To Those who Teach
Teachers are off school this week, too. Growing up, my mom taught elementary school, moving amongst the primary grades and finishing as a literacy coach.
I took for granted her job and the ability it gave our family to have her home in the summers, and many days when we came home from school.
I also took for granted the way she naturally taught me: prizing the library and even informal instruction.
My mother-in-law is a teacher too, beginning in the elementary school and finishing as a technology educator. And my younger brother, Kevin, is a middle school principal in Chicago.
Teachers have given so much to me, and to my family, and yet - I find even myself taking their selfless guidance for granted at times.
I knew having two grandmas and an uncle who are all teachers would be a huge benefit to my kids. I realized just how much today when Jacob, 5, said to me - unprompted: "Mom, I just LOVE learning."
He has a zest for life, a wonder for the world, honed yes by his parents, but also from his exposure to teachers - both inside our family and those he has worked with at preschool and Pre-K.
That zest - that joy - that desire to learn - is the beginning of education, encouraged by the teachers among us.
This Winter Break time - the week between Christmas and New Year's - is best spent as a time of reflection. I've been reading Best of 2017 lists: movies, books, TV, etc., and I've been trying to spend a few moments collecting myself as 2018 is about to begin.
Last week I shared the news about my book deal with Fortress Press. The project begins in earnest in January, and I have 85,000 words due in January 2019.
This afternoon I took the boys to Lifetime Fitness, and I got about 25 minutes to swim laps while they went to play in the Child Center. Sometimes, especially in busy seasons, I find I have to move my body in order to free my mind to think deeply. About 1/4 mile in, I started to think about the book ahead; the year of dynamic and sometimes terrifying change. Last Christmas Eve at 4 p.m. I preached to 800 people in Orange County; this Christmas Eve at 4 p.m. I bundled up my boys and we went to church with my parents at the church where I grew up. I was a face in the crowd. That evening, Josh got the stomach flu and threw up in his crib; right at the time where a year before I was leading a candlelight service. In that moment Josh very much needed his mom, and I was so glad I was there. But whew, what a change.
I thought about this book ahead, the way it melds together my pastor's heart and writer/journalist's mind, and I thought about what it had taken to get there. I think initially I thought about the immediate connections, articles, work of the past few years.
While I swam today, I thought further back. The college journalism professors at the Missouri School of Journalism. My high school newspaper advisor and AP English teacher. My third grade teacher, who taught us poetry. My fourth grade teacher, who gave us technology and freedom.
These teachers took a quirky kid who loved to write and didn't always pay attention in class, and they embraced my strengths and believed in me; showing me ways to believe in myself. I'd like to tell you about them, and as I do, I hope you think about the teachers in your life, who did the same for you.
In doing this, I was inspired by Paul's letter to the Galatians, and this verse about teachers and students: