Friday, November 14, 2008

Teaching Compassion

Ahhhh, Christmas approaches.

The season of peace, joy and love "I want", "I want", "I want"......

This year we are not playing that game. We are turning our focus away from ourselves and on to God and his work, his plan for us. In my continuing effort to emphasize giving more and wanting less to my kids we are doing a few different things this holiday season.

#1: We aren't exchanging Christmas gifts with my family or each other. We decided just to spend time together skiing as a family. The kids were a little disappointed at first, but the closer it gets to the actual trip the more excited they get. They know that they will still get presents from the other side of the family, so that probably softens the blow a little bit.

Most Christmas gifts are fun but they are also useless. Someone spent a lot of time and money buying us something that, while we will enjoy and appreciate it, we don't really need it. We have more toys and clothes than we could ever use, and aside from food, that's all we need. So Christmas gifts just become another symbol of our selfish desires for unnecessary junk in our lives. We are simplifying here and that is the first step.

#2: We are filling an Operation Christmas Child shoebox. We are having fun finding things from around the house (new, not used) to put in the shoebox, like toothpaste, soap, a shirt, some socks, etc. I also found an unopened can of playdoh and several brand new pencils laying around that we put in the box as well. We've taken one small shopping trip where we spent $3.20 on some small toys for the box as well. We plan to include a note and a picture of our family in the box, too. We're also including a self-addressed stamped envelope so that our new friend can write to us if he wants to. (As an added bonus, Samaritan's Purse is also providing a barcode that you can put on the top of each box so that you will receive notification of the final destination country of your particular box. Isn't that cool?)

If you've never participated in Operation Christmas Child you should. It is a great way to help children around the world through an organization you can trust. It is also a super way to teach your own kids about poverty and our responsibility as the wealthy members of the planet to help those less fortunate. I use this time as a way to emphasize giving instead of receiving. The kids are going to have to give away 2 of their stuffed animals (barely used) to put in the box as well....they just don't know it yet.

#3: We are reading the stories from the Compassion Bloggers that just returned from the Dominican Republic. Compassion International sent a group of bloggers to the Dominican to observe the organization there and interact with the children in the program. These people then write about their trip and let the blogosphere know about all the good that the organization does. There are dozens of heartwarming stories and hundreds of pictures from all of the bloggers, but the one we are reading was written by a child. Nick Challis went on the trip and wrote his own blog about his experience. It is clearly a child's voice coming through the screen and my boys can relate to his feelings and experiences. I hope that this will be yet another exposure to the poor and needy in our world that we need to pray for and help in any way possible. I hope that it makes my children see how incredibly blessed they are to have all that they do, and grow in them a spirit of compassion and giving.

If you'd like to read any of the accounts of the trip here are the sites to check. (In most cases these link just take you to one post in a series so look around for more posts on each site.)

Melanie from Big Mama
Mary from Owlhaven
Marlboro Man from Pioneer Woman (yes, THAT Marlboro Man)
Jennifer from 5 Minutes for Mom
Brian from A Simple Journey
Shaun from Shaun Groves Shlog (yes, THE Shaun Groves)
Nick from Challies Jr. (our child correspondent)

#4: I am signing us up for a time to ring the bell for the Salvation Army. Standing in the freezing cold collecting 59 cents in the course of an hour in front of our small town grocery store will hopefully show the kids how hard it is to support benevolent organizations and how important it is to give to charitable works so that they can reach out to the people that need it when we can't.

I hope that all of my efforts pay off and my kids ask for less realizing how much they already have. My goal is to make them content with what they have....or less than what they have. When they see that lived out in us and in other people around the community and around the world I think they'll get the message.

1 comment:

Abbie H. said...

Bless you for using your voice for the children living in poverty.

I wanted to invite you to come over and sign up for a time to be in prayer with us on Thanksgiving for them. You can read about it here: