compassion at home

Many of my paragraphs begin with something akin to “Since having children….”. Childbearing and child rearing are life-changing experiences. While seasons vary and I want to embrace them wholeheartedly, I also want compassion infused throughout them.

Since having children (see, there it is!) I find myself more tethered to home. Naps and other toddler/preschool demands have me squarely in my house much more than in my pre-child state. Therefore, how can I put compassion into this time in my life, to model (and, God willing, instill) for my children? And, if the truth be told, how can I do it in such a way that it doesn’t feel totally overwhelming and so unwieldy that I give up before I start?

Here are some ways I am TRYING to bring compassion into our lives:

  • Have a globe. Our family dinners are generally peppered with what has happened during the day and what Tom and I have read and what to lengthily discuss mention (who can discuss with two young children?). Our friends live in D.R. Congo, my sister lives in New Zealand, and much of our conversations recently have revolved around the cataclismic changes happening in the Middle East.  If I can open our eyes to a world bigger than our home, our borders, I hope that we will start to see that those over there are really one like us.
  • Minnesota Historical Society

  • Read about what’s going on in the world. Does anyone else ever just want to veg out and escape? The mundane can take over, there was just one too many tearful episode this morning and I’m frazzled and…I waste my relative free time with inane information. I am in no way saying there isn’t a time to enjoy the frivolous; laughter is a very, very good medicine. But it’s hard to maintain a truly compassionate heart when it’s all about me.Reminding myself about what is going on in others’ lives keeps my life in perspective and humbles me to want to love others more.
  • Give. This is a tricky venture. We can give money to something to avoid interacting and feel like we’re done.  By giving through an organization, I can keep distance between me and the recipient. But I know my reality (and maybe it’s yours too): I have two kids four years old and under and my time is mostly wonderfully occupied by them. Many, if not most, organizations aren’t super interested in me volunteering there with my kids in tow, and I have limited babysitting options, to say the least. But maybe I can choose to cook a less-expensive dinner a couple of times a week and give that money to an organization that does have hands and feet to love others.  I can examine my checkbook to see if it reflects what I want my heart to reflect: a sacrificial love of others. Don’t misunderstand, it’s not all about money. It’s not. But money can help. (See below.)
  • Let yourself be surprised by what you can do. Before I went to DR Congo I never would have thought I’d leave my young kids for thirteen days. It wasn’t until my friend asked if I’d consider it that I did. After praying and discussions with my husband I said yes. Then, this amazing thing happened. I started getting gifts of formula to take with me to Congo. Bumbo seats dropped into my hands. People sent money for the orphanage. Others prayed. One of the most amazing things about my time in Congo is that I felt like I was sent, that there was a team that was with me in spirit and not in person. The fact that people gave allowed me to go to Congo with hands full. And guess what? My kids did great with my husband and Grandma. Be open to things that seem impossible…sometimes there’s a chink that leads to a hole in that wall.

Little things can turn into big things. Drops of water ultimately overflow a bucket. If I can take little steps from inside my house, my next steps can be bigger outside it.

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