Our small part in a miracle began with an email–a simple invitation to volunteer two hours making meals for starving children.
Shock sunk in as I sat between my two oldest boys (8 and 6) and watched our training video. The “meals” we were making consisted of a vacuum sealed bag filled with uncooked rice, soy, dried vegetables, and a scoop of powdered vitamins because these starving children wouldn’t be able to consume the food I serve for a typical family dinner.
Suddenly the breakfast of chocolate-chip pancakes and bacon sat heavy in my gut.
Any stress or worry about cooking the “Pinterest perfect” Thanksgiving meal faded away when I remembered the malnourished children being spoon fed enriched rice.
HE GAVE WHAT HE HAD
The Bible tells a story of hungry people sitting on a hill. They definitely weren’t starving, but Jesus asked the disciples to feed them. In problem solving there were both logistical problems (far from closest town) and financial problems (half a year’s salary just to give each person one bite).
A young boy offers a solution–his lunch which consisted of a couple fish and some bread (John 6:9).
He gave what he had to help solve the problem. There wasn’t much, but He gave what he had to Jesus, and Jesus gave thanks.
Because giving comes before gratitude, and gratitude comes before the miracle of multiplication.
A small offering by a small boy not only solved the problem, but there were leftovers.
When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. John 6:12-13
During our 2-hour shift my young boys didn’t do anything miraculous. One boy scooped a cup of rice and a cup of soy and dumped it in a funnel. Another boy weighed each bag, adding rice if needed to fit a certain standard. Slowly, one bag at a time, we filled a box with bags, and others around us did the same.
At the end of our shift we gathered around boxes that would be shipped to countries around the world and prayed over them–giving thanks before the miracle. In one weekend 1,003,104 meals were packed by nearly 5,000 volunteers. The meals were sent to Dominica, Belize, Guatemala and Haiti.
Two young boys offered what little they had (time and hands), gave thanks and watched the miracle.
Do your boys understand the impact they can make on this world with what little they can offer? I’ve found the more my boys serve the community and impoverished people the more gratitude flows in their hearts and out of their mouths.
Give + Thanks = Grow in Gratitude
If you’ve never served with your children before, here are some great opportunities/resources to get started:
- Operation Christmas Child--Shoebox collection week is November 17-24, 2014. My boys love to go to the Dollar Store, grab a plastic shoe box and start filling it with goodies. Here’s a bit of our story . Samaritan’s Purse then sends them to various countries around the world, to let children know God loves them and sees them and cares for them.
- Paper for Water–These gals are our classmates & neighbors & carpool buddies. They heard about the lack of clean water in several countries and decided to do something about it–fold paper into origami ornaments and sell them. Back in 2011 their goal was to raise $500 to partially pay for a well in Ethiopia. As of last month, with the help of hundreds of volunteers, they have raised over $450,000 to fund over 50 wells in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, India, Mexico, Uganda, Peru, and Zimbabwe. Amazing! You can purchase ornaments or donate paper/beads/etc. Check out their site for more info.
- Lemon Aid Stand–Inspired by the Paper for Water gals, a young man started his own little ministry for clean water…selling lemonade. Help your kids host a lemonade stand or since it’s getting colder, maybe hot chocolate? Then send the money off to Blood:Water to help provide clean water in other countries. (video of Lemon-Aid stand).
- Light ’em up–Courtney DeFeo and her girls decided to spread a little light around the world by doing small acts of service and expressions of gratitude. My boys did some of these one weekend and had a blast. Check out Courtney’s list from last year and try them out this holiday season.
- The Turquoise Table–Join Kristin Schell and create a space in your front yard to host neighbors. Gratitude in what we have allows us to share joy and love to those around us. Giving them a taste of the goodness of all God has . . .what could be better. (of course, tables in the front yard works best for us Southern states. . .but join in when y’all get some warmer weather, like in May!).
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
In what ways do you encourage your sons to express gratitude? How can they be involved in serving others in your community? I’d love to hear your ideas.
Heather has been married for fourteen years and is the mother of four young boys (born exactly, to the day, within 6 1/2 years . . . just like she’d always planned). Heather writes about motherhood and chronicles the messy journey of “relentlessly replacing ‘me’ with ‘He’ — sharing the daily struggle of remaining God-centered while mothering four wild-at-heart, energetic, and often stubborn boys.