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:

[verse reference=”Philippians 4:5″]Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.[/verse]

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.

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 ended up India. Teaching those lessons in the village where mothers sell their daughters. She also taught 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 when 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?

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  1. God bless Lexi. Loved your post. Will be praying for your dear Lexi. Wow! What a story!

  2. Thank you, Dannah. I do have one. He’s 4. 🙂 He hasn’t run away yet!!! But, I am thankful that I found your post, as I’ve been struggling to figure out how to pray over him & our struggles. Your daughter’s story led me tears. She sounds like an amazing, Godly young woman that He will use greatly through her spiritual gifts.

  3. Thank you for this blog. I really need this as I too have a child with a strong will and whom could use compassion.

  4. Dannah,

    Thank you for sharing the verse you have prayed over your daughter and how you have seen it come to fruition. I have a daughter who will be 3 next month and I am starting to notice an over sensitivity in her. There are times when she does or says something funny without intending to and I will laugh, she thinks she is being laughed at and will start to cry. You have given me the encouragement to look in God’s Word and pray over her.
    Way to go Lexi! I hope my girls are as on fire for God as she is!

  5. What an awesome story! God’s word is so powerful and praying it over our children is even more powerful. I have 3 boys (8,6,6) and I have been wanting to dig in more in my prayers for them. Hearing your words–lit my path. Thank you so much for sharing and I will say a prayer for your precious baby girl in India.

  6. Thank you for sharing the Word. This truly spoke to my spirit! I really need to pray a specific prayer over my 3 babies (9,5,2). May God bless and keep you and Lexi.

  7. Thank you for this touching story that brings a human, real-life side to scripture application that goes beyond being “preachy”. Most of us have or know “that child” who is a challenge at times, but has so much potential if we can just help them find balance and God’s path. I needed to see this today.

  8. Dannah Gresh says:

    Heather, ask God to reveal to you a Scripture verse to claim over her life and begin to ask him for that to come to be in her life. BUT never forget to praise him for her sweet sensitivity. It could be that she will have a great spiritual gift of mercy and her tenderness is part of that. Our God inhabits praise. Invite him into the sensitivity!

    1. Dannah,

      Thank you for that reminder. I do so love her sweet sensitivity, she is always giving hugs and kisses! I think I am concerned because I was an overly sensitive child and it is something I struggled with until my late 20’s. I pray that she is more temperanced than I was.

  9. Beautiful. Tears. Love to see hope and answered prayers, and meaning, all come together in Gods timing. What a perfect story.

  10. WOW! What a good encouragement!!! I have not made a habit of praying SPECIFIC verses over my children, but can imagine the fruit that God would bring if I did. I have four wonderful children, but can certainly see the weaknesses that go along with their strengths. I pray the Lord will use this push to really push me into a place of real prayer for each one of them.

  11. Jennifer Jones says:

    Ahh, so I sit here chomping away at my last-nights leftovers for lunch today and I click over to MomLife Today to be inspired, encouraged and reminded that I am not alone. Today I nearly choked on my mashed-potatoes as I felt a lump growing in my throat as I read this post. Tears burned my eyes as I related your precious Lexi to my own strong-willed leader of a daughter Brooklyn. My verse for her has been (and is) 1 Peter 3:4 “the unfading beauty of a quiet and gentle spirit”.
    Thank you for the reminder that even when we can’t see what is happening (in the spiritual realm) as long as we continue to be diligent in our prayers for our daughters, our training and teaching them as well as confessing God’s Word over them, we can rest assured that HE is seeing to it that His word does not return void and that it accomplishes what it has been set forth to accomplish (even in the lives of our daring daughters!)
    BLESSED by this post! Blessed by you!
    Sharing your passion….Jen

  12. Thank you for writing this great article! I have a strong 3-year old little boy that I can imagine doing the same thing Lexi did. He is very intelligent but very stubborn. Your words brought tears to my eyes. Instead of getting frustrated with him, I am going to look for a scripture to pray over him like you did with your children. Thank you for your encouragement!

  13. YES! I have a very specific passage God gave me several years ago for my son (now 7) and He just gave me one for my daughter (now 5) just about two weeks ago. Still looking for the one for the other two children.

  14. Kim Papple says:

    Oh my word! I am sitting here with tears in my eyes! I have a daughter just like your little Lexie was. I have begun praying gentleness for her as well. She is so independent & strong-willed. She beats to the sound of her own drum if you know what I mean! Daily I struggle with how to channel all those qualities into how God desires her to be. Thank you for posting this! It is such an encouragement to me to keep on keeping on! By the way, she is only 5!

  15. This is one of the most beautiful stories I have read. I am in tears. Thank you so much for sharing it. I never knew being a parent would be so trying. I have three very intelligent and strong-willed children. You have given me the encouragement to pray for my children, and faith that my patience will prevail. God bless you and your family!