“It’s all I want for my birthday, Dad. I won’t ask for anything else!” Claire, my 11-year-old daughter, appealed to me with those irresistible eyes. She was talking about tickets to JoJo Siwa’s D.R.E.A.M. tour that was coming to Nashville.
I didn’t know much about JoJo, except for what Claire showed me. JoJo’s image is 16 going on 11. She sings fun songs about high-top shoes and staying positive when others try to tear you down.
As a musical artist myself, I can appreciate the excitement over a young musician. I was in. Until I looked up tickets.
JoJo had announced the tour was sold out. But it wasn’t sold out to fans, it was sold out to ticket resellers who knew the power of a little girl pulling on her daddy’s heart strings. Less than good seats were $400 per ticket.
But I was determined to find a way. I searched every JoJo D.R.E.A.M tour venue in America and found decent seats in Salt Lake City for $49. And I had airline miles to get us there.
Trying to catch a peek
Claire and I flew in a day early to make sure travel delays wouldn’t thwart our plans that were months in the making. We checked into our hotel to drop off our bags and then walked to City Creek Center. We wanted to see where we would see JoJo in concert the following night.
As we approached City Creek, several tour buses pulled up beside the sidewalk. I could almost feel Claire’s heart beat out of her chest when someone with a D.R.E.A.M. Tour crew shirt stepped off one of the buses. We kept walking, but Claire’s JoJo radar was going wild.
For two hours, I walked the mall with Claire. We had dinner and ice cream. She needed new shoes, so I bought her a pair of classic Converse high-tops. We were having fun, but Claire was distracted the entire time.
I knew she had one thing on her mind. It was the same thing she had been talking about for months. “Dad, what if we meet JoJo? What if I get a picture?” She almost squealed.
“I wouldn’t count on it, Baby Girl. But you never know.” I was skeptical, yet hopeful, for my kid to get something she wanted so much.
Praying seemed silly
In that moment though, my father heart was torn in multiple directions. First, I wanted to explain to Claire that JoJo was a normal person. Maybe try to govern the starstruck meter a bit. But then I thought about when I was a kid, and how much those things meant to me back then. I remembered my first Monkees concert and how exciting it was to see my favorite band from TV in person. And how formative that was for me pursuing a musical career myself.
Ultimately, I didn’t want unrealistic hopes or expectations to leave her disappointed. But that’s life sometimes. “Tell you what,” I said, “If we see her, I’ll tell her we flew all the way from Nashville. I’ll ask her to take a picture with you.”
I whispered in my heart. Lord, this prayer seems so petty. But you delight in your children, and you made me to delight in mine. This is such a small thing. A meaningless thing, really, in light of what matters most in the world. But I want to come through on this little thing for my little girl. Jesus, please send us JoJo.
Yep, a grown man prayed those seemingly ridiculous words over and over. Earnestly, Jesus, send us JoJo, in hopes of giving my daughter such a simple thing that would make her feel loved by her father. I felt like that is part of what God describes doing with us in Psalm 149: “delighting in his people” (v. 4).
But God answered
We left the mall to walk back to our hotel. Tour buses still lined the sidewalk. No one was around. “Dad,” Claire whisper-yelled. “It’s JoJo!”
Sure enough, there she was. Her dad stood at her tour bus door as JoJo glided in circles across the sidewalk in front of us, on a scooter.
“Hey!” I greeted them in a friendly tone. “We flew all the way from Nashville to see the show!”
“I like your bow!” JoJo told Claire, who was wearing one of her signature gigantic hairbows.
Starstruck, Claire could barely muster a word to say. So I asked JoJo, “Can we take a photo?”
JoJo put her arm around Claire, and I snapped a quick picture. We thanked JoJo and her dad, and that was it. We went on our way. As we walked the streets of Salt Lake City, the joy that overflowed from Claire’s heart filled mine too.
In that moment, I heard a heavenly whisper in my heart, reminding me of how much God delighted in giving me such a simple thing that made me feel loved by my Father. He does care about even the seemingly insignificant details of our lives. I was reminded yet again that what I see as petty prayers may not be so petty at all.
Copyright © 2019 Matt Hammitt. All rights reserved.
Matt Hammitt is Grammy nominated musical artist, speaker, and author. Find him on Twitter and Instagram @matthammitt. And online at Matthammitt.com.