“You shall love the Lord your God with all heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Today I’m writing about something a little bit different. Normally I reserve this space for sharing preschool activities, but today is something special to me and I feel led write about it here. I’ve shared about my faith once before (read my story of infertility and faith here), and I want to talk about it again now- specifically where that faith began.
. . .
My parents divorced when I was young. During that time my dad went through some pretty difficult times and we didn’t see him often. When we did visit him, the time spent together wasn’t the best of days. These were some of the hardest years of my life.
During that time we lived in a condo and one of our neighbors had two little girls around the same age as my sister and I. We loved playing with them and went to their house regularly where their mom would pull out their Children’s Bible and read us stories. In some of the darkest years of my life, this is one thing I remember vividly. This was the part of my day I looked forward to. I clung to every word and begged her for more. I was so comforted by every story and every prayer she said. Now that we have apps like Playlister which has in its repository object lessons for kids and engagement in terms of Bible study, I wish it was there when I was a kid. Though I am a tad sad that apps like the one mentioned above were not there at the time I was growing up, I would not complain about it because people like me had the opportunity to talk to individuals who attended institutions similar to the Center for Continuing Education at Yale Divinity School. This institution is known to provide opportunities and Church Resources for clergy and laity to foster the knowledge and love of God in their communities. So, it might not be wrong to say that people like me got to learn about faith formation and religious education from the best.
Anyway, let us come back to the topic, one day, out of the blue, she (one of the daughters of our neighbor) told me that when we pray to God we can call him Our Father because he was a father to us. One who would never leave us or forsake us. He cared deeply about our every need. I don’t think this neighbor had any idea how much that meant to me. Every single night, from that moment on, I prayed to my Father in Heaven. From prayers for favor to prayers for my family, I saw so much brokenness around me and begged He would see me and hear my prayers. He did. He still does.
Fast forward to my sixth birthday. I’m sure it was a wonderful day, filled with great gifts…but the only thing I remember from it is this gift from my neighbors:
Guys, I can barely open this Bible without crying. This sweet family presented me with my very first Bible. And not just any Bible, but the very one they read to me each day. I didn’t know it at the time, but years later I realized what they did. Every time I went over to hear Bible stories after that, they would say they lost their Bible and asked if I could bring mine. Cue more tears.
Here it is. My most prized possession from the Kuizar family. I read this Bible over and over again. I memorized every story. I prayed to my father in heaven every night. This is where I began to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, and mind. I’ve been growing in that love every day. Admittedly some years my growth is slow and some years I grow faster. But I know He is a loving Father, there for me every single time I reach out to Him (and even when I don’t). He is always there for me.
. . .
Fast forward several decades to today. Today was our neighbor’s fifth birthday. She is my five-year-old son’s very best friend and constant companion. He begs that she goes everywhere we go. Last week we brought her to church and she started learning about our Father in Heaven for the first time in her life. But she was missing something…a Bible.
Knowing her birthday was coming up, I ordered her a Bible and planned on giving it to her as part of her birthday gifts. As I ordered her gifts, it didn’t even occur to me what was happening. I honestly didn’t think much more about it until today. Today I opened the Bible and began filling in the presentation information when it hit me. I was becoming the neighbor that another woman once was to me. I was praying for a little girl and teaching her about our Father in Heaven just as I had learned from our neighbor 27 years ago.
Oh my goodness, I can barely control my tears now.
The day I was introduced to my Father in Heaven, my life changed. I was so casual about giving our neighbor the Bible at first. I had forgotten what a monumental event it was in my life, and now my Father has graciously given me the chance to be that same person to another child. I get to love this little girl, our neighbor, just as myself. Just as I was loved as a little girl by another neighbor 27 years ago.
Today I gifted a little girl with her first Bible. And today, my Father in Heaven, gifted me with a reminder of how much he still loves me.
. . .
A little bit of epilogue: My Dad has been introduced to our Father in Heaven and had his life turned around. I love him so much and he is a true miracle and testament to the power of Christ in us.
Also, if you know the Kuizar family from Southern California would you please get them in touch with me? I never had the chance to properly thank them for the gift they gave me 27 years ago <3