This year more than any other, God has laid on my heart to pray for the children in our Taylors Children Life Group. I felt the need to pray for them early on, but even so, I sometimes wondered if I was serving in the way God wanted, especially on those days that didn’t go so smoothly.
My journey of learning started last year as I began working with a child who will never be able to talk to me with his words, but he speaks with his eyes and his smiles. God pulled my heart towards this sweet child. As a mother I have always enjoyed hearing about my children’s day and what they’d learned. What about this child’s mother? She must feel this way, too. So I tried to catch his moments in pictures and texted them to her so that she could be a part of his day. I wrote notes that said what he did like, “…. tore cotton balls apart to make clouds” for a picture of Jesus’ ascension to heaven. While she seemed to have enjoyed these things, I had the blessing of meeting a very beautiful child and his family.
This year, from the beginning, transitioning to a new room seemed to be more difficult for this life group. We have definitely had some challenges, but I am thankful for every one of those challenges we have faced. Why? Because those challenges have reminded me of the mighty ways God works and the power of prayer.
God helped me to see things even more from others’ points of view. I learned that even though we are working with children, it doesn’t stop there. It’s only the beginning… the starting point to something so much bigger than showing up on Sunday morning. We only have to see through the eyes of God when we look at the children and their families. We need to hear their stories and be there for them.
I have been able to see some beautiful things that I never would have had I not answered God’s call, and I can relay those beautiful things to parents with phone calls, a note home or a quick conversation at the door. It’s a wonderful feeling when someone acknowledges something good in your child. It’s an even more amazing feeling to know as a parent, that God is working in your child’s life and using your child to work in others’ lives. We need to tell the parent, and encourage them that what they teach about Jesus at home and what we teach at church is making a difference. Our faith doesn’t stop or start at the church’s doorsteps.
I treasure the things I’ve been able to share with our families. For example without being prompted, a child who stays more to himself reached out and happily offered blocks to another child who was very vocal about not having as many blocks as he wanted. Wow! This is Jesus at work. This is what parents need to know. Little did I know how many times I could use this example to remind the other child that he DOES have friends or that others in our class care about him. Friends who will make sacrifices for him. One of these children’s parents was able to hear how his child was speaking up and being kind. The other parent was able to hear how her child is accepted and loved by other children and adults, even when he’s having a difficult moment.
There aren’t words to describe how much I love these children. I look at them and wonder how God is going to use them. You, too, are a part of something that God has called you towards. When I say it breathes life into me, I mean it. It’s something you can’t understand if you haven’t felt it.
It makes my heart feel incredibly full of gratitude for this opportunity. I am grateful that God has used those little children to teach me. I am thankful for the many times our church leaders have prayed for all of us. I am blessed to witness parents smile when they realize we really love them and their children.
My husband and I were walking along the beach recently while I was looking for special sea shells. I couldn’t tell him exactly what I was looking for. They didn’t have to be perfect, unbroken shells. I was looking for something unique, something different.
That’s when I realized that we are all the unique, beautiful, broken shells. We are waiting for someone to see the beauty and worth in us. When all along God has already picked us and placed us exactly where He wants us to be. Will you be a person who takes the time to recognize the beauty and worth in a broken shell?
Look for that parent who needs a hug and a positive word of encouragement. Seek out that child and look for his or her special qualities. Don’t let the cracks or rough edges hide the beauty God wants you to see. You can do it, because God picked you, too!
-Elementary Life Group Leader