Tayla Today is Tayla’s fourth
birthday.  Lollie and I love our
little girl.  She is loving,
creative, serious and asks great questions.  Tayla has a love for singing songs.  In random conversations a specific word
will trigger a song in her heart and then she will ask, “Can I sing a song?”

In the last few months I’ve
prayed and thought a lot about the life she is growing into in our South
African context.  I am more
convinced than ever that she has the opportunity to live in a very exciting
country.  A country that can help
form her into a truly amazing human being.  It just depends what stories she is told. 

This is what I’m thinking
about – I often wonder what narratives will give her reliable railings.  Roots she can
hold onto as she discovers her path of life.

Children develop and grow in
specific directions; some of it is nature, some of it is nurture.  Geography and physical spaces have a
big influence on how we develop.  Relationships
also form us.  We are fortunate to
have a group of people who are helping Tayla make sense of the story she lives
in.  Through it all I’m constantly
reminded of the words Parker Palmer wrote in his brilliant book “Let you life

We arrive in this world with birthright gifts — then
we spend the first half of our lives abandoning them or letting others disabuse
us of them. As young people, we are surrounded by expectations that may have
little to do with who we really are, expectations held by people who are not
trying to discern our selfhood but to fit us into slots. In families, schools,
workplaces, and religious communities, we
are trained away
from true self toward images of acceptability; under
social pressures like racism and sexism our original shape is deformed beyond
recognition; and we ourselves, driven by fear, too often betray true self to
gain the approval of others. We are disabused
of original giftedness in the first half of our lives. Then — if we are awake,
aware, and able to admit our loss — we spend the second half trying to recover
and reclaim the gift we once possessed.

What I pray for Tayla and
Liam is that we will be able to discern the gifts that have been placed inside
of them.  That we as parents will
be able to hear the sounds of the little brooks that flow in their hearts.  That we can keep those brooks
unpolluted and clear.  That we will
be able to appreciate the gentle sounds echoing out of these little souls
flowing into the drama of life.

Tayla, I love you.

I pray that you will
continue to sing your songs.

I pray that you will nurture
your birthrights.

I pray that we, as your
parents, will be sensitive to the rivers in your life.

And I thank God for the gift
of you.  For through you I am
rediscovering the brooks in my own life.

PS> See you on the