Friday, 14 December 2012

blessing as we have been blessed this Christmas

In  this season often so commercially focused on what we will receive  I wanted to help the kids (and myself!) to refocus on what we can do for others. One of the ways we are doing this (like so many others), is through donating Christmas gifts for children and teens in tough situations who might otherwise go without. We have purchased and collected a bunch of things and today we went to deliver them to Marymead . Pre-kids, I worked at Marymead (an amazing organisation that works with hundreds of Canberra's most vulnerable children and families across a range of programs from foster and residential care to counselling and family support groups) and used to coordinate the donations at Christmas time.

I have to say, working at Marymead showed me some of the very worst of humanity (children terribly abused and neglected) and also the very best (people of all walks of life and ages coming in droves to give so generously). I was humbled, awed and brought to tears on many occasions at this time of year, seeing the incredible generosity of people giving from their hearts and their time and their wallets - and knowing how much those thoughtful gifts meant to the children, the teens and the families who received them. Truly beautiful stuff.

I was excited, now Lily is a little older, to work together with her on what we would give and why - we had several interesting conversations over the last couple of weeks about these children, why they needed some help, how blessed we are and why God wants us to bless others and so on. Oh, how I hope to plant seeds in their hearts of generosity, service and compassion for others!

Lily decided she would also draw some pictures for the children to wish them a Merry Christmas and 'help them feel happy'. I didn't have the heart to tell her they may not be delivered but we took them along to Marymead anyway. Last year we had a similar awkward situation when she made dozens of earrings out of scraps of paper as gifts for the children. Ummm.

The kids drawing pictures for the kids... outside at 7.30am as the new flooring gets laid inside!
The stress and mess of the renovations got firmly put in the category of 'First World Problems' as we packed up our gifts
for precious children dealing with real and heartbreaking struggles. 

Lily also offered to give them some of her own toys. As we were driving to Marymead, I could tell she was thinking these things over in her  little mind and suddenly said 'Mummy, I can give the poor children my toys but then I won't have any toys and then *I* will be the poor children!! Then we will just be swapping toys all the time!!!'.  Ahem!!! This led to a little chat about the differences - that she had a Mummy and Daddy to love and look after her (unlike some kids), that we were blessed with good jobs to be able to buy more toys if we wanted to (unlike some families) and that because of God's love for us, we could choose to focus on giving to others rather than on what we were getting ourselves as His love is more valuable to us than any toy. Yes, some tricky conversations and yes, I was scrambling!! I think I probably said too much while trying to cover every angle - argh!! Hopefully I hit some of the marks anyway and over the years things will continue to sink in. So many different directions these talks could go in, so I try to not pressure myself to cover every aspect all at once... with a 4.5 year old! We plant small seeds all along this parenting path, right?!

Along this theme, I think it's important to note that though giving at Christmas (and of course other times) may give us warm and fuzzy feelings, it's not why we give - though yes, the warm and fuzzy feelings are a nice bonus. As much as I earnestly want my kids to see, know, understand and participate in giving back to others, as much as they can comprehend at this age, it's not why we give - though yes, I love to be able to involve them! We give because people are in need and it is right and good to help meet those needs whenever humanly possible. It's not about our reward, after all, but about them. I need to remind myself of this because it can be easy to get caught up in the rewards of giving sometimes (or the joy in involving children in giving), which when you stop and think about it is pretty indulgent - making even the act of giving about us and not them. While yes, it is absolutely true - it is more blessed to give than to receive - I don't ever want to forget that at the end of the day, the giving is about meeting real and practical needs. Not about us.

I am struggling to put down the words in my heart on this topic and have edited and deleted this several times. I just sit here tonight aware of how blessed we have been in so many aspects of our life - and hope to not only not ever take this for granted but also to be able to help others with a true and genuine focus on their precious souls. What a bonus blessing it is to be able to involve our children in the process and see little hearts open up so eagerly to give!


  1. Kate, you are so wise for someone so young. You always manage to find the right words and are doing such a great job at raising caring, compassionate individuals. Well done to all of you.
    Also, I had to have a giggle at Lily's comment about the toys going back and forth. Gotta love their logic when they are little :)

    1. don't know about the wise thing Tarnya!! But I know i'm grateful for life experiences and people I have met that have opened my eyes to a lot of things and I do try to keep them open to continue learning. I really was getting frustrated that i could NOT find the right words to say what I was feeling in this post so I'm grateful for your feedback that it made some sense!! And yes, I too chuckled at lily's comments. Their logic tends to cut right to the heart of things huh - love it :)

  2. "Mummy, I can give the poor children my toys but then I won't have any toys and then *I* will be the poor children!! Then we will just be swapping toys all the time!!!"

    The girl's got a point. :D Love her.

  3. Kate you are such a great mum :)
    Love Anna (ex-flatty) x


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