(Inside: A monthly giving challenge for your family. Raise giving kids. Connect with your family over giving. Check out this monthly giving challenge.)
HOW IT ALL STARTED
I’ve been on a journey to notice and see God in my everyday life.
I decided to follow Jesus as a little girl and my spiritual journey has swayed between being fully immersed in my relationship with God to feeling stagnant and immobile in my walk. In my adult life, I was starting to see the busyness of work and life creep into my heart, not leaving room for me to be still and notice the ever-moving, ever-working, living God that continually surrounds me.
So when my second son was born, I decided to intentionally pause and let myself daily see God’s beauty around me. As a result, that fire that He lights in our hearts was rejuvenated and is steadily growing warmer.
Then, I read two books that made me stop and think: Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt and 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.
Wow. I need some time to process.
Because those books challenged me to evaluate what our culture and society tell us is “necessary” and “normal” in life and what about America’s churches is truly Jesus’ message and what is not. (And to be clear, I find church encouraging, nurturing, and inspirational. We love our church family and will always go to church. It means that much to me. I truly love it.)
But, these books made me think about what it means to “share God’s love” and “love your neighbor as yourself.”
I’ve been specifically asking myself, how much do I actually reach out to those that are truly in need? We serve in our church, but is that being “living church out there” as our pastor always challenges us each Sunday? Could God work through our family more?
What shows Jesus’ love more than “doing?” What moves me? Talking the talk or walking the walk? Seeing people “doing“ deeply inspires me.
And when I say “doing” I mean that I want to be better involved in paying attention to tangible needs in our community (and world) and stepping in to help. This thought beats so loudly in my heart, I can’t ignore it.
WHAT I’M GOING TO DO ABOUT IT
Also, now that I’m a mother, I want to teach my children about how to love God and want to walk with him. I want to raise generous kids who notice the world around them. I hope they realize they can share the love and peace God gives us all by being the hands and feet of Jesus. I want them to feel the joy of giving, serving, and being in a community. It enhances others’ lives, but it enhances their lives, as well.
And I could go on and on…
These thoughts have been on my mind for weeks.
So, I’ve been sharing them with my husband, and we’ve been brainstorming about what we can do about this as a family.
Our Once-a-Month Challenge:
We’ve come up with a mission that we’ll call “Once-a-Month.” We’re going to try and connect with and serve others that are truly in need once a month as a family. As I type this, it doesn’t seem like enough. But, I want to set us up for success, because once-a-week wouldn’t happen with the schedules of two working parents and two of our three kids in school and activities. So “once-a-month” it is and we are excited about coming up with how we can show Christ’s love to others through intentionally serving and giving to those in need.
1. This is for people truly in need, taking cookies to our neighbors doesn’t count. (Though that is nice and perhaps makes up for all the Nerf Gun bullets they collect and give back to us before they mow.)
2. We must notice what is going on around us and when people/organizations are asking for help, we’re going to jump in.
3. If we aren’t talking to people in need, we are reading their stories and taking time to think about who they are and how God loves them.
4. Our giving needs to be done once each month as a family.
5. No stressing about if we are giving enough or giving in the right way. We’re just to find a need and meet it.
We are starting this monthly giving challenge in a few weeks, and do you know what I’m most nervous about?
Finding places/people to give to. (My busy life seems to have confined me to a bubble. And my workplace, teaching in a large public high school, I made off-limits for this family activity.) I’m also just jittery in general., so stepping out of my comfort zone is always nerve-wracking. However, I’ve found that it is often when I learn and grow the most, so I’m moving forward anyway.
So with some fire in my heart and a few nerves, I say, “Bring on next month!“
Our year is over, so you can read more about and ahead in our monthly giving challenge.
“The benefits of actively fostering children’s charitable impulses are enormous. Besides helping counter the overdeveloped ‘gimme’ impulse, it gives kids a powerful boost in self-esteem to realize they can make a difference in someone’s life. ‘And as corny as it sounds,’ says Patricia Schiff Estess, a New York City writer and the author of (Amazon affiliate link) Kids, Money & Values, ‘when you help a child help others, you are helping to create a better world.'”
That lesson floating around our home for a year? Yes, please.
So, we started what we’re calling the “Once a Month” strategy. Each month, we looked for a way to give, and very often, it involves just noticing what’s already in front of us. (Convenient!)
Here’s how the once-a-month giving strategy rolled out:
If you decide to take use this giving strategy, remember this is YOUR THING. Do what God places on YOUR HEART. Whatever works, big or little. Your family will be moved by however you decide to extend your hand. And hopefully, so will the people you give to.
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Cheryl is a mom of 3 boys, wife, speaker, high school teacher, and author of Empowered Moms & Kids. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is passionate about learning and teaching. On www.empoweredmomsandkids.com you’ll find inspiration and encouragement for moms raising tweens and/or teens. Read more in the “about” section of this page.