Ashlynn wanted to go with me to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things and decided to take her money (that she worked three weeks to earn) to buy her friend a birthday present. Her little friend was not going to have a birthday party due to the holidays. Already, I was proud of her for using her saved money to buy a gift for someone else, but that was not my lesson.
So, as we are walking into Wal-Mart I hear the "ringing of the bell" by the Salvation Army volunteer. In true Monica style I lower my eyes and try to take the longest route around the bucket. It is at that very moment that Ashlynn walks closer and stops and stares. I wanted to scream "You gotta walk fast or they will make you feel something." She started to take out her change, $.60. She dropped it in and then walked up to me and asked what the salvation army was. I gave her some uneducated guess about them being a group that helps people and dismissed it as a good explanation. I was proud of her, but that was not my lesson.
She started looking for a gift and taking a more than usual notice of how much she was spending. She chose two one dollar gifts and said that she was done. Odd for Ashlynn because she always spends every cent. We went to the checkout and I made sure that we went to the "do it yourself" to make sure that I'm "teaching" her how to do these things. She finishes and then looks at me and says what I will never forget. I want to take all of the rest of my money and give it to that guy with the bell so that he can help other people. I had failed her. I had given her an ordinary description of a great organization. I had made sure to talk to her about how to look at prices to be sure that she could afford the gift. I was sure to choose the self check out so that I could teach her how to be independent. And, I missed the one lesson that Jesus would have taught, love and help others.
In that very moment while she dropped her every hard earned dollar into that red bucket, I learned the lesson. I will never lower my eyes and take the long way around that bucket. I will drop in money eveytime and remember that God uses our kids to teach us lessons.
The salvation army has a slogan, "When you put money in our kettle expect change." That is very true!