Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day Nine

It sometimes freaks me out when God shows up within minutes of me asking Him something.

As the girls and I made our way to Five Guys for some lunch, I was thinking I would maybe take lunch to a homeless person or pay for the meal of the person behind me in line. They sounded like okay ideas, but nothing really struck me.

Waiting for our food, I glanced down at the gift cards and thought, maybe I'll buy a gift card and take it to someone instead of finding a stranger, going up to them and offering to buy them lunch.  That approach made me a little uncomfortable.

I felt like the opportunity was passing when I looked up and saw an older gentleman reading the menu posted on the wall inside the establishment. He was dirty, scruffy and painfully thin. I was nervous, but in my head I heard, "Here ya go, this guy could use something to eat".  So I walked up to him.

"Sir? Can I buy you something to eat?", I asked.

He had bright blue eyes and smelled really bad, but I loved everything about him. He looked a little taken back and confused, then said "sure" in a very low voice. We walked to the cashier and he ordered a cheeseburger with everything on it and a drink. I wished him well and walked out.

The girls and I sat outside to eat our lunch.  I was mostly quiet as I sat there in awe at how, just as I was getting frustrated with myself on how to give and who to give to today, God put the man right in front me.  He needed me and I needed him.  

I almost didn't write this because I liked the thought of keeping it between God, the Five Guys cashier, Isabella and me. But this is what the 20 day challenge is about.  This is why I started blogging again, to share the way this experience would change my heart.  I wanted to document the truth behind God's words in the Bible about giving to others, how it changes your perspective and heart when we're not so focused on ourselves.

I get bored, frustrated or overwhelmed and I shop. Everyday that I've given, I've been happy not to shop. Not just okay with it, happy with it. It's like a weight is lifted off my shoulders and I've found that I can focus on things I might be able to buy for other people.

I've always wanted to be more thoughtful in giving to my mom, sister and friends, but can never focus enough on what to get them, so I give up. Apparently it's a lot easier to shop for others when I'm not interrupting myself with thoughts of things I could buy myself. Go figure.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day Eight

Toys for Tots had a drop-box inside the Build-a-Bear Workshop in the mall today. When we first went in, Isabella was doing what most 7-year-olds whose parents haven't instilled a great sense of charity in them naturally do, which is ask for everything in the store and make pouty-grumpy face when we say "not today". Mind you, this kid had her Christmas with grandma the day before.  Gifts included, but were definitely not limited to, an iPod Touch paired with a $50 gift card to Best Buy. Yeah.

Isabella jumped at the opportunity when I asked if she would like to instead build a bear for a kid in need.  She chose a very (very) colorful bear to stuff.  It was so sweet to see her so excited to pick out the coolest outfit she could find for the Bessie bear.


We filled out a birth certificate for Bessie on the computer and Isabella wrote, "I hope you feel better. Mery chrismis".  I think she wrote I hope you feel better because we had previously discussed buying thing for and visiting sick children at the hospital.  It was sweet.

 We paid, dropped the Bessie in the Toys for Tots box and were on our way without a complaint.

Once we left I asked her how she felt and she said, "Great! I've never done anything like that before!"

That's when a short bout of parenting guilt set in. She's 7 and has never done anything like this before.  Oops.  But, hey, better late than never! Seeing her joy in giving, without complaining about what she wasn't getting, put a smile on my heart.

Day Seven

On the way home from the grocery store there was a man on the corner selling cold water. His daughters were with him and there was a sign that read "Wife left us. Please help."

He was looking down when I stuck my hand out the window to give him the money. One of his daughters noticed me and said, "Dad!"

He took the money and gave me a water, but I declined it. His face was sunburned and his daughters looked bored. He looked tired.

Can you imagine what his daughters are living through? What if one of their classmates drove by and saw them in that situation?

The economy has wreaked havoc on a lot of people. I forget that a lot. We've been so blessed. I can't think of anyone I know who's lost a house or suffered significant financial setbacks. I lived in Washington, DC up until two months ago, where the job market didn't suffer as much as smaller towns and cities, and the housing market continues to thrive.

It was a quick give for day seven, but their faces will be with me for years to come.

Day Six

Today James and I gave to a close member of his family in need.  And when I say need, I mean need in the Jesus sense.  We gave money and time, and even though we left knowing we did what we could, I walked away with a heavy heart.  Addiction is a stubborn bitch.

It wasn't until I came to know Christ in a personal way that I understood what He and various others in the Bible meant when they talked of the poor.  There are poor people who are rich in spirit, just happy to have what little they have, grateful for everything God has already given them.  And then, there are the lost, the poor in spirit.  People who want so desperately to be better people, but don't know how.  They're so damaged from their past, or so ashamed of things they've done or are doing that they give up, or are overwhelmed at the thought of trying to straighten out.  They're lost.  They don't know what to do or where to go, so they just keep doing what they're doing.  I've been there.

One of the definitions of the word "lost" in is "bewildered as to place, direction, etc.", and it's a feeling I know all too well.  The tossing and turning, wondering what the heck the purpose of my life was, frustrated because nothing could quench the unrest in me.  I didn't know where to go, what to do or who to talk to.  I wasn't perfect so it never occurred to me that I would fit into a Christian church.  I have family members who are Christians and they are the stereotypical, judgmental, holier than thou snots that give so many of us a bad name.  I never felt welcome with them, but I did always feel judged and less of a person around them.

Day Five

Major fail. In my defense, it was Black Friday. Crap defense, I know, especially since I left the mall with some great finds for myself.

My mother-in-law picked me up at 1:30am to drive with her to the mall in Savannah, since all Vidalia has for shopping is Walmart and a small Belk. Before she picked me up she had at Walmart, since 8pm.

Teresa is hardcore on Black Friday. We drove the hour-plus to Savannah and didn't make it back home until noon. She, almost literally, shopped til she dropped. I drove home because she was too sleepy (after 16 hours of shopping) to drive.

So in the madness, helping Teresa pick out clothes, shoes and toys for our girls, getting sucked into shopping for myself, and tracking down an 8G iPod Touch for Isabella, I failed. I did help Teresa give our girls awesome gifts. Maybe somehow that counts. I'm guessing no.

The rest of the day I slept, ate, and slept again. At least I think so. It's all a blur now.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Day Four

While there was good motivation to give this day, I wish there wasn't a need for the organization I gave to, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

We were all enjoying time with family at our usual Thanksgiving spot when a sweet dog approached a few of the kids. Well of course I was drawn to the cute thing and went up to pet her. I was heartbroken to see that she was riddled with big, fat ticks. My heart fell to my stomach.

I came out of the womb a dog lover. I wanted to start a dog rescue in Mexico because it killed me to see dogs getting kicked when they'd beg food vendors for food. As a first generation American, I spent my summers and Christmases vacationing there with my parents and their immediate family. Some of my best memories are there, except for when I think about all the homeless dogs I had to leave behind each time.

James pulling ticks of Sadie.
But back to Sadie (that's what I named her). My husband was nice enough to pick all the ticks off her. I say nice enough because he grew up in the country, where most dogs aren't even allowed in the house. To this city girl, that borders animal cruelty. Okay, I'm kidding. I donated to ASCPA not PETA.

I knocked on a door and asked about Sadie. The nice lady dropped her head as she shook it and told me Sadie probably belonged to her neglectful neighbors. Sadie's condition and super submissive demeanor pointed to that being an accurate description of them.

She went on to say that if there was a place she could call to report them for neglect she would, but that there wasn't anything like that in Wheeler County. My heart sank again. I think it was at my feet by that point.

My hands were tied. The car was full and there wasn't any room for Sadie to come with us so we could at least find her a shelter.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Days 1-3

Since I am about at my wit's end with Blogpress deleting the saved drafts on my iPhone, this will be quick since I've already written it three times.

Day One
I gave my time when I wanted nothing more than a nap with the baby when my cousin called for our scheduled phone date. I literally can't find time for spurofthemoment calls when I'm usually always running around with the kids.

In the end, those almost two hours on the phone were so worth it. My sweet cousin is also a baby Christian and it wasn't until Monday that we were able to exchange stories about how we came to know Christ. As lifelong Roman Catholics up until that point, it was definitely interesting to hear the similarities in both trying to know God as Catholics, then having that burden lifted off our shoulders when we found Him.

Monday, November 21, 2011

20 Days of Giving

Just in time for the holidays we're studying The Genius of Generosity in Sunday school.  Yesterday we were challenged to do or give something to someone everyday for 20 days and note the progress.  So, after putting off this blog for entirely too long, I've decided this is the perfect opportunity to start writing again, even if it isn't what I thought I would be writing about.

As a matter of fact, I didn't know what to write about, which is why I hadn't blogged for so long.  Would I blog about motherhood, my new adventures in homeschooling our 7-year-old,  politics, life in general, or maybe about trying to be a Proverbs 31 wife.  I didn't want to be limited myself to one subject, but I also didn't want to have an aimless forum that could easily turn into mindless venting, which would inevitably leave me feeling frustrated and/or justified in feeling sorry for myself.  Me, me, me!   That's what I don't want this to be about.

While I'm not a wise old soul, I find it amazing that that is exactly who God wants us to become in our short lives on this earth.  He wants us so desperately to be full of His wisdom, to know how much we mean to Him, and to spread that love and knowledge to others.