There are so many people raising our kids. Many people worry about the "outside" influences...teachers, friends, parents of friends you don't really know, coaches, etc.. We want the best for our kids and we do our utmost to make it happen. We worry about the wrong influences and pray that God will provide the "right" people in their lives. Today I was reminded, that God is already working on our behalf and there are so many influences already at play...already teaching my kids...way before they even entered the arena of teachers and coaches.
My friend Gini...who had four girls...each so different. She taught me that each child is an individual and needs to be raised that way. She taught me to "learn" your children, try to speak their individual languages to reach them so they can hear you. She also taught me the value of scripture as a teaching tool and my kids can thank her for the verses they know...in leiu of when they speak out of turn, (let no unwholesome words depart from your mouth, only that which are uplifting...), treat each other inconsiderately (be humble, be gentle, be patient and love one another) and when they whine (do everything without grumbling or complaining). I saw Gini parent, I watched her girls grow and I learned so many things and now my kids are learning them too.
My friends K & R, who followed God to India...and took their kids with them. Their kids have been carted half way across the world and while some would fear they would have to deal with all sorts of issues, K & R trusted God in his call and those kids have to be some of the sweetest kids with the most compassionate hearts and greatest understanding of what it means to know and love God at such a young age. And though my kids may not know first hand the amazing people R & K are, (though I am hoping on their furloughs and through life they may come to find out...they will learn SO much more!) my kids have their picture and we pray for them...and my kids are reminded go where God sends you and it is all of our jobs to tell people about Jesus.
My friend Stephanie...who is one of the most patient, understanding and servant hearted people you will ever meet. She has brought this mom lattes on days when all the mommying seemed too much. She has loved my kids and housed them, when mommy brought home the new babies. She has changed her plans, so my kids can be at her house eating chewies, playing in the yard, being tickled, snuggled, loved and doted on. My kids have learned the value of being a friend and knowing another place where God's love abides and they are safe and welcome.
Our friends the Shurtleffs. My kids have vacationed more times than I can count with this clan and spent so many nights eating dinner and crashing at their house so mom and dad could laugh and play games. My kids have learned the importance of friendship from the Shurtleffs. They have learned there are places outside our home that feel like home and that there is family that is not blood.
Pastor Paul and his wife Joanie. I was priviledged to work with him and he would get down on his hands and knees in his office (mind you, he is not exactly a "young" man) and hide behind the desk to pop out and greet my kids. He loved and valued all kids. When in his presence, my kids learned that what a "Pastor" is, one who values, cares and loves his flock....even the littlest. Paul taught me that it's okay to doctor your coffee with a mini reeses peanut butter cup and he and his wife taught me to pray for my kids. And pray more. I know he prays for my kids too...I look forward to the day they can fully appreciate the influence of that.
I could go on, but tonight those are the people who have been on my mind and my heart. And while I understand the caution we need to have with the influences on our kids, I also understand that there are influences we forget about. That we often overlook, take for granted and underestimate. I am grateful for the people God has brought into my life. Times like this, I step back and recognize how incredibley full my life is. More than that, I recognize that my kids have been incredibley blessed from a young age to have such amazing influences. I am thankful...and I am grateful for all my kids have been influenced by...from people other than me!