Thursday, December 10, 2009

It is Better to Give Than to Receive

J-man and I had a very busy day yesterday. First we donated a couple of items to our favorite local no-kill animal shelter, Safe Harbor. (Our dog, Bella, is an alumnus.) Then it was off to Wal-Mart for a whirlwind shopping trip. There are many causes we typically support at Christmastime and hubby and I agreed to amp up the giving this year because so many people are really struggling financially. Don’t get me wrong. This year has been a very challenging year for us financially. Business is down but God is faithful and continues to bring clients and work in our doors. This is more than we can say for many people. Therefore, we really feel the need to share this year. In an effort to accomplish this we’ve decided we’re not going to exchange gifts with each other this year. I can only speak for myself, but honestly there is nothing I need. Now want, well that’s a different story, but if 2009 has taught us anything it is that our wants are definitely NOT needs. On a funny aside, I had an epiphany the other day while walking through a craft store. The song All I Want for Christmas is You was broadcasting over the store speakers and I was singing along aloud to J-man who was chilling in his Peanut Shell. As I looked down at him singing the refrain it dawned on me that those exact words would’ve been flowing from my lips last Christmas as we awaited our referral. I smiled from ear to ear knowing nothing could be closer to the truth. I got everything I wanted for Christmas and it was delivered EARLY this year.

Yesterday my heart was light as I selected a couple of pairs of jeans, shirts, socks and underwear for a young man we’re “sponsoring” through our church, Maranatha, this Christmas. We also picked up a wagon and a huge bag of building blocks for a baby we’re sponsoring through our company for a toy drive facilitated by one of our clients. This year we elected to sponsor just one child in each charity as opposed to two or three, but we’re going above and beyond for each child as our finances permit in an effort to make it a special Christmas for them. Our final purchases yesterday were items for New Life Nicaragua, an orphanage in Managua. This charity is near and dear to my heart for obvious reasons. New Life houses infants and children that are seriously malnourished. Our church is seeking donations of over-the-counter medications and vitamins, cloth diapers and small toys for infants at the orphanage as well as monetary contributions.

I have two more tasks remaining on my to-do list. Saturday I will purchase food items for a food bank our church houses. It goes without saying that the need is great this year for families requiring assistance to simply put food on the table. We will purchase the components for two entire meals—including whole chickens. My final goal is to find a person or family who can benefit from large ticket gently-used toys Jackson has already outgrown. The ideal person would be a single mother. Since I was once that person, I know what it means to be blessed with toys for a child. When you’re struggling to merely survive (pay rent, utilities and put food on the table) Christmas is something you’d rather not think about. After posting this entry I’m off to make some phone calls to find this person or people. Today as I embark on my quest to find someone who will benefit from these toys I’m going to reflect on these words of Mother Teresa:

“Today, more and ever, we need to pray for the light to know the will of God…
for the love to accept the will of God… for the way to do the will of God…”

I challenge you to do the same. You’ll experience Christmas in an entirely new light. I gave an in depth detail of our giving, not to glorify what we’re doing, but to illustrate that it doesn’t take a lot to be a blessing to someone. Boys’ polo shirts and jeans at Wal-Mart: $7 and $15/each respectively; building blocks (HUGE bag): $15; OTC meds/vitamins: $3 to $8 (plus you can clip coupons for them); groceries: nominal (look for BOGO); donating GENTLY-used toys: nothing-nada-zip. You don’t have to donate major bucks to make a difference. ANYTHING YOU DO will make a difference. Go ahead—BE THE DIFFERENCE!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Change of Tone and Praise

Obviously I’ve posted little since returning home with Jackson. Frankly I just don’t have time, but I’ve also decided to keep our family life private. The internet has made it commonplace to share everything and anything about our lives; however, I’m not comfortable sharing Jackson’s life. This is my own personal decision.

That said there are times that I’ve thought about sharing thoughts I’ve had or things I’ve read, but that would mean changing the tone of my blog. The blog was initially established to share my personal journey in our adoption. Now that our adoption is complete, I’m putting the “Ethiopian adoption” aspect of this blog to rest. Hopefully I will find time to post things on here as they are laid upon my heart or pop into my mind. If someone benefits from it, that’s great. But the real reason for the blog from this point forward is merely to share.

Today I feel the need to worship. I feel the need to praise our awesome and wonderful LORD for his faithfulness, goodness and mercy. He is a truly merciful God who loves me despite my many blatant shortcomings. He blesses me time and again, each and every moment of the day and he is truly worthy of my praise. I can’t think of a more appropriate offering of praise than the following Psalm. It says it all. I hope anyone who happens to read this is as blessed as I am by King David’s writing. I want to shout this from the rooftop!

Psalm 145
A psalm of praise. Of David.
1 [a] I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
2 Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.
3 Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
4 One generation will commend your works to another;
they will tell of your mighty acts.
5 They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and I will meditate on your wonderful works. [b]
6 They will tell of the power of your awesome works,
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
7 They will celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
8 The LORD is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
9 The LORD is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.
10 All you have made will praise you, O LORD;
your saints will extol you.
11 They will tell of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might,
12 so that all men may know of your mighty acts
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
The LORD is faithful to all his promises
and loving toward all he has made. [c]
14 The LORD upholds all those who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
16 You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways
and loving toward all he has made.
18 The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them.
20 The LORD watches over all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD.
Let every creature praise his holy name
for ever and ever.

May you be blessed today and perhaps even be moved to take a moment to offer up your own prayer of praise and thanksgiving for the innumerable blessings and wondrous works God bestows upon you each and every day.