What kind of people do I long for my children to become?
That's a question I often ponder in my quiet moments. My deepest desire is that God's love will shape them into people of compassion in our self-absorbed culture. I long for them to be individuals who offer a cup of cold water to the thirsty (Matthew 25:35); I dream they'll be able to set aside the pull of materialism to spend their resources on worthwhile purposes. But many times, my efforts to mold my children into compassionate kids get thwarted by time pressures. Doctor appointments, soccer games, and homework obligations often overwhelm me! That's why I've learned that in order to bring substance to my dream, I need to be intentional, like Elaine Smythe, one homeschooling mom I know.
Elaine read about a boy who held a pirate-themed birthday party. Instead of having his friends bring presents, the children brought the money they'd have spent on the presents. His family then sent that money to the relief agency through which they sponsored a child overseas. So Elaine asked her 9-year-old daughter, Helen, if she'd like to do something similar for their sponsored child, Roberto, 14, in Brazil. Helen thought it was a wonderful idea.
Helen's birthday party was typical, except for the globe Elaine set on the table along with a letter from Roberto. The kids held back their "gifts" until after they ate their cake, then put their money in a little box. Elaine explained that their family prayed for Roberto one day a week. "We told all my friends how we wrote letters, and how Roberto wrote us back," says Helen. "I read one of his letters. Then we opened the envelopes and added up the dollars. I thought maybe there'd be 20 dollars, but we got 70 dollars! When I look at Roberto's photo now, I think how special he felt when World Vision sent him our money."1