I searched everywhere. In the toys bins, under the sofa, behind a box of waffles in the freezer—but that Little People rollercoaster car was nowhere to be found.
We need that car, darn it. Without it, the carnival set isn’t just incomplete—it’s non-functional! How else is my daughter going to shuttle her mini molded friend down the track unless she has the purple car? Where is that car?
By the end of the day I was convinced the thing grew legs and walked out the door. So I logged onto eBay and found a used replacement—for $11.95 plus shipping. That’s probably more than the entire set cost originally, but hey, I considered it for a moment.
And then my brain snapped back into my head.
Seriously, Becky? You’d pay 12 bucks for a three-inch piece of plastic? There was a day not too long ago when you didn’t have $11.95 in your purse to buy toilet paper until the next paycheck. Now that you’re married with kids and a savings account, is a dollar worth less than a dollar? Where is your perspective, woman?
Like many moms, I sometimes fall prey to the temptation to give my kids everything. I am neither rich nor poor by American standards—I clip coupons, for goodness sake. I’m frugal. I am!
Yet what money I do have I’m more likely to spend on my precious munchkins than on myself. Their toy room is stocked, our pantry welcomes every variety of Annie’s organic Bunnies snacks, and I shell out a small fortune for music and swimming lessons without blinking an eye.
Is that wrong?
Not necessarily. We all want the best for our kids.
But what is “best,” actually? Having stuff, or having a heart of gratitude for affording and receiving the stuff?
A recent comment from my four-year-old suggested perhaps I’m not instilling the value of stewardship in my children as well as I could. A few days ago, I caught her seated at the kitchen table, casually snapping all her crayons in half.
“Why are you doing that?” I shot her a classic what-is-the-matter-with-you mom look. “Those are new crayons!”
“It’s ok, Mom,” she shrugged. “We’ll just buy more.”
Whoa. Where did she get that idea?
Three guesses: me, me, and me.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19–21).
I really don’t want my heart to be in the aisles of Toys R Us. More importantly, I don’t want my kids to think toys are the real treasures in life. This attitude can grow into adulthood, when we covet the latest electronic gadgets, designer clothing, luxury cars, shoes, shoes and more shoes—as if those objects can fill a void.
How then do we teach our kids to appreciate material blessings?
By storing up all the things that aren’t material.
Love, patience, sacrifice, kindness, sharing, laughter, hugs—these are the gifts I want to give my kids, far more than I desire to see another Fisher-Price gizmo enter our house.
I know it’s hard, especially this time of year, to keep a heavenly perspective in the midst of shiny packages and half-off sales. That’s why I’m making Christmas matter and inviting you to join me. It’s why I’m intentional about demonstrating gratitude, mercy, kindness and generosity for my kids. I don’t do it perfectly, of course. Nobody does. Which is why I also pray daily—not just for my children’s hearts, but for my own.
All good things come from God.
He gives, and he takes away.
Let’s praise him either way.
When I logged off of eBay, all my stewing over a lost toy made me itchy for God’s wisdom and grace, so I reached for my Bible. And wouldn’t you know it? There, stashed inside my Bible case, sat a little plastic car—just waiting to be discovered.
God, you’re funny. Next Sunday, I think I’ll give my kids some extra money for the children’s offering at church—$11.95 to be exact.