I was making a meal for a friend of mine whose dad recently passed away and realized, not only do I enjoy doing this, but God calls us to do this as Christians – serve others!
Then I thought about how this influences our budget. Most of the time we can plan for this (births, hosting, etc…), but often it does just pop up or we forget. Often times, I’ve wanted to buy a cake or Starbucks card and give it to one of my friends that may be having a rough time, but the budget looms over me. “We didn’t plan for that.” “What will we not be able to afford if we do that?” And on and on.
There are many different thing you can do to comfort someone that don’t involve money, but often times they do. So it got me thinking we should add in a $50 category for “Serving.” We could use it for our friends who might have had a baby (we’re in that stage of life), a friend whose loved one has passed, or to host a family or group of friends at our house for company (my favorite). If we don’t use the money towards the end of the month, we could find a reason to use it for serving.
Some ideas I came up with:
- Buying a $10 gift card to Starbucks and handing it to a mom that looks “busy” (aka “completely worn out and frustrated”). This could be at the grocery store, library, the park, or your work place. Hand it to them and simply say, “You deserve this.” You could even put a scripture or encouraging letter inside an envelope or with the card.
- You could also buy a $20 gift card to Chick-fil-a (or another affordable restaurant) and give it to the above mom and tell her “Dinner is on me. Enjoy your kiddos tonight.”
- Buy a $30 gift card to Walmart (or wherever you shop) and find an elderly woman or man and hand them the card. Tell them, you want to pay for part of their groceries today. I’ve often wanted to do this when I see older people in the store. It breaks my heart that they may be alone or not able to afford many groceries if they’re retired. Unfortunately, people in retirement are suffering.
- Pack a bag of non-refrigerated items that are easily opened. Find someone begging for money on the side of the road and give them the bag. Items could include: Canned/jarred fruit, peanut butter crackers, cookies, bottled water/Gatorade, Crystal light packets for the water, fresh fruit, tuna meal packets, loaf of bread with the peanut butter/jelly mixture (with some plastic knives of course).
- Surprising your family or friends with a gift card to a favorite restaurant. Send it in the mail (it’s so much fun to get mail) and tell them “Just because you’re awesome!”
- Buying a cake or other goodie and taking it to your children’s pediatric office. Being a pediatric doctor has got to be one of the more difficult medical fields…dealing with parent’s most prized possessions? If you’re a parent, you know the only thing that may make you drop kick someone is if they mess with your kid, so I’m sure your doctor always has “that kind of day”.” I’m sure your doctor and their office would enjoy a random goodie. I would suggest a bundt cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes, but that’s what we have here in town. And don’t forget to write a little note telling them how much you appreciate their service! Name drop of course…a little extra attention for your children can’t hurt. Does that make it a bribe? No? Ok good!
- You could do the same thing as above, but take it to your work place or church!
Off to find space in our budget! Do you have any good ideas for serving others, whether it’s planned or a surprise? I personally think a random act of kindness is such a blessing!