As a mother, I am constantly looking for ways to help my children to see and experience God's love for themselves. That doesn't only include all the blessings He as poured out upon us, but also to realize that "it's more blessed to give than to receive."
For a while I have been praying and thinking about how I can help my small children, ages 5, 4, and 2, to give back to others. This is the first year we started homeschooling, since one is now the age for kindergarten, and it has been a wonderful experience. Don't get me wrong, that does not mean we haven't had hard or frustrating times, we have had plenty. But just the experience of teaching my own children is honestly a blessing. At some point I'll have to share the things they are learning, because it's pretty amazing stuff. Who knew a 3 year old could memorize the entire 10 commandments, and not a shortened version, but the whole thing in its entirety. Or even to know all the books of the Bible. Wow. God has made children to be so incredibly smart and capable.
Back to the point of this blog post. I've been thinking of ways to help my children help others. They'll do small things like holding the door open for others or giving things to the neighbors, but I wanted more. As I prayed about what we could do, since they're so young and I have three of them needing my full-time attention, God answered. The words, "feed the poor," kept running through my head. I knew it was God, but I still didn't know how we would do this. We're on a tight budget, and as you know the price of groceries has significantly increased. But never once has God failed us or His people
During a Costco trip I decided to get some extra food to make sack lunches to give to the homeless. It was simple and sustainable foods that would not need refrigerated. We had granola bars, fruit cups, boxed juice, water bottles, chips, and ingredients to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It's food most people would like and has some health benefits to it.
So I go the kids together soon after purchasing the items, and we set up a sandwich station and a sack station. The older two helped put all the items in the bags. Each kid was in charge of one item and had to make sure each bad had that item. My oldest would pick the fruit cups and put one in each sack. Then my middle child would put the granola bars in each bag, and so on. They were enjoying it and even counting how many bags and items we had. Since my kids are still pretty young I was the one making the pb&j sandwiches and putting them in ziplock bags.
We wanted to feed the hungry physical food, but also wanted to give them some bread of life, some scriptures. We stopped at a Christian book store and purchased some little brochures that told about how God cares for them. They are simple reads that can be done in 10 minutes, but can change a life forever. So we added one to each of the bags.
Before heading out we prayed over the bags and asked God to guide us to the people He wanted us to help. We had about 15 bags of food that we were ready to hand out. We drove around in the car to areas where we had seen homeless before. Some might think it's dangerous to do this, and it could be, but we knew God had asked us to "feed the poor" so we knew He would take care of us.
"The LORD watches over you— the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore." Psalms 121: 5-8.
We would stay in the car and I would roll the window down when I would see someone who looked hungry, I would say, "excuse me, would you like a lunch?" Everyone would come over to the car with a smile and say yes to them. They said thank you and left with a smile, but not as big as ours. Our heart were overflowing with joy to give to someone in need. It wasn't much, but it was what we had.
Finally we had one more lunch left and we were driving around looking for someone. As I was in a parking lot I saw a man at a bus shelter area. It was hard to tell if he was waiting for the bus or homeless. Afraid of offending him and asking if he was hungry, I didn't want to stop and ask, but something inside me made me stop. I got the mans attention and asked him if he was hungry, he quickly came over to the car and said, "oh yes! I'm so hungry, you saved my life. I haven't had anything to eat in a long time. Thank you so much. God bess." As soon as we drove away tears started falling from my eyes. It was God who made me stop and have the courage to ask this man if he would like a lunch.
My children were so excited about helping the people and when we got home they couldn't wait to share what they did with daddy. We prayed during our evening worship for the people who received the food and spiritual food. We don't know their stories or why they are without homes, but we know everyone could use some food.
My hope is to inspire others to pray and ask God how they can reach out to others, and have their kids help as well. We can read about how God fed the thousands of people, but we can also go out and help him feed them as well. We've done this a few times now, and even had some other friends come and help us.
One last thought before I close this blog post. We see in the bible many times God had used angels to help people. Once when I was in need of help with a car that wouldn't start, on a very hot day, with three little kids in the back, I asked God for help. I asked him to send an angel to help us. Someone near by I knew, came to help us in many ways with that situation, and on the way home I asked God why he didn't just send His angel. He told me, "why would I use an angel when I can use my people." He wants to use us. Let Him use us.