We finished well yesterday a journey that started 22 years ago when someone asked me at our church would I teach an adult Sunday School class and I definitely did not want to and yet I felt my head nodding yes and I heard come out of my mouth, sure…I would like to do that.
I remember vividly having a heart to heart with God as I walked away where I basically asked Him…What in the heck just happened there????
And thus began the thing, besides my marriage and parenting, that has been the longest straight-running and consistent commitment of my adult life.
It couldn’t have been a more perfect ending.
I decided to share my three favorite sections of Scripture that are my go-to’s for life strategy. Then my number one student and supporter and encourager for all those weeks that added up to years shared some letters from former people who had been involved in our class over time and finished with his own kind words.
We gathered last night for a potluck and the weather was even perfect so we could actually have some people sit out on the patio…this never happens when we plan a function where we have more people than tables and chairs inside.
God is good.
Because I know some of you who read this were once in our class, I am including a letter I wrote to share but I wanted to add a couple of thoughts before I close with that.
Just things on my heart about this opportunity I was given and what it has meant to us.
<3 People are so sweet and keep encouraging me that God has something for this new season, but I think it is important to remember…it’s okay if what I have is just more time to devote to the other things I am already doing. Or maybe my assignment was finished. And there really isn’t a reason beyond that. And that’s okay.
<3 One of the things that I always questioned was the Scripture that says in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 that Paul did not allow a woman to teach or have authority over a man. I questioned all of my pastors at various times regarding this and each time I was told I was under their authority and that of my husband. I taught what God laid on my heart and it humbled me that both men and women got something out of it. I am thankful to God for the opportunity He gave me and the wisdom and discernment to serve the Body of Christ and I am thankful for the love and support of my husband and the pastors of our church.
<3 I am deeply thankful for the friendships gained through a weekly commitment to show up and be the constant for a group of people. It wasn’t always easy but God gave me strength every single time. It is so cliche, but it is the absolute truth…He doesn’t call the equipped…He equips the called.
<3 I am thankful for Russ who scheduled vacations and activities around the class as much as possible because he believed what I was doing was important for others. I am thankful for the Sundays he got me there and dropped me off and walked in late because of my tardiness…and I am thankful for his grace toward me when I felt like I had said too much or shared too much or was too transparent. I am thankful for the times he took a pass on doing some kind of something on Saturday so I could work on the lesson some more. I am thankful for the times he took over the prayer because I was a mess and couldn’t do it and the ways he would give me advice and counsel when I needed guidance.
and with that…here is the letter…and I used twenty years because I am terrible at math so here is the edited version of the one I handed out yesterday <3
Dear class of friends who are part of our family <3
In some ways, I want to reminisce and so I hope you will indulge me.
Twenty-two years is a lot of life we have lived together. Your stories are part of our story and we have walked through much of life together.
Twenty-two years ago John was 7, Sarah 9 and Rachel 12.
In that time we have, among other things and in no particular order:
Brought my aunt and parents here and walked through dementia, Alzheimers, strokes and three deaths and funerals, made multiple trips to Iowa as Russ’s parents health failed and then said goodbye to them. Got three Reimer’s through Jr. High, High school sports, show choir, choir, band, orchestra, youth group, proms, homecomings and drama. Obtained and then said good-bye to our Mitzi. Had three high school graduations, went through college applications and graduated three from Millikin, Greenville and ORU. Two weddings, one divorce, four grand babies, two surgeries, two bouts with depression. Moved us to a new house. Started the newsletter and then the blog. Added substitute teacher, classroom teacher, cheerleading coach, gift wrapper at Von Maur, assistant manager at Talbots, Tournesol and Sensory Panel at ADM to my resume. We visited each other in hospitals and attended funerals for parents, spouses and sadly, children of class mates.
Subs I can remember: Chris Peterson, Tom Howard, Tom Pistorius, Russ, Tabitha Bilyeu, Dave Campbell, Jonathan Grunden, Ron Black and even Jimmy Peck, bless his heart <3
Lessons I can remember: Ruth, Jonah, David, Job, Psalms, Minor Prophets, Celebration of Discipline several times! Harmony of the Gospels, Fruit of the Spirit, Traveling Light by Max Lucado, Pottery Class, Prayer – multiple times, Spiritual Warfare, Parables, Sermon on the Mount, Random rabbit trails from my journal, Nehemiah, 2 Chronicles 20, Moses, Exodus, Passover, Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Prayer of Jabez book, Easter, Old Testament Feasts, Isaiah, Christmas stories, Bible Stories for grown ups with Jon Keck one summer, Current events, Studies based on sermon series, Small group studies we were given, Islam/Qureshi, 1 Thessalonians, Names of God, multiple walks through books of Bible that took forever.
I have quit at least fifty times in the wee hours of the morning on our living room couch and still well remember working on lessons as I waited up for a teen to hopefully make curfew. I walked away from watching a movie in the family room some nights and wrote some in the car as we drove.
I never ever felt I really put the time into them you deserved and I always struggled with wanting to convey every single thing God showed me so you could have the full experience.
I am forever grateful for the pastors who helped me not quit, learn and mentored me in the pitfalls of teaching: Wayne Kent, Darren Embree, Brian Talty, Tom Sager, Jon Keck and Jonathan Grunden.
Looking at your faces on Sunday morning has been one of the greatest joys of my adult life and the fact that you all would come back Sunday after Sunday blew me away. The words of love and encouragement you have given to me and to our family – the prayers you have prayed over us – the acts of kindness you have extended to us – the relationships from this class that have been the friendships of our past twenty plus years…these are treasures stored up in heaven for sure.
Moth and Rust cannot destroy what God has given to someone like me and it literally takes my breath away sometimes that He has allowed me to do this for Him.
I can assure you, I gained far more than I ever gave. The way you all love each other has been icing on the cake. You are the beautiful Body of Christ and we love you and thank you for being part of our lives and family <3