My Take on Charity: FIRST STREET CHURCH Blog Hop

Charity should be a lifestyle if we’re patterning ourselves after Jesus Christ. Do I succeed in charitable living? Nope. Not at all.

As we get closer to Christmas, awareness for charities will rise. Does this mean we feel more charitable during November and December?

I doubt it. 

Especially when consumerism sticks decorations and the latest-greatest-gadgets under our noses as soon as they get the back-to-school shelves cleared.

In recent years, this marketing push has made me relegate thoughts of Christmas to the back burner until later and later in December.

And that makes me sad.

Because I truly believe the spirit of Christmas is giving. Back in Bethlehem on that first Christmas, God gave us His only son, born in human flesh and humbled with a manger as a crib. That Son grew up to give His life as payment for our sins, purchasing eternal salvation for us—a gift we could never have gained any other way.

But all the media focus on giving to others sounds like another marketing sales pitch.

Charitable Causes

Which doesn’t mean I don’t care about those charities or give to any.

In the past, the ladies from our church have filled shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. This is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse that focuses on getting essentials to children in third world countries.

It’s sobering to pack a toothbrush, toothpaste and soap alongside socks and a small stuffed animal. I can’t imagine my kids needing a new toothbrush for Christmas because they get them at their semi-annual dentist visits.

Oh, the things we take for granted in our First World society.

Our church chooses a missionary family to shower with Christmas gifts. We know the ages of his children and purchase gifts accordingly, being sure to include a package for the man and his wife, too. Everyone loves opening presents (don’t they? I sure do!) and that’s part of the excitement of Christmas morning.

If we can’t ship the food for a Christmas feast, we send a gift card to a grocery store close to his mission field. How many people don’t have a food or dessert they connect with their Christmas memories?

For my sons, it’s the sausage roll-ups I always made for Christmas morning. For me, it’s Russian teacakes. My sister loves the decorated sugar cookies.

Traditions are a huge aspect of Christmas, and we want our missionaries to enjoy building them.

Charity after Christmas

Christmas isn’t the only time for being charitable. Christians should demonstrate charity every day of their life.

A recent project our church began is a barbecue lunch for the first responders in our county. We make a simple lunch (pulled pork sandwiches and smoked chicken) and take it to the main fire station.

We box up lunches that someone volunteers to take out to the 911 call center and the outlying fire stations.

It’s such a small way to thank these men and women for choosing to serve our communities every day. In fact, they put themselves in harm’s way and don’t stop to think about it.

That deserves more than lunch and a thank you, I think.

Still, the small things make a big impact. They touch a person’s life and the impression stays with them.

Sure, you can offer a coat to keep away the winter chill (and should if you can). However, what about the frozen tundra of the heart that is abandoned and alone during a time of year when it looks like everyone else has family and friends to celebrate with?

Charity should reach from your heart to the heart of the person you’re helping. And sometimes, all it takes is to meet their eyes and smile.

Who can you thank for their service? Who can you help with a few simple hours of your time?

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Why What other People Thinks Doesn’t Matter

People are happy to give us their opinions, aren’t they? Even when we don’t ask. But, why do we ask? Does what they think really matter in the long-term scope of life?

So, you’ve probably already been judging me for buying a diamond in the Caribbean. Or maybe for not bringing you back something nice, too.

Which means it’s time to finish telling on myself. When you left me on Monday, I was walking into the den of diamonds. Completely oblivious to what was about to happen.

A Diamond in any other Color

I mentioned how wedding rings traditionally have diamonds. And these are clear diamonds. The more colorless the better.

I have to say, I’ve swerved from the traditional path. (People have something to say about that, too, I’m sure.)

While we listened to the shopping expert give her spiel, Mr. Wonderful was jotting down notes on watches (THAT’S a whole different story). Me, I was gaping at the rainbow of colors.

Chocolate. Pink. Blue. Black. Diamonds – but with color. (Because we all know clear is not a color.)

And I’d become a little infatuated with blue diamonds. Not that the pink weren’t sparkly or the black wouldn’t go with any outfit. But there’s something about blue. *sighs*

Little did I suspect as I trod into the den of diamonds to pick up my free charm bracelet and charms that this store would host a gaggle of the brilliant blue babies.

The Hope Diamond is a blue diamond.

In fact, blue diamonds abound with this retailer. (I mean, level two distributor who can give you the BEST deal ever because you don’t have to pay any middle men. Yes, I’m repeating word-for-word what our shopping expert told us.)

Next thing I know, one of the managers is presenting me with a 1.62 carat blue diamond pendant. (”I don’t wear necklaces.”) And showing me how it would look set in a diamond wedding band and paired with the blue and white diamond band I had starting drooling over admiring.

OR there was this Crown of Light cut white diamond (.82 carats) that I could set between the blue diamonds. This is what I wanted. Or so I thought.

But when they displayed those diamonds side by side in the proposed settings, I had to admit the blue diamond called to me. It was unique. It was my color. And it was HONKING HUGE.

Not that I care about that. Or I didn’t think I did.

Until the man started giving us numbers. We could get the blue diamond – twice the size of the white – for the exact same price as the much smaller traditional diamond.

What about the Crown of Light cut? That’s what I really wanted, right?

Lucky for me (or perhaps the salesman), that gorgeous blue diamond that glittered and glistened like snow in the sun was also faceted in the Crown of Light manner.

What do you think?

Enter the moment when the title comes into play. You know, the issue of what other people think (and if it matters to me).

My jaw still sat on the floor at the exorbitant figure this man wanted us to spend on a new wedding set. I’m a starving artist. I LOST money in my career during 2015. Anything over $1000 seems out of reach.

This was WAY beyond that.

My husband asks, “What will you say when other people don’t really like this ring? That might happen.”

Because, you know, it isn’t a traditional white diamond. And it’s gigantic, so people will likely assume it’s zirconium (i.e. FAKE).

It took me a second to answer. But not because I was pondering the question. My brain was still frozen over the price tag. And the fact we were still talking about this ring instead of walking out of the store (we had the charm we came for).

So you don’t like my ring, huh?

“I’ll tell them it’s unique and showcases my individual style and personality.” (You know, the standby ‘it’s unique like me’ argument.)

He nods. The bartering begins. And just like that I’ve got a ring I never planned to want.

The Truth of It

Ring Number Three (which looks a LOT like ring #2 only marquis-cut stones)
Ring Number Three (which looks a LOT like ring #2 only marquis-cut stones)

The truth is, I received tons of compliments on ring number two in the five or ten years I wore it. The same can be said of ring number three.

“Your ring is gorgeous.”

“Are those rubies? What a cool idea!”

“Where did you get that ring? It’s amazing.”

“I’ve never seen a wedding ring like that before.”

And the list could go on for the rest of the page, but you get the gist.

Welcome to the present. Now I have a truly amazing ring. One that is unique in every way. But very few people have said anything about it.

Granted, I’m not the person who shoves my hand into someone’s face and says, “Look what The Man bought me.” Mainly because I don’t want to answer what will be the next question, “How much did it cost?”

Because it cost more than my husband should have spent. Anytime he buys me something I perceive as expensive (and only a millionaire wouldn’t classify this ring that way), I immediately shy away from it.

I don’t deserve that. The money could be better spent elsewhere.

What is that about? (Whatever it is, it will have to wait for a different blog post – or better yet, a therapy session.)

Do any of us deserve a gift?

And why does your opinion of a gift I received matter?

It doesn’t.

Sorry. That’s the truth. The gift was for me. Personalized according to my specifications.

Here is the Caribbean Blue - Hope Diamond's baby sister
Here is the Caribbean Blue – Hope Diamond’s baby sister

I adore it. I’m amazed by it. I stare at it, twisting it this way and that in different lights (while hubbs laughs at me).

The giver wanted to demonstrate his love. He thinks nothing about the price being “too much.” Is anything too expensive for the one you love?

In the end, what other people think about my ring (and I guarantee you, they all have opinions, even if they haven’t spouted them to me) doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t.

I might need to say that a few thousand more times. Because when I love something, I want everyone else to love it, too.

But if they don’t? That should never affect my feelings or thoughts.

Do you let what other people think affect your own attitudes? Why is this such an epidemic in our society?