I found myself on an airplane, facing two very long flights to Europe, but excited at the prospects of a prayer/mission trip ahead of us. Tim and I got settled into our seats, made sure we had all our important documents secured and then began to chit-chat with the team member sitting next to us for the flight. He was one of the pastors on staff at our church so we were enjoying getting to know him and his story as we passed the time. Turns out he's quite a character - he had us in stitches with the crazy stories he told and the caricature-like portraits he painted with his words.
We careened through several different topics, and then ended up talking about our children and their schools. I began to listen as though huge cotton balls had just been removed from my ears and I couldn't wait to hear the next sentence. This pastor was nonchalantly unfolding the coolest "mission" I had ever heard regarding his kids' teachers. Whenever their kids begin a new school year, they always go meet the teachers, get acquainted and let them know that he is a pastor. Then, he proceeds to explain to each teacher that their family is totally supportive of her and wants to bless her socks off during the school year. He leaves a "favorites" form for her to fill out - candy, soft drinks, coffee, restaurants, movie theaters, day spas - all the little luxuries and preferences the teacher can think of. Then, during the year, they make an EXTRAVAGANT display of love for the teacher by bringing her things from her "favorites list." Sometimes it's just a big Dr. Pepper from Sonic at the end of the school day. Sometimes it is a gift card to her favorite place to eat. Sometimes it is even bigger than that.
Well, this whole story impressed me, inspired me and stuck with me. It made such an impact on me that I just knew our family had to do it, too. So, at the beginning of the last school year, we did! I printed up some little forms for each teacher my children would have regularly and I marched myself up to their respective schools to turn on the hydrant of blessings. I introduced myself, got to know the teachers a little bit, and then told each one how much we already loved them, that we pray for them and that it is our family's mission to bless them ridiculously during this school year. They looked at me like deer caught in the headlights - excited, hopeful deer, but caught in the headlights, nonetheless! Apparently, this is a foreign concept. Do you realize that most of the interaction teachers have with parents is over corrections, complaints or other negative issues? Parents wear those teachers out! I gave each teacher their little "favorites" form and told them to send them back with the kids' stuff whenever they were ready. They gave them back the very same day!!!
You will never believe what an impact this had on those precious ladies! The smallest things - just thoughtfulness - hatched a friendship between us that you never would have dreamed. I was able to lavish love on them and display God's pursuing, extravagant love toward them through gifts. I made it a point to bring them something each week - a favorite Starbucks drink or a favorite candy bar - and once a month, I would bring something bigger from their lists. Just because of this easy-to-do assignmnet (loving on people), I was able to bring joy and peace to them. I was able to pray for them - in general, but they would ASK me to pray for specific things going on in their lives, too.
As the year went on, I watched the Lord work through candy bars, movie tickets, restaurant gift cards and yummy-smelling candles. It was so much fun! I think it's time for all of us who know Jesus to take a step further in loving and blessing people. Even just a small step further. What are the practical things you're doing to bless and love those around you? I'd love to hear it!