Sheila has been completing small acts of service with her children every day for a month and journaling those experiences on the “Pennies of Time” blog.
A month ago, I decided to complete a small act of service with my children, every day. So, each day for the past month, we have had, what we call, a “Penny of Time” Adventure.
Some of our favorite experiences that we had in the past month: Leaving Ziploc bags full of coins at vending machines in ER rooms, taking donations for children who are homeless, picking up trash, taking breads and fruits to the fire station, writing nice notes, and befriending others.
As anyone of us would have predicted, good things happened in our family: We drew closer. Serving together has definitely strengthened our family bonds. When in a fight, my boys initiate the resolution and come to peace more often without me than with my help. The Spirit is more obvious in our home.
At the same time, there were two experiences that surprised me.
The first was the unexpected changes within me. I designed our ventures to teach my kids. By the end of the month, I was surprised at how, daily, I felt a greater measure of God’s love for each of us. And, I don’t mean a “God loves everyone” good feeling. I mean several, daily, witnesses from the Spirit that were so strong that I had to stop what I was doing and reflect. Often times, it would be so strong that it brought tears to my eyes as I caught a glimmer of the love that our Heavenly Father has for each one of His children. That has changed me. These witnesses of a greater measure of love have helped me with my own spiritual struggles. Before this witness of a greater measure of love, I might feel a churning in my insides and a feeling of helplessness when faced with my struggle. I don’t feel that emotional and spiritual drain of negativity anymore. I feel a love and a gentle prod to do positive things to change what bothers me.
The second surprising experience was that I saw that my children learned lessons about true sacrifice. I found that my kids gained from giving, even when they experienced remorse due to feeling the loss of that “gift.” When I gave my boys the space to give away a prized possession, even when I knew it was a favorite toy or belonging, I allowed them the freedom to make that sacrifice. It wasn’t always easy to let them give away an important toy, something that they treasured. A couple of times, the next day, one of my sons would express “missing” his toy. As days went by, he saw that he missed it less and less. He saw a few days later he didn’t even think about the missed toy.
How often do I withhold service because it requires true sacrifice? I’ve thought about that continually since recognizing what was happening with my children. That question really pushes my own level of service and helps me bring greater depth to my own knowledge of Jesus Christ’s Atonement.
We’ve continued with our “Pennies of Time” Adventures. I am eager to have fun serving alongside my kids. I am eager to see how it continues to shape who they are. And, I am welcoming the surprises that I find within myself along the way.