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Mac & Cheese and Sunny D

Parenting is more than providing basic needs to our children – by basic needs, you know what I mean, things like mac & cheese, Sunny D, Takis and endless hours at trampoline parks. While these things sometimes feel like crucial life or death provisions for our mini-me’s…. let’s be transparent: Parenting is shaping the minds and hearts of the next generation of adults— not in order to run a perfect government (although, wouldn’t that be a nice change of pace?) or to make more money than we did (although, teaching money management is crucial) .... but to be a generation that glorifies God with their work, with their relationships, with their marriages and seeks his will above all else. 

Let me tell you a story. This story involves two parents who cared deeply for their children — they cared enough, in fact, to introduce their kids to a world beyond the walls of their home and to people who they otherwise would never have encountered. This world, these people… it’s scary at times, it’s uncomfortable most of the time. Both the parents and children would be challenged by what they would see; what they would experience. But this mom and this dad, they did this because the love they had for their children meant more than food and clothes and bedtime stories and expensive sports teams. This mom and this dad understood that the hearts and souls of their children were daily being shaped by what they were and were not seeing, understanding and experiencing.

These parents recognized the importance of this balance — Protecting and Exposing…. Protecting little one’s from the evil devourer and his work on this planet all the while, gradually and gently exposing their children to the world around them;  both the beautiful and the broken. But not just exposing — That part is easy, just give them unlimited internet access and let the evil prevail! The hard work for this mom and this dad came when they had to sit and talk through the hurt and the ugly with children who just didn’t understand. The hard part is holding the bad in the light of the gospel and walking their children through this dichotomy.

I am grateful I had parents who carefully consider the balance of shielding me from a scary world while simultaneously introducing me to brokenness I could have never fathomed. This brokenness is what the Lord chose to use to swell in me a compassion for humanity and a burning desire to show Christ’s love tangibly through the giving of myself — my time, my energy, my finances and my home. 

Had foster care not been a part of my story, I surely hope that I still would have cared for others, especially the less fortunate, but I really don’t think it would have been the same. Seeing foster care lived out in my childhood home opened my eyes… my 9-year-old eyes, even in the hallways of my elementary school to those needing a little more. I became the kid who would seek out the little boy who didn’t speak English and sat by himself every day at lunch. I became the kid who befriended the deaf girl who could only communicate with her adult interpreter. Although I neither spoke Spanish or ASL, I found a way to show kindness. I wasn’t some incredible Mother Teresa; I simply noticed and took a step towards them. 

Now that I have children of my own, my heart aches for them to recognize that their world is so much bigger than what culture is telling them. I fail at this quite often. I allow my own eyes to stay down and remain inwardly focused on our little house, our little schedule, our little retirement account. But when I lift up my head and open my eyes… I can then, in turn, show my children how to lift theirs and notice things that maybe their friends aren’t seeing. So now, in our family, we celebrate our ability to open our home. Sometimes that is for someone who needs a home temporarily; sometimes, that’s just for an evening, for one meal. Either way, as often as possible, we celebrate that our resources are not our own and when we allow our Creator to have access to them, our hearts and the hearts of children will forever be changed.

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