Thursday, March 24, 2016

DO something!

This year we made a family decision for Lent.  Instead of giving up something as people normally do during this time of year, we decided we would DO something.  We were challenged at church to use this to increase God's glory though doing things for others.  We brainstormed a few ideas and put them into action.  This was going to be such a good way for me to show the boys that the world is bigger than just them and teach them a few lessons in humility and generosity.  

Teach THEM a few things. 

 Isn't that always what you think right before God slaps you smack down with what YOU needed to learn also?! 

So we spent an afternoon stocking food at the local county food bank.  We were given the instructions on what to do with the goods and how to categorize them and put to work!  I mean we WORKED!  We had one 15 minute break and then were back at it!  It was a great afternoon working with the boys and letting them make decision based on expiration dates or packaging details, using a scale and just reading labels.  AND we were helping others.
The biggest lesson for Jackson was learned when we left and one couple volunteering with us drove away in a Maserati.  He's SUPER into cars and he knew just what that car was worth.  He was impressed that they were also donating their time to help others!

“The reality is that doing good unto others actually does more good for you.”

This was a campaign the local Christian radio station put on to do random acts of kindness by leaving these sticky notes everywhere and anywhere you go!  I know they reached people because I saw people talking about seeing #lovethatsticks notes at their local stores, coffee shops and other places. Lincoln and I made some and I put them in my purse and placed them in stores for other people to see.
Our favorite spots was on the produce, melons and oranges were a hit!

It was the week after Valentines day and we ran into Kroger to grab a few things.  Before we checked out, I grabbed a huge 2 dozen rose bouquet and told the boys we were going to do something awesome!   I stood right there at checkout and split the bouquet in two.  I told the boys were were going to give the roses to ladies that might need a beautiful flower that day!  They were a little hesitant but I encouraged them and they got to it!  Most of the flowers were VERY well received.
A few people thought they wanted to be payed for them and a very few turned them flat down.  Jackson started walking up to people and quickly saying "Would you like a rose, THEY ARE FREE!" so he wouldn't have to be turned down.  When asked WHY we were doing this, we simply answered because it was a beautiful day!  And so it was!  I hope they remember doing this and the look on peoples face to receive something they didn't expect.

We joined our church a few weeks ago in serving at Breakfast in the Park with compassion united.  Around 100 homeless/low income/needy people congregate at a park in Conroe for this breakfast every Saturday.  We were there, not only to serve breakfast but also to talk and visit with the people.  As we drove up, the people were all there waiting on the food.  I was surprised at the amount of NEED so close to us.  These people needed breakfast.  They were grateful and they show up week after week.  They were talkative if you engaged them and some of them had interesting stories.  One mid 30s guy hugged me the minute we walked up.  He was charismatic and drew in a crowd.  He looked just like "hangin' with Mr. Cooper"!  He talked to us, especially to Jackson.  Jackson was surprised that he would be homeless but I told him you never know someones story.  Jamison sat with, ate with and hung out just like all the others there for breakfast.  I had instructed the boys several times that the food was NOT for us, it was for the people we came to serve.  I also wanted them to stay busy serving since that's what we were there for.  They did pretty well with some prompting.  Jackson made a few new friends.   One in particular had A LOT of bible knowledge and liked to share it "preacher style"!  Jackson listened intently even if he didn't fully understand.  He later told me Daniel reminded him of PawPaw!  
So back to Jamison, before we left we were chatting with him and he said he'd been coming to fellowship with the people for about 3 years now.  There was our answer to our question.  No, he wasn't homeless but he fully immersed himself with his friends there and I learned a big lesson!  
I had come to serve them.  And I did and that was good but in serving them, I had inadvertently placed myself, and the boys above them.  I realized that in serving these people we should be more like Jamison.  It's OK for them to wonder if we are there to serve or there to eat.  It's OK to sit down and eat and fellowship with them.  Because we are all just people.  Children of a loving God!  So just when you think you're teaching a lesson on serving others, you find out that the lesson was yours to learn all along!  

This is a ministry that we enjoyed so much that we try to go any time we can.  The boys will give me $1 or 2 that they earn and tell me they want to buy donuts for their friends.  I've made a few friends of my own and people I pray for daily!  

Another ministry that is close to my heart is street church.  We first went to street church at Christmas time and I got to see what an operation it is to bring a meal and church to the alleyway in downtown Houston every week.  We got to serve a hot meal, clean up and bring smiles to the faces of lots of people in the area.  This time we did street church, it was a VERY rainy and stormy Wednesday.  They had to move up the time to get the meal served before the storms hit.  I had both boys this time and we were under tents to prevent the food from getting too wet.
Jackson and I served the girl scout cookies down the line while Lincoln stood half in the rain handing out soggy napkins.  We closed/cleaned up and bid our street church friends farewell.  We drove home on pretty treacherous roads but Jesus got us there safely.  The next day, someone thanked us for coming to street church and I realized that I was the one that should be thanking them.  I love going to street church, I love serving God's people in that way and street church is a privilege for ME.  It is a sheer blessing to me AND my boys to feel we are doing something worthy for God's creation.  Feeding people and making friends is also a great benefit!  There it goes again, thinking I was going downtown to help others and I'm the one receiving the blessing.  Funny how it works that way!

I hope that the boys learned a lesson or two also.  I hope that this Lent instilled some values in them as it did me.   I hope they will continue the desire to serve and love others as God commanded us.  And I also hope that it will inspire you to get involved, do something that's a little uncomfortable and just really LOVE people.  You just might be surprised that in addition to blessing others, you'll be the one who walks away with a huge blessing!

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