Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pay it Forward.

I've shared before that I'm currently enjoying a Monday night bible study with the women of my church. We've got a great group and our time studying the book of Romans together has challenged me on so many levels. I wanted to pause for a moment to talk about a great suggestion they gave us I think you all should try.

A few weeks ago they gave us a pay it forward challenge. Our speaker for the night gave us a list of ideas for this but the list itself isn't important to the challenge. Most of us if we sit down and ponder it for a few moments can think of many ways the Lord has blessed us from health to a roof over our heads and beyond. So here's your challenge to bless someone else...

I've confessed a time or two before that serving others isn't a strong suit for me. I don't mind doing nice things for people, I just tend to do them on my terms. Or as many of us do, I love people in my love language, not theirs. So this speaker challenged us to use our gifts and talents to bless someone who could use a helping hand.

I came home and thought, 'what am I even good at?'. Reading, but I couldn't think of anyone I know who can't read that I could read too. Making lists...but that didn't seem like a useful pay it forward skill. Finally I thought about cleaning and organizing. If there's one thing I've gotten particularly good at, it's cleaning. I love keeping a clean, ready-for-company house and I thought, 'there are plenty of people who would be blessed by an extra pair of hands to clean'!

I of course didn't want to offend anyone by implying they couldn't clean on their own. But thankfully, I remembered that while playing cards a few weekends ago one of my girlfriends who's in her first year of marriage (and has an elementary aged son) had mentioned that it was tough to find time to really clean and organize. She mentioned that she felt like she was always getting 'just enough' done and never really having time to get ahead. Ah ha! Thankfully, she's a close friend and I didn't feel weird or like I was overstepping any bounds to text her and say that I was looking for a chance to serve someone else and would she like a cleaning buddy for a day.

We exchanged a few texts, talked about dates and projects, and finally landed on last Thursday. this was several weeks after the challenge at bible study, but with 2 weekends in a row out of town and Haiti fast approaching I had some scheduling constraints (as did she). I offered to make dinner and bring it with me, show up when she gets home at 6:00, and be ready to do whatever needed to be done.

A few days before our scheduled cleaning date she told me what she'd most like was help cleaning, organizing, and purging their bedroom. She said on the weekly to do list it seemed to be the area that got pushed off or neglected. This is something we can all relate too, right?

For someone who's not a natural server I'm always surprised at how excited I get when I do get/make the opportunities. I racked my brain (and Jo's) for ideas of extra things I could do to bless my friend. Publix (my local grocery store for you out of towners) was running cleaning supplies on BOGO, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to stock her up, for the future. I snagged some great deals and made her a bag of supplies for future cleaning endeavours.

When I thought about being a working wife/mother (this idea mildly terrifies me) and what would bless me the other thing that popped into my head? Dinner! Not just dinner for us on cleaning night while everyone was away but a dinner she could share with her family one night when work, homework, and life make it tough to cook. Thanks to pinterest I had a few freeze-then-serve crock pot meal ideas and I decided that would be an easy way I could give her something that would bless her whole family.

I picked a chicken teriyaki meal that was to be served over rice. The best part? It made 2 meals anyway. So I made one for myself on Monday night, and I bagged up one for her to make later. The meal was to be served over rice so I picked up one of those packages you can chop the top off, fill with water, microwave, and ta da - dinner. All J would have to do is dump the ziplock bag into a crockpot (covered with a provided liner, to eliminate scrubbing) and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 (better for workdays) and prep the rice.

So there was my prep work which was didn't require a lot of time or money. I don't think serving other people always has to break the bank, ya know? I made spaghetti for dinner Thursday night for the two of us, so we could eat and get to work! I needed a quick meal I could make in advance so as not to waste the time we had cooking instead of cleaning.

Spaghetti, gifts, and freezer bag in hand, I headed to J's Thursday night excited to roll up my sleeves and get to work. We had so much fun! Not only do I love to clean and organize so I was totally in my element, but we had a blast talking and catching up! We live literally blocks away from each other but our busy lives keep us apart more than they should sometimes. We managed to get their bedroom spotless, clean enough to eat off any surface, and their closet totally organized. We even caught up some of their laundry while we were at it.

We finished the night with a round of Spades, our favorite card game, with her husband and another one of our friends. It was perfect. A great reminder to me that serving blesses the one giving it as much as the one receiving it. Also, a challenge to look for opportunities to do it again. So, there was my experience. Any thoughts on how you could use your talents to bless a friend this week? If you take me up on it, make sure you share your story with me!




Lindsey @ Running Down A Dream said...

This almost had me in tears! I LOVE the pay it forward idea.

Food has been the biggest way I've done this. I like to pay for the person behind me in the Starbucks drive-thru. Any time someone in our Sunday School class has a baby, we take them a meal (I'm actually doing this tonight - for a family of 8!). If someone has had a surgery or something, I try to take a meal then, too.

Last week, I cut out the homebound/nursing home list for our church and I'm going to have McKayla send each one (there are 4) a card and picture every month. I also like to send cards when I know people are going through a tough time - just because.

I have actually offered to clean for two people (one after surgery, and one after a baby), but neither one would take me up on it! I'll keep trying, though!

Amber said...

I'm with Lindsey.. I was on the verge of tears reading about how selfless you are! I'm so lucky I know you :)

I need to sit and think about this too. I LOVE paying it forward, but this really takes it to the next level. I'll ponder some ideas and get back to ya! <3

Ryan said...

LOVE this idea! What a wonderful, selfless thing to do!