I watch Brennan run towards the ocean, boogie board in hand. Micah digs in the sand behind me. Kiersten is already in the water.
We’ve just arrived at the beach. En route, we drove through Orlando on the Florida Turnpike. Signs for Disney, and all things Disney, bombarded that stretch of road. As we passed these signs, Randy and I discussed the fact that we have only taken our kids to Disney once. For one day.
It’s costly. Maybe someday we’ll try to do a “Disney Trip.” Maybe. For now, our trips to Florida are family-oriented. The money we spend getting there (gas, hotels, food on the road) and the money we spend to rent a beach house for a week with my brothers and their families, is all the money we can spend. There’s nothing left over for Disney.
I sometimes wonder if my kids are “deprived” because we haven’t done the “Disney Vacation.” Many of their friends have gone. They often ask us if we can go sometime, or why we’ve never taken them. And because I love my kids, I wish we could take them. I wish we could “do it all.”
But as I watch my children race towards the beach and revel in the sand and the water, I’m thankful for what we are able to give our kids. I see the smile on Brennan’s face as he races towards the water and I recognize what a gift a week at the beach is for an Indiana boy. I hear Micah singing songs from camp as he digs in the sand. And I’m thankful to be able to send him to camp. To a wonderful Christian day camp only twenty miles from our home in Indiana. A week of fun that will have lasting memories and has filled him with fun experiences.
As they play at the beach, they anticipate the arrival of cousins, uncles and aunts, and grandparents. They have been looking forward to this week all year. Already they have plans of the fun they’ll have with their ten cousins: talent shows, boogie boarding, American Girl doll playing, tea parties with Grandma (and Grandpa), searching for shells, painting shells, late night movies, and games galore.
No, they are not deprived. They are being filled up with wonderful and fun experiences. Relationships and memories are being built. We are giving them what we can. As I stand there, I pray a prayer. May we give them what they need. May I remain focused on what we are able to give them, and not what we’re not. And may that be enough. May I have the discernment to know what is good.
A poem by Christina Rosetti (a portion from “In the Bleak Midwinter”) comes to mind. It’s related to giving gifts to Jesus. But I can’t help but think of its sentiments in relationship to what I can give my children:
What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.