I think what I would like to work on is ministering within the home. Being okay with everything not being perfect and balancing that with having a home that is welcoming. Then having people come in that might be forgotten. My mother says, "Charity starts at home." It needs to start at helping our parents care for our grandparents, and visiting and honoring great-grandparents. Then looking after elderly members of the family that do not have direct descendants (or don't have any actively assisting them.)
Our focus during this season of life should be on how to minister to the people around us rather than trying so hard to go out to minister. It is difficult to get out with little children! This can be done occasionally, but time and resources would be better spent learning to minister from within the home, then this can become more of an outward movement as the children get older. It's taken me a while to get this. I had the best daydreams of weekly trips to the nursing home, and for some people that might be what they are led to do, but I think we need to focus on what we can do from here for the most part.
It's about being able and willing to set aside my schedule and convenience to help other people, but not forgetting that happy babies in a household hoping to remain somewhat peaceful can't regularly miss their naps! Balance. I want to be flexible, but also intentional. I'd like to start putting ministry or visiting appointments in my calendar. It might not always happen, I might have to reschedule, but at least it will stay on my radar and not get lost in the busyness of life.
Some practical ideas:
- Throwing a tea party or simply baking a birthday cake for an elderly neighbor or relative. We quickly baked a cake and decorated the table for an impromptu birthday tea for an elderly relative and she could not stop talking about it. It is a huge thing to them, and really pretty simple for you to do.
- Taking in the laundry from someone who is sick.
- Putting together a sick baskets of soup and cookies and a book and delivering it to someone that is sick. You would be amazed at how big a deal this is to people! Have soup stock and ingredients on hand for this. Keep a small stash of inexpensive gift items and perfect condition books from the thrift store on hand.
- Picking up an inexpensive bunch of flowers at the grocery store and delivering them on the way home.
- Working together to raise money or deciding what to do without in order to sponsor a missionary or child in a foreign country. We were talking this morning about a lemonade stand since a water park is opening just down the street from us this summer.
- Having a yard sale or bake sale to raise money for a missionary ministering in the area of a crisis (such as the earthquake in Haiti).
- Inviting neighborhood children into your family activities and sharing your home and the gospel.
- Doing Christmas boxes for Operation Christmas Child.
Some of these are things I've done and some are things I'd like to do, or do more of, in the future.