Vickie, a regular writer for Teachers of Vision magazine, sat with Pat at the kitchen table in Pat’s quaint country home for the last time. Pat gazed down at the rough draft in her hand, the last devotion she was to ever proofread for Vickie, and then offered it to her. Vickie took it from her hands and looked at it. As usual, it looked like someone had bled all over it with red ink. Pat was from the old grammar school. During her tenure as a public school teacher, English teachers did not grade holistically. Strict, well defined standards for word usage, punctuation, and capitalization were taught to students and corrected on all English papers. That’s why Vickie loved Pat as a proofreader and used her in addition to the computer’s grammar and spell checks. All Vickie’s wrong tenses were corrected. Split infinitives were spliced back together. Sentence structure was changed to make the piece flow smoothly. In every sentence where Vickie referred to God as he, Pat always insisted it be capitalized in order to honor and reflect the greatness of God. No computer spell check ever did that for Vickie.
Pat’s eyes lingered upon the devotion and then tentatively looked up at Vickie. Pat had a difficult time looking Vickie in the eye and Vickie could tell something was wrong. A solitary tear ran down Pat’s cheek as she spoke to her long time friend saying, “I have been diagnosed with dementia and I will soon be moving with my husband into a transition assisted living facility.” They both knew her role in the Christian Educators Association International had finally come to an end after many years. They shared some more small talk about CEAI and the new facility she would be moving into with her husband. Vickie said goodbye to her and gave her a lingering last hug.
Pat Thomas was a retired elementary school teacher, now deceased, who served the Lord and many children for many years at Jane Long Elementary in Richmond, Texas. Vickie doesn’t remember how and when she crossed Pat’s paths, but she remembers how fascinated Pat was with the vision and mission of CEAI. Pat was fascinated by the CEAI ministry and on several occasions said, “I wish such a group was available when I was teaching. I needed a group like this to support me. I never knew such a group existed. When I was teaching no one ever encouraged one another in their faith.” After learning about the ministry she said, “How can I help?”
Pat, in her retirement, then began making up for lost time in serving her fellow educators by encouraging them in their faith. The Houston Area Network of CEAI immediately put her to work and she became a foundation stone of the ministry. Her most important role was serving as an intercessor, a prayer warrior for the group. She knew who the real director of CEAI-Houston was, Jesus Christ, and she petitioned Him regularly on behalf of teachers and students. Pat was a personal friend to many who kept telling members the value of the ministry and encouraging them to keep pressing on when they became discouraged. Vickie’s young children came to affectionately know and love her as Grandma Pat. She served faithfully for years as the CEAI-Houston Network treasurer and was one of the largest financial donors in the group’s history. She was also the proofreader for all newsletters and devotions that were sent out by the ministry. She was a woman of spiritual and academic excellence. During her period of service with the CEAI-Houston Network she helped provide hundreds of Bibles to youth, shoes to hundreds of children in Honduras so they could attend public schools, finances to support a ministry to run-away youth in inner city Houston, and support for a Christian English teacher serving in a Chinese university. She helped provide hundreds of teachers with quality devotions that encouraged them in their faith and showed them how to stand, walk, and follow their Savior into their public school classrooms each day and yet honor the laws regarding separation of church and state.
About a year after saying goodbye to Pat, Vickie received an encouraging letter from her. It was upbeat in content and crafted with beautiful penmanship and grammar. Then several months later Vickie received another letter very similar in content. Pat had forgotten that she had sent the first letter. Vickie was doubly blessed by the second letter and placed both in her personal keepsake treasure box. Even as Pat ran the last lap of her life’s race with crippling dementia she was telling Christian educators to take courage. Wow!
The Bible says, “The righteous will flourish…and will still bear fruit in old age… (Psalm 92:14). Pat is a living testimony of this truth. May each of us remember, like Pat, that after we retire from teaching in the classroom, we may still bear much fruit for Him in His schools.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for Pat’s example. Help us bear much spiritual fruit in education now and after retirement.
Application: Become active in a local Christian educators association before and during your retirement years.
Sharing: Who is an aging person who has been an inspiration to you and why?
PS. Don’t forget to spread the word about the 1:16PM Prayer Movement.
• Go to www.one16pray.com for more information
• Go to www.ceai.org for more information (which will point you to the above address!)
• Visit, "like", and add comments the 1:16PM Facebook page.
• Sign up for text message prayer prompts from Remind 101 (we have 205!)
• Follow us on Twitter for the prayer prompts @one16pray
May God bless you with success His way this 2013-2014 school year.
Note: To more fully understand the 16-9 Movement, please read the first blog entry byclicking here.
Christian Educators Association International is the only professional association in the United States specifically for Christian educators in public schools. CEAI protects our members first in prayer, next with excellent professional liability insurance and other benefits while helping them live out their high calling as a Christian in the public school.