“What’s the forecast for Wednesday?” We all had the same question. We were all hoping for a beautiful sunny day, perfect for our annual “school picnic.” It’s a day we all look forward to. In the forenoon, the schoolchildren in our little country school, ranging from grades 1-8, present the program they had practiced the weeks before. After a tasty meal, anyone is welcome to join in some good games of softball.
So here we were with a rainy forecast for this very special day. Prayers were sent heavenward for a sunny day. Guess what happened? The evening before entire weather system shifted, sending the rain back the direction it came from, resulting in a gorgeous day for ball, giving everyone a healthy pink color by the end of the day!
This year, I was especially looking forward to the program, but I do confess the night before when I woke up to care for the baby boys, I started wondering what my day would be like caring for our five little ones. I decided it wouldn’t be wise to try to help play, but was hoping to be able to at least watch some of the ball games. The next morning, Daniel brought up the subject even before I had a chance to do so. Of course, he was also planning to help me with the children as needed, yet I really wanted for him to be able to play. As we got our little family ready to go, it seemed the boys were extra fussy. “How will this day turn out?” I asked myself again, then gave it back to God once more, “Lord, you know all things, I ask you to direct this day according to your will.” Somehow taking care of fussy little ones is just harder away from home.
At last, everyone had their jackets and shoes on. The diaper bag was packed with extra clothes, diapers, pacifiers, and all the other “just in case” items for the babies. We were on our way.
Arriving at the schoolhouse, we found seats close to the back, where I prefer sitting with our little flock. Soon the school children and their two teachers filed in from the back, singing as they made their way to the front. It was absolutely beautiful. I felt goosebumps spread over me, the words of the song sank deep into my heart: “Nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing is to difficult for Thee …”
Julia sat beside one of her aunts drinking it all in. She knew that in only a year from now she will be one of the students standing up front with her little friends, helping with the program. I had told her I can barely wait to see her stand up there in the front row and recite her poem and help sing. As you mothers can imagine, it does also take some letting go as well!
I felt inspired as I continued to listen to the songs and poems. Toward the end came the poem that really touched my heart. Tears welled up in my eyes as four of the upper-grade girls stood to recite a poem written by one of my friends. The words deeply embedded within me, it expressed the cry of my heart. The first lines began with:
“Somewhere a child is crying,
Lost with no one to care.
Longing for someone to show him,
The love he may never share.”
“Yes, Lord, I am willing to sacrifice my afternoon for these dear children you have entrusted to our care,” I prayed silently. I knew it was worth all the extra efforts of caring for foster children.
Soon the program was past and everyone joined in a closing song. Next came a hearty meal of haystacks and a smorgasbord of mouthwatering desserts, including some sugar-free options which I was quite impressed with.
After the meal came the ball games. Our games are nothing professional at all. We simply play for the fun, not for competition. An example of that may be a little first-grade girl who had the opportunity of running around the bases for one of the men who was up to bat but couldn’t run due to his backache.
The best games came first. First, the upper-grade children played against their dads! Now I admit it is quite hilarious to watch these dads, most of which are in the 50-year-old range with gray streaks in their beards, hitting the ball, then running around the bases for all they’re worth! It’s like one of the fifth-grade boys said halfway through the game, “You’re all heated up, and we’re just starting to warm up!” This year, the dads beat the children, but not because they had a lack of cheerleaders! Those watching cheered for the children with each ball they caught and run they made.
Next the mothers played against the lower-grade children. All at once it dawned on me that in a year from now Julia and I would be helping with this game! Now that really did make me feel like time really is moving faster than I can keep up with! Will I actually be a school mom that soon?
The afternoon passed swiftly. And yes, I did get to watch quite a few games, as it proved to be warm enough to take the children outside.
Julia, Austin, and Rayni’s highlight by far was the little “train” that had been rented to give the children rides throughout the day. A little tractor pulled seven cars made out of 50-gallon barrels. The barrels were placed on the side with holes cut out of the side that was turned up. Wheels and a hitch on each barrel and a seat on the inside for them to sit on completed the train, perfect for little passengers.
By mid-afternoon, ice cream cones and other snacks were served. Everyone could snack or play as they pleased. Perhaps you would enjoy one of my favorites on the snack table. The lower-grade teacher, who is also our neighbor, is known to make these deliciously seasoned pretzels. Here is the recipe for you to try!
1 cup oil
3 tablespoons cheddar cheese powder*
3 tablespoons sour cream and onion powder*
1 pound pretzels (we prefer thin sticks)
Mix together oil and seasonings. Pour over pretzels; mix thoroughly. Bake at 250 for 30 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!
* These items can be purchased at bulk food stores. Also, the sour cream and onion powder can be replaced with ranch seasoning if desired.
Readers can write or visit Gloria at 10437 E. 300th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427.