though we didn’t have much, my parents would not let my ticket go to waste. (And I was right about that. : )
In the four years I participated, I got four free tickets.
Now, this teacher was tough in the classroom – I had her three years and honestly loved her – and tough on the track as well.
I suppose I’ve mentioned my all-or-nothing personality, and while I really didn’t enjoy running (I was a sprinter) and still don’t ; ), I was pretty serious about it. (I had long, waist-length hair and I remember having a conversation with my mom about an article I’d read about how long hair slowed a sprinter’s speed by like .5% or something. So I got my hair cut. lol)
Anyway, in 7th grade this teacher was my homeroom teacher and about the middle of the year, she came up to me as we were sitting in homeroom.
I know some of you will commiserate with me – I was extremely shy, hated attention and absolutely did not talk to teachers, especially this one. Although I had friends, (I’m not sure how that happened, lol) school was torture.
I guess I’m just not that smart, though, because I never thought of skipping or pretending to be sick. In fact, I had perfect attendance almost every year (except one where I got such a bad, painful sunburn on my legs along with a fever that my parents made me stay home, although I did put jeans on and went and did the evening milking).
To have this teacher walk up to me was petrifying and to have all the kids in homeroom staring at me as she talked to me was even worse. lol
I’m not sure why this teacher choose me, other than she knew me from coaching track and knew if she asked me to do something I’d die trying.
She said there was a new student coming to homeroom the next day and she wanted to know if I would be a friend to her and show her around.
Goodness, I’m sure there were days I went to school and didn’t say a word the entire time I was there. And this teacher wanted me to talk to a stranger?
But I was raised that we didn’t say no when adults asked us to do something and we did it to the best of our ability, so I nodded my head and spent the next twenty-four hours in a state of extreme anxiety because I was going to have to actually talk to someone the next day. (I don’t remember, but I could totally see myself spending the evening researching “conversation starters for seventh grade strangers” and going to school the next day with a list in my pocket of things I could say. I was such a nerd. : )
Well, the girl came and turned out to be really nice. She put up with me, anyway, we had a lot of stuff in common and we became best friends. (And it had nothing to do with her dad owning the local Dairy Treat, I promise. ; )
I mentioned earlier that we’ve had some hard things happening here on the farm, some heartbreak and I’ve been tired and worn out.
When I realized I’d published fifty books, it was exciting, but it also made me stop and contemplate.
It’s easy to get focused on the things that are hard and the struggle in front of us and forget that there’s more. That life isn’t just about today and the here and now. That today soon becomes yesterday then last year then our life and every choice we make and everything we do today shapes the person we’ll be when we look back and see how far we’ve come.
Also, it’s never too late to change direction and take the first steps toward becoming the person you want to be rather than the one you are.
As I was thinking I remembered this friend and a gift she had given me that I kept for years – and still have in Pennsylvania. It was just a little card with a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier on it that will be familiar to many of you, although it was new to me back then. I memorized the poem (total nerd, sorry) and always think of this Bible verse to go along with it: And let us not be weary in well-doing, for in due season, we shall reap, if we faint not.
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is strange with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns
And many a failure comes about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell just how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.