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“Have I told you lately how wonderful you are?”

The opening line of President Obama’s newest book just tugs at the heart of every parent.  I know I ask my daughter this almost every single day!  All I want is for my daughter to grow up with a strong self-esteem and realize she can be and do ANYTHING she wants to be and do!  This book follows along those same lines and uses people from our history as examples….Creative like Georgia O’Keeffe, smart like Albert Einstein, strong like Helen Keller…….

This book is filled with beautiful pictures and inspiring words to reach right to the heart of your young daughter!  I loved every word of it.  Even if you are not an Obama supporter, the words in this book cross party lines and get down to what is important!  Encouraging and inspiring your daughters to be the best possible person they can be!

One of the things that really got to me was the very last page…the last 4 lines.  I totally believe that we are all ONE…that you and I are ONE…that the past and I are ONE.  And here in the last 4 lines, it says…..

“Have I told you that they are all part of you?

Have i told you that you are one of them,

and that you are the future?

And have i told you that I love you?”

Beautiful!!!!!!!!

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It’s interesting how and why some of these book have been read this year.  This one I already owned and it was in  my library.  It is such a beautiful little book, but I haven’t read it in years, and I didn’t remember how it even came to me.  (Though I found out on Facebook after posting about it..my Sis in Law (Misty) told  me she gave it to me *laugh*).

Anyway, 2 nights ago, my 18-year-old son, Nate, broke up with his 15-year-old girl friend who has been emotional unstable for a while now.  He has only dated her for like a month.  Really not long at all.  We were afraid that when he broke up with her, she would try to kill herself.  Well a couple of hours after he broke up with  her, that is exactly what she did.  She took 45 pills (so she thinks)….a mixture of OTC’s and prescriptions.  When she told Nate that she was doing it, we called the police and they arrived just in time.  She had already stopped breathing.  But they were able to bring her back.  It was very scary..still is, truthfully.

So yesterday, she asked me to come visit her in the hospital.  She told me she could use the support.  As I was getting dressed in my bedroom, I felt the need to bring something to her.  I looked around, and I saw this stuffed frog holding onto a hear that said “hug me”.  It was given to me by a very dear friend of mine when I was sick.  I decided I would take that so she would have something to hold on to when she was feeling sad.  Then I heard this inner voice say I needed to take her a book. I thought it was a book that Tracy (my hubby) had given  me years ago when I was very sad and needed someone.  I thought I knew exactly where it was.  I went down to  my library and looked, but what jumped out of me was Cassandra’s Angel.  I took it off the shelf and read it.

A little girl who spent her life hearing other people tell her that she was a mess, she was different, she was incorrigible, that she didn’t matter.  She was sad and felt alone.  But these were all someone else’s stories they were projecting on to her.  The she met her angel who told her that she is a light in this world and she was beautiful and smart and not to listen to other people’s opinions but to only listen to her own heart and light.

Such a beautiful story with beautiful pictures!  And it was PERFECT to take to a teenager who had just tried to kill herself…who was feeling all of these things….

So I took the frog and the book to the hospital and read it to Katie.  I gave it to her and told her that whenever she is feeling lonely or sad or less than amazing, to pick up the book and remember she is loved and beautiful and amazing!  I just hope that one day she will really understand the meaning of the story and truly understand just how amazing she is in her own right!

My prayers continue to be with Katie………

You just never know when a book is going to jump out at you…when you least expect it, the PERFECT book will call out to you….  have you been listening?????

“What would happen if you discovered the primary love language of your spouse and chose to speak it consistently?”  This is the question Dr. Chapman raises in his book The 5 Love Languages.

I will be honest.  I heard about The 5 Love Languages (the book and the concept) several years ago.  At the time, I did not read the book.  I thought it was a bunch of….ummm….nonsense.  However, I did take the quiz.  My husband took the quiz.  My  kids took the quiz.  But we did nothing with it.

Maybe if we had done something with it, my husband and I would not go through the same cycle of disappointments that we go through every  year.  This year, that cycle hit us hard…harder than it ever has before.  We sought out a marriage counselor..thinking we (I) needed sex therapy.  (Maybe this is too personal to talk about on  my blog….but it’s the truth..and very vital in possibly helping someone who is struggling.)  Every year, my husband and I would “get into it” because he felt like he wasn’t getting enough sex.  I would take it personally and feel like I was being pressured into having sex.  With my history of sexual abuse, this did not go over so well.  But something has to give!  Something has to be changed if our marriage is to survive!  The fact is, we have been together for 27  years, and we love each other.  We do not want to separate and we want to make this work.  So we went to therapy..a sex therapist.  The only one in town, it seems.  But he was old…..VERY OLD.  So old, in fact, he couldn’t hear, couldn’t see, barely walk, and couldn’t remember what we said 2 minutes before.  I’m sure he had great things to say…back when.  But now, well, it just wasn’t working for us.  AND…he made it sound like it was *me* that was the problem.  I just had to suck it up and give it up.  That wasn’t the answer.  So we never went back.

I continued searching for something to help.  We watched the movie Fireproof that was based on the book The Love Dare.  The movie was “okay”.  It had some valid points, but it was highly Christian which was a turn off to my husband and myself.  It seemed to be more about “becoming a Christian” than saving a marriage.  So I thought that maybe the book would be a bit different…… I am currently reading through it on a day by day basis as it is a 40 day Love Dare.  I’m over half way through and will blog about that book when I am done.  At the same time, I decided to read The 5 Love Languages, and I loved it!

I’m sure you have heard about the book “Men are from Mars Women are from Venus”.  I have never read that book, but as I remember what I have  heard about it, I believe it is about the different ways men and women communicate.  5 Love Languages is about the different ways we all communicate our love.  So what are the 5 Love Language?  Words of Affirmation.  Quality Time.  Receiving Gifts.  Acts of Service.  Physical Touch.   In the back of the book, there is a “quiz” for both the husband and the wife to take (individually) to see what their Love Language is.  However, Dr. Chapman says you can also figure out what your spouse’s Love Language is by listening to their complaints.  Are they complaining you never talk to them?  Then Quality Time may be their primary Love Language.  Are they constantly asking you to do things or complaining you never help around the house?  Then consider Acts of Service.  If we listen to the complaints of our spouses, we will likely hear their Love Language. Also, I was told once as a teenager (by my mother in  law) that people do for their loved ones what they would have done for them.  Dr. Chapman says the same thing…..  Does your spouse constantly praise you verbally?  Maybe Words of Affirmation is THEIR love language.

All the way through the book, Dr. Chapman allows you to sit in on his counseling sessions and learn the ways in which he helps his clients.  You get to see how their lives and marriages change!  It’s a fascinating and eye-opening read.  I learned more about myself the way I wish my “love tank” would be filled…and more importantly, how I can help my own husband feel more loved.

Dr. Chapman explains that the “in-love” feeling we all get at the beginning of our relationships can last up to 2 years, but then what?  It might not even last a complete 2 years, and by then, you may already be married!  Then what do you do with the rest of your lives?  “That is what this book is all about.  How do we meet each other’s deep, emotional need to feel loved?  if we can  learn that and choose to do it, then the love we share will be exciting beyond anything we ever felt when we were infatuated.”

Lest you think this book is all about theory and not practice, let me set you straight.  At the end of every chapter, there is a little part called “your turn” where he asks you questions and challenges you to be better.  Do them!  Be an active participant in your life and in healing your relationship (or maybe just making it better).  It certainly won’t get better if you do nothing!  I have to say that my favorite chapter was Chapter 12 “Loving the Unlovely”.  It follows the story of a woman who felt like her marriage was done for but struggled between her faith and morals saying divorce was wrong and the feeling that she just wasn’t loved and there was nothing she could do.  Dr. Chapman gave her a 6 month challenge, and at the end……she had the marriage she had always dreamed of.

Seriously?  Can it be that easy?  Not sure “easy” is the right word.  It can be difficult to feel like you are the only one working on your relationship..and sometimes its not just a feeling; it’s the God’s honest truth!   But I found that trusting the process helps.   As I have been working through The Love Dare, even though I found myself resentful that *I* was doing it and  not Tracy (long story), I have been telling myself to trust the process.  I did my dares, and as I did them, I saw Tracy respond.  (I don’t think Tracy knows I am doing them…..at least I have made a point of not telling him.)  So, now, having finished The 5 Love Languages, I have decided to take the 6 Month Challenge.

My marriage is sacred to me.  I love my husband with all of my heart.  I always have and expect to always feel this way.  I knew the minute I saw him that I was supposed to marry him.  It was that “knowing” that has kept me strong over the last 27 years.  THAT is what I remember when I am hurting most.  I believe that when we are struggling in our marriage, it just means that its time to learn to communicate and grow again…..so here we go… more growing!!!!  Isn’t that what this blog…”The God Project” …is all about??????

So how about you?  Want to take the challenge with me?

 

BTW…..Dr. Chapman has also written a book on The 5 Love Languages for children!  Check out his website http://www.5lovelanguages.com

Today I had a FANTASTIC morning!  The only thing better than being lost in a beautiful picture book is to share that beautiful  picture book with my 11-year-old daughter, Naomi!

On Tuesday mornings, I go into my daughters class to volunteer.  I get to pick kids out to read to me (and later do math).  I have been doing this for well over a month now, and today was the first time I got to work with my own daughter.  I was so excited!  I prepared the table for reading with the kiddos.  I set out all the books for them to read.  I called out my first student and she read a great rhyming book.  Then, to my extreme pleasure, I got to call out my daughter.  I noticed that in my books was Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe.  John Steptoe is one of my most favorite children’s books authors and I actually own several of his books.  As a matter of fact, I own this book as well, but it has been probably close to a decade since I have read it!  So instead of letting my daughter choose which book she wanted to read, I asked her to read this book to me.  I told her it was one of my all time favorites and I would love to share it with her.  Happily she opened the book and began to read!

The book is an African Folktale that has won a Caldecott Award (which means it won for its pictures, and they are beautiful!)  It is about 2 sisters…one who is bossy and mean and the other who is very sweet.  It is your typical “Cinderella” storyline..well minus the evil step mother!  *laugh*  But it definitely follows the Cinderella archetype as outlined by Carl Jung.  Did you know there are 900 Cinderella stories out there?

Anyway, as Naomi was reading, she stops and says, “Mom, I like Nyasha’s personality better than Manyaras.”  She got excited about seeing a snake in the garden and later asked about the snake again.  This is truly the sign of a great picture book…one that gets the children thinking and asking questions..one that engages them!  John Steptoe is amazing at doing just that!  This book is filled with beautiful pictures, beautiful words, and more importantly a beautiful message…and one that I am so glad I got to share with my daughter!

These last couple of days it has struck me just how much reading is a gift in my life.  The act of learning to read and the character building it gave me while I was bullied for not being able to read….the gift of self-confidence my 5th grade teacher gave me when it came to reading…the safe escape it gave me from abuse in my home…the lessons learned while reading such amazing books…and the gift to be able to share special stories with my children and other children I get to volunteer with!  And in all of my years of being a parent, I am never prouder than when I hear my children tell me they have finished reading a book!

Today, while listening to Naomi read this story, my heart was filled with such gratitude and pleasure….for so many reasons.

If you have not read this book to your children (or even for yourself), I highly recommend picking it up!  For that matter you can check it out on this link:  http://vimeo.com/6276456  It is an episode of Reading Rainbow (I loved that show!)  This book is filled with great lessons of kindness, compassion, forgiveness and African culture!  It truly is a remarkable book!

Have fun!!!!!

This is a book of poems written by a selected group of Idaho 9th-12th graders who submitted and won a poetry/writing contest regarding what true love is.  It was put together by the Idaho Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Project.

To find out more about this project, please go to http://www.nomeansknow.com or call 208-384-0419 or 1-888-293-6118.

So what would YOU expect to find in a book of poems about love written by high schoolers?  Do you remember being in high school and writing “love poems”?  I do.  As a matter of fact, I still have those poems and they read a lot like this book.  However, there are some very DEEP poems in here.  Some will make you cry.  Others will make you smile.  It’s hard to tell if some of these poems were written based on what the students learned through this project or if they wrote the poems based on real life experiences.  In some cases, I prayed that they wrote their poem based on what they learned and NOT real life experience!  It was that heart breaking!  In other cases, I found myself wanting to cheer because the poems showed that these students had a good head on their shoulders and knew what they wanted when it came to a relationship!

This book was completely free. I picked it up at a booth at the St. Luke’s Women’s Fitness Celebration.  I also signed up to volunteer to teach the classes.  I checked the website and didn’t see a place where you could get the book, but I’m sure if you emailed them or called them, they could tell you where you could pick one up for your teen!

The poems are powerful and tell amazing stories of courage, grief, sadness, love, violence, redemption,  becoming parents,  standing their ground, losing the battles, over coming the odds…and so  much more.  Under most of the poems was the student’s name and what school they attended.  There were several written by teen moms who attended the alternative high school specifically meant for teen moms.  Some of the students were home schooled.  And one of the students I recognized from my own child’s school.

The following poem really gets to the heart of what this book is about:

Necessity

Respect should be there

Lack will cause pain, Suffering

Respect must be there

by Ryan Ashley

Moscow Senior High

Teacher:  Ms. Hodgin

Here’s another one that really spoke to me.  It is so very true!

A County in Texas

It had the highest rate of teen  pregnancy

In America.  the only sex education allowed in their schools

Was the saying, “Abstinence is next to Godliness.”  Still,

Purity rings shriveled off already-blistered fingers and

The STDs buzzed like pestilent-fat fleas through the school halls,

Nipping at hands that vetoed contraception.

Those few that pushed condoms like coke and kept their junkies safe

Were slaughtered financially.  Quietly.

Student warred with blindness,

Parents panicked and clutched it.

By Chloe Barnes

Moscow Senior High School

Teacher:  Ms. Hodgin

Here is one that I absolutely loved!!!  What a great metaphor!!!

Perfect Batch

Love is like a grandma’s special recipe

You need all the right ingredients to make a perfect batch

Sometimes it gets burned

or thrown in the trash

Amateur attempts to replicate the tried and true

sometimes forget the secret spice.

Each  new attempt is a learning step,

in finding that desired formula

You try so hard to make it work

until finally it’s made

The perfect batch

By Ryan Garrett

Homedale High School

Teacher:  Ms. Lathrop

This book is filled with so much more wisdom from these young people!  If you have children, check out this amazing organization and what they are teaching our Tweens and Teens!  Spread the message of self-esteem and what true love is.  Spread the message of empowerment!  Together we can educate our children and stop Teen Dating Violence!

So there I was on the hunt for a rollergirl name when I came across this book!  Of course, I had to purchase it!!!!  In the mean time, I got to email back and forth with the author who encourages me to keep up with my goal of actually being part of the Treasure Valley Rollergirls League :).  Doesn’t get much better than that!

This was such a fun book to read.  I got to learn the history of Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby.  I got a front row seat into all the fabulous drama, fashions, play by play bouts, and all the glitz glamor and guts of roller derby!  I laughed.  I cried.  I cheered.  I was inspired.   Melicious has a fantastic voice when she rights; she truly has a way with words.  From page one, she had me reeled in! And I couldn’t put it down!

Just in case you don’t know what Roller derby is, here is a great quote from the Preface of this book:

“Hosted by sideshow barkers, it’s a sport of speed-skating pinup girls and brutal body checks, played out against a backdrop of head-banging rock.  the spectacle drives fans into a hormone-and-bear-induced frenzy.”

Here are some more great quotes from the book:

“Why stand around and relate, when you can shut up and skate?”

“It’s a complex love-hate relationship, and it colors just about everything in my  life.  Roller Derby was the first time ever that being referred to as a “big girl” was a compliment.”  (So very true!)

“Roller Derby has really increased my acceptance of my own body.  I can use my sie to my advantage in my position as a blocker and pivot-and I’m not longer worries about someone seeing up my skirt…althouth it does help to wear special underwear!” ~ Bad Sister Heide, Vaudeville Vixens/MadRollin’ Dolls  (I loved this!!!)

“Watching pinup girls fumble around on skates is wildly entertaining, and it was obvious that our fans loved it.  But I wanted to do more.  I wanted to be tough and proud.  An athlete.”  (This is so how I feel!)

“Worn by a skater or a fan, a bruise is a badge of honor.”  (I am currently sporting a couple of fabulous bruises on my elbows…and yes I wear elbow pads…and on my shoulders and somehow on the inside of my bicep)

“I like the light in little girls’ eyes when t hey muster up the courage to come and ask for an autograph.  I know that look, and I’m proud to be the source of it…that  mixture of awe and inspiration.” ~ Kim Sin, Furious truckstop Waitresses/Tucson Roller Derby  (I had something like this happen when I was just dressed up in my “boutfit” (roller derby outfit) at the skating rink.  It feels pretty darn good to have little girls look up to you like you are a heroine!)

“Each league and its members are unique, but we all share common goals: to have fun, to push our physical limits, and to challenge the way people view women.”  (Derby will certainly push your physical limits and its so empowering.  We get to look fabulous and sexy AND be powerful and brutal all at the same time! And ITS FUN!!!)

I also dog eared some pages on finding your rollergirl name.  You gotta check out that chapter!  It’s all about finding the right rollergirl persona…I think the name I have fits me perfectly.  My persona….a little of superheroine/sexy librarian/hottie homemaker all rolled into one with the name  Rev. Martha Smashington (real name + violence + formal salutation + celebrity/history) .  It combines my spiritual path (Reverend…I’m not..yet..but I will be..currently studying), my real name (Martha), Violence of (Smash), and celebrity/history (as in Martha Washington which I was always teased about as a kid).  It’s perfect!!!!  Now I just gotta register it!!  Check out this chapter of the book, and find your rollergirl name!  You will have so much fun  with it!

If you are a woman/girl or someone who knows one who loves to roller skate, then pick up this book!  Roller derby is an amazing sport that ANY woman/girl can play.  And there are even junior leagues that the kids can join!  It’s a great self-esteem boost for girls and women of all ages…a great way to accept your body type no matter what it looks like!  This book is a great story of finding you passion, following your dreams and starting something fabulous and turning it into something HUGE!  READ IT!!!!

As a mom, a voracious reader, and a mentor to young women I like to find books for my children that teach the same kinds of things I’m reading in my adult literature.    Some of the young women I mentor are behind in their reading, and let’s face it, some of the books I have read and blogged about are going to be over alot of elementary school kid’s heads.  So finding Wayne Dyer’s books is a true blessing!  And YES!  I’m counting each one of them towards the 52 books in 52 weeks.  Sure they are children’s books, but the lessons are just as profound…and fun to read!  So if you have children in your life, this blog is for you!!!!

I loved this book.  It reminded me of when I was a kid and I told my mom that I wanted to be a puppeteer when I grew up.  We were going to church that had a very active children’s choir that was constantly performing something.  During a couple of those performances, I got to do a huge puppet production. I loved it!  I also loved to act.  And there was a Christian college in town that actually had a degree in puppeteering!  It was perfect for me!  But my mom blessed me with her stories regarding this dream of mine.  “That won’t make you any money.  That is not a real job!”  So I dropped it.

As adults, we mean well.  All we want for our children is that they grow up and be productive citizens working in a job they love, and maybe even make alot of money doing it.  For some that means college.  For others, well it means getting a job at McDonald’s.  Any job that is legal and makes money is a good job, as long as when you are working at it, you like it :).  Liking/loving what you do is the  most important thing.  Yet, as adults, we tend to hear our children’s dreams and then give them “reasons” that it will be hard, won’t work, not acceptable.  Those really aren’t reasons, those are excuses!  And it’s just not fair to do that to a child!  I know I have been guilty of that, but I also know that I have told my children that I will support them in whatever career choice they make.

In this book, we follow a little boy on his dream to become a marine biologist.  We see most of the adults in his life discourage him with their own stories, but one adult in particular helps him overcome those excuses.  The pictures are beautiful and bright, and the story is inspirational!  There is even a quiz for the reader to take to see if the lessons sunk in!  If you have a child that says “I can’t”, then this is the book for him/her!!!!

First of all, the cover on this book just makes me want to smile!!!!!  It’s bright yellow with smiling children on it!  How can you NOT pick this book up?????  Then add the title to it, and it’s a winner in my book!  That is before I even open the book to read its pages!

As you may know I teach self-esteem classes to young women through one of my volunteer organizations.  I am constantly telling these girls how amazing and incredible they are.  We work on ways for them to feel how special they are.  This book is a natural extension of what I teach.  It gives “10 ways to let your Greatness shine through”

It talks about dealing with bullies and hurt feelings. It talks about realizing how special and different each and every person is.  It talks about visualizing what you want.  It discusses changing your perspective and your thoughts, and that you are never alone…God is always there.  It talks about so much more.  The message is beautiful, and made me smile while I read it.  The little verses are created in rhyme which makes it fun to read, and the pictures are amazing! Here is just a sample….

“There is good in you and in everyone.  sharing this good with others is fun.  You have so many ideas inside your mind.  Set them free; you are one of a kind.”

I can’t tell you how many times I have told my children that money doesn’t make you happy.  Have you lost track of how many times you have said this..not only to your children, but even adults???  That’s what I thought.

When I work with at-risk youth, often times these kids come from poverty striken homes.  Heck, even the ones who are not at-risk but come from single mom homes have this same issue.  And then they see the other kids in their schools with more money, more toys, bigger homes, and going on vacations.  Sometimes the underprivileged kids start to get down.

In today’s economy with moms and dads losing their jobs and money getting tighter, this book becomes even more relevent.  We need to teach our children, that money & possessions do not make you happy and they do not define who you are!  Dyer does just that in this book.  He helps them learn that WHO they are is about their own talents, skills, and attitudes.  He helps them realize that any job is a good job, as long as they are happy doing it.  He helps them learn to dream and reach their goals, and even shows the children using a vision board (without going into detail about that).

This book talks about what matters the most, and it certainly isn’t money and possessions!  In my humble opinion, this is a must read for every child….and adult :).

This is a story I wrote in preparation for a storytelling gig.  Every time I open a book, I am reminded of my 5th grade year and my amazing teacher.  Since my plan for the year is to read 52 books in 52 weeks, I thought it was only appropriate to add this story to my blog.

TRIBUTE TO MRS. ROHLFS

A True Story by Martha L. Spiva

Anyone who has ever gone to school has had one of these.  No, it’s not a school-age crush or even a best friend.  It’s not a fight with the school bully or an “A” on a report card.  It’s not even the dreaded visit to the principal’s office.  It’s a favorite teacher!  Anyone who has ever gone to school has had a favorite teacher.  This is a story of how in one moment, one teacher completely erased all the negative teachings of the years passed and gave me the self-confidence to pick up a book and explore the world between its covers.

Mrs. Rohlfs was a fifth grade teacher at Canyon Creek Elementary School in Richardson, Texas.  She was an older woman; certainly the oldest teacher I had ever had.  She was 54 years old with wrinkles on her face.  She had short brown hair, the old pointy, sixties style glasses, and she always wore pants that were made from that double polyester material that was in style back then.  The only time I saw her wear a dress was on class picture day, and I still have that picture to this day!

I met Mrs. Rohlfs when I was in the 4th grade.  My next-door neighbor, Carolyn, had her for fifth grade, and every afternoon after the school bell rang, I would take my chances and cross the hall full of stampeding children to get to Mrs. Rohlfs’ classroom.  I would wait for Carolyn outside of Mrs. Rohlfs’ door.  That is where I first met Mrs. Rohlfs.

It was rumored that Mrs. Rohlfs was mean, so you can imagine my surprise when I got to know her and found out just how nice she was.  Everyday while I waited for Carolyn, Mrs. Rohlfs would spend time talking to me.  She would ask me about my day in school, about my favorite subjects, and questions about my family.  She was very nice.  I didn’t understand why everyone thought she was mean.  Maybe it was because she was old and the glasses she wore made her look mean.  Maybe it was because she didn’t wear dresses.  I’m not sure, and I’ll never know.   But, the fact was, I liked her.  At the end of my fourth grade year, Mrs. Rohlfs told me that she hoped I would be in her class the next year. (And secretly, I did too).

Finally, after a long, hot Texas summer; the class lists were posted on the front doors of the school!  Every kid in the school waited for this day, and when it came the steps were packed with excited children.  I pushed my way through the crowd to find the 5th grade lists, and there it was!  My name was listed under Mrs. Rohlfs’ 5th grade class!  That alone was enough to make me happy, but out of curiosity, I checked the other names on the list. There were several names on that list that I could have lived without (Like Tandy Welborn and Andy Gugick who made it their job to make my life miserable), but the most important name on that list was Kathleen Noelle Herman.  She was my very best friend in 1st grade from a different school.  She had just moved to my end of town, and now she was going to be in my 5th grade class!  I knew that with Mrs. Rohlfs as my teacher and Noelle in my class that this was going to be the best year ever!

See, even though I had lived in the same neighborhood all of my life, I didn’t have very many friends.  I was insecure about being over weight, and I was slow in school.  Children are the cruelest people on earth, and they loved to use those things to pick on me.  All I really wanted out of school was to be accepted by other children and to not have to read out loud in class too often.  The children always made fun of my reading and I just hated it!  I figured with Noelle in my class, I had a friend I could count on and that she would watch out for me.  We could sit next to each other and pass notes during class.  Noelle was very very tall and pretty, so I knew that with her I would make new friends.

The first day of class was filled with energy of 25 kids’ excitement over what was to happen over the new school year.  The children who knew each other were chattering away about their summer activities, and many of them were complaining about having Mrs. Rohlfs for a teacher.  I assured Noelle that the rumors were not true, and that Mrs. Rohlfs was very nice.  I also did what a very best friend should do, and explained to Noelle who the snobs of the class were, and then we giggled as we watched the cute boys from across the room.

Soon the excitement of being in a class with my best friend was scared away, and yes I mean SCARED!  It was time to hand out the reading books.  There were three levels of reading books.  There were the advanced books for the “smart kids”, the middle range books for the “normal kids”, and then there were the lower level books for the “slower kids”.  Every year since the 1st grade, I was the only girl with a group of 3 boys in the lower reading group.  I hated to read!  I was told I was slow and learning disabled, and it was humiliating to be set aside in a small group of all boys to learn how to read.

Anyway, it was inevitable that Mrs. Rohlfs would call my name.  My hands began to sweat and my heart began to pound as I waited.  When she called my name, I dragged my feet to her desk and willed it all to go away.  I didn’t want my best friend to know that I was stupid.  I didn’t want Noelle to see that I had to read the lower level books.  When I got to Mrs. Rohlfs’ desk, I dropped down into the chair.  I’m sure my face showed my fear as I waited for a fate worse than death…the moment in which my reading book was handed to me.

The only thing worse than not being able to read the “normal kids” book is being handed a “normal kids” book by mistake and then having to explain that I could not read it.  And that is exactly what happened.  Mrs. Rohlfs handed me the “normal kids” books.  I felt mortified!  I told Mrs. Rohlfs that it was the wrong book, that I got the lower level reading book.  When she asked me why I always get the lower level reading book, I bowed my head in shame and admitted to her that I was slow and learning disabled.

She looked at me with the most caring eyes I had ever seen and asked me if Noelle Herman was my best friend.  I told her that she was.  Then she told me that she couldn’t separate best friends like that, and since Noelle was new to the school, she would need her best friend to introduce her to the other children.  She also told me that she believed in me and that I could read what was in the middle range book.

In amazement, I held the book to my heart and managed to find my way back to my seat without screaming with joy!  I was so happy to be advanced to the next level of reading.  No longer would I be in a group of all boys to read a book for “slower” readers.  I WASN’T DUM B ANYMORE!

From that day on, my whole attitude about reading and writing has changed.  In one short moment, my life had changed, and I had self-confidence.  I ran home that day to tell my mom what Mrs. Rohlfs had done.  No other teacher before Mrs. Rohlfs (or even after) has cared enough to give me such a special gift!

COPYRIGHT:  Martha L. Spiva  April 25, 2001

Do not copy or use without permission of the author.