Tuesday, August 5, 2014


I love all things "Back to School".  Always have.

As a child of the 80's, the highlight for me during this time was going to pick out my cool, velcro-flapped Trapper Keeper for the new school year.  And I couldn't wait to get my hands on the sales flyer from the local drug store so I could circle e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g I needed and then beg my parents to take me there before it was all gone. 

I think I actually had this very one...

Just ask my dad.  He and I have had a running joke about school supplies for years now.  As a matter of fact, here was our conversation via text a few days ago...

Dad:  School supplies are out! LOL.
Me:   Ha! Oh, yes, I know!  Already bought everything we need for this next year! Big surprise, right?
Dad:  No surprise. Love you.

I was the elementary school kid who cried when school was over in June and rejoiced when it started back again in the fall.  That was me.  #schoolgeek

When I taught first grade in the public school system, euphoria hit an all time high the week of preplanning.

There was something about returning to a super clean classroom, freshly painted walls, or the year I found a new dry erase board hanging where my old chalkboard used to be.  (I know teachers now have the fancy, techy smart boards and such; I did not.)

Decorating my bulletin boards, cutting out all the laminated items I'd created, writing students' names on nearly e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g in my room, all made me very happy. 

Then the day or weekend before the first day, I would close my door and take a quiet walk around my classroom.  I remember touching the desks and petitioning the Lord on behalf of each child's name written in black Sharpie. 

Rookie year.  At least I looked like I knew what I was doing...
I didn't know who my students would be; I didn't know their personalities or their needs, but I knew I needed to pray for them.  And as the school year progressed, the Lord heard some of their names lifted up with cries of desperation many more times than others...

And all the teachers said, "Amen". 

More than anything, I knew I needed the Lord.  I needed Him to guide me as I attempted to teach the ones in my care for the next 180 days.

Since our fourth year here at Fort Academy begins next week, I've been in preplanning mode, preparing my physical surroundings for a new year.  I've been organizing the heck out of our school room: purging, replacing, filing and creating.

I've been poring over the new curriculum, reading books for my own "professional development" and mapping out the lesson plans for this year.  I attended a homeschool conference a week ago and already met with some of the moms from my homeschool group.

I mean, I'm totally rockin' and rollin' here and we haven't officially begun.

But in the midst of my compulsive planning, preparing and organizing, the Lord dropped this truth bomb into my hands a few days ago.  Literally.

"Unless the LORD builds the house,
its builders labor in vain."  Psalm 127:1

Unless He is in the plans...
Unless He is present...
Unless He is the point of it all...

Which sounds remotely similar to the same message God spoke through the Old Testament prophet Zechariah back in 500ish BC. 

According to King Cyrus' decree, the Israelites had been set free from captivity in Babylon and were finally returning to their homeland of Jerusalem.  God had instructed His exiled people to rebuild His temple, which had been destroyed by the Babylonians.  The Israelites began with good intentions.  They worked.  But somewhere along the way, too many obstacles, lots of persecution, and lack of motivation, stalled the work for 15+ years. 

Prompted by the Lord, Zechariah spoke to Zerubbabel, the one responsible for overseeing the task of rebuilding the temple, with these words...
"Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,
says the LORD Almighty."
Zechariah 4:6

He went on to explain that when the capstone, the final piece of the building came out, there would be shouts of "God bless it!  God bless it!"

Not only I am believing those words for our own personal homeschool situation, but I'm also thinking of my church.  And BCA, the Christian school, directly behind and affiliated with our church.  I'm thinking of all the construction happening in both places.  Both are reaping the fruits of growth in this season.  And because of God's favor, both our church and the school have been undergoing some seriously major renovations this summer. 

Why all the construction?  Why the parking lot mess? Why the cost?  Why the expansion projects?

To know Him and make Him known.

But it can't happen without Him.

Thankfully, I trust the heart of the leadership at my church.
I know the heart of the administration at BCA.
I've experienced the heart of so many educators both in the public school system and those who choose to educate from home. 

They just get it.  They know that ultimately all the "building" they're doing has little to do with them.  They make the intentional choice not to trust in their own strength, abilities, or talents.  They have come to learn that if God's Spirit is not in all of the "building", they labor in vain.

It is only through God's Spirit that anything of lasting value is accomplished.

We've been singing this song, "Holy Spirit (You Are Welcome Here)", as part of our worship the last few Sundays at church.  Here are some of the lyrics:

"Holy Spirit, you are welcome here.
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere.
Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for,
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord."
"Let us become more aware of Your presence.
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness."

(You can hear it here at this link:) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujqSyRzBLIM

The chorus has now become a specific prayer for my family, for my time with my girls as we spend another year learning together here at home. 

Might it be yours, too, for whatever season of "building" you may be walking through now?

For unless the Lord builds it...

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