So many new experiences over the last few weeks. In late August, I stood next to two very near and dear friends on their wedding day. It was the very first wedding I’ve stood up in, and it was SO much fun! I had forgotten how fun it was to get my hair done or pay special attention to my makeup. But mostly, I enjoyed sharing the day with friends I cherish.
Anna and Joe are such beautiful people – inside and out. I met Anna a little more than 3 years ago on the second Sunday I attended New Life Lincoln Park for church service. I remember feeling uneasy and shy, but Anna (and another sweet girl, Ashlyn) quickly befriended me. Since then, we’ve shared so many special memories together – from traveling to Michigan for camping to laughing at small group, and everything in between. Anna is the strong, quiet friend I can lean on when things get tough. She’s got the best sense of humor, and she never hesitates to give. I’m so thankful God crossed our paths.
During the ceremony, I could feel my eyes well with tears as Anna read her vows. It was the sweetest thing in the world to watch Joe tear up when he saw his gorgeous bride. Walking down the aisle reminded me of walking down the aisle to marry Dan. I remember that day like it was yesterday. Love is awesome.
I went from a picturesque wedding to being deployed to an elementary school in a poorer part of Chicago last week. I was humbled, moved and thankful. On the first day, the principal placed me in a Kindergarten class with 30 kindergartners. The teacher, freshly moved from a private school in suburban Illinois, expressed her gratitude for my assistance multiple times that day. At one point I could tell she was overwhelmed, so I stepped in on a last minute decision on how to ensure each student received their backpack and important paperwork. The kids were adorable, but a few were a handful. One student attempted to sharpen everything he could get his hands on, including his finger. I lunged across the room to stop him. He went home with his finger intact. One little girl wanted to go with me everywhere. Holding their sweet little hands made my heart flutter. Other students broke my heart. It was painfully obvious that some of them came from struggling homes. It choked me up a bit, and in that moment, I was so thankful to be there to share a smile and to care for these students. To be a light. To show them a little bit of the love God has for them.
On the second day, the principal placed me in a special needs pre-kindergarten class. It was quite possibly the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. One student was inconsolable. He had a blanket for comfort and at one point he just wanted to be held. I held him, and he stopped crying. I had the utmost respect for teachers before last week, but now, I have so much more.