Other Peoples’ Children

My children started 1st and 2nd grade this morning.  This isn’t my first “first day of school”, but that certainly didn’t stop me from tearing up several times, including on the playground walking my kids in.  It also didn’t stop me from waking up before dawn with an anxious heart, before my coffee timer was even set to start.

The worries started off mild enough…

What if they need mommy during the day?

What if they don’t like their teacher?

What if they don’t make friends this year?

And then started to get a bit out of hand…

What if there is a bully?

What if this year’s school shooting is at their school?  (Ugh, how wrong is it that this is a legit concern?)

So I prayed the prayer of St. Patrick over them, in the quiet of the morning, barely caffeinated.

Lord, shepherd Evangeline Meghan and Zachary Jonathan.

Christ be with them, Christ before them, Christ behind them,
Christ in them, Christ beneath them, Christ above them,
Christ on their right, Christ on their left,
Christ when they lie down, Christ when they sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of them,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of them,
Christ in the eye that sees them,
Christ in the ear that hears them.

It was a sweet, peaceful prayer but I had barely even finished my “Amen” when I was struck with one of those overwhelming, fall on the floor senses of God’s presence and guiding.

My mind was flooded with a picture of Jesus as mother hen and his words in Matthew 23

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings”

In that moment God laid it heavily upon my heart to feel just a fraction of His unquenchable love for every single child at Kellond Elementary.

So heavily, in fact, that I knew I couldn’t leave that chair until I had interceded for not just my two, but for all the little ones who will be flooding the hallways and classrooms of the kids’ school this morning.  Tears fell from my eyes as God let me glimpse His desire and longing and rejoicing for these children and their families, these beloved ones who He formed and pursues relentlessly and longs to gather under His wing.

Praying for other peoples’ children was for their blessing, but I also realized that the way He was asking me to intercede for others was also for my own blessing.

See, I often agonize wonder about our school choice for the kids.  Is it the right one?

We intentionally chose our neighborhood public school – which is part of a struggling, underfunded district – over the MANY other options available to us in Tucson.  We intentionally left the private, absolutely precious and wonderful Christian school where our children attended preschool to be a part of this community, and part in parcel with that was choosing larger class sizes. What kind of parent opts for larger class sizes?!  

It meant intentionally choosing to be surrounded by, and taught by, people who don’t share our faith.  Choosing – on purpose- to be in community with people who don’t have similar educational backgrounds to us, similar economic status, similar family set-ups, similar life experiences, similar language, or similar skin color.

There is beauty in diversity, I love it actually and am thankful I get to learn from others who aren’t totally like me,  but there is also tension and a bit of ‘rough around the edges’ feel, especially compared to the preschool we came from.

And then I see other parents making other choices, different choices, for their families and I worry we are doing it all wrong, and our kids are going to fall behind and sometimes it would just feel SO MUCH easier and nicer and neater and comfortable (for me anyways!) if we did something different.

Not sure if I am the only person who experiences this, but sometimes just the mere fact that other people make different decisions than me, feels threatening.

Even if I am 100% certain and confident and happy with my choice.  Like when I order something from the restaurant menu, but then my husband orders something different and I’m all like NEVERMIND GIVE ME WHAT HE’S HAVING – except even more significant than that because it’s my kids’ lives we’re talking about here.  I guess it’s the whole ‘the grass is greener’ situation.

Sometimes the grass looks reeeaaaallllyyyyy green at the school across town.

Of all the mom friends I have, there is such a variety and diversity of school paths that each has chosen; from Charter to Private to Homeschool to Montessori to Public.  And each one fretted and researched and prayed to come to the conclusion that was right for them, their children and their family and their convictions  No two journeys are the same, and this is a good thing.  Like I said, there is beauty in diversity, but also tension, and in this case a decent amount of comparison.

But still, I wonder and I doubt and I second guess.  I want to grab the waitress and say NEVERMIND!  I’ll have what they’re having!

So this morning as I was praying God reminded me of His love for the kids in our awesome little public school.  There’s some poverty.  There’s some broken English.  There are broken families and broken hearts that He desires to bind up.  There are tireless teachers who need more supplies and under resourced classrooms and a Be Kind mosaic in the courtyard.

It has Miss Keisha helping on the playground who simply adores my kids, and teachers who refer to Zach as “mijo”, and we get to see Franky and Santi’s parents during Little League season and Carlos’ mom works at the Dunkin’ Donuts right by our house so we can say Hi to her when we stop for a treat.   What a blessing for us.

Most of all it is filled with the very image of God in every single boy and girl that ran onto the playground this morning.  I want to fight for them and look out for them and serve them in the same way I do for my own, that’s what it looks like for me, in my context, to be the hands and feet (and hen wings?) of Jesus.

Part of our choice is that we picked, to some degree anyway, to not ‘look out for number one’.  And that feels too foolish to me sometimes.  I mean, we are actually beyond happy with our school – they have a great arts and music program, an active PTO, devoted teachers and beautiful families that have become friends.  But, there are better schools out there. Schools that would serve MY CHILDREN really, really well.  Schools that might help my kids get ahead more or give them more one on one attention.  The list goes on.  What if my kids are falling behind?  What if I am doing them a huge disservice?  What if I am ruining their future?  What if, what if, what if…  (The internal monologue of moms can be pretty ridiculous)

The grass is greener at other schools.  And shouldn’t MY CHILDREN be where the grass is greenest!?

But what God spoke to me of this morning, was that while Evie and Zach are my only daughter and son, they are not His only children.

And, as Hilary Clinton reminds us, there are no such thing as other peoples’ children.

When Jon and I chose this school with these particular families and these particular issues and demographics, we chose to align ourselves with them.  

We chose to make their cause, our cause.

To make their success, our success.  

Their school, our school.  

Their children, our children.

I am thinking of all my other mom friends across my city and country and world this morning, sending their little ones off to school this fall.  Their paths may have led them to Montessori or Private or Charter or Public or eastside or westside or northside or southside…but their love and commitment to those communities goes with them just as my love goes to Kellond Elementary.  Where our kids go to school, so go our hearts.  I honor their choices and rejoice that the Kingdom of God is spreading out all over Tucson this week.

I’m thankful that the Holy Spirit reminded me this morning that the Phillips family is right where it is supposed to be.  He settled my heart and helped me prepare myself for another year of trying to make friends with other parents, showing up to PTO fund raisers and praying, praying, praying.

And I mean, come on, look at these faces.  Something tells me they are blooming right where they have been planted.

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Christ be with them, Christ before them, Christ behind them,
Christ in them, Christ beneath them, Christ above them,
Christ on their right, Christ on their left,
Christ when they lie down, Christ when they sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of them,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of them,
Christ in the eye that sees them,
Christ in the ear that hears them.

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Other Peoples’ Children

  1. Christy C Voelkel

    Thank you. Best quote, “there are no such thing as other peoples’ children.” I remember these very thoughts when we put our kids into Jefferson Park school, and I became vice-president of the PTA and fought for all of our kids. Blessings and honor.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jen Olson

    Kirsten, this brought me to tears. I accepted a position at our neighborhood TUSD school as the reading specialist, working with groups of struggling readers. It’s something I’ve been certified to do for a long time, but the jobs are often scarce. Just a few weeks ago, when I had accepted that Tucson is where the Lord wants us (for now, at least), I found this job at Sewell. I was offered the position last week (half time at Sewell and half time at Howell). I asked myself ALL those same questions as I wrestled with pulling the kids from the affluent, top notch, highly technological district with the amazing Spanish immersion program. But as I wrestled, I started to quickly realize that where God wanted the kids was at Sewell – with those same families you described. Josh’s classroom is in a portable, with wall AC units, and ceiling tiles that have seen many leaks, but God picked out his amazing teacher, knowing she would be a perfect fit for my sweet boy. And dear Corban is already in love with her fantastic 4th grade teacher! Even though I have loved where they were for the past 3 years, I also am excited for this year. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for this blog post – from one TUSD parent to another 🙂

    Like

    1. Kirsten

      Oh man this has me bawling! Congrats on your new position! It has been the biggest blessing, but yeah it is hard some days. The best thing we can do as parents is take it year by year, praying this year is good for the Olson family 💗

      Like

  3. I shared those exact words at 4Tucson prayer meeting tonight…bloom where you’re planted. We also talked about joining together to pray for our schools and neighborhoods. Your words are confirmation:)

    Liked by 1 person

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