But all I've been able to think about the past few days is the fact that there are so many in our city who don't have that luxury. I know the city opens more shelters when bad weather hits, but where do the homeless go during the day to get out of the cold? I discovered that even our neighborhood public library (a public respite from the cold) was closed yesterday. And I've realized that I am so thankful this Thanksgiving week for God's undeserved gift of provision! We have a warm home that I'm actually a bit in love with (flaws & all). We're able to pay for oil to keep it warm and comfortable. We have plenty of good food to eat and enough warm snow clothes to stay warm while playing.
If I can be candid: this past week has been one that financially could have become a stressful burden: The loss of 3 day's pay due to the weather, an expensive repair on Matt's car that became urgent given this cold weather, new dietary restrictions for me that I'm discovering are not as cheap as I'm used to, and the first of our adoption bills due. Not to mention Christmas looming.
But God continues to provide and I can honestly say that I'm not stressed at all. We're blessed to have enough put aside for emergencies such as these. We're blessed to have a home that we love. We're blessed to not have any unment needs. And we've been so blessed by the 30 Days of Giving Challenge this past month. It's completely reiterated to me the truth that we are simply God's middlemen. If we allow, He just funnels His provision through us, even when we can't see how.
I've humbly learned of great giving opportunities this past month (we haven't done all of these things listed or anything, they are just good ideas). If you're looking for ways to give this Christmas season, here are a few great ideas people have given me:
- Kiva Giftcards make a perfect Christmas gift. Everything I read about ending poverty champions the use of microloans in helping the poor from 3rd world countries get on their feet. Kiva is an exceptional organization in doing this.
- Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts. I recognize that a shoebox of toys isn't a cure for poverty in other countries. But I love this opportunity because it's something that my daughter can do- pick out the toys, color pictures, etc... This year we had (what's now become an annual) Operation Christmas Child party & between all of us- were able to send 11 boxes! Although it's now too late to send more shoeboxes, you can still go to their website to pack a "virtual box."
- Adopt a family. There are many families that just can't afford Christmas presents this year. Churches might have some info about families that could use some help with presents for their kids this year.
- Handwarmers. Given our cold winter already, wouldn't handwarmers be the best thing to hand out to people on the street? Stock up at Costco & keep them in your car & few in your purse.
- The gift of freetime for mothers. I was so blessed by a required hour of quiet time at a staff retreat the other week. I had no idea how much I needed that time to refocus on priorities, pray, and assess where I was at. And yet, I would have felt guilty asking for that time. Every mother NEEDS time alone to refocus. What a gift it would be to babysit & provide that time guilt-free!
- Visiting the Elderly. Our church has many older people who can't get out of their homes and therefore has a visitation team. Imagine how lonely it would be to be home by yourself every day. Now, imagine how much joy a visit (especially with little kids in tow) can bring to the homebound.