Thursday, December 9, 2010

white envelope giving

The coolest thing happened at church a few weeks ago.

Our Pastor was finishing up a short series on giving.  I think many pastors hate doing "the money talk", but ours looked forward to it.  My favorite part of the series was when he pointed out that we need to give out of our story, out of how generously we have been blessed by our generous God.  So often we give out of duty, out of a set of rules or expectations...or even guilt.  Instead, we should give out of grateful hearts, remembering what has been given us.

OK, fast forward to the end of the service on week two of the two-week series.  (I told you it was short!) That is when the pastor makes his plug for more sacrificial giving to the church, right?  Kicks off a building campaign, right?  Nope.  Instead, the ushers came forward with handfuls of white envelopes.  Each family got an envelope.  Inside the envelopes?  Cash!  No less than $20 and one envelope even had $1000.  What were these for?  We were to use the contents to bless someone else in need.  It was to be done personally (not given to an organization).  Other than that, the sky is the limit.

Wow.  Who would expect the church to give us money instead of ask for more?

The hope is that this money will bless our city in all sorts of small ways.  We pray that God multiplies it in the lives affected.  However, what is going on in our hearts is even bigger than that.

Many in our church family have found themselves challenged by this project.  Giving money away should be easy...but it hasn't been for many.  We are learning.

Here is what my family is learning anew:  First, we live insulated from people in need.  We don't cross paths with the poor.  Our daily travels and associations have us around people with plenty.  Maybe not everything they want, but plenty. We like it that way, we don't have to feel the pain of others if we don't see them.  Ouch.

Those we do know, we don't know well enough to know what they need.  We know our neighbors--we wave, borrow tools from each other, talk about all sorts of things.  Yet, as we thought of our neighbors, we couldn't identify if anyone was struggling in a way we could bless them.  Yes, we know this one is recently divorced, this one is a relatively new widow, this one is out of work.  We know circumstances, but not what they need.

It's terribly convicting.  We have money to give away and don't know who to bless with it, or who needs it.  Yikes.

So, we've come up with a few ideas.  Don't you worry--we will bless someone.  But.  But the real (however painful) blessing is ours.  We've been given the gift of awareness.  We thought that because we care about the less fortunate, we sponsor a compassion child, we make a few charitable donations, that meant we were caring for the needy.

However, the needy are all around us.  I know it.  I also now know I don't really know anything about any of them...   I'm so glad my white envelope of cash has shone light on my ignorance.  I pray that God gives me His eyes to see the needs all around me, to be willing to be involved in messy situations, and to give to others out of the generous Gift I've been given.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Confession Time

I have a few confessions for you this Saturday morning.

I didn't wake up until 8 am.

I am still in bed at 10 am.

Hubby is dozing and snoring next to me in a prescription pain med-induced slumber.  My doggie is curled up in as small of a ball as he can get into right next to him.  My teenaged daughter is sleeping off a migraine-dominated week in her room.  My 10 year old son is playing the wii downstairs--I can hear his running commentary up here.

I took this pic of Patch with my ipod a few days ago when he was all snuggled up in our unmade bed.  It was most fitting for my post this morning...
It seems I have nothing to do.  But another confession?  My comfy bed is in a very messy room at the moment, with laundry screaming to be done.  There is shopping to do, bills to pay, classrooms to set up for church tomorrow, and some much-needed family organization to conquer.

I tell myself I'm enjoying a rare moment of quiet and rest and happily catching up on blogs.  And I am.

But in reality, I know when I get up, I need to hit the ground running.  So my feet are staying under the covers for a bit longer....

Happy Saturday, bloggies.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Company Girl Coffee 12.3


It's been forever since I linked up with the company girls--a fun group of bloggies who hang out over at Home Sanctuary.  I don't know what happened...lost my blogging mojo for a while.  Nothing in my head seemed to want to be written down.  I think I'm getting back into the swing of things now--although life sure seems full these days, so not sure how often I'll manage a post.

Are you enjoying the Christmas season?  I'm so excited about Christmas this year.  Last year, for whatever reason, I had trouble finding the mood.  This year, it kicked in early.  I've bought some gifts (early for me), I've decorated (as much as I'm going to this year) and I've been listening to Christmas music any chance I get.

Today is my day off, and I have more than a day's worth of things I would like to get done.  I have laundry up to my eyeballs, Christmas gift plans to make, grocery shopping to do, bills to pay, house to clean, bank to visit, etc.  I actually look forward to doing all (ok, most) of these things...just wish I could pause time so I could do them all today.  Hubby's home with back pain...pain shots scheduled for Monday again.  He might be able to help me with things he can do from his perch on the couch.

I've been searching for a new way to celebrate advent this year with my family.  We settled on reading through a book I've had for years:

It explains the whole story of Christmas from Creation to Jesus' Birth.  It's our first time through...but I'm sure we'll love it.  We are trying to light a candle and read one chapter a night.

In other news, I am starting treatment for my neck issues--an MRI showed arthritis and bulging discs.  I am seeing Dave's back doctor and he said most 40-somethings would show something like that in an MRI, pain or no pain.  Apparently, we are all slowly falling apart!   He is not sure if that is the trigger of my problem, but I am so encouraged that he completely gets my issues--he described my headaches and neck pain to me like he has had it itself!  He thinks I'm fixable (at least this part of me {smile}).  I start some aggressive physical therapy massage soon, as well as taking some arthritis medicine daily like an old person.  But, here's to being able to turn my head normally!

Oh, and I must share this link for when you need some mindless fun.  It allows you to make your own snowflake, and I must admit it's a bit addicting!  I've convinced myself I am teaching symmetry to the kids...but deep down I know I'm just playing.  Give it a try!

Well, life isn't perfect, girls, but it's full and it's Good.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

still festive...

Even though we didn't put up our tree, we did decorate for Christmas.  The nativity set sits prominently on a table in the living room.  A collection of stars are on the mantle.  Our shelf is filled with our many Christmas books.  New red and white snowflake pillows are on the couch (got them at Target--have you seen them?).  You can't miss Christmas at our house, even though we are missing that tree. 

So I thought I would show you a few pictures of festivity.

Bubba and I filled a leather chest we normally keep CDs in with some greenery and berries we had in our Christmas boxes.  We added some stars ( I get a little obsessed with stars at Christmastime...) and an adorable bird I received as a birthday present.  I think it looks cute sitting in the midst of all that Christmassy stuff.

Last year, I was given this cool jewelry tree as a gift.  At Christmastime, I think it looks great showcasing some beautiful ornaments...a Christmas tree of sorts.  What do you think?

I saw this at my doctor's office the other day, and I must admit I am tempted to buy one for the kids...isn't it cute?
charlie brown christmas tree

I hope you are enjoying the signs of Christmas around your place too--even if you're a tree-skipper this year like me.
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