One of the things my husband and I try to be intentional about, is finding ways to bless and encourage others at their point of need; regardless of what we have in the bank or how weary we may feel, there are countless ways to touch the lives of others all around us. This is especially something we involve the kids in.
I feel like my heart lives in this constant place of ‘tension’, where I want to do so much more than what our circumstances allow, but we simply aren’t able to. To do so would take food from my own children’s mouths, or make living in this society much harder than what I’m willing to do at this stage.
Perhaps I should put it like this: to what extent should we simplify our lives and channel our excess funds towards the pouring into the needs of others? We all have a different place that we live in this regard. Yes, we could disconnect from the internet and not buy toys for our children or gifts for people, then potentially free up some more ‘giving’ funds – but I don’t believe that is the right thing for us. The way Shawn and I try to look at it is, we hold all things lightly, so if one day if we were to find ourselves without or needing to give something away, our world wouldn’t crumble down as a result. Still working on that one. 😉
But in the meantime, we give what and when we can, and pray that the Lord will multiply our offering to Him. And let me add this – sometimes the Lord leads us to give where we ourselves go without and the recipient seems to have more than enough already. Call it ‘Kingdom economics’ – it’s not about the maths or what we can always see on the surface, but about an eternal perspective, our willingness and obedience to Him, and sowing up treasure in heaven… into His hands.
Here are some simple and fun things you might like to do as a family to bless others in need around you – even if you’re on a tight budget, there should be something here you can do.
- Put an extra food item in your trolley each week and when you’ve saved up enough, buy a basket from the op shop and fill with your grocery items (or recycle a gift bag);
- Make up a basket of goodies from your vege garden, including bundles of herbs, and deliver to someone who would love some extra fresh food that week;
- Give a ‘Necessities’ Gift Bag to someone that has things such as soap, laundry detergent, toilet paper, and dish detergent, all wrapped up in a tea towel. You could put it all in a bucket, which you can buy for less than a dollar.
- Get your homeschool group on board for a special project: eg. collect food items for Christmas hampers.
- Scan through your pantry and consider parting with items that you haven’t used in a year, such as canned goods. Give to your local foodbank.
- Collect up toys that your children have grown out of – and that are still in good shape to give.
- Ask around at your local bakeries and cafes if they are throwing out food at the end of the day, and see if you can take some to give to people who could do with a little extra.
- You could also find out if anyone has fruit trees or big gardens with a little excess harvest, and deliver a basket of fresh produce. It’s hard to ask for help – save someone that difficulty and be the delivery person for them. 😉
- Contact some local charities and ask how you could best serve them – perhaps you could do flyer drops in your neighbourhood, help in the office, special projects or campaigns, or some other form of volunteering.
- Support a charity such as ‘Samaritans Purse’, where you collect coins in plastic bottle over the course of the year, to give the gift of water. Also for Samaritans Purse…
- Save up items for an ‘Operation Christmas Child’ over the year, or do a shoebox with your children’s church kids or homeschool group.
- Adopt a nursing home in your town, and visit these wonderful elderly people with hugs, homemade pictures, and maybe even a musical recital or two. 😉
- Sponsor a child – encourage your children to contribute some of their pocket money each month. We know of one ministry to the needy that only ask for $4 a month. It’s really not much.
- Adopt a teacher – if you’re homeschooling, consider adopting a Christian school teacher and praying for them, as they serve and love children who go out to school.
- Give your change to that person standing outside the store that you usually say no to. Encourage your children to give some of their pocket money too.
- What are you gifted in? Music? Building? Writing? Sewing? Offer your gift of service to someone. It costs you so little, but could make all the difference to them.
- One of my personal favs – group foster homes – find out how you can help support them. The smallest things can mean the world to a child that is away from their parents and living with other kids in a foster home. Ask them what they need, and get your groups and friends involved in raising support (eg. backpacks, personal care and hygiene items, Easter treats, Christmas gifts or hampers for the homes)
- Add your strength behind someone else’s cause that are loving on others – find out how to help international projects that are reaching the vulnerable.
If you don’t know who the needy and vulnerable in your own community are, make the effort to find out. They could be living on your street, going to your church, or (home)schooling with your children.
I know these are just small things and won’t change the world. But it might make a difference to one. And what if you were that ‘one’?
Aside from giving to alleviate physical needs, be generous in your relationships – pray for others; give words of encouragement and life; speak hope and healing words; give of whatever you have in your basket. And trust the Lord to multiply your offering.