So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding.
I Corinthians 14:15
"I am leader this year, are you amazed?"
This has been a sentence-in-the-making with my daughter, the unstoppable, the charismatic, the give-her-an-inch-she-takes-a-mile daughter with the extra chromosome in the 21st pair. I think stubbornness is imprinted on that extra chromosome. And indefatigable will. And unflagging optimism. And empathy. And stubbornness - did I mention stubbornness?
She started off with just telling me about her leadership. Every day. About fifty gazillion times a day. I helped her add the time frames - just trying to extend her communication. First it was today.. but that wasn't necessarily true because she has designated herself leader for our high school youth group, and they only meet once a week. So, today became this week.. but that sounds like one of those jobs you're assigned in the classroom at school. You know the kind - this week you're line leader, next week, paper passer, etc. So, week became year... which will probably work for awhile (a year, at least...drumroll, please). The changes are molasses-slow, over many often-amusing and always-revealing conversations and question/answer sessions.
The second part of her new sentence, however, is all her. I have no idea where she got it and how she hooked it together with being a leader. Did I mention how important being a leader is to my girl? Yes, I'm amazed. I'm amazed because while I was studying the leadership of Nehemiah, I saw the same qualities in my daughter.
She leads by example. She walked around after the kids in youth group had eaten pizza, picking up their plates and throwing them away. As she took mine, she gave me one of those of-course-I-would-do-this looks, and said, "It's leader." Yes, leadership is another thing we've talked about. What it means to be a leader. I was concerned that she just wanted the attention of sitting in the front. I was concerned she was all about the reward with none of the responsibility. So we talked about it. We talked about the responsibility, the doing... Seeing something that needs to be done and doing it. Over time - little conversations every day, weeks turning to months. And I think she's getting it.
We were shopping the other day. I had stopped at the shoe racks, where the boxes of shoes were stacked beneath the displays. As I tried on shoes, my girl kept herself busy taking the mismatched boxes back to their proper shelves. It was something that needed to be done... And she wasn't doing this just for show. She and I were the only ones in the aisles. I teased her about it. "It's leader, Mom", she told me. Hmmm... maybe I shouldn't tease.
She's been doing little helpful things around the house - like bringing the dishes from the table to the sink. She stands by her chair before breakfast and dinner and shakes my husband and my hands welcoming us to the meal. Little things above and beyond her regular jobs - little things that she thinks need to be done (gotta love the greeting at the table...) And when I ask what's made her so helpful, she says, "I am a leader, Mom."
She prays. If she hears a bad news report, she prays. If she hears a good news report, she prays. The youth share their God-is-Awesome moments from the week and celebrate with alligator claps. They also share prayer requests and we pray together. Sierra has taken alligator-awesome-God claps to a whole new level. "My dog, Mongo, he threw up, he is sick," I have to admit, my heart sank when I heard these words. I was thinking she wasn't understanding the praise part of the sharing. But she wasn't done speaking yet. "Awesome God, we pray for Mongo." Oh my goodness, she spun the situation! She took a prayer request and turned it into an Awesome God - because in her mind, it IS a praise to pray.
And here's the cool thing - watch, here's our God at work, even in the language... Praising... Praise into prayer... Praysing. Pray-Sing.
Did I tell you that I learn so very much from my daughter?
Our family is navigating a difficult stretch of water - it has to do with mis-placed blame and impossible requests and expectations. About my daughter. And how I work to guide and direct her as she negotiates the social world around her. Around us.
I am ever amazed by our God. I started writing this post weeks ago. Before events. Before hard decisions. And today, when I read it, when I added recent examples, when I looked to finish it; I was guided to the lesson. Pray Sing. That's what praise is - a singing prayer of thanksgiving. And that's what this situation needs - what every situation needs - some PraySing. There is joy in that.
Did I tell you that God teaches me so very much through my daughter?
She is a leader. I am amazed.
Thank you, God.
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