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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How is that Year of Gratitude Coming Along?

If you follow my on social media, you know that I’ve been posting and tweeting everyday about gratitude. Some of those memes have gotten a little more toward the “refecting on life” side of things.

And since my brain is just as fried this week as it was last week, I thought I’d share some of this months memes. You know, for those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

(The truth is, I’m so busy working on several writing projects at once that I don’t want to spend the time previewing videos I think you might enjoy. I just want to get this post written so I can get back to work on the novel, short story or nonfiction project).

Gift I’m Grateful for this Month

Day 275: Drinking coffee like a superhero.
Day 275: Drinking coffee like a superhero.

Something Small to Make me Smile

Day 275: Feeling super thrilled to have another fantasy story debuting this month.
Day 275: Feeling super thrilled to have another fantasy story debuting this month.

Words of Wisdom

Day 282: One of the motivating saying from my video trainer. What excuse is holding you back?
Day 282: One of the motivating saying from my video trainer. What excuse is holding you back?

Kit-Spiration

Day 286: Rain pattering on the glass makes me so so sleepy. No driving in the rain for this girl.
Day 286: Rain pattering on the glass makes me so so sleepy. No driving in the rain for this girl.

A Little Sunshine

Day 288: I am not ready to say goodbye to the sunshine.
Day 288: I am not ready to say goodbye to the sunshine.

Truth to Seize

Day 291: Everyone needs a hand up at some time or another.  Remember to pay the kindness forward.
Day 291: Everyone needs a hand up at some time or another. Remember to pay the kindness forward.

What are you feeling especially grateful for this month?

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Who knew there was so MUCH to be thankful for?

July buzzes along. Maybe things are heating up weather-wise where you live.

In my neck of the world, I like a little sunshine with my summer. Blue skies dazzle my personality. In short, sunny days make me smile.

Here’s what I had to be thankful for this week:

Monday

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Thinking of a hidden lake in Colorado. What’s the most beautiful place you’ve climbed high to see?

Tuesday

D201

My weakness for ice cream is genetic. I inherited it from my mother’s side of the family. I love Tillamook’s Brown Cow. What’s your flavor of choice?

Wednesday

D202

For the love of the game…some have gotten shoulders x-rayed, broken toes, or worn icepacks over their eyes.

Thursday

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Which is the reason I ascribe to the philosophy that there is no such thing as owning too many pairs of shoes.

Friday

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In fact, I’m dreaming of watching my Giants take home another World Series Championship come October.

What about you? What makes you pause and say “thanks” right now?

It’s a short work week – and other reasons to be grateful

Another Friday. Another week of life slid past. Where did it go?

Maybe the week seemed short because there were only four work days.

Or we could be getting old.

Nah! Short work week all the way.

Here’s this week’s gratitude memes in review (only five since it IS a short week and all):

Monday

Do you light off fireworks? My kids are adults and they still play with sparklers.
Do you light off fireworks? My kids are adults and they still play with sparklers.

Tuesday

Most of the time my cat lays UNDER my lounger, but he's keeping my company.
Most of the time my cat lays UNDER my lounger, but he’s keeping my company.

Wednesday

Wash away the dead weight, my friend. Be free to pursue your dreams.
Wash away the dead weight, my friend. Be free to pursue your dreams.

Thursday

I apologize to all the golfers and fishermen. Your good times bore me.
I apologize to all the golfers and fishermen. Your good times bore me.

Friday

Hey but I'm outside getting my daily dose of Vitamin D so I'll stop complaining now
Hey but I’m outside getting my daily dose of Vitamin D so I’ll stop complaining now

What are you feeling thankful for this week? You made it through another one. It’s the weekend.

Life is short. Celebrate everything.

More Reasons to Love Your Friday

Can you believe it’s July?

And it’s Friday. (I actually heard Friday in song.)

That means it’s time to review this week’s gratitude memes.

I thank the person who actually read to the bottom of last week’s memes. You know, where I asked what my readers thought about the “new” sarcastic/funny memes. She gave them a thumbs up. Since none of the rest of you voted, I guess that means you LOVE them too.

Saturday

Laundry day again. Glad I didn't have to take my clothes out and clip them to a line to dry.
Laundry day again. Glad I didn’t have to take my clothes out and clip them to a line to dry.

Sunday

Go ahead and take a break! Even God sat down after working six days.
Go ahead and take a break! Even God sat down after working six days.

Monday

It was Mr. Wonderful's birthday. Let him eat cake!
It was Mr. Wonderful’s birthday. Let him eat cake!

Tuesday

"I'll be watching you" sings the spider (and he sounds like The Police)
“I’ll be watching you” sings the spider (and he sounds like The Police)

Wednesday

Do people actually like to iron? It's as much a waste of time and effort as dusting.
Do people actually like to iron? It’s as much a waste of time and effort as dusting.

Thursday

So I lose my car in a crowded parking lot. I don't mock your idiosyncrasies.
So I lose my car in a crowded parking lot. I don’t mock your idiosyncrasies.

Friday

If your friends are bringing you down, you might want to trade them in.
If your friends are bringing you down, you might want to trade them in.

Hope you have a great day and a wonderful weekend!

Remember to salute your flag, sing the National Anthem and give silent acknowledgment to our founding fathers and the soldiers who gave us a reason to celebrate Independence Day.

Seven Days of Smiles

Smile! It’s Friday. Your face can do this. I promise.

Some weeks are rougher than others. No matter what, Friday always looks better when we can regurgitate the good parts.

Still sounds gross?

Sorry. Here are the memes. I included last weekend because, hey, I didn’t want you to miss out on more reasons to be thankful.

You’re welcome.

Saturday

I was at the coast. No chance I touched the freezing Pacific Ocean.
I was at the coast. No chance I touched the freezing Pacific Ocean.

Sunday

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Monday

Wouldn't you like to lasso up the Presidential candidates and get some straight answers?
Wouldn’t you like to lasso up the Presidential candidates and get some straight answers?

Tuesday

Am I the only one who's directionally challenged? Or the only one whose GPS steers them wrong?
Am I the only one who’s directionally challenged? Or the only one whose GPS steers them wrong?

Wednesday

I shudder every time I see this photograph. Some pets are NOT for petting or cuddling.
I shudder every time I see this photograph. Some pets are NOT for petting or cuddling.

Thursday

D175

Friday

The irony? The day I made this meme wasn't sunny but I had a headache anyway.
The irony? The day I made this meme wasn’t sunny but I had a headache anyway.

And there you have it! Another week full of reasons to say thank you.

What do you think of the new memes? Too snarky? Not your style? (The change is a direct result of consultation with the Social Media Jedi Master. She’s sure you guys will share these ones.)

Bring on 2016 and My New Year’s Theme

Can you believe the year is 2016? What happened to 2015? Didn’t I just post something about my focus for the year?

Apparently, it’s been twelve months or 365 days since that amazing post.

Remember how my focus for 2014 was “be the change you want to see”?

Then I decided to get an attitude adjustment in 2015 with a little “accentuate the positive” encouragement.

positive-attitude quotespositive

As the year sped toward completion, my creative brain began plotting how to make my campaign epic in the new year.

Enter Thirty Days of Thanksgiving.

You saw the posts on Facebook, right? What a great way to introduce the American holiday held the fourth Thursday of November.

You know, Thanksgiving Day. It’s my favorite of all the holidays (and it’s not because of the cornbread stuffing).

All this thankfulness got me thinking. Who can list all they are thankful for in a single month? It would take a year or more to even scratch the surface of how blessed we are.

A year of thanksgiving, then? My mind churned the title through its many layers of imagination and editing.

In the end, I settled on 365 Days of Gratitude.

Such a nice ring to that, don’t you think?

Which means, of course, that there are 366 days in 2016. You know because it’s a Leap Year.

Why can’t the Earth make it’s way around the sun in 365 days? Why does it have to take 365 days and six hours? That means we have to add an extra day every four years. It messes up the perfect synchronicity that is February and March.

Wait a minute!

I’m practicing the attitude of gratitude in 2016. Let’s try a new vein of thought here. I’m thankful for February 29.

However, I’m not changing my Twitter hashtag. I want my posts to reappear in years to come when anyone happens to search #365DaysofGratitude.

Maybe this thing will go viral. People everywhere will express their gratitude for the everyday things we take for granted. You know like waking up. Having air to breathe. Walking to the sink to turn on water for a refreshing drink (not everyone in the world can do this, you know).

What would the world be like if every single person
displayed an attitude of gratitude?

Join me in sharing your appreciation this year, and let’s find out.

Feel free to follow my hashtag on Twitter. Retweet the daily graphics I’m making and sharing. Make some of your own. Share them everywhere.

For example, this is today's tweetable meme
For example, this is today’s tweetable meme

Let’s start a revolution of gratitude.

What are you feeling grateful for today? Could you come up with 365 366 things for which to express heartfelt gratitude?

There’s so much to be thankful for this year

Givethanks sunrise

If you had asked me in January if I thought 2014 was going to be a good year. My answer would have be a solid no.

After all, who wants to say goodbye to their mother? Watch so many in the family weep? Wake up in tears for weeks on end (if able to sleep at all)?

But God is faithful. He felt my wounds and wanted to comfort me.

This year, I have surged forward in my writing career. Am I published? Not yet. But I do have a publishing contract (more on that later).

I am also in the process of gaining a daughter (maybe two if my other son can figure out what he wants to do). I love my sons. I’m especially grateful not to have shared my home with hormonal teenage girls. I’m excited about getting a fully grown daughter!

There is so much to be thankful for – aside from the rudimentary things: life, air to breath, roof over my head, car to drive.

I know a few of my regular readers have had some struggles this year, too. I hope they’ll chime in and share a blessing or two in the comments.

What are you thankful for this year?