“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10
Service. In our world service can present itself in many ways… always coming back to doing something for others. Serving them some part of you- faith, grief, support, community, military… all service for others. Service can look like a lot of things- big and small, seemingly mundane, highly recognizable and sometimes super private and meaningful- all important. Every bit of doing something for someone else is special, it may not feel like it or look like it; it is important for that person, in that moment, filling that need.
Lately I have talking and shared a lot about service. I also feel like I have seen my thoughts and knowledge come back full circle. I see the way God uses others helping us to learn how we can help others, how those that helped us so much before may need us now. It is a crazy and connected circle, one that some would chalk up to happenstance and chance. I am here to tell you, from my little soapbox, that there is no such thing. In the days after losing Madeline people carried our broken souls. They filled every need that was not a hug from my lovely Madeline. They cleaned, cooked and honored Madeline. In the weeks after some helped us improve our home, others did a crazy yard redo. I would throw a text to meet with kids somewhere and BAM a bunch of kids and adults would appear and help me keep my girls even and balanced and busy. They worked at fundraisers and helped us with huge expenses. All of that service was noted in my brain, for how could I ever thank those amazing and generous actions.
The fundraisers the collections brought in so much, after it all it was too much. We wondered and prayed to understand what to do with this money. We knew that it was to be the start of something to honor Madeline, to bring her with us. In the beginning we just kind of followed this feeling to create a Foundation, not knowing what this niche of service would be. Friends helped, working tirelessly to create Maddie’s Elephants to help fund this Foundation and to share Madeline in a unique and tangible stuffed elephant. The hours of service and work and thought from all of those back then is still carried in my brain and heart.
Maddie’s Mark has taught me so much about service and all the different ways that it fits into life- even crazy life. I feel like this Foundation truly does what others did for Madeline and our family. Those yard makeovers are a gift just like others did for us. When we are gifted a bedroom or a nursery to change and personalize it is like when we gave Madeline her own room. The parties and trips are just like the amazing gifts others granted us. I feel that Madeline has her hand in so much of this, so many of the connection. These opportunities and Best Day Ever’s have opened up ways to give others opportunities to serve families in need. Things that some think are ‘little deals’ are in fact BIG deals. Having a warm meal when I forgot that I needed to feed my other two girls hours after the bus didn’t drop Madeline off, was a HUGE BLESSING. In that moment it filled a need that was big and worrisome for my family. Coming home to an extreme home makeover bathroom and yard edition was amazing. These kind and generous gifts reminded us that we are remembered, that Madeline was remembered and that although they could not fix the problem they had something to offer us.
Service is offering that. It can look many different ways, for a landscaper maybe you use your tools and equipment to fix or build a playground… use your skill not just a donation of money. A tired at home mom who takes time to cook a meal or drop coffee off to a friend is a BIG deal. Sometimes service might look a little like being polite, holding the door for a disabled person- a tiny moment of service to fulfill a moment of someone else’s need. When I speak to groups about service I reinforce the importance of using your gifts for others. God gifted you those skills or tools, use them for you and your life but also those tools and skills should be shared. If you are a rockin’ good photographer use your camera to help a family in need document. There are so many areas that need your skill, did you know that? I am pretty much internet and web… stupid (for lack of a better word) and people like me could always use those techy ones who love to make websites and fix computer problems (like how to get my printer online…). Recently, I was speaking at to Confirmation students at church and mentioned my terrible secretarial skills. I was joking, but after an angel approached and has since helped me type up stories and do work that I can’t find time to do. I know she is humble about this service, but this helps me to provide more organized Best Day Ever’s and to share better with donors. Her service, to me in my moment of need, is BIG.
You know what else is cool about service? It always circles around. It impresses me every.single.time, though it does not surprise me. No one has a problem believing that Karma comes up out of thin air and kicks people in the behinds that were not good and kind for some moment in their life (not really how it works but…). How can we not believe that service comes full circle. One of the founder’s of Maddie’s Elephants, one of those amazing ladies that worked her tail off to serve Madeline, our family and a future foundation recently called me. Her next door neighbor and great friend’s daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia. This little one needed support, as did her mama. She wondered if I could help her with words, strategy and proper supporting. She thought maybe some Christmas decorating would bring some cheer. We met up and shopped out Target, Home Depot and Hobby Lobby. I got to hang with her littles, Isa was born when Madeline was very young. It was fun and exhausting (littles are hard to shop with, I forgot). We shopped and planned, I told her to pick and go a little crazy. Maddie’s Mark can’t do super little and not personal, it is a rule (in my book). She was so excited to get to it, she took over all the decorating. I was grateful that she didn’t need hands for install, she was grateful that we could help her create this. She kept thanking me… I kept thinking ‘My dear this is the circle’. I honestly felt grateful that we could do this, mostly her, as a gift from her and her friend’s close friends… grateful that Maddie’s Mark could take part in this service. I kept going back to the beginning, when Heather helped with an integral part of what Maddie’s Mark was built on… and how this circle brought her to be that person for Miss Emma. It was a clear reminder that He has this big plan, that we are to do what we are pulled to do, to use our time and energy and skills for life and service.