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Mom's Journal

A Souvenir of the Heart: How do I shape my children's view of their dad?

My husband and I crammed our carry-ons into the luggage space above our heads and took our assigned seats. Our trip to New York had been amazing?out to dinner, a Broadway show. Tucked into my tote bag were souvenirs for the kids.

Looking around, I noticed that the aisle seat across from Evan was occupied by a disheveled-looking man. He was unshaven and clad in sweat pants, a flannel shirt, house shoes and a stocking hat. In his lap he clenched a GAP bag. His head bobbed unsteadily and a thin line of drool escaped from his lips. Clearly, he was drunk. I nudged my husband and pointed.

"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." Jesus' words met me as I settled back in my seat. Evan leaned over and said, "I'll keep an eye on him."

Two hours into the flight, the man rummaged through his bag and pulled out a long plastic bottle. I'd seen such a contraption when I was working as a hospital chaplain's assistant. It was a urinal bottle, and the man intended to use it right there.

My elbow flew into my husband's ribs. "Do something!" Without any noticeable frustration, Evan closed his notebook and leaned across the aisle, gently informing the tattered soul that he would have to go down the aisle to the bathroom. I watched the man's eyes grow wide. "I can't make it that far. I'll fall on my ****!" Evan responded, "I'll take you, sir."

My husband rose from his seat, placed his hand beneath the man's arm and led him to the bathroom. I noticed in awe my husband's service to this soul, then thought about things around the house I niggled him to do?put his dishes in the dishwasher, turn his socks right-side out for the wash. I considered how these moments shape my children's view of their father, and yet they are far from representative of who he is as a man who loves God.

The woman in the window seat leaned over and whispered, "Your husband is quite the gentleman." Indeed. Yet too often I fail to notice, and to acknowledge what I do notice, so my children will notice as well. Evan had reached out to the "least of these brothers" and in so doing had reached out to Jesus. How many other acts of ministry have I missed because I focus on the niggling tidbits of his life?

When Evan returned to his seat, I touched his hand and said, "You just taught me a lot." I realized that the real souvenirs I was taking home to the kids weren't in my tote bag. They would be in the telling of this moment of noticing their father's service to another.

Elisa Morgan, M.Div., is president of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International. Her most recent book is A Mother's Touch (Zondervan). Elisa lives in Colorado with Evan and their two children. For information about a MOPS group in your area, call 800-929-1287.

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