As moms, we continually ask, “What needs to be done?” and go about trying to do exactly that all day long. There are always plenty of clothes to wash, dishes to clean, and meals to prepare! One morning while I was trying to get “all the things done,” I kept hearing, “I want,” “Gimme,” and “That’s mine!” from my young children. I realized these three precious children needed a lesson in being thankful. We already ask our children to say, “please,” and, “thank you,” at the appropriate times (as most parents do). This certainly wasn’t enough, though. Like many people in our culture, we have so much and take much of what we have for granted. So, I started praying and seeking additional opportunities to train our children in being thankful.

One such time presented itself as my son and daughters were waving eagerly to our trashmen. When I suggested we go see the trashmen and say, “Thank you for taking our trash away,” the children were excited. This started a weekly routine of greeting our trashmen and thanking them for the service they provide to our family. This weekly meeting was a highlight for all of us and began a friendship between our family and the men serving us. Each week’s meeting ended with the children watching the trash truck drive out of sight while waving frantically, screaming, “Thank you!” I felt like I had at least a small victory.

Fortunately, God answers mothers’ prayers much better than we expect or hope. I had only sought to teach thankfulness, but God softened and prepared my children’s hearts for another lesson. A lesson on serving! As we nurtured this friendship with our trashmen, my children learned about their new friends and saw some of their needs. The children love to draw pictures and make thank you notes for these men who may have a need to feel appreciated. On hot days the children bring chilled bottles of water or Gatorade to their thirsty new friends. When our driver was expecting his first baby, my children said, “The baby needs baby clothes!” We bought a gift to meet a need. Our faithful trashmen seem as eager to see the children each week, give high-fives, play tag, and hear “thank you,” as the children are.

As I saw a need for a lesson in thankfulness and sought to meet that need, God provided a lesson for our family on serving. Because of this, my children, without my intervention or encouragement, have begun to see the needs of others. My kindergartener’s teacher shares that our child sees the needs of her classmates and tries to help, share, or comfort. When my husband and I were talking about a disabled friend who needed help with yard work, our youngest overheard us and called out, “Of course we want to go help!” We realized they could help by simply pulling weeds and hauling small tree branches. As we drive through our neighborhood and the children see a lost dog, they now see the dog’s need to get home. They pray for the dog to find his way back to safety and usually ask if we can stop to see if the dog has a collar with a telephone number.

God is so good in His lessons. I’m a very thankful momma who is learning to see things through His eyes and answering the call to service right along with my children. In fact, they often lead me!