I went back and forth about whether or not to share this particular column. Sharing it kind of undermines the integrity of our project. But on the other hand, God gave me a platform to share and some part of me feels like if even one person is encouraged or inspired, maybe it needs to be said.
This is a battle I have often, to be honest. I struggle with that fine balance between being boastful about my faith and the good things that the Lord does through me from time to time when I’m smart enough to listen to Him and walking in humility so that His name is praised and not my own. It’s a surprisingly thin line. I tend to veer on the side of keeping my mouth shut and strive to be a person who inspires with actions instead of words (note that I said strives, I’m most definitely a work in progress). Similarly, I teeter between worrying that my faults will cause someone else to stumble and being sincere and honest about what a trainwreck I am. Interestingly, in that area, I err on the side of being forthcoming. Sometimes I think that if we all just admit we don’t have all the answers, we will all be reminded why we need a big big God that does.
So what is this project to which I gave an unnecessarily long introduction? We call it our “Sunshine Project,” although it would probably be more appropriately called simply "Valentine's Day Project," but that's not nearly as fun. I should note that there is already an organization using the name "Sunshine Project" that deals with nuclear weapons, so thankfully we aren’t having it put on tee-shirts or incorporating. It’s just a silly little project between a Mama and a Toddler who are thankful for their blessings and want to share their joy.
It all started when my toddler asked me what I want for my 31st birthday this month. I hate this question, namely because I like thoughtful gifts. If I tell my family what to get me, then they really didn’t have to put any thought into it. I’m probably one of the few people in the world who would much rather have a photo album of special pictures and handwritten captions than a $300 Coach purse that I have hinted (about 100 times) that I think is very very pretty. So as my toddler asked me this question, I tried to come up with a way to combine the two.
Similarly, with everyone's favorite love-centered holiday right around the corner, I have recently been thinking a lot about how to teach my son about "love." It’s not that we haven’t talked about it. Oh heavens, no. We talk about it all the time. For instance, he tells me that gifts from Grandparents are because they love him. He tells me that I make his breakfast because I love him. He tells me that Daddy takes him on special adventures because he loves him. He tells me that God loves him because we have a home and food on our table.
While these are all true, my child has accidentally learned that love means getting something. This is problematic because love is much deeper than that, with the gift being only the symbolic aspect. And that love exists even without "things." So how do I teach him the “why” part? How do I show him what real, genuine, and selfless love looks like?
This is what I came up with: for my birthday, throughout the month, we are going to bless 31 people. No, not “random” acts of kindness. Forget random. I want him to understand the gift of giving and the joy it brings to other people. I want him to see, in a tangible way, the power of selflessly giving with no strings attached, and not just tangible things that cost money but giving of our time, talent, and resources as well.
A project about love seems pretty appropriate for the month of February, hm?
This is our theme verse:
“God will bless you and use you to help others.” – 1 Timothy 4:16.
None of our projects have been huge. We planned a special Valentine’s Day surprise for Daddy and the Grandparents. (No, I can’t share that one. They read my column.) We dropped off a Starbucks latte for a friend. On Sunday, we are going to the nursing home to help deliver homemade Valentine’s Day cards made in her Mommy & Me craft classes with our favorite craft teacher and spread some joy to some lonely people (not our idea, but I love it anyway). They are all little things designed to bring other people joy.
I don’t know how our little project will end. But what I do know is that I officially need to surrender it to God. My hope is that He will direct us to the right people in need of some love and that He will work on my son’s little heart. Most importantly, that even after February is over and we have reached our quota, that we will be inspired to keep on loving.
If anyone would like to join us, you are welcome aboard our crazy little adventure.
We will keep you updated!