After purchasing the house, I had to find a new school for the kids. As registration time neared, my husband and I went around to the three Catholic Schools in the area, and paid a registration fee at two of them, in an attempt to secure a place for our children in the fall. My hope was to get a job in one of these Archdiocesan schools, so that the kids and I could stay together. Being close to my children during the day has always been a consolation to me as a working mom.
During the month of January, we attended open houses for the prospective schools where the children were registered. When we walked into the gym at one school, a large sports banner greeted us. “Home of the Cardinals,” it read. Unbelievable! Was this another sign from God?
Notifying my current principal of our impending move was difficult. This woman was someone that I really liked and respected. She was supportive of me, and empowered me to be the best teacher that I could be. I had spent the first thirteen years of my teaching career at St. Andrew. The teachers and families that I had come to know and care for were going to be hard to leave.
On a mission, I diligently began updating my resume’ and sending it to every Catholic Elementary School within twenty miles of my new hometown, focusing on the two places where I had already registered the children. I received a call from the “cardinal school.” I had what I thought was a good interview with the principal, and then I didn’t hear from her for the next two weeks. I sent a follow up letter, expressing my interest in the job, then promptly received a phone call for a second interview.
The principal offered me a job teaching third grade. When I asked about places for my children, she told me that she could take my sixth grade son, but had no place for my pre kindergarten daughter. I accepted the job, because I needed it, but left heartbroken about having to place my youngest child elsewhere – away from me.
Miraculously, within a week’s time, our prayers were answered, as I received a call from the principal, saying that a pre-k spot had just opened. The three of us were going to be Cardinals!
Being the ignorant human being that I am, I thought that God had provided signs; therefore, everything in “Cardinal Land” would be great! Wrong! As soon as we settled into our neighborhood and made some wonderful friends, our neighbors began to move away, one house at a time – all over the course of three very sad months. It was devastating. We got new next-door neighbors who had lots of problems that oozed over into our yard.
My son was absolutely miserable at our new school. Being the new kid in junior high was extremely difficult. There were many days that I questioned our decision to move. I questioned God for His (seemingly) poor timing. It hurt so much to see my son suffer, and not be able to do anything about it – but pray.
I was relatively happy at my new place of employment, but I missed the respect I had gained at my old school that was mysteriously missing here. I had not earned it here yet, and wished that I could fast forward time a bit.
About a year and a half into that new job, I became pregnant with my third child. This was in February, which meant that I would presumably deliver in October – during the next school year. With a lump in my throat, I broke the news to my principal,
I prayed so hard, and put off searching for a substitute to take my maternity leave as long as I realistically could. As I neared the deadline I had set for myself mentally, I became quite stressed about the whole situation.
Miraculously, as I walked through the hall at school one day, a co-worker that I did not have opportunity to see very often stopped me to ask if I had secured a substitute yet. I told her that I had not, and admitted the distress I was feeling. She recommended that I call a friend of hers who had children that attended our school. This woman had a master’s degree in education and had taught before her two children had come along. Since their births, the lady had stayed home to raise the girls. Now that her children were of school age, she was toying with the idea of going back to work.
I called her that evening. She told me that she saw my telephone call as a sign from God. She told me that she needed to discuss the idea with her husband and that she would call me with her decision soon.
She graciously accepted the position – despite the fact that I had a history of difficult pregnancies and that this six-week gig could turn out to be a twelve-week job and a half. In fact, she wound up taking my place for an entire semester and never once complained or bothered me with the daily struggles I know she must have faced in that classroom. I believe that she was a plain clothes angel sent to me by God, just when I needed her. God knew my distress, and that it was not good for my baby.
As an extension and ministry of the Catholic Church who teaches pro life and natural family planning, it is so important that Catholic school teachers feel supported in their faith and attempt to live the truth. The following year, our principal, understanding our stress, was able to hire a permanent “in house sub” who now arranges substitutes, along with the administration, in times of sickness or disability. God is so good!
Many have been the struggles we’ve faced since receiving our red bird sign. I can honestly say that these five years have been some of the most challenging we’ve faced as a family.
Ironically, or perhaps, predictably, these difficulties have brought us closer to God and to one another. I’ve learned that living according to God’s Will – following his plan – does not mean that the road will always be smooth and easy. In fact, it almost guarantees that it will not be.
We must remember that He is fashioning us – pruning us – for life with Him for all eternity. How we respond to his tests on earth could well determine our eternal future. Oh, God, let me be in that number!