Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Moments with Muffin...

I awoke this morning thinking about Muffin**...not a muffin, but Muffin~ our golden girl before Chester.  (We adopted her into our hearts and home when she was 8 yrs old, from a loving family who could no longer keep her.)  Maybe I was thinkin' of her because it was a Friday morning, and Friday was her favorite day of the week ~ the day she came to school with me.  Her tail wagged extra big on Fridays. If my 3rd graders had tails, theirs would have wagged just as big as Muff's!

Anyways, for some reason, I was thinking about Muffin and this one particular Friday... Muff was teamed up with George (name changed) for math buddies. George was having a bad day and he was grumpy, and he took out his grump-ness on Muffin. Meaning, he did not pet her very nicely, and pushed her a bit too hard when her paw touched his math book, (She obviously was trying to point something out to him!). George being "ruff" with our class-pup did not go over too well with me, or the rest of the students. In an even voice I said to George,  "You may choose to be kind to your math buddy, or I will choose a new math buddy for you."  George, through his unchanged behaviour, chose for me to pick a new buddy.  His new buddy was ME, the teacher, and Muffin moved on to other buddies.

Friday was pizza day at school.  Kids sat at their desks savoring yummy, greasy, cheesy, pizza, begging and tempting Muffin with bites, to sit by them. It was a huge honor to have the Muffster sit by your desk, ohmy!  Muff wandered through the isles of nose-high desks sniffing the delightful lunchtime smells that floated through the air.  Then, to our surprise, she settled by George.  GEORGE?

I did  not have teacher of the year thoughts at that moment.  Honestly, I was still a bit miffed with George. And, the class was not happy Muffin chose George for her lunchtime friend either. Watching this scene unfold, I began to hear 3rd grade whisper comments, those comments that teachers aren't supposed to hear, but always do~
...why's she sitting by him?
...he was mean.
...he doesn't deserve....
...sit by me Muffin, not him..

I cleared my throat, gave the teacher look, and the comments ceased. Truth be told, when I gave the look,  I was thinking exactly what they were saying.  My kids shushed, went back to munching pizza and chatting quietly about 3rd grade stuff.  I kept my eyes on George and The Muffster.

She sat by his desk, gently looking at him, then layed her head on his lap. George rested his little hand on her head.  His brown eyes got teary, and then he leaned over, sort of resting his head on hers, and whispered something in her ear.  She sat quietly, he sat quietly.  And then my eyes got full, and my heart got tender. After a bit, George sat up, tore a piece of pizza (the greasiest bite, I think), and gave it to Muff. All was well in the world.

Lunch was over, the pizza was gone, the desks were cleared, and Muffin had once again cleaned out the crusts from the trash can---a Friday ritual.   I sat perched on my stool, Muff lay snoozing under my desk, and the students eagerly awaited read-aloud-time.  I kept the book closed on my lap, and looked out at my dazzling 3rd graders, and gently said,  "I almost missed a God moment today. Anyone have an idea how God used Muffin to teach me about His love?"

Quiet filled the room.  Little heads looked down, tiny fingers traced designs on wooden desks.  And then....
A few hands went up.
"I think when Muffin sat by George for pizza." one brave student said.
They saw it too ~~ and the discussion began to flow.
I love moments like these. 
Moments you could never plan, but God brings.  Teachable moments, I like to call them.  Teachable Moments can be life changing ~ when we have ears to hear and eyes to see.

This Moment with Muffin, and George,  it reminds of a familiar story. A son had royally messed up everything, I mean everything, but decided to return home to Dad, the one he had hurt the most. Before the son could even lift his head or eek out an apology, Dad ran to him, scooping him up into the biggest bear hug ever recorded in history.  He just poured the love on his boy, forever healing the son's broken and shame-filled heart.

By the way,  George had a much better afternoon.  He was kinder.  Softer.  Well, we all were.

Muffin with a few of her favorite kids.
 (George, though one of Muff's favorites,  is not in this pic, in case you were wondering!)
PS  **For those of you interested in name origins.  Well, Muffin comes from the original word Muffin, meaning warm and savory treat.  Apparently when she was a wee pup, she ate a whole batch of them, fresh from the oven.  Thus her name.  Muffin.


Sunday, April 3, 2011


There once was a man sent from God, his name was John.  A familiar verse in the Bible.  I'm not talking about the same John mentioned in that verse.... but those words just spring to my mind as I think of a man we recently met -- his name is John, and he was sent by God into our lives.

We met John a few months ago. We sat across the aisle from each other at church. During worship, Chester perked up, wandered over to greet John.  I noticed John sat alone.  I noticed he had kind eyes and a huge love for dogs.  And I noticed he had a large bandage around his neck. 

After the service, John came to us.  He sat down, and lovingly pet Chester.  He held his finger over the hole in the neck bandage, so he could speak, his voice, raspy, strained, difficult to understand.  His eyes so kind and caring, full of compassion and love for others...dogs included. Walking through hard seasons can give you that kind of heart.  Or...bitterness.  In John though, all I see in his often tear-filled eyes

It had been awhile since we were at church on a Saturday night.  Last night we were there.  John found us again. We hugged, happy to see our friend.  John sat down, and Chester snuggled up next to his friend. John rested his hand on Chester's head, petting him constantly, rubbing his ears, just loving on dog lover's do. When John stopped petting to grab a pen , Chester nudged him gently with his nose, as if saying, hey, don't stop :-).  John, no longer able to talk, his voice too weak, now spoke with his pen.  He scratched a note to us on his yellow pad, "I've missed you."

"I've missed you."  The words just made my eyes leak.  Had it not been for Chester, would I ever have noticed or met this kind man? Would I?  I hope so, but I don't know ~ ~ how many "John Moments" have I walked past?  I am so thankful that months ago, Chester walked across that aisle to make the first move, to meet ...a friend.

We, gathered closely around John and prayed for him.  He wrote notes, we read, we talked, he scribbled quickly, we listened. It was clear John was missing his voice, weak as it was. It is difficult to write notes and say all that is in your heart ... so, we just hugged some more and Chester sat close with his friend.

There once was a man, sent by God, his name was John.  John is now in our hearts and in our lives. And we are in his.  If you wouldn't mind, would you whisper a prayer for our friend.