As a young missionary mother reading to these two little ones sitting next to me in a hammock in the middle of the Panamanian jungle, my heart yearned for books that would introduce my girls to bible-based, character-emphasized prince and princesses that they could aspire to become. I would take every book I picked up and purpose to impose these two principles into the pages in terms they could understand that had eternal values targeted. My two daughters, Christina and Kim, are now grown and have given me seven grandchildren! Christina encouraged me for years to sit down and put on paper what I did to the stories I read in those early years. Her cry for these books for her four little ones was my primary motivation.
The opportunities are unlimited when it comes to God building His character in us, and then, into those we love. Understanding the need and exercising the steps of action needed to see them implemented is our challenge. When you look at your children where do you see their primary need? Taking into consideration their temperament, maybe the need for them to be more alert or to respond more quickly in obedience? Maybe rebellion is the issue or selfishness? Where would you begin to help the little prince or princess in your home?
Values are based on the changing opinions of what people or groups of people practice in their principles or ideals. Character is based on universal standards that are time-tested and recognized as being ethically correct. Character is written on every person’s heart and conscience (Romans 2:15). Even though the basic truth of a character quality is understood, it is important to know how to apply the truth in daily circumstances.
I have collected positive character quality definitions for years because they describe pieces of the Godhead and assist in my personal spiritual exercise and transformation. They equipped me to pragmatically instruct my girls as we walked through daily activities living in a culture very different than our own. In the village where we lived, the Kuna practice of polygamy and early marriages combined with witchcraft, including a village witchdoctor, opened up interesting teaching opportunities.
This past week the oldest of these two little princesses in the hammock saw her two daughters, my granddaughters (now 16 and 14), accomplish an extraordinary act of compassion in just a few days. I was asked to wrap a collection of gifts, gift cards and get-well cards with money that they had gathered to give to Alexandra’s teacher at school. Her heart had been challenged to encourage this young single woman, who had recently left her parents and siblings on the East Coast to answer a call to serve in our community here on the West Coast. She had taken a daily six-hour cancer treatment three months earlier and had quietly gone alone for the last six weeks, not wanting to burden or inconvenience anyone else. During her follow-up appointment, the doctors found the cancer had returned…aggressively! Alexandra tearfully shared with her sister, Catherine, the sadness she felt. Catherine, who is the school’s “Kindness Club” director, immediately joined hearts and hands with her sister, their mother (Christina), and many who heard of the need. Within just a few days they had gathered a huge basket…full of encouragement for this teacher!