The boys are down for the night and I just wrapped up the last crusty pots and pans and swept away the crumbs of our day. One full rotation of the sun has ended it's journey, and already I am looking towards tomorrow. Early alarms are set on clocks and spelling test review sheets lay beside the boys' breakfast bowls. Only a handful of hours separate now from then. I turn to the three empty lunch boxes that clutter the counter top and decide to get a head-start.
But that's just back-story... The real lesson came as I slathered thick layers of peanut butter and jelly on fluffy potato bread.
I make PB&Js like a rich person.
It was a solid, clear inner voice, said without conviction or pride, just a realization. I make PB&Js like a rich mom. I remembered then the woman at Legoland, with her children gathered round her in line for a ride, how she brought out two small Tupperware, half a loaf of white bread, two apples, and a plastic knife. Squatting there, right in front of us, she used her backpack as a work station. Four children waited patiently as the small knife spread a teaspoon of peanut butter across a slice of "day old" bread, then a smaller quantity of jelly followed. Another piece of bread was placed on top, and the same plastic knife cut the sandwich diagonally. Halves were passed to two of her children, then she repeated the ritual for the next two, followed by a third sandwich - the one she shared with her husband. And the apples... the two apples were passed from one family member to the next.
I'm estimating I use two tablespoons of peanut butter per sandwich, with an equally liberal spread of grape jelly, and my children eat a whole one. A bag of grapes and a clementine, followed by a cheese stick and a bottle of water complete my child's school lunch. I place the boxes in our refrigerator to stay cool till morning. It takes some maneuvering, because the fridge is so full of good healthy food. I have cilantro and green onions to top our pork roast for tomorrow night's dinner, and cookie dough is all ready to pop in the oven after school gets out tomorrow. And I sigh, both thankful and confused...
Is it too much?
I know it's only peanut butter and fruit, cookie dough, and potato bread and green onions... but is it too much?
And do I slather my children this same way with gifts and costly activities and always entertainment we have to pay for? Do I slather with too much liberality? And is there a cost to so much spending, a cost we have not factored into the budget of our souls? Their souls. Is it possible, in our spending and generous living, that we've lost sight of the simpler feasts and the more modest of joys as a family? Passing the apple and breaking the bread in two. And is there more for us to question, as we pack our children's lunches today?
This is a conversation without formula, maybe without even application, but I hope you'll join me in the dialogue just the same.
Is it too much? The walls with their new pictures hung, and the boys with their endless flow of legos, and the man I love with his man-cave, and me with my shiny new countertops. When is it enough? And how do we teach our children generosity, when we are so good at feeding our own appetites? And is it possible that our loving desire to give our children "the best," is actually making them into a generation of discontent consumers?
My children reached up and into my backpack as I watched that mother making lunch for her family. Little hands tugged and pulled, then whined and complained, "but I want another fruit snack."
We slather it thick, the spending and the going and the gift-giving, but is it making them into men and women who slather the world with generous love in turn? Or might our love, poured out at stores and restaurants and summer camps, one right after the costly other, indwell in them a self-love that only grows hungrier and hungrier?
Dear Lord, Give us an insatiable appetite for You,
Let it overflow into a hunger to fill the world with your love,
not keep it all for our own bellies...
that our children, as well, will taste and see the most satisfying way to live is to give.
And stir in us a love for those who are hungry throughout the world,
that we might learn to give generously. - Amen
The boys and I have begun reading "Little King Davie," a Lamplighter publication, written by Nellie Hellis in 1892. It is the sweet and heart-wrenching story of a young English boy. Though impoverished, he learns the abiding richness of a life in Christ.
Earlier this evening, as we wrapped up another chapter, we talked about the poor in more depth. I reminded them of the children we support through World Vision and Holt International; Xing in China, Napaworn in Thailand, and Kender in Haiti. We talked about education and medicine and food, those basic needs our support helps provide them and their families. My eyes pricked with tears as I read Xing's most recent letter to us:
Dear Sponsor: Thank you for your help. You give me hope when I am in trouble. I will study hard to repay society. I must study from you for your kindness. Thank the people who supported and helped me. I wish you a good health and successful job and all the best. -Xing
"You give me hope when I am in trouble."
And it hit me as I read it again to the boys, that our abundance is intended for those in trouble, but when we horde it here instead, it causes trouble. Selfishness, pride, strife, gluttony, ulcers...
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. (1 Timothy 6:10) ...but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. (Mark 4:19 )
But God has a plan for us to avoid the trap of simply feeding our own appetite, and it's bound up in the way we love Him. "Feed my sheep."
Feeding sheep costs us greatly. It costs our love, it costs us our time, and it costs our pretty pennies. But it is love; demonstrative, sacrificial, agape love. Love to the One who has first given to us, and Love to those whom He loves.
I want to be rich in love. Slather it thick on Xing and Napaworn and Kender, the way I spread it out on the potato bread. Like thick layers of peanut butter and jelly, not counting the cost. Rich and thick, the way Christ slathered His love upon me.
Sponsor a child for approximately $35 a month. It's a wonderful way to include your family in caring for those beyond your home. See affiliate links in this post to start "feeding His sheep."