One statement I often hear from parents of young children is as follows: " I am so overwhelmed already. I watch the news and it all seems so hopeless. I can barely keep up with my life as it is! I am exhausted and do not even know where to start to find ways to help my children learn compassion and how to truly 'Love Thy Neighbor' ".
Our hope is that this blog will be such a resource for you and your family. Our hope is that this blog is a resource for anyone who wants to put social justice into practice.
It is kind of like a one of those all-inclusive TravelStop Centers when you are on a major highway. I always love to stop at these places. In one stop, I can use the restroom, grab lunch, purchase a new CD of all my favorite 80's hits, and procure some gum claiming to bring mountain-top minty freshness to my mouth.
To start, here are some very tangible, real ways you can incorporate compassion-minded practices into your home.
1. Purchase the book, Operation World. This book is updated and published every year. It contains 365 days' worth of information on what is happening around the world and how you can pray for that particular country or city's issue that particular day. It also contains many facts and figures on countries which help you and your children to be able to pray more effectively and expand your Biblical worldview.
2. Oatmeal Night :: I received this idea from a friend, Dave McIrath, who runs the Ethiopian Guest House in Addis Ababa where we stayed while picking up our daughter. He and his family have oatmeal every Thursday night. And while doing so, they talk about what is happening in the Third World - Ethiopia in particular. And then they pray - as a family - for the particular needs for that week.
3. Homeless kits :: We keep kits in our car. They are usually a large ziploc bag, or a backpack that we got on clearance. Inside, we shop as a family and put the following:: small toothpaste and toothbrush, coupons for McDonalds, soap, socks, powerbars, bandaids, wipes, etc., a business card for a local shelter, and Bella draws a picture to put in. When we see someone on the street, she or I hands this kit to the person.
4. Meals:: Often, we come across people in our community who need a meal. And often, we moms are the ones to prepare the meal! Next time, include your children in the shopping and preparation of the meal. When it is ready, have your child(ren) add some artwork and pray together for the family and their needs. then, deliver it together.
5. Humane Society:: This may seem like an odd one, but one piece of social justice is Creation Care. One very tangible way for children to learn about their responsibility in caring for this world God entrusted to us is in relation to animals. Kids love animals. Often, the Humane Society welcomes kids coming and volunteering to help with their furry patrons.
6. Your Neighborhood:: In this day and age, we know very little about our neighbors. Start thinking and praying about how you might, as a family, reach out to your neighborhood. Some ideas: a spring/summer backyard BBQ, baking cookies together for neighbors that are on your heart and perhaps are particularly difficult, inviting a neighbor for dinner or Saturday brunch, putting on a neighborhood garage sale for a local charity, and on and on it goes...
7. Become Familiar with Your Local Charities :: I just know this one sounds tiring, because it requires doing some research. Again, no pressure, here. But most often your kids' schools and your place of worship are involved with charities and NPO groups. Most often, there are ways you as a family can help these organizations. Talk with them. And get creative! :)
Hopefully, those are some places that you can begin to explore in your journey to rise compassion-minded kids.
Perhaps with all that is going on in the media right now, you are wondering what in the world this term SOCIAL JUSTICE is all about.
Our next post is going to explore this term and how stinkin' Biblical it really is!