Thankful Thursday #72

I have so much to be thankful for, but this week I feel compelled to take time to express gratitude for the families of my students.  This week I’m thankful for…

  • the mom who says, “Of course.” each and every time I ask for her help
  • the mom who speaks and moves with gentleness, reminding me to do the same
  • the family who prays for me every night
  • the father who sought me out at church last Sunday to tell me what a privilege it was to have their son in my class and then bear hugged me.  Twice.
  • the grandmother and aunt who emailed me letting me know how our class musical gave their little one a time to shine when she most needed it, when the family needed something happy
  • the grandmother who left a voicemail for my administrator telling him that I’m turning children into writers
  • the father who came to school early to thank me for instilling confidence in his son
  • the family who tells me they love me every time I see them.  From the grandmother right down to the children, they end each conversation with, “We love you, Mrs. McCauley.”
  • the father who peacefully agreed to disagree with me because he wants to show his son what respect for authority looks like
  • all the parents who gave of their time every week to love my little ones

As I go into the last couple of days of school, my heart is filled with gratitude and love for these little ones and their parents who have made me feel like a member of their families.

 

The Stars on My Feet

I dream every night and every morning I remember upwards of five or six dreams.  I’ve always been that way, the owner of a mind that meanders freely down the dark streets of night.  My dreams range from the bizarre to the completely mundane, but this dream was so specific.

I dreamed that a friend hennaed stars on my feet, twelve stars to be exact. I woke up recalling every word of the dream, every stitch of clothing, every detail right down to the conversations we had.

A few days later, I sat in church while the pastor taught about the blessings in the book of Revelation.  My heart stopped at this verse:

“A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.” Revelation 12:1

Wait, what???  I snapped to attention because, let’s face it, my mind sometimes wanders in church.  Did the pastor say 12 stars?  I flicked to the right page of my Bible on my phone.  Sure enough.  A crown of 12 stars.  Who was this great and wondrous sign of a woman?

Over the next few days I did a little digging and found that some people think she represents Israel, God’s chosen nation.  Others think she represents purity and still other Biblical scholars think she represents motherhood.

As I studied I had to laugh because the meanings are so opposite of me.  Pure?  Not really.  I fight to tame my tongue every single day.  Motherly?  Not even close.  This uterus is a No Baby Zone.

The only part I could relate to was being like Israel.  In fact, I could relate to that part big time, being chosen in spite of my stubborn nature, loud mouth and a gazillion other less than desirable qualities.  In fact that sounds a lot like me, a sometimes petulant nation loved beyond measure and mercy.  Yep, I fit that description well.

I told my henna artist friend, the one from the dream, all about my dream stars and she offered to come down and henna a blessing on my feet.  A few days passed and our schedules never matched up.

Until.  There’s always an until, isn’t there?  I let the dozen stars fade into the recesses of my mind until last Sunday at church again when the pastor read Psalm 147:4.

“He counts the stars and calls them all by name.”  

There were those stars again.  I had a little moment with God.

Seriously, God, what is it with these stars?  What am I not getting?  I have conversations like that a lot with God, wherein I am dense.

I asked another dear friend if she’d henna my dream stars onto my feet.  I’ve known this woman since she was a teenager and I was a young adult volunteering with her Friday Night Live chapter.  She’s creative and kindhearted and I’m filled with love for her every time I see her.  She’s grown into an amazing woman and last night as she sat on my patio telling me about upcoming job interviews and painting stars on my feet, I was filled with pride.  I couldn’t love her more if she were my own.  Maybe, just maybe, I’ve got a smidge of motherly tendencies in me after all.

People ask me all the time if I’m afraid to go to Uganda.  I’m not.  No, really, I’m not.  Trust me, I’m as shocked as you are.  I’m anxious about little things like making sure I remember to take my anti-malarial pills and making sure I don’t miss any of my connecting flights.  But I’m surprisingly not scared of much else.

And it’s because of those stars.

I feel chosen to work with the kids at in Uganda, chosen to be the one who helps them tell their stories.  That’s not a privilege I take lightly.  I know that the God who counts the stars and calls them by name walks with me in this work.

I’m so excited about the work and the stories and the things that I’ll learn from these children that there’s just no room for fear.

There’s only room for stars, both in my dreams and darkening on my feet.

Thankful Thursday #71

image courtesy of indulgy.com

This week I’m thankful for…

  • weekends with old friends
  • holding a new dragonfly and sending it off on its first flight
  • watching the eclipse with friends
  • tetherball
  • kickball
  • roasting s’mores around the campfire
  • seeing the rings of Saturn through a telescope
  • open window weather
  • a short night hike
  • DiGiorno pizza, which totally counts as cooking in my book 😉
  • watching chick flicks with the girls
  • listening to my summer playlist while finishing report cards
  • my husband who shows me all the cool sports highlights
  • the fact that I live in a country where I don’t have to worry about yellow fever or malaria
  • another class musical that was a HUGE hit with all the parents.  We put out 150 chairs and even still people were sitting on the floor and standing in back.  It’s great to have families come out and support their little ones.
  • this lovely gift from my students and their parents

 

Christmas Card in May

The envelope was plastered with stickers, frogs upon neon smiley faces upon bears upon princesses upon Power Rangers upon ladybugs upon shiny hearts.

There were so many stickers that I couldn’t open the flap and instead ended up easing the contents of the envelope out the bottom of the envelope.

What greeted me was a gingerbread man in a Santa hat.

Needless to say, this was a bit of a surprise being that it’s May.

It made me giggle as I remembered the time my family celebrated Christmas in December AND April because my brother couldn’t come home from boot camp in December.  We did Christmas twice. Christmas in April included a Christmas tree, stockings, piles of wrapped presents, all the Christmas decorations and even Christmas carols from our old radio.

Yes, we were THAT family.

But back to the gingerbread card.  Based on the sheer amount of stickers on the envelope, I knew a pair of little hands had gone through a lot of work to make this card and slip it into my in basket without me noticing.  I didn’t discover the card until after school when I sat down at my horseshoe table and began to sort through the pile of papers.

I opened the envelope and grinned at the gingerbread man smiling back at me.  My smile deepened as I read the inside.

*The student’s name has been blocked for privacy purposes.

I love this little one deep down in all the corners of my heart.  I thought back to Fall days with this little one when she barely spoke a word of English and could only write the names of the people in her family.  Every day she’d stare at me with wide black eyes, drinking in the words I spoke and gulping down the books I read.

She began to read and write on her own.  Her notebook became a sacred space of stories and poem and drawings, drawings so precise and so bold with color that her classmates would often gather around her in amazement as she commanded her crayons in ways they couldn’t imagine.

Her stories were always pictures first followed by words.  I told her she was an illustrator/author.  She once asked me if I was an illustrator/author, too, and I told her that my mind thinks in words and that it was a gift to have a brain like hers that created such beautiful pictures.

When I opened her card, I looked for the picture.  I looked in the sticker encrusted envelope for an additional folded up paper crayoned with her work.  To my surprise, there wasn’t a picture, just the happy gingerbread man and those precious few words.

I stood the gingerbread man up on my chair at the front of the classroom so that I’d be sure to thank her at our morning meeting the next day.  The next day came and she entered the classroom hanging up her backpack that was almost as big as she is.  She took down her chair, placed her things on her desk and walked to the front of the room.  She saw her gingerbread card on my chair and gave him a tiny wave before taking her place on the carpet.  During our morning meeting, I thanked her for the card and stood it on the shelf next to my chair.

When snack recess came around, she hung around the classroom until all the others had gone out to play.  She sidled up to me and slipped her head underneath my arm.

“I liked my card very much,”  I said, bending down to her level and giving her a squeeze.

“It’s for Teacher Appreciation Day,” she said, stumbling over the word appreciation until she got it right.  “It’s the Gingerbread Baby,” she smiled.

“Oh, that’s one of my favorite books,” I winked at her.

“I know.  It’s my favorite book, too,” she said in her small voice.  I knew she loved that book because Gingerbread Baby had spent the better part of winter in her book box.

“I love the verbs Jan Brett uses in that book, don’t you?”

She nodded.  “But the best thing is the pictures she drew on the sides.”

“I can see why that would be your favorite part.  In fact I’m a little surprised that you didn’t draw a picture in the gingerbread man card..”

“Your brain thinks in words.”

I laughed, remembering our conversation from so many months ago.  “You’re right, it absolutely does.”

“It’s okay, Mrs. McCauley, a word brain is another kind of gift.”  She patted my head and bounced out to recess.

Teacher Appreciation Week came and went and I was appreciated with special lunches, gift cards and flowers.  But the gift that stands out most is the Christmas card, that gingerbread man penciled in with words from my little one, a thoughtful little girl who understands the beauty of minds that work differently and hearts that love the same.

Thankful Thursday #69

Image courtesy of erraticallyelizabeth.blogspot.com

This week I’m thankful for…

  • watching the last pitch of a perfect game
  • a rainy day forecast that turned out to be a beautiful and breezy sunny day for my outdoor field trip to the creek
  • holding the anthology that includes one of my pieces in my own two hands
  • new opportunities within the Northern California Writing Project
  • kayaking on the lake
  • weather nice enough to grill outside
  • walking by the river with a dear friend
  • my loved ones who have donated to my trip to Uganda.  You bless me richly in so many ways.