Ever so often, I just get hit with a sickening, guilty thought. All at once it clobbers me like a load of bricks: My life has become way too self-centered. And truly, it can be convicting how much time I spend thinking about me. What I'm eating, what I'm wearing, my plans, my vacation, my schedule, my kids, my prayer requests, and on and on...
As a Christian, I know that's not a life I want to life, nor do I want to relay that life to my children. I long to be a servant like Christ was, with an eye on heaven and what really matters.
Of course there's no simple "cure" for the self-centered life (if you've found it, let me know!). But I've been brainstorming ways to incorporate acts of service into our daily (or weekly, rather) lives around here.
Here are some service projects we're going to do as part of our homeschool preschool:
- Bake cookies and deliver to the local firemen. We recently went an a tour of our fire station, and I was struck by how friendly, lonely almost, some of the men were. We plan to do this activity around Thanksgiving, to tell these men "thank you" for serving in our community.
- Write letters to sponsored children. I love Compassion International, but don't write our children nearly enough. Together with our preschool group, we shared our pictures of "our kids," prayed for them, and wrote a little letter. To make it easier, I actually printed off a few basic questions for the kids to answer, things like: "My favorite Bible story is ..." The kids answered the questions, and we sent our letters across the globe!
- Send cards to a missionary. What a difficult, and thankless job being a missionary can be, I imagine! I'm sure your family or church knows someone serving abroad. In our preschool, we recently sent letters to a friend serving on the Mercy Ship. We showed the kids pictures of the ship, and explained the work they do. I hope our crayon-splatted cards are an encouragement!
- Make bags for the homeless. Ever passed a homeless person, wondered how to help, and driven off feeling guilty? Oh, I have! I plan on making these with our kids, and stocking them up in the car for when we see those in need!
- Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes - Another wonderful ministry! This is a great fall service project to do with kids. I start stocking up in September on little items for our boxes. It only takes a few minutes to do this, but you could take longer, praying for the child who receives your box, writing a handwritten note with a Bible verse, and even tracking your box across the world!
- Write a card to servicemen overseas. This can be a great opportunity to share the important concepts of freedom and the military with young children.
- Have your children complete chores for canned goods. Make a list of chores, and give them $.77 (or the value of a can) when they complete the job. Take them shopping to pick out their food, and donate the items to a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter.
- Make busy books for the hospital. My son, Sam, has been in the hospital for days at a time. It is hard to put into words how challenging that time can be as a parent. Your child is sick, bored, cooped up...We were so grateful for the hospital "toys," and I promised I'd never forget how meaningful these items were in a difficult time. This project is a terrific way to serve families in need!
- Collect your gently used stuffed animals and donate to firefighters for children in emergency situations. Our son has also scared us a few times with allergic reactions requiring medical attention. I know first-hand that donated stuffed animals would be put to excellent use in the hands of firemen and first-responders!
- Take Valentine’s cards and cookies to the local battered women’s shelter. I heard this idea recently and loved it. What a perfect place to show Valentine's love.
What service projects have you done with your family? Any suggestions?