A few weeks ago, I was praying for my daughter who just began her first experience of teaching elementary art at one of our local Christian schools. Having prayed for the favor of God to open the door to a position at the school, I was thanking Him for His provision and asking Him to bless her as she faced her classrooms filled with students that day. Almost forty years ago, I was facing this same situation and I remembered vividly the parents lining up the very first day outside the classroom door and the knot inside my stomach as I greeted the parents and took on the task of caring for their most precious possessions.
Sometime later a memory began to form in my mind. A photograph in which my own mother stood beside me in my kindergarten classroom with her beautiful bright smile and holding a cake filled with candles. For a moment I cringed a bit inside as I thought of the horrid floral print blouse I was wearing in the photo. If my memory serves me correctly, it was my thirtieth birthday. Time has a way of changing the fashion trends but being a blessing in someone's life has no time limitations. Being a blessing can happen each and every day of our lives. However, many times we find ourselves saying, “I'll do that tomorrow.”
I was so touched that my mother had taken the time to bake a birthday cake for me to share with my classroom. The children were so excited you might have thought it was their very own birthday as they waited in anticipation for me to blow out my thirty candles.
The memory of this surprise visit from my mom laid on my heart for an hour or two until I realized what God was saying to me. Don't wait! Do it today! Bless your daughter with the same kind of surprise. Well, I didn't have ingredients to make a cake, but I did have everything necessary to make my daughter's favorite dessert, Simple Apple Dumplings. So into the kitchen I went and prepared this sweet treat for my firstborn. The picture of my own mother kept popping up in my mind. I found myself smiling as I remembered my mother and how much she had enjoyed blessing others with gifts of food, particularly things she baked. Her pound cakes were the best and her banana pudding requested for church dinners by the pastor every year.
As the Apple Dumplins cooked, waves of nostalgia rolled over me. I remembered the Mother's Day teas I'd hosted in my classroom, complete with poems and songs for moms and grandmothers who rummaged through their individual pocketbooks for a tissue to wipe their misty eyes. My eyes filled with tears several times as I remembered how this connection of mother and child is so intimate and life giving. I also saw myself entering a classroom and finding a seat in my daughter's desk while she and her classmates treated their mothers to a similar program. Each child had drawn a picture of their mother as a gift for Mother's Day. So things have come full circle and perhaps now my daughter will have opportunity to share art projects with the moms and even dads of her students.
Toting the warm cinnamon scented goodies and my camera up the stairs, I headed to the third floor where I found a teacher lining up her students to leave the art room. I could see my daughter at the front of the class talking to students, straightening tables and hanging art... multitasking.. what teachers learn to do best. It was my plan to get a picture of my daughter interacting with the students. However, the children in line were so excited to see my camera they began raising their hands and trying to be the focus of my picture. The few pictures I snapped of the students at the door were not very clear. Their clambering for a place in the photo made it impossible for me to get a good shot. Looking back, I realize some things never change. Children enjoy being noticed and like to know they are appreciated and honored. When given an opportunity, they scramble to be in the center of a photograph, pasting on their brightest smile. Always they want that smile and the loving approval of a parent, teacher or friend. It's a blessing they seek.
After the children left the room, I was able to get some photos of my daughter's first bulletin board and her desk bearing a basket I'd filled with some treasures from my former classrooms. She will probably never have need of a tiny brass bell I used for over 25 years to call a class to attention. Things are very different now. But one thing has not changed and that is a child's desire to be blessed by their parent. Both the treasures from my years of teaching and my visit to the classroom were my way of blessing her first efforts as a new teacher.
Apple Dumplings for the teacher... I'm sure they were a blessing. Why not? They're her favorite dessert. But I am willing to bet my last dollar that the memory of my visit to her classroom and a few hand me down teacher tools will remain with her far longer than the smell or taste of Apple Dumplings. The smile on my face as I descended the stairs and rode home is the same smile my mother wore that day she visited my classroom. It's the same smile I saw in the photos I took of my daughter, the new art teacher. Blessings flow out of our memories and they are passed from one generation to the next. Blessings are like seeds scattered over the years, they grow into memories that produce the fruit of more blessings. Some of them may even have the scent of Apple Dumplings.