Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Reaching by Prayer and Teaching

I've been pretty emotional today. I'm not really sure why. I'm sure it's just a girl thing but it's a fact that I've been emotionally moved by a couple of things today and as a result, this post may turn into a jumble of random tangents. Bear with me. I'm writing as it comes.

This morning as I was doing my daily blog-browse, I read two specific posts by to people that surprisingly brought tears to my eyes. Both involved prayer. Both involved school. And both were written by teachers.

Prayer has been a huge part of my life. It's been how I've praise, thanked, communicated, wrestled and argued with God, my Savior, through so many of the highs and lows of my life. It's been the avenue of answers and silence from God, both are blessings. So I'm touched when I'm told stories of prayer being a part of circumstances that are often looked upon as circumstances in which prayer is not allowed. Like school.

One of my favorite memories of high school was praying with the football after games. It was only the Lord's Prayer, and it lasted only about 12.5 seconds, but it was a highlight of my night. I remember my friends Jennifer, Jessica, Lana and I would make it a point to go out an pray with them. It was inportant to us. So, now, it makes my heart soar when I see 30-40 college football players circle up in the endzone a few hours before the game, holding hands and praying, fervently, for themselves, each other, their opponents, the fans and whatever else God is laying on their hearts at that time. And, yes, we have a public prayer before our games. We can do that. We are Baptists.

See prayer isn't really welcomed in schools. There was a big to-do about it when I was in fifth grade that involved my school district and more specifically, the school my dad worked at. I won't go into all the details now, mainly because I don't know half of what went on, but I will say, rules are rules. Most are meant to be abided by, few are meant to be broken. But no one should be forced to do anything that they don't want to do. (And the tangent has just reared it's ugly head for the first time in this post.)

Anyway, both of these girls shared stories of when prayer was used in a school setting. One by a group of eighth graders. Another by an eight-year-old hoping God would help him and his classmates do well on a big test. Eight years old. I don't care what anybody says, that's cool.

So shifting gears a bit, to the teaching part of this post, teachers hold a very special place in my heart. So many teachers have had a huge impact on my life. I went to a high school where just about every other teacher/coach was like another mother or father to me. But a few stick out among the crowd in the impact that they had on me. First, there's Coach Rob. The coolest teacher every who made world history the most exciting subject ever. After his class, I wanted to become a world history teacher in high school. Coach Rob is an amazing man of God. He was one of those teachers you could go talk to about a friend who just didn't get the God thing. I had several of those convos and prayer sessions with him. His test bonuses were bible verses. He'd put a bible verse on the board and we would get bonus points if we could memorize it and write it out on the back of our tests.

Another on was Mr. Bridges. He's another great man of God. He was never afraid to speak truth into someone's life because he knew that was more important than any math problem he could ever teach. He's a great friend.

There are several more but I want to talk about the three most important teachers in my life. My Dad, my mom and my sister. They are all educators. Yes, I'm the only one in my family who doesn't have a summer vacation. Anyway, I was privileged enough to have my mom as a teacher. It wasn't as bad as you would think. It was actually lots of fun (lifetime supply of passes, ha). Anyway, she knows how much fun it was; I dedicated my senior Valentine's Day column in the school newspaper to her. Back when she retired from JPS, her friends made her a little book of memories and photos. They also had students from years past write her letters. I took the book this past year and made it into a scrapbook to give to her for Mother's Day. I was a little nosey and read the letters. It touched me to know how many people and in how many ways my mom had touched. To most of them, she was a mom away from home. Most even just called her Mama Walden. My mom was there to talk or give a ride home. She scolded and encouraged, confronted and comforted.

My dad is a principal now but he started out as a teacher. A science teacher (my dad rocked my science projects). He was a teacher/coach. He coached soccer (they won the district championship, or the state championship. I don't remember. I was five.), football and track, if I remember correctly. Most of his soccer players ended up spending the summers with him as he roped them into being lifeguards at the Y where he was aquatics director. There are several of them who actually go to my sister and brother-in-law's church now. I think it's been neat for him to see who they were then and who they are now. He's had a pretty heavy impact on a lot of kids. Just like my mom. There's not a place we go where we don't run into a former student of theirs and the last thing they say is what an impact my mom and dad made on their lives.

Thirty-five-ish years later, they are still making their impact. My mom is in a different school and my dad is too. Different settings, new set of people to impact. Their job is truly their mission field. My mom love to have her kids sing sacred songs. Not because they sound good, but I really think it's because she can shed a little God-light into the lives that she is with 8 hours a day. My seriously prays for every person he encounters every day, whether he likes them or not (you know, pray for you enemies). My sister has only been a teacher for three years but I know she's impacting people already. She did it even before she was teaching, back in high school and college. And of course, she's had a pretty huge impact on my life. She's pretty much one of my spiritual heroes.

Anyway, to sum it up. I owe a lot of my life to teachers. We all do. Most of them spend more time with our children than we do (I don't have children. I'm speaking generally.). Whether they or we like it or not, they do have an small (or large, depending on who you are and where you come from) effect on how we mature and grow up.

Do them a favor, thank a teacher today. Whether it is yours, your child's or just one that you know. Thank them for what they do and who they are. They don't get half the paycheck or credit for the things that they put up with these days.


  1. Such wisdom! Where do you get it?

    I have to ecko your thoughts. If it hadn't been for my teachers and coaches I would not have lived as long as i have and certainly not had any impact and anything but the ground. but, it is important to realize that we all are teachers or maybe just lives to be read by those around us. You have impacted so many lives of ground adults because of your faith. You have given them hope.

    In this world teaching is a God called mission involving passion and love for others and their futures.

    I'd like to say THANKS, Mrs. Payne. I can rread now without having to stop every 5 seconds. You are the bomb!

  2. I'm just now getting a chance to read your post. So good! I, too, have been impacted by so many teachers who influenced my decision to become a teacher myself. I certainly call my classroom my own little "mission field." It just amazes me the backgrounds they are coming from. If only for one year, I do my best to assure them someone cares and someone will help them get through.

    Thanks for the post! You'll never know how a small "thank you" can make it all worth it!