I graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1995. I'm Sooner born and Sooner bred. And in the 18 years since I finished college, I've had a very eclectic resume. I taught in public school for 3 years, followed by 2 years at a private Catholic school (I'm not Catholic, incidentally). Then I stayed home with my babies for 7 years and when the economy took a nose dive, so did my husband's job. We downsized our home, lived on savings for a year, and mama went back to what she knew best: teaching. It didn't pay the bills, but it helped offset the money hemorrhaging out of our savings account.
Our family goal was for me to never work again after our babies were born. But God had other plans to bless our family. And although I am admittedly the WORST full time working mom on the planet, I am an excellent part time working mom. So last year, after 4 years back in the classroom, I quit my teaching job to stay home and focus on my family. When yet again, God sent me back to the classroom this year.
For the first time in my teaching career, I'm in it for the fun! I work two days a week and it's not for the income, but for the joy of doing what I know and love best.
I've often looked back at my last 4 years and wondered why I was teaching at my sweet little Title 1 school. Was it for the friendships forged with other teachers? For the children I met and loved? Was my testimony on display? Or did I fail at sharing Jesus in a public school forum?
Today I was reminded of one reason I ended up living through that season of my life. It was a boy. Who is now growing into a young man. I can't explain why he was so special. But God pressed him firmly on my heart the minute he entered my classroom. I grew to love seeing this boy each day and trying to pull a smile onto his lips.
His life is not ideal. His parents have made some poor decisions. He was born into poverty. And his story is probably just like the stories of kids all over our nation. But He still resides in my heart. And when he disappeared for 2 months with no word on where he went, I prayed. I got on my knees and asked God to spare him from grief. I prayed safety and protection over this child that I had no idea if I would ever see again. I shed tears over this boy.
And then one day, there he was! He walked back into my classroom like he had never been gone. And I put my public school job on the line. I walked over to him and looked him in the eye. I told him that I was elated that he was back and that I had prayed for his protection while he was gone. I told him that I loved him. And he stared me straight in the eye and said thank you, with the sincerity of all his nine years.
A few weeks later we had some guests come into the building who were volunteering. They were young college kids and the minute they saw this boy, they lit up! As I looked at him smiling and waving back, it hit me. These were people who knew him while he was away. I approached the young man and asked him how he knew this boy. He had been his tutor in the shelter where he was staying for 2 months. And then I did it again. I took hold of this man's arm and I looked him in the eye. "I prayed for you! I prayed that wherever this child was that he was being interacted with by people who would love him and take care of him! That's YOU!" I said. He blushed and got flustered, muttering thank you, as he walked away.
I LOVED THIS CHILD.
So you can imagine my joy when I ran into him at the local city football league games today. I hugged him. He hugged me back. And I was the first to let go.
He looks good. Healthy. I'm not really sure HOW he is, because he has always been one of few words. I'm not sure who he lives with. But you can bet that my prayers have never ended for that child. And they never will. I just hope the next time I see him that I'm the last to let go.