We don't normally have hockey practice and soccer practice on the same night, but last night, my older daughter had an extra soccer practice. I have to admit I wasn't all that excited about spending every spare moment of my afternoon and evening running from practice to practice. Dinner for the girls consisted of a grilled cheese sandwich eaten in the car. And, both practice facilities were freezing for the spectators. I have to admit that I was doing my own bit of grumbling in my brain.
Last night, though, I got to watch two very different coaches make a difference in the lives of my kids. My hockey player's coach asked her to help coach some younger kids. You could almost see my daughter stand a bit taller and her confidence grow by a huge leap. My soccer player's coach is an example of consistent, positive reinforcement. When things don't go as well as he would like, he finds ways to encourage the girls. His favorite word to yell when a kick is missed or a pass gets blown is "Unlucky."
As I watched my girls practice last night, I was struck by just how blessed we are that these two people have chosen to spend their time, energy and talent investing in my girls. Standing at the second practice, I realized that these two people have made a huge, positive impact in the lives of my kids, and I am extremely grateful. As I thought about it, I realized that we are blessed to have several people in the girls' lives who consistently make a positive difference. From Sunday school teachers to grandparents, my girls are surrounded by people who love them and want to see them succeed in all areas of their lives.
As you read this today, I want you to think of the children with whom you come into contact that are not your own. Think about the ways in which you can make an impact on their lives. Children were important to Jesus. When the disciples were trying to keep the children from bothering Jesus, Jesus said "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these" (Luke 18:16). Children were important enough for Jesus to invest His time in them. The children in your life -- both your own and others -- should be equally important to you.
There's a song I sang in high school that says "You're the only Jesus some will ever see. You're the only words of life some will ever read." Some of the children in your life may never encounter Jesus unless they see Him in you. Some of those children may never have been a part of a loving family. Some of those kids are simply starved for attention. God has put them in contact with you for a reason. Take the time to invest in their lives. Love on them and encourage them. You may never know the difference you will make.