Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.James 1:27 TLV
Modern religion as we know it is completely useless, but the religion described in James 1 is the most beautiful expression of our faith, and a tremendous way to bring blessing to others. I am writing to myself in this post as much as each of you. It is easy and comfortable to tend to my own affairs and never look outside my four walls. We need to look out for each other. We need to do better.
Check on each other
It’s such a simple thing to do, but one that we easily overlook and forget, myself included. Do you personally know some widows? Do you know a family who has fallen on hard times? Do you know a single mom? Show them you care by checking in on them. This doesn’t require money. It just requires a little bit of your time. Give them a call. Send them an email. Visit them. (I recommend asking first before dropping in, since some people are rather private and would appreciate a heads-up before someone is knocking on the door.) We all feel lonely sometimes, and overwhelmed with our circumstances. Knowing that someone out there cared enough to call and check on us can give us the courage to go on. You can give that gift to others in your life. Who can you check on this week? Make a plan to do just that!
Bring food to those in need
Just being the recipient of human contact can be such an encouragement for widows, single moms, new moms, etc. But if you are able to do a bit more, consider bringing food to those in need. If you make much of your family’s food from scratch, you can make a little extra to share. For example, we bake 6 loaves of bread at a time. It would be a simple proposition to share one of those loaves with someone else. Do you have a garden? Share a little of your extra produce. Keep in mind that if you are sharing food with a widow or a small family, you need to share appropriate quantities. Don’t take 10 zucchinis to a widow. That creates a burden for them. Take one or two that they can cook and eat quickly.
How do I know what they like to eat or could use?
This is why it’s important to build relationships with those in your local community. Get to know the widows. Chat with them a bit to learn what they like or if they have specific dietary needs. Getting to know the people around you also allows you to be more informed when you check on them. For example, you would know when they have an upcoming doctor appointment and can follow up on how it went. You will know better about specific needs, like a ride to the grocery store or some babysitting. You will also be in a position to pray more specifically for them.
I want to mention another possible avenue for sharing food with those in need. Our local community has free food distribution on certain days. These programs tend to be very generous, and we would have families receive more food than they could use, and pass the extra on to the next family. I also have seen people take the time to wait in the lines for the sole purpose of sharing that food with those who couldn’t wait in line for hours. It’s just another way we can look out for each other.
Support organizations who help widows, orphans, single moms, etc
I was recently made aware of HSLDA’s program for helping widows and single moms financially so they can continue to homeschool their children. This is wonderful! We are members of HSLDA personally, hopeful to never need to use their services, but also grateful that our membership fees go to help families who do need help. You can also donate directly to their program for helping families financially.
Another program that I recommend is Global Education Philanthropists. They work specifically with the victims of human trafficking, giving them support, reuniting families, and more. We have helped them in the past. Human trafficking is a worldwide problem that breaks up families every day. I encourage you to find ways to help in this area, especially with prayer.
Orphanages are another option for supporting organizations. Torah 4 Haiti is a Torah observant orphanage in Haiti that we have personally supported. You can find more info about them here.
I’m sure I overlooked some other excellent organizations worthy of our support. If you know of one, please share in the comments. It would be even better if you have personal experience with them.
Send a card
This is another simple way to show others that you care. It takes five minutes to print a card and address an envelope. I know this is similar to visiting or calling, but I put it in a separate point so I could share a printable with you. This card is designed to print on regular paper and fold in thirds, so you can fit it in a regular envelope. Enjoy!
Offer long term care
Sometimes, the best way we can help is to open our home. My husband and I have been blessed to be able to share our home with his mom, who has been a widow for several years. It is getting much harder for her to get around and she is thankful to not have the responsibilities of living alone, such as lawn care, shopping, maintenance, etc. We are also thankful for the opportunity to be a blessing to her at this season in her life. If you are in a similar position or see this possibility in the future, feel free to reach out to me. I’d be happy to share how we make this work in our family. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Invest in your own family
The cobbler’s children have no shoes. This should never happen, but it is the absolute truth in the vast majority of cases. Don’t neglect your own family in your efforts to help others. We each have unique gifts and abilities and our children should benefit from them. Build memories with them. Connect with them. Leave them love notes. Communicate to them that they are valuable to you. True religion should start in our own homes. If you need some ideas for building a relationship with your children, I recommend my book, “It’s Okay to Hide in the Bathroom: The Overwhelmed Mom’s Guide to Enjoying Motherhood.” You can also get a PDF here.
How do you exercise pure religion in your life? Share your ideas in the comments!