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Guest Post: Penny of Time

by Sheila

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.

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4 Responses

  1. EmilyCC says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this experience, Sheila! I’m impressed that your kids have learned so much (and a little jealous).

    I love all the ideas on your website–so many are quick and easy. How did you think of them?

    • Sheila says:

      EmilyCC–Thanks for the kind words and providing a space like The Exponent!

      Some ideas I copy from others, some my kids come up with, and some come from inspiration. What we found once we started was that many opportunities to serve just came to the surface. We have become more sensitive for chances to serve.

      Like while trick or treating this year, my kids and I recognized two neighbors in our area that are homebound. We had never noticed that in previous trick or treating years. We’ve had a great time figuring out good ways to serve those particular neighbors.

  2. Rachel says:

    Thank you for sharing this. This is nice.

  3. Tiffany says:

    Sheila, this is a beautiful idea and I really appreciate you sharing this. You have inspired me to do this! I can’t wait to check out your site and see all that you are doing! I love hearing uplifting and positive messages. I loved to be inspired and called to action.

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