Maybe I started the day she ran away.

I’d placed Lexi in her room for a “time out” and five minutes later the doorbell rang. A woman I’d never seen before was standing there holding my daughter.

“I found her three blocks from here.”

Lexi explained through tears that if I was going to put her in “time out”, she was going to “runned away.”

She was three and a half years old!

Then, again maybe that was just the first sign that my baby girl was tough as nails. That independence served her well. She was and is fearless. I remember the time that she pulled out a sewing machine and started sewing Band-AID-as, bandanas for your dog to wear. She had just learned about AIDS and was going to save Africa by raising money one Band-AID-a at a time. She recruited the whole neighborhood and worked them like…well, dogs! Raised a lot of money. Her strength was evident early on.

But gentleness? That was another thing.

I’d have liked for her to lead with a little more kindness. Compassion.

Anyway, at some point early in her life I began to pray a Bible verse over my tough little girl. Philippians 4:5 reads: “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” It became the plea of a mother who saw world-changing strength in her daughter, but knew it had to be tempered by the gentleness of the Lord. My baby girl needed some gentleness.

I wore that verse out interceding for her.

A few weeks ago, I watched the Lord bring it to be.

Lexi was defending her senior project. The “Innocence for India” campaign was designed to raise awareness of an atrocity occurring in India. There is actually a village there where the main commodity is little girls. The families raise daughters to sell them on their twelfth birthdays. (And not to be maids.) Lexi raised awareness, and a whole lotta money to fight this evil. Most importantly, she wrote a curriculum for those little girls. You see, two missionaries there are allowed to teach “English” lessons to them. These lessons are taught using the word of God. Lexi crafted ten lessons that will teach them courage to be different (like Daniel when he would not bow), forgiveness for those who harm you (like Joseph who was sold by his brothers), and love (like Jesus who gave his life). All of the lessons train these girls in character that they will need for the difficult life ahead. (And yes, there are efforts to rescue them. Big efforts, but it doesn’t always work. So, the missionaries are preparing their spirits, in the event that they cannot rescue their bodies as well.)

As Lexi presented the project to the student body and parents, she came to the part called the “Learning Stretch.” The panel of judges would want to know how she was most pushed to learn something new. Many students talk about having to meet deadlines, pushing past the desire to quit, or having to call adults to ask for things. These are very real learning stretches for seventeen year olds. But Lexi’s was different.

“My learning stretch was compassion. It doesn’t matter what test I take, I always see it right there in black and white. I’m not a compassionate person.”

Then, my sweet, tough-as-nails baby girl began to weep.

“But as God led me to this project and I fell in love with the photos of these real girls with very real needs, I felt his heart of compassion for the first time in my life.”

She never pulled it together.

Neither did the rest of us as she shared why she loved these girls whom she’d never met so very much.

And I can see now, why God has made her so strong. Lexi is in India right now. She’s teaching those lessons in the village where mothers sell their daughters. She’ll be teaching it also in a brothel where children of the prostitutes live. If she were not as strong as she is, she couldn’t do this. And if she didn’t have the compassionate heart of God, she would not do it with love.

And that last part of the verse: “The Lord is near.” I think all these years I might have been praying that for me. So I’d know. I’d remember as I am here and she is there fighting something so evil, that God is near her at every moment.

If you have a child with a character trait that needs balancing out, find a scripture verse to pray over him or her. And watch to see God unfold His plan in their lives.

Do you pray specific verses for your children? Which ones are your favorite?