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South Africa
My husband, Brett and I live in beautiful South Africa and have been blessed with the most precious family. We have 2 very beautiful and brave daughters, Tianna (15) and Angelee (12) and a very precious little boy called Zac who touched our hearts forever in his 1 day here on earth. We never would have imagined that we would have to live this side of Heaven without our sweet boy who was born with half a heart, but every day Jesus carries us through and is teaching us more than ever how to live, laugh and love fully. 3 years ago our faithful Great Restorer graciously blessed us once again with another son ... our beloved Gabriel ... a ray of sunshine in all our lives! "Love in Action" is our journey as a family to love the way Jesus is teaching us to love and live.

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20 December 2012

Christmas 'Love-in-Action'

Lately a certain word keeps popping up in conversations when we discuss our current generation. That word is "entitlement". I don't know if it is relevant to every nation, but we are certainly seeing that in our youth in this Country. There is a sense of "the world owes me". Many of the moms I chat to recognize the same pressures with their kids at school. Our children expect so much stuff so much of the time! Things we waited for until we were in our 20's, most kids feel entitled to. I remember how normal it was to only really expect special presents on special occasions. My parents always showed and told us how much they loved us and loved to surprise us with new clothes and gifts every now and then ... but we certainly never needed gifts to show us just how loved we were. These days, every outing to the shop ends with "Please can I have ... ". Obviously this stands out more at Christmas time. The expectation is just rediculous. I still laughed the other day as my children wrote out their lists to Santa (Yip! They still absolutely love the whole idea of Santa, even though they know the whole story). I walked in half way through their lists. Without even reading them I mentioned "You do know that 'Santa' only gives toys and books etc ... NOT cellphones or laptops." With that, I noticed BOTH my girls crossing out certain parts of their lists. Did I mention my girls are 11 and 8! When we talked it over, they mentioned how EVERYBODY in their classes have cellphones and laptops of their own. A slight exaggeration, but yet true for many kids their age.  While it's up to each parent to decide when their child is ready for the responsibility that comes with that technology, for right now we are quite happy to share our computers and phones with our kids as we guide them how to use it safely. It just weighs in on my heart how much our kids in general feel entitled to and expect. As my girls are growing older, I find myself needing God's wisdom more and more. They do live in a different world than my hubby and I grew up in, yet certain values and character is formed in teaching them to wait for certain privileges. It's a delicate balance for sure.
So with all that playing on my mind, today we had the opportunity without words and lectures to show our daughters just how blessed they are. (I don't know about you other mommies ... but I have to reign myself in not to lecture my kids!!! Yikes! That's an area I'm trying to grow in.) A friend of ours organized a morning to bless the children from an orphanage in our area. In our African culture, more so than the opening of toys or gifts, the new clothes that they get to wear on Christmas Day is one of the biggest highlights, and even better is the gift of being able to choose for themselves what they would like to wear. With this in mind, these special friends of ours organize each year to take these precious children out just before Christmas to meet at a shopping centre and walk around with a chaperone to shop with them for the clothes of their choice to a certain amount of money and then share a meal where they get to choose for themselves at a restaurant what they would like to eat or drink. To most of our kids, this is just a normal "given" in our culture, but this is a rare gift to many other children who are always given second hand clothing or already-provided food options at their Christmas parties. To see the joy and appreciation on their faces is enough to change your perspective for life. What blessed me the most was to see my daughters THRIVE in showing love-in-action to the precious little lady that was entrusted into our care for the morning. Without any prepping, my youngest daughter slipped her hand into this little girls hand and off the three of them pranced through the shopping mall.
My eldest helped her find the right sizes for all the things she liked. It came so naturally to them to love her and receive her as a special new friend. There was such a natural ease and love shared between them, despite their different cultures or upbringing. They simply "got each other" as little girls and the banter between them really touched my heart deeply. This is something I love about my country. We truly are a rainbow nation where our different colours simply makes us shine brighter when we come together as the equals that we are.
After a successful shopping mission we all sat down to an early lunch. What an impact it made on my daughters to see for themselves that not everyone has the privilege to eat out all the time. I think it really hit home that just the opportunity to choose what they would like to order is in fact a privilege! Watching my girls play with their new friend and experience for themselves God's love-in-action is a heart lesson they will hopefully never forget. It never required any lectures or speeches. Love always brings change when it has been demonstrated from a pure heart. Today I'm not too sure who was blessed more. Those precious children who went home with bags of new clothes and shoes or us who had our hearts changed with fresh perspective of gratitude. As the Bible teaches ... it truly is "more blessed to give than to receive."
As a family we are deeply impacted by how the simplicity of just a little bit of time given to somebody else in need can fill and bless our own hearts and remind us of all the many things we can be so thankful for. This little girl has blessed our hearts SO MUCH today. 
All my love xxx
Janine   

4 comments:

DEBRA E ARCHIBALD said...

Janine, your parents must be so very proud of you... (I love you!) You have the most beautiful heart and the beauty of 'yourself' can be seen in your children. Well done to you and hubby for how you have brought up your children. God continue to bless you <3

Susan said...

What a wonderful lesson for your girls.

Carol F said...

Your blog really touched my heart my Darling Girl!! I'm the one who gets the blessing of an awesome, God-filled family - love in action always!!

Mom xxxxxx

Carol F said...

Your blog really touched my heart my Darling Girl!! I'm the one who gets the blessing of an awesome God-filled family!! Love in Action!!
Always,
Mom xxxxxx