Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Days of Beauty: Service

For a long time, I've desired to instill a servant's heart in my children. And, I know sometimes it can seem difficult to find ways for very young children to serve.

Recently I heard on the radio about a prison ministry desiring to have home baked cookies to distribute to participants of a Bible Study and even to every inmate in the prison. I put a lot of thought and prayer into how to make this a fun experience for my children and even who else to invite to join us.

To me, one of the keys in a successful service opportunity for children is making it smooth and very organized so they feel needed.

I prayed, I organized and I invited. Three families came to join us and we started with prayer. Then, I shared about what we were going to be doing for the morning.

And, I shared a little bit about Brittany. I don't think I've ever shared this here on my blog - but when I was in 7th grade, we had a little girl named Brittany come to live with us. She was four at the time and her mother was in prison. She lived with us for two years and over the years, I have appreciated the opportunities to be involved in ministry to families of those in prison through Angel Tree mostly, and now this cookie baking opportunity.

After that, we talked about people in the Bible who had been in prison. And, then I posed this question, "Do you think God loves people who are in prison?" I wanted to remove a barrier in little minds that these people were bad or unlovable. We talked about the thief on the cross next to Jesus and how Jesus forgave him and promised to see him in Paradise.

I read Matthew 25: 35-45 and we talked about why we serve. I was wanting to plant the seed in their minds that we aren't serving just to look good, nor to earn our way to Heaven but in response to our love for God. To show His love to others and pray that someone else may come to know God.

After reading a book and singing a song, we divided up into groups. I had stations set up for baking and mixing dough, drawing pictures and packaging the cookies in dozens. We ended up making 19 dozen cookies! And, after they were all baked and packaged we prayed over them together.

I haven't said anything about beauty yet - but, serving others does create a beauty that comes from Him. It is beautiful to us to do something for others, it is beautiful for God that we extend ourselves and share of what He has given to us.

Romans 10:15, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news."

And, before I wrap up this post - I have to share another amazing and beautiful provision that I witnessed this week.

I was out of butter. Out of butter and wanting to bake, hoping I could find some on sale somewhere. The weekend passed and David called from work on Monday saying that there had been some sort of fundraiser at school and they had leftovers - so he would be bringing home a bag of butter. Like 6-8 pounds of butter!

{Gasp!} Really!?!? Yes, really. Many of those cookies were baked with free butter ~ straight from His hand.

The next day we had fun shopping for groceries to donate to the Food Pantry at our church. Out of the overflow of our blessings, it is a pleasure and beauty to be able to extend service through a heart of gratitude to others.

How do you cultivate servant's hearts in your children?

16 comments:

Leanne said...

we take our children to the local nursing home that our church holds service for! Christopher plays piano (and they love it! even though he's six) and the boys sing...we also pray for and talk about our world vision and compassion kids. last night, we had them make cards as an encouragment to their teachers! I love the prison idea!!!

Katie said...

Love this!!

What a beautiful way to share the love of our Savior! Praying that many seeds will be planted in the hearts of the recipients and that God will give the increase!

I try to involve my children in getting to know our neighbors and finding ways that they can be helping them. We happen to have three widows in our little neighborhood. Since we've moved here a year ago, we've befriended them in special ways and pray the Lord's love will shine through us. We also like to send notes of encouragement to the elderly folks of our church and visit them with baked goods and such as we are able.

I heartily agree with your opening line ~ this is a desire of my heart also. Thanks for this creative inspiration!

Diane said...

Loved this post! I enjoyed how you strove to make sure the children understood that you all did this to show others God's love and not just because it was a good thing to do.

Elise said...

I just love this post, Monica!! I think for me its been a struggle to reach out-maybe because I don't know of such ways to serve...I read recently on another blog and she and a couple of friends went to a shelter and did crafts with the young girls that lived there. I didn't know you could just go to shelters like that. I think my heart longs to do something good, not just live and go about my everyday life. We need to find a niche where we can serve and our children alongside us. I really love this idea!!!
Elise

Crystal said...

I have been searching for ways to involve my kids in service to others. We sponsor a child through World Vision but would also like some local projects too. Monica, it's such a blessing to read your blog and you give me lots of inspiration. Thanks!

Elaine said...

I am crying! What a precious time that must have been for everyone. And the butter the Lord provided...well, that was so awesome. What you did will be an example others will want to follow. Thanks for sharing this.

Christy Stanton said...

What a wonderful opportunity! I love not only this idea but the thought you put into making it meaningful for your children. I too will pray for the hearts of those who receive them!

We have occasions when we are able to make a Sunday meal for the singles at our Church. We also clean the Church together at least once a month.

Thank you this is beautiful!

Christy Stanton said...

Oh and I love how God provided the butter! It’s those small things that touch our heart!;)

A Dusty Frame said...

WOO HOO! So awesome!
Yes, Jesus loves people in prison AND their families.

I'm wondering how this worked that you could take them cookies--but cool.

Thanks~I'm going to share your link.
Lizzie
A Dusty Frame

angie said...

Just before reading your post this morning, I wrote down an APO address for an old high school friend who is serving in Kyrgstan (not sure of spelling). I didn't know he was deployed until seeing his status on Fb. I plan to involve my kids in buying and assembling a care pkg for him.

It seems that we do service projects around the holidays but not consistently throughout the year. I would like to be intentional about changing that.

Prison ministry is also close to my heart. I never expected to know anyone in prison, let alone be inside one. God humbled me on that accord. My brother has been incarcinated several times, and remarkably feels closest to God there. My neice has been blessed by the Angel Tree ministry as well.
A question: Where did you deliver the cookies to?

By the way, nice to see you in some pics recently. May I ask what the three "bins" are next to your chalkboard?

Sara said...

Monica, what a beautiful idea and what creative and instructional execution of the idea! I don't have children but I thank the Lord for you and others who are raising up the next generation to love and serve the Lord and others!

asnipofgoodness said...

I love this post Monica, love your intentionality of teaching and modeling a servants heart!

Amy said...

I really liked this post. :)

*carrie* said...

Thanks for sharing this, Monica. Love that you mentioned Brittany, and also that is so cool about the butter!

Jennifer said...

What a fun service project! I love blessing others with homemade food :) And that is just amazing about the butter! God is so good!

4littleladybugs said...

I love this. :) I would have never thought to invite other families to help...great idea.