To know my Avery is to know a few important things: she will swing on the swing-set all day long if you let her, she utters more words in a day than any other human on earth (it’s true, trust me), and her love of lemonade is unparalleled. There is something magical in her mind about that sunshine-colored sugar-water, and she is constantly scheming new ways to get her tiny hands on it.
The other day she asked me if we could have a lemonade stand.
We’ve done it a couple of times at garage sales (ours and our friends’), but I was unsure about a lemonade stand all on its own. I pictured my excited 4-year-old sitting in our driveway as cars sped past, and she would be overlooked and disappointed. I also realized that her primary motivation for a lemonade stand was to drink the bulk of it herself, so it didn’t seem like a great plan to me.
Somehow, though, something in my mind clicked. I’ve been reading “In This House, We Will Giggle” and I’ve started to think more about ways I can teach my kids the values I hold dear to my heart. One day when my kids leave home and I’m looking back on our years together, I want to be able to say, “Yep, I said everything I needed to say. I taught them what I wanted them to know. They have what they need to go out into this big world.”
But that’s a tall order, and so much of our lives feels like rushing from one place to the next. I’m worried about getting people fed and bathed and clothed and meeting the demands of everyone’s schedules. Who has time to stop and think about these lofty ideas?
I do. At least I want to be the kind of mom who does. I don’t want the urgent to crowd out the important. What’s important to me is that I speak to the heart issues with my kids. I want them to know that they are loved by me, but loved even more by Jesus. I want to paint a picture on their hearts of what the love of Jesus looks like. That’s what I appreciate about this book; it empowers me to do that in really practical, fun ways.
So back to the lemonade stand. It occurred to me that we were having a church picnic of sorts (food trucks are the new church picnic, right?) the following day, and that would be a perfect place for a lemonade stand. I didn’t feel right, though, about collecting money just for my kid to go buy a bunch of junk we don’t need at the dollar store. And then I remembered that we were in the middle of collecting supplies to send Christmas gifts to children in need through Operation Christmas Child. I had been talking to Avery about why we are giving gifts to these children.
It’s important for me to help her see how fortunate she is, and that other children throughout the world do not have all of the luxuries that she has. I felt strongly about redirecting her frequent requests for more things to think about giving to others. We don’t just talk about giving to others, though; I want to be sure to get to the heart of why we give. It’s not to make ourselves feel better about what we have or out of guilt or because we enjoy the recognition. Lots of people give for those reasons, but we give because Jesus loves us and he wants us to love others. Giving generously is just one of the ways that we show love to others.
I told her we could have a lemonade stand at church the following day and that we could donate the money to Operation Christmas Child to help pay for sending our gift boxes overseas. She was really excited by this idea, and she got to work preparing for her little business venture (truth: way more work for Mom than for her, though).
It turned out that the lemonade stand was a huge hit.
We were swarmed by kids (and even adults) in pursuit of that sugary goodness. We couldn’t get it out fast enough, and we collected $46.50 to help send Christmas gifts to needy children overseas.
I know that Avery won’t likely remember all of these conversations we’ve had over the last few weeks about giving and what the purpose is, but I see it as laying the groundwork. I’ll build on this conversation for years to come as she works out what this means in her own life.
It was time and effort well spent.
I am not a generous person by nature. I tend to count every penny, and giving to others somehow makes me a little anxious that I’m not going to have enough at the end of the day. It’s not pretty, I know. There are times, though, when I’m able to turn off my mind that tells me to worry and scrounge and save, and I can let my heart lead the way. Whenever I can turn off the voice that prompts me to worry, I can open up my heart to those who have less than I do and I can give freely. I love those moments. In a weird way, I am proud of those moments because I know it is what I’m meant to do.
It’s important to me that my children learn to give and give generously, not because there is a reward or recognition in it
Have you experienced this in your home?
Saying “yes” to something they love – while having them experience a great life lesson?