Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Spoiled! (And Something You Can Do About It)

It's already happening...


October is not even over yet, and my mailbox is filled with...

"Holiday Catalogs"!


How is a mom to help her children to understand...

being content with what you have,

giving to others, and most importantly,


the real meaning of Christmas

when the retail machine jumps the gun on me like this???

You might be saying, "Come on, Tiana, you don't seem like an idiot. Don't you know any better? Couldn't you see this coming?"

And, the truth is, I do know better...for the most part. We don't get many catalogs at this house anymore. I've done my best to get our family off of the most annoying and offensive mailing lists. The majority of what's left finds the trash can before any little hands can get to it. But, the Fleet Farm Toyland catalog--that presumably innocent tool to help Grandma and Grandpa know what the children would like for Christmas--Oh! It is the bane of my existence these days! I'll think I have hidden it where little eyes couldn't possibly find it...and then it comes back again! I keep telling myself that, when they are asleep, I'm going to pitch it. Of course, I never get around to it, and so, I find myself doing my best to appropriately parent my way through a chorus of...

"Mom, could I have...?"

"Mom, look at this...!"

"Isn't this cool...?"

"I really like this one...!"

"Don't you think Grandma would...?"

"Now, THIS is what I REALLY want!"


Good grief!! Have I really raised my children to be this materialistic? I'd like to think that we're a frugal family, but even with the level of consumer restraint we exercise, my children are still...spoiled. Ouch.

"What should we do, honey?" I lament to my husband. "How can we get them to stop thinking they're deprived and start to realize just how blessed they are?"

He suggested that we volunteer as a family at the Salvation Army Christmas Castle. Great idea...but that happens, like, 1-2 weeks before Christmas...and I need something we can do now.

So, yesterday, yet another catalog arrives in the mail--but this one is different, and it stops me in my tracks.

Many of you are probably familiar with the ministry of Samaritan's Purse, a compassion ministry to needy and lost people throughout the world, headed by Billy Graham's son, Franklin Graham.

Through our AWANA program at church, we have participated in Operation Christmas Child for the past several years, preparing a shoe box full of school supplies, hygiene items, and toys for a child in another country who otherwise would not receive any Christmas presents.

I had already made up my mind that, this year, in addition to donating items to the "group box" for each of their AWANA teams, that we would make two boxes from our family--one for a boy about Asher's age, and one for a girl about Acacia's age. Because it is from our family, the kids can draw pictures, we can write letters, and include a photograph of our family in the box.

There is one cool new thing available this year: If you make your shoe box donation online through EZ Give instead of in the box, you can track your box online, and find out exactly what country your box went to! You will also receive information on the ministries that Samaritan's Purse conducts in that country!

Okay, so back to the catalog. I think this is finally the resource I've been looking for, to help my children get outside themselves and think about others who do not have the abundance that we do.

Samaritan's Purse offers us the unique opportunity to give tangible, real, life-changing gifts to needy families across the globe. Here are just a few examples of the kinds of gifts you and your family can give together:

  • A week's worth of hot meals for a hungry child: $7
  • One month of safe, loving care for an orphan: $35
  • Rescue a child from bondage and abuse: $75
  • Seeds, tools, and training for a subsistence farm family: $45
  • A mosquito net to prevent a child from malaria: $10
  • One dozen baby chicks, that can be raised to provide eggs: $14
  • Family Survival Kit for victims of a natural disaster: $45
  • Provide one month of care for AIDS orphans and widows: $45
  • A water filter to provide clean, safe water for one family: $100
  • Bible school education for Sudanese pastors: $25
  • Copies of the New Testament for 10 children: $40
See what I mean by "life-changing"?! Most of us would spend at least this kind of money--and probably a lot more--on toys and gadgets for our kids for Christmas. If you're like us, your kids probably have a slew of grandparents, aunts, and uncles who also shower them with presents. If we want any kind of hope that our children will survive this self-centered age we live in with their compassion intact, we must provide them meaningful opportunities for real giving.

So, here's my challenge to you:
  1. Visit www.samaritanspurse.org and follow the links to their Gift Catalog. There is an online interactive catalog with video clips, as well as a PDF version of the print catalog. If you would like to receive a print catalog in the mail, call 1-800-353-5957
  2. Spend some time talking as a family about the different giving opportunities available. Prayerfully decide as a family what you would like to give. You might consider getting together with another family, or with grandparents, to give one of the more costly gifts.
  3. Another option would be to pack a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child. Remember, if you make your donation online, you can follow your shoe box and learn about the ministry of Samaritan's Purse in that country!
  4. Post a comment here saying that you plan to participate. When you're finished, post a comment again telling what you did. If you will email me your story and maybe a picture or two at Titus245Mama@gmail.com, I may post it on my blog.
  5. If you are a blogger, would you please let your readers know about this challenge and link here? My goal is to see at least 100 families participating in this challenge! I would encourage you to post about your giving experience with your kids on your blog as well. If you do, post a link here and I will be sure to leave a "Thank-You" comment on your blog.
  6. I'm working on a "button" for this challenge--as soon as I have a chance to talk to my favorite technology guru, Andy Traub--so stay tuned!
Thanks in advance for participating...and happy giving!!

"He will defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy." Psalm 72:4a(NIV)

"You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuse for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm." Isaiah 25:4a (NIV)

"He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing." Deuteronomy 10:18(NKJV)

"We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, His power, and the wonders He has done." Psalm 78:4b(NIV)

10 comments:

PolartribeMommy said...

What a wonderful way of teaching compassion. We have done the shoeboxes several times. Last year Elijah really understood it! This year we are doing it again and Elijah is really excited about getting things for a "child that doesn't have anything". I didn't know about EZ give, we'll have to look into that because Elijah would LOVE to know where our box is going! Our church does this as a group event, and we do our collection in a couple of weeks.

I am also going to order the catalog, because Elijah LOVES reading catalogs and talking about what he sees.

Thanks again for the ideas!

lishburton said...

Josh and David are both doing Operation Christmas Child. We're also putting together a care package for God's Littlest Angels Orphange in Haiti http://www.glahaiti.org/
They have a wish list on their website of specific needs http://www.glahaiti.org/what_you_can_do/donated_items including things as simple as infant tylenol and vitamins, crib toys, and soap, these things seem so minor to us but the work being done at God's Littlest Angels is just amazing! One of the nurses at GLA has been keeping a blog sharing stories of some of the most fragile children being cared for http://heartsongsfromhaiti.blogspot.com/...being a part of that, even in a small way is very rewarding and I think will be good for our kids to witness and be a part of

Angel said...

These types of things are wonderful! Materialism is something we will always have to be on guard against. I noticed that when we stopped watching TV it really helped a lot because those commercials just are NOT good. BTW I really like your blog! :o)
God bless, Angel

*Mirage* said...

Great challenge! I got the same catalog last week and was thinking about doing a blog post about it. I will come back here and get your soon-to-exist button to link my post here when I do get around to blogging it. :)
I've done OCC shoeboxes since about 6 years ago. I want to make it a tradition to do with the kids when they are old enough to understand.

I'm also doing a blog carnival for posts about keeping our focus in the right place this Christmas. You can read about it here: http://everypreciousjoy.blogspot.com/2009/10/heart-of-christmas-play-along.html It started today. I just posted #1 - If you wanted to link this post to it that would be perfect!

Tania @ Larger Family Life said...

I posted about Operation Christmas Child a couple of weeks ago. Come along and leave your link to your post!
http://largerfamilylife.blogspot.com/2009/10/will-you-join-me-please.html

Jojo said...

Thanks for a very great post! I can relate with you with regards to giving. Our local church here in Iloilo, Philippines (the New Life Christian Community) had just sent our "in kind" aid to the victims of the recent typhoons that plagued our country.

It really feels good when we are able to help other people who are in great need - even the unbelievers.

Tiffany said...

what a super idea! I think we will totally do this. We do our bible study as a family each Friday night so I am gonna bring this up and talk about which would be the best thing for us to do.
This week our action is helping the undesirables so this will totally go along.

Felicia said...

We are in! I have been looking for motivation to do something different.

Our "wish list" catalog around here is Vision Forum. Great catalog, but at Christmas time turns into a "I want . . ." fest.

We moved away from family (military move) and are planning a quiet Christmas this year. We also have a family tradition that helps with the gift clutter. Everytime my kids get a new gift(toy) for Christmas, they have to donate a toy. We keep a big box in the living room and they just fill it up with toys, books, etc as they receive new things. This keeps the clutter down, but also helps them think of others.

~ Judy ~ said...

Great post...great reminder.
We get a similar catalog from another organization and each year my husband sends in gift in each child's name...then presents our children with the little coupon (saying "such and such has been given in your honor") as a gift to them on Christmas.
It really has a great impact upon them when they realize that their gift FED a family or helped them buy a COW, etc...
"It is in giving that we receive"
Thanks for this post!

Cheryl @ On the Old Path said...

Hi I found you through Every Precious Joy. I couldn't agree more. I recently wrote about the shoeboxes and a few other organizations you can get involved with. I think this is a wonderful post!!!
Blessings!

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I'm a Stay-at-Home, Christian, "crunchy" mama. I have been blessed with the calling to be a godly wife and mother. I am passionate about bringing up my children in the discipline and instruction of the LORD, through home education and discipleship. Helpmeet to my best friend and soulmate, Christopher since 1/29/2000, and mama to four little blessings, including a tiny, precious, newborn baby girl.

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