Packing for the trip to Swaziland is making me think. A lot. First I was packing up clothes that my wonderful friends donated. I knew who gave me which bag and I imagined (or remembered) my friends' children wearing those clothes and thought about and prayed for the child who would soon wear them. My friends came through in a major way - Rob took lots of the stuff with him and I have almost completely filled my huge suitcase with more! (y'all ROCK by the way). Then tonight it was my turn. I hadn't yet taken out my own kids' winter stuff to pack up. We actually don't have much, since we know we have another boy on the way and since we've borrowed lots of clothes from friends.
But the things I did have turned out to be pretty sentimental: the very first little fleecy snowsuit I bought for Riley so he could go on a youth trip somewhere, and the little zip up hoodie sweatshirt that I have pictures of him in when he was first holding his head up. My favorite pj's of Allyn's... she was so cuddly in them! I began to cry as I folded them up and my instinct was to say "you can keep these, they have sentimental value" but my immediate second thought was "how much more valuable will the memories of these clothes be if you know they are keeping a child warm." I would much rather keep the memories in my mind and know that those clothes are on a little body somewhere rather than in a box in my attic.
I kept thinking about 1 John 3:17: If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? I can't claim to love God and then hang on to my material stuff because I want to store it up in a box somewhere for the day I want to think about my kids as babies. That makes no sense. And when I really think about it, those are the clothes I especially want to send.
I often hear people use the words "if it were my child..." Sometimes it's related to parenting advice but often it's with regard to a child in a tough situation. If it were my child who was cold and had nothing to wear, I would hope someone somewhere would send him something warm. And then I realized: this time, it IS my child. I have a child somewhere in Africa who could be pretty cold right now. Families who are adopting always bring over lots of humanitarian items... items that are likely feeding, clothing, or diapering my son at this very moment or will in the very near future. Praise God for those families!
I can't wait for my planned "activity" with the kids tomorrow. 'Cause guess what? I didn't pack those winter clothes. Not tonight. Tomorrow, the kids and I will sit down at the table and talk about each one. I'm going to tell them my memories of when they wore them and then we'll talk a little about the kids who will wear them. THEN I will put them in the bag.
(and let Riley delightedly use the vacuum cleaner to suck all the air out, thus probably ruining any possible memory of having learned an important life lesson).