Answering the Call

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.      

1 Peter 4:10

I always wanted to be a teacher. From the time I could speak, I played school with my dolls, my sisters, the neighborhood kids, and our family dog, Socks. In my “teacher mode” I was able to overcome my almost debilitating shyness. When I taught, I was a star! So, it was no surprise to me that I chose Elementary Education as my college major.

I love everything about the school house. The smell of chalk dust and mimeographed papers (a lost smell, but still there in my memory!). The first chill of a September morning, and of course, the new stash of school supplies – a fresh box of 64 crayons, a handful of newly sharpened #2 pencils, and the promise of an empty composition book. Even now, I get a little thrill as I peruse the school supply aisles at Walmart and Target in late summer. Poor Mack just shakes his head as I load my shopping cart with piles of goodies for which I now have little or no use.

As I alluded to earlier, I was a painfully shy child. I can still remember becoming nervous every morning, as the teacher would call roll. Even answering “present” was an excruciating event that I dreaded each school day. I made it my goal to remain invisible – certainly not a particularly healthy start! I did find, however, that school was the one thing I was really good at. Teachers liked me (since I was quiet, I’m sure!) and I was able to lose myself in the books that were readily available in our classroom and library. From an early age, I was identified as “the smart one” (I figure that they were looking for anything positive to say – and pretty, perky, or personable were not descriptors that applied!) So,I grew up thinking that I was smart (After taking stacks of IQ tests in graduate school, I found out that I’m not that smart -I just try hard!). Anyway, there is a lesson there – our kids do live up to our expectations. If we tell them they are smart, they will be smart. If we tell them they are bad, they will be bad. Positive expectations are very important in forming the adults that our kids will ultimately become.

Well, back to the career choice. My dad’s mom was a teacher. She dropped out of high school at the age of 15 to get married,had my dad the next year and my uncle the following year and picked cotton to put food on the table. Finally, exhausted from the pressures of poverty, she decided to follow her dream to become a school teacher. She took an entrance test, then rode her horse, Penny, to East Texas State Teachers’ College each Monday morning and back to her home and family every Friday evening for two
years to receive her degree. That single act of courage and vision changed the course of the lives of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. My dad and his brother both received college degrees back in the early 1950s, all six grandchildren have
advanced degrees, and the great-grands have gone even further in their education. All because of the vision of one strong mother.

I believe that God called me to teach. (I had hoped to be called to be a swimsuit model or movie star, but alas!). Nothing else “fit” when I tried on the idea of different professions. I believe that God has a calling for each of us, and we just have to listen for
His voice as we make those decisions, and as we help our children make important career choices.

My decision to become a teacher never let me down. My heart gives a little flutter when I see a school bus coming down the highway in the early fall. Crafting a perfect lesson plan gives me the greatest sense of satisfaction. I love to watch kids on the playground, and a flag ceremony tips me over the top! In this new school year, I’d like to invite you to take a few moments each morning to pray for our students, administrators,
and particularly for our teachers. The job of a teacher is long
and hard, and (especially if done right…) never finished.

In a world filled with danger and disappointments, I am convinced that education (particularly early childhood education) and prayer are the only solutions. Though our government has disallowed prayer in the public schools, they can’t keep us from
praying for our kids and teachers. I hope that you will join me this school year, by putting our teachers and kids at the top of your prayer lists.

I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
Ephesians 1:16

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