Well, we missed about two months. To say a lot has changed is putting it mildly. Two months ago, we lost our fourth baby at 38 weeks. Chase is a beautiful angel and rest in the arms of Jesus. For that, we are so happy. But we miss him, and we’ve spent the past couple of months making sense of everything and finding our new “normal”. The kids stopped asking about service projects, and I stopped feeling the motivation to serve. But several weeks ago I heard about the death of a young man who went to meet Jesus at the age of 21. And suddenly I wanted to serve everyone. I wanted to calm the fears of anyone who was scared, feed anyone who was hungry, love on anyone who felt alone…I once again felt the call of Jesus. And it suddenly became even more important to me that I instill certain values in my children. No matter how many medals they win, how many A’s they make on tests, or how many trophies line their walls, if they seek first the Kingdom of God, I have done my job. And to me, a large part of His kingdom is serving others.
So we started with something small – a donation to Goodwill of yet more stuff that we did not need. We have far too much stuff (don’t we all). And if we’re not using it, we should give it to someone who can. Here are the boys dropping off the “stuff”.
The boys were really excited when I told them we were going to do a service project – until I told them I had to take a photo of it. But they got back into the groove, and I explained what “goodwill” was. It was a nice welcome back into our mission, and it is my prayer that these projects instill in my children a love for serving others as if serving the Lord himself.
I admit, having three kids, working full time, and entering the last couple of months of pregnancy has made me one tired momma. But our church has made it a priority to start giving back more to our community, and I am going to take advantage of those opportunities! In January, the church held a clothing drive for a local group called Society of Samaritans. What a GREAT opportunity to clean out the closets. So the boys went through their old clothes, and so did my husband and I. The boys were excited to give the clothes to the people who needed them. Here they are picking out clothes to donate…
And here they are dropping them off at the church collection spot…
This was actually last week’s project. Time constraints have made me slow to post it, but when Cole asked me yesterday, “Mom, what is our next service project? We’ve done so many, what’s left to do?” I knew I needed to keep this going. It was an amazing feeling for him to be so interested in the projects and what we’d do next. It was also a great opportunity to tell him that there was so much more good we could do in this world…
A rough start to the new year, and we missed a week!! I was so sad when I realized we hadn’t done a service project last week. But we’re off and running again with another project. This week, we collected shoes and socks for the Montgomery County Good Soles Donation Center. They accept donations of gently used and new socks and shoes for infants, children, adults, and seniors. I bought some new socks, then the boys had a blast going through the shoes we collected for donation. As always, I asked them if they understood why we were giving away our shoes. Tyler promptly answered, because there are people who don’t have any shoes, and they need something on their feet. Voila – mission accomplished!
Our church is small, growing, and new. Okay…so not exactly new. But we are small, mighty and very loving! We’re also a very generous church, and most everyone is ready to jump in and help when needed. So when we moved into our new building, and the pastor called for families to sign up to clean up the facility after church once a month for one quarter a year…I jumped on it. I thought, what a better service project than cleaning God’s house! As a small but growing church, we try to save money where we can…so we can spend more on benevolence and other church activities.
I was not sure how well the kids would take to cleaning up after church, but to my surprise they were actually EXCITED about it. I am not kidding. They were very excited to be vacuuming, and the boys were so proud of the work they’d done. Perhaps it’s because they are still little and think that vacuuming or mopping is fun. No matter what, it went so well, and I am so proud of them. Not only did they do service, but they saw what we could accomplish as a team. And they didn’t just help out “for fun”…they really vacuumed, mopped and swept. I told them they were helping clean God’s house, and they really liked that. Madi even got into the act and carried the trash can back into the nursery.
When we were pulling away from the church, they also thought it was fun to be the last ones there. Tyler asked me if we could do another service project later that day. It almost made me cry that he found this so enjoyable. That was my goal…to set them on a path of service as “fun” and a part of why we’re all here. My new 2011 “thing” (because I don’t make resolutions) is to do everything as if serving the Lord…I told myself that many times as I did the 8 loads of holiday laundry later that afternoon! Blessings to all this new year, and I cannot wait to see what other projects lie ahead!
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.
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.