Sunday, November 6, 2011

missed opportunity

I grew up in a modest home.  Well several different ones really but each was a basic house that my Mom made our family home.  I never remember thinking that I wanted more than what we had.  We shared bedrooms, bathrooms, chores, food, and clothes.  Life was simple and yet full.  We got gifts at Christmas, for our birthdays and new clothes before the first day of school.  I am sure I probably asked for more things, but I don't remember ever expecting anything.  Our needs were met and anything else just felt like a gift.  

When my step-sister was here visiting this year, she shared some funny stories of her perspective of me growing up.  Apparently I was known for treasuring even the most trivial of gifts.  If I knew someone picked it out just for me, it meant so much.  Gifts that weren't that exciting for a regular tween were put on my shelf and displayed with pride.  I laughed at her memories as she recalled specific presents that I wore regularly.  Isn't everyone grateful when they are given a gift?  For some reason she recalled me as being thankful to the extreme.  A few years ago I watched some old home videos on VHS taken of Christmas morning.  I cherished each unwrapped present as specifically chosen just for me with all love.

I used to think that part of that glee over gifts received came with our modest life throughout the year.  And maybe part of it did.  But I also think it just was something different built inside me.  To expect nothing and be thankful for WHATEVER gift was given with my name on it. 

Now that I live in a nice home with extra bedrooms, bathrooms, chores, food and do I instill the same attitude of gratitude that came from my upbringing?  I struggle with knowing the balance.  I watch HGTV and I see people walk into descent homes tearing them apart with words because they NEED granite and hardwood and a huge master bath tub.  Perhaps I don't think that way because I never had them before.  If you start your life with nice things is it hard to expect less?

My children are 3 1/2 and 19 months.  They have no cares in this world.  None.  We don't lavish them with gifts (except at Christmas and birthdays) and we eat basic foods at home out of necessity.  How do I teach them to realize not everyone has a room of their own (I shared one room with 2 & 3 sisters for a time) or his/hers sinks in their own hall bath (a friend's family of 5 shares one bathroom)?  How can they possibly understand that many, many people in this world don't have options for dinner and wish they had enough blankets to keep them warm at night while mine kick theirs to the floor because the heater keeps them comfortable enough and they whine about eating fresh chicken again? 


Do I sound ungrateful?  Perhaps.  But this issue has been bothering me lately.  Sometimes I look around at all of this and I ask God why on earth he gave this to me and how content I would be with a 3 bedroom and 2 bath house that has a small back yard for the kids to play in.  How on earth am I/we going to raise grounded children in this self absorbed world to appreciate every thing they are given as a gift chosen just for them with all love?

We feel like we have a purpose here.  God wouldn't give us more than we can handle.  Does it sound odd to read that with the perspective of excess?  Sometimes I don't know how to handle all of this.

We often teach our children to think beyond themselves.  If you see something that needs to be done or someone that could be helped and you are capable of meeting that need, don't wait to be asked.  Help.  Do.  Serve.  If you tripped on a toy, pick it up and put it away.  If you accidentally knock (or push) your sister over, help her up and ask if she is okay.  If someone is carrying a heavy load, step aside or ask them if they need a hand.  One of our goals in parenting is to teach our kids that our lives are not our own and therefore God can use us anyway he chooses.

Perhaps the Lord knew (of course he did) that these particular children would learn the same lesson I learned as a child but in different circumstances.  I expected nothing and appreciated anything that was given with me in mind.  My children have access to more than enough and yet will hopefully learn with abundance comes more opportunities to give with others in mind.

As often happens, the Lord blesses my socks off and then quickly swoops in with a pop quiz.  You know the kind.  The one that you aren't expecting, didn't study for and yet know you should know all the answers to.

This past week God showed me time and time again that if I only trusted him with the big picture he could more easily use me in any circumstance.  Unfortunately after learning all those lessons, I failed the pop quiz miserably.  I should have known one was coming.  I haven't had a test in awhile.  There are only so many lectures given and chapters read before the Teacher wants to make sure you are following all the material.  Are you really getting this?

The kids and I were out running errands yesterday evening.  I told Bundle Brother that I would buy him a new knight helmet at the Dollar Tree since his broke recently.  He was thrilled.  We browsed the other aisles but came to the register with only a fire hat in hand.  As I waited in line behind a woman and her young daughter, she handed the cashier her card.  Declined.  "Can you swipe it again?" she asked.  Nothing.  "Are you able to key in the numbers?"  Nada.  In my heart I heard, "pay for her stuff!"  I never have cash but happened to have $20 in my wallet after a recent grocery shopping trip.  "Pay for her stuff!"  I thought I would wait.  Maybe her card would go through and then it wouldn't be awkward.  I don't want to embarrass her.  When is the right moment to offer?  I just came for this $1 item.  What if she is offended?  "Pay for her stuff!  Your money is mine."


She left empty handed.  I paid for the hat and then thought if I saw her outside I would just give her the money so she could go back in.  Mother and daughter were no where in sight.

Pop quiz: failed!


What is my problem?! 

And please don't leave comments about how noble an act it was for me to even consider giving her money unsolicited.  The Lord clearly asked me to act as His hands and feet and I hesitated.  Am I still holding tight with clenched fists to the things of this world?  Have I learned nothing about God's sovereignty over every moment, breath, interaction?

When I say ALL THAT I HAVE IS FROM HIM AND IS HIS I mean it.  And yet sometimes I fail.  What a missed opportunity!  An opportunity to share God's love with this woman and her daughter.  For me to surrender yet again to God's will.  An opportunity to model for my son that if you see someone in need and you are capable of helping them, help, do, serve.

All that I am and all that I have is God's.  When am I going to get this?  All I want for my family is for them to know that every thing they have is a gift from God to be used for his glory.  That they would give with all glee at an opportunity to share what He has blessed them with in His name.

Forgive me Father for yet another missed opportunity.


Chelsea said...

When J and I had been looking for a house to buy earlier this year we disagreed on the size: I want a 3-4 bedroom and he thinks the kids should have their own rooms. I grew up sharing, and the kids should too. Learn to respect others things/space/time and be respected in return. After all, when you go to college or get married you have to share space, why not teach them now?

I do think that you are showing your kids what it means to share the blessings you have. You just had 25 people in your house! You open your doors to family and friends to come over and stay for extended vacations, have people live with you during transitions..... You have been able to show N and M what it means to have, and to share what you have. They gave up bedrooms when you had friends over, remember?

You are doing a great job as a mom. Keep your heart focused on Him and He will guard the hearts and lives of your children.

Btw, we all fail tests. What a blessing that you saw this as it is and can sail through the next one! Love you.

Mom RS said...

Do you find it hard to care about strangers? I do. It's hard to smile at a stranger. It's hard to say "God bless you" to a stranger even it is in your heart to say it. In Auburn a year or so ago I was driving through a car wash. I had just been to the bank and had a large sum of cash. A girl works at the carwash I have a concern for. Don't know why. You guessed it. I heard God say "Give her $100". Seriously. I don't think so. I heard it again. My heart raced. And then again. No thank you. I drove through. (My heart is racing now.)

I think God needs to show us how big He is and then waits for us to catch up to His mindset. Listen and obey. I say that to little ones daily. I know God knows before us if we will obey. I don't see it so much as a test but as part of growing closer to my heavenly Father. Do I want to please Him all of the time? You bet I do. Will He give me another chance? You bet He will. But He will make it a little easier on me. Why? Because He loves me(us) more than I can ever understand. But I want too. And I know you do too. It's exciting isn't it? His love, mercy and grace is overwhelming.

BTW I now ALWAYS tip whoever is swabbing my car before I go through the car wash =)

I love you!

Persicke Family said...

Thank you for this reminder!! I have missed the opportunities before. I have taken the opportunities before. Each has it's own lesson I think. You are such a great mother and encouragement to me!

Chanel said...

I pretty much agree with everyone's comments so far. I too have missed and taken opportunities (missed more than I've taken). Thankfully He gives me more chances-with strangers as well as my own family. You are a beautiful woman of God and wonderful Mother to those babies. I admire so many of the lessons you and A work hard to teach them. I sometimes struggle with allowing the Enemy to remind me of all my failed opportunities -even from many many years back. But in Christ's limitless forgiveness and love I know I no longer need to hold that against myself... neither do you :)
Also, remember that your current situation is part of the plan God has for your kids. -obvious, I know, bare with me...God gave me this realization when we bought our house and I just couldn't believe how incredible it all was. He quietly said "this house is for them, this neighborhood for them, this childhood is part of My plan and purpose for their future -but you can enjoy it too"
God wants your kids to spend these years in that house just as much as He wants it for you and A to enjoy and use for His glory.