Friday, August 02, 2013

The New Normal

Posing with the maternal grandfather of Phuong,Yen, Oanh, and Dat

I’m typing this somewhere on the road between Abilene, Texas and Houston. I’m with my fellow teachers returning to Westbury Christian following a two day Texas Christian School Association inservice hosted by Abilene Christian University. I’m not sure where we are but we just passed the Hamilton County Courthouse if that provides any perspective. I've been home from Vietnam ninety-six hours and I’m sleeping well but I’m not back to normal. This morning, I was reading the Sports Illustrated website and looking at yesterday’s scores and I caught myself thinking, ‘What time is it in the US?’ It hit me that I’m back in the US. Then at breakfast in the motel, as I sat with Kenneth Okwuono, my trip roommate, I was enjoying a blueberry smoothie. Kenneth very kindly informed me I was drinking a cup of waffle batter. I did think it tasted on the doughy side.

My timing of the last five missions I've taken, all to China and Vietnam, coincides with the beginning of inservice which is much earlier than when my teaching career began. The school has been gracious and has let me miss some days of inservice when needed. When you buy international tickets, you really deal with availability, even making reservations four months in advance as I usually do. I could get back earlier but it would make my trip shorter. I can't go in June because of basketball camps and every other summer we have a 4th of July Chesshir family reunion. I don't leave myself recovery time but it's OK- I need to return to the part of my life that's most familiar.

In the presidential campaign of 1920, Warren G. Harding ran for the White House with the slogan a return to normalcy. The US was only two years removed from World War I and even then, folks were longing for the good old days. Part of me when I come home wants the comfort of my routine, the part of my life where I feel at ease. But I found myself thinking as I was riding down the back roads of Vietnam on the back of a scooter that my life was somewhat boring before I went on my first mission trip to Honduras in 1998. It was a wonderful life but there was something missing and I didn't yet know it. Here, I'm not even speaking of the spiritual aspect of the trips which is the reason for their existence. I just found out that there is so much of the world I never dreamed of growing up in small town Nebraska and that walking down the streets and alleys of these exotic places would change my perspective and make me a better teacher. Honestly, I need to be kicked at times to stretch myself and it took a big boot for me. Each year, I have my students memorize Ephesians chapter 2 and verse 10:
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do."
Maybe for most of my life I missed the opportunity of those good works by making sure I didn't stray too far from home. Over the years, I've come to redefine the word normal. Definitions in our language can be fluid. So, too, can be the boundaries of our lives.

Applicable quote of the day:“I didn't want normal until I didn't have it anymore”
Maggie Stiefvater

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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