I am not sure who came up with the idea for Giving Tuesday, but I’m thankful for the concept. I get completely caught up in a whirlwind of consumerism, fueled by my passions for Christmas, gifting and bargain shopping. Black Friday, followed by Cyber Monday, leave my wallet empty. And for some, their heart.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with those shopping events. I know that some people rail against them. But I welcome the chance to buy jeans for my kids at 50% off. I actually like to bundle up and head out into the crowd, all to score that awesome Calico Critters house for $40. That Lakeside Lodge is usually $99! That’s an exciting score! But at the end of such a long weekend, I haven’t looked much further than my own navel, as my pastor likes to say.
Giving Tuesday is a special day to live outside of ourselves; but in reality Giving Tuesday should not be a day, but a lifestyle. Think about that for a minute. I was just thinking about this idea last night, and this morning in my reading of Imperfect Courage, the author, Jessica Honnegger, said something to the affect of: What if giving was our practice, and saving was our exception? What if we set a minimum budget for ourselves and gave the rest away? Whaaaaaaaaaat? What if giving frivolously was our norm? That’s crazy talk. The idea shook me to my core. Can life really be lived like that? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that those pages popped up for me today of all days. It seemed like an affirmation of what I already know.
I can admit that I’m a long way from living that sort of lifestyle. Years of living month to month have me clinging to my hard-earned dollars. Other than my monthly sponsored child, my giving is infrequent and paltry. But I don’t think this is what Jesus intended for us. For me to look frantically at my bank account. For me to play the lottery so desperately. For me to always be so worried about me. So I’m working on generosity as a posture of heart. Giving Tuesday was another reminder and affirmation of this necessity in my life.
This year to celebrate Giving Tuesday I sat my kids down with the World Concern catalogue. You’ve seen these; there are versions available from several reputable organizations. They are full of opportunities big and small to gift the world’s most vulnerable. I explained what we were doing and why, and then I let them each choose something they really wanted to give. Jordan chose to purchase medication to treat intestinal worms. Jaxon chose to send soccer balls so that kids can play, and Shia sent a clutch of 20 chicks. After we made our selections we sat down and prayed for those recipients. This is the posture of heart I want to model for my children.
Giving can be done by making generous donations. It can be done by giving your time to a neighbor who needs help loading a van. It can be giving a gently worn coat to someone who needs it. It can be tithing from our paychecks to our church and favorite charities. It can be volunteering to babysit for a friend so that she can have a date night with her husband. It can be collecting toiletries from your traveling friends to donate to a local shelter. Giving Tuesday can happen any day; and in any way that you see a need and step up to meet it. You feel a nudging in your heart over an injustice, and you speak out. You are drawn repeatedly to the idea of foster care, so you become a foster home, foster mentor or court-appointed advocate. How we give will be fueled by our passions, and I know that I am not alone in thinking that I can do more.
In 2014 I became an ambassador for Noonday Collection. Noonday is a socially conscious fashion brand. If you’re unfamiliar with the business, Noonday works with artisans around the globe who hand-make beautiful pieces, such as paper bead necklaces in Uganda, hammered artillery bracelets in Ethiopia, and brass earrings from Peru. These accessories are sold by American ambassadors who are building their own home businesses by holding trunk shows in the homes of their friends, family and even strangers. It is a beautiful model. When I was an ambassador it was such a time of learning for me. I really began to recognize the importance of being a conscious consumer. To see that there is such a thing as purchasing power. If we take the time to really see who is behind the garments we wear, the couch we sit on, the coffee we drink; we will see that there is another way to spend our money on the things that we want.
My friend Jen is the founder and designer of UNCVRD jewelry. Her heart was stirred by the injustice of human trafficking, so in order to combat this epidemic she began making beautiful jewelry; each piece carefully handcrafted using high quality metals, gemstones and crystals. She donates 40% from each sale to partner organizations such as Gems Uncovered in Long Beach, to fight human trafficking through outreach, education, vocational training and care. I love what she writes on her website: Our vision is to see human sex trafficking abolished in our lifetime. Jewelry isn’t going to change the world, but we’re fully convinced that the women who wear it will. What a beautiful vision. What a beautiful way to give. Her creations are a gift. And my purchase of a The Sofia Ring and the Girls Are The Solution Tag Necklace is giving as well. (By the way, today she is giving away 100% of her proceeds!!! Check out her breathtaking site at uncvrdjewelry.com)
Jen is not alone. She is one of many socially conscious entrepreneurs. As a consumer I have the power to give through what I purchase. What a unique way to make a difference. And though I am no longer an ambassador, this posture of heart is something I yearn to stick with. The journey to a giving heart is a bumpy road to travel. It’s not always comfortable, especially as it is most natural to look out for ourselves. However I know that at the end of such a road is a life worth living. I don’t want my kids to see me turning away from needs, but stepping up to meet them.
***Leave me a comment with your thoughts. What are your favorite organizations to support and why?*** *** Don’t forget to sign up on my e-mail list so that you’ll be the first to know when a new post is up.***