On Sunday morning, Jaleen and I gathered the children together in our small living room. She led them through a primary song and then our oldest son offered a prayer. When Jaleen turned the time over to me, I felt my stomach flutter with nervousness. I was quite sure this was one of the hardest I would ever have to do.
I cleared my throat and studied each of my nine kids before I began. My greatest desire when Jaleen and I were married was to give my kids a better life than we'd had growing up. Jaleen had often spoken of life in a large family where money was scarce, and I was determined that my children would never feel poor. Yet, this was what the Lord had asked of me, to share our situation with the entire family, to allow every member the chance to help our budget be successful.
Some of the younger kids began to fidget as I introduced the topic and started explaining what a budget was and what it meant to our family.
Six year old Cameron raised his hand. "Daddy, how can I help you and mom save money and pay for stuff when I don't have any money."
"That's a good question. Although most of you do not have your own money, there are still ways that you can help out. Cam, what are some of the things that you need that cost money?"
He laughed and wiggled his toes, two of which were peeking out of holes in his socks. "That's easy; shoes and socks!"
"Okay, so what could you do about shoes and socks?"
Cameron thought hard for a few minutes. "Mom always says to untie our shoes before we take them off and to not drag our feet. She says that makes shoes last longer."
I nodded and smiled. "That's right. Very good."
As we continued talking, our thirteen year old offered to start collecting aluminum cans to help pay for scout camp, and our teenage daughter promised to start saving her babysitting money for Girls' Camp and to help pay for her own clothes. Once the kids knew what we needed from them, they were eager to help us stick to our budget. All of them came up with ways they could help us.
We closed our family meeting with a song and prayer. Jaleen and I watched the children scatter in all directions as they finished getting ready for church. I finally felt at peace. Even though the process would still be hard and long, I knew that our family was united, and together we could accomplish our goals.