And yet, somehow it didn't feel right to hit up the occasional Redbox and Sonic dollar menu while letting the little bucket pass us by. We worked out a plan to keep giving... and if I wasn't sure about the whole thing then, I'm definitely sure now.
Sometimes we'll give Annika random rewards for obedience or good behavior. Not every time, and even though I'm sure she doesn't understand "obedience is it's own reward, baby girl" just yet, I do think its important for her to learn now that doing the right thing doesn't always get you a treat. But, nevertheless, sometimes she does get treated and praised for being good.
So recently, when she put her shoes away without being asked, I called her over for a "special prize." She watched me with wide, happy eyes as I carefully put two chocolate chips in her little hand. But, in that first special moment of "chocolate chip ownership" when I expected her to throw her hand to her mouth, she amazed me. She immediately turned and ran straight to her Daddy and put a chocolate chip in his mouth. Just one, of course, but she only had two! He tried not to eat it but she insisted so he said, "Okay, girl, lets enjoy them together," and they did.
I was beaming with pride, and you can bet that when she came back my way, I poured those chocolate chips into her tiny hands until she couldn't hold anymore - even though it was almost dinnertime. I had blessed her in a very small way and when she was selfless with it, my parent-heart desired to bless her with a double-portion.
So, of course we will keep giving. Of course we will continue to remind ourselves that everything we have... the loans, the money in savings, the gifts from family and friends, everything is from the Lord. He is sustaining us daily and taking us to a place of more financial security where we can finally bless others in the ways they have blessed us. (I'm almost scared of how much paying-it-forward we've got to do one day!) :)
We cannot out-give God when money is tight. We cannot push the limits of sacrifice to any point that he will say, "Well, geez, that wasn't necessary. Why'd you go and do that?" He will always fill giving-hands with blessing and provision.
My urge to bless Annika was the Holy Spirit in me, yearning to be like the Father when he promised the Israelites "...The whole nation of you! Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this... see if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows!”