Last month we had a fundraiser for the youth in our church.

It was a BIG deal. They Mayor of our town even came to be the MC.

The committee putting it on put in so much work and really encouraged everyone to donate something great to the cause.

Max put together a car wash kit with some other boys and made a coupon for lawn-mowing, but my girls and I were stumped. We wanted to do something together. We finally determined we’d donate bread. Fresh, home-made bread brought to the winner of the bid every Tuesday for a month.

At the time I must admit that although I was fully wanting to give service, I was wishing I could come up with something more meaningful than some measly bread. I was a little down on myself that I couldn’t get it together enough to offer something bigger…more fancy.

But I was already drowning in “to-dos” and even this little thing felt a little heavy…

Until the excitement of my girls hit me.

“Can I grind the wheat?” asked Claire sweetly.

“I want to measure the honey!” claimed Grace

And we hunkered down to make our first batch. A beautiful loaf was put out to display at the fundraiser with a coupon for more to come.

Well, our dear neighbors down the street bought our donation.

And I’m SO grateful to them because they put on a show to be head-over-heels excited about it. Which made my girls antsy with anticipation to bring our prized loaf over each week.

They couldn’t wait to measure the flour. To knead the dough. To watch the yeast rise.
(Especially if it meant putting off the hair-drying and -doing in the mornings….Grace is multitasking talking to her friend on the phone who meets them to ride bikes.)

And just like that, that little extra “to do” that had seemed heavy yet small and insignificant became something so much bigger than itself.

It made the people we delivered it to happy. (I must admit, a slice of this bread with a smidgen of butter and honey is divine.)

It made my girls shine with the joy that only serving others gives.

And it transformed their “at-first-grudging” mother into a mother full of gratitude that she got to share an act of service with her girls.

Even if it was just a little one.

Sometimes I have the mistaken notion that acts of service have to be so big and grandiose when really I need to remember that even the little things make a difference.

Inspired by a neighbor who had a “summer of service” with her kids last summer and a couple comments on this post I hope that I can figure out more ways we can serve together as a family this summer. Please send along any good ideas!

Similar Posts


  1. Shawni, I've been following your blog for a while, and so I was so excited to hear you speak last weekend in OK. I was there with 6 of my sisters (I think you met one of them), and I was so inspired by what you and your mom had to say. I feel like I know you and your family and you are such an example of excellent motherhood. Thanks for taking the time away to speak to us. I know I'll be a better mom because of it! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and life with us.

  2. We were just doing a service auction at church and I couldn't think of anything. Until I got home and I Remembered I make bread. Duh. 🙂
    Hey, where do you live in AZ? We're moving to Tempe'ish. My husband's the new band director at Marcos De Niza….

  3. Shawni thank you for your thoughts on "Holiness in motherhood" here in Oklahoma… I needed it come Monday morning when my sweet 3 year old was washing her blankie all by herself. It truly was a HOLY Monday:) You continue to inspire many including myself. I too have a great desire to teach my children to serve. There is truth that self esteem comes to those who serve. I am dedicating one day a week that we do service this summer. Each child will have a chance to plan it during FHE and then we will do it! So fun to serve and to see the smiles on your girls faces tells it all.

  4. Hi Shawni-So I just watched your "i am a mormon" clip again- the first time i watched it was when i found out who you were! anyway- just want to thank you for your blogs- LOVE THEM. I am a 28 year old mom of 2 boys- a two year old and 3 month old….and boy oh boy it is HARD. But reading your blogs, has helped me in more ways than you can imagine. I found out that my parents know your parents through some family friends…the Deloziers…anyway…pretty cool! my mom also told me she would always read your parent's books when the came out and that they started Joy School!! COOL!i know, im rambling a bit too much. anyway- thanks again. i hope to one day make it look easy like you:) i can see how much your kids love you and how much family unity you have through your pictures…so sweet.

  5. Every summer we have a little theme for each day of the week. Thursdays are "think of others thursday". We do several small, random acts of kindness and a couple of bigger things. This year we are holding a bake sale for the humanitarian fund and some other fun projects. Last year my girls and I made tiny baby leg warmers for babies at Primary Childrens. It's always so fun to hear the ideas for service they come up with and I always end up being the learner rather than the teacher! I love hearing your great ideas and would like to hear more about the "summer of service"!

  6. Thanks for getting me thinking – I'm going to do this with my family.

    I'm thinking we can kick it off each Sunday/Monday with a theme…

    Scripture story or picture to talk about theme, then brainstorm ideas. Or a cute picture book to apply to the week and motivate our service.

    Summer of Travel – we could travel around the world and pick a place to inspire our service. My friend does this over Spring Break with cleaning. Australia: clean "down under" beds/baseboards etc. She does a dinner and activity in line with the theme but this could be done with a service activity.

    Ageless Summer – put ages in a jar and draw one out and brainstorm for the week on how to serve that age. 90's rest home. 60's wash car/weed. 30's babysit kids so they can go to temple. 20's write or feed missionaries. 16's write a note why you admire them. 1yr baby items for shelter.

    Service church leaders – pick a leader each week and serve them somehow. I am a RS Pres with 4 young girls and when I am at PEC in the morning my hubby would love help getting hair done. Weeding for Bishop, Thank you notes for Sunday school teachers, etc.

    You are so great thanks for the inspiration!

  7. Random Acts of Kindness? I recently heard of a great idea where the girls would have to write something sweet, draw a picture, etc….and then all they need to do is pick someone to give their kindness to. The aim is to make that person smile….because a smile can go a long way.
    I can see your beautiful girls loving this. Their smiles are infectious – just like their Mamas. All the best.

  8. So I have been following your blog for quite some time now and I just wanted to thank you so much for the amazing example and person that you are. I am a 27 year old mom of 4 children and one on the way and the oldest is 5 years old. So I need good advice often of how to be a great mom because that is really what I long to be. I went to the time out for women in SLC a little bit ago and that is where I first hear you. And I have just loved reading your blog and getting such great ideas. I was just wondering also it you would ever give out your recipe for your wheat bread? I would love to get a good recipe.If not, I understand but just thought it wouldn't hurt to ask 🙂 Thanks again for helping to me better myself and my family and be the very best I can be.

  9. Awesome! I love it when you ask for more ideas because you always get a bunch that get my brain going!

    There is always the "warm fuzzy" you can pass around. I've heard it done two ways. One is like the treats that is secretly dropped off at a nieghbor's door with a letter telling them it is their turn to pass on something, except you do service instead of treats. The other way is to keep it in the house with an item that symbolizes a "warm fuzzy" (they used a little stuffed frog). It was the job of the finder to provide an act of service for someone in the house and deliver the "warm fuzzy" (i.e. make their Suzy's bed and leave the warm fuzzy on her bed, Suzy then find's jimmy's shoes out and puts them away and leaves the warm fuzzy in his shoes, etc.). The goal was to get rid of the warm fuzzy as quick as possible and never longer than a day.

    Sorry, I hope I did not make it more complicated than it is. It seems like a fun idea.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *