I just felt I had to share this with you today.
I was driving and listening to Focus on the Family today, and I was so moved by the program, I literally smiled the entire time, and was even brought to tears a few times. And I am normally not the type who cries easily. It was just really special.
The story was about a man--a teacher at a Christian middle school named Mr. Dan Stroup--who has a unique way of reaching out to his students. Since he got the idea back in 1985, (again...that is 1985...) he has been writing letters to his students on their birthdays. EVERY SINGLE STUDENT he has now and has ever had in his class, (he is able to keep in touch with 98% of them) gets a personal, hand-written letter on his or her birthday, every single year! He encourages them, lets them know he still cares about them and their families, adds Bible verses.... All of them. At the beginning of the radio segment about him, they played a recording of so many of these students, many of them men and women now, telling what this teacher means to them and has meant to them over the years--how he was such an amazing teacher, and how he went out of his way to make sure that each child knew they were special and loved. One of them went so far as to say there is no one like Mr Stroup in the entire world. The host interviewed him then, and he said he writes about 2,500 letters a year. Every night he works on them. Such a beautiful labor of love.
Well, I was so greatly touched by that. I thought about what middle school was like for me, and that special science teacher I had in the seventh grade who went out of HIS way to make us feel special. I will never forget him. He gave us nick-names and decorated our ditto sheets with silly drawings. We knew he truly and honestly cared about us. He sent me a birthday card once that I treasure to this day. I can't even imagine getting one every single year. Simply amazing.
That story about Mr Stroup (and the memory of my 7th grade science teacher) helped me to remember how really easy it is to make a difference in people's lives. It's truly the small things. A special nick-name, an encouraging word, a letter on a birthday...can make such a huge difference, especially to children. We might not have time to write so many birthday letters each year, but we can all do something to make someone's day brighter. We'll never know the impact our words and actions have on people until we get to heaven. The new school year is kind of like New Year's Eve, isn't it? I am committing to make it my goal to be a blessing to as many people, and especially children, as I possibly can this year. Who's with me?
Have a wonderful rest of the summer! It sure is fading fast!