For the last few years especially, Christmas plays a tug-of-war with my heart. In November each year, I am in Ethiopia, a country poor in material things but rich in relationships.
I have dirt under my fingernails and in the creases of my hands, as I hold hands with children who welcome me into their homes (dirt walls and dirt floors) and into their lives with open, trusting, accepting arms. A precious and sacred gift.
When I look around at their possessions, there is literally ... nothing. They are proudly wearing the new clothes sent by their sponsor family, while the clothes they got last year are laying neatly folded nearby with a year's worth of dirt and grime, rips and tears (after being worn every day for the last year).
They feel richly blessed for friendships forged with a sponsor family in America who they know loves them and prays for them and provides for them. And that is enough - more than enough.
By the time I fly home, Thanksgiving is here and gone in a flash of jet-lag and sleep deprivation and the steady onslaught of holiday ads encroaches from all sides .. and I feel ill.
It doesn't even wait for the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday) - it now starts ON Thanksgiving - the one day where we as a nation and as individuals and families pause to reflect on what we HAVE (instead of what we don't have) and give thanks. Gratitude.
Contentment is an elusive thing. Gratitude for what we have - without focus on what we have not.
Especially during Christmas, how does our focus end up shifting to what we have not???
Especially during this time?
"It's not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving." ~Mother Theresa
Why don't I feel good about what I am giving, as I buy Christmas gifts out of obligation for my children, friends and family who already have ... enough? Why does this not feel like the right way to honor and celebrate the meaning of Christmas (with empty giving)?
My friend Robyn Davidson, has once again created a beautiful card for Christmas, that to me exemplifies the spirit of Christmas giving. Not empty giving - but giving out of love to someone truly in need.
THIS GIFT is literally a life-changer for kids that have little hope. (The photos on the card are just a few of the 195 kids currently enrolled at Kind Hearts - beautiful faces filled with hope and purpose!)
Kind Hearts care-point in Ethiopia is now serving nearly 200 kids - providing nutritious food, clean water, clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipleship. And it shows. I have known these kids for four years and I have seen lives and families transformed and redeemed.
But we are over-enrolled right now (we have grown from an original 68 kids to 195!) and the strain shows in the kids and in the staff. Staff members are doing their best but with too many kids and too few staff, the strain shows. Eating in shifts because there are not enough plates and not enough places to sit, the strain shows. Not enough classrooms and not enough desks and chairs ... the list goes on.
With a new school building, Kind Hearts will have the resources to double the number of kids they can serve - including all of the kids who hover at the fringes of the care-point, hoping and waiting for the day they too can enroll and go to school and take the first steps out of hopeless, grinding poverty.
Here's how Robyn explains it ... "Giving a gift in someone’s honor is incredibly meaningful. It says, “I know you
appreciate the significance of a good thing.” If you ask me about gifts I’ve
received in the past, these are the gifts I remember. The simplicity of sending
this card to family and friends can help improve the lives of hundreds of
children for a lifetime. That’s a worthy gift."
Robyn is completely funding these cards and postage (as her worthy gift to her husband and her husband's gift to her) so that 100% of the proceeds can go to Kind Hearts. Please click to Robyn's blog for details http://davidsonpartyoffive.blogspot.com/2012/11/i-have-perfect-gift-for-you.html and please give generously since every penny will go toward the new school!
Please consider this gift for those in your life who already have "enough" - and give a gift worthy of the season.
Put some love in your giving!