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Yesterday I was walking to the back of a classroom, returning from the bathroom with four-year old Elena. Because we had a function later in the day, Elena was wearing a pink, swishy dress and Sunday shoes that tapped noticeably.  I was surprised when I was slid a hand-written note from another homeschool mom. Some of her children and mine attend a composition (writing) class while we mothers and siblings sit in the back, trying not to make too much noise.  Her note read:

“Your daughter is

Unbearably cute.

Everywhere she goes it is with great intent.

Her heavy steps, laser focus, and speed say so much.

She has far to go and the steel will to get there.

You are probably exhausted by her determination but

Just wait. I am a decade farther along and I promise you will

Be entertained and relieved when she is older.                                                                                                                                                       

You will have a front row seat to her greatness

One day.”

When the mom handed me the sweet note, I probably took a deep breath, preparing myself for what it would say. In my memory there are a couple of other times I have been “slipped” a letter. Both times were harsh and critical. The first occurred almost twenty four years ago, exactly four weeks after Thomas and I married.

Just a month married, we visited a new church together. The next day Thomas, a U.S. Army lieutenant, was being deployed to Saudi Arabia as part of the preparation for the Gulf War (Desert Shield, soon to be Desert Storm). All we knew is that he would be gone a minimum of six months. Eventually, it turned out to be seven months and a day, but who’s counting?!

A bit overwhelmed, we sat holding hands during church service. Once in a while, we’d kiss each other’s cheeks. Okay, we were a little mushy, but he was getting ready to leave for a war.

As we were leaving the service, a man handed us a note. “I’m an elder of the church,” it began and what followed was a pointed chastisement of our affection display. He didn’t say, “Don’t come back.” Of course, he didn’t need to.  After that welcome we weren’t exactly eager to return.

I have revisited this church service memory over and over, mostly in amusement. I hope when we’re seventy we get chastised for being too effusive. The experience with the “elder” has also been a challenge to me not to judge others too quickly.

Currently, I am reading the fabulous book Just a Minute by Wess Stafford, former president of Compassion International. It is filled with stories of people who in just a moment interaction have changed a child’s life. Words are powerful. They can be used to encourage and empower. The converse is true. We can shame and damage.

I will be saving the above note for Elena. A gift for her when an “elder” fails to her true spirit and worth in God’s eyes.

As usual, I can’t help but see the connection with the privilege of sponsoring through Compassion International. I have heard former sponsored children say, “Poverty told me I had no value.” It’s the lie of poverty. Sponsorship brings hope and demolishes the lie. Through support and letters from their sponsors in a land far away, children realize that they are in fact valuable, loved, and cherished by Jesus. There is actual evidence that sponsored children perform better in school when they receive correspondence from sponsors.

Let’s use our resources and our words. It only takes a minute. Sponsor a Compassion Child