Wednesday, December 12, 2012

From One Red Clay to Another

This past year, I served as an AmeriCorps member at Richardson Park Elementary School. I coordinated the Mentoring Program and was quickly welcomed into the family there. When my term ended in August and four more months stood between me and Kenya, my principal had pity on my would-have-been-unemployed-self, and I became an actual employee of the Red Clay Consolidated School District.

I love being “Miss Saadeh” to the kids. I get dozens of mini-people hugs each day, all while trying to learn all their names and make as many of them feel as special as possible. And the same students that I have sought out to help, have themselves taught me so much about life, about myself, and about the Lord.

One particular lesson jumps out in the pages of my mind.

This one comes from a third-grade friend. We’ll call him Joey. Now Joey sometimes preferred his own choices to my directions. And one day, he preferred MANY of his own choices to my directions, which ended up landing him a seat in the principal’s office. Not only that, but his mom, teacher, and I joined for this little conference. All of a sudden, my little Joey was as remorseful as could be. The only time he managed to raise his lowered head was to look me in the eye with a sincere apology and the promise of making better choices next time. With a hug to seal the deal, I truly believed I would see a new Joey from that point on. He seemed like he had learned his lesson and was set to make better choices.

That was on a Friday.

And then Monday came.

I have to admit, I was a bit taken back when I saw Joey coming off the bus on Monday, as mouthy and disrespectful as before. Where had my apologetic friend gone? As I was still trying to wrap my head around the two juxtaposing versions of Joey, it hit me.

I am Joey.

I go about my own life, sometimes preferring my own choices to God’s directions. And some days, I might prefer MANY of my own choices to God’s directions. These moments of disobedience land me a seat before my Maker, where I am found confessing my shortcomings before a Holy and perfect God. With eyes welled up and head lowered in shame, I determinedly promise to not make the same mistakes again. To live in light of his forgiveness. To  walk in freedom, not bound like a slave to my sin.

But then Monday comes.

And from this dawning realization of who I am, I take away a couple reminders that I hope will remind you, too.

The danger of judging someone else. The flaws I find in others are just as present within me. “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” [Romans 2:1]

The need for a life lived by the Holy Spirit. I personally cannot live in accordance to what God commands of me, but the Spirit can. I must cling to His power within me.  “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” [Romans 8:6]

The importance of repentance. Because I am still here on this fallen earth, I will need to bring before the Lord my brokenness on a continual basis. But what a joyful assurance to know that He has promised to forgive! “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” [1 John 1:9]

As my countdown has changed from months to weeks, I anticipate meeting a new batch of students. Students who will teach me new lessons about life, about myself, and about the Lord. And as I trod around on the red, dusty desert of Korr, I pray that I will hold fast to the lessons learned here.

From one Red Clay to another.

{“May Africa’s red dirt not only stain your shoes…but also your heart.”}


  1. Thanks so much for the reminder... Repentance is important! The work of God I must desire is this: John 6:29 - Jesus answered them, This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent"

    He is faithful indeed... And I thankful that I can count on Him forever! Talk about a truly awesome friend... I couldn't ask for better :) Oh that I would judge less and love more too... I will keep remembering Jesus life as He teaches me how I must walk according to his precepts :)

    Go get those wonderful new students!!!!

  2. I am in awe of your insight for a person your age. Your posts always make me do some personal soul searching! You are so strong and courageous to follow this path you have chosen. You have made a tremendous impact on Park, for students and adults. You've really made a difference for our kids. I look forward to learning even more lessons from you while you are on this amazing adventure. Your new students who await you are truly blessed for the opportunity to know and love you, just as we have been. I am so thankful for our friendship and wich you Godspeed on this new chapter of your life! Your Park family is always here for you :)