Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What Awesome Does

"Upside Down Kingdom" by Michele Perry

Maybe it’s the time of year.  Or perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve been privy to so much loss and hurt in the lives of others recently.  Maybe it’s the fact that the kids and I watched Disney’s take on A Christmas Carol this weekend.  Maybe I’m just burnt out of sitting around, all by myself, learning.  Or perhaps it’s because my kids make me want to be a better person. 
Whatever the reason, I feel the need to live outside of myself.  I want to earnestly live the upside down version of what our culture says is ideal.  I want to see the end of poverty, the end of exploitation, the end of hurt and suffering, of want and loneliness.  I want peace on earth and goodwill towards humanity. 
I was called out by my son yesterday at the grocery store.  I paid, as always, with my debit card and had no cash for the bell-ringer who stood outside.  My kids were incredulous.  My son looked at me and very matter-of-factly stated, “Mom, it’s for the poor.”  (This is the boy who wants to bring the homeless to our house and give them his bed; so his brand of incredulity is a little sharper than others.)  My daughter, more introspective, watched; waiting to see what I would do.   A quick glance into my cart, and its superfluous contents, struck a further cord.   Finally, I dug a measly 12 cents from the very bottom of my wallet.  “It’s all I’ve got,” I explained, divvying it up twixt the two.  Happily they traipsed to the bucket, dropping their respective 6 cents in, calling out, “Merry Christmas,” and bounded back, beaming.  It was written all over their faces: they had helped the poor.  And it was awesome.   
Sometimes, the best way to rekindle Awesome, is to take whatever you have and use it on behalf of helping others.  Even if it’s only 6 cents.
Here are some ways to step outside of yourself, and in doing so, you just might recall a little bit of your own awesome in the process:
·         Buy food/a farm animal/plants/share thereof for people in desperate need.  Visit World Vision or Plant with Purpose.
·         Make & then distribute Homeless Blessing Bags. 

 Find descriptions and instructions here and here.  They’re easy, affordable, immediate, and even the youngest folks in your family can get in on making them

[One of my favorite ideas here; thanks to Chelsea Schofield of “A Simple Life” for this one!]  

·         Visit an Angel tree near you.  Pick an angel, buy the gift (or leave the money); and know that some little one’s Christmas will be merrier because of you.
·         Be a Santa to a Senior.  Works like the Angel Tree, only for seniors.  Go here for a location near you. 
Time is a gift; and so is letting others know that they’re not invisible.  If the money just isn’t there right now, give of yourself.  In the long run, it’s likely a richer investment. 
·         Bake some cookies and take them to: a neighbor, a local nursing home, or your local emergency response personnel.
·         Take that friend you’ve been putting off out to coffee.  Listen to what’s going on in his/her life.
·         Invite the widower in your neighborhood/building over for coffee or dinner.  Ask about their holiday plans.  If they don’t have any, include them in yours.
·         If you’ve got the skills: make some blankets and pillows for your local NICU.  Find a tutorial here.  [For all my local readers, I know that the University of Colorado Hospital at Anschutz Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is currently in need of these.]
·         Talk to a single Mom in your circle.  See if she’s comfortable with you watching her kids, so she can go have a few moments to herself (even just to a local coffee spot to read; you might consider supplying a gift card for the cup of coffee).
·         Offer to help an elderly person in your neighborhood with their grocery shopping or errands; either taking them out (an opportunity to chat), or completing them yourself.
·         Do a load of laundry for a new mom…while she naps. 
·         Shovel the driveway of the gentleman who lives alone; leave a note letting him know that you’re glad he’s in your neighborhood. 

If you’re in a place where all of these suggestions feel too overwhelming, too much like yet another way to fail, know that your Awesome DOES NOT hinge on what you do.  Your Awesome is contingent upon who you are because of who God is.  And if this is where you are, start with the practice of being thankful for what you have.  Make a list, even if it’s only three items long, and put it somewhere you will see it.  And rest in thankfulness, until you can radiate out.  Because what you do doesn’t make you Awesome.  That’s simply who you are.    

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