This past Monday, our younger daughter (Mira) became a teenager. In lieu of a big party, she asked for money so that she could do something special for other people. Entirely on her own, she developed a plan to help some moms feel special who otherwise wouldn’t feel very special today.
Yesterday afternoon, Mira and my wife went to Costco, where she used a significant portion of her birthday money to buy roses and a large bag of candy. (For any of you last-minute shoppers, I’ve been told that our local Costco has very nice roses on sale for $16.99 per two dozen.) Mira and my wife came home and used the roses she purchased to put together lovely flower arrangements that the two of them delivered to our county’s shelter for battered women for each mom living there this weekend, along with the large bag of candy for their children to share.
Mira’s biggest concern about the day involved a request for a photo from the shelter’s director for the newsletter they distribute to donors. She’s not a person who feels comfortable as the center of attention. I told her that mindset is very consistent with what Jesus had to say about giving in the Bible.
The pressures that kids are under in our community are incredible and unlike anything that my wife and I ever encountered growing up. It seems as if every thought, behavior and idea they encounter in school, online and with friends is at work to undermine the values we’ve sought to impart to them. I showed up for our ministry team on Wednesday in a sleep-deprived state after contemplating for much of the night whether we’d done enough to prepare them to make the right choices in the months and years ahead. As our girls have gotten older and become more private about some of the issues they deal with on a daily basis, I worry that I don’t have the relationship with them necessary to be a positive influence when they need to make difficult decisions. I also worry I haven’t done enough to promote relationships between them and other like-minded adults who can provide wisdom and reinforce our values when stuff comes up that they’re not comfortable discussing with my wife or myself. I do know that being a part of a church has helped my wife and myself to be a far more positive influence to our kids than we could have been without that experience.
Later this morning, our 16 year old (Leah) will get up early, as she has on nearly every Sunday for the last couple of years to serve as a volunteer Sunday School teacher to a room filled with preschoolers. Beyond the lesson of the week, I think the time she spends with her class as a busy, popular kid who co-captains our high school dance team on Friday nights in the fall communicates something to the kids she serves about their importance in God’s family.
I’m sharing our girls’ story because I think my wife and I have received a better gift than the women in the shelter waking up to their flower arrangements this morning. Our hope for our girls has been that, similar to King David, they would “serve God’s purpose in their generation.” When I see them willingly looking for opportunities to serve, I know at some level that they “get it.” They’re not perfect… they have and will make mistakes and so will we. But I can’t imagine how a mom (or a dad) could ask for a better gift than to know that their kid is living out their faith.
This past Friday, an article ran in the USA Today based upon a survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors suggesting that what Mom may really want for Mother’s Day is for the entire family to go to church together. While not expressed in the article, I suspect that the hope among mothers to see their kids living out their faith drives their desire for their families to attend church together.
I’m proud that I have an opportunity to serve a team hard at work to make attending church a reality for thousands of families of kids with disabilities in hundreds of churches across the U.S. and beyond. Happy Mother’s Day to three of our moms (Rebecca, Katie and Harmony) who spent yesterday at Center Pointe Church in Cincinnati resourcing churches to welcome mothers and families to church who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to be a part of a church. I’m sure your parents are as proud of you as Denise and I are of Mira and Leah.