|The oldest of my six children about 31 years ago.|
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. John 13:14,15 (NIV)
"Stop that!" mimicked her big brother.
"Why do you keep repeating everything I say?" whined a four year old big eyed brunette.
"Why do you keep repeating everything I say?" grinned my oldest looking to see if anyone else noticed the discomfort he was causing his sister.
Power. How this taunting turned his little sister's world upside down. I overheard the last part of their volley and gave my son that look with my head shaking slowly from left to right.
"Uh uh. Enough." Then when the silliness was over, I pulled them in for a hug.
"How about coming into the kitchen and helping me out with a small project. Let's make some 'Happy Candy'. I'll mix up the powdered milk, peanut butter, wheat germ, and honey, and then you can help me roll it into little balls."
Broad smiles erupted as they anticipated eating one of those rare sweet treats I allowed my four older ones to enjoy back then.
As we shaped our 'candy', I remembered a time when I was twenty and worked as a teacher assistant for the first and second grade teachers. I tutored children or helped them individually practice lessons that they needed to repeat, or that they hadn't finished. Usually, it took a great deal of patience. The repetition of the sounds of the letters or waiting while the words were sounded out, almost being stuttered through insecurity in an effort to make sense out of the letters they were sounding. These were supposed to form words, sentences, paragraphs, and emote feelings or take a person to another time and world.
One afternoon, a teacher sent me a very different student to work with. What a relief! She could read like the wind. Her voice rose and fell and spoke with just the right inflections and flowed like a mountain stream over smooth stones. I enjoyed the reprieve. We talked about her book and she even invented a new twist that she thought would make the story much better. Clever. We laughed out loud at the way the tale would end if she had her way.
After church, I ran into her mother, Mrs. Snyder, and I described what a pleasure it was to listen to her first grader read and about our time together at school. She was relieved to hear that the teacher allowed her daughter to go out of the classroom and receive some special attention instead of just loading her up with more work to do since she usually finished her work early.
Mrs. Snyder told me that she loved her youngest daughter's imagination. Before supper, she played school everyday, lining up all of her dolls. She learned a lot about what went on each day in class while her daughter impersonated the teacher. She confided to me just how impressionable children are. They learn from those around them then copy tone of voice, verbal expressions, and body language, even when we don't think they are listening.
I pondered that conversation and I remembered it for quite some time. I wanted to live a good life before the children I taught each day and someday, I would have my own. As a mother-to-be, I soaked up the advice from my former 4-H leader, who was also a great mom.
Still I wondered that afternoon during a time of meditation, 'Exactly how am I going to be ready to mentor and lead my own children, when some times I still act like such a child myself?'
I decided pay closer attention and pick up ideas by observing other warm hearted mothers. Some baked, some sat around and played with their kids, some hugged and ruffled their children's hair, and others spent time reading book after book at bedtime as their children snuggled close. Noted.
Soon after that, I ran across the book, IN HIS STEPS, in which I read about a church group that was challenged to live each day and to make decisions by asking themselves the question, "What would Jesus do?" (WWJD) This book was not the greatest fiction book. It was predictable and simple to read, but the words..."What would Jesus do?" kept repeating themselves over and over in my mind.
I also realized a deeper truth. I could please God like a little child by following the blueprint of one unique, compassionate, and gentle young man from history. The Bible gave me a great deal of food for thought on what God wanted us to be like. The beatitudes, fruit of the spirit, ten commandments, and then parables and proverbs. I loved to read the red letter version, so I could see just exactly what Jesus spent his time on earth teaching. He spent his time healing, performing miracles and always there was a lesson to discuss. However, he never did this for fame, money, or to control. He simply loved people all around him who were clamoring for his help to find purpose, love, and peace in an imperfect world.
Back then, I realized that life is not only about me and what I want to get out of it. Life is about connecting to brand new moms pushing their carriages along my sidewalk, dads washing their cars, young boys playing football in the street, and the Schwann's man faithfully knocking on my door.
Each person needs to know how significant and amazing they are. People need to see their wonderful gifts, purpose, and destiny that only they can achieve. That is what Jesus has done for me, so I want to copycat his loving care for me.
Placing the lid on the plastic container. I ruffled one blonde head and then a brunette one. What a wonderful task to have in life: treasure hunting.