Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kindness, Thankfulness, and a Boy's Great Big Ol' Smile - Part 1

Anyone who reads my blog know that I am a big fan of the "two parter" blog post. This is one that has a dear place in my heart as it shows the kindness of children and their families and the impact we can have on others around us.

I teach at an elementary school in my town that has an affluent reputation. Many of the children come from homes where money is not an issue and celebrations can be an event. But we also have a few children where that is quite the opposite. Enter "Charles". Charles is a big ol' hulk of a boy. He is a super kid, but has also had some hard knocks. This year he has blossomed. Where he had a constant frown and a chip on his shoulder that could turn others away, he now shows a smile that warms your heart and gets along with everyone. This boy is now one of our fourth grade "peer mediators". He went from not doing any work at the beginning of the year to making the A/B Honor Roll for the very first time this past nine weeks. He is my Michael Oher from The Blind Side and I love him dearly.

About a month ago, Charles gave out invitations to his birthday party held at a local park. The party was this past Saturday: a day of rain, a few thunderstorms, AND Steeplechase (quite the event in my town). When he came to school on Monday, he told me that only one classmate came. He was disappointed, but seemed ok.

A few minutes later, I was beckoned to my classroom door by the mother of the child who attended. In her hand was the biggest gift bag full of presents for Charles with a note attached that read:

"For Charles. We are sorry we couldn't come to your party due to the rain. Here are our gifts to you for your birthday. Your Friends".

The bag was filled with a wrapped gifts, including a football, basketball, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, and two other toys. The mother said she just had to do something as she knew that for Charles to even give out invitations for a party was a big step for him. She didn't want him to think that his classmates didn't care about him.

I hid the bag in another teacher's room and sent Charles on an "errand" to the office. Bringing the bag back to class, I told his classmates what the sweet mother had done. They were so touched by her thoughtfulness, so excited for Charles, and yet sad that they had either forgotten about his party or had other plans.

When Charles came back to class, he was so surprised. That beautiful smile covered his face. He threw up his hands. "I can't believe this guys! Thank you so much!" As he opened each gift, Charles was so gracious. He commented on and held up each gift for the class to see. The entire class was filled with joy and happiness for their classmate. And that cute thing even gave a little speech at the end to tell them now much this meant to him!

It was a Golden Day in my classroom. But it the story gets even better...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Racing Against the Enemy

This past Saturday was the Aiken Trials. It was a beautiful sunny day. Mike, the boys, and I enjoyed ourselves with the warm temps and good food. I even caught this great action shot of three of the horses.

But I want you to take a good look at it. You see, when I look at the picture I see something completely different than horses on a racetrack. Something totally unrelated. And it hit me Sunday morning what it was...

Yesterday, as many Sundays as of late have been my house, was full of stress. The boys were arguing with and picking on each other. They were playing around instead of getting ready for church. One complained that his pancakes did not have chocolate chips in them. (Was he for real???). The other was talking back and rolling his eyes. (I don't think so young man!!!). It was all I could do not to throw in the towel and forget church.

But then I remembered that the sermon series was on being at war with the Enemy. How timely. For yesterday, my family was at war with the Enemy - who was absolutely loving this. And his demons of Discord, Anger and Stress were rampant all over our home. They were lurking in every corner, leering from the ceiling, and slithering in and out of rooms. For our family yesterday morning, there was no joy or contentment. I felt defeated. That is, until Mike reminded me that us giving up and not going to church was exactly what Satan wanted.

Well, those of you who know me, know that I don't give up easily once I know that someone challenges me - especially a mental challenge. So I stood my ground against the Enemy. I prayed, right then and there for strength. Then I told the boys exactly what was going on - and that we, as a family, were not going to be defeated.

Now, back to the picture and what I see... as metaphorical as it may be. The two jockeys in the front are Mike and me. The jockey in the back is the Enemy. As Christian parents, a Christian couple - and Christians on our own, we are constantly being pursued and chased by the Enemy. But also like those jockeys in the front, we must be strong and committed to never be defeated. We will win the race!

Friday, March 18, 2011

I'm Springing Back

Have you ever gone into hiding? Not the kind where you dye your hair, move across country, and change your identity. Not the kind where you want to escape from the world and all those who are in it by cloistering yourself at home with all the shutters closed. But the kind where you just stumble into it and realize that you may need to focus on yourself, your own home and family. Again, you just need to refocus.

As I mentioned in my last post, there is nothing wrong. No one is sick. No one is sad. We are all healthy, busy, and doing everything we were before. I was just in a winter rut and felt like I had absolutely nothing that was blog worthy. (And I'm not even sure I do now either!) But what I do know is that I have missed all of you!

And what I also do know is that I am so ready for spring. I am craving it. I am coveting it. I NEED it! The Aiken Triple Crown begins tomorrow with the Trials. (Steeplechase is next Saturday.) Tomorrow's highs are supposed to be in the mid 80s, and I relish the idea of strolling through the grass with a drink in my hand and a big hat perched upon my head.

The dogwoods are just beginning to bloom, and I feel the azaleas ready to burst forth any day now.

And Spring Break is just around the corner. It couldn't come any sooner! That means a week at the beach house, sand between my toes, and my Kindle chock full o' "beach lit".

Bless you spring! You couldn't have come at a better time. I think you've given me that burst I needed... to spring back!