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)

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.

An Example

“Point your kids in the right direction-when they’re old they won’t be lost.” Proverbs 22:6 the message

My younger sister retired this week. She was a teacher for the greater part of her life. Honestly she has always been a teacher. Teachers are born. There is an innate gifting within teachers that are with them from the time they can talk I believe. I’ve always admired the profession my sister chose and she was good at it.

I was a teacher’s aide for a year and I loved each part of it. At the beginning of the year I considered going back to school so that I could become a teacher. The teacher I work with asked me to give a spelling test and I gladly obliged. But I found that the mom in me was much stronger than the teacher in me. I basically mouthed each letter of each word in the spelling test. None of the students got any of the answers wrong. It was then that I realized I was not a teacher.

Teaching is a gift. As parents we do teach our children. We teach them how to eat, how to walk, how to speak. We reinforce what they learn in schools. But there are those who are chosen to be teachers and I have known a few. I admire them and respect them, especially my younger sister. She has taught many many students over the years. Some she taught for two years as she taught a younger grade and then years later moved to an older grade and had the same round of students. She has touched lives in ways that they will always remember. How often do we think back to our own teachers? I had favorite teachers and I had some teachers that really scared me. The students, the people who the grown ups now who had my sister will fondly remember her. I don’t question that. She instilled in them a truth, faith, and the things that are taught from books. She also, I know, taught them several things that are never found in books. These are the things that these people were carry on in their lives. This will be what they teach their children. She will have inspired a generation. I stand in awe of what she has accomplished with her life.

So, congratulations to my sister. Enjoy your retirement I know now that it is summer and it is like every other year you finish school. Wait until August and September though and there’ll be no more Monday mornings that you have to scramble to get out the door. Have fun in this new adventure.

Remembering

This morning as I sat listening to my favorite channel on Pandora, I was taken back to my living room in Nagai. It was a small room, but cozy. Our living room was painted like every living room in the housing area. No color, just a bland form of white-gray or gray-white. Hard to tell, really. I had two large windows in the room and a small window that held the air conditioner which only blew the cold air to the opposite wall where there was a built in bookcase. The back window looked out to our back yard and the dog house . Beyond the yard were rice paddies and fields of crops. The front window was my view of Mt. Fuji.

My schedule while living in Nagai was busy. I worked for the Army Veterinarian (part of the Calvary) on Monday-Wednesday and Friday. In the evenings on Wednesday I taught my private student English and then afterwards would go to the school where I taught two classes, Thursday evening I taught three classes, and Friday was again two. Once a month on Saturday I traveled to another school where I taught three classes English. I was always on the move with trains, buses and on foot. I loved it.

Thursday during the day was for me. I would catch up on laundry and cleaning and then I would sit in my living room. Our furniture at the time was borrowed from the Navy, except our stereo stand and the stereo. On Thursday I would sit in the chair, Bible in hand and that was my time to be with the Lord. I would read, pray and listen to music. I paid attention to the words. I allowed them to go deep in me. I was learning to worship my God.

At the time songs were scripture put to words. The words took root in my heart, planted by the artists performing the music and watered by the Lord listening to my prayers.

They were sweet times for me. I love having alone time. Time where I can be quiet and devote my full attention to God. At that time we had no children so alone time was truly alone. As the years went on alone time was next to impossible. Motherhood filled my mind with activities and chores and demands that took most of the stamina I had. Alone time had to be scheduled in and sometimes took a back seat.

Now, I find in retirement that I still have to purpose in my heart to have some alone time. Dale and I have worked to get to this point in life. After adjustment we have grown into a rhythm of being together. We enjoy our time now. When one of us have time away we miss one another.

So today, as he is gone from the house I returned to a day like my Thursdays in Nagai. I read my Bible, I have had a prayer time and in the background is music that I listened to so many years ago. What prompted me in these thoughts was hearing the song from Psalm 5. Like all music can take you to places and smells and memories, I was transported to my living room in 1978.

“Give ear to my words, O Lord, Consider my meditation.  Give heed to the voice of my cry, My King and my God, For to You I will pray.  My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up.” Psalm 5:1-3 (NKJV)

Sensei

As a little girl I thought I would like to teach. Actually, I wanted to be a nun for many years . Obviously, that didn’t happen. Instead, I married a sailor and roamed around the world.

In 1977 we lived in Yokohama, Japan, a seaport city south of Tokyo. We lived in government quarters that were built during the occupation after WWII. Across the street from our home was the building that housed a department of the Army, actually a department of the U.S. Army Calvary, the veterinarians who served the community caring for the pets of the military personnel. They also inspected the food coming into the commissaries on the bases. I was hired on as a receptionist for the days the vets worked with the animals. I loved that job, my bosses were great fun and I loved seeing the animals, and yes, we did end up adopting a dog through my work.

Later that year, and in addition to working with the Army, I was honored to have a job as a teacher. I taught in a private school in Kita Kamakura . The school operated in the evenings. I taught on Thursday and Friday evenings and once a month on Saturdays. It was a fascinating time.

Shoes were not permitted in the classroom, so the teachers had their own area to remove their shoes and put on the slippers to move around the classes. On cold and rainy days the secretary of the school would meet me with a cup of hot tea. Always welcome after a train ride.

I had an interpreter who would translate what I said to the students. When the kids arrived in the classroom they would bow deeply and greet me as Sensei (teacher). I would then read out of a reader and the kids would repeat after me. Although the nights were long, I so enjoyed seeing the kids. I taught a couple of my classes how to write in cursive and sing American songs. I always left with a smile of my face.

I learned so much from those times in the classroom. First that Japanese children were the same as I was as a student. The girls would play the hand-clapping games and sing song to them. They would play cat’s cradle. The boys would fold paper and play football. It was a typical classroom. I still have pictures from my students that they drew one night the interpreter was not able to make it and I wasn’t able to convey what to do. If I arrived a minute late, there would be a caricature of me on the blackboard.

I often think of my students and wonder what they are doing. They all have grown, and have families. I still carry them in my heart. They helped to make me who I am today.

I tend to think that the joy I had watching them in class is similar to the joy the Lord has in watching us. I assume that God tends to shake His head at me consistently. I think He laughs often at me.

“The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.” Psalm 121:8