BIRTHDAY CAKE FOR THE HOMELESS
My kids were young elementary school age-I would say about five and eight years old. There are very few volunteer opportunities for kids that age, because of insurance liability I have been told So when a mom at our church assured us she had an outreach opportunity for children of all ages (with adult supervision), I jumped at the chance.
The site was Union Gospel Mission in Ft. Worth, TX. Interestingly enough, this homeless shelter had an amazing side story (much more amazing than mine I can assure you). The story was turned into a
which was turned into a book. I’ve read the book, after touring the shelter. The book is fantastic, and I would wager that the movie isn’t too shabby either. But (what a surprise!) I digress.
We arrived at Union Gospel for our orientation, kids in tow. Our tour guide was fantastic! She gave us a quick yet fascinating history of origin and mentioned the book (at the time, the movie was not even a twinkle in anyone’s eye). Our group was going to be responsible for a birthday party once a quarter for the children at the shelter whose birthdays fell into the month we were hosting. There were other organizations carrying the other months, so we were told just once a quarter was a bountiful blessing.
Our mission was to provide a cake, a gift card for each birthday child (Walmart cards were suggested but they appreciated all gift cards), games, and a craft. All kids staying at the shelter were invited so we wanted to also have some party favors for any kids attending but not in their birthday month. I mean truly, how can you go to a birthday party in this century and not come home with a party favor bag? It’s just not acceptable!
I felt that my five year old and eight year old had a great time each quarter. They played with the kids, ate the cake, watched the birthday kids open their gift cards, watched all the moms and dads thank us. And of course, because that’s just how we moms roll, I would spend the entire twenty minute drive to the shelter and back talking about what a wonderful outreach we were providing, how thankful the families were, how important it is to give back to our communities and live the Gospel in our days. Yep-I am such a great mom!
About the third time we were loading up to go, all the while I was proclaiming my mom speech-what a wonderful outreach, it’s so important to give back, live out the Gospel, blah blah blah blah. I took a breath and Nathan quietly asked me, “But Mom-why are we doing this? Why would these kids want this dumb party with kids they don’t even know? One birthday gift? That doesn’t even make sense-who gets one gift at a birthday party? And it’s a gift card to Walmart! These parties are just so stupid-they’re so lame compared to the party their moms and dads give them!” Oh my stars…….
So I stopped in the driveway, took a breath and explained. I explained to my sweet boys that this is the absolute only birthday party these kids are getting. I explained that we are giving Walmart gift cards because even though those kids might want a Play Station or Wii, they probably need new shoes and a jacket. I explained that these birthday kids now live at the homeless shelter while their parents work with the shelter to find a permanent house. These birthday kids might have friends at school but they won’t be inviting those friends to any other party. Because this is all they are getting until their parents’ situation changes. And this my sweet boys understood.
#momscrewup! I had explained homelessness in a way only an adult could understand. My boys didn’t understand living in a group home because there is no other choice. They didn’t know anyone who didn’t have a birthday party with presents and decorations and friends that they actually knew. It was my job as a parent to help them realize how blessed they are. Oh, we as parents work so hard to protect our children that we many times protect them from seeing their blessings! We protect them from seeing how they need to serve our Mighty God. I have to say I felt crazy small compared to our Father. I felt I failed as a mom. But had I?
Our God is a Mighty God-I think He relishes taking our small things and building them up for our good and His Glory. My boys went to the mission that night with new hearts and new minds. Only things that their Father could have given them-I certainly as their mom had failed at doing. My kids and I serve a marvelous God! He brought me down quite a peg or two. For it wasn’t about feeling so good about serving the community and doing so many tasks to check off our lists and climb higher to Heaven.
It was about being humble. It was about having a servant’s heart. How can that happen? By realizing that we need to go back to the Gospel. What did Jesus do? What should we do? Such a great opportunity to go back to your pastors and ask for some advice on living out the Gospel.
I did just this week. I had a discussion with my Father and confessed I have so many things I need to improve upon. He was gracious and patient. I love that about Him!
Please comment and let me know your thoughts on this post. Please share your experiences with trying to teach your kids preach the Gospel to the world.