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

First Love

“There’s no love like the first.” – Nicholas Sparks

We all remember our first love. It is the one that awakened feelings never felt before. It usually is our first heartbreak. It follows you into each relationship you have after.

My first love happened at the city pool in the summer of 1969. He was a few months older than me. He stood several inches taller than me. We had a brief stint as boyfriend/girlfriend and by August of 1969, my heart was shattered into pieces, some of which I never really recovered. It was in August of 1969 that I put myself on guard. I determined that I would never again suffer the heartbreak that I had become well versed in. Such is the thought of a high school freshman.

A few years later I was engaged to my high school sweetheart, preparing for a life as a Navy wife. No, it was not the same man, but he has been my sweetheart for the past 50 years.

I would like to say that it has been sweet music and laughter. I would like to say that, but it would not be true. The heartbreak I endeavored to avoid was a part of my life in our early marriage. I thought I would never again feel the joy, the unspeakable joy of a first love. And then, on Monday evening, April 18th, 1977, in Yokohama, Japan, we met our Lord in a personal way.

We were washed with joy. We were bathed and cleansed with love for one another. Each day gave birth to hope. We had a season of our first love with Jesus.

As with all loves, you cannot continue with emotional highs. It’s not like the love dwindles, but it becomes normal. It becomes your life. When I was first saved, I was I’m born again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now, it’s a matter of fact, I’m born again.

With time, love becomes a comfort. After 47 years of marriage, I am comfortable in my relationship with my husband. We know how the other works. We know what will make them comfortable, what pushes the wrong button. I know that after dessert, he will fall asleep. only to wake up and wonder why another show is on t.v.. He knows that I have this quirk that all the light switches have to be in the same position and he knows that I’ll growl if he messes them up. Our love is comfortable.

I know your deeds and your labor and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil people, and you have put those who call themselves apostles to the test, and they are not, and you found them to be false;  and you have perseverance and have endured on account of My name, and have not become weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore, remember from where you have fallen, and repent, and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and I will remove your lamp-stand from its place—unless you repent. Revelation 2:2-5 (NASB)

However, how often in our relationships do we look at our spouse and wonder why things have become so ordinary. Each day is similar to the previous one. We know the love is there, and I can look at my husband and still see the 17 year old boy I fell for. That smile is now surrounded by a gray beard and thinning hair though.

Do we also become complacent with our relationship with our Lord? We are assured of His love toward us. Knowing that He is there in all aspects of our life, do we take that for granted? I often think of this verse in Revelation and ask to be returned to my first love of our God. The fervor of waking each day, anxious to see what He is going to do in my life, and wanting to be used of Him for great things. Too often I awake each morning, thanking Him for waking me up and giving Him the day only to walk into the kitchen and suddenly it is I who is going through the day.

The challenge is to start each day remembering Who it is that I serve. I serve an awesome God, a God to hears me when I pray, hears me when I cry. He is by my side when I feel alone. He will never leave me, nor forsake me. I am His. I am blessed.

“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)