I wish you could really SEE and KNOW the people in this picture. They are leaders in their churches and communities. They are good, good people who try to make our world a better place.
The past couple of weeks have been busy, good busy. I am serving in Public Affairs for my Church and this is a great opportunity to rub shoulders with some inspiring community leaders. This is my favorite non-paid part-time job ever. :)
We planned a community-wide blood drive, a luncheon with community leaders, a day at the lake for 6th graders, and are helping with 6th grade graduation. I spoke at Church, High School pre-prom party, at a Red Cross event, at a faculty meeting, sat on a few planning boards, did TV and radio interviews, and cared for 8 kids. We had track, lacrosse, soccer, music and academic award ceremonies, two birthdays, PTO, Hope For Accreta, Public Affairs, InterFaith, Father's Day, weddings and graduation parties, meetings galore, taking care of animals, laundry, meals, yard, and two toddlers. Wow.
I have not finished weeding my gardens, planting my garden, or spreading our mulch. Also, my laundry is calling to me.
It is interesting to me that it's very hard for me to blog about the things I do in my community. On one hand, I don't want to sound braggy or over-emphasize the small role I play in the greater whole. And, on the other hand, I don't want a list of extra-curriculars to outshine the greatest work I do within my home.
I am a "stay-at-home" mother who "doesn't work" and yet I devote large amounts of time and energy serving in my Church, my community, and our schools. I always have. When I am healthy and my home is in order, I feel compelled to serve.
My home and family are the center of my life. I really try to give them my BEST. I have learned, that part of being the best mother I can be, means that often they help me serve others. They see me serve and they learn to be confidant and capable. I'm not trying to raise good kids, I'm trying to raise children who are good for something. :)
I spoke at Church on Sunday and a man commented to Todd that he could see where Anna got her great teaching skills from. I have never actually taught Anna how to teach a class, I've never helped her with a lesson. But, she has learned because she watches me.
I know they are learning to serve in the communities where we live, and I love that.
When I look back over my busy weeks, I see photos of my children interacting with good people of all religions and ethnic backgrounds. They are confidant, kind, and quick to lend a hand.
The older kids have come with me as I've spoken to the Red Cross, or sat with Eve and Ben as I've spoken in their schools.
They've passed out fliers, helped set-up events, typed name tags, babysat children whose parents were donating blood, run craft or face painting booths when other organizations have needed a hand. My kids help organize school t-shirts and clean up after school events.
Our family isn't the most musical or the most athletic in any community that we live in, but we are well known because we're involved. We serve where we are needed. We love our neighbors and they love us.
I am VERY careful to evaluate the motives behind my activities. I don't do much for money or recognition (although our finances are always tight). I've blogged for many years. Everytime I think "I should try to make money for all the time I've put into this blog", I've personally felt the weight of blogging shift. I don't feel as free to do good when I'm feeling pressure to earn. I think I'm very guarded of my time-- I feel it is a priceless gift to be able to be home raising my children and I won't trade that gift for the few dollars I might earn.
Similarly, I do almost nothing in life to gain more followers. (I'm almost the opposite by nature.) I don't want the added stewardship that comes with a life in the lime-light. I am grateful, however, when I have the opportunity to use my experience to help another person. I love that.
In my life, money and pride have always been warning signs that my priorities might not be in order. But, I've always admired those who seem to so naturally combine what they love with how they earn an income.
I am not quick to volunteer to do things. Does that surprise you? I don't run for office with PTO if there is someone else willing to help. I'm very protective of my calendar. I don't volunteer regularly at the school. Every person is different. I personally like to keep my schedule open and serve where and when I feel compelled to serve. This year I stepped in and helped with 6th grade. My Ellie was in 6th grade and I wanted to know the kids and the teachers. It worked.
Next year, I volunteered to create a position called teacher appreciation on the PTO board. We need to appreciate our teachers here in Tully.
I offer specific help in the classrooms-- I like to do holiday crafts or help with parties. If they are teaching a unit and need a project to go along with that unit, I offer to help. I like to be involved in the events my kids are involved in-- drama, band, sports, etc.. But, I'm not always involved. I let others do what they can and I fill in where I sense a need.
I always devote large amounts of time to serving in my Church. I currently have the best opportunity to serve in InterFaith circles and work with the most amazing people.
You might be interested to know that many of my dear friends are as liberal as I am conservative. I actually feel more comfortable around open-minded liberals than I do around raving conservatives. My soul is InterFaith. I was actually just invited to sit at an NAACP table at the New York State Fair to promote a Afro-American Geneological Project (www.discoverfreedmen.org) that we are working with. Isn't that beautiful?!!!
I can't tell you how much I love and respect those who devote their lives to serving in our community. There are SO many good people in this world. I feel blessed to rub shoulders with them.
There are seasons in our life when we are more involved and seasons where we are not involved. There are normal weeks and busy weeks.
Can I just tell you that serving in my community has been a great blessing to me and my family? We love our neighbors because we know them and we serve them. My family is SO blessed because we have taught them to reach out and create friendships!
I've had people tell me that I am a really good missionary. But, I've learned it really isn't "missionary" that I'm good at, it's public affairs. Public affairs just means building relationships. People know me, they know I'm Mormon. I speak openly about our standards and our quirks. I'm good at loving them and they feel that.
I hope when people think "I know a Mormon family", they remember us and they remember our smiles, our service, our love. People who know our family will never say we are not Christian, they will say the light of Christ shined through our eyes.
When we are busy serving, we are not playing stupid games on the computer, or fighting with each other, or laying around complaining that we're bored. Serving (like daily piano practicing) fills our days with goodness so there isn't room for the Bleh parts of life.
I'm grateful we are anxiously engaged in a good cause.
I love this scripture--
27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward. (Doctrine and Covenants, Doctrine and Covenants, D&C 58)
The rewards of serving are great.
You cannot give a crust without gaining a loaf.
One last story.
We were cleaning up from a school picnic when a boy quietly asked, "Do you got any extra food I could have?" He explained that they didn't have much food and his mom would be real happy if he could bring some home.
Teachers were aware of his need and told me they've sent things home with him throughout the year. We filled a few bags for him and kids helped him carry them on the bus. "Do you think I could have that broccoli and cauliflower?" he asked, "My sister loves that stuff."
My heart was full of love, not only for that boy, but for the community of teachers and parent volunteers that I work with. These are good, good people. We are all brothers and sisters. We feed one another, we love one another, we're trying to make this a better world one small act of service at a time.
This might not be Bible thumping missionary work, but it is the best work I could ever do.
Life is good.
I know it.