This “not a morning person” girl got up at 4:30 this morning to attend my second One Day With God event and although I’ve just got home, I am not even that tired. Frankly, I am stoked!!! It was an amazing day. Edna and I had an easy trip up, actually arriving quite a bit ahead of time. Seeing my new friends from last weekend was exciting. In cause you didn’t read my post from earlier this week, One Day With God is an event sponsored by Forgiven Ministries, Inc. where children come and spend a full day with their incarcerated parent. Today’s event was unique in that the dads were brought to the Raleigh First Assembly of God to be with the children instead of the children and their mentors being taken into the prison. Although I wasn’t a mentor, I was able to spend the day in the gym with the kids and their dads, observing and assisting wherever I was needed.
Once most everyone was there, the father’s name was called and he would run toward his child/children for big bear hugs and multiple kisses. It was very moving. I know there was at least one dad who had not seen his son in over a year. All during the day, you could catch that son with his head leaning on his dad. My heart strings were pulled many times today.
Sherrie and Lisa with Dribble For Destiny were there today. They are two of my new friends from last weekend. I so enjoyed visiting with them and serving as their “assistant.” Many of the children were able to try their hand at some of the dribbling techniques Sherrie is so absolutely terrific at doing. The looks on their faces were priceless when Sherrie would place a spinning basketball on their finger. The dads had a free throw contest. Most of the dads were pretty young, but there was one with a little gray hair. For a while it looked like he was going to win it all. Being gray-haired myself, I was pulling for him. But as he told me this afternoon, he “ran out of energy.” It was a tough group to beat, but he definitely gave them a run for their money. I believe the children really enjoyed watching their dads fight it out to see who would be the champ.
A highlight for me today was an older daughter who was allowed to come in this afternoon in time for the father-daughter dance. Her three younger siblings were with their dad all day, but because of her age, she was with her mom in another part of the building. Watching her with her dad was sweet. Her tears of joy said it all. That dad made the most of his day with his 4 kids. He shared with the whole group how God has changed his life and how he so wanted his children to see that change in him through their time together today. He wanted them to replace their memories of a promise-breaking, never-there dad, with a those of a dad who really, truly loves and cares for them. Yesterday, the dads were taught about blessing their children and today they were given that opportunity. This Christ-changed dad took this very seriously. I watched him as he one-by-one, oldest to youngest, placed his hands on the head on his child, looked them directly in their eyes and spoke a blessing over them. He didn’t rush, even though he had four to bless. Each child was given equal and ample time. I watched with tears streaming down my face. It was a gift none of them, neither child nor dad, will ever forget. It is so important for dads to speak blessings over their children. Oh how different our society would most likely be if dads took this practice to heart.
The children of two dads didn’t come, but, you know, they were okay about it. I’m sure they wished it were different, but their attitudes were great. One I spoke with said to me “It’s okay. Maybe it will work out next year.” Those dads were surrounded by volunteers that loved on them, shared with them and prayed with them. No, they didn’t get to have a father-daughter dance and they didn’t get to speak a blessing over their child, but they did see God at work all around them. I believe they, too, are better because of this day.
The day ends by gathering outside and releasing balloons. The children were asked to release their balloons if they would be leaving with the knowledge their dad truly loved and cared for them. The dads were asked to release their balloons if they knew their children truly loved them. And we, the volunteers, were asked to release our balloons if we had seen God’s hand at work this day. What a gorgeous sight to see as in three waves those balloons floated up toward heaven. Very fitting, as I believe for those children and those dads, today was a “little piece of heaven.”
Lots of love, Sharon