Mack the Knife (Angel in the Kitchen)

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The knife block on our kitchen counter does a great job keeping the many different types of cutlery we need, in a neat and organized fashion. One day we emptied the block in order to sharpen all our knives. Well, getting all those blades back into their proper slots was a bit of a challenge. There’s a long, bread knife, a butcher knife, a cheese knife, a carving knife, a filleting knife, steak knives, a menacing looking cleaver, and something called a rocking chopper!

Some have serrated edges, some have straight; some are pointed, some not so; there are wide blades, short blades; rounded tips, slanted tips; knives for peeling, carving, slicing, dicing … wow, we sure hope Norman Bates doesn’t read this blog!  (Yes, today we’re being a couple of cut-ups!groan!) Each of these kitchen tools serves a specific function. Each is highly useful. Unfortunately, each is also designed to perfectly fit into its very own designated slot. We spent several minutes trying to remember what went where, and ended up trying out various slots for various knives. We finally got everything back in place, but this got us to thinking (which, for us, is always a dangerous thing).

People are like knives. (Yes, at times, some of us can be very cutting, but that’s not our thought for today.) We are all different, and we all have something we’re particularly good at, something we were specially designed for and called to do in life. Because of this, each of us fits into the world in a unique way. We each have our own place in the grand scheme of things … our own — wait for it!slot to fill.

Are you in your proper slot? Are you doing what you’re called to do? Are you in the right place at the right time? In your job, are doing what you were created to do? At school or college, are you really trying hard to see where you fit? And why? And how? Are you traveling the right road in order to find where you belong? Tough questions, we know; and sometimes we realize we’re really not where we should be. What do you think? Do you need to change your focus or your goals. Maybe you need to take some night courses to broaden your horizons, change your major, or develop that neglected talent. Is it too late to find your proper slot in life? Are you kidding? It’s never too late to realize and settle into the place where God wants you.

Of course, there’s always the chance you’ve found a slot that fits. Is it the perfect fit? The one uniquely designed and designated for you by God? Maybe, just maybe, you’ve even found several slots that sort of fit. However, only one is the perfect fit, and if you’re jumping from slot to slot, you’re undoubtedly keeping some other sharp person from finding his or her own unique and perfect niche in life. Are you trying to be the proverbial “Jack of all trades — but master of none”! Focus, friends. Find the right fit, and then be satisfied with your slot.

“The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step].” (Psalm 37:23 Amplified Bible)

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Making an Indelible Mark (Encouragement for Creators)

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We all have hopes and ambitions in life — dreams of achieving great things. But sometimes the road to fulfilling our fondest dreams takes us to unexpected places. These places may be momentary detours or side stops on the way to our final destination; but occasionally the “side stop” ends up actually being the end of the journey, the place where we’ll make our mark in the world. We can’t always be sure if and when this is the case. We can, however, make sure that we take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way, even if it’s not the perfect fulfillment of the dream, or the best use of our gifts and talents.

Many of us have “day jobs” which pay the bills while we wait for our “big break” in life. But will we recognize that one great opportunity when we see it? Not always. So it’s important to be open to the “detours” and “side stops” we encounter; to use our time and talents wisely, but also to be willing to use them in less than ideal situations which, at first glance, may seem far short of where we want to be.

This means allowing God to use us when and where He needs us. And that means making ourselves available — always faithful and humble, especially with respect to our God-given abilities. It also means being a servant. Above all, it means approaching every job, no matter how insignificant it may seem, with energy and enthusiasm, always doing our best, always giving 100%!

Israel Schnapt understood these principles well. He was an 18-year-old Jewish graphic designer and engraver who emigrated from Austria to the United States in 1910. After arriving in New York, he simplified his name to Ira Schnapp and started looking for work. Schnapp held a variety of jobs, including designing and engraving U.S. postage stamps, and lettering the filmed title cards for silent movies.

Schnapp was also a highly skilled stonecutter, and in 1911 the City of New York hired him to design and hand-carve the lettering above the main branch of its library: MDCCCXCV • THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY • MDCCCCII. Three years later, Schnapp designed and carved this famous phrase above the entrance to New York’s James Farley General Post Office: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” Due to the historic significance of these facades, Schnapp’s contributions to Americana are impressive, but his greatest contributions to pop culture were yet to come.

In 1938, Ira Schnapp was offered a job at DC Comics designing title logos for its magazines. The great American comic book was still in its infancy, and working on so-called “funny books” wasn’t exactly something to brag about. Schnapp could have easily and understandably rejected the offer. He’d already left some impressive and enduring marks on U.S. history, so to create the mastheads for what the general public considered lowbrow and “disposable” entertainment, was a huge step DOWN! But Schnapp was open to any legitimate venture that allowed him to use his talents. He decided to give the new opportunity a shot, and see what he could create in the new arena of comics.

Apparently, Schnapp soon discovered he actually enjoyed working for DC (—at the time, the company was called National Publications). He stayed with the publisher for 30 years, until he retired, lettering covers and creating dozens of inspired logos for comics, including such mainstays as Action Comics, The Flash, and Justice League of America. Along the way, Schnapp designed one of the most recognizable logos in the world: the stunning title for Superman comics.

Ira Schnapp left indelible marks on both the New York Public Library and comic book history. All because he was humble and open to new opportunities; because he made himself available; because he saw a need for his special gifts and talents and decided to fill that need. Because he knew the importance of making the most of every circumstance and situation.

Few of us can be certain when or where we’ll make our big mark in life. Will that mark be left on newsprint or canvas, on TV or in the movies, in a boardroom or at a soup kitchen, on a military installation or in the mission field — or in the stone blocks fronting some public edifice? We won’t know, really, until we reach the end of our journey and look back. So don’t take chances; be open to all of those little detours and side stops you encounter along the way. And wherever you find yourself, always remember to bloom where you’re planted.

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and He delights in his way.” (Psalm 37:23 New King James)

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