This first part might be silly to you.
See, for weeks, I’ve had this worship song on the tip of my tongue. The only problem is that I can’t remember…well…any of it. I remember that it has a part where the girls echo. I remember that it is kind of upbeat. That it might have the line, “I need you.” I remember learning it in Summerville and singing it around a bonfire.
That’s all I remember.
And for weeks, whenever I’ve been singing around the house or in the car, I’ve tried to remember that song. I have racked my brain, you guys.
Well, last Thursday, I was driving the kids to Chattanooga to meet my mom, and I was singing some worship songs (the drive to Chattanooga will do that to you. It is gorgeous!). The kids were content with their i-devices, and I was up front, singing softly through my repertoire, when that song-I-don’t-know came back into my head. Again, I tried in vain to tease it out of my brain, to no avail.
Finally, I decided to pray about it. What made me want to pray was that the kids and I had recently read a biography of George Muller, the guy who started all the orphanages in Bristol in the 1800’s. That guy prayed for everything. It was nuts. He never asked for a dime for his orphan houses. He just literally prayed every day that God would supply their needs, and…God did. Seriously. It was insane.
The thing is, Muller just had such faith in prayer. Like, he prayed and expected God to answer. I mean, really answer. You know? So, although my request was a far cry from feeding the orphans, I decided to pray about this song, just to see. I tried my best to think like George Muller and to really have an eager expectation of God answering my prayer. So even though I felt more than a little sheepish, I laughed nervously and asked God, “Please, tell me what that song is. I really want to sing it to You!” Then I waited for a second. When nothing popped into my head, I sighed and started to sing another song. Midway through, I stopped.
“I love You. I need You. Mmm-hm hm-hm-hm, I’ll never let you go.”
I paused. Yes! Yes, that’s how it went.
“You’re my savior. My closest friend. I will worship You until the very end.”
Within a minute or two, the whole song had come back to me, and I was happily singing,
“Jesus–you’re the lover of my so-ou-oul./ Jesus–I will never let you go,”
with a big smile on my face. I had finally remembered the song. “Thanks, God.” I said. “That was killing me.”
That’s the silly part of the story. But it gets better.
The next day, I went to a homeschool convention, which was so much fun. I went to lots of sessions and got various tips about the benefits of notebooking and the importance of including art in your curriculum. It was the last session of the day, however, that really rocked my world. The session was called, “The Logic of English,” and it was taught by Denise Eide, the author of a phonics curriculum by the same name. Her 60-minute session blew me away. She really explained the nature of the English language to the packed room, and her thesis is that even though English is a complex morpho-phonetic language, it is not inherently inconsistent. We only think that it is because we don’t understand the rules for it. Using enough specific examples to convince me, Denise argued that the knowledge of 74 phonograms and 30 spelling rules will explain 98% of the English language. Even more than that, she used statistics to highlight the reality that our nation is experiencing a literacy crisis. She showed how literacy greatly affects one’s path in life (and the likelihood, for example, that one will end up in prison or on welfare), and she issued a stirring call to the church to step up and stand in the gap. She claimed that it is the duty of the Christian not just to teach our own children in our little nest, but also to make the world a better place.
Not surprisingly, this all set my hair on fire.
I drove home that evening, mulling over the implications of her talk and trying to figure out some way to bring her program to the kids at Youth Encouragement Services, an after-school program that is closely linked to our church. Should Greg and I buy the curriculum for Y.E.S.? How much would it cost? Would Daniel, the Y.E.S. director, even be interested in using it? Would it work well in a group setting? I had so many questions!
That night, I prayed about it. And the next morning, I prayed some more. My song prayer had really bolstered my faith, and so I prayed what I call a “for-real prayer.” As in, “For real, God, I am expecting an answer to this–today. I need You to make this clear to me.” After I prayed, I talked to Greg about my conundrum. See, we had some money set aside to do something else for God’s kingdom, and I was wondering if God wanted me to use it instead for this curriculum. It wasn’t much, but enough to buy a teacher manual and some of the manipulatives. Maybe we could make our own workbooks? When I told Greg about it, he suggested, “Well, why don’t you ask her if she would cut a deal for Y.E.S. It’s a non-profit, after all.” Huh. I had never thought of that, but the more I considered it, the more sense it made. If Denise would work with us, then maybe we could use our money to do both things. That settled it. I asked God to let that be my sign that He wanted me to pursue The Logic of English. It seemed like a fair test: Denise had been so passionate about serving the community in her talk. We would see if she was in real life, as well.
My resolve wavered several times before I got a chance to talk to her at her booth. Maybe that wasn’t such a good test after all. What if they weren’t willing to play ball–did that really mean that I shouldn’t use their curriculum at all? I lingered around the booth for awhile, and finally got a chance to talk to her husband about everything. He was open and supportive, and said they would be willing to work with us, but he wasn’t very committal on specifics, which honestly made sense to me. As I walked away, I pondered. Was that enough? Was that my sign? God knows that I need bright neon signs–We’ve been through this, time and time again, and He usually supplies the electric signs when I need them. Because of that, I just wasn’t sure that this was it.
Later, I wandered back over to the booth and ended up talking to Denise herself. When I mentioned Y.E.S., her eyes lit up, and she asked me all sorts of questions about it. What really intrigued her was that we had the kids every day. That’s what she kept coming back to. This program works so much better if it is taught daily, she kept saying. She also seemed incredibly excited about the opportunity to partner with us. I knew from talking to her husband that their company was new and not really on its feet yet financially. Denise, however, waved off those concerns. She explained that she was friends with the head of the National Right to Read foundation and felt confident that she could get a grant for whatever we needed. As we kept talking she finally said, “Even if we can’t get a grant, we can make this happen. If we have to donate it ourselves, we will make this happen.”
And that was my bright neon sign.
Or maybe it was this:
This all came today, just one week after I prayed for a sign that God wanted us to use The Logic of English at Y.E.S. It is everything we need to launch a K-2nd grade class this summer, and we didn’t pay a dime for it. Denise donated it. She and I are also going to work on a grant proposal this summer for money to start a more extensive literacy program in the fall, one that includes more age groups.
This past week has involved a lot of scrambling on the part of Daniel (the Y.E.S. director), Denise, and me, as we tried to figure out how to maximize this opportunity and start as soon as possible, without stretching our resources too far. Implementing a new program takes a lot of work, and I had to chuckle a couple of times as I thought, “Be careful what you pray for!” However, this is the type of work that is totally worth it, and it feels amazing to be doing something that seems so clearly in God’s direct will. I have no idea where this all will lead (right now, I’m focusing on doing “the next right thing”), but I am so thankful that I serve a God who does answer prayers, a God that lets us partner with Him to accomplish His purposes on this earth.
Sometimes, I need to be reminded of that amazing reality, and I’m sharing this all with you, just in case you need to be reminded, too.