• Darrell Cothran

Dear daughter, I love you so much, but God loves you more...

Candace and Peyton
Candace and Peyton Diehl

Candace Diehl teaches 1st grade at Hendrix Elementary School in Spartanburg, SC. Ever since her first mission trip in high school, she has had a heart for foreign missions. She and her husband Chad have two beautiful children - Hampton and Peyton. On June 8th, Candace, seven year old Peyton and thirty-four others from Hendrix Elementary School departed South Carolina for a mission trip to Nicaragua with Chosen Children Ministries. They came to work with their adopted sister school in the Parcels Barrio. They came to bring resources and materials to help teachers and students. They came to bring Hope and Encouragement. Candace and Peyton returned with the experience of a life-time.

This experience led Candace to write one of the most compelling prayers to Peyton you'll ever read. That prayer is at the end of this post, but what led up to this point?

After high school, Candace went on mission trips to Guatemala and Nicaragua. She knew her heart belonged on the mission field and dreamed of becoming a missionary. When God gives us a passion for doing His work, the enemy sometimes has a way of convincing us that we are worthless and that there's no way a perfect God would want an imperfect person sharing His love. We can live those lies for years. This was the case for Candace.

After graduating from Clemson University, she wrote in her journal and begged God to either take away her desire for missions or provide a way to be able to go again. He answered those prayers.

CCM: What made you consider going on a mission trip with CCM?

Candace: "I was hired at Hendrix Elementary School and I instantly knew that my job would be my mission field. As if that was not enough, at my very first faculty meeting, our principal announced that a team of teachers from the school would be traveling to Nicaragua the next summer to help build a school there. Talk about undeserved grace and kindness.

My first trip with CCM was in the summer of 2014."

CCM: Peyton is seven years old. Why did you want to bring her on a trip to Nicaragua?

Candace: "My daughter was 2 at the time (of my first mission trip) and I could only hope and pray for the day that she'd get to go and serve with me one day. I wanted Peyton to be able to experience all that going on a mission trip means. It is about going to serve other people and tell them about Jesus’ love, but it is also so much more than that. It is forming relationships with the people in Nicaragua and the people on your team."

CCM: Did you have reservations about bringing her?

Candace: " I really had to pray about the decision whether she was prepared emotionally and in maturity to be able to handle the trip and also whether we could afford it financially, but in every way God answered our prayers by providing in amazing ways and He gave me such a peace about her coming. In the back of my mind I had a few fears about her safety and whether it was really safe to travel to Nicaragua, but God really eased those thoughts. There was not one single time on our trip that I felt unsafe or worried about Peyton being with me."

"It’s hard to describe. I could feel my heart swell watching her work hard and enjoy it, loving on the children there and forming friendships that will last a lifetime."

CCM: What was is like to see Peyton working and interacting with Nicaragua families?

Candace: " It’s hard to describe. I could feel my heart swell watching her work hard and enjoy it, loving on the children there and forming friendships that will last a lifetime with the Nicaraguan families. There were hard days, I don’t want to paint it all like rainbows and butterflies...but the rewards far outweigh the worries. It was everything I’ve dreamed of and more. Being able to serve the people of Nicaragua with my daughter by my side was one of my favorite experiences in my life this far."

CCM: Why did you write the prayer for your daughter?

Candace: "I felt compelled to write that prayer as somewhat of a reflection of our trip. Taking her to Nicaragua with me and seeing all that she could handle made me realize how quickly she’s growing up. I’m watching her become her own unique person and seeing the desires that God is giving her. I’m blown away by the grace God has shown me through her. It’s all a little contradictory, but really just shows how sovereign our Lord is. What the devil meant to harm me and keep me from spreading the love of Jesus, God used for good. I’m very, very far from the perfect person or parent, I mess up every single day, and I’m sure my children will gladly confirm that, but I won’t let that keep me from praying bold prayers to my perfect God. Because as Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."

Candace's Prayer for Peyton:

"Dear daughter,

I love you so much, but God loves you more. It’s hard to imagine, but I know it’s true. I’ve been praying a lot for you lately as you grow up too fast and I see you ready to take your next steps with Him by your side. You’re so much wiser than I ever was but there are a few things I think are important for you right now.

I pray you’re always willing to work hard if it’s for the sake of helping others. Don’t be afraid to get a little sweaty, it just makes your skin sparkle.

I pray your heart always stays more beautiful than your precious face. That’s hard because I think you’re the most beautiful girl in the world, but if you love Jesus first and others second then your heart will radiate a beauty that can’t be matched by any outward appearance.

Speaking of others, I pray you see people for their own hearts...not what they look like, not how smart they are, not what society says they are or how much money they have. As you grow up there will be kids (and grown-ups) that most people stay away from, I pray you gravitate towards them. They need you...not for the you in you, but for the Jesus in you.

I pray you learn to forgive...yourself and others. We’re all sinners and fall short of the glory of God, we all need a little (or a lotta) give it freely, because I promise you’ll need it too.

Most of all, and I’ve prayed this since the day I found out you were growing in my scared, young belly. I pray you’ll be a girl who chases Jesus with her whole heart, who chases Jesus even when it’s not “cool” or easy, a girl after God’s own heart.

It won’t be easy. Some days you’ll feel like you’re the only person in the world seeking Jesus more than anything else, but I promise He’ll meet you right where you are. He’ll send friends who love Him just as much as you do, and you’ll feel so blessed to do life with them.

Even when you mess up (because you will...a lot), even when you choose yourself over Him (because sadly you will a lot, too), even when you don’t deserve the love He has for you, He still has it for you. His plans are so much better than yours and I can’t wait to watch you discover the person He created you to be.

I’ll always be here to encourage you and push you towards Jesus. He’s the most important thing you’ll ever have, and His arms are always wide open. Fall in them and then take off and run the race with Him. It’ll be more than you ever imagined.

Dear daughter, I love you so much, but God loves you more. Choose Him every time. I’ve got your back forever, and so does He."

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