A Prayer for Hailey Rose

My niece, Hailey Rose Rowland, has started school.  She is in Kindergarten at Karns Elementary.  I want to say a prayer for her. Of course, I am praying for her safety and well-being as well as for my sister and brother-in-law as they continue to come to grips with their little girl going off to school. I know that she is going to do well in school because she shares her middle name with her Great-Aunt Connie, who is a very smart woman.

I am praying. . .

. . .that she gains an understanding of the world in which she lives, the good and the bad, which will serve her well through the course of her life.

. . .that she develops a sensitivity to the needs and experiences of other children, those with whom she shares a classroom and those from different parts of the world.

. . .that she learns to analyze problems in a way that leads to solutions that benefit everyone involved.

. . .that she is able to see that perception is not always reality, if it ever is.

. . .that she finds the ability to compromise when negotiation is needed and that she holds convictions about which she will not compromise.

. . .that she comes to understand what it means to seek the common good.

. . .that she learns what it is to be civil and how to have a conversation that reflects her appreciation for truth and integrity.

. . .that she discovers the importance of listening.

. . .that she looks at school not as something that she has to do, but as a gift that presents her with the opportunity to learn, grow and develop each day.

What I pray for my niece Hailey I pray for each of our students. I pray that wherever they go to school, whatever their learning environment that they learn everything that they can about the subjects they are studying and the world in which they will apply that knowledge. In seventeen short years, our kindergarteners will be out of college and finding their way in the life. May the journey they have just begun take them to a full and happy life.

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Happy Birthday Sister

This has been an interesting week. My sister celebrated here 37th birthday. Believing that I am 45 years old is somehow much easier for me than believing that my sister is 37. She has always been eight years younger than me and so it remains. Still, I think she should not be so grown up. She should be younger.

Saying that she celebrated her 37th birthday is not really accurate. The day arrived and she became another year older. I don’t think celebrate was the word she was feeling. She became another year older and uncertain as to whether or not she was could handle being 37. I assured her that 37 would be a walk in the park compared to 45. She did not seem encouraged.

She has a tough job. Her work brings her into daily contact with children and youth who come from homes and families that are unable to care for them. Sometimes these young people are not just lacking care and concern, sometimes they are abused and hurt by the very people who are supposed to care for and love them. Sister helps find foster homes for children in these kinds of situations.

Finding foster homes and training foster parents are not easy tasks in and of themselves. But of course the job is more than that. Taking care of children and providing for them almost always involves more, more of everything. The children that come into Sister’s care are often lacking a sense of security. They are missing the discipline and structure of a stable home. Their lives are unsettled to say the least. Many of them feel out of control. The only way some of them know to express their frustration and anger is to lash out with their own hurtful words or actions. When they do, Sister and others like her are there to listen, to talk, to reassure and to try and restore some sense of order and calm.

The world we live in today is a place where many children are vulnerable to some degree. Children who live in homes marked by violence, neglect or worse are especially so. Sister works face to face everyday with some of the most vulnerable children in our county. In doing so she comes face to face with the one who said when you have done it unto the least of these my brothers and sisters you have done it unto me. She works each day to provide safe and nurturing homes to children who need warmth and stability of a caring family even if it is not their family of origin. Beyond that she tries to create an environment where these children are not only safe for the short term, but where they might also find the space in their lives to dream their own dreams of better tomorrows.

Sister thinks of her older brother as a minister, a preacher of Good News. Yet I see in her life a commitment to doing the gospel each day, doing the things that Jesus would be doing. What better news could you give to a hurting and frightened child than to tell him or her that you have a safe place where he or she can stay? Is that not exactly what God has done for each of us through his Son, Jesus Christ? Yet, with all the words I know I still cannot adequately explain what God has done for us in Christ. Sister does not use words so much to explain it. She, perhaps without even realizing it, lets her actions provide her explanation. She finds homes for children who need them. It is Christ-like behavior. It is Gospel to those who have need of it.