Teach Your Children Well

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.
Deuteronomy 4:9 ESV

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. Every Friday we write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt, without heavy editing, and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “teach.”

For 15 years, our family was involved in a K-8 parent-involved school where if your kids were enrolled, at least one parent had to work on campus in some capacity. Our first year, when our eldest started kindergarten, I was pregnant and due with our third child just 5 weeks after school started, so my job was working in the school office one day a week.

But two years later, I was tasked with becoming the registrar and a member of the management team for the school. After 6 years on that job, I took a step back and became the teacher’s assistant for our middle school teacher. But within a month, our new 3rd grade teacher decided to un-enroll her kids, and therefore a void was left on the teaching team. Now, I had said that I was not a teacher and I would never teach, but as I prayed over the need for a new teacher in my daughter’s 2nd grade class (one of her current teachers stepped into the 3rd-grade role), God changed my heart.

And so I took on the task of co-teaching 3 little 2nd graders (it’s not a big school). Within two years, I was asked to lead the breakout of our 6th graders into a new class of their own, separate from the other middle schoolers in 7th and 8th.

For the next 5 years, I lead the 6th grade class and taught language arts and humanities. I got to teach my daughter again in 6th grade, now with several more classmates than just the 3 from 2nd grade.

But what didn’t click in those years of saying I would not be a teacher, was that, even prior to 2010, I was teaching my kids every day those principles that I prayed would stay with them a lot longer than Greek and Latin roots: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.

Better Together

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt, without heavy editing, and see what happens. Today’s word is “accountability.”

A little more than a year ago, I got fed up with where I was, once again, with my weight. Several years previous I had successfully lost nearly 30 pounds after getting back into riding my bike faithfully every day and watching what I ate, but age and adrenals had caused a gain that had me frustrated.

But I needed help to get back on track.

It never worked to have my husband, who is much more active than I am and can eat copious amounts without suffering adverse effects, try to encourage me. I never took it the right way.

And then one day during the pandemic lock down I was touching base with a church friend who is a personal trainer. I don’t even remember how the subject came up. But I must have told her about my struggle.

“Let me help you!” she said.

And so I finally agreed. She gave me workouts to do at home, helped me track my food, and generally kept me accountable to do what she suggested.

I was so successful in my gains (not weight this time!) that my 18-year-old daughter, who has long struggled with lack of energy, weight gain, and a general malaise, wanted to join me.

And so we hired our friend Christine to come once a week and work personally with Morgan. Now, a year later, she has lost more than 40 pounds, I don’t even know how many pants sizes, and has gained a confidence that has made her blossom and feel so much better about herself. It has also given her empathy for others who have struggled with their health.

It wasn’t all about the weight, though obviously losing the excess has made her feel so much more healthy. It was about energy, the proper functioning of her body, and the knowledge that you know, I can actually do this! That is probably the most encouraging change of all. It has given her the confidence to take on other challenges knowing she has what it takes to do the hard things.

Accountability, in whatever form it can take, makes a huge difference.

The View From Here

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back 
and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 
John 14:3, ESV

Sunrise in the Chilean desert

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes without heavy editing on a one-word prompt and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “From.”

If we only look around us, we can get very discouraged. Poverty, death, an ongoing pandemic, people arguing with each other in very uncivilized ways, adverse weather events, wildfires. The list goes on.

But I am choosing to keep my eyes focused on where it is I’m going. I have the promise of eternal life with Jesus in a place where there will be no more sorrow or tears or death. If I think that this world is all that there is, then I am in big trouble. I might as well just bury my head in the sand and forget everything. Cover my ears and say “la la la la la!” It’s a completely discouraging world!

But this is not all there is, praise be to God. It’s like being on the Titanic, knowing that it’s going down, and wanting to rescue as many people as we can. Live in such a way that we shine the light of Jesus into this present darkness. Jesus is the only light.

I’m not generally a sunrise person. It happens way too early in my book. But if you have the chance to watch the light start to break through the darkness of night, it’s invigorating. It’s hope giving. We know that the night does come to an end. Every day. Every single day. Without fail, morning comes. The light always shines through.

Keeping heading toward the light. The view is lovely from here.

Photo by F. Char-ESO

The Youthful Magic of Summer Days

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt, without heavy editing, and see what happens. Today I am being strict about my 5 minutes and so I have a start and stop in there. The prompt for today is “summer.”

[start]

I remember when I was a kid, summer vacation was the best. I would stay up super late reading, and then sleep till noon or later.

My parents were both working by the time I was in junior high school, so there would be the inevitable list on the kitchen table of stuff Mom wanted us to get done before she got home. But it wasn’t bad.

The actual view from our house.

I grew up in the Oakland, Calif., foothills, so the days were warm but not hot. The mornings were usually cool and the nights could get cold. Our back deck looked out over the San Francisco Bay, or what you could see of it through the trees that had grown up over the years we lived there. It was very quiet. No major thoroughfares in the hills. Blue jays were our noisiest neighbors. Or sometimes the raccoons that would fight every evening when our elderly neighbor set out dry dog food for them to eat.

Taken by my brother on the last day the house was ours.

I remember going over there one night when she fed them to see a whole bunch of raccoons, young and old, holding those little brown balls of dog food in their paws, dipping them in the bowls of water, because raccoons apparently wash their food before they eat it. And then they’d fight over what was left.

I still like to stay up late, buried in a good book, but the responsibility of adulthood has crept in to take away the magic of those days. [stop]

There’s more I would like to say about those summer days in Northern California, but I’ll adhere to the 5-minute rule today. The rest will be for another time. Meanwhile, summer reading suggestions are welcome! Put your recommendations in the comments.

The Applause of God

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt, without heavy editing, and see what happens. Today’s word is “deserve.”

When I was in junior high school, I really wanted to earn the Service Award at the end of my 9th-grade year. I volunteered in the library, I was an office helper, I worked what they called back then OWE, which stood for Outside Work Experience. That meant that I could have a volunteer job somewhere outside of school. I went next door to the elementary school and helped out in the 1st-grade classroom.

So at the end of the year commencement ceremony, when all the awards were announced, I felt pretty confident that I deserved that award. My heart raced as they started with the announcements. And then, my time came: Winner of this year’s service award: . . . Ann.

My heart sank. It wasn’t me. It was Ann. Ann who always won. Who was popular. Who was cute.

I couldn’t find it in my heart to rejoice for her. I was outraged that I hadn’t gotten the award I was sure I deserved. I never won anything.

It wasn’t fair.

I’d been robbed.

She must have been the administration’s pet.

There didn’t seem to be any reason in my little adolescent mind that I should not have gone home with that award.

You would think that 40+ years later, I wouldn’t remember that day. But I do.

What I don’t remember is if that made me work harder in the future, or made me just want to give up because there was no chance of my ever succeeding.

There have been many other disappointments since June of 1977. And so I have had to set aside my pride, which isn’t easy for one whose personality craves applause, and listen only for the applause of God.

And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.
1 Timothy 4:8 New Living Translation