This is why I love working with kids

So a bit of background.  I work with the elementary kids at my church.  K-5.  I love this age–the young ones, who are just starting to get socialization skills and doing stuff away from mom; the fifth graders, who think they can take on the world.  The girls that are just starting to become girls, and the boys that are just such a boy.  It’s always a blessing to be able to work with them.  On Sunday mornings I teach every other week.  There is the main lesson, then we split into small groups.  I have a helper, her name is H, she is awesome.  She was actually one of my kids when I first started working with the group, and the last two years she’s been one of my leaders.  A ninth grader, she is fast growing up into such a beautiful girl.  On Wednesdays, I help with the kids choir.  This year, we have 119 registered to be in our production on March 3.  Yes, you read that right.  One hundred and nineteen children.  When they’re on, it’s amazing.  And working with them, while you sometimes want to smack them upside the head and tell them to get with the program, is usually an amazing thing as you see them filled with God’s grace.

So we’ve been bribing the kids the last few weeks.  Not a pretty way to put it, but it’s the truth.  We’ve been randomly handing out Airhead candy to the kids that are doing well.  They’re so funny–they know the rules.  The minute they get it, it goes under their seat and waits until 650 when choir is over to pull it out.  The first week that we did it, the kids asked me what my favorite flavor was.  I was honest–I’ve never had Airheads candy.  Didn’t know what it was.  Had to ask.  Not a big candy lover, I figured I wasn’t missing much.

There are two kids that try to see who can get there first to sit next to me on the top row.  Both are fifth graders.  One is a girl who is new to the group who I got to know during the Christmas production.  She’s really starting to joke around and lose the shyness, and is such fun.  The other is a boy who was grown in the church and who is from what I consider one of the finest families in the church.  His older sister is now in sixth grade, younger brother in second.  And this kid, wow.  All of them, really, but this one is what we call raised right.  Just like his sister.

Which is why I thought it odd the last few weeks.  He kept telling me, “Miss Kelly, I don’t understand.  I know all the words, I sing loud, I stand up when I’m supposed to, I don’t talk when Miss Lisa says not to talk.  How come I haven’t gotten an Airhead?”  I would answer I don’t know, J, they hand them out at random.  Keep doing well, and you might get one.  For three weeks he kept asking me.  Then tonight, he finally got one.  Orange flavored to boot.  As soon as he got it he turned and handed it to me.  I looked at him like he was off his rocker, he wanted it so badly.  I gave it back to him, and he said, “No, Miss Kelly.  That’s why I wanted one.  I wanted to give it to you because you’ve never had one before.”

Doesn’t that just melt your heart?  Have to admit, I felt a little shamed thinking he’d been complaining a bit much about not getting one.  Leave it to God to teach me a lesson at the most random of times.  Such a beautiful moment.

I didn’t take it, of course.  Gave it back to him and said it was all his, he worked hard for it, he could have it.  And he gave me a huge hug.  And I still have a giant smile on my face from this precious, precious child.  Love him.

Some hodge and some podge

I usually try and write at least a little something before getting straight to the questions, but today I just don’t feel like it.  So here’s the hodgepodge!

1. When were you last ‘on a mountaintop’?  You may answer in the literal or figurative sense.
I’m going with the literal on this.  Saturday.  Yes, less than a week ago.  I went to Charlottesville to see my almost 91-year-old Grandma.  We went to visit my grandfather (and great grandmother, great aunt/uncle, and a cousin I never knew I had).  They are all buried on Monticello mountain.  Actually, they’re all buried in the same ten foot section on Monticello mountain (yes, that same Monticello mentioned in last week’s Hodgepodge).  Yep, that’s right, in the light snow we took a not-very-mobile nonagenarian to climb down a mountainside in order to visit dead relatives.  I’m not much on the ‘come see me when I’m gone’ practice, but it means a lot to her, so we go when I am there to drive her.

2.  Do you establish and maintain a strict budget in your household?  What is one piece of financial advice you would offer someone just starting out on their own?
I’m trying to.  It’s hard when you live on $0.67 between paychecks.  Seriously.  It’s down to the penny.  But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, I’m sure of it.  Just frugal living!

3.  Cherries-yay or nay?  Cherry pie, cherry cola, black forest cake, or a scoop of Ben and Jerry’s Cherries Garcia…pick one.
Yes!  Absolutely yes.  Bing cherries.  Ranier cherries.  Tart cherries.  Sweet cherries.  Dried cherries.  Sour cherry candy.  Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia FroYo.  But my two favorites are probably black cherry ice cream (reminds me of my Papa) and my nana’s recipe for Tart Cherry Cobbler.  Served warm with vanilla bean ice cream.  Every now and again I get a hankering and make it.  And can eat half of it in one sitting if I put forth a modicum of effort.

4.  Should you ever discuss religion or politics with people you don’t know?
That’s kind of a touchy subject, isn’t it?  I would say yes, but it depends on the people.  If I’m never going to see them again, then sure why not.  If you ask me about my faith, then absolutely I’ll tell you.  There are subjects that I don’t talk about often, even with people who I’m good friends with, because they’re hot button issues (does God love my gay friends?  yes, He does.  Do I think homosexuality is a sin?  No.  Do I think that women can be leaders in the church?  Yes.  Do I think that God loves Republicans and hates Democrats?  You must be kidding.  What a stupid question.)  Sadly enough, I think I’m more willing to be open and honest and lay it all on the line with someone I don’t know–and will probably not see again–than I am with those I know and love.  And when it comes to politics?  Well, that’s almost always a no.  Mostly because I work in a two person office and the other half, while on a whole different school of thought from me, loves to take every opportunity to knock our government, our leaders, our laws, and the failure of our society.  And I refuse to rise to the bait, participate in the conversation, or feed his soap box.  I love him dearly, but I can only take so much.  Trust me, on November 7, 2012, I did everything I could to make sure he was out of the office all day so that I wouldn’t have to hear his opinions, complaints, and predictions on the ruination of the country.  Let me put it this way–he still has a framed campaign poster from when Ronald Reagan campaigned hanging in his office.  Everyone that has come after has been out to ruin the world.  And heaven forbid you point out that Reagan was once an outspoken Democrat before switching sides . . . .  That’s blasphemy.

5.  When you take a road trip do you prefer to be the driver or the passenger?  Where were you headed on your last road trip?
Driver.  I get carsick too easy when I am passenger.  Come to find out it has to do with bad allergy/sinus issues.  Road trip?  Must have been my trip to Pennsylvania Memorial Day 2012.  Which means I need another!

6. If we peeked inside your closet, what color would we say is most prevalent?
Black.  I wear black pants every day Labor Day to Memorial Day, and then have the top half black as well at least three days a week.

7. Who’s your favorite senior citizen and why are they special?
Oh there are so many.  Even if I stick with the non-family, currently living variety.  I grew up with so many in the church that are a joy, an inspiration, and a delight to have known as a part of my life.  At the funeral that I was at two weeks ago, I was told before I sat down that I had to go hug Mrs. Walker.  She was my Acteens leader when I was ten, and still asks about me.  And remembers where I am attending, that I work with children, and makes my day when she shares love.  Growing up, going to church with my nana, I had to make sure I gave Mrs. She-Shepperson (don’t know why I added the She, but that’s what I called her) a hug.  She always had Smarties in her pocket, come to think of it.  There was Sylvia, who I also saw a few weeks ago who made sure to come hug me.  She’s got to be in her 80s now, and that beauty mark she paints on every day hasn’t changed a bit.  I feel so blessed that I was able to grow up with such influences in my life, and taught that there is nothing wrong with learning from and socializing with my elders.  It’s the one thing I truly wish I was able to do at the church that I currently attend.  I feel like there is a substantial division of the ages, and not much intermingling.  And it’s a shame for the younger generations.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
Oh, I always have random thoughts.  SO MANY random thoughts.  Today’s sampling:  (1) I had my iPod on shuffle today.  Hold Me Now by the Thompson Twins played.  Love that song.  Never understood why they were the Thompson Twins when it was a trio.  (2) Had a birthday dinner for a friend at Plaza Azteca tonight.  It was just meh.  I’ve decided the homemade guacamole is the only thing worth eating there, the trots that come after everything else are not worth it.  TMI?  (3) Did anyone else watch Castle on Monday night?  Ho.Lee.Cow.   (4) For some reason, Levi is preferring to grab a towel from the dirty clothes hamper and dragging it to the back hallway for his lounging.  This instead of the sofa or his bed in the living room.  I guess he just wanted a change of scenery?  (5) Last night I didn’t fall asleep until after 4am.  Which made the 615 alarm truly a problem.  Here’s hoping I get a great night’s sleep . . . .  and finally, (6) I know I don’t know her personally, but can I tell you how excited I am about Robin Roberts returning to GMA on Wednesday morning?  I wrote a very personal story here about why I was so moved about her struggle with MDS and her fight.  And as I write this on Tuesday evening, on the one year anniversary of my friend’s passing from this same horrible thing, I celebrate the triumph that is Robin’s return, and know my friend is cheering her on from heaven.  And while she’s watching, she’s closing with the prayer that Robin says has led her family through the years every day:

The Light of God surrounds me.
The Love of God enfolds me.
The Power of God protects me.
The Presence of God watches over me.
Wherever I am, God is.