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!