Giving Christmas Away

I cannot believe this Friday is Black Friday! Can you? This is an old post from a couple years ago that I thought I'd share again. I added a new option for gifts below and am wondering what you might add to the list.

Black Friday has begun and the flood gates of Christmas shopping are open. Last Christmas, I remember my husband and I walking through Target looking for “the perfect gifts” for our family members. We walked in, looked around for a bit and walked out empty handed.  Every year it seems like a struggle to find gifts that fit for the people we care about. Companies compete with one another by conveying messages of all of the things that our friends and family NEED this season. Commercials bombard our homes with elves busy at Sears, singing BestBuy employees and Old Navy manikins wearing the latest Christmas sweaters.

Before you get cut off in parking lots this Black Friday or wander the isles of Target in search of the perfect gift, I thought I’d offer some suggestions on ways to give, yet in a more less traditional way.

We all want to give. We were created with that desire. We were made by the hands that designed the very nature of giving. When we understand this awesome truth it becomes inevitable that we give. Who better to explain this than singing vegetables wearing ugly Christmas sweaters.

If you’ve had enough with crowded parking lots and lines, consider this Christmas season the gift of hope, freedom, food, a new start or empowerment. Giving breeds giving. Here are a few places where you can do just that.

Heifer International – Gifts of animals for breeding, farming, food purposes
IJM – Purchase a freedom package for individuals upon their rescue from slavery
Gospel for Asia – Gifts for outreach, missionaries, compassion gifts and much more
Samaritan’s Purse – Gifts for children around the world

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Locks of Love to Give

Last year a friend from church shared that her 8-year-old niece, Avery, was once again fighting leukemia. That evening, as I shared it with Mark, our then 7-year-old daughter, Anastasia, overheard us. Even though she didn’t know this little girl, she was very concerned - it was someone her age.

Part of me want to change the topic and shelter Anastasia from the fear of children and cancer but a stronger side felt the need to address it and answer her questions, so we did.

Later that night she wanted to pray for my friend’s niece. When we were done she was quiet in thought and then asked, “Will she lose her hair?”

“She already has honey, but I hear she’s about to get a wig.” This opened a flurry of more questions as I explained how people grow out their hair and donate it to be made into wigs.

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Simple Giving – Do the Easiest Thing First for 9/11

Simple Giving – Do the Easiest Thing First


As we come to 9-11 it is easy to think big but it is better to think small.


Inevitably when I speak on my book Humanitarian Jesus the question comes up – “How do we actually start giving ourselves away?  How do we start serving our neighbor?”


I think the problem is that when we try to tackle slavery, water, poverty, or massive trauma like 9-11, Katrina, etc. it is difficult to find a foot-hold.  We see the “big guys” making huge impact.  Million dollar gifts, bailing out on life and diving in as a volunteer, shifting giant organizations to a new focus.  These are all very good – but not the fundamental basis of humanitarian investment.

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Do My Gifts Make God Look Cheap?

There are a lot of piles in our house. The weather is cool and we’re pulling out our fall clothes. We’re in the process of deciding what to keep, what to donate and what to throw away.

I used to be one that donated everything. If I didn’t want it, I threw it in the donate pile. I figured someone could use it and it made me feel generous. But that has changed. I once heard a missionary share a story that changed my outlook on donating and gave it a bigger purpose. I wish I could remember her name to give her the credit but for the story’s sake, I’ll call her Mary.

Mary and her husband had served in Africa as missionaries for 20 years. They were retiring and moving back to the States. Mary worked busily at home, packing up their belongings sorting and making piles of what to keep and what to give away to their African friends.

No Risk, No Reward

Last week, my husband jumped out of an airplane.

For a sermon illustration.

He's done lots of things for sermon illustrations. He has used real fire and real chain saws to drive a point home. He uses the verbal illustration most often. He talks about me, his kids, and his friends in sermons all the time.  If you know him long enough, you will appear in the weekly sermon. It's an honor, actually. Well, most of the time. He once tattled on me to the whole congregation, claiming that I was a "cusser", a foul mouthed human being. The congregation laughed, because they all knew he was exaggerating,  and I had to answer a thousand questions about the incident inthe hallways after the service. In my defense, I uttered one small word (not even a really bad one) in front of my kids and they delighted in repeating it over and over. They told daddy and a sermon illustration was born. You just can't trust kids these days. I must note here that sometimes the stories in his messages are stretched the ever most teensiest bit.

That Shoe Guy

Have you seen the AT&T commercial with the world-traveling Shoe Guy?

He uses his phone (and the killer AT&T worldwide connection) to do business, which for him is selling shoes and giving shoes away. For every pair of shoes his company sells, his company donates a pair to children in need.

Call me a cynic (I'm in marketing--being suspicious of advertising comes with the territory), but I thought AT&T made up this guy and his shoe company. I did give them props for tapping into the zeitgeist with their good-hearted, world-traveling Shoe Guy.

Turns out, though, the scruffy, good-looking Shoe Guy is for real.

His name is Blake Mycoskie and his shoe company is called TOMS (which, I learned, stands for "Tomorrow"). Blake is a world traveler (he had been a contestant on The Amazing Race at one point) who, on his journeys, discovered kids need shoes. So he founded his shoe company on the principle that for every pair they sell, they give a pair away to kids in need.

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Tags | giving | TOMS

A Daters Guide to Gift Giving: Evaluating the Response

In a dating relationship, you must also be sensitive to the way your partner responds to gifts. Because of their cost or perceived meaning, certain types of gifts may not be readily accepted by the one you love. At a singles conference in the mountains of North Carolina, Josh approached me after a lecture on the five love languages with a perplexing question. “I believe in all five love languages, but what if you try to speak a love language and your dating partner is not willing to accept it?” he asked.

“Could you give me an example?” I requested.

“Well, I’ve been dating this girl for three months. I’m really excited about her. Samantha’s the most wonderful person I’ve ever met. I wanted her to know how much I cared about her, so I bought her a really expensive gift. But when I gave it to her, she said, ‘I cannot accept this. I just don’t feel right about it.’ I was devastated,” he said.

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