October 21, 2012

From Mother Teresa

A great example of service, love and selflessness, Mother Teresa went above and beyond her entire life.  If you haven't read anything by her or about her, you should.  When you talk about heros with your children, she is a good one.  Not all of us can go to the extremes that she did, but we can emulate many of her actions and attributes.  I especially loved that early on she served the population of India that everyone else wanted to pretend didn't exist.  She is one of my "heroes", one of the people that I look up to, someone whom I will teach my children about. 

So for your Sunday inspiration, here are a few of my favorite quotes from Mother Teresa (I can't actually verify the accuracy of any of these, but they are attributed to her, so I'll go with that):

Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.

If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.

Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.

The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it.

We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls.

We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.

October 14, 2012

A Poor, Wayfaring Man of Grief

A good reminder of whom we serve.  These words have been put to music, but I sometimes think we can better grasp the meaning if we read it and picture it in our minds.
A poor, wayfaring Man of grief
Hath often crossed me on my way,
Who sued so humbly for relief
That I could never answer nay.
I had not pow’r to ask his name,
Whereto he went, or whence he came;
Yet there was something in his eye
That won my love; I knew not why.

Once, when my scanty meal was spread,
He entered; not a word he spake,
Just perishing for want of bread.
I gave him all; he blessed it, brake,
And ate, but gave me part again.
Mine was an angel’s portion then,
For while I fed with eager haste,
The crust was manna to my taste.

I spied him where a fountain burst
Clear from the rock; his strength was gone.
The heedless water mocked his thirst;
He heard it, saw it hurrying on.
I ran and raised the suff’rer up;
Thrice from the stream he drained my cup,
Dipped and returned it running o’er;
I drank and never thirsted more.

’Twas night; the floods were out; it blew
A winter hurricane aloof.
I heard his voice abroad and flew
To bid him welcome to my roof.
I warmed and clothed and cheered my guest
And laid him on my couch to rest,
Then made the earth my bed and seemed
In Eden’s garden while I dreamed.

Stript, wounded, beaten nigh to death,
I found him by the highway side.
I roused his pulse, brought back his breath,
Revived his spirit, and supplied
Wine, oil, refreshment—he was healed.
I had myself a wound concealed,
But from that hour forgot the smart,
And peace bound up my broken heart.

In pris’n I saw him next, condemned
To meet a traitor’s doom at morn.
The tide of lying tongues I stemmed,
And honored him ’mid shame and scorn.
My friendship’s utmost zeal to try,
He asked if I for him would die.
The flesh was weak; my blood ran chill,
But my free spirit cried, “I will!”

Then in a moment to my view
The stranger started from disguise.
The tokens in his hands I knew;
The Savior stood before mine eyes.
He spake, and my poor name he named,
“Of me thou hast not been ashamed.
These deeds shall thy memorial be;
Fear not, thou didst them unto me.”

Text: James Montgomery, 1771–1854
Hymns, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, no. 29

October 7, 2012

Help Me Grow - Utah

Just wanted to point all my faithful followers to the guest post I did recently on the Help Me Grow blog.  It gives a quick overview of why we started doing our Summer of Service, our favorite projects from 2012 and some ideas for helping your family to get started serving.  Go check it out. And feel free to leave a comment, I would love to hear from those I know!

Help Me Grow is a program of United Way designed to support parents by providing information and connecting them with helpful community resources.  You can call their hotline with questions by dialing 2-1-1 or you can find tons of useful tips, ideas and resources on their blog, helpmegrowutah.blogspot.com (where you will also find the afore mentioned guest post!).  They talk about everything from potty-training to fighting childhood obesity to ideas for summer camp.  Many of their articles are written by experts in the field, so you know that they are accurate and full of real facts - not just someone's opinion. 

So check them out.  Use their search tool - you will be surprised how much information is on there!  And maybe even become a follower, they consistently have pertinent and useful articles.  If you are a parent, it will be well worth your time!

September 2, 2012

Because I Have Been Given Much

This has always been one of my favorite hymns.  We serve to show our gratitude for all the He has blessed us with.  The more we have, the greater responsibility we have to give and share with others.  I truly believe that.
Because I have been given much, I too must give.
Because of thy great bounty, Lord each day I live.
I shall divide my gifts from thee with every brother that I see,
who has the need of help from me.
Because I have been sheltered, fed by thy good care…
I cannot see another’s lack and I not share-
my glowing fire, my loaf of bread, my roof’s safe shelter over head,
that he too may be comforted.
Because I have been blessed by thy great love dear Lord,
I’ll share thy love again according to thy word.
I shall give love to those in need. I’ll show that love by word and deed,
thus shall my thanks be thanks indeed.
Hymns, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, No. 319

August 29, 2012

What Now??

Our second Summer Of Service came to a successful conclusion without big fanfare, but it was amazing!  What great times we had.  We worked.  We learned.  We built traditions.  My children survived and thrived.  I have no doubt that we are creating a culture of service in our family, and I love it!

But now that summer is over, we are back to the grind.  Back to early mornings, homework, and trying to fit it all in.  Back to tight schedules and too many responsibilites. 

So what about service? 

As far as projects go, I am shooting for one family project or service activity a month.  As far as this blog goes, I will be revamping, updating, adding, and making it a better place for you to find ideas and to get inspired.  I will be posting book reviews of some great resources I have found that are non-digital.  ;)  I will also be posting about some of the volunteer work that I do on a regular basis, about some international organizations I admire, and about the humanitarian trip my 10 yr old and I are planning.

So stay tuned, there are good things to come!

August 22, 2012

Book Review: 52 Weeks of Fun Family Service by Merilee Boyack

I am always looking for new ideas and this book fit the bill perfectly!  I loved it and I am quite certain that I will be referring to it as we plan more  and more projects.

This book has a simple, easy-to-read format.  The first section is a couple chapters of why and how.  The second section has 52 projects laid out in 2-3 pages with what the project is, how to adapt it for littles and for teens, what to discuss to make it more meaningful, and ideas if you want to make it an LDS "Family Home Evening".  I liked how easy it was to quickly flip through and see what projects might be good for my family before I read from cover to cover.  I really liked the questions to discuss with your kids, because I think for kids to really understandwhat they are doing, this is such a huge part of any project!  I also liked that each project starts with a relevant quote.  Some that were new to me are now included in my favorite quotes:
          "Charity should begin at home, but it should not stay there." - Phillips Brooks, Episcopal Bishop
          "Make it a rule . . . never, if possible, to lie down at night without being able to say, 'I have made one human being at least a little wiser, a little happier or a little better this day'." - Charles Kingsley, novelist
          "Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat." -Mother Teresa
Many of the outcomes of service that she describes in this book are things that I have already discovered as we have served, but I really liked a few things that she points out:
  • Family service will increase family unity and identity.
  • Family service is an opportunity for family members to develop new skills and talents.
  • It gives parents an opportunity to teach about family values first hand.
  • Family members can feel proud of who they are and how they've helped.
A couple of our Summer of Service projects came directly from this book (for example, click here or here) and others have been adaptations of some of her ideas.  But there are plenty more that I can't wait to do . .
o   Placemats for Seniors
o   Service Scavenger Hunt
o   Librarian Appreciation Day
o   Trick or Treat for UNICEF
o   Help a Primary around the World
o   Rock Art Sale
If you want to take a peak inside the book, you can check out this link. And while you're there, I highly recommend buying the book. It will be a great resource for doing service with your family!

August 19, 2012

Buried in Books

For our last Summer of Service project (sniff, sniff), we enlisted the help of friends and neighbors (both real and virtual).
In case you can't read it...
We set about the neighborhood armed with these bags to collect books for a new library in a new assisted living and memory care facility.

We also posted on our neighborhood Facebook page and announced it to our church congregation.  We collected all sorts of books - fiction, non-fiction, coffee-table books and lots children's books(since the residents will have visitors, too).  I was pleasantly surprised at the generosity of everyone who donated.  We got new books, big hardback books and even nice leather-bound sets of books.

In the end, we ended up with over 250 books which filled the shelves in the small, neatly decorated library room at the Seasons of Santaquin (which, by the way, I will totally be living at when I am old - it was SO nice!).  I wish I had taken a picture with all of our books, but we had a great time delivering them and filling the shelves. 
This was a great project for my kiddos because (1) they know and love books, (2) they could actively participate in all aspects of the project, and (3) because they could see the end results of what we were doing.  (And they made us fresh baked cookies to say thank you!)