Recently I heard a very heartwarming account of a young child in our church who decided to have a rather unusual birthday celebration.
Morgan was coming up on her seventh birthday. Her mom was faced with a dilemma. It’s not the sort of dilemma most parents are willing to address, but Morgan’s mom decided it was time for action. The decision may well be a model for other parents to consider.
Morgan is one of those little girls that has the ability to steal your heart just by looking at you. As her pastor, I look forward to this slight little body that discreetly sidles up to you during our greeting time Sunday mornings. You know she’s there not because she demands your attention, but because she puts her little arms around your leg just firmly enough to let you know. That’s the moment I excuse myself from the person I’m greeting, kneel down and get one of those big Morgan hugs.
So Morgan’s mom, Clare, had a little chat with her about her upcoming birthday party. You see, Morgan has kept all of her toys in nearly pristine condition since she was a toddler. Clare told Morgan she would need to get rid of some of her toys because there simply was no more room for anymore. Besides, there were lots of children who did not have such wonderful toys. Morgan would have to choose which ones to part with. After thinking it over she decided she just couldn’t part with any of her toys. So mother and child struck a deal – How about we ask the children invited to her party to bring a book which could then be given to a child who had no books? Morgan thought that was a great idea.
Clare contacted my wife, Isaura, to tell her of this birthday plan. My wife has been working for Agape Villages Foster Family Agency for over ten years, so she is well aware that one of the needs for these foster children is good reading material. Would Agape be interested in receiving some books from Morgan’s birthday? You bet!
The special day for Morgan arrived and just over 200 books came in! Morgan was so excited because she knew these books were going to benefit children who did not have nearly the things she had. I had the privilege of transferring the books from Morgan to Agape. The folks at the Agape office in Manteca have since written several notes to Morgan thanking her for such a wonderful birthday present. Morgan was thrilled.
Perhaps it’s not all that surprising that Morgan would be such a giving child. Both her grandfathers are pastors. Her father, Gordon, is one of Ripon’s finest. And mom Clare served as a U.S. Marine.
In an age of consumerism, many of us have given up on teaching our children the value of things. Sharing seems to be a lost art. But, let me ask you: Where do such character traits start? In the home! It is in the home where the first steps are taken to teach your child that there are things greater than the self. It is in the home where a child learns firsthand from parents how to treat others. It is in the home where a child is taught how to share and to give without resentment. It is in the home where a child learns first how to love others above self. It is in the home where the hope of a nation is born.
How about you? How can you make a difference in your part of the world? You may not collect books from birthday-goers, but you can come up with something creative. Regardless of your age, you can still reflect and teach the values and ideals that have made America great. Do you have children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, neighbor kids? Get involved with them! Teach them that character does matter. That morals are critical to any society. That faith in God is essential in knowing who we are and why we’re here. Start today.
Thank you, Morgan, Clare and Gordon for this reminder of what’s important in life. May yours be an example that stirs hearts to action and catches on all across this great land!