I'm officially letting myself start my countdown to what may be the next most exciting thing I'll ever do behind meeting my babies and marrying Jason...meeting David Cook!!!!!! One week 'til the concert! I simply will not know what to do with myself when I get to meet him...showing self-control will be tops on the list, of course, but I'll have my friend Laura there to make sure I keep breathing. I know, I know, I'm such a dork...LOL!
Had an AWESOME weekend...weather has been so beautiful, mild, and warm, so we've been outside with the kids a bunch.
My friend April and I went to AAA's teacher-hosted yard sale on Saturday morning, and oh my gosh, I can't tell you how many incredible deals we got! The teachers were having this sale to pay for their copies (awful, isn't it, they have to PAY out of their pockets for copies!), and I scored so many goodies: adorable, in AWESOME condition clothes for Lucy, 5 pieces for $2. There were tons of 3T and 4T clothes, some never worn, and so I stocked up! Bought her a special edition Dora Candy Land for $2, lots of kid books 5 for $2, and a scooter for Lucy for $4. April found some great deals too-my favorite was a super-fun bead track, rollercoaster, twisty thing-y, for 50 CENTS! To Lucy and Jack's fortune, she accidentially left it behind, so I got to bring it to her later that evening, giving Lucy and Jack a few hours to play with a new toy ;-)
And even though AU lost to UGA, it was fun hanging out with the Rainoldi's and the Chasse's on Saturday night, talking baby stuff with the two mommies-to-be (April's having a boy and Laura a girl!), and keeping Jack out of the cats' bowls :-)
Then on Sunday, we heard another awesome message at church, still on the topic of generosity. Jason and I have felt such conviction through this 4-week series, and yesterday we took the first steps toward moving out of the "good intentions" parking space we've been well..., parked in (pun intended), for a while, and it feels awesome to be making decisions and more importantly, changes.
Little bit of back story: Bruce Martin had preached a sermon called "Road Blocks," and it was about the things in life that can often keep us from living more generously. There were so many parts of this sermon that stuck right at my soul, but I'll try to just highlight.
One of his first points was so spot on for the giving situation I'd categorize myself as currently in...Bruce made the point that many people give God the "leftovers." As in, we take the money we earn, figure out all the different ways we want to spend it, and then, if there's anything left, then we'll give that to God. Sometimes we even find excuses for why we can't give anything at all. Or sometimes using the rationale, 'something is better than nothing, right?'
Well, take a look at this...
"Leftovers are not merely inadequate; from God's point of view, they're evil. Let's stop calling it "a busy schedule," or "bills" or "forgetfulness." It's called evil. God is holy. In heaven, there exists a Being who decides whether or not I take another breath. This God deserves excellence, the very best I have. 'But something is better than nothing!' some protest. Really, is it? Does anyone enjoy token praise? I sure don't!"
From Crazy Love, by Francis Chan
Now, I do have to say, I was initially taken aback by the word, "evil". I mean, I don't think it's 'evil' to give less than you could actually give. But, thinking about it more, maybe it's the same difference in us thinking that worrying actually isn't a sin-when it is...anytime we do something we shouldn't do, it's sin.
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." -Matthew 6:34
And anyone, believer or not, could find value in these comments that Bruce made in closing:
* You will never change spending habits by good intentions, only by good decisions
* You will never get out of debt by good intentions, only by good decisions
* You will never stop giving God leftovers by good intentions, only by good decisions.
I was hanging on every word by the end of the sermon, an awesome feeling I experience often going to this church, which I love, but more than that, I felt a new conviction that I could no longer stand being a person of "good intentions."
Take this example: It's like, when a family member has hurt my feelings, and I'm upset and they say, "Well, I never MEANT to hurt you..." The hurt doesn't disappear when you find out that didn't mean to... 'Oh, okay, well, since you never MEANT to hurt me, then I'm not hurt." Wish it happened like that, but at least for me, that never makes me feel any better. So enough with my good INTENTIONS, to give more, spend less, make more time for _______, whatever it may be, it's time I turn that energy into making good decisions.
And that brings me to something new Jason and I have decided to do...
So, for Christmas this year, Jason and I are totally changing how we give presents. Our families are both so blessed; we don't have to "want" for much. But there are so many other people far less fortunate that we, dealing with sickness, or disabilities, or a tough lot in life.
Yesterday while Jack and Lucy were blissfully asleep, we did all of our "Christmas Shopping." At home. Amidst budgeting spreadsheets strewn across the desk, and several open tabs searching various charities on the web.
We sat down and first took a hard look at our budget (Well, maybe I should say, Jason explained and I tried to follow along ;-) and made some changes, some sacrifices, so that we can free up more money to give away. I questioned how sincere our current giving to the church was when it didn't really require much sacrificing. I mean, when you think of the sacrifice Jesus made so that I may have life, it really puts things in perspective.
Then, we had so much fun going through our list of gift recipients and finding a charity that would fit their personality and hopefully bring them joy to donate to in their honor. An uncle and aunt that we adore to pieces just lost their family dog this year. So, we chose the Delta Society-a charity that trains and uses dogs to help heal people- to donate to in their honor. It was hard to see the pictures of sweet cuddly dogs, lying at the feet of sick children who were undergoing dialysis or chemotherapy, without tearing up.
When looking for a charity for us, I found a wonderful cause called Make A Child Smile...stay tuned, I want to devote a whole post to bring attention to that cause, for it's wonderful and truly worthwhile.
Because I don't want to totally ruin the surprise for our family-- the fun will be in finding out what charity was chosen particularly for them- (I know of a couple of family members who read this :-), I won't share the other charities we found quite yet.
But, I hope it will warm their hearts, and is more meaningful that any Zaxby's gift card, golf ball pack, or winter sweater that I may have bought them instead.