Last year I attended the Beer, Wine and Food Festival for the 1st time. It was a great event for a great cause, benefitting The Cure Starts Now Foundation that focuses on pediatric brain cancer.
This past summer I gave blood for the first time. I had been putting off the experience because 1.) I don’t like needles 2.) I strongly dislike being in any form of a medical environment.
I will admit I was enticed to have my first blood drawn by the cool swag gifts they were advertising that included a really cool American apparel t-shirt and yummy ice cream amongst other freebies. I’m just being honest, I’m a sucker for free stuff. I hated the finger pricking and the needle in my arm was just a long uncomfortable feeling.
That got me thinking about how hard making a lifestyle of giving can be… Uncomfortable. We know we should. We desire to and yet it can be a struggle to consistently think of others. We never seem to have the right amount of money that we envision it will take to really do what we feel would be a worthy effort.
So even though I knew giving blood would be something good to do for others, I let my fear of pain and commitment to the cause, keep me from trying all those years.
I feel that the fear of the uncomfortable is what keeps us from giving to those places and people we feel impressed to serve.
I have wrestled in my mind many times over giving away items of value to me. I think what if they don’t want it? What if they don’t use it? I could have sold that and gotten money for that. What if they think I’m crazy? Sometimes the contemplation over some items takes longer than others.
I’ve learned and I am constantly reminded that if I’ve been impressed to do something for someone it’s for a reason. If not for the person I’m giving it to, than it’s for me to learn to not hold on to things too tightly.
I really got this revelation in college when we had a guest speaker come to my school named Wayne Myers. He was so known for his generous spirit that they dedicated a day at school each year in his honor. On that day the students were challenged to really give. Cars were given away, tuition fees were paid off by other students, along with many other acts of kindness. Mr. & Mrs. Myers were missionaries to Mexico who made a lifestyle of giving by choosing to give a monetary gift every single day of the year.
“Whatever we have, we give accordingly,” Myers said. Some people have told Wayne you can’t live like that or you’ll go broke. But Wayne tells them, “I was broke when I started giving and I haven’t been broke since. Not many people understand the joy that comes from living a life of giving.”
That speaker sparked a change in my life. I had been touched by many of my experiences as a teenager with my youth group. We did things to help the homeless and elderly, we were challenged at camps and on mission trips. Not that some of those situations weren’t hard but serving always seemed easier to me than giving. The difference was that the life of Wayne Myer challenged me to live the uncomfortable. Those were two different things and places in my heart that were challenged and brought to light.
I remember wrestling in my mind over putting a large amount of money (to a broke college student) toward my roommate’s tuition. I was blessed enough that my parents paid for my school and I worked for the living expenses which still made money tight.
My roommate was in danger of being on probation if it wasn’t paid. I finally got over myself and did what I felt led to do. It was so fun to watch her expression when she found out that her bill had been paid and she didn’t know who did it. The experience of being apart of her miracle forever changed me.
This year I have had many friends who have demonstrated the uncomfortable.
There is the couple who chose to literally “love their neighbors” and invite their community to a pig roast (the wife ironically doesn’t even like pork). With the expression of love given by her 12 her home made pies. For several years they have created a welcoming environment for the people who share their streets in the neighborhood and community.
There are my two photography friends. One has used her gift to take pictures for a school for special needs kids. She has also taken pictures of families with children who are ill. The other helped start and is involved in “Now I lay me down to sleep” in the community I live in. They take free professional pictures for the families who have suffered the loss of a baby, as way to honor that life and help with the healing process.
Another friend has a husband who has started an organization to help stop and bring awareness about human trafficking called The Manesseh Project. They are a family committed to the cause and sacrifice of helping others.
My brother and sister in law moved to rougher area of town on purpose to seek to find the true needs of that community and be an example and light in dark places.
There are my friends who founded “Freedom Haiti” an organization in Haiti dedicated to equipping and training Haitians to rebuild their lives. They have two amazing kids they adopted from Haiti.
There are my friends who specifically chose to adopt a special needs baby with Downs Syndrome. They knew their newest family member would bring great challenges but also great joy to their existing family.
There is my friend who invited me to spend a day with her as she served her weekly
Tuesday at a shelter for homeless woman and children. She also shaved her head to raise money for pediatric cancer with an organization called “St. Baldrick’s.”
There is friend who invited me to her mom’s morning coffee group to help me feel a sense of community.
These are only a few examples of an endless list……
We have also been on the receiving end of many blessing this year. It has been a tough year for us financially and we have had so many examples of people who have given us gift cards, paid for meals, and paid money toward our bills.
Receiving is hard. I would rather be on the giving end any day.
I came across an article about RACK (Random Acts of Christmas Kindness) and my family decided we wanted to be apart of it too. We started late and we don’t have a ton of extra this year. That obstacle has made us more creative in the ways we choose to serve those around us. Here are even more ideas I found online today.
We want our family to always be mindful that we are blessed and that our definition of tough times is not even close to those in other countries who are fighting to live with each breath from starvation. This image that has been circulating on facebook says it all.
Our actions speak so loud that people can’t hear what we’re saying. That can be a positive and a negative. Depending on the way we choose to live our lives and seek to bless others all year round.
The execution and the leap of faith is the hardest part.
If seeing the picture above makes you want to be proactive check out the World Vision Catalog for life changing gifts ideas you can give. We have dedicated soccer balls from my boys and art supplies in memory of my mom in years past.