For instance, math helps us to find even numbers so we know how to share with a friend, or divide fairly among groups. Math helps us learn that if everyone measures based on their own hands or feet, we could never work together to build something that would stand… a universal measuring stick makes sure we all work together. No differently than if we all gauge for ourselves what LOVE is or what's RIGHT and WRONG, we may find ourselves in a community that is collapsing. But when we uphold God's universal measuring stick, His Torah, for what is right and wrong, we can work together and build community… for His glory.
We know that our provisions are bountiful in our home but we have not been diligent in sharing that abundance. I thought maybe it was time to teach the kids how to manage provisions in a way that honours God's Torah, (which is the basic golden rule of "do to others what you would have them do to you.") and to be open about the fact that we will be right there learning with them. Not-so-surprisingly, there are many commandments regarding tending to the widows, the orphans and the poor. We are also to help our "enemies." And when our tummies are full of food and life is good, God warns us that those will be the times we forget about Him. So with our tummies full, every provision met and then some, Duane and I humbly embark on a journey of teaching our children some basic rules about finances… and to apply them in our own lives.
Thanks to moonjars, we have set up Ethan (5), Anika (6) and Sivana (3) with three little "jars" each labeled: Save, Spend, Share. They receive a weekly allowance based on their age and we've discussed the three aspects of dividing those funds. For their "spend" jar, we told them they are now responsible for buying their own toys and/or extras above their existing provisions. For their "share" jar, we suggested looking at our Compassion Canada booklet to see what we can buy for our sponsor family in Brazil, but to also keep our eyes and ears open for local needs. And the "save" would be a monthly trip to the bank to watch their savings grow for down the road.
Ethan was eager to look through Lego pamphlets and right away zeroed in on a Police Mobile Unit for $35. "Well, Ethan, you get $5 per week and $0.50 goes into your share and $0.50 goes into your save which means you get $4.00 in your spend. It's going to take you about nine weeks to save up enough. Are you excited about working towards that?" "Yeah! That's a long time, but I can do it!" "Alright, Bud."
Every Friday, Ethan would remind me that it's Payday. He'd be ready with his little deposit book and he'd write the new totals for each category. Every now and again, he would ask "Mom, can you pull up the picture of the Police Mobile Unit for me again? I just want to look at it for a while."
Nearly twenty minutes of staring at the computer screen, dreaming of his Lego Police Mobile Unit…
November 22nd was THE payday which brought him to his FINAL amount needed. He was counting down the days all week. I was excited for him and proud for the long-term dedication. We sat down with his little balance book and the four loonies and four quarters and he looked up at me pensively and said "Mom, today, I would like to put more in my 'share' box." Needless to say, I was a little surprised by this! "Wow, ok Ethan, but you realize this means you will not have enough for your Lego this week?" "Yep, I know." "Alright, how much would you like to put in your share?"
He thought about it and answered with a big smile "$2.00!" And so he joyfully updated his deposit book, plunked the coins in their respective boxes and bounced away happy as can be. I sat back and marvelled at the large slice of humble pie before me.
I thought of the poor widow in the books of Mark and Luke who gave only a few coins to help with the Temple repairs in Jerusalem… but it was all she had despite it being worth only a penny. Jesus saw and taught His disciples that she had given more out of her poverty than the men who gave large sums out of their abundance.
My little man had been dreaming of that Lego set for nearly nine weeks and rather than give in to his own desires, he felt happier giving more to others' needs. It is time Duane and I learn from this and seek to share our abundance with this same joy.
It is ever humbling to realize as a teacher and as a parent that sometimes we do more of the learning than our kids do! And praise be to God for that. Perhaps he knew those would be the moments are hearts would be willing to listen.
To all of you out there, I hope you are feeling as richly blessed in your provisions as we are. May you join with us in being humbled by our abundance and may you be blessed with the eyes to see and the heart to give where it is needed most. And may you be blessed by these words:
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)