I have an adorable little niece. Her name is Lily Ruth. She's a teeny, tiny bit of a girl, but she has a got a HUGE personality! She is very energetic and full of life. Sometimes this gets her in a bit of trouble. Sometimes her mommy feels like she has her hands full directing and discipling this little fireball. And I have sympathy for her Mama, because I understand the frustrations of a, shall we say, 'stronger-willed' child. But I also have the privilege of seeing this precious little lady from an auntie's point of view. She can be very sweet, and tender, and just 'aware' of other people and the things they are going through. Like, a few weeks ago when I had lost my voice, the girls happened to be here one night, and Lil brought this little note and picture for me.
I hung it on my fridge. Not only because it makes me smile (which it does) but also because it reminds me to pray for her parents, to ask for grace, strength and wisdom for them as they guide their daughter and teach her his ways.
I just read something last week that reminded me of something I had learned in a parenting class a few years back. Proverbs 22:6 says "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." I was very intrigued to find out that "in the way he should go" doesn't just mean, "teach them the 'right' things", but that it means something along the lines of "according to their bents" meaning unique giftings and talents. I'm trying to remember this, and be actively looking for the special ways God has designed my own children. Sometimes it's easy to see some things, but other times, I have to say it's hard to "see the forest for the trees". But this is where it can be such a blessing to have extended family and church community that are standing with us in raising our children to be followers of Christ. Often, the very things that we parents experience as day-to-day frustrations, others can see as potential strengths in our little ones. We need to remember to encourage each other by speaking words of affirmation to and about the youngest members of our families and communities!
(And so, by the way, Bets...Lily is a blessing to lots of people, and I know God has amazing plans for her life!)