Ugh. Where to begin. It’s February 15th, the day after Valentine’s Day. As sweet as yesterday was, today started with how it ended last night…with the news about the 17 lost. School shooting. Ugh. It began for so many with fears and tears and senseless loss.
Tough to be thankful for that.
And the Keurig coffee maker is being persnickety. That seemingly small and shallow detail didn’t help with the start of my day either.
I went into school and looked at my classroom with new eyes. I put a black laminated paper on the small window of the metal outside door. Then I went to my friend’s classroom and put one on hers as well. And even though I think the kids and I need light to flood our classroom, well, I made sure that all the blinds were down (but open) so I could shut them in a hurry. No one ever thinks it’s going to be their classroom to have a senseless shooter invade. I don’t think it’s going to be mine, but I’m going to take the precautions just the same. Life is too precious not to…and little things can save lives. History has taught us that. Little things undone can also lose lives. Sadly, history has taught us that as well. Gotta learn from history…
As I was on my way back to my classroom, I was greeted by a flood of kindergarten hugs. Innocent happy little faces that were just spreading cheer on their way to their classroom, oblivious of the cloud that was hanging over so many today. And then I saw her. One of my sweet students whose struggles are so very real greeted me with expressions and the hood-over-the-head-look that let me know that her morning had been a bit like mine. She looked like I felt. But I have decades on her and have learned to temper my inner tantrums a bit. Most times anyway. Yeah, she hasn’t quite learned that yet, and I get to help her learn… Sometimes it’s not such a fun process, and I could see that today was probably going to be full.
It was. But it was full of lots to be thankful for. My little friend who wasn’t so happy worked reluctantly knowing that she’d get a twenty minute nap (which is the main thing she needed).. and if she worked hard in her classroom, she’d get to come to me for a break before lunch. After her nap, she still wasn’t quite a happy camper, but at least she was ready to face her day. Two hours later, I was so happy to see her march on down to my classroom with a smile.. Little victories can feel so big sometimes. She had made it through the morning and we got to celebrate that together…
I had a few other little guys in my room when my sweet student came in. One is an older student who has given teachers a real run for their money through the years…but he has a huge heart and is smart as all get out. He just needs to learn a thing or two about self-control. (Like all of us…) The cool thing is that he has. It’s taken a lot of effort and reboots and commitment to hang in there from a lot of adults. He’s making so much progress on his goals…enough so that I thought it’d be a good thing to help guide him in the mentoring of a little guy who is a whole lot like him, only a few years younger. So I talked to him about it, what would be required. I had him set up an activity box, and “lesson plans”, and talked about how he could really have a positive role in helping this other student. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned as a teacher, it’s that you can’t teach what you don’t know. And when you teach, the lessons become a bigger part of you. I was hoping the pairing of these two students was going to be a good good thing to help them both in not only reaching behavioral goals, but in learning the freedom that comes with good choices…. So far, so good. Today was a sweet, sweet day of watching the usually quiet and a bit skeptical student open up and laugh and ask questions and take full ownership of helping this younger student. Amazing how giving is receiving. It just is. I was so proud of them both…one for stepping up to help another, and the other for listening and following the lead of another.
Well, the day went on with lots of challenges, behaviors, and logistics, and even car issues raised their ugly head. (UGH-ly…) And then it turns out that some family members hadn’t had the best day either. Ugh. More not-so-fun dynamics to navigate. Oh, and one of them had had a LOT of coffee and it didn’t mix well with my lack there of. And then late at night we had to set a stupid complicated alarm clock that needed a remote that was no where to be found. I’m sure my stress level had nothing to do with the fact that I couldn’t figure the thing out. Being dependent on a remote is not a good thing. I did find the directions and was ready to jump in and set it. But… the directions were in French. Seriously. Yeah, it was that kind of day. We finally got it set, and the alarm will sound early in the morning, just in time for Tan to get ready for his Friday morning before school tradition “Bro-jangles” (Young Life Leaders meeting with high school “Bros” at the southern Bojangles…can’t beat that..) Thankful for mentors committed to being there…if all it means is time and biscuits and a bunch of boys before dawn on Friday mornings.
So we’ve all gotten through the day, and all is quiet except the hum of the dishwasher. Thankful. Because some days are great, but some days you’ve just gotta persevere and push through. I went outside a few minutes ago, and a warm strong wind is blowing. The stars are bright in a dark, dark sky. And the sun will come up tomorrow. Good to put this day to rest… but not before I share one more thing.
On Monday, I went to see a movie on Resilience. It spoke to how to help students who have gone through a lot of trauma. There were a lot of good take aways. But there was one GREAT, necessary-to-know take away. In the movie it stated that there was one consistent factor that helped students get through and overcome trauma more than anything. What is it? Having a caring adult in their life that’s committed to them. We need each other. Kids are seeing and experiencing so much these days…and we need to get in there with them. How can you change the world? Cool thing is, you can change it one person at a time, one prayer at a time, one encouraging act at a time. Because that is what can change the world for one person in that moment.
I so believe that God can fill any voids that any of us has and wants us to draw near. I also believe that we truly are “His hands and feet”. We all have people in our lives with needs. Sometimes deep, serious needs. Cool when our gifts and abilities and resources can help meet the needs of those around us. It’s not just cool. It can be life changing. It doesn’t have to be big…sometimes the simplest acts of kindness can make all the difference. Kindness connects. It builds up, links together, and fortifies.
With the events of the Parkland Community high school shooting, the alarm has sounded once again. Loud and clear. We need connections. Desperately. Bullying kills. Fragmentation creates fragility. Connections fortify. We are His hands and feet. To whom do we go? Who do we reach? Am thinking if we open our eyes, we’ll see the need right in front of us and hear it loud and clear. Louder than any alarm. It is ours to hear. It is ours to see. It’s is ours to choose to be Hands and feet. Sometimes it’s the smallest acts of kindness that can make all the difference. Here’s to feet that keep moving and hands that keep reaching out to the one right in front of them. Yours and mine.
P.S. That whole alarm clock remote thing? Interesting that we’re so dependent on remotes these days….being able to do things from a distance. So much so that we can’t even touch figure out the things right in front of us. (Case in point, me, and the alarm clock). Am thinking our connections are often just as remote…not eye to eye, hand to hand, but from a distance. Often they are text to text and message to message and like to like. That’s all well and good, but gotta still be able to access without the remote. Just a thought…
P.P.S. I don’t know about you, but somedays I don’t feel like I have much to give. But what I’ve seen so much is that sometimes empty gives better than full. Sometimes being in touch with needs helps us see needs in others with eyes wide open. I love how scripture talks about God shining in our hearts…and pouring on out. I think He wants us to pour out our hearts to Him, and am so thankful that He pours right back in…and through. Here’s to Him pouring through.
“For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves..”
2 Corinthians 4:6-7
” A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. “
“Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”
“Do small things with great love.”