Monday, November 8, 2010

The Sub-Total ~

On Friday  I was asked to attend a get together at my friend Debbie's clubhouse.  Debbie teaches English as a second language at a local Jr. College. Several of her students were there along with eight or so of Debbie's American friends, myself included. Approximately eight tables were set up in a very large circle, with an American seated at each.  The idea was these students would, in 8 min. increments, move clockwise around the room, table to table with a list of questions they wanted to ask us Americans.  They were told in advance that they could ask anything of us. The students were from, China, Japan, Vietnam, Belgium, and Thailand a wonderful mix!
My Friend Debbie and I :-)

Two students at a time would be at my table for eight minutes for a total of nearly an hour, nervously asking me their questions.  The questions asked ranged from, what do you do and do you like it, if not why? Have I ever been to their country and what if anything do I know about their country. A highlight for me was the question, "what was your most embarrassing moment?"  I shared with the two young women at my table that my most embarrassing moment, was without a doubt, in my early 20's while on an airplane. I was using the restroom and imagine my surprise when in walked the Pilot. What could I do but give a smile and a polite wave? Yes, I had failed to lock that door! I love a man in uniform but under different circumstances, never would  I would have imagined it like that.  These two students (China and Japan) were mortified, in fact surprised I could even speak of it! They giggled and told me how life changing that would have been for them. :-)  Further into our 8 minute question and answer period they asked if I have ever been to another country.  I replied, " sadly no because I no longer like to fly".  They started laughing and said,"oh" as they smiled and reference to my earlier mentioned experience.  Too cute, they felt the incident with the handsome man in uniform was my reason to no longer fly :-)  As if!

The most popular question was how old my children were and do they live at home?  I told them my son's ages and explained though they live near by and no longer at home that I would love them to still be living with Mom :-)  Both a girl, a boy from China and a young man from Vietnam all shared with me that they live at home much longer in their countries, as having the family all together is so important to them. However a young girl from Japan seemed happy to no longer live at home and explained that wasn't as important in her country.  A young man from China said, "you are like my Mom, she loves me so much she wants me living with her at home". "You made me miss my Mom". I smiled feeling bad that he missed her so and asked, "how long have you been gone from home?'   He replied, "three days".  How sweet is that? Poor young man is going to really find out what homesick is as he continues his schooling here in the states.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with these students.  At the end of our time we all posed for a group photo,a photo to capture our time spent on this beautiful November day.  As I began to leave I turned and said another good bye.  My young man from China said, "thank you for the Mom thing".   Of course I knew what needed to be done, I replied, "let me just give you a Mom hug", and we did :-)

I went home and in the quite time I purposed to have, started thinking about how most American children can't wait to move out and begin there newest phase of independence.  Though I don't see it as wrong, I am none the less glad my sons stayed a few years past eighteen. I wondered what the rush is for us to be on our own. To become responsible for everything, not just the cleaning our bedroom and taking out the trash, but everything! I suspect it may be different if we knew back then that there will be plenty of years later in life without opportunity to spend together as a family, but, we don't.

I am happy our children are on their own and experiencing much of what we all have experienced on our own.  As a parent it is often difficult to watch them struggle, or to know they are ill and or not be there to save the day :-) On the other hand,  I'm also very much enjoying life with my husband in a totally different form of companionship than when the kids were still here.  It's like getting to know each other in a different way and not having to split our time at home amongst the children on a daily just amongst the two of us.

I enjoy the quite, and practice while in that quite, listening to God, really listening. I feel the nudge to do or not do something. I sense when I should reach out to another with a need , when I might otherwise have missed that opportunity to do so. Also in that quite time I reflect.  Reflect on where I've been, how I've changed, and most importantly, how through my trials I've learned.

I can at any time (and often do) pull out a photo album and feel that I have not just my family and extended family, but all that have played a part in my life in some way or another, right here with me because of that photo I hold in my hands.  A photo can bring me to a place that I can actually feel what I felt that very day that particular memory was made. A photo can bring my family all together again in the turn of a page.  I suspect, as I glance around, its the reason behind the many, many framed photographs on display in every room of my home. A photo can help me to remember, all those memories that when added up become the sub-total of me, thus far.

I intend to spend more time, being still and knowing He is God.  I suspect in that time I will be reminded of events in my life He has carried me through, occasionally unaware of Him doing so.  I will be reminded of many who have touched my life in powerful ways, most totally unaware of their impact on me. Most importantly I will be reminded that because He is God and He releases my future a moment at a time, there is no need for me to worry about tomorrow. Why worry about a time He hasn't released to me yet....

I'm so thankful for my time with the exchange students. They likely don't realize that this experience with them has made me even more aware of my family and the importance of each moment I have with them in my life.  Moments that add up to the sub-total of me.  This is what echos from my heart today.....


  1. Once again I am reminded of what a gifted writer you are and how inspiring it is for me to visit your blog. I found it so interesting to read about the questions that these students asked you. As for the quiet, I totally agree with you. I find it so refreshing and uplifting to "be still and know that He is God". It redirects my focus in daily life. Loved this visit.

  2. What a lovely post. Very inspiring and mind opening...

  3. I came over from Connie's to visit. I had the same experience on an airplane! Only it wasn't the pilot. I was coming home to Florida from seeing my brand new granddaughter in California and was so exhausted! I had never been to the bathroom in an airplane, but I really did think the door was locked. A guy opened the door and immediately closed it. I turned my head and looked in the mirror and started laughing almost hysterically. I thought well, I can sit here the rest of the trip home or I can hold my head up and just go back to my seat! :)

    Nice to meet you!

  4. Hi Debi,

    Thank you for dropping by my blog this morning and leaving a comment.
    I so love your blog.
    I'm following your blog too.

    Take care Viola over at