Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Sweet Fragrance

   As I left church tonight, the air was full of the sweet fragrance of honeysuckle.  I was immediately taken back to my childhood in West Virginia.  The honeysuckle grew thick and wild along the riverbank and railroad in front of my house, and I still love the smell of it.
    There are other memories associated with smells -- like the smell of coffee and oatmeal. I didn't like either of those, but it always makes me think of my mom cooking breakfast for my brothers while I was in high school. The smell would drift up to my room as I was getting ready for school. I still can't stand coffee unless it is full of cream and sugar, but I love how it smells.
       My mother's favorite perfume, "Passion" was the best fragrance in the world. I tried to wear it, but it just didn't work with my body chemistry. Even after my mother went to heaven, I kept some of her handkerchiefs and sniffed them until there was not a trace of her perfume left.
         And skunks! Who would ever think there would be a good memory associated with that terrible odor? Well, it reminds me of my dad. When we were in the car and came upon a spot with skunk smell, Daddy would always roll the windows down as all of us yelled our complaints.  He thought it was hilarious. So, I can't say that I like the smell, but it always makes me smile.
          A sweet baby, freshly baked cookies, the ocean, roses from my husband, and even the aroma of Mr. Clean when I was lucky enough to have a cleaning lady -- all are wonderful treats that make me say, " Ahhhhhh!"

           If our lives reflect the gift of God in Christ Jesus, we become a sweet fragrance to God.  

Ephesians 5:2 Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

2Corinthians 2:15  For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

           Does my life cause God to say "Ahhhh?" Probably not -- but I want to be that pleasing aroma and I hope I will always try to walk in the way of love. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Metamorphosis in Kindergarten

     I teach kindergarten in a very small school.  Most of my kids come from low-income families -- nearly all are on free or reduced lunch, and 5 children have had parents in jail sometime this year.  They tell me things that break my heart and when I am especially frustrated, I try to remember how hard life is for many of my children.  Last week, we had a story about moving in a moving van, and the question in the book was, "Why do people move?"  The first answer given was, "Because they have cockroaches in their house!"  So I said, "Have any of you ever moved?" Several hands went up. So I asked why they moved. Here are some of the answers given by my little ones: 
-- The house is nasty
--You got kicked out
--The house is too old
--You get rats
--The house breaks
--a fire
--A tree fell on your house
-- A snake was in the yard and no one was watching the kids and someone got bit
-- Mean people
--  ___ was mean to my mom so we moved.
    Not one suggested moving because of a new job or needing a larger house.  How sad.  
       This is the time of year when we have to start assessing each child to see how much they have learned. It is very time-consuming -- my assistant has done about all of the teaching this week so I could test.  One little book included in the tests is about being helpful.  I was instructed to ask, "How are you helpful at home or at school?"  One little one said, "I always give my mommy a hug when she feels bad.  I wiped some tears off when my daddy and mommy was fussing at home."
         Last week when we were making Mothers Day cards, one crumpled his up and threw it in the trash. 
         I always say this is my mission field.  A clean and colorful place where the little ones can feel safe and loved and dream of better days.  But even with cockroaches and no clean socks and and fussing parents at home, many of the parents are doing the best they can because they love their children and want the best for them.  It is a huge responsibility to keep kids and parents motivated to do homework when the situation at home is so challenging. But. They come in smiling every morning, full of hugs for this old teacher. Hearing,"I love you so much, Teacher." Warms my heart and gives me strength to keep on. One brought me a little gift today -- 3 bubble gums in a greasy bag. Sweet. Also got an ant and 4 ladybugs, since we have been learning about insects.

         Our caterpillars made a chrysalis this week in the classroom, and the tadpoles have legs now. Soon they will transform into something new and beautiful and wonderful. I hope to see that happening with my kids.  I am blessed to have the opportunity to see my little tadpoles grow legs -- to see my caterpillars changing into butterflies.  I don't know what the future holds for them -- but I hope they FLY -- or at least hop to a brighter future.
   " I know the plans I have for you," declares The Lord....." Plans to give you a hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11

Friday, May 9, 2014

Graduation, Finally!

       My son, Andrew, was leaving for tonight's graduation ceremony dressed in a Renaissance Festival t-shirt, cargo pants, and tennis shoes. When I questioned him, he said, "They said wear something dark."  About 20 minutes later, the phone rang. "I just remembered that they said to wear a shirt with a collar. Can you find one and bring it to me?" I checked the letter he received last week--and saw that he also was supposed to wear a tie and dark shoes. So I looked for a shirt while Sam got out the shoe polish.  This is so typical for my ADHD son -- I can't count the number of times he suddenly remember something at the last minute that called the whole family into action.

      As we were at the ceremony tonight, the speaker talked about how college was easy for some students, but a struggle for others. I saw a mortarboard nodding in agreement -- and I knew who it belonged to.  I thought of the little boy in kindergarten who only got in the prize box one time in a whole year -- his enthusiasm and curiosity and impulsiveness were not appreciated by his sweet teacher, and he spent a lot of time sitting in a little chair in the principal's office. Seven years of homeschool followed, as I taught him while he hung upside down on the couch or standing on a picnic table shouting,"Give me liberty or give me death!"  Those years were precious -- we made lots of memories -- but eventually we decided to send him to the little Christian school where he could be in small classes with personal attention and praying teachers.  It was not easy - he had lots of detentions after school for forgetting his homework and not quite fitting into the mold they expected. Not fighting or cheating or disrespect -we never had a problem with that kind of thing -- but his impulsiveness and distractibility continued to make life hard. Eventually he graduated and started college -- then changed his major and changed colleges -- then  changed his major and changed colleges again -- then changed his major and changed colleges AGAIN. But this time he finally found his niche -- and still had some struggles -- leaving his memory stick with all his notes in the computer lab, for example -- but that brings us to tonight.

     As I heard the beginning notes of "Pomp and Circumstance"-- a huge lump was in my throat and tears filled my eyes.  Soon I saw the smiling face of my boy, looking so proud and happy as he marched toward the stage. No one there knew what an accomplishment this was -- the years of praying and fussing and worrying and more praying -- and God had it in His hands all along.
My heart is full of praise tonight for a faithful God who was always there through it all.
Great is Thy faithfulness, o God!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

He Knows my Name

         My daughter and I went to see Kathy Mattea in concert Saturday night in Lenoir.

    She is from my home state, West Virginia, and if you drive through her home town, there's a sign that says "Home of Kathy Mattea." We thoroughly enjoyed hearing her sing -- especially my favorite, "Where've  You Been," -- so we hung around for the "Meet and Greet" afterwards.

     I took Sara's picture with Kathy, then we talked briefly and I told her that I was from WV, too. She asked were I lived, and when I said, "Red House" she asked if I lived on Red House Hill.  Now, only someone who has been there would know about that, because the population was only about 350 when I lived there.  It had been a very long time since I talked to someone who knew about my little town. She told me that her mom and uncles went to the same high school as I did.  It was kind of cool to talk to someone famous who actually knew where I lived.

      But ever cooler is the fact that God, the Creator of the whole universe and most famous One of all, knew me before I was born, according to Psalm 139. He knows my name -- He knows my every thought -- and I can talk to Him any time I want to.

Now THAT is really amazing!!