I can hardly believe how fast time this year has gone. The holidays are fast approaching and I am excited in a way that I am not sure I have ever been. After being so inspired by the goodness of so many people that have served my family, I decided to make an effort to pay it forward. Although our projects weren't anything magnificent, we did complete one service project each month as a family.
Every month, usually at the first family home evening of the month, we would try to come up with a service project that we could do. Sometimes, we would complete our service project as a family home evening activity. After the project was completed, we would sit down together and each write about what we did and how it made us feel. My younger children would tell me what they wanted to say and I would write it for them. My kids also drew pictures showing what we did.
All of our written experiences have been placed in our "gift" box that has sat on a little desk we have in our kitchen/dining area. The gift has been where we could see it all year long. I can hardly wait to put it under our tree. On Christmas Eve we will add to our tradition of having hot chocolate and homemade cinnamon rolls with reading some of our service experiences . I really can't wait to present our family gift to the Savior this year. We have been so very blessed and I wish to let Him know how grateful I am.
Lessons I have learned this year about service:
1-Service doesn't have to be some grand project. Simple acts of kindness can be as meaningful as the "big stuff."
2-Anyone can find ways to serve. In the beginning of this I had a hard time finding projects that I could do with my children who were the ages of 7, 6, 4, and 1 years old. Once we got going, we found many things they could do even at their young ages such as picking up garbage, cleaning up parks (sweeping woodchips or rocks off of pathways), making cards for people who are sick, etc. There are no boundaries as far as age, physical conditions, or special skills go. Anyone can find ways to serve.
3-There is always time for service if you make time. I went back to school to finish my degree at the same time we started this goal at the beginning of the year. I am a single mother and also work out of my home. Sometimes I felt too busy, but I realized that there was a problem in my life if I couldn't make enough time to do something good in the world with my children once a month. It takes a little planning, but just like anything else in life, you will make time for the things that are the most important to you.
4-Service is fun. I am not sure there is anything more rewarding than seeing your children work happily together to serve the Lord and His children. Often my kids teamed up to complete things. We made games out of it like seeing who could fill up their bag of garbage first or who could drop off their treat/note without being seen. Reading my kids write about how they "felt happy" or how a certain project "made them feel good inside" is so fulfilling.
I wish to again thank all those who have been such examples of giving and service. I pray that one day I can grow to be the kind of Christlike person that so many have been to me. I am excited to make this a permanent family tradition and 10 years from now have a pile of presents under our tree for our Savior.