“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
Hmm…a few simple truths in that verse. We are God’s handiwork. Do you make things? Things from wood, yarn, food, paint, metal. When you’ve finished a project, there’s a sense of accomplishment and joy that comes alongside. Out of all the things God can make, He made you! Pretty cool, right?
We were made to do good things, which God already planned out for us. Simply put, there are things here on this earth that only we were made to do. Also cool, right? Although at times, it’s tricky to figure out what those things are, it can be incredibly rewarding when you do something that feels ‘just right’. That something you know you’re good at or seems to be a perfect fit for all the components that make you the unique individual that you are.
Often times, those ‘things we do’, fall into the category of ‘work’ and our jobs. Whether we work at home or out of the home; indoors or outdoors; alone or in community; we spend a LOT of time working. So wouldn’t it be fabulous if all that time we spend working could also be doing those things we were made for? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to love our jobs and know that we are plugged in where God wants us to be?
My friend Kim has that job. It’s the perfect job in the universe because she was perfectly designed for this particular job. Coming out of college, she was on a completely different path than what she is on now. But a nudge in her heart told her that there was something else she was supposed to be doing. She went back to school and started over. She’s beyond great at her job and you know without a doubt that she loves it. Not just because her eyes smile when she talks about it. Not just because the people she works with adore and deeply appreciate her. You know Kim is doing the job God created her for because His love radiates through her as she works. She cares about every little detail and that’s important because she works with a lot of very little people. Ages three and four, to be exact.
Technically, my friend, Kim O’Keefe, teaches nursery school and preschool. But in reality, what she does for a living is give nursery and preschool kids the best start for school that she can. She is one of the best. One of the best in the nation, to be exact, according to Nick Jr. Family magazine. In the issue where she was recognized, there is a photo of ‘Miss O’Keefe’ surrounded by a group of her ‘littles’. But there is something interesting about the photo. That’s how she always looks: surrounded by people, (albeit little people), who truly love her and know that she cares about them.
It was an honor and true joy to have my kids in her class in what seems like a lifetime ago.
Approximately eighty little ones go through her program each year. All those lucky families experience Kim’s giftings. She goes above and beyond what is expected. It starts in the summer, before the beginning of the school season, when each incoming student receives a postcard in the mail welcoming them to school soon. She gently encourages apprehensive students and their weepy, nervous parents, (including those who walk around the perimeter of the school, just to get one more peek into the classroom window-hypothetically speaking, of course. 😉) She introduces important life lessons like making friends, sharing, waiting your turn, kindness, responsibility and compassion in loving and gentle ways. The school year ends with a beautiful poem she wrote herself, but can’t read aloud because it makes everyone cry. She teaches three and four year olds that they are safe; they are special and they are important.
Speaking of important, when the kids tell her about their upcoming events, she listens. She pops in to see dance recitals, soccer games, t-ball matches, and concerts. It’s been well-over twenty years that Kim has been teaching. Doing some rough math, thousands of kids have gone through her nursery and preschool classes and thousands of students and their families will never forget the impact she makes. She keeps in touch, attends grad parties, prays with students and members of their family who are sick and grieves with those who have lost a loved one.
It is a true blessing to see someone doing what they were made for. Teaching three and four year olds is certainly not the job for everyone. But it is for Kim. There is a great book by Max Lucado called ‘A Hat for Ivan’. Do you know this one? Ivan is a boy reaching the age when he can start thinking about what job he would like someday. He goes to his Father, the ‘Hat Maker’, whose job it is to make just the right hat for each person, based on their unique design and what they love. All of Ivan’s neighbors have good intentions and suggest that he wear a hat just like the ones they wear. The carpenter, the fireman, the baker, the music teacher all have hats they pop onto Ivan’s head as they suggest he follow in their footsteps. While Ivan respects those folks, he struggles with wearing their hats. Guess what? They don’t fit Ivan because they weren’t created for Ivan. Ivan discusses this with his Father, who suggests they have their own chat about what Ivan loves, what he is good at and what he was made for.
Bravo! How blessed and fortunate we are to have role models like ‘Miss O’Keefe’ who share their talents and God’s gifts by doing what they were made to do. 💛 “I thank God for you” Philippians 1:3
giving credit where it is due: Thank you, Kim O’Keefe, for letting me share a smidge of your story. Thank you for who you are!
illustration from ‘A Hat for Ivan’ by Max Lucado