While it is so important to expand our children’s circle of influencers, it is also important that, even in the midst of busy-mom life, we take the time to invest in others-maybe even others who are at different stages of their lives. Through a close relationship with someone who is invested in the lives of our three boys, I have developed a personal conviction regarding these principles. This is the story of how our relationship developed. It is unique to us and paints a picture of God’s unique plan for each family. I first met Bri when she was just months away from her thirteenth birthday. She was never without a smile and was always eager to hold the little babies in the church nursery or help her mom with all the craziness that goes on in a 2's and 3's class. From a close distance, I watched Bri skip through her teenage years and from time to time would have her and her sisters come and help out with my little guys. The adorable trio of sisters would always show up full of energy and ready to love on my boys. And don't you just fall in love with people who love on your kids?! It wasn't that Bri came set to share her faith with my itty bitty little guys- she was still working out what that meant in her own life- but she did come with the intention of having fun and making my guys feel like the most important kids on the planet.
For the last eight years, I have had a job that allows me to work from home but has also required us to have in-home childcare. There have been countless times over years where my heart has longed to be a “for real” stay at home mom and I’ve had moments of discontentment and guilt about working. As I wrestled, I began to pray though that God would use me right where I was…and He answered! He gave me the gift of doing life with girls in their late teens/early twenties. I’m talking real life. In between college classes and busy social lives, these girls would come and care for my kids in my home. They have seen what real life looks like for our family. They see how I interact with my husband, my kids, my neighbors, and even my co-workers. They see my house at its best and its worst (mostly its worst). And I have gotten to know them well as I’ve taken an interest in their lives.
Fast forward a few years… When Bri began college four years ago, her schedule allowed her to become “our girl”. Over the course of the next two years Bri would sign on to watch our kids whenever her semester schedule would allow. I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but at some point I began feeling the Holy Spirit prompting me to pray for Bri. As I did, I became intentional about speaking life into her and giving voice to the gifts I saw in her. I can vividly remember standing at my front door one day as she was leaving, with tears running down my face, telling her what a gift she had for working with children. I had no idea that God would use that conversation to change the trajectory of Bri’s life. I also didn’t know at the time that, just months later, God would be calling our family to Washington, DC. It was one of the biggest decisions we’ve had to make in our married life. There were so many unknowns, so many changes and for me, so many fears. Yes, we were sad to say good bye to so many family and friends, but the question burdening me the most was, “Who would care for our kids?” We’d been so blessed by the many college-age girls in our church and now we were heading to a place where we knew no one.
But our God is Sovereign. And His power of provision blows me away. He knew. We casually tossed out the idea to Bri, and she decided she needed a new adventure, too. In just a matter of weeks she made the move- 350 miles away- with our family.
God’s hand had been in this all along. I had no way of knowing nine years ago, when we first met Bri, that God would use her as an answer to our prayers. Our family moved to a new community where we knew no one. No one but Bri. This brought unexpected blessings!
- The boys had someone they knew and trusted as they adjusted to an unfamiliar life.
- We were far away from grandparents but still able to protect our marriage with a date night here and there. (Hallelujah!)
- We were given the privilege of seeing Bri grow and change through the challenge as well.
While God will develop your child’s circle of influencers in His own way and time, be open and seeking for the connections He might make. As you look intentionally for people that can invest in the lives of your kids, consider that God might have a plan to use you in their life as well. Anything you give away will certainly come back to your family.
Nicole married her high school sweetheart, Matt, and together they have three boys (9, 7, and 4). She has been a teacher for 15 years and in her spare time she loves to go for a run, drink a cup of coffee, and build community. Nicole's bravest moment was saying "let's do this!" to the adventure of moving her family from NY to DC.