These are his wide receivers and in this moment they are very serious about eating. Steak, roasted new potato salad, corn on the cob, broccoli, green beans, grilled chicken, rolls, and tortellini filled our table while the sounds of their voices filled the house.
We are stronger when we serve together, when we, as Taylor would say, "pour into" kids together. Joey let the boys know that we like having them over; we like cooking for them and that we want them to come over and study, hang out, watch football, or just play xbox. I knew they trusted us when a couple of them left to play basketball down the street and then came back. Their voices boomed responding to whatever game they were playing and deep laughter cascaded down the staircase for hours. I think the last guys left around 9:30. One sweet boy even gave me a hug as he left.
We have done this for two decades at five different high schools - each community and young man adding to our lives. I have loved and continue to love each community - as each school district provided us with life long friends and family members. A number of our former players and students have children of their own now, and we marvel at their accomplishments, treasuring the moments each chooses to share with us.
It's important to do this as well as or better than we have before; it's important.
Doing a good job and serving kids well has always been our mission, but we take so much less for granted these days. I compare being a principal again and Joey coaching again to a second pregnancy. During the first, a young mother is blissfully unaware of the ordeal of labor, the pain of childbirth, the heartache and joy of motherhood. During the second, (and I assume every subsequent pregnancy) a mom knows exactly what she has signed up to do.
What Union has offered my kids is unmatched and my gratitude out reaches my words. I can't let this school down, and yet I am not the same person. Before, I always thought there was an answer; there was a way and if we just worked hard enough - we would find it - whatever it was. Perhaps it was hardy - but I always thought I could make a difference.
I don't have the same blind, blissfully ignorant confidence in myself anymore; not every thing can be made right again. I still believe, given a chance, we can save any kid with education - I am just not as naive about being given a chance.
However, the boys filled the house again - just like they have during the last 25 years. We put food on the table and they ate it, promising to return. They said please and thank you and tried to clear the table. Feeding them was just as easy, just as joyful as it has always been.
Here's to hoping feeding teachers and students comes just as easy.... here's to being confident that mamma is right and I am right where God wants me to be.