I stood on the knoll of a grassy field, watching my youngest daughter, Leslie, then only five years old, as she kicked off her shoes at the starting line. No shoes? How would her little feet grip the grass and propel her forward? Several of the other children in her age group had done the same thing, so I resisted the urge to run over and make her put her shoes back on.
We’d moved to Switzerland in the spring and had spent the summer adjusting to our new surroundings before school started, thus immersing my girls into a culture and language they’d just barely begun to grasp. Today’s event was a big part of kicking off the new school year. I watched Leslie stand there, looking around at the other children so eager to start and win this race. The prize? A round ornately stitched patch declaring the bearer winner of the race for their age group.
Did she even stand a chance?
The starter shouted the Swiss version of “get set, ready, go!” and off went this group of five and six year olds, sprinting down a grassy field. Little legs pumped madly and arms swung back and forth. Seemed like minutes instead of seconds passed as the fastest runners pulled away, and to my amazement my daughter was one of them.
I think my mouth about fell open as my daughter took the lead and won!
Full of pride for my girl, I waited until she’d followed protocol to receive her award and came running toward me. One of her new friends trailed behind her and as my daughter hugged me, I could see her friend was struggling not to cry.
Leslie had noticed too and turned to face her. She held out her new prize to her friend, whose eyes grew almost as big as the patch Leslie held. The little girl looked at me as if to ask, is this okay? My same question—I’d watched Leslie work so hard for this prize, yet there she stood, ready to give it way.
So I asked Leslie, “Are you sure you want to part with that?”
I think I was the one struggling with parting with it, not her.
“Yes, mommy. I want her to have it.”
Her friend took the patch and threw her arms around Leslie. The two skipped off together to play. My pride in my daughter grew even larger.
I think at times our children know how to be more generous than we do. I’ve watched my daughter grow into a generous teenager who was always quick to give away what she had and spend her allowance on her sister or her friends before buying herself anything. My biggest challenge as her mother—to let her. To support her in her generosity, even when she gave away a Visa gift card she’d received for her birthday to a homeless person. As I had asked at that race so many years ago, I asked again, “Are you sure?” She said the joy of giving the card away was better than anything she could have bought. Some kids just get this, others need to be taught.
Either way, we as parents have a wonderful opportunity to help our children grow into generous teenagers and adults who shock the world with their generosity. Just as Jesus came into this world and continues to shock us with His. Along with Jesus, my daughter has become my teacher and inspiration to give more of my resources, my love and my time. I love watching her shock the world with her generosity.
In Not Alone, you’ll find encouragement and inspiration from Scripture and true-life stories from other spiritually mismatched moms. Plus, find practical tips for capturing teachable moments with eternity in mind, and discovery questions to help you grow as a parent. This is a parenting book, but it’s much more. It’s a love letter to all mothers—a message that changes our homes, our kids and our lives. It’s about the Father’s love that impacts those around us and changes ordinary moms into women of extraordinary grace, beauty and wisdom. You may sometimes feel you’re on your own when it comes to godly parenting, but Jesus promised to be with you always. You’re not alone!
Dineen Miller is passionate about God’s Word and truth. She’s been featured on the Moody Radio Network, Focus on the Family, Dr. James Dobson’s FamilyTalk and FamilyLife Today. Dineen lives in the Bay Area with her family and is the coauthor of the award winning book, Winning Him Without Words and author of the ACFW Carol Award winning book, The Soul Saver. Visit Dineen online at MismatchedandThriving.com.