Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Unlikely Teacher

I never wanted to be a teacher. My mom and my sister were both Sunday School teachers. My sister babysat. My sister taught the preschool worship. My mom directed VBS. Like any normal younger sister, I did not want to be a teacher.

But we were a family of teachers so everyone expected that I would be a teacher too. Puleease! I admit, I had a terrible attitude. I got fighting mad every time anyone mentioned that I should be a teacher.

So, one February afternoon of my eighteenth year, my preacher called and asked for me. The Arizona State Christian Convention was being held that week in our city; would I lead the children’s session that evening? Any person would gulp at the last minute notice, but as an eighteen year old, I wasn’t experienced in knowing how to say no to the preacher. I said yes, I said goodbye, then I blew up. “He must be really scraping the bottom of the barrel if he’s asking me to teach. I can’t teach. I don’t want to teach. I know nothing about teaching and he calls me last minute to teach? I cannot teach!”

My mother let me rant, then she said, “Stop and think about what you can do. You know music. You’ve helped me lead singing in children’s worship so you can teach them songs. You’ve done puppet scripts and storytelling for me too. You are excellent at just making up stories off the top of your head. And you love games. You can fill in the rest of the time with a game.” She named a game we could borrow from a friend.

Acting like I hadn’t heard her, I stalked to my bedroom. Then God’s Spirit got on my mom’s side. The bible story of Moses came into my mind. Moses had a case of the don’t wannas too. He told God he couldn’t speak. He couldn’t lead the people. He couldn’t face Pharaoh. God’s reply in the form of a verse I had memorized came into my mind next. “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will help you speak and will teach you what to say (Exodus 4:11,12).” I was convicted. If I was going to teach, God would have to teach me what to say.

I came out of my bedroom and headed for the phone. “What are you going to do?” my mother asked. “I’m calling Melanie to ask if I can borrow that game,” I replied. Later I told Melanie the story of my fit and God’s conviction. She laughed and said, “Go Moses!” So like Moses, I went.

It wasn’t so bad. I survived and so did they. Six months later, the Sunday School superintendent asked me to teach the first and second grade Sunday School class and this time I said yes without the fit. I still was nervous. I made lots of mistakes. But I’m still teaching, over twenty five years later. I’m also writing curriculum for Standard Publishing and Rainbow Publishers. I’ve even taught teacher training classes. I’m writing this blog. God in his heaven must be smiling because once again, He has shown how He can change a life through His mighty power and use someone who once said they can’t.

What job is God asking you to do? Are you nervous? Are you scared? Are you digging in your feet? Are you even stubbornly saying “No!”? When we tell God we can’t do something because of the way we’re wired, we’re basically telling the Creator who made us and knows us better than we know ourselves that He’s got it wrong. He made you. He knows what you are capable of accomplishing. He also knows what His unsurpassable power can do through you.

Say yes! Without the fit. Then go and watch God do incredible things through you.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

VBS: Have You Prayed About It?

If you were a part of our household long enough, you would soon hear someone ask, “Have you prayed about it?” Sometimes we answer that question defensively when in truth, our prayers amount to little more than “God! Help!”

Like any church program, VBS needs the preeminence and protection of prayer. VBS is more than just a program to keep kids busy. We are dealing with the eternal destiny of those we teach. There are so many God-touched moments that can happen at VBS; conversely, the Evil One will do whatever he can to keep those special moments from happening. You can move your VBS from just another program to a specaular, inspiring week for both students and staff by surrounding your efforts in prayer.

Here are a few ideas on how to weave prayer into your program.

1. Begin your first planning meeting with concentrated prayer. I don’t mean an opening one minute prayer by the director. I mean, have yourself an old fashioned prayer meeting. Pray for those who are planning VBS. Pray that God supply your staff needs. Pray for the children who will attend. Pray that God give you wisdom, direction, creativity, peace and courage to get out of your comfort zone and do something big for Him. Have a time of prayer at the beginning, not end of every planning and staff meeting.

2. Ask non-staff church members to seve as prayer partners, one f0r each staff person. Schedule a time the week before VBS for the staff and prayer partner to meet together to pray.

3. Have a prayer room assigned during the week of VBS. Choose a quiet place, perhaps with background music so staff can go and pray on their breaks. Some of your prayer partners might even want to come pray in the prayer room during that week.

4. Have the staff meet five minutes earlier than normally scheduled to have a devotion and pray together.

5. Have a staff praise service the week after VBS. If people are burned out on meetings, schedule a clean up and lunch date on the next Saturday after VBS, ending with the praise service. Give staff a chance to share how they saw God at work during VBS.

6. Leave a comment on this site to share with us how you saw God at work in direct answer to the prayers of His people

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

My mother graduated from college in 1982. If you are a regular reader and have caught that I have two teenage daughters myself, I can imagine your brain is kicking into calculator mode, wondering just how old I am and how is it possible? Let me give you another hint. My mother and I graduated from college the same year. Ah! She must have been an older student! Yes!

My mother attended bible college in Phoenix, Arizona for one and a half years. She got married at 19 and had three babies by the age of 25. That’s what you did in the 1950’s. But my mother has always been a learner. She had polio when she was four years old and spent the next 3 years of her life in leg braces. To this day, one leg is withered and one foot is two sizes smaller than the other. My mother is a hard working woman but often, by the middle of the day, she would need to put her feet up. Always she had sewing in her hand, her Bible or a book. The books she chose were deep, thought provoking non fiction books that she loved to discuss and ponder with us. We never knew she had the desire to go back to college until my sister signed up for classes at our local community college and my mother said she was going to sign up for two classes too.

Each semester she would take more classes. She said that while remembering things was a challenge, the material was easy for her to grasp because she had the framework of her life experience in which to place the content of the college classroom. Unlike many of her younger classmates, she always attended class, participated in discussions, and did the work required of her.

Finally she decided, if she was going to take college classes, she might as well work toward a goal, so she transferred to the University of Arizona and declared elementary education as a major. It took her eight years to complete her degree and she graduated with a 4.0 grade average, receiving special honors from the College of Education. She never actually got a job in teaching but she has spent hours volunteering in the kindergarten class of her neighborhood school. The teacher was delighted to have someone with an elementary education degree as a helper! Now, at 71 years old, my mother is still using her education. She is a literacy volunteer and spends several hours a week, reading to children.

My mother is a wonderful example of the fact that you are never too old to learn, you are never too old to accomplish, and you are never too old to give back. Thanks, Mom, for the life lessons!

Monday, May 07, 2007


Thank you to all who showed concern for our family over the last few months as we have faced two separate eye muscle surgeries for my daughter and my husband. Jack is recovering well. He obtained new glasses only five days after surgery. Before surgery, he was at the upper limits of prescribed prisms. Our optometrist hoped he could knock down the prism from a 19 to a 4. Jack’s new glasses have no prism at all. God is so good!

We’re still waiting on the final results of Christine’s eye muscle surgery. Her surgery was a little more complex so she must wait and heal a little longer before she is refracted for new lenses. We’ll know more possibly by the end of May.

As Jack was recovering from surgery, I admit that he and I have struggled with dependency issues. It’s difficult to admit the need for help. It’s difficult to admit that we might not be capable of helping ourselves and it’s a greater struggle to let people help us when we may not need it, but it sure would make life easier. It’s also difficult to perceive people’s needs, to help while still respecting their need to be in control. As Jack and I confronted these unfamiliar roadblocks, we didn’t always handle our requests for help or our offers of help in the best of ways.

We want our children to grow up into independent adults. Yet I think we could learn a lesson from our children about dependency. They don’t beat around the bush about expressing their needs. They don’t get hung up with the image problem that adults face that we might look weak or stupid if we acknowledged we need help. Conversely, I’ve seen children with hearts that overflow with compassion for those in need. There’s Kyle who would sit and talk for hours with his grandpa who was bedridden for four weeks after a motorcycle accident crushed his leg. There’s Katherine who sat and held the hand of the newly bereaved widow during the entire funeral dinner. Any teacher who says the magic words, “I need some helpers” will be almost knocked down by a class of eager children willing to help. Children have the humility to admit they need help and the open arm gift of grace to help someone else. Maybe this is one more area where Jesus perceived that we need to become like little children.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I Got a Hug from God This Morning!

I was in a blue funk this morning. That’s what our family calls temporary depression. I felt like I wasn’t important, no one loved me, I was good only for other people’s conveniences and then I was cast aside like a used paper towel. As I walked back from the post office this morning, I felt lower than low. “Does anyone care about me?” I whined to God.

Sometimes God has a way of splashing cold water in our faces to wake us up and see the truth plainly. Other times, He reaches out when one great Divine Hug through the love of His people. As I walked in the house, my husband handed the phone to me. A lady from our church was on the phone asking if she could bring dinner over to us tonight, saying, “I know it’s been a tough week for your family.” I checked my email. Someone had left a sweet comment on one of my blogs, telling of the influence I had been in her life. As I was reading her note, the phone rang. Another church member asked if she could bring some doughnuts over to our family, just “cuz. I don't think this lady knows that doughnuts are my favorite sweet treat.

You have to realize - since my husband's eye surgery, we’ve had very little contact with people over the last week. Many people have offered us transportation but we have not had any visitors or offers of food for the entire week. That’s why I figure those three expressions of love came at just the right moment for me.

So when God brings a name before you and couples it with an idea for a kind deed, act! Do it! You may never know what’s going on in that person’s life. Whether it’s a child in your class, an elderly widow in your church, or a neighbor across the street, they may have needs you don’t even know about and they mnay not necessarily be material needs only. I am perfectly capable of fixing dinner tonight. Instead, they, like me this morning, may just need to know there’s someone out there who loves them, some who needs a hug from God.