Mama’s Kiss #46: Write Letters to a Children’s Home

As you know, if you’ve been reading, for quite some time, I’ve occasionally been running little installments called “Mama’s K.I.S.S.” I know that lots of readers could give many more and far more creative ideas than I can offer, but these installments are just a few tried and true and mostly old-fashioned ideas for putting service hearts in our kids.  This is number 46 of a list of one hundred ways we train our kids to serve. K.I.S.S. is an acronym for “Kids In Service Suggestions”.

This one is simple and obvious. Perhaps your congregation already allows your children to interact with residents at a children’s home, either by collecting needed supplies, saving money in those collection cans, or helping with the Christmas shopping for children who have been placed in homes due to either the death of parents or circumstances in which care is no longer provided by parents. I hope, if your church does this, you will not pass up the chance to make sure your children are busy with these projects. But even if your children participate in group projects, it’s still a great idea to get your children personally involved with children who are disadvantaged because of absent parents. Perhaps your family could schedule a visit to such a home. There are many of these around the nation that are sponsored by members of churches of Christ. (One great facility in our area is the North Alabama Christian Children’s Home, directed by Don Williams: http://nacch.com. Another great one is Pine Vale in Corinth, MS and you can reach them at amy.collum@pinevalech.com. or randy.collum@pinevalech.com. Or, if you are in Oklahoma: tiptonchildrenshome@yahoo.com.) Most of these homes welcome visitors and your children could meet and become pen pals with children who would love to hear from them throughout the year. You could compose letters to these children during your family Bible time and then, upon learning their preferences, personalities, and birthdays, your children might send packages or gift cards with the permission of the house parents. Memorizing James 1:27 along with this project is a great idea.

There are multiple benefits gained by this connection for both your children and those in the system. Appreciation for blessings, opportunities to be selfless, and accountability to friends in need  are some of the benefits your children will encounter.  I was in the second grade when our class in my Christian school first visited a children’s home. I was assigned the writing of the letter to thank them for their hospitality to us. I still remember some of the contents of that letter. The children we met that day and the simple fact that they did not have any present parents made a huge impact on my young heart. It was a sobering thought to my seven-year-old self that there were other seven-year-olds who might never know their moms and dads. It was a small and hard part of coming to understand human suffering, but it was good for my young and impressionable second-grade self. Twelve years later, one of those children I met in that home attended Freed-Hardeman University with me and we talked, as college students, about the death of her parents. Ten more years passed and I helped my own children buy Christmas gifts for children in that same home. This Christmas, I loved getting the chance, once again to buy those black and white Nikes that were on the list of a thirteen-year-old whose parents are AWOL. I can hardly wait till Ezra and Colleyanna are old enough to learn the joy this brings. I know there were many opportunities  that passed our family by–things we should have done, and didn’t– and certainly we are not any great examples of benevolence. We should have shared more of His bounty than we ever did. But I am convinced, because of the impact of even these small gifts on me and on our children, that even the smallest hand in benevolence builds character.  I’m sad that there will always be these opportunities (John 12:8), but I’m thankful for the good that can be done in multiple generations of families when these perennial opportunities are presented and grasped.

 

Today’s Recipe: Green Lime Punch

Janice Knight

Super simple!  Use a half gallon, (or nowadays, two of those little round tubs) lime sherbet, and pour a half gallon ginger ale (or sprite, for sweeter) over sherbet in a punch bowl.  Stir and chop up the sherbet.  It’s a hit every time.

 

Mama’s K.I.S.S. #43–Cooking Times Four

Portrait of happy mother and her daughter cooking in the kitchen

As you know, if you’ve been reading, for quite some time, I’ve occasionally been running little installments called “Mama’s K.I.S.S.” I know that lots of readers could give many more and far more creative ideas than I can offer, but these installments are just a few tried and true and mostly old-fashioned ideas for putting service hearts in our kids.  This is number 43 of a list of one hundred ways we train our kids to serve. K.I.S.S. is an acronym for “Kids In Service Suggestions”.

I’m sure you’ve thought of doing this with your kids, but it’s been a real benefit to ministry on several occasions for this family. Every time I make a casserole, a cobbler or a soup of any kind, I multiply all ingredient amounts by four, prepare the ingredients, and then spoon them out into 4-6 casserole dishes (depending on dish sizes), cover them well with heavy-duty foil, and freeze all of them except the one we are having for supper. I usually place the wrapped dishes in individual giant zippy bags to help guard them from freezer burn. I also label the bags with the name of the dish and the instructions for cooking or re-heating the dish. The casseroles and pies are almost always placed in the freezer before the baking, so you can just grab them from the freezer, thaw them and bake according to directions. Soups only need reheating. This is great math for upper-elementary kids, as they multiply the fractions of cups and teaspoons, and it’s great hospitality and benevolence planning for kids (especially daughters) of any age.

I know I don’t need to explain the benefits of this, but here goes. It’s cheaper to buy ingredients in bulk.  It greatly reduces cooking time because it only takes a few more minutes to make four casseroles than it takes to make one. When you do four meals at the time, you have one mess to clean up instead of four. 

But the biggest plus for me is being able to take a dish to a grieving family on the spur of the moment or to enjoy time with visiting family or friends instead of spending all my time cooking and cleaning the kitchen. It’s great to be able to have food on hand for Sunday dinners or fellowship meals. It’s great to be able to take a meal to someone who has just gotten home from the hospital or to someone who has a sick child. Best of all, your kids are watching and absorbing this active freezer ministry which just becomes a part of your family’s routine. It would be worth the price of my deep freezer many times over just for the consistency of hospitality and benevolence that it afforded our family. Of course we were still not even close to thorough or perfect as we took advantage of having a deep freezer. But still, it was/is a very helpful tool. 

Here are some dishes that work particularly well in the freezer. I’ve included the most recent recipe that I prepared and froze as well. It was very good! Thanks to Diana Shafer in Collierville, TN for sharing! It has already gone to a couple of octogenarians in their home in Tennessee and  to a visiting preacher-student family around our table.

These work well: 

Any kind of soup

Chili

Lasagne

Poppy seed chicken casseroles

Chicken, broccoli and rice casseroles

Most pasta dishes (especially if they are creamy)

Ground beef and vegetable casseroles

Dumpling dishes

Cobblers of any kind 

Dump cakes

Enchilada casseroles

Casseroles with crescent roll type crusts/toppings

Homemade Bread (Wrap well in a couple of layers of heavy duty foil or plastic wrap.)

(If a casserole calls for a cracker or potato chip or corn chip topping, add this after you remove it from the freezer.) 

                                                                                  Creamy Chicken

Ingredients:

4-8 chicken breasts or 1 chicken

1 pt. sour cream

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 8 oz. package Pepperidge Farm dressing mix (may use more)… (Also, I think I used a store brand and it was yum.)

1/4 c.milk

1 can cream of mushroom soup

Directions:

Cook chicken (boil or cook in microwave). Cool. Remove skin and cut into bite-size pieces. Line 9×13 dish with chicken. (But you can really use any size dishes. cc) Sprinkle with salt. Combine soups, sour cream and milk. Spread this over chicken.Prepare dressing mix according to directions on package. Margarine may be omitted if you do not like rich dressing. Use broth from chicken or chicken bouillon for liquid required in dressing mix. Spread dressing on top of soup mixture. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes. May be frozen before baking.  (This is easy and so very good!)