Giving Graciously and Intentionally

By Kirsten Strong

I don’t know about you (actually, I think I do here!), but the many tasks required for taking care of my family often leave me wiped out!  Between raising kids, paying the bills, grocery shopping, and keeping the house out of disaster mode, it can seem impossible to have much time left for others.  As a military wife, this can be especially challenging for me because my support system is small and I am easily stretched.  However, the nature of this lifestyle has showed me how to give specific help in small ways that yield big blessings in someone else’s life.

In order to accomplish this, we must first get out of our own “stuff” and look around!  If we are so bogged down with our own trials, we will miss valuable opportunities to bless others.  Of course, our primary “mission field” is our own family and we do not want to serve others so much that we neglect the people in our own homes.  However, Scripture teaches us to “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes” (Isaiah 54:2).  In other words, open up your heart-and in some cases your home-to help others.  God would not ask us to do this if it ultimately did not benefit us as well.  As a wonderful mentor mom of mine, Deb, has said numerous times, “We are blessed to be a blessing to others.”

Second, I have learned to be specific and intentional when offering help.  Take it from me, the obligatory, “Let me know if you need anything” will most likely go nowhere.  Saying something this general also puts the burden of action on the one in need, and often that person isn’t going to want to bother anyone by asking for anything.   We simply don’t want to put anyone out!  Don’t get me wrong…we are responsible for ourselves and of course must take matters in our own hands if the situation demands it.  If we need real help with something, we shouldn’t strike a martyr’s pose and reject help out of pride.  Sometimes, however, reaching out to others requires an intentional action that shows you mean what you say.  For example, if your friend or neighbor has a newborn or has been ill, try saying, “I would love to watch your children for a few hours while you catch up on some rest. Which day is best for you?” This offers a specific way to help.  Likewise, asking “Would Tuesday or Wednesday be a better evening to bring dinner over?” also gives more pointed, directed help to that exhausted mom.  If you are planning some wear-the-kids-out time at the park, offer to take your friends’ children with you.  That mom will get a break and you will get a blessing knowing you met a need.

Finally, if you are unsure exactly how to stretch open your tent flaps, pray for God to show you someone in your path that is in need.  Your gesture needn’t be huge and time consuming. Even a simple email saying, “You are one amazing friend!” may be just the help she needed that day.  While you understandably struggle with your own exhaustion that comes with daily life, there are many little ways you can step out in faith and be a blessing to someone around you.  When all is said and done, you will find that the one who has been blessed most is you!

All Scripture verses NIV.

About Kirsten

Kristen is a proud Air Force wife to husband David and a devoted mom to 11 year old twin boys and a 7 year old daughter. She is a forever work in progress whose current refining location is Colorado. While she has enjoyed writing all her life, she received her B.A. in Music Education from Miami University of Ohio in 1997. Kristen loves studying God’s Word, reading, laughing her head off and being with her family and friends. She strives to become a more authentic person through developing her relationship with Christ and learning from family and friends near and dear to her. Kristen co-authors a blog with 3 mom friends at www.momssharpeningmoms.com.

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