I was licking the envelope when my older daughter came into the kitchen. “Who’s the letter for?” she wondered.
I told her it was for Miss Amanda, her former preschool teacher who was also her babysitter six years ago.
My daughter didn’t remember Miss Amanda, but I did. In fact, I would never forget her. There I was in a new city with a new baby, a toddler, and a traveling husband. Amanda would come to our house a few hours a week and play with the children. I remember feeling quite homesick and alone, yet incredibly grateful for this young lady with gentle hands and a hearty laugh who was able to give me a reprieve.
“Amanda helped me through a very hard time when you and your sister were little,” I explained. “And now, I want to help her. She and her husband are trying to raise money to bring home their baby from Uganda.”
“Can anyone help—or is it just for adults?” my child asked.
When I told her anyone could donate, she literally ran to get her wallet. She returned looking very sad. Much to her dismay, all that was left of her recent birthday money was one single dollar bill.
My daughter didn’t hide her look of anguish. “A dollar isn’t much,” she concluded sadly.
I held my breath. This child is my giver—the one who thinks nothing of giving decorated rocks or pretty seashells as gifts or offering her own favorite trinkets to sick friends. I was going be heartbroken if she put the dollar back in her wallet, embarrassed to give such a small amount. I hoped societal influences hadn’t already altered her uninhibited way of giving that had greatly impacted my own offerings in years past.
“Do you think a dollar will make a difference?” she asked skeptically.
I knew my answer had to be convincing. Just having turned ten, my child was quite aware of what things cost—and I suspected she knew that adopting a baby was very costly.
“Imagine if everyone Amanda knew gave one dollar,” I proposed.
My child could do the math. Her eyebrows rose with interest.
“Plus, receiving a note of support from a child she used to babysit might mean even more to Amanda than money considering what she’s going through,” I added.
Apparently, my response was sufficient. My daughter grabbed a note card, jotted a message, inserted her dollar, and stuck the notecard in an envelope. After addressing it herself, she carried it out to the mailbox.
A few weeks passed before we heard anything about the dollar donation. Surprisingly, Amanda posted the following message and photo on a social media site:
“I received a sweet letter from a child I used to babysit. It said, ‘I hope this money will help to adopt the child,’ and there was $1 included. It still brings tears to my eyes thinking about the compassion in sweet Natalie’s heart! If she only knew the difference she was making in people’s lives! Because of her sweet gift, I want to see how many people would participate in Natalie’s Dollar Challenge to ‘help adopt the child.’”
Extremely touched by Amanda’s idea, I shared her photo with my friends and within just a few hours, Amanda wrote to inform me that $300 dollars had been raised. I immediately printed Amanda’s message and showed it to Natalie the next morning.
“Remember when you asked if a dollar could make a difference?” I asked. “Take a look,” I said handing her the note.
As my daughter read Amanda’s words, the most radiant smile appeared on her face. “Amanda is now three hundred steps closer to holding her baby in her arms,” she said excitedly.
As I looked at my grown girl happily imagining a mother being united with her child, I suddenly felt an overwhelming peace about a worry that had haunted me for almost ten years.
When my daughter was six-months-old, one of her favorite activities was to be danced around the room by her dad. We quickly learned by her enthusiastic hand gestures that “Calling All Angels” by Train was her preferred song.
When her dad would make angel wings actions with her little arms, she would laugh hysterically. This, in turn, would make my husband and I laugh.
But inside I was dying—dying because the lyrics of the song touched on every fear I was feeling as a new parent.
“I need a sign to let me know you’re here
All of these lines are being crossed over the atmosphere
I need to know that things are gonna look up
‘Cause I feel us drowning in a sea spilled from a cup
When there is no place safe and no safe place to put my head
When you feel the world shake from the words that are said
And I’m calling all angels
I’m calling all you angels
I won’t give up if you don’t give up
I need a sign to let me know you’re here
‘Cause my TV set just keeps it all from being clear
I want a reason for the way things have to be
I need a hand to help build up some kind of hope inside of me
And I’m calling all angels
I’m calling all you angels
I won’t give up if you don’t give up.”
After the birth of my daughter, it seemed like the evening news was more disturbing than ever before. It seemed like there were more child abductions, more bombings, more killings, more sadness, more despair.
This is no place to raise a child, I thought to myself several times a day—to the point I wondered what kind of world my husband and I had brought our child into. As I held my sleeping baby, I wondered if there would be any hope left in this world for her.
And now ten years later, I finally had my answer.
Standing in front of me was the hope I had been looking for—I had just been looking at it all wrong.
Angels are not divinely perfect beings dressed in billowy white gowns spreading good will just above our heads.
Angels are imperfect human beings who lose their shoes several times a day, overindulge on chocolate milk, and tend to get cranky when they don’t get enough sleep.
Angels are freckle-faced darlings who dip their steak in ketchup and absentmindedly leave the car door wide open when they come home from practice.
And if societal influences don’t get to them first, these pint-sized angels give to others with no reservations and no inhibitions. If they see someone who needs help, they help. When they see someone facing a mountainous challenge, they don’t see the impossible; they see steps. And they are willing to take the first one—even if it seems small and insignificant.
These disheveled angels among us know hope doesn’t come in the form of six-figure checks or expensive packages with gold bows. They know hope comes in hand-written notes with misplaced commas and poor penmanship. They know hope comes in the form of small, loving gestures that inspire others to act in kind.
In one definitive moment, ten years worth of fear subsided and my hope for the future swelled. All at once, the world didn’t look so scary for my child who looks more and more each day like she needs me less and less.
As long as a child’s single dollar bill can bring a loving couple three hundred steps closer to bringing home their baby, there is hope.
So let us not get caught up in the dangers of the world that are beyond our control.
Let us refuse to believe there is nothing we can do to bring goodness into a troubled and complicated world.
Let us not allow societal influences to dictate how much we give, what we give, or who we give it to.
If in this sometimes dark and hurting world a ten-year-old child with skinned knees and overgrown toenails can be an angel, there is hope for us all.
Because it is our children, with their beautifully uninhibited hearts, that hold all the hope this world needs.
Let us not give up.
Natalie and I would be grateful if you (and any members of your family) could take 60 seconds and place a dollar in an envelope and address it to: Amanda Campbell 300 N. 38th Avenue, Apt. #13, Hattiesburg, MS 39401. (There is also additional information about the adoption on their site.) Thank you for taking time to read today’s post that can potentially help our friend Amanda and her husband get one step closer to the 15,000 steps needed. Please share this with anyone you think might be interested in helping.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below. Each week, the comment section of this blog serves as a reminder that we are not alone in our struggles and triumphs to find meaningful human connection despite the challenges and distractions of life. I am grateful for each and every one of you, my friends of The Hands Free Revolution.