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To Maddie


Yesterday morning was a very hard morning for getting to school, wasn’t it? You decided to walk, and when Cora opted to ride her scooter and you realized Cora would be (gasp!) ahead of you, well, you didn’t like that. You took off running, trying – and succeeding, for a block – to be even with/ahead of Cora, even as she tried her hardest to get out in front for once. When I saw you running so hard ahead of your sister, after you’d just said your legs were too tired to ride a bike, my heart broke a little bit. It broke for Cora, certainly, who looks up to you so much, and feels the weight of being the youngest in the family – which means she’s never as fast as you, never knows as much math, never reads books as big as yours – and who just wanted to be first down the path to school. For once. Every other time she’s ridden her scooter, she’s had to ride behind you on your bike – and be reminded once again that she can’t ride a bike, can’t keep up with you. Even if she starts out first on the sidewalk, you come up behind her, ringing your bell and saying, “Excuse me, Cora, you’re going too slow.” Today was Cora’s chance to be the leader, to know what it feels like to have some quiet time and get to the stop sign first, and when I saw you press insistently ahead of her in the alley I felt so bad for Cora.

But my heart also broke a bit for you, to see you make that choice –or, perhaps, to not even make a choice at all, and simply think “I can go fast so I will.” In which case you didn’t consider your sister at all. When I saw you do that, I became angry – angry that my two girls were going to have a rough start to the day, angry that this choice you’d made would define the rest of the trip to school, angry that there was no consideration for your sister in your choices.

And I let those feelings out when I spoke to you about it, didn’t I? I pointed out every single thing you did wrong, and why it was wrong, and how it hurt Cora. And while I may have spoken the truth, I don’t think I did a good job speaking to you with love, and for that I apologize. In the Bible, Paul tells us we’re supposed to encourage each other, and build each other up, and I tore you down.

Now, sometimes a parent needs to point out what her child does wrong; it’s my job to instruct you and show you your errors so you can learn from them. But I don’t think I did it as lovingly and wisely as I could have yesterday. I am asking you to look around you a little more, take a little more notice of others and how you might build them up throughout your day, think less of yourself and be encouraging and supportive to your friends and family. So you should expect no less from me.

Here’s what you did RIGHT this morning: you waited for me when I told you to. You didn’t stomp your foot and refuse to keep walking once I’d spoken to you. You didn’t argue about apologizing to Cora, and you didn’t carry your anger and frustration into the school with you. And those are no small things.

There’s so much you do right in your life, baby, and you can see the fruit of those actions everywhere you look – in how many friends you have, in how welcome you’ve made the new girl feel at her new school, in how much you care about your classmates on the fringe, in the beautiful drawing Cora made that shows she thinks God provided for her by giving you to her. I see how much you’ve grown over the summer, as a person and in your walk with Jesus, and feel so much joy in that. So when I see you do something selfish – like not give your sister one of your two pieces of candy after Sunday school – I get frustrated because I know that’s not who you are. I know that’s not where your heart is. But I need to correct you with love and understanding and grace– because I sin all the time! And would be lost without God’s grace.

So I’m sorry this morning’s lesson got taught the way it did, and promise to try to structure those correction times a little better. Let’s see if we can both work on putting this verse into our hearts, memorizing it, and trying to live it out, ok?

I love you, baby girl!

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." 1 Thessalonians 5:11


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