Those of you who don’t live under a rock may remember that last week was Halloween. We don’t celebrate Halloween, and I just don’t think much about it.
So, last Friday afternoon at around 3:30 (our community trick-or-treat time), the boys and I sat in the middle of our messy living room playing Scrabble, Jr. (otherwise known in our house as “the word game.”). I won’t paint you a not-so-pretty picture, but I wasn’t really dressed for company.
The door bell rang.
No light bulb came on in my head. I was still oblivious. I opened the door, and through the screen I see my 3-year-old darling neighbor dressed as a chicken, looking up at me expectantly.
Hello, panic mode!
For many moms this might not be a problem, but we don’t generally keep candy in our house, and I couldn’t mentally locate a single piece of it. I ran to the pantry hoping for candy to be hiding somewhere. I dug around, and there was nothing. Mind you, the little girl and her mom and grandma are standing on our porch this whole time.
Finally, my brilliant 6-year-old suggests, “Hey, we can give her some gummies.” It was either that or some stale cracker chips.
So, our neighbor got a pack of gummies for trick-or-treat from us. Then, her grandmother (who lives across from us), handed us 2 treat bags full of candies for my boys. Yeah. I’m really storing up points for that mom of the year award!
So, there’s our funny Halloween story.
It’s what happened next that made this mama’s heart swell. My boys spent the next 15 minutes looking for things to give future trick-or-treaters. We found a bit of candy that had been tucked away for special treats, and they were happy to give it up for children who might come to our door.
My 4-year-old was running back and forth to his bedroom finding special toys that he wanted to give to trick-or-treaters. He wanted to bless someone.
And they were blessed in those moments. Those moments they spent looking around for candy and small toys to give away were truly joyful moments in our house.
Children are hungry to serve
As much as I love my kids and think that they are pretty awesome and amazing, I don’t think they are alone in this. Years ago, I worked with an organization called America’s Promise. Their programs are built around what they call the 5 promises. 5 things that children need in life, (1) Caring adults; (2) Safe Places; (3) A Healthy Start; (4) Effective Education; (5) Opportunities to serve others.
This is a secular organization, but they recognize that we are born with a need to serve others. To give back.
God’s word is clear, time and time again. We should prefer others, give to others and treat them the way we’d want to be treated. We should give, love, and serve “the least of these.” There is no question that our Heavenly father has given us charge to serve others. We are created in His image–so of course that need would be deeply ingrained in us.
Learn from your children
We believe strongly in the call to serve and give at our house, but I think as adults, we fall into a practical form of it. We’ll toss $1 in a special offering, but it’s easy to justify holding back. I’ll never forget the time my son came to my husband and I and said he wanted to spend all his money on a friend’s birthday gift. He had $7. This friend hasn’t always been very nice to my son. And has so much more in terms of financial things, and has turned up their nose at gifts from my son before. Everything in me said “don’t waste your money on this, because it won’t be appreciated.”
But the Holy Spirit spoke to me that day. Isn’t that how God gives? He gave us His best. He gave us His all. Even though we turn up our noses at Him. Even though He knew His gift would be rejected, he still gives, unreservedly and without limits. Everything.
I spoke a bit yesterday about using serving and giving to keep our hearts on Jesus throughout this season. I want to do more. And I want to challenge you to do the same. Whatever you’re doing now–do just a little bit more.
Give your children opportunities to give and serve.