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How you can give better this Giving Tuesday

Today is Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday follows Black Friday, Shop Small Saturday, and is an opportunity to focus on the real meaning of the holiday season.

Today is Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday follows Black Friday, Shop Small Saturday, and is an opportunity to focus on the real meaning of the holiday season, the greatest gift of Christ and His love which frees and transforms us.

Honestly, in my opinion, Giving Tuesday should precede Thanksgiving. Maybe we would all be less focused on the commercialized shopping if we started our season with giving. And, it is a good reminder that we are to honor God by giving of our firstfruits, not what’s leftover.

Proverbs 3:9-10 ESV  Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.

Giving has always been something important to me. When I was five, I got passionate about supporting the missionaries at my church. I went home, dumped out my checker cup, and went door to door for donations without telling anyone.

I’m lucky my parents didn’t kill me! I can’t imagine my six year-old being missing for two hours. But I did collect some money for a good cause. 

That intense heart for causes and passion for people never changed.

Giving should be something we do all year round not just at Christmas, not just on giving Tuesday, but today’s a great day to focus on why we give back and starting the season with the right heart and the right attitude.

Giving should be part of how we live all year round, not just on #GivingTuesday Click To Tweet

Number One

Give where you are passionate.

The world has millions of different causes. Even important work would get overlooked without people like us finding the ones that matter to us.

God gave each of us diverse interests and put us in specific places for a reason.

Find something that speaks to you and give there.

For example, I have several causes near and dear to my heart, but SavingEliza.com is extra special. A friend of a friend has a daughter who has Sanfilippo Syndrome, a tragic childhood Alzheimer’s, a disease orphaned by modern medical funding.

But the people who love and care about the children affected with Sanfilippo syndrome knew science had a potential treatment that just needed funding to get it through the final FDA stages.

With a handful of hope, several families with children suffering with Sanfilippo made an incredible push to get it done. They raised millions through people like me and you who care about giving. And children are starting to get treated!

Every year for her birthday which is right before Thanksgiving time, I make a donation and often a few times during the year because so many children are still waiting for their chance to get this potentially disease halting treatment.

Secondly, give locally or personally.

Giving to someone in need near you is a powerful way to be a light in a dark world. Just this week, I had a chance to give to someone during a deeply difficult family loss. Sometimes, we don’t know what to say and other than prayers, we feel helpless. Donating to a fundraiser is one way to say I’m walking with you.

Or take the time to give personally, mail a check, slide a grocery gift card under their door. Make a difference for the people in your life.

Today is Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday follows Black Friday, Shop Small Saturday, and is an opportunity to focus on the real meaning of the holiday season.

Third, gifts don’t have to be financial.

Volunteer. Offer to cook food for an event. Babysit the neighbors’ kids so they can have a night out.

Give of your time, your talents, your treasures. Look for ways to help people. I find that if I slow down, I realize how much need I can be missing by just being too busy. Sometimes people just need our attention.

Also, pray about need. God will sometimes bring someone to your mind. This summer, He did just that for me and I felt like I was supposed to mail her a check. It was kind of strange, but even as I was writing it, I made it out for more than I initially thought.

It wasn’t much, but I was blown away when she called and said there had been a problem with her husband’s paycheck through finance. Our small gift was enough to make some ends meet.

I love seeing how God is uses us when we take the time to get quiet and listen to His prompting.

Lastly, research your charities. Lots of great causes are represented by non-profits that pay millions in salaries for CEOs or even celebrity endorsements, and sites like Charity Navigator are great ways to see how much of your donation goes where it should.

My personal rule of thumb is 90% or more should go to doing what I intend it for.

I don’t have much compared to some, but so much compared to so many, and I want to make a difference for Christ.

#GivingTuesday is one opportunity to show others the light of Christ that shines in us. Click To Tweet

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How can my Sweet Baby Girl be Six Already?

How can my sweet baby girl be six already? No matter how many times I try to grasp the sands of time a little harder, be more determined to be more intentional, the days just keep running away with my heart.

Six already? How can my sweet baby girl be six already? No matter how often I try to grasp the sands of time a little tighter, be more determined to be more intentional, the days just keep running away with my heart.

I’ve started writing these birthday letters to my daughter. I email them to her at an email address that will hold various letters, memories, pictures until she’s an adult. I hope that it will be a precious gift to her someday.

Dear Sweet Girl,

You quietly turned six tonight as I kicked green and orange balloons into your room and wove streamers around your bed as you slept, made a curtain of crepe paper outside your door, hoping this so unPinteresty midnight effort is magical enough to delight you come morning.

I didn’t plan ahead very well because we’ve been traveling, and I’ve been in denial that you’re turning six already! I wish I could extend your precious five year-old days just a bit longer.

Not quite a baby, not quite yet grown, but six already? How time has flown! Click To Tweet

Five was a magical year to watch. Your imagination blossomed. I loved watching you twirl around the yard, a butterfly fairy princess one minute, and F5 tornado the next. You spent hours quietly creating mythical lands in our tree beds.

I am awed and moved by your heart for others. You were convicted by a sweet friend with cancer to share your hair with children who have lost theirs.

I was convicted by you.

So we are growing our hair together to donate to Wigs for Kids, (if you’re interested in helping us fund a wig click on this link) and I admire you for not giving up even when your hair is painfully tangled or takes forever to dry. I’m confessing here that I may not make it. I’ve got at least 3-4 more inches and it’s driving me crazy!

How can my sweet baby girl be six already? No matter how many times I try to grasp the sands of time a little harder, be more determined to be more intentional, the days just keep running away with my heart.

At 5 my daughter decided to give her hair away, help us give a wig https://goo.gl/255Ejz Click To Tweet

I meant to make salt dough hand print ornaments while you were five, but my busyness kept me saying next week, until there were no weeks left and you were closer to six than five.

Five was the year you really started to read, devouring books and street signs in equal measure, the world offering up its printed secrets, including you in the literacy club.

Momma, does that say ‘body shop’? (you asked flying down the highway) Yes, yes, it does. What do they do in there? Wash your body? cuz that’d be weird.

You made up words like ‘fantacular’ and ‘hugantic’ and learned to count all the way to 100 without getting distracted at 67.

You lost three teeth! And cheered in the New Year for the first time at midnight.

You’ve tied your own shoes a few times now, but aren’t ready to toss the Velcro sneaks away. You LOVE jokes, but don’t quite understand how to tell them. But half the fun(ny) of your jokes now is just wondering what you’ll say.

You lost your first pets. It broke my heart to watch your mourn these tiny creatures, but I know that you’ll need to build faith and strength for larger losses as much as I wish I could shield you from them.

You are simultaneously so adult and still my baby, mindfully taking communion for the first time one day (You didn’t know to wait and popped the bread in your mouth. When I made you take it out, you said, but MOM, at the last supper, they ate the bread!) and the next believing your tongue is covered by taste bugs. Tonight, you told me that you only say pasketti to be facetious. Oh, the contradictions in your sweet little self.

Not quite my baby, not quite grown, but six already, how time has flown!

This letter has sat half-written for a week now because I can’t quite come to grips with how fast time has gone. I’m trying not to be sad, reminding myself of all the parents wishing they could watch their children grow up.

You feel it, too. Babydom is ending. You’ve asked for my help more often in the past two weeks than the past six months. Mommy, pick me up out of the tub. Carry me to bed. Let me sit in your lap.

And I say YES! because you’re six already . . .

and I’m already struggling under your weight. One day, too soon, I’ll start to scoop you off the couch to whisk you to bed, and won’t be able to lift you.

Needing my own nap yesterday after hours in the sun at the lake, I was so tempted to let you take your own bath, but I wasn’t ready for you to not need my hands in your hair, filling the bathroom with the scent of baby soap, giggling together over your slippery belly bubbles.

You won’t need me this way forever, or even very much longer.

This morning, you Spider Monkey leaped onto my lap, nuzzling my cheek, talking about the wonderful clock tower dream you’d been having. I sat stone-still absorbing your now sixness before you hummingbirded away. These sleepy snuggles are growing more infrequent and more treasured.

I’m doing my best to live in every moment, steep in the richness of your imagination while reality doesn’t dampen even the most outlandish fantasies (you’ve been half-lizard this week).

I may sometimes miss documenting events because I’m enjoying the moment with you, but I hope you know how deeply you are loved. I’m treasuring every step of yours towards adulthood and every second of your childhood.

I'm treasuring your every step towards adulthood and every second of your childhood. Click To Tweet

You also love spending time with Daddy, doing daddy things with bugs and dogs and outside fun. Daddy is teaching you to fish and not be squeamish about hunting. You can almost pull back your own pink bow. And I’m glad, though those aren’t my things, because you have a dad that loves you who is sharing special time with you, building character and bravery into you in ways I cannot.

I can’t wait to see what adventures and lessons six has in store.

 

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Thinking Outside The Pot
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What I Hope You Don’t Know about Leap Day

I hope you don't know about the global observance on Leap Day because if you do, your world has been shattered. Help raise awareness for Rare Disease Day.

Many people don’t know that the world observes Rare Disease Day on Leap Days and the 28th of February all other years.

If you already knew this, chances are your life has been touched by a jaw dropping, world shattering diagnosis.

It is the stuff of nightmares.

But we can make a difference for those with a rare disease diagnosis.

February 29, 2016 marks the ninth international Rare Disease Day, hundreds of organizations from all over the world will hold awareness-raising activities based on the slogan Join us in making the voice of rare diseases heard. Alone we are rare. Together we are strong.

These are often called orphan diseases because they affect so few from a global standpoint; therefore, medical research companies and the FDA often consider seeking a cure for them a waste of limited resources.

Small, scattered efforts are being done to understand and prevent them. Yet, drug trials and treatment protocols are almost unheard of.

But, when searching the face of your precious child, the costs can’t be measured by charts and graphs.

I hope you have no reason to know about the global observance on Leap Day because if you do, your world has been shattered. If not, please read and help no other parent have to understand Rare Disease Day.

Many victims are children facing unrelenting diseases that have no cure, like San Filippo Syndrome, one of the most insidious, a metabolic disorder that prevents the break down of certain sugars in the brain, which build up gradually doing irreparable damage leading to a painful death.

I can't imagine a rare disease diagnosis for my child. Help today, so no one else can either. #RareDiseaseDay Click To Tweet

It will eventually steal talking, walking, balance, swallowing. Think ALS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s all rolled into one and imaging hanging that noose around your child’s neck.

Most children experience seizures, joint stiffness, upper respiratory infections, hearing loss, dementia, hyperactivity, aggressive behavior, severe intellectual impairment, partial paralysis, growth retardation and vision impairment before it finally claims their lives.

There is extremely promising research on the horizon. Families and Foundations fight and fund raise to help bring these to clinical trials, which is often the only chance for these children at this time. While things move closer, we still have work to do to end this rare disease.

TIME grows more and more crucial each day, as affected children are showing more and more signs of the disease. Several precious children were lost in recent months, and it is truly a race.

Together we can finish this race to end this one #raredisease. #50StateChallenge #CureSanfilippo Click To Tweet

Some days, I look at my nearly six-year-old daughter in awe. She reads highway signs as we speed past, explaining how Pachycephalosaurs use their heads to ram each other, while bashing her forehead with mine. She outgrew two sizes last year.

She’s not my baby anymore. Oh, don’t turn six, I say, and bite my tongue. How dare I?

Some parents would give anything to watch their child’s life unfolding in our messy, beautiful way.

And I’m selfishly in denial about her growing up.

Will you help me take my eyes off my own child for a moment? Join me in taking the 50 State Challenge, and share their website or this blog using #50StateChallenge.

The world will know we are Christians by our love.

Not our bumper stickers or Facebook statuses, but by our love.

Rare Diseases have a special place in my heart because my stepson has a condition called 1p36 Deletion Syndrome. He didn’t know all the limits the experts placed on children with this syndrome, so he didn’t let them hold him back. And his mother has been his constant champion.

He will always need some support and care, but is very independent in many ways. For that, we are very grateful.

But not every child has the chance for a long and full life he does.

Most diagnosed with a rare disease are also given a death sentence.

We can end THIS one rare disease in our lifetime, but only through YOUR HELP and support, can we end it in theirs.

Join us! Take the 50 State Challenge today to end San Filippo and raise awareness for Rare Disease Day!

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Gear for Good: Cotopaxi Blessing Bags

God's perfect timing put two great stories of using Gear for Good into my path, stories about giving back and being part of the story of changing lives.

God’s perfect timing put two great stories of using Gear for Good in my path, about giving back and being part of changing lives. Both address the need to see through eyes that give more than spare change, instead giving the ability to change lives.

Has the Holy Spirit ever prompted you to do something way out of your comfort zone? Like giving to someone you would normally walk past or talking to a stranger who looks lonely?

On vacation this summer, God prompted me to get up from my meal, walk out to the boardwalk and take a picture of a couple who were talking and laughing, surreal to feel that prompting and just say yes.

I may never know the why on this side of Heaven, which is hard because I like the all tied-in-a-bow Hallmark movie plots, but saying yes wasn’t so scary. If nothing else, I learned to get over my introvertedness and be a bit bolder for Christ.

Last week, a dear friend of mine gave into a spiritual prompting by using some gear for good, giving to someone she would never have known except for answering his need.

Saying YES to a Spirit led prompting is freeing. Obedience is beautiful and heart changing. Click To Tweet

She watched him for weeks. Always feeling that tug. Should I do something? What can I do? Sometimes we don’t know how to help.

She saw him at the stoplight at least once a week. He might be in his late 30s, brown hair. Something about this stranger drew her attention, but she always had her boys in the car, racing to a doctor or therapy appointment.

What can I do?

He shuffles between cars, a weathered cardboard sign, “Looking for a job,” in one hand. Sometimes, she watched him pouring over heavy books.

He is cold today. She feels that tug on her heart again to do something for him, but the light changes and she is pushed forward with the surge of traffic behind her.

Go back. Ask his name. Help him.

It took weeks of God tugging on her heart for her to do something. But today, she knew she had to act.

but What?

At home, she found her husband, “Babe, this might sound crazy, but I think God wants me to do something for that man who stands at the stoplight.”

He considered what could they do, not tomorrow, but right that moment. “We have that backpack in the closet we’ve never used.”

“Perfect!” She ran through the house grateful for her hoarding tendencies at the commissary: wool socks, toiletries, some food, and a sturdy Bible filled the bag, along with some nice clothing he could wear to apply for a job.

Her husband headed out with the bag. She sat at home with the sick boys, praying he would have a long red light to be able to really stop for him.

He gave him the backpack, told him he was being prayed for. And that was it; he was tremendously grateful, but they haven’t seen him again.

God's perfect timing put two great stories of using Gear for Good into my path, stories about giving back and being part of the story of changing lives.

All they know is that they gave him some hope, kindness, a few necessities, and God’s word in a new backpack.

We are commanded to help; the obedience is in the giving back, being part of the story, without necessarily knowing the end.

The amazing part for me is that just before the holidays, a Cotopaxi representative found my blog and my passion for giving back. She asked if I would spread the word about what they are doing, using gear for good.

Want to make an impact? Be part of ending poverty when you buy, use, or gift any @cotopaxi gear. Click To Tweet

I said sure, excited to offer my blog to share their story, and then Holiday CRAZY happened; I had not really looked into Cotopaxi until just minutes before Kaitlin messaged me her story about giving away a backpack, only to find that Cotopaxi gives back through all their gear, but especially backpacks.

How incredible is that! God had reminded me of this post for Cotopaxi the exact day she called with her story.

I am especially excited because Cotopaxi does more than donate money to great causes, they fund solutions that change the story for people all over the world. Instead of ‘giving them fish’, Cotopaxi is part of ‘teaching people to fish’, ending poverty in truly sustainable ways.

@Cotopaxi does more than donate $$, they fund solutions that change the story for people. Click To Tweet
We create innovative outdoor products and experiences that fund sustainable poverty alleviation, move people to do good, and inspire adventure. Cotopaxi funds solutions that address the most persistent needs of those living in extreme poverty. Giving is core to our model.

My friend Kaitlin used some gear she had to do good. Something we could all learn from. But even better to use gear that does good.

I’d encourage you to spend some time on this site. Cotopaxi is involved in so many projects. Pick a backpack or two. Everyone can use a beautiful, durable backpack. Their reviews are some of the best in the industry.

Then turn them into blessing bags for people in need.
  • Toiletries:
    • deodorant, dry shampoo, baby wipes, nail clippers, nail brush, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste
  • Food:
    • sandwiches that don’t need refrigeration, gift cards to close places
    • non-perishable food items like nuts, granola bars, protein bars
  • Clothes
    • socks, gloves, scarves, hats, sweatshirts, t-shirts, underwear
  • Hope
    • write a letter sharing your testimony
    • put in information for a local church shelter or job outreach program
    • a pocket Bible

Your blessing bag will make a difference to the person who receives it and all over the world when you use Cotopaxi gear.

Have you ever just obeyed a Spirit-led prompting?

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Giving Tuesday

I found my heart for Giving Tuesday through these words, "Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours." - Teresa Avila

Today we started Advent, marking days toward the celebration of the greatest gift mankind has ever known, celebrating the birth of Christ. How fitting that this year, today is also Giving Tuesday.

We follow days of gluttony and excess, perhaps self-absorption and consumption with a sweet day of being focused on doing good.

How do you find your heart for Giving Tuesday?

Giving Tuesday only started a few years ago, but is growing as more and more people recognize that we need to focus outside of ourselves.

While, a calendar day set to tell you to give can make it feel compulsory, God doesn’t specify what to give or who to give to, He  just says how – joyfully.

2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV  “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

We give because He gave to us.

As a faithful steward of what God has given me, I use Charity Navigator to research charities to make sure they are really doing good things with the money we entrust to them.

And I give prayerfully, I can’t control the gift once it leaves my hands, but sometimes God asks us to have faith in the giving. We give to the struggling single mom who has taken her first baby-steps into Christ, or the homeless man who might not use it wisely. Sometimes God just says give.I found my heart for Giving Tuesday through these words, "Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours." - Teresa of Avila

Thinking about the beautiful watershed of grace covering me in His eyes through the blood of His son, Jesus, how could I not give, to share that joy by being the hands and feet of Christ.

Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours- Teresa of Avila Click To Tweet

I’m reminded of a poem, written in the 1500s by St. Teresa of Avila.

Christ Has No Body

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

I can only pray that people hear Him in my words, see Him in my hands. This poem has written itself across my heart as a reminder of my real place in this world.

If I want the world to see Jesus is real, I have to be their window into who He is.

And I strive to be a better friend, neighbor, mother. I want to be His hands when someone is struggling with a heavy door at the library or His heart when we sat and prayed at Pizza Hut for the person who stole the money out of my wallet,  “if their need was great, that the money bless them, that God would open their heart to Jesus. To help us forgive.”

Even though Giving Tuesday is technically over, giving isn’t a day, or even a season, it is a constant place of knowing what a gift we’ve been given and just wanting to share it.