Our daughter will know the truth: her self-worth is made up of more than her exterior.
By SUZANNE STAMBOULIEH
Although our daughter Scarlett is young, my husband and I have always tried to instill in her the understanding that character counts!It is a lesson we would have handed down to our son or daughter no matter what, but given that we were blessed with a little girl, I think we’ve been a little bit more intentional in our efforts.I can’t help but notice that we are living in a world that often seems to value outward appearances more than intellect, the nature of one’s heart, or strength of one’s character. It seems that people of all ages are scrutinized and measured against the world’s ever-changing standard of beauty. So, in our home, we emphasize character, so that Scarlett knows her value comes from within. In doing so, we hope to lay a strong foundation for her future, so that if someone tries to treat her badly or make her feel less-than, solely based on her appearance, she will know the truth: Her self-worth is made up of more than her exterior.In efforts to teach her about strong, godly character from a biblical perspective, we started to study the fruits of the spirit and how living for God can transform who you are from the inside out. True beauty! We studied Galatians 5:22-23, which states, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”I tried to implement this learning into our daily lives. If Scarlett behaved in a snippy way, I would point out that she was not being gentle in that specific situation. I tried my best to acknowledge her actions each day and praised her where I could: “I know it took Momma a long time to finish what I was doing, but you really exercised patience. Thank you.”My husband, Stephen, joined in, too. We both worked hard to shine a light on her good behavior, acknowledging where she exhibited a fruit of the spirit and identifying which one it was. And, boy, did that praise make her try harder and more frequently!I have learned that my daughter tries harder to do the right thing when she understands why it is important in the first place. So, we spent time reflecting on how our spiritual health helps us to become who God wants us to be. As I watched her absorb these lessons, I felt called to share them.Being an author and a lover of books, I have often found that children retain the information more when the topic is introduced in several formats. Given this, I was inspired to write and publish my third book, A Fruitful Spirit. I wanted to create something that was fun and entertaining for children, but deep enough that it might help them grow in their spiritual walk with Him.A Fruitful Spirit is a rhyming picture book for young children. It describes each of the biblical fruits in detail and how they might apply to his or her life at any age. The intent of the book is to give parents an easy way to help their children learn about the gifts that come from living and growing with the Holy Spirit.Throughout the book, the reader will see a wide variety of ethnicities and children who have disabilities. This was done in hopes that each and every child can see his or herself within the book and relate to the characters. The illustrator, Saïd Bouzid of France, used vibrant colors throughout all of the drawings, and they are surely going to captivate the child reader’s attention.Hopefully this book will facilitate parents in helping their children to develop a strong character from within and, ultimately, empower children to live a Bible-centered life – because while we know that it might be hard at times, even in childhood, it’s worth it! ◆The writer is the founder of Scarlett Gray Publishing, a Christian publishing company dedicated to producing children’s books centered on God’s Word. She is also the author of A Fruitful Spirit. She can be reached at Suzanne@ScarlettGrayPublishing.com