I love the idea of “required acts of service,” for my son’s school, but the pressure to do it feels wrong when he’s fighting the clock. Couldn’t the intent backfire by hardening his heart if a teen resented being “forced” to serve someone? I have had this thought many times in parenting: when I have “forced” an apology, “forced” sharing, “forced” reading, “forced” good action when the child’s heart was not in it with me. “If the right action is taught, the heart can follow,” I concluded once again, knowing I can teach the action, but only God can change the heart.
This incident began as a school requirement.
Or maybe it began when I went to Guatemala to visit orphans in October.
…Or when we started splitting allowance into Giving-Saving-Spending jars when he was 6.
God knows when the idea began, but a new chapter was written last week when Casey, my 15-yr-old, was completing his requirement of 3 hours of “Christian service” due last Friday. In the past, he has done lawn work for less fortunate, or volunteered on a soup kitchen team with classmates, but now he was down to the last week and needed to think fast. He asked me if I had any ideas.
My thoughts pelted: “He could ‘make dinner for a neighbor’ and checkmark his requirement for the grade. He could babysit a friend’s kids for free; but that wouldn’t help his heart in reaching others in the name of Christ, which is probably the teacher’s goal.”
That’s when I heard noise outside. Christine, my 9-yr-old philanthropist-wannabe, who loves the thought of owning a business, had begun another one in the driveway: selling “arts and crafts” that were made from the trash in our garage. She and her neighborhood friend, Karsen, had decided to raise money for the orphans in Guatemala. She was yelling up and down the street like a town crier: “FINALLY! SOMETHING TO MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD ABOUT SPENDING MONEY!” She yelled to an empty street, waving a poster in her hands.
There are less than ten houses between ours and the street’s end, so less than ten cars would be passing – probably after 5pm, and it was only 2:30. JR (7) sat patiently by the cash box in the wagon, waiting for customers. Another Norman Rockwell scene at the Brady house.
Kind dog-walkers (who must have brought their wallets!) bought $4 worth of painted soup cans and cardboard houses.
Christine was elated! She had a goal to raise money to sponsor an orphan for a month ($35min).
“That’s a lot of decorated trash to sell,” I thought.
That’s when the idea developed. Casey and I ran with it.
“We could sell dinners to the neighborhood, and raise money for the orphans!”
And so it began.
Chris, the marketing expert, taught them how to word a flyer that would go out to the neighborhood. “’What’s in it for THEM?’ is what you want to put first,” he said.
The three (Casey, Christine and JR) decided “what’s in it for their customers” was
1. Donating to a good cause and
2. Yummy homemade dinner
They worded and reworded the flyer until it looked like this, with the subject line: “Donating Through Dinner.”
To all of JP [our neighborhood]: the Brady kids (Casey 15, Christine 9, and J.R. 7) are hosting a fundraiser to earn money for orphans in Guatemala, and would like to offer to make your lives easier by bringing you dinner! We have made delicious potpies, brownies and cookies, and all you need do is reply with how many potpies you would like. The price is $10 per 9″ pie, and for an extra $1, you will also receive 6 cookies/brownies/a mix, of your choice. Please reply, first come first served! 100% of the profits will go to Forever Changed International, to support Dorie’s Promise Orphanage. Simply answer back with your address and we will bring dinner to you! (all that is required is oven heating). Thank you for helping us make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate. The Brady kids! (P.S. If you have concerns about food allergies, we do too! Just ask!) (P.P.S Please hurry and answer before dad eats all the brownies!)
His dad doesn’t know what a pastry blender is (an old joke in our marriage), but Casey made the crusts from scratch (with a little help from me in the rolling) and loaded the meat and veggies into pans, while Christine made brownies, JR made cookies and I stood in awe as foreman. The kitchen was full of joy – the kind that only comes through serving others. Even the cleanup didn’t seem like work. They had lost themselves.
They sent the flyer through email distribution to our neighborhood that night, and headed for bed.
Within 15 minutes, my email was active: all of the pies were sold. Orders continued into the night, and I thought about announcing they were sold out, but I tried to sit back and let the business owners decide.
The next morning on the way to school, I told Casey all of the potpies he had made had been requested and asked what he wanted me to do with the remaining orders.
He was shocked, but thrilled.
“So let me get this straight: I worked for four hours and we can sponsor an orphan for five months?!” he said as he did the math of their proceeds.
“If this rain cancels soccer tonight, I hope we can do more!”
His heart was in it!
Whether it’s time or money, the joy of giving can be duplicated in no other way than …giving. Sometimes you act, and the heart follows.
19 pot pies: $190
17 desserts: $17
To an orphan: 5 months
A heart changed: priceless.
Proverbs 11:25 Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
Potpie recipe: click here
A person doesn’t feel, then act; rather, he acts, then feels. Change actions to change feelings.
At the heart of our problems is the problem with our heart.