Exciting day in the Shirer household yesterday! Our youngest, Jude, turned fabulous four! He had been awaiting this birthday since he turned three . . . so the day was met with a huge smile and eager anticipation.It began the way all the birthdays do in our house – with “birthday pancakes” on the “special plate” topped with birthday candles and an early morning serenade.It culminated with a birthday party. 12 baloons, 10 cousins, 5 large pizzas and 2 gallons of lemonade later, he was exhausted and ready for bed!Indeed, so were Jerry and I!On Monday, Jude and I spent the day together, mostly run errands but also doing a few “pre-birthday” things to make him feel special. I tweeted about one of our activities and many of you responded with questions about one of them in particular.Each year, my boys have to purchase a gift, that they really want themselves, to give to another child. My hope is that their hearts will be grateful for the lavish goodness of God in their own lives and sensitive to the needs and desires of others.I don’t allow them to buy something they could care less about or have no desire to own themselves. It has to be a toy, book or gadget that is on their top five list. When they are old enough (which my oldest two sons are) they use their own money to pay for at least half of the gift. When they are little (like Jude) I give them the money and then they take it to the check out counter to make the purchase.Then together we take it to our church’s outreach department and drop it off with instructions to give it to another child who might come through their doors in the future. I never do this alone but allow the boys the “gift” of delivering it themselves.We do the same thing at Christmas time and during that season we normally target a specific family that has children a similar age as mine. We take the gifts to their home so that my boys can put a face with the children who they’ve searched the perfect gifts for and that we have prayed for.I’ve gotta tell you, it can be difficult for a little one to comb the store aisle for a toy they aren’t getting for themselves. I’ve endured many a tempter tantrum in their younger years. But I’m proud of little Jude. On his last day as a 3-yr-old, he searched for the perfect gift eagerly and then gave it away cheerfully. He seemed excited to brighten another pre-schooler’s life.I hope he grows into a man marked by generosity and compassion.What are some ways you are teaching your children to be generous and concerned about others?P
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