Thankfulness

The calendar says that it’s time to stop and be thankful, yet I can’t imagine that the days of Thanksgiving that those living in the Eastern U.S. in the 17th century called for even resemble a distant relative of what we see today.  “Days of Thanksgiving” were celebrated following times of drought, famine, and other disasters that either wiped out large portions of actual food supplies, or threatened to. The Pilgrims, as we now know them, that supposedly sat down for the first official Thanksgiving feast, did so after taking the gamble of leaving what generations had known as home in the Netherlands and England to travel across the Atlantic to Plymouth, Massachusetts.  They barely made it before winter set in, arriving in November in New England, from which over half of the traveling party died during the winter months.  The next autumn, they celebrated this famous Thanksgiving by giving thanks to God for his blessings – for seeing half of them through and providing a successful harvest to make it through the second winter.  Gee, that sounds exactly why we stop and give thanks these days, right?

Fear not, this is not going to be back-to-back blog ranting about how skewed Americans are in their ideals when it comes to what we are entitled versus what we need.  I actually am going to detour a little from that for a moment.  In my brief time (five years) as an assistant principal, I have had the experience of sitting down with many different types of 21st century parents.  Some are for positive reasons, but in my position, the truth of it is that most are not – I try to make it a joint effort to find some sort of resolution and planning process to correct something that is not that positive in regards to their child.  I find many views on this, but most fit into one of these categories:

1) What are you doing wrong?  This parent not only doesn’t see the fault in their child, but works diligently to find fault in someone at the school for the issues in front of them.  It’s either my disciplinary efforts, the teachers’ and their incompetence, or a coach and his/her favoritism.  Regardless, we are all idiots and while we currently have 629 students, picking on and/or mistreating theirs has become a priority.

2) Not my child.  This parent is in a state of denial that their child could be involved with anything negative at all.  I pray often to never ever approach my children in this way.  They will make excuses why we might think they are involved, apologize away the accidental involvement, or just deny anything unless you can present a CSI-worthy list of evidence to the contrary.

3) Thank you for letting me know.  What can we do to help?  This parent isn’t as rare as you think, but is not the majority either, by far.  Sometimes their reactions are a show for me, and the real action taken outside of school doesn’t match the noise made in my office.  But, this is also still genuine at times and becomes the first step in real intervention planning, whether successful or not.

This takes me to the real point of this week’s blog.  One experience in the past five years created its own category and, so far, only has one member.  This single mother and I had discussed her daughter more than once for isolated incidents, and each time she was supportive of the school’s decisions.  But, there came a time when her daughter made her next misstep, a more major one than the times before.  I made the call to mom’s cell phone and described the incident and what our response would be, by policy, and due to her history.  The mother’s response was again a supportive one as far as our disciplinary consequences were concerned.  But, as she described the issues she was also having with her at home, she made a statement that I’ve never really gotten out of my head.  She said (and I paraphrase some, but have it verbatim for the most part), “Coach Scott, I am just tired.  I don’t think I can do this anymore.  Nothing I do helps, I cannot keep doing this, for my own health.  When she turns 18, that will be it for me.  She is not going to be the death of me.”

Her comment makes me think of my own children, and especially of the fourth Scott we have yet to meet.  I can’t imagine what it is like to try to raise two children (which is what she has) on my own, especially knowing that the father passed away when the children were pre-school aged.  I know that she works hard every day to provide what they need and beyond.  This is not an attack on her or her character in any way, but I also cannot fathom a day where I say – ‘that’s enough’ – to one of my kids and move on emotionally.

Sometimes they make me proud, like JP making a 100 on a test this past week, Gabe going to the altar to pray this morning, or Kara making all of her free throws in yesterday’s game.  Sometimes, I feel the opposite, such as one of those moments that Kara’s pre-teen female attitude arrives, Gabe not taking up for his little brother when one if his friends is near, or JP making fun of someone else.  But, whether they do something great or not, I feel the same love for them.  I would rather their moments of “greatness” outweigh the ones that require stopping and learning a lesson, but I don’t get to choose that.  I also don’t get to choose whether or not to be their parent – no one else is lining up for the job, after all.

This past week, we still didn’t hear from the same situation I mentioned to you last week in the adoption – the Tennessee birth mother that we didn’t meet all the criteria for.  And, as we sat in the living room of friends Friday morning meeting their new baby (welcome to the world, Nora Baker!), we put in for another situation and should find out next week about that one as well.  I get skeptically excited at each situation, knowing both that there are many families that put their names in he hat for each situation, and at the same time, know that this really could be the birth mother that chooses us.  Either way, we know that the fourth Scott will get the same love and devotion from us that Kara, Gabe, and JP have from us already.

My final thought is one of true thankfulness – that the Father in Heaven is also firm in His love for me.   I desire to follow Him, just as my three want to do what makes Jaclyn and me proud as well, but often fall short of what He asks me to, also just like my three.  But, His love is unconditional and I owe Him nothing for it.  I am kept safe simply for being His, nothing more.  Kara, Gabe, and JP are provided for, kept safe, and loved simply for being my children.  They owe me nothing else.

So, today, my true thankfulness is not for the “things” that we have, though we are blessed beyond what we need.  It is not for any of our four children, though they are blessings as well.  They are not even for blessing me with my wonderful, Godly wife, my parents or those who came before them with a steadfast faith, or on and on for what we are taught to be thankful for.  No, I am thankful for the only thing that we really should stop and say thanks for – Jesus’ sacrifice that allows us access to God the Father and the bounties of Heaven simply for being a child of the King.  I owe Him nothing more – my tab has been paid.

So, as you pray for us, pray for both birth mothers that are looking at our profile and many others.  Pray for the children they carry and also pray thankfulness that they have chosen life over modern alternatives for them.  And pray for the mother that I mentioned that “gave up” on her child and the countless others that are trying to raise children in a rough moral climate, especially if they are doing so without the strength of Christ as support.  But most of all, be sure you thank God for the sacrifice of His son, without whom we really would all be lost and have a debt we could never pay.

“Hallelujah!  Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.  His faithful love endures forever!”  Psalms 106:1

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