For the first few months after our oldest was born, I was convinced that I had earned the Mother of the Year Award, complete with the trophy and tiara. She was clean, fed and (for the most part) happy. This parenting thing was easy. Next time, I'll take twins. And then her personality began to emerge. It was a personality that I wasn't expecting. She was high-strung and demanding. We butted heads. My husband said she was just like me. I plead the 5th. The more demanding she became, the more determined I was that she was not going to be a brat. And then her sister arrived, and then a brother. We (finally) began to think about who we wanted them to be and the characteristics we wanted to emphasize in them. The bratty bit had to go. But how do you convince your kids that the world does not revolve around them?
For so long we had focused on giving our kids the very best of everything, making sure they had everything they wanted. We had fed their desires for bigger, better and more. What did we have to show for that? Boxes and boxes of toys and games that they never played with, designer jeans that they outgrew too fast, too many things they didn't appreciate. Something had to change and my husband and I knew that change had to start with us. We began to emphasize giving of ourselves instead of giving to ourselves.
And then it happened. It wasn't a sudden, conscious change, but a gradual shift that came from inside. Things were changing so I decided to rock the boat in a drastic way...
Several weeks ago I announced that for Christmas this year, Santa would still visit but there would be no gifts from Mom and Dad. Instead, they would each be able to pick out something from the World Vision catalog and we would give to others instead of buying gifts for them. I expected that they would eventually embrace this idea after some initial protest. I was wrong. They argued over who got to look at the catalog first! After much discussion, they settled on seeds, fishing kits, and medicine. Hannah (the 9 year old) started asking questions about sponsoring a child instead of one-time giving. Do we get to pick the child? Where will he/she live? Can we get one my age? We went online to the World Vision site and began to search for a child to sponsor. We found a little boy from the Dominican Republic who shared her exact birthday. She made the decision to sponsor him and convinced her siblings to go along with her plan. They are truly excited to be giving instead of receiving this year.
In her letter to Santa, Hannah wrote "All I really want for Christmas is to spend time with my family." She has a generous and beautiful spirit. We introduced her to the greatest gift of all and she has taken what we have taught her and multiplied it. Her love of Jesus radiates to everyone she knows. I have a lot to learn from her.
Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. Matthew 18:2-5 NKJV