Our son, Ben, was six years old. He and I had pulled out of the driveway on a Saturday morning – likely heading to Home Depot. Just before we left the house, my wife, Leslie, and I had had a discussion about what I am sure was some lamebrained, half-baked idea I had about buying Ben his first shotgun (at six, you’re old enough for a shotgun, right?), taking him sky diving or something equally ridiculous. Whatever the issue, Leslie had (once again) prevailed. Much to Ben’s disappointment, I had reluctantly withdrawn my wild proposal, submitting to Leslie’s trademark reason and rationality.
As we drove out of the neighborhood, Ben sat quietly in the backseat for a few minutes sternly staring out the window. When he finally spoke, it was clear he was frustrated, still not happy with the outcome back at home. He posed the question honestly and earnestly, wanting desperately for the answer to be in the affirmative, “Dad, doesn’t the Bible say the MAN is the head of the household?”
That stung a bit. With one question my young son had suggested not only that I was a hen-pecked weakling and a sorry excuse for a dad; he also was calling into question my understanding of scripture and my willingness or ability to lead our family in a manner consisted with biblical principles. Ouch.
There was no way I could allow Ben’s suggestions to be true. I tried the WWBGD (What would Billy Graham do?) method for answering these head-scratcher questions. I drew a blank. So I was forced into heresy.
“Son,” I said, trying to sound authoritative, “You are right to look to the Bible for direction on how to live. And it is accurate that most things in the Bible are true. But I’ve found two things in the Bible that I’m pretty sure might not be completely true. And one of those two things is that the man is not really the head of the household.”
Although feeling somewhat blasphemous and possibly in danger of eternal damnation, I resolutely continued with my argument: “God knew that men would need to feel like we were in charge so God essentially gave us the title. But in reality, most of the time we men end up going along with our wives. And, don’t tell any of my friends I said this, but its probably for the best.” (By the way, the other Biblical truth I have my doubts about is that man cannot live by bread alone. I’m pretty sure I could live on yeast rolls, biscuits and cornbread.)
Having seen it in many men over the years, Ben’s reaction at learning his real place in the matrimonial hierarchy was familiar: initial shock and indignation followed by disappointment and finally acceptance and resignation. But I consoled myself. Ben had grasped an important truth much earlier than most boys and the truth was that as men, we have a lot to learn from the women in our lives. And it is rarely in our best interest to not listen closely and heed the advice we receive from them. Solomon was on to something when he wrote of godly women: “She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household.” (Prov 31:26-7)
Our son, Ben, grew from a 5 year old boy into a young husband and father. Growing up, he and his sister, Bailey, had no shortage of strong, influential women in their lives. These women provided ample evidence of the truth he first heard in the car that morning. No women have left a more lasting impression on our children than those I have often jokingly referred to as the “Pink Cult.” These are the women that organize what has become a legendary, twice-a-year event in Lexington: The Lil’ Lambs Closet Sale. And this week just happens to be the event’s 25th anniversary and its the 50th sale these incredible women have put together.
Twenty-five years! It all started in 1993. Remember that year? It was the year that the young Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan starred in Sleepless in Seattle. NBC aired the 275th and final episode of Cheers. George Bush and Dan Quayle turned the White House over to Bill Clinton and Al Gore. And – I hate to bring it up but who can forget – Rick Pitino’s (ouch!) Wildcats led by Jamal Mashburn and Travis Ford (ouch!) lost in OT to Michigan 81-78 in the first round of the Final Four.
That same year, no one would have envisioned the ultimate significance of the inaugural Lil Lambs Sale. Organized by 10 or so young moms (including my lovely bride) at Centenary United Methodist Church, the event generated just over $3,000 in sales. Seventy percent or $2,100 of that total went back to the sellers while 30% or $1,000 went back to Lil Lambs who donated the entirety to women’s and children’s ministries.
Fast forward to 2018. Today, Lil’ Lambs is a huge consignment sale managed by a group of 30 women (still including my lovely bride) at Centenary. Each Spring and Fall, they sponsor sales of new or gently used nursery and children’s items. Proceeds from the each sale are still distributed based on the original formula: 70% to the seller and 30% to charities focused on women and children. To date, Lil’ Lambs has donated $1.45 million to ministries here in Lexington and around the world.
Watch this short video to get a great overview of the sale:
I think perhaps just as important as the money raised by these dedicated women is the valuable example their efforts have provided to our children, church and community. Just a short list of traits modeled for us would include: active servanthood, old-fashioned frugality, stewardship of resources, prayerful persistence, local and global generosity, Christ-honoring unity and just plan old hard work. What a testimony to the dedication and character of these ladies. Their sustained efforts undoubtedly have more impact on the world than much of the “activities” in which we Christians participate.
Now the Lil Lambs sale is something you have to experience to appreciate. Observing the set up and take down process is like watching a military exercise carried out with purpose and precision. Our church’s fellowship halls and two full size gymnasiums are transformed into a massive, wall-to-wall market place complete with racks and racks of clothing; tables filled with toys, puzzles and books; and floor displays of strollers, baby beds, and bicycles. When the doors open to the public, women pour through the doors and one is reminded of the annual craziness of Black Friday.
If you’ve been to the sale before, chances are you’ll be there this week. If you haven’t been before, come out to the sale and help celebrate the 25th anniversary. The public shopping times are Friday, August 24 from 8AM to 6PM and Saturday, August 25 from 8AM to noon. And if you would like to shop early, you can still volunteer to help at the sale. In return, you’ll get to shop Thursday evening from 6PM – 9PM before the sale opens on Friday morning to the public. Follow this link to volunteer.
Finally, each sale, Lil Lambs chooses one ministry to highlight. Opportunities are provided for shoppers and others to support this program with special donations. This year that ministry is close to our family’s heart. Founded and operated by Raul and Kimi Molina, Esperanza is located in Talamanca, Costa Rica. (Kimi grew up at Centenary and her family still are faithful members.) There Kimi and Raul disciple and equip the community through ALPHA and compassion ministries for children and the elderly. They host vulnerable children in their home, and reach out to the community through sports and family ministries.
Our daughter Bailey lived with Kimi and Raul thru two different summers and both Leslie and I have traveled there. The experience has transformed our family’s lives and we consider Kimi to be one of the major godly influences in Bailey’s life. If you would like to contribute to the work of Esperanza, you can donate here. The goal for Lil Lambs this sale is to raise an additional $2500 so that the Molina’s can complete the construction of a new community center there in Talamanca.
So today, I tip my hat to the ladies of Lil’ Lambs who serve as a shining example of godliness and self-less service to our community and world. Ladies, lead on! And men, watch and learn.