Warning... this is rather long so brew a cup of tea or a pot of coffee before sitting down to read. A couple of snacks would be good, too. :)
It is very, very cold outside and a gentle snow is falling. How difficult it was to leave the flannel sheets, find the kitchen, and push the button on the coffee maker. (It was definitely a two Pooh mug morning.) Perfect weather to stay inside where it is warm and cozy.
This afternoon I am making cowboy cookies to fill the cookie jar at home and have plenty for my husband to take to the bookstore. He has been asked to stay one more week. He won't receive a bonus but the income is needed. Thankfully, he has been able to do the work.
I've been pondering the subject of giving and receiving for awhile but reluctant to write about it. First and most important... I didn't want anyone to think I was asking for anything. Stranger things have happened in 2 1/2 years and the need to go to moderated comments proves it.
Also, I want to share how we give in the midst of near poverty income (less than poverty if going by the Federal statistics). Some would find what we do strange or unwise... but I'll just refuse those comments. Ahhh... the power of moderated comments. :)
What made me decide to write about these ponderings today? Something that happened to me yesterday. After dropping my husband off at the bookstore, I stopped by Panera to use a gift card a very sweet friend gave to me. I was all ready to enjoy my special place to read and write while sipping coffee and a bagel when I noticed a man sitting near the window. He obviously didn't fit in this upscale community (as are most college towns).
Very soon, a well dressed young man set a plate of food before him and told him this was not from him but from Jesus and then the young man left through the front doors. Of course I had tears come to my eyes as I watched the homeless man snarf down the food. Then I had one of those inner arguments with God because I knew what He was asking me to do... sigh.
So, I got up from where I was sitting and used the gift card to purchase a coffee in a "to go" container. I picked up the sack on my table which contained a pecan roll for my husband and set the sack and the coffee cup before him. I told him that yes, indeed... Jesus does love him. He looked at me as if asking if He really does but as I sat down again, he arose to fill the cup with coffee. I noticed when he left that he refilled the cup and took the bag with the pecan roll with him.
There's a little more to the story as it led to an interesting discussion with the people at a table near me. However, that can wait for another time. Let's just say I never got to read and write as I had planned but I'm certain I was there at His timing. I'll read and write and sip coffee at another time.
My family and I are big believers in giving, even when times are hard... no, especially when times are hard. If I'm hoarding in the midst of poverty, I'm not trusting God and most of all... I'm not enjoying the joy of giving. The followers of Christ did not understand the widow giving the mite in the offering when that was everything she had. I've never given away everything.
God always gives seed to the sower, whether it is my ability to add coffee and dessert to a homeless man's meal because my dear friend gave me a gift card... or the cookies I'm making this afternoon for my family and the friends at the bookstore. (Which is why I was so upset at the snarky comment by one of the trolls as if I was stupid because I'm a diabetic and I spend time baking... it is using a talent I have so I can be a giver.)
I have been overwhelmingly blessed by generous people who read this blog. I do not underestimate what it has meant, the giving of many has kept me going when I was near despair. Not to mention letting me sip really good coffee from time to time. Always the gifts have been received at just the right time. :)
I've become a good receiver and that was quite difficult... for becoming a good receiver means one must be humble. However, I also know the joy that comes in giving and being the person God uses to fill another's need... even if it is a college student missing their mother's homemade chocolate chip cookies. :)
God is a giving God as we are shown in the Word over and over. It is part of our nature to give... unless fear is keeping us from it. It doesn't take a lot to give... I know in the literature we receive from Feed the Children, they often say just $10.00 given by many people makes a huge difference in the world. So we have given $10.00 from time to time.
With the unexpected check I received at Christmas, I was able to give small gifts to my husband and son as well as using it for living expenses. My husband and I also purchased a gift card to my sister and brother-in-law's favorite buffet and slipped it into a Christmas card. They were overjoyed by the gift of one or two meals out... something they never, ever get to do.
If you have far more than enough, look around to see if there is a family you can bless this week. Perhaps instead, you will purchase extra for your pantry so you can give to a family in need some day out in the future. I know many ministries are suffering greatly right now... especially from listening to the radio while driving a lot this past week.
What a good thing to send even a small amount... ten or twenty dollars... to your favorite ministry, people who feed the hungry and house the homeless, women's shelter, favorite Bible teacher, etc. Not the people saying if you give to them you will be rich, and famous, and healthy, etc. No... those who rarely bring up financial need... God will lead.
I'm especially fond of the Salvation Army as they have blessed me as a child and my family in past years. Does your church have a food pantry that needs stocked? They may receive food from a central pantry or the government but that rarely includes items such as coffee and tea (of course, I'd think of those) and other luxuries people enjoy.
Do you know someone who is out of work? Never, ever be afraid of offending someone. Slip cash in a card, or a gift card for a grocery store or gas station, or even for a restaurant so they can enjoy a lovely meal away from home with no guilt... and no, I'm not asking for you to get my address and send it to me! :)
Look around... discreetly hand the card to them and tell them God loves them. For sometimes even people in the Church need to hear it in times of crisis, just as much as the homeless man at Panera. I'm convinced God blesses those who are a blessing. The Word says we lend to God when we help the poor and I have seen it in my own life... God's provision at the right time.
Are you in a crisis already? Do you not know where the rent money or house payment is coming from next month? You can be a blessing by making a loaf of bread or a batch of cookies for someone else you know in need. You can bless your family by serving inexpensive food on china plates with candlelight.
God's provision comes in many and varied ways. In our own family, the Buick was given to us so God's provision for a much needed second car came from family. God's provision to pay for the car repairs came through two paychecks (hubby and son both getting start- of- semester work) and a very strange way.
That being the check from the insurance company of the young man who rear ended the Buick and caused a dent. We hadn't put the check in the bank when we found out the cost of the car repair so hubby called that insurance company and asked if we could live with the dent and use it for the transmission repair. They said it was ours to use as we pleased.
Sigh, I warned you this would be long and I'm leaving out a lot from my ponderings. However, this is a blog and not a book. I have dishes soaking and cookies to bake, too. I hope you understand what I am saying as well as what I'm not... giving is a blessing as is receiving... and it is something all of us should be doing even if in a very small way. For that is the good part of humanity. :)