Those who know me well know that I was a big “West Wing” fan. If you ever watched the show, you may remember the phrase, “What’s next?” That was President Bartlett’s way of letting his staff know that it was time to move on to the next order of business. In that fast paced world, the “what’s next” issue was constantly on the minds of the president and his staff.
We live in a “What’s next” world. The tasks that await us always seem to find their way into our present. We were not meant to live in a “What’s next” world, but a “What’s now” world.

The Parkway children help me to live in the “What’s now” world on a regular basis. A few weeks ago, we made homemade pretzels and learned that the monk who first made them designed them to remind children that the proper way to pray was with arms crossed in front of them, the left hand on the right shoulder, and the right hand on the left shoulder. I made the comment that I liked this way of praying better than the hands folded in front of me because it felt like God was embracing me and I was embracing Him. I told the children that I was going to pray that way from now on. Every time I meet with them, they remind me of this, even though by the time we come to our closing prayer, my mind is on the “What’s next” that I have to do and I begin to do the familiar “hands folded in front” prayer. The children bring me back to the “now” and remind me of the commitment I made.

We talk about a lot of things in our Foundations Class and during our Wednesday night programs. Two topics that we talked about lately were the fact that we are called to be missionaries where we are and that we are all called to be disciples of Jesus. No matter where we are, no matter who we are with, we should look for ways to be missionaries and disciples. I have no doubt that our children do this on a regular basis, but it “made my heart smile” when right after this lesson I saw a picture of Elliana Ezell after she had joined her mother and donated 8 inches of her beautiful long hair to an organization that makes wigs and hair pieces for children who have lost or are losing their hair. What a wonderful way to be a missionary to someone she will probably never meet. What a wonderful reminder that living in the “What’s now” world means putting our words into actions.

I am thankful that the Parkway children keep me focused on the present. I am thankful that they remind me that in order to lead them, I must live the words I speak. I am thankful for the challenge to be a missionary and a disciple every day in whatever place or situation I find myself.