Does every parent have something they tend to say over and over to their children? Ya know...the phrase that just seems to come up all the time. One of my friends always says, "Do everything in love." I like that one. And in our family, the often-repeated phrase is "Let's have a servant's heart." When there are only 2 cookies left and 3 children who want those cookies, I say, "Who is going to have a servant's heart and give up their cookie to someone else?" When one child isn't feeling well, I will ask the other children, "How can we serve your brother (sister) today to make them feel better?" When I catch a child giving up a treasured item even though they really want to keep it themselves, I melt into praises of, "You have such a beautiful servant's heart!"
Some days are better than others. Sometimes it feels as though I talk to the walls. :) Sometimes I wonder if they are really "getting it." And then there are those moments when I get a glimpse that makes my heart soar...those short but wonderful moments when I can see that they really ARE listening to Mama talking about that servant's heart!
This weekend I lost my voice. Have you ever tried to parent 4 children without being able to talk to them?? :) It was a challenging weekend, needless to say. Early Saturday morning my oldest daughter told me to stay in bed. Soon, she came up the stairs with our tea tray lined with a pretty cloth and topped with hot tea, a plate full of nuts (arranged creatively), a cross bookmark and a sweet note on the napkin saying, "I love Mama!" She set the tea tray on the bed and then closed our bedroom door to leave me alone while she took the little ones to play while Mama had her tea. And as I sat in our cozy bed drinking that hot tea in the peaceful quiet of the morning, I felt ministered to. Something in that simple display of love filled up my soul. And I had to smile. All the times of talking about having a servant's heart...all the times when Mama was the one to serve the tea to a sad child...all the times of ministering to our family with pretty things like sandwiches arranged in a fun pattern on the plate or hidden notes to say "I love you"...all those little daily things that I try hard to remember to do... It all sinks in somehow. And on Saturday morning I was reaping some of the fruit of those moments, and I was BLESSED to see a servant's heart in one of my children (especially without me having to remind them to do it!). :) I'll always remember that cup of tea that made my throat feel soothed and my heart feel even better.
I think sometimes it's easier to serve people we don't know. Sometimes it's easier to put together a box of food for the food pantry than to do something selfless for those in our own home. We DO need to give to the food pantry...DEFINITELY...we are supposed to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, open our home to those who need it. But we are also to love those in our own home with a selfless love...a love that lays down our lives (our rights!) for our spouse, our children, our siblings. That's a tall order! Sometimes it's so hard to be selfless (again!) in our marriage or family relationships. But, if we cannot love and serve in our own home, how can we have love to overflow to others who need us? We work on the walls of our own home (rebuild relationships, keep a secure foundation, etc), and then we will have love to overflow into rebuilding the wall of orphan ministry.
It all starts with a servant's heart.