“It’s all I want for my Birthday, dad. I won’t ask for anything else.” Claire, my eleven-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 sixteen going on eleven, and she sings fun songs about high-top shoes and staying positive when others try to tear you down.
I was in. Until I looked up tickets. JoJo had announced that 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 daddy’s little girl pulling on his heart strings. Less than good seats were $400 per ticket.
But I was determined to find a way. I searched every 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.
Fast forward. Salt Lake City. 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 mall, across from the hall where we would see JoJo in concert the following night. As we approached City Creek, several tour busses pulled up along 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 busses. We kept walking, but I could see Claire’s JoJo radar going wild.
For two hours, I walked the mall with Claire. We had dinner and some ice cream. She needed some 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 get a picture?” She almost squealed.
“I wouldn’t count on it, baby girl, but you never know.” I told her, in a skeptical yet hopeful tone.
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.
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, and I’ll ask her to take a picture with you.”
“Lord, this prayer seems so petty,” I whispered in my heart. “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.
We left the mall to walk back to our hotel. Tour busses still lined the side walk. No one was around. “Dad,” Claire whisper-yelled in an urgent tone, ”It’s JoJo!”
Sure enough, there she was. Her dad stood in her tour bus door as JoJo glided in circles across the sidewalk in front of us, on a scooter.
“Hey!” I said 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 hair bows.
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 photo. We thanked JoJo and her dad and that was it. We went on our way. As we walked the streets of Salt Lake, 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 would make me feel loved by my father. Reminding me that what I see as petty prayers may not be so petty at all.