Emmas handsTake a risk…give generously.

This picture of my daughter’s hands exemplifies my hearts desire – to generously open up my hands and heart to give of my resources. And not just give, but give generously.  The problem is that sometimes my heart’s desire conflicts with my actions.

As I type this, our eleven year old daughter is helping out at a neighborhood friend’s home. On a chilly morning, she was ready and waiting for him to pick her (and my nephew) up at 6:15 am to do chores that he can’t physically accomplish around his house. They love this time with him, and she has been helping for months now cutting the lawn, organizing, sweeping, weeding, cleaning – what ever needs to be done. She even came home once telling me that she squeezed grapes for a drink (now living in the country, that perked my ears, so I had to investigate). Yes, my daughter prepared grapes for his home made wine, which considering I never drink wine kind of cracks me up. At least it wasn’t moonshine. 😉

She works hard. She works thoroughly. She works for nothing (except maybe a Subway sandwich). She serves generously, and models for me the innocence of sacrifice and servant hood that has been so lost in our culture.

Planing my upcoming posts on making money from home, my entrepreneurial spirit screams, “She should start her own organizing business. She could be charging for this…She could make….”. While all of that would be wise, admirable and good, her acts of service still reminds me that in the midst of “31 Days to More with Less,” generosity of spirit should never be forgotten.

As I read the comments from yesterday’s post about Cheap vs. Frugal (which if you haven’t, you should…they are better than the post), a consistent theme continued to resonate with me. It’s a heart attitude. Many of us can get so caught up with saving money, that our fists become a vice grip on not just our money, but our spirit of generosity.

Last year, I got upset with my husband because he didn’t use the correct coupon for a product and $2 was wasted. Seriously? Shame on me. I asked for his forgiveness and then reminded myself  how blessed I am to have a husband willing to go into the store for me and even use coupons. That’s a real man.

As I felt myself leaning towards that clenched fist mentality with my money, I knew I needed to get my eyes off myself and do something radical. In the midst of our unemployment, it was easy for me to be radical with my time or to give generously of my gifts/talents, but give radically of my money? I just don’t have it to give was my initial response, but I knew it wasn’t about the amount, it was about heart and attitude.  My husband is a wonderful example of generosity, and led us to continue our tithing. We’ve learned that we can not out give God and He always provides in the midst of our difficult times.

I learned some of this through an afternoon at the grocery store.

Everyone needs to have a little splurge (which will be a later post), but I choose not to splurge on expensive Starbucks coffee drinks because I like their tall regular coffee just fine. I have never ordered one out of my own money, and I think that’s why I get so many gift cards there because people know that fact.  In the midst of a particularly difficult week, I was in line at my favorite Harris Teeter, which also hosts a Starbucks. A woman passed by my lane and asked my cashier what was so great about Starbucks. She had never had a Starbucks and didn’t really even know why it was a big deal? As a coffee lover, I gasped and knew I needed to be a part in changing that fact. I practically charged her and exclaimed, “You’ve never had a Starbucks? I want to remedy that fact. Follow me.”

Introducing myself to this bewildered woman, I told the Barista that my new friend had never been to a Starbucks and we needed to find her a special treat. What followed were ten minutes of sheer fun as I told her to pick anything that she wanted off the menu. This lady was a hoot and tested quite a few things. Watching her take a swig of her first black coffee was hilarious. You should have seen her face and how quickly she spit it out. 😉 We warned her, but we were trying to give her the full experience. We finally sealed the deal when she tried the Carmel Macchiato. I paid the bill, gave her hug and exchanged a few special words with her as we parted.

I’ll never see her again, and she knows nothing about me. She probably just assumed I am some crazy, rich lady who goes around frequenting Starbucks, and buying expensive drinks for people. She’ll never know that in that moment, I took a step back and did a heart check. I walked to my car with eyes welled up with tears as I thought about my selfishness. Always considering myself a generous person,  I realized I had missed so many moments of sheer joy, like this one, because my financial fists had become so tight as we navigated tough waters. Giving generously, whether it be of your time, talents or financial resources gives back ten fold. The fact that this was just a spontaneous gesture to a stranger, made it all the more sweeter. Since then, I have shared Starbucks with a few other strangers just because…just because it’s something I would never do for myself. My desire is to cultivate a habit of giving generously, but it is a process.

Would you care to join me in this week’s challenge? Remember, it’s a heart thing…not the amount or the expectation.

( For me, giving anonymously is where I find my character being refined. Giving, with no expectation of receiving something in return, must be our  desire. I tried to find a way to share this without telling at least one example of my journey in this giving process, but  letting you know how this small act affected me was important.

31daysmore1251 This is What We are Striving Towards....Have you missed one of my “31 Days to more with Less” posts? Follow along here.