Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The BEST and MOST Expensive Gift for Children

What’s the cost of a child?  I’ve heard figures tossed out that estimate $222,360* to raise a child from birth to age eighteen.  That includes everything from their first diaper and prom dress until their last big toy (ie, car) and final semester of high school.

Given our current family, that would estimate our cost of child-raising to total around ONE MILLION dollars!  Hey, I guess that means we own a million dollars worth of property!  That figure could make me shake in my Momma slippers…except that prom dresses and football camps aren’t the main cost we consider when we ask this question, “Should we have a child?”

We may pay for our children’s college education.

But, we may not.

We may buy them all their jeans from Hollister (well, if you can find the actual jean through all the tears and holes).

Um...seriously?  This inch of fabric cost money?!
But, we may not.

When we think ahead to what our legacy as parents should be to our precious gifts from God, we don’t focus on giving them just material possesions nor college degrees.  Of course, there is value in blessing our children with things just because we love them.  The concept of grace (receiving something we didn’t earn or don’t deserve) is caught by our kids when we do this and it’s a crucial concept as they grow into adults.  

With that in mind, I think the BEST thing we can invest in our children cost MORE than the most stunning wedding dress (yes, even the one recently worn at the Royal Wedding!) and it cost even more than four years (or more!) at the most expensive Ivy League school…curious?  The cost of leaving an unforgettable legacy to our children canned be summed up with four HUGE figures…here it is…T-I-M-E.

TIME cost us everything.

TIME cost us putting our own BIG dreams aside for a season (though they may be good and wonderful…world-changing even!).

TIME cost us setting down LITTLE distractions (Can the facebook check in wait?  Will we die from NOT answering our cell phone now and then? Will the dusty shelf and dirty dishes still be there after they go to bed?).

TIME is spent EVERY day in making special memories; blowing bubbles and laughing with them while they splash in the bathtub, ignoring the popsicle dripping all over their new white shirt to focus on them as they share a silly joke, reading them a bedtime story when you get home from work instead of turning on the T.V. and putting up those aching feet.

TIME is spent in shaping their character to be Christ-like.  It’s choosing to be consistent and discpline (yes, for the fifth time in FIVE minutes) when he disobeyes and sneaks out of bed.  It’s teaching the siblings engaged in WWIII how to make amends and treat eachtoher with love and respect, in spite of differing opinions.  It’s showing them how to share a smile and warm hug with a special needs friend because we are all perfect and amazingly created by God.  It’s slowing down when we notice the speed sign (or cop!) and joyfully obeying the law.  It’s clasping our hand over our heart when the Pledge of Alligience plays and standing with pride, reminding them that freedom isn’t free and our brave soldiers pay for our freedom with both their time and lives.  

It takes TIME to teach and exemplify the lessons that form these characteristics in their lives; Respect, Care, Gentleness, Self-Control, Compassion, Gratitude, and Courtesy, to name just a VERY few.

And, ultimately, it cost TIME to teach them about a God who stepped out of the endless continuum of Eternity to enter our temporary world as Jesus of Nazareth and spend TIME with us in order to lead us back to Himself.  

At the end of our days (and honey, like it or not, that day arrives for us all), our legacy to our children will be summed up in this; the MEMORIES we shared, the CHARACTER they developed, and, most importantly (because eternity is FOREVER), the DECISION they made about Jesus.

What does this legacy cost us?  It will cost us everything but the reward is absolutely priceless.  It will cost us TIME.

*The U.S.D.A. numbers are in, it now costs an average middle-income American family $222,360 to raise a child from birth to 18. That’s 22 percent higher than it was in 1960, adjusted for inflation. And that doesn’t begin to include college costs.

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