So, Crates…

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Socrates said, “The unaware life is not worth living.”  I found that quote as part of a daily devotion recently, and instantly my brain traveled down two parallel rabbit holes.

First, I am reminded of one of my professors from graduate school.  I attended Western Carolina University to get my master’s in Communication Sciences and Disorders.  (They have an amazing grad program for this, by the way.  I highly recommend it!)  This professor used to talk about how you’re unable to not know something once you know it.  In other words, once you’re aware of something, whether it be a specific fact or a skill, you can’t un-know it.

As it relates to speech pathology, he was referencing being aware of certain speech sound disorders, fluency disorders or voice abnormalities.  Once a speech path hears these in another person’s speech, we can’t not hear them, diagnose, etc.  “Don’t you wish you could turn it off sometimes,” he’d ask.
In fact, this knowing and observation is exactly what graduate school trains us to do!  “Listen to this speech sample and make note of what you hear.  Then discuss with your partner.”

And since school I’ve tried to do this with my husband at times when we’re in crowds of people.
“Did you hear that frontal lisp?”
Or, “I wonder if that child is too old to be using velar fronting.”
He cringes, hoping no one has heard me, and I can’t blame him.  But this training is so ingrained and so interesting to me that it’s hard to turn it off, to un-know it.  I have, however, learned to ask these questions internally rather than risking offending a listener.

The second rabbit hole was in considering a God-focused worldview.  To me, everything in the natural world around me, as well as occurrences in my daily life, point to the existence and love of God.  Once I was truly aware of Him, I couldn’t look at the world the same way.  I couldn’t be made unaware.

I grew up going to church with my family, but I don’t think God became real to me until after college. My story isn’t one of a momentary conversion (“And from that moment on, I knew God was real.”) because I have always believed in God and His Son, Jesus.  Rather, I began to see how He worked in my life in the day to day.  I was worried about my job (“Is this where I’m supposed to be working?”) and my future (“Am I going to be alone forever?”), and when I would pray about it (because, from my upbringing, I knew I was supposed to cast my cares upon Jesus), I felt peace come over me.  I felt that even if I didn’t have all of the answers and I was a worried ball of stress, I wasn’t alone in that.  I was never abandoned, and there was a plan – even if I couldn’t see it.  (More to come about planning and faith in my life – whew!)

And just like that, I began to hear that still small voice a little bit each day.  The more I heard whispered to me (“You’re not alone,”  “It will all be ok in the end,”), the more I listened.  And the more I listened, the more I tuned down my worries to trust in Him (“It sounds like He knows what He’s doing”).

Please don’t get me wrong, I am a worrier.  Ask my mom, my girlfriends, my husband.  They can all tell you that I worry and stress and fret … frequently.  But, when I do remember to just be still and listen, I am always met with a message of reassurance (“Be still and know that I am God,” “I have plans for you”).  And to me, that takes some of the pressure off.  I am not in charge (thank goodness).  I don’t have to have all of the answers (thank goodness!).  I can find peace in knowing that He is in control (THANK GOODNESS!).

Now that I know that to be true, and I am aware that God is working in my life, there’s no way I can un-know it.  The unaware life is just not worth living. You’re right, Socrates.

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Hiccups

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One day last week, I picked up a first-grade duo after they had finished lunch.  One of the students had the hiccups – adorable.  He quickly informed me that having the hiccups meant he was growing.
“Then why do I still get the hiccups,” I asked.  “I’m all grown up!”
He thought for a minute and then asked, “How old are you?”
“I’m 29.”
“Well,” he said with all of his 6-year-old confidence, “Maybe you’re still growing.”

Oh, you precious child.  If you only knew how true that is.  But we’ll get to that in a moment.

First, let’s examine how much growth this young boy has made on his own in the last year and a half.  At the beginning of kindergarten, he was quickly identified as a 4-year-old that was having some severe speech delays.  He had excellent language skills: he readily and eagerly told you about everything he knew, but understanding him was a different task altogether.

And in his brief time being enrolled in speech intervention, he has made so. much. growth. He mastered stopping fricatives (namely, /f, v,/ and “th”), velar fronting (no more “I dot a tat and a dod”), and liquid gliding (catapiLars Love Leaves!) in record time.  We’re currently working on mastery of /r/ and suppressing that frontal lisp.  In fact, he actually told me “Maybe you’re thtill growing, Mith Emily”.  Again, adorable.  But there’s a time for these cutsie speech patterns to fade away.  They’re not so cute after a certain point.  And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s a helpful resource.

I wish I could take full credit for this child’s progress – believe me, I would make him a poster child for my career – but I simply cannot.  This kid was primed and ready for school.  Anything I taught him or his teachers taught him was quickly absorbed, sponge-style. I am so proud of you, little one.  Never stop hungering after knowledge.  Never lose that precious spirit of yours.  Being open to growth at every corner is a valuable skill.

Which brings us back to his hiccups.  I was surprised by how much his words affected me.  I am still growing.  Is it so obvious that even a 6-year-old can point it out?

I moved to a rural mountain community in early Fall of 2012 because my husband (outstanding and inspiring sculptor, Dustin Farnsworth) received a 3-year residency at Penland School of Crafts.  Miraculously, a contract speech therapist position was available and waiting for me.  This move began a world of changes. From May to August 2012 I
accepted my first SLP job,
graduated with my Master’s,
moved home with my parents,
started waitressing again,
got engaged,
planned a wedding,
stopped waitressing again,
got married,
honeymooned,
moved to Penland,
set up a home, and
started my first career job.
All within about 8-10 weeks.  Oh. My. Goodness.

Needless to say, I have been growing.  However, it wasn’t until recently that I really saw the direction I was growing.  God has pulled me closely into communion with Him.  He is challenging me in new ways and teaching me more of myself.  He has told me that my true identity lies not in my job, or my wifey status, or even in my silver and gold friendships, but only in Him.  I am His beloved child, His daughter.  He wants me to love Him more than anything else and depend on Him for my joy, my peace, and my prosperity.

This isn’t a blanket command, though.  It’s not Him saying, “Love Me above all, … ok bye.”  No.  He is cradling me through depression and fear.  He is telling me that because I am His, no harm can come to me.  I am desperately loved and He is working all things for my good (Romans 8:28).  Because I can trust in his promises and His plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11), then I do love Him above all.

So, I trust Him (hic!).
I cling to Him (hic!).
I believe Him (hic!).
And every day I continue to grow.