Friday, July 9, 2010

Thankful Journal: Day 12

Yes, I know how to count and YES, I am aware that I missed yesterday. I was actually preparing a bit of an in-depth post today, and I plan on listing ten things I'm thankful for to "make up" for the missed day yesterday.

It came to me while reading proverbs that one of the key things in Thanksgiving is GIVING! Huh...who woulda thought? This reminded me how much Brandon and I have been blessed and I feel compelled to write about it. 

One of our main philosophies, even before *I* was a believer, was that God would always provide. I found a massive amount of comfort and safety in that statement, and I honestly wanted nothing to do with organized religion whatsoever at that point in my life. We were living in Washington, and that became our motto because we were BROKE with two babies and Brandon had to have surgery. We were poor before, but now we were dirt poor...being off of work for several months while recovering from his work related injuries was financially devastating, and the only way we got through that was believing that God would provide. And He did. We had everything we needed, and we always made all of our bills for the month even though on paper, it looked impossible. It was through generosity of others as well that helped us through this time. 

We have fallen on hard times here in our new area as well. Brandon's been laid off (something that, if you have read previous entries, has shaken us to our core) more than once, and in his line of work with unsteady paychecks, it's been really hard at times. However, our motto that God provides has always been on our tongue. God not only provides during scary financial times, but during spiritual crises, life crises, and other various happenings. He even provides during the happy times...maybe it'll be that fleeting look from your spouse that makes you realize he's still interested after four kids and several  a few pounds of weight gain over the years! God provides whatever the circumstances. He never gives you more than you can handle, so that in itself is Him providing. He's providing you with challenges that He knows you can handle to better prepare you for something to come (or not, who knows?!?!)

Giving. Thanks for His giving. ThanksGiving. That's more like it :) So, I was reading proverbs, and this struck me pretty hard, causing me to really think:

One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly,but comes to poverty
Proverbs 12:24

This particular part can be taken many ways. One might say that the man who gives freely experiences gifts in Heaven, while the guy who withholds unduly is spiritually robbed. But, there is freedom in giving. Who knew that you would receive freedom from giving? Freedom is only one of the gifts that we receive from being a generous person. We receive gratitude, we receive grace, and we can be humbled by our giving. I really, really love the Proverbs; I love all of them, but chapter 12 in particular because it has a lot of notions about giving. 

A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed
Provers 12:25

People curse the man who hoards grain, but blessing crowns him who is willing to sell
Proverbs 12:26

Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf
Proverbs 12:29

So, it is wise to give. You are blessed when you give. And, those who hoard or trust in their riches will ultimately fall. Hard. Believe me, we know!
Giving should be done for the right reasons. Some people give back because they feel like that's "the right thing to do", some people give because they feel like they should "pay it forward" when they have received something generous, and some people give just because they enjoy it. On the other hand, gifts can be corrupted. Many a psychologist has debated about giving and whether it is truly a "pure" act because the giver usually experiences feelings of joy-this, they say, corrupts the act and makes it a selfish act because we want those "feelings". I actually disagree; I think that giving could only be corrupt if you're doing it simply for show or for some other promise of recognition-where you wouldn't give at all unless there was something else in it for you other than making your heart smile. 

Not that I'm here to lecture anyone on the spirit of giving or that there is a "right" or "wrong" way to do it, but I do believe that when God commanded us to give, He wanted us to do so with a pure heart and pure motive. 

Where is the spirit of giving in our modern world? How many of us can say that someone has done a completely selfless act for us? I *know* that I can say that! We have given, as well as received, many gifts that had no motive. For this, I am truly thankful. But, something concerned me the other day. One of my very good friends with a heart of gold is putting on a supply drive for disadvantaged school kids in our area. Basically, her company would like people to donate everyday items like feminine products, shampoos, and toothbrushes so that kids in our area schools can have them if they don't have access to them at home. Yes, there are homeless kids in our area and yes, there are people who don't have toothbrushes or tampons. It's a scary thought to think about, because mostly we're shielded from these types of people; we think they don't least not in our area. So, we think there's nothing we can do. Maybe this is the human services person in me, but it's not until someone raises awareness of this that we become aware that this is a real problem in our area and there is something we can do about it. What concerned me about this is the amount of people who are seemingly unwilling to give. I'm not being judgmental here, but you can go to the dollar store and pick up 10 bottles of shampoo for what two coffees and a biscuit would cost. I understand that it's particularly hard to donate and give when times are so tough economically, but I also believe this is the time when God truly wants us to give. It's an act of faith and trust in Him. 

Times are hard for everyone-including the more affluent members of our society. Now, my aunt and uncle I consider fairly well off, but funding cuts have affected them too. Yet, when Brandon was laid off, they still were generous enough to send us a very selfless gift to help us through the rough time. I am ever so grateful that they did that; it kept  us putting food on the table and helped pay our bills when we had no other means to do so. Because honestly, unemployment doesn't even cover our mortgage! *That* is a scary place to be in. Or, we can take the example illustrated in The Blind Side. This movie has quickly gone to the top three of my all-time favorite movies. Such a selfless act from a well off family to a disadvantaged kid that they had no information about changed his life as well as theirs. Giving can be as little as donating a toothbrush to a supply drive or as big as what the Tuohy family did for Michael Oher. And lets not forget, the biggest gift of all is that God GAVE us His only son so that we can experience the gift of salvation.

On that note:
1. I am thankful for all the little things God has blessed me with!
2. I am thankful for the food in my refrigerator!
3. I am thankful for my super cool purple toothbrush!
4. I am thankful for the generous people who have blessed us in the past!
5. I am thankful for the awareness of how important it is to give!
6. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to teach the kids how to give!
7. I am thankful for the blessings that we have and will give to others!
8. I am thankful for indoor plumbing!
9. I am thankful for all the people who encourage others to give!
10. I am thankful for the ultimate gift: the gift of salvation from the Lord God Almighty! AMEN!

Have a blessed weekend everyone!