That Time I Ruined My 9 Year Olds Innocence/Life #Oklahoma #Tornado

Dear 9 year old…
The day I tweeted I was taking my whole family to work disaster relief in Moore Oklahoma somebody tweeted me back.
They said this…”Why would you subject your children to something that could ruin their innocence?”
You know what? They almost changed my mind.
I almost left you.
I was almost convinced that you could not handle the devastation.
I was almost convinced that you would somehow lose the innocence you have in your eyes.
I was almost convinced that you would somehow hate me later in life for showing you pain.
I was almost convicned you were supposed to stay weak.

Then we went.
I saw you shovel.
I saw you hug.
I saw you serve.
I saw you stack.
I saw you laugh.

And then the last night we were there I saw you cry.
It was while we were singing “And if our God is for us? Then who could ever stop us? And if our God is with us? Then what could stand against?!!!!”
Your tiny 9 year old arms were raised to the sky and your tiny cheeks were the freeway for your tears.
That tweet came racing back to my mind as I asked you what was wrong…
In that moment fear sprinted into my heart.
You said…”I’m just sad daddy. They lost everything. I’m just sad.”

Oh yea.
It’s sad.
And it’s ok to be sad.
And it’s ok for you to be sad.

And it’s ok that you learned at nine years old, what myself, and most nine year olds in America won’t soon learn…
How to be the hands of the Healer.

When we left…
I was convinced you could handle the devastation.
I was convinced you kept the innocence in your eyes.
I was convinced you would thank me for showing you how to heal their pain with a smile.
I was convinced you became strong.

Thank you for showing me that at 9, you can literally change the world…


Author loswhit

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  • Justin Whitcomb

    God bless you and your family, Los. I hope I can do the same for my two kids.

  • Stephanie

    Beautifully articulated! Blesses my heart to read about you all serving as a family and the servants you’re raising!! Love that!!

  • Tim Schurrer

    You’re a great dad. Love this.

  • love it.

  • Doug

    Right on, bro’, right on.

  • eli

    It was the right thing to do and builds a heart of compassion! An experience she will be able to grow and draw from throughout her life. Blessings to you all

  • Dewayne Neeley

    I think you’re an incredible father, Los. And unlike a lot of other bloggers, public figures, etc., you share both the good and the bad, highlighting your strengths and weaknesses. And from what I can tell, you’re a great husband, too. Keep it up, and keep sharing.

  • Jacqueline

    Yes, I am glad to hear that you letting your child get involved. After Hurricane Katr***, people advised me to have my kids go somewhere else while we cleaned up and scavaged for our belongings. But we had them stay with us because it was one of their greatest life lessons.

  • Dustin Hibner


  • Llsald

    I absolutely LOVE this! How will children learn to serve if they are never exposed to need? Great lesson!

  • Marty Estes

    Boy, did this tear my heart out and stomp it flat this morning. Love that you are leading your kids to these kinds of experiences, Carlos. I pray that I can do the same with mine. I so desperately want to see them serve, but many times kids are brought up in environments that downplay and doubt their abilities, just like that tweet did. Bless you for sharing this.

  • Nate Smith

    freakin’ beautiful man.

  • Mike

    My wife and I hears the same thing when our children were young and we took them to Romania. Today, as young adults one walks with the homeless of his community, and the other has spent the last year teaching in Mongolia. You have given your chld the gift of teaching her it is good to have your heart broken by that which breaks the heart of God.

    • pcb

      Mike, I’m stealing your words! 🙂
      “It is good to have your heart broken by that which breaks the heart of God.”

    • Brandi

      Oh, what lovely words you have spoken

      “You have given your child the gift of teaching her it is good to have your heart broken by that which breaks the heart of God.”

  • GREAT!

  • Becki Gibson

    Beautiful, goosebumps.

  • Mary Lowery Eddleman

    Very poignant story. Out of the mouths of babes! Their hearts are so pure. Thanks for sharing!

  • BriAnne

    Wow.. thank you for sharing this… it really is a idea changer.. Kids are as strong as we build them to be.. You are building your kids to be super strong, independent, loving, caring, God sharing people.. Keep doing what you are doing..

  • Mark Lindberg

    Los Whit – I was able to do the same type of things with my girls when they were young: 7 and 9. Now, at 15 and 17, they have a heart for God’s word and want to serve him always. I’m sure that sounds trite to some, but I couldn’t ask for anything more than having my children serve our Father with their lives.

  • Jason Gordon

    So much of the human experience takes a part of us & gives nothing redeeming back. The experience you shared with your daughter may take a part of her innocence but, I feel, in a greater way communicates the heart of God directly to her heart. So good. Thanks for sharing Los!

  • Thank you for this! I took my kids with me to Oklahoma to help and got the “crazy” comments from others. It was a great experience for our family to help others in need. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  • Ashley Hudson

    Beautiful! We all too often forget to teach our children how to serve because of the fear of the unknown. I think it is an amazing thing to serve BESIDE them and guide them in service as they grow.

  • Herstorygirl

    I am bawling here… YES! And Amen!!

  • Marny

    And when your 9 year old is 37, he/she will remember that, and be upset that they have to work all week and can’t help right away. He/she will go as soon as they can to help. (I know it’s true because that was me!) My dad and I used to go help clean up after tornadoes in Wisconsin as I grew up. It’s a great lesson for a child and one they will never, ever forget! You are a great parent!

  • Sara Merritt

    Beautiful. I often think I need to help my child experience the pain of others to more appreciate the blessings in our own life.

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  • Kelly

    I have young children that were directly affected by the May 20th Tornado and I have seen them grow in love and compassion more over the weeks since the tornado then ever before. I believe God lit a spark in them that is only be a beginning. Thank you so much for this post. It was very heartfelt!!

  • Peter Millward

    Thats so good……thankyou for sharing!

  • Bianca

    I love this. And I’m grateful for a dad who knew he wasn’t powerful enough to kill my innocence from a God who created it. Love you!

  • Lisa Kay Hauser

    Bless your heart! And her’s, too.

  • This was so beautifully written. So glad to have seen this shared by mum on facebook. It is never to young to serve and what a powerful lesson you both taught and shared with each other.

  • Kristel

    You made the right decision. Beautiful post.

  • Sarah

    My 10 year old told me the other day that it would break his heart NOT to help people when he sees a need. I would hate it if my “keeping him from pain” killed that deep heart for people in him. Hate it. Bravo, brother in Christ, for fostering your children to act on the heart God has given them for others!

  • Barry Vaughn

    When we adopted our 3 youngest children from Latvia some people said similar things to us about our 2 older children. You already have the perfect family, it will mess up your older children – but instead, our older ones got to experience God first hand and see him at work. Our younger ones got new older sisters to look up to and we got to marvel at it all.

  • Beth Bates

    I think it’s a beautiful thing that you gave your 9 year old the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Pain is real. Hurt is real. Thank God that she has parents that teach her to be Jesus when those things happen!

  • thatdigiguy

    One of the BEST experiences of my childhood was at the age of…..9.. It was a 2 week disaster relief trip my dad took me on, going to Buena Vista VA (in the 80s’), to help clean up after a flood. I’ll never forget the experiences, and have returned over & over again to that town, as it has been an anchor point in my life – I learned so much.

    THe reality is, your kids are more resilient than you think. They’ll learn to see the rainbows thru the worst of storms, and they’ll learn to appreciate the best of everything.. IF you give them the opportunity.

    I pity those who life their lives in fear. It is sad, pathetic, and should be a crime for them to raise their kids in that way.

  • patti h.

    Your very best post to date. So touching and so true. We need our children to not only witness their parents serving others, but to be able to do that themselves. What an awesome opportunity to be Jesus together. I applaud you. And glad you ignored that tweet.

  • Joyful

    My dad has been very ill and nearly died recently. All through this experience I have been sharing with my 10-year-old twins what was happening with Papa. I have told them in as much detail as I thought they could understand. A friend who witnessed one of these conversations later asked, “Aren’t you afraid you’re going to scare them?” This made me think, of course, but I came to the following conclution. Of course, I was afraid I was going to scare them. But life is scary and I had to ask myself if I would rather they experience some real fear for the first time while they are under my roof and I can help them walk through it, or after they leave home, having been sheltered all their lives and having no idea how to handle it. There were other reasons that came to mind. My dad desperately needed as many people as possible to pray for him. I firmly believe that God hears and answers prayers prayed from a child’s innocent heart. I am sure that your daughter is able to pray for those tornado victims in a way she could not have done before and that her prayers are shaking the very gates of heaven! In the weeks since, as my dad has slowly improved I have watched the girls with him. There love for him is changed. It is deeper, more passionate and fervent. They, like all of us do at some point, have realized the value of a precious gift because they know they almost lost it.

    Kudos to you for following the Father’s direction to do something wonderful FOR your child instead of succumbing to the pressure to believe that you were doing something terrible TO your child.

  • Sara E Fisher

    This is awesome. I was proud to see all the young people, some as young as 5 years old, who were helping my community. It is never too early to show children how they can be of service to those in need.

  • Karen Adams

    So proud to read this. Parents protect their child’s innocence way to much. A child can handle and understand more than what most adults give them credit for. When I was called into the Children’s Ministry, teaching and showing children they are able to serve was the biggest weight God laid on my heart.

  • Beth

    We took our son to do the same thing last week. We spent 2 days helping Moore residents pick thru the sticks to try and find anything they could hold on to. Then we spent 2 hours Friday night experiencing a tornado with them. I watched my son stand taller, feel deeper and see clearer. Life isn’t always easy and it’s never clean. Thank you for taking your daughter to help. Our kids are grasping what it means to be a disciple of Him.

  • Beautiful! Love it! My 4 year old daughter held my hand as we walked through the death of our son,
    telling me he was the lucky one because he’d be in Heaven. Kids can
    handle more than we give them credit for, and it’s in ours and their
    best interest to allow them to use their gifts of healing early on so
    they don’t grow up living in fear…like the person who tweeted back to
    you. Thanks for sharing this! We most certainly can’t raise world
    changers by keeping them sheltered from the reality of our hurting

  • Linda

    You can protect your children from everything and teach them nothing or you can teach them and let God do the protecting. I believe that children’s hearts are much more able to reach out and accept another’s pain more sincerely than we can. They can see with eyes unblemished from the anger of this world. They are much closer to God in many ways and can teach us as adults. We need to help them know that they are needed to serve just as much as the adults are. Their special kind of understanding and pure love can bring us closer to our Savior as we let them be a part of the healing that needs to take place.

  • SoonerFan

    Wow! Just wow. Beautiful.

  • Carmen

    “Thank you for showing me that at 9, you can literally change the world… one act of kindness at a time” Love you.

  • Proud Moore Okie

    From a grateful victim of the Moore tornado, thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Jess T

    Never read your blog before, but I saw a friend’s link on FB….love this!

  • Shelby

    I just wrote an article for another blog that touches on the same thing. That sometimes we try to shelter our kids too much. We are called to be a part of healing the aches of the world and do that we must engage the world around us. Great article!

  • Well done sir. I’m actually marinating on an idea in my own head of taking our family to Oklahoma soon and offering to help where we can.

  • jeteye

    …WOW… the best Father’s Day gift EVERY!!! Well done <3

  • Sarah Treanor

    This was so beautiful. You did well. I lost my mother at age nine to cancer… one would think that this would rip the innocence right out of a child. But it didn’t. At 30 years old now, I still have more childlike wonder in my eyes than most my age – and I also have the depth of knowing pain. I don’t really think pain and sadness always take something away from us – I think sometimes, it adds to us. It can teach us how precious innocence is. It can help us know how important it is to protect our own innocence and the innocence of others.

  • yes!

  • Anna Maftser

    Beautifully said! When we got hit by Sandy in late October, and were forced to live at friends’ and relatives’ for almost a month, I kept coming back to my ravaged neighborhood, to feed those that could not evacuate, those that had no help from the government, no food, no medication. And just like you – I made my choice. My 7 year old was with me, serving and sorting food, translating for those that needed it, working alongside adults helping those that stayed behind because they had nowhere to go. And people have questioned me as to why I would subject my child to this. Well – just because sooner or later everyone needs to learn what true compassion is. And what helping others mean. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for making that choice. And no – innocence is not ruined, but a beautiful person and heart is made stringer by doing others such great service!

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  • disasterrelief

    My family left everything after hurricane katrina and did relief work for the next several years in mississippi followed by relief work in texas after hurricane Ike. I can honestly say that I don’t regret that choice, and grew because of it. Even though I had to give up things that other kids my age had, I was a part of something they weren’t, and it was terrible, and beautiful, and I will never forget.

  • Andrew P.

    Damn Los….

    I gotta say. I follow you for 2 reasons:
    1) your ability to take “every day life” and turn it into a “God moment”. repeatedly and (fairly) consistently. Or at least you regularly blog about the times you manage to recognize these moments instead of rushing by them like I do far to often
    2) because you are so…. normal, so approachable and relateable… yet, you have a depth that just blows me away. I crave that depth. And yet — I fear it. I fear it because I love my stability and safety. Yet I know that the stability and safety of where I’m at is shallow. The depth of a person and their spiritual walk almost always comes through life’s storms. Not actively persuing the storms, but facing them head on when they come instead of retreating to the nearest harbor.

    Real life thunderstorms rock. I love them. Life storms scare the poop out of me.

    I guess what I’m saying is… keep it up. Maybe someday soon I’ll be able to look at my everyday life and see moments where I to can say

    “Its better that way”.

    Thanks Los.

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  • Praying4adarcy

    at 14 months old my parents took me on a missions trip. 21 years later i am still doing what i can for God and missions and wising parents could see what you have learned. So awesome to see people showing what it means to be the hands and feet of Christ, what it means to Love God and Love Others. Its so sad to see people living in the wake of disaster but awesome to see God’s transformation through it all; for those affected and those who help. The Lord is good.


    This is beautiful; we need to raise our children to the hurt this world can bring but raise them with love in a pliable heart to hurt with those who hurt.