I was born and raised in a little suburb just outside our state’s capital. The backyard of the duplex my parents rented ran right into a cornfield, for as far as my little eyes could see. Summers were spent watching the corn grow while splashing in our plastic wading pool, and Fall brought about opportunities to explore the cornfields. I remember laughing as my sister chased my squealing dad with snakes she found in the field. True story. :-)
Today, thirty years later, I am raising my own little family just a few blocks south of that duplex I used to call home. The cornfields are long gone, and the little suburb I once knew is no longer so little. In fact, this town I’ve known and loved my entire life is bursting at the seams.
The opening of a tenth elementary school in our town has caused recent upheaval as school boundary lines need changed. At a school board meeting a few weeks ago to discuss the proposed changes, several parents made public comments voicing concern that with the proposed changes, several elementary schools would have mixed “social classes,” and this made them uncomfortable. Really?! Social classes…in elementary schools?!
My heart, heavy with many thoughts and feelings, felt the need to pen a letter to my children in regard to that comment, to the changes that surrounds us, and to what is really most important in life.
Dear Jayda, Nadia, and Titus,
What a joy it is to be your momma! For years, I prayed that God would gift me with the privilege to be a mother…He answered my request far and above what I could’ve imagined. You each bring such special qualities to our family, and your daddy and I couldn’t be happier.
It seems surreal that two of you are in school full-time each day, and that Titus could start preschool in the Fall. Where has the time gone?! I was thinking recently about the time I spent in school as a young girl. Just like you do today, I faced situations in which I had to “put my sifter on” and decipher truth from falsehood. Sometimes in the morning when I’m zipping your coat or tying your shoes and I tell you to “put your sifter on,” I can hear you groan. “We know, mom. We know.” But I will never stop telling you. Just like my mom never stopped telling me. If I needed that sifter that many years ago, I can assure you that you need it now even more.
You’ve already witnessed, in your short lives thus far, that people are different. God, in His very creative way, forms and fashions each individual for their specific calling in life. Sadly, however, not everyone sees these differences and appreciates them…they let differences drive people apart. You will never walk the exact same path that someone else walks, and that’s okay. The older you get, the more diversity you’ll see in the families that surround us. God made each person and each family unique for a very good reason…don’t ever forget that.
No matter where this road in life takes us, I want you to always know that it is not the stuff in life that makes you who you are. You will, however, probably be told that stuff is significant. You will know other people who value stuff far and above other important things in life. Stuff is magnified and glorified everywhere…on social media, on television, in the movies, among your peers at school, and even amidst people close to you. I pray that you will always know, deep in your heart, that stuff doesn’t determine your importance or significance. Stuff can be taken away at anytime…love cannot.
1 Corinthians 13…via “The Message Bible” sums up perfectly what I pray for myself, and for our family. Always strive to LOVE.
1 Corinthians 13
1) If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
2) If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
3-7) If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
13) Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
1 John 4:19 tells us that we love because God first loved us. God loves us with an extravagant and unconditional love. May we love the same!
You will know people who have much more stuff than you have. Fancier cars, bigger houses, nicer clothes…love them. Extravagantly.
You will know people who have much less stuff than you have…love them. Extravagantly.
You will know people who are faster than you, smarter than you, taller than you, anything-er than you. Love them. Extravagantly.
Welcome people, of all different walks, into your life with open arms. Love extravagantly. Always.
And above all, children, love Jesus. For without Him, we know nothing of true love. Love Him. Extravagantly.
With extravagant love,