Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Gift Giving

"Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving."
--W.T. Purkiser

"I'm sure you've heard the saying, 'With great power comes great responsibility.'  I would also add that with great gifts come great responsibilities.  Whether we're blessed with exceptional talents, abundant resources, or wonderful bursts of energy, the best way to thank the universe for sending them our way is to use them in service of something greater than ourselves.  We can pray and intone and shout out our thanks as often as we like, and believe me there's nothing wrong with that, but as with many things the message comes across loudest through action."
--Mina Parker, "Less is More"

I'm currently re-reading a book called, "The Conspiracy of Kindness" by Steve Sjogren.  It's a book about evangelism (I know, "ick" right?), but not just any kind of evangelism - servant evangelism.  It's about action first and words later.  It's about doing unexpected kindnesses for the people around us (especially those who don't know what they believe) and when they ask questions like "why?" you can say, "Because I follow a God who showed love through action, and so I choose to show God's love to you, too."  Sneaky?  Maybe.  Easy?  Yes.  Effective?  Surely.  Fun?  To me - Yes.

So, I'm getting ready to lead a small group at our church based on this book, and throughout the book it tells of ways different congregations have reached out in their communities through kindness - I love it!  I'm looking forward to getting a "Conspiracy Team" together to reach out to our church's community and do some covert kindness, as well!

Then, I'm currently doing the Boom Boom Revolution.  Haven't heard of it?  Check it out here.  So fun.  You're given cards (or you buy the cards, first, and part of the cost goes to a charity of your choice), then you do the intentional kind act on the card, next go to the website and enter the card's code and your story.  Then - here's the even better part - you pass the card on to someone else!  They do the task on the card, enter it on the website, and pass it on again!  There's a map on the website that allows you to see all the places the card has gone, and what people have done to live out the task.  It's kind of a fun way to do acts of kindness and watch the trend spread!

In February, I'm going to participate in the 29 Days of Giving movement as well.  Based on the book, "29 Gifts" by Cami Walker, it's an experiment in how we change our own outlook on life and change the world by giving to others.  The story of how and why it got started are in the book, but basically the message is (like the quotes above) that we are all gifts and it's our purpose to continue giving all the time.  I love this idea and can't wait to get started!  Once again, there is a website where you can tell your stories - a great way to get inspiration and give it!

When was the last time you gave something away?  Advice?  A smile?  A helping hand?  A flower?  A present?  Your time?  Your presence?  A kind word?

I have to admit...  waking up everyday thinking about "what can I give today?" has been a pretty fun and exciting way to start the day!  Even the gloomiest days have had a ray of sunshine when I've been able to give to someone else.  Try it - you won't be disappointed!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Good workout music:  Dar Williams' "Better Days,"  Ingrid Michaelson's "I'm OK," and Rusted Root's "Send Me On My Way."
2.  The hubby doing chore without being asked.
3.  Homemade rye bread.
4.  A friend buying my dinner.  So nice.
5.  Sharing cross-country skiing stories over dinner.  Too funny.
6.  The ladies on my Mission Team remembering and laughing about the hubby and I taking pictures of our socks in fabulous places all over the world!
7.  This video - very fun.

8.  Getting the last of the Trader Joe's "Joe Joes."
9.  A new Penzey's Spice catalog with yummy-looking recipes.
10.  A nice "thank you" note in the mail. 

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