Friday, December 14, 2012

Why are you smiling?

I had just arrived at my office and was looking at a beautiful gift from my colleague, when a student passed by my door.  While looking at the gift, I was pondering the many blessings in my life.  What a privilege to work with such a wonderful lady!

The previously  mentioned student stopped backed up and said, “You ALWAYS have a smile on your face.  No one is around and there you are smiling.”  My response at first jumbled, ended with, “I’m serving Jesus, I have so much to be happy about!”  

It is true.  This season I’ve been overwhelmed with the beauty of God wrapping Himself in flesh to come as a humble infant…then live a sinless life as an example of us to follow.  Then the amazing sacrifice of His life for my sins…making it possible for me to have relationship with Him.  

So, this season, I have much to smile about!  Much to praise God for!  When you walk by, you might see a silly grin on my face…yeah, that’s because I’m one blessed lady!  

Last week, I was asked to tell a Christmas story in chapel.  I won’t include the part from the Best Christmas Pageant Ever, but here is the rest.  

May God bless each of you, dear readers!  Have a Merry Christmas!

Chapel Friday, December 7, 2012

Good morning and Merry Christmas to all of you.  I am full of thankfulness this Christmas season.  Not only is the wonder of the incarnation overwhelming this season, but I’m so grateful to be here with such wonderful students and faculty. 

When Mrs. Watters asked on behalf of President Avery to share a Christmas story, I originally thought that you might enjoy hearing about my second Christmas.  I celebrated that second year by expressing my joy for the season in a rather odd fashion.  Yes, I in my little one year/9 month brain decided that the tree was so beautiful…in fact, it wasn’t just beautiful…it looked tasty.  My parents tell me that I had consumed quite a bit of the tree before they caught me.  Now, one would think that my loving parents would rush me to the nearest doctor; however, this was not to be the case.  Ruth and Lewis Ryder instead took me to the nearby funeral home.  Lest you get concerned and begin filling out paperwork for Child Protective Services, I should inform you that in our tiny town, the funeral director’s sons happened to be the EMT’s!  All was solved without lasting damage!

I thought over the many Christmas’s since that time.  Many of you may have known my brother, Lucas, so you can imagine the silly moments that occur around the Ryder house for Christmas…but there is nothing too exciting in share, so instead I’ll share a favorite memory that happened about 5 years ago. 

He had the most beautiful blue eyes that I’ve ever seen.  Blond curls on the top of his little head that came to my waist.  I had been the teacher of his two older brothers.  James and Dakota had required extra help in Reading and I, being the Title I teacher, had the wonderful opportunity of working with both of them.  In fact, one summer James needed to attend summer school, since I was teaching this session, I drove to him to and from the school.  One particular day, I remember having to knock on the door.  Aunt Heather cracked the door open and inside I could see magazines, newspapers, peelings, and the like piled around the room.  James and Dakota informed me one day that they had a large rat in their home.  We later learned that a tree had fallen on the trailer and a possum was living in the home with them! 

A few years had passed and now Marshall was in my first grade classroom.  I could tell that he was drawn by the love of Jesus in my room.  I remember one particular day as Marshall came up to me at recess.  “Miss Ryder,” he said.  “Yes, Marshall.”  “Miss Ryder, when you were reading in group time today, you looked so beautiful.”  He was seeing the love of Jesus.  

Well, Christmas was quickly approaching and students in the public school system were writing their lists of wants for Christmas.  Marshall quietly informed me one day that he didn’t think he’d get much for Christmas.  In fact, Aunt Heather and Grandma had informed them that their wasn’t quite enough money that year.  Several of the teachers gathered together, we pooled our money, and went off to solve this problem.

Christmas Eve arrived and the gathering of my father’s side of the family occurred.  After this, we attended the little community Christmas Eve service in our small town.  Then my brother, sister, and I loaded the large black bag into the car and made the trip to Aunt Heather’s home.  By this time, they were living in a small apartment in a nearby town.  As quietly as we could, we snuck the bag outside of the door/in the stairwell and made our escape.  I’ll be honest with you, when those blue eyes met mine on that Monday after Christmas they were dancing.  “Miss Ryder, you’ll never believe what happened…”  My eyes on the other hand were nearly ready to “spring a leak.”

We have a somewhat unusual tradition at the Ryder household.  Each Christmas we read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  This tradition began when I was 10 years old.  Our school had a book give away and I just happened to pick up this delightful book.  My heart has always been tender toward the Herdmans of our world because of it. 

In case you don’t know the story, this is a family of terrible children…there father left and the mother is overwhelmed.  They have been passed through school to save extra headaches for the teachers.  However, due to a variety of circumstances they get “mixed up” with the Church and become the lead roles in the Christmas story.  I’ll share a couple of parts with you this morning…I’ll try not to be emotional, but I’ve never been able to read this part without crying…
This season may you share the glorious news that unto us a Child was born!  J


Laura said...

Oh, Jo! I love this post! It's beautiful, as are you.

Alanna said...

Thank you for posting this!! I had heard you spoke in chapel and I wished I could have been there. I'm reading that lovely little book to my kiddos this year. :) Hope you have a lovely Christmas.