In Lieu of a Christmas Card
Dear friends and family,
Christmas cards are not in the mail. We love you and you are all worth a stamp, but we simply cannot do cards. Maybe when everyone is out of diapers?
Man, it’s been a year of change. In March, I was spending every day with my two youngest babies, drinking coffee in my pjs until ten o clock and spending free time blogging and taking pictures. In a two week’s time, I applied for teaching jobs, interviewed and received a job. Now it’s December and I’m behind at my desk at school, wearing my pjs only at night, and learning how to live in the world of teenagers. Teenagers, all day every day.
The end of December is always a time to reflect for me on what I have learned this year.
I’ve learned that I don’t know what I am capable of until I am asked to do it. As a typical youngest child, I am not particularly ambitious, and I tend to under-value myself. As a result, I need to be pushed toward confidence. It took almost all semester of teaching to find my confidence and believe I can do this.
Of course I missed my babies. Several days I drove to school with tears running down my cheeks because someone was sick, and I had to drive away, leaving them in the care of someone else. But I have valued my time with them like never before. I have cherished the time I do have to be with them in a way I didn’t always value when time was plentiful.
I’m learning that there is always a story behind the difficult students. The students who are late, without pencils, rude, inappropriate, or disrespectful always, always have a story behind the annoying behavior. If I stay in the game long enough to discover the story, it might unlock a relationship. Not always, but it’s worth a try. I have prayed to love the difficult students that came my way this school year, and in each case, I feel like God revealed something that helped me understand those students better.
I’ve learned that relationship goes a long way toward learning in the classroom, and students who laugh together also learn together. I’ve learned that high school students show affection in ways that sometimes wears me out, but that is their love language. I can both accept and receive it that way, and give them hints about how to grow up a little.
Tim and the kids have grown so much closer during this year. I am out the door before the kids wake up, and Tim alone must accomplish the monumental task of getting all four kids ready and out the door on time. While this has been very challenging for him, I have also seen all of them grow closer through the experience. Tim is Susanna’s favorite person in all the world, and every daughter needs that kind of daddy-love.
We could not be more grateful for the sweet spirit and growth we see in our church family, FBC Nixa. Truly, they are known by their love for one another. Tim has taken our church through a study on Hebrews and now is leading us into a study of Revelation. We have added to our numbers this year slowly and steadily and seen the congregations both rejoice in each other’s joys and grieve together with sorrows.
Abby is navigating the academic world of third grade. She reads voraciously and enjoys sweet little friendships. While we have had some tears over multiplication tables and division, her perseverance has been encouraging. She has grown spiritually in leaps and bounds this year, and was baptized in October. She is a huge help in family life, especially with Susanna, and has picked up the habit of saying, “Dude!”
Benjamin is nailing first grade. While he still sometimes chafes against the rigidity of school, he has also made excellent progress in his behavior and still maintains a passion for learning, when the topic interests him. His reading skills are growing, and he has a natural knack for math. His newest passion this year has been crystals and rock formations and he recently swiped a rock from our neighborhood landscaping in order to crack it open to check for geodes inside. He will build with any supplies he can get his hands on, and was super excited to get a tool box for Christmas.
Isaac had the biggest upset in terms of change. Going to school was a big change, but then he had to adjust to a babysitter as well! It hasn’t been easy for him, but he is able to articulate his feelings really well and a little quality time with mom or dad goes a long way. Throughout the course of one semester, school went from “bad” to “ok” so we think he is slowly warming up. We have Isaac in a preschool classroom for special-needs students, which is also a big adjustment for a little guy, but we hope it will help him acquire compassion for people. He already has a very tender heart.
Susanna is blooming like a little sunflower and just about as tall. Long at birth (23 1/2 inches!), she has continued to shoot up on these long, spindly legs and you forget she is just barely two. A late bloomer verbally, she has only recently began talking in longer sentences since turning two. Recently, she brought Tim a Christmas ornament with her picture in it, made at church, and said Daddy! I maked me! I maked me! No one has to worry about her being crowded out by all her siblings–this girl has a mind of her own and she makes her will known. Seemingly incurably jealous, she will not tolerate anyone being cuddled in the family without trying to get in on it.
2015 had many tears shed, some shouting, and a few moments when it felt like it was all falling apart, but also so.much.undeserved.grace.