Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Show and Tell Tuesday: Service

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.  

Juarez 1999

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!


    An InLinkz Link-up


  1. Wow! You and your parents are quite an inspiration! Phew! You put me to shame - in a good way. I'm going to follow up with some of your suggestions and DO something. You're Awesome

  2. It is amazing you were able to have that experience in high school. So many people do and give for others but are never given that extra push to leave their comfort zone and see Jesus on the other side!

  3. I'm so glad you included this one in our Show & Tell for the year! I love reading through everyone's ideas!

  4. Andrea!! Why have I never heard that story?? That Mama Joyce is a rockstar!! Such an inspiring post, friend!!

  5. I love this post! It's so true...it's so FUN and EASY to serve when it doesn't require us to sacrifice. Once sacrifice comes into the picture, it's HARD!!!
    My husband and I recently accepted our first foster placement, and I have learned so much about service through the last two months of being a foster Mom.
    I also think it's so important to not sugarcoat poverty and suffering for our children. It's always important that we are age appropriate about it, but how can they have compassion if they don't know who needs compassion? How can they understand our sinful, broken world that God came to save if they don't see any aspects of that sin? It's a hard balance, but a very important one that we teach our children.
    I would also encourage you to somehow support the foster children or at least an agency in the area. Obviously this is a huge passion of mine, but it could be as simple as having your children become a pen pal with a foster child or bringing brownies to the caseworkers at the agency who work day in and day out to help these kids (and the media gives CPS such a bad rap!).

    Suzanne Hines

  6. I love that story from high school!! What a great example of getting outside your comfort zone!! :)

  7. Thank you for mentioning Samaritan's Purse. For the last 6 years I've been a disaster response nurse with them, and I can tell you first hand that they use the money they are given wisely and have great accountability. The work they do is amazing in every way. Not just medical work, but also shelter, food distribution, water and sanitation and so much more. I worked in Liberia as a nurse with Ebola two times this past year, with Samaritan's Purse and many other places all over the world, and I just LOVE how they meet physical needs as well as spiritual needs. We really do share the gospel with our national workers that we employ or work alongside, as well as the people we serve. People are so open to the gospel when a disaster has hit. It is a powerful time to be in their lives. Thanks so much!!!!

  8. ANDREA! How have I never heard that story of the high school girl? Talk about being the hands and feet of Jesus! GO BUCHANAN family!!!!!

  9. How do you tell SO MUCH good and still seem so humble? geez. I'm so inspired now to do MORE. and thank you for being real at the end. we could all probably do more and realizing that is a big step in making that change. thanks for sharing!

  10. Wow, you and your parents are an inspiration to other people, how to help other people in need! I'm a little shame, because I was volunteer lastly in high school...

  11. Your parents are a great example of being the hands and feet of Jesus. Thank you so much for sharing! Now I have a little more insight into what makes you the wonderful young wife, mama, teacher etc. that you are;) We support a Compassion Child in Guatemala and also do the Operation Christmas Child boxes both personally and along with our church. We have a local mission that our church is involved with and serve where we can. Don't be so hard on yourself about not serving in recent years. You were in a season with small babies, that is a service in and of itself. Now that the children are getting older there will be many places you can serve as a family and I just know those sweet faces of your babies will brighten many a face! You are doing a wonderful job, Andrea.

  12. This is so inspiring. I am hoping to get my family involved with service projects more as my kids get older.

  13. I love this post - and your heart. Your parents gave an amazing example!!

  14. Thank you for sharing this!! Love hearing about your family being the hands and feet of Jesus!!

  15. Thank you so much for sharing this post, your kind heart just shinned all the way through. And, I think that even though you don't realize it, but being a teacher is giving back, just think about the many young lives you touch everyday!!
    Thanks agains for sharing your story.

  16. I love this post. We, like you guys, have two little ones, and I don't feel like we have done much at all lately to serve others. Thank you so much for providing a little bit of inspiration on this Tuesday!

  17. Thanks for eloquently, motivationally, (and all complimentary adjectives), inspiring me to get my hiney in gear and DO more to make sure my boys don't turn a blind eye to the world outside our bubble. I have tried to talk to them about this subject, but definitely have not taken enough action to show them.
    Thanks for posts like this. You are such wonderful person, and you are raising three more like you to go out into the world to inspire and do good as well. So cool.

  18. I really love this topic! I did a few mission trips in high school and college, which were amazing. Now my service is more in supporting community organizations, but I'm always interested in finding new programs!

  19. Outreach to others is near and dear to my heart. My church does a free hot dog cookout every Sunday at 3 low income apartment complexes near our church. We started it by saying "let's give out hot dogs and see what happens." We have built close relationships with the people there and also now have a thriving after school program and non profit organization all from passing out hot dogs. I LOVE that you want to instill compassion and putting others first in your kiddos. I seriously wish we could go have Starbucks and just chat sometime. :)

  20. Wow! I just love what your parents did for that girl. And what a lesson for you! My heart swells knowing that there are people out there with hearts like that, willing to sacrifice without expecting something in return. My husband works for an organization that helps foster kids that are aging out of the foster care system so that's near and dear to our hearts. They are often forgotten. My husband and I are being licensed to become foster parents so the Lord can use in those kids lives - regardless of what we receive in return. We just want to love them and be a safe home, knowing that we may not get long term relationships out of it and it'll be really hard.

  21. Thank you for sharing your honest words with us. It is refreshing to hear that often service can be uncomfortable, but still important.

  22. Thank you for allowing us to download the cards you made for the children in the hospital. I am going to print them and have my Sunday school kids (k-2) color them :)