Today is my 29th birthday. As I have reflected on my 20s these past couple days I’ve been filled with so much gratitude. The last 10 years of my life have been filled with many changes and life-altering decisions. Your 20s are often referred to as the “decade of decisions,” to which I shout a resounding AMEN.
Eight years ago I was living in Orlando and heard Elder Jeffery R. Holland, an apostle of the Lord, Jesus Christ in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, give an inspired talk. I sat on the stage in the very back of a very crowded church building. I could barely see him standing at the podium. But his words pierced me to my heart. He spoke about service and compared it to a tithe on our lives. If we lived to the age of 100, he said, that meant 10 years were dedicated in service to the Lord.
I knew he we speaking of cumulative years, laboring all our lives to serve God and His children rather than a specific block of years. Regardless, his words touched me profoundly. It was here, sitting on that hard metal chair, jotting down frantic notes, and wiping a tear from my eye that I decided to serve a mission. Elder Holland’s talk has redefined the last near decade of my life.
Just last week, I woke early one morning, thinking I would need to feed my sweet son, but he was sleeping peacefully. As he slept, my mind began to travel though a photo gallery of memories of the last 10 years. I thought of all the places I’ve traveled, the faces of the people I’ve met and loved and learned from. I thought of my family and how it’s grown. Challenges come, often times masking the progress I’ve made or the lesson I’m learning. Yet what always brings me back to myself is service.
Service has been a constant in my life. Not because I’m necessarily good at it, but because I need it. It has provided me peace, strength, joy and the most defining moments of my wonderful, blessed, beautiful life.
So for my birthday this year, I wanted to do something special. This year, I’m giving my birthday to someone. Anyone, really. Anyone who needs it. I want to fill this next year with intentional service.
Please don’t mistake this post for professing an inflated sense of self, or tooting my own horn, if you will. I simply know that if I don’t share, and provide a means of accountability, this goal will simply become a good intention.
I invite you to join me. Let’s fill our lives and the world with goodness, pointing our arrows outward rather than inward. My 29 ways to serve are quite simple. I have two small, demanding children at home who are my first priority. Yet as I brainstormed ideas for how to fill my time this next year, I thought of so many easy ways to serve and even involve my kids on a few.
Please share with me the ways you serve! Let’s lift each other. And thank you to each of you for serving me with your friendship, kindness, words of encouragement, uplifting comments and wonderful examples. I love you.
So without further ado, here is my list of 29 ways I will serve this next year!
- Donate blood
- Knit scarves for refugees
- 100 percent visiting teaching
- Have patience with my kids
- Participate in a food drive
- Cheer up someone sad
- Babysit a friend’s children
- Make baby blankets for the hospital
- Help someone move
- Write to a missionary
- Help a new mom
- Pay for the person behind me in the drive-thru
- Go to the temple each month
- Prepare five names for the temple
- Write letters to my grandparents
- Write thank-you letters to local police officers and fire fighters
- Make a blessing bag for the homeless
- Create a warm fuzzies jar for my home and teach my children about service
- Plant a tree
- Clean the temple
- Participate in the Light the World service advent calendar at Christmas
- Play Secret Santa
- Invite someone lonely to share a holiday
- Run in a 5K for a good cause
- Clean a church building
- Feed the missionaries
- Host a bake sale and donate all the proceeds to charity
- Send a care package to a soldier
- Feed a hungry child