If you’ve stopped in here often enough, you know that I’m an enthusiastic bookworm! One of my favorite aspects of being a teacher is sharing books and stories with my class.
Recently, I assigned my junior high students an older short story called The House Guest by Paul Darcy Boles.
The story focuses on Bridgie, a 9-year-old girl growing up in Ireland during the troubled years, when the IRA and the British troops faced off in the streets.
In the story, an international organization brings Bridgie to America for a few weeks. This gives her a respite from her day-to-day existence, where kids go hungry and live their lives to the background sounds of gunfire and grief.
Bridgie never gets enough to eat and jumps when cars backfire and still misses the dog her family was too poor to keep as a pet. She is quiet and gentle and brave.
Bridgie spends her few days in America, not gathering up material things to take home with her, but in making life better for others. After being gifted a leather craft kit, she makes pet collars and chases down the stray dogs in the neighborhood to give each of them one.
She tells the dogs, “You can hold your head up, now. And don’t be trying to scrape [the collar] off or lose it. It’s your ticket to some fine homes. They’ll feed you up. They’ll think you’ve been a pet and believe you’re valuable.”
That’s the part I choose to read aloud the day we discuss the story. The poignancy touches our hearts. My students are silent thinking of that sweet, brave girl who wants to make sure that even the lowliest of creatures—the stray dogs—feel valued and find homes.
Solemn-eyed and serious, they contemplate a world where too often kids end up being less valued than lost dogs.
They wonder what life is like for kids in North Korea and China and Syria and the places they’ve heard adults mention. What are those other kids going through? How do they find reasons for hope and the courage to face another day?
My students are no strangers to sorrow themselves. In our little class, students have lost mothers to cancer and mental illness. They’ve lost fathers to addictions and imprisonment.
My class remembers the devastation of Hurricane Sandy a few years back and the tragedy that happened an hour south of us at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
They’ve learned that the world can be a scary place and have wrestled with feeling . . .
My heart aches to see the awareness in their young faces.
And I find myself asking, how do we show them . . .
That God is with us
That His heart is loving
That when everything around them quakes, He is our ROCK
That—no matter the evidence to the contrary—HE IS GOOD
We have a great calling—to show our young ones that though the world is not always kind or just, God is both!
Lord, give us heart renewal that we might be equal to the task.
And guard our next generation from the fiery darts that would steal their joy and shipwreck their future.
“Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society.
Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God.
Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause
to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns.
You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.”
Philippians 2:15&16, The Message
“I’m asking God for one thing, only one thing:
to live with him in his house my whole life long.
I’ll contemplate His beauty; I’ll study at His feet.
That’s the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world,
the perfect getaway, far from the buzz of traffic.
God holds me head and shoulders above
all who try to pull me down.”
Psalm 27:3-6, The Message
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Let’s look for glimpses of His glory today. Blessings, friends!
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