Learning

years ago I had someone tell me that the best way to learn is to teach. This was after being asked to teach a Sunday school class. I had never taught a Sunday school class, let alone actually read the Bible at that point in my life.

I trepidly started the class. Often I had to stop and ask one of the students questions. It wasn’t part of the lesson, but I knew this child knew more about the Bible than I did at that point. He was a third grader at the time. It was humbling, but in truth, I did start to learn by teaching.

Now, teaching Bible studies is one of my most favorite things to do. I enjoy the adventure of putting a lesson together and studying the material. I eagerly start and know each lesson in advance and am confident.

Until this current series I am doing. When asked to teach, I pray about the subject and it comes to mind and excitement begins to build in me. This time, I prayed as I always do, and the answer challenged me. I prayed some more. Same answer. I tried a third time, thinking I misheard the first two times. Wrong! Same answer. So, I acknowledged that I had heard and with deep breaths, I started to study.

Yes, one of the best ways to learn is to teach. I am learning so much with this study. It is bringing me out of my comfort zone. It is challenging me to lean on the Giver of all lessons in life. Together, the Lord and I are presenting this study. Actually, it is more Him than me.

Sundays hit me harder with this study. The class is on Monday mornings. So, come Sunday a mild panic sets in. Will I present this right? Do I have an actual grasp of the material? Am I comprehending this?

Yes, these are all questions that run through my mind on Sunday afternoons. The questions excite me. They stimulate my mind. The challenge me. This is all great stuff. Granted, the panic is not the best, but what it is teaching me is that I am learning with this lesson. I know without a doubt that this material has been picked out by the Lord, as it is something I wouldn’t have thought of. I am excited.

When the Lord challenges you, it’s a great adventure. He felt I was ready to be stretched. He wanted to teach me something new. I am learning through this teaching.

“The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8 (NLT)

The Dance of the Leaves begin

Fall began today. At least according to the calendar. We went to do our Costco run and the car temp read 95 degrees. It was miserable, but the sky was bright blue and the clouds were puffy and white. It was a nice, albeit, hot day.

As we were exiting Costco, it looked like it was evening outside. Considering we got there around 1 p.m., I knew we hadn’t taken that long inside. We got to the car, put everything in and put our cart back. The sky was dark and threatening.

Dale commented that he hoped the storm wasn’t going to involve hail and off we went towards home. The temperature gauge in the car read 85 degrees. As we drove down the interstate, there were leaves blowing around the sky. I had already had the title for this post and wondered what I was going to say about it. I realized I had a post.

The rain was strong as was the wind. There was a ballet of leaves and pine needles going on above us and in front of us. We drove past a farm called Walnut Grove farm and all of a sudden we heard thump, thump, thump, we were being hit by something. We laughed (well, I laughed) and told Dale that he had said he didn’t want hail, but he forgot to mention walnuts. The nuts from the tree lined street were blowing the nuts to the ground and we were in the way.

The dance of leaves continued as we came home. I guess this is just the beginning of the colder season coming upon us. Soon the leaves will be laying on the ground preparing a covering for the spring growth.

I loved our homeward adventure today, but, I have to say the walnuts were a bit of a surprise to us.

“Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem!  Rejoice in the Lord your God! For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring” Joel 2:23 (NLT)

Quiet

Some synonyms of quiet are: muted, peaceful, silent, soft, hushed, reserved, still, low, soundless.

Today I have pondered quiet. As I walked today there was a muffled sound of traffic in the distance, the call of the birds in the trees, and the sound of my footsteps on the driveway gravel.

It was still, peaceful, hushed. We longed for quiet when we lived in San Diego. We were opposite the freeway. There was the constant hum of eight lanes of traffic. The steady rumble of vehicles traveling by at high speeds. The access road below our house sounded with the thump, the grating, the grinding of the machines in various buildings. In the sky above was the sound of jets landing and departing from the airport. Police helicopters swooped by sometimes instructing those below to remain in their homes for safety. Military jets and helicopters flew overhead, training or heading to a mission. There was no quiet. It was constant noise pollution all around us.

Now, we live in a rural place. Our home is surrounded by woods. We live on a quiet road. Rarely do we hear planes or helicopters. It is still, peaceful and our bodies have adjusted to the lack of noise.

So often we keep ourselves at such a hectic pace, it is hard to be still. We grow used to chaos, noise, activity. It wears us out, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

I used to drive to the mountains when we lived in San Diego. The mountains offered quiet, stillness. I would leave early in the morning and spend time soaking the quiet while parked beside Lake Cuyamaca. Eventually I would head home a bit refreshed. By time I got home, though, fighting the traffic and starting to plan meals for the family in my head, I was once more unsettled and busy.

When looking for our forever home, the one thing we both readily agreed on was it had to be quiet. Our precious Lord answered that request in abundance.

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)

Fall Shadows

Today the temperature is in the mid to high 80’s. Of course there is really no humidity so it makes the temp bearable.

As I walked out to the mailbox just now, the sun was shining brightly as I closed the door. I could feel the heat of the sun and the warmth it provided. By the time I got to the mailbox a slight breeze was blowing and I thought to myself, “ahh! Fall.” That glorious time of the year where you see the fluffy clouds in the sky and the leaves changing from green to yellow and red. It was wonderful.

As I walked toward the house, the sun went behind the clouds and the breeze felt a bit cooler.

My thoughts then went to how when we are walking with the Lord, listening intently to Him and reading His Word, we bask in the warmth of His presence. We can feel Him in all we do and we are covered in the glow of Him.

Likewise, when we drift away from the Lord, like hiding behind the clouds, our life becomes a bit darker, a bit colder, a bit lonelier. The estrangement isn’t noticeable immediately, but if we continue to drift away from His presence, the schism grows deeply.

“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.” Ephesians 5:15 (NLT)

51 years, a brief look back

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

51 years ago, I never really thought of this above verse. It didn’t matter to me and because of that, I gave it no thought.

In hindsight, though, I think of all that was involved in bringing things to a point 51 years ago.

First a music director from our high school needed things moved to his cottage several miles away from our city. He hired two young men from the school to help him move those things. The two young men worked hard all day long and at the end of the day, he paid them for their work.

One of the young men went home and spent the night in with his parents and siblings. The other asked to use his mother’s car for a date. He then called a young girl who actually had other plans for the night.

The young girl’s sister insisted that the girl should accept the invitation to the date.

The two high school kids went to the bowling alley, bowled three games and drank a cola.

He drove her home, kissed her and they watched the 11:00 news together. He drove home.

All of these things worked together. The night went off without a hitch and that was that.

Now, I can look back and see the hand of God in all of this. Had Dale not worked for his music director, he wouldn’t have had the money to ask me out. Had my sister not insisted I accept the offer of a date, I would have gone to another fire-hall dance with my friend and gone home. I have no idea what would have been the alternate of that evening fifty one years ago today.

At the time I had no idea that it would be my last first date. I had no idea it would be my last first kiss. I had no idea that one date would be the beginning of my future. It’s funny how moments can pass innocently and we never think it was really a momentous moment.

Yet, God knew the plans He had for me. Plans for a future and a hope. Plans for good even when we goofed up and went on another path that could lead to disaster. God had a plan. I have often questioned this plan. When on my own with two young children and a deployment being extended several times over, when times were lean and months were long, when sickness or broken bones occurred and the Navy had my support system on the other side of the world.

Yet, today, I see that all of these plans were right for us. We have grown up together. We have stretched each other many times. We have challenged one another, each holding our ground firmly.

Through it all, God has seen us through. 51 years ago was our first date, thank you Mr. Runzo for that $40 you paid the guys. Thank you Mom for letting Dale use your car. Thank you Dottie for suggesting bowling instead of the fire-hall dance. Little did we know you were all part of a bigger plan.

“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b (NLT)

Pardon Me, My human-ness is showing

 “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:23

Yes, this is my scripture for me today. You know those days where it is much better to go hide and tape your mouth shut? That’s today. That’s me. Full disclosure, complete honesty.

We all have those days, we all regret those days. I could blame it on the two Krispie Kreme donuts I had earlier, but no, I cannot. I really cannot blame it on anything except me being me.

On days like this, it seems my mouth engages and goes on and on and I stand and look at myself and wonder where that person came from. I thought when I got to be my age, I would have tackled and conquered these actions. Guess not. I can blame a lot of things as the reason for letting my tongue get the best of me, but that would not be correct.

But, what it does shake into me is my need for the Lord. I need to repent of my lashing out and I need to ask for forgiveness from Dale.

So, today I go to a scripture that I need to learn, “It’s better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home.” Proverbs 21:9 (NLT)

Boundless Renewal

“The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. 23 Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” Lamentations 3:22-23 (NLT)

God is steadfast. Each morning He renews the day. He touches the earth and fresh life comes upon nature.

When we look closely we can see the artistry of our Creator. It may be subtle changes or it could be so intense it makes us smile. Like the first snowfall, or rain and wind after a long dry spell, or seeing leaves raining down in the fall. Or, it could be subtle. Seeing the end of the black-eyed Susan’s and then seeing a fall flower peeking out between them.

I may wake up, and think there is nothing new to do or see. I may think I have done all that is new or exciting, but then, I need to remind myself to look closely.

As I walked today this scripture came to mind followed by the song. In my mind I sang the words, knowing that I often overlook and miss the hand of God in my everyday life.

The Steadfast Love Of The Lord Never Ceases,
His Mercies Never Come To An End;
They Are New Every Morning,
New Every Morning,
Great Is Thy Faithfulness, O Lord.
Great Is Thy Faithfulness!

A Mother’s Heart

Recently I have been thinking about a mother’s heart. Not her physical heart, but that part of a woman that makes her Mom.

When a woman finds out she is going to be a mother, at least for me, it changes her outlook on everything. Things are weighed with safety, and logic. We are bound to the life within us and it is part of who we are and who we become.

When my daughters were young I worried incessantly. Was I doing the right things? Was I taking care of them correctly? Was I attentive enough? I continued to feed, change, bathe, clothe and hover as much as I could. The result? My girls became girls.

When my daughters reached the age of being girls, I worried incessantly. Did they have enough nice toys? Did they have a healthy meal? Did they have enough social interaction? I continued to watch their diet, their social lives, their wardrobe and I hovered close by. The result? They became teenagers.

As teens I worried incessantly. Were they safe at school and during social activities? Were they making right food choices when I wasn’t there? Were they comfortable in their clothes and skin? Were they happy? I continued to monitor and hovered from a distance (or so I thought). The result? They became adults.

As adults, I worried incessantly. Did they have enough? Were they happy? Were they safe? I watched from afar and tried not to hover. The results? They became wonderful women with husbands and families.

Now, their family is growing up. I see them doing some of the same things I did. I smile and try to reassure them.

But, now, my mother’s heart questions myself. Did I do right? Did I make a good example? Did I do it right?

I know all women think similar thoughts. For those of us with children, we realize they were gifted to us for a season and questions linger when we think of the season where we had influence on our children. A mother worries. It’s our nature. We want to nurture, but we need to learn when it is not our job to nurture all the time, it is time for spouses to take that place.

I think the hardest part of parenting now, for me, is to not push myself on them. My girls have families and commitments and duties that I am not part of. I think of them daily. I pray for them daily. And yes, I worry daily. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” (NLT)

I love this scripture, yet, I wonder, did I direct them correctly? With those thoughts I once more pray for them and yes, I worry, are they happy? Do they have enough? Are they okay? Did they laugh today?

My God

We each have a view of what God looks like. He is different in the mind and eyes of each of us.

To me, He is hard to describe, as I know I won’t know His countenance until the day I see Him face to face. I also recognize that at that time He won’t be at all like I have imagined Him.

Today, while walking and praying about what to write, I went through my usual list of what I write about, the weather, the feel of the air, my grandkids, my kids, my hubby, experiences. I was at a loss for ideas. Then in the deep recesses of my mind I heard, “Write about Me.” I actually chuckled out loud. Yeh, right.

Then, I started pondering that comment. Yes, I write about my faith, what I think His many names mean, my faith, and , although those all point to God, I have never really written about Him.

How do you write about a person you have never met, yet have such a strong relationship with? How do you describe the Creator of the Universe? What descriptors do I use to portray Him? You can see my dilemma.

I was raised like my sisters and friends. God was God. He always was and will always be. He frowns at sin, yet He blots sin out with the blood of Jesus.

I confess over the years He has switched from being a big bad boogey man who randomly tosses lightening to fry me and thunders disapproval at me to my place of comfort.

After the death of my Dad, I read Psalm 68:4-5, “Sing to God, sing praises to His name;
Extol Him who rides on the clouds, By His name Yah, And rejoice before Him. A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation.” (NKJV)

This brought me comfort.

God is my Father. He is the perfect Father. As is true with fathers, God has taught me lessons, both the easy way and the hard way when I insist on doing it ‘my’ way. God has been there in the night time when tears fall and I am distressed. He listens to me drone on and on, never judging me and letting me talk. He brings me comfort, joy and peace.

My God is mighty and strong. He reveals Himself to me in His creation. I love how He paints the sunrise and sunset. I love how He laughs with me at times, and I know He laughs at me when I truly goof up. Sometimes kids make you laugh.

When I think of how to describe my version of God, I think of a quilt. An old quilt. A quilt that has been washed many times and each square is soft fabric, faded a bit, but familiar. A quilt that lays heavy on you, not to oppress you, but to bring a security and comfort you can’t receive elsewhere. A place where tears can fall easily, but they are wiped away gently.

A song that describes how I feel about my God,

He is our peace
Who has broken down every wall,
He is our peace, He is our peace.
He is our peace
Who has broken down every wall,
He is our peace, He is our peace.

Cast all your cares on Him,
For He cares for you,
He is our peace, He is our peace.

He is our peace
Who has broken down every wall,
He is our peace, He is our peace.
He is our peace
Who has broken down every wall,
He is our peace, He is our peace.

Cast all your cares on Him,
For He cares for you,
He is our peace, He is our peace.

Humbled

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8 (NKJV)

Several weeks ago, our pastor challenged the people in our church to come early on Sundays and pray. The challenged hit me hard, as I used to do this all the time while living in San Diego, and had not considered doing this here in South Carolina.

I started to do this while Dale was practicing with the worship team before church. Of course, while we visited Little Miss, I spent time with her. Yesterday was our first Sunday back in church. I started walking through the sanctuary and through the hallways. I like to walk while praying, it reminds me of the children of Israel going into the promised land. They took possession of the land with each step they took.

The church we are in has been dormant for years. Rooms that have not been used for decades stand open ready to be filled with people learning, teaching, sharing, and discovering the goodness of God. I walk to claim that these rooms be filled with people searching for God. We live in a hurting world where circumstances and situations are unbearable. As Christians, it is our honor to reach out to these people. To love them and understand them. Deuteronomy 11:23-24, is what I think of, “Then the Lord will drive out all the nations ahead of you, though they are much greater and stronger than you, and you will take over their land. 24 Wherever you set foot, that land will be yours. Your frontiers will stretch from the wilderness in the south to Lebanon in the north, and from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west.” (NLT)

I don’t say this to brag, but to give you a basis of what I experienced Sunday morning. I walked through the sanctuary, the foyer, I looked out to the parking lot and prayed that it would be filled, that people would flock to the church. I went to the Children’s Church room, prayed for the leader, the children and that the room would be filled to capacity. In the hallways I prayed for laughter, giggles and children running rampant and parents yelling at kids for being too wild. In my mind I can hear the echoes of children.

I then went into the teen room. Our teen group is starting this Wednesday. I prayed for the teens. This is also where I am leading a Bible study next week for the ladies. This is what hit me. I felt the Lord overwhelm me with my inability to teach His words. It wasn’t a feeling of doom, dread or condemnation. It was a feeling of being honored and humble to do so. Humble like an undeserved honor to be able to share His word.

It reminded me, once more, of the gift of this blog, and my attempts that writing is to me. Thank you Lord for enabling me to put together words. They are Your words and I am grateful for the trust You have given me. Hide me as I write and teach, reveal Yourself through my attempts. May I always be aware of Your presence in my life. Amen.