Someone very wise people (Steve Jobs, Dieter F. Uchtdorf and me) have said that, in life, connecting dots is a backwards activity. In the present dots appear random, even chaotic, but when looking backwards one can see how the dots connect and, if one is astute, God’s role as The Dot Connector becomes clear. As we look back over the last 12 months, we can see God’s Hand connecting our dots. Following is a partial list of our connected dots.
Lance and I have never effectively budgeted. We are not free spenders. We have a decent savings account and have never requested credit from RC Wiley but we have never stuck to a budget either. I am a penny-pinching, tight-fisted saver and Lance savvy investor. The two strategies have kept us out of debt but have not compelled us to learn to live within a budget. It is an important skill we needed to learn. Living on two-thirds of one teacher’s salary taught us to make and keep a budget. Dot #1.
In the dark years of our marriage, Lance and I were on parallel but separate paths. We stayed side by side but we carried our respective burdens and battled our respective monsters alone. This time, once again challenged by a reduced income, we were on same path. We carried our burdens and fought our mutual monsters together. It has been a time of tremendous growth for us. He learned that I had his back. I learned that I had his back It is a lesson we both needed to learn. Dot #2
In February Lance applied for a job as a part time teacher’s assistant at North Davis Preparatory Academy (NDPA). He was not thrilled. Going from full time teacher to part time teacher’s assistant is a hit. It hurts the ego and the economy. And he was to work in the elementary. (Yuk) And he was to work with Special Ed (SpEd) kids. (Double yuk! It takes a certain type of person to work with those kind of kids and Lance is not that kind of person.) But, recognizing the family need for a supplement to our income, he applied for the job. Somehow the job morphed to a full time position at the junior high. Still working as a teacher’s assistant and still working with SpEd kids but full time with unexpected financial bonuses. Dot #3.
The SpEd teacher with whom he worked said the boys under Lance’s tutelage did more work the first two weeks he was there than they’d done the entire year to that point. And Ryan, the principal, said Lance would have a job at his school as long as he wanted it. Now, when prospective employers called to check his references, Lance’s most recent boss had good things to say about him. Dot #4.
Though Lance was working with SpEd kids--not his forte---Lance was working with teens, which is his forte. Lance is good with teens. He just is. And he loves it. He just does. When his financial planning business folded, he fell back into teaching. At the time, it was a fall back option; it was NOT what he chose to do. In his mind, he was at teacher because he could not do anything else. Working at NDPA he learned he loves teaching. In his heart, teaching is what he wants to do, what he really, REALLY wants to do. He was not seeking a teaching job because he cannot do anything else; he was seeking a teaching job because he wants a teaching job. He learned loves teaching. Dot #5.
Lance’s teaching licence was due to expire in June. To renew a teaching license one has to accumulate 200 points over a 5 year span. Lance had 192 points. The documentation for 2 years of inservice was lost when he left SAA. When he met with Ryan about the 8 point deficit, Ryan suggested Lance talk to Dale, his former principal at SAA. Now it is important to know that Lance has harbored very NOT kind feelings for Dale. Resentment and anger and hurt over the way he’d been treated has festered in Lance for 3 weeks shy of 12 months. Recognizing that he’d probably demonized Dale and hoping interacting with Dale would re-humanize him, Lance swallowed his pride and made an appointment. Dot #6.
Although the appointment with Dale did not go as planned, the angst and anger disappeared. Tender mercy #1. And, as an added bonus, the students and faculty members he saw in the SAA halls and office gave Lance a huge heart-felt, heart-warming welcome. “Hislop is here!” the students cried as they flocked to him in the halls. The secretaries jumped up from their seats and the photography teacher, a bearded giant of a man, bulleted across the room to give him a hug. He experienced a tremendous outpouring of love which was another tremendous tender mercy. Dot #7.
After meeting with Dale about the relicensure points, Lance discovered an online listing, housed with the Utah State Board of Education, that showed he had an additional 87 points recorded with them. Later an SAA teacher-friend emailed him certificates for another 100+ points. If he had known about either of those earlier he would not have forced himself to meet with Dale, Dale would still haunt him, and Lance would have missed his bucket-filling SAA encounters. Dot #8
I was offered a full time position at Ogden Prep. [I currently teach every other day.] The offer was generous and our financial situation was in need of a generous boost. But I love both my jobs: teacher and mother. On my not-in-the-classroom day I mother and minister. If I were to teach full time, I would have to give up that day. And, of the two jobs, mothering and ministering is my favorite. What should I do? I went to the temple with my question. The answer came. I did not have to work full time. Everything would work out. Dot #9
Three days later he received a call from Sunset Junior High offering him a teaching position. He will be working in Davis School District, which means he gets health and retirement benefits, things not offered at SAA. He is will be doing what he loves at a school located on 4 miles from our home.
God connected the dots and we are so, SO grateful for the beautiful picture that has emerged.