We took a walk this afternoon on a new trail. I just happened to look up and saw the witch’s hat, sparkly red shoes, tin man and magic wand hanging from the trees. I LOVED The Wizard of OZ when I was a young girl. It’s obvious someone else out there does, too.
Opportunities. It’s funny how they sometimes land right in front of us, and other times we have to search for them like that lost sock in the dryer. The type of opportunity that I’m referring to is sharing the gospel with others. I want to let people know that they can spend eternity with God and that there is a way for their sins to be forgiven. There is hope for tomorrow.
Here’s the story. I recently prayed that God would reveal how He wants to use me in this world — because I am really clueless these days. Some of my friends have these obvious talents/gifts — like a musical talent, amazing leadership skills, and the ability to create relationships with everyone they meet. Sometimes I find myself feeling envious and then defeated. I know we aren’t supposed to feel that way, but sometimes it’s a challenge.
Anyway, today something happened at my preschool that I want to share. I have lunch duty, and as I walked by one of the tables, a 5 year old boy raised his hand to get my attention. I walked over and asked what he needed. He said, “Mrs. Knapp, can you tell her (pointing to one of his classmates) who Jesus is? She doesn’t know.”
My heart just about leaped out of my chest!
To hear someone even mention HIS name in a public school was music to my ears!
As you can imagine, I had to be careful with my answer. There was so much that I wanted to say, but I couldn’t. Anything associated with religion is pretty much off limits in a public school. So, I asked the little boy exactly what he told her so far. The girl listened as I I asked, “Did you tell her that he’s God’s son?” He just smiled and said, “And He lives far away — pointing up.” The little girl asked, “You mean the North Pole?” I said, “No, not there. Heaven.”
That was the end of the discussion. Very short, but it was a tiny seed planted and prayerfully that little girl will want to know more about Jesus. I wish I could’ve said more, but I knew I would’ve been stepping over the line. However, those rules won’t stop me from praying for her and giving thanks for that little boy and the opportunity to talk about the one I love more than anything – Jesus.
To God be the glory.
Between preschool kids and my dog, I think I learn something new every day.
When we were outside for recess with our preschool students the other day, I noticed a little boy needed his shoelaces tied. He was running around in circles with friends and I could just picture one of the other kids accidentally stepping on his laces causing him to fall. So, I called him over and told him I needed to tie his shoes.
Me: Because I don’t want you to fall. I explained the possibilities.
Student: But that hasn’t happened.
Me: But it COULD happen.
Student: I like them untied.
Side note: They were untied again when we were lining up. Haha
We moved into our home last November and we’ve been going back and forth about purchasing an Invisible Fence. We finally took the plunge last week and our dog, Bogey, has been in training. It’s actually been interesting and fun to watch him learn — most of the time. However, because of my impulse to prevent him from getting zapped ( as in NEVER), I have found myself a bit overprotective- OK, more than a bit, which in turn prevents him from learning the consequences of going beyond the designated boundaries.
The trainer’s words were this: “If you want to be able to trust him, then you need to let him feel some pain. You need to wait and see (and keep your mouth shut!) if he will actually go beyond the flags in the yard. I know it’s hard, but it works.”
Do you see where I’m going with this?
NO ONE wants to see someone they love experience pain. There’s a time to speak, and there’s a time to be quiet. Lord, give me wisdom to know and the strength to do what’s right.
“A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.” Ecclesiastes 3:7
Parenting 103.33321111 (The course that never ends!)
There are certain things they prepare you for when you learn that you’re going to be a parent. Things like childbirth, or what to do when your baby has a fever and/or diaper rash. Unfortunately, there’s many other things you don’t hear about until you experience them. Back in my day, we called up a friend for advice. Today, people Google. For what it’s worth, here’s my advice.
Let me start from the beginning. I remember when our sons were infants. They were about 3 years apart in age and I was absolutely fascinated with those early years. One of the sweetest moments was when they first made eye contact with me and turned their head as if they were following me across the room. It absolutely squeezes your heart. Their first bite of baby food, the first time they learn to roll over without any help, and their first tooth were especially memorable moments!
Although I loved that stage, I couldn’t wait for the day when they would crawl, take their first step, run, ride a bike, write their name, play in sports, develop friendships, be in school, discover their gifts, love God without any prompting, develop a bond with their brothers, go to college, find the one, get a good job, marry the love of their life, have children, and so on. Some of those things have happened, and some have not. As a parent, you have these hopes and dreams for your child. You not only want the best for them, you want them to experience a better life than what you had so you do everything in YOUR power to help them not make the same mistakes that YOU did. But God reveals time and time again that HIS plan is best – and that no matter what choices they make, He’s got it. No problem is too big for God, and when your child is far away, God is still with him. Trust Him.
Whoever thought a parent’s responsibility ends when your child reaches adulthood has another thing coming. It never ends- at least it shouldn’t. Just like your love doesn’t stop the moment your child yells at you, hits a rough patch in school, develops an attitude that you embarrass him or her when you say certain things – like I love you – out in public. Love is an amazing thing. One day it can make you feel like you’re on a mountain top, and the next day your’e sitting in the valley. Those experiences reveal one thing – love is real.
Oh YES, your responsibilities cHaNge once your kids move out, get married, or have children. However, you still have a roll to play. It’s not a time to close your eyes, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. Step back and bite your tongue, maybe, and absolutely stop trying to control their life. If you truly want to help your child, then pray for them. Every day.
What I’ve learned over time is that they need to know you are always there for them – even from a distance. Let them know – at the very least through a text message – that you’re always available to listen, provide wisdom when needed, and that you love them – even during the most difficult times. Just like our Heavenly Father does for us.
This is Holy Week. If you are a believer, then you are reflecting on the death, burial, and resurrection of our Savior. It’s also a time of year when believers are encouraged to invite others to church. Why now, you ask? If someone has any knowledge about the Bible or has had any exposure to Christianity, or if they were brought up in church but have drifted away, then they most likely understand the importance of Resurrection Sunday. It’s a chance for them to reconnect with Jesus. When prompted by a friend, they often go that Easter Sunday and hopefully every Sunday after because they’re reunited with their first love – Jesus. It truly is a heartfelt celebration when someone returns. The church body needs all of its parts, and you are an essential part to God’s plan.
In addition to the ones who already know the gospel, there are those people who haven’t been introduced to God’s unconditional love — and have never heard about how they can have a relationship with Jesus. Like, what does that even mean? (If you want to know, please ask.) Those are the ones who believers hope to reach, also, so that they can experience the richness of being a Christ follower and experiencing the truth that they can spend eternity with Him.
I believe I know what some of you are thinking. Yes, you can be a Christian and worship at home. BUT, tell me this – are you staying home because that way you don’t have to deal with difficult people? Maybe you didn’t like the type of music they used during worship or you’re not getting anything out of the sermons. There’s a variety of reasons and excuses that keep us from walking in that building. Last one, you felt like the preacher was talking to you in his sermon and you thought he was being judgmental, so you vowed to never return.
I recently overheard a conversation between three people. One mentioned she didn’t go to church because “they have the most judgmental people, ever.” After listening to her make several “nonjudgmental” judgmental comments about other people, over and over again, this thought came to my mind: ‘If church is filled with the most judgmental people, ever, then I do believe you would fit right in.’ Naturally, I didn’t say that out loud, but ooooooooh do I ever wish I had the guts to do so. It was the truth. A truth she didn’t see.
Friends, If you don’t go to church or maybe you’ve had a bad experience, please listen. I’m not trying to make excuses here. If someone has surrendered their life to Jesus, then they should be making every effort to become like Christ. Jesus didn’t hide the truth. However, he said it in love. People (*I*) need to work on that. A lot.
If you didn’t know it before, there ARE rules to living a Christian life and there ARE consequences when we don’t. God didn’t say, “If you love me and have asked for forgiveness, you now have the license to do whatever you desire. Live it up! All I care about is your happiness!” Umm, no. He cares about our holiness. “Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.’” Luke 9:23. When we follow Him, we experience joy like no other.
Unfortunately, church isn’t a perfect place where everyone lives in harmony. THAT place is called heaven. However, It’s a place for believers to come together and be transformed through a lot of study and learning from others. Let’s be honest, we all have something to work on. It’s a place where we are encouraged to love (even those difficult people) and serve others – (and not just the lovable ones or people who “deserve” it), worship our Savior, pray, and give thanks. It’s where I’ve learned the importance of and the power of forgiveness — through those difficult people that God placed in my life. That’s how we grow in our faith — facing the challenges and learning from them, not hiding from them.
In church and in Bible studies, I have learned scriptures that have helped me throughout my life. There are too many to list here, but here’s a few:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:13
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” Proverbs 4:23
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
“ For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
“Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Col. 3:13
I pray what I’ve shared has encouraged you in some way. If you have something to add, please comment! We’re in this journey together.
Several years ago, a dear friend would post a few lines from a devotion she read daily and then mentioned she couldn’t believe the timing of the lesson or Scripture for that day. It was like God reached down and tapped her on the shoulder and said, “This is for you.” I LOVED reading her posts. They were constant reminders that Jesus is real. Some days what she shared was encouraging, and sometimes it was pretty convicting. Either way – it was something I needed to read. Sadly, she lost her battle to cancer about ten years ago. However, her love for others and for her Savior lives on.
I read something this week that really struck me — and I knew the timing wasn’t a coincidence. It was like God reached down and said these words, “Dear child of mine, you need to be still and listen.” You guys, I needed that reminder in the worst way. A few years ago I would’ve shared the whole devotional here and just left it at that — hoping it would encourage someone else who needed it. However, the whole point here is that Jesus is alive! He does care about our struggles, and if we would only be still and listen — we would sense His presence. We would experience his love and peace. Sometimes that’s all we need to make it through the toughest trial.
Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”
If you’ve recently experienced a loss of any kind – something that creates a panicky feeling and makes you realize you are not in control –this post is for you.
Before I begin, I need to explain that I believe God sometimes uses the tiniest details and victories to capture our attention. Because of that, I know I recently experienced what I refer to as a God wink.
Here’s what happened…My coworker was taking off her sweatshirt which unfortunately grabbed hold of one of her pierced earrings and then sent it flying somewhere in the classroom. She said she thought it hit a chair and possibly landed somewhere on the floor. The thing is, her earrings are extra special because they were a gift from her mother. We looked EVERY where for it. We swept underneath the surrounding furniture, and several kind preschool students helped search all around the floor. She found the back/post to it, but the front was no where to be found.
At dismissal time, she took the bus riders with her into another section of the school. I stay with the car riders in a hallway outside of our wing until their name is called. When I was down to one student, I walked her down the hallway to the other side of the building so that she could walk out with her older brother. As I was walking down the hallway towards our wing, a teacher I’ve never met looked down at the floor and said, “Ohhhh, it looks like someone lost an earring.” I immediately stopped and asked, “Are you KIDDING me? Does it happen to be a Mickey Mouse?” Indeed it was.
WHAT are the chances that the earring would be in another section of the school?! I’m guessing it was attached to my teacher’s clothing or shoes. But….Here’s the thing! WHAT are the chances that a teacher would spot it at the exact time I would be walking by. She had no clue we were looking for it.
Friends, God’s timing is just. like. that. Nothing less than perfect, but happens when you least expect it.
Never give up.
I don’t normally write this soon after posting something here. However, what I shared yesterday is heavy on my mind. This is what I’m thinking about every day. I need to learn how to achieve my goal that was shared in my last paragraph. But how? You don’t see memes, books, or studies that talk about someone MY age who is struggling to find a way to overcome this world’s standards or expectations. Beauty. Fitness. Purpose. Where do I fit in???
As a believer, my hope has always been found in God’s word. Period. Why on earth I’ve neglected to look there for answers is beyond me.
“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30
Thank you, Lord, for redirecting me. You KNOW I’m a work in progress.
Do you ever have something spark a memory and you don’t want to stop thinking about it? It’s like a wonderful memory that was almost forgotten, but for some odd reason you were reunited with it.
Here’s mine….I remember the days when I would watch my mom apply makeup, do her hair, and then stand in front of her closet as she pondered what to wear. I loved it when she was getting ready for a special occasion – which was rare. She always made little pin curls with bobby pins and lots of hairspray. I can smell it now. Like, why use perfume when you use all that hairspray? It smelled sooooo good!
She would always add a little dab of perfume on the inside of each wrist and on both sides of her neck. It was like the finishing touches before she headed out the door.
I always thought she was beautiful and I wondered if I would look like her when I grew up. I was told I resembled her when I was little, however, our personalities were nothing alike — or so I thought. Unfortunately, we butted heads many times when I was growing up. There were so many things that would really annoy me. I’m sure she felt the same. Never in a million years did I think I would be anything like her, but here I am – so much like her.
What no one tells you when you’re young is that it’s not easy growing older. Not for women, anyway. I wish I would’ve known that years ago. Maybe it would’ve helped me to understand my mom and why she did the things she did. I remember the day she started coloring her hair. I couldn’t understand why. I thought the little bit of gray made her look classy, but she disagreed. Then, came contacts. She hated wearing glasses and told me she looked “younger” without them. Why does she want to look younger, I thought. Last, the change in diet. It was like she was eating off a different menu than us. I never understood it.
Listen, If you’ve given birth to at least one child, every part of your body changes. I admit it’s a little depressing to listen to younger (even 5 years younger) women talk about their exercise regime and diets. You go home and look at your body in the mirror. It’s like you’re not sure if you should give up and accept things as they are or try to do something about what you don’t like. Is it worth it, or am I trying to achieve something that isn’t attainable? Are those days of feeling good about yourself gone? Maybe I should just appreciate the fact I’m still alive?!
Then, you stand closer to the mirror and look at your face. Here’s the thing. As your children grow up, your days are filled with busy schedules, sleepless nights, lots of decisions, and many prayers. Every wrinkle on my face is a testimony to all of that. Why some women don’t have wrinkles, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because they have good genes, stayed out of the sun, or drink gallons of water every day. What I DO know is that I’m jealous of them. One benefit of wearing a mask during Covid is that it covers up what you don’t like. The downside is I’ve become comfortable hiding my face. It has become my security blanket. Not kidding.
After writing all of the above, I realize it all sounds totally vain and that I’m probably putting too much emphasis on an outward appearance rather than my heart. Perhaps that’s true. But the reality of looking “older” isn’t easy and I pray I’ll accept the next change that comes along.
The truth is, I don’t want to waste my “last” days on this earth constantly feeling embarrassed about my dry, skinny hands, wrinkles on my face, my love handles, out of shape tummy, and my not so firm thighs. No, I want my days to be filled with appreciation that there’s still breath in my lungs. I want to focus on my love for our amazing Savior and letting others know how much He loves THEM, and that I’ve been blessed with my wonderful family and friends. Goals.