'Thank You' is the best prayer that anyone
could say. I say that one alot. Thank You expresses extreme gratitude, humility, and understanding."
- Alice Walker- Author of the Color Purple
It was a complete surprise. Not the usual moment of "It took me off guard because something happened and I didn't quite expect it" sort of feeling. No, I mean the "Oh my goodness! This took my breath away and changed my heart forever" kind of event.
Let me explain. Since I'm not teaching summer school at the college where I work, I occasionally call in and check the messages on my voicemail there. Usually not anything out of the ordinary. It's a moment to get the pen and paper and write down the numbers of those folks I need to call back. Just routine.
This time, not so. There were three messages and the first two were fairly standard. I jotted down the information and the action I needed to take. However the third message took my breath away.
I immediately recognized the voice, a student from waaaaay back, perhaps ten plus years. While I love all of my students and am grateful for all of them, some students I just "click" with. They are so happy to be in my class and so eager to soak up everything I have to offer that they become unforgettable. They have etched themselves into a part of my heart. This was one of those students.
This voice from the past came from a young man I had made a huge investment in. He knew where he was going and since I teach Communication Studies classes, he realized that he needed everything I had to offer. His dream was to become a nurse, work in a hospital, and eventually become an ER nurse. He married the love of his life and I heard about her all the time. He struggled a bit with being overweight and since I teach effective goal setting he paid attention to how this might apply to his life. I asked him, as I ask all of my students, "How good do you want your life to be? It's time to get "all in" with your own life and become your best self. It's time to wake up. This is not a dress rehearsal. You only have one today. This day will never be here again. Live it as if it was your last day on earth." And when I say those words to my students as they leave my classes, I usually cannot contain the tears. I mean every word when I tell them that I will ALWAYS be their teacher. Always be there for them.
And then the class is over, they leave, and many don't stay in touch.
That's why this phone call, ten years later, shook me to the core. I recognized his voice when he said, "You may not remember me (and gave his name) but I was in your class almost ten years ago. I wanted to call you and update you about my life. And I want to say "Thank You!" for everything you taught me.
Sidenote: He got me at "Thank you!" At this point I am holding back sobs so as to hear the message.
In short, he became a nurse, worked in several hospitals and now just achieved his dream of becoming an ER nurse. He told me how communication was everything when it came to good nursing and how he utilized daily everything I had taught him. He also mentioned the goal setting unit in my Interpersonal class and how he used those skills to lose 60 lbs and his wife had lost 70. He wondered if he might take me out for coffee, to catch up and say 'thanks.'
I cannot even keep from having tears stream down my face as I type this blog post. I can hear his "thank you" in my heart. His 'Thank You!" touched me to the core. His gratitude gave new life to my attitude. He probably has no idea how his 'thanks' restored my soul.
I am not the same because he took the time to say "Thank You!"
Not a quick obligatory "Thanks!" but a heart-felt, here's what you mean to me "Thanks!"
A life-giving "thanks!"...a keep-on-going "thanks!" A you really did make a difference expression of gratitude.
I was so taken off guard, so not expecting this that my heart was completely wide-open so I could receive it. It was a balm for my soul and it reminded me to do the same. To take the time to open my heart to those who have touched it with so much grace.
So today, it is my turn. I want to say "thanks!"While I am so grateful to so many, here are just a few expressions of gratitude that may be long overdue:
1) To my cherished husband, my Bert. Thank you for loving me so well, for so long. You are my hero every day. You are the one I turn to to share my greatest joys and my deepest hurts and fears. You are the love of my life and I can't imagine one day without you.
2) To my precious daughters Jessi and Amy. Do you have any idea how much you mean to me?
Everyday you are on my heart, in my thoughts, and the focus of my prayers. When God brought you to me, you were my greatest gifts. I love you both so, so much! I love you just as you are, God's unique and precious daughters. Thank you for loving me, as imperfect as I am and for sharing your lives and families with Boppa and me.
And Jess, if you are reading this, thanks for all of your thank you cards and expressions of true gratitude. They mean the world to me. Thank you for the time and care you are putting into our relationship and for your prayers. I love you sweetie! And Aim, if you are reading this, I am so grateful for your fresh start, so grateful for your new home :) :) and beyond grateful for your example of courage and trust in Him! Thanks for loving me, just as I am. I love you both to the moon and back!
3) To my cherished grandchildren, near and far, I am so grateful for all of you. You are my angels, as Boppa likes to call you. To Sihin, Jacob, Emma, Jenna and Owen, who live in Spokane, you bring light to my life every time I see you! It was so fun to go school shopping with you yesterday Sihin, Jacob and Em. Seeing each of you with your Target carts, filling your school check lists and pouring notebooks, and paper and pencils into them...well it made my day! As Boppa said, "Nans, you'll remember that forever!" And he's right! Thank you to all three of you for expressing such genuine gratitude for our time together. Yesterday was the best of what it means to be your Nana!
4) To my dear church family, thank you for loving me, pouring blessings on me with your prayers, and for welcoming me with open arms. Thank you for showing me God's love and for being there when Bert was so sick and in the hospital. You are the hands and heart of Jesus made real by your love.
5) To my precious blogging friends, Vicky and Peggy, it is no accident that we found each other. I know in my heart-of-hearts that God found a way for us to become friends. Your caring and love and comments mean the world to me.
6) To all of my precious students who might be reading this, I am so, so grateful for each one of you. It is an honor to have been your teacher!
7) To my precious life-long and soul-connection "sisters"- Linny, Sarah, Sharon, Eileen,
Deby, Colleen, Roberta and others...where would I ever be without you? As I travel this week to Cannon Beach for a yearly retreat with Sharon, I am reminded that "girlfriends" make so much difference. I adore you all and am so rich because of your love and support. Thank you for being in my life.
8) To the firefighters in Spokane County, who have fought endless fires during this awful season of forest fires all over Eastern Washington where we live, thank you for putting your lives on the line for all of us. I'm especially thankful and touched that you raised money, and gave your own money, to buy Amber, an 8 year old Spokane girl, an air-conditioning unit. Amber was having heat-induced seizures and you took action to help her out. You are a reminder that there are so many good people out there who are unselfish and loving. You have touched our whole city by your generosity of spirit!
9) To the exhausted Avista Utility workers who tried to restore power to my daughter's home, who sent out a special worker, Erik, so she'd have power after those trees fell in her yard during our latest storm, I am so grateful to all of you. You are all working around the clock to restore power after two huge storms. You are a treasure and our whole city and county is grateful for your help and dedication. "Thanks!" from one grateful Nana.
10) To people from all over who have read this blog, folks from Australia, Canada, the Ukraine, Japan, India, Spain, and so many other countries, along with all over the US, I am so blessed by your presence here. A warm HELLO! to all of you! Thank you for reading the words from my heart. I am honored you look in and share in my life lessons. I would love to know you better, so please feel free to comment. I am grateful and want you to know that your presence means the world to me.
11) And to Martha from Kansas...your comment yesterday touched my heart. Thank you for saying "thank you!" Your comment and my student's voicemail were the impetus for this blog post.
12) And above all, I am grateful that God loves me and never leaves me. He is my fortress and my strength. He is the healer of my soul. I am blessed beyond measure because He loves me.
So today, my heart is full and I am grateful beyond words. As I head out tomorrow morning for my yearly ocean retreat with my dear friend, Sharon, I know God has a great deal in store. We are headed to the Cannon Beach Christian Conference Center and will be there for seven days, soaking in all of His glory!
God Bless! Live every day as if it was your last!
Much Love and Gratitude,
"We are all just walking each other home." ...