Back to School Memories

Woody girls in high school - Senior, Junior, Freshman.

Woody girls in high school – Senior, Junior, Freshman.

I stood at the fence crying, waiting for my big brother to walk me home. The kindergarten students were dismissed 15 minutes before the other students and I needed my older brother. After all, he was in third grade. A really big kid, a 6th grader who was a Safety Patrol, was exercising his new found authority by telling me I had to leave the playgound, THAT WAS THE RULE!

What was I to do? How would I get home by myself? I wasn’t sure which way to go. (I lived four blocks straight down Illinois Street, turn right on Washington Street and my house was the second house from corner – 315 South Washington Street.)

But I didn’t realize that. I had walked to school with my brother and I was going to wait and walk home with him. All 700 students who attended Lowell Elementary School in Wheaton, Illinois walked to school. At least it seemed that way. There were no buses and it was rare for a student to be dropped off by a car.

It was 56 years ago that this situation occured, yet it is my first and freshest memory of school. It amazes me that memories like that remain and the accompanying feelings are often felt as well. I went on to have a very good year in kindergarten and have wonderful memories of my years in school. Yet that first day…

I had played school since I was about four years old – my first pupil was my younger brother. (At this point, all southern ladies say “Bless his heart!”) It was true, I imposed the iron will of my teaching authority on his sweet, compliant nature. He now works very successfully at a prestigious university, so hopfully the damage I inflicted was minimal.

As parents and grandparents we want our children to have positive experiences in school. Some parents choose to homeschool, often with the goal to ensure positive learning experiences. Yet is it possible to guarantee positive outcomes for our children? Even in playing, I possibly gave my brother negative learning experiences.

I was reading this week in James 1:2-4 (NIV)

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

There are trials, hurts, and disappointments that our children will face in school. There are times when we must advocate for our child. A dear friend recently mentioned that she and her husband (who is a school administrator) recently changed the school their children attend because of unresolved issues that were adversely affecting their children.

How do we know when to intervene, and when to let circumstances run their course so that our children learn “perserverance … making them mature and complete”? There are no formulas. It takes wisdom and faith. Those are qualities I must seek from God.

Guess what? The very next verses in James say …

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

So, there are times during this school year when you will need to seek wisdom from God. Like every day! When we ask, we must believe – trust – that God is faithful.

May God Bless each of these precious children as they begin school this year. May God Bless each parent and grandparent as we learn to trust.

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A Spiritual Experience

Mt. Rainier

Majestic! Awesome! Incredible! Overwhelming! Breathtaking! Awe Inspiring!

These are some words, among many, that we heard as people tried to describe the beauty before them. It was a week ago tomorrow that we stood at Paradise on the slope of Mt. Rainier preparing for a 2.4 mile hike further up the mountain. It was a perfect day for hiking, in the mid 70’s, not a cloud in the sky, and a gentle breeze.

The further we went on the trail, the more we saw of the melting glaciers and the resulting streams of water that cascade down. There were several water falls that increased our enjoyment of this hike along with an abundance of alpine flowers that were in full bloom. Yet the best part was sharing it with our children and grandchildren. Several songs came to mind as we hiked,
Majesty – “worship His majesty…”
How Great Thou Art – “when I look down from lofty mountain grandure…”
I Stand in Awe – “majesty enthroned above…”

There are times when we experience something on a level that is deeper than our normal response to the world around us. These are the situations that lead individuals to break out in song, pen a poetic verse, or paint a lovely scene. There is something deep within us that responds and cries out for expression.

Last Tuesday was one of these days. I heard several people say things like “This is a spiritual experience.” There was a quote in the visitors’ center expressing this feeling. I had to ask myself the question – What do we mean when we say this is a “spiritual” experience?

I believe it is our human response to the image of God in each of us. That part of us that is created in God’s image and recognizes the Divine whether one ackowledges God’s existence or not.

I can look at Mt. Rainier and see the results of volcanic action, effects of extreme weather conditions, and erosion. Yet these phenomena together do not explain the “spiritual” experience that one encounters on Mt. Rainier.

Romans 1:20-21 (NIV)

20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Enjoying the beauty of the outdoors is a spiritual experience that is heightened when you know who created the beauty. It is humbling to see God’s creative power AND be able to thank Him. I felt God’s presence as I acknowledged His handiwork and thanked Him for the opportunity to enjoy it with our family. It truly was a spiritual experience.

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

― G.K. Chesterton

Butterflies, Briars, and Blessings – and Thank you

I “re-posted” this blog written by a dear friend. It speaks so well to the issue of the fear we have of disappointing others. Anne Marie and Abigail are following God’s plan for them, because they have clear priorities and are following those.

I know you will appreciate Anne Marie’ honesty!

Butterflies, Briars, and Blessings – and Thank you.