Saturday, October 22, 2011

Beauty amongst the weeds

Finding the beauty amongst the weeds of life isn't always easy. But it's there, somewhere, if you simply look for it.

It's there in the midst of the messy kitchen...

It's there in the midst of the chores that seem to keep piling and piling up...

It's even there amidst the waiting...

and the letting go...

Beauty and, yes, even joy are there in each moment...

If you choose to see it...

Isaiah 61:3 (NIV)

and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Shoeboxes, Compassion, and Christmas?

I know, I know. I cringed when I saw the salesperson assembling a pre-lit Christmas tree at Kohl's two weeks ago. Yes, I said TWO WEEKS AGO! Weeks before September was even over...they may as well just leave them up year round.

And as much as it pained me to see the pre-Christmas frenzy beginning to rear it's ugly head so soon, as much as I hate to admit it, it IS time to be thinking a bit about Christmas. But not for the reasons department stores would like.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that we were trying desperately to "clear out the clutter". And it's amazing because we try to live pretty simply...but somehow, we accumulate things. And please, don't misunderstand this for ungratefulness, because we are absolutely blessed by gifts from others...but honestly, sometimes we get things as gifts that we don't really need and therefore, don't really use. And let's get serious here, sometimes we ASK for or BUY things that we think we would use, but then we realize, we were doing fine without them. Anyway, I digress.

I guess the reason I share this is because instead of spending money on things that others might not really need and/or use, we can choose to be more intentional about our gift giving and use some of what we would have spent on those unneeded gifts for something that someone really DOES need.

Some of you that have been reading along for awhile may have read a little series I did last year about Avoiding "the Gimmies".
Two of the ways that we try to combat "the Gimmies" are collecting items for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes and sponsoring children through Compassion International.

Now is a great time to be thinking about getting involved with one of these organizations. In some stores, flip flops can be found on clearance for $1.00. What a blessing it would be for a child with no shoes to receive in an OCC Shoebox this year. Any left over school supplies that were purchased at the back-to-school sales make wonderful gifts to tuck inside a shoebox.

And as for sponsoring children through Compassion...well, maybe you don't feel that you are able to make that commitment yet or maybe you've never even considered the idea. But it is possible to make a one time gift. Unfortunately, I don't have enough time tonight to expand on that but I did want to point out that in order to make a Christmas gift to a Compassion, I believe that you need to do so by October 31st.

So, no, I don't really want to encourage lots of overly decorated plastic trees being placed in department stores before the leaves on actual trees outside have finished changing color, but I DO want to encourage any of you that may be considering packing a shoebox or giving a gift through Compassion to start thinking about creative ways that you can "Give your Christmas away" this year:)
I know, I shared this video last year, but makes me cry (in a good way), so watch it again. Really, seriously, watch it again and you'll remember why you thought it might be a good idea to begin a new tradition:)

Being blessed enough to bless others...just one of His many gifts. And my list to One Thousand continues:

#117 Finishing up the book of Judges on my reading through the Bible quest:)

#118 A child eager to find her 1000 gifts notebook so she can write down more gifts

#119 The warmth of sunshine on a chilly morning outside with the children

#120 Our large property--ready for romping children wanting to explore the outdoors

#121 Plenty of space for the children to run out their rowdiness

#122 Siblings ENJOYING each other

#123 Tree branches covered with growing green leaves as they blow in a gentle breeze

#124 Plants that seem to have survived a late frost

#125 Old pile of bricks that bring back a memory of a much loved children's book (Ramona Quimby playing "brick factory" with her friend, Howie:)

Blessings to you until you return (or maybe I should say--until I return:)