This morning I am remembering my birthday week of ten years ago. It was a week of huge blessings from God.
I was newly divorced for the second time, with a sweet 10-year-old little boy. We were living in the beautiful McKenzie Valley. We were lucky to have our good friends and support group up there, as well as our extended family and church friends in Eugene. The divorce was a very good idea, and N. seemed to be glad to go to either house, ours or his dad's and was happy to not have to suffer through our bad arguments any longer.
The elementary school where we lived was a pretty good one. A nice, little rural school. My girls had gone there, and N. had been there since kindergarten. He was a well liked kid; by the other kids and by the teachers. His sisters always commented on how he was a friend to everybody.
Then, in 5th grade, which was 10 years ago, he got a teacher who took a dislike to him. She was mean to him in front of everybody. I didn't know this at first, but I did notice a change in him. For the first time in his life, my son was miserable at school.
One day, in between cleaning houses, I stopped by the school for one reason or another. Somebody saw me, and told me that N. was having a horrible day. I went to his classroom, and then we went to the office. The school counselor talked to us, and said that he was having a hard time because of our divorce. She said his day was already shot; to go ahead and take him with me when I left. I remember seeing the relief on his face as we drove away from the school. We got to the house I was going to clean, and I put him on the couch, turned on cartoons and gave him a blanket. I knew that he was one of the few kids in the world who was glad that his parents no longer lived in the same house. That made the counselor not exactly correct in what was bothering him.
You see, a couple of days prior, I had received a phone call from one of the other moms. Her boy sat next to N. in class and said that N. was very sad and unhappy, and that the teacher didn't like him. (We found out later that she chose one scapegoat each year. I am not making this up. Up until all of this, I had thought she was a nice person. We had gone on a big field trip with her to the coast, and I thought we were lucky to have gotten her as a teacher.)
I didn't know what to do. I was going to college and cleaning houses, and I didn't see how I could home school him. I had asked if he could be transferred to another class, but the new principal had already said no. There was a new Christian school upriver, but I couldn't afford the tuition. As I cleaned my client's home, I prayed hard. I pondered my next move for my boy's schooling.
Within a few hours, we were back home and my phone rang. It was one of the owners of the Christian school upriver. She said, "Hi, Kathy, this is Gail. I know you don't really know me, but the weirdest thing happened today. We got a phone call from a man who lives in Eugene, who saw the ad for our school on the cable channel. He had never heard of us before this, but said he was prompted by God to call here and sponsor two children who would not otherwise be able to attend our school. He wants to pay full tuition for the rest of this year. I couldn't think of anybody, so I asked my husband and he immediately said that perhaps your son could could use a scholarship."
Man, talk about an instant answer to prayer! N. finished out his school year there at the Christian school, and regained his footing and confidence. The next year we moved to La Pine and he enjoyed middle school there. Thank you, Lord.
Oh, but the blessings of my birthday week did not end there! A couple of days later, we went over to my Mom's to celebrate her birthday and mine. My two aunties were there, along with my sisters, their kids, my kids, and some of my girlfriends. A noisy and fun celebration ensued. The only one missing was my Grandma T., who had died a couple of months before.
I was opening my gifts and having a great time, so happy that my ex-husband was not there to ruin it or to make a scene. My Mom brought out a little box from her bedroom. Inside was Grandma's beautiful ring, and my Mom was giving it to me! I couldn't believe it. Mom is not to much into jewelery. She was going to give the ring to one of my aunties, but they said, absolutely not, you are the oldest daughter. Take it and pass it down to one of your own girls. I am the oldest, and my birthday was coming up, so she gave it to me. Thank you, Mom, Nanny and Aunt Mardy. None of you ladies had to do that for me.
I removed the silver "spoon" ring from my finger, which was my former wedding ring. (Some history here: I had financed that wedding by selling my car, and my ex decided that we should choose those $35 silver rings. That was an indication of how much he valued me, come to find out, because 12 years later I was still wearing it. And, of course, I had to pay for both wedding rings myself, since I was the one who just sold the car. The one with the most money at the time.)
Anyway, back to the story, I took off that spoon ring and put on my new diamond ring. The odd thing was that I never did see that silver spoon ring again. We went through all the gift boxes and wrapping paper; moved the couch, looked under the cushions, etc. It was really GONE. (I had begun wearing it again because I was going to school, and did not want anybody hitting on me. My friend Patty said, well it doesn't really look like a wedding ring, so it could go either way. On the off chance that I found somebody interesting.)
God had replaced the inexpensive ring with the valuable, beautiful one that my grandmother had designed. I decided then that God really valued me. I was going to try and concentrate on that point, on all the goodness in my life. I felt that God was telling me to let go of that awful marriage, and to not focus on the way my ex had acted badly for all those years. And do you know what? I did let it go. I moved on. I barely think about it anymore. God has replaced my old life with a brand new, thousand times better one. I just had to quit accepting the garbage what was being thrown at me, and leave that man. I stopped settling for somebody who truly did not love me and who wanted to keep me squashed down. I had to decide that even if I didn't end up getting my stuff out of our house before I left, it was time to take my kid, my dog, and just go.
And you know, I actually did get most of my stuff back; the things that mattered. Just not a lot of the kitchen things, or any of my vintage toys. I am sure the rest was all either taken to the dump or sold at garage sales for a bit of profit. As I write this, it occurs to me for the first time that he probably got rid of as much of my daycare items as he could, so that I couldn't go back into business for myself as easily. I had never thought of that before just now. Well, how insightful; I think that bit of info maybe be helpful to my healing at this late date. I thought he was just trying to hurt me emotionally. Oh, well, I went back to school instead and got my degree in Early Childhood Education. Sometimes all of that still angers me, but it really was a very small price to pay in the long run.
Like the saying goes, "Life's not fair, but God is good." Sometimes, when you keep moving forward one step at a time and lean on God, it all works out ... sometimes, better than you could ever imagine.