When I first started this endeavor, I searched online for ideas and ways to give back. I came across this amazing group called the Red River Quilters. It’s a non-profit group, and their purpose is to preserve the art of quilting. Based in Shreveport/Bossier City, the Guild draws its membership from the extended Ark-La-Tex region and typically has approximately 300 members at each years end. They meet every Monday at a Presbyterian Church in Shreveport. They quilt for fun and also do a lot of charity quilting. Some of the programs include quilting black and white quilts for visually impaired children (my heart melts!) and quilts for babies and children in need called Love Wrappers.
I sent them an email to ask if they ever needed fabric donations, and they said yes! So off to the store we went to buy some scraps of fabric from Hobby Lobby. I explained to the boys that we were going to send it to some people who would make blankets to keep babies warm. Both were pretty cute about it, and wanted to pick out “Cars” or “Disney” material. We opted for the solid colors. 🙂
This was a pretty easy project given all that’s going on with the holidays, but it was still fun! I had to include this photo too…yes, that’s Tyler turning the scrap material into a gun…
When I was approached with a ministry opportunity by one of the teachers at my children’s pre-school, I was so excited! I admit that it was nice not to have to seek the volunteer opportunity. It came to me! Laura, their teacher, and I decided to dedicate several hours one Saturday decorating a room for a ministry in Huntsville, Texas called Hospitality House. The House is a facility for families/visitors of persons in the Hunstville state prison. They offer a safe shelter, bed, and use of the kitchen to prepare meals.
Just imagine the emotional rollercoaster some of these women and children are on as they visit their loved ones in prison. What a great opportunity to minister, and thanks to those at Hospitality House this ministry has seen many people comforted by Jesus’s love!
We took the hour+ trip by minivan last weekend with packed lunches, a hammer, and some decorations for the room (thank goodness they had the nails since I completely forgot about them!). Laura brought her children as well, which made it fun for my kids too. They helped us make beds where needed, and gave me some very thoughtful advice on where to place the room decorations we bought. This was followed by a tour of the facility with a very child friendly explanation of the ministry. I prayed immediately that none of my children had to make use of it (or their own children or spouses – or worse – ME), but thanked God for such a place to minister to those who must.
We like the special touches we added to the room that will make it more comfortable for those staying at the House. Our plan is to put our handprints into the shape of a heart, frame it, and hang it in the room. Each room has a “theme” from the “decorators”, but we’re still working on ours.
The house can always use help and has needs. If interested, please visit their site to see how you can help too! This final photo is of the kids and grandma enjoying lunch on the front porch of the House. While we were there, a couple and young child approached and asked the House to inquire about a place to sleep (they were homeless). It was all I could do not to cry, and it was certainly a teaching moment for me to tell our children just how very blessed we are.
With two boys who can make just about anything into a gun (sticks, pens, I’ve even seen one do it with the little cross he made in Sunday School), helping out our troops was a blast. I found an organization online called Soldier’s Angels, and you can send in care package items that will be sent overseas to soldiers. To personalize the activity, I printed some coloring pages and let the kids go to town on them. My hope is that Soldier’s Angels will include them in their packages to let the troops know they are thought of in The Woodlands, Texas. All three of the kids loved coloring the pictures, Tyler especially liked the ones with the “tank” on it. One of the pages had the U.S. seal on it, and Cole asked why the president’s seal was on it. Great question – and I mixed in a little government education with our service project. The boys asked what the soldiers would do with the pictures, and I explained that hopefully it would make them smile. They liked that answer.
While Madison was still in pre-school, I took the boys to the store to buy the care package items. They got a little shy and decided to hide behind the crossword puzzles they picked out. And though it did not take long at all to get the items we sent (and not much money either), they acted exhausted riding in the back of the cart. But aren’t they cute, even when they are acting like shopping is such an exhausting chore (men in the making, for sure).
We got home, and I joined us up with Soldier’s Angels. A few days later, after I’d found an empty box, we packed our items in a box. I explained to the kids how we’d mail them to the troops. They were really excited, and I was amazed at how Tyler placed everything in the package so neatly. He seemed to enjoy this project the most. Until next time!
Just in week 2, and we’re already a few days behind. This weekend was a family camping trip, so that left little time to perform this week’s service project. This week, we adopted a child from Compassion International. As Cole and I sat downstairs staring at the computer screen filled with little faces, we waited for Tyler to come downstairs to help us pick our child. I secretly prayed, God, am I doing the right thing? Here I am trying to so hard to save our pennies, and now we’re going to put more money out each month.
Then, as if God answered my prayer – as he always does – to show me that this was the right decision…my four year old son came down the stairs singing, “Oh no, you never let go, through the calm and through the storm…Lord, you never let go of me.”
And I just knew…adopt that child.
Cole is reading now and reviewed the list of countries, so I let him decide. My goal is to one day visit our child as a family. Only God knows if that will ever happen, but just in case there is a chance, I thought I’d help Cole choose a country fairly close to us. Guatemala was the winner. They were so cute as we read about the boys available in Guatemala. They chose Jeferson because he likes cars. They wanted to see where the country was, so I showed them on the globe.
Tyler asked – is he going to live with us? I explained how it worked to him and then has asked, are we going to meet him? I can always count on Tyler to ask the right questions!
Anyway, I suspect that Jeferson will become a large part of our 52 weeks as we make him gifts and cards throughout the year. And hopefully one day we will meet him and his family to share in God’s bountiful blessing together.
Here is a photo of our newly adopted brother, Jeferon Eernesto Suchi Aguilar.
Saturday morning came, and I was pumped to do our first service project. I gave the boys three options, and they picked the one most obvious to them–donating food. So I looked up the Montgomery County Food Pantry, showed the boys their website, and we were ready to get started.
My original plan was to take everyone to the grocery store to buy the food we’d donate, then head to the food pantry. But these little monkeys, especially my two year old were so wild that morning, that I thought we’d go shopping in the pantry instead. They don’t really understand the concept of money as well as we do, but they definitely get “mine” and “yours”. Taking food from our own pantry actually made them feel as if they were giving more of their own stuff. A bonus to my decision to protect other shoppers from my monkeys. Madi helped load up the bag.
It was a thirty minute drive, but the kids all did really well [thank you Taylor Swift and LeapFrog]. The food pantry was in a part of town very unlike one where we live. I admit that my heart sank a little to see the amazing difference in how my children live and those who are less fortunate than them do. The food pantry was just over a set of railroad tracks where some parked trains sat, and my two year old screamed “Choo, choo!” Glad to see she had fun on our trip too. 🙂
We pulled up to donate our bag, and I saw tons of other kids and parents. I was actually a little bit shocked. Then immediately, I thought…wow. Children and parents spending a Saturday doing exactly what we were doing. Who knew? I was so filled with joy at the idea of how many other parents are doing exactly what I am doing. Hope…for the future.
Until next time!
Getting my children to focus on anything but toys, Halloween, or cartoons is tough these days. So I knew I had to make this fun. I started off with the definition of service. We used my daughter’s tea set to “serve” one another tea. I love the fact that my boys enjoy tea time as much as my little girl! Anyway, we served each other tea, and I asked them, Do you guys know what service means?
Cole replied, Is that where you go to a place? I am sure he was thinking of a church service. So cute!
Tyler said simply, I don’t know.
I could see I had my work cut out for me. I decided to take a different approach with my question. I asked them, Do you know what a service project is? And this time, we got somewhere!
Cole said, Like when we took cans to that place?
Yes! I said.
And Tyler said, It’s when we give people food. When we help people.
Satisfied with their answers, I went on to tell them that we would be doing all sorts of fun stuff to help and serve people over the next year. They sort of understood, and at least we have a foundation for the project. I have high hopes for the results of this yearlong lesson in service to others. Off we go!
While we get our site ready to start 52 Weeks of Service, and start our list of upcoming projects, please let us know what you think!