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Lives Full of Love

Sunday evening we watched the movie, “A Smile as Big as the Moon.” John Corbett stars in this Hallmark Hall of Fame movie as special education teacher Mike Kersjes, who pushed through seemingly impossible obstacles to help his special education students achieve the honor of attending Space Camp. The movie is a true story and is a beautiful portrayal of a teacher who believes that his students can accomplish anything if they are willing to work hard. (I don’t intend for this to be a movie review, but I plan to pick this movie up for our movie library for sure!)

The thing that pained my heart the most in this movie was the insensitive, and often cruel treatment that these amazing kids endured through the words and actions of their peers both in their high school and at space camp. I was reminded time and time again throughout this movie that what we teach our children from the time they are small about respecting people who are different, shapes them for a life time. Whether it be racial differences, religious differences, differences in physical appearance, or differences in mental or physical capabilities, we shape how our children will respond to others through our own responses every day.

My children will never tease or taunt, giggle, or point and stare at an individual with a mental or physical handicap, my children will never segregate themselves from an individual who’s skin is of a different color, my children will never look down on someone who’s belief system is different than theirs. They have been raised to love.

As parents, we have to be intentional about creating opportunities to teach our children how to process and respond in situations where they are confronted with someone who stands out because they are different. They will learn by example, but they will also learn through instruction. Here’s the link once again to a brochure that I created specifically about this subject “Teaching Your Children to Show Love and Respect to Individuals with Special Needs. “  I challenge each one of you to find ways to be intentional about talking to your own children about loving and respecting others.

Get this movie and other movies like it. Show clips of scenes that depict teasing or outright cold-hearted behaviors, and talk about it. Model good behavior, do some role playing. Teach your children to be the ones to stand up for others, and step in to say, “STOP,” when they see others being mistreated.

I posted the photo above because what it represents is so normal to us. Aiden and Elia on play date with Nick and Amy. Together. Peers. Loving. Playing. Enjoying the world together.

Two very different children. Loving. Playing. Being.

This is what Elia knows.

As a matter of fact, it is quite possible that she knows Aiden better than the rest of us. She is the one that knows what he is feeling and what he is trying to say when none of the rest of us can figure it out. I can hardly wait to watch their relationship bloom and develop as they get older. The very thought of it makes my heart swell.

Elia also has friends of nearly every ethnic background. I am grateful she will grow up knowing and loving her friends for who they are, without regard to the color of their skin. Better yet, appreciating each one of them because of the beauty of their skin color.

The other day, she came home from school and said, “I wish I had brown skin like Hannah.” Was she unhappy about who she is with her smooth, creamy white skin? No, I don’t think so. I think she saw beauty in her friend and was simply admiring that beauty in her own special way.

I want my children to grow to appreciate the uniqueness, beauty and worth of everyone they meet.

I want them to lead lives that are full of love.

4 thoughts on “Lives Full of Love

  1. Haven’t seen the movie….will have to get it too 🙂

    I totally agree!!!! I LOVE the fact that our kids completely ignore big obvious differences!!! It makes my heart happy!!!! They just couldn’t care less 🙂 and really that is the way it should be! Ask questions- yes, but respectfully. Watching how they do something sure, but really only because they think it is sooo neat!

    If others would take time to just see the beauty of each child- what a different world we could have. It only takes a few conversations to teach your child…a few loving moments….but it will bless sooo many others they will meet, and may even save a life (as in they won’t crush someone’s life by making fun of them, they won’t choose abortion just because of a test, and they will fight for others lives!).

  2. AMEN Tracie!! Beautiful post! And will definitely be checking out this movie! Being of mixed race myself & also very short in stature, I was teased a lot in school. This is why my older kids grew up accepting and appreciating everyone. They got teased themselves for doing it too, but they both say they would do it again! I have hopes of raising our foster &/or adopted kiddos to be the same way! One of which is of mixed race too! 😀

  3. Thankyou for a beautiful post. I work in Special Education and am constantly advoacting for the rights of my students in a rather large school. I find because the kids are fuly integrated into the mainsteam classes the other kids accept them easily.. its the comments from adults that makes my blood boil. Im constantly asking ‘why cant we do that’.. rather than accepting we cant.

  4. I watched the movie the other day and was gratly moved by one teacher’s love for those beautiful students. I too raised my daughters to love others in God’s eyes. My brother is mentally challenged so I grew up painfully aware of how cruel people can be to those different from themselves. Thanks to you and the beautiful children you have raised with Christ’s love. Your story has been a true blessing to me. Your father in law John was my youth leader many years ago, so I feel a special connection to your family. Take care and God bless you and your wonderful family and the testmony you share in your continual walk with Him. You are in my prayers. Joanne

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