Yesterday was the first day of school for the Thomas girls. Averi and Abbi were mildly excited and came home mildly pleased with how their first day had gone (you know how it is with teenagers!). But Anni...she was a different story.
I have to go back a little bit for you to fully understand what an incredible story this really is. A few weeks ago, our Children's Ministry started a series of lessons on the missionary journeys of Paul. Heidi, our Elementary Director (and also a great family friend) and her team have done an amazing job of expressing to the kids the opportunity we have each day to be "missionaries" for Jesus - to share with others about Him wherever we are! Anni soaked in every word and really took to heart what she was learning.
The day we got her teacher letter from school she was so excited to find out that her best little friend from the 3rd grade was also in her 4th grade class. She told us that she knew God had answered her prayer that they would again be classmates because He wanted her to do a better job this year of telling her friend about Him. In the days leading up to school starting, we prayed and Anni "rehearsed" what she wanted to say to her friend as she shared God's love with her. The first day of school came and Anni was beyond excited! We prayed together in the morning that God would give her courage and help her be bold in sharing God's love with her friends at school. When Anni hopped off the bus later that afternoon, it began to bubble out of her that she had talked with her friend at recess and that she had shared with her who Jesus is and how much He loves her and then she and her friend had prayed together.
Now I have to sadly admit that as Anni was sharing her story, my "adult" mind wanted to analyze what she had said to her friend, what they had prayed together - did she say the right words? Did her friend really accept Jesus? And then God pretty much whacked me upside the head (I certainly deserved it!). Child like faith is so pure - it isn't corrupted by all our highfaluting "adult" thoughts. Anni's faith yesterday was mighty and strong and I know that it touched the very heart of God.
As I was driving to work this morning, tears were streaming down my cheeks - to think that our 9 year old, heard God's voice asking her to speak His name and love to her friend - she listened, obeyed and opened her mouth! It challenged both Jeff and I, how many opportunities do we let pass by where God asks us to open our mouths and we refuse.
We are so proud of Anni - she has a light and boldness that we know God will continue to use in amazing ways - not just in the future, but right now, in the 4th grade!
We love you Anni - keep shining for Jesus!