I had heard how expensive raising an infant to adulthood cost, averaging a quarter of a million dollars according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Of course housing, childcare, and education all factor into this average, BUT STILL. The cost was just a deterrent before having a kid, and I being super thrifty already vowed to get as many hand me downs as possible. Thanks to the generosity of baby showers, grandparents, and parents having children outgrowing big ticket items such as a crib, car seat, and stroller, we spent very little on our firstborn child. I learned the value of children’s consignment shops and thrift stores. I was also okay with not having a designer nursery, but re-purposing furniture to fit my child’s needs (such as my childhood dresser becoming my child’s). But what could be even better than second hand bargains? FREE.
It was one of THOSE days. An emotional day of creating an Amazon Christmas list for my son’s second Christmas, and though we were doing the 4 gifts (something they want, need, wear, read), I was having all kinds of doubt and worry that my child didn’t have enough toys (also either gifts or thrift) and would be adversely affected development-wise. Wanting to cultivate in him a desire for the outdoors, we managed to play outside nearly every day thanks to the mild winters in Virginia. As I was researching a Radio Flyer wagon that seemingly nearly every new parent owned and a tricycle that grew with the child, I stumbled upon a push and ride car made by Step 2. These miniature cars looked way cooler than a stroller, and I immediately coveted one for my son. He would be so much happier in this than his stroller I thought, though he didn’t communicate that to me as he isn’t talking yet. He needs it, I reasoned. I want it, I admitted.
- What do you think your child absolutely needs, that you’re just wanting for him instead?
- How are you teaching your child materialism by your actions/purchases?
The Amazon sticker price was $60. To me that was an awful lot to spend on a non-essential item. I debated putting it on his wishlist, even as a gift it was hard to justify spending that. I wavered, and I added it.
How God met me on the side of the road
That very same day I was out and about heading to the library (one of our favorite free kid-friendly places to go!) when out of the corner of my eye I spotted something very much resembling what I saw earlier on Amazon. I pulled my car over, got out to inspect closer, and could not believe my eyes. In the dump pile on trash day was a perfectly used, functional Step 2 push car, the very same make and model and blue color even. I made sure the wheels worked before throwing it in my car, utterly amazed that this very same car was mine absolutely free. The owners must have outgrown their use for the car. It just needed a cleaning and it was good as new, and yes, my son absolutely loves it. This little blue push car taught me so much. While “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” is true, I believe it goes deeper than that. People discard their gently (or not so gently) used items, casting them on the side of the road for trash, no longer having use for them. God uses broken, discarded people and re-purposes them for His good pleasure. He taught me that He would more than provide and care for my son, for He had the EXACT little car in mind when I drove by that day. He orchestrated that moment to show me His Sovereignty, His grace, and His love, yes, even through a junk pile. Now I don’t make it a habit of driving around on trash day, but I have stumbled upon other side of the road specials (a kid’s and adult’s Adirondack chairs, a kid’s picnic table, and a tricycle). All of these are perfectly functional, slightly cracked, they just needed a little cleaning. And I realize we are all side of the road specials. We are all broken vessels (Psalm 31:12) being remolded, reshaped, and re-purposed for His glory. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).
- Do you feel that your brokenness is useless, and if so, how can you be used again?
- How has God spoken to you through a little push car, or another side of the road special, divine appointment?