- 1 exciting project centering on beauty and what makes women beautiful (complete with a super special photo-shoot I'm in the process of planning)
- 2 new allergy-friendly recipes (along with a brief synopsis of my recent food-sensitivity saga and how it's led me to better eating)
- 3 awesome holiday book reviews to get you in the spirit of the season
- 4 product reviews (and a couple giveaways as well!)
Now for the meat of what I wanted to talk about today.
We all hear that the true spirit of Christmas is giving - so often that it's become a cliché. And I've always been the sort who was more excited to watch my family members open the presents I'd carefully selected for them than I was to open the gifts they'd bought me. But it's only been the last few years that I've really started to grasp a wider vision of what "giving" really means.
One of my favorite Bible passages is Mark 12:44 about the widow who, though she only gave 2 coins, made the biggest contribution of all because she gave all she had. From this passage I take two things:
1) I don't know the meaning of 'give till it hurts' - I've never in my life gone without so that I could give to someone else. If I gave abundantly it was because I was abundantly rich. If I felt that money was tight, I wouldn't give. I find myself becoming a little more generous at the holidays, but nevertheless, however much I give, we still always have plenty of food on the table, heat in the house, clothes on our backs, and funds leftover for treats. I have never given so much that I had to rely on God to cover the next week for me.
2) Any amount of giving can have an enormous impact. Right now Momastery has once again facilitated the annual Holiday Hands drive. 500 posts asking for donations are accepted and then fulfilled by generous souls around the country. Some people are able to donate extravagantly - covering $1000 ultility bills, buying special-needs children new ipads, or sending large gift cards so a family can afford gifts. Others can only spare a few dollars or the time it takes to hand-knit a warm hat for a cold baby. But you know what? The responses from the people who have been helped are equally effusive whether they've received a second-hand sweater or a full reprieve from debt. It's absolutely true that every little bit helps.
So what have I learned about giving this holiday season?
1) Giving more feels good! We are preparing to move in a couple of months and I finally went through my closet and weeded out some of the old clothing that I hadn't worn in ages. Some of it was a remainder of my eating-disorder years - clothes I really shouldn't ever fit into again, but for some reason hadn't been able to part with. I halfheartedly bagged up a few of my least favorite items and put out an ad on Craigslist in their free section to see if any slender ladies might like a few gently worn pieces of clothing. Let me tell you all - my inbox was flooded! I had a response from a man who was out of work and couldn't afford to buy his wife new clothes. He lamented that she was so thin that Good Will didn't even carry her size. I had an email from a mother whose family had recently lost everything in a fire. I had a reply from a man who 'knew a tiny lady who works really hard and could sure use some new things.' Good heavens - how I could I say no to any of these people!
My closet is now much more sparse than it was last week. But my heart is so much fuller. One woman remarked that it "felt just like Christmas" when she opened her bag of clothes. And you know what? I don't miss a single thing I donated. In fact, I can barely even remember what all I cleaned out.
2) One woman's clutter is another family's treasure. Now I'm searching through my whole house to see what else we can donate. Surely my 2 year old doesn't need a whole closet full of clothes. And no one has played with those baby toys in months. I even had a woman who was thrilled to receive a $10 necklace from my shop because she didn't own a single piece of jewelry! Granted, we have a lot of used items in our home that really are better suited for the trash. But I'm frequently surprised by what people are grateful to have. At our garage sale this summer a man was thrilled to come across a pile of stained and threadbare t-shirts in our 'free' box - he was a painter and hated to buy new t-shirts only to cover them in paint.
I've still got a lot to learn about giving and generosity. My greed glands often win out even when my rational mind tries to remind me that I could feed several starving children for the price of those new leopard print heels. And I constantly struggle to remember that giving is important 365 days of the year - not just at the holidays when reminders are everywhere. If anyone knows of a site like Holiday Hands where needs can be matched with donors - please let us know!
I want to challenge you to join me in my journey to greater giving. Below please find some of the resources I've found most helpful in seeking to be charitable. Please feel free to comment and let us know about your favorite charities or causes, too! And remember - some of the greatest gifts - a smile, a 'thank-you,' a hug - are totally free!
Freecycle.org - post items you no longer need but want to rescue from the trash
Craigslist.org - Use their Free section to post items you no longer need
World Vision - Provides poverty relief for children worldwide
End Child Hunger - Hunger relief for children in America
Samaratain's Purse - Poverty relief and sponsorship for children worldwide
Dress for Success - Donate gently used office clothes