Bringing Your Kids Alongside you to Serve Others


As Clarissa grows, one of my goals is for her to have a heart that wants to serve others and not just herself. At first it seemed hard to find ways for her to serve others since she is only five. But I have found that one of the best ways to do this, is to just bring her alongside when we serve.

Some ways that we do this in everyday life:

  • Meals
    If someone we has a baby or needs surgery or something like that, there is usually some kind of meal train. We sign up and take a meal to that family. Clarissa might help me make the meal. But she always wants to make dessert. So she helps me bake something for the family and also usually comes with me to deliver the meal.
  • Babysitting
    Living in an army community overseas, there are not usually family members around to help. Friends become that family for you while you are here. If a friend has a doctor appointment or a job interview, we can watch their children. Clarissa isn’t old enough to be in charge, but she can play and share her toys with the children at our house.
  • Sunday School
    If I am teaching Sunday School, Clarissa can help me prepare. She helps me choose materials for her class. On Sunday morning, she goes with me to set up the supplies before class starts.
  • Sponsor a Child
    Once a child is three years old, they are eligible to be a sponsored child for Compassion International. On Clarissa’s third birthday, we went on their website and found a list of a three kids who were born on her birthday. I thought for sure she would choose the little girl, but she was adamant that she wanted to choose a boy. She helps me write letters and draw pictures for our sponsored child. We pray for him and his family. We talk about what the money we send does for his family. I think she is still disappointed that we have yet to meet him in person but hopefully we’ll get to do that someday.
  • Responding to Needs
    Facebook can be a helpful tool. A few times we have seen posts on our community pages that describe a specific need. For example, one time there was a woman whose brother’s house burned down and his family lost anything. She was asking for donations of clothes for the children and one was a little girl Clarissa’s size. We have more than enough so Clarissa and I went through her things and found clothes, shoes, books, and toys that we could send for the little girl.

It is getting closer to Christmas so families are often looking for ways to serve. There are plenty of holiday specific things you can do.

  • Operation Christmas Child
    In America, this is one of my favorite things to do. I collect things all year like toothbrushes, toothpaste, and small toys to put in our shoeboxes. There aren’t any drop off points in Korea, so I was sad that we would not be able to participate here. But there is an online option. For $25 per box, we can assemble a shoebox online. Clarissa and I can choose gender, age, and specific items in each category for our shoebox. We can also enclose a family picture and write a note. Then we pray for the child who will receive our shoebox. It is one of Clarissa’s favorite things to do.img_20181025_1140496001063227302204537.jpg


  • Angel Tree
    Angel Tree is a program that gives children with incarcerated parents gifts for Christmas. Many churches or community centers participate in this program. You can find a child’s ornament on the tree and buy gifts for that child to bring back to be distributed. Some churches do their own version of this. In Korea, the chapel did something similar with children at a nearby orphanage. Clarissa enjoyed going with me to the px to buy some clothes and toys for the child.
  • Christmas gift for Jesus
    On Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Some families do a birthday party for Jesus complete with cake. We also choose some gifts for Jesus. Several ministries send out a gift catalog in the fall. This year, Clarissa looked through the Samaritan’s Purse Christmas Catalog and spent several days deciding what we wanted to do. She wanted to give more than our budget so it was hard to choose specific items. She kept wanting to do the feeding people and medical gifts. We ended up choosing a goat since that would feed a family for a long time. She also chose sending winter coats to kids. When she is older and has an allowance, it will be interesting to see if she is willing to pay for these things herself. But for now, she is learning about the needs of others.
  • Soup kitchens
    This is really something that you can do all year, but many people only think about it during the holidays. There are several people in your community who don’t have a place to stay or enough food to eat. You can go as a family to serve them a meal.

Turning 3 in style 


I gave Clarissa some ideas for how to celebrate her birthday.  She said she wanted ALL of her friends,  pizza,  cupcakes, and the color playground. Done.

Most of Clarissa’s friends in our building go to Korean preschool.  Their summer break was the week before Clarissa’s birthday so we decided to celebrate early.

Clarissa helped me make cupcakes the day before her party.  I put them inside my cupcake carrier but didn’t think to put them in the refrigerator.  Our apartment is so warm and humid that the frosting melted overnight.  I don’t have a great track record with her birthday cupcakes

The temperature was supposed to hit 103 during the party,  so I tried unsuccessfully  to find water balloons. But our friends had a small pool so we decided to do that on the playground.

The kids had a great time playing in the water and eating their pizza and cupcakes.

My favorite part of the party was when it was time for Clarissa to open her presents.  Each of her friends was so excited to give her a gift that Clarissa didn’t actually open any of them herself. Each of her friends opened the presents that he or she  brought and shoved them in her face saying “look what I got you!”  I wish I had pictures from that moment.

As her actual birthday approached,  I was also excited about another activity I have been planning.  Compassion International has a few programs that I really like that help families.  They have a child survival program that helps moms and babies receive nutritional assistance, prenatal care, childhood immunizations, and mentoring from a local church. Once a child is about three years old he is eligible to become a sponsored child.

I have been waiting until Clarissa turns three so she could pick a child about her age to sponsor. Then they can kind of grow up together through letters and prayers. I thought for sure that Clarissa would want a little girl. But I was wrong. She was ADAMANT that she wanted a boy (though I’m not entirely convinced she understood that this little boy would not be coming over to play with her). She ended up choosing a little boy from Colombia who was born on the same day as her. We pray for this little boy often before bed. I actually pray for his mother almost every day as well. Whenever Clarissa’s behavior is challenging, I pray for his mother too because I figure that she is going through the exact same thing with her little boy.

Clarissa’s actual birthday was on a Saturday so Tim was already off. I spent the morning running errands on post and then when I came home we had some cupcakes. I was planning to wait until we came home from our family celebration. But, I showed them to Tim while she was having a tea party in the bathtub and insisted “but mom it’s my birthday now!”

We then went to the bowling alley for pizza and a game of bowling. We have actually been bowling three times in the past two months because she enjoys it so much. We only play one game each time due to her attention span though. It is pretty fun. We always have bumpers up and she has a ramp for her ball to roll off of towards the pins.

After bowling we headed to the PX. Clarissa read the most books in her age group during the summer reading program on post. Her prize was a $25 gift card to the PX. She chose a Frozen jewelry making kit and some Elsa panties.