Well, people, we are 4 weeks into the new school year.
How is it going, you ask?
Hallelujah. I hear angels singing.
My kids are thriving! Thriving, I tell you! If I could have written a script for the beginning of the school year, I could not have written it any better. God did a pretty darn good job. Gotta give Him credit!
Two days before school started, I walked around the campus, visited with the teachers, peeked into classrooms, and gave my kids a tour of their new school. The entire time I was on that campus, I felt blessed. I was reminded again and again of God’s provision and great love for us.
When we left for Ethiopia in May of 2012, I pulled Joel and Hannah out of Redding Christian School. I knew that we would be spending several months in Africa and I knew that we would be home schooling when we came home to America. But, on that day in May as we drove off the school campus, I prayed. I prayed that God would make a way for my children to come back. I felt like it would take a miracle. And so I prayed for a miracle.
I was reminded of that prayer again these past few weeks. Every interaction with the staff, every conversation with the teachers, every story that I hear from my children as they chatter in my minivan on our ride home from school – they remind me of that miracle. I feel blessed over and over again.
Oh. My. Word. Doesn’t he just crack you up? Levi had to make himself into a monster for his classroom bulletin board. That kid kills me!
Last year, as we worked our way through Kindergarten curriculum, I started to worry about Levi. It seemed that no matter what learning strategy I employed, nothing was sticking. We would spend 10 minutes learning about the letter S – copy, write, say, speak. Over and over again. Then, I would turn to a new page and say, “Levi, point to the letter S.”
Nothing. He retained nothing.
I wondered, did he have a learning disability? Was there some kind of developmental delay? Was I really that horrible of a teacher? (I was pretty sure that wasn’t the case.)
And then, this summer, it all started to click for him. He has grown by leaps and bounds. He is learning something new every day. I know, because he won’t stop asking me questions. It is constant. It kind of reminds me of water torture.
“Mom, what makes a volcano explode?”
“Mom, why did the dinosaurs die?”
“Mom, why is that tractor so big? It is huge! Soooooo big! It is even bigger than you!” (Thanks, honey. That is pretty big.)
“Mom, why is the sun hot?”
“Mom, why can’t I fly?”
I talked to a developmental psychologist and she explained it this way. Children’s brains are like little computers. There are many different pathways to get information into that computer. Usually, you have to try and try again until you find the right pathway for your child. But, in our case, our children came to us with clogged pathways. Every single path is clogged – with trauma, with memories, with new language acquisition, with new sights and smells and sounds, with new behavior expectations. All of the pathways into their brain were jammed with so many things that there was no way for the academic information to get in.
Thankfully, with time and love and counseling and patience, some of the pathways are clearing up. Some of the trauma is being processed. Some of the language is being learned. Some of the new behavior is being exhibited. And, now, his little brain is ready to receive some of that new information.
Micah had the opportunity to celebrate his birthday at school with his new friends. He didn’t quite understand why he got to have a birthday party at home AND at school, but he wasn’t complaining.
And, he came home with this paper…
Do you see that?
He wrote, “I love my family.”
He goes on to say….
My sisters like to play with dolls. They like to play together. My brothers and I like to watch TV together. After we do our homework, we like to watch a super hero movie. My dad likes to stay at home and my mom likes to dance.
When I read his paper, I cried. It sounds just like a family, doesn’t it? We are figuring this thing out. All of us. Together. We are a family.
Plus, I think he did an excellent job of describing his mom and dad. Scott likes to stay home. I like to dance. Micah pretty much boiled it down to the essence of our character.
And then there is Leah.
Oh, I could write volumes about my girl. You all know that she has been my biggest challenge. But, do you know that she has also provided some of my biggest blessings? My oldest daughter, my strong-willed one, her hurting heart wrapped up inside a stubborn shell. My deep thinker, deep feeler, protective, heart-of-gold girl.
She blesses me.
Oh, we struggle over many hurdles, but she is a gift, this one.
She had to write a paper on a very special person. This is what she wrote….
My very special person is Jesus because He is always with me and He always loves me. He changed my life. Physical traits He has brown eyes and black hair. Awesome beard! Jesus has such also beautiful face. Jesus is very beautiful and loving. Jesus helps other people and not just me. What makes Jesus special because He loves us even when us don’t deserve His love or His forgiveness. He is always by my side when I need help. I pray and He hears me and answers my prayer.
When I read her paper, I cried some more.
You guys, do you think my daughter FEELS Jesus in a way that many of us never do? Do you think He is REAL to her because she needs Him so badly?
Okay, stop crying now. I can barely see the keyboard over here.
One more story about my special girl.
Leah came home with a poem to memorize. I looked it over and immediately dismissed the crazy assignment. Her teacher and I have agreed that anytime I feel an assignment will overwhelm her, I am free to simplify that assignment. I took one look at that poem and decided I would choose an easier poem for her to memorize.
Leah would have none of it. She insisted that she be allowed to memorize the same poem as every other 5th grader.
I explained that the words were too hard. I explained that she has spoken English for only one year. I explained that another poem would be better.
I thought she had listened.
She had not.
I pushed the assignment to the side and forgot about it.
She did not.
Two weeks later, she pulled it out and said, “Mom, do you think I can learn this?”
“Honey, I already told you, this is too hard. We will choose something easier.”
“Well, listen to this….”
She did it. Without my help.
After I stopped crying (Are you sensing a theme here? It has to do with tears. And me. Often.) I had her repeat the poem so I could video tape her.
Ironically, the poem is called It Couldn’t Be Done by Edgar A. Guest. (just in case you couldn’t quite understand every single word)
Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.
They did it. All of my children. They tackled the thing that couldn’t be done and they did it.
They moved to a new country. The learned a new culture. They studied a new language. They joined a new family. They started a new school. They found a new normal.
They did it.
It feels miraculous.
Actually, I am pretty sure it IS miraculous.