Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas in Kindergarten

I'm thankful to be home this morning, having one last cup of coffee in front of the fireplace, lights shining from the mantel and Christmas tree, no schedule that I must keep today. School is out; now I can settle in to my own planning and preparing for the holiday with family and friends. This morning though, I am in transition between my dual worlds of school and home. I am at home, but still thinking back on the last few days with my kindergartners. In typical December fashion, they forced me to go full throttle, guiding them as best I could through a month full of extra excitement and activity. To be sure, this month at school was challenging and exhausting... and wonderful:

  • Joseph tells me that he is going to see Santa on Saturday. And this time he isn't going to jump off his lap and run away. "Why did you run away, Joseph?" "Because he was real." 
  • The envelope says "Mrs. Miuls", written in obvious 5-year-old painstakingly try-my-hardest-this-is-special handwriting. However, as my master of tall tales this year, Jackson explains that his dad (a former student) wrote it. "He misses you."
  • Javon reports that he is leaving early on Tuesday. "I have to see the judge. He is giving me a forever family." Here stands a brave survivor-child whose eyes say that for the first time in his life, he finally has found security and love, and hope. He is getting, and giving, a miraculous gift this Christmas. Stifling tears and a growing lump in my throat, I can only nod in reply.
  • A noisy cafeteria doesn't seem fitting for the day's Christmas turkey dinner. Instead, we are eating lunch in the classroom. Lights are low, Jim Brickman is playing softly in the background. With the help of their young imaginations, our room becomes a "fancy restaurant", including napkins on laps and table manners. I haven't cued them, but the room is nearly silent. The children seem relieved, even. Unexpected and welcome, peace and wonder is right here, as little ones enjoy their good food and speak softly with friends in a quiet place.
  •  Zachary knows his turn is coming to receive my Christmas gift. He goes to his backpack, reaches deep down, and carries a small item toward me. "This is a present for you, Mrs. Miles." I should be more grateful (more child-like), but in my adult busy-ness, I only offer a quick thanks and keep moving. Later, I see. Again, a child teaches me another life lesson. And on my desk I will keep Zachary's gift: a travel-size bottle of hand sanitizer, half-full. I need the daily reminder to give simply, from as pure and generous heart as that little boy.
I'm thankful for the lessons and laughter that my kindergartners give to me. I'm thankful for this morning, too, and the days of rest ahead. I'm ready now to get ready for Christmas. And if I am wise, I will do so with as much a sense of child-like wonder as I possibly can.

"Let the children come to me... for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven."  Matthew 19:13

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Just Ask

When Emily's iphone was stolen, my maternal defenses kicked right in. Funny, it doesn't matter how old your children are, those protective instincts never fade. I wrapped my arm around her and showed as best I could how sorry I felt for her undeserved loss. I hurt for her, saddened as I was reminded again that no amount of wishing or wanting could shield my dear ones from evil in our world.

And, I prayed. "Lord, I want you to somehow get that phone back for Emily." Mind you, mine are the prayers of a weakling, not a warrior. They are short and silent and usually clumsy. Worst of all, even though I've been at this long enough and am certainly old enough to know better, I did it again. Praying in one breath, in the very next I told myself the chances were slim to none of Emily ever seeing her phone again.

Was it coincidence that the police officer came to her door yesterday morning with the good news? Of course there's no way of knowing with absolute certainty one way or the other. I only know that Emily's phone is back. And, today her mother is a bit closer to learning that it's not the "power" of her prayers that changes anything. It's her Father's power and loving kindness that prompts Him to respond to even the feeblest of her requests. Somehow asking is the only requirement. He is just that good and that involved with all of us.
"And Jesus stopped and called them, saying, 'What do you want me to do for you?"
      John 20:32

Sunday, April 17, 2011

New Neighbors!

   The good news is that Bobby and Emily bought a house!  The great news is that it is a beautiful house, perfect for them and a mere four minutes away, driveway to driveway! No parenting book (and I've read a lot) ever mentioned the thrill of parenting adult children, celebrating along with them as they work and save and contemplate and prayerfully step into life's next beckoning. Their newest venture is an example of that sort of parental joy. Walker and I are so proud (where and when did they learn how to actually buy a house?!) and excited, not only for them, but for us, too. Almost two years ago, as they began their married life in St. Louis, our minds were settled that it was right for us to "let go". We wanted our young cherished ones to enjoy God's plan that they "leave and cleave" to each other as husband and wife. Moving 200 miles away was part of that. Our hearts would just have to deal with it.
   Now they are back, close to us and settling in for the long term. I have to say I didn't see this wonderful surprise coming. But I'm so glad it did. Emily and Bobby bought a house. And we have new neighbors.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Happy Birthday, Rachel!

Rachel is 21 years old today. Like every April 6 before, my heart and mind are once again full to overflowing with memories of her life, from her very first day, so clear, so precious. Over the years, I've tried to capture many, and would love to somehow gather and preserve them all forever....

But this isn't a day to spend only remembering a wonderful past. Rather, this day is really for celebrating the beautiful woman that Rachel has become, the Rachel we get to enjoy right now. She is caring, joyful, and wise beyond her years. She is an "adoolt" who can make us laugh unexpectedly and lighten our hearts when we don't even realize we need it. Likewise, she can leave us breathless with her insightful thinking, eloquently expressed in word or print. Smart, gentle, generous, discerning, and altogether lovely to behold and to be with. Quite simply, that is Rachel.

Years ago, I wondered what it would be like when the girls grew up, left home, and started lives for themselves and on their own. For four years now, Emily has been teaching me to "fear not"--  like all the earlier stages, there are abundant unexpected pleasures that go along with parenting adult children. It's wonderful in its own special way!

Now, Rachel becomes the newest member of that club and, in a very short while, she will bring Brice along with her. Little Lamb will become Mrs. Flynn, and so another chapter will begin for all of us. Given her history, there's every reason to believe it will be a good thing, and full of wonderful surprises.

Happy Birthday, Rachel!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Slowing & Growing

So, this was to have been the title of my new blog venture. No small feat in itself, I discovered. Literally weeks of creative energy and brainstorming on my part finally evolved into a three-word summary of my life state. I was proud. Then, I took the next courageous step. I told my daughters its name. Suddenly, my poetic creation was reduced to what they foretold would be interpreted as the tired ramblings of a middle-aged woman. Mind you, that may still be the case, but who wants to leave the starting gate that way?

True as it is, I hereby let Slowing & Growing go. Now, on a hopefully more energetic and youthful launch, I can be regularly reminded... Life doesn't always turn out the way you plan. Sometimes it turns out even better.