I have studied her face even before she was born. My eyes would trace and retrace her profile on the flimsy black and white ultrasound paper I kept in my Bible while my belly grew and grew. Over the months and years after she entered the world on Valentine’s Day, I logged thousands of hours watching her face express a thousand emotions. Two weeks ago I could tell she wanted to share something out of the ordinary with me. Her eyes were bright and her head tilted slightly. She looked both mischievous and triumphant.
“Mom, I’ve been thinking about my birthday.”
I braced myself, ready to talk down some over the top party theme. Birthdays are a big deal for Julia. She starts talking about ideas for her next birthday sometime around August, before school starts, and I repeatedly request we get through Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year before we talk about her next birthday. I took a deep breath as she went on,
“I was up in my room and looking at all my stuff. I have so much stuff. I think for my birthday this year instead of getting gifts and more stuff, I’d like to ask my friends if they would be willing to donate to kids and families who actually need things. Maybe buy some goats or chickens or something.”
I swallowed hard.
Was she sure? She smiled and I could see in her eyes her mind was made up.
I prepared myself by thinking, “Now, Viv, don’t get all puffed up and proud. The whole Use Whatcha Got challenge is meant to be something for just you. The fact it spills over and helps others to reduce consumerism is not the point. Humble. Think humble thoughts.”
“Julia, I am so proud of you. This is incredible. I love the idea of you helping others. How did you come up with this idea?”
“Oh, watching the Disney channel.”
Humbled. No problem with humble thoughts!!
So yeah for the Disney channel highlighting a kid who wanted to help other kids. Yeah especially for Julia for wanting to make a difference.
One of my dearest friends from college, Cynci Petersen, began in incredible organization called the Hope Venture.
The Hope Venture is a non-profit organization existing to bring help and hope to people around the world through compassion-based projects.
Cynci’s character, integrity, and heart for changing the world through these compassion based projects makes the decision to donate to this organization a simple one. I trust absolutely in the soundness of Hope Venture. Cynci travels herself to India and Africa regularly to check in on the projects and to look for new opportunities. God has blessed and expanded the reach and influence of the Hope Venture and Julia is excited to be a part of changing the world through Hope Venture.
A few days ago Julia and I finished creating her evite for the birthday party. I added the Hope Venture link and we explained how the kids could bring checks written to Hope Venture. Julia would collect the monies and then decide which projects to support. I watched her face as she began flipping through the Hope Venture catalog. She couldn’t hold back her smile. She looked up with sheer joy filling her face.
“Mom, I think this is going to be my best birthday ever.”
(If you’d like to write Julia a note of encouragement in the comment section I will be sure she gets it)