One thing we've been trying to do with our extra time here in Abilene has been service. Highland's been doing a series on it getting the church members out in the community visiting people in hospitals, fixing their homes, making "manna" bags for the poor, visiting neighbors, painting, etc. Our family too has been trying (sometimes not as well as we'd like) to carry on some of the things we learned firsthand during our days in the Friendship House: allowing God to keep our eyes tuned to needs of others as they come up in our daily life.
Just last week, Lee and the kids were out driving and pulled up to a stop light were a homeless man was asking for help. Thankfully, our car has had an ample supply of manna bags (Ziploc bags full of bottled water, crackers, vienna sausages, and cookies) so we thought we offer him one. After presenting him with this small gift, we received his gift of "God bless you" and were on our way. In the days that followed, sweet Sofia spoke of this adventure often and still brings it up when we're in the car. In fact, she's having a little trouble differentiating appropriate times to offer a manna bag as she's asked me multiple times to offer the roadside newspaper salesman one. But, its obvious that this idea of service and looking beyond ourselves is sticking, at least with her. Her tender heart is looking for these needs which is just what we desire for her. My prayer is that it will stick with me (with you, too!) especially as we trust God to continue to use us to "offer a cup of cool water" to those that thirst both here in Abilene, in Peru in the coming months and, ultimately, where the Lord chooses to lead us in the adventure of life.
As for Maddox, well, we're working with him as well. Lee recently decided to paint the house we're living in as a way to give back to Highland (and to get some get some good o'l west Texas sun). So, of course, wanting to be a good role model for Maddox, he recruited Maddox's services. Our sweet Maddox has such an anxious heart. Not in the sense of worrisome rather in the sense of "let's go, let's do something." In this case, "let's paint!" I absolutely love that about him. Below are some pictures of the experience. It is wonderful to watch our kids grow up serving and learning a little bit about hard work.
The best I can figure as a parent is I've got to constantly create a culture of service and love for others in our home. In all honesty, who knows if this will "stick" with them and just how good of an example I myself will be for them in this area (hopefully a good one!). Who knows if this idea of looking beyond themselves will be a foundation for the way they view the world and then a foundation upon which they build their families. I've got to hope that it will. I'm being convinced that service should no longer be viewed as a "compliment" to ministry. Meaning, the real work is speaking one's faith, one's beliefs and converting people for Christ. For me, the truth's become, service IS ministry. Christ met physical needs and also saved them spiritually. Maybe God will embed that principal in the life of our family as He teaches us daily to serve His children. I'm excited to see where God takes this foundation tomorrow and in the years to come as He uses us to serve...and, ultimately, to reach His children.
If anyone's interested...I'd love to hear your thoughts on how this works in your lives. Feel free to share what God's been showing you lately especially in regard to teaching your children.