As an uncle, it has been quite the journey watching my three nieces grow.
Avah, the oldest turned 3-years-old Wednesday, a day before her twin sisters Payten and Madysen marked 16 months. Yes, my brother Jed and his wife Amanda have literally had their arms full.
They've been dealing with potty training, teething, talking, crawling, walking, etc. all at the same time.
I get back to see them about once a month and I am always impressed by the amount of growth each girl has every time I see them.
One of the biggest developments we've been watching for the past six months or so is the twins' learning to walk.
Crawling went out the window as the primary mode of transportation months ago.
Payten learned to pull herself to her feet and strut around fairly quickly and loves to show that skill off.
On the contrary, Madysen has preferred walking on her knees, smiling as she goes. One would think being chased by her sisters alone would encourage her to use her feet, but she can get around pretty quickly on her knees.
"That's what your feet are for, silly," I've told her on more than one occasion, picking her up and setting her on her feet. Sometimes she has responded with tears, other times she has simply ignored me and gone back to walking on her knees.
This Easter was different, though.
She spent much of Sunday walking from relative to relative. She especially liked pulling herself up to take something from one person across the room to the next.
As we witnessed this feat, we were overwhelmingly impressed and relieved to see this progress.
Madysen inspired me to think about progress in our lives.
Progress is a lot like change: it is not always easy.
Sometimes it is painful or inconvenient.
Other times we don't want to go forward with it because of our stubbornness, selfishness or pride.
I've heard it said that "change is inevitable; growth (or progress) is optional."
What's holding us back from moving forward?
What's keeping us from turning an opportunity of change into an opportunity for progress?
My best guess is that, in most cases, we are simply holding ourselves back.
The key is to get ourselves out of the way, focus on others and step out in faith in something greater than ourselves.