The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread. Mother Teresa

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Frankly Phyllis

Learning and Lessons

As summer rolls into fall what goes through your head? Childhood memories of going back to school, right?

Here is my unofficial survey of people's childhood September memories. There was the...

  • Excitement of the first week. Then it wore off.
  • Apprehension at going back to school until college. Then they loved it.
  • The smell of new crayons, the metal lunch box, the new books, the plastic covers of Trapper Keepers®.
  • Back-to-school shopping and the aspiration to be highly organized.
  • Recollection of how book covers smelled, as well as the anxiety of missing the school bus.
  • Anticipation of school and how for three nights before it started, they couldn't sleep. They'd see all their friends again. For those who lived in the country, they missed them all summer long.
  • Start of events and activities again, especially for those who didn't go to summer camp.
  • Shoes: new shoes and for some, having to wear them again.
  • Thrill of the sports activities that would start up again.

    My childhood fall memories are different. I didn't want to go back to school. I know; I missed a whole lot more than the 3 R's with that attitude. By eighth grade Miss Nolte at Avoca School in Wilmette, Illinois, told my mom and dad at a parent-teacher conference to expect me to drop out of school by age 16. I wasn't "academic material." She suggested I skip academics and maybe be a waitress. Note: after being a domestic waitress (i.e. serving three meals a day for six people [that's 18 meals a day]) for the last few decades, I find myself weary of waitressing! I love to cook, but the serving part was not my favorite. This was especially true when menu requests catered to the culinary delights of ages 1, 2, 6, and 8. I hold waitresses/servers in high esteem to this day.

    So, I didn't like school and apparently school didn't care that much for me. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? I don't know, but it all adds up to summertime lessons. Everyone else seemed eager to go back to school. For me it was sad to leave the little cottage on the lake. I had this ritual of stepping to its edge and saying goodbye. Then I'd try not to cry on the trip home. It was really quiet in the car, so maybe my mom and sister had the same feelings. But we couldn't say so out loud. My dad was a college professor. Of course, he tried to pump up the idea that going back to school was the greatest thing going. I never got into it.

    I feel a little better about this now because my clothespin-beach towel-tent buddy Lois just came by to see if I could play tennis, and I included her in my survey. She hated leaving her cottage, too. Who knew? She has a doctorate in oceanography. How did that sneak up on her? "I was a visual learner and finally loved learning in college," she said.

    What's your learning style? Are you still learning? What did I miss so much about the cottage when we left in the fall that it lessened my learning until later in life? (In college I discovered I'm an auditory learner, the opposite of my friend Lois who is a visual learner.) I guess I missed being outdoors, watching the sunset in the watery front yard of Lake Michigan. I missed stumbling across little oddities-like finding huge salt blocks next to electric fences on our hikes back into the woods. Then there was the 100-plus-year-old Indian tree. (Check my blog for pictures.) Tradition suggests Native Americans bent it to point to the water, like many trees on the trail leading up to it.

    I took the "lessons" of Michigan with me into life. The beauty, the tranquility, the magnificence of living on the lake, seeing its moods, embracing its teachings about the calm before and after the storm-all fed my heart and soul. God used that education to remind me of His larger plan for each of us, to educate us in His ways, to remind us of His generosity. Indeed, His rain falls and His sun shines on us all.

    I know at times it gets dark, and things can dry up in life. Whatever that is for you, I want you to find light and life when you come to this Web site, when you listen to Woman to Woman. I do my homework now. I even like fall. Learning styles don't have to lessen the lesson! Send me lessons you're learning. Check back with my blog for updates as I learn, as I catch on to things God has probably been trying to teach me for years!

    Here's a little P.S. on learning from Matt 11:29. Jesus makes people an offer. "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls." He's saying He's in the learning with us. It's not too hard to pull out what you need to know when He's teaching you. And, here's the bonus: you find rest for your soul. I'll take doubles on that!

    Assuming your formal school days are behind you, now is a great time to turn to Christ's ongoing education. Use what He's taught and is teaching you to develop your gifts, your talents to serve Him and others. The smell of crayons may return or even the thought you wished you paid more attention in class. Fret not; nothing is wasted in His economy. The question is what will He teach you today? Proverbs 1:5 says, "Let the wise learn and add to their learning." It doesn't say "in a school setting."

    For more thoughts from Phyllis, check out her blog!

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