A Snake in the Classroom

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I have the privilege of working a K-8 school serving many of those grades each day.  I love my job!  Anytime you work with children, no matter the age, you can always expect surprises.  This particular day was one of those days.

I have a great way to start my day with the Kindergarten.  I have a quick transition from the youngest in the building, to the oldest, 8th grade.  This day was like many others rushing to get to my classroom to my 8th graders waiting on me.  It was a beautiful spring day, not too hot and not to cold, so I decided we would take our reading outside.  I was taking roll and making sure every student knew what the plan were, when one of my students frantically started calling my name over and over.  I walk over and the student is saying, “There is a snake in my binder”.  I immediately thought, this is a joke, but the frantic look on her face told me otherwise.  I said ok, let me see it, I think still in disbelief.  The binder opens up and there, in the binder is a python.  At first I thought, this cant be real, its the end of the year and this is a little practical joke to make me remember them.  Foolishly, I reach down to touch the “snake” and it wasn’t plastic and its hiss gave away its irritation at my prodding.  Immediately,  I had to swing in action.  My first job was to get all of my students out of the room, away from harm.  Second, make sure the snake was contained until we figured out what to do.  Eventually, the snake was picked up and the excitement was over and I was able to return to my room.  I sat down at my desk and just took a deep breathe,  almost is disbelief of what had just transpired.  It happened to be a few minutes where I would be planning and I found myself weeping.  You see,  the past year and half or so my family and I have experienced loss, warfare, and hurt in ways I could have never imagine would happen.  Just like the snake in my classroom, the devil had taken my father from us.  Not by death, but by sin. My husband, and I am not just saying this, one of the most gifted, humble, and expositors of the word has been experiencing trials in ministry I never thought could happen.  I began to experience trials at work that were adding to the stress, that to this day makes absolutely no sense.  What was going on?  We were under attack.  That snake in the classroom, coming out of no where, is exactly how our enemy, satan attacks.  As I sat at my desk I felt the urge to open the word and to just cry out for protection for my family, and if He chose not to protect in order to bring Him glory, that He would give us the strength to hold fast and stand firm.  You see friends the word tells us in 2 Corinthians 11:3 “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”  Basically that serpent is crafty, deceiving and the author of division and confusion.  So what do we do?  How do we prepare ourselves for the snake in the classroom?  In that situation,  when the attacks rise,  our response matters and could change the course of our lives.  With the snake in my classroom, my first responsibility was the safety of those students entrusted to me.  So spiritually what is our first response?  I think Paul said it best in Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil”.  Do you see that?  We’ve got to armor up,  Paul was really specific here, “Put on the full armor”, not just part of it.  I love that he tells us just before giving us the armor to remember, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places”.  Do you see it?  We do not wrestle against the things of this world.  This is bigger.  The enemy is fighting for our children, marriages, jobs, health, and churches.  Why?  He uses all forces to keep us from sharing the message of the gospel.  He does not want us to spread the Word.  He will battle cunningly and use temptations to take us where we never thought we would go.  Basically, the preaching and teaching of the word is a threat to him, because those who study and devour the word will turn the world upside down with the truth of the gospel.  Knowledge in this case is a threat.  He would rather us be deficient and malnourished lacking knowledge of the word of God.  I would love to end this by saying the attacks are better and we are just sailing along, but that would be a lie.  The arrows have only increased and in ways I never dreamed possible, but Iam tightening my armor, because the battle wages on.  So I leave you with His words of protection from Him.  My gift today was the snake in my classroom and the gentle reminder that I better be on guard constantly, because that snake is showing up all the time in my life.  My daughter saw me writing this and asked how could that be a gift?  My answer was simple, maybe, Grace, it will make me more like Him and give me the opportunity to share the gospel.  What a gift to be shared.  Let’s armor up, the battle wages on.

Epesians 6:14-20

“Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;  and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, praying at all times, in the spirit with all prayer and supplication”

 

 

 

 

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Hawaii and Hospital

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This summer in celebration of our 14th anniversary I was given a trip to Hawaii.  This trip had been long in the making, as it was a Christmas gift.  This year Dwight decided that he would give me an experience, instead of a material gift.  In addition to a trip to Hawaii, I was told some of our favorite peeps would be joining us on this adventure.  My Dwight is quite the travel agent.  He well planned every detail.  The trip started off with a bang.  Well except that Jason didn’t get lei’d as he got off the airplane, but that’s another story!  The beauty was overwhelming!  On our first full day there we were able to snorkel at Black Rock and see the most vibrant colors up close of tropical fish.  We also had to move out of the way of some very large sea turtles, who were so majestic and looked heavy with time on their shells.  We were gifted with a helicopter ride to Hana with a van ride down.  It was glorious beauty, with His handprint all over it.  There was one spot that day, that held my attention and only later would it come back to me as a significant reminder.  Jennifer and I were given a gift by our husbands with a two hour massage and facial, while they fished!  We were having a great time with lots of adventure.  However lurking in the background my dear friends belly continued to have pain, discomfort, and swelling.  My dear friend  has Crohn’s disease.  It all came to a abrupt halt on the night our peeps had given us the gift of a sunset cruise and dinner.  That night we weren’t looking at the sunset but at a hospital emergency room, and instead of dinner, Jason, Dwight, and I were filled with fear as watched someone we love experience a disease flair.  My dear friend was suffering and we were scared for her, as the prognosis had us fearing surgery.  At times like these you go into full throttle survival mode.  Outside the sliding door was the view of a beautiful ocean with crashing waves and professional surfers taking advantage of unusually high waves, but we couldn’t see the beauty only fear.  There were so many unknowns and many concerns, but Gods presence and peace sustained us through the unknowns.  First miracle and gift was the Maui hospital staff was amazing and was able to meet needs in speedily time.  Second, God provided a private room, with a great ocean view.  This was such a gift because Jennifer was sharing a room and there was constant shady company and rest was almost impossible!  After all, He is our great provider!  Thirdly, he gave us Jillian, a nurse, who became a friend, whom we all hope to see again soon.  Fourthly, it was time for us to check out of our condo and we were having a hard time finding a place to stay, but God met that need by gifting us with amazing friends who not only found us a great place to stay, but paid for it.  They’re still in trouble for that one.  Fifthly, and most important He gave us a church family to intercede and pray us through.  Are, you seeing it, He was there every step of the way.  Our sweet church family was starting Bible School and due to some changes we felt very eager to get back and help.  I can remember sitting in the hospital feeling not only anxious, but guilty because we were not there.  I distinctly remember a verse in Psalm singing in my ear, Psalm 94:19 “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul”.  I had no answers as to why here, why now, or why in general, but I know this, He allowed it, and He is in control and I must trust His plan.  Thankfully, we were able to come home four days later.  By the way, we were discharged and Jennifer was able to spend one night in the condo to recover a bit.  I think that was a gift as well.  Sitting on the deck , listening, and watching the waves.  His handprint rolling in with every wave.  Sixthly, the Maui hospitality was able to get the four of us on a flight early the next morning.  We were going home.

I was reminded our last day as we were watching the waves eagerly awaiting for news about plane tickets, about the significant spot I told you about earlier.  On our ride down from Hana, we stopped at an ocean view with lots of jagged lava rock.  The tide was coming in and with great force it would encompass the rocks sticking out and take them over. But just as soon as the water receded, calm.  The past year and a half has felt turbulent like the water crashing on the lava rock.  The water came in with such force and power overtaking the rock and slowly shaving it away.  Just as quick as the water rushed in, it was ushered back out!  He controls the sea.    I couldn’t explain why this had happened to me dear friend or why depression, fear, and anxiety had robbed me of so much the past year and half,  and seemed like there would never be an end.  John Piper said it best, so I use his words, “not only is all your affliction momentary, not only is all your affliction light in comparison to eternity and the glory there.  But it is all totally meaningful.  Every millisecond of your pain, from the fallen nature or fallen man, every millisecond of your misery in the path of obedience is producing a peculiar glory you will get because of that.  I don’t care if it was cancer or criticism.  I don’t care if it was slander or sickness.  It wasn’t meaningless.  It’s doing something!  Its not meaningless!  Of course you cant see what it’s doing.  Don’t look to what is seen.  When your mom dies, when you kid dies, when you’ve got cancer at 40, when a car careens into the sidewalk and takes her out, don’t say, “That’s meaningless!”.  Its not.  Its working for you an eternal weight of glory.  Therefore, therefore, do not lose heart.  But take these truths and day by day focus on them.  Preach them to yourself every morning.  Get alone with God and preach his word into our mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are cared for”

There were many gifts given on the Hawaii trip, but I can sum it up like this to my dear ones.  Jennifer, church, friends, its not meaningless.  Don’t walk among the seen, but the unseen.  Oh, sing for joy because we are cared for and praise be, it all has an eternal weight of glory. The turbulent waters will roll in but He has a purpose.  Friendships, prayer warriors bonded, and new leaders rising up for an amazing Bible School!

Grace and Taco Bell

So this is an old blog post, but I’m trying to update this blog and as I came across and read this post it made me smile again!  The gift of the day, Grace and Taco Bell!

Last night some fears and insecurities of the past year were confirmed!  It was the kind of reality that causes an ache in your chest to where you feel your heart might explode!  Psalm tells us “mourning may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning”.  I didn’t see how that would be possible as I found my mind racing!  I began to quote over and over, “I will lay down and sleep in peace, for you alone Oh, Lord make me dwell in safety”.  Sleep eventually found me!  I woke up this morning with those swollen eyes and dark circles.  The emotions found tears in my eyes as I got ready for school.  I felt His presence and found joy, a gift, watching Grace fix her hair, looking so grown up and Haddon rolling around the floor wrapped up in my quilt wrestling Elsa.  I hugged and kissed Dwight goodbye and got in the car to head to school.  On the way to school some of the fog was still rising from the green rolling hills and the words whispered sweet to my ears, “everywhere I go I see You, everywhere I go I see You”.  He was gently whispering I’m here!  I though this day due to lack of sleep, might require and extra large dose of my drink addiction, Dt, Mt. Dew!  I have developed a bad habit of pulling through Taco Bell and getting a large Dt. Mt. Dew on my way to school and have built a friendship with the manager, who is usually at the window when I drive up!  She usually doesn’t charge me and we sit and share prayer requests at the window and even pray at the window.  This morning I pulled up, and she spoke these words, “I saw you coming, so I got it ready for you, just pull forward”.  Tears welled up in my eyes and wanted to stream down my face, because that’s how my Savior loves me.  He saw this coming.  He knows how it will end.  The best part, is He is here with me guiding me, and sometimes even carrying me with His patience, love, compassion, and all redeeming Grace!  So today I go to school to share His joy, even in sadness because He goes before me, He sees the trials coming, but He’s already there with exactly what I need!  I pray this encourages you!  He sees us coming, just pull forward!

 

 

Its The After Party I Like Best…

This summer has been a whirl wind of activity and travel, so I’m a little behind on writing.  However its been a summer of learning, loving, and surprises.  This is one of my favorites:

What a blessing to be able to see our friends in Leland and celebrate the 4th, a long tradition with our friends.  This time we were celebrating but also anxious because Kirby is being deployed.  Wilmington this time of year is like an oven.  Hot, dry and humid, yep that about sums it up!  The days leading up to the 4th we were busy planning, crafting, and running errands.  The day of the 4th it was especially steamy!  It was a full day of preparation, with many details to be attended to.  Plus between the two families our five children to entertain.  The day was a whirlwind.  The time of the party was arriving quickly and it appeared that the usual afternoon thunderstorm may put a damper on the evening.  There was the rolls of thunder and lightening, with some scattered showers.  Just as the storm passed it was full throttle.  The time for guests to be arriving had come and there was much to be done.  Several family and friends began to show up and help set up and prepare for the guests.  It was a beautiful party with lots of old friends, yummy food, and a circle surrounding Kirby and Heather, praying for His safety while deployed and the family he is leaving behind!  Before we knew it, people were gathering their chairs and children heading home.  There were a few friends and family that stayed and helped us clean up and get things in and back in order, but soon, it was just our two families again.  I had been in the kitchen and I walked outside and heard music, dancing, and laughter!  We all sat down and took a deep breath and enjoyed watching our kids dance while playing with sparklers.  It was then that the perfect song came on and the soldier and his wife danced in the moonlight!  Yes, its the After Party I like best.  Where you just simply enjoy, relax, tell stories about the days events, and just dance free!  I sat casually in the outdoor chair watching my dear friend and her beloved treasure the moment together.  As I sat and watched our children, my beloved, and my friends I was reminded of all we had been through together and even the events of the past six months.  I was reminded that life is kinda like the preparation for the party.  This world is hard and toilsome, with trials and hurt lurking all around waiting to devour our joy.  However, the after party, heaven, is where the true joy awaits and no more of the trials or heartache, just Grace!

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

“So we do not loose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things, that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

There were many gifts I could count today, but my favorite is the gift of the After Party!

 

 

First blog post

My name is Lee Ann Jenkins.  I am a child of the King, who called me to be His and has forgiven me of all my sins past, present, and future–my greatest gift.  I am a wife to Dwight, set up on a blind date by a former pastor.  He is my second greatest gift.  I am mother to Grace and Haddon–my third greatest gifts.  I am a pastor’s daughter and a pastor’s wife–my fourth greatest gift.

This is about an everyday journey desiring to be more like Him and sharing how, even though my life and days are not perfect, He is.  Everyday in the midst of joy, pain, or sorrow, He loves and He gifts.