Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Lessons I Learned from My Kids (When I Was Supposed to Be Teaching Them)

On the First Day of School
           September 1991 -- The first day of school for Jenny, my little lady, was a very traumatic time.  There were hugs, kisses, and tears – lots and lots of tears (and not a drop was shed by Jenny!).  Jhen had two church friends in her kindergarten class, so she was really excited.  I think leaving her in the church nursery and later on in her own Sunday School classes at church prepared her for the first day of school, but nothing prepared us, her parents, for the heart-wrenching reality of the significance of that day.
            For the first time in her life, I would not be in control of her surroundings.  When she was born, I decided to quit the work force to be at home with my baby, and I have been for the last 5 ½ years.  From the time she was born, I was in control of her environment.  I volunteered to chair the Preschool Department so that I could have an active role in what went on.
            I carefully screened TV shows, books, and music that came into our home, and rejected those I deemed inappropriate.  Even her young friends who came over to play were “under my control” – they knew immediately the kinds of language and behavior that were acceptable.  No matter what the rules were at their home, kids who came over to “Miss JoAnn’s” had to go by MY stringent rules.
            Wherever she went, whatever she did, Jenny was always under a watchful eye -- either mine or someone else’s who had met my approval.
            When she walked into that fenced playground that first day of kindergarten, her face flushed with excitement, I felt the lump in my throat turn into a cannonball that dropped in the pit of my stomach and then explode into painful fragments in my chest.  Tears began to gather, but I would not let  them fall lest my little lady see my fears and feel them herself.
            With a pasted smile and my head held high, I went up to where the rest of the anxious parents were.  I watched as Jenny proudly entered her classroom, dropped off her backpack, and happily skipped to her friends.  For fifteen minutes, we watched, waited, and took pictures as our little lady went her merry way.  Occasionally, she would glance our way and wave the family “I love you” signal.    In my mind I kept saying “It’s not too late, I can still opt to homeschool!”
            When the bell rang for the children to line up, Jhen was second in line and never once looked scared or unsure, as some other children did.  As she went through the classroom door, the reality of that moment opened the floodgate of tears.  On this day, she left the safety of her home to begin a journey through life, equipped only with the tools she’d gathered during her first five and a half years of life.  With that dismal thought,  we headed home.
            With my thoughts and emotions in turmoil, I sat down with my morning cup of coffee to regroup and plan my day.  Jacky, my other little lady, came up to me with a worried look on her face.
            “Mama,” she frowned, “who’s taking care of Jhen and making sure she’s OK while she’s in school?”
            “Her teacher,” I replied a little sadly.  She thought for a moment, and then a smile that lit her face replaced her frown.
            “Then I won’t worry about it, Mama,” she explained matter-of-factly, “God’s the boss over her teacher, so He’ll make sure she takes care of Jenny right.”  And then she ran off to play.
            I thought about what this little lady had just said, and then a peace came over me.  I still had a few fears, but what parent didn’t?  I only knew that her life was no longer in my hands.  I surrendered and placed all in God’s hands.  Her life, her friends, her teachers – from that day on, I yielded control to a Greater, Mightier Power.  This was a day to “let go and let God.”  She was in God’s hands, and oh, what gentle, loving, and capable hands they are.

Fast forward, August 2004 --  I can’t believe it’s been thirteen  years since I first walked Jhen into the kindergarten playground.  Once again,  the lump in my throat has become the cannonball that dropped into the pit of my stomach and exploded into painful fragments in my chest.    Once again, I have to let go and let God.
     I am so proud of my little lady who has withstood disappointments in her life with her head held high and her eyes fixed on Jesus.  From the unrequited loves of junior high to lies against her character; from sitting the bench on the basketball team to being overlooked for the Allstar Team,  this little lady never once gave up on herself.  She knew her worth was not based on what people thought of her or how much she accomplished; her worth came from knowing that God loves her so much He sent His Son to die in her place.
            Along with her trials were triumphs – her quizzing out AWANA,  her toothpick bridge in 6th grade,  her mission trips to Macau and Jamaica, and Jon – all of which she faced with the confidence in knowing that God continues to be in control.  With a fierce passion, she “championed the underdogs”,  with grace she loved those who  hurt her;  with tenacity she defended  those who loved her.
            I will miss my little lady who does me the favor of letting me massage her; who makes my physical maladies larger than life, who sings unashamedly whatever song she pleases whenever she pleases, who comes up with verses in Ezekiel to remind me the God is God, and He will have the last Word. And as much as she has blessed my life, I know she will bless the lives of those around her.  She continues to be in God’s hands, and oh, what gentle, loving, capable hands they are!

September 2010 -- my little lady now has a little lady of her own, with a blog of her own (THIS little lady's thoughts).  And she continues to be in God's hands, and oh, what gentle, loving, capable hands they are.

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