Tag Archives: Sunday School

Jesus Talks to Children

16 Mar

My Take

 DiVoran Lites 

 Jesus Talks to Children


Sunday, we had two princesses, a prince, and a beloved handmaiden in Sunday School. Before we even started singing one of the princesses was pouting because she wanted to go home. It was daddy’s day, but daddy had chosen to bring her to church. All I could offer was for her to go sit with him and his wife (whom she loves). She passed on sitting still and listening to the sermon for adults. I explained how a bad mood affects everyone and asked her to see if she could find a way to become happy about where she was.

For the lesson, I gave each child a sponge on a paper plate. I then explained they could slowly pour their drinking water into it pretending the sponge was their heart, and they were soaking up God’s love. We talked about how we can ask God to love people through us even if we didn’t like them very much. Teacher got to be the unlikeable one, and they squeezed some of the love-water into my sponge. After refilling theirs, they sat quietly and waited for God to say something to them.

We decorated our journal pages, then wrote what God had said to us. Each message was short, but you could tell the children treasured them. I was particularly impressed with one which said, “You will fulfill your goals in 2015.” I happen to know the child’s goal is to get an A in every subject this semester. She can do it too, especially now that she knows God is supporting her in it.

I felt a bit funny about my message, thinking it sounded like a cliche. “Jesus is the greatest.” I read. The children seemed surprised. We’ve discussed cartoon characters, Santa Claus, and Whitney Houston, so I suppose, “Jesus is the greatest,” was news to them. Good news.

Oh, yes, the sad little princess – when we drew titles of songs near the beginning of the class she got, “If You’re Happy and You Know it.” She started laughing even before she told us what her song was.

When the guardian of the other princess came for her, I gave her the sponge and said her child could wash dishes with it. The guardian was thrilled because just before the end of the service the preacher had said that children need to be taught to work. I’m sure this particular woman is already teaching the eight-year-old to work, and many other good things, but she liked the idea that the sponge fit the sermon so well. I did too.

God does talk to us. He talks to children, too. I’ve read that they don’t get a half-pint serving of the Holy Spirit, they get the whole bucketful, just as we adults do.

Jesus called them to himself and said, “Let the children come to me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of Heaven.”

Luke 18:16

Do Frogs Come to Sunday School

8 Dec

My Take

DiVoran Lites

Author, Poet and ArtistI’ve had a couple of nature surprises in the past few days. Sometimes on the trail, I find things I’ve never seen before, leaves with perfectly round bumps, cocoons that look like fiber eggs, berries or plums growing on bushes.

Sunday on the playground the children came upon yet another frog.( I’ve been leery since a kid once threw a lizard on me and I had to sit there acting like it was nothing when I wanted to scream and jump and run. It’s not good for you to reign yourself in like that, it can give you bad breath.)

When the children find a creature I rush to supervise their investigations. One day they found a large green frog and were so enthralled with it that they wore it out in spite of repeated warnings to leave it alone,  The next time they found a toad, they announced it, but pretty much did leave it alone after the lecture they got last time.

But Sunday’s frog was the absolute monster frog in every way, and everyone was 1.tube slideinterested in him. He was a Cuban tree frog like the one we have in our tool shedlette and he had ensconced himself inside our tube slide, in a way that made the slide unusable. I wouldn’t get a tube slide again, I have always been afraid there would be something in it that we wouldn’t care for.

It did keep us entertains for quite some time. It was much bigger than the one at home and as ugly as all Cuban tree frogs are with their neutral color and their fat sucker-toes.


The thing was everyone needed to see it and in order to do that you had to get down, by yourself, and crane up into the tube slide. Every time someone did that someone else had to poke whatever body part that  was sticking out and yell, “Boo.” It sounded as if we were having our Halloween party right then and there.

I really wanted to see it, but I knew if they said boo while I was leaning into the slide exit I would jump and bump my poor old head that has already been bumped so many times it’s a wonder I have any sense left at all. I begged the children not to say boo. Have I told you how big he was? He was about the size of a dessert bowl.



The one on the left, maybe a bit smaller, but not much. I saw it for myself and I can hardly believe it.

Anyhow the kids didn’t poke me or say boo. They must love me a lot to do that for me. After I emerged, the boys kicked the plastic slide and hit it with sticks, even though they stopped every time I told them to stop.

The level of excitement was about the same as if someone had yelled big spider or snake.


Suddenly, from out of nowhere came this blood-curdling squeal that made all the wiggling and kicking cease immediately. We looked at each other with big eyes, our hair standing on end. The boys wanted mohawks, anyhow, now they had them. The squeal sounded like a warning or a distress cry. It came again, only not so authentic sounding this time. Tommy was at the top of the slide, it could well have been him calling down the slue. He confessed that some of it was. So I was stuck. Can frogs really squeal like that?

We do know that frogs (and many other critters) come to Sunday School. Now if you want to know whether they squeal like banshees or not, click here.


Getting More Than You Give~Part 2

22 Sep

My Take

DiVoran Lites

Author, Poet and ArtistVolunteers from large organization help a large number of people. But not everyone is in a position to do that. That makes me wonder if a seemingly smaller contribution has less importance. When I think of Denisha, I know the answer is a simple no.

Some members of Danisha’s family are in jail. Some have been shot. There’s not a lot of money in the family. Danisha, however has a job. She works hard, even though she has gone through multiple surgeries as the result of an automobile accident. Denisha seems to be the guardian angel of a family of cousins and sisters and their children. One girl-child is under guardianship with Danisha now. She has brought others to church for many years. Several of them have invited Christ into their lives.

My little Sunday School class has a different number of these children attending almost every Sunday. I like them a lot! They remind me of the child I was, and the kids I knew in our small, plain community in Colorado long ago. Danisha says that her grandmother brought her to church and her uncle who is an elder in our church included her in family get-togethers. She had her troubles as a young adult, but she came into the love of Christ and it made all the difference.

Danisha, often brings edible treats for our Sunday School refreshment time. A few Sundays ago she missed most of the church service to go after hamburgers for the seven kids who attended our class that day. Last Sunday she headed out for pizza. Before she left, she asked the children what kind of pizza they wanted. The verdict was: one pepperoni pizza and one cheese. We were all hungry and excited.

While we waited, we had rhythm band and singing. Then Mr. Lites prayed for them. Next as I searched through my store of books for the right story I came to a Jack Prelutsky book of poetry. “Oh, I hope this is, A Pizza the Size of the Sun, I thought. It turned it was not only the book, but the poem of the same name appears on the first page. I picked it up and read with great feeling about a great pizza while the children listened rapt and salivating. Then I recalled that this was a “lesson,” so I said, “God is even better than pizza!” It might sound a bit lame, but given the fervor in the room when pizza was mentioned, I thought the idea just might seep into their little minds and lodge permanently in their brains.

A lot of learning takes place on the woodsy play ground outside, so we went out there to play on the swings and wait some more. We learn sharing, kindness, love, obedience, and maybe a bit of race relations. When we first got there we found a few frogs the size of the my thumbnail jumping around. Nature is always a part of our curriculum so we looked them over and one of the boys picked one up. Finally Danisha came with the pizza confessing that she had eaten the missing sliver as she headed back to church. We sat at picnic tables and dug in. Yum! That pizza was delicious! The kids ate and ate, we were all happy, but I suspect that the person who got the most joy out of the experience was Danisha.

Yes, there are many different kinds of volunteers, from people who do wonderful things in big organizations and help a lot of people to those who work hard, take on a guardianship, and bring the little ones to Jesus just as He commanded. All kinds of volunteerism gets passed down, all kinds of roll-models are needed.




Psalm 68:6 New Living Translation (NLT)

God places the lonely in families;
he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.

God’s People

28 Apr


My Take

DiVoran Lites


We have a Sunday School/Bible Study class we call the LP class. We would say that meant Large Print, but two of us now have the most wonderful lens implants and can see like fighter pilots, so we’ll have to settle for Long Playing as a name. Anyhow, let’s put it this way, all but one of us in on Medicare.

One day, our teacher, and his wife, Noreen were in the drugstore waiting to have a prescription filled and a four-year-old girl came over to Marvin and started chattering away as if he were her beloved Grandpa. Noreen said she reminded them of a perky, Shirley Temple. Of course, they were delighted.

After that, Bob told us that he was in a restaurant one day waiting for a table. He had a seat because he’s handicapped, but there was no place for anyone else to sit, except a tiny spot right next to Bob. A tiny African American girl slid into the spot and snuggled up to Bob, lay her head against him and melded into him the way a trusting child will do. He had never seen her before in his life.

That reminded Marvin of a couple of children in their neighborhood. Marvin likes to sit in his garage with the door open and read. One day he was sitting there with the fresh air coming in and a little girl came down the block, saw him and walked in and laid her head on his knee.

Of course, that story brought on more. Bill and I were at Lake Eola with our son last week and while Bill was waiting for Billy and I to finish taking pictures, he sat down on a low wall and a beautiful black and white, Spaniel puppy came up to the wall and put her paws on it so she could reach him. She wagged her tail and sniffed at him he petted her. Her owner was amazed. She said, “She’s so afraid of people, I can’t believe she approached a perfect stranger. She’s even shy around the family.”

We had a couple more stories and then we went on with our lesson. Marvin had us read out of the scriptures and here’s what Bill read.”

Isaiah 61:9 says, “All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed.” I wonder–is this unexplained trust from children and animals a small example of that acknowledgement?


The Family Man

31 Mar

My Take

DiVoran Lites

Author, Poet and ArtistOn Sundays, our children’s class sings and plays percussion instruments. We have a special song called “Never Alone.” It was Bill’s favorite hymn when he was growing up and the concept of God staying near stuck with him. The kids like it too. Tina and Anna sing at the top of their lungs. They are cousins. Both their dads have been in prison for most of the girl’s lives.

When it was time to go outside to play Tina and Anna ran for the tire swing. Sometimes children from the baby class join us. Sunny is a favorite, but a bit small for the tire swing. Tina and Anna are careful so we set him near them and showed him how to hang on to the plastic covered chains. He kept giggling, however, and sliding off.

Then Big Tom came out. He’s a truly gentle giant and he has a deeply tender spot for children. In fact, he seems to come for a brief visit every Sunday. His own kids adore him, and his sweet and gentle wife, as well, but they don’t live with him, and he misses them.

Now he begins to turn the swing slowly by pulling on the chains. “I can reach all the way around and give Sunny a smooth ride,” he said. Suddenly a soft breeze blew through. The trees rustled. Everything hushed. Tom smiled to himself as the air was filled with peace and love. The children rotated slowly on the swing and were as still as still can be. In that moment, it seemed that Tom was free of pain and loneliness for his children, and that maybe Tina and Anna got a taste of what it would be like to have fathers on the spot to play with them. It reminded them, perhaps of God’s care for them. Though we may miss our nearest and dearest, God has promised never to leave us, never to leave us alone.

“God will never leave us for forsake us.” Hebrews 13:5


Do You Measure Up?

27 Mar

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

I'm a winner

Do you ever have the feeling in your life that you never measure up? I do.  I feel it when I realize I am trying to meet someone else’s expectations, their standard.

Early in my life, beginning around age six, I learned I was a failure. My attempts in first grade art were dismal. I couldn’t even color in the lines. As a teen I was socially awkward. My clothes were all wrong, my hair was too straight. I was shy. According to my older brother, I was the ugliest girl on the planet. As a teen, he told me that all his friends hated me.

As an adult, I began asking God, what do you want me to do, what is my purpose? The answer came, not in an earth shattering revelation, but in the form of an inexpensive Christmas gift, a Bible verse in a simple, inexpensive frame. My Ladies Sunday School teacher gave one to each of the women in the group, the verse chosen specifically for them.  Mine was: Micah 6:8

The Message version

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously.

 I actually prefer the New International Version. It is shorter and speaks directly to my heart.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you? 
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly[prudently] with your God.

 What joy and peace this verse brings me. I don’t have to measure up to anyone else’s talents or standards! What about you, have you experienced failures because you tried to meet someone else’s expectations?



Divine Sparks

27 Jan

My Take 

DiVoran Lites

Author, Poet and ArtistI recently read that prestige is the most important thing to any human being. How do researchers come up with these things? It rings true, and yet there has to be something more, something better. I think its love. Love is as essential to sustain life as the basic need for food and shelter.

And, oh, the things we’ll do to get love, translated attention. I desire attention. I want to be validated, it’s important for people to respect me.

When I was a young mother, our baby thought the earth centered on her. That was hard for me because until that time I thought I was the center. Then I found out that everyone thinks that at first. What a surprise!

I did many things to stay in the center of the universe and get all the love and attention I needed. Mostly I tried to please other people. Sometimes I tried to please the right people and sometimes the wrong people. Trying to please the wrong people can get you in lots of trouble.

I knew God was out there, but I had no idea that he wanted to meet my needs. The first time I remember hearing about Jesus was in my five-year-old Sunday School class with Auntie Elvira. She never had any children of her own, but we were all her kin as far as she was concerned. She told us stories from the Bible and we learned to sing, “Jesus Loves Me.” That was nice. My parents loved me, Jesus loved me, and Auntie Elvira loved me.

God has always been in my life, but the next time I remember becoming aware of him was one day when I looked out my bedroom window at the majestic mountains and knew that the One who had created them knew me and had created me too.

When I was twelve, I took over teaching the Sunday School from another teacher, who was sixteen, because she was ill. I liked learning and I liked teaching, and some of what I learned must have stuck with me, because I received from it a desire for cultivating a life of connection with our Lord, which I have done. I find it immensely gratifying. I’m so grateful my Lord and Auntie Elvira reached out to me. I visited with Auntie Elvira when she was very old and told her so, and I visit with God frequently to thank him, too.

**********To Be Continued**********

Rhythm Band

25 Nov

My Take

DiVoran Lites

Author, Poet and ArtistIn our Sunday school class, we have two drums. One is a Remo lollipop drum on a stick. I bought it at a consignment shop. It has a wonderful sound, and is beautiful with red, green, and blue stripes going around its face. I played it one day in church because it went with my bright red top. The other is a frame drum made by the same company. It would remind you of a tambourine with a drum top but no little cymbals. It also has a strong sound. Every Sunday during the Sunday school, but not in church, children play rhythm instruments and sing while the church music mistress plays the keyboard. Bill comes in to sing and pray with us and the assistant teacher is there too.

The two drums are always the first instruments the kids pick up. We have two ankle bracelets with big bells on them, a crow call, a stick tambourine, a wheel thing that makes a nice sound with metal ball chains, two sets of maracas. Something I’ve never seen before that my friend/associate teacher got at a thrift store is a bunch of plastic bubbles on a stem that hit together when you shake it. We have a triangle too. It is metal and has a metal mallet that makes a clear, ringing sound.

The only problem with the drums and crow call is that the ball on the end of the mallet of each gets such a work out that they take to popping off and having to be chased across the floor (not far) and stuck on again. Bill glues them, but the kids are so enthusiastic that they soon come loose again.

It’s fun to see how the newbies are usually at a loss as to how or when to play, but as the weeks pass, they become more and more integrated and sometimes we all play the same tempo and end at the same time. It must do a lot for us to learn to play together that way and to become cooperative and aware. It’s fun anyhow. Rhythm band anyone?

Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together, there I am in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20

Does that mean even when we’re making a clatter? I believe it does, don’t you?

Susie’s Daddy

29 Jul

My Take

DiVoran LItes

Author, Poet and Artist

Earl plays the guitar for our praise team. He’s one of those who can play many instruments and play them without notes on paper.

Earl is a big man, younger than my son, older than my grandson.  I hold his hand in our prayer circle after practice. His hand is gentle, patient, and strong.

His little girl, Susie, is in my Sunday School class. She’s about to be seven as she puts it.

One day she brought a plush horse to Sunday School and I noticed he had construction paper wings. They were designed and cut and adhered to the horse with tape that stayed on through all Susie’s loving. “Who made your horse’s wings?” I said.

“My daddy,” she said. Later I learned that almost all her critters have wings daddy has made for them. One Sunday she told me about a small worry, and I suggested she tell her Mommy about it. AND my Daddy says Susie adamantly.

After practice on Father’s Day it came to me to compliment Earl on his fathering skills. Everyone likes to be encouraged in this way.

As we left the platform I said I had something I wanted to tell him. A look of fear came into his eyes and I realized that he had perhaps in the past been told a lot of things he didn’t want to hear, but he was brave, he didn’t bolt.

“Susie really loves you, I said. You are a good father.”

“She’s my baby,” he said, still wary.

I told him about the wings and how impressed I was with the way Susie loves him and trusts him.

“Just doing what comes naturally,” said Earl.

I told him I understood that, but that few daddy’s of my acquaintance gave their little daughters the kind of TLC he does.

“Oh, I didn’t know….” His face began to crumple.

In order to escape his embarrassment if he started to cry I started to move discretely away, but he kept pace with me. “Thank you for telling me that,” he said. “You can’t know what it means to me.”

I told him I did understand what he meant. Regular people so rarely see our own excellent qualities.

My grandmother Maire would approve of my telling him how I felt.. She always taught that if you saw something good about someone they deserved a compliment.

Pastor Peter Lord would approve too. His number one message these days is Eulogy:.tell people good things about themselves while they are alive. Don’t wait until you go to their funerals.

Most people need encouragement for the good things they are and do. To coin a phrase a quart of praise is worth more than a gallon of criticism. It’s one gift that makes both the giver and the receiver as happy as can be.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. I Thessalonians 5:11

My Father’s Legacy

16 Jun


 Judy Wills



 Since this is Father’s Day, I would like to tell you a bit about my father.  He was born in 1892.  He was 20 years older than my mother.

Daddy’s father was a circuit preacher, going from place to place in Louisiana and Texas.  He fathered 13 children.  Most remained as farmers or farmers wives.  However, several left the farm for other occupations.  Uncle Ed moved to Shreveport, LA, and owned a typewriter store.  Uncle Emory, the youngest of the 13 children, was on his way to being a church-related leader, when he was murdered on Christmas Day, 1931.  He was 23 years old.  As the story goes, he was coaching a youth basketball team.  His team had played a rival team and won.  The other team was not happy about it.  On that Christmas Day, Emory was on his way to see his fiancé, when he was set upon by the other team and beaten to death.  I didn’t learn these details until about 2000 – my father and grandmother had always told the story that he was in a horrific car wreck, and he died.

As a youth, Daddy enjoyed playing basketball.  I remember him bragging about what a great left-hook-shot he had, and how much he enjoyed the game.As I was growing 2up, he always enjoyed watching professional and college football on TV.  The Green Bay Packers were the team to beat during that day.  And on New Year’s Day, he would have four different college Bowl games going at once – a small TV on top of the large TV, and a radio in two different rooms of the house with different games on.  Used to drive my mother crazy.

My father attended Louisiana 3College.  His studies were interrupted by World War I.  He refused to carry a weapon, so they placed him in the medical corps.  He was in France, I know, and stayed there for a while after the war, studying at Toulouse University in Toulouse, France.  It was founded in 122

He graduated with a B.M. in Music from Baylor University, Waco, Texas, in 1924.  He was in the very first graduating class in music from B.U. – and there were only three members of that graduating class.


Baylor University Music Program Class of 1924

He was president of the Baptist Student Union on that campus.  He was also one of the original “Invincibles” – a group of young people that went to different states/cities in the summers and worked with Sunday Schools and Vaca5tion Bible Schools.

I know that he went to Baptist Bible Institute (B.B.I., founded 1917), which later became New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

He was the very first paid, full-time Minister of Education in the Southern Baptist Convention.  He was the Texas Associate Sunday School Secretary from 1927 until 1945.  At that point, we moved from Dallas to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Daddy became the New Mexico Sunday School Secretary until 1961, when he retired.  He died April 7, 1967, just one month away from my parent’s 30th anniversary in May.

f you have heard of the Southern Baptist Convention’s conference 6centers in Ridgecrest, NC, and Glorieta, NM, I am proud to say that my father had a hand in getting Glorieta established.  He was one of those that said “we need to have an encampment here in the west.”  Glorieta has a very special place in my heart, especially since my Dad was part of that.

He was very gentle man.  I never heard him speak a bad word about 7anyone.  He always looked for the good in people.  He loved being outdoors and went deer hunting every season.  We ate a lot of venison, and loved it.  The deer in NM ate a lot of pine nuts and good stuff, so the meat was not “gamey” at all, but very flavorful, much like beef to us.  He and mother both hunted sometimes, as did Daddy and my brother.

I have a picture of him and my brother each with a deer on the car.8

I remember one year they each got a deer, and later Daddy got an elk.  We ate really well that year.

9One thing about him – if he hadn’t bagged his deer before the weekend, he would have his own worship service out in the woods.  Someone asked him one time:  “you mean, if it was Sunday and an 8-point buck strolled by, you wouldn’t shoot him?”  Daddy’s reply was that he never even loaded his rifle on Sundays.  He was a very dedicated man.

Being a farm boy, he never got that out of his system.  He tried to grow a small garden in our back yard in Albuquerque, but he was gone so much that the garden usually died out.  One thing he did manage to care for was a huge peach tree in our back yard.  He would faithfully wrap the tree in cheesecloth every Spring, to keep the10 birds and bugs out of the peaches.  He was very successful with that tree, and we used to have peaches that were about 4″ in diameter and the sweetest I’ve ever eaten.  Mother would make peach jam, peach preserves, peach pie, home-made fresh-churned peach ice cream.

He was an incredible man, and I am proud to be his daughter.

%d bloggers like this: