Because I was so busy serving others this week I almost missed the opportunity to write. I look forward to this every time it comes up. If you are interested you can go to Chocolate on My Cranium and see the schedule of topics here.
"Parents have the sacred duty to teach [their children] to love and serve one another" Family Proclamation paragraph 6
Back to my first sentence it really isn't true, but it sounded good and I truly wish it was. There have been times when life gets difficult and it would be so easy to slip into a depression, nothing seems to be getting better, life is hard, what's the point when you can't get out of the big hole you feel you are in? We have found that through service it makes anything better. It is amazing how service can be such a powerful antidote to all those feelings.
I know when you serve, willingly and with a servant's heart, a couple of things will happen. The biggest is that you stop thinking about yourself. I have a few kids and you think it would be hard to be selfish. I can tell you I am very selfish with my time. I want to craft, I want to read, I want to cook, I want to stay up super late when the house is peaceful and I can have many complete thoughts..one after the other uninterupted. I don't want to sit at the table and watch the kids color, or do things that are messy, such as crafts and playdough that I have to pick up. I don't want to be a jungle gym or Gumby, being pulled and and pushed around by three children at the same time.
On the flip side when I do those things that I "don't" like, I get to see the joy on my children's face when I give them undivided attention. I think service is such a great medicine. It allows you to see joy in others and share in that joy as well as when you serve, it makes you realize the blessings you have. There have been times when life is overwhelming, then you get the opportunity to serve and you realize "Wow, my life could be a whole lot worse."
Our favorite way to serve is to make some form of food and deliver them. People love to be thought of. It is so wonderful when you get that surprise. We have a neighbor who became a widow about a year after we bought our house. We went over there and brought her some cookies and boy did that make her day. Not only did she love that we thought of her, it improved our relationship as neighbors. Now she adores our kids. I know she is lonely, she has no family nearby and seldom has visitors. I know that little thought means a great deal to her. The kids really get a kick out of delivering things to people. In fact there are usually arguments as to who gets to carry the treat.
In association with Mormon Helping hands, there was a statewide service project. You can read a little about it here. They had sites all over the state of California where service opportunities were organized. Our ward family worked at an arboretum pulling weeds, painting signs, some planting, and various other things. It was fun to not only serve, but serve surrounded by those that we want our children to look up to. We got to laugh and enjoy the time we spent. Towards the end they got to ride on the flat bed wagons when they helped unload garbage can and other various weeds. That made things even better for the kids. At another site there was even a story where a few people were walking through and asked what was going on and said that was pretty cool and joined in. How cool is that?!
What was even more neat about this was that our kids were able to learn that service was rewarding. I won't lie and say it was all perfect, it is hard to keep the kids going. I think I pulled weeds for the first hour then pushed the two little ones in the stroller, helping to deliver water and then anything to kept them entertained.
After it was all over the person in charge of the arboretum gave all the volunteers tomato plants. A sweet little reward was that there was a wedding scheduled that afternoon. So not only did we help out but we helped make the location extra beautiful for a couple beginning their life together.
Lastly we teach our kids about service through serving in our callings at church. The kids have learned that our church jobs are important. It takes sacrifice and time, but it is rewarding in the end. We also teach our kiddos that being an example is a form of service. We live in a small ward as far as youth is concerned. It is getting bigger but that is from age 5 and younger. There is not a whole lot of older examples. We try to make our kids understand that when they are involved they will be teaching the younger kids how to behave. It is their choice whether or not they are a good example, but when they are good it supports their church leaders in teaching correct principles. Especially when the little ones see someone they look up to behaving appropriately.
I do love serving at church, I am not always happy about it, sometimes overwhelmed, even burnt out at times. For right now I am without a calling (aka a church responsibility) and it is really weird. People say enjoy it while it lasts, but honestly, when you are serving you feel connected and right now I am just a floater. I know it won't be long but in the mean time, I can't wait for the next opportunity. I hope my children see that and know how important service is.