These photos were taken a few months back by my sister-in-law Jenna on Chloe’s first birthday. A couple of them are some of my favorites that I’ve never shared before.
I hope that she is adventurous and carefree.
Yet discerning and wise.
Curious and inquisitive.
Passionate yet gentle and kind.
Bold but loving.
Gracious and filled with compassion.
I pray that she would give kindness expecting nothing in return because that is just who she is.
That she would love the Lord with all of her heart, soul and mind in a way that would shatter barriers so that others may seek Him, too.
But above all else, I pray to God that she’s a little lady who honors Him with her life…
A little lady with a pile of respect for herself and for others.
That her humility and grace would override the world’s promotion of being first, best, fastest, smartest.
I pray that she would be filled with laughter and contentment, that she would be a peacemaker and that she would use her words to bring healing rather than hurt.
It sounds like a tall order, I know, but it turns out that God is in the business of serving up tall orders.
I still clearly remember the many, many times both my mom and dad would remind me, “Remember, Nicole, you’re a little lady.” I knew they meant business whenever they used my full name, but as I recall, it was always served up with love and in a kind manner (not reproachful, well, okay, sometimes it was reproachful, but still it was always served up with love), and, perhaps, that’s why I desire to not only carry myself as a lady, but I also have that desire for my daughter.
I pray that she would be a blessing to others.
My pastor recently said something similar in one of our church services. He used to tell his kids before they left to go out with friends, “Remember who you are and act accordingly.” I like how he served it up to them, allowing them the freedom to go out into the world, but instilling a gentle but powerful reminder that they have been raised to know what proper behavior is and to act accordingly.
My mom always reminded my brothers and me that while she loved us more than anything in the world and that she believed in us and that we could accomplish anything, she also made sure that we understood that we weren’t better than anyone else regardless of size, age, social class and whatever else differentiates us from others. Regardless, we were to not make fun of others and we should always have good manners.
And still to this day, when there’s the temptation to laugh about something at someone else’s expense, I’m reminded of this lesson and I still feel that pang that reminds me, “Take a couple steps back, Nikki. This is not right.”
I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but my mom did instill a fairly strong conscience in me.
The truth is that I’m terrified of raising a daughter in a world that tells her that manners and grace are subjective and that using crude language, exposing yourself and doing whatever makes you feel good is what makes you funny and cool and ultimately fit in.
It makes my heart ache at the realization that she will be subject to temptation in all of these areas just the same as the next young lady.
I admit that on the inside, a panic attack is brewing as I think of all of the pressures she will face. I love her so much that there are days when I think my heart might explode right then and there, and even just the thought of her ever choosing to turn her back on all that is good and right, completely knocks the wind out of me.
AND in those moments, I finally understand the depth of my parents’ love for me, and even further, I have grasped onto an entirely deeper level of the love my Heavenly Father has for me.
As I look at my daughter and as I seek God’s Word for guidance on how to instill these good and true character qualities in her, there are a couple of things I am sure of…
First, she will make mistakes. She will test her wings, and at times, she will fall. It crushes to me admit it, but it is part of life and learning and growing. I pray with all my heart that these moments would be few and far between and that, moreover, she would be victorious in all of her endeavors.
Secondly, as hard as it is to imagine while I’m still holding my baby girl in my arms, there will come a day when I will have to let go and leave her in the Lord’s hands. In many ways, I find myself having to let go already each and every weekday that I go to work and am forced to entrust her to another’s care.
As you can see here, she’s already letting me know that she’s a big girl and can figure it out on her own!
A part of me battles with the fear that I’m making a huge mistake by working full-time and that I’m not home with her during a big part of the day when I should be there training and teaching and instilling these core values that are so dear to me. I often ask myself, “Will I still make a difference? Will there be enough time for me to teach her what it means to live out these precious values that are slowly disappearing from our culture?”
Of course, this is probably why I’ve never spent a night away from her in 16 months and why I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually gotten a babysitter.
It’s just that I keep telling myself that time is fleeting and before I know it, my little girl will be all grown up and creating a life of her own, and this precious time with her will be gone before I know it.
Like many working moms, I struggle with mommy guilt times a thousand, but I’m working through it. Who knows, I may even squeeze in a vacation with my friends sans baby girl before the year is out. We’ll see. 😉
This is where my faith takes hold and slaps some sense into me and reminds me of this beautiful truth…
Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Matthew 6:26 KJV
I am reminded that there is a sovereign Creator who loves my daughter even more than my husband and I do and that during the times I am not there with her and even during the times when I am with her, He is ever present and constant, watching over her. Does that mean that she won’t ever have her struggles? Of course, not.
BUT…it does mean that He will be with her always, watching over her, and showing her the way when she calls on His name.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:13 KJV
In the middle of the night when I’m rocking my sweet girl back to sleep, I find myself praying this verse over her…
For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Psalm 91:11-12 KJV
My version goes a little something like this…
Lord, please command your angels concerning my baby girl that she may be guarded in all her ways. Protect her, Father, and guide her always, so that she may honor you with her life.
Where does that leave me in my desire to raise a little lady? Well, it leaves me with the knowledge that I need to make the most of the time I have with my daughter, that she is always watching me, and what I live out in my daily life is what she will live by in hers.
Soooo, I need to be careful and wise and more importantly obedient to the Lord who has created her with a unique design and purpose for all that is good and true.
And…for all of those times that I just won’t measure up as a parent, I need to PRAY, pray, pray, pray for the wisdom to love and guide this one impressionable little life that I’ve been entrusted with.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. James 1:5-6 KJV
Every Friday over my lunch hour, I’m on the phone with one of my very best friends who happens to also be my prayer partner, and we pray together over the phone. We pray over our marriages. We pray over our children. We pray over the big stuff, and we pray over the little stuff. We pray over the “I have no idea how in the world we are going to accomplish this” stuff.
We pray because we know that without it, we leave ourselves defenseless against the arrows this life throws at us.
We pray Scripture verses because there is power in proclaiming God’s Word.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Hebrews 4:12-13 KJV
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. Ephesians 6:18 KJV
We pray because we know it works.
We know that God hears us when we call, and we know that He moves those impossible mountains through our prayers. He doesn’t always answer in the way we expect him to or in our time frame, but He has a higher purpose in the course in which he directs us, and his timing is always perfect.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Matthew 18:20 KJV
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Matthew 17:20 KJV
And so…I pray for my daughter, my little lady. I pray that my shortcomings as a mother would be the very moments God steps in and displays his strength as a loving and holy Father.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV
I pray that when she faces the challenges and pressures of this world we live in, that she would be found pure and honorable…
That she would, in fact, grow into a lovely, young lady.
P.s. I’m currently in the process of short-circuiting my Kindle Fire by ping-ponging back and forth from multiple books on this topic. At the moment, I’m reading Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Meg Meeker, Bringing Up Girls by Dr. James Dobson and Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas (this last one is a good read on marriage). So far, each book is excellent. 🙂
Have a blessed week, gang!