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When your teacher is quite a bit younger than you….but wise beyond his years <3


I call him my Achilles’ Heel….that third grandchild with the big eyes and the big heart and the big gap in his smile. 

For some reason, sandwiched in between his larger than life two older brothers and the girl child miracle that is Caroline, Joel just has a way of non-competition and generous love that melts me. 

Oh, he is 100% human, and without adequate amounts of naps and ‘nacks….he can turn his nickname Joely Bear from the image of a teddy to a grizzly in a heart beat. 

But even when he is having a meltdown, everybody knows who will have his back and her name is L.O.L.A.

He adores his little sister and the feeling is mutual but sometimes girlfriend can’t help being two years old and she can wound his tender heart as a result. 


Yesterday Joel came out of preschool proudly toting one of those shiny gold stickers that looks like a badge. 

Apparently they had a visitor from the local fire department and were each given one of these treasures. 

I pick him up on some Tuesdays while Mommy and Caroline are getting home from Bible Study.

He told me he was saving his sticker to give his sister and as soon as he saw her, he told her all about it and then deputized her as a miniature fire marshal and we headed off to McDonalds to celebrate. 

As I was driving, Caroline called my name and was trying to hand me something. 

At the stoplight, I reached back and saw what looked like a wadded up candy wrapper. I took it from her wondering how she managed to sneak a treat and then realized it was the sticker from Joel. She must have pulled it off and it tore and she just rolled it in a ball…easy come, easy go. 

For her. 

I quickly looked into the far back via the mirror and saw the face that makes me wish life was never hard or hurtful for this little man. 


I commiserated as best I could from the front seat and told him I knew that probably hurt and did his teacher give him two? 

No, Lola…just one. 

I told him I was very sorry Caroline had ruined it, to which he responded quickly. 

“It’s okay Lola. I wanted her to have it.”

The message he conveyed in that moment; and backed up with his behavior toward her throughout the remainder of the day, exhibiting nothing but loving kindness was this…

I knew when I gave it to her she probably would do what two year olds do, but I love her so much I wanted her to have this wonderful gift from my morning at school since she couldn’t be there with me and I was thinking about her when I got it. 

In his child like way, he exhibits beautifully what God does for me all the time. 

He gives me wonderful gifts every day and most of the time I tend to waste them…not appreciate them…not be thankful for them. 

Yet tomorrow He will do the same thing. 

He will give me new mercies because He loves me. 

Not because I deserve them or earn them or even use them wisely. 

He just loves and gives because that is who He is. 

And as I cry still this morning thinking of that sweet and loving little face in the back of the van, I pray God would make me more child like to extend the same kind of love and mercy and grace I have been given…even if the recipients tear it in small pieces and wad it up and hand it back to me. 

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