A big part of this journey of giving requires me to be open to God's leading. Many days I found myself saying, "Okay, God, what's next?" One Saturday morning he answered me in a delightful way. One of my friends was having a hard time relaxing because of stresses at home and work. She made an off-handed comment, "If you were here, I'd relax." And that was it. I felt God tell me, "Go visit her." And I told her, "I'm coming." She was shocked because she lives 4 hours away. But I was confident God wanted me to do it. My husband had to work that weekend. I had nothing else on my plate. I was used to driving long hours to commute. The task had been selected.
Willingness to drive 4-hours to encourage a friend in need.
Gas and snacks for the drive.
The Bible says, "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13 RSV. My friend wasn't asking me to lay down my life for her, but God was asking that I give up my day. My friend was shocked, her children impressed, her husband supportive. In the end, though, I know I got as much, if not more, out of that impromptu drive than she did. The odds were high that if I would have stayed home, I would have binge watched a season of "The Amazing Race." How much better to be in a car than watching others. Be open to God and what he has for you in this journey called life.
At the end of my first week, I felt good about my journey of giving. The only problem I had was what I would do on Saturday. Food banks and soup kitchens are typically closed. Because I hadn't yet developed a repertoire of giving ideas, I found myself reaching out to a local Facebook Friend I knew had been sick.
No real effort required.
Ten-fifteen minutes on your phone of computer.
No money required
I opened Facebook Messanger and typed the following words:
My plan was to make this an hard-work task. I'd recently cleaned refrigerators for the soup kitchen; I was willing to clean her house if she asked.
She responded that she didn't need anything, but was extremely grateful to be thought about. This was when I realized the third category of giving; encouraging words. A couple days later I repeated this same activity with seven more people:
I encourage you to try it. And if you are not on Facebook or Linked In or the dozen of other social media sites, you probably have e-mail. Giving doesn't have to be limited to the days we have a ton of time or money. Expressing genuine love only cost you a thought. You will find encouraging others lifts not only their spirit, but yours as well.
While I thought my journey of giving began with feeding the hungry, it took me a couple days to realize it actually started the weekend before on my birthday. It wasn’t a plan, in fact it wasn’t even a conscious thought. But, when I got a call from a friend in Africa. This dear unrelated-to-me sister has never asked me for money. Which if you have friends who live in a poor country, that's very rare. She just wanted to hear my voice again. By the end of the call, I felt the nudge to send her a love offering. It wasn’t until I looked back on that act that I realized I didn’t start my journey in the in Actions but actually in giving.
No real effort required.
Ten-fifteen minutes at a local money exchange.
Whether it's sponsoring a child through a monthly pledge or giving alms to the homeless, the US is known for being a very giving country. I'd like to emphasize that pulling out our pocketbooks is important; it shouldn’t be our default. If we relegate the poor to a line item in our budget, we miss understanding their total needs and risk losing an empathetic eye for them.
The first thing I thought of giving was food, I'd done this in different ways over the years. In fact, there was a time where a local Rescue Mission used to serve dinner on Thanksgiving at 10:00am. This was something another Temah and I used to do with our children. If this is an act of service that you would like to do, here are the minimum requirements:
You have to enter this type of giving with humility and kindness.
Be ready to give at least an hour or two.
No supplies or money need to complete this task.
My first phone call was to the local Food Bank, mostly because I knew where it was since I'd give donations to this location before. The problem was, the Food Bank only needed help two evening a month, so I asked if there was somewhere else I could help and they told me about the local soup kitchen.
When I arrived, the group there was surprised to have someone walk in and offer to volunteer. They were an already organized bunch of people from a church different than where the soup kitchen was housed. They didn't treat me like an intruder, but they weren't necessarily excited to see me. And when they asked if I’d be willing to clean out the three refrigerators in the kitchen. I said sure. They seemed surprised.
Many people volunteers prefer the "fun" task, while I was ready to do anything to help. For the next hour, I scrubbed those three refrigerators as if God himself had asked me. Because, honestly, he had.
I came back the next day and they let me clean trays and scrub tables. By day three I was serving food and greeting people. On Friday, I got a big surprise; the local newspaper had taken pictures and was asking for our names. I never made it into the story, but it did make me laugh. God has an amazing way of turning things around on us. If I’d begun this work to get glory, I would have been disappointed. But because I started to serve out of obedience, glory is a by-product.
In the first 4 weeks of my journey of giving, I was able to maintain my give through diverse methods. Because I have a full-time job that often requires me to travel, I personally can't commit to a full-time giving position. In this second post, I'd like to share with you the four unique categories I've encountered to enable me to give even when I'm busy.
1. DONATIONS: No Effort, Little Time, Lots of Money
While this category important, it also has it's hazards. Opening up my wallet was easy, but not something I could sustain on a daily basis. Eventually the I'd run out of money, the needs are so great. Beside, it didn't help reduce my loneliness or isolation, the way stepping out into the community did. Write a check couldn't lift my spirits the way working one-on-one with other humans could.
2. HARD WORK: Lots of Effort, Lots of Time, No Money
This category requires time rather and money. I found the best approach to helping existing organizations is to walk-in and ask if they need any help. Be prepared to fill-out applications or allow them to run a background check if you are working with the more vulnerable in our society. Besides being bold enough to ask, I discovered it's best to go in with a humble heart. When i enter the volunteer space, I am willing to do whatever they need. I wasn't looking for glory, I suggest you keep in mind that menial tasks contribute to the whole.
3. WORDS: Little Effort, Lots of Time, Little Money
This category didn't make me sweat, and sometimes cost a couple bucks, the greatest effort is emotional. Writing or speaking words of encouragement offers food to another human soul, but to do it well you need to invest thought energy. What I love about this category is that it enables me to maintain my giving momentum even when I had to travel away from home.
A reminder that the focus of this blog site is about daily giving to the needy; God's Inertia and his desire to bring sunshine to my melancholy temperament. The physic's definition of inertia, "a property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force." He's the external force that has reinvigorated my life through daily opportunities to give to those in need.
If you feel called to join me, then I suggest you get a calendar or some other ability to plan out different items in each category as you feel led by God. I will be sharing with you what God inspires me to do as well as lessons I've learned along the way.
THANKS for following
A few years ago, I found myself handcuffed in the back of a police car, but not for the reason you might think. Click here to hear my story. And more recently I suffered a rejection in the workplace and found myself unmotivated and bored. I found myself so stuck that I cried out to God for relief. His response to me was:
"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter -
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I." Isaiah 58:6-9 (NIV)
I didn't need to wait until something big came along, I donate an hour or two each day to helping the needy. So, that's what this blog is all about. I will be sharing activities, ideas and my successes and failures along this new journey of giving.
I invite you to join me.