Ripples in the water

Robin, 18 mosDuring the past week, I have read multitudes of lists – the top songs of 2013, the most annoying sayings which should disappear from the language, worst TV shows, best TV shows, the top movies of 2013, the most popular New Year’s resolutions – I’m sure you get the idea. I’m now fifty-nine years old, and I’ve begun to reflect on lists of my own – achievements, failures, goals, changes, the good things in my life, and the things which need to be pruned.

Robin, newly wedMy life is very different from the way it was five years ago. I left my full-time teaching job after twenty-five years; I went back to the same entry level position which was my first job after I graduated from college, which I swore I’d never do again; after two years full-time in that job I cut my hours to part-time; I founded a music academy in our church which is now in its fourth year, and I teach piano in the academy; I took a part-time job teaching elementary music in a local charter school, and I’m still enjoying it into my third year; I wrote and published three books and have written two more, one of which I will publish this week; I bought a better flute and joined the praise band at church; I started following college football two years ago, reading and learning all that I could about the game; I was diagnosed with diabetes; I lost thirty pounds and gained it back; Gayle, Stephanie Hamm, and I founded Beyond Austen; I became a regular contributor to this blog; I started decorating cakes and making decorative candies again after abandoning the hobby for about fifteen years; my younger daughter graduated from college and is in her second year of teaching; my elder daughter joined the Navy, served five years, married, left the service, and is now pregnant with our first grandchild.

Robin and daughtersPhase one: For the first twenty-three years of my life, I was a student, daughter, and sister. Phase two: I married at twenty-two, had our first child at twenty-seven and our second at thirty-six, and taught school full-time. My dad died when I was forty, and my mom died when I was fifty. Phase three: refer to the above list.

Church work has been a thread of continuity in my life. I have been part-time staff at our church for twenty-two years. Presently I am the Associate in Music. I’m serving as the interim choir director until we find a full-time Worship Leader.Whole Choir 02

I have no idea how long this phase of my life will last. Last month, one of my music students at school referred to my having a “mid-life crisis.” I had to laugh. Unless I’m going to live to be 118, I am well passed middle age. I have to admit that my memory is not as sharp as it used to be, and I don’t play the piano as well as I did thirty-five years ago. My eyesight is not as good as it was ten years ago. Eventually, I won’t be able to work anymore, though I hope that is several years in the future. I probably have another twenty years or so to live, unless an accident or illness claims me sooner, but death doesn’t frighten me. Being useless does.

When I reach the end of my time on this world, I want to be able to look back and think that I did what God wanted me to do. I want my children to be happy. I want them to remember me with smiles. I want my schoolchildren and co-workers to think of me kindly, and most of all, I want God to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your Lord.” (Matthew 25:21)

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11 thoughts on “Ripples in the water

  1. Laura Hile

    All this, and you picked cotton alongside your dad? It seems to me that the stick-to-it working skills you developed during the first two phases of life are now propelling you, enabling you to pursue interests and creative projects that are the most true to the “real you.”

    This is a tremendous encouragement to me. Because at the end of the day, it isn’t about secure retirement or professional accolades (I have neither). It’s about doing what you were made to do, and hearing from Him the words “well done” and “good” and “faithful.”

    And “servant.” There is much satisfaction in serving, yes, and we were made to serve. (I tell myself this as I sit at my desk at school, gearing up for the rigors of the second half of the school year.)

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    1. Robin Helm Post author

      Thank you, Laura. I was afraid that the post would come across as dreary, and I confess that I have been down knowing that my daughter will leave for Japan as soon as their tickets come through. They will be gone for 3 years, and my grandbaby will be born in Japan.

      For the first time in my life, I am making my living completely with music and writing – my first loves. I can do that because my husband is a senior adult pastor in a wonderful supportive church which provides us with health insurance and retirement. I know that not everyone has that luxury.

      It has never been my goal to make boatloads of money or have tons of material things. If you ever come to my house, you’ll see what I mean. I do think you are serving in the trenches, teaching those young people at your school. You are influencing them, and you have no idea how much you will change them.

      If I had it all to do over again, I would change very little. God has been gracious, and serving Him is my first goal. It hasn’t always been that way, but I am the happiest when it is.

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  2. CandyM

    Lovely post, Robin. I’m heading into phase three myself. Although, having my 5th child at the age of 41 (he’s 10 now… you do the math ;)) it sometimes feels like I have a ways to go before I get there! But after it’s all said and done, I hope I hear those words “good and faithful servant” from Him too!

    I’ve been meaning to stop by for a while now to let you ALL know how much I enjoy reading your posts. Even though I don’t comment much. I receive your post via email and most of the time I read them there and think I’ll comment later, but later never comes. But rest assured I’m here! You encourage me and at times make me laugh, and that is priceless! Thank you!

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    1. Robin Helm Post author

      What a wonderful post, Candy. If I’ve ever made you laugh or smile, then I’ve done something good.

      Phase three is actually easier than phase two, though I miss feeling like I did when I was younger. I want to run and jump, but these old bones are past that. I do dance with my school children, but they don’t care how funny I look. They just like dancing with me while we sing.

      Ain’t God good?

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    1. Robin Helm Post author

      I don’t think it ends even then, Susan. Those ripples just keep going, even after we’re gone. We’ve influenced students, our children, our grandchildren, and everyone else who’s known us. What we don’t always know is whether that influence was for good or not. My regret is that I didn’t do a better job with some of my students and other people I’ve known. I wasn’t always a good example.

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  3. Gayle Mills

    Thinking about how hard we used to work just makes me tired all over again. The point is we survived it and lived to tell the tale.

    All in all, it’s been a good life. As long as you faithfully give your best every day, as unto the Lord, then your last day will be your best day.

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    1. Robin Helm Post author

      We didn’t just survive. We thrived and got stronger because of it. I think that’s why we’re so determined and more than a little stubborn. We were taught from childhood not to give up.

      The lessons may not always have been fun when we were living them, but they have served us well, Sis.

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Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

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