Here it is ... the last day of first grade for my very favorite 1st grader. It has been quite a journey for the both of us! Will has thrived under the instruction of his sweet teacher, the love and care that John and I seek to surround him with daily, and the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ. As I look back over this year, I'm just amazed at the work God has done. So many "firsts" have happened ... I found myself wanting to journal them much like I kept careful notes on the "firsts" of his first year of life. When you're focused on "firsts", there is a feeling of looking to the future, waiting, even longing, for the next step to happen. A few weeks ago, I heard something that changed my perspective. My mom and I went to a women's (my spell check says "women's" is spelled incorrectly and offered to replace it with womenfolk's - now that's funny!) conference where Karen Kingsbury was one of the speakers. I've always devoured her books as quick as I can get my hands on them, but I wasn't sure what to expect of her as a speaker. She was so encouraging as she spoke about writing the story of our lives. Karen (I'm pretty sure it's okay for me to call her by her first name) reminded us that today is all we're promised and that we need to use today to pour our lives, our love, and our laughter into those around us. I was especially blessed by a story she read that was never meant to be published. Something she wrote for her son and after her publisher read it, she knew it would touch the hearts of many. I highly recommend Let me Hold you Longer by Karen Kingsbury ... I also highly recommend that you have a box of tissues with you when you read it. This story speaks of recognizing not the "firsts" but the "lasts" and learning to appreciate today for all that it is.
A few Sunday night's ago, the children's choirs did their annual end of the year program. Will sang his heart out with the Kindergarten and 1st grade choir and then came to sit with us while we watched the 2nd-6th grade choir. After the lights were dimmed and the first song started, Will realized that he couldn't see very well and he asked to sit in my lap. He's already tall and thin like his daddy and he could barely fit, but I didn't move for the whole 30 minute program as I wondered ... will this be the last time he crawls into my lap and sits still for me to hold him?
Last weekend, John was gone for his duty weekend, and I took the kids to Chick-fil-a for a delicious (and not so nutritious!) lunch and also to burn off a little energy in the play place. After the kids ate, I turned them loose and settled back on the bench to watch them play. A few more moms came in and as Will ran past, I overheard one of them say "That kid sure is big to be in here!" Gasp!!! No, not my boy, he's not too big - is he? When we left a little while later, I had him stand up against the measuring stick in the window and oh my word! he's too tall to play. Is this the last time he'll play in the play place?
One of the most wonderful things about first grade is watching your child become a fluent reader. At the beginning of the year, it was almost painful to endure "reading homework" as each word had to be s-l-o-w-l-y sounded out. Sometime around Christmas the light bulb came on for Will and now he's reading chapter books. It's really a wonderful thing to witness. Since Will was tiny, we've read a book or two and a Bible story each night before bed. Since he started learning to sound words out, I would ask Will if he wanted to read before bed and he'd always say, "No, I want you to." Are you sure, how about if I read one page and you read one? "No thanks, mom. You read." Now, as I sit on the bed with him at night, he says, "Mom, can you pass me my Bible, I want to read to you." Have I read him the last bedtime story?
So many things are accomplished in the matter of a year ... his bike doesn't have training wheels anymore, he can follow the directions to build a complex lego model without my help, he proudly cuts his own food at dinner (this my friends, is the feeling of victory), he can draw an airplane almost as well as his dad, he checks himself and Kate in at church on Sunday mornings and then walks to his class on his own or with a friend he sees in the hall, he's learning how to work conflicts out on his own - without mom telling him every step to take or every word to say (hallelujah!). He's growing up right before my eyes. I don't feel sad about all of this. I'm learning to not always be looking for the next "first" but I am reminded to be present in the present, to enjoy today and to give all the love I have to give. We'll celebrate the "lasts" so that we're ready to embrace the "firsts". I cannot wait to see what God is going to do in the life of Will Schloss.
"Teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom."