Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Letter to the Parents of my Preschoolers

Dear Moms and Dads of my preschoolers,

The school year is drawing to a close and my time with your children is almost over.  I hope and pray I will see you and your children next year, but I know sometimes that isn't possible.  I have grown to love and care for your children this year, and I will miss them!

So as the time nears for us to say goodbye, I wanted to take a moment to tell you something.

You're doing a great job.

I have kids myself and know that you might not always feel that way.  But I am here to assure you that you are indeed raising fine young people.

Your children are funny.  They make me laugh every day.  They crack themselves up; big belly laughs and hysterical giggles.  I can't help but join in.  They tell me jokes with punchlines only a 4-year-old could create.  They often think I am hilarious, which is not a character trait other age groups especially notice in me.

Your children are good friends. They love the friends they have made this year in school.  They play together, they hug each other, they share with one another.  True, it's not always roses and butterflies, but when they have a disagreement with a friend, they apologize and offer forgiveness.  They truly care about the friends they have made this year.

Your children are loved.  Daily I hear stories about how Mommy took me to the playground, or Daddy loves to wrestle with me.  These are the things that they treasure - memories with you.  You love them with a fierce love, and they know it and flourish because of it.

Your children are well fed.  I help the children unpack their lunches each day and I see the healthy food you prepared with TLC.  Sure, I know preparing lunches isn't anyone's favorite task, but their lunches show that you rose to the occasion and gave them good choices each day.

Your children are well dressed.  I don't mean wearing the cutest fashions with this one, although that is often the case too!  No, I mean you took a moment to listen to the weather forecast and properly dress your child.  You also made sure your child had mittens, a hat, boots, snow pants. . .the exhausting list of items children need in the winter months.  You made sure they were well prepared for the elements so they could enjoy recess time.

Your children are happy.  Ok, maybe not all the time, but for the most part, your children relish life and bounce happily into school with a smile and hug goodbye to you.  And if your children are a little sad to say goodbye, you know to give them one last kiss and hug and send them in promptly, knowing they will be fine before you make it down the hallway.

Your children are secure.  They are secure in their knowledge of your love, of who they are and their place in your family.  They feel safe, knowing Mommy and Daddy love them enormously.

Your children know Jesus.  I am always blown away by how much your children know about the Bible and their Savior.  They know how much He loves them, even when they might make choices that don't please Him.  They know He loves them so much that He died on the cross for them, and they can tell you the whole story.  You teach them about Jesus, and they, therefore, know Jesus.

I won't get to see your little ones every day after this week.  But I know they have big things ahead of them.  So keep up the good work, Moms and Dads.  You're doing a great job.

Love,

Your child's teacher


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Not Just Another Suit

I spent the morning scouting out stores that have good deals on suits for my teenage son.  In two weeks he will be graduating from 8th grade and it occurred to me last week that he probably shouldn't wear Adidas shorts and a Star Wars sweatshirt to the service.

So off I went to the mall in search of a suit that wouldn't break the bank for a boy who would soon outgrow it.  My friends, I love to shop, truly I do, but this isn't my kind of shopping.  I know nothing of suits and ties - my husband rarely wears either one.  His daily attire consists of clericals which we buy online (and for which there are no good deals to be had!), and black dress pants I buy with coupons at Kohl's.

Suffice it to say, this was simply a chore to me. A friend texted me and asked me what I was up to today, and I typed a snarky reply, finishing up with an "ugh".  And then I re-read my text.  And erased it.

Because I remembered it was a privilege to be shopping for a son who needs a suit.  To have the money to buy a suit.  To have a son who has two younger brothers who can hopefully wear the suit someday.  To have a son who is smart, funny and talented and will look handsome for his graduation.  To have a son who is healthy and strong.  To have a son who has grown so much that all of the hand-me-down suits we own are too small on him.  To have a son who wants to wear a red tie and an American flag on his lapel because he loves his country.  To have a son who is getting more mature by the day.  To have a son who has strong moral and ethical convictions and fiercely loves his Lord.

I remembered it was a privilege and a blessing to have a son.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Wait, what?

Recently, we had our whole family together.  Both sets of grandparents, all the aunts and uncles and cousins and our seven were gathered.  My sister and my sister-in-law, who went to college together but don't get to see each other very often, were having a conversation that went something like this:

Sis:  I've always said I could be a marine! If I had tried when I was 18, I really think I could have done it!

Sis-in-law: (looking puzzled) Hhhhmmm. . .

Sis: (feeling she should explain further) Seriously!  Dad never thought I could do it and always scoffed at it.  I know the training is rigorous, but I could have made it when I was younger.

Sis-in-law:  (looking perplexed) Umm, ok. . .

Sis:  (taking her confusion for doubt).  Well, I really think when I was about 18 I could have managed it if I had worked hard enough.


Turns out, my sis-in-law did not hear my sister say she could be a marine, but instead thought she had said she could be a mermaid.


Hey - she totally could have been a mermaid if she tried hard enough.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Bedtime Stories

Every evening, a glorious thing occurs.  I finish all my chores for the day, I brush my teeth and get ready for bed, and then I Lie Down.   What is it that is so marvelous about lying down in one's bed after a long and tiring day? Often a small sigh escapes my lips as I revel in the beauty of simply lying down and resting.  It has always been a wonder to me how the children do not enjoy this sensation as I do.  They fight and whine and thoroughly dislike this very thing that brings me so much happiness.  Children are curious creatures.

But back to climbing into bed.  The other day, I bought new sheets (at Kohl's of course, with two coupons). After I washed them, I was making the bed and I had a ridiculous amount of excitement just thinking about sleeping on them.  They are gray (one of my favorite decor colors), with a tiny quatrefoil pattern.  They are beautiful and crisp and cool and delicious.

They are the best kind of sheets manufactured - percale.  A few years ago, I did a scientific research study (re: I polled my Facebook friends and did a google search) on which kinds of sheets were best. I knew what I wanted, but I didn't know what they were called.  The answer is percale.

Some of you might like your sheets to be soft or silky or flannel or satin.  You may like them to have an astronomically high thread count.  I'm sorry to inform you, though, that you're missing out.  Cool and crisp is the way to go.

My new sheets didn't disappoint.  As I crawled into bed that first night, I smiled a little.  It's the little things in life, dear reader.

Like percale.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

I live to serve!

"I live to serve."

These words were muttered under my breath without the faintest sincerity about serving.  I had spent the entire Sunday fluttering between laundry, paperwork, cleaning up, dishes, cleaning the house, online shopping, taxi driving, disciplining and the like.

I had been serving all day, and frankly I was getting tired of serving.

But as I said those words to a child who had asked for my assistance, I pondered my calling for a moment.  Serving my family often feels thankless.  Do this, mom. . . help me, mom. . .drive me here, mom. . . the list goes on and on.  But whether or not I am validated in my calling on a daily basis doesn't negate my calling.  I am nonetheless still called to serve my family - my children and my husband, and even further, my extended family, friends and church family.

But wow - sometimes it's mighty hard to do.  I often just want to serve myself, thankyouverymuch! If I had had my druthers this particular Sunday, I would have spent the entire day in the sunshine, reading a book and snoozing. Instead it was filled with all sorts of mundane bits of domesticity.  And I felt weary from it.

But one of my tasks that day was to reach out to someone who had lost a child.  And even amidst the weariness I was feeling that evening, the juxtaposition of my feelings of frustration against the feelings of a grieving mother was not lost on me.  The very things that were chafing at me that day were the very things that were taken from her because of her loss.  She longs to serve that child once more, but must wait now until they are reunited in heaven.

May I no longer mutter the words "I live to serve".  May I rejoice in them, thankful for the blessing of having the opportunity to do so.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

True Wealth

I recently saw a picture on Facebook.  The picture was of an older, distinguished gentleman, standing on a New York street.  The caption was this:

"I've been working for 45 years, and so has my wife.  But we have no money.  You know why?  Because my five kids have two bachelor's, a master's, and two doctorate degrees.  They are my wealth."

I was really touched by this quote.  My husband and I will likely never have much money to speak of.  We are careful with our finances (remember my Budgetary Smackdown and the Freedom Budget?), but still, two church workers raising five kids doesn't a wealthy lifestyle create.  We will probably pay as much as we can toward our children's college educations, with them working to cover the rest. We and the kids will probably have loans too.

But as I read this quote, I read more into it.  It wasn't just about money.  It was the true wealth that children afford a couple.  With each child we had, we knew our discretionary income would be decrease.  But we also knew that our blessings would blossom thousandfold!  Our children are our true wealth - worth far more than expensive vacations, designer clothes or a big fancy house.

The kids sometime say things like "Why don't we ever get to stay in a hotel on our vacations?  Why can't we go out to dinner?  I really, really want _____ like so-and-so has.  Why is our van such a piece of poo?"  A friend of mine, who has three siblings and is the daughter of a Lutheran pastor and teacher, said her parents often told her, "We are rich in God's love".  I often give the children this answer when they moan and groan about being "poor" (they don't know what poor is!).  It has become a bit of an inside joke now, but the meaning is not lost on them.  God's love, shown to us in this instance through family, is our true wealth.

Behold, children are a heritage of the Lord
Psalm 127:3a


Sunday, April 24, 2016

How to Score a Free Lunch

1.  Have a meeting and lots of errands to run.
2.  Decide to grab lunch and take it home.
3.  Go to new Qdoba because you hear it's awesome.
4.  Park car, enter building and realize there are 20+ people in line.
5.  Go back to car and head next door to Panda Express drive thru.
6.  See a longish line at Panda Express but decide to stay anyway.
7.  Because orange chicken.
8.  Watch two people ahead of you pull out of the end of the line.
9.  Truly commit to the actual drive thru, which has curbs and therefore no escape options.
10. Surf Facebook.
11. Answer a couple emails.
12. Place order for orange chicken.
13. Feel guilty for ordering such a junky lunch.
14. Text two friends.
15. Get annoyed that you have been in line for so long.
16. Realize that you have been sitting in the Panda Express drive thru for 25 minutes of your life.
17. Use iPhone to look up Panda Express' phone number.
18. Plan to ask the good folks at PE if they are experiencing a natural disaster inside.
19. Or perhaps a medical crisis, rendering them unable to slop fried chicken and rice into a bowl.
20. Marvel over how simple it should be to fill an order at this particular establishment.
21. Finally see the person in front of you move.
22. Decide how to phrase your thoughts. "What the heck is happening in there?" doesn't seem nice.
23. Pull up to window and start to hand the very animated cashier your debit card.
24. See her hand out your order and hear her say with a smile, "No charge since you had to wait!"
25. Feel suddenly validated with restaurant choice.