Always on the lookout for simple, yet tangible ways for our family to give, the change jar was perfect.
Get a jar. Simple, simple.
Always on the lookout for simple, yet tangible ways for our family to give, the change jar was perfect.
Get a jar. Simple, simple.
I used to hate it when people quoted scripture. I felt quoting scripture was just another way for the holy people (not me) to keep the less than holy people (me) out of their tight, little circle.
I remember the first time I read the Gospel. I called my husband (then a sort-of-boyfriend-type) and asked him if he knew the exact story of Jesus’ life and crucifixion was written in four different books in the Bible. Surely, that was some kind of mistake.
Looking back, I realize that I didn't like scripture because I didn't understand it, and if you don't understand it, you certainly struggle to read it.
Years passed. I grew in my faith, but I didn’t grow in my love for reading the Bible. I remained a forced reader.
Then last January I started the One Year Bible. Yes, one year means I am almost finished reading THE ENTIRE BIBLE, people. Sorry, I didn’t mean to shout, but wow, what a big deal.
And here’s the amazing part, God knows (my gosh, He hears my whining daily) about my struggles and successes related to giving, and therefore He made stories and verses related to giving pop off the pages.
Verses moving me at this moment:
For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have. 2 Corinithians 8:12
Hello, the answer to one of my biggest questions (How am I supposed to give when I don’t have money?) summed up perfectly.
. . . If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Romans 12:20
So, fine. You know I like this verse because of the burning coals thing, but still great advice.
What about you? Are you a natural or forced Bible reader? Do you have a favorite verse or verse that describes your current life situation?
Meet my family.
Sure, that clean faced kid in the suspenders is a tad older. . . he’s my dad, and that’s my aunt, and standing tall and proud behind their children are my grandparents.
That’s their life, long ago.
Under twinkling lights, I think of family with me today, and I think of family and friends with me in memories.
I breathe deeply. Grateful.
And I savor the anticipation of a tiny baby that would change the world forever.
Merry Christmas, friends.
The more we talked, the more I heard her fears of these "type" of people rubbing off on her family. There was a strong desire for a healthy distance to be maintained. In all the years of giving, they had never made face-to-face contact.
I almost pictured “drive-by donations” taking place. Where they open the sliding van door while still moving, and thrust the bag of goods onto the porch and then screech away on two wheels while saying a quick prayer. Who knows, maybe they even wore black stocking masks.
I understand it though. It’s risky loving the unlovely. You could be misunderstood by others when you get too close to the unlovely. You just might be accused of being someone you’re not. Not to mention the things you and your children could be exposed to.
But it’s what Jesus did. Think about Jesus and his reputation for a second. He hung out with prostitutes, cheaters, and gamblers. He went to parties with the ungodly, on their turf. Jesus did not sit around and debate the distinctives of faith all day long with the disciples, nor did He pray for the least and lost all day long. He got in the middle of them and got to know them; He loved them, and He taught them truth. I don’t picture Him loving and giving at an arm's length away.
I love this Christian woman that does drive-by donations because she has encouraged her family to think of someone besides themselves, and I think there is a place for anonymous giving. She and her family help greatly by assiting those in need.
But I wonder how it might make a difference if they walked up to that apartment doorstep and introduced themselves. Not for recognition but so a “next step” could be made. Maybe the next step is giving a bag of clothes and talking for a while. . . getting to know a tiny bit of the heart behind the name on the “needy list”.
And what if, over time, this family actually sat at their dinner table one night. Imagine what God might do through an invitation like that. We only have a little bit of time on this earth to point people to Jesus Christ. Thank God someone reached out to us in the midst of our junk.
Want to hear more from Melody? Stop by her blog for a quick visit and see what this "sort-of-sassy pastor's wife" has to say. Oh, and I can't wait for you to Share Your Story. Click here for more information.
*Photo credit for girl with clay heart:Gabriela Camerotti.Fliker, Creative Commons.
With gobs and gobs of clean water available to our family, what would I discuss? What do I know about this topic?
Not much. So I decided to act.
Our family gave up water for a day. If one billion people in the world don’t have access to clean water, surely we could make it one day without turning on the ‘ol faucet.
You would think.
No water for showers, dishes, laundry, and cooking. No water.
complained and complained and complained expressed a smidge of concern about this plan.
So, deals were made.
Sure, we could flush toilets. Yes, I know the thought of a full toilet is gross.
Yes, we would brush our teeth. No, I’m not trying to give you cavities.
Of course, we would give the dog something to drink. Yes, he does need water to live.
And so we went on with our modified no water plan. Sort of.
Except that evening our family decided we
could no longer tolerate life without water learned everything we could possibly learn from this activity.
Dishes lined the sink and counters. The kids stank. The stickiness from spilled orange juice spread from the kitchen floor to the living room floor, and the dead moth we found in some prewashed lettuce didn’t help anyone’s attitude.
So we gave up.
Feeling defeated, I walked to the sink and turned on that precious liquid that most days I don’t even notice. I thought about the women around the world who collectively spend 200 million hours EACH DAY collecting water for domestic use.
Can you imagine? 200 million hours?
And then I prayed a prayer of thanks.
Thanking God I wasn’t one of those women carrying water each day. Thanking God I live in a place where tap water is safe to drink. Thanking God because my kids aren’t infected with the Guiena Worm Disease which is caused by drinking dirty water (basically, a tiny water flea turns into a three foot worm that lives inside a person's body and causes long-term suffering). And thanking God for the opportunity to share about clean water today.
Interested in learning more about clean water? Take a few minutes to hear from other people discussing water.
Donations accepted until 12/31.
Of course “OURS” fit us. Our house. Our cars. Our clothes. Our vacations. Our church. Our kids. Our desires and our endless list of wants.
Not long after, I framed the pictures, I stood admiring them, and I heard God whispering to me, Yes, all of this is yours, and that is a problem. What is mine?
His? I paused, convicted.
Nothing was His.
Standing in my room, staring at those framed letters, I knew my life had to change.
Click here to read the rest of the story at Finding Heaven.
As you know, my family and I have been working on our attitudes regarding giving, and just so everyone is completely clear on how things are going, I’d like to share the following conversation:
Me: I’m blogging with this girl, Prudence, and some other people on December 15th to raise awareness about clean water.
Husband: That sounds like a good idea.
Me: I don’t really know anything about the topic, and I wasn’t sure what to write about, but then I heard about someone choosing to go without water for a day. I thought we should do that.
Husband: Wait, do what?
Me: Not use water for a day. You know, no showers, no dishes, no cooking with water, no doing laundry. Basically, we don’t use water for a day.
Husband: Sigh. Can’t you just write about last winter when we lost power for three days, and we couldn’t even flush the toilet? I mean, I remember vividly what that was like.
Me: Um, no.
Now for more inspiration, we turn to my girl, Amelia.
As some of you know, my just-turned-eight-year-old daughter, Amelia writes for my blog, and I pay her a quarter a post. Let’s hear what my girl has to say.
Do you know what my mom bought my teacher? SHE BOUGHT HER A DUCK!!!!!!!!!!! I thought she was teseing. These are some of the other things I’d like to buy her a coffee cup stuffed animal flowers, candy and that’s all. I know that it is giving but I’d like to get her something eles. I want to give her something she likes because she is nice and I don’t think she likes ducks. Love Amelia
What’s a flash mob?
Oh, you know what a flash mob is…a group of people who gather in a crowded place and unexpectedly break out in dance, or sometimes they all just freeze and hold completely still. Much to the surprise of onlookers!
Take a quick peek at these Ohio State students.
You were singing along, weren’t you?
Um, hello, of course you were, and it was fun.
But, I don’t think it’s just about the fun. I think the reason I like flash mobs is the whole idea of being a part of something big.
You know, working together with a group of people to create something good, something surprising, something unexpected.
Flash mobs also make me think of community. No, you don’t have to be a part of a community to do this kind of thing. In reality, you don’t even have to know each other, but the whole idea of lots of people working towards a common goal makes me wonder about MY community.
Just who are the people I consider “my community”?
And what good, surprising, and unexpected things am I working on with these people?
And if I'm not working on a routine that allows me to dance to some rocking Journey song, what exactly am I doing within my community?
Inspire me friends. Are you participating in something exciting with a group of friends? Are you working on a way to bring light to a dark subject? Are you part of an organization you just love? Writing groups, nonprofits, blogging communities, a specific ministry? Let's hear it.
Hooking up with the girls at Finding Heaven.
Since I've started blogging, I've discovered some fun surprises. One of those surprises is the talented women who continuously inspire me.
Meet Jen, one of those amazing women. Last time Jen visited, she discussed her Selflessness Chart. Today she has returned to give us a follow-up.
Have her kids miraculously sprouted wings and halos? Not yet, but her husband has been observed completing the laundry from start to finish, and that my friends, gives you a serious reason to read on.
Ages ago, I wrote a guest post about how I made a “selfless chart” for my family because I was going insane listening to my children argue over their toys, their turns, and anything else that could at any point in time be called “mine.”
I would love to tell you that since using the chart, my children are no longer selfish, that we have all banished our self-centered ways, that we rarely buy anything for ourselves, and that we spend hours volunteering in the homeless community.
The chart worked, but not quite that well.
As with any behavior chart, once it’s filled up, the kids (and parents, too) seem to lose a bit of momentum toward exhibiting (and eliciting) the desired behavior because they are not working toward an external reward. I think we all lost a bit of that motivation after we had our big family celebration, but I do believe that there were some fundamental shifts in our family dynamics. As with anything, routine practice forms habits. Habits lead to lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes lead to deep internalizations of what we truly value and what we find to be most important.
The chart provided plenty of opportunities for us to practice selflessness. It offered a point of departure for us to have serious conversations about what it means to deny our own wants and desires in order to accommodate and give to someone else. It gave us an opportunity to watch for unselfish behavior in each other. Routinely, one of my daughters would rush to tell me about how her sister chose to let her pick the movie that day, share a special toy, or let her go first in a game. It motivated me to bless my husband, to go out of my way to do things for him that I would not really consider unless he
begged asked me (like giving backrubs at 10:30 at night). In turn, he would surprise me by cooking AND doing the dishes, making the bed without being asked, assuming the job of doing the laundry from start to finish, without leaving that last load in the dryer for me to discover, wrinkled and damp, three days later.
The original selfless chart is long gone, but the quest to be selfless lives on. In preparation for the upcoming holiday giving season, I’ve tried to intensify our focus on selfless behavior outside the confines of our family or friends. What does it cost us to give to those who routinely go without? What is the cost of not giving? Which is greater? So, we go to Target fill our Operation Christmas Child boxes and choose to not buy things for ourselves while we are there. We pray for and write letters to Muhamed, our World Vision child that we sponsor. We look for ways to volunteer at food banks and shelters. (Please note, I said look. We have not yet started our volunteering yet, but the idea is there!)
The point of all this is that 1) I want my children to learn the lesson about giving early. From a very early age, they are subject to worldly goods and attitudes. The world makes it seem that it is accumulation of things that brings joy. What I want my children to realize is that instant gratification of buying material goods will not satisfy their souls. 2) I want them to experience that it truly is more blessed to give than to receive. I want them to realize that it is not the contents of their room, but the content of their hearts that really make up their worth. It is a lesson that I need to remind myself, daily.
Go visit Jen at Finding Heaven, and if you are looking for community in this crazy blogosphere, consider participating in Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood. It’s a new meme, and I promise you will meet some talented friends.
Oh, and guess what? It’s every Tuesday, and Tuesday just happens to be tomorrow. So, I hope to see you there.