Tuesday, June 18, 2013


School gym. Last day of school. Awards ceremony time.

I'm nervous. I'm nervous for Anna, because I know how sensitive she can be. Most of the teachers are handing out just a few awards to a few students. This isn't an "everyone is getting an award" kind of day.

I know she's getting honors but not high honors. I know she's missed the perfect attendance award by one measly day, a few measly degrees on the thermometer. I know she's not getting an art award, even though she loves art, since her projects are usually not quite good enough to be entered into the annual competition.

Her teacher comes to the front. She's a quiet one, and as I suspected, she's quick. She has just two awards. One is for "servant's heart." They do this award every year and Anna's never gotten it. I forget the other award; something like "outstanding student." It goes to the same girl who got it last year.

For a moment, I can't help it. I feel that twinge. I remember myself in school. Yeah, I was "that" girl. Maybe not the teacher's pet, but the quiet, studious one that makes a teacher's life easier. I had all A's every year until junior high, where my math grade slipped to a B. I got the penmanship award...won the essay contest on "What America Means to Me."

For a moment, I wonder what it would be like if Anna was "that" girl. Or if not the studious one, the star. The bubbly, outgoing one like her friend who is now homeschooled, who excels in any sport she plays, who has such a winsome and generous personality that she probably can't keep track of all of her friends.

I look at Anna, trying to remained composed and happy as she sees her friends go up for awards while she remains in her seat. And then I feel something fierce and good.

I know that I know that no matter what, even if they don't call her name for a single award, I am going to find her as soon as this ceremony is over and give her one of those squeezing hugs like the ones she gives me when I tuck her into bed.

I'm going to tell her we're so proud of her.

I'm going to wipe away her tears if she's disappointed.

I'm going to just love, love, LOVE her, because, while we want her to try her best, it's okay. She doesn't have to be the model student or the model person. She doesn't have to live up to an ideal.

She doesn't have to earn anything.

I think of that verse our pastor likes to speak of often: "We love because He first loved us."

I love her first. Not because of anything she can do or doesn't do, but because of who she is.

We love you, Anna. Happy Birthday.

Towards the end of the ceremony, we were stunned when the gym teacher called Anna's name. Athletics has never been a strong point in our family, to say the least. She was one of four students to receive the Most Improved award. You should have seen the way her eyes were shining.

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