Something Derek and I want to instill in our kids is to think of others before themselves. This doesn't come naturally for any of us, so, it's a challenge
I often think that I would like to serve others via a soup kitchen or pregnancy resource center. But, considering where I am in life, with 4 littles, that just isnt possible right now. I know we could donate money or items to these places but extra funds to do this are sometimes hard to come by around here. We live in a pretty tight budget.
Time, if I had it, would be the perfect alternative to a monetary gift to give. So, when I ran across an article in the most recent Above Rubies magazine I was super pumped because the author listed several practicle ways to show hospitality to strangers with kids in tow.
Adopt a Grandparent
This is something my mom and I have talked about for, well, forever. But, we have never done it. Now that my parents moved 2 1/2 hours away it looks like I'm on my own if we do this.
There are so many nursing homes out there with lonely, elderly people. Many of these people's families put them in the homes and rarely visit. What a delight it would be to them for a family to 'adopt' them as their own. You can make visits, have your kids make cards or pictures to bring and even make special treats for them. (Of course check and make sure they're allowed the food you're bringing before doing so! no brainer- I know. Just wanted to throw that out there) Just call a local nursing home let them know what you would like to do and ask to be placed with one of their residents.
I loved this suggestion because I would have never thought of it on my own! Call a local womens shelter and ask if they have a family you can 'adopt'.This adoption could include many things.
Some of the ideas I've thought of include making some freezer meals for the mom so she can have a healthy meal for her and the kids with having to actually cook it or to eat out. Or, when you make your normal grocery run add a few extra items and help stock her fridge or pantry.
How about offering to watch her kids after school instead of her having to send the kids to (and pay for) daycare. You can help them with homework, feed them a healthy afternoon snack and even have them and the mom stay for dinner occasionally. Take the dinner as an opportunity to show them what the family meal table actually looks like. Speak Life into their lives. You never know, you might be the only glimpse they get of a godly family in their lives.
Stock your car
Ever drive by a person holding a sign asking for work, food or money? Hesitant to actually give them money? I've got a soft spot in my heart (or maybe I'm just a sucker) for those people. I figure if they're at a low enough point in their lives to stand on the side of the road asking for a hand out...maybe they need one. I know plenty of people who won't ever give money because they assume the person will just take it to buy drugs or alcohol. And, the truth is, there's a good chance they might. But, I always feel led to give if I have the cash. (Which seems rare for some reason, lol)
But, that giving still includes money. So, when I read this suggestion I loved it. How about stocking your car with on-the-go snacks or bottles of water you can pass on to that person asking for a hand out? Or the homeless person you see on the road. That way instead of worrying about funding their addiction you can give them something that will actually be used for good.
Open your home
I have to be honest, I dont know if we're ready for this one yet. But, I thought it was a great suggestion on being Jesus to the world.
If you see that person on the side of the road, why not offer them a hot meal? Include them in your dinner that night. You can feed them both physically and spiritually. Chances are if their in the 'standing on the side of the road asking for a hand out' spot in their life they probably haven't had a good, hot, home cooked meal in awhile.
Give someone a hand
This is another suggestion that was not in the article. It's just something we always do now.
If you see someone on the side of the road with a flat tire or needing some help, stop. Yep, stop and offer to help. (I guess this would have to include a hubby though! Well, at least in my case it would *smile*) I know most peoples mindset these days is to just pass by and think 'everyone has a cell phone. Im sure theyve called someone else'. But, what if they don't? I remember us passing a lady, from out of state, with her hood up one day. We were on our way somewhere and had the choice to stop or not. It would have been so easy to just go on our way and ignore the fact that she might need help. But, we choose to stop and Derek offered to help. He wasn't exactly sure what needed to be done but he was able to offer some suggestions and give her some ideas of who to call for help.
My husband hasn't always had this mindset. Its taken time and lots of encouragement. Most people weren't raised to think of others first. But, why not change your family tree?
All of these ideas are ways to be Jesus to the world without actually preaching at people. Remember the old saying 'actions speak louder than words'? Well, take it to heart. I know we need to, thats for sure!
Show your kids what it really means to serve others and think less of themselves.
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'