As I was reading through my bible the other day I happened upon Ecclesiastes 7:14, I pulled the verse out of my ESV translation, and this is what I read, “In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.” (Ecclesiastes 7:14 ESV); sometimes I like to compare translations of the bible and see what different verses say and this particular day I wondered what the Message version of the bible would say and this is what I found “14 On a good day, enjoy yourself; On a bad day, examine your conscience. God arranges for both kinds of days so that we won’t take anything for granted.” It really made me start to think about the things I take for granted in particular I began to think about all of things I get to experience with the kids, all the things I get to see through their eyes and hearts, things I may have seen 100 times or more, but have taken for granted.
One of my favorite things about my job is getting to experience firsts with my kids, a few months ago it was the first time any of them had ever been to a farm, when we visited the pumpkin patch, a few months later none of them even knew what a train garden was and we visited one of the best in the area, in January I made cookies with some of the girls from scratch, most weeks I fit in a dinner with them where we plan a menu, go shopping for the ingredients cook together and eat as a family, two weeks ago we took some boys to the Walter Art Gallery for a day of Art and fun, that next week we hosted a meal for the kids and their families to come and have dinner with us, some of them haven’t even sat at a table with their family for dinner. In fact one of the kids told me the next day it was the first time he’s sat at a dinner table with his sister (who was his special guest for the evening) and he wanted to do it again. All of these things most of the kids were experiencing for the first time, and I felt like I too was experiencing it all over again for the first time, because I got to see a twinkle in their little eyes, as myself and six other volunteers rode the hillside slide, as we ate pizza together in a restaurant before heading to see beautiful Christmas Trains, most weeks I get to sit down to a family meal that we’ve prepared together and share life with these kids, yesterday I made an afterschool snack of cheddar popcorn using the air popper and you would have thought we’d just won a million bucks!
Yesterday afternoon there was a little knock at my door and one of the little girls wanted to know if she could come in, honestly it wasn’t the greatest time for me to have little visitors, and the smiley face was not outside, but I wanted to hear what was so important that she needed to tell me right away, and she looked at me and said “Ms. Colleen, remember last week when we had love night,” I looked at her and shook my head and she gave me the biggest hug and said, “Thank you Ms. Colleen it’s the first time I ever got to eat in a fancy restaurant,” I looked at her funny, and then I realized that last week we transformed what the kids usually see as a big room full of tables into something beautiful and they thought they were in a five star restaurant, again something I take for granted. I looked at her holding back the tears and I told her that we were going to make a deal and that if she could remember 10 Bible Verses that I give her weekly, for the next 3 months, that I would take her to a five star restaurant (Guess I better start saving my pennies, because she got excited and asked for her first verse!), and we would wear pretty dresses and eat a beautiful dinner.
As I think about the exciting things I will be experiencing with my kids over the next few months, including a day of serving at a local homeless shelter, a trip to another local museum, a family picnic and a few other surprises, I know one thing for sure, I will not take these moments with my kids for granted, I will not forget the moments God allows me to have with them. I will not forget that not everyone has the same blessings I do, and that I need to be intentional about sharing these blessings… I am so excited about what God is going to do in the lives of my kids, in their hearts and in mine over the next few months.