Teaching Our Children to Care for Others

One of the things we successfully did as a family in 2015, and that I’d like to see us do more of in 2016, is spend time showing our kids (really our oldest) how important it is to reach out to others.

It’s not enough for us to just live our lives in our relatively safe, convenient homes and neighborhoods, and think we’re good people because we love God and go to church on Sundays.  If we love God, we will obey His word and proclamations of what we are to do with our time here.

God’s word announces in several places the importance of giving and caring for others, we are called to live outside ourselves constantly in His word,

If anyone thinks he is religious, without controlling his tongue but deceiving his heart, his religion is useless.

Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

***

I honestly haven’t been the best about this in the past couple of years.  Early in our marriage, and even when our oldest was very little, I would make it a point to take care of the material needs of those God put in our path.  We had SO little, sometimes barely even enough to afford food!  But somehow, even during those extremely hard financial times in our marriage, we still had surplus of material items we didn’t actually need, and God would mysteriously bring people into our lives that we could give them to… even though we were barely making it financially, we were STILL able to give out of the things we DID have.

God is mysterious, that is hands down obvious to all who know Him.  How we had the specific items that people needed when we met them during our financial poverty, I have no idea, but it was a blessing to me to be able to still give what I did have to give, and be able to meet REAL needs of the people God brought into our life.

The funny thing about being a good steward over what God’s given you, it doesn’t matter if you have very little, He can STILL use that little you DO have to bless others.  When we’re faithful with the little He’s given us, He often gives us more to take charge over – but with this, comes a greater responsibility, because He’s trusting us to use it wisely.

So in 2015, I made it a very conscious effort to do more, I wanted God to open my eyes so that I could see the people that might need help, and give our money, time, and material items to meet their needs.

We were able to help meet the physical needs of the officer I wrote about in Malicious Joy, the one who was hit by a drunk driver.  It’s one thing to hear about what happened to him, but it’s quite another to get my boys out the door, drive across town and physically meet his material needs.  Going to see him, taking him goodies and food items my son helped me pick out for him, almost every week, was such a blessing – particularly for my son!  The young man was alone, not married, and his family lived hours away… so offering to get things for him, helping by bringing him big meals, were things that he really needed.

It also took the form of visiting elderly people at a nursing home, talking to them, singing them Christmas carols, making them hot chocolate or tea, letting them enjoy my children – having the joy of holding our baby boy.  Many of them don’t get visitors, feel forgotten, and are some of the most interesting people with the most interesting things to say.  This may have blessed them, but I honestly think that me and our boys received an even greater blessing of getting to meet these people, listen to them, and even laugh with them.  We will do more of this visiting elderly people in 2016.

Giving from what we had also took the form of financially meeting people’s needs that God would place on our heart or in our path.  A young blind woman who had been abused in every way, was taken into the wing of an older woman at our church.  She had grown up in foster care homes, and many people that were supposed to have cared and looked out for her, had taken advantage of her and ultimately, left her alone in the world.  Her most pressing need was that she needed money to be able to obtain a seeing-eye dog, and my husband gave me the okay to give a significant amount for us, to meet her need.  Talking with her, showing her that people saw her and cared about her well-being and future, explaining to my oldest son the importance of what we were doing for her, was a huge blessing to get to participate in.  It was an honor for us… and she’s now gone on to decide to give back in her own way.  She decided to start a ministry in our church for people like her, so that she can give out of what she’s been blessed with!!

Giving this past year also took the form of lending our time and emotions to visit families who have lost their police officers, and bring them Christmas cheer… for me, this is something I wanted to run away from, the pain of these wives, the pain of their young children.  As a police family, we live in a kind of constant denial of the reality of what could happen, visiting these families, seeing them in pain, bursts that blissful bubble of denial.  This is NOT something I was particularly excited about, but it was SO needed, and blessing them, loving on them, hugging them, in return, gave us a sober blessing of treasuring our life together, and not taking any day, any moment for granted.

Come Thanksgiving time, we were going to serve a meal to young women and girls who live in a safe house in our city.  Police regularly deal with sex abuse, and reaching out to these young girls and young women, from the standpoint of being a police wife, is showing them that we care about them from a humanity standpoint.  These are girls usually around teen age, who are usually pregnant or with small children, and many times this is from sex slavery or by their own fathers.  Many of them came from Latin American countries.  Their children also live there with them, and so our team of wives decided to target loving on them this year.  Because of the nature of their circumstances, this was something I was not going to bring our children to so that I could serve more easily… but my childcare ended up falling through, and we missed this opportunity to serve.  I was disappointed because I was really looking forward to reaching out to these girls and women and their children!  But God showed me another way to bless them, I put small boxes together with little gifts and trinkets inside to drop off for them for Christmas.  This was maybe even better for us, because my oldest son was actually able to participate in helping me pack the boxes and drop them off for the girls!

So overall, we did pretty good, but 2015 care opportunities seemed to just happen for us, it wasn’t something that I deliberately thought about much or planned and acted on.

For 2016, I want it to be a deliberate thing.  I want to see the lost, the broken in the way that I used to when we had so little.

 

So excited about the New Year and the blessings to come, may this inspire you to think about how YOU and your family can bless others with what God’s given you!

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5 thoughts on “Teaching Our Children to Care for Others

  1. “So excited about the New Year and the blessings to come, may this inspire you to think about how YOU and your family can bless others with what God’s given you!”

    Great and timely advice in my case, Dragonfly!
    Thanks so much.
    🙂
    I was just reminiscing about a week ago with an old gradeschool friend (one of the few people I’ve kept in touch with, I’ve known her since we were 10) that I need to bring more of the charity/giving aspects to our family holidays.
    We’ve lost touch with a lot of that since Mike left active duty. It has been our fault entirely…I used to keep up with the church stuff and toys for tots and airmen’s attic and cookie drive and community meal things. I made sure the kids were involved too.
    But after getting out of the active duty military we didn’t really set up the same roots in this community as far as giving goes. I am going to do better. Giving is good for the soul, and it’s good for the kids too. It’s one fundamental element to happiness and close relationships too. This has been scientifically proven!
    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/08/is-generosity-better-than-sex/?scp=1&sq=generosity%20and%20marriage&st=cse

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/literally-psyched/the-psychology-behind-gift-giving-and-generosity/

    I will start on this new “charitable” leaf now (along with my new diet, there’s too much Liz after the holiday chunky chews)
    AND…this year he’s going back to an active duty job. In a few months we’re on to a new life adventure. Then we’ll definitely get back into the swing of the giving thing. 🙂

  2. That’s so great that this encouraged you, Liz, that makes me so happy!

    It’s sad how easy it is to just not think about these things when it’s not a priority for a family 😦 I do think it’s wonderful that being active duty means you’re met with these opportunities to care for others! We try to do that too in the police community – taking care of our own. I know the officer that was hit by the drunk driver remarked on how awesome it was that we were taking care of his real needs he couldn’t get met any other way really.

    Thank you for saying that it’s good for the kids too – that encourages me to try harder this year. A lot of my excuses have been that it’s just too hard with kids to also reach out to others… it takes a lot more effort when you take them along, but it IS worth it because it’s showing them how important this aspect of our faith is. If we take our faith seriously, we’ll obey God’s commands to love others and care for those in need.

    That’s interesting that he’s getting back into active duty!!! :O Will y’all be moving again?

  3. “If we take our faith seriously, we’ll obey God’s commands to love others and care for those in need.”
    Well said, Dragonfly. 🙂

    “That’s interesting that he’s getting back into active duty!!! :O Will y’all be moving again?”
    Yes. Interesting, and shocking honestly.
    He never thought he’d go back to active.
    Very strange turn of events led to a job he can’t really turn down, but he plans on retiring after this (with reserve he could only get part time orders, so retirement was slow…he only had 5 months left but his job here will be over before he can finish that up).

    And yes, we’ll be moving again! But we did get to spend four whole years in paradise. We moved an average of once every 1 and a half years before he got out of active duty!
    We’re very blessed. Candidly, I’m a little scared to go back to the spouse’s thing (I’ll have some responsibilities there).
    But I think it’s all meant to be.
    🙂

  4. Wow, what a change of pace for you! What about your sons? Are they excited or bummed about moving again? I think I could imagine why you’re a little scared… it changes the aspect of your relationship right? And maybe you would feel required to be a part of things you’ve enjoyed letting go already?

    And yes!!! LOL I hear you about needing to workout after the holidays – my husband surprised me with getting us a really nice gym membership back in mid-November, so we’ve been going and loving it. But for me it’s mostly about my diet, if I eat too much gluten, it seems I gain weight extremely fast.

  5. “What about your sons? Are they excited or bummed about moving again?”
    Bummed. But they are starting to come to terms with it. It’s not like we promised we’d never move, it was always in the cards. Strangely, the son who is going away to college next year is the most bummed about us moving. I guess I can understand he wants to come home to somewhere he feels like home. Being the oldest, he has moved the most of course.

    “I think I could imagine why you’re a little scared… it changes the aspect of your relationship right? And maybe you would feel required to be a part of things you’ve enjoyed letting go already?”

    Yeah, it actually is a requirement (sort of…not legally, but it would be bad form to refuse). I even have to go to a spouse’s class (seriously). It’s out of state. That’s all I’ll say in the interest of anonymity. 😉

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