by Katie Richardson
Lighthouses is a series by intern Katie Richardson – designed to highlight young men and women around the country that are a beacon of light in the community. Our hope is that we can learn from their decisions and parents’ decisions on our question to raise little lights. Other Lighthouses interviews here – Sam Richardson and Allison Ingram
Today’s interview is with Savannah Knudsen (far right in photo) – one of the four amazing daughters of Paige Knudsen of Simple Thoughts. Paige is a contributor on this blog and a dear friend of Courtney. We are so honored to have her on here today!
I wanted to interview you for this piece because you are an outstanding role model for young adults, who is the biggest role model in your life?
I know this doesn’t exactly answer the question, but I honestly don’t know that I have one biggest role model. It is more of a culmination of qualities in the people around me that I seek to be like. When I think about the men and women I look up to, I see incredible leadership, fruitful lives, and empowering discipleship. I see successful marriages, deep relationships, and free spirits. I see people who know the Lord intimately, and just simply enjoy life. They hold a godly power, and they laugh often. I think these qualities are what stand out and give me something to live up to.
Tell me a little bit about your parents, and your relationship with them.
My parents are incredible. They love the Lord deeply and have raised me to understand the importance of knowing Him. They are generous, selfless, and love me well. My mom and I are wildly similar. This has really allowed us to have a strong mother-daughter relationship, but further, a friendship. My dad and I have a very special relationship as well. When I was a baby, my biological dad passed away from cancer. A few years later the Lord blessed my sisters and I with a new daddy who soon adopted us and has loved us unconditionally since. Now a days he’ll crack corny jokes and talk to me about everything from SEC football to sorority life. I’m really blessed to have parents who I look up to, and that live a life I hope to lead. I’m even more blessed to call them my friends.
If you could choose three words to describe your parents’ parenting style what would they be and why?
Involved- I always felt like my parents cared deeply about the things I cared deeply about. Whether it was school, cheerleading, or things at our church, my parents were interested and engaged in my activities and the things that were important to me.
Freedom– I’m sure I have likely abused this in many ways, but my parents have given me freedom generously. In my time, my finances, my decisions- they have trusted me in many ways that have taught me the importance of seeking wise council and acting out of patience and discernment rather than hasty pride.
Realistic– I know it seems like a strange word, but my parents never shied away from showing me how the real world works. I had to manage my time, or else I couldn’t do everything I wanted. I had to manage my money, or else I wouldn’t be able to eat out with my friends. I had to learn how to solve conflict when it seemed impossible, respect authority when it hadn’t been gained, and forgive when I didn’t feel like I had it in me. I am so thankful for that because it has really made transitions easier- in college, in jobs, in sports and clubs. I learned a humility and gratitude that has really given me a lot of perspective.
Is there one lesson your parents taught you when you were younger that you know you will never forget?
To say thank you. I know it sounds simple, but just like my parents always said growing up, it will get you so far. We always said thank you after my mom cooked, after my dad dropped us off at cheerleading practice, or after they spent that hundreds of dollars in school supplies. My sisters and I were always taught to be appreciative of what others have done for us. In college I have really seen how special it can be when you thank someone in genuine gratitude for something they’ve done, no matter how simple.
What were some of your favorite activities to participate in as your grew up, or some that you still participate in now?
I was incredibly blessed with a wonderful youth group in middle school and high school at my church, Grace Fellowship. They had a solid program where the high schoolers discipled the middle schoolers, so in middle school I was incredibly fortunate to be a part of that, which carried into high school when I decided to be leader. Grace would have parties on the weekends, summer camps, fall retreats, and so many creative activities throughout the year. They fostered a comfortable environment for us to experience the Lord and solid community at a time when the world says you are too immature to grow deeply.
Do you think any of those activities have had a profound impact on your relationship with the Lord?
Absolutely. I don’t think I really understood how powerful the Grace community was until I was outside of it. I got to college and I started to understand how crucial those years had been in my walk with the Lord. There were things that I had been hearing all my life that really started to sink in when I left home, things that I was so grateful someone had taken the time to teach me. I was always told that I was valued, and that God desired to know me closely, that He had the fullest life for me, that He was sovereign over everything. Not that they lost importance, but these things and so many more were simply engrained in my mind- I just knew they were truth. I was surrounded by powerful, godly men and women, and many of them I still have relationships with now. They have disciple me and walked with me through the highs and lows. Long story short, the Lord’s taken me on quite a few adventures, all connecting back to the incredible leaders and friends at Grace. I can’t say enough about how much Grace as a community has taught me. I have experienced Him and come to know Him so passionately, and so much of that is thanks to the wonderful people who took time to pour into me.
How many times a week would you say you take time out of your day to actively spend time with the Lord?
It varies, honestly. I wish I could say it was a daily thing, but I have yet to reach that level of discipline. There have been seasons I’ve gone through where I desperately needed that time each morning, and there have been others when I have carelessly let it slip away. On average, its probably 4 times a week.
Can you think of a time when you were tempted to do something you knew was wrong but you resisted? What made you resist that temptation?
Absolutely. My high school and college years have been full of times like that. For so many of them, I can’t honestly say what it was that made me resist other than the grace of the Lord. I think part of it was always knowing deep down what was right and what was wrong. Truth had been instilled in me from a young age, so in my heart I knew God desired more for me than whatever was in front of me at the moment. I think later on, and even now, a lot has to do with a renewed mindset. Early in my senior year of high school, I decided that I really wanted to chase after the Lord, deeply and passionately. Once I had decided the pursuit, my desires changed. Certain temptations were no longer tempting because I knew following those paths would not put me where I wanted to be.
If you could give advice to young moms (that are striving to raise kids that honor God and lead their peers for good) what would you suggest?
Be honest with them, trust them, and lead by example. Tell them about your struggles, let them know that you aren’t perfect either, even if it’s on the smallest of scales. I know trust is tricky because you don’t want to give them too much freedom and see them come falling down on their faces, but for so many of us, that’s exactly what we have to do. Trust that you have raised them well, and know that that burden of perfection is not your own. When you trust them, then when their moments come of screw ups and failures, that friendship you’ve created will serve as a perfect bond for them to run to you for advice and love. Finally, lead by example. Seeing you serve the poor, or spend time in the secret place gives them tangible moments to remember. You can tell your kids about the love of God, or His endless mercies all you want, but when they see you practicing His love and extending the same mercy, they gain a practical knowledge and understanding of what it looks like. These are the moments they will carry with them in life.
Any things theses moms should avoid or not do?
Smother- When I was answering these questions, I discussed quite a few with my friends. A common theme so many of them appreciated deeply was the freedom their parents extended to them. It allows us to make our own mistakes, and to feel trusted by our parents, our role models. Obviously there is a balance between crushing your children beneath the weight of authority, and allowing them to walk through life free of consequence and responsibility. But I think that maybe in the right doses, it encourages us to step into reality and understand how life works, and therefore how much we really truly need Jesus.