Ryleigh picked up a horrendous looking pink pillow today at the store. I think there was a picture of a skull on it. The box however had a cute little puppy dog and girl on it (because that makes TOTAL sense). She grabbed it and insisted it was her "favorite ever and mommy can I pretty pretty pretty please have it?"
Thankfully there was no tantrum (this time) when I said no and she put it back. She walked back up to me and said "it's okay, I'll find one when we get to Mississippi." Oh my. Guess I've used that response one too many times. She then jumped into her own conversation (with one of her imagination family - that's what she calls them) about the things she'll get once we get to MS. She talked about going to the mountains, meeting Elsa & Anna, eating grapes, playing ball, blowing bubbles, going swimming, and picking out clothes.
As I listened, all I could think about is how our life will look really different in another month. She's honestly not going to know what to do with herself when there are 5 aisles of toys at walmart instead of 3 short shelves of overpriced, random toys.
*sidebar - our store in town currently has Scrabble the board game- want to take a guess on how much it is? Go ahead. Give it a try. Ummmm close - it's $130, I'm not even kidding. Ok, end sidebar*
I then started thinking about a conversation Steve and I had recently. How do you teach a child to not be materialistic when you live in two radically different cultures? We don't have the answer, by the way, but I think it has something to do with an attitude of entitlement. This may be hard for a 3 year old to understand but it starts with us, as parents, anyway.
In Madagascar, the people here live on a poverty level that most can not fathom. However, most in America can't fathom living how we do as foreigners in a 3rd world country. We do without here - but we have so much more than the average person here. We live amongst poverty. People here live on a little less than $1 a day. We recieve packages from America filled with goodies that have actually led the customs lady to ask, "do you not eat any food from Madagascar?". We have air conditioning units in our bedrooms, a hot water heater, a washing machine, electricity, and beds. Our girls have toys to play with and clothes to play in. We may do without some "modern conveniences" but otherwise we do just fine.
When we get to America in a couple of weeks, our girls will
probably be overwhelmed with gifts from every family member (and some friends) who see them. And...as parents it will be fun for us - seeing the excitement on the girls' faces and the joy of the giver for being able to give them something in person instead of via the mail. It's all well & good and the gift giving will come from a good place. There will no doubt be indulgences on our behalf as well - fast food, new kitchen items, an updated wardrobe, and a snowcone or three!
Where's the balance? How do you teach a child (or ourselves) to be happy with what we have when we only do major shopping once every 3 years? How do you explain that that is not the norm and should not ever be an expectation?
I'm not sure on the right way but I do know that the Lord has been speaking His wisdom into my heart & mind. He's reminded me that in the midst of a 3rd world country, in the midst of a 1st world country, and in the midst of everything between - He is constant.
He is the same. His desire is for us to bring Him glory. He deserves our praise, our prayers, and our constant communion with Him.
So our lives should reflect that. Whether here or there - We will continue to pray thanking Him for every meal. We will recognize and act on the need to give out of the abundance we have been given. We will open our eyes to every gift big & small - ordinary & extraordinary - and be grateful.
We will remember that He is the only Constant.