Friday, May 26, 2017

When the Principal Can't Quite Get it Together...

Students leave our school after fourth grade and go on to intermediate school. We don't have a graduation, but instead have an end of the year program. Students are recognized for perfect attendance, good grades, the usual school stuff. They sing a couple of songs, and then their principal says something inspirational. After that the fourth graders do a "farewell parade" through the halls with music, dancing, and pom poms. It's great fun.

Unless the principal can't handle the inspirational speech part. Which, in my case, is the case. Two years in a row.

This year I made it through the whole program without the hint of a tear, but then I had to talk. I looked at those faces, those kids I've seen every school day for two years now. High fives. Stories about weekends and spring breaks. School projects. Leaders in assembly. Lunch on Tuesdays. I looked at them, and I realized they were leaving us. And I just couldn't do it. The inspirational speech went something like this:

"Students, *deep breath* you will always *blubber* be a part of our *sob sob* school family *blubber blubber*. Gosh, I'm really not good at this part. *crying and tears* *something mostly inaudible and strongly dumb-sounding* leadership, character, blah blah blah *more tears and crying*"

Y'all. It was bad

So here is what I would like to say to them if I could speak instead of being a mess:

Parents, thank you. Thank you for loving your kids enough to send them to school every day and encourage them in any way you can. Thank you for sharing them with us. It's truly a gift.

Students, we see you. We know you're not perfect, but it doesn't matter to us. We look at you and see what you are and all that you can be. We see people who are capable and smart and kind and unique. When growing up gets hard, and it will, I hope you'll be able to see yourself the way your parents and your school sees you -- full of promise. 

No matter where you go or what you do in life, you will always be a part of this school family. We love each and every one of you just as you are, and we can't wait to see you change the world. Thanks for letting us be a small part of your lives. 

Maybe next year I'll just write something down and have someone else read it. It sounds MUCH better without embarrassing sobs!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Something I want to remember

One of Keaton's teachers and his wife had twins very prematurely last week. One of the babies passed away, and the other must have a long road ahead of her. Tonight some students organized a prayer vigil for this family at the park near our home. Keaton read a scripture in front of the crowd.

Psalm 119:50 "My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserved my life."

He chose it himself.

A local pastor led a beautiful prayer. In it has asked God to light the way, and if not the whole way simply just light the next step on our paths. I want to remember that.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

On Being Methodist

I have not blogged in 2017. I think it's mostly because I'm busy. I'm not super special or anything so I don't think anyone should really care too much about my opinion on most things. That's not self-deprecating. I get tired of other people's (often uninformed) opinions about things, and anything I have to say just seems like more noise. Alas, I find myself back on the ol' blog.

I think about religion a lot lately. I'm sorry to say that often it's because "society" or "social media" or "those people" make Christians out to be crazy, judgmental zealots who think everyone who isn't Christian would like to see them punished. That's just not true.

I think about my Methodism.

I was born and raised a good Baptist girl with strong Bible knowledge, an "of course I believe" attitude about faith, and a (borderline unhealthy) amount of guilt for my sin. I can still recite the books of the Bible in order and plenty of verses that are appropriate for occasions of joy and sadness. I never missed church on Sunday morning, evening, or Wednesday night. Never.

Then I went to college and stopped going to church. I visited one or two, but it was just weird going to a place where I didn't know anyone after being the daughter of the matriarch of First Baptist Church (you know it's true, Mom😊). So I didn't go.

Then I met Trey, who went to church regularly with his family. When we were secretly dating (if you don't know that story I'll fill you in sometime), I started going to church with him. It was the only place we went out in public together without other friends. I had never been to a Methodist church before, but the basics were like my church back home.

I learned that Methodists recite stuff and the preachers wear robes. Baptists don't do that. I learned that John Wesley has a whole bunch to do with being Methodist. Baptists pretty much only give credence to Jesus (and maybe Billy Graham), so adding in another guy was odd to me. The people at Trey's church were kind to me and made me welcome, and they taught the Bible.

On the first Sunday of 2000, I joined. Trey didn't even know I was doing it until he saw me walk forward at the end of the service (not an invitation like my Baptist church, but similar). I wanted it to be about me and God, not about my relationship with Trey.

It's 17 1/2 years later, and sometimes I'm still fascinated that I'm a Methodist. Keaton just went through confirmation, which is like Christian basic training that you do when you're in sixth grade followed by a public profession of faith. A little part of me feels like it's too scripted - learn this, do this, get Jesus; but another part of me is happy that he had this experience of learning the tenets of his church.

I've also thought more than once lately that I might like being Catholic. I'm not converting or anything, but when there are times I'm not sure what to pray I sometimes think "Catholics probably have a prayer for this." When thinking about friends and acquaintances who are struggling, I've thought, "I wish I could light a candle for them." I don't think there are magic candles or anything, but having something to physically do seems comforting when life is dark for a friend.

My reflection on Methodism came to the forefront of my mind this morning during our communion service. We Methodists have communion the first Sunday of every month. Just before we were invited to the table, our pastor, Tommy, said something that especially struck me today. I know we have open communion (all Christians can participate no matter the denomination), and I'm certain that I've heard this before, but today it warmed my soul.

I'll paraphrase part of what he said to explain that all believers could participate. He said that we believe this table belongs to Jesus. So we don't get to invite you - Jesus does. And Jesus invites everyone he loves. And you know what else? Jesus loves everyone. Everyone. He invites us all.

And I remembered at that moment one more reason why this church is my church.

To bring this all full circle, I want to say this: I believe in Jesus. I know and love lots of people who don't, and those people are not less than me. They are not scary. They are kind and have big hearts and love their families. And Jesus loves them, too. We should all do our best to act like it.