One of the most requested topics this year on my speaking circuit has been a lesson in which I list a hundred ideas for training our kids to be servants. Service oriented kids grow up to be productive adult servants in the kingdom and it’s those people to whom the Lord will say, “Come ye blessed of my Father,” according to Matthew 25. So it matters if I’m making a real effort, as a mom, to put the heart of a servant in my child. For this reason, I’ve decided to devote a post, every now and then, to a service suggestion—a simple idea for moms to make their homes busy service centers for young hearts and hands. I’d love to hear from those of you who try them. So here goes:
Ironing for the Elderly
We lived in Collierville, Tennessee and I recall our little elderly neighbor as she bemoaned the fact that standing over the ironing board was so very painful for her arthritic back. I immediately volunteered to do the ironing that she needed done, but then it hit me that I’d be missing a huge opportunity if I failed to assign this task to my twelve-year-old daughter. For one thing, she needed to learn how to iron clothing. Ironing is one of those things that is just easier done personally by mom than taught to a pre-teen, so I had procrastinated in passing along this skill. Secondly, it would be all the better for Hannah to learn to iron if she was also being benevolent to the next-door neighbor, the one we were trying to influence for Christ.
It was sad for me that my next-door neighbor absolutely refused to let us do her ironing. Even as I promised over and over that I would superintend and make sure it was done right, she just would not hear of it. Sometimes, in our polite and non-imposing spirits, we subtract valuable opportunities of service from those who need them. What a wasted opportunity for Hannah! But the idea-seed had been planted in my maternal brain, so I just had to look elsewhere for elderly people who would let us do their ironing.
Ironing. It’s one of those all-but-lost home skills that I’m kind of hoping will see a comeback. Frugality calls us to teach our young daughters, who may not be able, once they are married, to send the shirts to the cleaners for a starch and iron every time, the proper way to iron a shirt. (In fact, you can start with your kindergartners on pillowcases and handkerchiefs, so long as you can be right there with them.) Lessons about looking our best should include this practical skill, too. How many children do we see at our services in this rushed society who look like their clothes skipped straight from the “lay-flat-to-dry” stage to the “wear-to-worship” stage when they really could have used the “touch-up-with-cool-iron stage”? And, finally, lessons about helping the elderly or disabled are enhanced using this old-fashioned, hands-on, mother-daughter activity–even if you have to solicit volunteers to bring you iron-ables.
One more thing…One of the most precious memories I have of my dear grandmother is when I was very young, standing at her ironing board as she taught me how to iron a pillowcase. It was just simple and sweet. She first showed me the “proper” way to iron a pillowcase, for whenever I “took in” ironing for other people (as she had been forced to do many times during hard times of poverty and during the depression). She did not know that I would never need to “take in” ironing. Then she showed me the “quick-and-easy” way you could “fold-as-you-iron, if you are doing it for your own family.” I taught Hannah the exact same methods. We might all be better off, in some ways, if there were times in our lives when we needed to “take in some ironing” to make ends meet. But, until then, just secretly go to a sweet elderly lady in your congregation and ask her to do you a favor and bag-up a few wrinkled pillowcases or skirts and bring them to services, even if she has to wad them up and dampen them a bit for added effect!