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Repeated Lessons

multiplicationrecords“Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward towards success.”
C.S. Lewis

I do not enjoy repetition at all. I’m not a fan of repeats in television shows. Even if I turn on my favorite television show and see that it is a repeat, I’ll switch the channel. I just loathe repetition. If someone tells me the same stories that they have already told me before, my eyes begin glazing over and my mind wanders. I think it may be suppressed rebellion coming forth from my childhood.

My third grade year in elementary school, we started learning multiplication. The teacher presented the lesson and taught us how to multiply, but I couldn’t grasp it at all. I was lost and I didn’t tell the teacher I was lost or my parents. I just daydreamed while she taught multiplication and made lousy grades during it. I can’t remember, but I’m pretty sure that I didn’t share those F papers with my parents. My day of reckoning happened when I got my report card for those six to nine weeks. A big fat D sat neatly alongside the word Math. This was my first D on a report card. I brought C’s home before and they were bad enough, but a D was terrible. I was scared to death about what my Mom was going to say or do. I already felt like the class idiot because I didn’t understand multiplication and I didn’t want to feel even worse when I saw my mother’s disapproval of my letter grade. I couldn’t hide my report card; Mom knew when to expect it. I nervously handed my report card over to her when I walked in the door. I cannot recall exactly, but I wouldn’t doubt that I excused myself quickly to the bathroom as soon as the envelope touched her fingertips.
She was upset and involved Dad in being upset about it as well. They both came to me at bedtime and asked why I made such a grade in math. They asked if I just didn’t understand the lesson, if I was paying attention, and all those other parental questions. I fessed up and said that multiplication was confusing. They were upset that I didn’t let them know, but they were also aggravated that my teacher didn’t inform them earlier of my struggle. Anyway, I was placed in the other math class; you know “the slow class.” My inability to multiply was making me feel like a loser with a capital L. My grandmother reminded my dad of his or his brothers struggles with math and gave him an old set of records she used to help them. It was a sing along of each multiplication table. The collection was a dual sided five record set. The records were copy written in 1956. When I was in third grade, it was mid 1980’s. The sing a longs were honestly catchy, but sounded like most music back in the 50’s. Squeaky clean, super chipper, rhyming ditties sang by a Dean Martin wannabe. My parents decided for me to listen to the records after school each day and then at night when I went to bed, they would play one of the records for me to fall asleep to. This was a special level of repetition hell to me.
My dreams became numbers dancing in my head to these ridiculous lyrics. “You can surprise all the people in all the stores, counting your change, when you know your fours…..4X1 is 4…..and so on.”

Strangely enough, I started to grasp multiplication. The sing songs were being etched into my brain. I sat in math class and the little ditties would pop into my head, whispering the answer to each problem. I learned multiplication by repetition. I still didn’t understand it completely at first, but learning it started with repetition.

As much as I detest repetition, I know that it is a valuable way to learn. Repetition causes things to stick to your mind. It helps you recall the order of what you are repeating or remember the way it looks or sounds. After you repeat something over and over, it begins to sink into the subconscious to where you recall it without overthinking. That’s why practice is important in music, sports, exercise, reading, and anything else we do in life that takes skill.

Spiritually speaking, I’ve had to repeat a lot of life lessons in order to finally get what God was trying to tell me the first time around. Maybe I wasn’t completely paying attention or I just didn’t understand what He was trying to teach me. Those repeat lessons are aggravating, they can be boring, they can be mundane tasks, or they can even make you feel like a complete idiot. But, it’s best to not flip the channel or turn it off, like the way I do television shows. Instead, repeat it until it sinks into your subconscious and you just know it completely without second guessing it.

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Posted by on September 25, 2016 in Life

 

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Lessons Learned

Today, I’ve been reflecting a lot on what I’ve been teaching the teens in youth.  We’ve been exploring wisdom and the book of Proverbs.  The older I get, the more I realize that I still have so much to learn.  Everyday there is an opportunity to learn something about yourself, God or others, if you are tuned in to what the Teacher wants to teach you.  I’ve always liked the book of Proverbs, even when I was running from God.  I think the reason I like it so well, is because it simply shows you the cause and effect of your actions, good and bad.

I came up with three quick “Rascally Proverbs” that I’ve learned through my life so far. The first one is “The more crow you eat, the easier it is to swallow.”  It stinks to admit when you are wrong.  There have been moments in my life that I’ve thought beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was right about something, only to quickly realize I was completely wrong.  Nothing is quite as embarrassing to have to eat a heaping pile of crow in front of those you’ve vigorously argued against.  The crow slowly morphs into a nice fat slice of humble pie with each swallow.

The second one is “Jealous or untrue words against someone is like a baseball bat to the knees.”  The bible says, in the book of James, that we praise God with our tongue and with the same tongue we turn around and curse our brother who is made in God’s image.  Blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth and it shouldn’t be.  The old phrase, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me,”  is a big gigantic lie.  Words hurt more than anything else someone can do to you.  Words of others can paralyze you.  Words can weigh you down.  Words can make you unsure of yourself.  Words can make you doubt.  Words can cause you grief.  Words can make you sick.  Words can make you bitter and angry.

Yet, if we allow the holy spirit to guide our words they can bring peace to someone’s sorrow.  These words can propel people toward a goal.  These words can lift heaviness off of someone’s shoulders.  They can make someone believe and trust again.  They can make people smile.  They can make people grow and flourish.  God reminds me daily to bridle my tongue, sometimes I let words slip and I need to quickly apologize when that happens.

The third and final Rascally proverb of the day is, “Forgiveness rescues your heart and soul from disease.”  There are people throughout my life that were hard for me to forgive for various reasons.  I remember being so weighed down by unforgiveness that it anchored me in hate.  I was hurt and instead of letting hurt go, I fed it.  That unforgiveness and hurt made me rebel against God and any other authority in my life.  I blamed God for what people did, instead of seeing that it was their fault, not His.

But, as I progressed through my life, I learned that I diseased my heart by letting unforgiveness grow there. I tried to keep the hurt enclosed in a petri dish inside my heart but it was growing out of control.  I was destroying myself with it.  That unforgiveness was released when I saw someone I hadn’t forgiven; completely broken themselves.  I saw them sobbing and spiritually devastated.  I could’ve easily laughed and say that’s what they deserve, but instead I saw them as human again.  Weak flesh, like me.  Fragile, so easily broken.  Compassion overwhelmed my heart and I went to them and let them cry on me.  I started crying too; with each tear drops of forgiveness melted within me.  The balm of forgiveness repaired hearts and relationships that day.  “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other;as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”  Colossians 3:12-13.

God, continue to teach me daily. Help me to see when you are trying to show me something and help me to extend your love to others.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2015 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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Muddy thoughts formed

Last year on October 16th, I embarked on a new journey in my life, I started teaching and leading the teens in my church.  Our first night together, my husband and I had a friend come and demonstrate how pottery works.  Prior to the lesson, I told the kids to wear clothes they didn’t mind messing up and left them in the dark as to what was going on.  I wanted them to anticipate what we were going to do and keep them guessing.  Once they arrived, we had a quick discussion and lesson in the fellowship hall.  We discussed the direction of the youth group and what we hoped to accomplish throughout the year. Afterwards we led them into the youth center and they saw everything set up.  Our friend Mark sat at the wheel and started to explain the process of making a pot.  Everyone had a turn at the wheel, some succeeded and others flopped.  Upon remembering this night and seeing it as the beginning of a new season; I see that God has had our group on the pottery wheel and has molded, formed, shaped and bent us.  He has also remolded, reformed, and reshaped us.  He’s constantly working on us as a group.  We may come to a point at times and think that He’s finished with what He has created; we are satisfied with what the pot looks like, but then He decides to improve on it.  In Isaiah 45, God uses Cyrus, a king to be the patron and deliverer of the Jews from captivity.  God also uses Cyrus to instruct them in the rebuilding of the temple.    If you read the whole chapter, God reminds us and the Jews that He is God and creator.  In verses 9-13 it says, ““It is bad for the one who works against His Maker. He is just a clay pot among the other pots of earth. Will the clay  say to the pot-maker, ‘What are you doing?’ or, your work  say, ‘He has no hands’?  It is bad for him who says to his father, ‘To what are you giving life?’ or to a woman, ‘To what are you giving birth?’”The Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, says, “Will you ask Me about the things to come for My children? Will you tell Me about the work of My hands? I made the earth, and made man upon it. I spread out the heavens with My hands, and put all the stars in their places. I have sent Cyrus to do what is right and good. And I will make all his ways smooth. He will build My city and without any money will set My people free who were taken away,” says the Lord of All.”

Being a leader is intimidating at times for me, but I lean on God to direct my paths with this group.  I try to listen and seek Him in all decisions, in what to teach, what to say, and what not to say.  I learn more and more every day that I am not in control, but God is.  He has taught me numerous lessons throughout the year.  He has given me strength when I feel helpless. He has given me instruction when I have no idea what to do.  He has given me great love for each of the teens that have been involved in this group.  He shows me strengths of individuals.  He teaches me that we are all a work in progress.  He has connected us with people and led us on many expeditions.  He stretches me into things I never imagined doing.  He is God, He knows all. He is the beginning and the end.  He knows the whole story and each individual story.  He is the greatest teacher, the everlasting Father, the most amazing artist,  and the sweetest Lover we can ever know.  He is God!

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2012 in Spiritual Reflections, Youth

 

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