Legacy of Generosity

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

For the past several years I have been some what alone on my birthday. My husband Tony has always been working and while I've had friends no one has ever really taken time (outside of my family) to make it super special. Being frank, I would whine inside. I wanted my birthday, the most favorite time of the year, to be SUPER special. Why couldn't anyone do that?

This past year as my birthday rounded the corner my heart changed. I have come to really dislike the selfishness of this generation. It is beyond bad, my friends. Someone cannot even hear about anothers birthday without hearing of all the things the person plans to do for themselves, or what others should do for themselves. This includes the major holidays. I hear more of "I want, I want," then anything else.

Not saying wanting to be loved on or feel special is bad. It's not. In fact, I think it's important for everyone to feel this way. But. Are your wants clouding your judgment in seeing how much need is out there?  Proverbs 11:25 The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.

What is it saying? Rich in what? Watered? It's not just talking about money. Someone who lives a generous life is rich in many bigger ways than a fattier wallet. He is rich in so much more and is blessed because he sees others blessed.

I really felt God's pull to do something different. To leave a legacy of generosity to my children and my family that would mean much more than money. To reach others despite the fact that many would say, "But it's your day..." Take a moment. Read my experience as I chose to be intentionally generous and see how it changed my life, not just theirs.

My prayer, to start, was that the Holy Spirit would guide me specifically to whom I should bless and how I should bless them. At first my plan was to do 26 random acts of kindness but then God placed the Ronald McDonald house on my heart and this became my biggest act. I started asking for donations from their wish list after getting approval to come and tour the house and meet the house director.

The Tuesday before my birthday is when the generosity really began. I walked into a Chick-Fil-a to get donations for our church when I felt that I was going to be paying for someones meal. As I was walking in I noticed a younger couple. "This is it," I thought. I noticed they paid separately and as I went for my debit card to pay I felt the Holy Spirit stop me. "No, not this one." I waited. A mother came to the counter. Not exaggerating, she looked tired. She had sweats and a baggy t-shirts and ordered 5 or 6 ice creams. "Now." Like a wide receiver going after a ball I jumped over and handed my card and said, "On me!" She tried to refuse me but I wouldn't let her. She looked me square in the eye and said, "You don't know how much I needed that."

"No I didn't, but God did." I left.

The next moment would happen Thursday before my birthday. I received tons of donations from a few church people and friends (thank you all!) but still needed more to add. So instead of asking for a gift from my hubby I asked his permission to buy a ton of travel size products and pantry items. I also bought tons of cookie mix and muffin mix.

When I went to check out a young lady by the name of Stephanie was my cashier. She jokingly said, "Are you going on a long vacation to eat cookies and muffins?" I said, "Nah. I'm doing some charity work for my birthday." She was shocked and we began a really good conversation in which she opened up to me that she really had trouble with seeing the good in humanity. I shared with her openly that it was not me that was good, in fact I wasn't really good at all, but that it was God in me that really made me want to give. If God could give me life everyday, couldn't I in turn give someone hope? She just kept thanking me with tears as I walked away.

But. God. I felt the call to go and get her a gift card to Starbucks. As I did I got the pleasure to meet the store manager of that particular Target. I asked her to give that gift card to Stephanie after I left the store. I included a little note card our church had given us to hand out that said, "Just a little something extra to show how much God loves you." I ended up buying two actually and told the manager to give the other gift card to someone she felt could really use it.

Finally. The big day arrived. I barely slept that night. It was like I was waiting for Christmas! My first stop would be to Kaidance's school, but not after I took a morning picture with her!

We arrived at CCA at 7:30am. My best friend Christin would be joining me as I went about my day so we got there early to meet up. The only person knew that I was going to be feeding the entire faculty was the principal. When I got there and told them I needed space for muffins, and donuts, and juice and milk they were so surprised. Not to mention it was Friday and I'm sure they were all READY for the weekend!

The coolest part about the CCA project was that my daughter and her two friends (whom we carpool with) got to experience giving and generosity too. They helped us carry all the supplies in and set up. They were eager to help and were excited to feed their teachers! It was a huge success! There was lots of conversations and lots of, "We should be doing this for you," but please let me remind's not about me. It's about sharing God's love and HIS generous spirit!

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Psalm 51:12 

I appreciate all that the principal and staff do for my child and the other students!

Next, after a half hour search for my keys that were in a trash bag (and binding up the enemy ha ha!) I headed off to Starbucks for breakfast. The neat thing about having my best friend there was that not only did I have camera help but I got to spoil her! It's about not just being generous to other people but to those around you who impact your every day life! She was the one in my world I wanted to share generosity with too!

After grabbing a cup ourselves and some breakfast (I was too excited to eat, ha ha) we met Kathy. Kathy had a daughter just slightly older than me and cried when I paid for her coffee. She kept saying, "We need more people like you in this world," and I semi-agree. What we truly need is more Christ-like behavior and love. We need people who aren't afraid to share God's goodness with others. Don't be a goodness hoarder. Give it away.

After Kathy we met "in a rush guy." I didn't get his name, didn't talk to him much, just paid for his coffee. He was shocked and surprised and said, "What an awesome thing. Thank you. I didn't have time this morning to make it at home." God's got him.

Then we met Candy. Candy had just come off a night shift working. She looked exhausted. She was there for a quick pick me up on her way home to do a few things and then sleep. She was so appreciative. I am so glad she got a little smile after such a long night.

Next, we went to visit Jen. Jen is a teacher at Newell Elementary school. She rocks. 

Jen is not just my friend. She's a hard working student and a rock star volunteer. I bought her a bag of gifts and then surprised the faculty staff with freshly baked cookies! They even let me tour the back area and I got to meet the principal (who so kindly offered me a job!). 

After an awesome time laughing we headed over to the Ronald McDonald house. We were going to bring a ton of donations and also get a tour of the house. We are so thankful of all that we got to deliver! So was the house. We met a ton of beautiful people who devote their life to serving. They understand what it means to be moved with compassion and to live a life of generosity everyday without complaint.

Debbie, one of my favorite volunteers, was crying as I shared my story. She was so moved that it was my birthday but what she didn't realize is that she touched me and moved me with her story. She's never worked. She's devoted her entire life to volunteering in hospitals in the areas she has lived. What a true leader and inspiration! 

The tour of the Ronald McDonald house was fantastic. I've personally decided to volunteer once a month and do more donation funding for them (blog post on that VERY soon). The quote wall was beyond touching and I cried standing there (and now) just thankful for all God has given me, so that I could give it back.

At the end of the tour we got to ask Ari the director questions. She answered them all truthfully and lovingly and then I took a picture with her and another volunteer Marty. Marty is a replica of what I am going to be as a senior citizen. She was so fun!

This was our last stop. And it was well worth it. Throughout the rest of the day I was able to do little deeds (like leaving an awesome tip for our waitress at lunch) but truly I was the blessed one. God has given me way more than I could EVER ask for. He doesn't ask for much in return. 

I received this card today from Ari. It touched me because it will be a consistent reminder of how important it is to be intentionally generous. Someone needs you and someone needs your obedience. 

This 26th birthday was by far the greatest birthday I've ever had. It was because I decided to take the focus off of me and put it on Him. I have decided to make this an annual thing and will trust that God will make it bigger and bigger every year. I hope in 2014 to do a deed once a day, even a small one, so that others will learn to pay it forward and my children will learn about generosity. wasn't about me. It wasn't about, "Hey! Look at that wonderful girl." It's about Him. It's always been about Him and it's about others knowing that God cares for them much more than I ever could. Lets ban together folks. Lets ban together and leave a legacy of generosity. When people look back on this generation and those to come let them see a noticeable change in our giving. Lets do this intentionally and with joy. It will change YOUR life.




Sunday, November 17, 2013

We live in a world that is obsessed with perfection. Even those who think they aren't can at times find themselves obsessing over something, wanting it to be perfect. That could be a relationship, their body, a situation. The types of things you can obsess about becoming perfect are endless. This is not just for the natural perfectionist either. It's for the mom who wants to be perfect at mothering her children, the wife who wants to be perfect, the business owner who thinks he must made a certain quota. We don't like failure.

This past week God has been speaking to me deeply about the choice of my words towards my children. Words hold the power of life and death. We can speak to our children and raise them up in life or we can break them by speaking words that bring death. Even a simple, "Leave me alone I'm busy. Go away I'm doing something..." can be detrimental to a child's simple thought life.

Not just my kids though. Anyone. If I'm not careful with what I say I could leave a bad influence or impression on anyone that I come in contact with. Seems like a lot of pressure right?

My eldest daughter struggles (yes, at five years) with some issue of self-confidence. She'll ask me questions about herself and I would normally reply, "Kaidance. Why do you think that? God made you perfect." This normally would suffice her for a few days and then she would come back and we would have another conversation about something she was struggling with and again after a few moments of discussion my final reply would be, "But Kaidance! God made you perfect. Don't fret."

How wrong were my choice of words. God brought to my attention that this reply wasn't what she was seeking nor was it what He was asking me to give. Kaidance is not perfect. She is human. She is flesh. And when we were born we were born into sin. Christ is the only human that lived that was perfect. Perfect literally means perfect; having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.

As much as I'd like to admit to you that Kaidance is as good as it possible can be, she isn't. She makes mistakes. She sins. I make mistakes. I sin. It hit me like a ton of bricks when my eyes were opened and I began to see something clearly in teaching her about herself.

My reply changed.

"Kaidance, you are not perfect honey. But God created you in a very specific manner. He created you and knows you and loves you just the way you are. There is only one Kaidance Jade and no one else exactly like you."

Since we have had this conversation she hasn't approached me or talked negatively about herself. You see as simple as it sounds, as much as you may already know it, do you really know it? Do you really believe it? God doesn't expect perfection. God knitted you in the womb. (Psalm 139). He covered you while you were forming. He knows the very minor hairs on your head. He loves you because He created you, not because He expects perfection.

So breathe today. Breathe because you can rest confidently in the truth that God loves you and that just as He knows your strengths He knows and sees your weaknesses. That He sent a helper for you, the Holy Spirit, to help you when you are weak and imperfect. When you have a relationship with Christ you realize just how imperfect you are, and that it is by Christ growing in you and you removing your flesh that you become the impact and influence people need and desire.

Don't reach for perfection. You will never find it. Reach for Christ who's perfect love can be manifested in you.

Birthday Outreach

Thursday, November 14, 2013

My 26th birthday is coming up. I am extremely excited. Not just because it's my birthday but because this year I am doing something totally different than any of my other birthdays! This year I didn't want it to be all about me. I wanted to be blessed by seeing others blessed. I got together with my best friend Christin and told her my idea and asked her to come along side me on my special day.

So why am I blogging? I want to document of course! Some of the events I'm going to keep secret for now (I promise to blog with pictures after) and others I want to share because it's going to take not just me, but the community, to help me complete my birthday project.

One of the biggest pieces we are doing on this day is going to the Ronald McDonald house and hospital to visit cancer patients and their families. The staff at the Ronald McDonald house cannot wait to help me celebrate and said that they are in dire need of supplies for the families there. I am putting together 10 (yes, TEN) big goodie bags for 10 families and then bringing 10 brand new teddy bears for 10 of their patients.

This is where I NEED your help. I am needing donations of goodie bag supplies as well as teddy bears for these children. Would you consider, as a gift to honor life, giving something off this wish list? If you are at walmart couldn't you just add a few extra items? I need all of these items by Thursday, November 21st.

Please consider helping by picking something off this list and donating it. I can even pick items up!

  • Band aids
  • Blow Dryers
  • Body Wash (Travel Size) (at least 10)
  • Deodorant (Travel Size) (at least 10)
  • Feminine Hygiene Products (at least 10)
  • Floss (Travel Size) (at least 10)
  • Hand Sanitizer (Travel Size) (at least 10)
  • Razors (at least 10)
  • Shaving Cream (Travel Size) (at least 10)
  • Slippers (at least 10)
  • Robes (at least 10)
I need at least 10 - 12 new teddy bears. They have to be new so the kids don't get sick from contaminated used items.

Also the Ronald McDonald staff said they NEED pantry items. Canned goods, juice boxes, etc. Anything you keep in your pantry.

Please consider helping me out by helping a small part of your community! :)

Be blessed.



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

(PSSST. Click the song below so it plays while you read!)

Christmas is coming! Who's excited? I love Christmas. Christmas is such an amazing time of the year because it's a time where families come together, yummy food is eaten, gifts are giving and a lot of people in need are reached out to. 

You see I have a totally different view point of Christmas these days. I listen to Christmas music like it's going out of style and so many of the songs are worships songs to Christ (think classics here). Santa baby doesn't fall in this category. ;) They speak to my heart and they open my eyes to Christmas in times when my eyes seem so focused or stressed on the wrong ideas of what Christmas is about.

You see long ago before the first Christmas hope was lost. The soul was weary and felt worthless. People walked around and prayed earnestly for a savior. The world was covered in sin but instead of there being hope that this sin could be lifted and that there was more it was being smothered. Put out. 

Then the big news arrived! 

Luke 2:10-12 Then the angel said to them (the shepherds), "Do not be afraid, for BEHOLD, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a babe in swaddling clothes wrapped and lying in a manger." 

Stop for me. Read it out loud. Those two verses are some of the most powerful Christmas verses you can imagine. The word behold means to "see, or observe," these shepherds were being told to "see." What are they seeing? Not just a baby. They are seeing the savior of this world. Hope. When Christ was born, hope was reborn. 

The song O HOLY NIGHT talks about this glorious moment when Christ came into this world. "Till he appeared and the soul felt it's worth, a thrill of hope the weary world rejoices."

This weary world needs to hear this message this Christmas. What can you do inside of your family and outside the four walls of your family to spread this message? Christmas is not a DAY. It's a way of living. We should be living like it's Christmas EVERY single day of the year. This Christmas, as it's not far away, what can you do to share Jesus? 

Be blessed.


Friday, November 8, 2013

I've been married twice. Tony is my second husband, I am his first wife. While I feel honored that Tony saved this position for me I cringe when I think of him being my second. I never wanted to be a statistic nor have I ever wanted to have children in a blended family. However, I am human, sinful, and selfish. I made horrible, sinful, and selfish decisions that have led me to this point.

So, what's the point? Sometimes when I talk about marriage to others it seems as though I should be the LAST person to talk about the subject because I am a divorcee. In my defense though, I really started feeling a "pressure" and a leading to be more open about what I learned from my divorce. I wanted to take a few moments and share with you a few things that could help you, or someone you know, who is in a divorce or who has been through a divorce, is considering a divorce, or even is in a separation.

1. Don't sign anything until you have tried everything
God hates divorce. Coming from someone who has experienced this painful event I can first hand say I understand why God hates divorce. Divorce is like a funeral. Your marriage dies and in some ways you feel as though you have lost a loved one from death. I do think there are certain circumstances that can warrant immediate physical separation (physical abuse to you or your children, affair,) but I also think that our God is powerful and is still in the healing business. And by that I mean an emotional healer.

I had exhausted all attempts to repair my marriage the day I asked my ex-husband to leave. Without the grim details the relationship involved serious abusive situations that had began to affect my daughter. I couldn't live with that anymore, nor could she. With that said, asking him and seeing my ex-husband leave was like watching someone be buried. I cried for days and lost 7lbs in the first four days in our separation. I could barely eat, sleep, or function.

So, while divorce may happen (or has already happened! We are getting there, promise!) know that before you make anything official there ARE resources for you. Counseling, prayer, pastors, family. Explore and research what's around you and speak to your spouse about what you can both do to help your situation improve or even save your marriage.

2. Give yourself time to heal; even if you think you are ready to date, you probably aren't. 

I must admit that my biggest mistake after my divorce was not taking time for myself and my daughter to heal. It's not that I'm against dating while separated or that I don't believe that you can meet your second spouse shortly after, I just believe that dating should have and should be one of the last things on your mind.

I had mentioned that divorce was like a death. This became extremely real to me when my daughter began public school this year. It just so happened that my ex-husband's niece was in sixth grade at my daughters school. I hadn't seen this girl since she was eight! She was beautiful. I was in tears and when I said hello I thought for sure she wouldn't remember me. But SHE DID. And she ran over to me and said, "MEGAN! I miss you!" And I walked to my car after chatting for a moment and bawled my eyes out.

You see in a divorce you don't just lose your spouse. You lose an entire family. I grew to sincerely love my ex-husbands family. Particularly I felt a loss towards my father-in-law. I never had a good fatherly figure and really enjoyed the time and relationship I had developed with him and even my mother-in-law. These people really disliked me now. Even more so after a heated custody battle. The fact though is that I loved them and part of me still loves them and part of me still can barely talk about them without wanting to cry.

So, take time to grieve. Take time to heal. Get professional counseling. They CAN help. Join a divorce support group. I highly recommend Divorce Care! Even if it's been several years it's never too late to find help or counseling or even support group care after a divorce.

Also give your children time to grieve. They lost a family too. Divorce Care offers help for children after a divorce (ages 5+). If you have younger children consider play therapy. It helps! Make yourself and your children (if you have them) top priority after God.

3. Listen to your children. 
My daughter was two when I separated from her dad. While she couldn't really discuss her feelings her play and behavior told me it all. Divorce is hard even on toddlers. If you have children and your divorce is amicable I highly recommend going through a mediator and working out a custody plan that is best for the CHILD. Make it stable, consistent, and talk frequently with your ex-husband/wife about child/ren related issues.

If you have older children listen to them. Allow them to grieve the loss of their mom and dad being married. My current husband is from a divorced family and has shared his feelings on his parents divorcing when he was older. It still hurts. Don't force your pre-teen or teen to love a new man or woman just because you want to date or want to remarry. Allow things to cook slowly, allow the flavor to fuse, like wine does as it ages.

Get family counseling. I cannot stress this enough. Counseling does not mean you are weak. Counseling encourages growth and helps you when you are stuck or not sure what to do or where to go. Read your Bible frequently, pray, and encourage your children to continue on in a routine. ALWAYS be open to talking about their feelings and their pair no matter how hard it is to hear it. Divorce is a traumatic experience and will take time to heal from.

4. When you are ready to date go slow. 
This is where I will stop for now. When you are ready to date again, please, go slow. Don't rush into a relationship because you are lonely or you want help with your kids or it feels good. It will feel good and exciting but it can be a tangled mess if you rush it.

I encourage those who are interested in re-marriage after a divorce to read The Smart Stepfamily by Ron Deal. It will help you if you are in a more serious relationship and are considering marriage and wonder where you and your new partner fit in together with each others families.

I've learned a lot from being a divorcee. The last biggest thing is that I NEVER WANT to experience that again. It encourages me to push forward in my current marriage and to work through it no matter what may come about. God loves you. God loves family and He loves when families are set in Him. There is hope for you today no matter what your situation.



Dance in the Rain

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Last week there was a point in the day where it rained. When I say rained too I don't mean drizzle. It came down hard. It was just a bleak type of day all day that day. I was feeling lazy, unmotivated, lacking. I was some what down thinking about something from my past that was nagging at me. It was something I've forgiven someone for but the pain is still quite fresh for me.

As I sat in the still of this rain I took note of the way the earth and nature responded to it. While the rain pounded to the ground the trees, flowers, plants all lifted themselves to the sky. I'm sure the rain hurt, right? These drops were not light or misty, they were hard and coming down fast. Why would anything reach for something that could potentially cause it pain?

Perhaps these living beings knew something I didn't? Maybe they were more courageous than I?  I was reminded of how at times in our lives God uses painful situations, even tragedy, to draw us closer to Him. Not that He is always the cause because we are still sinful humans and make mistakes, but with anything God can turn it into good for those who love them, right?

Right. I truly believe these plants were dancing n the rain. They understood that if they allowed themselves to be soaked on, rained on, even feeling slight pain, that in the end when the rain stopped they would be refreshed. Filled. Satisfied. Why? Because they were created to TRUST that their maker knew what He was doing (and He does) and that this pain and this moment would raise them and grow them.

Literally as I sat there staring out my window the rain began to slow and the clouds began to move away. The sun came out and all was "normal" and sunny again. The plants now filled to the brim seem to take a "normal" stance.

Lets remember this important message today. Even though this season in your life might be challenging you (those plants can't get up and walk away), making you uncomfortable, or even causing pain - don't walk away. Don't give up. Reach towards the sky. Embrace the rain and dance in it. When it's over, I promise you will be filled.