Another hectic morning? I was so tired of rushing! As my daughter Noel and I hurried through the school hallway on our way to her fifth-grade classroom, she reached out and grabbed my hand.
"Mom, I want to speak French when I grow up. I want to visit the Eiffel Tower."
I was too frazzled to really pay attention, so Noel jerked my hand again. "Mom, did you hear me?" Suddenly I felt a tender nudging from the Holy Spirit: "This is an important moment. Go with her on this."
Kneeling beside my daughter, I looked into her eyes. "Sweetie, if that?s your dream, then talk to Jesus about it. He always hears us. You?ll have to do your part by studying hard. Then, let?s see where your dream takes you."
I?ll never forget Noel?s infectious smile and twinkling eyes as she hugged me. But once I got back to my car, panic set in. "Lord," I prayed, "how is Noel?s dream ever going to become reality? I?m on welfare! I can?t afford to send her to France. I might not even be able to send her to college. How can I guide her future when I don?t even know where I?m going?"
I battled my anxiety all the way to work. But as I pulled into the parking lot, the Holy Spirit nudged me again with a reminder from God: "?For I know the plans I have for you,? declares the Lord, ?plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future?" (Jer.:29:11).
How do we nurture our children?s dreams and help them follow God?s plans for their lives? For me, the first step was to know my children uniquely and individually. I made an effort to learn their personality bents, their interests and their yearnings. That meant listening, really listening, even when I was tired or distracted.
Over the years, I found other ways to nurture my children?s dreams. Try some of these with your children: 1) Take weekly trips to the library. Plan on being there for at least an hour so your children can meander and dawdle. They need time to discover their interests. 2) Read together as a family whenever you can. This type of interaction promotes wonderful discussions. 3) Start thinking seriously about college when your children reach ninth grade. You don?t have to make decisions yet, but the more research you do, the more opportunities for learning (and financing that learning) you?ll discover. 4) Work closely with your children?s school guidance counselors. These counselors have a wealth of information to share. 5) Lastly, but most importantly, commit your children?s dreams to the Lord. "Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this" (Ps.:37:5).
It?s been 13 years since Noel and I had our talk in the school hallway. Noel went to college and was able to participate in a study program at the Sorbonne in Paris during her junior year. With God?s help, Noel fulfilled her dream. It took tremendous patience and perseverance, but by God?s infinite grace, she was able to pursue her passion. Trusting the Lord during that time laid a solid and growing foundation of faith in her life.
Our children?s dreams often seem out of reach. But through our words, our faith and our example, we can assure them that God?s plans for them will exceed anything they can imagine.
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