Last summer, I had to go all the way into town for one thing. It’s a 45 minute drive or so, and we don’t have any A/C in our big passenger van, so it’s kinda a big deal. On the way there, I offered to the kids that we could do the radio contest that Shine FM holds every year- Passport to Summer. To complete this mission, you get a passport of a bunch of local businesses, and you have to go in to each one and get a special stamp. They are always down for anything out of the norm, so they heartily cheered. We stopped at the radio station, picked up our passport, and away we went.
The whole time we drove around the city, we talked about what we would do with the reward if we won. There was mention on the commercials that there were a few different prizes available- but we were reeeeeally hoping to win the grand prize, which was $3000! We dreamed, we bartered, we laughed (“space travel is a little more than that, buddy,” “No, I would never let you buy $3000 worth of candy.”) All in all, it was a good day. When we were all done, we prayed about our plans, committed them to the Lord, and left it at that. Very hot, very long, but it was so fun imagining and pretending that we won’t forget it.
Two weeks later, we got a phone call before 8am and my coffee was finished, telling us that we HAD WON! I was completely in shock, and it took me a few minutes to believe it, but soon the kids woke up to Mommy hollering, crying and praising Jesus. Here’s the budget that we had agreed upon:
We go to an amazing family camp at Clearwater College, and they charge a ridiculously small fee. I think it’s $85 for our whole family for the whole long weekend of August, which includes food and lodging. We always want to give more to this awesome ministry, but simply can’t. So this was an easy decision.
Each child got $100 of their VERY OWN, to spend however they wished. At the time, it was fun. Once the talk around the kitchen table turned to candy and jackknives, I became very afraid. The handsome hubby and I made a rule that no one was allowed to spend anything for one month- to make sure they didn’t suffer huge cases of buyer’s remorse. I put the money for the two littles right into their bank accounts, instead of letting them “pick” things out. That was a very fun and energetic trip to Walmart. I must have been wearing the baby.
While we were driving around, we realized that this wouldn’t be fair to our other “children.” We sponsor two children through Compassion, and one through World Vision. So they each got $100 to spend how they wanted, too. Believe me, there is a huge difference between what our children bought, and what they bought! Here are the pics of Christian (10, Mexico) and Emilyn and her haul (15, Philippines.) I had a photo of Vinicius (13, Brazil) on the fridge FOR MONTHS, and I’m guessing I added it to my scrapbooking pile a bit too early. It was so fun to get these pictures in the mail.
The kids have always wanted to do the World Water Park at West Edmonton Mall. We’ve done Galaxyland (the amusement park) a few times, but we’ve always been super rushed, and we wanted to be able to spend a “whole day” there (apparently in the off season, they are open 11-5.) With it being a two hour drive, and ridiculously expensive, this was never even really a thought. Well, with a LOT of finagling, budgeting and some handy-dandy Air Miles, we were able to spend two nights at Fantasyland and have a day at each park. We saved this for February, because we knew it is just such a hard month when it feels like winter will never end. We took along the Handsome Hubby’s dad, too, for his birthday!
We have a special, dear friend of our family who always loves us and invests so much time and energy into our well being- the kids wanted so badly to be able to bless her and make her smile.
When we were driving around the city, sticky and hot, buckling and unbuckling cars seats, this was my contribution to the plan. At the time the HH and I hadn’t even spent one night away together in over a year, and each date night was so hard to come by. I remember tearing up and saying (kinda desperately) that Daddy and Mommy should go away for a weekend, just the two of us. The kids were totally down with the idea, even offering to send us to China or the Caribbean for TWO WHOLE DAYS. We somehow put it off until the end of April (with a baby due any minute!) and went to Calgary for a lovely, amazing break that was so much exactly what we needed. We booked an Airbnb for the first time and had a condo all to ourselves overlooking the Bow River. It was a perfect balance of quiet, good food, rest and touring, and such a needed investment in our marriage.
And now we’re done. A whole year of fun times, dreams and plans that we would have never been able to fit in the budget hadn’t we won this contest. At the time, it seemed so frivolous to spend money on these things when it can be hard to balance the chequebook each month, but to us it was a huge reminder that God loves us lavishly- providing for our day to day needs, and also our “wants” too. He is so good.
This is the day we picked up our cheque! There was another little bitty baby along for the ride, which we didn’t even know about yet.
Thank you SHINE FM, and all the sponsors: Country Cupboard, Gary Moe VW, Blue Grass Garden Centre, Mission Thrift Store, McDonald’s Red Deer, The Eye Studio, and Divine Flooring. It was a YEAR that will always be treasured by our family.