“A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.” – James Keller
How do you start something new, something important, when you know you don’t have all the answers to the questions you’ve piled up in the corners of your mind, or if you feel ill-prepared, or simply overwhelmed? How do you light another’s candle when you know there are fields upon fields of longing candles all over the world and even in your own city, who are praying, hoping, begging to be illuminated? You just start, candle by candle. You gather what you can, with what you have, where you are, and you start.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Our family has been talking a great deal about acts of service, and how we as a mere five in a world of seven billion can make a difference. As parents, Andrew and I both believe we have been given a beautiful opportunity to teach our children how to be a light to others. As their guide and compass, we can show them by example how to see the world with open, compassionate, and understanding eyes, rather than squinting ones that focus on indifference and competition.
At such young ages, our children look to us for everything and imitate us far more than we know – it’s their default right now. They are hardwired to want to be like us, like those guiding them, so let’s show them the way. And as easy as it is to become overwhelmed with our role as parents in general, for our job is hard and big and complicated, I really believe that teaching our children how to be lovers and not fighters, to be givers and not takers, and to be respectful citizens of this world, does indeed spill over into the challenging parts, thereby making our role as their parent even lighter and more rewarding.
Again, how does one start? Well, you just begin. Like anything else, you do one thing, and then another. If you have little ones at home there are things you can do together as a family, books you can read, acts of service you can take part in with one another, and ways you as moms and dads can give and donate on behalf of your crew to aid in the relief of other families all over the world who really need it. I don’t think you have to give your children all the facts and figures of our very adult world to teach them the importance of giving to and serving others. You can start small and go from there. You can go local, go national, go global. It all matters. It all counts.
Below I have listed a few wonderful books and resources for you, just a drop in the bucket of all the things out there, but it’s something if you or your family is looking for a few ways to learn about help others in need this season. We have several of the titles ourselves, and plan on getting a few more for the kid’s library. Reading is a beautiful way to help them learn, and wonderful reminders to us parents about simple truths that can bring peace and healing to us all.
Our family is donating to several local charities here in Kansas City and also UNICEF this year to help the children of Syria who desperately need us. I write to you from a place above politics and from a place of humanity. You can do something, even if it’s a small thing, it counts. Your candle loses nothing at all by lighting another candle, but remember, yours must first be lit to light another’s.
Beautiful Books For Your Library:
- A Life Like Mine: How Children Live Around the World
- Whoever You Are
- Counting On Community
- Peace Is an Offering
- We’re Different, We’re the Same
- Atlas of Adventures: A Collection of Natural Wonders, Exciting Experiences and Fun Festivities From the Four Corners of the Globe
- The Skin You Live In
- Can You Say Peace?
- What Do You Do With an Idea?
- A Is For Activist
Tangible Ways You Can Light a Candle:
- United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to protect the rights of every child. UNICEF has spent 70 years working to improve the lives of children and their families. Defending children’s rights throughout their lives requires a global presence, aiming to produce results and understand their effects.
- Circle of Health International (COHI) provides quality reproductive, maternal, and newborn care in times of crisis and supporting women in their pursuit of health and security.
- Save the Children invests in childhood – every day, in times of crisis and for our future. In the United States and around the world, they give children a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm.
- World Vision stands up for children living in the margins and gives YOU an opportunity to make your own fundraising page if you so desire. Read their FAQ page to learn more.
- Read this article about 15 Ways You Can Help Syrian Refugees NOW from The Global Citizen.
What other ways can you help teach your children, and ourselves as their guides, to be candles to others? Let’s get a list going. Let’s use our voice to share ways we can be of light and love to those who need it most.
Niki - Very thoughtful post, thank you! 🙂 I wanted to recommend http://www.charitynavigator.org as an excellent resource. There are so many ways to give today which is wonderful, but not every organization is equal in the amount that actually goes where needed. One organization that I love is Feed My Starving Children http://www.fmsc.org
Love your blog and Merry Christmas!
admin - Niki, thank you so much for including these. I really appreciate it as will the other readers. Blessings to you! x Amanda
Rachel - Preemptive Love Coalition is another excellent organization! Merry Christmas to you and yours. Love your blog! http://www.preemptivelove.org/
admin - Rachel, thank you so much! Just looked into this and it’s wonderful. Blessings to you! x Amanda
ahdra - Great post! We have some of these books and look forward to checking out the others. We have had a great experience with World Vision. Our kids get to write letters to the children and help us put together little care packages. Operation Christmas Child is a fun one to do with kids too. They help us fill a couple boxes for a boy and a girl which is a fun tradition.
Lauren - I love that you are bringing light to these issues lately. Very brave of you to do. Tulsi Gabbard, a member of Congress from Hawaii is also calling for support of her bill to end U.S. federal tax dollars from deliberate funding of terrorists. Her bill to sign is here: http://aloha.votetulsi.com/page/s/stop-arming-terrorists?source=website-redirect Much more info can be found on her twitter here: https://twitter.com/TulsiGabbard?lang=en
Much love. Keep directing towards peace and love like you do. xoxox