Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Giving With Your Whole Heart (And Some Amazing Ideas of How to Bless Others)

I recently shared about the joys of generosity, especially this time of year! I love that the holiday season often inspires people to find ways to be a blessing to others. When we are generous with our emotional energy, our time, money, etc., we are a reflection of God's crazy generous heart. I love that.

Sometimes I struggle with coming up with out of the box ways that I can be generous with others. Giving money sometimes seems like the only option - but what if that's not a resource you can give? Or what if God is asking you to give something else?

My funny, bold, and beautiful friend Nadine has a sweet story to share of generosity. Her love and devotion to Jesus is obvious in every conversation I have with her. AND she has some really thoughtful and accesible ways that we can be generous with people this holiday season, besides just financially.

Today I'm sharing a little Q&A interview that Nadine graciously took part in. I love this woman's heart, and I know you will too.

How have you been blessed through another person's generosity?

I had a story all lined up to share. It was a really good one, where my family went together and gave me a gift because they're all married and get gifts just for being married and their kids get gifts just for being kids and I'm the single sister and they love me. But then something happened on Sunday. 
At church, one of my favourite couples handed me an envelope and I knew it was a Christmas card. I smiled and thanked them and was excited for the card! I slipped it into my purse and went along with my day. This couple are the community group leaders (aka small group/Bible study) in the group I attend, and I've been apprenticing under them for a season so that one day, by God's grace and in His timing, I'll get to lead a group of my own. 
So church came and went and I went home. I made my lunch and suddenly remembered that I had Christmas cards to open! YAY! I LOVE cards. Seriously.
I opened theirs first and my eyes flooded with tears as I saw a gift certificate of a large amount to the grocery store.
See, I'm sitting at two months right now of part-time minimum wage work. It's one of those things I haven't written much about on my own blog because I really wish it wasn't so. I pray all the time for God to lead me where He wants me to go, and I pray that I remain in His will. 
And lately, I've been praying a prayer that I'd said many times before but had never needed to pray it like the way I do right now. Daily bread.
Every single day right now, I pray that God will provide daily bread, just like He called me to pray when Jesus told the story of how to pray in Matthew 6. So I'm praying it. And on Sunday, He answered it in a way that I did not expect.

Do you find being generous with your time/money/resources to be a challenge or does it come naturally for you?

For some reason, generosity is something that has always come easy to me. I watched my parents give just beyond the basic for everyone they encountered. I watched as my Dad gave counsel to person after person who was broken. I watched my oldest sister move to foreign countries as a missionary and live in spaces smaller than your kitchen when they only had three and four children, and I watch her now as a mother of 6 sometimes foster up to 3 children at a time. (Yep that is 9 kids under one roof).
So generosity is something I've always seen happening. I certainly haven't mastered it, and I've got a heart that really loves to sin, so I'm constantly having to learn (and then repent as I forget again) to give and not expect thanks or return. I think that's my hardest area.
I know that I can always look to Jesus, and He gave in such huge ways. I look to Matthew 14:14 where it says that He saw compassion on the crowd and healed their sick and I realize that I can give more than I think I can. If Jesus could have compassion on the crowd and heal them on a day when he had just learned that his friend John had been beheaded for proclaiming truth, than I think that I can learn to give out of my whole heart.

This heart-esk image is from my blog design and is inspired by that verse in Matthew - this choice to love always, to love out, and to love even when life is hard. I saw the image in a skeezy bar in the bathroom years ago and it always stuck with me as this image of love the way it is meant to be - pointing in more than one direction and looking far different than culture would have it look like. That heart, that heart loves Jesus, and gives generously in every single way.

How are you challenged personally in the area of generosity, during this time of year?

Honestly, speaking back to the first question of how I've been blessed, this year it is most hard because I'm not in a place of being able to be generous with money and gifts. So this year I'm having to learn how to give gifts that don't cost lots of money and I'm having to be okay with the fact that I have to turn down invitations to give to good things. I'm trying to be intentional in the ways that I can give, and I'm choosing to go with a lot less for myself so I can still give to the people I care for.
I'm reminding myself of all the things I'm telling you in my next answer.

Do you have any creative ideas for how to be generous with people? Whether with a friend or relative, or with a total stranger? 

I think that people are blessed we offer them space to be who they are, and when we appreciate them for where they are.
So I'd say, if you're looking for a good idea of what to give this Christmas: 
Give a smile. Give an invitation to dinner (and don't let yourself get stressed out by making it - just know that your friends love you and they actually love your mess because it proves that you are human). Give your sister and husband an hour to go for a walk while you hold her newborn baby. Give your dad a really big hug and tell him you're thankful for all that he gave up so that you wouldn't go without when you were a kid. Give your neighbour a box of homemade cookies with a card that doesn't have your name on it, because sometimes it's okay to give without anybody knowing it's from you.
Jump up and down and dance around when things are good. Sing Taylor Swift and Bieber as loud as you possibly can.
Offer kleenex and a silent tongue when all your friend needs is your presence.
Love with your whole heart, just like Jesus. Trust that He will give your heart that ability to know what your friends need - and be faithful to follow where He leads you and to speak the words He gives you.

For more honest inspiration, you can find Nadine at:

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