I was in Hobby Lobby not long ago with the Princess, and she began to look around as we were waiting to pay. And it started. She wanted this and that and nothing and everything. (For the life of me, I can’t figure out why any craft store must sell Combos and Mike N Ikes in the check out line.) She would ask and I would respond, always with the same answer… “no.”
Ladies, don’t you feel like all you do is say, “No?”
“Mom, can we go to the zoo?” No.
“Mom, can Griffin come over?” No.
“Can I have more screen time? Stay up later? Go to Carowinds? Get a pony?” No. No. No. No.
“Chuck E. Cheese…?” (Please. Anything but that.)
Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you said, “yes?”
What if the ask is something bigger? Something that will require a complete and total sacrifice of your whole family, and your resources? What if it will take a community and the foresight to plan for years? And what if that “yes” would change the trajectory of your heart and your children and a whole community you have never met?
Meet Pam Parker
In my eyes, the ultimate “yes” mom. Listen, she’s a crazy, hot mess. She forgets what grade her kid is in, misses meetings, doesn’t use a planner. She even sent one child to the wrong dance class for two weeks and the teachers were too nice to tell her. Pam is not perfect, but when her oldest child had a dream, a vision, a desire to right what was wrong, she said, “yes.”
Here’s the rest of the clan:
Steve, husband, “yes” dad.
Lily, 10, middle child, organizer, and super supportive sister.
Emmylou, 5, youngest child, encourager, and comic relief.
Scotty, 13, dreamer, bike rider, seeker of clean water and hope.
This is their story:
Pam, tell us about how this all started for Scotty and you and your family.
When Scotty was seven years old, Water Mission came to our church and shared about the need for clean water around the world. Scotty came home so upset. He thought everyone had what he had: clean water and Jesus. The Next month, for his eighth birthday, he asked friends and family to contribute money for clean water. He raised $618.
Did you have any idea what you were getting into when you said, “yes?”
Absolutely not! 😉 We knew his heart broke for people without clean water and we wanted to support his desire to help. Little did we know Scotty’s passion would be ignited, and his birthday would lead to a bicycle ride across the state of South Carolina for his tenth birthday. That ride raised $70,000 for clean water. We were then invited by Water Mission to travel to Honduras to see the opening of the TWO WATER SYSTEMS that the money raised helped to provide. Seeing the joy and hope in the eyes of the people in Honduras deepened his passion. He said he “had to help more people.” Now here were are, as we speak, chasing him on his bike from California to Charleston this summer in hopes of raising $500,000 for water and hope.
Have you wanted to walk away from it all?
There have been times we have been stretched to our limits, but we have never wanted to just quit. The hardest part is having three children and making sure they all know this “yes” to Scotty is a team effort. And God is using our whole family. Lily, my middle daughter, keeps us straight and is great at organizing and spreading the word. It is so much bigger than us, but we can’t get in the way of what God wants to do. Saying “yes” was definitely not the easy answer to this one. If I had weighed out the risks and time I would have said no. And the no would have affected so many things. Scotty would never have found his love of cycling. He originally wanted to run across the state, but his doctor suggested biking would be a better option. And he would have never seen us, as his parents, believe in him. We would have put limits on what is possible. By saying “yes” to him, he got to say “yes” to what he felt God was calling him to do. You never know what a little “yes” can lead to.
What do you see as a result of saying, “yes?”
We have seen the faith of our family grow. Our girls believe they can do anything. They talk about going to the Olympics and doing other things to change the world. By saying “yes,”, we took them out of their tiny box and let them see what is possible with God. This particular “yes” has truly helped our family focus more on others and spreading love. For that I am extremely grateful.
Talk a little about the sacrifice this has been for your whole family.
Every member of our family has had to miss out on something important at different times. Dividing and conquering has meant less family time. Thankfully, we feel we are all working toward a common goal, but it is still difficult. Lily has missed Daddy at her games. Emmylou has missed awards ceremonies. Scotty has missed birthday parties, but it has taught us more about balance. I guess being more purposeful with our time has been a great by-product. Downtime is something we haven’t gotten much of lately. 🙂
What have you learned about yourself as a wife and mother?
HAHAHA! That God will use anyone! Hot mess or not, I was chosen to be the mommy of these three and Steve’s wife. If I don’t believe in them 100%, who will? My job is to be their biggest cheerleader. I am the only mommy and wife they have. If I put limits on what is possible, they will too. I have a lot of weaknesses, but I have found through this, I have a whole lot of love to give and that is most important. Love them, listen to them, and let them see where my strength comes from. As a mother, I have learned that I can’t just tell them I can do anything, I have to believe it for myself. I have learned I am much stronger than I imagined. All of this has taught me not to care as much what people think. We are called to different things, we parent differently. But in the end, you have to do what you think is best for your people.
Can we get some advice for Moms struggling with their “yes?”
No matter how big or small the idea, your children just want you to listen. Listening makes them feel important. Kids have no limits. They think big. Don’t underestimate what God can do through them. People are much more receptive to kids. As adults, we tend to limit ourselves, but children believe in the extraordinary. I caught myself saying, “No” to Lily’s idea for a lemonade stand. She wanted to raise money for the ride. We live on a dead end street and I didn’t think anyone would come. Finally, I realized how important it was to her and it was her way to help. That sweet kid had cars backed up, wanting to come down our dead end road and raised $75! My brain was limiting what could be achieved, but her’s wasn’t.
Where are you right now?!
Currently, we are somewhere in New Mexico on week three of this crazy ride across the USA. (By the time this is posted, they will be somewhere else. Feel free to track their progress at www.scottysride.com.) Everyday we are meeting AMAZING people with their own stories and they are so encouraging. We are getting closer and closer to Scotty’s goal of $500,000. A goal, by the way, that every adult laughed at when they first heard it- including me! But Scotty never laughed. He firmly believes he will make it across the country and make his goal: to help as many people as possible have clean water. With God all things are possible!
I knew I wanted you all to meet Pam. And at first, I wanted to hear how you raise a child that sees the world and his place in it and knows he can make a difference. But the truth is, if they don’t think we will get behind them or support them, it is all remains a dream. If our children feel like “no” is definite, the world will stay the same and they will miss the beauty that is waiting.
Listen, my kids have some crazy ideas. Like, “Mom, I want to sell origami, at a table outside of our house, that is on a street, that only gets ten cars a day, and they are all our neighbors.” (He didn’t really say it that way.) I said no. But if I had said YES, and it failed, would the next idea have been bigger and smarter and more realistic? Maybe. There hasn’t been a next idea. In my attempts to shelter him from the harsh reality that no one buys origami, I made his dreams small.
I have encouraged my kids to ask me questions that make me say, “yes.” Stop asking me for fast food and start asking me for things that make me want to say “yes.”
“Mom, can we play a game?” Yes.
“Mom, do I look pretty today?” Yes.
“Mom, can we have a lemonade stand to help raise money for Scotty’s Ride?” Yes.
“Mom, can I clean the bathroom?!” (Wishful thinking.)
Kids, meet me in the middle. I’m working on it. I’m training myself to be a “yes” mom. So when you decide you’re ready to change the world, I can be all in.
You can give to Scotty’s Ride and follow him at www.scottysride.com