Last weekend I had the pleasure of spending the day with two little girls. On the surface, they may seem completely different. One was prayed for, planned and welcomed joyfully into the world. The other was also prayed for and planned, but spent most of the first five years of her life in an orphanage in Ethiopia before being welcomed joyfully into her forever family. One attends a public elementary school in a large metropolitan area of Tennessee. The other is homeschooled in a moderate-sized town in Georgia. One is the only brown-skinned person in her family. The other is the only extrovert in a family of introverts. But, somehow, in God’s divine plan, both of these beautiful girls are my granddaughters, legally and emotionally, with equal amounts of my love.
Thinking about our day together, I believe I was reminded of 4 very important life lessons.
- It is truly good to laugh. There’s something that lightens your heart when you hear the innocent giggles and chuckles of young children. The Bible says that “a merry heart (a laughing, joyous heart) does good, like medicine.” Proverbs 17:22 John Cleese is quoted as saying, “Laughter connects you with people. It’s almost impossible to maintain any kind of distance or any sense of social hierarchy when you’re just howling with laughter. Laughter is a force for democracy.” And Paul Lowney said, “Laughter has no foreign accent.” I just know that I observed for hours on end during that day that laughter was a great equalizer. It came so naturally to those little girls and certainly did me more good than any medicine.
- It’s not that hard to get along with another person. In the case of Birti and Megan, they share an interest in soccer, electronics and mint chocolate chip ice cream, but they also have plenty of diverging activities and foods that they enjoy. Yet, they got along beautifully without a single cross word. When they saw the birthday cake I had waiting for them, they quickly swapped candle colors to make sure both were happy. When they were shopping in the stores, they eagerly pointed out treasures they saw on the shelves that they believed would be appealing to the other person. And they found the most fun out of buying the same things with just a touch of individuality thrown in for good measure, such as in Build-a-Bear when they bought the same stuffed dog but were careful to give them different names. Why don’t adults make that much effort to work together to improve relationships? Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”
- Wise money management can be taught from an early age. Their granddaddy would have LOVED seeing how much time and thought these girls gave to how they would spend a portion of their birthday money. I see it as a tribute to the careful teaching and examples of their parents and also as a reflection of their personalities. Birti wanted to make sure she still had some money left, and Megan wanted to be sure the item she was buying was something she really wanted. For my part, I was just very glad to have the luxury of time to allow them to shop the way they wanted to shop. Proverbs 13:18 “Poverty and shame will come to him who disdains correction, but he who regards a rebuke will be honored.” Children watch everything we do and say. Lessons about money should be carefully taught.
- A different kind of music is leading them to a knowledge of God and to an experience of worship. Both of these young granddaughters LOVE contemporary Christian music. They listen to it a LOT and have many songs memorized. It speaks their language. Their voices are pure and clear, and I had several chances to hear them singing with complete abandon when they thought no one was listening. But when we attended a very traditional worship service on Sunday morning filled with music that I had grown up with, they stood there mute and told me afterwards that they didn’t know a single one of the songs. These are girls who attend church every week, but they are worshiping in a completely different atmosphere and style. The songs they shared with me have powerful, biblically-based lyrics. In my own personal “perfect world,” a worship experience would interweave both the old and the new using lots of instruments, but very few churches have that. I would LOVE for them to cherish “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” and “Glorious is Thy Name” as much as I do, but that is unlikely to happen. I am determined to embrace what works to teach them the truths about God and His Word. That doesn’t mean that I have to abandon my own heart language of hymns, but it does mean that I should enjoy learning THEIR music, too. Ephesians 5:19 “speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,” Psalm 105:2 “Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.”
Thanks, Megan and Birti. Without your knowledge, you reminded your Grandmomma of things she needed to remember.