Legacy, Newborns and That Moment When Your 2-Year-Old Says “Dang It!”


Jesse Mahannah

August Joseph Mahannah. Sarah and I had decided on the name when we found out we were pregnant the first time. But God blessed us with a girl for our first child and we knew, especially I knew, that we loved Elizabeth Kate for a girl. I loved the name Elizabeth because it is Sarah’s middle name and my hope for our family was that if we had a daughter she would grow up to be like her mother. But August Joseph was perfect for a boy. Sarah’s grandpa August Kubish passed away the day before our wedding. August was a pastor and a patriarch to a great big friendly family. Even though I didn’t know him well, his legacy in his children speaks for itself. It’s an honor that my son carries his name.

Joseph was my grandpa on my dad’s side. He was a World War 2 veteran who lost his two brothers to the war. He was the last Mahannah boy. My grandmother has told me many times of how my great granddad and my Grandpa Joe had high hopes that Joe would have a boy to carry on the Mahannah name. Joe ended up having a girl. And then another girl. And then finally a son. That son, my dad, had four sons and one girl. The legacy of the Mahannah name lives on through those boys and my grandma has told me many times, Great Grandpa Doc would be proud. As one of those Mahannah boys, I’m proud of that and it was an honor to name my first son Joseph.

Legacy is a powerful thing. You may not know me or my family at all but I’m guessing the themes that run through the paragraphs above strike a chord with you. Maybe for you it’s the legacy of your family or maybe it’s the legacy of someone else who stepped up and made a difference in your life somehow.

I think the reason why this idea of legacy has been bouncing around my head like an echo since the birth of my son and the reason why it seems to resonate with most people is because we all intuitively know that we’ll leave a legacy of our own. So then, as I lay awake at night in my tired-sleep-deprived-parent-of-a-newborn-state I find myself contemplating, what’s my legacy?

This idea resonated with me at our recent Baby Dedication at NewSpring. I stood up with about 50 other families who were dedicating themselves to raise kids who love God and love others and I thought, “This is my dedication to leave a legacy that matters.” As Sarah and I prepared for August’s dedication, we discussed what we hoped for our kids.

We want to raise a strong daughter who’s compassionate and loving. We want to raise a humble man of God who is honest and holds tight to his integrity. We want both of our kids to be brave and courageous enough to follow God anywhere. We want them to passionately love God and love others.

I’m guessing if you’re a parent, an aunt, an uncle, or if you’re invested in the lives of kids as a volunteer for KidzWorld or another ministry, you want that for the kids you impact. But at the risk of getting too personal, another haunting thought creeps into my mind. If I want these things for my kids, they need to be found in me. Along with this realization comes a second and more powerful one. Just as my children will learn respect from me, they’ll learn disrespect as well. In my moments of courage, they might take note and but surely the same is true for my moments of cowardice.

Every parent has this fear, right? Every parent hopes they won’t mess it up? A whole lot of being a parent is praying that your kids don’t screw up and praying that you don’t screw up your kids! This is where I find that my legacy, my most powerful legacy, has less to do with my character, it has less to do with my strengths or weaknesses, but rather everything to do with my faith.

This summer we’re talking about Faith with the kids in Route 252. I love how it’s defined, too. We’re defining it for our 1st through 4th graders as: Believing that what Jesus did can change me. At the end of the day our Faith comes down to one person, Jesus Christ and what He accomplished on the cross and in His resurrection. The story of Jesus changes everything and it has changed, indeed it was the only thing that ever could or ever would change me.

That’s my legacy. I don’t have to be the perfect parent (my strongly opinionated two-year-old diva of a daughter could tell you that) and I’m not even a good parent; the goodness in my life and in my parenting comes from the work of Jesus in my life and in my parenting. There’s a verse we go over in Baby Dedication and I think it sums up this idea perfectly for us struggling and maybe even scared parents. It comes out of Deuteronomy 6.

Sorry to jump around on you but this is story is actually pre-Jesus showing up. Deuteronomy is a great book where a man named Moses, is leading a group of people called the Israelites. The Israelites were God’s chosen people, and “spoiler alert” if you haven’t thumbed through the rest of the Bible, the Israelites were a big part of God’s plan to bring Jesus on the scene. Moses is getting a whole generation back on the right track and telling them how to have a great relationship with God. He starts off in verse 2, talking about legacy–talking about what the lives of Israelites kids and grandkids can be like years down the road. Then he gets to the specifics in verse 5 with “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” By the way, Jesus would say later this was the most important thing that when we love God, we love others. All great love relationships start with trust, which is why I mad–and maybe you made–a decision to start loving God by trusting in Jesus.

But as Moses gets to verses 7 through 9, he says something about this “Loving God” commandment and the others that follow, something about the aspects of their faith that initially might sound intimidating but in the end I find quite freeing. “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

Moses names nearly every possible scenario. Not just church, but like…everything…all the time? I don’t know about you but most days I don’t feel like Super Dad let alone Super Duper Bible Dad. How am I supposed to teach my kids all about faith all the time? But I think that’s the beautiful thing about legacy. That’s the beautiful thing about faith. This summer will have an adventure theme in 252 to go along with our Big Idea of Faith. We’ll talk about how Faith is a journey. Faith isn’t a PART of your life, Faith SHAPES your life. The verses in Deuteronomy don’t mean you have all the answers, which is great because honestly I don’t. It just shows that great legacies are made by the journeys of faith that both shape my character and produce respect, honesty and integrity but also the journeys of faith that bring me through the valley of my own failure and into the comfort of God’s amazing grace.

So in conclusion, as I try to stitch all these ideas together, the thing that I rest in is that my kids may inherit my firm conviction that “honesty is the best policy” and my daughter might pick up the bad habit of saying “Dang-it!” when she stubs her toe (if you’ve been a parent of a two-year old, you know that you literally can’t say ANYTHING without it being repeated). But at the end of the day, the legacy I know I can leave for my kids and that I pray they adopt into their own lives is that Jesus changed the world and He changed me.


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Ashleigh Bryan, KidzWorld Staff



I have a confession to make: I am terrified of mice. I did not know this about myself until I saw once recently and fully understood what it meant to be “frozen in fear”. My heart was beating fast and I was light-headed and all I wanted to do was get. out. of. that. room. but I couldn’t move! I was stuck.


Fear. It’s amazing how that one tiny, four-letter word is responsible for nightmares and sleepless nights and worry and, let’s be honest, probably a lot of avoidable injuries. Fear is why chances aren’t taken, goals aren’t reached, and lives aren’t lived to their full potential. Fear is often an incomparably adversary because, more often than not, safety is our biggest motivator.

I live in the world of preschoolers where imagination and possibility are never in short supply and where safety reigns supreme. These kids want to know they are safe. It’s why they cry when Mom or Dad leaves them. It’s why they are scared of thunderstorms and the dark. It’s why they hide behind their parents when they meet someone new. Their (very) active imagination gives them endless ideas on where Mommy and Daddy went without them that might be better than being with them. It makes the monsters in the dark very real because that chair really could be a monster in disguise waiting for the lights to go out to hurt them. You say it’s thunder but what if it’s not? What if it’s a giant living in the sky? The people that you are smiling at while trying to pry them away from your legs could be aliens from another planet, waiting to take them away.

(I spend a lot of time in imagination-land.)

As adults, we see their fears as trivial. We love them and want to help them, but we know there really is nothing to be afraid of. We don’t understand because we know that nothing’s hiding in the dark and that the thunder is really just the sound of lightning. But they don’t know that. They are too small, too wrapped up in the worlds they’ve created to understand that.

But here’s what is so cool about these little humans—they face their fears anyway. The kids I get the pleasure of working with are some of the bravest. They face that scary dark every night. (Granted they might need a night light or end up in Mom and Dad’s bed every once in a while, but they still do it.) They reach their hand out and make friends with that new person. They decide to have fun while Mommy and Daddy are gone, despite the fact that they may never come back. Every day, these kids are choosing bravery over fear. Why? Because they know the outcome and reward—the fun, the sweet dreams, the new friends—far outweigh any momentary fear they might feel. They choose risk over safety because they refuse to let fear hold them back. They might not articulate it like that, but we can see it in their actions: they jump off high places just for the chance they might fly; they say hello to complete strangers; they run faster, they push harder, they swing higher because once they push past the fear there is adventure and fun and joy. They are decorated with scraped knees and bruised heads and war stories that prove boldness won out. Ask any kid about their Bandaids and they will not tell you how scared they were but about how much fun they had getting those bumps and bruises! What they’re really saying?

 It was worth it.

 Our fears are a little bit bigger though, aren’t they? Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of being wrong. Those are some big fears. When we’re in the middle of them, facing them, having to deal with them, it can seem overwhelming. But just like we know children have nothing to be afraid of, God whispers to us the same thing—even our biggest fears seem small to God. He already knows what He wants to do in our lives. He already knows how it’s all going to turn out. God knows that we don’t have to be afraid of failure or of rejection or being wrong or, really, of anything! 2 Timothy 1:7 says,

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

Whoa. Let’s take a minute and just let that sink in. God did not give us a spirit of fear. So that fear that you’re feeling? It’s just Satan trying to steal your joy, steal your hope, and steal the purpose that God has placed in your heart. That’s all fear is—it’s nothing more than a scheme to keep us from doing what God has asked us to do.

So what is it you’re afraid of?

Maybe it’s a dream that has long been forgotten that God wants you to pick up again.

Maybe it’s a relationship that needs to be restored.

Maybe it’s a stranger you need to reach out to.

Let’s take a tip from our kids and push past the fear. Maybe the safest place we can be is out in the unknown where God has called us. Because when we realize that we are so incredibly loved by the God of the universe who created us and who wants great things for us, who has made a plan for our lives and will carry it out until it is finished, when we realize that He will never leave us or abandon us and He is more faithful than we could ever understand, when we realize that with God anything is possible and He can do much more than we can think or imagine, we are left with only one question: What do we have to lose?

 That’s what we here at NewSpring are teaching our preschoolers: You can be brave because God will never leave you. God loves you. God made you. Jesus wants to be your friend forever. God has a plan for you. God can do the impossible. We tell these things to the kids over and over again because when they start believing them, fear no longer has any control. They can be exactly who God made them to be because they trust Him. They can do anything God asks them to do because they believe Him. They can step out in faith in even the scariest circumstances because they know that, even in the deepest waters, God is right there with them.

When we push past our fears, we experience the same things kids do: Adventure. Fun. Joy. We experience the kind of life God always intended us to have. I don’t know about you, but I want to live a life outside my comfort zone, outside of the boundaries of “safety” I have created for myself. I want to live a life where my faith is stretched and limits are pressed and I see God do things that only He can do.

There is always something to be afraid of—a big decision, a life-altering change, the unknown. But when we understand and begin believing that God made us and loves us and wants great things for us, when we begin to understand that perfect love casts out all fear then what else do we have to be afraid of?

 If you’re quiet, and let yourself be still, you’ll hear the answer:



This month in Route 252 kids are learning about the Big Idea of Contentment. Pay close attention to this definition: DECIDING to be happy with what you’ve got. Have you ever thought, “If I just had this or that, I would be happy,” or “If this person was in my life (or out of my life), I would be happy,” or “If I didn’t have to deal with this situation, I would be happy.”?

Our definition says that being content is a decision. It doesn’t just happen when all the right circumstances come into place. It happens when our attitude about our circumstances changes and we make a conscious choice to believe that is in control.

Paul writes about the secret of contentment in Philippians 4:12b: I have learned the secret of being content no matter what happens. I am content whether I am well fed or hungry. I am content whether I have more than enough or not enough. (BTW, that’s our memory verse for the month.) So, what is the SECRET? It’s just this, Paul had learned that he could trust God NO MATTER WHAT. Have you learned that secret? God has got you–whatever you are facing, He knows and cares. Trust Him and let contentment fill your life.

Monday is Coming!

This past week, some of the KidzWorld staff was able to attend The Orange Conference which is hosted by the people who write the First Look and 252 Basics curriculum that we use in KidzWorld environments. The challenge for the conference was for us to think about the fact that after we have done everything we can to engage and inspire a child on the weekend, we must realize that Monday is Coming when they go out and face their world.

We heard so many great speakers who shared different perspectives on how our weekend influence can impact kids’ lives throughout the week. Here are just a few select nuggets of truth from some great leaders.

Following Jesus will make your life better and make you better at life.–Andy Stanley

On Sunday, grace is expected. On Monday, it’s a surprise.–Jon Acuff

What a kid does affects what a kids believes.–Reggie Joiner

Students need an appetite for service.–Doug Fields

Regret stings more than failure.–Pete Wilson

How you’re loved will always impact how you live. How you live will never impact how you’re loved.–Kara Powell

The world would be fixed of all it’s problems if every child knew the necessity of their existence.–Gerald Fadayomi

When we begin to see the greatness of God, we will be fearless in our decisions.–Perry Noble

Think on those statements and let them really sink in. I wish you could all have been at the conference with me to hear the entire messages. Let’s just say that KidzWorld is ready to keep moving forward and make sure that we never forget: Monday is Coming!