Thursday, September 18, 2008

Opportunities for Giving

One thing I observed early was that children do not learn to give by simply practicing taking.  From the time my children were babies, I made sure they had many opportunities to give of themselves.  I purposefully focused on what they could do for others.

Whether we were all chipping in carrying different plates and bringing meals to families in need, making muffins for neighbors and bringing them over, visiting people and "cheering them up," singing and entertaining and handing out goodies at senior residents' homes, or just thinking of who we could call to brighten their day, we never let a few days go by without doing something for someone that involved their little hands and energies.

When we woke up we'd think "who can we be a blessing to today" together and come up with a plan for spontaneous giving.  We also had systematic giving set up to be on the make-meals committee at Church, minister to Gilda's Cancer Group once a month (a cancer support community), and once a month "Karen and the kids" would go to a senior residents home and entertain and pass out goodies.

Never wanting my children to be afraid of death, I also brought them early to funeral homes, and taught them what to say ("I'm so sorry about the loss of your _____", etc.) and how to act. 

At Christmas we always found a family in need and took the children shopping for their families and helped them wrap gifts together or brought things over to a family.  We gave sacrificially and we purposefully downsized my children's Christmases to only a few presents each (until they got to their Nana & Papa's!).  (Christmas makes children gross and greedy anyways, in my opinion, unless you really concentrate on others!)

I love what my friend Jessie is doing with her daughter, Kaylee (age 5 soon).  They "adopted" a girl from Haiti that is about Kaylee's age, and Kaylee sacrificially gives gifts, clothes and toys and together they send packages to their overseas girl.

I made sure that no matter how busy our schedules were, they knew that their sports and activities were for them, and it was important to "be a blessing" no matter how busy we were.

I think that my family learned early on to focus on others and to focus on how to be a blessing to others.  Looking for opportunities afforded many many of them.  And God knew all along the blessings our family would receive for He said:

Acts 20.35   In everything I have pointed out to you [by example] that, by working diligently in this manner, we ought to assist the weak, being mindful of the words of the Lord Jesus, how He Himself said, It is more blessed (makes one happier and more ato be envied) to give than to receive.

Challenge:  Who needs a blessing today?  What can you start doing as a family once a month to be a blessing to others?  How are your children involved in giving on a consistent basis?  Are your children aware of the needs in their family and community and what THEY can do to be a blessing at WHATEVER age they are?  Have fun with it and enjoy teaching your children to focus on others!

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