Skunk Juice and Stanley

Have you ever had a day that started off stinky and turned out sweet? That was my today.

Picture the scene: It’s 5:45 a.m. My dog Riff and I are catching a few more winks after pushing the snooze button. I pushed the snooze, not Riff. Hmm, I should train him to do that. I digress.

Suddenly, my sister’s dog, Hound, barrels into the room and bounds onto the bed with dew-drenched paws. Within seconds, a distinct aroma assaults my senses. Apparently, Hound had more than dew on her paws. I don’t think she got sprayed by a skunk. She must’ve just frolicked through a spot where a skunk sprayed. Regardless, the smell of skunk juice was not my idea of a pleasant wake-up call. Not. At. All.

I regrouped from the skunk juice and got to my first school staff meeting a few minutes early. I figured out my preferred route. It includes a pass by Emery Street. The sign reminds me of my friend Katie and her adorable son, Emery. Guess who I’ll be reminded to pray for five mornings a week? I love it when God gives me mental monuments. Every street sign doesn’t strike me as significant. That would be exhausting and, well, weird. But every so often, God shines His flashlight on a sign or a landmark and ties a prayer reminder to it. It gives a mundane drive a splash of purpose. You should try it, really.

The staff meeting was a mixture of “Yay! My new job!” and “Oh my gosh! I’ll never remember all this stuff!” The administration fed us a huge country breakfast. No cellophane-wrapped danishes piled on a plate for us. I think they were trying to butter us up for the long list of policies and expectations they were about to cover. It takes a lot to run a school well. Procedures. Policies. Paperwork. By 1:00, I was truly overwhelmed. As I walked back to my half-decorated classroom, my mental to-do list grew long and scrambled I worked up a serious sweat arranging desks and dusting windowsills before I scooted home to give the dogs a potty break. They had to tinkle quick because I had to get back to school for open house. Bright side: Hound had no time to roll in more skunk juice. I had to give the dogs a pep talk about me having to go back to work. They weren’t thrilled, but they relented when I promised a trip to the barn as soon as I got home.

I brushed my teeth, touched up my lipstick and perfume, and scooted back to school for open house. You never know how many families will show up to those sorts of things. Only one of the students on my roster came, but that’s all it took.

Ten minutes chatting it up with Stanley and his mom and sister shrunk my gargantuan concerns about lesson plans and bulletin boards back to their proper size. Yes, all the things on my to-do list are important (and a lot), but they’re for Stanley. And  Stanley’s worth it.


It’s back-to-school time, and we teachers could use a little extra TLC. Help us get to the bottom of our to-do lists without hitting rock bottom. Help us keep the students at the front of our minds and wrapped around our hearts. Help us beat out burn-out and embrace the privilege of preparing the next generation. Keep our patience long and our purpose clear from the first day of school to the final bell. Be glorified in our classrooms, AMEN