Monday, September 16, 2013

For the Little Ones And the Mentors that Guide Them

Today, we are thrilled to have a guest post from blogger and writer Emily Henson.  Her post is especially applicable during these first weeks of school.  Read, enjoy, and leave a comment! 

About Emily: I am a writer of Young Adult fiction currently in the process of getting my first book published.  My goal as a writer is to compose stories that provide solace, laughter, and wisdom while stimulating my readers to engage meaningfully in the world.  I am the proud wife to a fantastic husband and the mother of one, beautiful daughter.  We hope, with the Lord’s blessing, to bring many more delightful children into the world.  

I am a former elementary instructor and now work part time as a self-employed educational consultant assisting teachers in perfecting their methods of education for the betterment of students.  Students from Pre-Kindergarten through the Fifth Grade lean on adults for their primary education.  Our role as parents and teachers is immensely influential on a child’s mind and character.  For that reason, our job to educate them should intimidate us and simultaneously spur us on to be the best mentor a child could witness.  The greatest enabler to influencing a child is the ability to think like one.  Our adult minds so often forget how even the minutest of our actions or words are perceived by youth and that can be a drastic impediment which may affect a child for life. 

Follow Emily and her amazing work at, as well as on Facebook (E.A. Henson Books) and Twitter (@eahhensonbooks)! 

For the Little Ones
And the Mentors that Guide Them
By: E.A. Henson

I noticed the ability when I became a teacher.  As my little one now toddles around her big world, I am getting to experience the phenomenon just about every minute.  Thinking through the mind of a child; not many adults can do it, in fact, most cannot.  This trait, or talent, or whatever you want to call it, really came as a bitter-sweet shock to me.  I felt deeply the frustrations of my students as they strove to progress in school, to impress their peers and parents.  Watching their desperate attempts at success brought back the dormant emotions I experienced in school.  The delighted smile of my second grade teacher as she read one of my imaginative stories, the frown or snide remark of another teacher that nearly ripped my eager-to-please, young heart to pieces.  Those memories served me well as I stepped into the shoes that could affect my students and how they saw themselves.  
Occasionally, teachers I worked with would share with me their disappointment in one of their students who “just doesn’t get it” and “probably never will”.  If I alone knew of the teacher’s disgust, the story would not be as sad but so often teachers very clearly relate their frustration and impatience to the “low achieving” or “misbehaved” student through their words or actions.
Let me pause here to be clear.  I strongly encourage teachers to set high standards for their students and to expect them to reach or surpass those goals; however, tearing a child’s self-worth to shreds will only serve to break his or her spirit.  In my experience, when the average child struggles behaviorally or academically the fault lies most with the adults in their lives who have not given them the time or love for which they yearn.  
I’m speaking for the little ones who have no voice yet.  They know not how to speak for themselves or even that there exists something against which to protest.  You see, they believe you when you tell them they are ‘good’ or they are ‘bad’, ‘smart’ or simply ‘frustrating’.  They believe their teachers, mothers, fathers, and that is why our job can be fearful and wonderful in each moment.  That is why we need to become like children when our ego threatens to blind us from remembering what it is like to be little ones.  You might learn from them equally what you can teach.  
My little one has taught me patience, and to wave at strangers again, to sing when I want to, to have joy in the small things, to laugh at life, to cry when I’m hurt.  My students showed me how much I don’t know through their constant questions.  They reminded me what it is like to be a student and that allowed me to be a better teacher.  Children are full of light and life in a world often consumed by hate and darkness, they are eager to please sometimes even in the face of determined disapproval.  We have the power and the choice to bolster a child’s self-worth and their thirst for knowledge or the power to neglect and scorn them until they forget how to believe in themselves.  If every teacher or mentor of a child could remove the cobwebs from that corner of their heart where the child in them still lives and smile openly when a child tries their hardest or speak the right words when they struggle, we might see a renewed light and life surge into our future generations.  
Matt 19:14 - But Jesus said, "Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

We Remember...

I had no idea the full impact that day would have on my life.  I couldn't have known.  I had a vague idea, but only to a certain extent. 

I was 18, and in gym class.  The teachers, who never gave us a "Play Day" that deviated from the lesson plan, suddenly took us into the girl's locker room and left us there with the door closed.   We were talking in hushed whispers.  Never had I seen teachers' faces so white.  Finally, after thirty minutes, I sneaked out the door and saw my teacher sitting in her office, face in her hands listening to the radio. 

"A plane has hit the tower!"  The radio was on.

I gasped. 

She looked up and sent me back to the locker room.  She came in later, after a long while, and told us that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  None of my teachers taught anything that day.  The televisions were on, and we just watched.  As horror and death continue to unfold.  Countless lives lost, buildings destroyed, America brought to its knees.

The days that followed turned into weeks.  Bush stood in front of America.  We were officially a nation at war. 

At that time, he was finishing school and would soon live a mile from me.  But, I did not know him.  He was living his own life.  Preparing to serve our country.  But, I had no idea he even existed.  Instead, I feared for my brothers.  My father, who was serving at that time.  What would happen?  Would there be a draft?  Would my family be split apart by war.

Yes, my child.  But not yet.

Months turned into years, and life moved forward.  We stood up, we healed with scars.  And our men and women continued to fight.  I went to college, grew up.  And he was still fighting, but I still did not know him. 

I know him, now.  I met him, I married him, we had a baby.  I saw him off to war, and we found out we were going to have another baby.  Because of the war.  He came home, and we are a family. He was the last Brigade officially out of Iraq, but they are still there.  Helping them recover.

This day, this anniversary, rings especially somber this year.  As our president stood in front of the cameras again last night, making clear his intentions.  His preferences.

It scared me.  And I had flashbacks.

To that young girl in high school, who, while still mourning the immense loss of American men and women on that fateful September day, watched the president declare war.  Who feared for her brothers, her father.  When that man--that dear man--would soon live less than a mile away.  And would train.  Learn.  Prepare to go fight.  Soon. 

To that woman who, on the eve of her wedding and amidst all the joy and naiveté, had a realization in her stomach of the life into which she was marrying.  A different life.  A hard life.  Of separation and sacrifice.  But, she loved that man.  So much.  And they had God.  He would guide them.  But, still, the feeling was still there.

To that mother who, having no idea of the new life in her middle, held her first baby in her arms as she put her husband, her Soldier on a bus.  Watched him pull away.  And broke down in the car to an extent she'd never known before.  That woman who fought to make a year joyful, loving, pleasant for her little growing family.  Who prepared to give birth alone, but was given a sweet gift at the last second.  And her Soldier stood by her side and they welcomed new life.

To the woman who, upon receiving the incomplete text message about blood and the hospital, thought the worst.  And had to wait.  And wait.  For the news.  And, thankfully, it wasn't what she had thought.

To that Army Wife who stood on the parade field, barely able to contain herself as she tried to find her Soldier in the huge formation.  Who fought to contain the 2 year old, crying to get on the field and find her daddy.  To the woman who was ready to be a family again. 

There is evil in this world.  People who want to destroy others in the name of their "religion."  Their "god."  We, as an American nation, have seen that many times. 

October 12, 2000, a suicide attack killed 17 U.S. Sailors on board the U.S.S. Cole.

On September 11th, 2001, when almost 3,000 lives were taken out of hatred. 

When a "soldier" stood up on Fort Hood and killed 19 people in the name of his "religion." 

Three people were killed and hundreds wounded on April 15, 2013 at the Boston Marathon, when two bombs exploded near the finish line. 

People have died, unjustly, in the face of hatred and religious self-righteousness.  Men have killed and injured others, destroyed families, and have attempted in vain to ruin a nation all because of skewed ideas and perverted "religion."  Men and women have fought in wars against this hatred, sometimes returing home missing limbs or arriving in boxes, defending this nation and the idea of a true Good.  They defend liberty and justice.  For all

I choose to believe in a different God.  A God who loves all, wants the best for us and, in the midst of our shame and sinfulness, loves us.  Wants us to choose Him, choose good.  Who wants us to stand in defense of this good.  For all. 

I believe in a God who, when those souls all came Home too early, took them in his arms and welcomed them.  Who spread out wide his mantle of comfort over aching families, a bleeding nation.  Who continuously calls these hateful men and women to change their hearts, to come to His fold. 

I believe in a nation that can get knocked down, but will stand up every time.  We will continue to stand representing good.  Defending liberty and justice.  For all.  We will continue to remember and honor those who died in honor of that freedom, who died in defense of our nation.  Or who were just innocent souls who died because of the evil.

We will remember them all.  

God bless America.