This book! Please buy it right now. Now now now. It is arguably one of the most important books you can read to your kids. OK? Just trust me because we've read a zillion books. (See how my thoughts are all fidgety and zealous!!??) Breathe Leslie. Here's a synopsis.
The Quiltmaker's Gift is about a woman who makes quilts only for the poor. She refuses to take money from the various wealthy who come to her door to purchase them. She makes one at a time, finds someone in need, covers them in the cold night air, and goes home to start a new quilt. But the king of her land is very greedy. He commands his people to bring him gifts. And then he commands the Quiltmaker to make him a quilt. She refuses, as he is clearly not "in need." Though she has compassion on him, seeing how sad he is, and challenges him: "Give away all your things, and I will add a piece to your quilt for each gift you give." Of course, in his pride, he refuses. But eventually, very slowly, he begins to give. By the time he's given away all his possessions, a task that takes him through years of travelling the world to find new people to bless, he's so filled with happiness that he forgets about the quilt. When the day comes for the Quiltmaker to present him with his quilt, he is finally poor, dressed in rags, owning next to nothing. But he contests that he is quite the opposite, that he is the richest man alive, his heart bursting with joy. And he has saved his final possession - his throne - for her. The story ends as the two partner in giving, she making the quilts, and he delivering them to the needy in the town.
This book has been on our shelf for a few years now. But something about tonight's reading was different. The kids were older, and could understand more of what was being communicated through the story (My daughter said, "Mom! This story has a moral!" Yes it does, sweetie). Then the subject of Vacation Bible School came up, and how, in two weeks, we'd be raising money for an international cause, one of the focuses of our church's VBS. Three years ago, we did a lemonade stand. Two years ago, it was a lemonade stand, bake sale and I made some barrettes to sell. Last year, we partnered with friends and had so many things to sell they were hanging from the trees. My son decorated "telescopes" made of covered paper towel tubes. My daughter traced the covers of her favorite books neatly onto tracing paper. And my friend made bottle cap necklaces. We made over $250. So tonight, The Quiltmaker's Gift got us talking about what makes a person truly rich. Our conversation turned into a little brainstorm as to how we might sacrifice in order to be generous.
Some ideas were the usual, lemonade and cookies studded with MnM's. But we also tossed around making book bags, and building simple lego creations, and braiding friendship bracelets to sell alongside our treats.
I reminded my kids that all our things come from the Lord. Not just our material things, but all of our time, talents and treasures. These are our resources. They are really all God's things. And He has given us more than we need so that we can be generous people. It doesn't really matter what we sell, does it? Just so long as my children know that we are blessed to be a blessing.
Since we will be working on little projects until VBS in late July, I'm calling it Generous July.
I know you could do it too. Find a cause (that's the easy part) or just a family in need. Talk to your kids and get their ideas. Stir their hearts for someone else. Show them how truly blessed they are. And then remind them WHY.
Let me know if you want to casually participate in a Generous July project as well. It could be as simple as a corner lemonade stand, or a car wash on your cul-de-sac. Your kids have no concept of the amount of money involved. You could raise ten bucks and it could powerfully impact their hearts for the needy. It could plant a seed of compassion that will grow into something more one day. Your project need not be elaborate. They must only see that your family values blessing others with what God has given you. I'd love to hear your ideas.
And I'll certainly keep you posted on ours.