New Year’s Meditation
My sweet friend Lori (who funnily enough is nothing like me other than being a sister in Christ and yet for some reason continues to be my sweet friend because she is just that, very sweet and understanding despite our differences of opinion) is hosting New Year’s Meditations today, and though I don’t really do resolutions I do pray and think over my goals for the year and I thought this might be a good way to share what I have so far (I spend all of January decluttering our house, my heart, and brain and thinking and praying about the year to come–January is our oldest child’s birth month AND our wedding anniversary and freakin’ COLD here in Western PA so plenty of stay inside and stay warm time. And that was a HUMONGOUS run-on sentence.)
So today our family is making lists of goals to think and pray over. We will, before dinner, sit down together and pray over our lists and consider where God has led us and where God is leading us. So far my list is as follows:
- We are in a time of blessing monetarily. For the first time ever we have had enough and more than enough. It is interesting that this comes at a time when others are for the first time going without. This is the first year that we had more that $100 total to spend on Christmas and for the first time we have had enough for me to give to others as we see a need instead of having to count pennies. For someone like me who LOVES to give this is VERY exciting. I am praying about this constantly and am excited to see the opportunities God is giving me to give to those in need.
- This month the Lord has opened my eyes to local homelessness and poverty. Several times I have been approached by people in need. I have been praying about how to handle this new thing (for me).I recognize that due to the recession it will get worse before it gets better. Right now my plan is to take some spare cash, fill paper bags with peanut butter crackers, some dried fruit, and other non-perishable edibles, some packs of hot cocoa mix/tea bags/coffee bags, some fast food gift cards, and those little hand warmer packs and stretchy gloves to keep in my car or bag for when I run into someone in need–that way I am prepared (the last two times I was not.) I carry a big laptop bag for a purse (so I CAN take my laptop without switching) so I have plenty of room to carry a brown bag or 2.) I need to make a list and deliberately do this or I will forget.
- Stock up on non-perishable groceries so we can easily help families in need. I am noticing more people on Freecycle struggling with lack of food. We do have a slew of places around here that provide boxes of food but it is good to be able to just give as needs arise instead of sending them to a ministry.
- Reorganize and declutter the house. I know that doesn’t sound very spiritual after the first 3 but clutter makes my brain hurt and makes it so I can’t focus on the task at hand. The kids are my biggest ministry and it is important that instead of punishing them for not getting things right (or fighting with them to clean up after themselves) I make it easy to know where everything goes. Both girls, on their lists, want a place to put everything so they know where to find what they are looking for and where to put it. The way their rooms are right now they can’t do that. Their rooms are made up completely of hand me down/thrift shop furniture that doesn’t quite suit their needs (they have drawers full of books instead of what goes IN drawers because they don’t have enough shelving. Both girls got Eee Pcs and Rach got a sewing machine and they have no spot in their room for dealing with those things, AND they both are learning to draw and paint and want a place to do that. So a big goal is to get rid of all the things that get in the way of their goals and redo their room so they can use it to fulfill their goals. Issac, at 7, doesn’t really have goals and still has lots of toys but needs the extra stuff gone so he can easily play with and clean up the toys he wants to play with instead of displacing them constantly.:)
- This also leads to our next goal. We have been, for several years now, gradually moving towards the possibility of adoption. We do not want to adopt from the US but instead for a country where there is much need and little opportunity–uness someone were to approach us and say they want us to take their baby for some reason which is unlikely. We originally were thinking just China and now we just want to adopt from wherever God calls us to (der!) We had a lot of areas we needed to work on in our own lives (getting our finances under control, having enough money coming in to be able to adequately provide for another child or two, getting our house under control and broken things fixed–still has a lot of issues and still seriously considering sending the now completely filled out form to Extreme Home Makeover–have to make a video though, but we are much closer to our goal now than 2 years ago.)
- Hubby and I both have been talking about how we need to be taking the opportunities God provides as they arise. He has been giving us many opportunities to bring in more money from many different directions. We need to be trusting Him to give us wisdom and the strength to each as it arises. That said hubby is doing more contracting work and I am doing more web design/maintanence than before as well as working on a new web site for my art.
- Speaking of art I have several projects in my head, including the new website. First, I am going to choose a few social networking artist sites (probably Etsy, Red Bubble, and Zazzle but maybe Imagekind) I HATE being spread so thin and would like to move to just one or two, we will see–tight now I am on at least six. I am also pondering a monthly drawing for a painting on the new site. I hate doing contests (and seldom enter them myself) and so far have found them to be less than useful as a marketing tool, however, I think it would be good for me to do it anyway–keep me practicing, etc. and would be a way of blessing others–I hope. I am debating it because of the cost of shipping, but praying about it and I think it is a go.
- And finally child training. Due to certain issues here at home, I am going to be spending this month doing intensive job training for my three crazies. I need to be being a bit more careful not to trigger an RA flair up and part of that is having he kids do a few chores that are hard on my hands.) The oldest specifically has issues with anything like work and will ALWAYS do as little as is necessary. Hoping to really work with all three and teach them each chore in such a way that they actually do it to the best of their ability using the keep going back until it is right method.:) We will see. (I have gotten in the habit of just redoing it myself because she throws such a fit about it if I ask the oldest to redo.)
I don’t yet have my verse for this year (I usually have it by the end of the first week, and even more often by the end of the first day of the year. We shall see. The last 2 years it has been from Jeremiah: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans for good and not for evil, plans to prosper you.” (paraphrase.) And then before that it was ” I have learned to be content in all things regardless of my circumstances” and “Be strong and very courageous, do not be afraid, do not be terrified for I the Lord Your God will be with you wherever you may go.”)
I am looking forward to seeing where God leads us as a family.
Oh and happy new year.
Oh thank you for joining in. I adore you. I will be praying for your adoption decisions, I know God will lead accordingly. I think I like this the best and represents what I am feeling right now “I have learned to be content in all things regardless of my circumstances…” the Lord has been leading me in this.
And hey we have the geeky computer thing in common =))) Hugs.
I hope you are blessed with the fulfillment of your list. I am glad to here you want to help the homeless and hungry. Food pantry’s are low on food too. So you may want to give them a donation too. The number of people loosing the homes and jobs are at all time highs. I hope you have a wonderful and blessed new year.
I love the idea of seeing where God takes us each in the new year.
Heather, I absolutely LOVE your idea for the brown bags. That is such a cool and timely idea. Often around here we will come up on folks on the street corners and such, asking for money. I never have any extra money but with just a little bit of extra cash each week I could make some bags like that. I am going to present this idea to my girls as a project we can do together. Thanks for the inspiration. Our recent financial troubles have made me feel like I can’t help anyone else but now I realize I can.
May the Lord guide you in your desire to adopt and provide a family for a child in need. May you be blessed as you give to others & train your children. Blessings, Tammy
Praying for you to be blessed in 2009.
What a great list Heather! Thanks for sharing. Some real practical things here that many of us can take on board.
Hey Heather~been thinking about you guys lately. Glad to see that things are going well for you. Maybe you can do your contests but the winner pays the shipping?
What a beautiful list!!! I love it when God touches hearts with the plight of the homeless considering how easy it is to allow the stereotypical thoughts to seep in and keeps so many from helping out. If you haven’t read it, I suggest Thirty Days Under the Overpass by Mike Yankoski. It was recommended when I did a tour of a local homeless shelter in preparation to volunteer. I started volunteering last June and it has been the most amazing time of my life. I pray God opens so many doors for you in that regard this year!! Blessings.
I can write from experience regarding #2. But perhaps people’s situation is different in your snowy climate, so take my words with grains of salt.
In California and Oregon the many homeless I have helped and known wanted two things: warm calories and respectful time.
For the first, a fast-food gift card is about as efficient as can be for warm calories per dollar. Gift bags with other food are a nice idea, but I would ask around first to check if these are actually wanted.
Regarding the second, nearly every homeless person I have helped dearly wanted a few minutes of conversation. They are bored. They miss their family. They fear no one cares if they live or die. The simple event of someone with a normal, busy life taking five or ten minutes to talk to them is usually far more appreciated than food or money. Typically, once relationship is established they value a sense of connection and want to be kept informed about who is sick or healthy, how hobbies are going, what the annoying co-worker did last week, how kids are doing in school, etc. Most welcome things to pray about, both to be able to be helpful and to help them remember that everyone has struggles.
If you befriend a homeless person who uses a street corners near a grocery stores then one good way (especially in bad weather) to combine warm and cost-efficient calories with conversation are the whole baked chickens most grocery stores sell these days for $5-$7. Unless the check-out lines are a problem where you live, to go in the store to get one takes a few minutes, and provides a polite excuse for a time limit to the visit since you can talk while in the store and then say farewell once you have paid for the food.
May God bless your efforts to help!
Oh – I forgot.
If God leads you to establish relationships with a few homeless people, rather than helping whomever you encounter, another great help during Winter is a monthly bus pass. Depending upon where you live these can be an affordable way to provide a dry and warm place to spend cold hours.