Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tidal Waves

Sometimes children can make you laugh or cry, depending on the day, moment, time of the month, etc. Yesterday, my tears were a-flowin'.

Last week, all five of my children attended  or served at our church's VBS. It was an amazing week, being able to love on and share the gospel with thousands (not exaggerating) of little people. One thing I learned through the entire week was the ability to move slowly. Those of you who know me are thinking this is not possible for my little legs. I walk down the hallway at school like I'm in a speed-walking competition (either that or I always have to go to the bathroom). But when I was working on braiding bracelets with these munchkins, God slowed me down and showed me patience. Even when we left camp each day, I didn't rush to the car. I didn't speed down the highway to get on to the next activity. I sauntered, perused, dragged and strolled as I asked my chickadees what they learned at camp -- to which they replied, "About Jesus, mom!" with the "duhhh!" tone of voice. Good enough for me.

When I take the focus off myself and put it on others, God starts rockin' in my life.

So get this.

On Monday, I picked up one of my former students and her sister from their apartment to come over and play with the kids. Amy and her sister Melody had been to our house before. These were probably the only two "playdates" they had in their little lives. They were amazed with everything; trampoline, computer, blender -- yes the blender. They made health shakes. Not sure what was in 'em, but I tasted a little chocolate, so I chugged mine down.

The first sign of God working in our lives that day was how generous my own daughters were, as they know how little Amy and Melody have. Caroline gave one of her favorite stuffed animals to Melody (so that's 250-1 = 249 left. Anyone need some stuffed animals?) Casey made a bracelet for Amy and gave her a bathing suit. That's not me, that's God, folks.

After dinner we took the girls home to their two-bedroom apartment on the far East side where three adults and six children live. Try to picture that one in your head and see if you don't get a little claustrophobic. My daughters and I walked the girls in and cooed over the new 3-month old baby, as Amy translated how much fun all the kids had at our house. Then mom asked Amy to translate something to me.

She asked what church we attended, and I told her, giving her information about the service times and children's programs. But I soon realized she was asking for another reason.
Another message in Spanish, and then Amy translated again. "Ms. Speer, I don't know how to say in Spanish, but when you have a baby, you go to the church and someone stands up for the baby to get baptized by the preacher."

"Like a godmother or godfather?" I clarified.

"Yes a godmother. My mom wants you to be the baby's godmother."

Much of the reason I am writing this blog is that I cannot tell this story without weeping. God led me to care for this sweet family in the small ways I could  ... Christmas presents, clothes and blankets when they needed it, some extra notebook paper or books to take home. This little girl will be something some day because she truly understood the value of education. She wrote songs and poems about it, and studied harder than any student I've ever taught. So when she confirmed the word "godmother," a wave of God's never-ending, abundant blessing washed over me like a tidal wave. I cried all the way home as I tried to explain to my daughters -- who were kinda freaked at the sight of their sobbing mother -- that I felt so undeserving of God's gift, and he was using us to reach out to this sweet family.

Yesterday's lesson from the Lord: When we give a little, we receive more from Him than we could ever imagine.

Thanks for reading. Now I'm going to walk slowly to the kitchen and casually make lunch.  Did I mention that I LOVE SUMMER?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Summer Checklist

IT'S HERE! Fellow teachers,  please join me in a loud "Hallelujiah" and can I get an "AMEN!" The first day of our ever-dwindling but nevertheless still existent summer break is officially here. My mom called yesterday to tell me she could hear my sigh of relief all the way across Tarrant County.
Now don't get me wrong readers. I love teaching. It makes my heart sing when a student finally spells a word correctly, or can recount the summary of a story, or writes a sentence without a single mistake.

I love seeing my students smile when they tell me about a book they really enjoyed reading.

I love the sound of the pencil sharpener  --- whoops. That's the sound I hate the most. Will someone PLEASE invent a silent electric pencil sharpener? If I get near an espresso machine (which sounds all too similar to a pencil sharpener) this summer, I might break out into hives or have a small seizure. So don't invite me out for espresso, please.

In case you were wondering what teachers do in the summer, here's a sampling of my agenda:

  • Sleep until 10 (I made it until 10:30 this morning! Kids were at their grandparents' house, so that always helps).
  • Watch  Ellen, Judge Judy, Flip This House, reruns of Modern Family, everything on Food Network, Yyanla Fix My Life and anything else the clicker lands upon ... DURING THE DAY.
  • Go to the pool and lay there. Just lay. Lay and read. Then lay. Then swim. Then more laying. Or is it lying? I think it's lying, but that would be telling a fib. So I am not lying that I will be laying. 
  • Swing on the front porch with my kids. If you see us, stop by and have a glass of wine. If it's before noon, I'll add a little orange juice and we'll call it a morning sunshine spritzer. 
  • Crafting and doing projects around the new house. My darling husband has no idea what he might see on a daily basis when he arrives home from work. Wall painting, distressed furniture, rearranged photographs ... just take a look at my Pinterest boards and you'll understand this girl means business. I'm also going to try all those different hair ideas like the boho braid or the messy updo with a headband. There's no need to comment if you see me with 20 braids twirled around my scalp. It will change tomorrow.
  • Reading books, starting with all the ones that are stacked up on my bedside table wondering when or if they'll ever be opened. Hang in there, paperbacks and Kindle "wish listers" --- I'm a comin'!
  • My favorite summer past-time: pretending to be a stay-at-home mom. I am soooo good at this! I take the kids on mini-field trips, get oil changes in the middle of the day, answer e-mails on a daily basis (rather than weekly), have lunch with friends, set up play dates; I'm just giddy thinking about it! 
No longer do I have to wait until 5:30 p.m. to rush through Kroger picking up more laundry detergent, Lunchables or last-minute supplies for a school project. Gone are the days of Sunday night grocery shopping; I can load the kids up and take a trip to Target at 1:30 on a Tuesday. I can now sit down on the couch before, during, or even after the 9 o'clock evening hour, nary a paper to grade on my lap. GREATNESS!

I am truly praising the Lord right now. Thank you Jesus! 
Here's a tip for those of you who see me shining in the summer sun during this glorious break: Mention summer staff development or  the word "August" and I will run you over with my car, push you in the pool or call you at 5 a.m. and hang up. 
Happy Summer everyone!