When leading our few preschoolers, some where in between the “be nice” and “share” talks, spilled snacks, “accidents”, crying over hurt feelings (and possibly “she put glue on my sheep not hers” conversations), it is easy to lose sight of thinking with the end in mind. Our few are at a unique place in development. Their ability to communicate their thoughts and needs are often limited. There aren’t too many championship baseball tournaments to support, or piano recitals to attend. We don’t have midnight texting sessions with them as they face fears about college, or prom, or boyfriends and girlfriends. Our influence may seem a little vague to us, especially when we are ready to move them out, not sure of the foundation we have laid.
About 18 years ago, one of my few was Becky. An adorable and articulate 4 year old, with lots of blonde curls. Of course, then the context was Sunday School, but ours was small enough that we engaged in quite a bit of relationship building. One of my first memories was Becky telling me her parents were getting divorced. Pretty heavy stuff amidst the sick cats and lost puppy prayer requests. As she “graduated” into elementary age, we continued to be friends. Becky’s mom worked many hours, and she spent lots of time at every single event that our church offered.
As she moved into her student ministry years, life became even more challenging, as her mom was diagnosed with a life altering illness, lost her job, eventually losing their house to foreclosure. Tough things for a teenager. Much of this time, I saw her surrounded by leaders creating safe places, being fully present, partnering with her mom. During her student years, she had her own few 3rd & 4th graders to lead! They heard about her trips to Haiti, saw her study hard, and were challenged to share with kids who had much less than they did. As a leader I watched her take on challenging courses in high school and work—not to spend money, but to get scholarships and help financially support her mom. There was nothing I would have loved more than a happy ending for this young lady, but life does not always have the happy endings.
Last week, her mom after an unexpected health development and died at the age of 48. I wondered how she would cope. Would her faith stay strong. Would years of building into her faith, have given her the foundation of a faith that was her own? Let me share what she wrote when her mom died….
The Lord gave and The Lord has taken away. May the name of The Lord be praised.
God gave me the most amazing mom I could have hoped for, and He has taken her home to be with Him.
She passed peacefully and I was with her to send her into her Savior’s arms. I cannot think of anyone who deserves more to be welcomed into Heaven.
I am so comforted to know that she has a new body and is in the presence of our Lord. She struggled for so long, but she has run the race to completion.
So mommy, I love you, and I know you love me. I will see you again before too long.
When you are knee deep in graham crackers and goldfish, it is difficult to think with the end in mind. You may not always see it, but you are building a strong foundation.