A Refreshing Summer Bucket List

It’s that time again!  Our local weather keeps teasing us with hot days that make it clear that summer is just around the corner!  I’m depending on my Summer Bucket List more than ever this year, as my children have reached a whole new level of fighting that I am certain will send me to the loony-bin if I don’t have a clear plan of attack.  That clear plan of attack comes in the form of my Refreshing Summer Bucket List. Continue reading

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First Friday Find: JustServe.org

It’s the first Friday of the month, which means it’s time for me to share something cool that I’ve discovered that can benefit the lives of others!  The moment I learned about this site, I knew it had to be my First Friday Find for December, the month of giving.  I want to share this First Friday Find: JustServe.org for a two-fold purpose.  Awareness of this site provides opportunities for non-profit organizations to be served and the community to be of service.  First, let me explain a little more about what First Friday Find: JustServe.org is all about.

JustServe.org

The About Us page on JustServe.org can give you more information, but the gist of the site’s purpose is simple, “JustServe.org links you to service opportunities in your community so you can make a difference wherever you are and however you want to serve.”  When you arrive at the Home page, you can enter your zip code to find service opportunities that have been posted in your area.  For example, in my area there are currently 11 opportunities to serve.  Projects posted include helping the Ronald McDonald House Charities, a ride match program to provide rides for disabled or low-income individuals, opportunities for teens to teach seniors how to become tech savvy, and more.  There is a chance that this website has not expanded to your community as of yet, but if it has made it to our neck of the woods, the likelihood is that it’s made it to yours as well.

As I mentioned, there are 11 opportunities posted in the area for our community, but I know there are more opportunities to serve that have not been posted.  That’s why I want more people to be made aware of this site, particularly those who are in need of service.  From what I have read, whatever project you need assistance with does need to be submitted for approval first.  I don’t know how extensive the process is, as I do not have a company myself.  However, I do have a house that’s in need of cleaning.  If only…nope.  This site is for legit service needs, but it cannot help an organization if they don’t even know the site exists.  Help me get the word out there for companies in need of helping hands.

Being that I do not have a legit need for service, my love of this site comes from the opposite end.  Not only do I want to serve my community, but I want my children to understand how important it is to look beyond themselves.  One of the cool features that the site offers is having a little icon on projects that indicate if a project is friendly for all ages.  For example, our city’s beautification program and local cat rescue can use helping hands of all sizes.  What a great chance to offer your kids (and yourself) the joy of service.

During this month where we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, what a wonderful gift we can give by following His counsel to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”  First Friday Find: JustServe.org is a helpful tool to make serving easier and more custom-fit to your family’s abilities.

 

 

Hiders and Seekers of Joy!

I vividly recall the panic I felt, as a child, when my friends wanted to play Hide-and-Seek.  The seeking did not make me as nervous as the hiding did.  I kid you not, most every time that I was waiting in my hiding spot, the urge to go potty would come on and I would have to call Time Out.  I wish I could figure out what it was about being discovered that was so troubling to me.  As an adult, the seeking is the scary part for me, as my husband is infamous for jumping out of his hiding spot to startle the seeker.  I recently learned of a different Hide-and-Seek adventure though that I’m certain would only bring me joy.

In Lincoln City, which is along the northern coast of Oregon, there is an annual Seaside Treasure Hunt.  In February, volunteers hide glass floats and glass sand dollars along the beach.  This is the kind of Hide-and-Seek that piques my interest.  Not only would the search be fun, but the item you find is a beautiful piece of art.  Plus, the glass floats and sand dollars aren’t going to jump out and scare me.  This is a win-win situation to me.

Even as an Oregon resident though, I know a trip to the coast isn’t in the cards for me this upcoming month.  But it got me thinking, why not create my own Hide-and-Seek adventures for my loved ones?

In my teens and early twenties, I was much better about leaving love notes for my friends and family to find around their room or home.  It seems somewhere in the last five years or so, I forgot about how great it is to surprise someone with a note of admiration and gratitude.  Not that your hidden item has to be a love note.

How fun would it be if each of us were as the Lincoln City Volunteers and we left a piece of joy for a seeker to find?  Maybe it’s flowers on a doorstep of a friend?  An anonymous note in the mail?  Or perhaps you tape a quarter to a parking meter for the next person, since feeding someone else’s expired meter is illegal in most places?  Better yet!  Get your kids involved!  My girls love to draw and paint pictures.  So much so that our refrigerator and walls are running out of room.  Why not add the words “Have a Great Day!” to one of their drawings and tape them to doors at an Assisted Living Residence (with the manager’s permission, of course)?  Or a candy box left in your mailbox with a Thank You note for the mailman?  The possibilities are endless.

Since it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to comb the Oregon coast this February, perhaps bring the spirit of the treasure of the Oregon coast to your neighborhood.  Be hiders and seekers of joy!

 

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Saving by Serving

When my eldest was born, I experienced a level of service rendered towards me that I was not familiar with previously.  It was the blessing of a home cooked meal brought by friends three times a week for nearly a month.  I was not accustomed to such a service.  Now, years later, we have been the recipients of countless meals in our family’s time of need.

This came to the forefront of my mind as we were, again, blessed with dinners brought in by friends. I had an unexpected hospital stay last week due to pneumonia.  As word spread that I was in the hospital, the well wishes, prayers, offered meals, and requested visits rolled in.  I felt so much love.  I even had one friend visit me in the hospital and insist on massaging my hands with lotion while she chatted with me.  I would have been perfectly content with her company, but her tender service warmed my heart that much more.

It got me thinking about how when I bring a dinner or share one of my husband’s baked goods (yes, my husband bakes), it feels like such an insignificant thing.  But when I’m on the receiving end, I am immensely overwhelmed by the love and blessing that comes with that service.  The same goes for any service, really.

Years ago, my husband and I were struggling financially and we were sitting at the table one night trying to figure out how to make our food go further for the week before pay day hit.  At that same moment, my neighbor texted me to tell me she had a coupon for $20 of groceries that was going to expire that night.  She was not going to use it and offered it to me.  I’ve often reflected on this event as a testimony that our Heavenly Father knows our every need and the blessings that come from service.  A simple service where one person hands over a coupon that they will not use to the person that stands in need of that very thing.

How many times, I wonder, do we think of such services and then get wrapped up in our daily lives and forget where our hands and heart are needed?

Before you spiral downward thinking that you are not being as service-minded as you’d like, think of those small acts of service that go a long way.  Giving a smile provides aid to the lonely and giving a call lends hope to the downtrodden.  I had a door opened for me once that still has an impact on me.  A teenage boy was visiting outside with his friends and saw me through the window about to come out of the restaurant.  He had no need to come in to the restaurant I was at.  He merely saw my need, as I struggled with my son’s stroller, opened the door and returned to his conversation with his friends.  A simple service where this boy looked beyond himself.

I hope to raise my children in such a way that they too will recognize the world around them and how they can help.  As I was giving thought to how to go about doing this, I came across two ideas that seemed to be the key to rearing service-minded children.  First, expose them to service opportunities in the community.

When I was in high school, I was one of the officers in the Interact Club; an extra-curricular club based on serving the community.  We had a couple activities that made an impact on my view of the world, but there is one in particular that stands out.  We were assigned to hand out food to those in need at a local church parking lot.  It was a drive-thru process and each station had a food group where volunteers would place food in to the cars of those less-fortunate.  Naively, I was unaware that so many in the community were dependent on that free food.  That act of service taught me about what I truly have in life and what I have to give.  We can give of our time, certainly, but we can also give of our sustenance, our joy, and our love.  Serving in the community helps us to better understand all that we have and where we are needed.

Another way for our children to learn about the blessing of service is the same as it is for any virtue: lead by example.  I learned the great value of a meal being brought in by those who served me.  I learned that receiving a cooler filled with snacks, drinks, and toys for your young child when your Mom is dying is surprisingly perfect.  I learned that a surprise treat of any size or kind at your door brings uncontrollable joy in the hearts of all those in the home, particularly the children.  I learned that special mail deliveries can cheer up even the saddest of hearts.  I learned that an unexpected “kidnapping” of your kids so they can have a playdate with friends while you’re stuck home on bed rest will move you to tears of gratitude.  And I learned that dollar store care packages are worth much more than the money spent to put them together.  I learned these things because others set the example for me.

I am still learning and feel humbled by the myriad of services that have been rendered on my family’s behalf.  It may not seem like much when you’re on the giving end.  It may seem like just a meal, or just a note, or just a smile, or just a bag of hand-me-downs, but I can assure you, from the recipient’s stand point, you are saving the world one kind deed at a time.

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