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First Year, Fifth Week: Teaching Edition

Tabitha Helms

I'm so glad this week is over! It was very stressful having to cram 5 days worth of teaching while having spiritual emphasis (and therefore chapel) for four days and two half days due to parent teacher conferences. Not to mention, Friday was the last day of the month and my contract says I have to change bulletin boards every month in addition to all my other end-of-the-month things like cleaning the frog tank, changing the calendar, submitting writing samples to the principal, and updating the class website. The week had a couple of highlights worth mentioning: I've started getting pictures colored for me by my students. I love having them on my wall behind my desk. It makes me smile.

We learned the verse, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved," from Acts 16:31. At the beginning of the year, I was reminded that a large population of students who attend our school don't go to church or have a relationship with Jesus. I remember feeling that call to invite my students to a personal relationship with Christ sometime during the school year. This week's verse was a perfect opportunity I thought. However, due to my busyness, I promptly forgot about it. Then in one of our morning, staff devotionals, my principal mentioned that she had the opportunity to lead two students to Christ that week--ones that had behavior problems and desired to have Jesus' help in dealing with them. It reminded me of my original call. So after chapel that morning, we recited our verse. Then we sang our verse to the tune of "The Muffin Man." Then we sang and signed our verse. Then I asked the kids what it meant to believe in something. Someone was able to mention knowing something is true. We talked about how we believe in Jesus. We believe He's a real person. I asked how many of them believe that Jesus is a real person. We all raised our hands together. Some kids started talking about how we pray to Him and sing to Him and learn about Him.

So I brought their attention to the next part of the verse. "What does it mean to be saved?" Someone mentioned being saved from a car crash. Another student said being in trouble and being saved from it. I talked about how our lives can be like car crashes if we try to do things without Jesus to help us. I talked about how we can ask Jesus in our hearts if we want Him to always be with us to help us make good choices. I told them about how they can go to heaven when they die if they ask Jesus in their hearts, and heaven is a wonderful place where we get to spend time with Jesus every day and sing and laugh and never feel sad. One of my kids asked if we'll still look the same in heaven. I told them the Bible says we'll get new bodies in heaven.

I asked how many of them had asked Jesus in their hearts before. About eight of them raised their hands. I asked if there was anyone who would like to ask Jesus in their hearts today. About six raised their hands. So I said we'd all pray together for Jesus to come into our hearts. I led them in the "sinner's prayer" echo style, and we all prayed it together. I told them it was so exciting to have Jesus in their hearts, and that they could go home and tell their parents about it and ask if their parents had Jesus in their hearts too.

It was exciting to be a part of that. I'm not the one to say whether or not each child now has a personal relationship with Christ just because they repeated after me. I believe that it's about the heart condition when you pray to Jesus like that. However, I also am a strong believer in the innocent, willing faith of a child. I was only three years old when I prayed that same prayer. "Three??" you might ask. "How could someone that young really understand what they were doing?" It is a valid question. However, I want to ask you, "What are the things you remember when you were that young? What kind of memories do you still have? The ones that are significant."

I can tell you exact details about that night. My brother and I shared a bunk bed. He was five; I was three. We had just been put to bed, and into the darkness I asked, "Josha?" (I couldn't quite pronounce Joshua), "Am I a Christian?" (except it came out more like "kiss-tin") He said, "I don't know." "Oh.....will you help me be one?" And in the darkness of our bedroom with his voice floating down from the top bunk and mine floating up from the bottom. He helped me ask forgiveness of my sins and invite Jesus to live in my heart. I remember being so excited I ran out of my room into the living room where my parents were watching TV exclaiming, "Mommy, Daddy, I'm a kiss-tin, I'm a kiss-tin!" I was young, yes. But I remember it. I remember learning about heaven at Sunday School, knowing that it sounded like a nice place that I wanted to go to. And I made the conscious decision to ask Christ to be Lord of my life. Yes, there was definitely some theology that was missing about Christianity for me. I lived my life going through the motions of being a good, Christian girl without necessarily understanding how to have a give and take relationship with God--relying on Him for my every need. But by the time I was a Freshman in high school, that clicked too. I think my foundation really helped, so I don't doubt that some of my students really made that choice when we prayed together on Thursday.

One other highlight, and I'll conclude because I know these teaching edition blogs are always super lengthy, which deters some of you from reading. ;) (I'll do separate one on conferences.)

During spiritual emphasis one day, the kids were invited to come forward and kneel down to talk to Jesus while a slower song played. Chapels at my school are a little chaotic compared to some. I think it's great for the kids, but makes it a little harder for me as a teacher to be worshipful too because I feel like I have to keep a constant eye out for children that are messing around or playing when they're supposed to be taking the time to worship God, minister to His heart, and give Him a big hug. My class sits in the front to the side, so when invited to go forward, they all seemed to jump up and hurry to get their little spot. They haven't quite gotten the concept of not squeezing themselves into unavailable space because they all want to just be on the stairs.

They were crawling over each other and talking to the person next to them, which they were definitely not supposed to be doing. I was using my loud fingersnap that I always use in chapel to get a specific child's attention fast to give the stern look and the mouthed command of expected behavior. (I've got this down pretty well.) But I noticed that all but three of my children were in front and I was a little far from them to use the fingersnap effectively. I wasn't sure what to do, but then I noticed one of the other teachers was up front. I guessed we were allowed to be up there too. So I thought, "Perfect, I can go around to each of my kids, put a hand on one of their little backs as they knelt down and pray over them, while also giving them a reminder of my presence to help them behave."

As I moved around and prayed over them, I was gently reminded that I don't pray for my kids nearly enough. They have so much potential. Their minds are so ripe for learning and growing. This can be a dangerous place to be. They need the hand of the Holy Spirit guiding them in that path. God loves each of them so much more than I or their parents ever could, and I was convicted to call on the Lord to shower them in His unfailing, never-ending love. I was moved to pray for their growth and the people that God was going to grow them into. I want each of them to grow in relationship with Him and to be inspired to change the world around them by spreading the love of God. It was such a sweet time to pray over them. I was thankful I had the opportunity in chapel, since I've been slacking in doing it on my own time.

The next day, I had a card in my mailbox from my principal with some encouragement and a pin for my lanyard. It mentioned that she loved seeing me pray over my children the other day. It said that my aide loved seeing it too. I was a little flustered that they had been talking about me after it all happened, but it was nice too. I feel like I'm fitting into this Christian school atmosphere well. It makes me feel like I'm making good choices, which is always encouraging.

I met with my aide during parent teacher conferences, since she is also the mother of one of my students. After we talked about her child, she said that she wanted to tell me how much it meant to see me up there praying over my kids. Her voice broke as she struggled not to cry, which of course made the tears start spilling out of my own eyes. She said she was already messed up when she saw how many children wanted to be up front to talk to Jesus. But then to see me get up and lay hands on each of my kids and pray over them just messed her up even more. She said, "I have to tell you that it messed me up so much because our kids desperately need that. They need to have people like you in their lives. You are called to be a teacher, and you are an amazing teacher. These kids are so blessed to have you, and I am so thankful that you're here." She said, "You are what this place needs more of. You are an example to the other teachers."

I was so blown away. I feel like so many of the other teachers have more heart and are more in tune with the Lord than I am. To hear a parent say that to me was so humbling and encouraging. I feel like the newbie--the young one who's still learning the ropes. I'm reminded of the verse, "Don't let anyone look down on you because you're young." It was an encouragement, but also a challenge to keep pursuing the Lord. To keep praying and lifting my kids up. I know that my relationship with God can always be stronger, and I am the one who makes the choice to pursue that kind of closeness with Him.

I've noticed lately that the desire I've continually had for a relationship and for the day when I'll finally meet my future husband have calmed. (Maybe it's because I'm too busy to think about boys!) ;) But even in the busyness of my new life, I've felt a peace about myself. Peace for this season of life. Trust that the Lord's timing is perfect. Reminders of my True Love whom I'm being pursued by every day. And I'm content. I don't need anyone or anything else.