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Challenge: Gratitude & Giving

How one mom tried to answer tough questions and teach generosity

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We can all agree that this year has been a dumpster fire of epic proportions.

On the heels on months of quarantine and questions, many of us went from a slow, sad Halloween into a dead sprint toward Christmas, grasping for every ounce of holiday spirit in an effort to try to turn this year around for our families and for ourselves.

Then, after those few days (or weeks) of early November hall-decking and tree-trimming, we realized we were still here...stuck in a year sucked dry of all hope and kindness.

As I sat reading my kids' Christmas lists last week, I found myself battling even more than the usual...

'I want to see their excited faces light up seeing a tree filled with presents' and the...

'I will NOT raise greedy punk kids who see Christmas as a season of getting a bunch of crap they don't even need.'

Now, the disaster that is 2020 has added a special layer of,

'We have less money than ever before but yet I feel like we NEED joy more than ever.'

So, this is what we did, friends.

I listened to my kids...

The same ones who, without fail, ask for a toy or a 'surprise' every. single. time. we leave the house.

On our usual grocery pick up run last week, they saw a man with hand-drawn cardboard beside the stop sign at our intersection that read, "Homeless. Please help."

"Does that mean he has no where to live?" Our nine year old son who battles mental health tried to wrap his mind around how this could be possible.

"But we should help him, mama." Our four year old little generous-hearted girl said very matter-of-factly.

So, this year we knew we didn't have the money to sponsor a family for Christmas. It's our heart-breaking truth.

Covid won't allow us to take our kiddos to serve a meal at a local shelter.

In my time on the mission field, I lived where kids received Christmas shoeboxes and the kids need food, and shoes, and clean water more than sticker sheets and trinkets. (Stay out of my comment thread, Karen. I think the motivation is pure and I've done them myself, but I am speaking truth.)

So, this year we opted to spend less and hopefully impact more in our community.

Our littles hand-wrote notes to each person these six bags will be handed to on our trip out to the grocery tomorrow.

For less than $100, we filled six freezer baggies with:
Warm hat
Bottled water
Granola bars
Cheese crackers
Mixed nuts
and a $5 bill

The little hands of my kids who daily argue over toys, don't listen until I lose my mind, and who ask for no less than 89,237 snacks a day...

Those little hands gleefully packed six bags with smiling faces and they just kept saying, "I'm so happy!"

And, "I hope this makes people's day better!"

We talked openly (bc we're 'those' parents) about homelessness, about how we've been in situations where--if it wouldn't have been for the generosity of others--we'd have been in dire straights, too.

We answered precious and innocent questions and we packed bags.

We aren't so naive as to think $5, some snacks and toiletries will solve someone's problems.

We also understand many people think someone asking for help might (gasp!) use the gift for something less than kosher.

But, guess what?

Generosity doesn't ask questions.

Kind hearts give and don't expect answers or anything in return.

Friends, as parents, my husband and I mess up every single day. I couldn't explain to you how my kids sometimes sound greedy even though we've certainly not given them everything they want or cry over.

But today...

Today, I hope we got it right.

Because the world NEEDS child-like curiosity, kindness, and tender-hearted, innocent care to bring the joy back to the spirit of this season.

If you can, friend,
tip generously,
extend extra grace,
share a smile,
ask someone how they are doing and stick around to hear their answer,

And if you find yourself with $100, hit up the dollar store near you because it may be a game-changer for at least six people.💜


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