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vialschemistryI was a bit on edge already, and my class just started! I just couldn’t handle being exposed to the poison. I had a couple of weeks to prepare myself for what was to come and thought I was ready for anything that would be thrown at me. I got sideswiped by a poison that had nothing to do with chemistry, and it had the potential to knock me off my feet. I couldn’t get away from it, and the longer I was exposed, the more damage it was doing to me. I knew I had to do something.


My summer college class started last week, and I saw firsthand the impact the poison of negativity can have on a group of people. There are about 25 of us in the class, and there was one person who continually spewed forth negativity about everything. With her untamable tongue, she interrupted the professor with rude commentary, and on our lunch break, she complained about the college’s academic advisors, our younger classmates, the lab activities, the long school day, the short lunch break, her parents, her job, the weather, and on and on.

She had a chip on her shoulder about everything. The world was conspiring against her, apparently. She talked like a victim that had no control of anything in her life, and she oozed negativity with every breath. It didn’t take long to see that no one wanted to be around her. We were all being infected.

Poison, in any form, is insidious. Sometimes it tastes sweet and goes down fine, only to cause problems later. Other times, the poison has a bitter taste, and even a small exposure causes immediate damage. This was the latter, and everyone knew it.

perseverancerockI’m sitting here on a beautiful spring day making flash cards to study for my final math exam, and my eyes are welling up as I think about how the Lord has helped me, and how far He has brought me. In just a few days, I will wrap up my first year of college—25 years after finishing high school. It’s a huge milestone for me. I didn’t think I’d even be alive to graduate high school, let alone attend college. But, here I am.

When I was in junior and senior high school, I struggled with life, and I made a lot of bad decisions. I was lost and hurting. When things got hard and the going got tough—at home, school, or in relationships, my default response was to high-tail it out of there. I skipped school, and I ran away from home. Drugs and drinking became my escape. Every time there was a problem, my coping skills involved running away, masking the pain, violence, and ‘looking for love in all the wrong places.’ At that time, I was so depressed, I didn’t care if I lived or died.

“Any temptation you face will be nothing new. But God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can handle. But He always provides a way of escape so that you will be able to endure and keep moving forward.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Then, my now husband, Jon, came into my life, and I started to get glimpses of what a better life could be like. I started to have hope for my future. I started putting in the effort, but I still had undeveloped skills in so many areas. Jon supported and encouraged me to press forward and not give up. 

I applied myself, and with Jon’s help, I became the first person in my family to graduate from high school. 

This was a massive accomplishment for me. It chokes me up sometimes when I think about how special it was to wear a cap and gown, walk with my class, and get handed my diploma on graduation day.

Then, I became a mom right out of high school and worked as a nursing assistant in a nursing home for a couple years. It was there that I realized how much I loved spending time with the elderly and taking care of them. I couldn’t get enough of hearing their stories. Helping them with their most basic needs and helping them feel loved and valued felt like an important role, especially seeing how many people didn’t have any friends or family visiting them.

crosses threeI looked out into the back yard and saw the small pond forming in the depression of the lawn. “Well that’s a new record,” I thought. There have been small amounts of standing water as the snow melts in seasons past, but this spring was showing me something new. The frozen ground, warm weather, and melting snow were conspiring to put me a foot under water. Thankfully, the “pond” was far enough away from the house to not cause any issues, and it sure was pretty to see. Over the next week, it froze again, but eventually, it drained and was gone.

The winter here in Minnesota was pretty mild, and the transition into spring was different from the other thirteen years we have been at our current house. I was reminded of how the seasons in nature mirror the seasons of our lives. The natural, predictable changes and rhythms of nature are emulated in our lives. Even though the changes of those seasons can be seen in advance, there are still storms and surprises that are present in every season. Fall brings the cool, dry weather, while winter brings the snow and cold. Spring, the wind and rains. And when a storm hits, it inevitably ushers in change with it. It forces you to adapt and adjust to the new situation, and while the storm is raging, you must shore up the foundations of your life and exercise your faith to get through.

I thought of the season of life I am currently in, and how I have to adjust to changing realities. Here are a few of those changes. My wife, Julie, and I are expecting our first grandchild. I lost a couple of close friends at work, and I am starting over with a new team. My wife is going back to school, and now because of that, we have changing responsibilities at home. Our youngest child could be moving out at any time, and we would become “empty nesters”. My aging father is 86 and living alone. Spending more time with him is a priority.

Then, there are the changes in world situations, and the rising conflict and polarization of people over just about every conceivable subject. One day you’re on the right side of popular sentiment, and the next, you are on the wrong side. Sometimes perceived dangers are more dangerous than real ones.

As we get closer to Easter, I have been thinking about how Jesus navigated the world in which He lived. I think about the monumental change that was about to happen, and as it approached, what did He do?


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