Raising a high spirited and spunky teenage daughter as a divorced single mother is undeniably one of the most rewarding and challenging seasons of my life.
There is never a dull moment.
The highs are extremely high, beautiful and full of glorious memories. We travel together, we cook together, we pray together, and we shop together. Even though shopping together mainly consists of me reminding her that money doesn’t grow on trees and our last name is not Kardashian, we have endless fun. We make the important decisions together as a family and we routinely have deep and meaningful conversations about our faith.
The lows are also the lowest you could imagine. We argue like sisters. We wrestle and horseplay like brothers. We argue over what to eat like an old married couple. Math homework can make us ignore each other for a day and a half. Saying the word “no” evokes a multitude of emotions.
Our lives are the perfect mixture of emotional land mines and picture perfect mother-daughter memories.
On one particularly peaceful fall evening while we were washing dishes, Kathryn asked me why we have never been asked to light the Advent Candle at church. I didn’t have an answer for this questions because I have never really pondered the selection process of Advent season.
Silence fell upon our kitchen as I wondered how to respond.
When I attend church during Advent season, I always imagined it would be a little nerve-wracking participating in the lighting of the candles and reading scripture aloud to a rather large Christmas crowd. I have actually broken out in a nervous sweat watching others juggle the lighter, wrangle kids, fumble with their words and pray in public. As beautiful as Advent is, I have on occasion been lost in the details of watching others.
Just as I began to answer, she quickly added, “Is it because we don’t have a whole family?”
Painful silence fell upon our kitchen.
I had no words for this and it hurt my heart to hear these words come from her mouth. She wasn’t sad when she said it, no tears in her eyes. She was serious and just wanted an answer.
At that moment I dug deep into my rather large arsenal of mommy skills and began to explain that just because your parents do not live together does not mean you do not have a whole family. I told her that she was loved and cherished by both parents but we happen to be divorced. In her innocent eyes I could see it truly bothered her.
I also tried to explain to Kathryn that even better than having two loving parents is the fact that she is loved by a King. Nothing fills the empty places in our heart like the Lord does. She was hanging on every word that left my mouth, she hugged me tight and we never really spoke of it again.
That was, until two months later….
Out of the blue I received an email from the Minister of Music from First Baptist Church, Alan Shoumaker. asking if I, along with my daughters, would consider lighting the Christ Candle in the 4th week of Advent on Christmas Eve.
My first thought was “surely Kathryn didn’t call the Music Minister….”. Gosh, I hope not.
I chuckled at the possibility of it but I also smiled really big for Kathryn, knowing that God had answered one of her concerns.
I also felt like I needed the minister to know that my oldest was still in Wyoming and it would only be me and Kat, if that was acceptable. He happily agreed to have just the two of us light the candle and take turns reading the scriptures. I was completely overjoyed and I could not wait to let Kathryn know that her prayers had been answered.
When I got home that evening I shared the good news. Kathryn looked at me with a blank look that was peppered with shock. She then figured out it was the last candle of Advent which meant she had to light all of the candles. Her shocked facial expression soon gave way to excitement peppered with unworthiness. We began reading our scriptures that night and praying that our nerves would be calmed and we would honor God with our task.
The Christmas Eve service came quickly and the music was perfection just like always. When it came time to light the candles we made our way to the altar. We had previously agreed she would light the candles and I would wait until she was lighting the last one and begin reading our scriptures. All I could hear behind me was Kathryn clicking the lighter but the last candle would not light. She tried and tried again but no light. We either had a faulty lighter or a faulty kid. I could not tell.
She soon let the candle unlit and met me at the small podium to read the scriptures. The reading went off without a hitch, but that one candle stayed dim. Of course, I had to roast Kathryn…. she had one job…. and left the candle unlit. I plan on getting many miles out of that folly.
To this day, I do not know if Kathryn prayed and asked God to bless her with the job of lighting the candles. Or, if he just knew her deepest desires and wanted to fill an empty spot in her heart. Whatever the reason and however it came about, (hopefully she didn’t call the Music Minister) it will always bring a smile to my face when I think about how God cares about even our smallest of our concerns. What concerns us, concerns him.
“Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart”. – Psalm 37:4