Days of Grace

I can see the sun beginning to peek over the horizon this Sunday morning as I begin to write, and it looks like it will be another lovely day. This past week was filled with lovely days every day but Monday. Monday I was confined to my home without any strength trying to fight off a cold. But Tuesday...

 Ah! Tuesday was kindergarten graduation day, and the youngest GGCA students lit up the chapel with their songs and smiling faces. What a blessing it was to hear them recite scripture, pray, and, at the end, thank me for whatever had endeared me to them. I remember them saying, "Thank you for holding the door for us," and "Thank you for loving us," among other things. They gave me a journal, a pen, and a bag of gummy worms and were mightily pleased with themselves, especially for the gummies they included in the gift bag.

Wednesday morning was our final upper school chapel day. I had finished the elementary chapel skits the week before with our funny gummy worm-phobic friend Gary finally meeting someone like himself before having to move away with his family to be missionaries in Korea. I had my nephew Colby play this new kid who eerily resembled Gary, and my heart was so glad to share the stage with my favorite sixth (soon to be seventh) grader. In the upper school chapel, Mrs. Vanderwarker's speech class made tribute speeches to me, Mrs. Lange, and Mr. Colby since we are all stepping down from our positions this year. Emmanuel Pankey spoke about me, Andy Lincoln spoke of Mrs. Lange, and Esther Emami spoke of Mr. Colby. Andy's speech was by far the funniest, although I don't believe that was his intention. The other speech students were involved by creating a commemorative program that they handed out, running sound and lights, and by creating a video that they played when the speeches ended. It was a great presentation that touched the three of us and Pastor Love's brief devotional that followed was like the cherry on top of the hot fudge sundae. 

Wednesday was also the day that the entire first grade was sent to the office, because they were so bad. They had ruined a perfectly good blue tee shirt by stepping in green paint with one of their bare feet and then stamping on that shirt. Worse still, was that they decided this would be the perfect gift for me, and wrote, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Gospel" on the back. Oh! Those horrible little, wonderful children! I would have suspended the lot of them if they weren't so cute and I didn't love the gift so much. I wore the shirt for the rest of the school day.

Wednesday afternoon was a time for studying with my favorite freshman, my nephew Noah, for his Algebra 1 final. Then we were off to church to see the GGCA elementary students perform their spring musical, The Agape League. The fifth graders were spirit-filled super heroes acting, singing, and dancing through a story illustrating the fruits of the Holy Spirit and the role they play in our Christian lives. The costumes were amazing, and the lively singing and dancing by the first through fourth graders was fantastic. The service that followed featured the GGCA band and singers during worship, and everyone I know raved about Destiny McBurney and the band's performance of Fence Riders during the offering. Pastor Schaller's message was anointed, practical, and challenging to us to draw the lost to Christ through profound utterances from heaven coming out of our mouths. After the message and the invitation, I invited the eighth graders and their parents onto the stage to be prayed over as we re-dedicated ourselves, by God's grace, to helping these soon-to-be high school freshman make it through the next four years. Pastor Love led us all in a powerful prayer. After that ended, Pastor Lange spoke of me, Mrs. Lange, and Mr. Colby and introduced a well-produced video where GGCA students answered the questions, "What is a teacher?" "What does a vice-principal do?" "What does a principal do?" and then attempted to describe the three of us. I had to laugh and be moved at the same time, and to accept the love from the Body of Christ who, astonishingly, gave me a standing ovation. It was all grace - unmerited favor.

Thursday brought us a glorious field day and an opportunity for me to express my love for the sixth grade who allowed me to read to their class almost every day this year. Our final book was Linda Sue Park's When My Name Was Keoko, a story of a Korean family living during the Japanese occupation of Korea and World War II. To commemorate our time together, I prepared some Korean food. We ate kimbap with soy sauce, and then took the pork belly I had grilled and made lettuce wraps filled with sticky rice, kimchi, seasoned cucumbers, and pickled radish. Most everyone had seconds, and I had enough rice, pork, and kimchi left over to feed some seventh graders too. That afternoon, I received a book compiled by Lena Andrews, our fabulous Greek art teacher who made parents and the other churchgoers ooh and aah with the display of student art in the church lobby on Wednesday night. The book was filled with pictures and writings from every student in grades K through 5, and I just sat and soaked in the love as I read each page. Our students have a lot of love to share with others and they know how to edify too. Some sent along best wishes for Gary too. The field day was a great success. I was able to observe the fifth and sixth grade relay race around the parking lot and admire the cheerful labor of the eighth graders who had come in on the first day of their summer vacation to help Coach Lynch and Coach Lynne make the day run smoothly.

Friday was a glorious weather day. It promised to be a half day of last final exams, locker clean-outs, summer birthday celebrations, recesses, and yearbook signings. After thanking each elementary class for their contributions to the art book, I did what I could to assist the middle school clean out, since those rooms will be vacation Bible school rooms during the International Convention in a couple of weeks. Then, I wandered downstairs and peeked in on the high schoolers taking their exams. Around 10:45, I went out into the Family Center and was put to work signing middle and high school yearbooks. In a lull, I walked outside and encountered elementary students fresh out of school for the year, desiring my signature in their yearbooks, so I signed theirs for another hour, writing something different in each one. I hope they can read what I wrote. The first part of my afternoon was spent with the staff and their families at Mrs. Lange's house eating delicious food and relaxing together. When asked to give a testimony of something God had done during the year, I was able, amid tears, to thank God for the opportunity to get to know my nephews Noah and Colby in a special way through school - tutoring Noah and reading to Colby and his class. That was God's special gift to me this year.

The sun is well up now and as I look around my living room, I see boxes ready to be loaded on a moving truck this week and hauled to Maine. I'm still grateful to God for giving me this house to live in for the past six years. I'm grateful to Him for the indescribable blessing that the GGCA staff have been over the last seven years. My car is nothing to look at, but it has served me for twelve years without much trouble, so I am grateful for that blessing too. Lastly, I am grateful for the opportunity God gave me to be part of GGCA for twenty-five years of my life. 

I was thinking yesterday that God decided that I have finally learned enough after 25 years to graduate and move to Korea where He has something new for me to learn that requires me to be there to be taught. In their yearbooks, I encouraged many students to continue to grow in grace. That is my hope for my life too.

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