When our third child was born, our oldest was still in pull-ups. We had three children, age three and under. We were “busy” by anyone’s definition. Fast forward almost 16 years and we now have a senior, junior, and freshman in high school. And, we are STILL as busy as ever, only now the “busyness” has just taken different forms.
Full disclosure: The urgency to find service opportunities for our family did not come from hearts compelled by the love of Christ. Initially, the idea was suggested by a specialist at Williamson County Schools. She told us that kids who learn how to serve, become more compassionate in general and are more likely to develop empathy. Further, if we wanted to put our kids on the right track (I’m paraphrasing), we should engage in service as a family. “No problem”, we thought, “we’re educated, intentional people, how hard can it be?”
Unfortunately, it was harder than we ever imagined. At this time, our kids were in elementary school, playing whatever sport it happened to be based on the season of the year, and, going to church and church activities. My husband, Chris, worked full-time, coached the teams, helped run the local Rec League, and took care of the yard and other regular, household responsibilities as dads do. Needless to say, we had little to no margin. And, time was only half of the equation. The other half was finding a place to serve that we could neatly schedule into our already busy calendar.
Where could we find a place that not only fit into our schedule but also had things for all five of us to do that required little to no training and that would make an impact? Admittedly, I was too busy to even search diligently (or so I thought), forget about actually having success finding something. So, we vowed to just go to the rescue mission at Christmas or Thanksgiving and serve a meal. Sadly, we never even followed through with that. But, God persisted.
One thing that actually did tug at our hearts consistently was bringing more children into our home. However, I wasn’t really interested in adoption and Chris, on the other hand, said he could never have foster children come into our home, fall in love and then give them back. What were we to do? What else was there?
In the spring of 2013, we were living in Orlando, Florida attending First Baptist Orlando. They announced they would host a conference by Focus On The Family called, “Wait No More”. The goal was to inform the church about orphan care and the variety of ways to serve. Chris and I agreed that we were definitely supposed to go even though we didn’t really think we were going to hear anything new. Thankfully, we were wrong! What we learned at the conference was the catalyst God used to change our minds and our hearts, about what was possible for us as a family.
Safe Families for Children was a relatively new, nationwide ministry to help families who were experiencing some type of crisis beyond their control. By becoming a Safe Family, we brought the service into our home, solving the problem of scheduling. Instead of going out into the community, the community came to us. The hostings were totally voluntary. And because we were already accustomed to having multiple kids doing multiple things, we decided what’s a couple extra?
What we also discovered, is that we are capable of doing more with less - less money and less time, when we are following a plan that the Lord has put in place and not just trying to check a box. As we spent less time with ESPN, HGTV, Netflix, and social media, we had more margin than we realized. Through a willingness to be willing to trust and obey God in new, unusual, and sacrificial ways, He can and will begin to transform our families through ongoing acts of service.
Simply by asking the Lord, “How can I serve You today?” then paying attention to what is going on in our community and around the world, I have discovered many ongoing opportunities that anyone can do. Are our teenagers as engaged with everything these days as much as we would like? No. But are they “catching” what’s going on around them by observing and listening? Yes. I believe the saying is true, “More is caught than taught.” Especially when it comes to teens.
Regardless of how much or how little time and experience you may seem to have, I can say with 100 percent certainty, it is possible to serve the Lord weekly, in the community and the world, on a regular ongoing basis. “Not everyone can do everything. But, everyone can do something.” This is true when it comes to reaching the lost with the gospel. We all can “go and make disciples” if we allow the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us. This “busy” family is living proof.