Deb had some great inspiration last week on boxing up all the chaos left in the wake of Christmas. If you missed that post, you can find it HERE. No matter how big or small our home sweet home, I think we can all relate! There just never seems to be room enough! Sometimes all that is needed is a little organization – a place for everything and everything has its place.
However, if your home is like ours, the problem may be a little more severe. Our home is 1,200 square feet. When Baby #2 came along, we quickly discovered the problem. My husband’s parents are divorced and remarried, so our kids have 3 sets of grandparents. 3 sets of extremely generous grandparents! So as far as kids’ toys, books, and clothes go, our closets spilleth over…and over…and over!
We feel abundantly blessed by grandparents, and aunts and uncles, and friends, and all those who like to provide for our children at Christmas! However, if I’m being honest, that blessing easily becomes a burden if not handled efficiently, and it also becomes a liability if we allow our children to soak up an “entitlement” mentality.
In other words…
How do we enjoy the gifts when there is no place to put them?
How do we teach our children to value and appreciate the gifts when nearly everything on their wish lists land under the tree?
These 2 questions are not easily answered for Kevin and I. We’ve wrestled with them for years now! But we’ve discovered that within the struggle, lies a great opportunity for biblical training – not only for our kids’ hearts, but for our own hearts, as well!
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
(Matthew 6:19-21 NIV)
The Bible makes clear the dangers of amassing treasures on earth. But the truth is, we don’t have to own fortunes to struggle in this way. We can make idols of the “little” treasure we have just as much as we idolize the “much”. Our hearts so easily stray to worship the gifts rather than the Giver!
God’s Word says the more we’ve been given, the more accountable we are to use our blessings to God’s glory.
“…Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required…”
(Luke 12:48 ESV)
So when our first-born was about three, we started using the “Swap it Out” principle. At first, it was out of necessity, but we soon discovered that it helped us created an environment in which we could appreciate the generosity of the giver, enjoy the blessing of the gift, multiply the blessing out to others, and most of all, hold loosely to the material gifts we are given. It’s pretty simple:
For every new item that comes into the house, a similarly-sized/valued item has to be removed and given to someone else.
Good Bye, Snow White! Hello, Barbie!
This rules applies to Mom and Dad as well!
In addition to charitable organizations, the church nursery, and the preschool class, here are a couple of the recipients of the Garibaldi “Swap It Out” rule:
So when I look at the pile of gifts in the garage that we unloaded from our Christmas celebrations this year (and I’m not kidding you, this is only about ½ of it!), I take a breath, say a prayer, and remind myself that these are not our treasures.
I’ll admit there have been times when we’ve had to coerce a toy into the “Give it Away” pile, but more often than not, the kids take great joy in selecting their items to trade – and in carefully choosing who they would like to bless with their hand-me-downs! The benefits of the “Swap it Out” rule go far beyond keeping us from drowning in a sea of stuff! By far, the best result has been the way we are encouraged to view the material possessions that come into our home.
Nothing is permanent.
Nothing is ours alone.
Nothing is ours to keep.
When we look at it this way, it’s not just our used, outgrown, discarded items we are ready to part with. Ideally, we hold our possessions loosely with anticipation of opportunities to use them to bless others.
We’ve still got a LONG way to go in letting these principles sink in and learning to apply them in every area of life. Fighting the “entitlement” mentality is pretty much a daily battle in the OC! In fact, this post was supposed to be finished and go out earlier today, but my work was interrupted by one of the younger Garibaldis having a fit over a pricey toy that was not quite working the way it was intended to work. My mental plan for the day had included a stop for an ice cream cone after school (something we only do once in a blue moon!) and then an extremely rare (like, maybe never!) weekday movie night. It’s our first week back at school and we are all running a bit ragged after 4 days already! Needless to say, in the aftermath of the tantrum, I didn’t feel justified in rewarding the bad behavior with a ice cream and movie. I was initially quite annoyed that, by default, I had to miss out on those treats, as well! But I was quickly convicted by the irony of this post I was in the middle of writing. I had to face the fact that I’m not entitled either!
What are you doing to train the hearts in your home to follow biblical principles in this area? How do you balance enjoying the material blessings of life without allowing them to consume you? Let us know your thoughts!