Has there ever been a time in your family’s life when you suddenly realize everyone is actually getting it? When everyone is on the same page, working toward the same goal, and it’s become second nature and not even a big deal anymore? But it actually IS a big deal when you stop and think about it, because you all have the same goal?
It recently hit me that my family is all on the same page.
When we started attending our church more than two years ago, we heard about this movement called Advent Conspiracy and how it encourages people to change their Christmas. One of the ways to do that is to spend less on unnecessary gifts and give the money you DON’T spend to a charity or program that furthers God’s kingdom. Our church partners with Living Water International. That sounded like as good as charity as any, so our family jumped right in and started working to gather money to donate at Christmas.
At that time, Jackson was just a baby so our main focus was to teach Katie about giving to others. We started with just mentioning it to her and encouraging things like lemonade stands. She seemed to get it, but it was more just something we did together. Somehow, some way, that’s changed. Katie is now really getting it: the idea of sharing her blessings with others who don’t have as much.
For example, after she donated her money to Living Water at church this past Christmas Eve, she came home and asked to keep the Living Water Pringles can on the kitchen counter where we can put our loose change in it all year long.
When she finds money on the ground (a penny here, a penny there), she puts it in the can.
She’s talked about making new crafts to sell and earn money for Living Water, instead of her usual bracelets.
When we’re at the store and talk about buying some toy or item we don’t really need, we compare the price with how many people could get clean water instead. When Katie’s school had a fundraiser, we talked about how the $15 spent for a box of cookie dough could give someone water for the rest of their life.
The coolest thing is this isn’t affecting just Katie. It affects me and Dan too. When we went out to dinner with friends for my birthday, the friends wanted to pay for their meal but Dan wouldn’t let them. They insisted. Later, Dan said he’d put the money in our Living Water can.
One day, we were discussing the idea of someone paying me for my photography services. Since I’m still an amateur and not yet ready for business transactions (and all the pressure that entails), Dan suggested I ask the “clients” to donate to Living Water.
So, what’s my point in all of this? Just to sit and harp about how my family is so generous and overly giving? Uh, no. In fact, anytime Jackson finds a penny somewhere, I mention that he might put it in our Living Water can. He vehemently disagrees with this idea every. single. time. Generosity is NOT in a three-year-old’s nature.
My point is this: whatever the philanthropy or belief or movement, it’s gratifying to see your family unite for a common goal. I feel like we’re a team, focusing on scoring a point to help better the world. It’s one thing to watch your kids grow up and follow your values just because that’s what they’ve watched you do their whole lives. It’s another thing to watch them adopt those values as their own, and take off and run with it. They go from doing it because they have to, to doing it because they want to.
And isn’t that really the goal of parenting anyway?