Tuesday, November 20, 2012

More than Generous...

I guess this has been on my heart for awhile. It took a wonderful Christian mom's meeting, to really bring it out and up front in my life and eyes.

I felt the need to share this with you guys, my readers. (I think all two of you out there!) We've had a rough week (our 6 1/2 year old dog disappeared) and it's time to get back to the roots of this blog, doing for others when we're down.

This is the season of Thanks and Giving. The, seemingly, once a year, we all talk about how we're happy to have people and things. 

There are a lot of people out there with HUGE WISH/WANT lists. Trust me, I'm guilty of this too! I really would love to have a mother's ring, a bike, a vacation, a new wardrobe since I'm done being pregnant, yada yada yada. If I don't get any of this stuff, I'll be just fine. In fact, if I got ANY of these things, I'd be shocked.

There are a lot of people out there, who don't think they are rich enough. Who don't have enough 'stuff.' The truth is, if you live in America, you're actually rich. Most of the world's population lives on just $2 a day. How lucky are we? Most of us have rent that well surpasses $2 a day. If you don't, you need to tell me your secret. But, honestly, thinking of having a home that we can afford to pay for, is a blessing. We really are lucky! If you were able to take a warm shower, or put on clothes, or eat a meal, you ARE BLESSED! And if you did all these things, in succession, you're EXTREMELY BLESSED!

I'm telling you this because there are stories attached to this. We weren't always so lucky. There are people out there now, that definitely aren't. So, if you look at the second word, in ThanksGiving (Capitalized on Purpose!), you'll see, what I'm about to talk about. Giving.
Girl & Boy from the Giving Tree.

This week, we've been busy. I donated a turkey to our local Salvation Army.
They are in need, every year. I also picked up the names of two kids off the Giving Tree. I always tend to go for the older kids, because babies and smaller children always end up being pretty easily taken care of. The older ones, even though are a little harder to shop for, are the most fun for me.

A long time ago, I remember being a recipient of someone else's generosity. I was very little, my brother and I both were. I might have mentioned that we weren't a very wealthy family. We were poor. It doesn't bother me to say that. It was, what it was. My parents always found a way to take care of us.
Wuzzles, photo from Wikipedia.

I remember one Christmas, I got to go to a special place with my brother, where I got the coolest toy I'd ever gotten! It was a Wuzzle. Remember those?! I got Eleroo! He was half elephant and have Kangaroo. I remember I put stickers in his pouch. He was purple and had orange stripes. He was AWESOME! I don't remember what my brother got, but I remember that's what I got. I had him for the longest time too. Not sure whatever happened to him. Gosh, funny how memories of random things will affect your outlook on life as an adult.

When I became old enough and financially able to do so, I started doing the same thing. I started giving back to kids. It wasn't much at first, maybe one name. But EVERY year, I do this. I do this because, it's important. I knew, at a very young age, how special the smallest act of kindness could mean. Changes your heart and your life.

We give to a lot of different things. Lots of causes that affect children and families. This is what our jobs are. No matter what, you can always find something to give. Whether it be money, items, or just time. You can afford something, for someone.

I remember sitting in church and learning that your job as a Christian, is to take care of, well, everyone. All of mankind. Show love to one another, and treat them as ourselves.

Going back to the ladies meeting I had this week, one of the points we talked about, was excess in our lives. We all have sooooo much stuff.

I learned that one lady, doesn't buy presents for her kids. They have generous family members that buy gifts and presents for her kids, so in turn they take money and donate it to other families and causes. Woman after my own heart! 

The true meaning of Christmas is giving, helping others and showing love, in honor of Jesus, isn't it? 

We talked about the second chapter in James. It's an EXCELLENT chapter. It popped out at me immediately, because it's something I really needed to hear. I really feel like this applies to all of us. I've been guilty of this, and I need to be better.

Honestly, I kind of really want to type up the entire 2nd Chapter of James, but would probably turn you away. Know that it kind of ties along into Matthew, if you're not familiar with it. (And you totally need to read it and get familiar with it!)

Here are a few verses from James 2: (Common English Bible)

  "Imagine two people coming into your meeeting. One has a gold ring and fine clothes, while the other is poor, dressed in filthy rags.
  Then suppose that you were to take special notice of the one wearing fine clothes, saying, 'Here's an excellent place. Sit here.' But to the poor person you say, 'Stand over there'; or, 'Here, sit at my feet.'
  Wouldn't you have shown favoritism among yourselves and become evil-minded judges?
  My dear brothers and sisters, listen! Hasn't God chosen those who are poor by worldly standards to be rich in terms of faith? Hasn't God chosen the poor as heir of the kingdom he has promised to those who love him?
  But you have dishonored the poor." James 2:2-6

  "You do well when you really fulfill the royal law found in scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself." James 2:8

  "My brothers and sisters, what good is it if people say they  have faith but do nothing to show it? Claiming to have faith can't save anyone, can it?
  Imagine a brother or sister who is naked and never has enough food to eat.
  What if one of you said, 'Go in peace! Stay warm! Have a nice meal!'? What good is it if you don't actually give them what their body needs?
  In the same way, faith is dead when it doesn't result in faithful activity." James 2:14-17

  "Someone might claim, 'You have faith and I have action.' But how can I see your faith apart from your actions? Instead, I'll show you my faith by putting it into practice in faith action.
  It's good that you believe that God is one. Ha! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble with fear. 
  Are you slow? Do you need to be shown that faith without actions has no value at all?" James 2:18-20

Add this along with Matthew 7:21-24, and you've got yourself some big actions and consequences.

I know, I'm still really young and learning in the ways of God and love and showing his amazingness through opportunity. I, by no means, have any or all the answers. But, I was so humbled and touched by these other ladies and their stories of how they connect with one another, and show love and honor God with giving.

Do you know your neighbors? Like, their names? Where they work? We tend to be so isolated, even though we're all socially connected online, that we tend to overlook actual people.

This week, I found out, a man who I had kind of known for a couple of years, lived a few streets down. His wife has some medical trouble and he works full-time and she's home. Why can't I help them? How did I NOT know they lived just a few streets over? We literally, walk by their street almost every day. So, I offered up my services to help. When ever they need it. I'd hope that someone would do that for me, if I ever needed it some day.
Finger Painted Fall Trees Card
Also, this week, (Remember, I said we've been busy!) the kids and I planned a craft day. We called a local nursing home, and asked if we could make some cards for the residents there. The staff was really excited by our offer! They had over 80 residents. I'm not sure how many of these people get visitors, or cards, or anything, so I wanted to make sure to get something to all of them. Trust me, this is a daunting task with a three year old and one and half year old. 
Hand Turkeys, Trees, Scribbles and more on these cards!
Their focus isn't really going to last for 80 cards, so I definitely picked up the slack. But, I did so cheerfully! I was HAPPY to do this! Happy to donate my time into some cards, to show love to others. 
All 82 cards!
It only took us a few hours, and they were done. We dropped off all our finished cards so they could be distributed before Thanksgiving. 

Giving to others, is just such an amazing feeling! Especially, giving something, you know can really help! 

We also, bought food and donated it to the local food shelters. I can't imagine what it would like to be hungry. Or to watch my children be hungry. We give thanks, EVERY DAY, that we have food. 

I know this has probably been beat to death over the past month and that many of you, do find ways to give. Isn't it just amazing, the feeling you get from doing it? Can't you just help, but smile while you do it? 

If you ever need to hear a testimonial about how something you've done (like donating Toys for Tots, or a turkey) can change a life, just ask me. I was once one of those kids. Your generosity, made a difference in my life. You started a cycle, when you gave that day. Because, I now give. My children, will give. One random act of kindness has changed two generations.

Your giving may not always have that affect, but it will NEVER have a negative impact on anyone's life. Giving, with LOVE, will always have a positive that comes from it.

So, this year, I'm thankful, for everything. I'm thankful for the hardships, that have lead me to be who I am today. I'm thankful, for the chance to help give back to others. I'm grateful for opportunity to teach my children the same, and to make an impact in the lives of the people in my community, and in the world. People, whom, I may never meet, but will hopefully know, that I'm giving because I LOVE. I love, because that's what God does, and wants. And, I am so thankful for God, for His love, and for Him showing me the way.

Remember, faith without action, is dead. Faith, is love. What would we be without love? So, go and do all things, with LOVE!

Happy Holidays!

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