After a break that was hopefully full of things like fun, laughter, extra time with friends and families, sugar and chocolate, and rest, we begin the new year refreshed and ready to set goals.
One of my goals for this year is to fill more of my free time with good books. I actually love reading, but I’m not very good about making time for it. Over the break, though, I had some extra time; and I read a few really good books. One of the books I read was called "Kisses from Katie". It’s an amazing story about how a young woman named Katie made the world a better place and how her life was changed by the people she served in Uganda. After reading just the first few paragraphs of the forward to the book I knew immediately that I wanted to share these words with Lower School students and others as we begin 2018.
People who really want to make a difference in the world usually do it, in one way or another. And I’ve noticed something about people who make a difference in the world: They hold the unshakable conviction that individuals are extremely important, that every life matters. They get excited over one smile. They are willing to feed one stomach, educate one mind, and treat one wound. They aren’t determined to revolutionize the world all at once; they’re satisfied with small changes. Over time, though, the small changes add up. Sometimes they even transform cities and nations, and yes, the world.
At the beginning of the school year, Head of School Hugh McIntosh attended a Lower School morning meeting where he led us in the hokey-pokey, and encouraged us to be all in this school year – to give ourselves fully to the things we have to do, the things we choose to do, and the people around us. Before the break, Ms. Portwood reminded us of that charge to be all in to the Christmas season of hope, peace, joy, and love. And I can’t think of a better way to start this new year off than by echoing their words. Let’s be all in. Let’s be all in to our commitment to make the world a better place. Ms. Portwood shared a clip from the movie Elf and talked about how Buddy the Elf was so all in for Santa that he couldn’t stop smiling when he talked about Santa. His feelings were evident by just looking at his face. And, just like Buddy the Elf was all in for Santa, let’s be all in to making the world a better place so that it shows in everything we say and do.
So as you are thinking about 2018 – what this year might hold and what you want to do – I encourage you to make the commitment to give yourselves fully, to be all in, to our shared goal of making the world a better place. Pay attention to the people around you and think about what you can say or what you can do to make a difference in their lives. And, I promise you, that as you make the world a better place for other people, you will find that you have made the world a better place for you, too.
Sam Oakley started as a Lower School Religion teacher at Episcopal in August 2017. She previously served as the Associate Director of the Center for Family and Community Ministries at Baylor University where she conducted research, developed resources, and edited a journal. She received her M.S.W. and M.Div. from Baylor University. Sam is married to David Oakley, who serves as the Youth and Children’s Minister at Broadmoor Baptist Church. They have three children: Elijah, Taylor, and Sadie.