"Raise your children to excel in the gift that God has given them. Of course they don't have to excel in everything. Go has made each one totally different. We must encourage them to be the very best in that which God has given them to do."
A little while later, after the breakfast dishes were cleared, and the kids were playing in the living room still clad in their PJ's, I happened upon a treasure in the hall closet. The large, black binder I uncovered is filled with things I wrote from 8th grade through high school. As I began to flip through the various folders, some pieces were familiar while others were completely forgotten. There were school essays, writing contest submissions, and old copies of Brio magazine from the late 90's when I was thrilled to place in the top 8 semi-finalists for their Brio Girl contest. There were short stories, small devotionals, and my graduation speech. As I flipped through the old folders, waves of nostalgia swept over me. A few of the pieces I read aloud to Shawn. As a special education language arts teacher, he really enjoyed hearing some of my writing history, especially from my early adolescence.
Soon after I made the comment to him, "I was one of the rare kids who loved to write. While other classmates moaned over writing assignments, I got excited and poured everything into them!" What was true in my youth is still true today, over twenty years later. As I compose this blog I am seated at my favorite local coffee shop for my weekly "mommy break." The process of crafting words and sentences to share a story refreshes and energizes me. That which may seem as drudgery to another provides nourishment for my soul.
As I shared with my husband this morning, I was reminded of the truth I had read in my devotional a few hours prior. While there are many things I do not excel in, writing is one thing that has always flowed naturally. I'm thankful that I've had opportunities and encouragement over the years to develop this gift. In the same way, I am praying that Shawn and I will have clear discernment to recognize the gifts and callings in each of our children while they are still young. I want to encourage them and give each one ample opportunity to excel in the things they love and are gifted in. I realize that their pursuits, passions, and gifts may vary greatly, and what motivates one may not motivate another. I am excited to see their unique personalities unfold!
In light of all of these things, I am also reminding myself that the definition of "excelling" in something is broad and vast and cannot be place in a box. Benjamin is called to excel in the gifts that God has given him just as much as his siblings who do not carry an extra chromosome, though the expression may look very different. His disability in no way detracts from the truth that God has a plan and a purpose for his life that is beautiful in its simplicity and eternal in its significance. To quote from Nancy Campbell's book once more:
"God has a destiny planned for each one of your children and whether this task is large or small, it is great in the eyes of God. God has given you the awesome task of preparing each child for this purpose."
I am deeply humbled and extraordinarily grateful for the high calling of motherhood. It is not a job for the faint of heart, but it is a job that carries rewards without measure and purpose that reaches into eternity. By God's grace I will excel in this mighty task as I teach my children to be all they were created to be!
As one who loves to write, a life-long dream of mine since childhood was to write books. My dream stepped in reality in 2014 with the release of Reflections from Holland: A New Mother's Journey with Down Syndrome. You can find it in paperback or on Kindle here.