Growing Up

I actually predicted this, months ago.

In the late August heat, moving quickly, almost randomly, from classroom cleaning, decorating, planning, meetings, and back to cleaning once more.

Sometime, standing in the doorway between the classroom that held you last year and the one we share now, I said it.

She’s gonna grow up this year, I think. 

I suppose we were talking, there in the paused moments between aching backs and piles of supplies yet to be organized, about children turning to preteens turning to teens. And I thought of you, weeks before you even called me your teacher, and somehow I knew that I’d watch a young woman appear where a little girl stood, this year.

I had forgotten about that conversation.

Until today.

I saw a glimpse of that young woman this morning. In the chill of our drafty room, you pulled your scarf, coat, gloves from the hook over your cubby, swaddled yourself in layers right there in the middle of math.

I glanced around the room; a teacher’s constant- even subconscious- survey of who is tracking, who is struggling, who is counting imaginary clouds, and I saw your profile. Round cheeks thinning, face lengthening, your gaze fixed peacefully, intently, on the work at your desk.

You were older, in that instant. Beautiful.

You’re goofy, talkative; an 11-year-old bundle of passion, your uncertainty and desire for approval vaguely masked under your loud laughter and all-in approach to everything you do.

We clash, occasionally. Your enthusiasm, your giggles in conflict with my desire to communicate something to you and your peers. I ask you to tone it down, to track with me, to allow your peers to focus.

And you do.

But I was reminded today that your days as a 5th grader are limited. In the blink of an eye, really, you’ll be beyond my doors, beyond my classroom, beyond my reach, almost.

Every day here- in our class, at home, no matter where you are- is a step towards your adulthood. The pieces, the glimpses that I see now will come together in the years to come. You’re becoming now who you’ll be then, although really, we’re all still growing, learning, becoming.

But I want you to know, now and forever, that you’re beautiful. You’re dynamic and opinionated. You’re creative, organized, and a leader- even when you don’t mean to be.

But most of all, I want you to know, I promise you, that the seeds of growth, the tiny movements you see in your life today, will only grow bigger. Following Christ, allowing Him to make you and teach you and mold you can only bring you further, take you deeper, teach you more.

And that, really, is the most exciting thing about growing up. And in you, my girl, it’s a wonderful thing to watch.

~Miss Shull

p.s. I totally can tell that you have a crush on him. And even that weird, complicated, painfully funny thing will be okay.

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{Cousins}

cousins

{In this space let’s put

poetic words for cousins

who stay forever}

~Natalia

Rooted

I would be perfectly content staying in Chicago forever. 

I made that declaration two days ago. Sitting at a thrifted dining table, across from a blue-eyed beauty who shares the sentiment. We sat, two floors up in her apartment on the western side of the city, and dreamed about next week and next year and the years beyond.

I’ve been a fan- a proponent, a supporter- of Chicago for years, of course. I own it more now though. I’m no longer a student at school in Chicago; I live here, I work here now. I grocery shop in Chicago. I follow crime reports in Chicago. I know intersections and neighborhood borders in Chicago. I’m a proud resident of the city.

But my heart’s dedication runs deeper than that.

I’d be perfectly content staying here because right here in the city, I am watching my purpose, the things I have most wanted to do, dreamed of doing, become reality.

In this city, I teach. I fight every day against my own sin and brokenness, and that of the eleven small hearts I care for each day. I teach math, language arts, the truth of God’s Word, and one hundred other topics every day, and it is the hardest and the most fulfilling thing I have ever done.

I am building a community in this city. People whose passions fuel my own; conversations leaving us starry-eyed and enthusiastic. People whose lives have come beside mine- like CTA tracks swinging into sync besides each other- and who have walked with me as we both ask questions, stumble, fall, regain balance, and take another step.

I’ve never been more aware of the brokenness, the disgrace and violence, in a place than I am now, of this city. I’ve never before prayed earnestly that Jesus come back, to take us home now. And yet, I’ve also never been more invested in a place either.

Will I really be here forever? I don’t know. But I’m here now, and it’s been so very wonderful.

~Natalia

{Larissa}

  
She is 

Quite literally 

Never

Boring. 

~Natalia 

Kitchen View 

  
Home right now, 

Evenings right now, 

Are the couch in the living room.

Candles, Christmas lights lit, 

Grading, planning on my lap. 

Watching this sweet one bake, 

My own playlist blending

With the rolls and lulls of the conversation. 

~Natalia