It Takes A Child To Raise A Village

Today, I have a rockstar guest posting here on Abraham Chronicles. In fact, she is such the star that she will be contributing once a month! Mark your calendars ladies and ‘gents, Jen Valencia is bringing the heat on a monthly basis. She is a SAHM who loves reading, writing, and making a mean Arroz Con Pollo dish–not to mention that she is my stunningly beautiful better half! Show her some love in the comments!

In our house, the end of winter signals a steady hum of anticipation. Like worker bees, we begin making our preparations for the warmer months: the garden is planted, patio furniture cleaned, garage (or the “abyss” as we refer to it) is excavated, and we find ourselves content to look out on our small patch of backyard, and smile at the sidewalk chalk, bubble wands, and other trappings of a house full of children. Like a long sip of sweet tea, spring brings us a comfort and hope that goes beyond simple weather patterns.

As soon as the weather hits a steady 65 degrees, the park becomes our second home. I open the door in the mornings to find my three year old half-dressed in shorts and her pink Crocs, already talking about taking a ride on the swings. We enjoy meeting up with friends, but if I’m really honest, a lot of times I just enjoy taking them by myself, and getting lost in thought while the girls laugh at each other and run in circles. As we pull into the parking lot, Sophia always asks, “Mommy, the friends are here? We play with the friends?”. To her, everyone is a friend — she is all-inclusive to gender, age, and ethnic backgrounds. She will play with anyone, talk to anyone, and thinks of people enough to pray for those she has only met for a moment.

There are times when that pessimistic side gets the best of me, and I wonder when that innocent view of people will change– when will she begin to question other’s motives? Recoil at those who act differently from her? Make judgements without a first glance? Keep her heart at a distance?

Surely it does take a child to raise a village. You heard me right, a child raises a village. It takes the heart of a child to build true community amongst ourselves — relationships that are transparent and vulnerable at the core, a view of others that looks beyond the surface of circumstance, upbringing, and physical appearance, and sees the heart, a way of relating that values people because they were created in the image of our Father God, and for no other reason that that. If we lose sight of these things, than our villages are nothing more than groups of strangers living in close proximity, clusters of homes built on a foundation of sticks, easily knocked down by life’s trials and circumstances.

How easy it is for us to love the loveable, to accept those who are worthy in our own sight, to invest in those friendships that yield a profit, to help those who can return the favor. Yet, how often do we find ourselves willing to open up our lives, our homes, and our finances to others with no expectation of anything in return?

In what ways do you need to see others as the Father does?
How have children taught you to view people differently?

26 Comments

  • Tom

    April 15, 2011

    Thank you Jen! The heart of child. We must approach God and life that way, huh? Loving, trusting, with an eye for adventure without the weight of cynicism. Yes it will raise the village. Great perspective, thanks!

    Reply
    • Jen

      April 18, 2011

      Thanks, Tom! I know that the times that my heart is truly desiring God, He does allow me to see things in a way that is such a departure from my usual perspective, a way that is so contrary to popular belief. I am thankful for that!

      Reply
  • mo

    April 15, 2011

    Great post! I need to be grieved as God is grieved that people are going to hell without him. This week has been big for me, in realizing how little I physically reach out to the lost. I need that perspective to come from God, not any other motivation.

    Reply
    • Jen

      April 18, 2011

      Thanks for the reminder Mo- “I need to be grieved as God is grieved that people are going to hell without him.” Me too. This for me is so true, even within my own family, there are those who don’t know the Lord, and I want that to break my heart more than it does. Sounds so petty, but sad at the same time that I can get so wrapped up in the disappointment of a failed expectation, the frustration of not having what I want, yet there are those around me (my own family included) who live without Jesus.

      Ps. Go to Catalyst!! :)

      Reply
  • Moe

    April 15, 2011

    I said it before, I say it again… behind a good man there is a good woman. In your case Dustin, before an average man, is a very good women (I keed, I keed man….).

    This is such a great post. There is something very special in the simplicity of childhood. The trust, the lack of worry, the way they “accept” people. It’s amazing. Sometimes it sucks that you grow up and become an adult. It robs you of some of these things.

    Thank you for blessing me today with this post Jen. Keep up the good work with the 4 kids. (yes, Dustin is your 4th child). :)

    Reply
    • Jen

      April 18, 2011

      Ha, yes Dust is my 4th child! Thankfully I got him after the diaper phase :)

      Reply
  • kevin

    April 15, 2011

    Love it. And I can’t even count the ways in which my perspective of people and the world has changed since becoming a dad. Crazy.

    Reply
    • Jen

      April 18, 2011

      Thanks Kevin! Totally agree with that parenthood can totally change our perspective of people. Not even just parenthood, but being around kids in general– whether that role for us is that of teacher, uncle/aunt, neighbor, grandparent, counselor, etc.

      Reply
  • Donald Borsch Jr

    April 15, 2011

    Finally! A godly woman who exemplifies the kind of wisdom and strength we read about in Proverbs 31! (Ben’s wife is in there, too!)

    Thanks, Jen, for this guest-post. Great read on Friday!

    Reply
    • Keri @ Pop Parables

      April 15, 2011

      Hey now, I take offense to that “finally” statement. JK!! Yes, Jen’s wisdom is VERY evident in this post. :)

      Reply
    • Jen

      April 18, 2011

      Thank you for the encouragement Donald! :)

      Reply
  • Ally Garner

    April 15, 2011

    Jen, can i just say how beautifully you write. I felt like i was reading a short story. I wanted to turn the page & read more haha! You are truly talented. I know your life redefines busy, but i look forward to reading more of your posts & hope you pop in more often.

    I love that your daughter thinks of everyone she contacts as a friend. That’s a powerful illustration of what Jesus meant when He said “Let the little children come to me & do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” Praying she never loses that sweet spirit you both have helped to cultivate in her. And praying i don’t forget Miss Olivia’s example with EVERYONE i encounter. Thanks for a wonderful lesson today. Happy Friday!

    Reply
    • Jen

      April 18, 2011

      Hey there Ally! Thanks so much for the comment and words of encouragement! I am thankful for the time I have been given with my sweet girls, and hoping that I can continue to learn from them along the ride :)

      Reply
  • Keri @ Pop Parables

    April 15, 2011

    A wife that not only has her own blog, but guest posts on her hubby’s just days after giving birth? WTH??? Are you guys Clark Kent and Lois Lane?!?!?! There’s some tiger blood involved in this marriage, I’m sure of it! Or, maybe you’re the family the movie The Incredibles was written about. Well, I won’t hold it against you since your kids are so darn cute! :)

    I love how I’ll be going through my Reader and suddenly words and ideas start falling together and a light bulb goes off. Just read Ben Nunes post about sharing God’s with others that He has specifically brought into our lives. I struggle the most with those who are different than me. Bff and I always say the world be a much better place if everyone was EXACTLY like each of us. But, I’m glad it’s not. I need to see differences as ways in which God has bestowed each of us with individual gifts. The Body is made up of many parts, and I need to rejoice in that, not run away from it. :) Great post, Jen! And, congrats on your beautiful baby girl!

    Reply
    • Jen

      April 18, 2011

      Hey Keri, that part about Lois Lane made me laugh! :) So neat how the Lord chooses to use so many different outlets in speaking to us…. and how all those things come together and we have those times of refining, and those times where it just “clicks” with our spirit! Thankful for what you shared- “The body is made up of many parts, and I need to rejoice in that, not run away from it.” I needed to hear that today!

      Reply
  • Jon

    April 15, 2011

    Great post! I kept thinking about “Break my heart for what breaks Yours,” while reading this post. I want that mentality in the way that I live and approach others. I also kept thinking how Jesus wants us to have that child like trust.

    Reply
    • Jen

      April 18, 2011

      Thanks Jon! Looks like you and Mo were on the same wavelength with your thoughts! I desire that same thing, for the Lord to weed out the “me” part of my heart….. what I think it best, what I want, what I think is worthy of attention, and to break my heart for what breaks His…. thanks for this reminder.

      Reply
  • Duane Scott

    April 15, 2011

    I just caught on 2 weeks ago what a SAHM is.

    Seriously.

    It looks like someone misspelled SPAM.

    -DS

    Reply
    • Jen

      April 18, 2011

      Ha, it’s new lingo! On a side note, I have experienced SPAM first hand (the meat in a can is what I assume you are referring to)…. not so great….. :)

      Reply
  • Scotty Schrier

    April 15, 2011

    I have caught myself watching my son and wondering who will be the person to steal the innocent and trusting view of the world from him. I want him to hold onto it for as long as he can, so I don’t point out things like “That little boy just stole your toy.”

    If he’s not upset by it…why should I be?

    Very well written post! As a fellow writer/blogger I’m jealous (in a good way!) of your imagery. Well done, indeed.

    Reply
    • Jen

      April 18, 2011

      “If he’s not upset by it… why should I be?” — This is so me…. I think that sometimes we do feel like it is completely our responsibility to bring justice into a situation. Although that is a valid part of parenting, I often catch myself making a big “to-do” about situations that don’t phase my girls at all (ie. Times I make them take turns with a toy, when one is just as happy to give it to the other one and not have a turn.) I probably sound confusing…. but my mind is taking off with this idea now… :) Thanks for the note!

      Reply
  • Lacey Wilcox

    April 17, 2011

    Loved this! I only have one sweet baby girl, but I have been amazed so many times at how a baby hasn’t just changed mine and my husband’s lives–she’s changed everyone’s around us.
    And without a doubt, it is a change for the better: overwhelming joy.
    This was fabulous

    Reply
    • Jen

      April 18, 2011

      Thanks for the sweet words Lacey! Love how you said, “..She’s changed everyone’s around us”. Isn’t it neat to witness how such a little miracle can restore relationships, change perspectives, bring hope, etc? Congrats on your sweet girl!

      Reply
  • Ben

    April 17, 2011

    Good stuff her Jen, and as far as our kids teaching us to view others differently? It’s usually the other way around, but there are definitely times of road rage, and one of them might say “oh, they might be rushing to the hospital ’cause somebody’s sick,” to which we then take a breath, and go along with assuming the best of others.

    Reply
    • Jen

      April 18, 2011

      “..and go along with assuming the best of others.”. This made me smile — I grew up in NY (still have lots of family there) and never acknowledged my “people are out to get me” mentality until I had been in Georgia for years. Maybe it has nothing to do with the place I grew up, but to this day I still find myself clutching my purse in crowded malls/areas, triple locking doors, etc etc. Some might call it habit, but I definitely need that reminder that it is one thing to be wise, but it does not make me unwise to give others the benefit of the doubt.

      Reply
      • Moe

        April 18, 2011

        Wait. I live in New York. Should I be triple locking my doors?

        Reply

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