You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Children’ category.

IMG_3709aIMG_2292I was working the concession stand the other day for my youngest daughter’s volleyball game (Broken Arrow freshman team), when I glanced out toward the gym and saw a little girl around the age of two playing on the bars by the gym seats. From the back the little girl totally reminded me of my oldest daughter, Braelyn, (who will be 19 this Wed.). In an instance, Braelyn’s life flashed before me! I stood motionless staring at this precious little girl who was oblivious to anyone around her -she was captivated by playing on the simple bars meant to help persons stepping down to a seat.

The background music at the time was an oldie by Miley Cyrus – one that when Braelyn was in middle school used to dance to – “Everyone Makes Mistakes”. I felt like I could go up to this little girl’s mom and tell her, “Everything will turn out better than you can imagine”. Even though this mom hasn’t even had the memorable privilege of putting her daughter in kindergarten yet, and even though the dreaded teenage years seem so far removed from the both of them, I felt like telling her that loving her little girl will be one of the most rewarding acts you could ever do in life.

See…Braelyn went to college less than a month ago. She is having the time of her life at her Dad’s and my alma mater – Oklahoma Baptist University. Before she left I had a lot of family and friends ask me if I was going to be alright with her going away. My answer was always, “Well of course!” This is exactly what we reared her to do – go away to a four-year college to continue her education and enjoy some freedom away from mom and dad. I was nothing less than ecstatic for her!! Moving day was a breeze…that is until her two sisters began to tear up.

Now…I am going through a grief I did not expect. Having three daughters in four years has been all-consuming! I felt as if I hadn’t come up for air since the day my first was born. I never imagined myself with an empty nest; it didn’t seem even remotely possible. I don’t want to come home to an empty house in four years which is when my youngest will be entering her freshman year in college.

Not sure I can actually pinpoint my grief completely. It may be a sense of gratitude of being all of my daughters mom and having had the blessing and oh so enormous responsibility of bringing them up in this oh so crazy place called Earth in the 21st century! I may not have gone to every game they played, ordered every school picture, volunteered at their school regularly, read to them as often as they would have liked, or given them all name brand clothing, BUT I do believe they know that I love them and that the One who created their beautiful bodies and knows them more than me loves them with an infinite love.

To all the moms who are just beginning the adventure of being a parent – I know the days are long, the messes are plenty, the money is short, and your energy is small. But know that your reward is great! Each small endeavor you invest into your child’s future really is no little thing! Enjoy as many moments in the mundane dailyness of life as you seek God in all things. He keeps you together!

The past 2 school years I subbed in 23 of Broken Arrow’s 25 public schools- elementary to middle school to high school. I thoroughly enjoyed the adventure of it all. The students were fascinating to me and I studied them like a textbook. I did write down some of the little to big experiences I had upon being in the schools with these charming little… students. Some of the tales I will relate are cute and some are on the more serious side. These tales are of our students today; this generation for which we are courageously responsible.

September ’10     Elementary School

As I was assigned to indoor recess duty for a Kindergarten class, a group of boys were sitting around a round table talking (which is quite humorous in itself) when they began asking me questions. Questions like, “Guess my first name.” And “Guess my last name”. I was truly trying to guess, then just for fun I threw out the name “Obama”. One little 5 year old boy replied excitedly, “That’s my grandma’s new president!”

 

October ’10     Elementary School

During large group circle time in a Kindergarten class, I was needing to know a particular boy’s name so that I could tell him something I needed him to do. (That is one of the hardest things about subbing…not knowing the students’ names!) So I asked the boy what his name is. The boy said “Josh”. The boy next to him said, “His name is always Josh”.

 

October  ’10     Middle School

I had a two day job assignment in American History in the same classroom. On the second day one girl told me I looked familiar. Then her friend responds, “Well she was our sub yesterday!”

 

October ’10     Middle School

The students in the classroom were working on an assignment in partners. I walked around the room overseeing their work. Two girls who were partners were working really well, then out of the blue I overheard one girl ask the other, “Are you going to save your first kiss until you get married?” The girl being asked looked down at her book, shrugged her shoulders, and said,”I don’t know”. Apparently, the girl had already given away her first kiss. Then the girls continued on with their assignment.

 

April ’11      Middle School

I was in a small LD English class when one of the boys told me he had heart problems. “Yeah”, he told me, “my head and my brain are not on the same page.” I asked him who had told him that. He said, “My heart doctor. I think they are called cardiologists”. I pronounced the word correctly to him and he agreed. Then he found a book and pointed to a page and said “that is my heart”. Then he pointed to another page and said “that is my brain”.

 

May ’11     Elementary School

I took my designated second grade class to music for our “specials” time. We had to wait our turn into the music class so we waited in the hall. The hall was especially noisy- teachers were talking and another class was lined up down the hall for their “specials” time. As I stood monitoring my class as they were not quiet or still themselves, one little boy blatantly told me “I’m going to kill myself”. Yes, unfortunately, I had heard right. It was such a shocking statement from a 2nd grader. I was totally taken aback. I immediately told him that he is such a cute little boy and that he is needed and has a purpose here. I told him he has a goal to find out what his purpose is. He said that he was needed and that his “place is at the bottom of the ocean”.

 

September ’11     Elementary School

I had recess duty after the students lunch time. I was tired of standing all morning,so I found a bench within the playground and watched the students. One of my “favorite” students (a 1st grader) saw me and joined me on the bench. She sat and visited with me for quite some time. We talked about her summer and her family vacation to Florida and how she got stung by a jelly fish. We talked about her cute blond, curly hair. She told me her parents are both teachers. Then she said she wanted to go do the monkey bars. And she skipped away.

 

These are just a few of my substitute experiences. I will share more later.

So much to learn from our children…so much to teach them.

 

I am home today (not subbing) while my 3 daughters are getting even more brilliant being at school! On my days off I usually like to spend the majority of the day writing, doing research, and hearing from God as I am now in the beginning stages of writing my third Bible study. The other part of my day I like to spend exercising and cleaning! Am I not just the most fun person you have ever met?! The house has been quiet today except for the rattling of my dog’s collar as she follows me around the house or the snoring of her sleeping. Sometimes I like to listen to the radio when I write, other times it has to be quiet. Today is a quiet kind of day knowing my daughters are soon to be arriving off the bus with many a tales to be told including who wore what, who said what, who ate what, which teacher said what, and how hot the bus was!

In the middle of my what others would deem as a boring day (but never to me), I came across a cute little notebook of one of my girls. I noticed there were some lyrics written in it, but I paid no attention to it as I had my own writing to get busy doing. After lunch, and as I was doing dishes, I decided to see exactly what was in the notebook. I then burst into complete out loud laughter. Don’t you just love it when your children surprise you with something you didn’t know about them?!

I will tell you what was written. I am suspecting it was written by my youngest and middle daughter as they have a sense of humor only they share. But first, you need to be aware of the song by Bruno Marrs called “Just the Way You Are”. The song is about a guy telling a girl that she is amazing just the way she is and that he wouldn’t change a thing about her. I’m sure you all have heard it (all 5 of you who read my blogs 🙂 )! It is a fabulous song!

Anyway…this is what made me burst into laughter:

“When I see your face, there’s a whole lot of things I would change. Cuz girl your soooo ugly, it comes naturally. Her laugh, her laugh, sounds like a cranky, old lady. Her smile, her smile, crooked and a whole lot of yellow. Her eyes, Her eyes, full of bags and a whole lot droopy. Your sooo ugly and I tell her everyday. When I see your face I feel like I’m in a scary place cuz girl you are sooo ugly, it comes naturally.”

I promise my girls are not the “mean girls” you read about in the magazines…they are just silly with a quirky sense of humor! I’m glad they gave me some comic relief amidst a very serious day. Thanks girls!!

Every once in a while my spiritual eyes will reveal something to me I wasn’t necessarily looking for. Other times, I am deliberate about asking God to show me something in particular with my spiritual eyes concerning a person or circumstance so that I can get a glimpse of what is going on in the heavenly realm and not just the natural or what is obvious to the natural man’s eyes. Seeing with my spiritual eyes is tapping into the supernatural…it is seeing with God’s spirit within me.

So…as I was subbing in a 5th grade class the last week of school, the teacher left a movie for us to watch. It was one I hadn’t seen before or even heard of. The movie was Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. (You can watch a trailer for it by clicking on the the hyperlink if you haven’t seen it.) Basically the movie is about a magical toy store where the toys/books come to life. Natalie Portman is the main character who inherits the store and through the character played by Jason Bateman saves the store from financial ruin. I’m not into magic, so I didn’t really like the movie although it is clean and entertaining. It is not one I would own. Personally, I believe anything magical is a counterfeit of Satan. You may say that is a little extreme and what’s so wrong with a  little childish make believe. Magical is more than a child’s imagination. To me, it involves mystery and wonder and powers. If something is magical and cannot be explained especially to a child to understand, I am not for that. I would rather spend my time pointing a child to the mystery, wonder, and powers of God Almighty as opposed to some unseen force! Never would I ever associate magical with God or even faith in God. God is supernatural as well as our faith in Him; it is of His Holy Spirit who is a person of the trinity.

Anyway…as I was watching the movie, my spiritual eyes saw something. I will try to explain. In a scene, a customer in the toy store is looking for a fire truck for her grandson, and she asks the store manager (Natalie Portman) where she can find the fire truck. The store manager then gets out an enormous book and begins to think out loud whether she wants to look in the big book under “E” for engine or “F” for fire truck. She runs her fingers along the side of the book and asks the book for a fire truck. When she opens the book smoke comes out, and on top of the pages out pops the fire truck her grandson wanted. Customer asks, “How did you do that?” Store manager replies, “I didn’t do anything. The book is magic.”  After I watched the scene unfold, my spirit within me was awakened and I saw on screen exactly the way I feel about the Bible. Actually, it isn’t just the way I “feel”…it is what the Bible is…alive, real, and relevant for today. “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

I want to be like the store manager in the movie. Through the teaching of God’s Word, I want to reveal the wonders, the mysteries, and the power of God and His holy Word to others. Just like she replied that it wasn’t her…so I too know it isn’t me, but the power of God Himself speaking truth into one’s soul and spirit. I am just the vessel. The stories in the Old Testament are so far from boring and are not so familiar that they lose its power or mystery. Can’t you just see the stories come to life as you turn the pages of the Bible. You could see Noah’s ark surviving the rain and preserving those in it, Moses turning the river into blood, God writing on the tablets of stone, Jericho walls falling, David playing the harp, Naomi meeting Boaz for the first time, Nehemiah with calvary on his way to help the Jews in Jerusalem, Jonah being ejected from a big fish, and the list could go on and on!

God has so graciously given us the Holy Spirit who reveals the mysteries of God. As you and I spend time alone with God reading His Word, may it come alive and minister to you and me! Pray as David did, “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.”

I don’t get the time to blog as much as I would like to, and when I do, my blogs are usually on the positive, upbeat side. Today, however, I am grieved in my spirit. For whatever reason, the images I saw this morning on “The Today Show” really upset me. I have seen similar disturbing images before on Prime Time TV (we don’t even own cable or satellite), and have been bothered, but not as much as I am today. I was then grieved again this morning when I dropped my children off for Kids Camp at the church, I was talking with one of my 10 year old’s friends who was wearing a Justin Bieber t-shirt. I made a comment about it and she quickly responded with “He is my future husband” even with her mom standing there. I don’t dismiss comments like that as being “childish”. It is serious business to me when a child’s heart is leading her thoughts astray from God’s best for her.

My time in God’s Word today just happened to center on God’s wrath. The events of my morning made me ponder how God could stand us any longer?! Isn’t He so disgusted with us? Yes, I may look at others and see unrighteousness, but I also know in my own heart the unrighteousness that bothers me and disgusts God too. What is He to do with us? As I was reminded in Scripture that God is patient with us and desires our repentance (2 Peter 3:9). I appreciate God’s patience in my own life and confess my sin and turn from it. But what about the world? When will we see repentance, integrity, modesty, morals, and so forth from them? How much worse will it really get? What will it take for them to want to want God and His ways?  Revelation 9 actually answers some of these questions. Unfortunately, it is a sad picture of what is to come. John wrote what he saw take place in heaven. In Rev. 9 John writes about the wrath to come upon the earth towards the ones who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads, “During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.” At the end of the chapter he writes, “The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood-idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.”  Rev. 16 speaks again of more plagues God brings upon those on the earth to get their attention to repent, and yet again they refused (Rev.16:8-11).  Some will be so stubborn, they will never repent. God is faithful and desires their repentance and is patient with man. He is loving and gracious. Even so, they will miss out on the best to come…heaven!

We may never have role models in Hollywood, on the golf greens, on the bball courts, in movies, on ball fields, etc. But will you be a role model for today’s youth? They are so desperate to find and know someone who is truly living out God’s principles in their daily lives. Thank you to all who have exemplified Jesus Christ in my life! I am so grateful for those who have gone on before me and who are still living out their faith even in the hard times!  May this be said of us, “They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead-Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).

I am currently reading a terrific book titled Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions by George Barna.  It is a book for parents as well as those serving in the ministry to children.  Middle school and high school students fall into the category of “children”.  This book truly edifies those who are investing their lives in the spiritual development of students.  And if you are not investing at this particular time in your life, the book inspires you to start!  I want to let you read a small portion. 

“Now, return to your true persona.  You are  lover and servant of God and therefore an enemy of Satan.  Given Satan’s single-minded purpose-destroy God and rule the universe-we can count on him to put his most destructive resources into play at the front lines of the eternal battle against God.  Where are those front lines? In the minds, hearts and souls of children.  Ever the strategic mastermind, Satan knows well that if you destroy the character and hope of children, you rule the world!  Satan is not omnipotent, but he is intelligent and clever-certainly sharp enough to realize  that if you win over children, you have won the war for at least one generation and probably more.”

Barna goes on to say:

“If we do a great job of training children to love God with all their heart, mind, strength and soul, then we will no longer have to invest time battling over moral and spiritual issues such as abortion, homosexuality, gambling and pornography.  The ways of God will flow naturally from the lives of the people who have embraced Him and His principles.  We could trust our children to do what is right, because entrenched in their heart, mind and soul is an unshakable understanding of what is right and a compelling desire to act accordingly.” 

So…off you go to do a “great job”!

See you on the battlefield!

Using the coupons my girls got from the library’s reading program we visited the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks today. This was my first visit.  I highly recommend it.  Not only did I take my 3 girls, but I also brought along one of my oldest daughter’s good friends as well as the baby girl I babysit twice a week.  We marveled at every single fish, turtle, anemone, and all the fascinating sea creatures God so creatively designed!  One creature was called a sea cucumber. Check this out… a sea cucumber in self-defense can eject internal organs at it’s predator, then grow new organs!  Crazy, huh?

At the end of the aquarium there is a large pool full of sting rays that are swimming  right below our noses.  If we wanted, we could have reached our hands into the pool and caught one. One of the things that comes to my mind immediately ( and maybe yours as well) when I see a sting ray or hear about one, is the tragedy that occurred to Jeff Irwin (Crocodile Hunter).  Anyway…as all 6 of us girls were peering into the pool, a role reversal came about.  I was holding Marlee (baby girl, 16 months old) so that she could see the “fishees” swim.  My oldest, Braelyn, got so nervous and concerned for Marlee.  Braelyn told me numerous times to “hold her tightly”.  Instead of me telling Braelyn not to get so close or to not touch the water, she was instructing me.  You see, Braelyn (being almost 13) had a rational fear of the consequences of touching the sting ray.  She also knew, Marlee did not.  Marlee had no clue that if I dropped her, life and death were at stake… not just with the sting rays, but with the water as well.  I am so proud of my daughter for feeling for someone else.  Braelyn had the heart of a parent for those few moments.  That is definitely one of our jobs as parents is to forsee danger then help prevent our child(ren) from entering the danger. In the same way, Our Heavenly Father can see things we cannot. He knows things we do not.  He loves us infinitely.  He warns us.  He sends the red flags.  May we be so careful to listen to His tender voice that we stay clear of the danger zone and instead marvel at His wonders!        string ray

world_in_palm

 

My husband and I were at Falls Creek with the youth group this week.  We took our youngest daughter,Landrey, with us and her best friend.  During one of the worship times in the new tabernacle, we sang a song that had the words “He holds the world in His hands”.  Landrey got Rich’s attention and asked him, “Does God really hold the world with His 2 hands or does He set it down on a table?”  Adorable.  Children take things so literally – I love that!  Have you heard  a child say something adorable lately?

I sometimes wonder “what’s around the corner?” for my life.  You know… what does God have in store for me – I know it will be good-so what is “up His sleeve”?  golden_retriever Sometimes days get really routine, then there are days where you don’t recognize anything.  Well…today (April 7th) may seem like a really normal, routine Monday…but I have a gigantic surprise for my family.  I totally cannot believe I am going to do this!!  My girls have wanted a dog since they could recognize a dog in a picture book.  They talk about dogs obsessively.  If they see a dog in a picture or on the road, they can easily identify the type of dog it is.  They are dog lovers to the core, but have not had one since we had to give away our poodle (who unfortunately did not care for the girls) 4-5 yrs ago.   So…tonight we will go to a friend’s house just for fun, then get Toby a golden retriever 6 month old dog.  They will be the happiest children alive in that moment! 

Stay close to God and obey His sweet, tender voice.  He has something extra special for you – something with your name on it.  He has things planned for us we cannot fathom!!  Have you “turned a corner” lately to find a surprise from God?

girl reading book

Locally known, Monica Epperson, has written a children’s book entitled A Heart with Two Homes for children of divorced parents.  I had lunch with Monica yesterday in her gorgeous home and felt God’s peaceful presence among us.  Monica’s heart is first for her King, then for her family, and then for those children who don’t understand themselves in light of divorce.  To learn more about Monica and her book please visit:http://aheartwithtwohomes.com/index.htm.

God has given each of His prince’s and princesses gifts, talents, abilities, skills, knowledge, etc… for us to use for His kingdom.  It is such a blessing to see those who know their gift and use it for God’s glory.  Sometimes it can be scary or intimidating to use your gift because of fear of what others may say or think.  Ask God to reveal to you ways you can  uniquely build His kingdom then boldly do it.  God will give you the courage and encouraging friends who will support you.  Thank you, Monica, for listening to the Holy Spirit and writing what He put on your heart!  May God truly bless the work of your hands.  

Jennifer Johnson

jenn pic

Books I’ve Written

Ministry Verse

"To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen." -Revelations 1:5b-6

Follow me on Twitter