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Two places I take the prize in parenting:

  • Spending lots of money on my kids;
  • Making lots of cracks about how much money I spend on my kids.

Stop me if you heard these before:

“It took Katherine a week to learn the moves for high school dance team. It only took me sixty seconds to master the dance momma move: write a check, write a check, write a check!”

“I’ve got one kid going into college, one kid getting behind the wheel, one kid going into braces . . . and one momma going out to sell plasma.” braces

And every newly orthodontured child is reintroduced to the world with an emphatic, “Smile—and show everybody momma’s trip to Europe!”

(I have a ridiculous confession to make. This momma actually has been to Europe—three times, no less. Shouldn’t I be the one smiling?)

Oh, I’ve got quite the little routine going . . . and I perform it every chance I get.

But like many funny people, I go for the laugh to cover up the pain. The kind that comes from head-on collisions with my own self-centeredness.

See, it’s not the financial sacrifice I mind as much as giving up my right to spend as I please. Then I turn the “high cost of child-rearing” into a scapegoat for my discontent:

IF we weren’t covering the gas, maintenance and insurance on four cars, THEN maybe Brent could finally drive something manufactured in this century.” (At the moment, he is making do with a secondhand beater he likes to call “The Pimp-Mobile.”)

IF we weren’t so ‘college poor,’ THEN maybe I could graduate my smart phone up to the Ivy League version most of my friends have.”

IF it weren’t for the financial acrobatics of competitive cheer, THEN maybe I could _______.” (At this point, I make several passes over all the stuff I’d like to do/have/see/wear, off a list as absurdly long as the competition season itself.)

What will bankrupt me is not my children . . . but my attitude.

Fortunately for me, God’s economy works much differently. He invites me to open my heart along with my wallet and empty it of those things I cannot afford, like greed, envy and selfishness.

He offers a loving exchange for items of true value, like gratitude, celebration and trust.

I am thankful for my children–I can be equally thankful for the gifts and talents God has given each of them. I can celebrate the many opportunities they enjoy to develop and express those talents. And I can trust God to provide us with the means to realize those opportunities.

And I can definitely give thanks for the joy-filled life of a booster mom. Let’s face it, most of my sacrifices come wrapped up in tutus and trophies, as opposed to say, weeks in a children’s hospital.

My empty wallet is simply a visible reminder of how full my life truly is.MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

And that’s no joke.

If you want to follow Me, you must deny yourself the things you think you want. You must pick up your cross and follow Me. The person who wants to save his life must lose it, and she who loses her life for Me will find it. Matthew 16:24-25 (The Voice)

This is my last gift to you, this example of a way of life: a life of hard work, a life of helping the weak, a life that echoes every day those words of Jesus our King, who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35 (The Voice)

Bring your full tithe to the Temple treasury so there will be ample provisions in my Temple. Test me in this and see if I don’t open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams. Malachi 3:10 (The Message)