I've been a lurker with Advent Conspiracy for several years now and am using their lesson plans in Sunday School this month. I love how they build from Worship Fully to Spend Less to Give More and finally, Love All. We are using some the questions as prompts from our family times, too. If you've read my blog for any amount of time, you know that I am trying to lessen the commercialism of Christmas and focus on the Birth of Jesus and honoring Him with our gifts; whether physical presents of the more valuable ones like our time.
Giving. What is the best way for me to give this year? What gifts will honor Him the most?
Compassion International makes is so easy to shop, click, pay and then print your own card. I know, because I did it!
What if you are like me, though, and your heart is bigger than your wallet? What then? I buy a few gifts through Compassion and EFM and then I have the rest of the month wishing I could do more but sticking to our budget (thanks Dave Ramsey) feeling sad that I'm not able to do more.
Thanks to so many awesome blogs, like A Holy Experience, I read this post to my family at supper last night and choked up several time and squeezed the words past the gargantuan lump in my throat and pray they might spearhead such a movement in our family and, like Ann, a tad afraid that I miss the gifts; too!
Here are some ways to give that I have compiled into one place for my convenience and now am sharing them with you. (I am no way taking credit for all of these suggestions and thoughts and I'm sorry I can't give credit where it is owed... I will be better about saving the links from now on!)
~ Give God one very special gift from you to Him:
Make this one personal; between you and God. Make it a sacrifice! David said in 2 Samuel 24 that he would not offer a sacrifice to God that cost him nothing. I want to say the same thing! Ideas? Perhaps there is someone I have needed to forgive for a long time... what an awesome gift to Him! I'll be benefiting; as well. Lewis B Smeded wrote in Forgive and Forget,
"When you release the wrongdoer from the wrong, you cut a malignant tumor out of your inner life. You set a prisoner free, but you discover that the real prisoner was yourself."Perhaps my gift will be a commitment to spending time with Him daily.
Maybe He is asking me to give something up; a fast from something?
Whatever this gift, I plan on making it the most important gift I give this year. If I can't go all out for the One whose birth we celebrate then I am not where I thought I was on my walk with Jesus!
~ Hunger to Hope!
My Dad & I were talking the other day how people in the Bible were prepared to give something to the beggars every day! The amount wasn't what we focused on, we talked about how when they left home in the morning, they intentionally thought about those less fortunate than themselves and took SOMETHING with them to give. Once it was gone, it was gone but they prepared themselves each day to give. WOW! As 5 year old Javi would say, 'Now that's what I'm talking about man!'
So, let's prepare ourselves to give each time we leave home.
Ideas? Throw a granola bar in your car and the next time you see someone asking for food (corner of Walmart??) park, get out of your car, walk over to the PERSON and ask their name. Ask them their story. Listen. Care. Give them the bar and I promise you, the gift they will remember most will be that you stopped and gave your time... minutes that will last forever.
~ Service Gifts!
Jesus taught us to serve by washing the disciples feet. He said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20:35) The idea of giving an UNEXPECTED gift of service to a family member is to demonstrate Christ-like love and service. Truly being His hands and feet! Does your spouse or parent need a back rub? Treat that back rub like you were paying $50 for it and make it a good one! Does someone need a closet cleaned out? Surprise them by doing it when they aren't home. Fix one of your family members dinner - this is especially thoughtful for an adult sibling. Whatever you do, make it personal and meaningful and you just watch the blessings multiply!
Gather your family or a group and hit the nursing homes, senior citizen centers and those "over 55 neighborhoods" and bless them with Christmas carols. They quality of voices is not the gift - your time and caring is being the hands and feet of Jesus! I make sure I have some words typed (& printed) so those of us who only know the chorus or the first two lines of a song don't leave the others singing a solo or duet. Plus, this helps everyone sing the same words. HA!
~ Handwritten Card
If you are blessed with a grandparent still living, take a moment and hand write them a Christmas card. If you're like me, write someone who is like a grandparent to you. This is a great activity to do with children! There is something about a handwritten message that blesses our hearts in ways no e-mail, text or tweet ever can.
Time is often as valuable if not more so to many organizations. Whether it’s answering phone calls, stuffing envelopes, or serving meals you can find a plethora of organizations that would welcome more hands to help.
~ Use Your Skills
Have a special set of skills? There is bound to be an organization that needs your help whether it’s knitting hats or designing a website to help a charity build an online presence.
~ Donate Stuff!
Whether it’s purging toys, gently used clothing, or cleaning out your pantry you can donate things to organizations to give back to others in a ways that can make an impact. We had a rule at our house that for each new item of clothing, two must be given away. After a few years of doing this, we have purged our closets and drawers and now just give one for each new one we get
~ Be an Inspiration!!!!
The single greatest way to give back is to serve as a positive role model. Whether you're a shining example of compassion within your community or a model of integrity and positive attitude within your school and home, strong character and enthusiasm for God is contagious! Invite someone over for coffee, tea or hot cocoa. Spending time with them just visiting is a gift no price tag could ever be put on it.
Ann Voskamp sums up my thoughts:
Maybe that’s the choice our Christmas needs to make: feed our own wishes or feed the real hunger of Christ?
Nothing can be claimed, taken, received, had; everything we have is gift to us from heaven. All that we have has no other source but the hand of God (John 3:27).
If we truly believe #itsaboutgiving, isn't it time we start?