Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Christmas and the spirit of giving

I have noticed in the past few years that I start getting excited for Christmas very early--like September!  When the pools start closing and the wind starts to pick up I start thinking of Christmas.  What I get excited for most is giving special gift to those I love and hoping they love the gift as much as I loved picking it out for them.  Now, being a family with "just enough" money to go around, these gifts are not big or numerous, but somehow they always seem to be perfect. 

The last 2 years I have secretly wanted to spend most if not all of our Christmas gift budget on giving to those who really need it.  Last year I looked into a few homeless shelters in the area to give to.  I didn't follow through, time caught up with me and the money was spent on presents...excuses, I know.  I just didn't do it.  This year I really feel like I have to give in some way. 

It's funny how the Lord can impress things on your heart.  Here are few ways that He has flooded my mind with the desire to give:
  • Two weeks ago I got a gift catalog from Samaritan's Purse, an organization that help the poor and give them the care and hope to help rebuild their lives.  They provide emergency medical care, build schools and churches, provide food and the means to sustain their own gardens and live stock.  They give hope to families all over the world who need help. 
Here is irony for you:  I was looking through this catalog while I was eating my dinner.  I looked at my husband and said, I can't even finish my dinner.  I was so moved emotionally that I couldn't swallow for the lump in my throat.  I mean, how many times do we see the pictures on our TV of little African children with bloated tummies and just change the channel or even ignore the ad.  These little children weren't on my TV but on my kitchen table.  In the midst of our abundance their inadequacy jumped off the page.
  • The next thing that had me thinking was a news report from abc's 20/20.  It was about Native American children living at Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.  It showed these families living in mobile homes with patched floors, ceilings that could crash in at any moment and more than 2 or 3 to a bed.  One woman had 19 people living in her home.  80-90% of the adults living on this reservation are addicted to alcohol and reports were showing that the children were experimenting with alcohol as early as 5 years old.  The documentary showed several little children crying over their parents being drunk.  The school explained how many of these children come to school on Monday's not having eaten anything over the weekend. 
How can I look at these beautiful vibrant children and not feel compassion for them.  These kids aren't roaming around an African plain or in the jungles of South America--they are in our backyards!!!  Our own country is hungry and poor and destitute.  It breaks my heart to think that those children may have the same fate as the other adults in their community--alcohol addicted. My family has indian roots, so I guess this just hit home for me. 
  • The last and most recent thing that I came across was a book study my Life Group started by Max Lucado called, "Out Live Your Life".  This was taken right from his website:  "1.75 billion people are desperately poor, natural disasters are gouging entire nations, and economic uncertainty still reigns across the globe. But you and I have been given an opportunity to make a big difference."  Go to the link and check out the video--it's so moving.
As you can imagine my heart was nearly flooded over with emotion after watching the first video of this series after all that God had laid on my heart earlier.  Can I deny that the world is broken and in need of help, even in my own country/state/city?  Can I turn my back to the hurting again?  How can I ignore this passion that He has ignited in my soul for those in need?  I can't. 

As much as I write this to inspire others to look beyond their own family and into those hurting around them, I also write this as a declaration to myself.  I will no longer sit by the side with my eyes closed to the truth.  I will get out there and give what I can and help where I am able.

James 1:27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

Proverbs 22:2 The rich and poor have this in common: The LORD made them both.

Please take a moment to visit the links I've included.  If you have the ability to give to one of these organizations, I encourage you to do it.  Samaritan's Purse is a great place to start as they have several less costly ways to give.  You've got to start somewhere, right?!  God bless you as you leave this blog.  I pray that you will be compassionate to this cause and that you will find away to give or spread the word.  Choose to not turn your back on them anymore.


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