Something that I'm really grateful for is that growing up my parents instilled in us the importance of and joy in serving others.
I can remember many weekends spent gleaning potatoes, doing the CROP Walk for hunger, sorting food at the food pantry and working closely with an organization for homeless single mothers. My mom would take me and my brother shopping for these women and their kids and then we'd spend the evenings cooking for and with the families.
The church that we were a part of had an interfaith ministry where members of the homeless community could come and stay and we would go and prepare meals for them, babysit and drive them to appointments.
When we would visit my grandparents, my Oma would often take me after church to several local nursing homes to visit and play games or I'd tag along on her meals on wheels runs - my mom and I continued doing assisted living center visits all the way through High School.
When we lived in Raleigh, my mom was part of a ministry where she would spend her mornings driving around to local restaurants collecting their leftovers from the night before and then delivering them to several safe houses and other organizations supporting single moms. We served the homeless every year in D.C, shopped for the angel tree and my mom was always making a meals and doing things for her friends who were in need. I grew up in a home where serving others was the norm and I am so grateful for that.
When I was a Sophomore in High School, my parents became aware of a teenage girl at a local homeless shelter. She had been living in her car, but was in a car accident and so she walked to the shelter. Unfortunately, she wasn't allowed to stay there because she was a child without a parent (her mom had abandoned their family and her father was extremely abusive. Her siblings went into foster care, but she was 18 and so she aged out of the system, but also couldn't stay at the shelter since she didn't have a job). I was totally on board with helping her out - helping her get a job, driving her to appointments, supporting her monetarily etc, but when they told me that she was moving in with us I was NOT on board. I had volunteered with the homeless dozens and dozens of times, but inviting them into my own home was WAY more than I was willing to do.
I was completely uncomfortable and selfish and, admittedly, was not excited about all of a sudden having this girl not only in the room next to me... but at our dinner table, in our carpool and part of my social circle at school. I was fine and dandy helping others - until it required me being out of my comfort zone.
It was through this experience that I realized that sometimes what's asked of us is more than what we're comfortable giving - but that's exactly what we need to give up. I was willing to give up my Saturday morning to glean crops for the hungry but I was unwilling to walk into High School and introduce Amber to my circle of friends. I was willing to spend Sunday afternoons playing dominoes with Alzheimers patients at an assisted living center, but unwilling to give up our "normal" evenings at home with my parents and brother to accommodate a rigorous schedule of tutors my parents had coming to the house in an attempt to get Amber through High School. I was all about heading to Mexico with my youth group to build homes, but was selfish when it came to the thought of my parents spending giving me less money to spend on a Prom dress because they were buying a dress and paying for a hair appointment to give Amber a great high school memory.
I was willing to sacrifice - but only what I wanted to.
Amber graduated high school and joined the military, and through extenuating circumstances, has lost touch with my parents - but watching my parents selflessly and purposefully go out of their way to help a stranger - with no promise of a long term relationship or return - had an impact far beyond any weekend service project. I learned the value in putting someone else's needs before my own comfort and witnessed firsthand the importance of having loving, caring parents. Up to that point I'd taken for granted the fact that not everyone had parents who not only provided for them, but advocated, supported and loved them even when it wasn't comfortable.
I am beyond grateful for the service opportunities and experiences that my parents gave us growing up. I'm also grateful that Dave grew up in a home where serving others was equally as important. If I'm being honest, I feel like we've "slacked" in the service department the last few years. Having little kids can be consuming and gives you lots of excuses for not getting out there and serving like we did in the past. But - we're ready to get back on track and instill the same value of putting others before ourselves into our kids.
We may not be able to go on an international mission trip at this very moment, but this shouldn't stop us from being more involved locally and instilling a global worldview into our kids.
We live in a bubble - nice home, two cars, private school, more "stuff" than we could ever need - and I'm appreciative of the security and comfort that bubble provides, but I want to make sure that my kids know that a LOT of life exists outside of our bubble.
In fact, just the other day, we were coming home from seeing Hotel Transylvania II and were waiting at a stop light when we saw a man with a sign asking for money. I rolled down the window, handed him the cash out of my wallet along with a capri sun and a Snickers bar from my purse (for real. hahaha) and after rolling my window back up Luke was FULL of questions. It was in that moment that I realized he had NO CLUE that even in "Money Magazine's Number One City To Live In" there are a plethora of people who don't have food, homes and other basic necessities.
We talked through all of his questions and I didn't sugar coat - he had tears in his eyes and I felt a little bit of his innocent naivete disappear. It was heartbreaking, but at the same time heartwarming to see him feel compassion for someone else. As he (and Mason and Griffin) grow up, I want to be purposed about giving them opportunities to see outside of themselves .
If you're looking to get involved in supporting some great causes, here are a few that we love to support...
Compassion International touched our hearts a few years ago when we got to take part in The Compassion Experience. Through Compassion International you can sponsor a specific child as well as provide care for mothers and babies in developing countries.
Another great organization is Samaritan's Purse. Samaritan's Purse is the organization who does the shoe boxes for kids for Christmas, but they also put out a gift catalog every year that is super fun to shop out of. Luke's reading has taken off this year and so he's earning some money around the house to help pay for school supplies that will enable another child to have the same opportunity he has had. When we flipped through the catalog online Mason picked out the baby chicks and so he's saving toward purchasing those.
Another organization that is near and dear to our hearts is Mission Regan. This organization was started by friends of ours and they exist to bridge the chasm between people who have too much and people who struggle to survive.
Lastly, if you missed my post on Cards for Hospitalized Kids, you can check it out HERE.
It's the easiest service project of all service projects... basically you create fun cards and mail them to the organization and they send them to kids who are hospitalized.
I'm excited to read through your posts and find out what y'all are passionate about and maybe even get a few ideas of ways we can be more involved as a family.
Happy Tuesday, Friends!