All posts by Anna Martin

About Anna Martin

I am a preschool/daycare teacher, and am thrilled to get to center so much of my life around teaching, loving, and learning from my 3-year-olds. When not at work, I enjoy dabbling in various creative projects, reading, spending time outdoors, and being around loved ones. Born, raised, and still living just outside of Bryn Athyn, I’m so grateful to call the church my home. I always enjoy reflecting on and talking about spiritual life, and find myself continually inspired by how neverending growth is, and how consistently the Lord is working with us.

A Sense of Wonder

The other day, out of the blue, one of my preschoolers said something about God. Since my center isn’t church-affiliated, I unfortunately can’t talk about the Lord much with those kids. So when J (4 years old) mentioned God, I was all ears. She told me she has a book about Him. Her eyes were wide with wonder, yet her expression was also sweet and tender – as if she somehow understood the combination of complete power and complete love that is the Lord. She told me with gentle amazement in her voice: “He created the sky, the trees, the flowers…even the snow, and the leaves…the branches…hair. And He even created the people….” She trailed off as if she’d never finish the list. We talked a little more, and I shared how special that was to me too. I could have sat in that moment, acknowledging something bigger than both of us together, forever. I am beyond happy that she knows that the Lord loves her.

One of the things I most like to encourage in children is a sense of wonder – in anything really. The world is so big and amazing to them, and we lose that a little as we grow up and have more of a sense of control. I want to encourage their curiosity, humility, and awe, partly because I think I’m supposed to be relearning those things from them too! I want to encourage them to ask questions that don’t have to be fully answered or understood. We put so much emphasis on knowing. At what point do we know enough that we forget to see things with that childlike wonder? It is good indeed for children to learn, and to grow rational so that they can make their choices in freedom. But I wonder if the innocence and wisdom in their recognition of more
expansive and wonderful things is oftentimes underrated.

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He Is Here

Spring always seems to bring feelings of hope – this year perhaps more than ever. There’s an excitement and vulnerability in feeling things start to change, but knowing it won’t always be quick or controllable. Life seems so miraculous in the spring after everything seemed so dead. 

“Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.’” Genesis 28:16

It was a hard winter. I kept finding myself bewildered about the time-warp that 2020 felt like. It seemed like it never happened in some ways, yet on the other side I was barely holding it together. I felt unmotivated, unuseful, and not good enough. I was living a just-get-through-one-day-at-a-time life, which is hard for me to give myself permission and forgiveness for. The steps forward were hard to do, and harder still since they seemed so small. I’d never quite struggled with feeling unworthy of the Lord so much, but this winter those thoughts crept in a lot.

“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” This quote brings a sense of peace. It usually reminds me that He’s there even when bad things happen. It strikes me more deeply lately.

I’ve noted that a default mindset around my spiritual “success” is sort of in terms of closer or farther from the Lord. When I feel I’ve been slacking in attention to Him, self-betterment, use, etc., I seek the strength and guidance to turn back toward Him again. It seems to me that there’s something really necessary about that way of thinking – about realizing that our choices and motivations are either for or against the Lord, and can’t really be somewhere in the middle. However, though we need to take responsibility for our efforts, the reality is that He is still there no matter how far we feel. No amount of failure will find us without Him.

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While We Wait

I recently saw a media post about “seasons of waiting.” It got me thinking about the idea that “good things come to those who wait,” and how often I find myself waiting. 

It feels especially relevant to me lately, having just started working again after four months of social distancing. Life while work was shut down at first felt like a waiting game as I looked ahead to seeing my preschoolers again and getting back to serving my use. Waiting through the uncertainty and change brought on by Covid-19 seems to suit the topic of waiting particularly well, but I think we do a lot of waiting for other things too. For career goals to take off, for hardships to pass, for future phases of life, for peace, for time, for Christmas, for the weekend.

Waiting is a normal part of life. It’s great to value and look forward to things, and to have things we’re working for or toward. In fact, waiting that looks ahead and motivates work or patience is certainly useful. Therefore, it seems quite natural to pair the idea of waiting with the idea of patience. However, it seems that waiting patiently can sneakily and subtly turn into inaction as well. I’ve found that I’m perfectly capable of waiting lazily or selfishly, and that waiting on its own really isn’t as admirable as it can sometimes feel!

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Listening in Prayer

What comes to mind when you think of prayer? My first thoughts tend to be of the words I use and the act of reaching out to the Lord. I think of gratitude, and acknowledging the need for the Lord’s guidance. While these are important, I recently questioned whether I do more speaking or listening when I pray. It seems so obviously misguided to approach prayer with the mindset that I’ll do the reaching out and the Lord will do the listening, yet I find myself falling into that mentality. I often find myself praying more for the sake of talking than for the sake of listening. Prayer should be a two-way conversation though, and sometimes I forget that I have a responsibility to listen.

There are various ways to listen to the Lord. A few examples might include reading the Word, being willing to learn from others, and noticing the small blessings in our lives. During prayer however, I sometimes find listening to be much more difficult.

Perhaps being a verbal processor is part of what makes listening difficult for me. I tend to feel a need to perfectly and exhaustively articulate what I’m struggling with, or how much I want to accept guidance and to do the right thing. As if He won’t understand if I don’t. As if it won’t count if I’m not thorough. As if my words have more power than the Lord does. How silly.

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