Little Opportunities Offer Big Possibilities!

In preparation for one of my sermons this month, I was studying a passage in which Jesus comments on the seemingly insignificant actions of a poor widow.  He says to his disciples,

“I can guarantee this truth: This poor widow has given more than all the others. All of them have given what they could spare. But she, in her poverty, has given everything she had to live on.”

Mark 12:41-44. 

The words of Jesus got me thinking about all the times I’ve chosen not to participate in something because I thought that what I had to contribute would have little or no impact in the grand scheme of things. It seems like the more often I pass up the “little” opportunities to make a difference, the “big” opportunities that I’m waiting for never seem to come along. Sometimes, I look back and wish that I had just done something… anything, so that I would know that I had tried. Have you ever felt the same way? 

The next time you’re faced with a “little” opportunity, consider this story that I found in the June 12, 1994 publication of Our Daily Bread.

There’s a small courthouse in Ohio that stands in a unique location. Because of how the building sits on the property, all of the raindrops that fall on the north side of the building go into Lake Ontario and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, while the rain that falls on the south side flows into the Mississippi River and ultimately ends up in the Gulf of Mexico. At precisely the point of the peak of the roof, even the slightest gust of wind can determine the destiny of a single raindrop…a difference of more than 2,000 miles.

That’s impressive, isn’t it? 

Sometimes the smallest deeds can have the biggest impact.  As a husband and father to a family that has experienced a lot of change and transition this year, I can attest to the significant impact that the kind gestures of others have had along the way.  A church member delivering a warm meal to our door step, a friend offering to babysit the kids so that we could get our old house cleaned out, or a relative showing up unannounced to help us unpack boxes after we moved.  To those who made these kind gestures to our family, your actions may have seemed like “little things.”  But to our family, during this particular season, these acts of kindness have served as “big” reminders that God’s goodness and provision are with us wherever we go.  God’s people will surround us with love and grace in this new place. 

Know this.  As insignificant as we might think certain acts of kindness and generosity may be, when we offer ourselves in service to God’s kingdom work, our lives begin to flow in such a way that tiny raindrops of faith become rivers and oceans of grace that transform countless lives and communities around the world.  So don’t miss the little opportunities.  They offer big possibilities!

In what “little ways” can you share the love of Jesus Christ with someone today?

 

Reverse Trick or Treating: Teaching the young to “treat” the elderly {Guest Post}

Some of my most precious childhood memories involve my cousins.  I fondly recall giddy slumber parties, impromptu “shows” performed from the hearth, rating firecrackers, and road trips to the beach.  As we’ve grown up to balance careers, families, and homes, our time together is sparser than we’d prefer.  Instead of gathering together a few times per month, it’s closer to a few times per year.  Now that my cousin, Jennifer, joined me as a blogger, I’m finding that we are keeping better tabs on each other’s families, and I treasure that.   I’m delighted to share our pre-Halloween community service activity experience here.

Although my children are very young, I hope to instill in them the importance of service to others.  In a materialistic and often egocentric society, my heart’s desire is they will learn that what they have is not of importance.  Instead, what they give to others is what truly matters.  Being quadruplets, our children have been the recipients of prayers, donations, and care from others even before they were even born.  The generosity of others continues to humble me with each passing day, and now it’s our turn to pay it forward.

Although our children are barely toddlers, they are not too young to touch the lives of others.  Several weeks ago, my mom and I brought them to visit my Grandma at her residence, which is a faith-based assisted living facility.  While we came to visit Grandma, the kids most clearly brightened the days of many other residents.  Mom confided in me that she saw beautiful smiles and bright eyes on the faces of residents never seen with her previous visits.  Hearing that encouraged me to make an effort to bring the kids back as much as possible.

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In addition to brightening the day of residents, the kids also bring a smile to the faces of the caretakers. One of the sisters enjoyed toting Sydney around the room to visit residents.

When I learned of a family event at Grandma’s home, I excitedly accepted the invitation, as did several other family members.  Given the time of year, I thought “Reverse Trick or Treating” would be an ideal way for the kids to give of themselves.  Jennifer and I dressed each of our children in their most festive, cheery outfits for the occasion and brought loot bags crammed with candy.

Following a quick indoor picnic lunch, we set out to deliver candy instead of seeking it.  The older of the cousins took the lead approaching residents and doling out goodies.  Naturally, my children enjoyed handing pieces of candy to recipients, then trying to snatch it back (giving and taking is currently all the rage at our house).  While many people wanted to appease the little ones, by returning the candy, I made sure that each morsel of candy remained with its rightful owner.  Still, I think most people enjoyed the banter with my kids so it was all in good fun.

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When we travel, it usually works best to keep the quads in their twin strollers for meals. The snack and drink holders help keep everything contained.

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Before we set out to share candy, we snapped a group picture with Grandma and her grandsons and seven of her nine great-great grandchildren.

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After delivering candy to each resident, we had quite a bit of candy left.  We could have gobbled it up, but instead someone suggested stashing the remaining candy in Grandma’s room.  You see, Grandma has a ravenous sweet tooth and would be sure to relish treats long after we were gone.  The kids and adults alike joyfully stuffed candy in every nook and cranny imaginable.  We left morsels in her candles, under her pillows, and even in her Bible cover!

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Apparently one of Jennifer’s children saved a lollipop from last Halloween. It was glued to the inside of this loot bag.

Jennifer’s youngest child took great pride in stashing candy in the bathroom while her middle child meticulously hid some in Grandma’s Bible cover.

Jennifer’s youngest child took great pride in stashing candy in the bathroom while her middle child meticulously hid some in Grandma’s Bible cover.

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Here are George and I with the quadruplets: Rylin, Sydney, Harper, and Mason. Jennifer was quick on the trigger because it’s rare for us to have all four sitting still long enough for a picture.

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Jennifer’s three were excellent role models for the quadruplets. We even noticed her youngest son telling Harper not to open a cabinet that was off-limits.

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In case you were concerned that the children were deprived of candy…there’s evidence they had a little indulgence on Mason’s face.

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Being energetic 15 month old toddlers, the kids don’t sit still long, but Harper obliged Grandma with a quick snuggle before he escaped.

The day following our visit, I was overjoyed to find a voicemail left from Grandma explaining how she “laughed and laughed” upon finding candy hidden about her room, especially when she even found some in her bathroom.  Given that message, I believe our “Reverse Trick or Treating” antics touched at least one heart.  I can’t wait until our next visit to Grandma’s place.  I’m thinking we may bring cookies from Santa to the residents…

What is your favorite service activity?

Hugs,

Amber

P.S. If you are curious about what it is like raising zany quadruplets, please stop by our blog,Four to Adore.  There, I chronicle our adventures and share some of the lessons we learn along the way.