Reader Spotlight is one of my favorite series here on Lil Light O’ Mine. It’s a chance for me to spotlight the readers that come here so often – that write! My regular contributors are dear friends, but there are mounds of awesome moms out there – stories, insights, ideas and tales that need to be told. This Light ‘Em Up inspiration is so precious! Stacey is a friend and I’m so glad to feature her today!!! I could kiss Charlie’s face. This is what it is all about!!! – Courtney
Blessed With Double Digits
This year we celebrate birthdays 6, 8, and-double-digit 10! With this milestone, my boys’ birthdays have taken on a whole new meaning for me. Yes, they still mean one more year away from highchairs and pack and plays, but they also mean one less year to make an impact on them while they are in our home. Sounds kind of mushy, I know. And, admittedly, some days I do think about doing laundry for only two people and then taking an afternoon nap … on a hammock … in Barbados … on a Tuesday. It’s true, but, the majority of the time, I am asking time with these boys to slow down. Of course, it doesn’t, and in August I became the mother of a double-digit kid.
This is the last year that my soft-voiced boy, who still has some loose baby teeth and, thankfully, still wants to cuddle me, will be able to use two hands to show his age.There is just something about that number 10. It’s a decade, an even number, and a reason to buy two of those fancy birthday candles, shaped like numbers, instead of one. And, it means he’s an almost MIDDLE SCHOOLER!
Months in advance, Charlie and I started to talk about options for his big day.
Would we rent out the back of Chuck E Cheese and go video game crazy with 15 of his “closest” friends? Should we plan an awesome trip to Disney and see it all? How about a sleepover with pizza, and movies, and all things boy? In the middle of our brainstorming Charlie suggested The Birthday Project and Light ‘Em Up. Charlie’s awesome buddy Cooper had introduced him to The Birthday Project, which promotes performing random acts of kindness to celebrate birthdays and other milestones. The idea is to perform the number of random acts of kindness that match your celebration year. Ten for your tenth, thirty for thirtieth and so on.
Light ‘Em Up, I learned about through Courtney’s blog. I loved the idea of having my kids involved with helping others, allowing them to be active in the process of serving. We have participated in and enjoyed both of these programs for my birthday and during Christmastime, but Charlie’s tenth? I wasn’t sure. This was an opportunity to celebrate big time! Double digits, remember? However, the more we talked, the more it became clear that Charlie was right. We would celebrate his big day by blessing others.
Decision made. There was no turning back. We started listing things we could do to share God’s light. The list came quickly.
Charlie’s 10 Random Acts of Kindness
1. Decorate 10 rocks to leave around town with notes of God’s love
2. Take new leashes and collars to the pound doggies
3. Leave $1 taped to the Red Box machine for the next customer
4. Take donuts to the police station (no stereotypes here)
5. Take treats to the Fire Department
6. Fill socks with soap, tooth brushes, and snacks for the homeless
7. Pay the bill for someone behind us in the drive through
8. Donate some of my favorite books to the Children’s Hospital
9. Give flowers to an older women outside the store
10. Drop off a Publix gift card to a family in need
List in hand, we made the plan and we went on the adventure.
All three boys were so excited to start blessing others that the morning started a little early for my sleep-deprived self. But, after a few cups of high-octane coffee, we were out the door, armed with a $30 budget, from birthday money that he had saved, and hearts that were eager to see what God would do with it.
What we thought would only take a few hours ended up spreading out over the entire day. It was a day of concentrating on serving others during a time that is typically self-focused.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45
And, each time throughout the day as I heard his sweet voice saying those words over and over, my momma heart was filling with joy. I know his Father in Heaven was feeling the same way.
Because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God.Romans 14:18
Seeing God work through my kiddos was amazing. The real smiles from people who received each random act of kindness was a great reward. The whole experience was such an example of what Jesus did for us in modern yet simple terms. And the best part? My kids got it. They enjoyed it. They searched for people who looked in need of a blessing. They became aware of the faces of strangers and what they said about a person’s day, or week, or moment in time. “That one, Mom. She needs it,” they’ said.
One of my favorite moments was when we arrived at Walmart to purchase the flowers for the ninth act on our list. Charlie had been budgeting the money throughout the day; he weighed the cost of donuts verses what the drive through act would cost. He made sure that we had enough in the budget to finish all the blessings. When we reached Walmart, we had $6.45 left for flowers and a gift card for a needy family. With a worried voice he informed me of the small amount remaining in our budget. Of course, I told him I would help if he went over budget, but I could tell that he was disappointed that he couldn’t do it all with the birthday money he had saved.
We purchased the flowers and then had only $1.20 remaining. We sat outside the store for what seemed like an hour waiting for the “right lady” to come out. We waited and waited. Each time I would suggest someone, Charlie was quick to tell me that she was not “the one”.
Finally, a frail, older woman emerged from the store and Charlie started his approach. As he neared her, she picked up speed and turned her head. I realized she was trying to avoid him, but it was too late to stop him. Charlie began his rehearsed speech and just as he reached out his hand, the woman responded with a very loud and very annoyed, “NO!”. Charlie looked defeated. He was shocked, he was embarrassed, and he looked like he might give up. I explained to him that some people aren’t comfortable receiving blessings and that she must not have been the one God intended to receive the flowers. I must get some “mom points” for that teachable moment, right? Whew, disaster averted.
After a few recovery minutes he began his search again. This time he was a little more cautious. Then she came out. “The one.” Charlie approached slowly this time, flowers leading the way, and gave his speech. “My name is Charlie. Today is my tenth birthday and I have decided to light up the world with random acts of kindness. YOU are number nine.” She paused, looked at me for confirmation, and began to cry. She hugged Charlie (to his surprise) and thanked him with a soft voice.
We headed back to the van ready for our last act when we heard someone calling out to us. It was her. She was following us through the parking lot. I’m absolutely sure that Charlie was thinking, “ Oh no. Not another hug!” No. Not another hug. With tears in her eyes, she explained that her husband had just died a few months before and that she never gets flowers any more. She told Charlie that what he had given her was more than just a bouquet, it was joy to a hurting heart. She was, for sure, “the one.” To all of our surprise, she handed Charlie a twenty dollar bill and told him to use it for his next act. The money for the gift card. God had provided all the needs.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. Colossians 3:23
We finished our day sharing a yummy treat with Grandma and some “Charlie focused” love. My family’s first double-digit birthday was a success, not only in my eyes, but I believe, in the eyes of the Lord, too. Since that day we have told and shared the stories over and over. We laughed, we learned, we served, but in the end, I believe we received the most blessings that day.
Because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, who blesses you with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below… Genesis 49:25