March 25, 2015

Yes, Again.

Yes, again.

I’m packing, again. Finding clothes, filling little bottles, sorting out my house, making sure there’s enough food and supplies - human and feline - for my housesitter. Weighing my suitcase, to make sure that I fall, safely, within the 50-pound (23-kilo) limit. Finding places to put little stuffed animals (shoes work), and taking out that “t-shirt that I really don’t need…” so I can can put more supplies in the bag. Writing sub plans for six days (!!), and essentially making sure that everything’s in order for my classes while I’m gone (if you’re a teacher, you know how much work that is…).

And, breathing. Because this whole leaving-for-two-weeks-to-journey-to-the-ends-of-the-Earth-during-the-middle-of-the-school-year is crazy. Exhausting. Brain-numbing.

And, there are times that I wonder if it’s worth it. I mean, I’m going to be FLYING for over 22 hours. One way. Not counting the layovers, which are long. Sleeping under mosquito nets, taking anti-malarials which do not sit well with my system, being in a climate that’s muggy and HOT (like, 90ish-degrees at 2:00AM, kind of hot). Being in close proximity (as in, they’re sitting on me) with smelly, dirty children. Myself getting very dirty and sweaty and gross. While I enjoy a good “adventure,” I’d much rather it be in a climate that’s temperate-to-cool. Where I don’t sweat.

There are so many reasons why this is a “bad idea.” So many reasons that, if I give in to my selfish, ME-driven desires, are quickly put into the “Nope” category, and could easily talk me out of this “adventure.”

And, yet.

There is a voice, whispered deep in my soul, that says, “This, THIS is what I made you to do.” It’s a voice that I’ve listened to over and over again, hence this crazy, adventure-filled life that I’ve lead. It’s the voice that’s taught me to love, taught me to look past the outside of a human to see the PERSON underneath. The voice that has called me to do crazy, awkward, “are you CRAZY??” things in the name of love.

The voice that reminds me of children named Gift. And Beatrice. And Jonathan Saidi. Zione. Shadrek. Beauty. Wisdom. Brigit...and with each name comes a face. A story. A heart that needs to be loved.

And so, I pack. I write sub plans. I organize my house, and then I gather my amazing high school students around me, and we’ll get on many planes and travel many, many miles for just the chance to love. Even if only for a short while. Because those children need to be told, once again, that they are loved. Deeply. Wholly. Completely. By the One who made them. And, they need to be shown it - tangibly - by those of us who know the One who made them and called them.

So, yes. Again and again and again. I will go.

February 2, 2015

Ooooooh, Child...

"...things are gonna get easier. Ooooooh, child, things'll get brighter..."

Now the song's in my head. You're welcome, The Five Stairsteps fans.

But, seriously.

Dear Sweet Child Who's in My Classroom at Lunch,

I love that you're your own person. Independent. Smart as a whip. Your fashion choices are...well...not mainstream. I love that you wear pants that are too short for you, rainbow, neon-checked socks, and a light mint-green shirt. I love that you twisted your long, almost scraggly blonde hair back, but that there's definite evidence of bed-head still at play.

I love that you have a fierce sense of self, and I love that you are determined to be YOU, regardless of what the throngs of junior high kiddos are doing. I love that you refuse to compromise who you are to fit in, but I love that you are still willing to try to find a point of connection with others who are so different from you.

But, I also know. I know that you long for a friend, and you have yet to find one. I know that by coming into my classroom and telling me about your weekend adventures with your family that you're looking for validation. I know that doing your homework at lunch is a defense against the loneliness you're feeling because you see everyone else in groups. Laughing. Joking. Connecting.

And, honey. It breaks my heart, too. I WANT for you to feel accepted, loved. Connected to the peers around you. I desire for you to have a friend who will look you in the face and honestly say, "Yes. You are my friend. I love you because of who you are. You are my tribe."

And, my heart breaks because I was that girl in junior high. I didn't have that friend...not at school. I wandered the halls, spoke more with teachers than my peers, and I hid behind the facade of homework so those around me couldn't notice how much it hurt that they couldn't...or wouldn't see me.

So, child. Sweet, sweet, independent, crazy, awesome, non-sequitur child, you are always welcome with me. Come eat in my classroom, come pretend to do homework, come follow me around and tell me the minutia of your adventures outside of school.

There will come a day that God brings you that friend. The one who will connect, on a soul-level with you, who will challenge you, push you, accept you, and just love you...for who you are. Until then, you always have a safe place with me. And even after that friend shows up, I'm still gonna need to have you drop by. Just for some fashion advice. :)


That Girl