When we look at the situation in Texas, we are faced with the reality that ultimately God is in control and the future is in His hands. We do not know what tomorrow holds for us, or for those we love. We see in situations like Hurricane Harvey that disaster can strike at any time and turn someone’s world upside down. So how do we respond?

An important lesson I have learned from my overseas experiences to areas of extreme poverty is that, as a Christian, we can become overwhelmed with the suffering, pain and lack that we see. We yearn to help and fix what is broken. I learned that instead becoming burdened and overwhelmed with all the world’s problems that I saw, to start by helping those right in front of me.

For example, while at a Thanksgiving fund raising event, my husband won a cash prize. While driving home, we excitedly talked about how we wanted to spend it. I talked about wanting to go out and buy our kids several nice Christmas gifts. My husband had a different idea. He suggested that we take the money and buy gifts for a few homeless men and women in the area. Then, we could have the kids come with us to distribute the gifts. I humbly smiled and agreed.

The next few weeks were an awesome teaching opportunity at home. We were honest in our intentions towards our children and told them that rather than showering them with piles of gifts, we wanted them to learn about the power of giving this Christmas. We went out together shopping for backpacks, socks, and hats for the men. My daughter and I found stylish purses, warm scarves and toiletries for the women. Together, we wrapped the gifts and prayed that the recipients would be blessed by them.

On Christmas Eve, our children were able to take part in a dinner for these men and women at our friend’s church in the city. My kids were able to serve food and put others first. After the meal they excitedly handed out the gifts and enjoyed watching the men and women open what they had picked out for them. It was an amazing opportunity for our children to see, in a practical way, what others do not have which taught them to be thankful for what they do have.

It is powerful when we teach our children that even though we can’t help everyone, we can help someone. Consider finding a local drop-off point where you can donate clothes, water, diapers or supplies to those affected by the disaster in Texas. Or, look for ways locally that you can be a blessing to those in need. Consider the upcoming holiday season and volunteer at a soup kitchen or shelter. Collect donations for them or have your kids prepare or serve a meal for the homeless. Teaching our children to bless those in need helps them to take the focus off of themselves and helps them to learn humility and sacrifice.

How do you and your family teach your children to reach out? Comment below.