Actually, I think we did a lot right things, or we did things well...at least I'm pretty sure we done some things real good-like - but I'm specifically talking about a parenting moment I had. It's kind of funny because I wrote last month on the Family Matters blog that the moments where you decide to do something for/to your kids and you get to see a good thing happen in the short term rarely, if ever happens, and then I had one of those "yay, me" moments...go figure. Maybe I should blog for FM about how baking and cooking tasty food rarely leads to weight loss just so I can try and prove myself wrong again.
We are in a Science Co-op. Basically it means that a bunch of my homeschooling family Moms/teachers get together, take all the science topics we would like to cover for all of our students/children for the year, divide by the number of Moms/teachers we have, multiply by the number of children/students, add some snacks, subtract some sanity and hope we have learned something scientifical at the end of it all.
So what I am trying to say is, my kids and I benefit immensely from it and we really enjoy it.
In the late fall, I had a useful thought in regards to our little group. (They are so few and far between I keep track of them for posterity) I proposed to these kids - most of whom have paper routes/babysitting jobs - that we join forces and purchase something from the Food for the Hungry gift catalogue. I thought it would be great for these 10 or so kids to part with some of their own cash and see what coming together to make a difference would do. This was the good idea I'm referring to - I highly recommend it!
Initially I was going to suggest maybe they work towards giving $5 or $10 dollars each, but for reasons I can only attribute to God, I felt really strongly that I shouldn't be such a control freak and instead suggested that they just pray about it. I also keep track of these moments when I listen to that still small voice whispering to my heart- it's a short list, but I'm working on it.
Remarkably, I stopped short of telling them what they should give, and instead said something like:
It doesn't matter what you decide to work towards, but I think it would be awesome if you take whatever you give from your own money, not the bank of Mom and Dad, and that you consider asking God not how little you should give, but how much."
And then I kind of put the whole thing out of my mind. I reminded the kids once or twice over the next weeks we were together that the collection date was coming up - but really, that was it. Ideas are my thing, administration, not so much.
So the big day came. And quietly the money was collected and each child gave in such a way that noone else - including myself- would know how much each one gave. I counted the money and I started to cry - for many reasons.
First of all - these 10 amazing kids gave $230 dollars - of their own money. I would guess the average "salary" for these kids is somewhere between $30-$50 dollars a month. So it was significant to them. They happily said no to bigger and better lego sets, t-shirts, and saving Disneyland money because they just thought it was a great idea to help someone else. And then to see them take such joy in choosing just the right gifts was a delight. It was their money, so it mattered a great deal to them. "Let's try and do something for health, and education AND family life... do we have enough to make a difference in all three categories?" "We do? Awesome!!" "Let's choose things that will make a big difference to one child"- say the detail lovers of the crowd, "What if we also chose some things that could help a LOT of people of once?" say the big picture people...and they came to an agreement, some big and some small things: a pair of pigs, a pair of chickens, a clean water faucet, school fees, a chalkboard - and then lots of cheering and excitement because they had done a small thing, but a good thing.
I was so proud of them all. I have no idea what everyone gave, aside from my own kids, who all happened to give different amounts - but I know that everyone contributed and that all of the Moms were surprised by the amounts their kids were willing to give up.
And then the words I had said initially came back and smacked me in the face: Don't ask God how little, instead ask how much- because I realized that although I had believed I was saying the right things, I didn't really believe that 1) these kids would pray about it 2) that the Holy Spirit would speak to them or 3) that they would follow through and give.
Oh ye of little faith.
I forgot a few things about God: he doesn't have a kid-sized Holy Spirit that he hands out. It is the same power and presence for everyone who believes. I want to believe bigger - God help me with my unbelief!
How much? instead of how little?
Those have become life-changing words for me this past year. I began to ask them part way through 2012 and truly can say God is doing a new thing. How amazing that he chose to show me my own small faith through the generosity of a group of fantastic kids. These are the world changers of tomorrow,and God is stirring in their hearts and making them who they will become this very day! What an incredible blessing and burden as a parent to believe this!
I know my theology is imperfect and incomplete, but I know this: Jesus didn't ask God how little it would take to rescue humanity and restore and redeem our brokenness. He asked "how much?" and it cost him his very life.
So I will continue to ask myself this question. And I pray that when this next year comes to close I will have loved better, given more, and believed bigger than I ever thought possible.