I’m especially excited about this Christmas season, as I’m going to do something new to me! I was inspired so much last year to give above and beyond – outside of my usual comfort zone – during Christmastime. I’ve always been quite intentional about how I spend my money, the ways in which I give, and the fact that I adore giving gifts (even more so than receiving them!). But I want to push and challenge myself to give abundantly. Em of Em for Marvelous wrote this Blessed to be a Blessing post last year, something I’ve bookmarked and mulled over for a year now. Along with hearing from generous friends, my church, and some books I’ve read this year, I was definitely inspired. Though I don’t really make that much at my non-profit job & live in an expensive city, I truly have a lot and am blessed. I am grateful that I have no debt, am able to save a significant portion of each paycheck, have a steady income, and really have so much. I want to be someone who gives generously, selflessly, and joyfully all year long, and not just at Christmastime. This Christmas season, though, I am pushing myself to give as much as I spend! I am really excited about this challenge to myself, though I must also admit that this is going to be just that – a challenge. It scares me a little to think of doubling my usual Christmas spending, but this also pushes me to trust in the Lord with giving joyfully, boldly, abundantly, and without boasting of this, too. I am also really, really excited! I can’t wait to get started (I know giving shouldn’t be at Christmas alone, of course). This is the perfect time of year to try to serve others more than myself, celebrate the true reason of Christmas, share the Christmas spirit with those who might really need it, put God’s love into action, and not concentrate on materialism so much. I’m hoping that giving as much as I spend will help me emulate the Christmas spirit, be more Christ-like in my actions, and trying to live a life larger than just my own.
I love that I’m able to still give gifts, since this challenge to myself doesn’t diminish the gifts that I’ll be giving this year. As I mentioned, I simply adore giving gifts, and it’s one of my very favorite parts of Christmas. I love the hunt for the perfect gift – something meaningful or special – for my favorite people, and I definitely don’t want to stop giving Christmas presents to those I love. I will be even more aware this year, though, of the price of gifts and not just picking up more ‘things’ just to have more gifts to give, since I’ll really be spending twice the price tag amount my giving back the same amount. This will help me be even more intentional and smart than ever, I’m hoping, but it also is a continuous reminder of that generous giving spirit. I have also decided that throughout the months of November and December, I will not be buying or shopping for anything for myself. I have too much already, of which I’m thankful, and I don’t need to spend on myself. This will help me save a little bit more, not snatch up little things here and there just because they’re on sale or right in front of me, and makes me look forward to Christmas even more! I try to do this every year, and though there have been some small temptations already, I’m holding firm to the no-shopping-for-myself rule for these two months. I am praying that somewhere along the way, in the smallest of ways, the Lord might use me to help someone out, bring a smile to someone’s face, or show His love in some way.
Just in case you might need ideas or suggestions of ways you might be able to give, some of the ways that I’m planning on giving generously and joyfully are:
1. the Angel Tree at church
2. Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes
3. Sponsoring a Compassion International child
4. Donations to organizations near and dear to my heart, like Samaritan’s Purse and CCFA
5. To my church
6. In-person acts of kindness, blessing bags to homeless folks around the city (starting today! they’re already made), and any ways in which I can give to others when the need is presented right in front of me in day to day life. I’m really excited about this! I am planning on having cash in hand to be able to give freely to those whose paths I cross. I work in downtown DC, and I walk by dozens of homeless men and women each and every day. Instead of just walking by, I can’t wait to make ‘blessing bags’ (filled with food, warm gloves, toiletries, etc) and give them out (along with some money – and no judgement from me on what anyone decides to spend the money on). Trying, even in a small way, to meet the needs of those in my day to day life is something I’m most looking forward to, and I think it might be fun to play Santa in any way that I can throughout the Christmas season.
Anyway, that’s a lot of information on this personal challenge that I’m making for myself, but I wanted to share (since a blog post inspired me so much last year!). I deeply want to love others as I have been so loved, and I think that this can start with giving away as much as you’re able to – with a joyful spirit, in generous and abundant ways, with a humble heart, and with the true Christmas meaning in mind!