For I know the plans I have for you...



"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future".  Jeremiah 29:11



This post has not been easy to write.  I think that often things that we feel the strongest about are hard to break down into words. I can’t appropriately articulate the feelings I’ve had in the past few weeks, but I will give it a shot.

If you’ve read my blog at all or know me outside of the social media/cyber world, you know that I am a teacher, a mommy, and a wife (among other less mentionable things).  I had an incredible summer off with my precious Ellie which included a trip to Florida with my family, Ellie, and her daddy. We had lazy days and productive days and they were good. So good. I had mixed feelings about the start of the new school year. Mostly because the end of the school year had left me questioning just how long I would continue to teach.  Last school year was my first year in my own classroom and it was also when I became a mom. I have enjoyed teaching but started to wonder if it would be my career forever. Ever since early elementary school I had a strong desire to succeed, to do well in school, and to move along to the next step. Those steps came high school, college, and on to finding a job in the real world. It took me longer than I had hoped to find my full time teaching position settling for substitute teaching in the meantime. Once I had the job though and started last year I couldn’t help but feel this internal voice saying “Now what?”. While you could certainly argue that there are ways to advance in the education field, I would counter by saying that in light of recent changes to the education structure and living where I do, any advancement would be met with financial loss and waiting. Lots and lots of waiting. Time and money for a questionable pay off. Coupled with the challenges met by all teachers today (just ask them, they’ll fill you in) I had decided that I would head in a new direction in the next couple of years and enter into the medical field via a nursing degree. I started an online pre-req class over the summer and loved being a student again. My plan was to take a couple more pre-reqs and apply in the spring for fall admission to a local nursing program. It was then that I would resign from my teaching position and take a leap of faith into a new direction. This school year could be my last if I got accepted, and if not, well I would continue to teach until I did. 

Wrong.

On July 30, our first teacher day of the new school year I was sitting in the high school auditorium listening to the superintendent’s welcome presentation when the assistant principal came down to where I was sitting. He told me that I needed to call a phone number, that it was an emergency. I remember walking up the aisle with him playing out scenarios in my head while my heart rate quickened and my hands became shaky. I wanted to believe it was a wrong number or that they had asked for me in error, but that wasn’t the case. I dialed the number successfully after typing in what I thought he had told me three times before hitting send. I was in the hallway but decided I should walk outside in case they could hear me from inside the auditorium. When the call connected the lady on the other end started by saying, “Oh honey I’m so sorry to have to call you…I’m on Harrison Street.” That’s all she had to say.

Ellie. 

You see Ellie was being cared for on Harrison Street by my beloved childhood babysitter. She and her husband had watched Ellie while I worked since she was 7 weeks old. She was my babysitter though, back in day making the connection even more special.  She was not just my babysitter but like family. A part of me and now a part of Ellie. The woman on the phone went on to say that “they were doing CPR and she wasn’t exactly sure what had happened” or least that’s what I heard her say. The world seemed to close in around me and even though I was outside I felt trapped. Incapable of moving although I was pacing on the sidewalk. I said back, “Ellie? The baby?” which was about all I could muster at that point. She quickly clarified and said “No, no the baby is fine.” Relief. A quick but real wave of relief washed over me from head to toe. But replaced by relief was panic and worry because both fortunately and unfortunately it was not Ellie, but Mary Lou that had found herself in this situation. The woman went on to say that she had Ellie outside. “Ok, good I thought and then it hit me that my baby is with a stranger. She’s probably terrified.” I ran back to my classroom, grabbed my things, and headed there. On my way I called my mom because I knew she could get there faster. As I drove, I called Brent and then I started praying. Praying that Mary Lou would be ok. Not knowing much about what had happened at that point, I assumed it was one of the usual emergency situations…heart attack…stroke...you know, the bad ones. I met the ambulance, sirens blaring, I pulled over as all the cars did ahead of me, but I knew who was inside. I felt nauseous and helpless because I was driving in the 35 mph construction zone that would not end. When I pulled on to the street my mom and dad were both already there and Ellie was fine looking over mom’s shoulder as she walked her around outside. Mary Lou’s husband was in the passenger seat of his car with a neighbor lady behind the wheel. They were heading to the hospital. Before they left though he got out and came straight me. He was crying, sobbing, saying he was so sorry. He was SORRY? Selfless. Completely selfless. They both are, Mary Lou and Donnie. He was worried about me and Ellie. Not himself. Not the situation that he was also in. I told him to go that I was fine and Ellie was fine. Before he did though he told me what happened. He said that Mary Lou was holding Ellie and turned to him and said “Take her.” Just as he did she collapsed hitting her head on the window and window sill on the way down. He laid Ellie down, tried to call 911, and then started yelling for help out the front door. A neighbor and her niece heard him and rushed over. One initiated CPR and the other took Ellie. After he left for the hospital, mom, Ellie, and I were left behind to gather up her things and straighten up the house a little. I walked around in circles as I picked up the things Ellie needed to bring with us. Mom was going to take Ellie and I was going to go back to school to finish up my classroom. As I picked up her stuff I looked around a house that held so many memories for me.  There is so much about the house that is the same way I left it years ago when I arrived at the age that a babysitter was no longer necessary.  One of those things was missing though at that moment it hit me and I broke down. Mary Lou was the same. Warm and loving but firm, consistent, and fair. Just the type of person I wanted caring for my Ellie while I couldn’t be there. But was she still here? With us? Was she going to be ok? I had no idea. I left Ellie with my mom and went back to work. On autopilot of course. I repeated the story as it had played out. Cold. Giving the facts but not showing the despair that turned inside me. I got my work done, the classroom was ready. I went to my mom’s house to pick up Ellie. When I got I there she was asleep. I looked at her and then at my mom and I said, “I can’t go back.” At that point I didn’t know what condition Mary Lou was in just that she was being airlifted to another hospital. Regardless, I knew it with my whole heart. I had to step up. I didn’t need to worry about who would care for Ellie in the days ahead. It would be me.  While this was not  the plan, I felt that God had provided me with a neon sign that I couldn’t avoid this time. He said, “Stop doing what you think you SHOULD do, and do what you WANT to do. What your heart wants.” The new plan is to be Ellie’s full-time mommy and pursue nursing when she is older and in school.  So…I resigned from the teaching position that I had prayed for and had wanted for years. I gave up the perfect job, 15 minutes from home, in a glorious classroom filled with neon colors and cute owls. The place where I worked and organized when Ellie still swirled around in my belly. The place that at one point, was my “finally” my “happy ending” to a search for a career. What I gained….well I gained everything. I gained seeing Ellie wake up from naps every day, feeding her every meal, kissing her cheeks when she cries, and seeing each milestone take place. I gained the ability to put time and energy into her, my child instead of using it up at school only to come home too tired to play with her like she deserved.  The decision was difficult, but it was right for me. Knowing that teaching would not be my lifetime career, I knew that whatever capacity Mary Lou came back or if she even would meant that she would no longer be Ellie’s caregiver. That was a hard pill to swallow. It was sad, devastating really to know that that chapter of Ellie’s life was over, but knowing I’d be the one to take over where that chapter left off made it bearable. Joyful even.

As the days went on we were greeted with good news around every turn. Miracles. As Donnie said, “Our prayers reached the throne.”  Mary Lou had suffered a heart attack and a stroke, but she is here today. She had some memory loss at first thinking I was still 13 and didn’t know Ellie at all. That was heartbreaking, but also selfish on my end. She was alive but I wanted her to know Ellie. The baby she had rocked to sleep and gave a bottle only a few days before. Eventually she did. Her memory stabilized and when we went to see her at the facility she is currently doing rehab at, she knew all of us as soon as we walked in. She talked about things as if she never missed a beat. She wanted to hold Ellie immediately and smiled when we gave her some photos of Ellie for her room. She still needs prayers and has a long road ahead. We are thrilled with the progress she’s made so far and know that God has been, is, and will be good through it all.

I appreciate all of those who have been supportive through this transition in my life. Thank you. I hope that those who question my decision get to someday experience the pure love that is the driving force behind such a choice. God's plan is greater than what I had ever imagined. Trusting in his plan and not my own. That's the new "plan".

Stay tuned, much more blogging to come! 


 Mary Lou & Ellie reunited 8/9/14

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