Raise a Child in the Way She Should Go…Even if It’s Hard

Last night as I picked up my daughter, Hannah, from dance she asks, “Am I dancing on the elite teams again next year?”  I say, “I have no idea.  Why do you ask?  Do you have to decide now?”

“No, I have just been thinking and praying.  All the money we spend on dance could help so many people in the world.  Like Katie and her kids in Uganda.  I want to help them.  Just think how many kids I could help with all that dance money, “ she says.  “Maybe I could give up doing a solo.  I could give up the elite teams and just do one team.  Then, I could give all that money to Uganda.”

“You’re quitting dance?  But, you love to dance, Han,” I respond.

“I know, but what am I going to do with dance in the future?  But, that money could educate and feed kids.  And they need that,” she says. “I won’t quit.  I’ll still dance. But, maybe I won’t compete.”

“Let’s pray about that, Han,” I mumble.

A few weeks ago Hannah began reading Kisses from Katie.   I recommended it to her after seeing Katie Davis speak at Catalyst in October.  While reading the book, Hannah has continually educated our family with statistics about the plight of children in Uganda who need clean water, food, housing, an education, and medical care.

Then, a few Sundays ago, the children’s ministry at our church launched a project to support Amazima Ministries – the organization Katie Davis founded in 2008 at the age of 18.  (She’s now adopted 14 children and is only 21 years old.  Read more of her story here.)

Katie Davis

That project was like a word from God for Hannah.

She told me she’d been praying for a way to help Katie and now she could.  Awesome, I thought.

Not much more was said after that, except for the occasional, “Mom, did you know that for just 19 cents a child in Uganda can have clean drinking water?”

Until yesterday.

Little did I know that my eleven-year-old little girl had never stopped praying or pondering how should could help Amazima.  This morning, once again on our way to dance, she described her plan while reading from her “notebook” on her iPhone.

Her plan:

  • For my 12th birthday [coming in March] I’d like to have a big party at church, but ask for people to donate $12 to Amazima instead of bringing me a gift.
  • I want Nana to help me make heart suckers at Valentine’s Day and Easter.  I’ll sell them and give the money to Amazima.
  • I’d like to have the pretzel container from Christmas.  I want to decorate it and put it at the front desk at church, so people can drop their spare change in it.  I can even ask them during the service if they’ll let me.
  • I want to make a Facebook page.  I want to post statistics and information about the needs in Uganda and let people give money through the page.
  • I want to think about how I spend money and try to be more careful.

This is how she plans to Make Much of Him.

I bet most of you are thinking, “That’s great!  Aren’t you proud of her? What a great little gal!”

Yes.  I am proud of her.

But, deep down – if am truly honest – I do not want her sacrificing her gifts and party and special day and dance and all the things 12-year-olds want and do.

This is what other people’s kids do.  Other people’s kids are called to sacrifice.  Other people’s kids are called to the mission field.  Not mine.

Steve and I teach our kids to pray and listen for God.  We teach them to go with God, even if it seems radical or counter-cultural.  So, when my precious little girl goes the way she’s been taught, I should not be surprised, upset, or anxious.

Yet, I am.

I should be thankful.  I should pray for her and her quest to raise $6,000.  Yes, you read that right:  $6,000.  She did some math based on the statistics in the book and came up with that number.

That’s just her first goal. She actually hopes to raise $24,000 – in $6,000 increments.

I want to say, “Han, that’s really not possible.  You’re dreaming too big.  You’re being unrealistic. That’s a lot of heart suckers!“  I want to say those things because I don’t want her to be disappointed if she doesn’t reach that goal.

Pause.  I don’t say those words because I suddenly realize I am not practicing what I preach – literally.  This is the young lady we teach her to be.  Pray she’ll be. So,  I keep thinking, “What is wrong with me?”  I should be jumping up and down and my heart is heavy.

Little or no dance? Hannah is passionate about dance.  She literally dances from room to room and spends about 10-12 hours at the dance studio each week. $6,000?  No birthday party?  Really?

In the midst of this back and forth in my heart, I asked a trusted friend for thoughts.  My friend replied with this:

“The leading priests and the teachers of the religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David.” But the leaders were indignant. They asked Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” “Yes,” Jesus replied. “Haven’t you ever read the Scriptures? For they say, ‘You have taught children and infants to give you praise.”   (Matthew 21:16, NLT)

Indeed, this is what we have taught her – to praise and glorify Him with her life.  It’s time to walk alongside her as she lives out what she’s learned and what God’s spoken to her young heart.

Even if it’s hard.  Even if it’s not what I had planned for her.

Hannah is His child.  God has entrusted Steve and me with the gift of raising her (and Owen:).  He has a plan for her life that’s far greater than anything I could imagine, even if it’s tough to see right now.

While I can speak wisdom into her life, teach her His word and ways, guide her to Biblical teachers and Godly adults, and pray for her, ultimately, I must let her find her way – follow God’s calling on her heart – even if it’s not what most would call “normal” or “typical.”

Today was a lesson in letting go and letting God.

Are you having trouble letting go and letting God?  Maybe it’s not your children, but something else.  I encourage you to give it to Him.

Easily said, not easily done.

NOTE:  If you like to learn more about Amazima Ministries and Katie Davis, please visit this site:  http://www.amazima.org/index.html

I’ll keep you up-to-date on Hannah’s plans and progress:)




  1. She get’s it! So proud of her and can’t wait to see how God uses Miss Hannah!:) Love it when our kids are the one’s challenging us. Get’s me every time.

  2. Jan Morikone says:

    She’s God’s child too you know, so He is Fathering her and she is obeying. How wonderful.

  3. Found your blog today, was actually reading your half marathon post and started browsing! I LOVE this post! Our hearts were pricked for the people of Uganda a few months ago when we found out a friend’s brother was a missionary at an orphanage there. We began sponsoring one of the children and are now in the process of adopting from Uganda. I read Kisses from Katie over Christmas and will NEVER be the same. I am reading it out loud to my children now and cannot get through a single chapter without crying. I am now trying to convince my husband we just need to move to Uganda and help Katie open her school! 🙂 What a precious heart your daughter has…she has got it! The Heavenly treasures she is building up far outweigh anything she could ever have on this earth! And what a fundraiser…we need to “borrow” some of her ideas for our adoption! Your daughter has “beautiful feet” (Romans 10:15) and you should be so proud of her!

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