Be warned: long-windedness ahead. A few bumps in the road, some belly laughs, and a very dangerous prayer. But read to the end because it is well worth the time you will spend getting there.
This morning, Mackenzie and I took our quarterly trip to Target. I am sure it would have been a very pleasant experience had we made the trip last week. Just in the past seven days my sweet, kissy, princess has learned the power of the high pitched, ear-splitting, gut-wrenching scream. The kind of scream that makes a Mama’s heart race so wildly it could fly right out of her chest. She now screams when she is frustrated, when she doesn’t get her way, when we tell her “no” (this word also creates a spasmodic reaction complete with crumple-to-floor tantrum) and other triggers which we are still trying to figure out with our mouths agape. Today, she wanted all the other Target shoppers to experience the wrath of Kiki…
When I was pregnant, and even before we decided to start having children, Braden and I were determined that we would NEVER be THOSE parents. You know the type- letting their children run wild in a store or public place, scream in restaurants and church, then enabling their bad behavior by buying them toys to keep them quiet.
The pleasant patrons of Target were politely silent as I wrangled my almost 15 month old baby-turned-banshee (who wanted out of the shopping cart to practice her new talent for walking). But I could see the rolling eyes and exasperated glares. I could practically hear their thoughts, ‘What is she doing to that poor child to make her scream like that?’ and ‘Can’t she make that baby be quiet?’ or ‘I swear I never did/will let my child behave that way in public!’ And then suddenly it was 95° in there and I started to sweat.
My child was now running around Target barefooted (we were buying her new shoes because she has outgrown her other pairs) with me chasing after her, trying to coerce her with toys. No amount of asking, bribing, lovingly redirecting, food, or gentle coaching brought her back to center. Every time I picked her up it was another scream, flailing like a wet noodle, and laser beams from the eyes of people nearby. The kid was falling apart in a sloppy hot mess all over the floors of Target (Thankfully I had my Thieves Spray!!)
Time. To. Go. That’s when it hit me…
I AM THAT PARENT.
The one I swore I would never be. And I only have ONE kid. I don’t know how people do it with more. And I have major respect for those who do, and do so gracefully at that. Kudos, Mamas!
Thankfully I had finished shopping. My loaded cart took care of all the upcoming birthdays, Easter baskets, spring clothes, Easter dress and shoes, groceries, and outdoor activities we could possibly need (for at least a few months minus the groceries). I preoccupied the kiddo with some crackers, which I took the liberty of opening before we paid for them just to have her sit in the cart while I checked out. The cashier looked at my loot and frowned, saying, “That is more toys than my kids have and there are three of them.”
My first thought was, Oh she is kidding. Most of this is just Easter and outside toys. I haven’t even built the sandbox yet or assembled the swing set.
But she was entirely serious, and continued. “My youngest is four and my kids have never had a swing. We had a birdhouse that my mom built in high school.”
I wasn’t really sure what to say, so naturally I said the first thing that came into my head,
“I bet they like birds.”
I finished checking out and slowly started pulling my foot out of my mouth (this seems to happen often. I think I have developed a taste for Toms.) As I got my screaming pterodactyl of a daughter out of the dreaded red bullseye (was that applause I heard as the automatic doors closed?) I started to feel bad for wanting to have nice things for my little girl.
I know that sounds silly, but is it? If we are born with a silver spoon in our mouth, is it wrong for us to eat from it?
As followers of Christ we are called to a higher purpose: to be a light shining for others to see our good deeds and glorify God. (Matt. 5:14-16) So I asked myself, was my spending a hindrance to the cashier glorifying God? Perhaps the answer is yes. Don’t get me wrong- I am not saying it is always bad to spend money on things you like, or things you want, or things that make you feel good, or that you think are beautiful. But in this particular situation, I felt the Lord’s tug at my heart to teach me something. And He gave me the
soapbox tools to share it.
When Jesus called his disciples to follow Him, He didn’t tell them to grab all their things and load it onto a donkey. They left their lives behind to follow Him. He taught them the importance of storing treasures in heaven, and told them to cast aside worldly things. There are so many verses about how meaningless are material possessions and the poor are rich in faith. To whom much is given, much is demanded (Luke 12:48; much of Luke 12 teaches about money and possessions). But then why do some people have more?
To give it away.
Let that sink in for a few seconds. The Bible includes over 300 references about giving to the needy. To name a few:
Hebrews 13:16 “Do not neglect to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.”
2 Corinthians 9:7-10 “You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully. And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, ‘They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.’ For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.”
Matthew 25:40 “And the King will say, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'”
John 21:17 “He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”
Guys, this is what life is all about. Giving to others. Feeding His sheep. If you haven’t already read it/had your life wrecked by it, I highly recommend the book Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker. It is amazing- full of bravery and faithfulness. And reading it, I prayed the prayer:
“God, raise up in me a holy passion.”
Be warned, that prayer is not to be taken lightly. I know so many people whose lives were turned upside-down after praying that prayer. Who took a leap of faith outside their comfortable Christianity. And ended up in a place even more incredible than they could possibly have imagined. God’s answer is not usually what we would expect.
So how does my story end? With a jar. Lets call it the “Silver Spoon” jar. (Sweet graphic here)
Like a savings account, which many people have in case of emergency, for a rainy day, or to save up for that dream car, dream house, or dream vacation. This is a savings account for God. For us to fill up with the financial seeds He gives us to produce a great harvest of generosity in us. The resources He provides us for when He puts people in our lives who need it most. How much you put in is up to you and the Lord. And every time it is emptied, it is filled up again. Because it all comes from Him anyway.
P.S.- Kenzie went down for a nap and woke up in a much better mood. #Daddy’sTurn 😉