Tag Archives: money

Don’t Miss It

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Don’t Miss It

Admittedly, Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I love everything about it: family, love, food, friends, but more than that, I cherish the reason for the season: Jesus’ birth. For if He were not born, there would be no death and resurrection to save us from our sins, offering grace and pardon to live eternally with Him. Our hope is found in the birth of Jesus! We have reason to celebrate and to share the hope we have in Christ.

Somehow, some way, every year without fail it seems that the reason for our celebrating is left in the dust. Our focus turns to stuff and what we can buy to give, or to receive for ourselves. We are scurrying around to every child’s event at school, church, and the like not to mention the office parties and gatherings among friends. We find ourselves stressed out, broke, and even depressed. Then, there’s the sickness that naturally occurs as the weather cools down and germs begin to spread. We find ourselves sleeping less and going til we can’t go anymore.

I find it hard to believe that this is what Christmas was meant to be about. Why is it that we wait until December to show love for our friends and family? Why is it that we feel that gifts given somehow equate to how much we love someone? Why do we continually spend money we don’t have in fear of being perceived a grinch?

As I continue to age, I find myself tremendously scaling back. Cutting back on activities, some of which I’d rather enjoy partaking in; however, I’ve learned my limits. To me, Christmas is time invested with family and friends, quiet moments by the fireplace, sharing yummy simple food, listening to beautiful Christmas carols and hymns, finding peace amidst the chaos, simplified giving, and self-care. As much as I love sending and receiving Christmas cards, I find myself cutting back on the expense of them. We erroneously allow money and the giving of gifts to be the focus of our Christmas when we already have the best gift we could ever receive: Jesus.

When I allow my mind to wander back to Christmases past, what I have fond memories of is time spent with both sets of grandparents and extended family, traditions of baking family favorite treats (even the dreaded fruitcake!), Christmas Eve candlelight services at our church, luminaries throughout our neighborhood, finding and cutting our Christmas tree, homemade hot cocoa, roasting marshmallows and making s’mores, singing favorite Christmas songs, Christmas caroling throughout the neighborhood, unwrapping one gift on Christmas Eve, reading the Christmas story from our family Bible, opening treasured engraved ornaments from family friends, trading Christmas cards from friends and family near and far.

Pinterest and facebook didn’t exist in my treasured memories. We baked and created in the kitchen only to be compared to the recipe that had been passed down through the family. Selfies and instant posting of pictures on social media didn’t exist; we were busy living in the moment, savoring time with those we loved, enjoying being out of school and traveling to Grandma’s. Cellphones and texting weren’t a thing yet making our family time more special and less distracted. We were excited to see what gifts were under the tree and enjoyed hearing the back story of how and why each gift was chosen and purchased. Amazon didn’t exist making it exciting to actually go to the mall and wonder who you might run into while you were shopping.

It was a joyous and simple time. Even with all of today’s technology intended to make life easier and less complicated, yet distracting us like never before, we can find simplicity. We can savor the moments, find joy in simple handmade gifts and cards, and most importantly, focus our minds and thoughts on Jesus. Being present in the moment and enjoying life’s simple pleasures. Love isn’t about money spent on gifts; rather the heart that gives out of love.

Consider these thoughts as you and your family count down the days before Christmas. Don’t allow yourself to be caught up in the commercialism of the season or the comparison trap of gift giving to keep up with the Joneses; for there isn’t any love there. Demonstrate Christ’s love in a simple smile, handshake, hug, handwritten note, or even an anonymous gift given to someone in need. For here is where the joy and love of the season is found.

Wishing you and those you love a very Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

Generosity

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Just today I had a conversation with a friend and the subject of generosity came up. Honestly, I guess I’d never really thought of it apart from the giving of money. You know, “he made a generous donation,” or “she was so generous with her giving this year”.  As I think on topic, the giving of money is but a facet. In fact, there are various ways to demonstrate generosity.

Perhaps the Christmas season has sparked an interest within me on this subject; after all, it is quite assuredly the largest (retail) season for giving of the entire year. I began to ponder the concept of what it means to give of yourself. Whether or not it involves money is immaterial. My friend and I were discussing the fact that some of us are quick to offer our money, perhaps because it is a commodity we have, rather than giving of our time. Maybe our time is quite scarce and so, it is easier to turn loose of some cash.

Case in point: several years back, a dear couple friend of ours with young children hadn’t been out on a date night in quite some time. So my husband and I offered to keep their kids for them for a few hours so they could enjoy a rare night out. To us, it was a mere gift of our time; we weren’t babysitting for money. While they thanked us for watching their kids, truly we received the blessing! We felt overjoyed to be able to do something for our friends whom we love so much. We were able to be generous with our time and desired to bless them with a night out. We enjoyed giving of ourselves! (*)

To effectively give of oneself, the heart is a package deal. When our heart is in the right place, then we find we are acting out of a pure heart, and with the right spirit. This is the quintessential art of giving. Giving of yourself is an act of selflessness. Again, sometimes this generosity involves money and other times it does not. More important is that you give of yourself because you really want to, not because you feel manipulated, or desire notoriety for your philanthropy. Our heart matters. How is yours?

So, this Christmas as you’re wrapping up your gift buying, or just beginning your shopping, don’t buy into our culture’s model of overspending in an attempt to purchase just the perfect gift. Try thinking outside the box! Perhaps a simple card with heartfelt written words would mean so much more than the random $20 gift you were planning to purchase. Offering your time to cut someone’s yard throughout the summer, helping to provide meals for a widow or a working single Mom would be so appreciated. Purchasing a newspaper subscription or paying for winter snow removal for a parent or grandparent on a fixed income would be well received. As long as it comes from your heart, you’re giving a generous gift. In this, we demonstrate our love for one another.

*(Note: my intent in sharing this is not to brag or to receive accolades, rather to illustrate what giving looks and feels like.)

My Hot Cup of Coffee

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As I’m sitting in my favorite comfy chair enjoying a nice hot cup of coffee, I’m reminded of God’s faithfulness and His provision to me and my family. My thoughts wander back to a different time…some 4 or so years ago, when becoming a Mom for the first time was still a dream not yet realized. I’m reminded of a simple conversation with a sweet friend.

At this particular time, I was a working woman, making us a two-income family. I had a job offering great benefits and just couldn’t fathom how God could stretch our dollars if I were to become a Stay-at-Home Mom one day, as my my heart longed for and my husband and I had long anticipated. You see, both our Moms had been home with us and we knew firsthand the value of such a gift. Having a Mom readily available and unrushed by her own harried schedule was all we both knew. Knowing we’d see her when we returned home from school, ready to hear all about our day with a snack readily available was the norm for us.

As I briefly shared with my friend, who already knew of our deep desire to be parents, I confessed that I didn’t know how we would make it on one income. She smiled and shared her own story with me. In so many words, she told me that during the years she was able to be home with her own two children, it was as if the Lord expanded their finances. She went on to say that while the numbers never made sense on paper, somehow, she said, the Lord made a way. He multiplied our dollars and blessed our efforts. Our brief conversation gave me such a shot in the (faith) arm.

Now, nearly 3 years after my dream became a reality, I can testify that yes, somehow and by some miraculous way, God makes a way where there seems to be no way. I believe He put the desire in my heart to be a SAHM. He has honored that desire by providing for our family in countless ways.

For instance, numerous times, when I thought I had no money in my purse, I’ve unzipped or unbuttoned a pocket, and found money I had no idea was there! Just this week, I found a bank envelope in my purse with a $20 bill in it! I honestly have no recollection of going to the bank for cash. It seems I’m always putting money in the bank rather than taking it out.

By no means do we have money growing on trees over here! It’s incidences like recently when our washer and dryer both needed replacing. We went to look for a replacement pair. I couldn’t believe how expensive such machines were! As we looked at a highly-rated set, I happened to notice that over on the side was a set of the same brand at half the cost of the ones we were looking at! It was a special sale the store was offering for a very short time, yet the salesman never pointed it out. The slight difference between the two sets wasn’t worth double the money. We were able to purchase both the washer and dryer for the same price we would’ve paid for only one piece of the other set!

I don’t believe in coincidence or happenstance. This, I believe, is favor from God. Everything we have is His anyway; He owns it all. We are simply stewards of it. I believe if we look for it, we will find God’s provisions in all sorts of places. It may not come in the form of a surprise of $20 in a wallet; it might be staring us right in the face. Open your eyes and see!