Sunday, August 31, 2014

Youre a perfect little snowflake

I look down at myself right now, and I see a shapeless t-shirt that identifies me as a worker in the kids area at church. I see 8-year-old PJ pants with cartoonish penguins on them. My sparkly toenails don't come close to redeeming this lazy Sunday afternoon outfit.

There are people around me, though, who see more.

A little while ago, Zoodle showed me a picture. I quickly deciphered the writing on it, with its oddly-hyphenated words. "No matter what youre always a perfect little snowflake!" it read. He'd drawn an orange snowflake with the label, "Perfect little snowflake."

 "It's for you," he told me.

Then he took it back, and to make it clear, wrote, "To Mommy" on the corner.

But his creativity was still flowing, so he once again grabbed the paper and made an addition--another snowflake. This one wasn't that attractive, so he gave it the captions, "Bad snowflake" and "Not like you." We both smiled.

Then he drew one more snowflake, with long eyelashes and a big smile. "Pretty snowflake like you," he wrote.

I cuddled with my guy and knew this was one work of art I won't throw away.

In his eyes, I am a perfect, beautiful snowflake. I'm not sure what I did to deserve those accolades today, but I'll take them.

Look around. I bet there's someone who thinks you're amazing. It may not be a universally-held view, and that's okay. That someone has the opinion I want you to listen to today. Don't listen to those who criticize needlessly. (A lot of days you probably shouldn't listen to your own opinion of yourself either.)

Instead, listen to that person who sees the wonder of you. Smile, and bask in it. Know that your Creator also sees this wonder in you, every single day.

You're a pretty snowflake too.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it's off to school we go

Oh, you know, it's just me...blogging after 9 months off. Man, I could have gestated a human being in that length of time!

For the record, I didn't. But a lot sure has changed.

I took on a very part-time job at my church, directing the elementary ministry. I decided to leave real estate behind to focus on that. Then that job turned into a part-time-but-closer-to-full-time-including-office-hours (hey, with nine months off from blogging, my ability to be concise is rusty) job as a children's pastor.  And this week...the kids went back to public school.

I'm glad I always told people that I was open to reevaluating homeschooling, since it ended up (unexpectedly!) being only a two-year venture for us. For various reasons, it was time for a change.

But I was nervous. Chickie has been dealing with something that one in eight kids struggles with...anxiety. (If I remembered where I'd read that statistic, I'd cite it!) I felt it was time for her to gain some confidence by spreading her wings at school. But I knew that she would need a teacher who could be gentle and understanding with her. I prayed and prayed--and so did Chickie--that she would get a great teacher.

A week and a half before school started, the kids and I went to New Family Orientation. We walked down the third grade hallway, and Chickie saw a sign outside one of the doors. It was hand-painted with the teacher's name, and it had popcorn painted on it too. We peeked in the window and saw a cute classroom. "That's the teacher I want," she said.

A week after that, we were back for Open House, the night when the kids would meet their teachers. We found the lists--and Chickie had gotten the teacher she wanted. By the time we'd visited Zoodle's class and walked to Chickie's, all the other parents were gone from the room. A few minutes alone with the teacher...on Open House night? Score!

I asked the teacher if we could talk. She, Chickie, and I sat down, and I explained Chickie's anxiety and what I've found works when she gets upset. The teacher listened with a look of kindness and understanding, and then she bent down a little so she was eye-to-eye with Chickie. "My daughter deals with bad anxiety too," she said. Then she proceeded to ask Chickie questions about herself. Everything about her spoke gentleness and kindness. I came away from the meeting amazed at the perfect match of this teacher with my daughter. We'd prayed--and God really did care. He put Chickie in just the right place.

Those moments set the tone for Chickie's school year. I've been so pleasantly surprised at how well my daughter--to whom change can be daunting--is adjusting this week, and I give her teacher a large portion of the credit for that!

Zoodle missed the first two days of school thanks to illness, and these last three days have been up and down. The adjustment of a stricter schedule, plus the long school day, has worn him out. I think he'll be fine, but for now he's not so sure about this whole school thing.

But you know what? The God who cared enough to put my daughter in just the right class cares about my son too. I'm looking forward to seeing the little miracles that happen with him this school year.

I'm glad we had this chat. Let's do it again soon, okay?