One of the things that my husband and I desire for our children is that they learn to serve others. We want them to consider others as more important than themselves (Philippians 2) and to realize that although He was God, Christ did not come to earth to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). With this goal in mind, I decided that the boys and I would go with another family to visit shut-ins from our church and play Christmas carols on our violins for them. I am a violin teacher, and I am teaching my two older boys. I have very few students right now, but I teach three siblings together, and they are close to Aidan’s age, so it worked well to do some playing together.

Aidan was resistant to the idea from the start. He didn’t want to go because he “doesn’t like playing violin” – not a valid excuse because we just gave him the opportunity to quit in September when it was time to buy a larger instrument! Then, he decided it would be more fun to stay home and play. He just wasn’t interested in what would make others happy.

He was also uncooperative when I told him that we were going to make some felt snowmen to give away to the people we were visiting (see the photo above!). I told him I thought we should make several snowmen, and I asked him to collect some sticks for the arms. He went outside for approximately 23 seconds and came back with the most unusable little twigs he could find. I sent him back. We got two usable arms this time. We put away the snowmen and worked on them another day. Same story, second verse. I made the fronts for the snowmen, and asked him to sew around the edges and do the stuffing. He has sewn before (see our felt star ornaments from last year and our Indian bag), but acted totally incapable for this project! We finally ended up with two snowmen that we could use.

Fast forward to last week… Aidan came down with a bad cold, and it looked like he was going to get his way! I knew I was just going to have to submit to whatever God’s plan was for this outing! We certainly couldn’t visit elderly people in rehab centers with a contagious virus!

Thankfully, Aidan’s cold subsided just in time, and we headed out on Thursday to visit two different rehab centers.

Aidan did great. Gresham too. Gresham (age 5) was happy to play Twinkle, Twinkle on his violin, and the patients really enjoyed it! So did a little dog (who belonged to a staff member) who “sang along” with Gresham’s playing – it was a hoot! Aidan and the other kids played really well, and they did a good job of being friendly and visiting with the church members that we had gone to visit and also the other patients who came to listen.

On the way out, Aidan commented, “I wish we had made a bunch of snowmen to hand out…

And I realized that sometimes, experience is the best teacher. I had thought about canceling the whole thing because I was worried about my children’s uncooperative behavior, but I was glad that we went through with it! Now, this doesn’t mean that every service opportunity will go well, but I do think that children don’t know what they don’t know. Sometimes you just have to experience something to see the value in doing it!

One of my goals for 2012 is to dedicate some of our time to serving others. We can be pretty efficient with homeschooling, and we can usually finish in four days a week. I’d like them to experience a variety of service opportunities so that they can see what areas God has gifted them in and the ways that God can use them.

In what ways do you serve as a family?


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  1. Rebekah Dec 19, 2011

    I need to keep in mind to incorporate this when Ela is older. We are making small steps. She made homemade cards for her classmates but was resistant to making them to certain boys, but I told her that the kind thing to do was to give them to everyone. She ended up making them all, and I hope that eventually the lessons in kindness will sink in.

  2. maryanne @ mama smiles Dec 20, 2011

    That little snowman is cute! And a great way to teach kids to serve! My oldest daughter has made several felt toys to give away like this =)

  3. Cathy @ NurtureStore Dec 20, 2011

    I think you make a really good point that kids have to experience something to understand the value in it. Maybe it was just outside Aidan's experience and that's why he wasn't so enthusiastic initially? And maybe now he's seen service 'in action' and appreciated the effect of it he'll even come up with an idea himself, as to what his next project could be. I really like that you're encouraging your kids to do something for others -it's a great idea to take into the new year.

  4. Brittney Dec 20, 2011

    My husband is an assistant administrator in long term care, so on behalf of him...thank you for taking your kids and students to play! I'm sure you know this, but he says it makes a world of difference to the residents who don't get visitors when someone comes in with special treats and activities!

    My oldest is 5, and we are going to start taking the boys to my husband's work to help teach them the gift of serving.

  5. The Iowa Farmer's Wife Dec 23, 2011

    what a great post! experience is a great teacher!! love that little felt snowman!


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