Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Different Kind of Christmas

We had a really great Christmas!  We decided to do things differently this year and focus more on giving to people who don't have basic necessities instead of giving to people we knew who already have enough and asking for things for ourselves.  I read The Advent Conspiracy this year after finding out about it through our church last year.  I would highly recommend it to anyone and it is a very short book, which helps to fit into anyone's schedule too.  :)  So we did hand made gifts, which of course the girls love to do, we asked people to donate any money they would have spent on gifts for us and we were able to make donations to the Charles Mulli Foundation as well as to our church's Advent Conspiracy projects to help Syrian Refugees as well as a really cool organization in St. Louis that helps immigrants who have come here but are now struggling.  I really loved the focus we were able to have and the stress we did not have and the girls were really happy to get to help out others.  We really loved it!

We also learned about Christmas traditions in other countries, of course including Ethiopia.  So we learned about Ganna, both the holiday and the game, and the three circles of the church.  We learned about Timkat, the celebration of the baptism of Jesus celebrated on January 19.  When I told the girls about the game they play, yeferas guks, A thought it was such a funny name she laughed and spit water across the classroom.  I love learning more about Ethiopia and the wonderful culture. I think about our babies over there and wonder what their life is like and if they're being taken care of and then I think about all of the children that already exist around the world who are most definitely in broken situations, unthinkable situations, they are not safe and they are not taken care of, and it breaks my heart truly and deeply.  I just pray to God to show us direction on how we can help and to move the hearts of others to become informed and find ways to help.  There are so many wonderful organizations all around the world and sometimes we can give prayers, or money, or mission trips, or adoption, or child sponsorship, or Operation Christmas shoeboxes or anything to let people know that we care. 

There is so much that each and every one of us can do.  Just do something......

 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’  Matthew 25:40

Sunday, December 9, 2012


'Tis the season to talk about giving.  This year we've changed our perspective on giving.  I guess we have been slowly over the last few years, but I read The Advent Conspiracy and really loved it, so we decided to skip gifts or  do homemade gifts this year and donate to the Charles Mulli House instead.  

It got me thinking about giving, though, because I think that this time of year people focus so much on obligatory giving, giving certain amounts as well as focusing on feeling guilty about what we can't give.  I have definitely had times in my life when I have been able to give more than others, but I've realized that giving doesn't have to be just about money.  I remember when I joined the Methodist church the promise was to support it with prayers, presence, gifts and service.  I remember someone along the way saying that there are times when each of these is more prevalent and that we can be happy about focusing about what we can give.  

My girls are so great about giving what they can, whether it is toys or books or clothes that they have, or money that they have gotten, or sending a card or a text or email.  I have learned from them, and from God's guidance that if we just focus on what we can give and not feel guilty about what we cannot give, it brings forth so many more great opportunities to participate in giving every day.  

Some examples that I have found inspiring and helpful are: giving someone a book or movie that you watched and don't need to keep, giving someone a text to let them know that you are thinking about them, offering to pick up someone's kids, giving someone a card (handwritten is pretty rare these days!), when you go through a drive-through and realize that you could afford your bill if it was $5 more you can get a $5 gift card to give to someone who doesn't get to eat out a lot, giving your time to pick up something for a friend at the store, letting your kids mail a picture they drew to someone, sending a text of a Bible verse or a picture to someone, giving an invitation to someone to meet for tea after the kids go to bed, offering to watch someone's kids so they can do some shopping or go out on a date night, giving time to take food to a shelter that someone else collected, making some extra food to take to someone so they don't have to worry about a meal, giving extra coats or gloves or hats so someone else is not cold, giving Bibles (we can usually find them at Dollar Tree), giving time to help someone with a project, volunteering to help at a short term project at church or school, and even giving a smile to someone who doesn't expect it.  

Giving really does breed good feelings and community and can change someone else's day.  I have also notice that the spirit of giving leads to the desire to find more ways to give.  Try to find your own creative ways, especially now during the season of giving.  You never know what kind of effect it could have on someone else.  

So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?  He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.”  Luke 3:10-11