We say prayers every night with the kids before bed.
In a certain place in our prayer routine, we pray that God bless and protect people (especially kids) who are abused or neglected or alone or sick and that he put Godly, intelligent, loving people in their lives so that they can see his light and know that the world isn't always so dark and scary.
I was reminded of this family prayer as I read my cousin's wife's blog yesterday. Suz is a gifted writer and leads an interesting life in Sudan with my cousin and their two small kids. You should check it out http://www.suz-mae.com/.
Yesterday she wrote about volunteering at a horse farm to take orphaned kids on rides. They call it hippotherapy, but I call it being a flashlight.
Her blog made me realize that she is an answer to our nightly prayer. Suz is God's flashlight -God is shining his light through her onto these kids, using Suz's love and joy for life and the Lord to affect these kids in a special way.
Then I started to think of all the other flashlights I know. My cousin Julie teaches kids with behavioral problems and other disabilities; my sister teaches Sunday school and preschool and taught elementary school before the kids were born; my mom has babysat kids forever, some of whom are in their 20's and still come to visit her; my friend, Nichole, volunteers at her daughter's school every chance she can; my brother in law helps lead a group for boys through church...and so many more. All of these people touch kids' lives in loving, intelligent, Godly ways. And, for some of the kids, these people are the only light they see in a day.
I'm just starting my journey to becoming a flashlight, beginning with my own kids. But I'm feeling provoked today to do more, thanks to Suz and all of the wonderful flashlights God has illuminated my life with.
Behind the scenes stuff is my volunteering niche right now. I'm already away from my kids three days a week at work and away from Rich five days a week while he's at work, so I like finding things that benefit others that I can do from home, like creating PPT's for Sunday's traditional services, taking minutes for my church council, sponsoring my kids in Africa and the US. This way I feel like I'm doing something for others without taking precious time away from my family.
So along those lines, I've decided to get involved with a group called Project Linus http://projectlinus.org/. Their mission is "to provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer blanketeers." They have distributed over 3 million blankets to children in need since 1995.
Four reasons I love this:
- I crochet and knit and enjoy doing both (it's the only crafty thing I'm good at);
- My kids both have blankies that they gain a lot of comfort from, so I know that the mission is a good one;
- Linus is my favorite Peanuts character; and
- I can do it from home.
My goal is to make 6 blankets this year. I may do more, since most of them will be small, baby blankets I can do with simple stitches, but I my official goal is 6. This may not seem like a big deal, especially in comparison to what so many people give of themselves every day.
But it's big to me. Because a little kid who is battling cancer or has lived through a disaster or has lost a parent or is homeless or an orphan...one of those sweet innocent little ones will have one my blankets to keep them warm, help them sleep, comfort them, or brighten up their room.
And I'll send a prayer with each one that it be a light, however small, in this kid's life.