Saturday night, I attended my third Thanksgiving dinner in Nashville.

Good. Gravy.

Literally.

[I’m sorry. But that’s funny.]

Nashville Thanksgiving 2009 was super wonderful. But more on that later this week.

As I stood in the kitchen and talked with a friend, he asked a question, and within my answer I said, “did you know I used to teach school?” Then I moved on with the conversation, using the teaching thing as just a point on the map to better locate another place.

Teacher Art Show piece. 2007.
Teacher Art Show piece. 2007.

Like “I used to teach school” isn’t a big deal. Like it was just a job, just a season of life that used to be.

It was NEVER just a job.

Teaching elementary school was all I ever wanted to do. The first day in my first classroom, I cried. Because my childhood dream was reality. I cried a lot of days after that [insert shock here]- 3/4 of the crying days were out of pure exhaustion or frustration, but 1/4 was joy, happiness, and just what love from kids does to me.

Here’s what I wish I would have said:

“I used to teach school. I taught 5th grade for 2 years and 4th grade for 3 years. I loved 180+ kids over a five year span and I can tell you every one of their names. I still pray for those jokers, and I plan to love them forever. Crafts were my joy and I sang stupid made-up songs every day. My favorite subject was Social Studies and I actually liked grading papers. I wrote a joke on the board every Friday and speaking of boards, I can write in a perfectly straight line on a white board. We laughed everyday. A lot. And I read out loud every afternoon. My classroom was an extension of my home (and me) – messy, but pretty sweet. I used to teach school. And there are days, like today, when I totally miss it.”

That should have been my answer.

I am thankful [Thanksgiving tie-in? You betcha.] that God took my career dreams, birthed when I was in Mrs. Albers’ 3rd grade class in 1989, and gave them to me. And someday, when I get tired of being a starving artist with a zillion part time jobs, maybe I’ll go back.

Cause a spiritual gift like my white board skillz is a terrible thing to waste.