One of the Most Important Gifts We Can Give Our Children

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One of the greatest gifts in moving to Tennessee has been quickly finding a new church home. We’ve been challenged, inspired, uplifted, and spiritually fed each week through the preaching, as well as being blessed by the people and their warm hospitality and hearts for the Lord.

During the Christmas season, our church has been encouraging families to adopt a theme of “Less Under Our Tree, More For the World.”

While the adults in our church have been encouraged to give and make a difference, I’ve loved the strong emphasis they’ve placed upon encouraging the children to give, too. They have given the kids specific needs and ways that they can help with their coins and dollars.

These specific needs and dollar amounts have been a huge inspiration to our girls and they’ve been spending time doing chores, emptying their piggy banks, counting change, and soliciting donations from us for the special Global Christmas Offering on Sunday.

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Earlier this week, I discovered this sign that they had put in our hallway as a reminder for us all to keep contributing any loose change this week.

As I’ve observed my girls being so passionate about finding ways they can contribute and impact other children around the world, it’s motivated me to look for ways to be more of a giver in my own life.

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And Kathrynne and Kaitlynn’s desire to give is rubbing off on Silas, too.

Last week, I took the kids to the The Greatest Christmas event here in Nashville. Ann Voskamp was one of the main presenters, along with Ellie Holcomb and Amena Brown. This event was sponsored by Compassion, so halfway through, Ann shared about the opportunity to sponsor a child and how it could make such an impact.

When Ann finished sharing, my kids all looked at me, eager to do something about it. I quickly leaned over and reminded our kids about the girls we write notes to/support and the moms & babies we support through our CSP.

I want to be able to regularly write notes to our Compassion girls as I know this is so important to them, so we’ve opted to only sponsor two girls (plus our CSP) so that we could be more faithful about writing to them.

And honestly, I was feeling like that was enough. Or so I had told myself.

But then, 5-year-old Silas looks at me intently and said, “But what about the boys? We need to support the boys, too.”

I was speechless. There was no quick comeback for that plea.

So, I sat there for a moment and then said, “You’re right. We need to do something for the boys, too.”

I hesitated before I responded, “Would you like to pick a boy for us to sponsor?”

His eyes lit up and he excitedly responded “Yes!”

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The next day, Silas and Jesse looked through all the children waiting to be sponsored on Compassion’s site and finally chose 6-year-old Gerald from the DR.

Silas instantly felt a connection to Gerald because they are almost the same age and they both love baseball. Watching his enthusiasm over making a difference in Gerald’s life reminds me that giving our children opportunities to be involved in impacting others’ lives is one of the greatest gifts we can pass on to them.

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We don’t have much figured out as parents — other than that we have so much left to learn! — and every day, we struggle with attitude issues and character issues. There are days when it feels like nothing we are trying to teach or live before them is sticking.

But then there are moments like this past week, when we realize that they are watching and learning. And I’m so grateful for these hearts and their desires and willingness to have less under our tree so we can give more to the world.

If our kids can someday leave home knowing that there are a world of needs around them, that money will never buy happiness, that there is so much fulfillment that comes from giving, and that money is just a tool to be used to change lives, they will be well on their way to living contented, rich lives — no matter their income level or career.

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5 Ways to Teach Your Children to Be Givers

5 Ways to Teach Your Children to Be Givers

As parents, we want to train our children to be lifelong givers. Not only will it impact many lives, but it will give them so much blessing and fulfillment in return.

Here are five ways we’re seeking to teach our children to be givers:

1. Model It

More is caught than taught when we’re raising children. We can tell our kids how important giving is. We can read them stories of people who give generously. We can stress how much of a difference we can make in the world. But our actions will always speak louder than words.

Let your children see you giving generously — whether that’s opening your home up to those in need, serving in a local soup kitchen, going on a missions trip, giving to a charity near and dear to your heart, or sacrificing time and effort to help someone who is struggling.

We involve our children in much of our giving. We collect money as a family to give to causes we believe in. We often have them right next to us when we’re reaching out and serving those who are struggling. We write letters to our Compassion children. In the big and little things, we want to model a life of giving for our children.

5 Ways to Teach Children to Be Givers

2. Teach It

While modelling giving in front of your children is the highest priority, it’s also imperative to teach them why we give. Don’t expect them to just pick up on it all on their own. It’s important to help them understand the why behind the what.

We’ve sat our children down from a young age and explained to them the reasons behind why we’ve chosen to stay out of debt, to live simply, and to not use credit cards. It’s not just so that we can be in a better financial situation, but so we can be in a position to give generously.

As opportunities arise while we’re living life, we continue to talk with them about how blessed we are when we give. When they participate in a giving project with us, we talk with them about how it makes them feel, about what an impact they are making, and how we want to continue to live simply so we can give generously.

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3. Simplify It

Giving doesn’t have to be big and elaborate. It’s often the simple things that can make a big difference.

Look for opportunities that might seem small, but that are perfect for a young child to be apart of. We love Operation Christmas Child for this reason. It’s something that the whole family can be involved and a project that our children get really excited about.

We also encourage our children to earn money by jobs around the house and then to use some of that money for giving projects. Last year’s family giving project was spear-headed by the girls. And they’ve decided to do the same this year and have been working hard to fill the money box with cash they’ve earned from chores.

5 Ways to Teach Your Children to Be Givers
4. Practice It

As often as is possible, give your children little opportunities to serve and give. Develop the habit looking for ways to bless others from a young age. A life of giving is borne out of practicing the attitude of serving again and again until it becomes your natural response.

Have them help you around the house. Encourage them to do things to bless their grandparents or elderly neighbors. Give them chances to give up what they’d like to do or have in order to help or bless someone else.

5 Ways to Teach Our Children to Be Givers

5. Celebrate It

Giving is so much more fun when you celebrate it! Find the joy and excitement that comes from giving anonymously.

Give lavishly of yourself for others and you’ll be so blessed in return (Need some encouragement in this? Go get yourself a copy of Love Does by Bob Goff.)

And most of all, praise your children when you see them being givers. Celebrate their giving spirit and it will only inspire them to give more generously in the future!

Teaching Our Children to Be Givers
This post was underwritten by Shultz Photography School. Their mission is to teach moms & dads the secrets of professional photography. Why? Because the images you take of your kids, as they do ‘actual life,’ are the photos that matter most. Hands down. They will tell your family story and shape your legacy. Shultz Photo School is a step by step, web-based class that’s self-paced and custom-fit for busy parents.

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Less Greed, More Generosity

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During the month of October, I’m following along with Edie & Ruth on their 31 Days of Less & More journey. I’d love for you to join in by reading the posts and completing the projects, or just sit back and read along each day.

Less Greed

It’s easy to give from our abundance, but true giving requires sacrifice. This is something God has really been teaching me in recent years.

Since I’m not one who is very attached to many items, giving stuff to other people is fun, but it’s relatively easy to do. For instance, if I’m going to be getting rid of an item anyway, is it really a sacrifice to pass it onto a friend instead of tossing it in the Goodwill box? No, not really.

Giving of my time and effort, on the other hand, is an area where I often struggle. I can be stingy when it comes to giving of myself or setting aside my neatly planned out day to meet a need in someone’s life.

When a child needs me to drop everything I’m doing to help them with something, I can be feel frustrated or interrupted. Or when my husband calls and asks me to run an errand for him, it’s my natural reaction to feel irritated.

For me, that’s often the giving that matters the most. Because it’s giving where it really costs me something.

However, every time I give in a way that requires sacrifice, I’m so very blessed in the end. And it inspires me to let go even more and live with arms stretched out wide.

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More Generosity

When Jesse and I traveled to the Dominican Republic one thing that struck me was how generous these people were. They barely had anything and yet they were constantly offering us what little they had.

And they weren’t just giving us their leftovers; they were offering us their very best — the best chair to sit on or the best food they had to eat. It deeply challenged and convicted me.

I want to live my life with arms open wide. Willingly and gladly giving of my best for others. Holding nothing back. And at the end of my life, I want to have used up everything I was given — for others.

For more on this topic, check out Ruth’s post on Less Greed and Edie’s post on More Giving. I promise you’ll be inspired and blessed!

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Stop Trying to Make Yourself Happy & Start Focusing on Making a Difference

Recently, I finished The Charge by Brendan Burchard and while I didn’t love that there was a lot of language in the book (call me a prude, but I don’t think you ever need to use four-letter words to make a point!), I found some of the parts really inspiring.

I especially loved this quote:

“You want to change? Then do not, under any circumstances, allow yourself to settle on a vision or a calling or a simple change in any arena that is uninspiring. If you’re going to have clarity on something in your life, make it something so big and bright and shiny that you will get out of bed and chase it until you grasp it or die. Bring forth a desire that knows no safe boundaries and even scares you a little bit, that will demand all the best that is in you, that takes you out of your own orbit and onto new and unfamiliar ground. That kind of desire changes your life, and it changes the world.”

What are your goals in life? Are you thinking long-term or just trying to live through the next hour? If your goal is just to survive, that’s probably not going to give you a lot of excitement about life nor fuel much passion for existence.

If you want to live an amazingly fulfilling life, you must live for something bigger than yourself. Stop trying to make yourself happy or comfortable and start focusing on making a difference in someone else’s life.

When I started living for bigger things than just the moment, it completely changed my drive and enthusiasm for life. Here are my current long-term ambitions for living:

  • Nurture a vibrant relationship with the Lord.
  • Invest time and effort into my marriage in order that it would be strong, thriving, and last for the long haul.
  • Raise children of character who will grow up to be world-changers.
  • Challenge families to get their finances in order so they can be generous givers.
  • Inspire women to live with intention and purpose.

Will I see all of these things to completion in my lifetime? Only God knows. But I do know that investing my life into things that matter makes every day worth waking up for.

You only get one shot at life. Don’t waste it!

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Donate your Pampers Gifts to Grow points to Oklahoma victims

Here’s another way donate to the Oklahoma tornado victims for those who are on a tight budget.

Pampers is sending relief kits to Oklahoma to help those families with babies and small children. If you’d like to donate toward these relief kits, you can donate your Pampers Gifts to Grow points here. Every 10 points donated equal $0.10 donated toward the Oklahoma relief kits.

Pampers

If you’ve not signed up for Pampers Gifts to Grow, you can sign up here and get 100 free points. You can also add an additional 10 free points to your account here.

Thanks, Sarah!

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Perspective Changes Everything

Sunday afternoon, a huge storm blew through Kansas. Our area got pummeled with hail up to the size of golf balls.

When the wind and hail finally subsided, we emerged from our basement to discover leaves and broken limbs scattered all over outside. Every home in our neighborhood suffered some kind of damage — whether it was siding that was punctured with hail marks, screens that were ripped up, windows that were broken, fences that were blown down, cars that were dented, or trees that were partially uprooted.

Our home was spared some of the worst, but our shutters and siding were pretty pummeled, our front garden looked trashed, and two of our windows were broken (we’re still waiting to hear whether our roof was damaged or not). In addition, our children were pretty shook up about the whole experience since the wind and hail sounded so ferocious.

However, in light of yesterday’s tornadoes and the destruction they left in their wake, the damage in our neighborhood is so inconsequential. Our lives were never in danger and while our house might be a little beat up, it is still standing strong.

No matter what you might be going through in life, no matter difficulties you might be experiencing, it likely pales in comparison to what those in Moore, Oklahoma are going through today.

My heart broke as we watched the footage last night. I couldn’t even begin to imagine.

Truly, perspective changes everything.

If you have a sturdy roof over your head, a closet with some clothes in it, a little food in your fridge, and family and friends to hug, you are very blessed today. Remind yourself of that the next time you feel like complaining or wishing you were in someone else’s shoes. I can almost guarantee you that someone wishes they were walking in your shoes.

Would you like to help those in Moore, Oklahoma? Check out this simple idea here and also click through for this long list of places to donate to here. If you know of other legitimate opportunities, would you email me or leave the details in the comments?

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