Last year, I posted an blog about the Lost Art of Hospitality. It is still the most read post I have put up to date. I think hospitality is a lost art and something that we should all get more familiar with. I encourage you to go back and read it as a refresher or for the first time. This year, the Lord has been leading me into discovering the art of generosity. And what a journey it has been. I am always amazed when I ask Him to start teaching me- the opportunities that I now see that I never did before. I can't help but see life differently. Please enjoy these stories of generosity and my prayer is that they will inspire you this Christmas season and all year long.
What makes a person generous? We usually tend to see ourselves as a 'good person.' We take care of our family, pay our bills, invite our friends to dinner and pick up the tab. We give to the church and even drop a dollar or two in the bucket in front of Wal-Mart during the Christmas season. So how does a person become generous? Is it a dollar amount? Reaching so many volunteer hours? Serving at church? Serving on the PTA at your kid's school? What is this magical standard? I used to think that generosity was all about writing that big check. That jaw dropping, 'They are going to love me forever!' check that can change a person's life forever. And while that is great and has its place, what about from here and there? Generosity is about doing something with what you have in your hand. Today. What can you do today? I believe that generosity is not something you do, it is something you are. It is not an event but is a stance. A lifestyle. It is a choice to see life differently- that nothing really belongs to you anyway. Generosity is giving more than what is required. God doesn't need your money... here me out. But if He can get it THROUGH you- He will get it TO you. Are you holding the keys to your wealth, your time, your encouraging words, your gift, when God wants so badly to work THROUGH you?
Take a moment and read these stories from around the Country. I found them very encouraging.
A man walked into Nervous Dog Coffee Bar in Stow, Ohio and stole money from the employee tip jar by the register. But instead of reporting the theft to the police, the café owner, Michael Litt, decided to do what they could to help the man.
"We figured anyone desperate enough to steal a few bucks from a kid working her way through college is likely pretty hungry. We thought we would initiate a canned food drive for him; we began with a can or two from our employees and made a box available in each of our shops for kind contributions," Michael Litt explained.
20 Acts Movement
This school project will - no doubt- have a life long impact on the students participating. Eighth graders at Morgan Middle School in Ellensburg, Washington participated in "20 Acts of Kindness Week" where students had an opportunity to complete 20 random acts of kindness for their family, friends neighbors, strangers, school and community.
Some of the acts included: Jonathan Garcis (14), cooked dinner for his family. Elora Irby (13) helped her friends with their problems. Kelsey Powell (13), played cello for residents of Hearthstone Cottage in Ellensburg. Dammon Wright (14), picked up trash at school and donated $20 to the Salvation Army instead of spending it on himself. Taylor Kotlarz (14), plans to secretly pay for someone's meal at a restaurant.
"I think part of our job as school people is to get the kids into the community." Kenneth Hails, the school counselor said. "They can also learn by being nice to somebody else."
The 20 Acts movement started with Ann Curry about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. The 20 Acts Movement is still happening all these years later.
Love Letter to Your Latte Maker
This woman wrote a letter to the woman who makes her latte at her local coffee shop. It read:
"Dear Latte Lady,
Those hearts you make in my latte foam... I know it's a little thing, but getting lattes is an extra-special, only sometimes treat for me, and those hearts make it even nicer. I know you are on your feet all day, I know you go home reeking of coffee and that you probably don't even like it anymore. I know people get crabby with you and snap when you mess up their order. And I know that you are a kind soul and most importantly, you are YOU, the only you there is, and that means something, even though I don't even know your name. Thank you.
The Girl in the Corner with Her Laptop
When Hooters Outshines the Church
This is my personal favorite. My husband, a very long time ago, was a cook at Hooters. (I know. I know.) Like I said, it was a very long time ago... before I ever knew him. One of the waitresses found herself, unwed and pregnant. Since Hooters hires its waitresses based on appearance, she was not able to work there during her pregnancy. Her church, dismissed her since she was unwed and she found herself in a pretty rough spot. To make matters worse... her boyfriend wanted nothing to do with a baby and took off when he found out, leaving her truly alone. My husband and others couldn't stand by and do nothing, so they decided that anyone who wanted to could give a portion of their paychecks and tips to her for income. They placed a schedule in the back room of her DR appointments and made sure that someone was always on schedule to go with her. She was never to be alone. They threw her a baby shower and pitched in to purchase a crib. They were with her through the delivery and had all hours of the day and night covered to make sure someone was there with her while she was in the hospital. My sweet husband took the night shift and she rested knowing someone was there with her.
Generosity reflects the heart and nature of God. It is not about the amount you give, it is the heart in which you give it. Everything that comes into my life now, I think "God- did you intend this for me or someone else? What do you want me to do with it?" When you live out of a lifestyle of generosity- giving your time, your kind words, your money.... it becomes someone you are. Not something you do. It's time for all of us to start living a life that reflects Jesus. He has been so generous with us... I don't want to shut off my generosity in response to what He has done for me. Generosity will always cost you something. So when you are out Christmas shopping this year, keep your eyes and heart open. Maybe pick up two copies of that new book. One for your mother and one for your co-worker that you know is struggling. Write out a Christmas card to your FedEx guy who brings your Amazon packages with care. Pay for the car behind you in the McDonald's drive through. Have your kids write a card out for their teachers. Look for the opportunities and I promise, you will find more than you ever expected. God loves a cheerful giver. You wont go un-rewarded. That is the icing on the cake. Giving is always more fun than getting. The cycle of sowing and reaping continues.
"If you are more fortunate than others, build a longer table not a taller fence."
Whoever is generous with the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay Him for his deed.
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Here's to a year of living big and showing ourselves faithful of what we have been given. May our prayer for 2018 be, "Send them my way Jesus. I can handle it!"