A Cheerful Giver

*Originally printed in The Hometown Treasure 2016 Countdown to Christmas*

As we move closer and closer to Christmas, people become more generous. Or maybe it’s just that there are more opportunities to give. There are food drives and donation boxes and red buckets everywhere you look.  There are opportunities like Shop with a Cop and Operation Christmas Child Shoebox.

My husband and I are raising two little boys. Living in a world filled with entitlement, we are trying to raise them to be givers, to earn what they have and give when they can. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” We are trying to raise cheerful givers.

One of the ways they love to give is by putting money in the red buckets. They love the ringing bells, and I know this time of year, I had better have money ready for them if we are heading to the store. The boys want to give on the way in the store and on the way out. They want to stop and talk to the bell ringers. They want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. If we head into a store and the red bucket isn’t on the stand, it makes them mad. How can they give if the bucket isn’t there?

Another way we are teaching them to give is going through their toys and donating some of them. They boys have an abundance of toys and at least once a year we go through them. Some of the toys get put up for a later time, some get thrown away, and some go into our donation pile. The first time I let the boys help sort through the toys to get rid of some, they were 5 and 3 years old. I will never forget that day. They asked who the toys were for that we were giving away. When I told them that there were kids out there who don’t have a lot of toys to play with or may not get presents for Christmas, they were shocked. My oldest picked up one of his favorite trucks and told me it was for the little boy who wouldn’t have any presents for Christmas.

That same year, we were asked to ring the bells for the Salvation Army red buckets. We were on our way to Wal-Mart for our turn when I decided I should explain to the boys once again what we were doing and why. I told them how they needed to remember to say “thank you” and “Merry Christmas” to the people who put money in the bucket. I told the boys that the money was not for us to keep. We were just helping. They wanted to know what the money was for so I told them it was to help buy food and presents for people who needed help.

It was one thing for the boys to hear that some kids don’t get presents for Christmas, but it was completely different for them to hear that some kids don’t have food. They didn’t understand that there are people out there who are hungry and don’t have food. They asked if we could stop and buy pizza for the hungry people. It was such an obvious thing to them. If people are hungry, we should feed them.

I think about my boys and the way they love to give and then I think about the way we adults look at giving. How many times have we looked at those red buckets and groaned? We pull the couple of coins out of our pocket and toss it in. Or we look away and walk as fast as we can past the bell ringers. Or we go through our closers and pull out the clothes that are about to fall apart or are so outdated that no one would ever want them and put those into our donation bag, but hang on to the nicest stuff even if it is 2 sizes too small and we’re never going to wear it again. How many times do we give not with a cheerful heart but with a sign or a groan or a roll of our eyes?

I think about that first Christmas. God gave us His best. He gave us His Son. And it wasn’t with a shrug or a groan. God didn’t think He was too busy to give to us that year that maybe next year He’d have the time. God didn’t look at us and say, “I’m just going to hang on to this because I know what those people will do with My Gift.” God didn’t look at the earth and shake His head and walk away. God looked at the world and loved us so much that He gave us the best that He had, the most He could give.

As we head through this Christmas season, as you hear the ringing bells and see the donation boxes, remember the way God gave to us on the first Christmas. Even if the only thing you have to give is a smile, give with a cheerful heart.

 

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Another great way to give is with our Hope 2.0. We have helped many people but new needs are still coming in. Please help me bring some hope and Christmas cheer to people who really need it.

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Can one pizza feed the world?

Raising boys with giving hearts is so important to me. We live in a world that is full of entitlement, and I don’t want my boys to be like that. I don’t want them to think they deserve everything they want just because they want it. I want them to love to give.

We work hard on this. It feels like the most important thing we can teach them other than to love Jesus. Several times a year we go through the toys to give some away. The boys are great about it. They want to help others and they find it hard to believe when I tell them about other little boys and girls that don’t have toys to play with. They are kids so sometimes they just pick out toys that they never play with or the broken toy that somehow made its way into the toy box instead of the trash can. But sometimes they pick out old favorites that still get played with so another little boy can have a toy.

One question I get asked every time is, “What is his name?” meaning the little boy to receive our toy. I don’t know is not consider an answer. I’m the mom. I’m suppose to know.

Maybe that’s why our Hope For the Holidays project is so close to my heart. It’s real people asking for help and real people replying to help. And even if they aren’t using their real names, you have names to associate with real people and their stories.

 

Ringing bells

Ringing bells

 

Last week we rang bells for Salvation Army. Salvation Army is my charity of choice, and it was a really easy way we could do something to help. I also thought it would be a fun way for the boys to give their time instead of items. Plus they could ring bells and who doesn’t love that.

On our way to ring the bells, I explained again what we were doing. I told them if people put money in the bucket, they needed to remember to say “thank you” and “Merry Christmas.” Then I explained that the money was not for them to keep. It was for little boys and girls who didn’t have presents or food.

Food?

It was so hard for them to understand that there are people who don’t have enough food. My boys have never had to worry about where their next meal would come from. Thank You, Lord, my boys have never known real hunger. Even during our hardest, darkest times, there has always been food.

If you know Connor, you know he loves food. It just broke his heart to think about little kids not having food. And with his childhood innocent and giving heart, he had a plan.

We drove past a Little Caeser’s. Connor said, “I know! Let’s go to Pizza! Pizza! and take pizza and Crazy Bread to the hungry people!”

“That’s a really nice idea, Buddy.”

I kind of wish I had stopped at Pizza! Pizza!

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During bedtime prayers, we’ve been including prayers for “Mom’s project.”

“What’s it called again?”

“Hope For the Holidays. We’re helping people who need presents and food.”

“We should go to Pizza! Pizza! and get them food. Then they won’t be hungry.”

How simple is it when you look at it through the eyes of a four year old? If people are hungry, stop and get them food. Through the eyes of an adult, it feels so hard. But maybe he’s right. Maybe it is that easy. Maybe we’re the ones making it seem so hard.

Maybe if we all gave a little, if we all gave a pizza, we could change the world.

Thank you all so much who are helping with “Mom’s project” whether it’s been through actual giving or prayers for those in need. If you are in need or are looking to feel a need, be sure to check out what we are doing with Hope For the Holidays.