For ten years, it sat on my desk.
Yet, this I mourned a little, when I sat down at my desk and saw what a child-who-shall-remain-nameless broke this week.
Ten years ago, in my pre-Mom days when I was still teaching in the classroom, parents and students gave this simple picture frame to me. Each teacher in the school received one with a card inside displaying their name along with the fruit of the spirit or character trait the students said that teacher most represented.
Sometimes you need an outsider’s perspective. Sometimes you think you know who you are, but it takes someone else to say, “I see this in you…” and you haven’t ever seen that before so you know exactly what that means.
It’s proof that God’s been working in you. He’s been transforming you and changing you all up from the inside. Maybe you’ve missed it, but someone else saw. They noticed. And they took time to say….Jesus is glorified in you.
So, I opened up that teacher’s gift ten years ago and just marveled at God because what the kids saw in me was “Joy.”
I never would have guessed that. Didn’t see it. Didn’t know it. Can’t even tell you now how exactly the Holy Spirit chiseled, scraped, sanded, and carved that out of a misshapen rock like me.
That little picture frame gift never was just about remembering students or recalling the old days when I commuted and dressed like a professional instead of donning jeans, a t-shirt and canvas sneakers to head out for a full day of Mom-life.
No, it was about so much grace.
This world condones, encourages, evokes, and just pulls right out the selfishness in us. It tells us: Focus within. Look out for #1. Fight to get ahead. Don’t let anyone stand in your way. Help yourself. Take what’s yours.
God, though, didn’t just tell us to stoop down low, to reach out, to humbly pull out the cloth and the basin and wash another’s feet.
He did it Himself.
And then He asked us to do it for others.
Hebrews 10:24 says:
“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works” (NLT).
Now, I’m the mom with the young kids and they have the incredible teachers. This, again, is grace. The way God blesses us and pours into us. Then He asks us to pour ourselves right on out for others so they can be blessed and filled to overflowing.
And so it goes, a perpetual fountain of grace-giving that only stops when we break the chain and stagnate the flow until we’re all swamp-stinky and covered in a grime of selfishness.
Maybe your days of classroom teachers are long over. But we all have those special ones who give so much and if we’ll just take one moment to look at them instead of at ourselves, we’ll marvel at the creativity, the thoughtfulness, the gentleness, the devotion, the commitment, the faithfulness, the care and the compassion.
And we’ll want to say, “Thanks.” We’ll want to tell them—”I see this beauty in you.”
For those looking for ways to bless a teacher or other special servant, here are some ideas as we end this school year or even thoughts to give you a head-start for the fall. We’ve collected these ideas from Pinterest, the Internet, and from other moms. I’m hardly creative enough to come up with these on my own!
- A pencil vase
- A gift bag full of large marshmallows, Hershey bars, and some graham crackers and a note saying, “Wishing you ‘smore fun this year!”
- A pack of Extra gum with a note saying, “Thanks for working Extra hard for us!” or “You are Extra-ordinary!”
- A container of bright and colorful Sharpie markers with a note saying, “Thanks for coloring our world and making us Sharpies!”
- A “snack pack” during Teacher Appreciation Week with some healthy and chocolatey snacks in a gift bag and tied with a bow.
- A cute tumbler with lemonade mix inside (and we also sewed some handmade coasters) with a note that says, “Have a refreshing summer!”
- A pot my kids decorated with a flower (or maybe some seeds) and a note that says, “Thanks for helping me grow this year!”
- Handmade bookmarks (put those sewing skills to work!)
Of course, gift cards are great, too.
Most importantly, though, is a genuine, heartfelt note of appreciation and encouragement. That’s something we can all give to another this week.
Originally published 5/20/2013
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2013 Heather King