I worked with Young Life for five years and these kids now have kids and recently, I piled my boys into a van with a gift bag and handmade cards and we drove two hours to the city for one of the kids' birthdays.
And it was there, surrounded by toddlers in Toms' shoes and seven-year-olds in high-tops and low-riding jeans that I realized I'd become one of THOSE moms.
I was the mom with the kids who wore matching knitted sweaters that said "Jesus loves (followed by their name)."
Granted, I hadn't chosen those sweaters for them to wear that day. Goodness, I'd tried to find them the "coolest" second-hand clothes we had but they'd INSISTED on wearing their matching knitted sweaters--to my chagrin. "I am not ashamed of the gospel," I kept whispering to myself as I begged God not to let my precious boys be beaten up.
Every time I asked Aiden if he was getting too hot and wanted me to take his sweater off, he sweetly said, "No thank you."
I was also the mom who brought homemade-bread sandwiches and homemade cookies and who listened to Wee Sing Bible songs with the boys in our dented mini-van on the way to the party.
But it was there, in the backyard surrounded by my hip, gangster friends with their brand-name clothes and their top-end phones, that I realized--children equalize us.
Even as I ran with Kasher through the throng of parents claiming he "had to poo and now" they were all laughing because they got it. Every kid has to "poo", and NOW.
We were all cautioning our kids--in their high tops and matching sweaters--not to climb too high on the tree house and not to eat too much sugar and kissing them when they fell down and bumped their heads. We were all groaning as we talked about things like time-outs and punishments and defiance and tattling and by the end of the day, we weren't different social classes or different religions or different ages. We were all moms and dads trying desperately not to mess up the future generation.
At one point, my friend--the one whose boys I watched for a year while she became strong again, the one whose kid was having a birthday party--she touched my back and looked into my eyes and said, "Thank you--for coming. It means so much to me."
It's so easy to get caught up in the appearance of things.
It's so easy for me to get embarrassed by things like matching knitted sweaters. Yeah, I was the reverend's daughter who begged God to make me cool. I would douse myself in Exclamation! perfume and spend all of my allowance on Thrifty's jeans and Roots sweaters.
But then one day I found myself driving a mini-van singing Wee Sing Bible Songs with my four and three year old.
Deep down, I don't want my kids to ever be cool. I want them to be kind.
I don't want them to have to have the "new" things. I want them to give their things away.
I don't want them to EVER stop wearing sweaters that say Jesus loves them... well, okay, I do, because I really don't want them to be beat up... but I don't EVER want them to be ashamed of the gospel, because it is the POWER of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.
And I don't ever want to stop being THAT mom--but the key is? To be THAT mom who goes to THOSE parties. The ones where people who don't know Jesus are. Because we are lights, friends. And how BRIGHT our light when it shines in the darkness.