The Reward for Surviving Rough Seas

The Reward for Surviving Rough Seas
We are all like sea shells tossed about in rough waters and being re-shaped in wondrous ways. But have you ever contemplated the notion that sea shells have to complete their journey through the rough waters before they get to rest on the shore? Yeah, we are ALL like sea shells and Heaven is The Great Shore.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Student E and Afghanistan

Greetings Everyone,
Today I get to tell you about a former student of mine with whom I am still in active communication.

Maybe I can "word-paint" a picture of her for you:

She is a light skinned, dark haired, beautiful Hispanic female with a flawless complexion.

She has an athletes body, not an ounce of fat on her.

And she "connects the dots" very quickly, meaning that not only is she intelligent, but she is astute as well.

She has gentle waves in her hair and wears it in a classy style not quite shoulder length.

She has a great smile.

I will call her Student E.

She calls me Momma.

No she is not my child, but I have seen her through a few things.

No she is not my child, but still I am very proud of her.

I can tell you exactly where she used to sit in my classroom and if I close my eyes, I can still see her sitting there.

And I can tell you that I fed her when she had no food to eat and no money to buy any.

It's been several years since she graduated from high school.

She is currently stationed in Hawaii and in January will ship out to Afghanistan with a MEDEVAC team.

How do I know this?
Like I said, we are in communication.

We email, and visit by phone.

She has become a full fledged grown up woman.

And she has fought her way to the top of her chosen profession.

When she first contemplated going into the military, she would come back to my classroom during lunch to sit and talk about her options.

When she went off to basic training, she stayed in contact with me...though her ability to do so was limited.

Through every step, whenever she has gotten "Leave" she comes back to town, sees her REAL family, and then finds a way to see Momma Grace.

She has been calling me Momma for many years now.

I never told her to go into the military.
I never told her NOT to go into the military.

I just helped her itemize her list of Pro's & Con's on the issue.
There were many factors to consider.

She made her own decision on the matter though.

Much to the consternation of some of her family.

She loves her family and she respects her family.

But there was a disconnect there as well.

The cause of the disconnect is fairly simple to diagnose: She is a female.

And unfortunately in Hispanic Culture, sometimes (not always, but sometimes), daughters are not as highly valued as sons.

This was one of those times...

...which has something to do with why she calls me Momma.

We connected.

By Law, Teachers become "In Loco Parentis" (Latin Phrase meaning: In The Place of a Parent) when kids are with us at school.

We are to protect them just as if they were our own.

We know that we are NOT their actual parents, but we are supposed to BE THERE FOR THE STUDENT to watch over, protect and guide them so that they are not harmed.

In this case, my "In Loco Parentis" duties turned out to be bigger than I ever dreamed.

She did NOT get guidance from home about this decision.
There were great difficulties at home.

And school was the secure harbor.

As I said, she has a brilliant mind and she excelled academically.

But culturally, she did not fit "The Mold" that her parents had in mind for her.

She did not want marriage right after high school.

She did not want to be cooking, cleaning, and chasing babies around the house before she reached her 20's.

She wanted something else.

It's not that she didn't want to be married eventually.
It's not that she didn't want children eventually.

But first, she needed to prove herself.

She needed to break out of the cultural mold her family had in mind for her.

She wanted to be In Medicine, but had NO financial ability to go to College.

Her Father lost his job and the small amount of money available would not cover her college.

Because her family was in financial straits she got a job.

She paid for EVERY NEED she had: her food, her clothes, her car, her gas, her insurance, her phone and all the costs associated with Senior Year.

She covered EVERY expense she needed to cover during the last two years she lived at home.

But working came with a cost that she could NOT cover.

Because she had to work the last two years of high school her grades suffered. (She worked 40 hours a week...astonishing huh!)

Because the grades suffered the scholarship opportunities dried up.

No scholarships meant no college. 

Her parents forbid her to file for financial aid for college, and she did not force the issue in order to avoid shaming her unemployed Father.

She took a different tack though.

She researched her goals and how to get there and despite the fact that our country was engaged in war, she opted to go into the military.

Two days ago I got an email from her (the same day I received her Christmas Card from Hawaii).  

She has met someone special. 

He is 9 years older than she is, but is in the same unit, and they will be shipping out together.

She is now "In Medicine".

And she has told me that for the first time in her life, she doesn't feel alone.

It's ironic that she is headed to war-torn Afghanistan with a bright shiny new career as well as someone she loves.

I pray that God protects her and her newfound love.
I pray that they flourish in ways we can't comprehend.
I pray that her REAL family finally realizes exactly how incredible she is.

She has been so hungry for them to value her.
She has longed for their approval and support.
She has craved a loving family.

But Right Now, The Military IS Her Family.


Blood ties are so very strong.
But when blood ties fail to support and value and sustain us...humans will inevitably find OTHER family members who will do what REAL families did not do.

Student E found Me.
Student E found the Military.
Student E found a Man who values her intelligence, her skills, her abilities, and basically everything about her...and they met on a military base in Hawaii.

Who knows, one day she may have it all...the career, the marriage, AND the kids.

Only time will tell.


For those of you who are blessed to have family around you, take a lesson from this story.
CHERISH your family members.
TELL each of them that you LOVE them.
TREAT each of them with dignity and respect.

and if someone does not find STRONG FAMILY LOVE with you, that LOVE can be withdrawn from you and deposited with OTHER people...which is why Student E calls me Momma Grace.

btw...She has asked me to send her pictures from home while she is in Afghanistan.

And I will.


Is there anyone in your life whom you need to FIND time to call right now?

Is there anyone in your life you need to FIND time to go visit today?

Is there someone down the hall in your home you need to go FIND and hug on today?

Just thought I'd ask :)

In Him

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