During this Christmas season my pastor, Pastor Charlie Whitlow, has challenged our church to “Be Christmas.” Instead of being caught up in the buying, selling, craziness that Christmas has become, to actually remember why we celebrate it. After all, it’s better to give then receive!
When you think of giving during these months you might think of the countless charities calling your house, the bell ringers, and telethons on tv. I’m not saying these aren’t legit ways to give, in fact they can be huge blessings for the people involved. But if you are like me you might not have a lot of extra money to give away. We live on one income which can be a challenge during regular months. Add on the extras you want to purchase during Christmas and things can get pretty tight. I want to suggest others way you can give and “Be Christmas” this year.
Give your time. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or food pantry. Offer to Christmas shop for an elderly family member or friend. Help sort gifts for angel tree recipients. There are plenty of non-profits who need extra hands during this time of year. To find them in your area, call your local church or do a search online.
Give your clothes. Take an honest look in your closets. Go ahead I’ll wait. Are you really going to wear that jumper outfit from high school ever again? Or how about those shoes collecting dust? Didn’t think so! I was right there with you. I had large space bags full of clothes from high school and college. Styles I would never wear again but I held onto them because they were so “cool” at the time. Maybe in the future they would be in style again (haha no), and even if they were I still would not where them! So I got honest with myself and went through every closest, drawer, and bag I could fine. I ended up giving away 3 giant black garbage bags full of clothes to a local nonprofit. All the shoes that I never wear, they went in another large trash bag and I gave those away too. It felt liberating to have closest space and being able to close drawers without pushing and shoving.
Give your food. About the same time I emptied my closets I attacked my pantry. We all have bought a ton of food before because it was on a really great sale. If you know you won’t be able to eat it all before the expiration date give it away. Every time you throw away food, you’re wasting money and the opportunity to bless someone else.
Please get your kids involved too. They can help you go through their toys and clothes to donate. My daughter loves getting extra food at the grocery store for mommies and big girls who don’t have enough to eat. It’s important to teach our children at a young age that there are those in the world less fortunate then they are. I believe the younger we start this the better. Then they don’t grow up thinking everything should be handed to them on a silver platter. I also think it’s a great deterrent to the teasing and bullying poorer children face at school. Our kids can learn compassion and mercy for those around them, making the world a better place. Ok, that sounds cliche’ but honestly, you can be having a bad day and all it takes is one person to make your day brighter.
It doesn’t take money to bless someone during this season. God didn’t send money to us He sent His Son. It wasn’t a free gift for Him, it cost Him time and emotions. But how many people have been blessed because of that? Jesus came to this Earth to reunite mankind with God. God has already given the perfect gift to all of us, we just need to unwrap it and be thankful.
John replied, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry. –Luke 3:11
These topics of laying down strong foundations and creating a legacy for our children have been coming up a lot lately. What we teach them, morals, values, religion, relationships, eating habits, etc matters. It sets them up for either failure or success. Are we building a foundation for them that’s solid or one that will crack at the slightest mishap in their future. My question is: What are we teaching our kids?
I’m speaking from experience. I didn’t have an ideal upbringing so maybe I’m just sensitive but I think this is very important. When I was about 3 months old my parents became so engrossed living their separate lives from me and each other that I lived with my grandparents. I thank God for that though, because without their love and guidance I shudder to think where I might have ended up. My parents never taught me morals, healthy habits, and they rarely communicated with me or each other. When I reached a certain age, it was more like I was raising myself. My grandmother was still there though, providing emotional support. She taught me to be kind, help others, and she showed me just how powerful unconditional love really is. She always says “God never gives you more then you can handle.” I still hold on to that truth. But like any young adult I had to find my own way in the world. My teenage years read like a Charles Dickens novel “It was the best of times it was the worst of times.” It’s been a long journey. I had to learn from my mistakes, pick myself up from my failures. I had unhealthy relationships with people and food. I was never obese but I wasn’t healthy. I would either eat like a pig or starve myself to be thin. I had to learn the importance of exercise, eating right, and what good self esteem is. When I married my husband and became a mother, I really felt the lack of a solid foundation. I had no idea what a healthy marriage looked like or how a real mother acts. My husband also had to to learn these lessons too. It was hard, and honestly without the example of my grandmother and the wonderful Church we are apart of I don’t know if we would have survived.
I vowed that my children would not be brought up like my husband and I. They would know their roles in life, understand that there was a purpose for them being here. My daughter would know how to be a real woman, one who values herself, takes care of her body, and knows how to love others. My son would be a real man, showing emotions, and be strong but not overbearing. We are going to exercise and eat healthy. There are people in the world who are not as fortunate, and we will do what we can to help them. The children are going to learn right along side of me about healthy habits, strong moral character, and not to be easily swayed by other people. Recently, I was told that we would see the fruit of our decisions in the future. Our children and grandchildren will be blessed because of our steadfastness and pursuit of a better life. I believe this is true, I just pray for the strength to continue to standout from my past and not to be sucked back into it.
I’m not telling you how to raise your children. What’s important to you may not necessarily be the same as what is for me. But please know that whatever you are or are not teaching them will affect them in the future, for better or worse.
Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. -Proverbs 22:6
Fall back is definitely in my top 10 favorite days of the year. I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to conquer the world! Ok, maybe not that energized but I felt like I could conquer my day!
I try to live each day with the quote of Gandhi in mind “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Like I said, try. When you are dealing with traffic, long lines, a grouchy toddler, etc it’s hard to be that change. But today I decided I will be different than those around me! Have you ever noticed when you are determined to do something, everything seems to be working against you? I mean I wasn’t an ogre, but I didn’t go out of my way to be extra special all morning. I felt like no exciting opportunity came my way demanding me to rise up. Although, thinking back, I could have gone out of my way to start a conversation with a newcomer or paid for the drink order behind me in the cafe’. But I didn’t. I wish I could pass the blame but the truth is we get so comfortable in our routines, in our boxes it’s hard to get outside and change.
After Church I went out shopping for Christmas. In the checkout line I was talking to my husband on the phone; finally I was called up to the register. I said “I’m getting off, I don’t want to be rude” the cashier looked at me amazed. “Ma’am you didn’t have to do that, it’s ok people do it all the time, I’m use to it.” Now I was the one looking amazed, is our society that impolite? Are we really that desensitized to rude behavior, that it no longer bothers us? “No” I said, “That’s disrespectful and I wouldn’t want someone to do that to me.” He smiled and said “thank you!!” I paid, said “have a nice day” and he said “thanks so much for that, have a great day!!” Wow, that’s all it took to be a change. I wasn’t even trying really, just practicing the rule I teach my children “when someone is speaking to you look them in the eye.” Funny how something as simple as hanging up the phone made that guy smile. It’s just that easy. I think we all need to review the rules we lay down for our children and relearn them. You can be the change.
“Keep putting into practice all you learned…” Philippians 4:9