In John 5:5 Jesus says, “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” The fruit of our labor is to be used for the Father’s glory and for his mission, but only if we remain connected to the vine. Jesus also speaks of love and joy when he urges us to “remain” in him. As a parent of two little ones, I strongly desire for my daughters to experience this love and joy as they grow precious budding branches in the vine rooted in the firm foundation of discipleship. It seems fitting, then, that every day when my daughters and I set foot on the campus of Valley Center Preschool, we are greeted by a colorful tree painted on the office door and the playground wall. The logo of the school itself serves as an important reminder that we are nothing if not connected to the vine — growing in Jesus and learning who God wants us to be for his glory. When I arrive to pick up my daughters at Valley Center Preschool, I also see the children smiling and laughing with their teachers gathered around the large trees on the playground. The presence of the Holy Spirit is evident and I am assured that this preschool is a place where my children are learning to “remain” in Jesus and where they are experiencing enduring love and joy.
Although the campus at Valley Center is small, it is extremely well-kept. The classrooms are bright and brimming with the evidence of little hands, little minds, and little hearts growing in the light of learning. The children are content and confident because they trust and know they are loved. The staff members are affirming and assuring with each child and every parent. This ministry and the service of the staff have profoundly touched our lives. It is a blessing that our family has been a part of Valley Center Preschool since its earliest days.
It was during the summer of 2014 that we prayed and sought a preschool for my older daughter, Olivia. I felt uncertain and uneasy. Where would she go? Who would take care of her with as much love and kindness as I do? How could I spend my days in peace not knowing exactly what she was going through at any given moment? I think every mother asks herself these questions. We had decided to wait until Olivia was three years old to send her out into the big, big world and that moment was approaching rapidly. It was exactly at that time that Pastor Jayme Lenker mentioned to me that PazNaz was opening another preschool at the Valley Center site. I had recently driven past there and I knew the location was situated conveniently close to my work. Then she told me that opening day was scheduled for January 2015, which I thought was odd because preschools usually start a new school year in the fall. I still remember that very moment in Pastor Jayme’s backyard. The warm sun was shining down on us. Many moms and little ones had gathered that day to connect and support one another. The children were laughing as we pushed them on the swings. Was it really an odd date to open a preschool? Not at all! Opening day would coincide with Olivia’s third birthday! God works in mysterious ways, and I knew in my spirit that he was opening this door for us. All we had to do was follow the call to walk through it.
Although I have the great responsibility of nurturing the physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being of my children, I must also remember that I am responsible for nurturing their spiritual growth. Our family is blessed knowing that the teachers and staff at Valley Center Preschool and the body of Christ at PazNaz truly share this task with us.
Our next step was to visit the school. From the moment we set foot on the campus, Olivia was enamored with this new place. She pranced around the halls eagerly. She beamed as she approached each room. Finally, she ran to one of the classrooms. After entering, she claimed it for herself and for our family by saying, “This one is my classroom, mommy!” In doing so she not only secured her spot on the registration list, but she also confirmed in us that this was the place God wanted us to be at that moment.
Olivia started with the inaugural class at Valley Center Preschool and she is now in her third and final year in the program. My daughter enjoys every day she spends there learning and laughing. My second daughter, Alyssa, started attending the preschool in the fall of 2016 as well and currently attends three days a week. Since Alyssa’s very first day, she runs off to her classroom without hesitation. In the morning, when Alyssa wakes up, she asks me, “Is it a school day, mommy?” On the occasions that I say yes, she responds with a delightful, “Yay, yay, yay!” It makes my heart dance and floods my spirit with peace knowing my girls have a place where they feel they belong.
It is truly a blessing to find those moments when I can rest in God’s peace and trust his plan for my children. Life can seem so hectic with little ones and big responsibilities. As we boarded this roller coaster called parenting, our infants have turned into toddlers, our toddlers have turned into preschoolers, and one of our preschoolers is about to turn into a Kindergarten student. Through this transition, I have had to learn to let my children go knowing God will keep them. I am learning to love them so fully, as God does, so their lives align with his purpose and not merely that of my own desire. As I do so, Jesus says that my joy will be complete (John 15:11). Jesus promises that if we remain in him, that he will remain in us. What an assurance!
As a parent it can be overwhelming to think of what our children are facing in this world full of distraction and danger. However; I must choose not to dwell on those things. Instead I choose the hope and joy that Jesus offers. Although I have the great responsibility of nurturing the physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being of my children, I must also remember that I am responsible for nurturing their spiritual growth. Our family is blessed knowing that the teachers and staff at Valley Center Preschool and the body of Christ at PazNaz truly share this task with us. On both campuses, our family has experienced the love and joy of Christ through thoughtful and thriving children’s ministries.
As I wait for my daughters at school in the afternoon, I often admire the playground and I am filled with peace. As we walk to the car, my older daughter frequently asks me to read the words painted on the colorful wooden pencils that are posted along the playground fence. They read: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Each time we read these words it is yet another reminder that each one of us, no matter our age or size, is here to bear fruit for God’s kingdom. As we remain in him, he will remain in us. He will never let us go.
– Heidi Headcock
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