Last Friday, at exactly 12:15, I was handed the best gift EVER! As soon as school ended and all my students were picked up by their parents, the freedom of having ten days off of school, plus three weekends thrown in to boot, made me jump for joy. And last night it felt so good to know I did not have to set out lunch bags, or prepare things ahead of time for meals this week. It is amazing how the simple things in life make us the happiest. I thank the Lord for all that He has provided for us and allowed us to have over the years, yet His free gifts are what I thank Him for the most: salvation, talents, love, time together with family, my children, etc. The list goes on. Yes, this year has been a really, really hard year, and I look forward to seeing it come to an end, but God never left my side through all the trials and heartache this year held. He has been watching over my family and me, taking care of us, comforting us, and nudging me back when I felt I just wanted to run away. Oh, I need to share an answer to prayer that JJ prayed the other day. It is always exciting to me when I see the Lord respond so quickly to my children because they need to see and know that He is real to them, not just to their parents. Joe had taken JJ and Caleb down to Kiwi Spoon to meet some of their buddies for ice cream. While there Joe ran the battery down by leaving his lights on in the car and so when they tried to start it it would not even roll over for him. He called me to bring the truck down so he could jump start the Pilot, but I realized I did not have my set of truck keys...there had been some sort of mess up with our keys during that week and we could not find a set of car keys. I could not go anywhere and he was stuck. He hung up so he could try to figure out what he could do and then a little while later the phone rang. It was Joe again. He said, "JJ suggested something brillant!"
"What's that?" I asked.
"He suggested I pray and then for me to try starting the car one more time."
"And?" I prodded.
"The car started right up! We are coming home!"
It made my heart sing to hear that JJ wanted to go to the Lord for such a matter, and for the Lord to answer him, well, OH THE JOY! Thank You, Lord!
In closing, I want to put down some light-hearted comments made by the seven students in my kindergarten class. A while back I wrote about how you should watch what you pray for, and always be specific. I had asked for personality and I definitely received it this year - times seven! So, here are some funny quotes for the five year olds in my classroom:
Callie: "Why do I have to pray every day? Praying is just not my thing!"
Paisley: "This is tasty mac n cheese!" then she paused and thought for a minute, then added, "I don't like tasty!"
Paisley: "Stop doing that! You are breaking my heart!"
D'arcy: "I miss my cousin Leah. My heart is missing her heart."
Callie: After eating an ice cream sandwich from one of the teachers, she noticed all the other children were eating Popsicles. She threw her wrapper into the garbage, came up to me and said, "I changed my mind. I don't want an ice cream sandwich. I want a Popsicle instead!"
I asked the children what they wanted to be when they grew up. The girls said they wanted to be a ballerina, a veterinarian, a princess, a nursery helper, and a babysitter. One of my boys looked at me and said, "I want to trick myself to be a scientist!"
Zeke: "I know where rocks come from! They come from outer space!"
Callie and Brihanna were fighting over an invisible bunny...Callie accused Bri of taking it and not giving it back. When I asked Brihanna why she didn't give it back, she looked at me funny and said, "Well, can't you see there are two of them?"
I had set up a fair theme on the bulletin board to earn "rides" for good behavior. Callie had earned some fun dollars to ride the roller coaster and informed me, "I won't get sick on it. I will eat some food. Food from McDonalds, and I won't get sick on it."
D'arcy: "We are playing mermaids and we have garfish on us." I asked her what a garfish was. "Oh, something in Level One of Daddy's game."
The children were playing around calling me different names, like Mrs. Wilson, Mrs. Nill, and Mrs. Darth Vadar. I did not respond to them as they goofed around, but then Brihanna said, "Don't worry, Mrs. Simmons. I won't call you those names. I still respect the laws."
Brihanna: "I saw your son climb up the swings to the top of the pole."
"Which son?" I asked.
"The one with the sharp hair." (JJ)
We have this little game where I hide my toy chameleon Curly around the room and the kids have to find him. Paisley found Curly outside the door of our room and excitedly told the others she had found it. Then she went to her sister and said, "I found Curly so I am a genius!" Then with puzzled looks they both looked at me and asked, "What's a genius?"
Brhianna: "I like to dance the tingle!" (Tango)
Callie: When they children play together there is always two or three who like to be in charge. So the other day I heard Callie inform the other girls: "I am the incharger!"
D'arcy: "I am allergic to cinnamon. If I eat it I get big things like baseballs on my face that go 'poof' and my skin gets swallowed up by them!"
Rylee and Brihanna have a game they like to play: they will pretend they are performing a dance together, but every time I look at them they get embarrassed and run and hide. I love looking at them out of the corner of my eye and watch them go squealing into the corner of the room with big grins on their faces. They are too funny!
Through many sunsets
You've seen days filled with rain
You've had your share of smiles
You've felt life's sting of pain,
Though many years have gone
Life still goes on and on,
But in all that time,
Love has never changed.
I wrote those words as a young teenage girl for Grandma's and Grandpa's 50th wedding anniversary. All the grandchildren sang the song, and everyone oohhed and ahhed over how cute we all were. I had no idea what the future held for our family, but I knew that up to that point Grandma had experienced a lot of things in life, both happy and sad. That was over 20 years ago...there has been a lot more life experiences that have occurred between that point and now that makes the words to the song have more depth and meaning. As I have grown up, married, and had children of my own, I realized the last line of that song was not exactly true...love does change. Through the winding roads of time love has a way of getting stronger; it is a very powerful emotion that grows like a flower blooming in the springtime. It's the very thing that made the words “Grandma's house” spark joy and excitement inside a little girl's heart. And it is what causes me such pain today as we gather here to say goodbye to a wonderful lady.
I loved going to see Grandma. Her house was the very example of what a little, white haired grandmother's house should be filled with: good smells, tasty foods, and an awesome time with family. Her big smile of greeting always made me feel special as she hugged me close and remarked at how tall I had grown over the past year. I knew it would be a great few days of catching up and making wonderful memories. We had a lot in common and we shared many things together in life. We shared the joy of baking goodies for the family and enjoyed watching everyone eat them until their tummies were overflowing. We shared the crazy habit of constantly rearranging furniture in the house which made those around us shake our heads in confusion or simply just roll their eyes. We shared a running joke together that every time I came to visit her, something bad would happen to us, her house, or even the world. I had many fender benders on my trips out to her place, and there was the time the big tree limb fell on her roof during a storm. She turned to me with that glint in her eye and said, “ Every time you are here something happens. It must be your fault, Cara, trouble follows you!”
Another thing that we shared was her son, who was also my Dad. Losing him back in April of this year was a blow to the family that has still not healed. Now to add the loss of my grandmother to our already tender, hurting hearts makes it even harder to process. Yet, what helps me is one more thing thing that Grandma and I shared: our faith. She had placed her trust in the Lord many years ago, something I did as a little girl, and she had a peace about where she was going to go when she breathed her final breath on this earth. There have been many times when I wondered why my dad had to go when he did, but I believe that God has a perfect timing for everything. Somehow my dad's passing eased my grandmother's mind and helped her not be afraid anymore to take that journey across the river to reach heaven. She knew my dad would be waiting there for her, reaching out his hand, smiling in that way of his, just waiting to pull her into a hug and take her to see Jesus. She knew Grandpa would be there too, because he had also put his faith in the Lord right before he passed away. And little Richard...the infant son she lost from spinal bifida. He must have been waiting right beside everyone else eager to see his mother and have a joyful reunion.
Yes, Grandma and I shared a lot of things, and now I have those memories of all the good times we shared together too. I will hold them close, write stories about them, and share them with my own children. In closing, I want to share with you a Scripture that was Grandma's favorite passage from the Bible. It is Psalms 23:
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
I'll miss you, Beema, but I know I will see you again someday. Until then, rest in peace and enjoy those golden roads.