This year, it's no different. Tonight, we will celebrate at his favourite restaurant --- one we head to just once a year on this very special occasion.
#1000gifts ~ Happy 15th Birthday to my baby boy, my awesome speed-cubing son! At his birthday last year, we were the same height, this year... whoa... he's way taller than me! Jon, that I get to be your mama is a gift and a blessing from God that I will always be deeply grateful for. Being your mama has made me a better person. You are one awesome young man. Keep chasing after God's heart, my son. Because, there is no better way for a heart to beat than for it to be in sync with God's. I love you!
Yet, somehow the end-of-summer this year feels different than previous ones.
I'm not sure if it's because this girl is off to university and classes started yesterday, before the Labour Day long weekend... or if it's something else.
Sadly, I do think it's something else. My heart seems heavy as this summer draws to a close.
It's been an eventful summer... both in our family's life and in world news.
This summer brought us to Guatemala where we came face-to-face with our Compassion daughter, Esperanza whose story unfolded not quite the way we expected.
We came face-to-face with young girls who have been forced into child labour or experienced physical and/or sexual abuse whose lives are being restored at Oasis Girls' Home.
We stood stunned, speechless, frozen... gazing at the scene in front of us, with a multitude of vultures circling above our heads. A scene so surreal it was as if it was playing on a TV screen... right in front of us is a massive pit known as the Guatemala City Dump with many, many, many people, including children, working and scavenging and l-i-v-i-n-g in it.
One month after returning from Guatemala, the scene still haunts me today. The only thing that is a balm to my heart is knowing that God is at work in that place through the ministry of Compassion International.
Our world is broken, very broken.
We come home to atrocious news of leaked videos about body organs from babies being sold, to shocking news of leaked data from an infidelity site, its main office located right here in our city, that proves Christians not being immune to it.
We are faced with a sudden and unexpected possible change in our family routine when God calls us to that oh-so-familiar outside-our-comfort-zone place where He seems to always call for our obedience, our yes!
We receive news of childhood friends dying, both mine and hubby's... gone to soon, way too young.
Our world is broken, very broken.
We are inundated with election news, with reports of a global financial crisis, and with trivial social media posts on one's political stance when in other news, there's this report of ISIS enshrining a theology of rape, a news article that had me in an ugly cry before I even finished reading the first paragraph.
We were inundated with social media posts of people up in arms about a dead lion when in other news, there's a dead baby who has washed ashore in Turkey because the world has ignored the worst refugee crisis we've seen since World War II. We knew the name of the lion faster than we found out what that sweet little boy's name is. His name is Aylan Kurdi.
No wonder my heart seems heavy as this summer draws to a close.
It just wants to scream, "Lord Jesus, have mercy! Lord Jesus, heal our land."
... if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14.It just wants to pray this prayer of confession...
But as this summer comes to a close...
My heart, though heavy, still dares to hope --- "Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. (Lamentations 3:21-23)"
His faithful love is evident when, on her very first day as an International Development Studies student at the University of Toronto, my girl pens this letter to little Aylan Kurdi, even before we found out what his name is... and I am one proud mama, proud of this young lady and of her brave and bold words.
Oh, I squirm while saying this to you - we've been living mindless lives instead of loving you until you're simply able to live.
We've filled churches on Sundays while you and your people filled boats and sailed straight to death - and are we really being the Church or just filling steepled buildings hollow?
Because we're full of empty good intentions and real-sounding excuses when we should be full of the love of Christ.
And sweet boy, this is my apology, this is my outcry, but mostly this is my confession.
His mercies are evident when, on this his fifteen birthday, my boy is choosing to make a birthday donation to help little boys just like Aylan Kurdi who, together with their families, are currently seeking refuge in refugee camps and to make a similar donation to help our sister church with the sponsorship of a refugee family so that they can come live in Canada... and I am one proud mama, proud of this young man and of his heart of gold, one that beats in sync with God's.
If you would like to help Jon celebrate his birthday with a donation to either fund via Mennonite Central Committee, please click on this link or this link. If you are American, click here (so you can receive an American tax receipt). And if you do, we would love to hear about it!
No wonder my heavy heart still dares to hope as this summer draws to a close.
Because these two, my Generation Z children, though growing up in a very broken world... like many of their peers, have hearts of gold and have their eyes set on making this world a better place.
So yes, a big resounding yes... as this summer draws to a close, this mama's heart smiles big and it still dares to hope.
... love will run on.
And we could be like a river of that living water.
We could widen and deepen, we could course our way through hard things and plow fresh new ways.
And our perspective could reflect a Kingdom, our lives could be a refuge and our choices could be a courage that goes against the current.
You can feel it in the air these days:
Something beautiful is rising.
Compassion is a command, an act of worship, a song of thanks to Him.
Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly with God!