I am so very thankful for my boys’ and their desire to serve others.
It amazes me how my older two boys, even at ages 5 and 3 ½ years old, have taken to the idea of helping others. They love to help around the house doing little chores like carrying the dirty clothes to the laundry room, taking the clean clothes out of the dryer, putting away the silverware from the dishwasher basket, and helping Daddy sweep the floor or pushing the small vacuum whenever we let them. The boys will often choose helping over playing, anxiously asking, “Mommy, what can I do to help today?”
In addition to being helpful, the boys are also extremely caring. One day at lunch, Ethan started falling asleep as Connor and Dylan were eating apples I had peeled and cut for them. I told them I was going to run Ethan up to his crib and that I would like them to please finish their apple then go wash their hands. Only minutes later, as I came down the stairs and headed through the living room (which opens to the dining room), I saw that Connor was no longer sitting at the table.
“Dylan, where is Connor?” I asked Dylan who was still eating his apple.
“Connor in the kitchen.”
Connor and I met by the refrigerator. “What are you doing? Are you done eating?” I asked.
“Yes. I was putting my bowl on the counter. I gave Dylan my apple. He said he was still hungry and wanted more apple. So I gave him my apple. I had 3 pieces left and I gave him 2.”
“Oh Connor! That was so sweet of you! We have more apples though. I could have cut more apples when I came downstairs. You didn’t have to give Dylan your apple. Do you want more or something else to eat?”
“Dylan said he wished he had more apple so I gave him mine.” And while he said no, he didn’t want anything else to eat, his little face looked like he was maybe still hungry.
My eyes instantly swelled with tears. Connor has the sweetest, most caring and loving nature. He has more compassion than most adults. He is so incredibly thoughtful and kind. This illustration is just one example of his sacrificial and caring character. I am astounded by him daily and honestly, I wish I had his heart.
My goal in parenting is to raise my boys to be kind, caring, and sympathetic to others, always praising God and knowing Him intimately. I want them to focus their hearts and minds not on things that “moth and rust can destroy” but on the true treasures in life… people.
When asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:36-39)
Then in Matthew 25: 34-40 he says:
“34‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
I want us to be a God-honoring family that loves our neighbor, that serves the least of these. We have been blessed abundantly and my prayer is that we would be a blessing to others. I am overjoyed when I see this arise from the hearts of my boys.
For the last two years, I have taken all three boys to a senior retirement home on Halloween. We chose not go during their Trick or Treat hours, but rather on our own. The boys dress up in their costumes and I print Halloween postcards for the boys to hand out to the residents. The postcards are simple pictures of pumpkins and a black cat with the words, “Happy Halloween. Love, Connor, Dylan, and Ethan.” The point of the postcards is for the boys to have something they can give to the residents to prompt interaction between them. I tell the boys, “While we are there visiting, you may not ask the residents for any candy. If you get candy, that is okay, you can take it. However, we are going to go visit the ‘old people’ at the retirement home to help make them happy today. Your job is to make sure everyone gets a postcard.”
The boys love it. They love the attention they get. They love handing out their postcards. And they are even happy with the mere 1-2 pieces of candy they receive from the front desk receptionist. Halloween night as I tucked the boys in, I asked them each separately what their favorite part of the day was: visiting the residents at the retirement home, having lunch at McDonald’s (where they played in costume and saw some friends from school), or trick or treating. Both boys answered the same, “visiting the old people and trick or treating.”
Last night as I tucked the boys in bed, I wanted to get their prospective on serving so I could share it with you. I once again talked to each boy separately. I brought up our visit to the retirement home. When I asked them why they like visiting the ‘old people’ they said they like handing out the postcards because it makes the residents happy. I then asked, “How does it make you feel?” Connor said “happy” and Dylan said “good.”
Likewise, I asked them if they enjoy packing up boxes of food for the local food shelter around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Connor’s response, “Yes! I like to pack boxes.”
So I had to push a little further, “Is it because you like packing boxes or because you like to give the gift of food to people in need?”
“I like to give the food gift. I like to help people that need food get it for their family.”
“Connor, what else do you think we could do to help people?”
“We could give them toys and money. They could use the money to buy food and balls to play with that way their family has toys.”
“What else could we do to help people?”
“We could give them clothes. Like shirts and pants and socks and earrings and necklaces.”
“How do you think that would make the people feel?”
“Would you like to give some of your shirts and pants and socks to someone who needs them?”
“No,” he said very thoughtfully. “That would make me sad because I need them.”
“What if you gave them clothes you don’t wear? Would that be okay? Would you still feel sad?”
“That would be okay. I would feel happy.”
Dylan’s responses were that he likes to visit the retirement home to “show the old people his costume and hand out the postcards” and says it makes him feel good.
As far as what he thinks of packing food for the hungry, he said “I like to pack food for people who do not have food. That will make them happy to have food on their plate if they don’t have food. I am sad if I don’t have food on my plate. That would make them happy to have food.” And when I posed the question of what else he thought we could do to help people he answered, “Give them clothes. Give them toys. Play outside with them and take them to Grandma CC’s house to climb the apple tree. That would make them happy.”
Throughout the year, we do projects as a family to serve those in need. (See Fall & Holiday Kid-Friendly Service Projects for great ways you and your family can serve others.) I want to continue growing their desire to help others and to encourage those wonderfully caring and loving little hearts to love others.
What types of service projects do you do with your family?
Today’s post has been included in Inspired by Familia’s 21 Days of Gratitude!
Each day in November, a blogger will share a quote with you and an activity or their words of gratitude as we celebrate this month of thankfulness. The schedule is here and all of the info for you to join in.
These are the wonderful bloggers joining in the 21 Days of Gratitude: Inspired by Familia, Upside Down Homeschooling, Still Playing School, Makeovers and Motherhood, P is for Preschooler, The Educators’ Spin On It, Toddler Approved!, The Connection We Share, Mama Pea Pod, Mum in the Madhouse, Mama Miss, Plain Vanilla Mom, Tips from a Typical Mom, Learning with Mouse, Preschool Powol Packets, Kids Yoga Stories, Dirt and Boogers, Local Fun for Kids, Positive Parenting Connection, Kitchen Counter Chronicles, The Good Long Road, Bits of Positivity, JDaniel 4’s Mom, The Eyes of A Boy