My preteen daughter is a treasure. She is passionate, loving, loves to cuddle, loves to learn new things, is crafty, loves an adventure, loves her family and a few close friends, and loves Jesus with all her heart. She is still a little girl, but is more mature than many adults I know. She loves deeply, has incredible faith, and teaches me something new about life almost everyday.
You’ve heard of someone having an old soul. That’s my Emily. She has wisdom beyond her almost 12 years. She loves Jesus and reads her Bible every day. She prays with confidence and believes wholeheartedly. I love to listen to the heartfelt words of her conversation with her Savior because that’s what it is to her…an ongoing conversation. When you talk to someone often enough, the conversation comes easily. I had a hard time praying aloud even into my adult life. It wasn’t until I began leading Bible studies that I was eventually able to pray aloud, without reading a script, and without falling into a complete emotional mess with sweaty hands, rapid breathing, and a pounding heart. It still doesn’t come easy to me.
She is also a great listener. There have been several times when Paul and I have asked for her opinion in a big situation because she listens carefully to all of the details and can give a matter-of-fact suggestion. Her opinion played a HUGE role in our leap of faith to live life on the road.
I recently had the privilege to see her faith and response to God in action. She participated in an event at Paulann Church, the church we attend when we’re “home”, called REFUGE Weekend. They stayed in host homes and she had a blast getting to know some other girls her age over the weekend. On Saturday night of the event, they invited the parents to come worship with the 300+ 6th – 12th graders, leaders, etc. Honestly, I had a little bit of a bad attitude about it. It was a Saturday. I didn’t really want to get dressed up, fix my hair, put on makeup, and drive across town. The boys were grilling and sitting by the campfire when I left. It was hard to peel myself away, but I am so glad I did!
She was so excited to see me when her group arrived at the church. She ran up and gave me a huge bear hug, almost knocking me over. I love that she’s not too cool for that stuff yet. I know a lot of middle school kids who think they are too cool for their parents…not my Emily. I hope that continues through the teenage years. I’m pretty sure it will. Emily isn’t one to act like other kids because it’s cool. She is a free spirit and very much her own little person, and we are a very tight-knit family…a team.
My attitude gradually lifted as the packed auditorium lifted up their voices in song and praise. After the time of singing, the preacher called all of the adults involved in the weekend to the front of the stage and asked for a student volunteer to come pray over the evening. By this point, there were close to 1000 students, leaders, parents, etc. in the packed auditorium. I thought to myself, “No student is jumping up to take on this responsibility. It is going to take a pretty confident kid to go pray in front of and for all of those people. There is no way I could do that.” At that moment, as I thought that, I see my little Emily pop up out of her seat and run in her cute little Emily way, with arms flapping, to the front of the auditorium. (If you know her, you’ll know exactly what I mean!) Keep in mind, she is in 6th grade, one of the youngest students there!
That is probably one of my proudest Mommy moments thus far. With tears streaming down my face as my heart burst with pride and joy, I listened to her confident voice talking to God in her matter-of-fact way, and asking Him to bless the evening and the participants of REFUGE Weekend. When she finished, everyone applauded her courage and willingness, but as her Mommy, I knew she didn’t do it for the accolades. She did it because God prompted her heart and guided her feet. I wanted to jump and shout, “That’s my girl! That’s my baby! She loves Jesus!” I didn’t, of course, but the verse in Luke 2 immediately came to my mind. The verse is so easy to overlook, but as a mom, I get it. The verse comes after the shepherds have been to see baby Jesus. It’s found in verse 19 and it says, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” She must have felt so much love, pride, and joy wrapped up in the baby they called Jesus. She was human. She was a mom. Her baby boy was a treasure to her. She was chosen to be His mom. I can’t imagine being mom to the Christ-child, but I know my children are a treasure to me. They are precious gifts from God. My job as their Mom is simply to point them back to Him. I don’t get it right all the time, but that evening was confirmation that my flawed efforts are not in vain.
When I asked Emily about it later, I asked her what made her volunteer to go in front of all of those people and pray. She said, “I don’t really know. When they asked, my hand shot up in the air before I even knew what I was doing. The next thing I knew, I was praying. I can’t even remember what I said,” she giggled. She wasn’t ashamed. She wasn’t embarrassed. The Holy Spirit prompted her to act, and she obeyed. It was very simple to her.
If only we all listened to the Holy Spirit’s voice so closely, and responded so faithfully, without fear. I’ve known since the moment she was conceived that God had big plans for her. I prayed for it. I still pray for it. She is a leader. She is the best kind of leader. She is a quiet leader. She leads by example. She will continue to do great things. People will follow her lead. She is my hero.