Purple Balloons and Chocolate Cupcakes

I do not have a way to prove it, but in my 2.5 years of being a father I believe there is a strong chance that I have heard the song Happy Birthday more than I have in all of the years that proceeded it.

My little girl loves birthdays. She loves singing. For the most part, she doesn’t even care if there is actually a birthday, any day is a good reason to sing it.

cupcakes2
Purple all over.

This week was my wife’s birthday. This is the first year where Crosley is old enough to actually understand what that means and so I thought it was a good time to let her help plan how to celebrate her mommy’s birthday.

Driving in the van with her a few weeks ago, I told her,” Crosley, your mommy’s birthday is coming up very soon. How do you want to celebrate?”

“Purple balloons and cupcakes, ” she said.

I decided to let it go. Surely she would forget and I could ask her again, perhaps guiding her to the best answer. A few days later, I asked her the same question, “Crosley, your mommy’s birthday is coming up very soon. How do you want to celebrate?”

“Purple balloons and cupcakes, ” she said.

Outsmarted by a two year old (a common occurrence in our house), I again started to think about her answer. I was determined that she would want to give her mom the right gifts for the right reasons so that things could play out in the way that I had determined in my head.

But then, it hit me. I felt God telling me something that if perhaps I should have realized all along. Thankfully, God is more patient with me than I am with her and understands that sometimes it just takes me a little bit longer. What did I see?

Crosley loves purple. Crosley loves chocolate cupcakes. Crosley loves balloons. Most of all, Crosley loves her mommy. In her mind, the very best things that she could give her mommy at her party are purple balloons and chocolate cupcakes.

Along with that, Jenni loves Crosley. Jenni knows Crosley. Jenni understands what it took me a lot longer to realize. The very best gift that she could get from her little girl was something that her little girl thought was the best thing in the world. She wanted her mommy to have the best.

cupcakesAnd so that’s what we did. We had purple balloons. We had chocolate cupcakes.

Jenni loved it!

If you are like me, you probably spend too much time trying to dictate the gifts that other people want to give to God. Churches have become so institutionalized and formulaic that we encourage people to serve the Lord and bring their gifts…but then we try and dictate what those gifts are.

We have people who want to bring in a purple balloon and all we can think about is how we have traditionally been a red balloon church and how our surveys say that perhaps the best balloons for our area are green balloons. We spend time trying to tell people how their very best doesn’t quite fit the kingdom, while all along God looks down and just sees people who want to give God their very best.

Yes, following Christ means service. Yes, following Christ means focusing on the needs of others. Those things are necessary.

Had I brought Jenni purple balloons, she would have appreciated the gesture, but it wouldn’t have had the same impact. I know her favorite color is yellow (and that she’d much prefer daisies over balloons). For people that have been serving the Lord longer, we can be more intentional about how we serve and what makes the biggest impact.

But, let’s stop taking away the joy that people find in bringing their best to God.

When people visit our churches, they should not be expected to fit in, but to bring a new perspective and new passions. When someone makes a profession of faith, we should be encouraging them to find out where those passions are and help them bring their best.

Someday, Crosley will be older and wiser and will understand that while she likes purple, perhaps her mommy would rather have something else. Likewise, as we grow in Christ, we should become more and more aware of our need to meet the needs of others instead of our personal preferences. But as we grow, God smiles. We give Him our best and we’ll trust Him with the rest.

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