Heart Pondering

The ponderings of one Christ-following mom on raising preschoolers

The giver and the gift: child parable February 23, 2011

Filed under: Behaviors,Holidays — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 2:55 am

I had my birthday earlier this month, and in the days leading up to the auspicious occasion my three-year old daughter was quite attentive to the event. “I’m going to make you a cake for your birthday, Mommy,” she said at least half a dozen times. And: “I’m going to make you a card for your birthday.” As well as, “Mommy, for your birthday I’m going to give you a necklace!”

When the day arrived, she asked her dad to accompany her to our bedroom where she assessed the jewelry arrayed atop my bureau – the earrings and necklaces I’d lately worn and not yet returned to the jewelry box – and made a selection. Then she trooped back downstairs to where I was eating birthday breakfast pancakes and handed me the gift. “Mom, here’s the necklace I’m giving you for your birthday!” she exclaimed. I expressed my pleasure and gratitude and, of course, donned the necklace. My husband and I exchanged a smile; “it’s the thought that counts,” he said.

Indeed. My daughter understood enough to realize that birthdays are about making a person feel special and presenting her with a gift; she was enthusiastic to get in on the action. That the gift she selected for me was something already belonging to me (a Christmas gift from her father to me, years prior) clearly had not occurred to her. Oblivious re-gifting. On subsequent occasions when I’ve worn the necklace she chose, she happily observes: “Mommy, you’re wearing the necklace I gave you for your birthday!”

One thing that has warmed me about this incident, beyond the obvious cuteness of the gesture and dearness of a three-year old’s heart, is the picture it paints of us and God. God gives us everything we have – our money and possessions, our homes, our spouses, our children, the food we eat and clothes we wear – and we give back to him from among these gifts. Often we feel so noble and thoughtful, self-sacrificing even, when we offer these things to him. But in reality, anything we give Him is something he first gave us – whether through prayers of surrender, a tithe, a material donation, or the like. The truth is that it’s impossible for us to give Him something that didn’t start out as His (since, “naked we entered the world and naked we’ll leave it.” )

I loved seeing the illustration so clearly through my daughter’s sweet and enthusiastic present. May I return my Father’s things to Him so happily and so diligently, gifts willingly offered to bring Him delight.

 

Hospitality training February 10, 2011

Filed under: Behaviors,The heart,Training — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 5:11 am

William Shakespeare wrote: “Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast.”

The writer of Hebrews counseled: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (13:2)

A spirit of welcome; hospitality; entertaining others. Important parts of life, and important thing to model for our children and help them learn to do first-hand. What better way to demonstrate Christlikeness – selflessness and others-focus – than by inviting them into your home? So when my kids asked if we could have a Valentine’s party this year, I said yes.

The party was this morning; my kids anticipated it eagerly, and everyone had a good time amidst the chaos. But during the event, in which twenty children between 0 and 7 years old and ten moms were involved, I realized I’d not done a good job of prepping my children about the meaning of hospitality. Our focus has gone primarily to preparation enthusiasm; making Valentine cards; putting up decorations; baking cookies to be frosted. I’d neglected, though, to hone in on the goal and the purpose that belong to the host: to put guests first in all things. To make sure they are having a good time. To be thoughtful and selfless. I’m not sure how much such dialog would have helped in curbing their rowdy, relatively self-focused, sometimes demanding mindsets as they engaged with more than two dozen people in their home… but it sure couldn’t have hurt.

Chalk it up to lessons learned for next time; important ones…