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The Wonder of Snow

Lori Haynes Niles

No two snowflakes are alike. These amazingly complex demonstrations of God's handiwork are absolutely unique, shaped by a complex interchange between temperature, moisture conditions, and how the snowflake is blown around during its descent from sky to ground.

Children are like snowflakes. No matter how similar two children appear to be, their histories -- how they're blown about by life -- can never be exactly the same. Tiny variances make a difference in the snowflakes and spiritual formation of children, too.

Each week, the experience of a Bible story or song, a craft, or playtime changes the atmospheric conditions in a child's life. How these experiences play a part in forming an individual child's spiritual life is as unpredictable as the flakes formed in a single snow flurry.

Just as it can take an unbelievably long two hours for a snowflake to come to rest in a snowdrift, it takes a long time to know how our loving and teaching is impacting a child or what the result of our efforts will be. A small kindness here, extended patience there, or taking the time to understand the sound substitutions in a 3-year-old's speech -- all these little things help a child form impressions about God.

Easter reminds us that God is constantly renewing, restoring, and redeeming. Perhaps you minister to some children who already need to see God's resurrection power in their young lives or in the lives of their parents. In that case, it's good to know one other thing about snowflakes. The most beautiful and complex among them are the ones that are tossed about in the wind the longest, adding depth and dimension to their original crystalline structure. Sometimes a vision of future beauty gives us enough hope to persevere and go the extra mile with a child who tests our endurance, while God is at work crafting beautiful things from confusion.

I pray that this season of springtime renews each of our commitments to watching God's handiwork through the tools of puzzles, paintbrushes, and picture books as we create a space in which children can grow according to God's design. (Check out an amazing collection of snow crystal photos at www.its.caltech.edu/~atomic/snowcrystals/photos/photos.htm.)

Lori Niles is the teaching director of Moreland Family Preschool, an associate pastor, and a teacher at the seminary level in Portland, Oregon.

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