Thursday, January 28, 2016

"Plans for your welfare"

The work of a teacher requires an amalgamation of skills, including but not limited to:

Deep breath-taking

In the middle of all the (fill-in-the-blank from above), there are multiple moments each day when I help children with perspective. One of my go-to phrases:

Is this a big problem or a little problem?

What most children want to know, whether they've left an overdue library book at home or broken a pencil or missed a few questions on an assessment is this:

Am I going to be OK?

Of course, those aren't the exact words they use. Some get weepy. Some wring their hands. Some speak with an angry tone. Some wilt. Some mentally check out for the rest of the day.

What most seem to be seeking is reassurance that everything is going to be OK. And, of course, it is. Problems are rarely as horrible as we imagine them, though we often don't understand or acknowledge that until long after the problem is solved.

Turn the library books in tomorrow. Borrow a pencil. Learn from your mistakes and try again next time.

After a tiny little bitty "crisis" at school today, after I had assured a student that everything would be OK, I thought of how much I miss Steve during my own tiny little bitty "crises." Even though it's been more than six years since we could speak to each other, I still have moments when I want to spill out my troubles, talk through solutions and hear, "Everything is going to be OK."

And then, Jeremiah 29:11 popped into my head. (Not word for word, as written below. More of a paraphrasing.)

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

One of the countless lessons from this reluctant widowhood is the importance of relying on strength from a source greater than myself, greater than could possibly come from any human. No doubt, it's comforting -- and often necessary -- to have another person, especially a person you trust and love, tell you that the crisis will pass. 

For me, it's even more critical to rely on God's promises of a future with hope. That's the kind of comfort that propels me through the day -- with my own two children or the 61 fourth-graders I lovingly call "mine" this year.
Cooper and Katie, before church Sunday morning, on Steve's bench

Thursday, January 21, 2016

There are moments when

There are moments when,
after I've worked 10 hours
and rushed to the vet to pick up
our sweet aging dog
and I'm driving home
with Katie in the backseat
chatting about her day,
and I'm eager to see Cooper,
who still needs to tell me about his,
that my throat tightens
and my eyes water
and I wonder

Did I think that life was tough before Steve was ill?
What would today be like if Steve had lived?
Who is going to take care of me when I'm old and gray?

Then I reach the top of the hill,
Spy glimpses of the setting sun,
Allow silent tears to fall,
Take a breath,
Whisper, "Thank you" for this day,
Reel my worries in,
Turn my attention to
Dinner and dishes,
Homework and laundry,
Goodnight hugs and kisses,
And the joy found in reveling in right now.